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Who is Alexis?
Alexis Fry is the founder of Skin Revival Clinic & your local Skin Guru. With 15 years’ experience as a Medical Aesthetician and over 18 years of experience in the beauty industry… it is safe to say she lives and breathes this industry.
Along side running the two Skin Revival locations and working to build the amazing team here, she also travels across Canada as a Clinical Trainer working to help clinics expand their treatment offerings through technical training.
Ask Alexis a question by filling out the contact form to get one-on-one advice or, check out her blog posts for tips & tricks, behind the scenes and an insider view on all things beauty.
Your local Skin Guru
For all your personal care needs.
Don’t settle for generic. You are unique and your personal care should be too.
Do you know how many times clients say to me “What, you don’t want my money?” and laugh when I tell them they don’t need something!
Just because it sounds good when you read about it online, or because your friend had it and loved it doesn’t mean it is what you need!
It is our job as a team to set proper expectations and make recommendations we feel confident in because we are happy when you are happy.
Ask Alexis Fry anything! Founder of Skin Revival & Master Medical Aesthetician.
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Keep Up with Alexis!
As part of my goal for 2022, I wanted to stay more connected with as many of you as possible and share my expertise and knowledge in the field, just like I do when I travel to train in other clinics.
This blog is a place for me to share, stay in touch and answer the common questions I get in a day from both clients and industry professionals.
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Big changes coming at Skin Revival
As this year marks our 10th year in business, it also marks an exciting new chapter for our Skin Revival Family.
I would like to first thank all of you for your continued support and choosing Skin Revival for all your skincare needs. Navigating through the Covid years was challenging but through our incredible team’s perseverance, commitment and your continued loyalty we have come out of it stronger.
As we look to the future of Skin Revival and our clients, the goal will continue to focus on providing the best results and experience possible. As our team continuously grows so has the need to ensure the same level of expertise and experience, you have become accustomed to over the years.
With that, we are very pleased to announce that in the Fall of 2023 we will be merging both clinics into one larger master location. We are extremely excited to have the opportunity to more than double our existing space in Barrhaven.
What does this mean to you as one of our clients:
At Skin Revival we have always worked in a team based environment. We know that each of us has their own strengths. Being together as one will allow us to utilize our entire team’s knowledge, skills, and individual expertise to maximize your treatment outcomes.
It will allow for all of your treatment technology to be under one location, for easier and more convenient scheduling, in addition to, more customization options for your treatment plans.
On a personal note, I will have the pleasure of being able to see more of you directly each day and will continue to be a resource for both you and the continued education of our team.
As we commence renovations on our new space we will begin merging our Merivale clients to Barrhaven as of June 1st. A member of our team will be reaching out to coordinate any changes to future bookings and help facilitate a smooth transition for all of you.
We cannot wait to share with you the behind the scenes progress as we work to expand our clinic space in Barrhaven.
Stay tuned for more information and we look forward to having you all out to see the new space at our Grand Opening in the fall.
Your Skin Revival
Alexis & Team
Oh, what a few “cheat” days can do to your skin…
If you’ve been following along with me here for a while now you will know that I have some dietary issues that can wreak havoc on my skin. When I am home doing my thing my skin, for the most part, is pretty good. When I am on the road traveling however, it’s an entirely different story.
The other week I was home only 1 day the entire week. Which means, I wasn’t eating normally. Although I watched what I ate when the girls and I here from Skin Revival took a little trip to Saint Sauver, I still indulged in some sugary treats. I probably would have been okay if I didn’t then turn around and go to Quebec city for 4 days. Uber eats and restaurant meals…especially when you are trying to navigate the menu in another language…not the ideal situation for me.
One of my first breakfast meals I ordered poached eggs, no toast…. My poached eggs came on an english muffin…apparently because it stops them from rolling away on your plate. Fantastic, if gluten isn’t your arch nemesis. Not the waitresses fault, I didn’t actually specify an allergy and she was very cute to tell us that her english wasn’t very good.
It’s always a gamble any time I order food.
Unless I am willing to live only on salad, which I am not hehe, then it comes with its side effects.
After one week, I had a little patch of bumps on my upper cheek, and at the corners of my mouth. As I complained to myself, I thought writing this blog and talking about “Acne mapping” may be an interesting topic for anyone else suffering from skin issues.
Remember how I am always saying that our skin is smart, and shows us when something is wrong. Well, your skin is actually an elimination organ. It acts as a filter to remove waste from the blood. When other organs aren’t functioning properly the skin tries to push out toxins through your pores.
Let’s talk about my breakouts:
If you research acne mapping you will see that our cheeks and chin are directly linked to our stomach and large intestine. For someone like myself who has allergies and food sensitivities this is the first place I break out. For you it could be eating too much fatty food or even increased sugar intake.
Typically people associate any type of acne around the chin to be hormonal, this can be true if they seemingly come and go with your menstrual cycle or after a change in birth control or hormone levels.
However, gut health can have a huge impact on acne. The chin area is linked to the large intestine. High carb food, dairy and meats with added hormones and fried foods are the big ones.
All of this is why I stress the importance of looking at your diet.
You can use the absolute best skin care products ever, get all the facial treatments but if something is happening that is setting your skin off, we need to get to the bottom of it.
