• How to Treat Acne Without Medication

    You’ve probably noticed the range of topical and oral prescription medicines that are available to help manage acne. Common ones include tretinoin (sold as Retin-A), which speeds up cell turnover and unplugs skin pores to clear them of oil; antibiotics, which kill bacteria; tazarotene (sold as Tazorac), which affects the growth of acne-prone skin cells); isotretinoin (sold as Accutane), which reduces the amount of skin oil; and certain oral contraceptives for women that reduce the effect of acne-producing hormones. Oftentimes one medicine isn’t enough to treat all of the acne conditions, and a combination of treatments must be used (such as a topical medicine applied to skin, as well as one taken orally).

    While medication can do a good job of clearing acne, it also comes with a slew of side effects, including skin dryness and irritation (for topical acne products), upset stomach or lightheadedness (for oral medications), increased risk of blood clots and high blood pressure (birth control pills), and birth defects (oral isotretinoin).

    Those treating acne should begin by adopting these lifestyle and diet habits, which are essential to treating acne without medication:

    Stopping Dairy Consumption

    Milk contains hormones that may stimulate oil glands in the skin, leading to acne. Stopping dairy consumption has been shown to significantly reduce acne for some individuals.

    Cleaning Up Your Diet

    Eating fewer processed foods and reducing sugar intake has a large impact on your body and skin’s health. A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help control breakouts. Keeping your blood sugar steady by eating small, balanced meals throughout the day also helps fight inflammation that could be causing skin problems.


    Emerging research also suggests that probiotics, whether ingested or applied topically, can be helpful in reducing acne. Impaired gastrointestinal flora can lead to systemic inflammation—the results of which often end up on the skin.

    In addition to lifestyle changes, we’re also seeing more and more patients successfully treating acne with products purchased over-the-counter or from an aesthetician, or receiving treatments offered in a dermatology office or a medical spa. Many of our facial treatments, such as LED light therapy and the oxygen clinical treatment, are specifically designed to help clear and control acne. Here we discuss some of the alternative options available.

    Intense Pulsed Light and LED Light Therapy

    These treatments harness the power of LED, or light-emitting diodes, which deliver energy-packed beams of light into the dermis layer of the skin, energizing the cells responsible for collagen and elastin production. LED also treats mild to moderate acne by killing the bacteria responsible for breakouts. There are several kinds of LED light, and for acne, we recommend a mix of blue and red light therapy. Blue light LED works by killing acne bacteria beneath the skin’s surface. Red light LED stimulates the fibroblasts that produce collagen, which heals acne lesions and gives skin a youthful, plump look. Intense Pulsed Light has proven to be somewhat effective in treating acne on its own, but we generally recommend combining it with a photo sensitizing drug to provide significantly better acne clearing.

    Photodynamic Therapy

    Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is another light-based therapy for those with severe acne or precancerous skin lesions, often called actinic keratosis. During the process, a solution is applied to skin, making it more sensitive to light. After the solution sits on the skin for a period of time, the doctor or laser technician uses a light device such as Intense Pulsed Light or LEDs to treat the affected area and reduce acne or precancerous lesions.

    Chemical Peels and Microdermabrasion

    Chemical peels are extremely effective at smoothing rough, dry skin, improving the appearance of acne scars, and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  The alpha and beta hydroxyl acids in the peels can also reduce the frequency of breakouts. Microdermabrasion uses a diamond-encrusted wand to gently whisk away the outermost layer of dry, dead skin cells. With both procedures, the top layer of skin is removed, leaving less pore-clogging debris, which leads to acne. Depending on your skin type, these two treatments can be combined for much deeper exfoliation. We usually recommend a series of treatments for the best results.

    Whether you’re concerned about side effects or want a more natural acne treatment, we are pleased to offer a range of options that don’t involve a prescription to treat your acne. Further, we are happy to offer you an initial consultation at no cost. During your consult, our team of experts will work with you to develop a trusting relationship and customized skin care plan that will deliver you the best possible results. Book an appointment with us and learn more about the various ways to treat acne without medication.

    Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons 0 License

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  • How to Choose a Facial Mask

    Applying a facial mask is an excellent way to treat your skin while pampering yourself at the same time. Used one to two times a week, masks are essential for keeping skin hydrated and plump, and for healing blemished skin and controlling breakouts.

    Before selecting a mask, first consider your skin type. Does your skin often look shiny and easily form blemishes like blackheads or acne, or does it feel tight, uncomfortable, and prone to irritability? At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, many of our patients fall somewhere between these two ends of the spectrum, which is a type known as “combination skin.” 

