Understanding Eczema

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to put up with eczema, or any other unsightly skin rash that has left you feeling ugly.

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It’s so frustrating. Every time it goes away, it comes back with a vengeance. Well, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. Chronic skin conditions are common for people of all ages, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. There isn’t anything you could have done to prevent it, but luckily, there are ways to treat it. There are a variety of chronic skin conditions like Psoriasis and Rosacea, but the most “popular” (and by popular I mean most suffered-from!) is Eczema.

I have had patches of Eczema set up shop on my body for the last 15 years. They usually show up around my elbows and on the back of my thighs (yuck), but about a year ago, it reared it’s ugly head on two fingers on my right hand. I took the photo above after not treating it for about a week, just to show you what it looks like (dedication, I know.)

What Is Eczema?

Eczema shows up as very dry, rough and thick red scales and scaly patches. It’s often associated with allergies and asthma, so if you got either of those, chances are you are susceptible to Eczema too. Many newborns are born with Eczema but will outgrow it by their tenth birthday, while it still affects 3% of children and adults.Eczema patch

What Causes Eczema?

Dermatologists I have spoken to say that eczema can be caused by factors such as stress, environment and even allergies. My eczema flared up in my teens when I lived in Las Vegas, a dry desert. And probably because I was taking all honors-level classes and was at school with student council duties from the crack of dawn to midnight. When I moved back to humid Los Angeles in my twenties, my skin cleared up for a while. Oh, the joy of soft, clear skin! But last year, between being laid off from my full time job and planning a wedding, my stress levels went through the roof. And being a long-time allergy- sufferer didn’t help.

Treatments

1) See Your Doctor: If you think you may have patches of Eczema, make an appointment with your dermatologist first to go over your options. There are many topical creams ranging from steroid to immunomodulators that your doctor can prescribe to fight the condition. Another reason to see your doctor first- you may think you have Eczema but it could be another type of skin condition, like Psoriasis. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic treatment to fight off infection-causing bacteria caused at the scene of the crime (the scales).

Hyrdrocortisone1

2) Over The Counter Relief: Hydrocortisone 1% is often prescribed over the counter by dermatologists to treat your eczema during and in-between flare-ups. If my eczema shows any signs of returning, I immediately start a hydrocortisone treatment to shut that thing down. If your Eczema is like mine and on your fingers, apply your ointment then cover the affected area with a vinyl glove. Do NOT use latex-it eats away the medication and many people are allergic to the material.  I wear disposable vinyl gloves I got from Rite Aid every night with my hydrocortisone 1% cream.

Latex-Free Vinyl Gloves
Latex-Free Vinyl Gloves

Neosporin also carries a special hydrocortisone version of their ointment specifically for Eczema that works well.

Neosporin
Neosporin Eczema Essentials Anti-Itch Hydrocortisone Cream

Last but not least, Aquaphor is every Eczema patients’ best friend. I blend the hydrocortisone cream with the Aquaphor then wear the vinyl glove. If your Eczema is somewhere other than your hands you can cover the affected area with plastic wrap or even a tissue to keep the ointments in place. Aquaphor does have a greasy texture, but you will wake up with the softest hands/skin ever! So worth it.

Aquaphor
Aquaphor Healing Ointment- Mix in with your Hydrocortisone cream and cover the affected area with a glove or clothing.

Extra Tips

1) Moisturize Often- I’m talking 3-4 times a day on the affected area. Keeping the skin hydrated with fragrance-free and unscented lotions. Aveeno Eczema Therapy is my favorite- it’s steroid and fragrance-free and made with colloidal oatmeal- a skin protectant. I carry this around in my purse all day.

Aveeno
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream

2) Wash New Clothes Before Wearing Them- to get rid of chemicals that can irritate your skin. I use Tide Free and Gentle– it’s dermatologist- tested and free of any dyes and scents.

Tide Free & Gentle

3) Keep the showers short and warm (not hot) Use a gentle body wash instead of harsh soap and avoid any abrasive scrubbers. Pat your skin dry with a towel, don’t rub. And apply moisturizer all over within three minutes to help lock in water. I’ve been switching between this one by Aveeno and Dove’s Sensitive Skin Body Wash.

Aveeno Body Wash
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash

I know this seems like a lot of products and information, but the good news is ALL  of these items can be purchased with coupons from any drug store. And in my experience, the creams and antibiotics prescribed by dermatologists were all pretty affordable ($8-10 for a tube of ointment) but of course this also depends on your insurance coverage.

