Monday, April 28, 2008

The Customized Facial Massage

Have you ever gone for a facial and found it to be absolutely incredible and on another occasion thought it was alright, but nothing special? A good spa menu offers so many different facials to choose from that it would be a shame to just have a product rubbed on your skin, or settle for a basic facial massage. There are so many modalities of massage, Thai, Swedish, Reiki, Lymphatic Drainage, Reflexology, Pressure Point, Shiatsu, . . . to name a few. While the fundamental massage is fine, incorporating different massage techniques is far more specific and targets skin care problems more efficiently. This is as important as choosing the correct products for your skin type. Keeping all of this in mind, the beneficial effects of the products will be drastically increased, not to mention your overall well-being.

For example, what if your skin is dull, stressed, has uneven color and circulation, congestion under the surface (asphyxiated), and if there is a history of medication, poor eating habits, lack of water intake, elimination irregularity, sun damage and/or smoking damage? The massage you should choose incorporates some classical Swedish massage techniques for de-stressing and improving circulation, but must also include some lymphatic drainage techniques to detoxify the skin and pressure point techniques to promote elimination and improve nourishment to the cells.

If, however, the focus is primarily anti-age the goal is to improve cell nourishment and regeneration, as well as the tone, color, hydration, and vitality of the skin. The facial massage choice should incorporate classical massage manipulations that relax, improve circulation and de-stress, but also one that focuses on massage techniques that stimulate cellular activity of the skin and the muscles of the face and neck, perhaps combined with Shiatsu and/or pressure point techniques to trigger regeneration.

How do you choose the right facial? The best advice we can offer is to have an open discussion with your skin care professional about your needs and expected results. Ask about incorporating different facial massage techniques during your appointment and how it may improve your treatment. Take a trip away from the 'same old, same old' and imagine the results when a customized facial massage is combined with a superb product. Incredible!

*Do you need help figuring out what type of facial you should choose? Write to us and we would be happy to make some personalized suggestions.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Plastic Surgery Trends: Part 2

At the close of 2007, surgical cosmetic procedures remained relatively unchanged (0 - 1% increase) from the previous year clocking in more than 1.8 million procedures. (87% female/13% male).

The top five surgical cosmetic procedures for 2007:
Breast augmentation: 347,500 procedures (up 6%)
Liposuction: 302,000 procedures (unchanged) (89% female/11% male)
Nose Reshaping: 285,000 procedures (down 7%) (74% female/26% male)
Eyelid surgery: 241,000 procedures (up 3%) (85% female/15% male)
Tummy tuck: 148,000 procedures (up 1%) (96% female/4% male)

Although not in the top five, facelifts ranked #6 with an overall increase of 14% (up 14% female and 16% male). Women concentrated on the areas of the face and chest, but what about the men? Same regions. Facelifts, pectoral implants (up 8%) and breast reductions (up 7%). Although tummy tucks were up in 2007, a number of other body procedures were down; lower body lifts (down 17%), thigh lifts (down 28), upper arm lifts (down 6%). Could it be that an increased awareness of physical fitness is the reason? We hope so!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Plastic Surgery Trends

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports there were 11.7 million cosmetic procedures performed in 2007. 91% of all procedures were conducted on women typically between the ages of 35 - 50, followed by those who were 51-64.

Last year, the numbers on invasive plastic surgery grew marginally turning in numbers that did not break the all time record set back in 2004 (11.8 million). Depending on which report is read, an increase of somewhere between 2% - 7% was noted. Odd, since there has been such a tremendous surge in the past decade showing a gutsy 457% increase since 1997 with facelifts, breast augmentations, and nose reshapings galore!

This year, things in the invasive sector were comparatively quiet. Why? The economy? To a certain degree, perhaps, but what is more interesting is the emerging new trend for less invasive and less expensive treatments. In response to this need, the non-invasive sector rose 9% performing close to 10 million procedures. Botox is the one of the primary reasons for this shift, as is the second most popular treatment, dermal fillers (Restylane®, Hylaform®, Hylaform Plus®, and JuvedermTM), with a hearty honorable mention for a soft tissue filler (Radiesse - up 56%).

