Mar 16, 2010


Kristina Holland-Natural Skin Shop’s skin-savvy writer (& biggest fan!)

FAQs On Stretch Marks….
Stretch marks, also referred to as “striae distensae”, are a highly misunderstood skin disorder affecting approximately 70% of the female population and nearly 40% of adolescent males. Many questions surrounding this tricky skin concern are left unanswered, leaving all those afflicted feeling helpless, confused and frequently disappointed. Read below to find out the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions concerning stretch marks…

FAQ: What are stretch marks and how are they obtained?
Stretch marks develop deep within the secondary layer of the skin referred to as the dermis, where collagen and elastin are produced. Although stretch marks do frequently occur during rapid growth spurts, such as pregnancy or adolescence, the root cause is actually a class of hormones known as “glucocorticoids”. These hormones, which halt the fabrication of fibroblast activity, run rampant during periods of intense physical transition or during topical and/or oral steroid use. Fibroblasts are crucial to the production of both collagen and elastin fibers particularly when the skin is “stretching” at an abnormal or accelerated rate. Without the essential production of collagen, the supportive structure of the skin fails to reinforce the dermis, which leads to dermal tearing and epidermal thinning. The process itself is oddly similar to the development of wrinkles resultant from photodamage and its impact on the dermis. Stay tuned for the Natural Skin Shop Blog on photodamage titled “Damage Control: Repairing the Photodamage of Yesterday for a Brighter Tomorrow”.

FAQ: Am I doomed to acquire stretch marks during pregnancy?
A: Roughly 90% of pregnant women (predominantly Caucasian women) develop stretch marks at some point during their pregnancy. The third trimester is a particularly vulnerable time when the baby is growing rapidly. First things first, prepare in advance for the onset of stretch marks. Waiting for their ‘big debut’ is risky business! Avoid elasticity loss from the get-go (pre-natal) by fortifying the lipid barrier with skin-nourishing humectants and emollients such as vitamin E and olive oil. For existing stretch marks, the topical application of vitamin A treatments, such as Ashira Retinol Enliven Complex Moisturizer, is known to stimulate fibroblast activity and encourage the production of collagen. However, any and all vitamin A treatments should be postponed until the completion of both the pregnancy and the nursing period. Vitamin A is extremely harmful to infants and has been associated with long-term birth defects in high-doses. Topical vitamin C, such as C-Rx Vitamin C Potent Topical Serum 27, is also recommended for mild to moderate stretch marks. Over time, it can be used to effectively stimulate pigment and collagen production.
(While pregnant or nursing, please consult a physician regarding skin care procedure.)

FAQ: What are “glucocorticoids” anyhow?
A: Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that impair fibroblast activity thereby halting the very necessary production of collagen and elastin. The fabrication of these crucial dermal fibers is essential to the skin’s support structure. When they fail to provide support to the dermis, stretch marks develop as a result of elasticity loss.

FAQ: My stretch marks are so ancient! I’m convinced they cannot be erased. Are stretch marks permanent?
Recent advancements in skin care technology have expanded the scope of skin-renewing opportunities. Lasers, chemical peels and microdermabrasion treatments have all proven to be highly successful at erasing (or at least camouflaging) these unsightly relics of time. A silver or white stretch mark, medically referred to as “striae distensae alba”, is indicative of a fully developed or “aged” stretch mark. Time is of the essence! Catching a stretch mark during the early phase of development, indicated by a red, blue or purple hue, is highly advantageous. Skin peels, most notably glycolic acid peels, effectively stimulate fibroblasts and can be used to effectively banish both newly formed and “ancient” stretch marks.
FAQ: Will tanning help to mask my stretch marks?
A: Tanning, by way of UV radiation exposure, will only make matters worse. For a quick fix cover-up, opt for self-tanners, which camouflage the problem without further debilitating essential dermal fibers (collagen and elastin).

FAQ: Can I prevent stretch marks and does a specific diet aid in averting stretch marks?

In short, stretch marks can be prevented, however, there are no guarantees. A healthy combination of both internal and external remedies can be used to both prevent and treat existing stretch marks. When it comes to stretch marks, try to reiterate (and initiate) the following three words:

  1. “Stimulate”-fibroblasts deep within the dermis! Think skin peels, topical vitamin C, vitamin A, microdermabrasion, photorejuvenation (lasers), etc!
  2. “Nourish”-the external barrier (the intracellular matrix) with NMF (natural moisturizing factors). Think hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalane oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, fatty acids, ceramides, sweet almond oil, etc.
  3. “Hydrate”-the internal barrier with essential fatty acids (healthy fats) and of course…water! Think salmon, olive oil, almonds, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, avocados …and water, water, water!
PS: Exercise is also a helpful tool in preventing stretch marks as a result of increased blood circulation. Extreme weight-lifting, however, can have the opposite effect by sparking glucocorticoids into high production.

