Anal Bleaching and…Love?

Anal bleaching and love: these are two terms that, together, most people would think are a joke. Well, it isn’t. If you are following my blog, you’d know by now that this is my niche service and I have been offering it for years. So, I have a clue or two as to the type of client that will call me requesting this service, and I can even tell you *when* they will call me to schedule an appointment.

The first thing that my non-industry (skincare/wellness) friends or acquaintances ask me when I tell them what I do is “why would anyone do that?”  I give them general answers, but the truth is that most people do it because of love.

We, as humans, have the innate NEED to love and be loved. Love looks differently to different people. The point is that we all seek out love. But what does anal bleaching have to do with love? Well, for most of us, love is expressed through our sexuality. Just like love looks differently to different people, so does sexuality. And when people have sex, there are certain body parts that are exposed in ways that can make a lot of people feel too exposed, vulnerable and self-conscious.

Most clients that come to me for Intimate Skin Bleaching (I prefer to use the term “Intimate Skin Bleaching” because it also includes the vaginal area and other areas the client might consider intimate or private) are women who have recently gotten divorced and are now back in the dating scene. Others have been single and celibate for years, and they’ve decided it’s time to become sexually active again. I’ve had clients who have met their new “lovers” in another country, and after a time having a long distance relationship, they’ve decided to get together and make the encounter “special” by making sure that their intimate parts look they way they think their partners will like. As you can see, these are all cases of people yearning to be accepted and loved.

Another characteristic of Intimate Skin Bleaching clients is the day when they call to schedule an appointment.  In my experience, most calls come in on a holiday; and it’s become sort of an inside joke between my boyfriend and I. Whenever my telephone rings on a holiday (and I don’t recognize the number), my boyfriend says “someone needs anal bleaching.”  And low and behold, he is correct. And let me clarify, although we make light of the situation, we have seriously discussed the possible reasons as to why this may be happening. And we have come up with the theory that perhaps people feel lonely on holidays, and that gives them time to ruminate and focus on what’s “wrong” with them, causing them to go beyond the physical and look further into their most intimate areas. This, dear reader, is not funny at all.

Low self-esteem is definitely the culprit of why people seek out Intimate Skin Bleaching services.  And while women (and some men) deal with self-esteem issues as they relate to their intimate body parts, there are, on the other side, a group of people who vilify those who offer such service or products.  I’ve been “attacked” by some of these people who tell me that I encourage low self-esteem.

I disagree. Firstly, I have come to understand the reasons why people seek me out – they want to be accepted and loved. I’ve learned this from my hundreds of conversations with clients about their lives and what they’re willing to share with me over the phone (voluntarily and without being prompted) as to why they “need” Intimate Skin Bleaching – the “acceptance and love” that we’ve been talking about.  Secondly, I have found out, through trial and error and research, those ingredients that are effective yet safe for the client’s health. Thirdly, because of my training as a Health Educator, I am able to provide proper counseling as to the risks of such treatment, including conversations about self-esteem. And lastly, I am empathetic and project, through my actions, that I do care about their physical as well as their emotional well-being, while also projecting a non-judgmental attitude. These last behaviors are what the client is also looking for as part of that “acceptance/love”: empathy, caring and non-judgment.

There are indeed unethical providers and product manufacturers out there. And yes, there are indeed commercials that perpetuate low self-esteem by exploiting the feelings of the characters through rejection simply because their skin is not “light enough”.  However, in a world full of people who are emotionally affected through these media images and messages, there are other qualified and properly-trained professionals who are able to provide Intimate Skin Bleaching services in a compassionate manner and discuss with clients the importance of self love.

Scientists Urge Study of Environmental Factors That May Speed Aging | Innovators

Scientists Urge Study of Environmental Factors That May Speed Aging | Innovators.

Skin Fitness for Bodybuilders and Fitness Pros


So you’re taking care of your body and preparing for a that important day – competition day!  You’re training hard, dieting and taking supplements.  You hired your posing and choreography coach, got your tan going, and ordered your suit and shoes. And while your main concern regarding the skin is your tan, are you considering the stress your skin is going through?

First you have your body weight, fat and muscle growth fluctuations.  This constant stretching of the skin is particularly distressing for the largest organ of the body, creating stretchmarks and lose skin as you get older.  Additionally, you’ve been told that in order for airbrush tanning to work, you need to use a tanning booth for a period of time.  Tanning booths are NOT safer than suntanning. UV rays are UV rays, and they cause havoc on the cells of the skin, leading to premature aging, hyper and hypo pigmentation, and cancer. Furthermore, the sweat and continuous wiping of your skin either with dirty hands or dirty towel, can cause various forms of breakouts. Not to mention that the regular use of tanning products (either spray or cream) with time can be damaging to the skin.

What about supplements and diets? Competition diets are not necessarily healthy for your skin. In fact, they can make your skin look dull, sallow, and even trigger acne.

It is important to to hire a skincare therapist that understands your skin’s needs and your lifestyle and be able to work with you during and off season.  While some folks consider hiring a skin therapist a couple of months prior to competition, it is important to continue treating the skin during off season to maintain its optimal health and go through less amount of stress and trauma.  After all, the skin is the largest organ of the body and needs to be treated with more care. It’s what holds us together and the first thing people notice – after your impressive pecs, arms, abs and legs! 🙂

legsWhy is it important to undergo a skincare regimen all year round?

First of all, as we mentioned earlier, the skin is the largest organ of the body.  All our body systems are interconnected with the skin – the excretory system (sweat), the immunological system (barrier to prevent organisms to enter our body), the nervous system (touch and sensations), the circulatory system (blood flow), etc.  The only difference is that the skin is an organ that is located outside of our bodies.  Therefore, its exposure to pollution, toxins, UV rays, environmental aggressors, weather, including what we put inside our bodies, have a direct detrimental effect on our skin.  Aging, not only is the passing of the years, but it’s also the toll of the years of environmental and biological stress that we put our skin through.

