Benefits of Using a Facial Oil

My FijiGirlMy own Fiji girl, Cassie Kosky, spent her junior semester abroad at the University of the South Pacific in the Fiji Islands.  There she admired a simpler lifestyle and the happy culture of native Fijians. She also noticed they had clear, glowing and beautifully hydrated complexions.  While there she discovered a secret, “Using a facial oil every day is a natural way to ensure healthy, glowing skin.”

Facial Oils have been studied for more than 15 years for their anti-aging and antioxidant skin care benefits.  At Elizabeth Renee Esthetics we’ve done our own research and found that natural argan oil is considered to be the premier of all facial oils. We’ve taken this natural oil and combined it with Vitamin E and a small amount of Retinol to create what we believe is the most effective facial oil available.  Then we dedicated this formula to my daughter, Cassie and named it FijiGirl Facial Oil.

Argan oil is the main constituent in this formula because it contains the maximum amount of antioxidants found to benefit the skin by protecting it against skin agers in the environment. This means it helps interfere with damaging free radicals caused by sunlight and pollutants. Try applying a couple of drops in the morning on cleansed & toned skin, then wait two minutes before applying a sunscreen or foundation.

At night you can improve your skin’s tolerance of anti-aging ingredients such as retinols, glycolic or AHA’s that sometimes have an irritating effect on the skin.  Argan Oil contains rare phytosterols which are cooling and soothing to your skin and help reduce inflammation.  In our FijiGirl Facial Oil we’ve also added Vitamin E to boost it’s soothing and antioxidant properties.  Vitamin E also contributes to skin hydration and healing.  Smooth one or two drops on after your nightly anti-aging treatment or combine it with your night cream.

In winter, when skin turns drier, you can apply a facial oil over your favorite hydrating moisturizer to increase the water holding effectiveness of that cream.  Humectants are essential water holding ingredients that should be included in your moisturizer, but when the air is dry you need to add a barrier.  Because oils are lipophilic (fat loving) they migrate easily into the surface cells of the skin preventing moisture loss as they help plump up your skin.

New studies show that using a facial oil increases penetration of performance ingredients like Retinol, Glycolic and Vitamin C because they help them go deeper into the skin so they can activate fibroblasts (which are those amazing cells that lay down new collagen fibers to support skin firmness).  Another thing we’ve added to FijiGirl Facial Oil is a gentle, time released retinol to contribute to the oil’s skin smoothing and repair properties.

Finally, you might want to try a couple of drops of FijiGirl Facial Oil under your foundation. Foundation will go on smoother and lines will become less noticeable.  This is a must have in winter.

Although we feel the FijiGirl Facial Oil is the best facial oil available we also want you to try to adopt a Fijian lifestyle philosophy.  This will surely help improve the health of your skin.

  • Eat lots of natural, organic fruits and vegetables.  They are chock filled with anti-aging antioxidants.
  • Keep your skin well hydrated (there is lots of moisture in the air in Fiji).
  • Try to find inner contentment and happiness.  (Cassie tells me Fiji is not a rich country, but the natives are less materialistic and therefore seem more happy).
  • Relax (you’ll live longer and your skin will look younger for it).


Problem SkinAcne is an aggravating condition suffered by 80% of teenage women and 90% teenage males. Triggered by hormonal changes, the numbers diminish in adults as hormones level out to 12% in adult women and 3% in adult males. Notice that teenage acne in males is higher but settles down to a number considerable lower than women as adults.  This is due in part to the fact that testosterone levels spike in teen males then tend to level out a bit, but in women there are more erratic hormonal changes that continue through their adult lives.

Acne is actually a disease that can range from Grade I acne: mild comedones (blackheads and clogged pores) to moderate Grades II and III: which include papules, pustules and a few nodules to Grade IV: which also includes cysts and acne scaring (from collapsed of tissue underneath the skin’s surface). Severe acne requires medical treatment but there is a lot one can do to minimize mild to moderate breakouts.

Common treatments of the past focused on drying out the skin, removing sebum and killing acne causing (p-acne) bacteria by using harsh ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide, solvent alcohols and over drying sulfate based cleansers. Today researchers have found that these aggressive treatments may actually aggravate one of the main pathogenic factors that cause acne: namely inflammation.

If your problem skin includes red, inflamed blemishes you need to focus on calming the skin first. Calming inflammation means cutting the chain of events that ignites blemishes and leads to staining and scaring of the skin.  This also lessens the time that flare-ups last and allows skin to stay clearer longer. One should remember that reducing inflammation is part of a complete problem skin program which should also consider things like stress reduction and diet modification.