I hope that these tips help you find a way to live with and treat your Eczema. No one knows better than me how irritating it can be! If you have any Eczema-related questions, I’m always open to chat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let’s band together and be good to our skin!

Bad Beauty Habits You Must Break

washing-face

Washing Your Face in the Morning

Cleansing your face in the morning with soap will strip your skin of essential oils. Your skin regenerates and repairs itself at night while you are sleeping, balancing pH levels and increasing collagen production (a.k.a. the stuff that keeps your wrinkles at bay). Washing your face in the morning undoes all the hard work your skin did overnight.

What to Do Instead

Splash your face with just cool water to deflate any early morning puffiness, then smooth over a moisturizer with SPF. Wait at least one minute for the product to absorb, then apply your makeup as normal.

Exfoliate

Too Much Exfoliating

Regardless of your skin type (oily, dry, combo), exfoliating your face and body more than once or twice a week is a no-no. Much like the reason behind not washing your hair everyday, frequent exfoliating will have the opposite effect and cause your glands to produce even more oil. If you have sensitive or super-dry skin, it will also cause redness and rawness.

What To Do Instead

Exfoliate your face and body no more than twice per week using either glycolic acid, salicylic acid, an enzyme-based peel, or microdermabrasion scrub. I also recommend using a brush like the Clarisonic Mia ($119) or Olay’s Pro X Advanced Cleansing System ($29.99). On a budget? No problem: Sally’s Beauty Supply and drug store chains sell manual brushes that work just as well for a fraction of the price.

mascara-420

Pumping Your Mascara Wand

Moving the brush in and out pushes air and bacteria back into the tube. No one wants to smear germs onto their eyeballs! Exposing the mascara wand to the air over and over again will also cause the product to dry out faster so it doesn’t last as long as it should.

What To Do Instead

Gently wiggle and swirl the wand around inside the bottle before pulling out the wand to preserve your mascara and keep it germ-free. Do NOT pump!

 

products

Using Too Many Products At Once

I am totally guilty of having too many kinds of skin care and slathering all of them on at once. But this can wreak havoc on your skin and waste your product. Certain ingredients in skin care don’t “get along” and will cancel each other out. They could even cause skin irritations.

What To Do Instead

Anytime someone has amazing skin, their answer is always that they “stick to a simple skin care routine.” Don’t you hate that? But it’s true. The Halle Berry’s and Charize Theron’s of the world abide to uncomplicated skin care habits that are effective. Keep it easy by going with a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, SPF, topical retinoid, and one carefully chosen antioxidant product. It’s always a good idea to consult your dermatologist about your skin care routine.

neck

Neglecting Your Hands and Neck

Your hands and neck are just as exposed to the elements as the rest of your face, and regardless of your skin color and type, forgetting to moisturize and use sunscreen below your jawline and on the back of your hands can cause signs of aging to show up faster.  It’s also important to protect your exposed skin from cancer and the sun!

What To Do Instead

Apply moisturizer and sunscreen to the nape of your neck using upward and downward motions. Doing so in this manner will stimulate the skin and prevent sagging in the future. And avoid harsh scrubs on the neck, that area is too fragile to withstand abrasive exfoliants.

MakeupSleep

Sleeping With Your Makeup On

Oh joy, everyone’s favorite beauty sin. This is terrible for your skin and your sheets. The makeup you’ve been wearing all day has been exposed to pollution and germs. Not to mention any sweating you may have done (yuck!) Like we talked about in the first section, your skin repairs itself at night during sleep. Your day-old makeup, saturated with pollution, germs and oil, will be absorbed into your skin as you sleep and to no one’s surprise, cause breakouts. Needless to say, your germ-y makeup will seep right into your sheets and cause breakouts every time your head hits that pillow.

What To Do Instead

Use a makeup remover to break down your makeup and wash your face with a cleanser. Makeup wipes are wonderful makeup removers, but please don’t use them in place of actually washing your face with a cleanser. Wipes only break down your makeup, they don’t clean your pores!

The Nation’s Leading Lady- Radiant Skin

Out of all the First Ladies that have come in and out of the White House, only one has come out looking more radiant than ever. This past Election eve, it was hard to ignore 48-year-old Michelle Obama’s glow, and it’s not just because her husband was re-elected either.


