chemical peel

The Top 10 Skin Care Questions Answered by Celebrity Esthetician Natarsha Bimson!

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Summer is around the corner! We can't wait to sip cocktails at the beach, splash around in salty water, travel, and soak in the sun. But while it's all great fun, summer can also wreak havoc on your skin. That's why now is a good time to make sure your skin care routine and beauty knowledge is up to standards. How? Let Spa Sophia facialist and celebrity esthetician Natarsha Bimson answer all your most common skin care questions!

1. What 5 skin care products should every woman own?

Let’s assume that we have a decent moisturizer and a gentle cleanser! My top 5 products to keep your skin healthy would be:

  • Sunscreen (SPF20-30) Epicuren’s Zinc Oxide Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 27 is a great option.
  • Washcloths, super affordable and so much better than just hands.
  • Vitamin C Serum. Look for 10% to 25% in order to get results. Hylunia’s Beyond Complex C is lovely.
  • A leave on AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid). 5% glycolic is usually a great starting point for getting into AHAs. I have so many of my clients hooked on Epicuren’s 5% Glycolic Peel Lotion that we have trouble keeping it on the shelf!
  • Retinol (Vitamin A). For retinol you should aim for around 0.5% to 1% for best results with minimal irritation. Epicuren’s Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream is great because it combines glycolic acid with retinol in its formulation.

2. What skin care ingredients should be avoided?

I’m really against ingredient shaming. I think it’s just scare tactics and tends to show a lack of understanding of basic chemistry and formulating. But I would say avoid anything that you have an allergy or sensitivity to. It sounds obvious but you’d be surprised how many people ignore their skin type type in pursuit of following trends.

If you have sensitive skin, keep clear of fragranced or essential oil heavy formulations. Alcohol is the one that I try to avoid the most as well as petrochemicals (mineral oil, etc). People are usually surprised to learn that synthetic ingredients are often the most gentle and non-allergenic ingredients, but it’s true. Plant ingredients tend to be very inconsistent due to the part of the plant that's used and the time of the year that it’s harvested, so can cause a lot of problems for sensitive skin types.

3. What's the best skin care routine for the day?

The foundation to a good routine is cleansing, and I’m a huge advocate for washcloths. This is pretty much the basic regimen that I suggest to my clients:

  • Cleanse: Take a clean washcloth, wet it with hot water, wring it out and drape it over your face. Let it sit for a bit so the steam can cleanse.  Then gently wipe, get in to all the little nooks and crannies.
  • Hydrate: Spritz your face with a hydrating mist such as Hylunia’s Colloidal Silver Mist.
  • Treat: Apply a high quality Vitamin C serum. Vitamin C supports the function of your sunscreen by neutralizing the free radicals in the suns rays, preventing cellular degradation, so it is excellent for day time use. Give the serum some time to sink in before you apply moisturizer or SPF – go and have breakfast, read your emails, etc.
  • Moisturize: If your Vitamin C serum is not very hydrating or nourishing you may need a separate moisturizer and for most people, the one you use in the evenings should be fine.
  • Protect: Your SPF should be a separate product and I much prefer a physical one like zinc oxide to a chemical one.

4. What's the best skin care routine for the night?

At night it's all abour cleansing!

  • 1st Cleanse: Use oil or an oil based cream cleanser. I love Epicuren’s Apricot Cream Cleanser. The oil will break down the oil in your sunscreen and makeup, both of which are designed to stay on your face. Then use a was cloth in the same manner that you did in the morning.
  • 2nd Cleanse: I recommend non-foaming cleanser, mostly because foaming tend to strip the natural oils from your skin which it needs to function properly. If you absolutely have to use something foaming then I recommend Hylunia’s Facial Cleansing Gel as it has really gentle surfactants.
  • Exfoliate: Use a leave on AHA toner or lotion every other night or if you can tolerate it, every night.
  • Treat: Most people should be using a retinol serum or cream to slow down aging. These don’t have to be every night and are great to alternate with your AHA.
  • Moisturize: Find a well formulated moisturizer that is the correct weight for your skin. A couple of great options are Epicuren’s Nourish Daily Antioxidant Moisturizer or Hydro Plus Moisturizer.

