Thursday, June 26th, 2008

I will be the first to admit that I am not a toner person. In fact, I didn’t even know what toner did until I started this blog! Since then, I have learned that adding a toner to your skincare system can be more beneficial than you think. Toners are used to help balance the pH level of your skin after you’ve cleansed it. They also help add moisture so long as they are alcohol-free, when used before applying your moisturizer.

If you’ve been a long-time reader, one of my favorite products is Renee Rouleau’s AHA/BHA Cleanser–it is an absolute staple in my skincare routine, and I would not give this up! (And gah!, I’m almost out!) I recently tried out Renee Rouleau’s Balancing Skin Tonic ($30.50), which is designed for oily/problem skin. RR has six different types of toners formulated for various skin types, which is great because it lets you customize your skincare system a bit more (who doesn’t want that?). The Balancing Skin Tonic helps to reduce acne-related bacteria, manage oiliness, and calm the skin–plus, it’s alcohol-free, so it shouldn’t dry out your skin like some other toners might.

I’ve been trying to include toner in my morning and evening routine, especially when I’ve been wearing a lot of makeup. So far so good. I’m really enjoying the Balancing Skin Tonic after I’ve used my AHA/BHA Cleanser, because it helps make my skin feel moist and refreshed. I also like that it helps take off any last bits of makeup I might have missed during the cleansing process. Best of all? This toner doesn’t dry out my skin (which, now that I’m more beauty-smart, I know is the result of its alcohol-free-ness!).

Now, while I adore my RR cleanser to bits, I can’t say that the toner has miraculously changed my skin or anything. It feels lighter than some other toners I’ve tried, and it does work well when I’ve applied moisturizer while this is still damp on my face (it’s a tip they give you). Maybe I’m not experienced enough in the vast world of toners to determine what makes an amazing toner stand out amongst the rest. What I can say is I think this is a good product, and it does its job–restores my skin’s pH level (assumedly, lol, no pH testing strips here…) and reduces acne-related bacteria.

Find your perfect Renee Realeau Toner at www.reneerouleau.com!

Friday, March 28th, 2008

ThermaClear Acne Treatment Device ($149.00) is meant to help significantly reduce the time it takes for a pimple to develop and clear. It is essentially the technology rival to Zeno, which is also geared towards clearing pimples that are spotted by the user. It is recommended for mild to moderate inflammatory acne, but it is not claiming to help counteract blackheads or cystic acne (though user experience shows me that it does help, but it is not as effective as on other types of acne). ThermaClear works by using a pulse of heat directly on the pimple’s surface, which helps to neutralize the underlying bacteria that causes pimples.

ThermaClear claims to “clear pimples up to four times faster than those not treated with ThermaClear.” I would agree that it does a good job minimizing the effects of pimples you just know will take at least a week to go away, if not more. Unlike the Zeno, ThermaClear takes less time to use; it takes ten seconds to turn on, and then you apply it to the pimple. The pulse of heat takes about two seconds (but let the device sit there for about 5 seconds), and it is ready to go again within ten seconds. It is advised that treatment may be done up to three times in a 24-hour period and no more than once in an hour period. One of the things I disliked about Zeno was that after 3 usages, the safety mechanism kicked in and made you wait two minutse before it would reset; ThermaClear you can treat as many as you want in a sitting. ThermaClear also works on regular AA batteries making it convenient and you don’t have to worry about an internal battery that could bust sometime down the road.

There is one caveat to ThermaClear, and it is simply that it can hurt. The pulse of heat is very much like a zap that lasts two seconds, and it can be more painful on certain pimples than others (depending on their size, type, and location). I can handle the pain, and so was my boyfriend, but it isn’t pain-free. The Zeno uses two-minutes of constant heat which is not at all jarring or painful, which may make it a better option for those more sensitive to pain. ThermaClear does have a high and low setting, though the low setting is much less effective than the high one, from my usage.

Remember why I only liked the Zeno? It was because of continuous cost beyond purchase price. ThermaClear suggests and recommends that you replace its tip twice a year ($19.95 each), but here’s the thing — it doesn’t force you to. ThermaClear won’t quit on you after X amount of uses. I just don’t have to worry and attempt to maximize my uses out of the device. I don’t have to question whether it’s worth it or not to use a treatment on a pimple. The cost of a Zeno tip replacement is about $35, and I know, for me, I’m looking at a minimum of three replacement tips a year, if not more.