Second, receiving skincare treatments (face and body) throughout the year guarantees that the skin will be less stressed during competition season.  A good skincare treatment will provide your skin with increased vascularity (blood flow), and oxygenation, increased desquamation (exfoliation 0r shedding of extra dead cells) for a healthy glow, minimizes pores, improves elasticity, tonicity and firmness, diminishes pigmentation and scarring, and your therapist can recommend the precise products that your skin needs and homecare regimen that you must follow.

What kinds of treatments can you find at a skincare center to address your skin fitness?

– Facial treatments that address acne, rosacea or any other congestion or inflammation.

– Facial treatments that plump your skin (hydrating), and make your skin more resilient, stronger and elastic.

– Chemical peels to exfoliate dead cells and improve skin conditions.

– Body treatments that address scarring and stretchmarks

– Exfoliating body treatments, body masks and body wraps to eliminate toxins and firm the skin and to aid in improving tanning effects, making the tan last longer, or remove the tan altogether safely without damaging consequences to your skin.

– Massage and lymphatic drainage with or without essential oils and other relaxation services such as meditation, yoga, sleep, hypnosis, vibrations, reflexology, etc.

– Airbrush tanning (to avoid booth tanning) and much more!

Of course, what you can find at Bella Dermis Skin Care are:

– Facial treatments and chemical peels for both men and women


– Derriere CareTM, Intimate Skin Bleaching, Breast Firming Treatment, and Back Facials

derriere care intimate bleaching armpit breast back

– Hand treatments for men and women

hand treatment for men

– Airbrush tanning


– Makeup application


– Competition packages including photography, hair stylist, nails and massage therapist and referral to other wellness professionals.

We work by appointment only.  For more information visit our website at  We are still working on our website, so please be patient if you cannot find the exact information you’re looking for.  Please contact us directly at 813-419-SKIN for more information.  We are located in South Tampa, FL.

Monica Grajales is a Master Aestheitician with over 20 years of skin therapy experience.  She is also training for her first fitness competition in June 2014.  Let’s support her in her struggle as she prepares to compete (only 10 more months to go!), and allow her the honor to treat and prepare your skin so you can look and be your best!

What does “anti-aging” REALLY mean?


We are bombarded with the term “anti-aging” and from what I hear from clients, friends and family, people are starting to feel this is a trite strategy to get people to buy the myriad of “anti-aging” products and services available in the market today.  I think people feel this way because “aging is unavoidable”.  Aging is a natural process.  No living organism has ever reversed the signs of aging.  Aging happens to all of us, so why should we succumb to the media and spend so much money on empty promises?

Let’s first take a look at what “aging” means, scientifically speaking.  According to Wikipedia, aging in humans refers to a multidimensional process of physical, psychological and social change.  Age is measured chronologically, however the term “aging” goes beyond our age.  There is “universal aging” (age changes that all people share), “probabilistic aging” (age changes that may happen to some, but not all people as they grow older, including diseases), and “biological aging” (an organism’s physical state as it ages).  Chronological age does not correlate with functional age, i.e. two people may be of the same age, but differ in their mental and physical capacities. So, when we talk about “anti-aging”, what are we really talking about?

In biology, senescence is the state or process of aging.  After a period of near perfect renewal (in humans, between 20 and 35 years of age), senescence is characterized by the declining ability to respond to stress and increased risk of disease. This currently irreversible series of changes inevitably ends in death.  Aging is the major cause of mortality in developed countries, with approximately 100,000 people worldwide dying each day of age-related causes; therefore, scientists consider aging a disease.  As genes that have an effect on aging are discovered, aging is increasingly being regarded as potentially “treatable”.


So why, then, in this technologically sophisticated world haven’t we figured out how to stop aging, specifically skin aging?  Skin aging occurs from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.  Intrinsic factors include our genetic makeup, that is our skin color, texture and elasticity we inherited and which cannot be modified. Extrinsic factors are factors we can control such as sun damage, smoking, sleeping habits, diet and exercise.  While there is not much we can do about our genetic makeup, there are many things we can do about those behaviors that accelerate our probabilistic and functional aging processes.

Sun damage – No single factor is more important to prevent aging than avoiding excess sun exposure. Ultraviolet light breaks down the elastin and collagen in our skin, causing brown discoloration, roughness and thinning of the skin, loss of tone, dilated blood vessels, and ultimately wrinkles.  The first and most important anti-aging ingredient is a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF30 or above used properly.  “Used properly” means  applying enough and as often as every 2 hours when in direct sunlight.

Exercise – Exercise facilitates blood flow and helps bring nutrients to the skin.  

Smoking – Smoking deprives our skin of oxygen, releases damaging oxidizing free radicals and causes wrinkles, dullness, and sallowness. Not to mention other disruptions in the body that reflect through the skin such as acne and other inflammatory lesions.antiaging3Diet – Gaining weight causes excess heavy fat to develop on our face. This will stretch our skin and pull down your cheeks and jowls, aging our face. A low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthy for our body and skin.  Research has shown that sugary or high glycemic carbohydrate foods contribute to aging.  Also, drinking alcohol causes dehydration and can lead to damage of our skin over time, and it can lead to unsightly red blood vessels on our face that quickly age us. Optimize your immune system by eating fresh, organic produce and drinking plenty of water to hydrate the cells. Along with the proper topical skin care, whole-body wellness is crucial when developing an age-prevention strategy.

Stress –  Chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can damage our organs including our skin. Meditate, exercise, travel, keep a journal. Do whatever it takes to reduce the stress pounding on you.  Stress also causes inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea, which in turn adds to the aging process.

