I've Tried Everything But I Can't Clear Up My Acne

You’ve gone to Dermatologists, tried various over the counter products that promise you clean skin, and have may even gone for facials but you still break out. Over 28 years I have heard this time and again. I have also heard “there are so many products, I don’t know what to choose” or “I used (fill in the blank) and my skin cleared up at first but then it got worse.


The reason why these products work at first but then stop is really quite simple. Most of these products are designed to dry out the skin. Harsh products strip your skin of oil and leave your skin feeling taut, dehydrated and flaky. This can cause a reaction known as reactive seborrhea, where the oil glands work overtime to compensate for the loss of natural oils but the upper layers of the skin have shrunk due to the dehydration.  This restricts oil flow through the pores leading to blockages and breakouts

Of course this is not the cause of your acne but a continuation of the problem, adding to your frustration.

There is no quick fix, so first and foremost, be prepared to make the commitment. Your skin is your largest organ, and as a Holistic Esthetician, I believe in a multi pronged approach to healthy skin . (This does not constitute a medical prescription or treatment.  Please consult your physician before taking any of the suggested herbs/ vitamins)

  1. First we look at your diet. Most Holistic and Functional Medical Doctors believe most illness and imbalances begin in our gut. Therefore it is best to start with an elimination diet to see if you have any food allergies or food sensitives. Dairy and Gluten seem to be the most common culprits but for others it can be sugar, soy, or even all grains. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a wheat or gluten sensitivity, intolerance, allergy, or Celiac Disease, the high amounts if glyphosphate used in wheat could also be a trigger. If you’ve eliminated all the above and still have issues, you could have an undiagnosed food sensitivity, allergy, or intolerance and may want to see a doctor for food sensitivity testing.

  2. Take a probiotic. Taking a good propbiotic (at least 30 billion CFU promotes a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system ,

  3. There are many herbs that can be helpful in gently assisting detoxification. However, I suggest you consult with either a Holistic Esthetician, Herbalist, or Functional Doctor before taking herbs as some have contraindications.

  4. Eliminate processed foods.

  5. Change to a healthy diet, which includes fresh fruit, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.   Cut back on sugar, alcohol, fatty foods, process foods and caffeine.


Now that we have discussed what to do internally, let’s look at external skin care. Let’s first look at what not to use.

  1. Retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid are all acne preparations which can be drying, irritate the skin, and eventually lead to inflammation..

  2. Products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, artifical color, synthetic fragrance, Isopropyl myristate, sodium lauryl sulfate, laureth-4 and D & CD red dye.can clog the pores and irritate the skin which will have the same effect as the above.

  3. Ingredients like parabens are hormone distrupters.

  4. Certain essential oils should never be used on the skin even if diluted beacause they can cause irritation and in some cases, many of the citrus oils will cause burns if expose to the sun:. cinnamon, clove, (should never be used); lemon, grapefruit ,lime( unless it is distilled), and Bergamo( okay in a cleanser but not a leave on product)

How to treat the skin externally. I suggest you meet with an Esthetician to have your skin evaluated and to choose the best products for you. Even acne skin can differ from person to person. If your skin is inflamed, dehydrated, flaky you may need different products from someone who has an oily, acneic condition.

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  1. Use a cleanser that will not leave your skin feeling taunt. Look for ingredients such a activated charcoal, herbs such as burdock root, clays, essential oils of lavender, tea tree, manuka, German chamomile, distilled lime, cedarwood. You must cleanse your skin berfore going to bed to remove the days dirt and grime.

  2. If you use a toner make sure it is free of alcohol. Witch hazel is also too strong and will dry out your skin. A good choice orange blossom or lavender flower water or something formulated to tone the skin without drying it out.

  3. It is important to moisturizer, even if you have oily skin. Choosing the appropriat moisturizer is of utmost importance. You want to a) keep the skin hydrated and b) treat the acne. Moisturize twice a day.

  4. While exfoliation is an important part of your regime you should never over exfoliate. Once or twice a week is enough. If you use a scrub it should be a finely ground product that has the consistency of cornmeal. Another option is to use an enzyme based exrfoliant. Always gently massage, never rub hard or use a brush like applicator. Follow with moisturizer

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Caring for Your Skin At Home: Masks

I consider the mask the heart of the facial.  Whether it is a hydrating gel mask, a detoxifying oil absorbing clay mask, or an antioxidant rich aging with attitude mask these treatments are the crux to helping treat your skin.  The ingredients in most masks deliver high concentrations of active ingredients.  But just as I have discussed in other posts, it is of the utmost importance that you choose the right mask for your unique skin conditions and to use the mask you choose correctly.


