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Why layer, and does product order really matter?

Ever wonder why we layer skincare products, and whether the order of products matter?  Most of us use multiple products and steps in our skincare routine.  Growing up in Japan and watching my mother, I learned at a young age that skincare was a meticulous ritual, layer by layer in a specific order, step-by-step.  But is layering just a question of habit or preference, or, are there benefits to it?

 

LAYERING WITH PURPOSE

Layering products facilitates flexibility and allows for each product and step to maximize its purpose and the delivery of its skincare benefits, from cleansing all the way to moisturizing and nourishing.  There are also questions about ingredient compatibility.  There are ingredients that simply don’t go together in the same formulation.  Some ingredients are water-soluble, others are fat soluble. Certain active ingredients may work best in certain types of formulations, while others would not.  Applying a multitude of actives can benefit our skin, but trying to pack them all into one single lotion might compromise the long-term stability of the formulation.   This is where it makes sense to layer separate products.  Certain targeted ingredients especially, should only be applied where needed, either because it would be a waste otherwise, or worse, because it might irritate skin unnecessarily.  Most of us to a greater or lesser degree have combination skin with some areas drier or oilier than others, some areas more than others prone to break-outs, age spots, sensitivities and wrinkles, etc.etc.  Our faces are puzzles, composed of areas that often have a life of their own.  Layering products allows us to give all puzzle pieces the right TLC.

 

WHY PRODUCT ORDER MATTERS

As a general rule of thumb, lighter texture products should be applied before heavier products, humectants (water binding ingredients) before an occlusive (“sealants” like oils, butters, creams, ointments) to allow for maximum results and benefits. This is not to say that skin would reap zero benefits if the order was reversed, but the effect would be slower and weaker.  Scroll down for recommended order in more detail.

 

WHY CHOOSE A SYSTEM

A lot of the guesswork can be taken out of layering and product order by choosing a core skincare system by one brand.  We’re talking daily staples like cleanser, toner, moisturizer, etc.  Most skincare systems are designed and formulated to ensure ingredient compatibility, overall efficacy and layering safety within the same system.  This is not to say that you should never mix & match from different brands. Especially when it comes to items like masks and exfoliators which fall outside of your daily system, it can be nice way to personalize your program.  Respect your skin’s balance and unique needs, read up on ingredients, plus good old trial & error, and you’ll be layering like a pro in no time!

 

STEP 1 (AM & PM):  

Make-up remover & Cleanser

If you wear make up, the first step is to remove make-up and cleanse skin with a gentle cleanser.  Thorough but non-stripping is key, no matter what your skin type.  If you use a separate oil or oil-based make-up remover, be sure to wipe and wash off any excess residue that could interfere with the treatment steps that follow.

 

STEP 2 (AM or PM, weekly or monthly depending on skin type and product): 

Exfoliator

Whether it’s a classic scrub, enzyme or glycolic treatment or a combination product, exfoliating should generally follow after cleansing (or coincide with it, if it is a 2-in-1 cleansing scrub).  Keep in mind that skin tends to be more sensitive after exfoliating, so you might want to avoid applying products then that might be too irritating on newly-exfoliated skin.  If you have very sensitive skin, stick to exfoliating in the evening, so you’re your skin can rest and recover overnight.

 

STEP 3 (AM & PM):  

Toner

Whether your toner is just a hydrosol mist or a hydrating treatment, it should be applied after cleansing (and exfoliating).  Especially if it’s a humectant-rich(e.g. contains hyaluronic acid), soothing toner, it will help counter the drying effects of tap water and draw hydration to skin quickly and efficiently.

 

STEP 4 (AM and/or PM, depending on skin and product):  

Break-out treatment

Anti-acne actives should be applied only to affected areas and spots, to bare skin after toning but before other products are layered on top, in order to allow full acne-fighting efficacy.  Depending on severity of break-outs, this step is often reserved for night-time only.

 

STEP 5 (AM & PM)

Anti-aging serum

Whether your serum is a gel or an oil or something in between, benefits are delivered efficiently to skin that is still relatively bare.  If you don’t have break-outs, you can skip right to your serum.  Anti-aging serums containing Retinol, should not be applied on top of anti-acne treatments, because they are too irritating together (salicylic acid) or because they deactivate each other (benzoyl peroxide).  If you are not sure, either avoid the area where you applied the anti-acne treatment, or wait until the treatment has fully absorbed before applying the serum.

 

STEP 6 (AM & PM): 

Eye cream

Eye creams are formulated specifically for the delicate eye areas to address issues like dark circles , puffiness and fine lines, as well as dryness and dehydration.

