Retinol, Retin-A, tretinoin, oh my!

Retinol, retinoids, Retin-A, tretinoin, who knew one product could be so complicated?  The Skincare Warrior is here to help break it down.

Retin-A is a brand that contains tretinoin.  The names are interchangeable – – think cleanser and face wash.  You may also find tretinoin manufactured under various names such as Retin-A Micro or Renova.  Another similar name in the tretinoin family is ‘retinoid.’  Retinoids are the group of meds that tretinoin belongs to.  Retinoid is what I refer to as the true ‘fountain of youth.’  This amazing Vitamin A derivative speeds up cell turnover, exfoliates the skin, diminishes clogged pores, softens lines and wrinkles, and helps with hyperpigmentation. 

Unlike retinoids, retinol is an over-the-counter version of tretinoin.  It, too, is derived from Vitamin A and helps with fine lines and skin clarity.  Although it’s not as efficient as Retin-A, it may be a great option for those with sensitive skin who find Retin-A too harsh.

If I asked 5 people about their experiences with tretinoin, I’d likely get 5 very different responses.  Most were using it as a night cream and did not have proper instructions on how to start incorporating it into their skincare routine.  A co-worker of mine once came into work with what appeared to be an overnight sunburn.  When I inquired she said she found Retin-A in her medicine cabinet and slathered it on before bed.  Needless to say, I was horrified (as was she).  Retin-A varies in strength and is known for it’s intense cell turnover.  It must be introduced gradually with a chance for your skin to build a tolerance.  Your skin should also be dry (wait 20 mins after cleansing).  People with sensitivity to tretinoin may want to moisturize first, however, I suggest waiting until your face is no longer tacky and then apply your tretinoin.  A typical application of tretinoin is a dime-size amount for the entire face as a little goes a long way (and be conscious of corners of the nose and mouth as to avoid over drying and irritation). 

Lastly, when using a retinoid product, it is IMPERATIVE that you use a broad-spectrum SPF 30 at minimum.

Stay tuned for my next post on the newest retinoids customized just for you!

~Skincare Warrior

Mushrooms are sprouting up everywhere including in your skincare.

Lately, I’ve been seeing mushrooms sprouting up as an ingredient in skincare product lines. So, I did a little delving into the world of mushrooms and was I impressed.

Similar to the benefits of hyaluronic acid (“HA”), the snow mushroom is amazing at hydrating the skin. Even though HA can hold 1000 times its weight in water vs. the snow mushroom’s 500 times, the snow mushroom’s smaller particles can penetrate the skin more thoroughly and provide equal, if not superior, hydration. Even more notable, the snow mushroom gives the skin a thin veil to help hold in moisture.

The more I investigated about mushroom skincare, the more I was fascinated. As if its amazing hydrating benefits weren’t reason enough to start using it, the snow mushroom can help with the production of collagen (the protein that gives our skin density)! It’s also an antioxidant that can help neutralize free radicals and assist with skin cell renewal. Anyone looking for a brighter, more youthful complexion, should consider products that provide efficient cell turnover and the mushroom does just that!

But the snow mushroom isn’t the only shroom in the room (ahaha)….equally as impressive as the snow mushroom is the reishi mushroom. This adaptogen provides impressive cell turnover and is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Similar to the snow mushroom, the reishi mushroom protects the skin’s barrier which helps to maintain moisture and prevent inflammation.

Mushrooms are popping up in toners, serums, masks, and just about every skincare line is catching on to these adaptogen gems! I’m excited to add this to my daily regimen and report my results. In the meantime, if you want to venture into the world of mushroom skincare, consider Origins’ Dr. Weil MegaMushroom or Eminence Organic Snow Mushroom.

~Skincare Warrior

Feel free to share your mushroom experience in the comments!

~Skincare Warrior

Trying to distance from ‘maskne?’ Here’s how…

As if COVID hasn’t wreaked enough havoc on our lives, it’s also affected our skin.  I’ve talked with quite a few family members and friends about the irritations caused by wearing a mask.

I need to start off by saying, it’s only temporary.  In truth, if the worse we experience during the COVID outbreak is some acne, we are the fortunate ones.  However, I do understand that that doesn’t make the acne any less annoying.  So I have a few suggestions to help alleviate breakouts.

  • First, make sure you are regularly washing your mask if you are not using and then disposing of disposable ones.  Just as I have previously suggested regarding face towels and pillowcases, it is important to  regularly wash items that your face comes in contact with as they can harbor bacteria.
  • Consider using a product that helps fight bacteria such as apple cider vinegar.  When I’m having a breakout, I dampen a cotton ball with water and dip it in vinegar then swipe it on the affected area.  (Please start off with a small, light dab as vinegar is highly acidic and might cause irritation to sensitive skin.)
  • Try using a glycolic acid pad (no more than twice a week) to help fight acne and exfoliate your skin. Again, depending on the strength, acids can be strong so use with caution.
  • If you are not already using a retinol product, consider adding one to your nightly routine such as  Differin.  Differin can help decrease the number of pimples and promote quick healing.  In recent years, it’s become available over the counter and can be purchased at most drug stores. 
  • Lastly, continue using both cloth and skincare masks.  A facial mask that contains a drying agent such as clay or sulfur helps to absorb oil and detoxify the skin.

