do i have rosacea?

by kerry watson


this is a question we get asked a lot at sS especially when we are working with a client that tends towards having a rosy complexion. unfortunately, this is not a question that we, as estheticians, can answer. rosacea is a condition that can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor like a dermatologist. 

what exactly is rosacea? this is a question that we can answer:

rosacea is a disorder that mainly affects the skin of the face, causing flushing, redness and in some cases, inflamed papules and pustules. it is most commonly seen on the nose and cheeks but it can also show up on the forehead and chin or even on other parts of the body like the chest, neck or back and in some cases the eyes. the redness  and flushing comes from the dilation of capillaries underneath the skin. 

there are four basic types of rosacea. you can have just one type, or you can have more than one.

1st type: facial redness

this is the most common type and the one that most people are familiar with. symptoms can include the following:

– stinging, burning, sensitive skin

– distended blood vessels that are visible underneath the skin

– dry, rough or swollen skin

– blushing or flushing with exposure to triggers

2nd type: breakouts

this type causes papules and pustules on the skin that can look like acne. it’s the 2nd most common type of rosacea. other symptoms can include:

– oily skin

– patchy raised areas on the skin

– small visible blood vessels

– sensitive skin

type 3: thick skin

this type of rosacea is rare. most people have another type first. left untreated, it can cause skin thickening on the nose, making it look enlarged. other symptoms can also include:

– bumpy skin

– large pores

– oily skin

type 4: ocular rosacea

this type affects the eyes. if not treated, ocular rosacea can cause vision problems. other symptoms include:

– dry eyes

– burning or stinging of the eyes

– blurry vision

– frequent styes

why does this happen? there are several different factors that can cause/worsen the condition. this site is an excellent resource in understanding rosacea and its causes. i’ll highlight a few here as well.


generally, if you are diagnosed with rosacea someone else in your family has it too. it’s one of those genetic conditions (like acne). there’s not much we can do about our genetics but we can control and avoid the triggers that make the condition worse. 


the flushing can be triggered by a variety of causes. some of the most common triggers include stress, hot beverages, alcohol, spicy foods, some mediations, heat and caffeine. the more often someone with rosacea is exposed to their particular triggers the more often the flushing occurs. constant capillary distention over time often leads to the loss of elasticity in the capillary wall. think of a rubber band that has been stretched so many times that it doesn’t bounce back to it’s original size. loss of elasticity in the capillary wall causes permanent distention and inflammation which manifests on the skin as redness or a constantly flushed appearance. avoiding triggers is a major part of controlling the condition. also avoiding instances where the capillaries dilate and constrict is key. an example of this would be washing with super hot water and then rinsing with cold water. this would be remedied by washing and rinsing with tepid water only.

something that i’ve come across and find interesting is that many clients with rosacea experience migraines (either themselves or someone else in their family), which is another condition involving dilation and constriction of the capillaries (of the brain instead of the skin). my dad has severe rosacea. i have mild rosacea and migraines. also, many of the triggers for migraine are the same as those of rosacea. 

the demodex mite:

in recent years more scientific evidence has shown a strong correlation between rosacea and increased numbers of demodex mites in the skin. the demodex mite is a microbe found in at least 80% of human facial skin. normally, its presence doesn’t produce any symptoms but higher than average numbers have been consistently found on the skin of rosacea patients. it is believed that a bacteria found on the demodex mite may trigger an inflammatory immune response in the skin that causes rosacea to develop. find out more about the fascinating link between the demodex mite and rosacea here.

conventional medications:

if you are diagnosed with rosacea your doctor may prescribe some of these medications. keep in mind that many of the ingredients prescription topical products contain are cloggy and can lead to acne breakouts. also, we cannot treat you with extractions, peels or an active home care regimen. if you are using any topical or internal medication that can make your skin more reactive, sensitive or unpredictable unless you provide a note from your doctor.

finacea gel 15% is a topical prescription medication containing azelaic acid. this medication is most effective for treating the inflamed papules and pustules that can accompany the general redness of rosacea in some people. there are several common side effects of note including burning, stinging, tingling, dryness, tightness, flaking, itching, redness and irritation topically. dizziness, headache, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite constipation, changes in taste, furry tongue and dry mouth have also been reported with topical use.


