Sprucing Up Your Skin For Spring

There’s snow on the ground and only the faintest signs of spring but even though you’re probably still bundled up in layer upon layer of clothing, now’s the time to be thinking about sprucing up your skin. Eating skin-nourishing foods and making use of powerful medical grade skin care now can make sure that when those sweaters and ski-pants come off you’ll have glowing, healthy-looking skin.

It’s also the perfect time to address pigmentation problems and to experience the benefits of laser hair removal as ultraviolet light radiation is still at a low level and you’ll want to avoid sun exposure immediately after treatment.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Laser hair removal using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a lasting solution for unwanted hair and much more effective, comfortable, and long-lasting than shaving, waxing, and electrolysis. Able to treat larger areas of skin such as the back or legs, as well as the upper lip and under-arms, IPL laser hair removal is quick, pain-free and totally safe and there’s no need to let hair grow out between treatments like there is with waxing and shaving.


Sunlight, environmental factors, medical conditions and the natural passage of time all contribute to the development of dark spots, skin pigmentation and freckles. Your face, hands and chest are the first parts of the body to show signs of ageing because they receive so much sun exposure. Age spots, skin pigmentation and freckles are forms of pigmented lesions. They are caused by excess production of melanin in the skin by cells called melanocytes.

Skin pigmentation (melasma) can also occur in pregnant women due to the associated dramatic changes in circulating hormones during pregnancy. In some cases, skin pigmentation in pregnant women disappears after child birth, but for some women the melasma may worsen with further light exposure and skin ageing.

Lasers and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) devices have been used with great success to remove problematic skin pigmentation. This state of the art technology selectively emits charged light energy to target the pigmented areas and this energy is absorbed by the melanocytes, sparing the normal surrounding skin. Topical remedies such as bleaching agents, glycolic acid, and retinoids can help in cases of minor skin pigmentation but as they only treat visible skin pigmentation they do nothing to treat the underlying cause of dark spots and pigmentation problems.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) uses wavelengths of heated light which are directly aimed at the pigmented spots. The advantages of this technology include the fact that the pigment is able to be targeted precisely without damaging the surrounding tissue. Skin pigmentation in the face, neck, chest and hands can be treated safely and effectively. The added benefit of the Cynosure IPL Technology is that is also works to activate cells in the skin called fibroblasts which stimulate collagen remodeling and new collagen production. This added benefit is due to the fact that the laser works with a full spectrum light beam and a unique application tip. Effectively, this helps to rejuvenate the skin, improving its texture, visibly minimizing pores and reducing superficial fine lines and wrinkles to reveal a more youthfully hydrated appearance.

Protecting the Skin

Once you’ve got your skin smooth and hair-free you’ll want to make sure that it’s protected from photodamage and age-related changes such as wrinkles, liver spots, pigmentation problems and abnormal vascularity (spider veins). This involves nourishing the skin inside and out with a combination of nutrition and medical grade natural skin solutions like vitamins C, E, and A.

Vitamin A – What’s in Your Skin Cream?

Retinoic acid (vitamin A) is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the cells of the skin from the visible signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage, and skin spots. Not all creams containing vitamin A are able to actually deliver this nutrient to the underlying skin cells however.

This is why it’s important to choose a medical grade formula like those available from Zo® Skin Health which penetrates the epidermis to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin and boost the repair and regeneration of youthful, firm, and healthy-looking skin. The Zo Skin Care range is ideal to maintain fabulous skin.

Vitamin C – It’s Not All the Same!

Vitamin C is also vital for collagen production and applied topically it can improve the tone, texture and overall health of the skin. Vitamin C is a highly unstable molecule however, meaning that the vitamin C included in most skincare products has a very short shelf-life and is of practically no use for skin health. Luckily, there are forms of vitamin C, that are much more stable and able to penetrate deeper into the epidermis to support healthy collagen and melanin production (minimizing pigmentation problems such as dark circles), to brighten the skin and help repair UV damage.

Feeding the Skin

As well as ensuring that you choose medical grade skin care to spruce up your complexion, it’s also wise to ensure that your skin is well hydrated and nourished during these colder months. Try adding pomegranate juice into your morning breakfast regime to get a regular supply of anthocyanins and antioxidants. These strengthen blood vessel walls helping to maintain healthy circulation to oxygenate the skin and help clear skin toxins quickly and efficiently.

More Great Skin Foods

Try adding pumpkin seeds to your morning granola to boost levels of zinc, a mineral needed to produce collagen and elastin, to help skin heal and to maintain a healthy immune system to fight off skin infections and scarring. The oats in your porridge or granola are also great for the skin as these provide dietary fibre that helps lower inflammation and keeps the bowel regular to flush out toxins. Oats are also rich in silica, which is needed for strong and healthy skin, hair and nails.

Add a little flaxseed to your daily diet and this will also help control inflammation that can make skin look angry, red, and blotchy. The omega 3 found in flaxseed helps to keep cells flexible and strong and the fibre in these seeds even plays a role in balancing healthy hormones, which is great for anyone suffering from skin problems such as acne.

There are so many great foods for the skin but a good general rule is to eat organic, minimally processed, brightly coloured wholefoods that are high in fibre, plant-based proteins, healthy unsaturated fats, and antioxidants. That way, when you finally get to slip into that sun dress your skin will not only be smooth thanks to IPL laser hair removal but also healthy, happy and better protected against photodamage and pollution.


Use it or Lose it!