Many people think  a mask means something clay based that drys and makes the skin feel tight.  This is never how a mask should be used and not all skin conditions benefit from a clay based masked.   And even if they do, it depends on the type of clay.  Each clay has a different property and purpose.  Below I will discuss the different types of masks, which skin conditions they are best for and how to use them properly.  If you are unsure what your skin type is or you are still uncertain how best to care for your skin, check with your Esthetician, or I invite you to sign up for an online consultation with me.

To start, always apply the mask on clean skin.  If you are using a gel or cream based mask it is best to first exfoliate so that the mask will be able to penetrate and give much better results.  Masking is not something that should be rushed, give the mask the time it needs to work, usually 15-20 minutes.  After you gently remove the mask apply your toner, serum and moisturizer or just moisturizer if you do not use the other two products.

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If your skin in dehydrated or dry it is best to use a gel or cream based mask.  Keep in mind that if you have never masked before or if your skin is extremely dehydrated or dry the mask may cause some tingling or stinging.  If this should happen after a few minutes remove with cool water and then apply your moisturizer.  The next day make sure you moisturize morning and night and drink lots of water.  Then on the day after try the mask again.  Eventually your skin should accept the mask.

As for clay based mask, as I mentioned above, each clay has properties that make it beneficial for different skin types.  However, which ever clay mask you choose it is important that you never allow the clay to dry fully.  After about 3-5 minutes you should either continually mist the mask with water or apply a damp wash cloth over your face.  While the mask is still damp it allows the minerals to penetrate, as it dries it draws out toxins but if it gets too dry it will cause dehydration and irritation.  After 15 minutes, gently remove the mask. Follow with the rest of your skin care products:  toner, serum, moisturizer.


French Green Clay is best for oily skin.  It absorbs oils and impurities.  It is also a mild exfoliator and stimulates blood flow.

Kaolin Clay is often white in color but can range in color depending on its combination with other elements.  It is the  mildest of all the clays and it adsorbs impurities without removing the skins natural oils, making it great for dry and sensitive skin types. .  It stimulates circulation to the skin while gently exfoliating and cleansing.

Rhassoul or Morrocan Red Clay is good for all skin types.  It is extremely absorbent and good for detoxifying the skin. It has been shown to improve skin's elasticity, clear clogged pores, stimulate circulation, reduces flakiness, remove dead skin cells and improves the texture and appearance of the skin. 

Fullers Earth Clay is used as a skin-lightening agent made up mostly of volcanic ash. This clay is a strong absorbent and is good for drawing excess oils from the skin and stimulating circulation to the skin.

There are other types of clay, far too many to discuss in this post.  In addition there are many ingredients to add to clay or to use separately such as colloidal oats to calm sensitive skin, charcoal powder to detoxify, honey, many herbs and extracts.  

It’s important to find a great mask your skin needs to replenish nutrients and lost hydration or to absorb excess oil and remove toxins.  Always read the ingredients and don’t be fooled by the big marketing hype or label claims.

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When Life Hands you Lemons

Life constantly brings changes and sometimes when least expected.  Recently due to circumstances that were beyond my control I had to move my skin care studio.  Not only did I have to move but I had two weeks to find new digs and that is no easy feat.

I would be lying if I didn't say I was worried.  A Massage Therapist associate of mine had downsized some time ago to a one room studio that she shared with an Acupuncturist and Esthetician.  Luckily, I remembered that the Esthetician recently left and I contacted her regarding the space....and the rest as they say is history.

I am back working with a fabulous massage therapist that I worked with  for many years. The space is lovely and very convenient for my clients.  So as you can see, life handed me some lemons but I made lemonade.  So what does this mean for my clients?  Well, except for different hours nothing will change.  Same facial services, same handcrafted organic skin care products. So if your are in Baltimore, come in for an appointment and share a glass of lemonade with me...seriously.



The definition of a milestone is a significant event in your life.  I certainly am experiencing that.  In a few days I turn 65.  Wow, that is mind boggling to me. But it has been a great and interesting 65 years and I look forward to more experiences on my journey.

While not technically considered milestones, I cannot help but reflect that this year marks 26 years practicing esthetics, 12 of those years as a solo Esthetician, 10 as an Aromatherapist and Herbalist, and 9 as a formulator of organic skin care products.

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Certainly I am more than just my career as an Esthetician.  I am a strong, passionate woman that is a wife, daughter, sister, a gardener, a foodie, avid reader, and so much more.

And since most milestones are celebrated, I will be celebrating mine with my husband, family and friends but I also want to celebrate and give something to my clients, many who have been with me a very long time.  So while I rarely discount my services or put my products on sale I decided this was the time.  Each of my regular clients coming in for a facial this month will receive a goody bag.  In addition they will be automatically entered into a drawing for a prize.  There will also be a drawing for anyone who purchases products in house.  A surprise discount on a facial to be announced and last but not least on June 3, there will be a BOGO Sale for all online purchases.

