It is common knowledge that different people can get very different results with the same product. Experts usually explain this fact by variations in individual body chemistry. Sometimes it is indeed true. However, quite often the truth is far simpler. Different people often get different results because they apply skin care products differently.

“It is common knowledge that not all products work equally for everybody. But you can maximize the efficacy of your anti-aging products by making sure you apply them correctly, under the best skin conditions as possible”. ~Marie Bertrand

Keep in mind that lack of results does not necessarily mean that you are applying your skin care incorrectly. Quite a few products don’t work whether you apply them correctly or not. Many products work for some people but not for others even if applied correctly. Still, it is quite common that a product fails to work due to incorrect application.

Let us take a look why and how the method of application makes a difference. In essence, a topical skin care product, such as a skin cream, gel or lotion, is a mixture of chemicals (as in molecules). Some of these molecules are active ingredients (natural or synthetic substances responsible for biological action of the product), while the rest are inactive ingredients (substances that help protect and deliver active ingredients). Ultimately, the effectiveness of the product depends on whether (1) active ingredients work, and (2) whether they penetrate into your skin deeply enough and in sufficient amounts. The former depends on your choice of a product, and the latter – at least in part – on how you apply it.

Skin is a dynamic system whose condition and properties depend on temperature, hydration, environment and other factors. Therefore, the skin’s ability to absorb topically applied chemicals can vary greatly. Here is what you can do to ensure optimal penetration of active ingredients:

 Cleanse your skin before applying skin care products (particularly if you have applied anything to your skin since your last skin cleansing or washing. The best time to apply skin care products is after you are fresh out of a warm shower or bath because not only is your skin clean but it is also thoroughly moist and should better absorb whatever you apply to it. CAUTION: Do not wash your skin with hot water, excessive heat accelerates skin aging. The water should be comfortably warm but not hot. However, if you plan to apply potentially comedogenic products, splash some cool water onto yourself when finishing your wash in order to close pores. Also, don’t spend too much time in the shower to avoid excessive exposure to chlorine in the water.

  It is best to apply most products when the skin is moist because active ingredients can penetrate better when they are dissolved. Once your cream has dried up, the rate of penetration decreases dramatically. Don’t wipe your skin dry after you cleansed or washed it if you intend to apply a product. If the skin is too wet, just pat it a little with a towel. Alternatively, you can use a spray-on toner before applying your moisturizer to ensure your skin is slightly damp. My favorite is Aliquote Skin HydraGlow Mist.

  Warm skin absorbs ingredients better. Before applying a product, make sure your skin isn’t cold. Apply a warm towel if needed.

  When cleansing your skin, don’t use regular soap or shampoo (too drying and will disrupt your skin’s pH), simply use a good moisturizing cleanser and warm (but not hot) water. Here are a few moisturizing cleansers I like for dry skin types:

  The uppermost layer of the skin, called stratum corneum, is composed mostly of dry, dead cells. If this layer becomes too thick, as in aged or poorly maintained skin, active ingredients of a skin care product have trouble penetrating deeply enough to have an effect. Some people remove stratum corneum by using organic exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes or other molecules. While some exfoliation may be beneficial, overusing it may do more harm than good to your skin. For most people with sensitive skin, a gentle scrub that provides mild exfoliation without doing any harm is a safe and sensible alternative. If you have fairly resistant skin, you can use exfoliating toners, serums or lotions to improve product penetration.

  Use short, firm strokes to apply skin care products (it is best to use the middle finger). Do not stretch the skin. Do not rub. After applying, gently tap the area with your fingers for half a minute.

“For added efficacy, you can also do monthly skin procedures such as dermaplaning (a safer, healthier form of microdermabrasion that does not pull on the skin) combined with a mild chemical peel. As the only scientific skin care clinic in Calgary, SkinScience has over 15 different types of peels, that can be customized to your skin type and concerns”.  ~Marie Bertrand

And that, my friends, is how you maximize the efficacy of your serums, eye creams, lotions, creams and other skin potions!

Got questions? Contact us for more information, or to book your customized exfoliating procedure! 403-287-1477.

In healthy skin,


7 Tips to reduce PUFFINESS and non-designer EYE BAGS

you’re not alone, we get them too

Puffiness in the eye area is a common manifestation of mild facial edema. Edema is a term for the excess fluid accumulation in soft tissue manifested by swelling. Edema stretches the skin and eventually leads to wrinkles and sagging. The eye area is particularly prone to edema due to the dense capillary network and lack of fat padding.

It is important to know that significant edema (especially if not confined to face) may be a sign of a health problem, such as kidney or liver disease, and needs to be investigated by a physician to rule out medical conditions. A variety of allergies may also cause facial puffiness. If you have persistent puffiness make sure to rule out allergic reactions to your environment, food or skin care products.

A more common situation, however, is morning puffiness (mild facial edema that occasionally occurs in the morning and goes away during the day) caused by lifestyle factors rather than a health condition.


It is important to minimize morning puffiness not so much because it is a transient nuisance after awakening but because it is one of the biggest contributors to the aging of the eye area. ~Marie Bertrand


Here are some things you can do:

1. Sleep on your back. When you sleep face down or even in your side the blood pressure in your facial vessels is greater due to gravity and contact with the pillow. Sleeping on your back mitigates this problem.

2. Do not consume too much fluid late in the evening. During sleep your blood vessels tend to relax. If at that time your body is overloaded with water, more fluid will flow from capillaries into extracellular space than is drained from it; the net effect is swelling. In general, it is healthy to drink a lot of fluids. However, try to consume most of your water in the morning and afternoon, and drink less in the evening.

