anti-wrinkle

Product Review: Avant Charcoal Age Defying Masque

Several months back. I was contacted by the Founder and Owner of Avant Skin Care, Jeanne Oberstar, to see if I would be interested in trying their Charcoal Exfloiating Age Defying Masque, in exchange for a review.  As I’m always trying new beauty products and Charcoal Masks are very popular, I agreed.

The packaging is clean and simple. It comes with a Thank you card and instructions. I was very happy to learn that this mask does not harden like many charcoal masks on the market that have been reported to rip off your skin.

All Avant products are made in Florida, USA which is a huge plus.

I contacted Jeanne to learn more about the mask and her company before I agreed to try it.

Jeanne told me that her inspiration for starting Avant Goods came from dealing with many side effects of thyroid disease.  She wanted to create a line of skin care products that were non-toxic, non-endrocine disrupting, and healing.

To differentiate Avant’s Charcoal Masque from other facial skin care masks on the market, Jeanne told me that it has contains botanical oils that heal and hydrate. The mask  detoxifies, exfoliates and is a crème consistency that does not harden like some of the other charcoal skin care masks on the market. The list of ingredients are quite extensive and are sourced from around the world. However, according to Jeanne if any of the ingredients are  readily available in the US they will try to source them domestically.  Avant’s main ingredients in their mask is Kaolin Clay and Bamboo Charcoal. The white  Kaolin Clay  base has many healing properties, including purifying and detoxifying the skin. Kaolin Clay has many potent antioxidants. It helps clearing up breakouts, exfoliates dead skin cells and soothes irritated skin.

The Bamboo Charcoal, known as the “Black Diamond” in Asia, contains 300 types of micro-organic minerals that draw out toxins to clear pores allowing them to breathe. Avant’s sources the Bamboo from South Korea.

The Avant Masque contains:

(98.5% Naturally Derived / 70% Organic) Ingredients: Deionized Aqua (Water), Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe), Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower Oil), Glyceryl Stearate, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Octyl Palmitate, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Oil), Kaolin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa Butter), Cetyl Alcohol, Potassium Stearate, Organic Beeswax, Pumice, Charcoal Powder (Bamboo Charcoal Powder), Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Cellulose Gum, Purified Smectite Clay, Citrus Limon (Lemon Essential Oil), Eucalyptus Globulous (Eucalyptus Essential Oil), Organic Syzysium Aromaticum (Clove), Eugenia Caryophyllata (Clove Essential Oil-active, nosmell), Organic Juniperus Communis (Juniper), Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Organic Capsicum Annuum var. Aannuum (Cayenne), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba Oil), Calophyllum Tacamahaca (Tamanu Oil), Spirulina Maxima (Spirulina), Macrocystis Pyrifera (Kelp), Organic Borago Officinalis (Borage Oil), Organic Linum Usitatissimum (Flax Seed Oil), Organic Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose Oil), Organic Rosa Canina (Rose Hip Oil), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Organic Arnica Montana (Arnica), Organic Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender), Organic Calendula Officinalis (Calendula), Organic Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Grapeseed Oil, Macadamia Integrifolia (Macadamia Nut Oil), Sodium Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethyl Hexyl Glycerin, Organic Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola Extract), Organic Equisetum Arvense (Horsetail Plant Extract), Organic Pelagonium Gravoleons (Geranium Extract), Organic Taraxacum Officinalis (Dandelion Extract).

I’ve been using the Avant Charcoal Masque several times a month. Upon opening the jar, the mask looks grey and very creamy. I like to have a home spa day on the weekends and use the mask as one of  my skin care routines. I used a mask brush and coated my skin avoiding the area directly under my eyes. It was easy and fun to apply. The instructions say to rub it into the skin. But, I prefered to apply it with a brush first. I will try it next time on my neck and chest.  I’d actually love to coat my entire body, but I’d use up the jar and it would make a mess in my bathroom. The instructions say to keep it on for 10-20 minutes, I kept it on for 40 minutes with no adverse reactions.  It washed off easily, but since it the mask is dark grey I made sure I rinsed it all off using a dark-colored wash cloth to gently remove it. My skin felt soft and had a nice pink glow afterwards.

