Everything You Don’t Know (But Thought You Did) About Skin


The thought of pampering for a girl like me, is sadly, foreign.

Raised in a household full of strong women, the idea of taking a break to just smell the roses/essential oils, wasn’t something that was put into my ‘How to be an Adult’ kit. But when I hit 28, shit got real.

So now –after prodding from my best girlfriends– I’m into the whole spa thing. Needlessly to say, the timing was perfect when Haven Spa (250 Mercer Street New York, NY) offered me a complimentary facial and massage treatment. I jumped on it.

And the experience was lovely.

In addition to having a newly remodeled facility that’s uber zen, their staff is incredibly knowledgable about the body. And as someone entering her thirties, my inqusitive ear was open to hearing skincare facts and tips from the staff.

What’s the biggest threat to skin during the winter?

“Dehydration! Excess heat, cozy nights by the fireplace (if you’re lucky!) can dehydrate your skin. There are two methods of treating/preventing this, depending on your type of skin. If you have skin that tends to be drier, and you don’t break out easily, you will want to start using a heavier moisturizer, preferably one rich in natural oils and butters. You can boost your leftover summer or fall moisturizer with an oil like French PLUM KERNEL Seed Carrier Oil. 100% Pure / Natural / Undiluted / Virgin / Cold Pressed for Skin, Hair, Lip and Nail Care. Skin SuperFood. 1 oz- 30 ml. by Botanical Beauty or UltraLuxe BB Oil 15mL. If you have a tendency to break out, then you want to be careful with oils and butters because they can clog your pores. In that case, add a great humectant to your routine, anything with hyaluronic acid in it is great, and still, go for a richer moisturizer than you would use in the summer.” –Esthetician, Mariola Barczewska
Do pores really open and close with hot and cold temperatures?

“No – that’s a complete myth! There is musculature surrounding your pores that can react to cold temps and make you feel like your pores are closing –think goose bumps– but pores are not valves. Hot and cold do affect your pores in a number of ways though. First, applying hot compresses or steam will soften sebum, making clogged pores easier to evacuate. Second, using hot or cold you can enhance product penetration because temperature will affect the blood vessels around your pores. Heat will expand the capillaries surrounding your pores (be careful if you have rosacea) bringing blood closer to the pore wall and the surface of the skin. Cold will cause the blood vessels to retract, pulling product deeper in. It’s a neat trick.” –Esthetician, Mariola Barczewska

What’s the best technique to get rid of a muscle knot?

“Alternate hot and cold compresses with slow stretches. We love those foam rollers – they’re great for targeting certain areas and using your body weight to work out kinks.” –Massage Therapist, Wanda McMonagle

What can women do daily to tighten their skin?

“True tightening happens when you have an increase in dermal fibers –like collagen and elastin. What you can do daily is preserve what you have by using an SPF, and using quality anti-oxidants. Build more by using products with Vitamin C or other dermal builders like peptides (Plum’s Age Reversal Serum rocks). Use these products EVERY DAY.” –Esthetician, Mariola Barczewska

Can stretch marks really be removed with lotions?

“Meh, not really. You can diminish the appearance of stretch marks by rebuilding the dermis in the affected area. A stretch mark is a scar –they’re difficult to repair and some skins just scar more easily than others. A lotion that’s high in dermal builders and exfoliators will probably make the skin look better in cases of light stretch marks. The best bet is probably seeing your dermatologist for laser treatments –they will work better than any lotion.” –Esthetician, Mariola Barczewska

What’s the best way to exfoliate and is it necessary for everyone?

“Everyone should exfoliate –everyone. However, that doesn’t mean everyone should exfoliate the same way or in the same intervals. Thicker skin that isn’t prone to redness and easily irritated can probably exfoliate 3-5 times a week. Weak, thin skin, that easily reddens should exfoliate about 1-2 a week. The best way is finding a product that your skin responds to: Some people like natural grains, some microdermabrasion creams, others prefer chemical exfoliation like a cream with a low percentage of alpha hydroxy acids. It’s important that you don’t over do it. Exfoliating too frequently or too harshly can instigate an inflammation response, which accelerates aging, and in some skin, especially darker skin tones, it can cause hyperpigmentation. I scrub my face in the shower when I wash my hair –about 2-3 times a week. If I want something deeper I see a facialist.” –Esthetician, Mariola Barczewska