One, slightly annoying, thing I suggest anyone with acne do is keep a diary. We need to look at a few key factors everyday:
- How does your skin look? Do you have any new breakouts, is it dry or irritated..the more detail the better.
- What did you eat? I don’t need an exact calorie count lol, but say I had a latte, pasta etc… This way we can see if there is any link to certain foods. Example: Okay, everytime I eat X, (diary, gluten, sugary drinks etc…) I wake up with a pimple the next day.
- Lifestyle, are you stressed, have there been any major changes…
- Environment. Where are you? Sometimes something like a change in office, a move can play a factor.
- Sleep… How much are you getting?
After we have about a month of data we can go through and see if there are any links to your skin health.
That in combination with finding the right products for you can have a massive impact on your skin. Listen… your skin didn’t get like this overnight, unfortunately change won’t happen overnight either… be patient, do your homework, invest the time and learn your skin.
I am a resource to you, use it.
And when in doubt- Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
Sunscreen is not just for sunny days…
I’ve always got a good chuckle when people say “I wear sunscreen in the summer….” Just curious….Does the sun go away in the winter?? Haha. No my friend, it does not.
Did you know that most sun damage is caused not from those times you laid out on the beach but just from your everyday life! Whether it’s walking your dog, driving your car or simply sitting by a window, UV rays are coming down on you.
Now there are a lot of different things I could talk about when it comes to sunscreen. In fact, if you asked me “What is the one product, if I used nothing else, would you suggest I use on my face?” my answer would be sunscreen.
Always wear sunscreen!!
The sun is not your friend! It is the number one reason for premature aging of the skin and something that will always be a factor in your life.
For the sake of this blog I am going to help you choose which type of sunscreen to use.
Chemical vs Physical Sunscreen
Now a common misconception when people hear the word “chemical” is that it is bad. In this case, chemical is actually referring to the way in which it protects you against the sun.. which I will get into in a minute.
Chemical sunscreens, yes, are generally not as “natural” as physical sunscreens and some ingredients have been banned over the years. This is why it is important to use sunscreens that are health canada approved. Proper sunscreen will come with a DIN (drug number) on it which means that the product, and it’s ingredients, are properly regulated.
Okay, back to how it works…
Chemical sunscreen absorbs the UVA/UVB rays into the skin and converts them into heat, pushing them back out of the skin in a “chemical reaction.”
Why do people like chemical sunscreens?
- Chemical sunscreens tend to be thinner and leave little to no residue on the skin.
- They require less rubbing as they absorb into the skin easily.
- They are more breathable which is often a better solution for layering under makeup.
- They hold up better to water, making them the better option for sports and swimming.
Now let’s talk about Physical sunscreen…
A physical sunscreen does just that- physically blocks the sun’s rays from penetrating the skin. This is often referred to as Mineral sunscreen.
Why do people like physical sunscreens?
- Less irritating on sensitive skin
- More natural ingredient list
- Provide immediate protection
- More suitable for children
If you ask me if I have a preference for one over the other, the short answer is no. That being said, depending on your skin type some may be better suited for your individual needs.
To keep it easy for you, I will share who I like each type for and give a quick reason why:
- Melasma– Physical sunscreen
Since melasma is triggered by heat, using a chemical sunscreen can actually worsen the skin rather than help protect it.
- Acne- Chemical sunscreen
As it tends to be lighter, allowing the skin to breathe
- Rosacea- Physical sunscreen
Rosacea is a condition in which the blood vessels of the skin dilate and cause flushing and physical broken blood vessels on the face. Adding heat can cause this to worsen. The best option for this skin is Triple Protection SPF which not only protects against the damaging effects of UV rays but also protects against Near infrared rays, which are the heat rays.
- Darker skin- Chemical sunscreen
If you have a darker skin complexion opt for a chemical sunscreen or you will likely be spending way too much time rubbing it in or complaining about a white cast.
The rest of you, who have pretty normal skin, the option is yours.
The biggest factor to take into play…. You cannot just apply it once and expect to be protected all day.
I do suggest using at minimum an SPF 30, it isn’t necessary to use a 50 or 60 but anything under 30 really won’t do you much good.
That little number on the bottle that says 30, 40, 50… all that number means is that it will provide you with 50 minutes more than your body’s natural ability to handle sun. If you burn easy this means you will be applying more frequently than your tanned friend.
My general rule of thumb is when I feel my skin getting too hot or see any pink I will reapply. For me that is generally every 2 hrs in direct sunlight on the beach. On a normal day at home I am good with my once a day application. It just really depends on what I have on the go.
And yes, I still get very tanned even though I wear sunscreen… I just don’t get the damaging part of it! No sun spots for this lady!
Lastly for the love of all things holy, the sun is just as strong now in -20 as it is on those +40 days. Put your sunscreen on! Prevention is always cheaper!!!
Not sure what you need or if what you have is good? Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
Holiday stress got me…
I don’t know about you but I sometimes have a love hate relationship with the Holidays. Obviously, I love having a little extra time. Time to spend with the family, just eat good food and spoil those I love. BUT I have a serious hate for the stress of getting so much done in what feels like so little time.
I find sometimes we get so caught up in running around. Okay…I’m a procrastinator, so yes maybe if I bought all my gifts earlier it wouldn’t be as bad. The reality though, my life is super busy. Between working and a family of 5 with 3 kids in sports and 2 dogs, it’s everything in me and my husband to keep up with laundry and groceries. Not to mention trying to tracking down gifts (that the entire world also wants) and cleaning our baseboards LOL.
