Jessica has mostly dry skin with some oiliness on the forehead that is exasperated by the climate that she lives in, which is sometimes hot and humid, and at other times cold and arid. Occasionally, she break outs around the mouth and forehead areas during a woman’s “time of the month.” Her acne is characterized as mostly whiteheads with some blackheads peppered on the nose area. Also, she has a few post-acne scarring and ephelides (freckles) that need to be dealt with. Finally, Jessica is concerned about the overall dryness of her bodily skin in addition to the broken blood vessels on her legs.
- Cleanser: Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Pure Scrub OR Neutrogena Purifying Facial Cleanser with the Clarisonic if in the shower
- Moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief
Both cleansers contain a blend of mild cleansing detergents and various thickeners and humectants such as glycerin. In addition, the scrub contains small round granules to allow for gentle mechanical exfoliation. While the Purifying Cleanser rinses easily due to its higher detergent content, the Purifying scrub leaves a slight film on the skin due to its inclusion of castor and jojoba oil. Finally, they both contain willow bark extract, which the natural source of salicylic acid. However, in this formulation it acts as an anti-irritant rather than a exfoliant since the pH of this product is not low enough.
I already have a full review of the Clinique moisturizer here. It’s a good silicone-based moisturizer that’s unfortunately packaged in a jar.
Xerosis, or dry skin, is the result of the lack of water in the upper layers of the stratum corneum (SC), which leads to the characteristic scaly and white appearance of the skin. Biologically, what happens is that as the loss of water increases, the corneocytes begin to lose cohesiveness and fall off the skin in sheets or clumps. This is because the enzymes responsible for desmosome destruction (desmosomes are the structures that largely hold corneocytes together), are not efficient in low-water environments.
The main cause of this abnormal loss of water is an impaired skin barrier, appearing as a “brick and mortar” type structure (bricks = keratinocytes, mortar = lipids that surround keratinocytes), which can be the result of many factors such as genetics, climate, and skin care products. Without going too in-depth about the biological characteristics of dry skin, as that would take pages to do, I’ll skip right to how one can remedy the condition. I will have a separate page for the different skin types (probably the “Ideal Routine” Page) that will be finished at a future date.
Jessica’s current routine, with the sole Clinique moisturizer, is not enough for her dry skin. Please refer to the review that I already did on said product, and one will see that it doesn’t have a potent occlusive agent nor a richer emollient. Furthermore, it doesn’t contain anything like fatty acids, cholesterol, or ceramides, which are all part of the “mortar” or lipid bilayer that is necessary to properly maintain the epidermal barrier. This bilayer is what holds the corneocytes together and prevents water loss, or TEWL as many people like to call it: transepidermal water loss. Same thing.
The Clinique product only contains a mild humectant and occlusive agent, glycerin. The silicone unfortunately, does nothing as it has a cyclic structure, which means that it will evaporate very quickly once applied to the skin. The butylene glycol enhances penetration and slip, which largely gives this product its silky texture. But that’s it. Therefore, I’d recommend finding another product to replace this one; I will give my recommendations in the next section. Oh, it also employs jar packaging, which is a no-no.
Jessica also mentioned that she uses the Clarisonic. Firstly, I hope that the Clarisonic is not being used at the same time as the Neutrogena scrub because that would be way too intense for anyone. Now, the Clarisonic is just another form of physical or manual exfoliation, just like microdermabrasions, scrubs, or washcloths. While it can certainly result in an instantly smoother, softer, and more radiant complexion, the results are quite short-sighted.
Physical exfoliation (PE) operates by buffing the surface of the skin and using friction to rub away dead skin cells. But that’s all it does. With this technique, exfoliation only occurs when using the Clarisonic. Once the machine is turned off, exfoliation no longer occurs. However, the skin never stops going through the natural cell cycle, which means that it will never stop producing dead cells. Furthermore, because PE relies on manual force to exfoliate, one is essentially tugging the dead cells away from the upper layers of the SC. While that sounds scarier than it physically appears, by tugging at the skin, one is causing additional sheets or layers below the ones removed to loosen, thereby, creating more opportunities for flaky dry skin to appear. Remember, how I said above that, “Biologically, what happens is that as the loss of water increases, the corneocytes begin to lose cohesiveness and fall off the skin in sheets or clumps?” Well by using just PE, one will be stuck in this vicious cycle.