Sleep – Do you have a restful  beauty sleep every night? Sleeping 8 hours a day helps the body recover and heal. Read more about how sleep benefits the skin here.  Additionally, sleeping on your face or on your side causes wrinkles overnight. The weight of your head on your pillow can also limit the blood flow, depriving your skin of blood and oxygen overnight. Night after night this can lead to permanent wrinkles. Try to train yourself to sleep on your back. Easier said than done, but give it a try!

Squinting. Whether you’re squinting to avoid the sun or to see your computer monitor, repeatedly contracting your eye muscles will cause permanent wrinkles over time. Wear dark sun glasses every day, and be sure there’s no glare on your computer screen at work or at home.  Eye massage, like acupressure, can help relieve some of the straining from squinting.

Make-up and moisturizing – Wearing too much makeup can actually harm your skin by clogging pores and causing excess dryness. Thick foundations and shimmery makeup make you look much older especially if it cracks or settles into existing fine lines and wrinkles. As you age, a lighter touch and natural shades are most flattering.  But because our skin is under constant assault from the elements — wind rain, humidity, hot, dry weather and arctic air all damage our skin leading to wrinkles and dullness, wearing some makeup helps protect the skin from these elements.  However, to fight back some of the damage, applying a facial moisturizer plumps up skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines.

Now, for the sake of this blog, let’s forget about anti-aging altogether.  Instead, let’s focus on minimizing age-related signs of both intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Our true biological age is determined not by our years, but by the state of our body’s structure and function, as well as our emotional and psychological well-being. That means that the more the body is supplied with healthy nutrients to protect cells from environmental damage, the younger it will look and feel at any age.  In the cosmetic world, there are seven signs of aging that are traditionally accepted.

1.    Fine lines and wrinkles

2.    Uneven skin texture

3.    Uneven skin tone

4.    Surface dullness

5.    Enlarged pores

6.    Age spots

7.    Loss of elasticity and firmness

And as we mentioned, some of them are genetically-determined.  However, research has shown that the following ingredients can actually play an important role in the intrinsic factors that affect our skin aging.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) – These are a group of acids—glycolic being the most popular because of its smaller molecular size. Skin cell turnover rates slow dramatically as a person ages, which is why older skin has a drier, rougher look and feel. This dryness also impedes the ability of the skin to absorb moisture and active ingredients. The primary function of AHAs is to help increase the exfoliation of dead skin cells to reveal a younger, healthier, more hydrated complexion. Exfoliation of dead skin cells gives immediate visibly younger-looking skin.

AntioxidantsThese powerful free-radical fighters are in almost every “anti-aging” formulation. Antioxidants help to stabilize free radicals by donating one of their electrons. Free radicals are known to damage healthy skin cells.  While single antioxidants have been promoted as the most potent, a complex of antioxidants is often needed, working synergistically for optimal results. Some of the most popular antioxidants found in anti-aging formulations are vitamin C, co-enzyme Q10, grape seed, zinc, lutein, ferulic acid, green tea and pine bark extract. Glutathione is the master antioxidant of the group, said to be the leader in promoting the redox theory (the cascading effect of all antioxidants working together) in the nutritional world.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – A powerful pro-hormone that accelerates natural anti-aging functions, DHEA is known as the “youth hormone” because it is abundant in young skin and decreases with age. It acts as a defense against environmental aggressors that can age skin by boosting immunity while increasing the efficacy of other actives.

Essential fatty acids – It is a well-documented fact that inflammation in the body is the cause of most disease and cell deterioration. This is true for the aging of the skin and its ability to repair itself. Omega-3 essential fatty acids taken both systemically and topically through anti-aging skin care has been shown to help not only reduce the wrinkling of the skin, but also to aid in the prevention of eczema and psoriasis. As powerful as naturally occurring ceramides, these fats hold the cells of the epidermis together to reinforce the skin’s protective barrier while helping to reduce its inflammatory process.

Hyaluronic acid – Young, healthy skin has a dewy and moist look and feel. Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule found naturally in the skin that increases its ability to hold moisture. Capable of holding 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid is found in almost every quality anti-aging product. Available as part of serums or creams, this ingredient can be used by even oilier skin to help retain moisture. Remember: Some forms of hyaluronic acid are purer than others.

Skin lighteners – Nothing gives away age more easily than those unsightly brown spots on the face and hands, which is the reason they are known as “age spots.” They are the result of cumulative sun exposure, but may also result from some medication, such as birth control pills, or increased estrogen during pregnancy. Hydroquinone is one of the most popular anti-aging ingredients. Available over-the-counter in percentages up to 2%, it can reduce the development of melanin in the melanocytes. In combination with exfoliating the skin and diligent use of daily sunscreen, hydroquinone is very effective in helping to reduce pigmentation. Results take 30–60 days. Physicians can offer a combination of tretinoin and hydroquinone at higher percentages. Although hydroquinone is effective, it should not be used for more than 90 days, because it is metabolized through the liver. A good follow-up routine should include any of the holistic skin lighteners, such as arbutin, bearberry, licorice, rice bran, kojic acid and vitamin C.

Niacinamide – Niacinamide is a water-soluble B-3 vitamin found naturally in the body. Forms of vitamin B-3 that are typically found in skin care products are niacin amide, nicotinic acid and nicotinate esters. Clinical studies show a range of benefits, including reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and pore size, and decreased appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Peptides – Loss of elasticity and firmness lead many women to stand before the mirror and hold up their faces.antiaging1Peptides are natural or synthetic compounds containing two or more linked amino acids. Peptides of particular interest to the cosmetic industry include pal-KTTKS, or Matrixyl.  In in vitro studies, these ingredients seem to stimulate collagen production and reduce excess dermal glycosaminoglycans (GAGs); the same qualities attributed to retinoids.

