Hydrocolloid Patches: Your Acne Hero

For the last few years, hydrocolloid acne patches have continued to become hugely popular in the skincare world. These little life savers are extremely effective in aiding the wound healing process of inflamed breakouts by providing a moist, protective environment using hydrocolloid, which also draws out edema aka swelling. However, not all acne patches are exactly the same. The options range including standard hydrocolloid patches, treatment patches using ingredients like salicylic acid, and post-breakout patches that help to prevent PIH (post inflammatory hyperpigmentation). How do you know which is the right pick for you? Read on, babes.

What is hydrocolloid and how does it work?

Hydrocolloid is a type of material that is highly absorbent, which makes it ideal for acne treatment. It consists of a combination of natural ingredients which swell with exudate to form a hydrated gel over acne lesions, creating a moist environment that promotes healing and protects the tissue. These patches work by drawing out edema aka swelling from inflamed breakouts and can help with “whiteheads” as well. The outer layer serves as a seal to protect the skin from bacteria, foreign debris, and often help to alleviate the urge to touch breakouts as well.

Types of acne patches

Hydrocolloid Patch

These are the original and invisible patches, used for any and all stages of acne. Especially helpful for whiteheads, or any inflamed lesions. It works by using medical grade hydrocolloid to absorb pus or edema from a pimple which has already come to a head or become inflamed.

Treatment Patch

These are patches that are formulated with acne fighting ingredients like salicylic acid, sodium hyaluronate, beta-glucan, etc. These are best for the beginning stages of acne, for under-the-skin or cystic acne.

Treatment patches can also target PIH aka post inflammatory hyperpigmentation using ingredients like niacinamide and tranexamic acid. These are awesome for post-breakout to prevent and lighten dark spots left over.

Microneedle Patch

Microneedle or micro dart patches use tiny dissolving hyaluronic acid micropoints to deliver treatment ingredients into the skin. These are often combined with treatment ingredients as mentioned above. These are best used when you feel a breakout first coming on but it hasn’t fully formed, or after the inflammation has thoroughly passed in the case of the treatment patch for dark spots.

Regardless of what stage of healing your blemish may be in, there is a patch to help support along the way. Click below to shop my favorite acne patches.



Vices: A case for eliminating sugar, dairy and alcohol for good

Sugar isn’t so sweet

Sugar is considered one of the worst ingredients in our modern diets and has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It’s also highly addictive and strongly associated with processed foods, has low nutrient density, accelerates aging, and triggers acne.

Sugar is a major culprit in the development of acne, and for good reason: it creates hyperglycemia, inflammation and hormone disruption. It also triggers hormonal imbalances in the body, which can lead to an increased production in sebum (skin oil) production. This excess oil can then mix with dead skin cells that form blockages on the surface of the skin, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. Additionally, sugar triggers inflammation in the body, which can contribute to redness and irritation associated with acne. Bam! Breakout central.

The primary way that sugar triggers acne is by increasing blood glucose levels. This causes a hormonal reaction that results in increased insulin production from our pancreas. Insulin helps shuttle glucose into our cells for energy, but when too much is produced, it also stimulates other hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT has been found to increase sebum production, resulting in oily skin and blocked pores – both of which are contributors to acne breakouts.

Another factor that contributes to acne caused by sugar is something called glycation. High sugar consumption has been linked to advanced glycation end products (AGEs) which are molecules that attach themselves to proteins in the body, leading to inflammation of cells and damageing them over time. Glycation occurs when glucose binds with proteins or lipids in the body, forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs can damage collagen proteins in the skin leading to premature wrinkles and sagging – as well as increased inflammation that further contributes to breakouts.

Finally, sugary foods often displace healthier options in your diet like fruits and vegetables that contain essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed for healthy skin cell growth and repair. Eating too much sugar may therefore deprive your skin of these vital nutrients it needs for optimal health and resilience against blemishes and premature aging. Sugar can create an imbalance between good bacteria such as lactobacilli and bad microorganisms such as candida albicansin in the gut – this can lead to inflammation elsewhere in your body including your skin resulting in unwanted breakouts or rashes.

TBH, i’ts dairy depressing

Consuming too much dairy can have an impact on the skin, leading to premature aging and a number of unwanted skin issues. Dairy contains high amounts of saturated fat, which is known to contribute to inflammation in the body. Dairy is believed to be a major contributor to the aging process and skin issues. Dairy products contain hormones that can disrupt the natural balance of hormones in our bodies, leading to increased inflammation, which can damage the skin’s collagen and elastin. This makes the skin less able to fight off wrinkles, sagging and discoloration.

Even low consumption of dairy can trigger acne and eczema and contributes to premature aging. Dairy products contain hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which is believed to disrupt the body’s natural hormonal balance and cause inflammation in the skin. This inflammation causes damage to the skin’s collagen and elastin and accelerates the aging process.

Scientific research has provided a link between dairy and acne, with studies suggesting that consuming dairy could increase the risk of developing acne. The primary reason for this is due to the hormones present in dairy products, including insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Furthermore, cows are often injected with additional hormones to stimulate milk production, which can further affect the hormonal balance in our bodies.