 

STEP 7 (AM & PM): 

All-over moisturizer

Depending on your skin type, your all-over moisturizer should lock in moisture or balance oil, strengthen your protective barrier and ensure continuous hydration.  You can switch the order of Step 6 & 7, and apply your moisturizer before the eye cream, however, make sure you spare the eye area.  This is because a lot of all-over moisturizers are not formulated for the sensitive eye area, and also because you don’t want the moisturizer to weaken absorption of the eye cream.

 

STEP 8 (AM): 

Sunscreen

During daytime, your last step should always be an all-over, broad-spectrum sunscreen to give you that protective shield from the damaging UVA and UVB rays.  If your daytime face moisturizer contains sun protection, you can skip this step, as long as you apply it evenly all over your face and neck.  Foundation should go on top of the sunscreen, after allowing it time to set and penetrate skin.

Happy layering!

Acne in your 40s: 4 Ways to Fight it Naturally

Is that a pimple in my wrinkle? Does my concealer even hide that topography? Acne at 40…REALLY?  Is my future going to be filled with time spent hiding mountain ranges and molehills on my face.  Maybe I should delve into the art of living incognito with big sunglasses and scarf wrapping. Then I realized that fear is no way to live, it would probably be easier to figure out what are the causes of adult acne and how do I fight it naturally?

STRESS

We all have deadlines, people to take care of, errands, relationship woes, etc. It’s surprising I don’t have more acne if I think about my daily life. But did you know that with stress comes the adrenal hormone cortisol, and with cortisol comes a little bit of testosterone that in women can cause oil gland overactivity?

Resist: Meta-analysis  shows that yoga asanas decrease cortisol production. And meditation practice decreases your body’s physiologic response to stress.

HORMONES

Perimenopause, post pregnancy, and pre-period (did you know that women over 33 are more likely to get pre-period pimples?), along with hormone related health issues like PCOS all affect hormone levels and thus increase oil production, pore clogging, inflammation then pimples.

Retaliate: Use non-stripping cleansers along with salicylic acid treatments that exfoliate gently to unclog pores. Then follow with oil-free, inflammation fighting moisturizers. Finding the balance in your skin is key. And see your doctor for the health issues.

FOOD and ENVIRONMENT

I don’t mean fried foods and chocolate, but sugar.  Sugar increases your insulin which has been found to also bump up the oil provoking hormones. Although the link between pollution and acne is still being established, there’s no denying that the particulates of pollution are probably not good for your skin.

Resist: Cut out high glycemic foods. Not sure what causes that insulin high, check out the estimated glycemic load of your foods.

SKINCARE ROUTINE

Overwashing, as in more than twice a day, or harsh cleansers and exfoliants can dry out skin and cause overproduction of oil. And with aging and sun damage, the collagen of your skin breaks down and pores become bigger making them easier to clog.

Retaliate: Exfoliate gently and regularly to remove the build up of dead skin cells. Gentle cleansers with oil free or non-comedogenic moisturizers keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Boost that healthy skin with collagen building, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory actives.

Knowing that pimples are just a normal part of life make having them much easier. Also knowing there are a few ways I can control breakouts by changing some things in my daily life make me freakout less. All in all, these problems and solutions are manageable and easy to employ.  Maybe now my mountain will turn back into that molehill. Do you have any other tips for managing breakouts?

What Happens When You Go to Bed Without Washing Your Face?

We all do it once in a while (and I have certainly done it more often since I had kids…).  It happens!  Yes, I know it’s bad to leave make-up on your skin overnight, and no, I don’t like how my skin looks the next day, but the world won’t end if it happens once in a while, right?  But…I do wonder: What actually does happen when I don’t wash my face before I go to bed at night?

1.  Fertile Ground for Clogged Pores & Pimples

While pretty much all make-up or sunscreens these days are non-comedogenic and won’t break you out per se, it is still “stuff” that, when it remains on the skin for an extended time, will mix with our skin’s own sebum, as well as dirt and bacteria (how often do you touch your face throughout the day?) to increase the risk of clogged pores and bacterial proliferation, resulting in new pimples or existing ones getting worse.  Even if you don’t wear make-up, the mix of dirt, sebum and added bacteria can lead to pore congestion over time.

2.  Skin Irritation and Inflammation

Throughout the day, we are exposed to micro-particles, pollutants and allergens that can more or less stick to the skin unless we wash it off.  And depending on your immune system and how well your skin’s own protective barrier functions, those allergens, micro-particles and pollutants can irritate and sensitize skin.

