A fun way to workout . . . partner pilates!

Exercising can and should be fun!  Grab your partner or BFF and work up a good sweat and get your blood flowing . . . yes, it does help your skin look great!


This is a good stretch . . .


This one is challenging . . . but fun!  Pushing your hands together and upward, lift your upper body . . .  then hold it!!!


Another challenging pose and killer on the upper body . . . hold it . . .


Then take out your frustrations on an object instead of your partner if they couldn’t handle it!!!



Dr. Hudacek and Toners


We speak to many women about their skincare routines and we have found that very few understand the need for a well formulated toner.  Toners aren’t just about removing left over makeup after cleansing.  The right formulation will add an extra layer of healthy nutrients and for some of us, no additional moisturizer is necessary.

The astringent, high in alcohol toners of days past are not what we are speaking about.  Those cause more problems than have benefits especially for those of us with oily skin.  I personally have found that I become even oilier when using these types of toners and my pH is totally out of whack. When you use the correct toner, your skin will literally “drink it in” and it will feel soft, soothed, and clean. And again, we have found that no one in the entire skincare industry formulates a toner as beautifully as Paula’s Choice (and no, we are not paid by this company, we are simply stating a fact!).  Every single skincare company out there should emulate her formulations as they are simply the best in terms of the ingredients and how they benefit your skin.  To apply a toner loaded with antioxidants, nutrients, skin soothing and repairing ingredients, and . . . very important . . . fragrance free (or minimal fragrance), will leave your skin absolutely refreshed, glowing, and healthy! We’ve included a link to PaulasChoice.com should you wish to take a look at the offerings and benefits . . .


Dr. Hudacek shares her opinion on toners . . .

Buyer Beware


Just about every week, we get contacted by a new skincare company to do a product review.  Do you see a lot of them on this website?  No.  That’s because we will not endorse a company that makes false claims and use ingredients that are not scientifically proven.  We are always on the lookout for great ingredients and formulations that are not too polluted with a plethora of nasty chemicals.  Are there products out there that are totally botanical, organic, and efficacious . . .  no. At least not in the way we see the use of skincare products (efficacious would be the key word in that last sentence).  Do the product lines we love have some nasty chemicals     . . . yes.  To achieve great (healthy) skin, you need a combination of natural and non-toxic synthetics. That is really hard to find in the marketplace!  And, there is only so much a topical product can do. There is not a miracle cream, lotion or potion that will change the structure of your skin. If it “changes” your skin, it is considered a drug and has to go through the FDA (think retinoids and chemical sunscreen actives).

Many of the skincare companies that ask us to do reviews make claims that simply aren’t true. Whether it be by the all natural and oh so powerful “plant stem cells” or by the high tech approach of using “human stem cells” . . . (more on the stem cell topic in a future blog post) . . . the claims are ridiculous. Stimulating cell regeneration? Boosting gene activity? The use of stem cells is a hot topic these days.

*A side note . . . the only human stem cells approved by the FDA at this point are those from “cord blood”.  Companies using human stem cells in their topical products are making false claims. That’s not to say that some day this technology won’t evolve and produce evidence and results. Topically, that remains to be seen.  I spent a good amount of time on the phone with FDA (Biological, Drugs, and Food Safety & Applied Nutrition) prior to writing this blog.

Take a peek at what the FDA sent out to a large cosmetic company a couple years ago in making claims that were extremely misleading . . .


And more recently . . . (several companies are marketing the use of human stem cells)


The FDA doesn’t have the man power to police the entire cosmetic industry.  And the cosmetic industry is at the bottom of their list.  We know that they have “enforcement activity” going on and certain areas are under investigation as evidenced by these letters. And if people report negative side effects from the use of a product, the FDA will get involved.  Unfortunately, they won’t get involved if your “negative reaction” is simply less money in your bank account.  The claims and prices many companies are stating are ridiculous. And that is where you need to be aware.

Pick your Poison

Chemicals-in-MakeupWe know . . .  this sounds insane.  But for as hard as we try to live a clean and organic lifestyle . . . it’s simply not realistic to live a toxic free life anymore. Whether it be our skincare/personal care products, the environment, the sun’s UV radiation, the flame retardants in our furniture, our water supply, the food we eat . . . it’s sad, it’s scary and it’s reality.