To protect your skin, health, and reduce premature aging, it is important to limit dairy consumption or eliminate it completely from your diet. There are many nutritious alternatives to dairy products, such as plant-based milks made from almond, coconut or cashew nuts. These alternative products are often healthier and contain lower levels of saturated fat, making them a much better choice for your skin. Another option is to try incorporating healthy plant-based fats into your diet, such as avocado or olive oil. These foods can help to reduce inflammation in the body and improve the health of your skin.

Dairy is one of the most allergenic foods, and many people are intolerant or sensitive to it. In addition, many dairy products contain high levels of saturated fats, which have been linked to cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Overall, it is clear that dairy consumption can have a negative impact on the health and appearance of your skin. Limiting or avoiding dairy is an important step in protecting your skin and maintaining its youthful appearance for longer. With proper nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, you can keep your skin looking vibrant and young!

Alcohol is a carcinogen, but then again so is the sun

Alcohol is often loaded with sugar, and excessive consumption has been linked to a number of health problems like liver damage, increased risk of cancer, and impaired cognitive function.

Alcohol consumption can result in accelerated aging of the skin and body. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it forces the body to expel water and other nutrients, leading to dehydration and dryness that can affect appearance and create wrinkles. Additionally, alcohol is high in sugar content, which has been linked to age-accelerating glycation. Glycation is a process whereby sugar molecules attach to proteins or fats, resulting in damaged collagen and elastin that contribute to wrinkles, as well as dullness of the skin. Not only does this process cause physical aging of the skin but also internal damage; excessive drinking has been associated with cognitive impairment due to disrupted neural connections caused by alcohol-induced oxidation.

Studies have indicated that those who consume alcohol tend to have higher levels of cortisol – a hormone linked both to stress response and accelerated aging – than those who do not drink. Furthermore, drinking alcohol damages mitochondrial DNA responsible for energy production within cells, leading to reduced energy production over time and further contributing to overall aging. Alcohol depletes nutrients from the body, including B vitamins which help maintain healthy skin tone, elasticity and hydration levels necessary for youthful looking skin.

Excessive drinking also dehydrates your complexion making it look duller over time due to lack of moisture retention on a cellular level as well as reducing oxygen supply needed by healthy cells in order to function properly..

In addition to its effects on hormones, skin appearance, and energy production, alcohol also leads directly to inflammation of organs like the liver or brain which have long-term consequences for health and longevity. Alcoholism has been linked with an increased risk for various conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver– one of the major causes of premature death in developed countries – as well as stroke and cancer. Overall, while excessive alcohol consumption can harm your health in many ways, there are plenty of ways that you can stay healthy and happy without it.

Whether you choose to cut back gradually or replace alcohol, sugar, and dairy remember that small changes over time can make a big difference. So give yourself permission to choose your health, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation or apology for it.

We are here to support you at Sapien and believe that knowledge is power. We are never going to judge you with whatever you decide, and truly just want to help you reach your goals and to see you thrive. We love you!

Stephanie Powers, LME

President of Sapien Skin

The Anti-aging Power of Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a top contender in the world of skincare hype, but is it worth the hefty price tag? Put simply, YES, but only if it is the right one. That’s right, not all products touting vitamin C deserve a spot on your shelf, but let’s circle back to that.

Other than being a crucial component in protecting our precious collagen, Vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, absorb and store iron, and also has a vital role in the body’s healing process.

Vitamin C for Health

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals aka unstable DNA ravaging molecules that are produced intrinsically when your body breaks down oxidative foods and alcohol, or extrinsically when we are exposed to smoke, radiation from light or X-rays, and pollutants. Free radicals contribute largely to the aging process and play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.

Because your body doesn’t produce vitamin C, you need to get it from both your diet and topically from your skincare. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and spinach. Most people can get enough vitamin C from a healthy, well rounded diet. Vitamin C deficiency is more likely in people who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoking, have certain gastrointestinal conditions or certain types of cancer, or have a limited diet that doesn’t regularly include fruits and vegetables.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women.

Topical Vitamin C for Skin Health

It’s important to distinguish the separate need for both oral and topical vitamins. The Vitamin C we ingest is not going to translate the way we want it to our skin. Even when you have a diet rich in Vitamin C, your skin still needs high quality, potent topical Vitamin C because there is no direct blood supply to the skin to deliver nutrients.

Vitamin C helps the skin to:

  1. Combat existing sun damage
  2. Strengthens and protects collagen
  3. Smooths wrinkles
  4. Minimize inflammation
  5. Brighten and even skin tone
  6. Neutralizes free radicals
  7. Boost efficacy of your other skin care products like you SPF and retinol

So, you’re on board and decide to add absorbic acid to your routine, but here’s the catch: buying Vitamin C can be tricky because a large portion of vitamin C products on the market have already eroded or oxidized before you even bring them home. Additionally, many of these products have not been tested for efficacy and have no mechanism of action, or a way of interacting with your skin in a helpful way.