Probiotic lactobacillus – A proven anti-aging active in the health care industry to help increase the body’s immune system, probiotics are now being used in skin care formulations to increase the strength of the skin. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help the skin maintain balance and improve its ability to protect against environmental damage. By helping to protect the cell membrane, skin remains more elastic and resilient.

Retinoids – A derivative of vitamin A, retinoic acid is the functional form of vitamin A in the skin and is considered to be the gold standard anti-aging ingredient. In vitro studies demonstrate retinoid-induced changes in the expression of the genes relevant to dermal matrix production, epidermal differentiation and melanin production. Retinoids stimulate the production of collagen and decrease the production of dermal GAGs, which are known to destroy collagen production. Retinoids are also known to increase the production of epidermal hyaluronic acid.

Something to keep in mind is that these ingredients do work, but they don’t work overnight.  With everything we said about aging (we start aging at age 20), it takes years to see the effects of aging (some see it sooner due to extrinsic factors).  Unless you want to undergo the knife, start early, be consistent and use ingredients properly, while engaging in healthy activities, to delay, diminish or reverse the signs of aging.  Even if you believe nothing can be done, or it’s too late, it is NEVER too late to stop and potentially reverse some of the damage.  It’s not about stopping the aging process, but to look and feel and live our best no matter at what age.



When I met my boyfriend for the first time, and I told him my age, he couldn’t believe it.  One could be quick to point out that he might have been charming me; but when I asked him if this is something he told everyone he met, he immediately took my hands in his and said to me: “Look at your hands. These are the hands of a 20-year-old.  If you want to know a woman’s real age, just look at her hands.  And you just fooled me.”  Two years later, and he’s still amazed at how young my hands look.  Needless to say, I do facials for a living, so my hands have reaped all the benefits of my work!


The hands are one of the most expressive parts of the body. Hands not only are the first part of the body to show the signs of aging, but very often age even faster than the face. 

Our hands tell a story. Although they are often taken for granted, the hands reveal significant details. Women and men spend so much time and money today trying to “de-age” their faces, but according to Howard Sobel, MD, “The hands can reveal true age quicker than any of the fillers can plump up sagging skin. You need only to see all the pigmented spots on a woman’s hands that come from sun exposure to know that no matter how smooth the face, this person is way older than she claims to be.” And that’s exactly what my boyfriend said when we met the first time!


Why is this?  First of all, “there is very little fat on the backs of the hands, so when even a small amount of collagen or elastin fibers begins to break down — which is part of the normal aging process and partly from sun exposure — it’s going to have a noticeable impact on your hands,” says Gregory Buford, MD, a Denver plastic surgeon.  In addition to environmental damage, hands lose fat and connective tissue, and start to look thin and transparent over time. Veins also become more prominent and the skin becomes thinner and drier; a dead give-away to a person’s age.

Aging is no longer measured by crow’s feet and saggy jowls, but by the top part of the hands, where the skin is thinner and tends to wrinkle over time. And like any other part of the body, prevention is the key.  Wearing protective gloves when doing household chores is a must.  Let’s see…what else?

Your hands really need more moisture than any other part of our body because they are exposed to the elements more, all year-long, and we wash them frequently, which tends to cause a loss of the skin’s protective oil mantle.  While a moisturizer won’t reverse sun damage or create new collagen, it can leave skin looking plumper and more youthful. Some of the ingredients you need to look for are shea butter, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, cocoa butter and coconut oil. Since all moisturizers work more effectively when applied to skin that is slightly damp, use them after a shower or bath or after washing your hands.

What applies for the face and décolleté (chest area) might be even more important for the hands: sunscreen. The face is actually slightly more protected with makeup and face creams that contain sunscreen, whereas most people do not pay attention to their hands during their morning routine.  So coat your hands with a good sunscreen several times a day, especially when driving.  Look for long-lasting protection from UVA and UVB rays responsible for brown spots and wrinkling. I personally like to wear gloves when I drive.

Among the newest advances are creams containing growth factors, mostly derived from plants. These creams promote new collagen formation, and it’s not a bad idea to begin using these creams every night starting at around age 30.


There are many good hand creams on the market, but using an emollient sunscreen during the day provides double bang for your money.  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to apply moisturizing sunscreen to the hands as part of an everyday routine, right after applying sunscreen on the face, just as you would brush your teeth and put on deodorant first thing in the morning.  Sunscreen needs to be applied 30 minutes before exposure for maximum protection. Ideally, applying sunscreen right after a shower and before morning coffee will give it time to absorb.


Spots on the hands can appear as early as age 30, especially for those who live in a year-round sunny climate.  To treat lighter spots, a combination of prescription-strength hydroquinone and retinoid is the dermatological standard use during a three-month period. Hydroquinone blocks the production of tyrosinase, the enzyme needed to produce melanin, and the retinoid increases cell turnover to remove visible pigmentation. This protocol can be very irritating to the skin. CAUTION: Prolongued use of hydroquinone (over 8 weeks) causes ochronosis, a condition in which the skin becomes irritated, inflamed, reddened, thickened and more densely pigmented on the area affected. This type of chemical contact dermatitis is directly caused by hydroquinone and can sometimes begin or worsen due to sun exposure on the area. 

Light peels featuring both lactic and glycolic acids can be used by skin care professionals as an in-spa treatment to increase the exfoliation of visible pigmentation. To avoid ochronosis, many professional skin care brands now make a skin-lightening formulation using herbal and botanical lighteners, such as arbutin, bearberry and kojic acid. Used in combination with light peels, these formulations provide cumulative lightening results. Diligent follow-up is needed to maximize results; therefore, recommended home-care formulations are a must.

For stubborn spots, many lasers on the market can target sun damage. Hand revitalization units deliver pulses of high-energy LED, causing acceleration in the turnover of visible pigment. Dramatic results can be achieved, but sun spots will return without proper use of sunscreen.


