The New Mom's De-Stressing Plan

The New Mom's De-Stressing Plan

By Alice Lesch Kelly

I had big plans for the three months I was taking off from work after my son's birth  -- mother-and-baby exercise classes, lunch dates with other new moms, a stack of novels to read, visits with friends, and walks with my blissfully peaceful newborn snuggled in his frontpack. Maybe, while he was napping, I'd even paint the living room.

Boy, was I living in a fantasy world. I never anticipated the stress I'd feel, particularly during the first six weeks of Steven's life. Looking back, of course, it makes sense. Like most parents, my husband and I knew next to nothing about newborns, nursing, jaundice, cord care, and the many colors of baby poop. Add in hair-trigger hormones, the overwhelming demands of a new baby, unrealistic expectations, and a tiredness so severe you can barely remember your last name, and you have the materials for some of the most stressful moments in your life.

Luckily, there are good ways to cope, as I found out from Alice Domar, Ph.D., a woman who knows about stress. As the director of the renowned Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, the author of Healing Mind, Healthy Woman, and the mother of 3-year-old Sarah, Domar  -- along with her team  -- has done pioneering work in stress management. So BabyTalk asked her to put together a program specifically for brand-new moms  -- simple, practical techniques to reduce anxiety, increase energy, and get more enjoyment out of those first, precious weeks with a baby.

And that's what she did. The methods Domar suggests aren't just simple, though; they take little time and you can use them whenever you like  -- from the day you leave the hospital on. But the New Mom's De-Stressing Plan may be especially useful during those first six weeks. Why? That's when most new mothers  -- who generally don't see their doctor again until six weeks postpartum  -- may be feeling a bit adrift, full of questions and concerns. And while Domar's program won't give you the energy to paint the living room, what you will accomplish is tremendous: You'll enjoy your newborn more and you'll discover your own inner strengths and abilities as a mother. What could be more worthwhile than that?

Week 1: Practice Mini-Relaxations

The first week of your baby's life is really overwhelming," says Domar, in a voice that resonates with firsthand knowledge. "There are so many things in that first week that make a new mother anxious." One of the best ways to combat anxiety when you feel it coming on is through "mini-relaxations," which means that you change from breathing shallowly to taking deep breaths that fill your abdomen. It's simple to do: When you feel anxious, stop and slowly take a deep breath. Count to four as you breathe in, pause, and then exhale. Count back as you slowly let the breath out: four, three, two, one. Repeat this a few times, then return to what you were doing. Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop, and your body will back down from the "fight or flight" response it adopts in a stressful situation.

As simple as deep breathing sounds  -- and is  -- it's vital to relieving stress. When we're anxious and upset, we breathe shallowly, which withholds oxygen from our cells and prompts an unleashing of stress hormones and energy-sapping anxiety. Practiced regularly, mini-relaxations teach you to breathe more deeply throughout the day; they also distract you from what's causing you stress and remind you that you can remain in control  -- even when everything around you seems out of control.

Domar recommends doing mini-relaxations before nursing, when you're helping your baby to latch on to your breast or take a bottle, when the baby won't stop crying, when you can't fall asleep  -- any time you feel tense. Some women, for example, feel stressed when someone else holds their baby. Doing a mini-relaxation beforehand may make you feel less upset. Of course, if you're anxious because you're concerned that Baby isn't eating enough or is ill, take action: Call the doctor.

Week 2: Take Longer Relaxation Breaks

Now you're ready to try longer, more structured relaxation breaks. This week, focus on carving out 20 minutes a day for deep relaxation. It may sound like a lot, but by taking 20 minutes or so, you allow your body to become tranquil and to experience deep relaxation, which brings about long-term physical and psychological changes  -- what's known as the "relaxation response." A cornerstone of mind-body health, the relaxation response was discovered 30 years ago by the founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute, Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D., who wrote a book by the same name. "If you do formal relaxation regularly, it has a carryover effect  -- meaning, you start feeling less anxious throughout the day," Domar says.