Please stay healthy and be safe.

~Skincare Warrior

Make May YOUR Melanoma Awareness Month

It’s finally May and that means it’s Melanoma Awareness. So let’s talk about the importance of sunscreen.  I know it’s a redundant topic but I think it’s always worth reading about a few important measures we can take against skin cancer.

Each year May reminds me of warmer days and the time to visit my dermatologist for a skin analysis.  As I’ve blogged about before, our skin is exposed every day to harmful rays.  Although 15 minutes of sun gives us our needed daily dose of Vitamin D, anything over that amount of time can do damage.  To help prevent daily accumulative damage, we need to wear a daily broad spectrum sunscreen.  Broad spectrum just means that it prevents both UVA and UVB rays.  Studies have shown that using a daily sunscreen can reduce the risk of developing skin cancer by 40%!  Plus, people who wear daily sunscreen show 24 percent less skin aging than those who don’t!  Who doesn’t want to look younger?????

For years now I have been wearing a daily mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide.  I prefer to use a sunscreen with niacin which helps to fade existing sun damage and prevents future damage.

While walking to the bus stop, gardening or running errands, you are exposed to harmful UV rays.  So, I suggest making sunscreen part of your daily ritual and apply it to your face, neck, chest and hands.

Keywords when shopping for sunscreen: mineral, broad spectrum, zinc oxide and anti-aging.

~Skincare Warrior

Warrior tip:  Check out this article I recently came across that explains the difference between physical and mineral sunscreens at  Women’s Health

Vitamin C is more than just an antioxidant.

The benefits of Vitamin C for the skin is amazing.  It’s known as the anti-aging triple threat due to it’s multiple benefits as it’s more than just an antioxidant.

Daily exposure to UV rays and pollution can cause our skin to age and increase risk of  skin cancer.  The antioxidants in Vitamin C skincare products help to neutralize the damaging effects and protects our skin cells.

Vitamin C is sourced from ascorbic acid which is also a mild exfoliant.  So a product containing Vit C can help with hyperpigmentation and prevent the formation of new spots. (And of course using daily SPF – no matter the weather. You get just as many damaging rays on cloudy days.)

What I find most impressive about Vitamin C is it’s ability to promote collagen.  The antioxidants in Vitamin C have been shown to stimulate our skins fibroblasts – cells that produce collagen and restore elasticity.  I recently read an article about a study that showed higher Vit C intake was associated with less wrinkled skin and ingesting it helps more with collagen production than applying it. So whether you take it in supplement form or load up on vit c rich foods, it’s a win-win for your skin!

When I first started using a Vit C product, I noticed redness and irritation.  I tend to have sensitive skin.  So if you decide to incorporate a Vit C product, I suggest you start off by maybe using it one or two times a week and gradually increase the frequency.  Some of my favorite lines such as IMAGE, Skinceuticals and Environ all carry Vit C serums and moisturizers.

~Skincare Warrior

Why clay can brighten your day.

Clay has been around since first used by Ancient Egyptians and is said to be one of the original skincare treatments. It’s been known that Egyptians made clay from ash, minerals and earthly compounds.  They must have known what they were doing because fast forward to today and clay facials are a mainstream in skincare treatments.

My first experience with clay masks was less than appealing. Oftentimes, they smelled of sulfur (think rotten eggs) and I found my skin left very dry.  However, today’s clay masks are made with a variety of ingredients and provide multiple benefits.  Clay masks can remove toxins, brighten skin, tighten pores, reduce acne AND leave skin hydrated.  Almost every type of skin can benefit from incorporating a clay mask once or twice a week into a skincare routine.  If acne is a concern, clay made of bentonite would be beneficial.  I prefer a mask that helps to brighten and promote cell regeneration and, therefore, prefer a kaolin based mask.

Choosing a clay mask that’s right for you is based on your skin’s needs and what result you are looking for.  When choosing a mask, think like the Egyptians and find one that uses naturally derived  ingredients.  Two product lines I like are Eminence and Origins as both carry a range of masks for all skin types.

Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know your favorite clay mask.

~Skincare Warrior


Your face needs exercise too!

Chances are if you stop to think about your face at this very moment, you are either pursing your lips, clenching your jaw, or wrinkling your forehead.  It’s amazing what stress and years of repetitive habits can do to our face.  As we awake each day to the uncertainty of this unprecedented pandemic, I think it’s so important to take time to destress and focus on staying balanced.  It’s amazing how turning on the news, checking our social media and even texting with family, friends and coworkers can elevate our stress.  So, how do we destress?