As fat is lost, the veins in the hands become much more visible.  The fashion to be thin also exaggerates the prominence of veins.

Sclerotherapy, the same physician-administered treatment used to treat leg veins, can be used on the hands. A saline solution is most commonly used. It works by irritating the walls of the vein, causing them to collapse. Some stinging and burning is experienced, and hands will be bruised and swollen after the treatment. One to three sessions are needed, depending on the thickness of the vein. A more natural solution might be to keep the hands deeply hydrated so that the skin looks plumper.


As part of the aging process, not only does the face lose collagen and elastin, but all the skin on the body gets less tight. Choices for improving appearance range from laser treatments to fillers. Often, both treatments are used in combination for best results.  As I mentioned earlier, growth factor serums can be used early on to prevent these drastic measures.


Pay attention to signs of fungus, yellowing or any dark spots on the nail, and resist covering up these symptoms with polish, because some can be a sign of health concerns. If you wear a lot of dark-colored polish, nails are often discolored, but this can also be a sign of diabetes, psoriasis or even liver damage that requires medical attention.  Breakage and ridges on the nail can be signs of poor nutrition, or just the lack of treating hands with the same respect as the face. Cuticles are dry in most people and can be addressed by an overnight application of vitamin E oil or any other type of oil mentioned earlier. 


There are now a myriad of hand treatments, like the “hand lift.” During the 5-10-minute procedure, which costs about $1,200, synthetic fillers like Radiesse, Juvéderm or Perlane are injected under the first layer of skin to plump it up, or a combination of fillers, intense pulsed light and CO2 laser resurfacing to remove sun spots (about $1,500) can also be performed. The effects typically last about a year.

Other techniques are the Fraxel laser to remove diffuse wrinkling or discoloration; Thermage for skin tightening; sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a solution directly into the vein to treat varicose veins; the Q-switched laser, which fires very rapid pulses and blasts away pigment spots, and injections of fat to plump up the hands.

Dermatologists also offer IPL lasers or a fractional resurfacing laser. These lasers emit a short pulse of intense red light, which absorbs the skin’s melanocytes—cells that produce the dark spots. The light breaks up the pigmentation into smaller particles that the body’s immune system can then remove.

As with any filler, potential complications exist, including infection, skin discoloration, nodule or granuloma formation, asymmetry and skin necrosis. But the most common reactions are local bruising and swelling.



Bella Dermis Paraffin Hand Treatment – $50
Exquisite treatment to treat the roughest of hands and to lighten/brighten skin tone, eliminate age spots, firm the skin and moisturize deeply.  Includes cleansing, deep exfoliation with acids, enzymes and a scrub, massage with brightening complex combined with argan and essential oils finishing with a paraffin deep hydrating mask.

Phyto-Endorphin Hand Cream – 4oz $68

Immerse your skin in luscious moisture with this revolutionary Phyto-Endorphin complex.  Extracted from Monk’s Pepper and known for its mood enhancing activity, this nano-emulsion system will provide a radiant glow – skin will soften and smooth while age spots diminish. Many moisturizing factors, potent antioxidants, and skin lighteners have been incorporated into this anti-aging hand cream to sooth and fortify the skin to counter the signs of aging. Watch hands transform and enliven as the active blend moistens and brightens while providing the utmost in antioxidant protection that limits tissue damage caused by internal and external aggressors.

Ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), C10-30 Cholesterol, Bellis Perennis (Daisy) Flower Extract, Glycerin, Palmitic Acid, Stearic Acid, Vitex Agnus Castus (Monk’s Pepper-Casticin) Extract, Lecithin, D-Alpha Tocopherol, Retinyl Palmitate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange) Peel Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice Powder, Citric Acid, Allantoin, among other fabulous ingredients!

Treat hands with respect and hold hands with loved ones as much as you can for the ultimate anti-aging experience.

And as a gift to you, I’d like to share this home recipe:

Apply this hand mask three times a week, before going to bed:

Mix one teaspoon yogurt and one teaspoon olive oil and rub onto your hands.

Wear plastic bags and keep your hands warm for about 10 minutes.

If it’s not too hot, you can wear above the plastic gloves wool mittens to keep your hands warm which will allow the skin to absorb the mask.

Wash your hands with lukewarm water and dry them well.

Apply phyto-endorphin hand cream.


If you are following me on Facebook, you probably noticed that during the month of April (Rosacea Awareness Month), I posted several articles about rosacea, its causes, remedies, things to avoid, lifestyle changes, what it is, etc.  From all the reading I have done, and all the discussions about this condition with colleagues, at trainings, forums, etc,, I haven’t heard once that PMS might trigger a rosacea breakout.  Not until a client recently told me that she ONLY gets rosacea flareups when she is PMSing.  And 2 other clients mentioned that they had no idea they had rosacea because they were of “mixed race” – they thought it couldn’t happen to them. The thought of being of “mixed race” never crossed my mind.  I thought anyone could develop the condition.

Rosacea and PMSRosacea and PMS

So, I Googled it, and I found not even a handful of articles on the subject, and I would like to share what little information I found with you.

At first glance, it seems like this condition indeed has a genetic factor.  In a study performed in the USA, of those who said they had a relative with rosacea, most indicated it was an immediate family member: 30% mother, 35%  father, 28% sister and 24% brother. In some cases more than one family member was reported, and others stated that a grandparent had rosacea.

The survey also found that national ancestry also may be an indication of relative risk for rosacea. Rosacea has often been called the “Curse of the Celts,” because it is especially prevalent among the Irish.  However, those of German and English heritage seem to be highly prone to rosacea as well.

Other nationalities in which rosacea was present at a higher rate are Scandinavian, Scottish, French, Polish, Russian, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Czech.