There are a lot of different ways to elicit the relaxation response: Breath focus (paying attention to your breathing); meditation; yoga; repetitive prayer (repeating a religious word or phrase); body scan (focusing on each part of your body, releasing tension as you move from your forehead to your toes); and visual imagery (picturing yourself in a relaxed, peaceful situation) are just a few. During your second week postpartum, a daily breath focus is an excellent way to relax. Here's how to do it:

 

 

  1. Ask your husband or a trusted family member to watch the baby for 20 minutes. Settle down in a comfortable position in a quiet room free of distractions.

     

  2. Begin by taking a normal breath. Then take a deep, slow breath, allowing air to come through your nose and move deep into your lower belly. Breathe out through your mouth.

     

  3. Alternate normal breaths and deep breaths several times. As you do so, focus on your breathing, and notice the sensations throughout your respiratory system that you feel with each inhalation and exhalation.

     

  4. Now take a few minutes to practice breathing deeply. Let the inhalations expand your belly. Allow yourself to sigh as you exhale.

     

  5. For the last 10 minutes of the breath focus, imagine that the air you breathe in through your nose carries with it a sense of peace and calm, and that the air you exhale is removing tension and anxiety.

Week 3: Start Gentle Exercise and Mindful Walks

You begin to feel brain-dead at week three," says Domar. "You feel so anxious and so crazy, so tired and so tied down. Getting out of the house and exercising is crucial." If you had a vaginal delivery, you should be able to start doing some mild exercise this week. (Be sure to check with your obstetrician first; c-section moms may need to put this off for a few weeks.)

To relieve stress and tension and begin to get your body back in shape, Domar recommends "mindful" walks, which simply means that you take the time to enjoy small pleasures while you walk. If you're bringing your baby along, start by putting him into a front-pack or stroller and choosing a pleasant walking route. (Best time to go: when Baby has just been fed and is freshly diapered.) While you're walking, focus on the here and now  -- not on how little sleep you got the night before or the fact that the laundry is piling up, but on, perhaps, the way a breeze feels on your face, or even just the joy of getting out of the house. Walk slowly, fully experiencing the sensations of walking, one step at a time. As you move, smell the grass and trees; notice the buildings you pass and the people you see; really listen to birds chirping, dogs barking, lawn mowers droning. When anxious thoughts enter your mind  -- the house is a mess, the thank-you notes still need to be written, I wonder how they're surviving without me at work  -- gently acknowledge them and then let them go, as you nudge yourself back into the present moment.

After your walk, try to carry that awareness into the rest of your day. Instead of watching TV while feeding your baby, feed him mindfully, observing his mouth as he sucks, feeling the softness of his skin next to yours, smelling his hair. Being mindful  -- simply paying attention to what's happening now  -- makes it easier to find your own sense of peace and stillness and heightens your capacity to enjoy the smallest pleasures.

Week 4: Seek Emotional Support

This week, try to find other new mothers who can lend emotional support. "Just being able to get together for a few hours a week and talk to other mothers makes you feel less stressed," Domar says. Indeed, researchers have found that women with strong support systems are at lower risk for everything from the common cold to heart disease.

Kelly Sewell of Nashua, NH, the mother of two sons, ages 3 and 1, can't say enough about her mothers' group, which she joined after her second son was born. Having other moms to lean on was a huge comfort for Sewell, particularly when her son was having feeding problems. "In the beginning, when he wasn't nursing well, the moms were supportive of my decision to stop nursing," she says. "I'd nursed my first son and I knew of its importance, so the decision was agonizing. They helped me to realize that I wasn't a horrible mother for formula-feeding my baby." As her son grew, Sewell continued to receive tremendous support from the group. "It's helped take the stress out of child-rearing, because I don't have to have all the answers  -- I simply need to keep in touch with other moms who do!"