So as my husband and I wrap gifts until 2 am (in separate areas to try and still keep our own gifts a surprise) and run around the house cleaning before family arrives, we start our Christmas with our stress levels high and wonder, why do we do this to ourselves? Am I missing out on some of the good parts of the Holidays because I am focusing on making everything else perfect.
You know what happens to me when I am stressed?
My skin gets itchy, my mind doesn’t shut off so my sleep is not good which results in brain fog, my skin often breaks out and I am just a hot mess express.
How does stress affect our skin?
Our bodies respond to changes in our mental state therefore when we are stressed, depressed or anxious those inward feelings can cause external signs. When we are stressed our body releases hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. This causes an increase in oil production which can lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts.
Our mental state can also become a threat to our immune system. Usually a healthy immune system helps to protect and heal our body from wounds or microbes but when our body is under excessive stress the immune system goes into overdrive.
Stress causes excess inflammation through the gut-skin connection. Stress, anxiety, depression can all impact the balance of bacteria in our guts which manifest external skin conditions in response to tell you “Hey, something is not right here!”
These common skin conditions are acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and even just excess skin sensitivity.
My skin this holiday…
Currently my patch of eczema behind my ear is back and my hands and skin feel scaly and chapped. My eyes feel dry, and my brain is just foggy. I even put off writing because my brain just feels like mush.
All these things suck, but all can be prevented by simply reducing stress. For me my skin health, if you’ve been following along for a while now, is purely diet & lifestyle. The exact reason when I meet with people virtually to discuss their skin I go over the importance of lifestyle just as much as products being used.
Remember the old saying “You are what you eat” well it is true, we are also a byproduct of our environment and lifestyle.
If your skin is acting up and you want to get to the bottom of it, definitely start with trying to reduce stress in your life.
Every year around this time people make resolutions. Although most people often fail to keep them up I am challenging you to focus on your stress and I will join you.
Here is the best way to make a goal and stick to it:
- Goals that are trackable and measurable are more likely to succeed.
Have an accountability partner. If you feel stress is causing your skin to go crazy, let us help or ask a friend but have someone who can hold you accountable.
Pay attention to your sleep, your overall mood and how your skin is daily. Check in with your friend, write it down in a shared document, snap chat about it, send a quick text… whatever keeps you on top of it daily.
- Make small goals that seem less daunting. It would be awesome to go cold turkey and say “I’m going to get 8hrs of sleep, I’m going to do small loads of laundry daily, I’m going to walk the dogs 30 minutes a day…..” But making large changes in life is often unsustainable and ultimately have been proven to have low success rates.
I know for me personally sleep is a big one, but I just seem to lack time. I don’t even want to imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have a partner who worked just as hard as me, cleaned, cooked, did all the “blue” jobs I have no desire to do and equally if not more did anything and everything the kids need in a day while trying to “work” from home.
We make our own time.
I know if I just woke up a bit earlier I could tackle more things. We are makers of our own time. If I can tackle my to-do list first thing in the morning so that by the time I finish work I feel accomplished then when I get home I can try and tag out my husband. This way he can maybe kick his feet up for a minute (since let’s be honest some days we are each others only sanity) before kids start needing us, dinners need to be prepared, drives to hockey etc… Then perhaps I won’t be as stressed later in the night.
Instead of just saying “I’m going to wake up an hour earlier” I am going to start with 15 minutes. Part of that is probably going to be trying to get in bed earlier but regardless I am going for 15 minutes. Then after the first week I will try 20, then 30 and so on. It may take me a bit, but I am going to create a habit, take advantage of the early morning calm before the storm so I can start my day off right and reduce stress levels. Anything is better than rushing around every morning and getting to work already frazzled because that definitely carries through my entire day.
I also have some personal business goals for this year…
Things I have been putting off, things that are passion projects for myself, but regardless I really want 2023 to be productive for myself. I have started to share my ideas and goals with those closest to me in hopes they will push me to achieve them. The more I talk about it, the more excited I get.
It will likely feel like a lot of work at the start but with some help I know I can do it. The more we do something the easier it gets.
I remember the start of the pandemic when I had to shift to basically living my life online. I hated creating videos, seeing myself on camera or hearing my voice…now years later I am gearing up to expanding these written blogs into vlogs (video blogs) and/or starting a podcast. Things that would have caused me extreme stress in previous years now excite me!
Baby steps. Do more of what gives you life and worry less about all the other stuff. Life will always be busy, we just need to make healthy habits to stay on top of it and accept the fact that it isn’t the end of the world if you didn’t have time to steam mop before your family comes over.
Here’s to less stress, and if ever you need help or accountability with your skin – Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
Step away from the skincare shelf….
From someone who spends their day with so many of you just chatting about all things skin, and what you do at home…please listen when I say…Stop buying so much skincare!!!!
I ask for you to send me a list of all the products you use on a regular basis before we meet for a skin consultation or facial treatment. I do this so that I can get a better understanding of what you are doing at home and how I can help see what might need tweaking to help achieve your skincare goals.
I don’t know why I allow myself to still be shocked at the sheer volume of products so many of you use on a daily or weekly basis.