Everyone knows that saying “Men are like wine, they get better with age” but I’m starting to think that it also applies to some women. Check out Mrs. Obama’s teen photo below! Someone has definitely stepped up their beauty game…

Now of course, Mrs. O has a makeup artist who beautifies her for all her press events, but looking beautiful starts with skin care. When asked about her skin care routine, “It’s really pretty basic. I wash my face with a good cleanser, and I use a moisturizer with an SPF.” She also added,  “Every now and then I’ll go to a dermatologist for microderm or a facial, but I don’t have time to do that all the time.”

According to this Prevention article, the First Lady and mother of two shared that she makes sure to get a full night’s sleep, each and every night. Don’t ask me how she does it. Can you imagine laying your head on your pillow with the weight of America’s problems weighing on your shoulder? Sheesh.


Along with a simple skincare routine and rest, the First Lady also uses products from a company called 3Lab that include a superior anti-aging ingredient: a stem cell cultivated from apples (Phyllanthus Emblica Fruit Extract).

Now, if you aren’t in the market for $200 face serums, I did find cheaper options with a similar apple extract ingredient. An awesome non-toxic and all-natural choice is MyChelle Dermaceuticals who carry a ton of products with apple extract at an affordable price. Right now, you can get the Age Spot/UV Recovery Kit for $69.58 on their site. It includes the Apple Brightening Cleanser, the Apple Brightening Peel and Hydrating Cactus Mask.

Mrs. Obama sets a great example to all women by taking care of her skin. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and protects all your insides! It’s worth taking a few extra minutes every night to cleanse your face and moisturize. And if you know me, then you know it’s also important to slather that same mug in an SPF higher than 30 every morning before you walk out that door. 😉

Sunscreen and You

Hi beauty lovers! Since we are smack-dab in the middle of summer, I thought it might be a good idea to post a sunscreen education refresher. Here is a list of things you may not know about sunscreen that I’ve compiled.
FACTS
1. Makeup with SPF isn’t enough to protect your skin. 
While it’s great that you chose a foundation with SPF 15, that’s no where near enough to protect your skin. Consider it a supplement; you still need the real deal underneath. You would need at least a teaspoon of your foundation on your face (way too much) for the SPF to actually work. Pick an oil-free SPF formulated for the face at around SPF 35 or higher. Slather this on, apply a face primer to keep it from sliding, then end with your foundation or powder. 
2. Reapply every two hours
While it’s difficult to do this on the face after you have applied makeup, this rule of thumb still applies to your body. How many times have you gone to Vegas, applied sunblock once at noon and sat at the pool til 6:00pm? Think your SPF was working that whole time? Think again. Oh, and please stick to high SPF. Trust me, you will still get a tan.
3. Sunscreen is a must even if you don’t work outside.
If you notice more freckles on the left side of your face, it’s because UV rays are penetrating your driver’s side window. Just because it’s cloudy (UV rays are still out and about), or you are technically “indoors” doesn’t mean you are protected. Sunscreen please! 
4. The difference between chemical and mineral sunscreens.
Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s UV rays; mineral sunscreens block those rays. Both are FDA-approved. I prefer chemical because it stays on better under makeup, but it’s really up to each and every one of you.
5. Sunscreens do expire.
According to many dermatologists, sunscreens should be tossed after one year. If you have left your sunscreen out in your hot car, drawer etc, it can lose its effectiveness, and even worse, grow bacteria and fungus (sick!) A skin expert  also informed me that the FDA now requires the expiration date to be on every container of sunscreen, so check your bottle for the date!
6. Even the darkest skin needs to wear sunscreen daily.
Dark skin contains more melanin which acts as a natural sunscreen, but it only provides the same protection as an SPF 15, which is basically useless. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, so make sure you protect yourself with an SPF 35 or higher.
 
Lady C’s Picks
 
Face
Water resistant, paraben free with both UVA & UVB protection, this Alba sunblock is my daily go-to.
 



This dry-touch sheer sunblock gives you heavy duty protection at SPF 70, great for outdoor activities and poolside.

 
 
Body
Hawaiian Tropic is well-known and fantastic. They even have a line for sensitive skin!  Trust me, even with an SPF 50, you will still tan.
 