The top five minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures for 2007 (ranges):
Botox: 4,600,000 procedures (up 29%)
Dermal Fillers: 1,051,000 procedures (up 25% - 35%)
Chemical Peel: 1,025,000 procedures (down 4% - 0%)
Laser Hair Removal: 906,000 procedures (down 5% - up 2%)
Microdermabrasion: 897,000 procedures (up 6% - 10%)
Note: Microdermabrasion statistics are not inclusive of those performed in Spas, Medical Spas, Day Spas.

*The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports slightly different statistics.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Micro-Current Lifts

As we get older there are not only changes in our skin, but in our muscle structure as well. Exercise helps the skeletal muscles of our body stay healthy and firm, but what about the muscles of the face? If it were exercise alone you would think with all of the talking, facial expressions, and chewing our faces would be toned. Instead we start to see the cheek muscles soften causing the nasolabial folds to deepen, the eyebrows seem to be a little lower, the lip line weakens, and there is a vertical wrinkle, or two, between the eyebrows.

It is well documented that electro-stimulation can be very effective. As we get older the receptors that cause muscle contractions become less responsive to nerve stimulation causing the muscles to become too relaxed, or too constricted. This micro-current apparatus does not exercise the muscles, but instead re-educates the muscles to regain good tone and respond more efficiently to the natural currents of nerve stimulation.

Micro-current treatments can offer great results without any surgery or down time. It is also very effective when used as a maintenance routine for facelifts. Remember, not even surgery offers permanent results, . . . the aging process carries on. What can you expect? A visible change should be noticed after one treatment, usually the contour of the jaw is more defined, the eyebrows are raised, the lines soften around the eye, the lip line is higher, as are the cheeks. To enhance the initial result and have lasting results, these treatments are recommended in a series of 2 or 3 times per week for 12 treatments, followed by a maintenance treatment every 4 to 6 weeks. The completion of a series has the potential to shave off 10 years.

Each treatment takes approximately one hour, is completely relaxing, entirely pain free, and presents no risk factors. Costs vary, but a package of treatments will generally run on average $1200, give or take. The costs also greatly depend on the condition of your skin at the beginning of the treatments and on how well you treat your skin on a daily basis. Highly recommended.

* If you need assistance locating a spa or salon offering this type of procedure in your area, email us at

Friday, April 18, 2008

If Looks Could Kill . . . The Botox Controversy

Earlier this month, the Journal Of Neuroscience published a study that raised many eyebrows, . . . without any Botox in the room. Ah, but Botox is very much at the center of this controversy.

Studies conducted by scientists in Italy discovered that Botox injected into the whisker muscles of rats migrated to their brain stems within three days and was still detected after a period of six months. The studies also revealed the toxin migrated from one hippocampus (long term memory and spatial navigation) to the hippocampus on the other side. Yet again confirming movement of the toxin.

Last month, the University of Calgary conducted a study on Botox injections in cats and found the toxin migrated to a surrounding area weakening all of the muscles, revealing that botulinum can pass through tissue to the surrounding muscle. The problem? The safety of Botox was underlined by the reported fact that it would stay put and not travel through tissue. The scientists, however, are quick to remind us that these lab animals have a different physiology than humans, but their findings have prompted more research.

In February of this year, the FDA decided to carry out a safety review and will reveal the results in due time. Allergan, the California company that makes Botox, was reported as saying, "The authors used a laboratory preparation of botulinum toxin and did not use Botox. Data suggests that different preparations of botulinum toxin react differently in both the laboratory and in clinical practice."

Our opinion? Clearly more testing is required before anyone hits the panic button on Botox. Depending on what report you read, a spread of 2.8 million (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) to 4.6 million (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) Botox procedures took place in 2007, at an average of $380+ per treatment, leaving vast numbers of people (and a whole lot of money) riding on the results of these new tests. Admittedly, we are not big supporters of injecting toxins of any kind into any part of your body, but having said that, we are supportive of everyone having the right to make decisions for themselves. Educated decisions. We can only report the facts and present it in a non-biased way so everyone will have the ability to read, research, and discover the truth as it applies to their own situations. We can state one thing for sure, . . . Botox injections should only be administered by medical professionals. Period.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

EMINENCE ORGANICS Eight Greens Youth Serum

Serum Category: Anti-Age
Eminence Organic's corporate profile is heightened by its expressed commitment to the green movement. Their products, manufactured in Hungary, are of a different nature. Their ingredients are grown using solar and wind energy, no chemical pesticides, and are hand picked, hand mixed, and contain no artificial coloring or fragrances.