5. What's the best way to treat acne & breakouts?

As for over the counter acne treatments: Benzoyl Peroxide is the gold standard. It may scare a lot of people because it can cause dryness, flakiness, redness and irritation when used at the wrong percentage. When used at lower percentages like 2.5% however,  it is just as effective as the stronger dosage but without the side effects.

I have had great success treating clients with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Used in conjunction with glycolic acid as part of a good regime, most grade 1 & 2 acne clears up. I’ve even had great success treating more severe grade 3 acne with this approach. Salicylic acid is then a good ingredient for maintenance.

6: How often should you get a facial?

Generally I would recommend every 3 to 6 weeks. That being said, you are far better off having a great routine at home and getting a facial once a season than being lazy at home and getting facials every 3 weeks. What you do each day will always make a bigger impact on your skin than what I can do once a month.

I always recommend booking the Spa Sophia Signature Facial for first time clients. It’s a great facial where we chat about what products you’re using, and what your concerns and goals are. That way we get to know your skin and work with you to design an at home regimen and treatment schedule to get you there.

7. Are expensive skin care products really better than regular skin care products?

In my opinion, there are many products without adequate data supporting their efficacy. Most people are swayed by a slick marketing campaign and results from poorly designed studies. By poorly designed I mean small test groups, no control groups and no blinding. At Spa Sophia I work with Epicuren and Hylunia, which are both great lines because they are cruelty free, have specialty products that include AHAs, BHAs, Vitamins, Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides, and many other active ingredients.

8. What is the best skin care routine when traveling?

Please don’t ever use soap on you face! I take everything in travel sizes with me. With many companies making travel sizes now, there’s no reason why you can’t follow your usual regimen while away from home.

One of my favorite tips for before and after long flights is to sneak in a couple of hydrating masks. Simply apply a mask such as Epicuren Hydrating Mineral Mask when you get up, go and read your emails or have some breakfast, and then wash your face as normal. You’ve snuck in 30 minutes of hydration without having to put any time aside, and your skin will thank you for it!

9. What is the best way to prevent & treat fine lines and wrinkles?

Sunscreen! Around 80% of premature aging is due to sun damage, and it’s never too late to start using a good quality, broad spectrum, physical sunscreen.

As for treatment, I particularly love Hylunia’s Intensive Repair Eye Cream. It’s packed full of peptides that help to relax the muscle in the eye area, reducing the micro-contractions that help form fine lines. Peptides also boost collagen production and inhibit the enzyme that breaks collagen down, slowing the loss. Brilliant product!

Also, AHAs help your active products penetrate better so I always recommend using AHAs to exfoliate and prep your skin. At Spa Sophia we have a number of excellent treatments that boost the effects from your home care products. The Oxygen Infusion facial is absolutely perfect if you have to look your best for an event or if your skin is dehydrated or sluggish. A unique blend of hyaluronic acid, vitamins, peptides and antioxidants is infused deep into the dermal layer resulting in instant firming, plumping and lifting. It’s one of Hollywood’s secret weapons!!

Want to book a facial with Natarsha or one of Spa Sophia's other expert estheticians? Book one online now, email us or call (310) 564 6676.

Skincare in Your 30s

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skincare 30s los angeles spa sophia abbot kinney blvd veniceA good skincare routine requires a little bit of discipline, but most of all: educating yourself. Luckily Spa Sophia is here to help you with that. Skincare in your 20s shouldn't be the same as skin care in your 50s. So what is the best skincare routine for each age group? We'll tell you! Last month we went in depth about skincare in your 20s, this month we'll look into skin care in your 30s... No matter how well you've taken care of your skin, in your thirties cell turnover will start to slow down and collagen will decrease. This will make your skin thinner, duller and less elastic. Fine lines and wrinkles may start to show, especially around the eyes and mouth. Not to worry though, you can still have a beautiful skin without any cosmetic surgery. Just follow these guidelines for skincare in your 30s...

Moisturize & Sunscreen

Just like in your 20s, for skincare in your 30s it's important to keep protecting your skin from the sun. You don't have to go for a higher SPF level, though. As we explained in our article about sunscreen, after SPF 15 there's little difference in effectiveness. Just make sure you keep using broad spectrum sunscreen/sunblock. Your 30s are also the time to invest in a heavier moisturizer, see our favorites here.

