February, 2010 Archive

Photography: Laura Tillinghast.
Makeup: Elizabeth Chang (Skyla Arts)
Hair Styling & Wardrobe styling: Michelle Tan (MicheStyle)
Model: Mackenzie Drazan with Stars Model Management.

Hurrah! The final photos from this shoot is here! I am super proud of the work we produced as a team! I can’t wait to work with them again! I’m a little backed up with my posts…! life is a bit crazy….but I hope I don’t lose my visitors! *fingers crossed*

For more photos, please visit my website, Skyla-Arts.com and click Makeup>Fashion/Editorial or Beauty! :) Enjoy!

I’ve expressed before that once my website is up, my Skyla Arts blog will also include posts/articles about skincare products and makeup product reviews (and my personal blog will have more entries about my boring life!) I have been occasionally commenting on bride-oriented beauty forums recently and one of the most frequently recurring threads have been focused on products that help heal acne (many questions about ProActive) and whether or not bare minerals/bare escentuals is a good choice for wedding makeup – oftentimes the two themes occur together!  I divided this topic into two parts: Part I will focus on skincare products and Part II will discuss makeup products (and more bare minerals!) While I am not a dermatologist, I’ve been “battling” acne skin for 11 years or so and have tried an array of products. None of the products I mention are sponsored or provided; I have no commercial relationships with these companies! As a makeup artist, I am also concerned with this because it is my responsibility to select the best product for each skin type. Even if you don’t have adult acne regularly, perhaps stressful situations (like Wedding Planning!)  or a women’s menstrual cycle can also cause breakouts!  If you are interested in reading short reviews on the products that I have tried, some tips to take care of your skin, and also what I think about mineral makeup or ProActive for acne-prone skin, please click to continue reading!

How Acne is formed
You can probably find very informative sources on the internet about the science of the evil pimple formation.  I’ve simplified the information into the “magic formula”:

Sebum/oil + dead skin cells + bacteria = ACNE
Sebum is the oil that moisturizes the skin and keeps it soft; the gland that produces sebum is located in hair follicles under the skin. Excessive sebum makes the pores sticky and along with dead skin cells, traps the bacteria and causes inflammation.  I think for people like me with acne-prone skin, while acne can be reduced and ‘cleared,’ it will come back because it’s a skin type (or genetics and hormonal….but let’s not get into that right now).  So to tackle acne, it is important to address controlling excess sebum, taking care of dead skin cells to prevent clogged pores and killing bacteria – but at the same time, keeping our skin moisturized, dewy and healthy-looking!

#1 Oil control

There are so many products that claims it will help you reduce oily skin/shininess! Face wash, serums, moisturizers, lotions, foundation primers, and foundations! oh my! Whichever product you choose, I would recommend the following:
1. Always stick to non-comedogenic products they are proven to not clog or block pores, which is what you want! If it doesn’t say non-comedogenic, “oil-free” “fragrance-free” is also a good bet.   
2. Do not over-cleanse your skin, avoid mineral foundation, and minimize the products used on your face. Cleansing twice a day is a good frequency.  While cleansing is very important to remove dirt and oil build-up, over-cleansing and sucking out all the sebum will trick your skin into believing it’s dry, and therefore, produce even more oil/sebum and re-start the “magic formula.” The same logic applies to applying mineral makeup as it tends to dry up your skin. The key to stay matte and clear is to blot regularly every 4-5 hours and retouch if you want.  Unless it’s a big day like your wedding and you just want to look GREAT and ignore the consequences of getting acne right after, and want to remain shine-free for 10 hours without touching up, then you can consider this risk. I tried this with Smashbox Anti-Shine underneath my Smashbox photo finish primer, foundation, concealer, mattifying loose powder – BREAKOUT!  Of course different people might have different reactions, but I don’t think it’s the anti-shine product itself that caused my breakout, but the over-drying result of all these products.  Sebum is natural, so if it doesn’t bother you, just blot and retouch every 4-5 hours instead of just slamming on all the products! Remember to apply toner and moisturize!
I’ve had personal success with the following products:

Gowoonsesang Oil Control Intensa

It intends to absorb excess sebum – from product description: “Sebum control powder absorbs sebum. Tea tree oil in capsule calms the troubled skin and chamomile essence moisturizes skin.” Tea tree essential oil is a great ingredient for sebum control, (for skin and scalp!)  but keep in mind it is meant to be mixed with other products and not applied directly. A better bet would be to purchase a product like this.

Dermalogica Sebum Clearing Masque

“A cooling, refining and deep-cleaning Kaolin and Bentonite clay masque that purifies, absorbs excess surface oil and helps prevent future breakouts….[a load of awesome ingredients] inhibit the growth of acnegenic bacteria while stimulating the skin/s natural antimicrobial agents for clearer, healthier skin.” Use this 2-3 times a day and miracles happen! :) Another alternative I also used and love, is Kiehl’s Rare Earth Pore Cleansing Masque.  Check it out! You get a lot of product for the price.

Dior Tonique Magique Matifying Toner

“This clarifying toner contains radiance-boosting white tea and leaves the skin with a smooth, matte finish that’s never dry. For combination to oily skin types.” I use this morning and night – it keeps my skin matte but moisturized. Great for combination and oily skin.