Stretch marks don’t have to ruin your day…remember help is on the way! Natural Skin Shop XOXO Feel free to post your blog comments below!

Mar 8, 2010


“Pat Away a Drenched Face… Before Evaporation Does!”

Towel dry immediately after washing your face, head, shoulders, knees and toes! However, be sure to gently pat away moisture buds with a bacteria-free, clean towel! Here’s the clincher: Many individuals fail to regularly and thoroughly wash towels resulting in the proliferation of acne-inducing bacteria. Delegate a hygienic, germ-free towel to be used exclusively on your face. Air-drying is often frowned upon due to the inevitable process of evaporation. But fear not! Applying moisturizer to a damp face will ensure your lipid barrier prevails against all odds!

“Don’t Pop That Pimple.... Unless You Want Another Dimple.”
To pop or not to pot? Just say no to zit popping! More often than not, popping a pimple results in the formation of acne scarring. Even a seemingly simple extraction can incidentally push bacteria deep into the pore resulting in an unfortunate dispersion of bacteria. Inflammation, redness and pockmarks are not worth the instant pimple-popping gratification. Leave clogged pores to the professionals or invest in skin-renewing chemical peels, which eradicate clogged pores from the get-go. Skin peels infused with antibacterial agents, such as the jessner peel, are a healthy choice for acne-prone individuals. Mature skin types that are plagued by both acne and wrinkles should opt for glycolic peels, which address both concerns with ease.

“PH-Balanced Is NOT A Bad Skin Care Joke!”
For the most part, skin is slightly acidic! The “acid mantle” is a protective layer of sweat, lipids, fats and oils that work to protect the skin from harmful bacteria and viruses. It is located on the outermost layer of the skin known as the stratum corneum. The widely spouted term “PH” refers to the “potential for hydrogen”. In other words, the PH of a product determines its concentration of hydrogen ions. The average PH balance of most skin types resides somewhere between 4 and 5.5. A PH lower than 7 is considered “acidic”, while a PH above 7 is deemed to be “alkaline”. Products labeled “PH-balanced” maintain the delicate acid mantle by restoring the skin’s natural PH to a mildly acidic level. Excessive cleansing can strip the skin of vital acidity thereby creating an alkaline environment prone to infections. The PH scale can effectively determine a product’s potential for irritation or “injury”. The low PH of chemical peels purposefully “injures” the uppermost layers of the skin to encourage cellular renewal.
PS: Water is considered to be “neutral” with a PH of 7.

Class is dismissed!
Natural Skin Shop XOXO
Feel free to post your blog comments below!

Mar 2, 2010


Kristina Holland-Natural Skin Shop’s skin savvy writer (& biggest fan!)

Every now and then, it may seem like you have missed the first day of skin care orientation. Should I pat or air dry? Is a toner absolutely necessary? Should I use hot or cold water to wash my face? These answers and more can make the difference between a complexion that glows and one that woes!

“Wash Your Troubles Away…With Lukewarm Water.”
Be sure to get a thorough cleanse with lukewarm water. Ice-cold water tightens pores thereby preventing your cleanser from penetrating deep into the pore-lining. This is particularly true for medicated cleansers, such as Peel Rx Alpha-Beta Cleanser, infused with tea tree oil and salicylic acid. On the opposite end, hot water can exasperate dry skin and acne conditions by weakening the lipid barrier. Extreme water temperatures in either direction can result in broken capillaries otherwise known as “telangiectasia”. Lukewarm water, neither too hot nor too cold, is a healthy choice for clear, beautiful skin! Follow a gentle cleansing with a splash of cool water for a refreshing, pore-tightening effect.
PS: Be careful not to over-cleanse and disturb the acid mantle!

“Tone Your Way to Extraordinarily Beautiful Skin.”
Toners are often disregarded as unnecessary, excessive and worthless. However, this common misunderstanding couldn’t be further from the truth! For most skin types, particularly those with special needs, they can be a skinsaver! Medicated toners, such as Peel Rx Alpha-Beta Toner, can dramatically improve acne conditions without imparting dehydration and irritation. In fact, toners prep the skin for moisture delivery and restore a healthy PH balance. Toners have really grown-up in the past few years. No longer the drying and irritating astringents of the past, toners successfully clear residual impurities, tighten pores and eradicate dead skin cells. Unfortunately, water systems fail to deliver pure, clean, unadulterated water. A toner ensures your skin isn’t left to the demise of skin-disturbing mineral deposits. On the same note, even splashing with water can disturb the skin’s delicate PH balance. Choose a PH-balanced toner that is appropriate for your skin type. Many contain emollients and antioxidants to further protect skin from the perils of UV radiation and harsh climates.

Visit for more info about glycolic peels and glycolic acid peels, and don't forget to come back next week for Skin Care Orientation Part II (!)