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, March 8th, 2008

There are a plethora of products, ranging from miracle creams to spot treatments and gels to topical prescriptions, that are bought and sold under the premise of reducing the signs of aging. But did you know that there are many habits and things you can do today that will prevent some of those wrinkles (or at least reduce their severity) tomorrow? Here are ten things you should do with products you probably already have, or fine-tuning habits and daily rituals already in your day.

Antioxidants are essential to good health, which also includes helping skin maintain its youthful glow. You’ll notice many anti-aging products market themselves as having antioxidants within them, but you can bolster your regimen by ensuring you consume a few foods that are known to be excellent sources of antioxidants.

  • Beta-carotene (e.g. carrots) may neutralize free radicals which effect your skin on a cellular level. Anthocyanidins (e.g. berries) increase your cellular defense system. Flavanones (e.g. citrus) and flavonols (e.g. apples, onions) may increase cellular defense as well as neutralize free radicals. Sulforaphane (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower) may increase your cellular defense system.
  • Vitamin A (found in dairy, fish, and liver) and Vitamin C (e.g. citrus fruits) both help to protect cells from free radicals. Vitamin E (e.g. nuts, oils, seeds) can also protect cells from free radicals. Selenium (e.g. meats, tuna) may be preventive in damage to your cells from free radicals. Source

Be conscious of how you touch your face. When you’re washing your face, are you scrubbing vigorously? Harsh, hard, or vigorous movements and touches can stretch and pull at the skin in an adverse way. For instance, you should pat your face dry, rather than rubbing a cloth up and down.

Use brushes rather than your fingers to apply makeup. Brushes apply makeup with a light, easy touch, which means less stress and tugging for your skin. When you use your finger, there is more pressure exerted on the skin, even if it feels minute to you.

Cleanse your face regularly and ensure you remove ALL makeup. It is important to wash your face on a daily basis (twice if you can – e.g. AM and PM), even if you don’t wear makeup, because throughout the day your face does get dirty in some aspect. If you go outside, dust and dirt particles may have settled into your face. Make sure when you cleanse your face, you do a thorough job of removing your makeup, too. Residual makeup can rest in pores and on the skin’s surface, clogging it or preventing daily renewal. It’s good to have a package of makeup removing wipes in the house, just because if you ever get lazy or dead-tired, you can opt for using one of those instead of your regular cleansing regimen (not a substitute, but I recognize that we all have days when we just cannot seem to bring ourselves to do things!).

Wear sunscreen everyday. The best policy is to invest in a light sunscreen (e.g. SPF15) for everyday usage, and just get used to having that as a step in your everyday routine–like brushing teeth or showering. It is also a good idea to have a stronger sunscreen (e.g. SPF30+) to use for days when you know you will have increased exposure to sun. You also want to ensure your sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB, because both can cause problems later in life! Even cloudy days, driving, etc. can cause you to be exposed to harsh rays, so sunscreen everyday!

Exfoliate once a week. Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, which helps bring younger cells to the skin’s surface. As we get older, the cell renewal process slows down, giving skin an uneven or rough appearance. It is important that you don’t overdo exfoliation, and the frequency may depend on the product you choose. Also, don’t forget about body scrubs, because aging doesn’t just show up on your face!

Moisturize and protect your hands. There is the old addage that you can tell a woman’s age by the state of her hands. The skin on our hands is subjected to a lot of activity, from work and utility, but also substantial washes, so it does go through the ringer, so-to-speak. It’s good to remember to moisturize and treat your hands well when they’re not busy working. Try a heavy hand cream and encasing your hands in a pair of light gloves while you sleep to give them a boost of moisture. Sunscreen for your hands is also a great idea, because we know the sun does a lot of damage!

Drink lots of water. It’s an oldie, but it still remains true. Make sure you get your daily intake of water! If you have trouble, try filling up a large jug or thermos of water and keep it by you at all times — you’re more likely to drink it if it’s staring you in the face!

Reduce or remove bad habits from your life, like excessive drinking, smoking, and tanning. Both drinking and smoking can ravage the skin over the time, and reducing both or quitting will serve you well both bodily and skin-wise. Tanning, whether it is in a booth or from the sun, is not at all advisable, especially if you don’t use sunscreen to do it. There are so many self-tanners and sprays these days that you can get your glow without harming your skin in the process.

Make sure you are using your skincare products properly. Some products can multi-task, but some can’t. Don’t use a body scrub on your face because the abrasives in it are too strong for the more delicate skin on your face. Just like a cream for your body may not be good to use on your face. When in doubt, use as intended, because if you aren’t sure, the results may be bad news.

Share your easy and inexpensive anti-aging tips with us!

Monday, February 18th, 2008

DHC Vitamin C Powder Supplement ($3.00) makes it easier than ever to get your daily recommended supply of Vitamin C (hello, vital nutrient that everybody should have)! Each packet contains 1,000 mg of Vitamin C, which is actually more than the recommended daily value. Vitamins are often something you can take in surplus, but I do want to advise readers not to go TOO overboard with the C, as too much C can cause execss build-up and lead to kidney stores (true story!). What this means is if you take one packet of DHC’s Vitamin C Powder Supplement, don’t pop a Vitamin C pill, too! One of the biggest reasons to make sure your C intake is healthy is because it helps to boost your immune system, and who wants to get sick?