Acne researchers have linked three enzymes to acne related inflammation.

I. 5-Alpha Reductase:  This enzyme is responsible for creating a type of testosterone which makes “sticky” sebum (oil) in the pores of acne-prone skin.  This sebum mixes with dead skin cells which then contributes to clogged pores.  Once the trapped sebum is cut off from bacteria limiting oxygen, a perfect environment is created for acne bacteria to proliferate.

II. Lipase: This enzyme is released in pores by acne bacteria which then changes sebum into free fatty acids, the kind that acne bacteria loves to eat.  As microbes increase, the skin signals an inflammation response which brings in white blood cells to to fight off bacteria.  You’ll see this as red, sore inflamed blemishes.

III. Hyaluronidase: This enzyme is released to thin out the skin and allow white blood cells to rush into the infected area more easily.  Hyaluronic Acid (which supports, plumps and gives volume to the skin) is broken down by this enzyme. Unfortunately, once the blemish has healed, the tissue doesn’t always go back to it’s original heathy state.  The result can be a caving in of the skin, creating an acne scare or leaving a pigmentation stain.

It is now believed that the best way to treat these conditions is to inhibit these enzymes and their influence on problem skin.  Using a calming approach to acne can change the face of your acne prone skin.

If you take steps to find and incorporate these ingredients into your skin care program you will help break the chain of events that contribute to acne breakouts.

BETAINE SALICYLATE: Treating acne-prone skin with salicylic acid has become quite popular. Salicylic Acid is a BHA that works kind of like AHA’s to clear the pores, but Salicylic is more anti-bacterial than glycolic and other alpha hydroxy acids.  This special version of salicylic acid is even better because it is attached to sugar beet extract. This makes the salicylic acid gentler on the skin and provides time-released exfoliation and pore clearing properties even after the ingredient has been washed off the skin.
[Check out our AHA/BHA Clarifying Mousse.]

CHINESE LICORICE EXTRACT: This ultra soothing version of licorice extract has been shown to decrease the lipase enzyme which is linked to the inflammation cascade created in acne-prone skin. Inflamed blemishes heal much faster, with less of a post breakout mark.
[Look for Clear Skin Solution as a gentle spot treatment.]

AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND TEA TREE OILS: This patented blend of Tea Tree Oils helps neutralize p-acne bacteria without the irritation & redness typically associated with other tree tree oils.  Look for 4-Terpineol & New Zealand Tea Tree Oil on the label.
[You’ll find this in Elizabeth Renee Esthetics’ Clear Comfort Masque]

MEADOWSWEET: This fragrant flower extract boosts skin’s natural defenses, helping to maintain a healthy flora on the skin’s surface and in the pores.  Researchers are using this botanical extract to limit inflamed acne lesions. Results of the study appear in the April edition of International Journal of Cosmetic Science.  Researchers found that applying a 1% solution of meadowsweet extract to skins cells increased the production of an antimicrobial peptide called cathelicidin by 130%. This is important because excess bacterial growth coupled with a rise in inflammation characterize acne outbreaks.
[At Elizabeth Renee Esthetics, our clients find Meadowsweet Toner a “must have” part of a program to effectively reduce inflamed blemishes.]

SEAWHIP: This ocean derived extract is a super anti-inflammatory ingredient.  We feel it is unsurpassed as a calming skin care ingredient. This soft coral, found in the Caribbean, provides potent natural anti-inflammatory properties that have been studied and found to inhibit up to 90% of the enzyme phospholipase.  This gives an almost instant calming effect to the skin.
[You can find this ingredient in Seawhip Soothing Lotion as well as in Tranquility Serum by Elizabeth Renee Esthetics.]

So, next time you are breaking out consider a gentler approach to treating your problem skin.

Six steps to minimize large pores.

Phyto Bubbles MasqueClients often ask me if they can shrink the size of their pores.   The honest answer is “yes and no.”  Pore size is something one inherits.  It is part of your skin type, like having oily skin.  This inherited characteristic is triggered by hormone changes, which is why pores are so much smaller in children, before they reach puberty.  Your pores are going to be larger in oily areas and smaller in drier areas of your face.  This is a good thing because if your pore size is too small for the amount of oil you are producing you are likely to get clogged pores, which can lead to breakouts.