Mature-woman-at-front-of-exercise-classAs our life spans stretch longer so must we! Being inactive (sedentary) builds in increasing hazards to the 55 year and older group. In particular osteoporosis (bone weakening in men and women) obesity, osteoarthritis of large joints and muscle weakness often weakness often resulting in falls, balance problems and strains. Recent studies also confirm increase loss of mental function (Alzheimers) and or general deterioration of complex thinking. Continue reading “Use it or Lose it!”

The Slant on Beard Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a combination of inflammation and mild infection of the hair follicle. It can be caused from improper product use to chronic irritation.  It could occur anywhere on the body where there is hair but it is mostly is seen in the groin area, arms, legs, back and face. The beard area on men can look like it has acne with pinpoint raised pimple looking lesions but are irritated/inflamed hair follicles.  Secondary mild infections can make these lesions look pustular. 

The biggest offender in the beard area is shaving.  I want to focus on the shaving strategy and the ART OF THE SHAVE.  Regardless of race or age most daily shavers struggle with razor burn, bumps or ingrown hairs or maybe all three.

Timing of the shave is important.  It doesn’t matter when but it does matter where it should occur after a shower or at a sink on a moist skin.

Skin prepping should vary depending on the skin type. The majority of men don’t even consider this.  It is important that the skin be warmed that the pores are open and the beard hairs have been plumped with moisture. 

Skin Types

Normal – Normal Dry

These faces need the less prep prior to a shave. What is important is that the face is warm/moist while in the shower or immediately after at a sink prior to shaving.

Normal- Oily

An exfoliant will help to scrub bacteria and skin debris. A good exfoliant should have a texture of fine sand that can be mixed with a cleanser and worked in a circular motion all over the face with more pressure in the beard area.  Rinse well with water.

Dry-Sensitive or Acne Prone

Exfoliants are a no no. A use of them can increase dryness and irritate and spread acne.  The face and neck should be extra warm and moist.  Cleanser should be an enzyme based for dry sensitive skin.  Acne prone skin requires cleanser with salicylic acid and glycolic acid and exfoliates without grit.  For faces with pustule and cystic acne shaving is out until the acne can be treated and when there is less open lesions.  It is best to use a beard trimmer.  Trying to clear the beard has a high risk of spreading infection throughout deeper layer of the skin along with promoting bleeding and pain from the pustule. 

Seek help from a medical spa or from a dermatologist to have access to effective topical or oral medications to clear the acne and provide safe and effective cleansers.  Laser and Skin Care has a dedicated acne program that will allow for treatments covered through Alberta Health Care.

Shave prep is often skipped by most men.  A pre shave oil, such as American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil, provides an invisible layer to cushion and provide some glide.  These products are usually clear and for some with minimal stubble will get a pain free/close shave. 

Shaving Products

A shaving cream like Aveeno that has a lubricant with an oatmeal base will work for everyone.  Massage it well into the skin and remoisten as needed.  There has been a trend away from highly scented shaving creams due to increase problem with allergic reactions to these.

 Coarser denser beard do well with a badger hair shaving brush that lifts the hair, exfoliates underneath and lubricates the skin.

The Blade

The closest best shave is with a classic straight razor or a safety razor. This is definitely what defines the art in shaving. Visit an old school barber, there are a few still around or many salons will offer a “grooming specialist” to learn. For the majority, the cartridge blade is popular. Despite the marketing ploys, there is no need for more than a 2-3 blade cartridge. A shave involves going over the same area at least twice, that’s 6-9 blades! Plenty!

The Step by Step Shave

Become familiar with the directions of the beard growth. Generally cheeks to jawline hair grows downward. It’s important to keep the area to be shaved taut so pull down on the neck. Start at the middle to bottom of the earlobe of in front of the earlobe and draw the blade along the jaw to the nose and chin area. Keep rinsing the blade with warm water. Repeat on the other side. The neck often takes the brunt of nicks. The hair is usually growing upward but not always in straight lines. Keep the skin extra taut helps those valleys and folds from unwanted cuts. Again, start at below the ears and work up until the chin is reached. Remember to keep adding cream or water for efficient blading.

The lip can be a bit tricky. Draw the top lip down over the teeth and keep tight. Shave straight down in minimal passes. Avoid side swipes and slow down close to the lip margin. When attacking the lower lip and chin the hair usually grows down. Curl the bottom lip over the teeth and keep the chin skin tight and take short single downwards strokes, again avoiding slanting. Keep the area moist. Shaving is not a competition or a race so take time to learn the angles of the face.

If any areas are missed post check, re-cream and go slightly diagonal, never against the grain. That is a common culprit of creating ingrown hairs.

Lastly, rinse with cool water and dab to dry.

Post Shave

Some men like a post shave toner or balm, such as Aveeno Men’s After Shave Lotion, Fragrance Free. These act as an astringent to close pores as well as reduces bacterial spread and reduce irritation. Again, it is best to avoid perfume balms or heavy tick products if prone to folliculitis. Balms, unless they are considered a medical grade are not recommended for acne skin. It is better to apply a topical acne product recommended by your doctor or aesthetician.

Moisturizers are key to calm, repair and hydrate the shaved areas. For problem skin, seek advice from a skin doctor or a spa that carries science based products.

Shaving takes practice to become quick and efficient with zero nicks.

I hope this brief review of the art of shaving will help avoid the unwanted left over result of hair follicle irritation – folliculitis.


Recommended products;

Over the counter:

Aveeno shaving cream

Medical Grade:

Zo Gentle Cleanser (can be used as a shave cream)

Zo Exfoliating Polish

Skin Medica Ultra Sheer


Visit acne treatments in the service column on our website to learn about the dedicated acne program.