This is also why Gigi and I obsess over ingredients in our products.  It gives us some kind of power in making decisions on what we put in and on our bodies. I can share with you a few of the top ingredients/products that we TRY to stay away from. Here is a quick reference . . .

PARABENS (used in just about everything), PHTHALATES (DEP, diethyl phthalate, used in fragrances), TRICLOSAN (used in hand sanitizers), SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate- gives shampoos/cleansers the lather i.e. a detergent),  hair dyes containing RESORCINOL/PPD (phenylenediamine), LEAD (acetate/compounds), and in nail polish . . . TOLUENE, FORMALDEHYDE AND FORMALDEHYDE RESIN, CAMPHOR, DBP (dibutyl phthalate)

There is the argument that SLS’s do their job . . .  clean!  Yes, however, there are other options out there which is why I prefer to stay away from them.  And when buying nail polish (BTW acetone isn’t great either), look for a company that says they are “3, 4, or 5 free”, meaning they have eliminated those toxic compounds.  BUT here’s another scary fact . . . some companies that SAY they removed those chemicals DIDN’T!!!

Perfumes are loaded with phthalates (DEP helps fragrance linger after application) which is why I recommend only spraying it on your clothes.  And that is also why is has no place in your skincare products!  Fragrance is among the top five allergens in the world for a majority of people.   Synthetic or natural, fragrance has no place in skincare products which Gigi and I preach constantly.  And did you know that fragrance houses not only make perfume but they also develop flavors for the food industry . . . hence the food we eat.  Chemically altered to make it more appealing.  THAT is why you should eat organic as much as possible.

Are we concerned with a paraben or two at the bottom of an ingredient declaration? Honestly, no. We feel it’s far worse NOT to have a preservative in a product. Irena James, Director of Product Development for YG Laboratories and an assistant instructor at the UCLA Extension Cosmetic Sciences Program, wrote a great article in Dermascope Magazine September 2014 about preservatives and why we need them.  You can Google it if you’re interested in reading the whole article.  It’s geared towards industry professionals but a great read.

The state of California is the leader in environmental issues.  Proposition 65 requires businesses to notify Californian’s about the chemicals in the products we purchase and updates their list annually. Here is the current Prop 65 list of toxic chemicals in case you’re interested . . . (and you will see titanium dioxide, airborne particles, listed which is also a concern in powdered mineral sunscreens . . .  hold your breath!)


Are we going to stop using perfume? Doubt it. Are we going to stop dying our hair?  I hope not! Are we going to stop using hand sanitizer at the gym after a workout?  Not a good idea. Are we going to stop driving our cars?  I doubt we will ever be 100% electric.  It’s impossible to live free and clear of it all, but at least you are aware and can choose.

Dr. Hudacek simplifies your AM/PM routine

Dr. Hudacek explains a three step process in your skincare routine for those of you who are overwhelmed with the plethora of products out there and/or those of you that just want to keep it simple.

A good morning routine (think PROTECTION) will consist of . . . cleansetoner/serum with antioxidants – SPF (can be a moisturizer)

A good evening routine (think TREATMENT) will consist of  . . .  cleanse – retinol/retinoid or AHA/BHA exfoliants – moisturize (many moisturizers without SPF will have other wonderful skin repairing and cell communicating ingredients)

Of course you can certainly incorporate many additional products into a daily routine and alternate them as necessary. This is just a simple 3 step process for those of you that want the basics.

Chemical Peel – part two

Terese Eastman of Skin Techniques in Petaluma (www.skintechniques.net) applies the second half of Gigi’s chemical peel in a two part process.  Again, Terese is using the professional grade product line Lira.

After applying the lactic acid peel (part one), Terese will place a hyaluronic acid gel mask to calm and soothe the skin.  The final step in Gigi’s peel will be a retinol seal.  The retinol solution will target lines and wrinkles, sun damage, pigmentation, acne and related scars.  Peels are also wonderful at stimulating collagen production.

Once Gigi’s skin sloughs off, she will see a noticeable difference as far as tone and texture.  We highly recommend a peel at least once a year.