Exercise is probably the number one way to destress the body.  However, when was the last time you exercised your face?  I’ve been exercising my face for a few months now and still find myself pursing, squinting and frowning, but I have become much more aware of it.  Aside from the visual benefits you will start to see from facial exercises, it really relaxes you and keeps you aware of facial habits.

Some of my favorite facial exercises are below.  I hold each one for six seconds and repeat them 5 times. I try do this a few times throughout the day. They are all going to make you look silly, trust me I’ve had my share of looks at red lights:
-pretend  you are saying a great big WOW and hold it
-protrude your chin as if making underbite and smile
-try lifting your eyes to the sky w/out raising your eyebrows

Just as we trained our muscles to hold facial stress, we can train them to destress while simultaneously improving our appearance.  There are lots of facial exercises you can find on the Internet and YOUTUBE.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay stress free.

~Skincare Warrior

Kick your moisturizer into high gear!

As Fall approaches and the cooler temps kick in, I start to swap out my lighter clothing for thicker, warmer clothing.  Just as I turn to heavier clothing, I also turn to heavier moisturizer.  The cooler temps bring drier air and can wreak havoc on our skin as it craves more moisture.  I make sure to do the following to help alleviate itchy, dry skin: use a heavier, cream-based moisturizer;  moisturize while my skin is still damp; and, continue to layer skincare products from thinnest to thickest.  I also add a few deep moisturizing masques to my weekly routine.  Lastly, I continue to exfoliate.  You can add the best moisturizer in the world to your skincare routine but, if you don’t exfoliate and get rid of the dead skin that we are meant to shed, you are wasting your product and your money.

~Skincare Warrior

Warrior tip:  Apply a few drops of argan or coconut oil to your moisturizer and apply it after a warm (never too hot) shower/bath.


Vitamins for your skin’s health

I recently blogged about the benefits of using a Vitamin C skincare product which got me thinking about the importance of other vitamins when it comes to skincare.  It seems that when it comes to vitamins, Vitamin C isn’t the only one with benefits, here are some others:

Vitamin B Complex: Taking a Vitamin B Complex or foods rich in Vitamin B (oats, potatoes, avocados, eggs, lentils) can help with tightening sagging skin.  Adding a skincare product containing Vitamin B can improve your overall skin tone and help to keep it hydrated.

Vitamin A: This is probably the most well-known vitamin for skincare.  When you take in adequate amounts of Vitamin A, the skin produces more collagen and as a result assists with keeping the skin plump.  Adding a Vitamin A derived skincare product to your regimen can increase collagen production, help diminish fine lines and tighten the skin.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is known for its anti-aging prevention and its ability to safeguard the skin against free radical damage.   Vitamin E not only tightens the skin but infuses moisturizing properties into the skin.

Vitamin K: Vitamin K is probably best known for remedying dark circles.  As we age, our skin gets thinner and collagen production decreases causing loss of elasticity. Vitamin K assists with maintaining the acid protein in our skin and assist with wrinkle prevention.

If you are interested in adding vitamins to your skincare routine, I suggest checking out your local healthfood store.   One of my favorite (and affordable) vitamin based skincare lines is Dermae.  On the Dermae website you can search for products by key ingredients.

Whether you choose to increase your vitamin intake through supplements, eating more vitamin enriched foods or adding a topical vitamin skincare product to your regimen, you can’t go wrong with vitamins and the overall effect it can have on your skin.

~Skincare warrior

HydraFacials….here’s what you need to know

Hydrafacials are becoming increasingly more popular. It seems that more and more spas are offering the ‘HydraFacial.’ Recently, my esthetician offered me a hydraderm facial. I was not familiar with this type of facial and was interested to find out more. I learned that similar to microdermabrasion, the hydraderm facial removes dead skin by exfoliation, however, the HydraFacial simultaneously deeply infuses the skin with toner, serum and oxygen giving the skin an instant, youthful glow. A series of HydraFacials can greatly improve aging skin by smoothing wrinkles and scars, diminishing age spots, shrinking pores and evening out complexion.

I always love the way my skin looks a few days after my facial and microdermabrasion, but with the HydraFacial I found I had an instant glow and my skin was significantly hydrated. After only one HydraFacial, I can see why this has become the latest craze and Hollywood’s current ‘go to facial.’  The results speak for themselves.

If you are looking to instantly hydrate your skin after a long winter of dry air and indoor heat, I highly recommend trying the HydraFacial. I found two medspas in my area both offering the HydraFacial for $99. I promise that with this investment you will see an immediate return on your money.

~Skincare warrior

Warrior tip: Be extra conscious and diligent to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen after any type of microdermabrasion.