The worst part about it… most of you have no idea why you use what you do or even what order you should use each product…. I guess that’s where I come in!
It’s really important to understand that…
Skincare plays a huge role WHEN used properly!
Home products can often be the key factor in achieving your dream skin. It can help boost the results of in clinic treatments and the reality is that what you do every single day on your skin has the biggest overall impact.
This is why finding the right skincare routine for you is key.
Now I really wish I could say there is a magic one-size fits all routine that will give everyone and their dog beautiful glowing skin BUT the reality is it’s not that easy. Some people find it easy to find products that “just don’t break them out” but really don’t improve anything else. I call this the skin purgatory… It’s not the worst place to be…but you’d rather move upwards and onwards to better things. Haha.
How can you possibly know what to buy?
Honestly, if you can accept now that you don’t know your life will be easier. Unless you have a background in skincare, no one expects you to have the slightest clue what you need to use…. That’s why people like myself, and my team are here to help educate you and guide you so that you can feel more confident in your buying decisions and hopefully reap the benefits of picking the right things.
Here are my rules for you when it comes to skincare:
Here are my rules for you when it comes to skincare:
- More does not always mean better! I am constantly telling people just like you to “bring it back to the basics.” I always get people to start first with a good cleanser, toner (if needed, read my to tone or not to tone blog) and a moisturizer.
Once your skin can enter that middle ground of skincare purgatory where it’s not angry, breakouts are under control, skin is feeling happy and hydrated THEN and only then can we consider adding in specialty products for results based.
- Don’t fall for fancy marketing or influencers… are we not smart enough now to know we cannot believe everything we see online? I say this because I too have become prey to some good ads and later had serious buyer’s remorse!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but all my posts on social media are more education based, tutorials and behind the scenes. The number of scams out there marketing to consumers showing photoshopped before and afters or making miracle claims makes my blood boil and influencers…ohhh I am not sure you should get me started.
Don’t get me wrong I have invited people in to be models for treatments, given treatments to bloggers for genuine reviews, feedback etc…. but that is not what most of social media is. Your favorite celebrities or local influencers often will highlight products on their feed that they get for free or get paid to talk about. These people are not experts, and I would bet all the skincare on my shelf that half of them only use the products long enough to take the videos or pictures for their feed.
So please don’t be fooled into buying into “oh but so and so uses this.” I have had clients say “just give me what you use” …ummm no, my skin may be very different from you. Just because it works for your friend or mom or whoever doesn’t make it right for you.
Skincare is only expensive if it doesn’t work.
- More expensive does not always mean better…but sometimes cheap is just cheap! I hate to tell you, that just like that $10 tee shirt might start looking ratty after only a few washes….so will that $10 “super serum” from the beauty store. It may feel okay, even good, but I would not hold your breath that it will provide you with any sort of dramatic results.
- Even the “experts” can’t know every line. When you shop with us, we have only 2 lines we need to memorize, learn and understand. When you shop at a beauty department store, they may have 10+ lines. They may be doing it as a part time job, they may or may not have a beauty background but one thing I can say…is there is a slim chance they actually know every line they sell.
I know this firsthand. I worked in a large hair salon back in the day that sold 15 different brands of shampoo…whatttt, no one needs that much! They gave us videos to watch and books to read but each of us found our favorites and just rolled with those. They weren’t my favorite because they got the best results, smelled the best, I just picked the line I thought had good variety, was at a medium price point and rolled with it…. I was no shampoo expert.
That reason alone is why we choose to only carry two lines here at Skin Revival, because I want the team to actually know what they are talking about.
I also know ingredients…I don’t need to know every product line out there to know what’s good or not. I simply look at the ingredients, scan for things I know are good and bad and then decide. If you already have things that work, have good ingredients then amazing, stick to it. We don’t have to throw it all out and start from scratch, we just need to make sure it works for you!
- On the topic of ingredients…Iess is better. If you have to read all 3 sides of a box to get through the list of ingredients there is probably a good chance you could do without half of them. So many skincare companies add a bunch of extra things to make it smell good or feel good in the short term or to keep them from going bad because they are trying to cut their costs by making insane volumes that may sit on the shelf for years.
Just take the extra few seconds to look. Look and see if the key ingredients they are claiming will make your skin beautiful are at the front or end of the list, this will also indicate how much of that active ingredient is actually in there. They only have to have the tiniest bit to claim it’s there, but it doesn’t mean it’s enough to actually do anything.
You may be thinking…skincare sounds a bit like it can be a scam. The reality is…everything we buy as consumers can be a scam. It is up to us to decide what brands we trust and why.
Here is my take on skincare and what I tell my clients.
I am not here to sell to you today…yes, it’s a business and we need to make money,but my goal is far beyond today. If I just send you out the door with 5 of the most expensive products, just because I can, are you likely to come back to me when you are rolling your eyes about wasting money? No!
Our goal here has always been to create a relationship with all of you. This means building trust, this means giving you our honest feedback…sometimes feedback you may not like to hear, like it will take longer, more than one session, it may never be perfect etc..
You also need to understand that we may not always get it right. Yes, I admit it… I am not perfect! The difference is you have us! We are here for you, to help you, to try things with you and to make sure we get that perfect routine for you…and to change it up as you change, and seasons change.