In an effectiveness comparison Zeno and ThermaClear, they are about equal. Both of them work and work well. ThermaClear is faster, and less expensive in the long run, which is why I love ThermaClear.

You should be able to find ThermaClear at many local drugstores and retailers, which means there is often a generous return policy that will allow you to try the device our and see whether it works for you–and I so urge you to give it a shot!  Banish that pimple that wants to ruin your big date night out!

Get yours at Sephora.com or Beauty.com.

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Biore Pore Unclogging Scrub ($6.99) is an anti-acne facial scrub that utilizes salicylic acid while exfoliating with microbeads to help slough away dead skin cells. This product is alcohol-free (alcohol is a huge no-no in skin products!), which is always a big plus when considering an exfoliant and regular skin product. It does have menthol in it, which gives the product its tingling sensation when used. I find I keep this in my shower caddy and reach for it occasionally. It does tickle my nose a bit, because of the menthol, but I know I’m a bit overly sensitive when it comes to that kind of thing. The microbeads are incredibly gentle, and I feel like this is a good abrasiveness level for an everyday or every other day scrub.

Get yours at drugstore.com or your local drugstore!

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Zeno ($149.00 to $200.00)

As a bit of a gadget geek, high-tech beauty products are always on my radar, including Zeno, a handheld device designed to treat acne. Zeno works using ClearPoint Technology that uses heat to treat P. acnes (read more about this type of acne at Wikipedia), which accounts for nearly 90% of blemishes according to Zeno.

The device takes thirty seconds to heat up after turning it on, and then it is applied to each pimple for two minutes, treated by a heated tip at 118.5 degrees F. Zeno beeps every thirty seconds, and then it does a little video game-like sound to signal that it’s been two minutes. You wait thirty seconds in between treatments before you can treat another pimple, and you can only treat three per session. After three, Zeno automatically has a safety mechanism that kicks in and forces you to wait another two minutes before treating additional pimples.

First and foremost, yes, I saw results, and yes, they were amazing. Zeno manages to “dry out” pimples within 24 hours, which means they’re healed within two or three days. When you have just one or two pimples that aren’t noticeable, it’s not a big deal, but when you’re plagued with more or ones that you can see easily, it is a godsend. The heat is also not at all painful — it’s quite like holding a warm washcloth against your face, soothing and pleasant.

So I must rave about the results, because who doesn’t want a way to treat unsightly acne? I’ve yet to find a cream/gel that actually produces such impressive results in the same time frame. Zeno does work better on newly developing pimples than ones that have already fully surfaced, though I personally found that it still worked well on that type, too.

The bad news about Zeno is that is cost-prohibitive. The device itself has a hefty pricetag, ranging from $149 to $200 (it is available in three versions — Zeno with 60-uses-tip, Zeno Pro with 90-uses-tip, and Zeno MD with 150-uses-tip). I wouldn’t mind spending that on a device that would last me quite awhile, but each tip will only work for a certain amount of uses — 60, 90, or 150, depending on your version. Tip replacements are $25, 35, and 55, and if you think 60 is plenty of uses, think again!

Say you need to treat five pimples, and you’ll need to do it 4 days out of the week. For effective treatment, it is good to treat each pimple two to three times a day. Just treating each pimple twice for four days (5 pimples x 2 treatments/day x 4 days) is 40 uses. Stay with me — think about your yearly usage, is 100 days out of the question? If we were going at 4 days per week for the year, we would end up with over 200 days. In 100 days, you will need 1000 uses (5 pimples x 2 treatments/day x 100 days)! If you opt for the 90-uses-tip ($35), you’ll need 11 of them, bringing you to a yearly total of $385.

While the results were amazing, I think my money could be better spent on prescription acne treatments, and at the very least, the long-term thinking and cost pattern of Zeno makes me more inclined to think about what’s causing my acne instead. I think the Zeno would be worth it for those who are not acne-plagued; for those who only need to treat one or two pimples a week or less. It is even great for treating that solitary pimple that shows up right before a big date or fancy occasion. Simply put, if you don’t need to use your Zeno that often, you won’t need to replace the tip as often, which means it comes to you at a much lower cost.

(By the way, I am aware that several users try to “cheat” the system that Zeno uses — as once your uses are up, it stops working — by simply using the heat that emanates from it as it heats up, but 1) it is not as effective as a full treatment cycle; 2) I’ll probably forget to do this half the time.)