3.  Less Efficient Natural Exfoliation

Your skin sheds naturally all the time, although you wouldn’t see it with your eyes.  But having a sticky mix on your skin at the end of the day and through the night impedes the natural exfoliation process, making your skin look dull and possibly clogging pores.  Washing your face with a regular cleanser at night helps your skin’s shedding process, even if it does not contain any actual exfoliators agents.

4.  Skin Dehydration

Even with proper moisturizing, we loose water through the skin throughout the day and night in what is called transepidermal water loss (TEWL).  Not washing your face on a particular night probably also means that you are not applying any treatment products either, that would replenish hydration.  I’ve always wondered why my skin feels grimy, yet parched the morning after not washing (and treating) my face.  Well…after 24 hours of TEWL without replenishment, skin will loose its suppleness…

5.  Missed Opportunity

Your skin acts differently at night than it does during the day.  If not washing your face at night also means not applying any treatment before bed, that means you are missing out on nourishing your skin in a major way during a time when its in peak recovery mode.  If have issues with break-outs, you are also missing out on helping your skin battle pimples and other issues without the typical day-time interference like sunscreen and make-up.  So even if not-washing your face once in a while isn’t a big deal, not treating your skin is still a missed opportunity.

Lately, to motivate myself to wash my face at night, even if I am super tired, I try to visualize how it will help my skin breathe more freely.  And knowing how much better my skin looks and feels the following morning if I go through my skincare ritual usually gets me moving toward the sink as well.  What helps motivate you to wash your face even when you are tired or feeling lazy?

Cleanse & Tone Correctly!

CLEANSING & TONING CORRECTLY: WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT & WHAT DO I LOOK FOR?

With all the focus on powerful serums, eye creams and masks, you may be putting little thought into your cleanser and toner – if you even use a toner at all.  The truth is, your skin depends on them to look and feel its best.  Everything else in your skincare regimen – serums, creams, masks – will work BETTER if Step 1 and 2 is done right.  So what to look for?

CLEANSING: KEEPING IT GENTLE IS KEY

Freeing your skin of dirt, pollutants and make-up is crucial because they can irritate skin and block other treatment products from being absorbed properly. At the same time, keeping it gentle is key because stripping can trigger irritation as well and make your skin overly sensitive to active treatment products.  Our ever-so-lightly foaming, sulfate-free Rice Facial Cleanser leaves skin feeling clean, ready for the next step, but also soft and supple thanks to a touch of nourishing Candlenut Oil.

Try the Rice Facial Cleanser – 4.5 oz, $29, All Skin Types

EXPECT MORE FROM YOUR TONER!

This is your chance to soothe, refresh, hydrate and balance skin’s pH.  Not all toners are created equal, though.  Avoid harsh ingredients like alcohol, and instead look for hydrating and antioxidant-rich, soothing ingredients.  Our Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner, while oil-free and alcohol-free, quenches thirsty skin, soothes and smoothes with a combination of Hyaluronic Acid, Green, White & Black Teas, Rice Bran, and Tamarind Seed.  The result: Skin is saturated with vital hydration and stays soft, supple throughout the day.  You will notice the difference!

Try the Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner – 4.5 fl oz, $32, All Skin Types

 

CLEANSING TIP!
 Match Made In Cleansing Heaven:
Pair Our Rice Facial Cleanser With Your Favorite Cleansing Brush

Do you love the deep clean and face massage you get from your favorite electric cleansing brush?  Next time, pair it with our Rice Facial Cleanser! Since cleansing brushes provide a deeper and more thorough cleanse (including makeup removal,) it’s all the more important that you pair it with a gentle cleanser that won’t strip skin.  Refrain from using a scrub together with your brush and stick to no more than 2-3 times per week.

You can see the JUARA products here

 

5 Principles of an Effective Core Skincare Regimen

“Regimen” may sound restrictive and boring, but a consistent daily regimen is in fact your skin’s best friend.  Like with anything in life, a consistent regimen tells you over time what’s working and what needs change because it gives you a solid benchmark to start from.  In that way, it not only helps your skin, but it also helps you to get to know your skin better.  How to get started?

Select 4-5 products for daily use that provide a solid framework for your skin type and address your top concerns.  You can add extra treatment products, like masks or special items, once you feel comfortable with your core and confident that you will stick to it AM and PM.  Here are the key elements and principles in a great core:

1. Cleanse:  Gentle is King

A good cleanser removes dirt and make-up without stripping skin.  Feeling refreshed is good.  Feeling “squeaky clean” is overkill.  When you strip your skin of its own natural lipid barrier, it’s hard to add it back through product. With a good cleanser, your skin should still feel comfortable and not taught for a whole minute or so after cleansing and before applying a moisturizer.