3. Limit your sodium intake. Sodium, especially if consumed as sodium chloride (table salt), increases retention of water and promotes edema. Keep in mind that even if you don’t overuse the saltshaker, you may still be consuming a lot of sodium because most processed foods are high in sodium. Notable examples include chips, candy, many processed meats and cheeses. Check food labels for sodium content per serving and serving size. Then you can calculate how much sodium you are consuming. Reducing sodium intake may have an added benefit of reducing the risk of developing high blood pressure.

4. If you drink alcohol, be moderate and avoid drinking late in the day. Alcohol and certain drugs contribute to puffiness by favoring the accumulation of fluid in extracellular space. If you are taking any drugs, do not change your regimen without consulting with your doctor. If you feel that a particular drug may be causing puffiness, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives that provide the same benefits without this side effect.

5. Weak capillaries contribute to facial edema because they leak too much fluid into extracellular space. There are a few studies indicating that escin, a substance found in horse chestnut, can strengthen veins and capillaries by blocking enzyme called hyaluronidase. Blocking hyaluronidase prevents the breakdown of proteoglycans, which are important structural component of venous and capillary walls. The studies showed that twice a day supplementation with 50 mg of escin (a from standardized horse chestnut extract) reduced edema of extremities. Facial edema has not been studied but is likely to respond as well. Standardized horse chestnut extract is available in capsules in health food stores and on the web. Some vendors also sell horse chestnut cream. It is unclear whether topical application of escin also strengthens capillaries but it is certainly possible and may be worth a try. Escin may provide additional skin benefits. By blocking the hyaluronidase, escin may increase the content of hyaluronic acid in the skin and thereby reduce dryness. Other plant-derived agents shown in clinical studies to improve venous insufficiency and associated edema of extremities include Butcher’s broom rhizome extract and grape seed extract. These extracts, used orally or topically, might improve facial edema as well.

6. Fatigue and lack of sleep may contribute to puffiness and other eye area skin problems. Make sure you are getting adequate restful sleep. (I know, easier said than done!)

7. When morning puffiness cannot be prevented, it can be quickly reduced, which minimizes its damaging effects on the skin. The key to reducing puffiness is to reduce the inflow and increase outflow of fluid from the soft tissue of the face. To increase the outflow of fluid make sure that you are in a vertical position, i.e. standing or sitting. To reduce the inflow, you need to produce a mild constriction of blood vessels. To constrict your blood vessels in the area under the eye you can try to use cool teabags on your eyes. Place the tea bags in warm water, steep for a few seconds, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for half an hour. Then place the cool, moist tea bags on closed eyes. Recline and relax for ten to twenty minutes.


Tea polyphenols act as an astringent, tightening the skin while caffeine in the tea promotes drainage of fluid from extracellular space.

~Marie Bertrand

Obviously, reducing eye puffiness requires a multi-faceted approach to minimize stretching of the delicate skin around the eye area. Here are my favorite eye care products and procedures for under eye puffiness and bags:

SkinCeuticals AGE Eye (contains caffeine, Eyeliss™, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone and anti-glycation ingredients to help drain and tighten the skin around the eyes)

IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Eye Lift Gel (contains grape seed extract, Eyeliss™, Hespiridin-Methyl-Chalcone, licorice extract, green tea polyphenols and Matrixyl™ to tighten and firm the eye area)

Dermalogica Colloidal Masque ~ Professional use only (Contains green tea polyphenols and hyaluronic acid in a cooling gel base. Apply around the eye area for 10 minutes and rinse off for brighter, tighter, more luminous eyes)

SkinScience Clinic’s Non-designer iBags Treatment  (a 20-minute intensive RF (radio frequency) eye treatment to reduce puffiness and tighten the entire eye contour)

What about you? Do you have any tips and tricks to reduce morning puffiness? We are excited to hear your feedback!

In healthy skin,


Should you be TONING your eye area?

An easy trick that will perk up your baby blues!

The skin under the eye is particularly thin and tends to sag easily. Therefore, TONING is particularly important for this area. Keep in mind that true toning is not the same as temporary tightening achieved by “instant lift” type of products. These products use chemical agents that pull at the skin surface smoothing it temporarily – without any positive long-term effect on the skin itself.

TONING, on the other hand, is supposed to make skin itself less saggy and more elastic. As with most things health-related, it is much easier to prevent sagging than to reverse it. If you have any morning puffiness, it needs to be minimized as described above. Even that alone may improve your skin tone over time.

Here are a few of our favorite toners that are safe to use around the eye area:

  • Dermalogica UltraCalming Mist (contains soothing oat kernel extract, bisabolol and pure aloe vera, and energizing ginger root extract. Can be used on sensitive eye contour)
  • Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist (contains anti-aging peptides, vitamin C, glucosamine HCl, energizing green tea extract, soothing pure aloe vera and lightening licorice extract. Should be used on non-sensitive eye contour)
  • Dermalogica Multi Active Toner (contains soothing cucumber extract, pure aloe vera, organic arnica, purifying lavender extract and lightening licorice extract. Should be used on non-sensitive eye contour)

Mention this blog post and we will give you 10% off the purchase of the above mentioned toners!

Another helpful toning routine is to use an ice cube of frozen green tea at the beginning of your cleansing routine. A combination of cold and caffeine in the tea tones the underlying blood vessels, drains lymph and temporarily tones the delicate skin around the eye contour.

Who’s ready for perky peepers?

In healthy skin,