If you don't know any other new moms, be bold about finding them, Domar suggests. Ask your childbirth educator how to reach the women in your childbirth class and invite them over for a reunion. Put up a sign in your community center. Check your newspaper for new-mother support groups and ask your doctors if they know new mothers looking for a friend. Family and friends may be helpful, too.

Any kind of emotional support is a tremendous boon to a mother with a new baby, but having others who are in the same boat and with whom you can compare notes is a powerful stress-buster. "During those first weeks, it makes you feel so much better to know that somebody else feels as cruddy as you do," Domar says. "It means you aren't warped, you aren't handling motherhood badly  -- it means that this is what a newborn does to you."

Week 5: Restructure Negative Thoughts

Now's the time to start focusing on what you're thinking. Mind-body research shows that your thoughts determine your emotional state, which can in turn influence physical health. Women are prone to negative thought patterns, says Domar, and new mothers are particularly vulnerable  -- especially around the fifth week postpartum. "This is when the fatigue really gets to you and you start getting irrational," says Domar. "The negative thoughts are 'My baby is never going to sleep; I'm never going to feel better; this is awful; I feel awful; I'm still fat.' These are all negative tapes that play in our heads."

Using a process called "cognitive restructuring," though, you can learn to turn around negative thought patterns and rid yourself of a major cause of emotional distress. Essentially, cognitive restructuring means analyzing your negative thoughts, step-by-step, and turning them into positive, constructive thoughts. "It offers a way to erase these tapes and to record new tapes that are both more fair and more truthful," says Domar.

This week, when you find yourself having a negative thought, acknowledge it and then ask yourself, Does this thought make me more stressed? Where did I learn this thought? Is the thought logical? Is it true? Chances are, the negative thought won't hold up to the test of logic. Once you realize that, you can restructure it in a positive way. An example: You try on a pair of prepregnancy pants and can't get them over your thighs, let alone zip them. Your first thought (as you dissolve into tears) is, I'm fat and I'm never going to be thin again. So start by analyzing this thought: Am I fat? Well, yes. But I just had a baby and it's natural to have excess weight. Will I always be fat? No, if I eat right and exercise, this weight will come off. Then you can work on taking it a step further by saying to yourself, In fact, right now, instead of comforting myself with a bowl of ice cream, I'm going to have a bowl of sorbet and then go for a 15-minute walk. By analyzing the thought, you take away its power to cause you stress. And by turning it around you have a tool to help solve the underlying problem.

Week 6: Take Care of Yourself

For five weeks you've been devoting yourself, around-the-clock, to caring for your infant. During week six, teach yourself how to separate from your baby occasionally and take care of yourself. It's tempting to skip this step  -- after all, your baby's needs are infinite, and you may feel guilty leaving him with someone else  -- but if you fall into the trap of being a mother who denies her own needs, both you and your family will suffer. "This is the time to attend to your needs," says Domar. "Your baby doesn't need your attention 24 hours a day. In fact, she can begin learning that other people can care for her, too."

Start by giving yourself permission to take some alone time. "This may be the hardest step, because many of us were not raised to do so," Domar says. Then, find someone to watch the baby for an hour or so (consider swapping a few hours of time alone with another new mother), pump some breast milk or mix a bottle, grab a cell phone or beeper, and take off. Some possibilities: a massage; a long, meandering walk; a bit of mindful gardening; listening to your favorite songs over and over again. Or work self-nurturance into your schedule by signing up for a class; having to attend it each week makes it easier to fit in time for yourself. "It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you're really focusing on caring for yourself," Domar says. "By treating yourself with compassion and care, you become more able to give compassion and care. And that helps make you a better mother."

Alice Lesch Kelly is a freelance writer who lives in Newton, MA.

http://www.parenting.com/article/the-new-moms-de-stressing-plan

Benefits of Massage for New Moms & Moms of Young Children

What are the benefits of massage for New Moms?