2.  Tone: Focus on Hydration and Skin-Friendly Ingredients

All skin types, including oily skin, can get dehydrated.  Dehydration means that your skin is lacking water and can result in fine dry lines, irritation and redness.  Look for a toner with water-binding ingredients, like Hyaluronic Acid or Tamarind Seed Extract.  It will plump skin and keep it soft and supple while also making your moisturizer more productive.  Avoid irritating and drying ingredients like alcohol.

3.  Treat: Commit to an Antioxidant-Rich Serum

Antioxidants help prevent premature skin-aging and can even reverse existing signs of aging, such as dullness, lines and wrinkles, large pores and loss of firmness.  They also improve redness and other signs of stress.  Serums, which are highly concentrated formulations, are great ways to provide skin directly with an extra dose of antioxidants and nutrients.  What specific ingredients to look for?  Botanicals rich in antioxidants include Turmeric, Clove Flower, Indian Gooseberry, Tea Extracts, Goji Berry and Kombucha.

4.  Moisturize:  Enhance and Balance 

Whether you have dry or oily skin, the point is to help your skin reach and maintain a healthy balance.  If you are dry, choose a moisturizer that enhances and helps rebuild your skin’s own lipid barrier with ingredient that are rich in essential fatty acids, phyto-sterols and/ or ceramide (e.g. Candlenut Oil and Rice Bran Oil).  If you are oily, look for ingredients that help purify pores, reduce shine and balance sebum-production (e.g. Ginger, Cinnamon).

5.  Protect Daily

Whether you prefer a straight sun screen, a moisturizer or foundation with built-in protection, or a protective powder, consistency is key.  Look for a minimum of SPF15 for daily use and make sure it provides broad-spectrum (meaning UVB + UBA) protection.

Ingredient Spotlight: Plumeria Flower

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A beautiful flower with serious benefits.

Revered as an aphrodisiac in the world of aromatherapy and known to provide UV protection, this waxy flower is more than it appears. Take a look at this list of impressive benefits:

  • Strong aromatherapy benefits to relax, rejuvenate, and stimulate sex drive
  • Reduces inflammation to relieve joint pain and headaches
  • Soothes, hydrates and plumps skin
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Provides natural UV protection
  • Used traditionally to treat bacterial infections (ingested as a tea)

Impressed by all of the amazing things Plumeria Flower can do for you, but not quite sure which products contain it? Here’s a quick list of my favorites:

GlamGlow THIRSTYCLEANSE

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JUARA Radiance Vitality Oil

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Harvey Prince Sea Salt Texturizing Spray

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Say Goodbye to Oily Skin

Do you have oily skin?

Maybe you do. Or maybe you only have oiliness in your T-Zone… or your nose starts out matte and by the end of the day looks like it’s been dipped in lacquer. If you have any of these skin experiences on the regular, I feel you. But what can we do about it?

First of all, why do we get ‘oily skin’? Well, the sebaceous glands in your skin produce oil all day and all night to keep your skin nourished – that is their job. Did you know that the drier your skin is, the more oil you will produce? SO that means keeping your skin well HYDRATED is the key to stopping oily skin in its tracks. Kind of counterintuitive…

So how do I keep my skin matte and gorgeous all day long?

Excellent question. Let’s start with the basics.

Step 1. Wash Gently

A common mistake is washing your skin with a harsh cleanser at the beginning of the day in hopes that this will keep the oil at bay. It will only prompt your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. Stick to a soap-free gentle cleanser like the JUARA Rice Facial Cleanser or some good old fashioned Coconut Oil.

Step 2. NO Alcohol

If you like using a toner, that’s fine. Just read the label carefully to ensure that your toner is alcohol-free. Not sure where to find an alcohol-free toner? Check out JUARA’s Tamarind Tea Hydrating Toner.

Step 3. Spot Moisturize

If your skin is oily all over, that’s an easy fix. Follow the above rules and finish up with a mattefying moisturizer that contains humectants like hyaluronic acid to keep skin properly hydrated without adding oil, e.g. JUARA’s Sweet Black Tea & Ginger Oil-Free Moisturizer.

Things become tricky when you’re T-Zone oily or oily only on your nose and extremely dry elsewhere. If this is the case for your complexion, you’re going to need to treat your moisturizer like a spot-treatment. Use an oil-free where your skin gets slick throughout the day and use a super hydrating moisturizer (the Laurel Whole Plant Organics Facial Balm is one of my favorites for super intense moisture) on areas where skin is dry and flaky.

