skincare blog

Exfoliating the Scalp

woman-shampooing2We know the importance of exfoliating the face and the body, but one area that is generally neglected is the scalp.  It should come as no surprise that the scalp occasionally needs a bit of attention as well, but how often does that thought occur to us?

As with any other part of the body covered by skin, the scalp is susceptible to the same build-up of dead skin cells, sebum, and styling products, leading to clogged pores, oiliness and flaking .  Regular shampooing may remove the dirt from the hair but when the scalp isn’t clean, you may find yourself washing more often than is necessary and drying out the hair in the process.

Products made specifically to exfoliate the scalp seem to be few and far between at the stores, so a DIY version may be a convenient way to give this a try. In addition to being a little easier on the wallet, mixing up a scalp scrub at home allows us to avoid environmentally damaging microbeads.

Start with equal parts of your favorite clarifying shampoo and cornmeal, a natural exfoliant.  Add a few drops of either peppermint or lavender essential oil.  Apply the mixture to the scalp, gently massage for a few minutes and then rinse thoroughly.  Shampoo and condition as needed.

Exfoliating the scalp once a week to start and then moving to once a month should reap some healthy hair benefits, including:

  • Less oil
  • Less flaking and itching
  • Unclogging pores
  • Allowing hair care products to absorb and work more effectively
  • Increased circulation and hair growth

Exfoliate the scalp?  Why not?  After all, it’s skin, too.

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Men and Skin Cancer

serious manA study published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that men who live on their own have a higher risk of death from skin cancer.  The Swedish study, which involved statistics gathered from over 27,000 melanoma patients between 1990 and 2007, did not find, however, that single men had a higher risk of developing melanoma, only that they were 40% more likely to be in advanced stages of the disease at the time of diagnosis.  The reduced survival rate excluded any differences in education, age or location of residence in Sweden.

In North America, the Skin Cancer Foundation reports that young men account for 40% of all melanoma cases but 60% of melanoma deaths.  Men over the age of 50 are more than 50% more likely to develop melanoma in their lifetimes than women and nearly half of men surveyed by the Foundation admitted to not having used sunscreen in the past 12 months.

So what does that mean for men and skin cancer?  Clearly, the study shows a need for earlier detection in men, an education program targeting men specifically and a more widespread use of sunscreen for men as part of their daily routine, not just when they’re heading out to the beach.

In an effort to reach more men, the American Academy of Dermatology has expanded its free “SPOT ME” skin cancer screenings to training camps and family days at National Football League events throughout the next few months.  A quick glance at the men’s skin care section at local stores reveals that many moisturizers now include SPF to make sun protection and hydration a one-step process.  And in a rare example of sun protection, the power of celebrity and social media colliding, Hugh Jackman recently posted a message urging people to “Please!  Please! Wear sunscreen!” after having two basal cell carcinomas on his nose removed.

Will this be enough to kickstart an improvement in the dire situation of men and skin cancer?  Only time will tell.

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marilyn monroeA bunion is one of the most common deformities of the foot, involving the big toe joint and resulting in a large and sometimes painful bump at the side of the foot by the big toe base.   Although most people consider bunions to be a genetic condition seen mostly in older adults, the development and treatment of bunions are in reality much more complex.

Most people who have bunions have inherited a gait that causes overpronation, or a tendency to roll their feet inward with every step. It is the pressure of bearing and shifting weight on that big toe joint that eventually causes bunions to develop.  As the toe joint gets constantly stressed and pushed out to the side, the bones and joints become misaligned, causing the bunion.

Overpronation of the foot is only the common cause of bunions.  Arthritis and trauma to the tissues surrounding the toe joint can also result in similar foot deformities so it’s important to consult your health advisor to rule out other possible causes.

Although surgery may be the only solution for severe bunions that interfere with the ability to perform every tasks and athletic activities, taking a few preventive steps can help alleviate discomfort and slow down the progression of the bunion.  But a word of warning: women who are fans of Christian Louboutin won’t like these suggestions:

  1. Ditch the high heels.  Unfortunately, wearing pointy toed shoes with heels that are over 2” high will only aggravate the problem.
  2. Choose shoes with a wide toe box that won’t squeeze or cramp the toes.
  3. Use non-medicated bunion pads to cushion the bump.
  4. If the bunion becomes inflamed or painful, apply an ice pack to help bring down the swelling.
  5. Consult your doctor or podiatrist who may suggest custom orthotics.

Legend has it that even Marilyn Monroe suffered from bunions.  See, you’re in good company.

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Retinoid Myths – Busted

woman_black_chignonLike the celebrated actress in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, retinoids are stars when it comes to the anti-aging skin care world.  And just like the most talked about celebrity, there’s no shortage of information (and misinformation) about this vitamin A derivative.

If you’ve been considering adding a retinoid to your daily routine, we’re here to help separate the myths from the facts and to make your decision just a little bit easier.

Myth:  Only prescription strength retinoids are effective.

Fact:  Retinoids come in many strengths and forms, encompassing retinol, retinaldehyde (also known as retinal) and retinoic acid. When applied topically to the skin, retinol must first be converted to retinaldehyde and then to retinoic acid in order to be effective at skin cells. Pure retinoic acid for topical use is only available by prescription. Yes, it’s effective, but is also the most potentially irritating form and cannot be tolerated by many individuals. High potency formulations containing retinol or retinal are also incredibly effective.

Myth:  Retinoids thin the skin.

Fact:  Just the opposite in fact!  Retinoids promote collagen production, which leads to plumper, thicker and smoother skin.

Myth:  Retinoids should only be used after wrinkles appear.

Fact:   Although many women in their 20’s have not even begun to think about anti-aging and are still a few years away from developing wrinkles, some skin care professionals believe that it’s not too early to use retinoids to help maintain their great skin and delay the visible signs of aging.  Not only can retinoids reduce acne and shrink pores (common concerns of young adults) but they also work as cell communicators to regulate skin function.

Myth:  Retinoids will make my skin turn red and peel.

Fact:  Retinoids do have a reputation for causing dryness, redness and peeling.  However, by incorporating them gradually into your skin care routine and allowing the skin to build up tolerance slowly, those effects can certainly be minimized.  We like retinal, the gentle cousin to retinol and retinoic acid and the least irritating form of retinoids.  It can be found in Apothekari A is for Anti-Aging serum.

Myth:  Retinoids can’t be used in the summer.

Fact:  Retinoids can be used year round.  Retinoids are light sensitive and can be broken down to the point of being  ineffective when exposed to UV light, which is why it’s best to use your retinoid treatment at night, regardless of whether it’s summer or not.  When choosing a retinoid, packaging is also key.  An opaque and air-tight container is optimal.

Retinoids have a long and proven history when it comes to results.  Unlike a young starlet whose sole claim to fame is one movie, retinoids are here to stay, rather like Meryl Streep.  And who wouldn’t want Meryl Streep as a life-long friend?

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