So let us help you. Even if you are using something and you like it and just want an unbiased opinion, I am here. You know how many texts I get like this… “Okay….I am in Sephora…is this make up okay? Is this face mask good!” I will always be honest!
Part of being honest to you, is letting you know that I too can be a product junkie and I have tried everything from the most expensive to the least expensive when it comes to skincare. I can also tell you, most days, I use only 2 products. Those two products cost about $146 up front, which to some might sound like a lot BUT they last me 6 months, so it’s really around $25 a month…and I hate to admit I spend significantly more than that on coffee alone. Sooo to me, pretty good deal! Again, it’s not expensive if it does what you want it to do.
Just remember these few things when you are choosing your skincare products and if ever you need me – Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
Okay, fine…Let’s talk about Retinol…
I know I’ve made comments in the past and those that have been following along know I have my opinions when it comes to retinol (vitamin a). Since so many of you out there are using retinol or want to start using it (but don’t really know why, lol) this blog is for you.
First, let’s start with why someone may need a retinol:
1) The main reason we use retinol is to help stimulate cell turnover due to aging skin. That is the speed at which our body creates new cells.
2) Reduce cell buildup in oily/acne skin which causes the pores to become blocked.
Sounds good, right?
In theory….to understand who might need these, let’s break this down into two categories: “Age management” and “Acne.”
When we are young, under 20, our skin produces a new cell once every approximately 30 days. During that 30-day process that new cell works its way up to the epidermis (surface of the skin) and sits on the skin for a little bit before naturally turning over and starting the entire process again.
Now, they say for each year over 20 you add an extra day. Therefore if you are me, it is now taking my skin 43 days to do what it used to in 30. If you are reading this and you are 50, your cells are taking twice as long, a whopping 60 days.
This is why as we age we start to feel like our skin looks duller, the texture of our skin rougher, our pores bigger, the fine little lines and crepey skin…. All the things we don’t want.
Knowing this, I know most of you are thinking “Ummm hello… clearly I need the retinol!!!”
Okay okay… You may benefit from Retinol, just not in the way you think.
Safe for daily use does not mean we need it every day. For me, since I only have 13 days to make up for, using a retinol every day would cause my cell turnover to accelerate faster than needed resulting in dry skin, irritation and redness….the most common complaints with consumers using retinol.
My personal rule of thumb…and this is backed by nothing else but my own personal experience….is to use retinol no more than ½ the time in days you need to make up. Therefore my 13 days is 6.5, let’s round it down to 6, in a month. With that being said, my skin could benefit from the use of retinol twice a week.
If I was 50, and I have 30 days of dead cells more than I should, I need 15 days of retinol, therefore I can use my retinol every other night.
With retinol, more is not always better.
Now let’s talk about acne skin….
I’m talking about true acne skin, teen acne, and those suffering from extremely oily skin. When our body, for whatever reason, procedures an excess of oil, dirt and dead cells can become clogged in our pores resulting in many forms of acne.
Did you know Accutane is a form of vitamin A that internally dries up oil production to try to eliminate acne in extreme cases. Now I personally never suggest the use of Accutane (unless in very extreme cases of cystic acne that cannot be managed in other ways), topical retinol can have a huge impact in clearing the skin.
This being said, you, unfortunately, do need to use the product to the point of possible irritation, dryness and redness, to try and stop that oil production. For this reason, it is personally not my go-to. For me, when it comes to acne, I prefer to try and treat the underlying cause. This can be taking a real look into diet, lifestyle, hormones and trying our best to create a more balanced environment for healthy skin development.
I personally don’t recommend retinol to most patients under the age of 40….
I just don’t! This is just the way I have worked for years now. I prefer other methods of cell turnover, mild exfoliation, and create an emphasis on keeping skin hydrated.
Most acne products are meant for people with an oil problem however most patients I deal with have dehydrated skin. Therefore using too many acids, or drying products just creates a cycle with a week or two of good skin for every week of bad skin.
With that being said, NOT ALL “RETINOLS” ARE THE SAME.
There are four main categories of “retinols”…I use the quotations because it is a very loosely used word and many people think they are getting the true benefits of retinol when they purchase a product but are letter disappointed with the results. All forms have the ability to alter the skin’s DNA, thus changing the overall appearance and improving things such as pigmentation, acne and fine lines and wrinkles, some just better than others.
The kicker is that no matter what type may be packed into your skincare, our body can only use its most biologically active form, retinoic acid…aka prescription retinol. For the sake of this blog, we will focus on over-the-counter types.
Hopefully, this will help shed some light on variations in the market and what to look for.
Retinyl esters: This is the least potent form, and requires 3 steps to convert into retinoic acid in your skin making them gentle and with little risk of redness and irritation…BUT also require longer use to achieve major change in the skin due to this limitation.
Types of retinyl esters you may see on your ingredient list: Retinyl palmitate, retinyl linoleate, retinyl acetate, and retinyl propionate.
Retinol: This popular form is seen in many anti-aging and skin renewal creams. These products can help with cell turnover, promote exfoliation, prevent acne, improve discoloration and many more skin benefits.
Retinol requires only two steps to convert in the skin and are much more aggressive. As I said above, these are generally not daily use especially for anyone younger and your skin may experience some negative side effects from trying to speed it up too quickly.
