May 27, 2016

What’s the Deal with DEET? 

A major concern among parents “is what I’m putting on my body and my child’s body safe?” Many mosquito repellents that are being marketed as “natural” seem ideal, but the question is are they as effective as those containing DEET? With the summer upon us and the increasing concern regarding the Zika virus in the U.S., finding a repellent that is safe and effective is crucial. 

Far and wide, the favored mosquito repellents by physicians contain DEET. When it comes to the concentration of DEET in repellents, studies show that concentrations above 30-40% don’t drastically increase the efficacy of the repellent. It’s also important to note that when using products containing DEET on children, you want to look for something with concentrations below 30%. Products containing DEET should be completely avoided in infants under the age of two months. 

For those concerned about using DEET-containing products on themselves or children, look for other products containing the active ingredients picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or citronella. In fact, some research has shown picaridin to be just as effective as DEET in keeping mosquitoes away. Oil of lemon eucalyptus has also been shown to be as effecting and long lasting as products containing DEET. When it comes to citronella, studies show it to be not as effective. Products containing undiluted citronella may repel mosquitoes for a little over two hours, and products with 5-15% concentrations were only effective for 20-30 minutes. Other studies have show that the candles containing citronella offer little to no protection at all. It is also important to note that citronella in higher concentrations can cause irritation to the eyes, lungs, and skin. 

All insect repellents should be used sparingly, and those containing DEET should only be applied once a day (contrary to what the packaging advises) on children. Otherwise, it is in your best bet to follow the manufacturers instructions. If you are in an urban area, look for a repellent containing a lower concentration of DEET (around 10%). For those who will be traveling to a country or wooded areas or by water, a higher concentration (20-25%) should be used. It’s good to remember that clothing choice can effect your chance of getting bitten. If you are in a highly wooded, wear long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and shoes with socks.
Remember, DEET- containing products do not effectively protect against ticks and tick-born illnesses. Thus, in the summer months, kids’ scalps and bodies should be thoroughly checked for tick bites! 


May 13, 2016

Color Correcting 101

One of the most important makeup lessons I have learned over the years is how to color correct. Whether it is disguising dark under eye circles, masking hyperpigmentation, covering a breakout, or neutralizing redness, understanding the basics of color correcting can transform your problem area. 

In order to understand color correcting, you need to think back to art class and basic color theory. So we begin by looking at the color wheel. Each color sits directly across from another color, making them complementary colors. If we look at red, the color opposing it is green. When red and green are combined, they neutralize each other (i.e. cancel each other out). So, whichever color you are looking to conceal/neutralize, find the corresponding color on the color wheel. 

The Issue: Redness
Whether redness comes about in the form of rosacea, a stubborn zit, or sunburn, a green corrector will effectively neutralize it. If you have widespread redness (think rosacea and sunburn), a green primer is probably the best option to significantly reduce the redness and get an even toned base for a flawless foundation application. If you need a little more coverage or are wishing to spot-cover the redness from a pimple, try a green corrector. While green primers and correctors tend to be great for more fair skin tones, a yellow-based concealer/corrector can help to cover redness on those with olive undertones. If you notice that your redness least more toward the magenta/purple side than that of a true red, yellow will likely neutralize your discoloration more than green would. 

The Issue: Dark Under Eye Circles
If you are dealing with blue under eye circles, the ideal corrector to look for is on with a peach or orange undertone. If you have more fair skin, you will likely want to go with peach/salmon, whereas if you are slightly darker (medium to deep tones), you will want an orange-toned corrector. If you under eye circles tend to have a more purple hue to them, you will want to reach for a more yellow-based corrector. If you have a deeper complexion, grab a corrector with a red undertone. Sometimes, dark circles have a mixture of the blue and purple hues, so you may need to use a mixture of the orange, yellow, and salmon/peach correctors. 

The Issue: Sallow (Yellow-ish) Skin
Purple/Lavender correctors are best suited for eliminating yellow tones from the face. Purple combats sallow undertones and can brighten dullness.

When color correcting, you typically want to apply the corrector to bare skin. The corrector can be in the form of a primer or concealer. After you color correct, then you can apply your foundation overtop and voila- flawless skin! If you are one of the lucky ones who doesn't have many imperfections to hide, a skin-toned concealer is all you need. Just apply your base, then conceal any spot that need a little extra coverage! 