As time marches on, pores can become larger due to sun damage and other free radical skin agers.  The sun damages important collagen and elastin fibers that support skin around the pores, keeping pores firm and tight.  With age the skin becomes lax and pores expand.

Using products that are too rich for your skin not only clogs your pores but stretches them out, making them appear larger.  The bottom line is that even though you can’t really shrink pores to smaller than what you’ve inherited, you can influence changes in your environment to minimize pores that have been enlarged.  Here are some simple steps to make them look smaller resulting in a smoother, younger looking complexion.

  1. Define your skin type. If you have oily skin you still need to moisturize to keep your skin well hydrated but choose “oil free” products to prevent oil accumulation that will stretch out the pores. Try Weightless by Elizabeth Renee Esthetics.  This light weight moisturizer is oil free, die free and fragrance free.  It does not feel sticky or get lodged in your pores.
  2. Never go to bed wearing makeup.  Wash your face regularly, twice a day will help keep pores clean.  Balance your skin by using a light weight milky cleanser that neither deposits too much oil nor over dries your skin.  Click here to read more on cleanser choices for you skin type. Following cleansing one should always use a toner to remove the last traces of cleanser residue that sits in your pores.
  3. Good anti-aging techniques will minimize pore size.  Use a mineral based SPF 30 Sunscreen every day.  Sunscreens protect against the break down of fibers, keeping skin firm and pores tight.  To help repair past sun damage and promote healthy new collagen and elastin fibers try a retinol based serum at night.  Retinol has a proven anti-aging track record for over 30 years.  Our favorite formula is Retinol Resurfacing Treatment which is gentler and more easily tolerated by most skin types.
  4. Instant gratification.  Elizabeth Renee Esthetics’ Pore Perfecting Face Primer  used under makeup transforms your skin by instantly evening out and smoothing skin’s texture.  All of a sudden pores look smaller.  Follow your primer with a powder foundation.  Powders won’t settle in the pores and will absorb excess oil.
  5. Power Peel Perfection. Look at your skin close up and you will see peaks and valleys that make up the texture of your skin. A Microdermabrasion exfoliating treatment uses aluminum oxide crystals to “sand-blast” the surface of your skin.  While this treatment is not as uncomfortable as it implies, the crystals wear down the peaks and stimulate repair to build up the valleys in your skin.  The end result is a more even skin texture.  The pores not only appear smaller, lines are softened and skin takes on a healthy, youthful glow.
  6. Have a deep pore cleansing facial.  These facials focus on extractions of material trapped in pores that create blackheads and whiteheads.  Pores that are kept clean cause less attention to irregular pore size and are more able to  shrink back to their inherited size.  My favorite deep pore cleansing facial is Elizabeth Renee Esthetics’ Phyto-Bubbles Facial.  This facial uses plant enzymes in an bubbly effervescent mask to soften oil and clear pores deep down in the skin. This leaves skin texture looking smooth, fresh and clean.

What are these white bumps on my skin?

UltrasoundHere are the most common white bumps found on the skin:

Milia is a condition that occurs when a pocket of keratinized skin cells is trapped underneath the surface of the skin.  These appear as waxy looking small, hard white bumps that do not usually disappear on their own.  Unlike whiteheads, they are not associated with pores (oil glands).  This means there is no escape route for the clogged material and they are more likely to just sit there indefinitely.  They are very common on the faces of babies but also adults.  In adults they are often a result of sun damage where the skin develops an impermeable layer on the surface that increases the likelihood of clogging (especially under the eyes).   Milia can be lancet and then removed by a qualified dermatologist or esthetician.  When they are extracted they appear as little hard white beads.

Keratosis Pilaris often occurs on the upper arms and looks kind of like goose bumps.  This occurs when skin proteins get clogged in the hair follicle.  This condition is usually associated with dry skin.  The condition may improve in the summer when the skin gets less dry.  The most effective way to treat Keratosis Pilaris is to mix 6 drops of Glycolic Serum Plus in with a light body lotion and work it into the skin twice daily.  In-Spa one can speed up results by having a Glycolic Booster Treatment. Concentrated glycolic is spread over the skin to quickly dissolve those dead dry cell layers.

Closed comedones are clogs of oil and dead cells in the sebaceous glands, which are attached to hair follicles in the skin. They are caused by “sticky sebum” (oil) that is slow moving out of the pores.  The oil is trapped in the pore by layers of dead skin cells or by using a too heavy moisturizer, foundation or eye cream for your particular skin type.  Although this is considered a form of acne, the clog is close to the skin’s surface and not inflamed.  Clogs that are located lower in the skin will often form cysts.  White bumps which become infected and show signs of inflammation are called pustules.  They have a white pocket of dead cells and bacteria in the center of an inflamed blemish.