#2 Dead Skin Cells

Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate. Taking great care of your dead skin cells can prevent breakouts.  However, over exfoliating can also damage your skin! Either select a gentle daily exfoliating product once a day, or a good product to use twice a week.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
“Removing dead skin cells isn’t supposed to hurt. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant buffs all debris from the skin while feeding the skin with soothing, detoxifying ingredients. This unique, Rice-based enzyme powder activates upon contact with water, releasing active ingredients into your skin without a hint of irritation.” I was introduced to this product by an SA at a random beauty supply store. I bought special gel cleanser at the time and actually it didn’t work miracles, as I only tackled cleansing/removing and reducing sebum without exfoliation.  Now this product, while on the expensive side, is very worth it.  This was a key product to clearing up my skin right before my wedding. I thought: “Final crunch time….might as well splurge on it…” and used it daily. Removing the buildup helps other acne meds  and skin care products absorb better!  I bought it a year ago and I still have products left – to be honest I alternate between this and my new clarisonic, so that’s a reason why I still have a lot of product.  It’s gentle enough for me to use daily, and NOT painful like other exfoliating scrubs. It clarifies your skin tone, and lighten acne scars (over time…not over night!)


“Clarisonic gently clears your pore, cleansing deeply for better absorption of your skin care products. Deeply cleanses and stimulates the skin leaving it feeling and looking smoothe”  I was hesitant to spend so much money on a single item…But what lead me to start wanting it is how many makeup artists swear by it! I showed it to my husband and he pretended he thought it was overpriced and stupid, and then surprised me during my birthday last year (Sept 2009) and I’ve been using it once a day for 6-7 months. The key is to keep your brush head clean – I remove my makeup first (if I’m wearing some!) and then use Clarisonic along with Philosophy – Purity as a moisturizing cleanser while exfoliating. You do get a bit of redness, but it feels like you just had a facial.  It also takes some time for you to ‘see’ the effect – but I do think it has helped me cleanse thoroughly.  The buzzing sound is also meditative – I use it in the shower and not a hassle at all.

#3 Bacteria
To treat the bacteria, you have topical antibiotic options or oral treatments to help kill the bacteria available over prescription. My former primary care physician told me she believes if it’s possible to treat something topically or regionally, there is really no need to involve your other organs – and I agree, but if topical treatments are not working out by itself, it might be a good idea to consult your physician/dermatologist to start a short course of antibiotics.  I personally did 2 short courses of doxycycline – but it didn’t help significantly for me. It also kills the ‘good bacteria’ in your body! Other than that, the pills are huge and sometimes hard to swallow and becomes painful.  Accutane is the most drastic/harsh treatment and has multiple side effects. Think of it as the last resort…!  But there are different options out there – talk to your doctor!

Topical antibiotics can be very drying.  I tried Clindamycin by itself and it has helped – I did not like Benzaclin (Benzoyl Peroxide + Clindamycin) as it dried out my skin. Benzoyl Peroxide also bleaches my skin…but most importantly, Benzoyl Peroxide is carcinogenic, as it is known to increase free radical damage increase free radical damage and thus increase the risk of skin cancer.  Sorry Proactiv, but you are out! That means SAY NO TO PROACTIVE! While many people experience success, if your skin clears up, it’s probably a good idea to stop treatment of benzoyl peroxide. Always check the active ingredients on your face wash and skin care products and make sure there is no Benzoyl Peroxide. Remember to moisturize!
Thermaclear works to stop acne by killing the bacteria that causes it, reducing sebum production and suppressing the anti-inflammatory skin processes.  I wasn’t planning on buying this but the price was reduced by 50% so I was like why not!…but now I’m not really sure it’s still available!! The company I think is struggling? or something?  I found a great side to side comparison of Thermaclear vs. a similar product, Zeno from bellasugar. So if you are interested, perhaps check out Zeno instead. The instructions recommend using it on the highest heat if you can tolerate it! I can’t lie – IT HURTS! And some parts of my face hurts so much more…and on more developed acne, expect a sting!  But it recommends to be used on mild to moderate acne and not on cystic acne.  This has really cleared up the remaining trouble areas for me (chin, forehead, side of face/cheeks).  I feel it was worth it for me – but as with all of the products mentioned, it might not work for your skin, just as some products didn’t work for my skin….!

To conclude Acne-Prone Skin [Part I], some take-home tips before a big event like a wedding:

  1. Don’t forget to take care of your skin!  Busy schedules during wedding planning and chaos can lead you to neglect your skin care routine!  If you didn’t add any new products to prepare your skin for your wedding, be sure to at least maintain your regular routine and address oil control, dead skin cells, and bacteria while maintaining the moisture. Choose the products according to your skin type, or if you want to be thorough, consult with a professional months in advance before introducing new products.
  2. Avoid getting a facial a week before your wedding or try new products.  Your skin might still suffer from redness or get reactions to a specific product. While it’s great to use last minute face masks as a ‘crash course’ a week before the wedding, be sure that you have tested out the masks/products beforehand!
  3. Your beauty vendors should give you good advice on how to take care of your skin and hair before the wedding and use products tailored to your skin.  If after the trial you have concerns, your vendors should be able to address them and come up with solutions.  At that point you might schedule another trial, but if you feel you cannot communicate with your vendor and they are not helpful, it is a sign they are not a good fit for you.  Even if your friends had a great experience with them, sometimes you need to have a discerning eye. Your vendors should be responsive, and reply to your email and phone in a timely manner.

 I hope this was helpful…!! Stay tuned for Part II!