March 24, 2016

Look Beyond the Label

It’s easy to see a product labeled “natural” or “organic” and assume that it is somehow automatically better for you and your skin. However, the real test to perform for the healthy truth is to look at the ingredients listed on the back. There are some controversial chemicals that you’ll want to avoid that are more important than the label of “organic” or “natural.” It is also important to remember that “organic” or “natural” skincare products can contain botanical/plant ingredients that can be highly allergic and may not be regulated by the FDA.

Parabens: There are common preservatives that are used to prevent bacterial growth in products. Parabens have been faced with a lot of scrutiny due to their behavior in the body as mimickers of estrogen. Estrogen disruption has been linked to reproductive issues and breast cancer. While parabens have yet to be directly linked to causing cancer, there is growing concern about their unknown effects when accumulated in the body.

Phthalates:  Phthalates are chemicals that have been used to soften plastic and vinyl by increasing their flexibility. Many of these have been banned in children’s toys, but can still be found in some fragrances and nail polish. Some studies have shown that these chemicals can be endocrine disrupters, which cause disturbances in the body’s hormones.

Sulfates: Sulfates help with the lathering component in shampoos, body washes, and face washes. You’ll often see products in the store with big letters that say “Sulfate-Free.” A push for these products has occurred because sulfates can irritate the skin, and fade hair dye.

Triclosan: A lesser-known additive, this antibacterial ingredient is included in many products such as toothpaste, soaps, and even toys. Triclosan is currently being researched for its possible disruption of the body’s hormonal regulation and immune system, as well as its adverse effects on the environment.

Although avoiding all chemicals is usually not possible, anyone with sensitive or allergic skin should look out for these ingredients.

February 17, 2016


The only miracle about “it’s a 10”, a popular “leave-in” hair product, is how often the answer is “yes” when I ask my new ACNE patients if they use this product. This brings me to discuss the acne epidemic caused by this product and many like it, such as biosilk or anti-frizz serums and oils. 

“It’s a 10” is a hair product that is used to control frizz, add shine, and detangle. However, when it’s left in the hair and touches the face throughout the day or overnight, this greasy product sits on the skin, clogs pores, and causes acne breakouts. Breakouts from hair products are often localized on the cheeks and jaw where hair touches the face.

As a general rule in skincare and body care, most products work well for what they are made to do, but when misused, they can cause mishaps. You wouldn’t moisturize your face with your hair conditioner, would you? It seems obvious that this could cause some skin issues; however, most people will not think to correlate their acne breakouts with their skincare products until we mention it.

The only way to eliminate acne caused by hair products is to eliminate the hair product from your routine entirely. However, if you can’t live without the hair product, here are some tips to reduce breakouts:
  • Wear your hair up to avoid prolonged contact of your hair with your face, particularly to sleep
  •  Identify the culprits! Gel, detanglers, heat protectors, leave in conditioner, and Moroccan oil are just a few examples of products that can make acne breakouts worse. Consider what products you use on a daily basis, especially ones that are thick or greasy.
  • Pillowcases: Regardless of the fabric, pillowcases trap oil, dirt, and bacteria. Try changing your pillowcase more often (every 2-3 days), especially if you’re a side sleeper.
  • Shower at night and sleep with clean area.
Hair products are not the only everyday products that could be contributing to your acne. Here are some other tips:  
  • Cell phones and laptops: Your fingers house a lot of bacteria. Clean your electronics daily using a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
  • Medications: Allergy nasal sprays and inhalers can cause acne as a side effect because of the corticosteroid component. Oral contraceptives and IUDs can cause breakouts of hormonal acne.
  • Sunscreen: Look for sunscreens that are light and “noncomedogenic” (meaning that they should not clog pores). We recommend Elta MD SPF 46 for acne prone skin.
  • Exercise: Exercise is great way to relieve stress, increase the delivery of oxygen to your skin cells, and speed up the disposal of cellular waste. It’s important to note that sweating from exercise can also cause breakouts, so it’s important to wash your body ASAP after a sweat-breaking workout.