Retinaldehyde: also known as “retinal” is the strongest of the over-the-counter retinoids, taking only one step to convert in the skin. This tends to be used to create rapid change in the skin, however with fast cell turnover can come a lot of redness, irritation and peeling. These products shouldn’t be used unless you are being followed by a skin specialist for a corrective treatment course.
Retinoic Acid Esters: The new kid on the block is supposed to be a hybrid somewhere between retinol and retinoic acid on both efficacy and irritation. There are two forms retinyl retinoate and hydroxypinacolone retinoates (HPR). Unlike other forms, retinyl retinoate converts into both retinoic acid and retinol when it interacts with the skin, meaning it has both instant and delayed benefits. HPR binds directly to retinoid receptors without having to convert to retinoic acid.
If I didn’t lose you along the way….
let’s just talk about what that means or more so my personal opinion on it.
Most skincare products you will find at your local beauty or drug store will be in the first category called, retinyl esters. They aren’t necessarily bad but I wouldn’t hold your breath on seeing any life-changing results.
The second category, retinol, is what you will find in skin care clinics like ours. To me, they are the happy medium. If used as I described above you can all but avoid any negative irritations. That being said, sometimes I want to kick-start my clients’ skin so I will have them use it more frequently. They will get red, irritated and even peeling skin which can be great for some time to accelerate in-clinic treatments but isn’t meant for long-term use.
My favourite is Vivier. These are microencapsulated which simply means that the retinol is locked into the product and slowly released on your skin as you sleep. This slow release helps your skin absorb a higher amount while minimizing irritation.
Okay okay, that’s all I am going to say. Hopefully, this gave you some good knowledge on how to use your retinol and what to look for when you are searching for skincare products.
If ever you need help- Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
Are you following us on social media?
This last month or so we have been sharing on Instagram my interview answers all about laser hair removal, asked to us by the lovely Michelle from Mash-Elle beauty who is currently undergoing laser treatments with us!
If you missed them, I thought I would sum up some of the most common questions here:
1) Does laser hair removal hurt?
Well, I’m not going to lie, when I took my course to become a laser technician in 2007 some choice words may have been used by more than one client (and let’s be honest myself) during the course of treatments. That being said, technology has come a LONG LONG way when it comes to your comfort.
The main factors that come into play when making sure that your treatments are not only effective but manageable are;
– Firstly, cooled handpiece or forced air which takes away the heat sensation allowing you to tolerate higher intensities and get faster results.
– Secondly, the actual laser technology itself, choosing the right laser for your skin type ensures that the heat goes directly into our desired target and not into the skin.
Now I say “manageable” because you do have to feel something. We want to make sure that you do not need to do too many sessions due to under-treating. I suggest that you be a 3 out of 10 for pain with a slight snapping sensation, mild swelling and redness for maximum results.
If you tried it years ago and are scared, please give it a try now and you just might let out a sigh of relief when you feel those first couple of zaps.
2) How many sessions do you need?
For most areas, the average is 8-10 sessions. The general trend we see here at Skin Revival is most people will complete a minimum of 6 full sessions at which point they may switch to doing spot or partial sessions as hairs can be very sporadic.
3) What do I need to do to prep?
Besides shaving, there is nothing really you need to do. If you can avoid sun on the area that is best although our one machine does allow us to treat tan skin, 1 week out of active sun exposure… aka being out at the beach or on the boat all weekend, you get the picture.
As well, you want to avoid anything that removes the hair from the root. This means no tweezing or waxing. We also ask you to avoid chemical removers that dissolve the hair as these can make your skin more sensitive.
If you are worried about ingrown hairs, we have products available to help and as the hairs get finer and grows slower the issue will soon resolve. In fact, issues with ingrown hairs are one of the main reasons a lot of people choose to get laser hair removal.
4) How do I keep my hair away for good?
It is always recommended to do maintenance treatments once you’ve completed your initial sessions. Our hormones continue to change at various life stages which can cause a small percentage of hair to grow back. I usually recommend that you come for your first maintenance session at 6 months and then once a year afterwards. Personally, I get about 6 hairs that grow back (lucky me, I know!!) and I try to do my maintenance sessions before each summer so that I am bikini ready.
If you have more questions about laser hair removal- Let’s talk!
Pssst. We also have a buy 4 get 2 free promotion …. Just saying.
Not having to fuss over shaving as a busy mom and a working woman is probably the best gift I ever gave myself!
Your skin revival
Let’s talk laser hair removal for YOU….
I think it is safe to say that everyone knows what laser hair removal is at this point, as it’s been used since July 1960. However, It has taken nearly 40 years to perfect the science in which we see and use today.
As a laser technician of over 15 years, I can tell you firsthand there has been some major improvements in patient comfort, speed, number of sessions and the lasers ability to treat all skin types equally.
For the longest time if you weren’t “Snow White” (light skin, dark hair) laser removal was a challenge. Those with lighter hair like myself, or darker skin needed significantly more sessions…and when you pay per treatment, that kind of sucks!
I get a lot of questions in my day to day at the clinic, but I think one of the most important questions to ask, and answers to know is….
How to know which TYPE of laser is most effective…FOR YOU!
This is a bit of a loaded question. There are several approved lasers on the market for “permanent hair reduction” (Check out my blog that explains “Is laser hair removal permanent?”) all of which can be fantastic but have their window of excellence.
Let me try to break it down in the simplest terms.