metronidazole or metro-gel 1% is another topical medication that is commonly prescribed to treat rosacea. this product has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. side effects include stinging, burning, redness, irritation, dryness, scaling, itching, metallic taste, nausea, headache, numbness, tingling feeling in hands/feet, stuffy nose, sore throat, cold symptom, vaginal itching or discharge.

antibiotics (topical, oral) are often used for their temporary anti-inflammatory effect. once the course of antibiotic treatment is over the symptoms of inflammation can return and even worsen. antibiotics can also wreak havoc on other parts of the body, the digestive tract and immune system in particular. antibiotic medications do not distinguish between good and bad bacteria in the body, they just kill bacteria period. this includes the beneficial bacteria that lives in the small and large intestines which helps us breakdown and absorb nutrients from our food and makes up an important part of our immune system that protects us from food borne illness and harmful microbes. commonly prescribed antibiotics include tetracycline, minocycline, erythromycin, clindamycin and doxycycline.

steroid creams are sometimes prescribed to help reduce topical inflammation and redness temporarily. steroid creams can make rosacea worse if used for longer periods of time. in addition, they can thin the skin making it prone to bruising, tearing and premature aging.

we can help:

we have treated many rosacea clients for acne and general skin health with great success. the first step is getting the skin in a healthy place so that it can tolerate the active products that help reduce inflammation and properly exfoliate the skin. a gentle moisturizing regimen is the first step. when the skin is ready we’ll add in a mild exfoliant like our mandelic blend toner at a low to moderate percentage. once this regimen is being well tolerated for at least 2 weeks we can add benzoyl peroxide in the form of a face wash or gel. and then after a few more weeks we introduce a salicylic serum. the combination of benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid is extremely successful in calming the inflammation of rosacea and getting the skin to a less reactive place. 

just like with acne, a combination of the right diet, lifestyle (avoiding triggers) and skin care products can make all the difference in rosacea.

* please remember that we are not doctors. we do not prescribe, treat or diagnose. we hope to be able to empower you with knowledge, different tools and alchemy to help you sustain the best version of yourself! if you think you may have rosacea please contact your dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis and keep him or her updated on the products that you are using on your skin as well as any supplements or dietary changes you decide to make.

curly girl 101

curly hair can be a blessing and a curse. while those with straight locks seem to be envious of us curly girls, they may not understand how difficult it can be to tame hair that often has a mind of it’s own. to avoid using heavy hair products that break me out, i have come up with some curly hacks and personal favorite tricks to keep my hair bouncy and happy!  bonus: they work well without the use of any potentially cloggy products 🙂
  1. silk pillow cases are a curly girl’s best friend, your curls will remain intact and the silk will keep your frizz at a minimum. just remember to change your pillow cases once or twice a week to remain acne-safe.
  2. i never use brushes! they damage and break fragile curls. instead i use my figures to comb through my wet hair in the shower. you will notice your curls will like this much better than a harsh brush. if your hair is knotty, work from the tip of the hair to detangle with your fingers, which will create the least damage to your hair.
  3. to revamp and reshape curls after a long day, try using a spray bottle of water with some lavender essential oil. it really helps to calm frizz and re-boost my hair. lavender is great for curls because it works on your hair the same way it does on your mind, calming down fly aways and frizzys!  wet curls down, flip your head over and scrunch! your hair will come back to life in no time.
  4. after i shower i use a micro fiber towel to scrunch my hair, removing excess liquids and helping to shape my curls. just flip your hair over in the shower and make sure you are scrunching from the tip of the hair to the root.
  5. to achieve lose beachy waves shower before bed,  part your wet hair, and create several medium size braids. simply go to bed,  wake up in the morning, carefully un-do braids and and enjoy beautiful flowing waves.
  6. for extra volume try using old school pin curl clips in your roots as your curls dry. divide your hair into 6 sections, lifting from the root as you insert the pin curls. this will create more volume and you can remove them when hair is semi dry or completely dry.
  7. diffusing is life! i diffuse my hair every time i wash it because i want maximum curl and volume. i insert my diffuser into the root of my hair working in sections around my head and drying each section one at a time. moving the hair dryer around constantly is what creates frizz. i like to cock my head to one side as i’m drying instead of flipping my head upside down.
  8. drink plenty of water and be good to yourself, i notice that when i am dehydrated or occasionally hungover, my hair is as well, looking tired and depleted! your hair and skin both see the effects of over working yourself and malnourishment will wreak havoc on your locks!