Conclusion? Pick up Zeno if you only have a few dastardly pimples in a month, but look for other treatments and alternatives if you have persistent, regular acne.

Have you tried Zeno? Love it, hate it, worked for you? Is it worth it?

P.S. — Next week, I will bring you a review on ThermaClear, a product that is often compared to Zeno, so watch for that!

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

DHC recently launched a Salicyclic Acid Acne Treatment System that includes a Salicylic Acne Wash ($13.00), Salicylic Acne Toner ($14.00), Salicyclic Face Milk ($19.00), and Acne Spot Therapy ($12.00). The wash is a non-drying cleansing gel that foams to gently exfoliate, while calming skin with aloe vera and green tea. I find that it’s fairly gentle, despite being an active acne-fighting product, so my eyes handle it well if any gets in them on accident. The toner works well for those who are oilier, but I found myself skipping this part of the four-step routine when I was pressed for time (that’s probably a big oops, right?) because I felt like I didn’t need it. The Face Milk is a lightweight moisturizer that is  targeted to help reduce acne because of the salicyclic acid in it, but it ensures hydrated skin while doing so. Out of the system, I think one of my favorite products was the Spot Therapy, because I felt like it did help to minimize redness caused by new blemishes in a short amount of time. Many acne-fighting products tend to dry out skin, which is why I liked the DHC system, because they recognize that and make sure to infuse their products with hydrating ingredients to give skin the balance it needs while breaking down blemishes.

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Clinic’estetica™, a state of the art aesthetic medical clinic that meets the needs of individuals seeking non-surgical permanent and semi-permanent solutions for cosmetic and reconstructive procedures, is proud to introduce ClearPluss™ Acne Clearing Treatment — an original and uniquely designed at-home acne clearing product line for face and body (chest and back). ClearPluss™ is based on the theory and testing that has shown that acne has a trigger; when that trigger is disengaged acne outbreaks will be curtailed and possibly stopped. Each product in the line is a step-by-step acne clearing treatment. ClearPluss™ creates an accumulative positive result for controlling all types of acne while working to keep skin healthy and unmarred. Breakouts, swelling, and scarring become a distant memory.

I spent just about three weeks testing out Clinic’estetica’s ClearPluss™ Acne Clearing Treatment.  As someone who has always had a touch of acne (thankfully nothing so bad as frightful as of yet), I was curious to see how this system would work for me. It consists of a four-stem system; you begin with the Acne Clearing Cleanser, which aggressively prepares the skin to absorb the elements of ClearPluss while removing dead skin cells and dirt. I personally enjoyed this cleanser, which is definitely an exfoliating cleanser. I would say that those with more sensitive skin may not like how abrasive the particles in the cleanser are. It took me a few cleansings to get used to it and like the feel of it really working.

The second step is the Acne Clearing Treatment, which is a serum used daily to reduce or eliminate acne, blackheads, and overly oily skin.  It has a pleasing smell of peppermint and a little goes a long way.  Since this is the product that really is the cornerstone of the system to keep acne at bay, I blame the patches of dryness that occurred after two weeks on this one – for those with drier and/or sensitive skin, I’d opt to use this serum only once a day or every other day.  Especially since I am not plagued by severe acne, I think it would have been just as effective.

The third step is the Acne Clearing Tonic, which is to help skin control excessive sebum production.  It is meant to be used in-between to reduce acne persistance during the regimen.  I only used this a few times, because my skin does not really require a toner.

The last step is the Acne Clearing Moisture, which provides additional moisturization to dry, sensitive skin.  It helps reduce the inflammation resulting from acne, rosacea, etc.  It does not have any oil or fragrance, which is always a great thing in a facial moisturizer.

Results? Yes, I saw results.  My skin looked and felt healthier, cleaner.  It is a meticulous routine, though, so if you are forgetful or often skip steps in your skincare regimen, this is probably not for you.  However, on the same note, all these products work together to achieve maximum results, so you do not have to worry about finding the right mix of non-matching products.  Most of my acne was reduced to just one or two small, manageable pimples along the chin area or forehead — noticeably less, and any small bouts that appeared were hardly visible (did not get any enormous, traffic-stopping zits!).

ClearPluss™ Acne Clearing Treatment can be purchased at http://www.simplysvelte.com/.