Closed comedones are slow to correct themselves.  If you are over drying you skin with detergent based cleansers, alcohol based toners or harsh acne products they tend to get indurated (hardened) and deeper in the skin.  If you are using too rich products they will increase in number.  It is not a good idea to remove these yourself, the reason being that if they are removed incorrectly bacteria can get into the pore and cause inflammation, leading to a full blown pimple.  Soften up the surface of the skin using a Glycolic Acid based serum daily. Try a Retinol based serum at night and use a smooth surfaced exfoliating scrub three times a week.  Once you have prepped your skin with an effective exfoliating regime it’s time to visit your esthetician to have those stubborn closed comedones extracted.  An effective pore clearing facial will include steam to soften the oil and a peel for in depth exfoliation, but more advanced treatments also include ultrasound exfoliation.  After your peel,  your esthetician will follow up with a Sonopeel.  This Sonopeel (which looks like a metal spatula) slides under accumulated dead cells and uses sound waves to gently lift and remove them, creating a more effective exfoliation to clear the pores and make way for easier extractions.  A Sonopeel treatment is also a highly effective way to hydrate and soften your skin.

Click here to book a pore clearing Redefining Skin Facial with a Sonopeel ultrasound treatment.

How to Banish Blackheads

hands on faceBlackheads are a very common problem, especially on the nose and in the oily areas of the face.    Many of us think blackheads are dirt lodged in the pores but they are really oil that has oxidized from the air (which turns oil black similarly to how rust forms on metal) and pigment from old cells.  Oil gets clogged more easily if the oil is viscous and slow moving through the pores.  The viscosity of oil can be effected by a diet high in saturated fats (esp. dairy).  Also, runners are more likely to get blackheads because when they run, air hits the skin and oxidizes the oil.  Air also evaporates moisture from the skin, creating a hardened surface that traps in oil.

To keep blackheads at bay start by getting a facial.  Tell your esthetician to concentrate on extractions to unplug those clogged pores.  Verbalizing this concern will help your esthetician to focus on this problem instead of something else that may not be as important to you.  Your esthetician will use techniques to soften the clogged oil and make for easier extractions.  She may not be able to remove all blackheads in the first treatment, but this will get the ball rolling and she can advise you as to what routine you need to follow at home to prepare your skin for future treatments and offer products to help dissolve blackheads at home.

At home treatment includes using a Vitamin C Serum  which contains Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate to help prevent oil from oxidizing, reducing blackheads.  This product should be used daily in the morning.  Next you should use an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) blend that contains Glycolic Acid.  Glycolic goes in deeper than other AHAs and is most effective in a serum form.  Three times a week you should use a physical scrub to loosen the clogs and remove dead surface cells that trap in oil.  Finally once a week one should use an at home peel to clean out pores and exfoliate on a deeper level.

For stubborn blackheads you should consider a series of professional peels.  If you also have a problem with blemishing I suggest Salicylic Peels.  If you have a layer of dry skin trapping in oil you should consider Lactic Acid Peels which are not only skin softening but very hydrating.   If you have thicker skin you might want to try a Blueberry Peel which is a combination Glycolic Acid with a little bit of Salicylic and Blueberry Enzymes.  Once your pores are clean, you’ll want to keep them that way.  Keep up with regular monthly maintenance facials and be fastidious about your home care.

Click here to book a facial at Elizabeth Renee Esthetics Skincare Spa.

Papaya Enzymes for Gentle Exfoliation

PapayaHow do papaya enzymes work for your skin?  

Papaya enzymes exfoliate by dissolving dead protein cells and help clear debris within the pores.  Clients with delicate skin tissue such as broken capillaries and rosacea may not be able to tolerate stronger chemical peels containing alpha or beta hydroxy acids that strip away surface layers in a much more aggressive manner.  Due to their sensitivity or because they are allergy prone they need something that discriminates between living cells and dead surface cells. Enzymes have this ability and the result is a delicate peel that also feels more comfortable on the skin. Note that many papaya enzyme exfoliators on the market also include salicylic acid which negates the purpose of doing gentle peeling. So, you need to check the ingredients listed on the jar before you buy. Our Tropical Enzyme Smoothing Peel’s activity comes purely from the papain enzyme derived from papayas.