easy avocado pudding


a few weeks ago, we had a quiet morning in the office, so we took it upon ourselves to make kim’s acne-safe avocado chocolate pudding for sally’s going away lunch! we at sS will greatly miss her so we wanted to make something to sweeten the day.  it’s a super easy recipe and only requires 10 minutes max. we used coconut sugar, but the recipe can be made with dates or a low glycemic sweetener of choice.  the avocados create a great creamy base and add some healthy fat! also, good to note: this is a paleo friendly recipe, but not whole 30 approved.



here’s what you’ll need:

– 2 large avocados

– 1 can of full fat coconut milk (may not need the whole can)

– 4 heaping tbs cocoa powder

– a generous squirt of vanilla extract

– 6 large dates, pitted and chopped


–  coconut sugar simple syrup (melt coconut sugar + hot water, 1:1)

– cocoa nibs (for garnish, we used earth circle’s cacao cashew clusters, yum!) 


materials needed:

– a quart mason jar is preferable but a large bowl works as well

– blender or immersion blender



if using an immersion blender it is best to pour cocoa powder into a mason jar or bowl first, to avoid powder flying all over your kitchen.


1) dice avocados and add to bowl or mason jar with cocoa powder


2) add the coconut milk, but start with 1/3 of the can – you may not need all of it.  once you start blending in step 4, you can add more until consistency is creamy or to your liking.  


3) if using dates, add to mixture


use your coconut sugar simple syrup.  to make this, mix equal parts boiling water to coconut sugar and stir until dissolved.


4) combine all other ingredients to the bowl, and blend until you have a creamy consistency.


5) add more sweetener of choice as needed, serve and top with cocoa nibs for a crunchy topping!



after trying the recipe out a few different ways, it is much sweeter when using dates as a sweetener, it just depends on your preference. also, we topped it with a hint of salt when we made it together, and it created a yummy savory+sweet dynamic!


new product: zyflamend nighttime!

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 6.52.56 PM

just a quick mention that we’ve started carrying new chapter’s zyflamend night time.  it’s similar to the original formula, except that it’s omitted the more stimulating herbs (like green tea) and instead included relaxing herbs (like valerian) to induce a more relaxed state.

try this formula out if you are particularly inflamed, or have trouble getting good quality, inflammation- and stress-reducing sleep!

check them out here, in our online shop.


what can i do to reduce the signs of aging?