I have not had any break-outs or irritation from the product and my skin tends to be sensitive to new skin care products. The price point is good at $27.99 for a 4 oz jar. The jar should last quite some time, if covered tightly and kept away from moisture.  As with any skin care products, it should be discarded after 2 years.  Please check with your plastic surgeon or dermatologist if you plan on using this product after any cosmetic procedures.

Given the quality, ingredients and price point, it’s a good buy.  I’d give it a try!!

Click her to purchase  Avant Products. 

Disclaimer: The featured product in this post was provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission for purchases made through this link.

Get Rid of Dull Skin: Exfoliation Tips

 Is your skin looking dull?  An easy way to get your skin glowing again is to exfoliate your skin regularly. Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells which causes your skin to look dull.   It is also necessary for clear skin, free  of acne and blackheads. There are many ways to exfoliate, both your body and face.  Let’s talk about facial exfoliation.

1. Clarisonic system is the easiest way to get your glow back. Used daily you will see a significant difference in your skin.  There are different heads that you can buy, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.  I love mine and have had it for several years. Definitely  worth the investment. Clarisonic prices start at about $125.00 http://www.clarisonic.com/ Note that some kits come with cleansers. There are many options in OTC cleansers. My recommendation is to buy the machine only, with extra heads.

2. Buy a cleanser that contains glycolic or lactic acid.  These ingredients create exfoliation and cell turnover. You can find many professional brand name products online.  Or ask an esthetician or dermatologist for a recommendation.

3. Use a OTC Retinol product or  Retin-A Rx or  Tazorac Rx are also good choices. Your skin will shed the old cells and build new cells. Start off with a low dose of .05%. Using Retinoids will  also prevent acne and blackheads from forming. Retinols build collagen and ellastin necessary for healthy, youthful looking skin.

4. Get a chemical peel 2x a year. Change of seasons is a good time.  Peel are sometimes given in a series, this will depend on how much sun damage you have.  Time the peel accordingly, because you may be red and peeling for several days. Once your skin has peeled you will be amazed at how youthful, healthy and glowing it is.  Go to a licensed esthetician, RN, or Physician Assistant  who works either in a medi-spa, dermatologist or  plastic surgeon’s office.  There are many chemical peels available today. There are superficial peels, medium depth peels and deep peels. The strength of the peel will depend on what results you are seeking, your skin type and how much down- time you are willing to take. TCA (trichloroacetic acid)  peels and Glycolic acid peels are the most popular.   Chemical peels are recommended for  Hyperpigmentation, Sun damage, texture, pre-cancerous lesions, acne, lines, mild wrinkles, lip Creases. There are pre-cautionary measures to take prior to having a TCA peel, check with your skincare specialist first.

GO GET YOUR GLOW!!

After Laser Resourfacing with Cutera’s Pearl Fusion

It has been 18 days since my Cutera Pearl Fusion laser resourfacing treatment of the decollete, neck and vertical lines around my mouth. Plus frown lines.

I’m using a mild facial cleanser, followed by a rich moisturizing cream. I was using a barrier repair lipid formulation which is rich and creamy.  I recently switched and am testing a new skincare cream with stem cells to see if it will speed up the healing process.  I have only begun using it, so I can not comment on this yet.

My chest is slightly pink now it looks like a I  have a mild sunburn. My sun lesions look much better and I think the texture is better. Though I really need to see my before pics to compare. It looks smoother, yet  I still have the vertical lines, which also seem less noticeable.

My peri-oral area and frown lines are  still pink too. I can cover it with light mineral make-up. I purchased Oxygenetix by Ceravitae as a foundation cover-up for $60.00. It was too dark, too thick-  I found it pasty. Not a fan.  I prefer to use my Colorscience corrector kit.  Works great and blends well.