There are numerous wonderful benefits to massage for new moms.  Moms of new babies & young children have just undergone one of the most important transitions in their lives. Massage can assist in easing them into the joys of motherhood by helping with stress, fatigue & providing relaxation and a place to chill out. 

Here are a few great benefits: 

  • To ease sore spots and relax muscle tension. The whole process of childbirth has been a strain on your body, particularly your abdomen, lower back and hips. Your upper back might also be sore if you are breastfeeding and not using a suitable position.
  • Increase the flow of blood and oxygen to your muscles, getting rid of the toxins.
  • You feel relaxed. Massage encourages the body to release endorphins - the natural pain killers and feel good hormones secreted by the brain.
  • Your body to release oxytocin. Oxytocin triggers the letdown reflex which releases milk from your breast. This means that you might leak breastmilk during your massage so keep your breastfeeding bra on with some breastpads in. A breast massage will help open blocked ducts, loosen clumps or hardened areas, and reduce the risk of mastitis. Vigorous massage on the breasts can do more damage than good however so ensure that only soft and gentle strokes are applied to your breasts.
  • Speed up recovery from a caesarean section if you've had one. Although you need to stay clear of your wound as long as it hasn't healed, gentle massage to the area thereafter will increase blood supply and help with internal healing.
  • Improve well-being and immunity by stimulating lymph flow.
  • You cope with the baby blues and postnatal depression. Some experts say that a massage is an excellent stress buster and mood elevator.



https://www.babycenter.in/a1047929/benefits-of-postnatal-massage#ixzz4fN0BCFBD

Studies Conclusively Show Massage Therapy Reduces Stress

Studies conclusively show massage therapy reduces stress

Here's a great article I recently read about the actual proven results of massage therapy on stress reduction.  Everyone can use stress relief, and massage is a perfect, non-invasive way to reduce the stress in our lives. Now take a deep breath, exhale & enjoy!   - Jeannie

Massage is clinically proven to reduce stress. 

Massageadvancer.com Posted by Steve Ibach 

Massage therapy is a proven, non invasive way to reduce chronic stress levels in the body.  Dozens of studies have shown the effectiveness of massage therapy in reducing stress and millions of people avail themselves to the services of massage therapists to treat stress.  Using massage to reduce stress is natural and safe and unlike some forms of alternative therapies, massage therapy is a proven discipline within the medical community with scientific evidence supporting the use of massage for stress management.

What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to a physical or emotional demand.  Everyone experiences increased stress levels at one time or another.  In fact, the body’s ability to react to stressful situations and deal with threats is critical to our survival.  However, when one is under long term stress caused by ongoing situations such as work or family problems, financial concerns, etc. the body will be in a constant heighten state – a state which has harmful effects on many bodily systems including the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, reproductive system, etc.

Does massage therapy reduce stress?
The answer to this question is unequivocally yes – massage therapy does reduce stress levels.  According to The Franklin Institute web site on the human brain and stress, “Massage releases endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system.”  The Mayo Clinic website identifies massage as a valid medical method to reduce stress and pain.  It goes on to say, “Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.”

In fact there are many studies that have proven the effectiveness of massage in reducing stress in various situations:

  • In October 2008 the journal Psychooncology published a study entitled, “Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol and prolactin.” The conclusion of the study stated, “…a significant reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”
  • In May 2008 The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry published a study entitled, “Pilot study evaluating the effect of massage therapy on stress, anxiety and aggression in a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit.”  The study concluded that “Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures.”

Below is a part of an abstract from a study of massage for stressed employees:

Shulman, K.R. & Jones, G.E. (1996). The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32, 160-173.

METHOD: An on-site chair massage therapy program was provided to reduce anxiety levels of 18 employees in a downsizing organization. 15 control group Ss participated in break therapy. Subjects’ stress levels were measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, which was administered twice during pretest, post test, and delayed post test to achieve stable measures. RESULTS: Significant reductions in anxiety levels were found for the massage group.