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.

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Creme ($250.00) is a product I recently received to test. I want to put it plain that I did not purchase this product, so there is no confusion. I am by no means on an unlimited cosmetic budget, so for me to test a cream of this standard is a real treat, but I always desperately hope not to love it, and secretly desire it to fall flat on its face. Why? Because a face cream for $250.00 is not friendly to my budget. I preface this review with so much attention to the price because I now face a huge dilemma: there is something about this cream that has performed a small miracle on my face in the past three weeks of continuous use.

What it’s supposed to do: Resveratrate is the trademarked ingredient dubbed “The Youth Molecule” by Estee Lauder. It “is a more potent, stable, and time released form of Resveratrol.” This product is meant to extend the skin’s youthfulness so that time “stands still.” According to Estee Lauder, the skin will increase in its clarity, tone, and fine dry lines will be plumped by the moisturizer. There is science clearly involved, and they talk about “longevity genes” that regulate the lifespan of skin’s epidermal cells.

What it actually does: Based on testing it for three weeks as both a day and night moisturizer (and let me be honest, there were a few times I misplaced it, so I substituted, but generally speaking, I used this pretty religiously). After one week, I noticed something very impossible happening–my acne was vanishing. Now, this is not an acne-preventing product, it is an anti-aging product geared towards women in their late 20s and older. My diet hadn’t undergone any real change, water intake didn’t increase, and I hadn’t added any other products to my daily facial regimen.

I have never suffered from severe acne, but I get enough that it can be annoying, and there is always one that’s far too noticeable for my liking. Since using the Youth Creme, almost all of my noticeable acne has disappeared. I am not 100% clear-faced, but in my eyes, this is about as close as I could ever get. My skin looks much improved because of the blemishes being gone, but it is also more even and healthy looking. Every time I see my Mom, no matter what, she mentions how pale and sickly I look–but she didn’t say that when I saw her last week (first time since using the Youth Creme). She asked if I did something different with my makeup, because I looked healthier. Application is easy, as you don’t need much to cover the entire face, and it feels lightweight, but it still moisturizers quite well (despite wintry patches of skin). I also love that it dries quickly! There is no strong, overpowering scent, either – it kind of reminds me of a very subtle organic, maybe a touch of oatmeal scent that you can only distinguish if you put your nose in the jar. So to me, it’s nearly fragrance-free once it’s on my face.

So as I said, I face a serious dilemma: how am I going to be able to afford this in the future? I would like to note that the jar still seems mostly full, despite using it twice a day for three weeks. It gives me hope that I can stretch the jar over four to six months.

Do I recommend this product? I do and I don’t. I recommend it because it worked well for me, and the acne-miracle it worked for me would make it worth the price (how much money do I spend each month on products that only work minimally?) as the product jar should last me multiple months. I don’t, because I fear for your poor wallet if you fall in love with it as I have! You know that whole saying, “You can’t miss what you never had?” Exactly. So basically, I do recommend this product, but know that you may find yourself addicted!

Available now at www.esteelauder.com and Estee Lauder locations.

Have you encountered a similar dilemma before? What product led to your downfall? Did you become a loyal re-purchaser or have you been hunting for a less expensive alternative?

Saturday, February 2nd, 2008

Frownies

While shopping at Longs Drugs recently I came across a product that would change my life. It’s not often that any of us can boast life changing affirmations over a beauty product. I found that product, in a little white box called Frownies. Boasting itself as one of Hollywood’s beauty secrets I was overcome with curiosity and knowing how good Longs return policy is I gladly paid the asking price of 16.95$. That night I applied my first Frownie not expecting the miracle I would see the following morning. I awoke, rinsed my faced as directed to remove my Frownies and low and behold my arch nemesis the frown forehead wrinkle has greatly diminished.

What are Frownies you might ask? It’s actually quite simple. It’s a paper product that has been soaked in some type of adhesive. It’s actually very similar to the Biore strips for pulling out nose blackheads. You wet the Frownie and stick in anywhere on your face, I bought the “Forehead and Between the Eyes” set. After moistening the Frownie you apply it to your chosen wrinkle”then off to sweet dreams. The following morning you splash your face with water getting the Frownie nice and moist to insure an easy release from the face (and also so not to pull on the skin while peeling off).

I saw results after my first application of a Frownie to my forehead wrinkle.

According to the Frownies website they work by gently re-educating the facial muscles allowing for a younger more relaxed-looking skin.

I paid 16.95$ for my Frownies but see them listed on their website for 19.95$ which includes shipping which of course mine did not as I bought them at a local store. The box holds 144 patches, which will last me 144 days as I only use one patch nightly. You can use more than one patch depending on where you want to prevent wrinkles. The website is aptly named www.frownies.com.

– Review by Tanya