My neck area after the Pearl is not pink.  I was very conservative with the neck because I did not want to have any problems.  The laser nurse, Jeff, used  the lowest setting of the Peral Fractionated system.  The neck skin is so thin that you can run the risk of scarring if you have an aggressive treatment. I would rather opt for another treatment in this area, than be aggressive.  I am not sure that I notice any difference here.  If there is it is only slight improvement in color, no improvement in texture yet.

My opinion at this point:

I am not wowed about Laser resourfacing with  Pearl Fusion yet!  I see slight improvement and know that over time collagen builds. I will have a much better sense by August, whether I think this is worth the money.

If you really want significant improvement Co2 laser is still probably the way to go.. however, there is a lot of downtime associated with this type of Laser resourfacing procedure.

The Pearl Fusion– is milder with quicker recovery time.

Here are my observations.

It has been 2 months since my Pearl Fusion treatment on my chest, neck and peri-oral area.  Is it worth it??

I am not going to give a definitive answer yet, however, these are my observations.

1. My chest area is still slightly bumpy, slightly pink and in the light you can still see the vertical lines from sleeping all these years on my side. It does look a little better and smoother.

2. Hardly any pink around my mouth area. I really do not see much difference  in the vertical lines above my lips.  The laser nurse was agressive in this area using both YAG and Ablative. I will discuss setting and depth in another blog post. I developed a very small hypotropic scar above my lip line, which I hope resolves. I am not sure why this happened- however,  according to one dermatologist, I apparently healed too quickly in this area. I also noticed that my lips looked flatter, consequently I felt like a little Juverderm was in order.

3. My initial reaction is that Co2 Lasers are more effective in building collagen and go deeper.  This seems to be the gold standard. Cutera (http://www.cutera.com) is the manufacturer of the Pearl Fusion and it is not a Co2 Laser.  There is much controversy in the laser resurfacing arena.

So far I am not impressed with Cutera’s Pearl Fusion.

UPDATE:

SIX MONTHS LATER

Chest:

Slight difference in pigmentation, red bumps gone. Texture shows little improvement. No improvement with vertical chest lines.

Neck: No improvement

Peri-oral area (around the mouth):

Persistant bump above the lip area. It is unclear exactly what this bump is. There have been mix-diagnosis from various dermatologists. It coud be a hypertropic scar. However, it is not conclusive. What I do know is that is developed after the laser treatment. The fine lines are around my mouth are slightly better. However, I had Juverderm injected in certain areas that appear deeper or more noticeable than before the treatment. The results of the Pearl Fusion do not appear to be uniform. Some areas are showing deeper vertical lines than other areas.

 My overall opinion is that one treatment of the Pearl Fusion is not enough if you have pigmentation and vertical lip lines. Was it worth the price?  At this time I would say no.

Aesthetic and Cosmetic Surgery Costs: Expertise Not Price

Recently several colleagues and friends asked me questions about the costs of various cosmetic procedures from dermal fillers to cosmetic surgery.

Since the downturn of the economy, I believe that some surgeons have lowered their surgery and treatment fees, while other practice fees remain constant despite the economy. Fees seem  to vary from surgeon to surgeon and from location- to-location.

Recently, while researching fees for a cosmetic procedure, I found fees varied among surgeons within the same geographical area by as much as 50%, this was quite surprising.   Why?  My hypothesis is that some surgeons, hold themselves to such high standards and prefer to cater to an elite group of clients, therefore their fees are substantially  more than their colleagues. Does this necessarily mean that they are more qualified or that their results are superior?  Not necessarily. This is for you to judge.

The American Society for Aesthetic  Plastic Surgery ( ASAPS)  has a list  of cosmetic procedure fees on their website that I would like to share.   These prices are based on the national average. From my experience some of the prices on this list seem high, while others are somewhat low for certain regions, specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. Keep in mind that the surgeon’s costs are separate from the operating room or surgical facility and anesthesiologist.

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