So how do we deal with this problem? By using a chemical exfoliant! Substances such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid, gently, and the keyword, evenly induce (chemical) exfoliation (CE). Think of PE like trying to tug two wrestlers apart by forcibly pulling one away. Think of CE like asking them to let each other go. The end result is the same, except that CE creates no lasting damage on the other wrestler AKA the other corneocyte. Jessica needs glycolic acid or lactic acid to address her flaky skin, and the salicylic acid to address her occasional breakouts.
Phew, almost done! Jessica finally mentioned that she would like more information for dealing with the veining on her legs. Veins are the opposite of arteries, because they do not carry oxygenated blood and possess quite thin walls or boundaries, which is why they are so easily broken or ruptured. Unfortunately, absolutely nothing that can be done topically when it comes to leg veining because nothing applied to the skin can penetrate that deeply. To resolve this issue, Jessica would have to see a dermatologist and ask about sclerotherapy. The process involves injecting substances like hypertonic saline or sodium tetradecyl sulfate into the skin, and they are drugs, which consequently, are strictly regulated by the FDA. Sorry! 😦
To conclude, I’d like to give Jessica some personal product recommendations and tell her why they’re some of the best available.
First, I’d like for Jessica to stop using the Purifying Scrub and the Clarisonic on facial skin just because I think chemical exfoliation (CE), is better in so many ways. (They can still be used on the body). I reiterate, Jessica will need an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (glycolic or lactic) for her dry skin, and a Beta Hydroxy Acid (salicylic) for her acne since the latter is lipid-soluble and will be able to induce exfoliation in the hair follicles or pores, where acne forms. I addressed this family of ingredients in my first and second Temptalia posts. If interested, one can see a catalogue of all my Temptalia posts by going to the homepage and selecting “Temptalia Posts” from the “Categories” drop-down list on the top right-hand corner. Or simply click here.
Now, I can see from Jessica’s current routine that she favors a minimalist approach when it comes to skin care. So in order to cover all the bases, I’d like to recommend the Paula’s Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment. Not only does it contain 5% glycolic acid, it also contains 0.5% salicylic acid in a decently-appropriate pH. Two birds with one stone, right?! Furthermore, it contains a million other beneficial ingredients such as palmitoyl oligopeptide, ceramide 2, caffeic acid, etc… If it’s not emollient enough, consider topping it with a non-fragrant oil such as extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, or evening primose oil 15-45 minutes after initial application, depending on how dry the skin feels. This product would be reserved solely for nighttime use since it makes the skin more sensitive to the sun.
Now, depending on how aggressively Jessica wants to approach her skin care, I’d also suggest using a retinol (vitamin A) and vitamin C product. Retinol address aging issues and acne ones. Again, my second and third Temptalia posts address this ingredient. Vitamin C… is well, vitamin C! It addresses aspects of hyperpigmentation, photodamage, and photoprotection. Freckles are a form of photodamage, so I think Jessica will enjoy products with this ingredient! Copied from my first Temptalia post: “Vitamin C stimulates collagen production while retinol, upon conversion to tretinoin—the active metabolite that the skin utilizes, inhibits the expression of enzymes that break down collagen. So the therapy is two-folded.” And they do so much more. I’d love to get into more detail, but this is already getting so long! There will DEFINITELY be future posts about these two amazing ingredients, but if anyone really want to know now, just email me or comment down below. Anyways, I’d like to recommend either the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum or the just-released Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum. Both products are fantastic! The former contains more vitamin E (along with vitamins A and C and other great ingredients) and uses olive oil as its primary emollient, while the latter contains more vitamins A and C (along with vitamin E and other great ingredients) and uses dicaprylyl carbonate and squalane as its primary emollients. Which one is ultimately chosen will be up to Jessica, depending on which one she prefers and which one reacts better with her skin. They are both excellent in slightly different ways. Perhaps the Skin Recovery is slightly more emollient; I’ve tried samples of both concurrently. Just like for the AHA/BHA product above, one can always mix in his/her favorite non-fragrant plant oil if additional richness is desired. Again, we’re hitting two birds, well in this case MANY birds, with one stone!
Finally, Jessica didn’t list a sunscreen in her routine, so I’m going to assume one isn’t used. Sunscreen is crucial! It’s the number one anti-aging product. For Jessica, I’d suggest picking one that’s emollient enough to act as a moisturizer, and also gives enough protection through both active sunscreens and antioxidants like vitamins C and E, as well as green tea. I don’t have a specific recommendation because this choice involves how well the sunscreen goes under makeup, and I have no idea how she evaluates that. If anyone thinks that the SPF in foundation and/or powder provides enough protection, think again. One simply doesn’t apply enough to warrant sufficient protection. If anyone did apply enough, this person would look super cakey. Not to mention that the foundation would never, EVER set!