These enzymes are also work well for acne prone skin. By cleaning out pores, you will lessen blackheads that can lead to blemishing. If there is already visible blemishing, the papaya’s strong decomposition quality works to clear the skin by breaking down harmful elements while still leaving the healthy cells to thrive.  Enzymes are better than scrubs for inflamed acne because the rough particles in scrubs add to irritation and create little lacerations in the skin that spread acne bacteria.   

Tropical Enzyme Smoothing Peel also helps brighten and even skin tone without chemical abrasives. Natural papaya enzymes work to eliminate dry, dull pigmented cells and toxins to reveal a softer, smoother complexion. Plus, It improves penetration of other treatment products due to removal of dead cells that create a barrier on the skin’s surface.

Tropical Enzyme Smoothing Peel is used in our spa during some of our sensitive skin facials but it is one peel that is mild enough to use at home on a regular basis to keep skin looking smooth, fresh and younger looking.

Acne Vs. Your Diet

hands on faceEvery time a client comes to see me to get a problem skin facial I find I can’t stress enough the importance of a proper diet in the treatment and improvement of their acne prone skin.  Good skincare products are key but by themselves you will not be able to clear up your skin.  Strong ingredients like benzoyl peroxide may work temporarily but I can’t tell you how many clients get discouraged when all of a sudden their acne is back.

Your skin is a reflection of everything that is going on in your life, from how much sleep you get to any emotional stress you’re experiencing, to the amount of exercise you get plus all your other lifestyle choices. The foods you choose are right up there on the top of the list.  Feed your skin well and it will thrive.  If you’re eating enough antioxidant vitamins it will help you fight off acne causing bacteria.  If you consume calming foods you can lessen the risk of skin inflammation.  If you choose the right type of fat you will effect the viscosity of the oil (sebum) you produce which means less blackheads and clogged pores. Change your diet and you will change your skin.  Then maximize your effort with great calming and pore clearing skin care products but remember what you put on your skin will provide only half the answer.  Many of my clients who have made significant dietary changes found that they were eventually able to get off their acne medications and finally feel comfortable facing the world wearing less makeup.

AVOID REFINED CARBS: Refined carbohydrates are foods where carbohydrates turn quickly into sugar in the blood stream.  This includes processed foods like white bread and and sweets. It’s a good idea to start reading ingredient labels to become aware of exactly how much sugar is in the foods you choose.  The problem with sugar is that sugar causes insulin to spike.  Insulin is a hormone connected to androgens like testosterone that increase oil production and inflammation of your skin.  This is a huge and important change to finally calm those acne lesions.

EAT YOUR VEGGIES:  Antioxidants found in highly pigmented veggies help you fight off acne by calming the skin’s inflammation potential.  Vitamin A: found in the pigment in spinach, carrots and sweet potatoes helps build stronger cell layers that are more organized and less likely to get clogged pores.  Vitamin C: found in oranges, tomatoes and broccoli helps boost your immune system and strengthen your cells walls (reducing the risk of scaring and cysts).  Most veggies are high in fiber which helps clean out your intestines and your skin.

AVOID DAIRY PRODUCTS:  Most dairy products are filled with growth hormones which boost acne-causing testosterone levels.  High fat dairy products are even more of a problem because when eaten they can change the viscosity of your sebum to become thicker which means it flows more slowly out of the pores and is more likely to get clogged.  Some people can get away with fat free yogurt that is organic (not fed hormones), but if you have an acne problem you may no be able to tolerate even this.  Better stay clear until you find your skin clears.  Then you can slowly add yogurt to your diet to find out if you can tolerate it.

EAT MORE FISH:  Oily fish such a salmon contains omega 3 fatty acids which has a calming effect on the skin.  Inflammation is a huge factor as to why some people get those large, red, sore pimples.  Red meat on the other hand contains Omega-6 fatty acids which is actually highly inflammatory.  Add to that the fact that cows are often fed growth hormones so they will get fatter.  Eating beef increases your risk for skin that becomes easily inflamed.   Choose instead natural, grass fed meat products which are hormone free.

Give this diet a good three months to work.  Even though most client start to see a difference after just a few weeks, if you really want understand the full effect that diet plays for your personal chemistry you need to give it time.  Remember, with a little determination you can have good skin in a relatively short period of time.  Good skin from the inside out!

To find gentle and effective problem skin solutions click here.