From 12:01 am until 11:59 pm June 3 purchase any Renew Botanicals Organic and Vegan moisturizer and you will get a free cleanser of your choice.  Simply choose your moisturizer and cleanser and use the code sixtyfive at checkout 

or choose the special BOGO for Aging With Attitude by purchasing the Aging With Attitude Facial Serum and Elixir and receive of free Oil Cleanser.  Use code birthday at checkout

I look forward to many more years or bringing you healthy radiant skin.  And I wish you all a happy journey and enjoy your milestones.

How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

It may seem strange to talk about winter when the leaves are only just starting to turn, but during the past 26 years I have observed that if we do not take preventative action against dehydration in the early fall, it becomes a battle all winter long to try to undo the damage.

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Cooler temperatures, wind, and of course turning on the heat can wreak havoc on your skin; drying it out, causing flakes and even redness. Dehydration can cause premature aging, sensitive skin, rosacea, and congested skin.  Now's the time to take steps to prevent dry flaky skin.

Here are some tips to help prevent dehydration.

  •  Continue to drink lots of water...We tend to turn to hot drinks in the cooler weather, more coffee and tea, however, both of these act as diuretics and can cause dehydration.
  • Use the proper cleanser and moisturizer, and make sure your moisturizer twice a day.  Keep in mind the cleanser and moisturizer you used all summer may not be what your skin needs now..

  • Exfoliate once a week.  It is important to gently remove the dead skin build up so that your moisturizer can penetrate your skin.  Keep in mind that over exfoliating the skin will have the opposite effect.  This means no AHA in your cleansers
  • Get a facial.  If you haven't had one in a while now is a good time to. At the same time you can discuss your home care and make sure you are using the best product for this time of year.
  • To counter the dry heat indoors consider buying a humidifier for your home and/or workplace.

If you follow these tips I guarantee your skin will stay radiant, soft and beautiful all winter long.

10 Skin Care Mistakes Keeping you From Healthy Skin

Day after day people book appointments with me for facials.  Some have skin care problems such as acne, rosacea or pigmentation issues.  Others come to maintain healthy skin and slow down the aging process. But many come because they are having issues that can be quickly remedied by following these 10 easy steps.

1.Use the right products for your skin type.  Following the advice from a DIY blogger may not work for you, since your skin may be very different from theirs. One size does not fit all.  Get your skin properly analyzed by a professional.   

2.  Cleanse your skin properly.  First make sure you are using the right cleanser for your skin type.  If you wear makeup, you must cleanse twice.  Once to remove the makeup, second to clean the skin.  After cleansing, your skin should not feel tight or taunt.  If so your cleanser is too drying.

3.  Moisturizer.  This is very important for everyone, even those with oily skin.  Not applying moisturizer especially to wet skin will cause the water to evaporate leaving your skin dehydrated.  Your skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration which can lead to break outs, and the most common condition; dry cheeks and oily t-zone.

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4. Over Exfoliating .  This has become one of the biggest problems in the last few years because so many companies are putting exfoliants into their cleansers such as jojoba beads or alpha hydroxy acids.  Even products that say "gently daily exfoliant" should not be used every day. That is not to say exfoliation isn't important because it is, but once or twice a week is enough.  Once or twice a week you are removing the dead skin but more than that you are actually removing the protective barrier which can cause inflammation, moisture loss and sensitivity.

5.  Sunscreen.  Wearing sunscreen everyday should be part of you daily regime.  Besides protecting your from skin cancer, nothing will age you more than too much sun damage.  It is important to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 25-30 (more is not necessary).  If you are going to be out in the sun all day, reapply.  Avoid sunscreens with chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.  Stick with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as your only active ingredient, although I prefer just zinc oxide.

6. Drink Water.  Keeping hydrated is important for your inner health and outer beauty.  Your skin is your largest organ and if your skin is not getting the sufficient amount of water, the lack of hydration will present itself by turning your skin dry, tight and flaky which may have the same results and lack of moisturizing (see #3).

7. Picking at Your Pimples.   When you pick, pull, squeeze your pimples you are causing damage.  This can lead to scars, which are far worse than the pimple.  It can also lead to irritation and inflammation and most of all infection.

8. Eat Healthy.  As mentioned above, your skin is your largest organ so what goes in your body will reflect on your skin.  Eat lots of fresh veggies, fruits, lean meats, healthy fats and complex carbs.  Cut back on dairy, sugar bad fats. Choose organic and grass fed dairy and meats, whenever you can.

9.  Clean Your Makeup Brushes.  Obviously dirty brushes will introduce bacteria into your makeup and on your skin.

10.  Throw away expired products and makeup.  Most products and makeup have a shelf life.  Using products that have expired can introduce bacteria into your skin.

In addition to following these tips, treat yourself to a facial at least 4 times a year, if you can do it more often all the better.  Make sure you are using the right products for your skin and check ingredients.  Remember glowing skin is healthy skin.

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