Eight Greens Youth Serum is filled with plant extracts bringing the skin a cocktail of anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals to fight against aging. The extracts chosen will soothe, hydrate, promote circulation and cell regeneration, as well as counteract the inflammatory response that triggers free radical activity. The complexes used have a balancing effect on skin functions enhancing the longevity of the cells and minimizing defensive responses which often lead to degradation of the skin. All skin types will benefit from this anti-age serum although collagen stimulating peptides are not a part of this formula.

$38 for 1 oz. US/ ($46 Canada)

Monday, April 14, 2008

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Serum

Serum Category: Anti-Age
Elemis incorporates brown algae, Padina Pavonica, into this lovely light serum has been shown to trigger the production of elastin and collagen giving a great boost to the firmness and tonus of the skin. The cellular activity of the epidermis is energized and supported by the manganese and other minerals available in the serum.

The essential fatty acids reinforce the viability of the cell membranes, promote cell regeneration, and protect the natural barriers of the skin, including the hydrolipidic barrier that helps to hold moisture in the skin and prevent dehydration. All in all, Elemis has created a great serum that really supports all layers of the skin resulting in a more hydrated, youthful appearance.

Friday, April 11, 2008

SOTHYS Lift Defense 2 Serum

Serum Category: Anti-Age
Sothys again? Yes, after posting our last piece many readers contacted us to point out they are younger than 38 and would like us to include a serum with no age restrictions. We are, therefore, honoring their request. Thanks for your emails. We are listening . . .

Lift Defense 2 Serum is a reformulation hailed as an 'anti-wrinkle, firmness program' offering proven efficiency of up to 41% filling wrinkles (visioscan measurements) and 72% increased density and firmness, although it would be interesting to see more in-depth studies. This anti-age serum is great for any age with each application leaving the skin feeling as smooth as velvet. This formula is geared to prevent and repair damage to the dermal fibers with more than one approach. It will defend and restore collagen damage making it essential for women who are concerned with trying to minimize degradation of the skin and work on issues of repair.

This serum offers the tri and hexapeptides to boost collagen and elastin production and contains ingredients to rebalance the enzymes that regulate these proteins. There are also anti-oxidants to protect from free radical aging and a few ingredients, including some EFAs (essential fatty acids) to ensure the hydration is sufficient enough to allow for the best penetration of the other active ingredients. There are also dipeptides claimed to relax the features to help minimize stress and energize the tissues giving a smoother surface to she skin. The downside? The exquisite texture will have you using more than you need. Ohhmm . . .

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

SOTHYS Secrets Global Anti-Age De-stressing Serum

Serum Category: Anti-Age
Sothys Secrets Serum is aptly described as a 'triple-action time fighter' providing exceptional clinical results - a 21% decrease in the depth of wrinkles after 15 days of use and a 26% decrease after 30 days. Skin firmness was improved by 19% after 15 days of use and 25% after 30 days.

The Secrets Serum is only for those who are 38+, looking for a concentrated formula of anti-age actives, and who are beginning to notice age related (hormone-stressed) skin. This light, creamy serum has an interesting mix of powerful peptides along with the fragrance of ylang ylang and marjoram to help the skin destress. Why is that important? A destressed skin is more receptive to other active ingredients. The Secrets Serum contains a cocktail of anti-oxidants to address free radical damage, peptides to promote cellular nutrition and function, and an iris extract to promote regeneration and longevity of dermal proteins giving the skin back some of its firmness. Sothys has incorporated two extracts from the prickly pear into this formula, one to promote natural exfoliation giving radiance to the skin and promote cell renewal, the other to trigger a neutralizing action on stresses or irritations to the skin thereby preventing the free radical activity that would normally result.

This is a very active serum that helps defend the cells against aging. Recommended for use twice a day, however, we would advise that once a day may be enough for delicate skin. A great boost especially for the perimenopausal woman. A perfect pairing for Sothys Secrets Cream. An addictive luxury's accomplice? Indeed.

1.35 oz US (40 ml Canada)

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Inside Scoop on Serums

Serums are the most active format of a skin care regimen. As a rule, they are lightweight in texture and have a high absorption rate contributing to a more in-depth form of treatment. Serums address particular concerns and are applied in tandem with a cream to compliment and intensify a more specific delivery with a more marked result. For example, applying a hydrating serum under an anti-age cream will address the skin's hydration as well as the anti-age focus of the cream. The hydrating serum will also enhance the benefits of the cream as hydrated skin allows for better penetration of active ingredients. The serum and cream can team up to be a dynamic duo and address the same concern, intensifying and doubling the targeted effect.