by kerry and sally

this is a question we get asked a lot at sS. “anti-aging” is such an innocuous looking phrase but the fact is, it becomes so very important the minute we see our first fine line or our first gray hair. if you suffer from acne then sometimes it just feels like life is just piling it on. curse you father time (fist in air)!
so what is the secret to anti-aging? is there a magic pill? is there a machine? truth be told, the secret to staying and looking young comes from a variety of internal and external factors.
if you have acne, the best part about your sS treatments and home care regimen is that anti-aging is major fringe benefit. you’re already on an anti-aging regimen….at least at skinSALVATION you are. here’s why:
1. moisture sometimes the skin appears more wrinkly when its really just dry or dehydrated. try our hydrating cream under your spf in the AM and alone as the last step in your regimen in the PM.
2. exfoliation it’s best to use a mild exfoliant everyday and follow up with a good chemical peel (if you’re at skinSALVATION you’re already doing that!) the sS exfoliants that you may be using at home are mandelic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or vitamin a.
3. antioxidants help kill free radicals and b3 and b5 and help bind moisture the skin. the antioxidants that you may be using from sS are green tea, spin traps, fruit extracts or vitamin c.
4. peptides are proteins made from amino acids that bind moisture to the skin and and help skin repair. in addition, they can inhibit the skin’s inflammatory response. you’ll find the peptide glutathione in sS’s skin brightening serum.
5. skin brighteners even out tone and help lift pigmentation from previous acne, inflammation, or sun damage. these include kojic acid, azelaic acid and ferulic acid. you can find one or more of these ingredients in sS’s skin brightening serum and our
6. spf! it’s super important to wear sunscreen every day to prevent hyper-pigmentation. when you have a wound on the skin (like a pimple) and the sun hits it, the skin produces more melanin in that area to protect the dermis (beneath the epidermis) from more serious damage. the sunscreens that we carry reflect the UV rays from the sun so that they are not absorbed by the skin. this prevents the over production of melanin in areas where pimples are coming and going.
7. LED stands for light emitting diode. certain molecules in our cells can absorb light energy and use it as fuel called ATP. think of these molecules as solar panels on the roof of a building. the solar panels absorb light from the sun and use it as energy to provide power in the building (our cells). some results from LED are immediate, like using the blue light to kill bacteria and red light to reduce redness and inflammation. other results are cumulative, like repairing damaged skin and increasing natural moisture and hydration.
we offer LED light treatments as an add on to the signature treatment or as a stand alone treatment. we also sell the acne light and the anti-wrinkle light for home use. we carry the anti-wrinkle light and the acne light. both lights help with both acne and anti-aging.
 to use the acne light at home as part of your regimen just do 3-10 minutes on each area (inflamed, healing) after cleansing/icing and before the rest of the regimen once a day. also, apply a little hydrating toner before doing the light so that your skin doesn’t get dried out. you can do the LED light while your skin is healing after the treatments and when you go back to your regular regimen.
to use the anti-wrinkle light at home do 3 minutes on each area of your entire face after cleansing and icing and before the rest of your regimen. it takes a total of 30 minutes and you can read or watch tv. just like with the acne light, it’s a good idea to apply a little hydrating toner before using the light to prevent dryness.

Q + A

Q: won’t the chemical peels i get at sS lighten the pigmentation and give me anti-aging benefits?

A: yes, however, there is no chemical peel out there that will be able to give you the same protection from hyper-pigmentation or the same level of anti-aging benefits that a good sunscreen can. peels can help to lighten pigmented areas but if you aren’t doing something to prevent the pigmentation/accelerated aging from happening they can end up being more of a risk for permanent hyper-pigmentation and damage.

so invest in a good sunscreen and wear it every day. prevention is the most important key to anti-aging. it’s easier to keep the wrinkles and hyper pigmentation from occurring then it is to take them away once they’re there. luckily this is part of your regimen already at skinSALVATION!

1. healthy diet limit sugar, alcohol, and refined foods. instead fuel your body with unrefined carbohydrates, organic produce and grass fed, organic, and wild caught proteins. kerry’s favorite anti-aging/acne reducing diet is a combination of a healthy paleo-based diet and a vegan raw foods diet. think bone broth meets raw tacos.
2. control your stress we know that it’s easier said than done! get back into or start up a new yoga practice, get some acupuncture or massage, start mediating, go for walks in the park or near the beach. one of our favorite tools is to write a list of 20 things that make you happy and then do at least one every single day.
3. sleep does your skin look great first thing in the morning after a restful night’s sleep? this is because you body does most of its healing at night while you are in the deep REM stage of sleep. the skin cells are turning over at a faster rate, the hormones are resetting and the toxins and waste are getting ready for that am evacuation. staying up late and burning the candle at both ends eventually takes its toll on the body and the skin. so prioritize that beauty sleep! if you have a hard time getting to sleep because your mind is too active then get this free app and listen to a guided mediation right before bed. kerry likes the true north sleep mediation best.
4. drinking enough water (half of your body weight, in ounces) throughout the day, is critical to keeping you looking and feeling your best. it keeps your body systems well hydrated, keeps your digestion steady and internal + external elimination regular. if you don’t believe us just look at this women’s skin before and after drinking 3 liters of water a day for four weeks.
5. collagen powder can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and textural scarring. check out our blog post about collagen powder to find out more.