So, being that my 2 “mixed” clients – as they call themselves – are descendants of one or 2 of the ethnicity or nationalities mentioned earlier, it makes sense that a darker complexion person would also suffer from rosacea.  As skincare professionals, we should never assume anything! And that’s that about rosacea and nationality 🙂

I’ve said many times before, most literature concentrates on the triggers that must be avoided if one suffers from this condition:

– spicy foods

– hot beverages

– stress

– hot baths

– strenuous exercise

– alcohol

– extreme hot or cold weather

– dehydration

– stimulants (coffee, cigarettes, sugar)

– sun exposure

– reactions to environmental factors

– menopause (minimal information)

But little is mentioned about the connection between rosacea and PMS or hormonal imbalance.

If you have a client who is experiencing an acne-like breakout on cheeks and nose around the time of their ovulation or when PMSing, and it goes away just as easily as it came, it might be rosacea.

The National Rosacea Society states that many women report more flushing episodes and an increased number of breakouts during menopause and during their menstrual period. Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, former president of the American Academy of Dermatology admits that “there is no research regarding hormones and their effect on rosacea. However, it has been widely observed that rosacea is often aggravated at menopause and sometimes during mid-cycle.” It has also been observed that rosacea is diagnosed 3 times as often in women, although it is more severe in men. The difference in the numbers of diagnosis could be that women worry more about their facial appearance than men and they seek treatment more often, while men’s severity of the condition might be due to the fact that they don’t seek medical treatment until it’s too late.

Menopausal women may develop rosacea due to hot flashes which, in turn, trigger flushing or redness. And interestingly enough, women who experience PMS – which causes emotional stress – can also develop stress-related rosacea. It seems to be that the stress-rosacea connection as it relates to PMS is a vicious cycle.

So, to tell you the truth, there wasn’t much out there related to rosacea and PMS, except from mere observation and number of diagnoses performed.  The only thing I can recommend is to avoid your triggers and take action to control your stress level.

There are other natural remedies that you can do to minimize or prevent rosacea breakouts in addition to everything we have talked about in earlier postings:

1) Botanical/herbal remedies such as Evening Primrose Oil, which is beneficial for many things such as PMS, menopausal symptoms and relieves pain and inflammation.

2) Acupuncture

3) Reflexology (which aids in balancing hormones)

4) GLA (gamma linoleic acid or omega-6 fat) is highly anti-inflammatory and works as well for rosacea as it does for eczema and other allergic skin reactions. It even relieves psoriasis and irritated, dry eyes. It’s excellent for PMS symptoms and hot flashes.

5) Yoga/meditation

6) Keep a diary of any flare ups so that you can identify what might be the trigger or cause.

If you are experiencing rosacea (sometimes mistaken for acne), it is VERY important that you get the correct diagnosis, the correct medications and the correct skin treatment for it.  Rhonda Allison (available through phone order, in person and soon through our website), offers several products to put this condition under control – guaranteed!

More about rosacea that you should be aware of…

Rosacea has 4 stages and you don’t want to go through all of them:

Pre-Rosacea – The main symptom is frequent flushing that can affect the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. The skin can become so sensitive that the person can feel a burning sensation when cosmetics or creams are applied. The face may become swollen. Triggers are a strong factor, so avoid or minimize triggers. Don’t let it progress to the second stage.

Vascular Rosacea – Small blood vessels on the nose and cheeks swell and become visible, showing through the skin as small red lines.  The skin will feel warm and look puffy. The skin may become even more sensitive and the rosacea can be accompanied by oily skin and dandruff. Flushing and redness become persistent and then permanent. Seek treatment!

Inflammatory Rosacea – In addition to the redness, small, red bumps or bumps containing pus may appear and persist.  Nodules in the skin become painful and can spread across the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin. In severe and rare cases, the oil glands or sebaceous glands in the nose, and sometimes the cheeks, become enlarged resulting in a build up of tissue on and around the nose and over a period of years the nose becomes red, enlarged and bulbous (seen mostly in men). At this stage, medications are very important and definitely use an anti-inflammatory.  Washing your face with soap and water is detrimental for your skin.  Consult your local aesthetician!

Ocular Rosacea –Is a serious condition that needs to be brought quickly under control as in severe cases, it could lead to the loss of vision. The symptoms are irritation in the eyes, light sensitivity, a decrease in visual ability and an obvious inflammation of the lids or conjunctivitis. At this stage, the person would need to see an ophthalmologist immediately.  The main problem with ocular rosacea is the possibility of a secondary infection.  A dry environment plus ocular rosacea provides a good breeding ground for bacteria including staphylococci.

At Bella Dermis Skin Care, we offer 3 protocols for the treatment of rosacea:

– Fruity-“A” Naturally Soothing Facial – $85

– Rosacea Peel – $90

– The 90-day Rosacea Challenge: 3 corrective facials, 3 peel treatments, 3 post-peel treatments and at home pre and post care products within a 3-months period – call for more information.


ImageThere are between 25 and 30 different theories of aging recognized by the NIH (National Institute of Health). There is no unified theory of aging. Otherwise, only one ingredient in only one skincare product would serve to treat all aging skins. Therefore, aging must be approached from a multi-factor point of view with multiple ingredients and products. (By Charlene DeHaven, MD, FACEP, Clinical Director).