The above are just a few of the dozens of clinical studies proving the effectiveness of massage therapy in treating stress related disorders.  Yes, massage therapy is a proven, mainstream, medically based, non evasive way to physically reduce harmful levels of stress hormones in the body while increasing levels of endorphins. 

Add to this the additional benefits of massage therapy including the reduction of general muscle tension and pain and you may find that massage therapy can be the treatment of choice in dealing with everyday stress.

Important: Stress can be a very serious medical disorder.  Always consult with a trained physician or mental health professional if you suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression.

Posted by Steve Ibach on December 28, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Part. 2 Restoration. Get Your Glow On! The Secret behind radiant skin!

By Jeannie Copeland, Owner The Ahh Spa Licensed Medical Esthetician & Massage Therapist Master Herbalist & Certified Aromatherapist with 18 years experience in the natural health & spa industry. 

Welcome back to part 2 of our series on getting the glow...the secret behind radiant skin.   Taking good care of your skin can be a joy. It is one of those lifestyle choices that brings immediate AND lasting results. Facials are amazingly relaxing, yet provide results! And the act of taking care of your skin makes you feel GOOD! With good skin habits, you can slow aging and feel beautiful, regardless when you start.  So start! 

My goal as your skin expert is to share with you the knowledge I've learned over the last 18 years. There is so much information out there, and it can be confusing and expensive.  I like to keep it as simple as possible for my clients while maximizing their results.  

On part 1 of Get Your Glow On, I talked about exfoliation being the true foundation of good skin care.  To put it simply, exfoliation speeds up healthy cell turnover, producing collagen and sloughing sun damage and dead skin away, leaving your skin clear, hydrated and glowing. 

In this article, I am talking about Restoration.  Using plant scientific-based botanicals and nutrients to restore health to our skin on a cellular level. Restoration is also part of our Advanced Skin Care facial menu such as microcurrent technology for quickly building collagen and toning facial muscles to lift sagging skin. 

Facials for restoration.                                                                                                                       Nothing beats a deep cleansing facial as part of your routine.  We offer our organic facial as our go to for new clients. It's super relaxing and allows the esthetician to do a skin analysis along with a fruit enzyme peel, deep cleansing, extractions, hydrating mask and facial lymphatic massage. It's the all-encompassing, go-to facial as far as I am concerned. I suggest a few facials once a month then coming 3-4 times a year for best results.

If you're ready for a more advanced facial, I suggest microcurrent skin tightening.  Unlike products or other facials that need to penetrate from the outside (epidermis) into deeper layers of skin (dermis) to grow collagen (which takes time), microcurrent uses a non-painful electric current that penetrates immediately through all skin layers to the muscle to stimulate blood flow, flush lymphatic drainage (think puffy eyes or cheeks) and tone facial muscles (just like exercise).

The greatest part of the microcurrent facial is its collagen building effect. Talk about collagen stimulation. The microcurrent quickly renews collagen fibroblasts, giving clients more volume and tighter skin. Think about throwing your stretched out sweater in the dryer...where the fibers are elongated from wear...to post dryer when fibers are taught and back in place. Microcurrent brings collagen fibers back into place and quickly makes new collagen fibers to replace the loss of collagen in our skin. Isn't that awesome?! I suggest clients do a series of 6 treatments one week apart for long-lasting results. For more serious skin tightening, clients do a series of 12 facials over 4-5 months. Spreading the facials over time produce real, permanent results.

Decoding Restorative Products - there are just so many!                                                                 Let's face it. Go into any beauty or drug store and there are isles and isles of skin care products all promising results.  It's confusing and expensive! It is the main reason I like to keep my recommendations scientifically-based and simple.  I won't suggest a product to you that I have not studied extensively and used myself with success.  