    Facial masks typically fall into one of two categories: those formulated for normal to dry skin, and those designed for oily/acne prone skin. Masks for oily and acne prone skin often contain clay, which purifies, re-mineralizes, and heals skin in addition to absorbing excess oil. Other ingredients like salicylic acid, essential oils, allantoin, and aloe vera juice extract reduce oil production, unclog pores, calm inflammation, and encourage tissue repair. 

    If your skin is dry, look for a mask that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Vitamins E, A, and F, jojoba seed oil, Gingko extract, and lavender. All of these ingredients help moisturize, soften, and repair skin. Cream-based masks are an excellent choice for normal to dry skin and will not strip the skin of its natural oils. 

    Here are some of our go-to masks, all available for purchase on our website and in our studio:

    Oily/Acne Prone Skin:

    • Oxygen PurActive Mask: Formulated with kaolin, a type of soft, white clay, and acne-fighting salicylic acid, this mask is gentle enough to use three times per week.
    • Dry Skin:The extremely gentle Hydramucine Cream Mask provides a much-needed boost of hydration for those with dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin. You’ll notice the hydrating and revitalizing effects are just one application.

    All Skin Types:

    • The GM Phytoaromatic Mask, made with green clay and kaolin, is one of our most popular products. It works well for those with normal, sensitive, and oily skin.

    Once you’ve selected a mask, follow these steps to get the most from your purchase. First, use a gentle exfoliant to eliminate dead skin cells and allow all of the skin-healing ingredients in your face mask to be absorbed into the skin. Then, apply your facial mask. Once removed, finish by applying toner to lock in all of the benefits of the mask. Finally, moisturize.

    • By adding a facial mask into your skin care routine, you’re toning and removing impurities from your skin while giving it a healthy dose of hydration. You’re sure to notice a difference in the plumpness and overall vitality of your skin. At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, we proudly offer facial masks as part of many of our treatments. Contact us to schedule your free consultation! 

    Feature Photo via Zenspa

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  • Understanding Laser Hair Removal

    Shaving, waxing, and tweezing unwanted body hair takes a lot of time, not to mention the expense of purchasing countless razors, creams, and hot wax. Laser hair removal is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the U.S., and is an ideal solution for anyone who wants to put an end to the year-round upkeep of hair removal. Here’s what you need to know about the treatment:

    How does it work?

    During a laser hair removal session, hair follicles are targeted with a concentrated beam of light. The light is absorbed by the pigment of the hair, which damages the follicle and prevents future growth.

    Does it hurt?

    Everyone’s threshold for pain is different, but many patients compare the lasers to a gentle pinch or the snap of a light rubber band on your skin. Sensitive spots, like the bikini area, may hurt more than others. Taking an Advil or Motrin 20 minutes prior to the session can help ease the discomfort.

    How long does it take?

    The length of a session depends on the size of the area you’re treating. While the upper lip could take minutes, a larger area like the legs or back could last more than an hour (American Academy of Dermatology).

    How many sessions do I need for permanent hair removal?

    A series of treatments are generally required to see long-term results. Most patients need between four to eight treatments, and after each one, you’ll notice that fewer and fewer hairs return. After several treatments, the unwanted hair is removed for several months. When the hair regrows, most patients notice that it is considerably less hair than before, as well as finer and lighter in color (AAD). Most patients can go four to six weeks between treatments, but your laser therapist or technician will determine the appropriate frequency for your skin.

    What areas does it cover?

    Laser hair removal is designed for use on most parts of the body, including:

    • Back
    • Legs
    • Bikini area
    • Chest
    • Face (most often the upper lip and chin)
    • Neck
    • Shoulders

    What is the recovery like?

    Laser hair removal generally does not require any major downtime, so you can pretty much carry on with your normal activities. Immediately after the session, you may notice that the treated skin appears red and swollen. Post-session breakouts are also common because the treatment leaves hair follicles open for a few days. Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or antibacterial lotion to help prevent blemishes from forming.

    How long does it last?

    The results of this process vary widely from person to person, but lasers can remove hair for anywhere from several months to years.

    Everyone's skin is different, which is why it is imperative to discuss your skin treatment options with a professional. At Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS, your initial consultation is always free, and we will walk you through the laser hair removal process to ensure you achieve the best results possible. If you are interested in laser hair removal, schedule a consultation today to meet with one of our experts.

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  • Melasma: What It Is and What You Can Do About It

    Unwanted spots on your face can make anyone feel self-conscious. Women between the ages of 20 and 50 are particularly susceptible to a condition known as melasma, which results from an overproduction of pigment on the skin. An estimated 6 million women in the United States are coping with melasma, whose dark patches usually crop up on the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin, and jaw. The most common causes of melasma are hormonal imbalances in women due to changes in progesterone and estrogen production (most frequently triggered by birth control, hormone replacement, and pregnancy), as well as sun exposure. Thyroid conditions, heat, and stress are also thought to play a role.