Laser hair removal works mainly by targeting the melanin (color) in the hair’s roots. The higher contrast between the color of your skin and the color of the hair makes the laser’s job easier. Now we also need to put enough energy to kill the hair root without damaging the skin, so here is where the delicate balance and knowledge of your technician comes into play.
Since color is the laser’s target, the darker an individual’s skin the higher risk of their skin’s melanin absorbing too much laser. This can be problematic for multiple reasons. The first being that if too much energy is absorbed into the skin, then the hair follicle is likely not getting enough energy, therefor you are wasting both your time and money on ineffective treatment. The second being an increase to negative side effects on the skin such as burns or hyper/hypo pigmentation which is definitely not what you or we signed up for.
On the same hand if your skin and hair is light, the laser may see minimal to no contrast and although lighter skin can handle the laser without some of those risks there treatments simply don’t work.
What does this all mean?
Well, in order not to bombard you with too much information, I will tell you about my opinion on which laser wave lengths are most effective for different skin types.
IPL- this is broad spectrum light (and I will do a separate blog to explain the difference of IPL vs. Laser)
- For lighter skin types 1-3 (Check out this standard for skin typing) with relatively decent results if done by an experienced technician but with higher number of sessions required.
- Best for shallow hairs as the rays do not penetrate the skin very deep at around 650nm
Alex- Gold standard for lighter skin types
- This laser is best for skin types 1-3
- It penetrates at the ideal depth of 755nm and effectively treats dirty blonde-black hairs
- Due to the increased depth, there is less risk to the skin’s surface, less downtime, less discomfort.
Diode- For awhile this was the go-to work horse.
- At 810nm this laser has a higher ability to treat darker skin types and is deemed safe for all skin types.
- In my opinion however, the energy needed to effectively treat skin types 5, and especially 6 were too uncomfortable and required significantly more sessions.
Yag- Gold standard for dark (and tanned- yay) skin types 4-6
- At the deepest depth of 1064nm we draw the energy away from the skin’s surface and ensure that all energy is delivered into our target.
- The depth allows us to treat tanned patients (1 week out of sun vs. 4 weeks) and dark skin types with the same comfort level and efficiency as lighter skin types AND with similar total number of sessions which is a game charger.
Here is where the problem lies….
Most machines… only carry one technology and I am not going to lie…machines like these do not come cheap (which is why…please do not ask me about at home lasers LOL).
At Skin Revival we are fortunate to have actually had all of the above available to us over the years, and although we recently got rid of our Diode as it just became obsolete, and we rarely use our IPL for hair removal.
Our main go to machine is the Elite IQ, this machine became available less than a year ago here in Canada and has really elevated the results we see in clinic. It is a single platform with ability to use either Alex laser or Yag laser.
My favorite part about it though, is that it has multiple laser head sizes so large areas go super fast and small tricky areas can now be easily and accurately treated which you just can’t do with a lot of machines…. but that’s just a little remark from this laser nerd, hehe!
Keep in mind…
Please, always go see an experience technician. As someone who certifies and trains only people on how to use technology, I can tell you that a machine is only as good as the operator. If your technician does not understand how to fully use the machine to its maximum capability than it really doesn’t matter if they have all the best equipment in the industry.
Before doing any type of cosmetic treatment make sure that you feel safe & confident during the consultation process and when in doubt- Let’s talk!
I will follow this up with a little series on common FAQs on laser so that you can have all the information you need to confidentially ditch that razor for good.
Your skin revival
Sooo…you want to pick your pimples, do you??
This is a question I get almost everyday. Since I personally have a passion for helping patients with acne, most of my days are made up of new acne consults, acne treatments and scar recovery. The most common statement I get is… “I try not to, but I just can’t help myself!”
Is it okay to pop my pimples?”
Here’s the thing, can popping your pimples cause scars?
100% BUT so can leaving them to fester.
I am basically Mrs. Pimple Popper, so I’d be lying if I told you I never popped a pimple on myself. I usually shake my head and respond with something like this… “Listen, I can’t sit here and pop all your pimples, go home and pop mine (and the rest of my household hehe), and then tell you to never ever touch yours.”
Let’s be real… especially when they are ripe for the picking no one is letting those be. Haha!
Instead, my job is to educate you on how to pop them safely.
If you must, pop your pimples with as minimal risk of scaring as possible.
Here are my main rules:
1) The golden rule- If it doesn’t come easy, leave it alone!
One of the biggest reasons pimples will leave behind a red or brown spot is because we force them out. When we push too hard, we can cause trauma to the skin, break blood vessels or in those with darker skin cause what we call PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.) Trust me, it is a way bigger pain to clear red or PIH acne scars than it would have been to just either have a professional extract your pimples or simply wait until they are ready.
2) Do not let them sit there forever.
Maybe it’s a blackhead or maybe it’s a cyst under the skin that never really seems to want to come out…but whatever it is you need to have it removed.
When blackheads sit in our pores for extended periods of time the pore begins to stretch and lose its ability to bounce back to normal. This results in, you guessed it, enlarged pores.
Cysts are basically when one pore becomes infected below the skin’s surface. This can result in multiple pores breaking into a larger pocket. Left untreated the oil can become very hard making extraction very difficult. These cysts if improperly extracted, or even worse if they burst, can create large craters in the skin…by far the hardest to repair.