Step 4. CC Powder + UV is your best friend

For a flawless, matte finish, that ALSO provides sun protection that you are probably missing from your moisturizer routine finish off with a CC Powder aka Airbrush Powder aka MAGIC Powder. My favorite is the CC+ Airbrush Perfecting Powder by It Cosmetics.

 

Top 5 Misconceptions About Washing Your Face

I remember when I was a child with oily skin

and the doctor said “just wash it with bar soap, It is strong enough to take the oil off.” If I could have only smacked him, I would have. But I didn’t know better – and back then, it’s possible he nor the beauty industry knew either. Here are the top 5 comments or questions I get about scrub-a-dub-dubbing as a skincare company owner…

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Let’s Play A Game: Do or Don’t

1. My skin is so oily, I don’t need a moisturizer after I wash it.

DON’T: Let’s be clear, we need both water AND oil on our skin for a healthy balance. When you wash your face with a cleanser, you risk overstripping and overdrying the skin – which can trigger it to produce more oil to compensate. So combat that with pre-emptive re-hydration. Use a light moisturizer or an oil-free one, or if you’re really oily – a hydrating serum.

2.  I use a scrub everyday.

DON’T: Your skin takes about 28 days to turn over. In other words, when you exfoliate, the process that skin goes from being newly exposed to old and in need of exfoliation takes a while – so you could be rubbing your newly exposed skin raw if you scrub everyday. I suggest 2-3 times a week, giving your skin a break – but still getting the benefits of clear pores and oft skin from scrubbing properly.

3. Why shouldn’t I use regular bar soap to wash my face?

DON’T: True, bar soaps and facial soaps all clean – that’s for sure. But how aggressively they do it, and how they make the skin feel after drastically differs; that matters too. Bar soap may have stronger surfactants to clean and there is a huge emphasis on fragrance.  Both may irritate your skin, but most importantly – bar soap can be harsher and overstrip/overdry your skin – which is a bit like giving your skin a beating. If you’re in a pinch and must, then just don’t lather for too long, and rinse off. Definitely follow with a moisturizer.

4. I only wash my face with water.

DO…ish: Believe it or not, there are people in this category. Surprisingly, there are experiments run on people who stop using soap altogether, my brother being one of them who tried. The body has an interesting way of balancing itself, so in a way, this isn’t the most terrible thing to do – and has benefits in that you’re au naturale – with fewer chemicals to mess with your skin. Honestly, if this works for you, and you’re not a heavy makeup user, go for it. But what you’re missing out on are some benefits gentle products can do – like exfoliate and hydrate to keep your skin extra smooth.

5. How many times should I wash my face per day?

DO… wait that doesn’t really work here since this is a question. Before you go to bed – definitely. In the morning when you get up is a good one too – though since technically you just slept, rinsing with water may be sufficient – and preserve your skin’s natural balance. If you are exercising or in heavily polluted areas in the day – you can wash it again in the middle – but try not to wash too often. The risk is overstripping your natural oils – and throwing your skin off balance – being too oily or dry can come with its own issues.

Got more questions? Let me know!

X.O.

JUARA Girl Metta

Cleanse your Skin, Not your Moisture Barrier – Jill Sung

Why should I clean my face, you ask? I just use water, some say. What in fact do I need to clean? Your skin collects oily soils, dirt, sweat, and sebum (natural skin oils) throughout the day. And in fact, just using water removes only about 65% of the dirt and oils; it’s not even effective for removing makeup. Cleansers are designed to remove the dirt, grime and sebum from skin through the action of surfactants.

What Washing Does…

So when we wash our face, we’re really washing the top layer of the epidermis of our skin. That layer is composed of fat and protein structures that create the waterproof moisture barrier of the skin. But while this skin moisture barrier is protective, it also is great at trapping pollutants, smoke, bacteria, cellular debris, sweat and cosmetics. Unfortunately, washing off the embedded dirt with some cleansers also removes some of the outer protective film which can irritate skin.

Why not Soap?

So you use soap, not just water. If it’s worked for hundreds of years, why stop now? In fact, soap works by making fat and oil water-soluble (emulsifies) to be easily removed by wiping or washing. They reduce the surface tension of your skin with negatively charged agents that can act as possible irritants. These anionic molecules affect the natural moisturizing factors and remove the fat and protein structures of the epidermis which disrupt the protective barrier, irritate, and decrease skin smoothness. But also, soap salts are alkaline causing your skin to become more neutral in pH (which can happen with age as well), making your skin a better place for bacteria to live.

When I was a child, I used to always use soap because I didn’t know better, but I definitely saw the results of drying and decreased smoothness in my skin. How about you? Any previous soap users with bad stories? Next we’ll discuss what options we have besides soap…especially as the drying fall and winter months inch forward.