 
DO NOT USE
Spray SPF cans are TERRIBLE for the environment! Half the bottle gets wasted spraying into the air and ruining our  ozone. The other half gets ingested into your lungs as you try to spray yourself or your kids. Just don’t do it people.
 
 
 

 

Here Comes The Sun

One of my favorite skin care lines, Philosophy has come out with a sun care line! Everything comes in these cute, yellow “sun-inspired” bottles, and best of all, it’s all broad spectrum spf-coverage. This means that the sunscreens will help block both uva and uvb rays. There’s a face spray, a face lotion and a body lotion. 

Face spray

age-defense very water-resistant spf 30 uva⁄uvb broad-spectrum spray sunscreen for body

$26 for 4 oz.
Oil-free, non greasy formula absorbs quickly

face lotion
age defense water resistant spf 40 uva uvb broad spectrum
$30 for a 2 oz.

Oil-free, non greasy formula
body lotion

Age-defense water-resistant spf 30 va⁄uvb broad-spectrum sunscreen

$26 for 4 oz. 
Prevents signs of aging
Philosophy’s “here comes the sun” line also has sunless tanners for the face and body, check them out below!
sunless tanner- face

age-defense gradual glow self-tanner for face

$26 for 2 oz.
Helps improve the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles

Sunless Tanner-body

age-defense golden glow self-tanner for body

$28 for 4 oz.
 Helps firm & tone skin

Stay safe in the sun my loves!

Anastasia Pro Wax Kit– Product Review

Hola Senioritas!

I wanted to share my thoughts on a poquito (sp?) little wax kit that was given to me by a friend to try. Anastasia is known for coming up with great tools and products for perfecting your eye brows. The Pro Wax Kit is an unbelievable $12 at Sephora. It’s third of an ounce of wax is easily microwavable and manageable. Surprisingly, this small amount of wax lasts quite a while. Contrary to its name, you don’t have to be a “pro” to use this. While I consider myself a connoisseur at plucking and trimming brows, I have never ventured into the wax arena and was a little nervous. However, the tiny little birchwood sticks the kit came with made it easy to control where the wax went, and how much of it went on my skin. I use one muslin strip each time I have to wax my brows (about once every 3 weeks). You can use them over and over again in one sitting.
I rubbed a little baby oil to the areas I waxed immediately after to help remove any stickyness and soften the skin, then finished off with a creamy moisturizer. Done and done.

DISCLAIMER: when waxing, do not re-wax the same area -your skin will be highly sensitive and may form a rash from being so raw. Again, I am by no means an esthetician, but simply a Middle Eastern girl with facial and body hair expertise.

Sisley-Paris Product Review

I was given some Sisley Paris products to sample by my lovely mother. I have to credit a lot of what I know about makeup and skincare to my mom. She has always been very good with her makeup. I won’t say how old she is (because she will kill me) but her skin looks radiant! Growing up, Mom always did my makeup for school dances and dance/piano recitals. She gave me the “winged eyeliner” gene, which basically means we can both do liquid winged eyeliner with our hands tied behind our backs, haha. Mom is from Lebanon, so she was exposed to lots of expensive overseas creams and beautiful pricey makeup from Europe that I could never afford. She lets me borrow her stuff and gives me the products she won’t use anymore, which I totally appreciate. I sampled the four (expensive, I’m talkin’ $100 for 3 ounces) Sisley products below and here are my thoughts…

Looks like: Thick ivory cream

Smells like: Soft-spicy
Survey says? This is a great product for someone who wants to lighten their skin (very popular in the Asian culture, not so much in USA). It’s also ideal for someone who has discoloration due to sun spots and wants to fade them out.
Looks Like:A smooth, white cream
Smells like: Very green, woodsy
Survey says? With Juniper and Salvia oil, this is a very strong-smelling cream that moisturized really well. It may not be the best for someone with oily skin or a sensitive nose…like I said, it’s very strong!





Looks like: clear watery gel

Smells like: fresh flowers
Survey says? LOVE this stuff, it was super hydrating. I applied a heavy amount of the gel all over my face and around my eyes. I waited 5 minutes, removed the excess with a tissue, and left the rest on. I woke up with the softest skin ever. And it smells AMAZING


 Looks like: Sheer white serum
Smells like: Intoxicating rose-milk
Survey says? Milk and Sage make this a pleasant serum ideal for any skin. It was so soothing. I would describe it as Chamomile Tea for the skin.