3) Show some restraint- do not pick during the day!
Do not touch your skin throughout the day. It’s simple, if your skin isn’t clean, do not touch it.
4) Use a sterile tool- your fingers don’t count.
There are two main factors why we shouldn’t use our bare fingers to extract blackheads or squeeze pimples.
First, our hands are rarely clean. Under your fingernails are a lot of things we do not need entering an already bacteria loaded environment.
Secondly, those nails tend to scratch or break the skin in ways that can lead to scarring.
Get yourself a tool meant for extractions or use a sterile lancet. The key word here is sterile. What I do not want you doing is using the same thing over and over without ever cleaning it, because then… you might as well just use those fingers after all. Remember the first golden rule though, do not use excessive pressure. If the tool leaves a big indent on your skin, its too hard.
5) Prep your skin.
It’s not just about cleansing. The best time to extract your skin is after exfoliating and even better yet steaming. Try doing it after the shower or holding a warm cloth on the area first to soften the oils.
6) Disinfect the skin after.
I personally use the Vivier refreshing toner as it naturally kills bacteria, calms redness and doesn’t sting but other natural alternatives like witch-hazel are a great option too.
I know, easier said than done…and honestly, I break my own rules too BUT if you try to implement these rules in your fight against acne, your chances of minimizing damage to the skin will dramatically increase.
When in doubt, leave it be and come see us!
The biggest thing about acne is prevention. Finding the right products to minimize breakouts, understanding your triggers and whether there are any dietary or lifestyle culprits, and making sure that even if you do break out that you heal without any long-term marking.
If you struggle from acne or read this and thing of dang, I am probably over here doing it all wrong – Let’s talk!
Your skin revival
To tone, or not to tone…that is the big question!?
I have a love-hate relationship with toners. I personally love them, and they can have a big impact in your skincare routine however I hate that 9 out of 10 of you are misusing them.
Using a toner incorrectly is probably the most common issue I see when doing virtual skin consultations and talking to my clients in the clinic.
Let me tell you why…
First, we need to understand why we need a toner in the first place. There are two main functions of a toner;
To remove any left-over make-up or dirt your cleanser may not get. I prefer to call these liquid cleansers or mists, an example is a Micellar water. They look like toners but they actually are not.
They are great….however, if you just got a better cleanser OR learned how to use your cleanser properly you wouldn’t need it for this purpose.
So let me give you a few quick tips for properly cleansing your skin.
• If you are wearing heavy foundation start with a make-up remover or do a double cleanse.
• Spend more than 10 seconds on it. Just like brushing your teeth, you can’t do a couple of quick passes and expect it to remove the build-up. Spend at least 45 seconds massaging the cleanser into the skin, making sure you cleanse at the hairline, eyebrows and into the creases of your nose.
• USE A FACE CLOTH!!! Seriously, the splash and dry method is not okay. I personally use a clean face cloth every day! The cloth will help to loosen everything off the skin, lightly exfoliate and provide you with a superior clean.
The true toner is meant to balance your skin…
We all know that we want normal skin but how do we achieve it? That unicorn skin has a pH balance of approximately 5.5 but we consider normal between 4.5-6.5.
Cool right, but what on earth does this mean for you?
Well, cleansers also have a pH balance. They can be pH neutral which means they do not affect the skin’s natural pH by making it either too acid or too alkaline OR they aren’t…
Here is where toner comes into play. A toner is created to rebalance the pH level when a cleanser throws it off.
You may be wondering why all cleansers aren’t just pH neutral and are toners just the big guy’s way of getting us to use one more product…maybe haha but no.
Our skin prefers what it knows best, therefore cleansers with a slightly more acid pH are best for maintaining overall skin health. The benefits of acidifying skin surface by way of pH is proven to have a reduction in inflammatory responses, acne, barrier function recovery, and prevention of epidermal hyperproliferation which causes skin irritation, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. Yay!! All the good stuff.
Now, that being said….products that are more alkaline such as some bar soaps have a PH of about 9 to 12, which is rather extreme if your goal is to keep your skin moisturized. This is why every aesthetician will always cringe when you tell us you wash your face with a bar of soap. That squeaky clean feeling is the sound of your skin crying, haha! Just stop, thank you!!
Okay okay….back on track! Now that we understand this let’s dive into your biggest mistake.
STOP USING RANDOM TONERS
When you buy a cleanser, wherever you may be, if there is no “matching” toner its probably safe to say it is pH neutral and doesn’t require one BUT if there is you need to buy that one…not another one that looks or smells good or happens to be on sale…THE MATCHING ONE. If you don’t have the budget for both pick something else because buying one without the other is a waste of your money.
Toners are not meant to mix and match. Skincare companies create their toners to rebalance your skin after cleansing with a SPECIFIC cleanser.
When you use random toners you aren’t properly bringing the skin back up to neutral and therefore you aren’t getting the proper benefits, in fact… you could be making it worse.
Such a simple concept many never knew. Now there is one exception to the rule, but it requires a little google search if you are ever really intent on changing things up. Some skincare companies make all the cleansers & toners with the same pH and therefore you can mix and match within the same line…but never do it with another brand OR keep it simple, do yourself a favor ask an expert or just buy the matching set.
Happy toning, and as always if you are ever unsure- Let’s talk!
Your skin revival,