I have a philosophy about natural skin care. I use natural skin care whenever possible. I believe nature has it right already, and I don't need isolated chemical molecules to get the best results. I do not want to use any more chemicals on my clients than are absolutely necessary.  And, lucky for us, there are powerful, fully researched botanicals available today doing a better job than any chemical facial cream.  Guys, chemicals are CHEAP fillers, often with little or no nutritional value that can HARM your skin and your body. Yuck!  Stick to pure skin care with a high amount of organic ingredients. You'll be much better off in the long run. 

Organic Vitamin C Serum - Reverses DNA Damage + Antioxidant Protection                               Vitamin C serum has up 8x antioxidant protection for your skin with a 96% reversal of sun damage on the cellular level. Vitamin C not only protects your skin from free radical damage & sun damage, but it REPAIRS your cells on the DNA level. When your DNA replicates, it replicates healthy cells! I love Vitamin C in a organic aloe serum for easy absorption. Our Vitamin C serum is 18% organic ascorbic acid (naturally occurring vitamin c from food, not chemicals) with organic aloe juice, MSM, Hyaluronic Acid & jojoba oil. 

Peptides - Collagen Building Amino Powerhouses                                                                           When collagen is depleted by age and environmental factors, including sunlight, it is not fully replaced.  As collagen deteriorates, it produces certain peptides. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that these peptides send a "message" to your skin that it has lost collagen and needs to generate more. When skin care peptides are applied topically, your skin "thinks" that it's a collagen break down product and that your body needs to manufacture new collagen. So you can successfully minimize wrinkles and give your skin a more youthful appearance with the application of skin care peptides that trigger the production of collagen. We have peptide containing amino acids in several of our skin care products including our Bright Eye Cream, Our Glycolic Derm Anti-Aging Serum & our Ultra Night Lift Cream. 

Plant Stem Cells - Amazing New Progressive Anti-Aging Science                                                   In recent years, researchers have identified naturally occurring botanicals with substantial antioxidant activity proven to protect skin stem cells from oxidative stress, inhibit inflammation and neutralize free radicals (think vitamin c).  Skin care products containing extracts derived from plant stem cells have the ability to promote healthy cell turnover and protect against cellular skin damage. Through innovative plant stem cell technology, scientists are able to extract tissue from these stem cell-rich botanicals for use with other skin care molecules to regenerate healthy skin cells quickly.  Also, science is learning the benefit of combining stem cell extracts with other anti-aging ingredients, such as peptides, vitamin C and alpha hydroxy acids, to yield an ideal combination that can work synergistically to treat and protect the skin. Talk about the future of skin care!  I love love love our new Glycolic Derm Serum - it contains the same synergistic blend of plant stem cells, peptides, super rich antioxidants Astaxanthin & green tea with 10% glycolic alpha hydroxy acid.  It is the most powerful restorative serum in the spa.  I use it everyday with joy! 

Frankinscense Essential Oil                                                                                                                 When a client comes in with very mature, sun damaged skin, I often will recommend pure Frankinscense oil to use topically, either mixed in an oil or cream or neat (straight) if they can do it.  Frankinscense is powerful cell regeneratior with similar cell repair properties as vitamin C. Research has also shown the powerful oil to kill cancer cells (think sun damage) plus repair acne scars and wrinkles. It also has immune bosting properties and anti-inflammatory properties. Its smells divine and gives you an amazing, healthy glow.  I never want to live without it. 

With all of these amazing organic plants to restore our skin, who needs those countless chemical concoctions at your local drug store.  Make a choice to add one or all of these amazing botanicals and facials to your skin care routine and look forward to beautiful, radiant skin. Nature has a way of having it all figured out for us.  Now enjoy! 

Thank you for reading friends!

Jeannie                                                                                                                                                 xoxoxoxoxo

 

Get Your Glow On! The Secret Behind Radiant Skin!

Get your GLOW on! The Secret Behind Radiant Spring Skin!