Because skin changes are among the most visible signs of aging, before we get into the causes of aging, let’s take a look at the structure of the skin and what happens to it during the aging process:

Your skin does many things. It protects you from the environment, helps control your body temperature and fluid balance, and contains nerve receptors that allow you to feel sensations such as touch and pain.  Although the skin has many layers, it can be generally divided into three main parts:

  • The outer part (epidermis) contains skin cells, pigment, and proteins.
  • The middle part (dermis) contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, and oil glands. The dermis provides nutrients to the epidermis.
  • The inner layer under the dermis (the subcutaneous layer) contains sweat glands, some hair follicles, blood vessels, and fat. Each layer also contains connective tissue with collagen fibers to give support, and elastin fibers to provide flexibility and strength.
AGING CHANGES: Aging changes in the skin are a group of common conditions and developments that occur as people grow older.  Aging skin is a natural part of getting older, and from the moment you are born your skin begins to respond to two sets of biological processes:
  • The aging skin “genes” you inherited, over which you have little control: If you are fortunate enough to know older generations of your family members, you may see patterns of aging skin in their faces and bodies. These can include:
    •  Furrows in the brow or forehead
    •  Tiny lines or crinkles around the eyes
    •  Deep creases along the sides of the nose to the mouth
    • Drooping eyelids
    • Loose skin along the jaw line
    • A “tired” look
    • The tendency to develop cellulite
    • Male pattern baldness or female pattern baldnes.

If you see any of these indicators of aging skin—or others—in your older family members, chances are that you will experience at least some of them too.  Some people choose cosmetic treatments, surgery, hair transplants, and other choices to slow the external signs of aging skin, but the fact remains that everyone ages.  If you are lucky and live long enough, aging skin will catch up to you and the years you acquire will eventually show on your face. One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to work on accepting your aging process with dignity…and grace…and style.

  •  The external factors that act on aging skin, over which you have a lot of control and which will be explained later.

How does the aging process work?

With aging, the outer skin layer (epidermis) thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged.  The number of pigment cells (melanocytes) decreases, but the remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin thus appears thinner, more pale, and clear (translucent). Large pigmented spots (called age spots, liver spots, or lentigos) may appear in sun-exposed areas.

Changes in the connective tissue reduce the skin’s strength and elasticity. This is known as elastosis and is especially pronounced in sun-exposed areas (solar elastosis). Elastosis produces the leathery, weather-beaten appearance common to farmers, sailors, and others who spend a large amount of time outdoors.

The blood vessels of the dermis become more fragile. This leads to bruising, bleeding under the skin (often called senile purpura) and cherry angiomas.

Sebaceous glands produce less oil as you age. Men experience a minimal decrease, usually after the age of 80. Women gradually produce less oil beginning after menopause. This can make it harder to keep the skin moist, resulting in dryness and itchiness.

The subcutaneous fat layer thins, reducing its normal insulation and padding. This increases your risk of skin injury and reduces your ability to maintain body temperature. Because you have less natural insulation, you can get hypothermia in cold weather.

Some medications are absorbed by the fat layer, and loss of this layer changes the way that these medications work.

The sweat glands produce less sweat. This makes it harder to keep cool, and you are at increased risk for becoming overheated or developing heat stroke.

Growths such as skin tags, warts, and other blemishes are more common in older people.

Aging changes in the face

The typical appearance of the face and neck changes with age. Muscle tone may be lost, causing a flabby or droopy appearance. The jowls may begin to sag, leading to a “double chin” in some people. In some people the nose lengthens slightly and may look more prominent.

There also may be an increase in the number, size, and color of colored spots on the face. This is largely due to sun exposure.

The skin may thin, become dryer, and develop wrinkles. Although wrinkles are inevitable to some extent, sun exposure and cigarette smoking are likely to make them develop faster.

The ears may lengthen slightly in some people (probably caused by cartilage growth). Some men may find that they develop hair in their ears that becomes longer, coarser, and more noticeable as they age.

Wax glands drop in number and activity, and ear wax becomes drier. This drier wax can more easily become impacted and block the ear canal, reducing your ability to hear.

The eyebrows and eyelashes become gray. The skin around the eyelids becomes loose and wrinkled, often making a “crow’s feet” pattern. The eye socket loses some of its fat pads, making the eyes look sunken and limiting eye movement.

The lower eyelids may appear baggy, and drooping eyelids are fairly common, occasionally limiting vision. The outer surface of the eye (cornea) may develop a grayish-white ring.  The colored portion of the eye (iris) loses pigment, making most very elderly people appear to have gray or light blue eyes.

Loss of teeth can make the lips look shrunken. The jawbone loses bone material, reducing the size of the lower face. The forehead, nose, and mouth thus look more pronounced.  Gums may also recede, contributing to dental problems and changes in the appearance of the mouth.

PREVENTION (External Factors for which YOU DO have control!)

Skin changes are related to environmental factors, genetic makeup, nutrition, and other factors. The greatest single factor, though, is sun exposure. This can be seen by comparing areas of your body that have regular sun exposure with areas that are protected from sunlight.  Because most skin changes are related to sun exposure, prevention is a lifelong process.

1. UV Exposure tops every dermatologist’s list. UV rays (and lack of sunscreen) accelerate skin aging and cause hyperpigmentation and skin laxity. The best fix: prevent sunburn if at all possible, apply sunscreen every day, in every season, and wear protective clothing and hats as necessary. Sunlight can cause:

  • Loss of elasticity (elastosis)
  • Noncancerous skin growths (keratoacanthomas)
  • Pigment changes such as liver spots
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Sun exposure has also been directly linked to skin cancers, including basal cell epithelioma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

Natural pigments seem to provide some protection against sun-induced skin damage. Blue-eyed, fair-skinned people show more aging skin changes than people with darker, more heavily pigmented skin.

2. Weight -You’ve probably waited a long time to find out when having a few extra pounds actually works to your advantage. If you’re over 40, a slightly higher Body Mass Index (about 4 points) makes you look up to 3 years younger. If you’re over 55, you’ll look even younger than that! If you’re less than 40, the reverse is true.