Anti-Aging Creams

Unlike in your 20s, where we recommend you focus mostly on prevention, in your 30s it's time to start investing in a good anti-aging cream. As explained in our previous article, Retinol is one of the most effective anti-aging ingredients around. Opt for the prescription kind, or - if that's too harsh for your skin - get an over the counter cream with retinol. Epicuren's Retinol Complex is one of our favorites. It's available at our webshop as well as the spa.

Gentle Cleansers

Cleaning your skin is always important, and skincare in your 30s is no exception. But in your 30s make sure to always opt for gentle cleansers. Especially at first, Retinol can be quite irritating, so it's important to be gentle to your skin. Use gentle, soapless cleansers such as Cetaphil or one of our recommended products.

Eye Cream

Fine lines and wrinkles will most likely start around your eyes, which is why you should give the skin in that area extra attention. In your 30s, invest in a good eye cream. During the day, wear one that's moisturizing and rich in antioxidants to protect from environmental damage. During the night, wear one with Retinol. If you often have dark circles, look for creams with hydroquinone, vitamin C and brightening ingredients. If puffiness is an issue for you, eye creams with caffeine are the way to go.

Exfoiliating

If you're using Retinol based products, you won' t need too much extra exfoliation. If you don't however, skincare in your 30s can benefit from some increased scrubbing and exfoliation. Get a peel at Spa Sophia, or use at home peels with salicilyc or glycolic acid. If you'd rather use a scrub, then opt for ones with synthetic microbeads and stay away from harsh scrubs. See our favorite at home peels and scrubs in our webshop.

Hopefully this will help you create a better skincare regimen! Obviously different skin types have different needs. Want personalized advice? Come by Spa Sophia at 1027 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, e-mail us, or call us at (310) 564 6676.

Acne Treatments at Spa Sophia

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Acne, while essentially harmless, can be very hard on your self-esteem. Some of Spa Sophia's own estheticians have struggled with acne, and we have seen the miracles good acne treatment can perform for skin as well as mental wellbeing. That's why we're also an acne treatment spa. Want to know what Spa Sophia's recommendations for acne treatment are? Read on!

What is Acne?

Acne is the buildup of oil and dead skin cells in hair follicles, leading to bumps and inflammation of the skin. Acne is most commonly found on the face, back and neck.

What causes Acne?

Acne is caused by an overproduction of oil in the skin, irregular shedding of skin cells and a consequent build up of bacteria. It's usually genetic. Acne can be worsened by certain other factors though. The biggest one is hormones, such as those in puberty, pregnancy and contraception. Medication and diet can also play a role. Dairy products and products with a high glycemic index can worsen acne. Fatty foods and chocolate however, have never been proven to cause or worsen acne. Direct contact with oily substances, certain cosmetics and skin friction with clothing and objects can also worsen acne.

Acne Treatments at the Spa

There are several acne treatments available at Spa Sophia. They can really increase the appearance of your skin by reducing acne scars and acne. If you come in for the first time we'll always give you a complimentary professional consultation. These are the acne treatments at our spa:

Chemical Peel

facial peel los angeles spa sophia before after venice abbot kinneyChemical peels, also known as facial peels, are a popular acne treatment. They consist of an application of acids on the facial skin, causing it to peel afterwards. Spa Sophia only uses all natural acids. Chemical peels have been shown to reduce acne by 40 to 50% after 4 to 6 peels. On top of reducing acne, chemical peels also reduce the appearance of acne scars. Results last up to several months, after which peels at regular intervals can provide good acne maintenance.

Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a more gentle version of dermabrasion, and doesn't require any numbing medicine or downtime. It's an exfoliating procedure, where tiny crystals are sprayed on your skin to peel off the outer layer. Microdermabrasion leaves you with a more even complexion, less visible scars, and reduced visibility of acne. We recommend getting multiple microdermabrasion facials for more dramatic results. Three to four sessions get the skin to a good basic level, and one microdermabrasion per month maintains these results.