By Jeannie Copeland, Owner The Ahh Spa Licensed Medical Esthetician & Massage Therapist Master Herbalist & Certified Aromatherapist with 18 years experience in the natural health & spa industry. 

My passion for health and beauty runs deep. Even as a young woman, I worked to buy beauty products...and I tried them all. Fast forward to 2017, and I am living my passion daily by helping women & men look and feel their best. We are approaching our first year anniversary at The Ahh Spa in Gainesville, GA, and I couldn't be more excited to move into our second year.

This article is the first of many I plan to write in my quest to learn, try and talk about all things health & beauty! Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. It is also the perfect time to renew our commitment to our health, including our skin. In just two short weeks, spring will officially be here. Ready to shed your winter skin for a glowing, radiant complexion? I’ve got just the thing for you.

How to Get the Glow.                                                                                                                     The most important question I get as an Esthetician is how can our clients slow the aging process and reverse the aging they currently have. Although there are several paths to this answer, I prefer a simple one. Work with a professional who can make recommendations specific to your needs and use good at home skin care.

I advise our clients to invest in 4 steps, using minimal effort but getting maximum results. It’s a commitment you can easily keep while seeing a quick turnaround.

1. Exfoliation

2. Restoration

3. Hydration

4. Protection

We’re covering step 1 today. Exfoliation. And it’s a big one. Exfoliation is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about good skin care. Most of us think moisturizer or sunblock. And while these other steps are important, exfoliation is the foundation of a good skin care regimen.

Exfoliation removes the surface layer of dead, dry skin cells otherwise known as our epidermis. Our body naturally exfoliates these cells over time as we make new skin and shed old, but as we age, the cell turnover becomes slower. By adulthood, some cells hold on for 40, 50 or 60 days! Slower cell turnover means less collagen production (the building block of our skin that gives us our youthful volume and radiance). The result is a loss of firmness and more wrinkles.

I suggest clients do a combination of daily exfoliation with a cleanser containing alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid in addition to regular skin peels for best results. Skin peels come in various strengths and ingredients. Skin peels dissolve the bond connecting dead cells to the surface of your skin so they can fall away, forcing new, fresh cell growth. Other benefits include an increase in hyaluronic acid for hydration and fuller, more voluminous complexion.

Quick & Easy Ways to Exfoliate.                                                                                                        I like to start with a series of peels ranging from 20% lactic or glycolic every 10 days and gradually adding to the peel strength up to 70% glycolic acid until results are reached (usually 6 peels with a few months time). Then get a peel at least once per season as your skin needs change. Getting peels regularly and progressing in the strength is the key to the deep, antiaging exfoliation clients are looking for.

For more stubborn pigmentation problems or deep wrinkles, I suggest clients do a series of TCA peels (usually a peel every 4 weeks for two to three sessions) for best results. TCA requires a little more social down time but it works. Then, have a TCA once or twice a year for maintenance. You will LOVE your skin and everyone will be asking you what are you doing to make your skin look so radiant!

Skin peels also help with acne prone skin by sloughing off old acne-causing cells and keeping pores clear and clean. Once the peel is performed, your Esthetician can more easily extract blackheads and acne, allowing inflamed areas to heal quickly and prevent new acne from popping up.

Be sure to maintain your results with a great at home glycolic cleanser. I love our Skinscript Glycolic Cleanser and our Raspberry Refining Cleanser containing a blend of glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids gentle enough to use daily.

You will also need to protect your new skin with nourishing at home products and a zinc-based SPF. Zinc oxide blocks both UVA and UVB rays and rests on the surface of your skin rather than absorbing into your skin, making it perfect for acne prone or sensitive skin. I like our mineral makeup, Mineral Hygenics, which contains only 4 pure mineral ingredients and is a natural SPF of 26.

Peels are a great solution for busy clients who can’t afford a ton of down time. You can literally come in on your lunch break, be out in 30 minutes and on your way to radiant skin. Here’s to looking RADIANT this spring! Jeannie