3. Stress -Maybe you’ve heard this expression: “Don’t frown, your face could stay that way.” Stress and worry cause frowning, and over time the muscles in the face actually conform to that movement.  Financial stress, personal problems, marital difficulties and job-related stress all take a toll. Stress is definitely inter-related with your physiology as well as your mind, and increases the free radicals in your body—which are constant scavengers of anti-oxidants. Stress causes or exacerbates acne, eczema, rosacea, wrinkles and laxity. To help reduce aging skin due to stress, be aware of your stress level, try to vary your facial expressions during the day and take time to manage your stress with yoga, exercise or deep breathing. 
4. Smoking -Many of the 4,000 toxins contained in cigarette smoke go directly to the bloodstream, and reach the skin. “Smoker’s face” is now actually a term in medical dictionaries, because people who have smoked for 10+ years have added lines and wrinkles (typically perpendicular to the lips), as well as deeper vertical lines on the cheeks. Smoking also affects the tint of the skin and reduces the efficiency of the skin’s ability to regenerate itself. Cigarette smoke depletes your body of Vitamin C, which is a key ingredient for keeping skin plump and moist.  Do you need one more reason to quit smoking?
5. Medication/Drugs -Prescription meds that relax the muscles (such as anti-depressants) may make the skin look older. The author of the Case Western Reserve study theorizes that depression may compromise the production of hormones, like human growth hormone, that contribute to healthy, plump skin. With your physician’s guidance, manage your medications. Avoid using recreational drugs as well.  Any damage to your internal organs will accelerate the aging process and will reflect on your skin.
6. Exposure to cold weather – Cold winds and low temperatures contribute to aging skin by making skin dry, so if you venture out in the cold be sure to use a good moisturizer.  It’s important to use moisturizer indoors too, as heated rooms can be very drying to skin. Consider using a humidifier to help keep your skin more comfortable and reduce the aging skin effects of heated rooms.
7. Hormones -Menopause can wreak havoc on your skin, but hormone replacement therapy can help preserve a more youthful look. According to the Case Western study that was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a 70-year old who has had HRT for at least 16 years will look four years younger.
8. Lack of sleep -Too little sleep makes you look and feel tired. One of the first places lack of sleep shows up is on the face, with dark circles and bags under the eyes, and sagging skin. Lack of sleep is also a major factor in memory loss and symptoms of depression that include low interest in daily activities and negative thinking.  Research has shown that most adults function best with 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Reduce caffeine during the day (with none in the evening), avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime, and maintain a sleep routine that includes going to bed at the same time each night.  If you are having trouble sleeping, for any reason, it’s important to see your health care provider.

9. Alcohol use – Alcohol contributes to aging skin by dilating small blood vessels in the skin and increasing blood flow near the skin’s surface. Over time, these blood vessels can become permanently damaged, creating a flushed appearance and broken vessels on the skin’s surface.
10. Lack of exercise – Living a sedentary life contributes to aging skin because exercise helps to tone your muscles and get your blood flowing. Exercise should be an important part of every anti-aging skin care program.  In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, the benefits of a regular exercise program will show on your face. Having a bright smile and lots of energy will help you look and feel younger, at any age.
With all this said, I’d still like to address four scientific theories of the aging process because I believe that we can be more aware of what external factors could lead to these theories of aging and be more holistic in our prevention.  According to these 4 theories, these processes apply to the entire organism and every cell within it. However, keep in mind that the skin is unique in that is the organ that shields the interior of our body from the environment, and therefore will reflect our internal health.
(The following material was developed by Charlene De Haven, MD, FACEP, Clinical Director of INNOVATIVE SKINCARE ® | i S C L I N I C A L ®)
Theory 1 — Oxidative Stress
This theory is more commonly known as the free radical theory of aging. All cells need energy to perform their particular function. This energy is a very “hot” process and uses free radical generation to burn fuel. In this process, extra free radicals are created. These extra free radicals bounce around inside the cell, damaging all cellular structures they contact. Over a lifetime, these free radical “hits” gradually accumulate leading to a physiologic decline in structure and function. We label this decline as “aging.” In relationship to sun exposure, depending on whether the sunscreen chosen is physical or chemical, these solar free radicals can be blocked or neutralized. Antioxidants are helpful because they combine with free radicals and prevent the ongoing cascade of free radical damage. Only about one percent of oral antioxidants reach the skin so topical antioxidants are also critical.  Smokers have huge amounts of free radicals floating about in their bodies.
Theory 2 — Inflammation
A certain amount of inflammation is required for health. Through its inflammatory response the body combats infections, clears away damaged tissue and heals sunburn and other oxidative processes. Excess inflammation results in accelerated rates of aging, scarring and destruction of normal tissue architecture. Free radical damage is well-known to trigger excess inflammation. The inflammatory response is elevated in those having higher levels of oxidative stress byproducts.
Theory 3 – Glycation

The process of attaching a sugar to a protein is called glycation. Oxidative damage is an intracellular process, i.e. occurs inside the cell, whereas glycation is an extracellular process and occurs outside the cell. Glycation occurs in protein-rich tissues that contain large amounts of the protein collagen such as the skin, blood vessels, joints and lens of the eye. 
Theory 4 — DNA Damage
DNA is contained inside chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell. This DNA contains our genetic material and also directs the function of the cell in which it resides. A cell with
damaged DNA cannot properly function and may even become cancerous. Increased DNA damage in skin occurs with photoaging and high oxidative stress. DNA is subject to free radical damage so antioxidants improve rates of DNA damage.

An important part of any anti-aging skin care program is to know what you may be doing that is harming your skin and speeding up your skin’s aging process.  While some signs of aging skin are inevitable, there’s a lot you can do to look your best at any age.  Attacking the processes of aging in younger years is preferable. But even though “younger is better”, any time is better than never. Taking good care of yourself is the most important step in your anti-aging skin care program.