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How To Be Your Own Skincare Coach (Part 4)

Once the skin has stabilized, a what-you-see-is-what-you-are-moment arrives. It cannot be emphasized too often the importance of avoiding over frequent applications of products, either individually or collectively. The skin simply cannot withstand the onslaught. It needs to be prompted into positive metabolic activity, not smothered.

The skin is only a few sheets of paper thick (okay like fifteen) and most of it is non-functional except as a protective, blotted parchment as we enter into the biologic years of the fossil. This parchment, unfortunately, becomes visible on many at a younger and younger chronologic age as a result of years of chemical exfoliation and product addiction gone mad.

At this juncture we will turn down the road of aging, versus dealing with chronically unstable skin which we will journey down in the future.

We left off in PART 3 with the recommendation that a first step to win back a visible improvement involved the topical application of retinol (a form of Vitamin A). Many have found this metabolite too aggressive and left them dry and flaking among other difficulties.

And VITAMIN A does have a Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde split personality. However, the problems can be easily avoided by limiting application to once or twice per week.

The buildout of blood vessels is essential and retinol does that. So is improving the skin architecture that becomes as smashed up as a car wreck as the decades go by. Retinol is very effective in helping to re-establish the layer cake skin symmetry that we were born with.

Once or twice per week with a high strength retinol (0.5 good, 1.0 better) applied in the evening, stay out of the sun next day, will do wonders, even for those who have had bad experiences in the past as a result of bad advice (usually found on the product label, alas). The skin will brighten immediately.

You see that pleasant surprise is the important factor in what you observe. That is, you notice that your skin noticed. Visibly. Next day.

This is by far the most important metabolite you can apply to end the look of visible aging. Spots, uneven tone, drab look go away rapidly.

The key is to avoid the natural tendency to apply again and again and again all week. Bad move.

The Skin Dork is also a fan of the 302 molecule offered by, well, 302 Skincare (www.302skincare.com). This complements Vitamin A activity by unwinding the gristle, the overly crosslinked parchment that is thin skin and replacing it with a soft, resilient turgor.

This is also a powerful metabolite that goes on once or twice per week. But not on the same week as retinol.

The visible result is evident in the first few applications. Something very good is going on here; your skin is awake and vibrant, smoother, doing what it did when it was young.

What about other metabolites? VITAMIN C is often mentioned and for some this is a powerful tool. It acts on the dermis. Retinol and 302 act at the epidermal/dermal junction. Vitamin C goes down deep.

There is a great deal of nonsense about whether the Vitamin C should be in pure form, that is, as ascorbic acid. Many brands make this a feature. Unfortunately, or not because skin is very much not in favor of powerfully charged molecules (acids), ascorbic acid lasts less than thirty seconds upon exposure to air.

It is almost always delivered in ester form. The skin will take apart the vitamin C ester and deliver it to the cell as the acid and thereby avoid the inflammatory reaction of an acid applied directly. The biochemistry of the cascade is essential for proper uptake of this metabolite. Ester is good, acid is bad.

Ok, but how does it play visibly? Like Vitamin A, Vitamin C has been over frequently applied. Doing so will quickly wear out the skin. Applying it once or twice per week however, and not more often, will tell the tale.

Notice that with these three metabolites we are applying them only once or twice per week.

It is conceivable you could have these go on in three successive weeks. This would be an excellent program.

But, what if you just don’t see much from A or C or 302 – or at least not enough to get excited? Well, if none of these lights up your birthday cake, then you may be in an advanced stage of receptor fatigue. Your skin is not responsive.

This can be the result of poor circulation and in the past, going back into the early 20th century and the 19th century, circulation was often regarded as key to visible vitality. Petrissage was a massage technique developed and refined in Hungary to tap-tap-tap with the fingers on the face to improve circulation.

Today, being in a hurry and not having a capable petrissage expert around, many rely on topical niacinamide (a B3 vitamin derivative) to create a “flush” of blood to the surface of the skin. If you are going full on fossil and nothing seems to make an impact, a niacinamide treatment might be worth a visit to a professional.

Alternately, seek out products that contain this ingredient – but again, do not apply more than once per week if the vitamin is in the topical at a high concentration. You can create a bad situation by continually “flushing” your skin with B-3 – expect a bad case of dermatitis after a half dozen consecutive daily applications.

What about low dose in say a ceramide serum or a moisturizer? Definite maybe.

Too often the products sold as moisturizers are sold as daily crutches and the skin weakens. The Skin Dork prefers the simple, powerful metabolic tools that avoid daily requirements. A cleanser is a daily use product. A moisturizer should be a simple, highly refined oil (avoid polyunsaturates) mixed with a smidgen of a mineral based product, like 302 Skincare’s REMEDY.

But, more on metabolites. You have observed that some seem to work better than others. Excellent. You want to discover about four or five that you can employ. Two per month, and alternate months.

I have identified four key players: Vitamin A (retinol) in Drops or Serum, 302 DROPS or 302 SERUM, Vitamin C (in ester form, like ascorbyl palmitate or tetrahexyldecyl-ascorbate), and Vitamin B-3 (niacinamide).

All of these (save for B-3) should be found in high concentrations and used once or twice per week.

We are training the skin, just like muscle. We build strength without tearing down though. The skin builds by optimizing it’s reaction mechanisms. Skin is a reactive medium of extraordinary complexity that blooms and shrivels from a variety of inputs. Like the brain, the skin does poorly when bored or bossed around.

Let’s get into this further. You are going to invest in these four metabolites and observe.

There are other metabolites to discuss and co-factors to work with them (and those already mentioned) that will enhance the skin response without creating product dependency or skin weakening.

That will take us into some very interesting territory where your ability to observe well becomes more and more important. See you in Part 5.

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