Therefore, to summarize everything, this is what I would like Jessica’s routine to look like. Hopefully, she’ll listen to at least one thing I say, xD!
- Cleanser: Neutrogena Purifying Facial Cleanser
- Moisturizer: Some sunscreen of personal preference!
- Cleanser: Neutrogena Purifying Facial Cleanser
- Moisturizer*: PC AHA/BHA OR PC Serum with olive, jojoba, or evening primose oil if desired
*Note that these two products need to be alternated every other night because retinol can’t be used with hydroxy acids; the latter will inactivate the former by denying retinol’s conversion to tretinoin.
I think the resulting facial routine is still quite simple, especially compared to mine! FYI, I will be updating my current routine soon, since the one currently shown on the site is not completely accurate.
As for the body, I personally enjoy the Olay Quench Plus Firming Body Lotion, which is not so emollient that it will make me feel sticky when I climb into bed, but is emollient enough to erase any trace of dryness. If Jessica or anyone wants something a bit more rich, there are many others out there. Look for ingredients like shea butter. The Paula’s Choice Beautiful Body Butter is decadently thick!
If anyone’s wondering if I’m sponsored by Paula’s Choice since I recommend so many of her products, I’m definitely not! To read my response to this VERY frequently asked question, click here.
I hope everyone learned something from this little foray, and I thank Jessica for trusting me with her personal details. She is no doubt strong and courageous, no matter what the people around her say or yell to her face. Keep it rocking girl!
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments down below. And if anyone would like for me to review his/her routine in a similar fashion, click here.
Like I’ve mentioned before in the Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional of any kind, so if you decide to follow my advise, do so knowing that you bear full responsibility.
I did a search on your site for “ceramides” and came up with this post as well as Part1 and Part 2 of your skin care routine.
While these were awesomely informative posts, I was hoping you could possibly offer me some further enlightenment on ceramides…..their importance, necessary concentrations, product reccomendations, etc.
Because they’re actually part of the skin’s epidermal barrier, I plan to discuss them in both the Ideal Routine and Skin Biology pages… which of course I haven’t gotten to yet. However, if you have specific questions about ceramides, please ask me here. 🙂
What do you know already know about them? Why the sudden interest? Is there something that’s confusing about them?
Let me know. Thanks!
What i already know about ceramides is that, yes, they are part of the skin, but also that they can be incorporated into moisturizers and their presence in such products is beneficial to maintaining the skin’s barrrier function.
Reading your posts has taught me to scour ingredient lists on all of my products and this is one that i noticed is missing now ( I used to use the Nia 24 Skin Strengthening Complex which has ceramides but have recently switched over to Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Mature which does not have ceramides).
I guess what i really am wanting to know is if ceramides are something that i really should be trying to incorporate into my routine and, if so, what is the best way to do so?
Okay, so there’s a little-known fact that ceramides by themselves, may not help barrier function; rather they can actually inhibit normal barrier repair. Ceramides are just a part of the skin’s epidermal barrier, and a normal barrier optimally operates within a certain ratio of cholesterol, ceramides, and fatty acids. So if you add too much ceramide content, the ratios will become unbalanced and the skin’s barrier function may not function optimally, as demonstrated in this article: http://archderm.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=555007
So if you really want to look for ceramide-containing products, you’ll want to look for ones that contains similar levels of cholesterol, fatty acids, and ceramides. However, that can get very complicated. It’s really not worth the effort to look for these ingredients in their correct ratios (and there are more than one) unless you have seriously compromised/dry/sensitive skin. There are lots of other ingredients that can achieve similar results.
On the flip side, don’t be afraid of these ingredients if they’re by themselves. As long as they’re not present in high concentrations and in too many products in your routine, they won’t affect the epidermal barrier function to such an extent that you’ll notice a dramatic negative effect, unless of course you DO see unwanted effects.
Also, as I indicated in this post: https://thetriplehelixian.com/2012/10/03/spotlight-on-vitamin-b3-niacinamide-and-nicotinic-acid/ niacinamide itself stimulates ceramide synthesis, so there’s no need to add more to your skin.
Does that all make sense?
See…….this is why I come to YOU with these things,John.
🙂 You’re welcome!
It is nice to see things broken down. I hope to read more of these! Great post.
Thanks Ashley! I hope this post was informative and that everyone can take away something from it. Thanks for commenting!