December 18, 2010

Conversation with BEAUTY DIRECTOR for Shape magazine, Ellen Miller

Skin Care Conversations with Ellen Miller

As BEAUTY DIRECTOR for Shape magazine, Ellen Miller has learned a thing about skin care.  I am happy to share her expertise….

We all know what healthy skin looks like…..the skin is clear, there is a certain plumpness to it. It appears hydrated and luminescent. There are no brown areas, red areas, there is an even skin tone.  Even if you have good skin to begin with, as we age, it is important to protect and keep your skin healthy by adapting a skin care regiment.

What makes a good skin care regiment? How many steps are involved? How does food affect the skin? What about travel? Do anti-oxidants help?  What are ingredients to avoid in skincare products? Can Ellen debunk the three top skincare myths?  Ellen addressed these issues while she was speaking to a group of skin care professionals at the Dermalogica Skincare Institute in Chelsea.

Of course the most professional advice one can get would be from a dermatologist. This is a great first step as you will learn about the condition that your skin is currently in, and how to avoid future damage.  Once you have that roadmap, the next step would to visit to a skincare specialist and discuss a skincare regiment that is tailor made for your skin care needs. Skin can react differently during seasons, age, stress, so it is important to get to know a doctor and skin specialist well.

What is Ellen’s beauty routine? She starts with a cleanser, followed by a toner, uses an anti-oxidant serum, and uses a day cream (with 30 SPF) and a night cream.  She uses a mask on occasion.  A great daily regiment! It is one I use as well, although I wish I had started in when I was much younger! They say it takes 30 days for a routine to become a habit, and this is a good habit to form. 

Let’s break down the routine…..cleanser is a no-brainer. Good skin starts with clean skin. Next is the toner, which brings us to myth number 1-are toners necessary? This myth came about many years ago,  before skincare was revolutionized. Toners of old , contained mainly alcohol.  They have since advanced since there early inception. Toners now contain very little (and in some cases no) alcohol.  They no longer dry the skin, rather they exfoliate and help prep the skin for moisturizer.

Myth number 2- do you have to moisturize oily skin? The answer is YES! If you dry out oily and acne prone skin, you will actually produce MORE oil and have more breakouts.  The person with oily skin needs to use something lightweight, without mineral oil so that they do not clog their pores . Mineral make-up is also good for oily skin. A normal make-up sinks into skin.  A mineral make-up sits on top of the skin, keeping pores clearer.

Anti-oxidant SERUMS which normally contain vitamin C and E, are concentrated formulas that immediately go to work on the skin.  They repair past damage, as well as protect and hydrate the skin. They help stimulate the body to make more collagen and ELASTIN (which the body makes less of as you age). 

Sunscreen is the most important way to protect your skin.  Most day creams now contain sunscreen.  Look for at least 30 SPF, and yes, sunscreen does expire. Chances are you will use the sunscreen before it expires, but if you’ve had it for a year, toss it.  There are now make-ups that contain sunscreen.  Are you better off with a day cream or a make-up that has sunscreen? You do need a lot of sunscreen protection, and chances are that you would apply a day cream more liberally than a make-up, so chances are the day cream with sunscreen is your best bet.

A night cream usually differs from a day cream in that sunscreen usually is not a component.  In most cases it may have more anti-oxidants, including retinol which can make skin sensitive to the sun.  The night cream usually can do some heavy repair work, as well as moisturize to ready for the next day. 

So if most of the skincare formulas are the same, why can there be such a huge difference in price? Well, we American consumers know that just moisturizing isn’t enough to protect and maintain your skin. We are paying for the science and research.  In most cases, we are paying for a greater concentration of the product.  If price is an issue (when isn’t it?) then you need to choose the one treatment that is the most important to you and invest in that.  You can always swap out.

Your diet is also always important.  You should eat foods rich in omega 3’s, such as nuts, salmon, as they help plump up the skin.  Also eat foods that are RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS which means lots of fruits and veggies.  They will help protect your skin. Drinking a lot of water is a must.  It keeps the skin hydrated.  And when travelling? Traveling does  affects the skin…..drink as much water as possible. Moisturize before during and after, and especially keep your lips well moisturized. 

For those of us with sensitive skin, there are things to avoid.  Anyone can react to anything.  And while you may be fine using your favorite product for years, you may suddenly have a problem with the product.  Skin will react different in seasons.  Age comes into play, and so does stress.  Environmental conditions can also affect the skin which brings me to myth # 3.

Myth #3 , are facials worth the money? Yes, because it is a good time to check in with your skin.  It gives you a one-on-one consultation with an expert who can point you in the right direction, and make sure that you are using your money wisely. 

It is no coincidence that Ellen gave her talk at Dermalogica.  Dermalogica is the number one choice of skin care professionals and consumers worldwide. For over the past 25 years, Dermalogica has been dedicated to delivering skin care health results through education, innovation and professional recommendation.  It is a product line free of common irritants and ingredients that can aggreivate skin. A Dermalogica professional will decode your skin-zone by zone-and equip you with the real advice and results –driven regimen.

For more on Ellen, go to and you can check out Dermalogica at


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