Sculptra Aesthetic – the liquid face lift (part 1)

Gigi and I are big believers in more of a maintenance routine, doing a little something every few months rather than going in once a year or so and getting a ton of product dumped into our faces. We prefer a natural look, or as natural as can be, and building upon it slowly, gradually with no downtime.  The combination of chemical peels, laser technology, and various toxins and fillers along with good products can certainly give you the skin and results you desire.

The goal of “anti-aging” is simply to build collagen production and keep the skin functioning in a normal and healthy manner.  That’s really all you can hope for outside of surgery.  Gigi has been using Sculptra for several years now and has seen incredible results.  Peri Corsiglia of Allure Aesthetics in Novato, California discusses her technique and the benefits of using Sculptra in the first video followed by the educational video from the company itself to further explain.


Laser Genesis

Laser Genesis is a breakthrough laser treatment that stimulates the skin’s natural processes to promote a vibrant, healthy complexion.  It is in fact FDA cleared for the treatment of wrinkles around the eyes and mouth.  It gently heats the dermis which is why there is no downtime and minimal discomfort.  It corrects redness due to clusters of broken red capillaries called “poikiloderma” and rosacea, plus increases collagen production.  Tackling issues whether they be these mentioned, keratosis or hyperpigmentation, lasers are the answer for all of our extrinsic aging (photoaging) dilemmas.

Carole Sarganis of the Cosmetic & Laser Surgery Institute in Kentfield, the office of Dr. Diana Parnell (the “Queen” of lasers!), is performing the procedure on Gigi.  For more information, please visit her website . . .

High Performance Skin Care . . . NR SKIN

nrskin1When a new product line comes along that we fall in love with (rare!) we share!  The ingredient declarations had me at hello! NRSkin is a high performance skin care line that feeds your skin with good, quality ingredients that are proven and without parabens, propylene glycol, SLS’s, phthalates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrances . . . and never tested on animals.  I go over some of my favorites in the below video.  This line is definitely worth looking into and incorporating!

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 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.

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 ( 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 (  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 (  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.