    During pregnancy, fluctuating hormones can cause pigmentation levels to go into overdrive. In fact, because the condition is so much more prevalent when a woman is expecting, melasma is often referred to as the "mask of pregnancy.” According to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 70 percent of pregnant women develop the condition. Fortunately, however, it normally clears up on its own a few months after delivery.

    For other indications that you might develop melasma, look to your family members. Those with a genetic predispo­sition and darker skin tone are more prone to the condition.

    So, are you doomed to put up with these spots for the rest of your life? Clients ask this question often, and the answer is, not necessarily. While there is no permanent cure for melasma, it can be effectively treated using a variety of methods.

    What You Can Do About It

    Melasma can fade on its own, especially in cases when the root cause, such as pregnancy, ends. If you’d like to take matters into your own hands, though, we recommend the following treatment options:

    Topical Procedures:

    • Phytowhite Dark Spot Serum: This Hydroquinone-free botanical lightener performs as well as 4% Hydroquinone without irritating your skin. It contains potent anti-inflammatory ingredients, including licorice extract to reduce melanin production, vitamin C, and glycolic and azelaic acids to lighten the surface and stimulate collagen production. It will make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to include a facial sunscreenof at least SPF 15 or higher in your daily skin care routine.
    • Other topical options include products containing tretinoin and corticos­teroids, both of which enhance the skin lightening process.

    In-Office Procedures:

    • Chemical peels work to treat skin discoloration with naturally occurring alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHA), retinol and trichloroacetic acid (TCA) that loosen dead cells from the skin’s surface, revealing new, healthy cells.
    • Other facial treatments like microdermabrasion, which sloughs off the top layers of skin, can also effectively treat melasma.

    The best form of melasma prevention involves both sun avoidance and sun protection, including wearing wide-brimmed hats and a daily dose of broad-spectrum, high-protection sunscreen (this one is a great pick).

    Melasma can be stubborn, but don’t get discouraged. Our team of skin care experts is ready to help you choose the most effective treatment option. If you’re dealing with melasma, schedule a free consultation, and let Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS help you determine the best course of action for your individual skin care needs.

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  • What You Need to Know About Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacial Treatment

    One of our most popular facial treatments this time of year is the Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) photofacial rejuvenation. It is an aesthetic treatment that uses broadband light to help promote a glowing complexion and treat unwanted hair, pigmentation, unsightly capillaries, and redness. If you’ve noticed any brown spots, pigmentation, or redness from the summer months, this is the ideal time to seek treatment for them since the cooler months will give your skin a little break from the sun. Read on to see how IPL works and how it can treat a range of skin concerns. 

    How IPL Works

    IPL is a non-invasive treatment that uses high intensity pulses of visible light to improve your skin’s appearance. It works by converting therapeutic broadband light into a super gentle heat energy that is directed at the affected areas. Examples include melanin, the brown pigment in sun and age spots, or the “broken” blood vessels that cause facial redness. This process destroys these flaws without compromising surrounding healthy tissue. A light beam passes through the skin, penetrates the cells that are causing skin discoloration, and damages the blood vessel or pigmented area. Then the body absorbs the miniscule vessel or pigment molecule, making the discoloration less visible.

    What IPL Treats

     IPL therapy improves the appearance of skin by treating the following:

    • Age spots, discoloration, and dark patches from the sun
    • Pigmentation
    • Redness, rosacea, dilated blood vessels and “broken” blood vessels
    • Rough, bumpy skin

    One of the ways in which IPL therapy benefits skin texture is by stimulating collagen production. Light bypasses the outer layer of the skin and gently heats the cells (called fibroblasts) located in the deeper layer of skin. The fibroblasts begin producing more collagen, which leads to a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, increased elasticity, and enhanced skin tone. Collagen’s amino acids also moisturize the skin, keeping it smooth and supple.

    As always, be sure to listen closely to the discharge instructions that are given by your aesthetician, and adhere to them for the duration of your recovery. After the treatment, you’ll want to wear sunscreen every morning, as well as hats, to protect your skin from future damage. Too much sun exposure immediately following the procedure may also negate the positive effects of your treatment.   

    Want to learn more about IPL photofacial treatments? Our team at Leah Nickie ADVANCED AESTHETICS would love to walk you through the process and answer any questions that you may have. Your first visit will involve a careful health history to determine your skin type and the appropriate treatment plan for you. Careful test pulses are then performed to determine the safest and most effective treatment parameters. Schedule your free consultation today!

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