DNA CryoStem Facial

The DNA CryoStem Cell Facial is Spa Sophia's latest facial and also functions as acne treatment. It's a highly exclusive treatment where your skin will be exfoliated and then treated with cryogenically preserved stem cell serum. This treatment decreases the appearance of fine lines, scarring and acne. You skin cells will essentially be supplied with younger, flawless skin cells that improve the older, existing cells around them. This process continues for up to 6 days after treatment. A set of at six treatments over two months is recommended to reach all the layers of skin.

Over the Counter Acne Treatments

Aside from spa acne treatments, there are also effective over the counter acne treatments. Topical retinoids are probably one of the most effective. Retinoids speed up cell turnover and increase the shedding of dead skin cells, which over time can really improve the structure of your skin. For over the counter retinoids (often called Retinol) it can take up to several months before results start showing. Prescription retinoids (often called Retin-A) book quicker results, but since retinoids can be quite harsh on your skin, it's recommended to slowly ease into it. Spa Sophia's favorite Retinol based acne treatment is s Epicuren’s Retinol Complex. Purchase it at the spa or through our webshop.

Want to book a free acne treatment consult and book a facial? Call Spa Sophia at (310) 564 6676, email us, or book an appointment online.

The Benefits of Facial Peels

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Facial peels, also known as chemical peels, are quite the rage in Los Angeles, and Spa Sophia has been offering Los Angeles facial peels since the very start. Our facial peels are made of 100% natural products and are available both separately with our "Facial Peel" as well as part of our "Signature Plus Facial" and "Epicuren Facial." Facial Peels can produce amazing results for acne, scarring and aging and uneven skin. Want to know more about facial peels and their benefits? Read on!

facial peel los angeles spa sophia before after venice abbot kinneyWhat is a Facial Peel?

A facial peel consists of the application of a solution that contains alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Alpha hydroxy acids are found in things like sugar cane, fruits and dairy so can be all natural, but are also made synthetically. Spa Sophia offers the natural kind of facial peel. The hydroxy acids are applied to the skin and left on for a certain amount of time, dependent on how sensitive your skin is and what results you want. There are three kinds of facial peels: A superficial one, a medium one, and a deep one. The deep one can only be done on an inpatient basis, that's why Spa Sophia offers the superficial and medium facial peels.

How Does a Facial Peel Work?

A facial peel works by dissolving the material in your skin that holds skin layers together. This causes the bonds to break and the outer layers of your skin to peel, making way for brand new, healthy skin cells. Depending on the kind of peel you get, skin may peel off for several days after your facial peel. A peel doesn't hurt, but can be a little bit uncomfortable. The discomfort ends as soon as the peeling solution is washed off your skin though.

What Are the Facial Peel Benefits?

facial peel benefits los angeles spa sophia before after venice abbot kinneyFacial peel benefits can be far reaching and life changing. Facial peels can really diminish acne scarring, sun spots, fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, uneven skin tone, and leave you with a glowing, new skin. In fact, facial peels can produce the same effects as laser treatment. Not all peels have equally strong effects though. Multiple facial peels are suggested to benefit from the best results.

Is a Facial Peel For All Skin Types?

Superficial facial peels are fine for all skin types, but the deeper facial peels are not recommended for people with very sensitive or colored skin. Ask Spa Sophia for a free consultation to see if a facial peel is a good option for you.

What Are the Side Effects of a Facial Peel?

Facial peels cause your skin to peel, which will leave your skin raw and red. There may in some cases also be some irritation and swelling. Especially in the sensitive areas around the eyes. Depending on the deepness of your peel it can take up to a week for your skin to fully heal. During this time it's strongly recommended that you avoid sun exposure, or at least wear very strong sunblock. This is to prevent skin discoloration, of which there is a small chance after a facial peel.

For superficial peels, these side effects are nearly non existent though. With our professional, experienced estheticians as well as the appropriate aftercare on op that, the risk of these side effects is also minimal for deeper peels. We always test your skin beforehand, to see if you have any strong or allergic reactions.

Interested in giving your skin a makeover and experiencing all these facial peel benefits? Book one of our facial peels online now, or call (310) 564 6676 to set an appointment! You can also drop by at our lovely spa on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Los Angeles. See you soon!