Chemical Peel – part one

Gigi shows us the process of a two part chemical peel performed by Terese Eastman of Skin Techniques in Petaluma (www.skintechniques.net).  Terese is using the professional grade product line Lira. After cleansing, Terese applies the Lira lactic peel which consists of lactic acid, mandelic acid, kojic acid, salicylic acid, peptides, green tea extract, edelweiss cell culture among other ingredients.   The benefits of these ingredients will include skin lightening and rejuvenating, rebuilding collagen, infusing the skin with antioxidants along with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Overall this peel will target pigmentation, sun damage and dehydration.

Kristin Hudacek, MD, FAAD discusses retinoids/retinols

Dr. Hudacek speaks briefly about the benefits of using a topical retinoid/retinol as part of a good anti-aging skincare regimen.   She is currently affiliated with Richard G. Glogau, MD & Associates in San Francisco.  Dr. Glogau developed “Glogau’s Wrinkle Scale” (shown below for reference) to objectively measure the severity of photoaging and wrinkles.


Glogau Classification of Photoaging

Group Classification Typical Age Description Skin Characteristics
I Mild 28-35 No wrinkles Early Photoaging: mild pigment changes, no keratosis, minimal wrinkles, minimal or no makeup
II Moderate 35-50 Wrinkles in motion Early to Moderate Photoaging: Early brown spots visible, keratosis palpable but not visible, parallel smile lines begin to appear, wears some foundation
III Advanced 50-65 Wrinkles at rest Advanced Photoaging: Obvious discolorations, visible capillaries (telangiectasias), visible keratosis, wears heavier foundation always
IV Severe 60-75 Only wrinkles Severe Photoaging: Yellow-gray skin color, prior skin malignancies, wrinkles throughout – no normal skin, cannot wear makeup because it cakes and cracks


’tis the Season

This is the time of year to start thinking about tackling those brown spots on our face, neck, decollete, hands, etc. Those “spots” whether you call them sun spots, liver spots, age spots . . . are sun damage.  They can also be hormonal, but for the most part, it’s superficial and can be treated. But I need to clarify one thing . . . if you are a darker skin tone, you need to do some research and check with your dermatologist or aesthetic nurse as some skin types are not suitable for skin lightening ingredients, chemical peels or electical modalities such as IPL (intense pulsed light). By the way, chemical peels are also great for dealing with hyperpigmentation, along with multiple benefits (and a little easier on the budget).  I find a little more down time with peels than an IPL, but I do both and see incredible results with them.

The gold standard for inhibiting melanin production and dealing with hyperpigmentation is hydroquinone.  It is a controversial ingredient and one that I use only this time of year and only at night. There are some natural ingredients that are also good, not as effective as hydroquinone, but good none the less. But please do your own research as with any type of active ingredient there is always a potential for skin irritation. I have also heard over the years that rubbing a fresh cut lemon on to your face (or fresh squeezed lemon juice) will do the trick . . . PLEASE do your research on that one!   The last thing you want to use is something this acidic (a very low pH) that is also phototoxic.  And remember even though it’s winter and you may not be spending as much time out in the sun, you MUST wear sunscreen while using these types of products. Few apply enough sunscreen as needed and if you wish to maintain the results of any skin lightening products sunscreen is paramount.  Remember, those spots got there from the sun!

Below I’m discussing my fall/winter skincare regimen and I’m also including a link from a previous blog post of Gigi receiving an IPL (sueandgigi.com/ipl).  Gigi and I do use and recommend products from Paula’s Choice as we have found her formulations to be outstanding and the price points phenomenal.  Skincare products containing good skin lightening ingredients, together with a broad spectrum SPF 30 or greater, chemical peels and/or lasers that target hyperpigmentation can give you even skin tone that is youthful, beautiful and certainly achievable.

UV Damage – “How the Sun sees You”











This video went viral last week and I felt like crying seeing these people laughing at themselves!  I’ve had the photos taken from the VISIA Complexion Analysis machine and I can tell you that it is nothing to laugh about.  The reality of the power and damage of UV radiation is beyond a little sun burn.  This is worth looking at.  Wear your sunscreen and UV apparel!