Serum formulas require less preservatives and have higher concentrations of active ingredients because they are packaged in pump bottles, vials or ampoules that are least likely to be exposed to contamination (fingers, air). The best format is an amber glass vial as the actives are protected from light and air, however, once the vial is opened it is only active for about 45 minutes and must be used. No, it doesn't work to put tape over the top, stick a Q-tip in the opening and put it in the fridge. If the entire contents of the vial are not used it must be thown away. The downside of the glass vials? They can be a real pain to open, can give a nasty cut if you are not careful, and take time to massage an entire vial into the skin (most contain 2ml). Pump bottles are by far more user friendly dispensing the exact amount you want to apply. Pumps also facilitate local application, i.e., a serum for couperose (those nasty little veins on the surface of your skin) may only need to be applied in the area of concern.

Serums are designed to be applied and massaged into clean skin, and after a minute or so, locked in with the application of a cream. Initially, a serum is recommended in the morning and at night for 2-4 weeks, then depending on your skin, can be cut back to once a day. The initial concentration of the new ingredients will stimulate and awaken activity in the skin. Locking the benefits of a serum in with a cream is essential as serums are meant to be absorbed into the skin and are not formulated to provide protection or function as a base for make-up. Tip: Exfoliation increases the benefit of a serum even more.

If your skin care program needs to be kicked up a notch adding a serum may give your skin the boost it needs rather than changing your favorite cream. This is often a great idea when the seasons change, which always affects the skin. Another great use for these gems is to use them under your sun protection to allow your skin concerns to be treated at the same time. Serums are one of the most versatile and effective products on the skin care market.

Reviews to follow . . .

Friday, April 4, 2008

MURAD Energizing Pomegranate Moisturizer - SPF 15

Murad's Energizing Pomegranate Moisturizer - SPF 15- is a light textured moisturizer with sunscreen protection that offers a nice combination of UVA and UVB protection, essential for protecting the skin. Dr. Murad, known for his pomegranate research, is the first to incorporate the pomegranate's multi-tasking talents into anti-aging skin care, sun care products, and internal supplements (more on those later). As a powerful antioxidant, pomegranate extract contains potent free radical neutralizers that work hard to mitigate the damage that directly causes aging. As an added bonus, pomegranate boosts the healing process and the SPF of a moisturizer and/or sunscreen . . . long story short, less chemicals are needed to do the job, and that is always very good thing.

The plant, vitamin, and mineral components boost this product into much more than just a sunscreen. Artemia extract, an algae, is a back-up antioxidant supporting the renewal process. The mineral trio (magnesium, zinc, copper) will help activate cell metabolism. Copper plays an important role in the formation and quality of collagen and elastin fibers (strengthening the elasticity of skin and blood vessels), Zinc accelerates healing and is an effective sun protector, and Magnesium is considered the anti-stress mineral playing a major role in health and functioning of cell membranes and promoting lymph circulation. The texture will be more suited to a normal to seborrheic skin, unless a nourishing serum is applied underneath (remember always wait a minute or so between layering of products). Not recommended for dry skin.

$32 for 2 oz US/(60ml Canada)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

JAN MARINI Daily Face Protectant SPF30

Jan Marini's Daily Face Protectant SPF30 presents an improved sunscreen formula that truly packs a power punch in the sunscreen/skin care arena. The carefully chosen sun screens give a thorough mix of both UVA and UVB protection. Not only does this protectant leave a pleasant light feel to the skin, it applies nicely over a treatment serum or skin booster, . . . which is always a nice added touch for your skin care routine.

That said, the upgraded star of this show is a relatively new and interesting plant based ingredient, PhytoMelanin™, derived from the fruit of the date palm. PhytoMelanin™ is said to mimic human melanin offering a critical edge of protection against UV damage. This product also offers an extra added benefit of the super hydrating ingredient, hyaluronic acid, serving to support the moisture content of the skin. Overall, this is a well thought out hydrating sunscreen product with an added bonus of antioxidant activity. More bang for your sun protection buck!

$38 for 2 oz US/ (60 ml Canada)
Available in Glass Bottle/Plastic Tube