Ineffective products being sold to unknowing consumers sadly is common practice with any type skincare products. Thankfully as long as you stick to medical/ proffesioanl grade skincare, you’ll be on the right track. It does generally have a higher price to get a product formulated with high quality ingredients combined with advanced formulations and clinical studies, but it is always worth it to get a product that does the job it is supposed to.

Stay dewy my friends.

Xoxo, Jess

Shop my favorites here

5 Ways to Battle Winter Skin Blues

When the cold weather starts to set in, many of us find our skin feeling a little bit drier than usual. In fact, winter is notorious for wreaking havoc on our skin. The low humidity, harsh wind, and dry heat from turning up the heaters can really take a toll, leaving our skin feeling dry, itchy, and potentially even cracked. If you’re looking for ways to battle the winter skin blues, read on! In this blog post, we will discuss five tips that will help to improve your skin’s condition this winter.

1. Reduce exposure to dehydrating and inflammatory factors such as sleeplessness, poor diet, sugar, alcohol, diary, gluten, etc.

The low humidity and harsh wind can also have an inflammatory effect on the skin, leading to more redness and sensitivity and this compounds with other intrinsic and extrinsic factors. To help combat this, be sure to drink plenty of water, rest, stick with an anti-inflammatory diet and schedule time to take care of yourself. This will help keep your skin happy from the inside out.

2. Use a humidifier.

If your home is particularly dry, or if you’re cranking up the heater during the winter months, using a humidifier can be a big help. This will add moisture to the air and help keep your skin hydrated. Click the link HERE to shop some Sapien approved humidifiers on our Amazon storefront.

3. Avoid hot baths and showers.

Hot baths and showers can further dehydrate your skin by speeding up TEWL aka trans-epidermal water loss, so it’s best to avoid them if you can. Instead, try taking lukewarm or tepid baths and showers, which will help to retain your skin’s moisture.

4. Don’t let up on the SPF

While the winter weather can be harsh on our skin, the UVA rays from both indoor and outdoor light can be just as damaging. UV radiation can cause a lot of stress and inflammation and that damage leads to wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to protect your skin from the sun year-round by using sunscreen and other sun protection products and methods.

5. Apply moisturizer regularly.

Last but not least, be sure to apply moisturizer regularly and reapply throughout the day. This will help keep your skin hydrated and protected from the elements. Here are a few of our favorites; Click the link HERE to learn more and shop.

Bonus tip: It’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids during the winter months, especially if your skin is feeling dry. Staying hydrated will help keep your skin hydrated as well by supporting your entire body.

The cold weather can be tough on our skin, but following these five tips should help improve your skin’s condition. Be sure to drink plenty of water, rest, stick with an anti-inflammatory diet, avoid hot baths and showers, reapply your SPF daily and apply moisturizer regularly. If you’re still experiencing problems with your skin, it may be a good idea to consult with your favorite esthetician at Sapien Skin. To book a consultation or service, click the link HERE.



Dark Circles & Puffy Eyes 101

How can dark circles be improved? As you may know, with all questions regarding skin concerns, the answer inevitably lands on it depends. There are multiple factors which can contribute to infraorbital dark circles, puffiness, or undereye “bags”. In order to determine how to improve the concern, we have to identify which factors are contributing and create a customized strategy to manage it.

What do they look like? 


  • Appearance of puffiness surrounding the eye area
  • Padded “bags” below the eye accentuated by a mild or deep line underneath often causing shadowing

Dark Circles:

  • Purple / blueish darkness in the inner corners of the eyes and within the tear trough region

What causes this?

Dark circles can be the result of a variety of factors including deep facial anatomy, excessive pigmentation, soft tissue changes, thin eyelid skin, and shadowing due to skin laxity. As we age, we experience a breakdown of fatty tissue and collagen around the eye area. Weakening muscular structure around the eyelids can also release its hold on the fatty tissues surrounding the eyes. This can be hereditary, from sun exposure, or a result of normal aging.

Puffiness / bags: 

  • UV damage
  • Intrinsic aging
  • Medications

Dark Circles:

  • Thinning skin (collagen loss)
  • Fatty tissue loss
  • Allergies
  • Medications
  • Lack of sleep/fatigue
  • Anemia
  • Smoking
  • Hyperpigmentation (most commonly seen in higher Fitzpatrick types)
  • Genetics
  • Dehydration
  • Sinus congestion
  • Inflammation   

What are the treatment options?

The first treatment option should be to strengthen and improve the integrity of the tissue surrounding the eyes, while preventing further degradation from occurring. You know what that means. SPF, baby. Other lifestyle and home care factors will also be reviewed between you and your esthetician in order to have a customized strategy.

Internal Factors

  • Omega 3
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron supplements (anemia)
  • Allergy medication / antihistamines 
  • Improve sleep patterns
  • Eliminate allergens / smoking
  • Collagen supplements — primarily to support hydration retention
  • Reduce alcohol, sugar, and caffeine consumption
  • Stress reduction
  • Avoid excess salt
  • Sleep with head elevated (extra pillow)
  • Cold compresses 

Before making any adjustments to your vitamins or supplements Always consult with your physician.

Professional Treatment Options


  • Facial massage to increase circulation in the area (monthly)
  • Superficial peels
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • LED therapy
  • Collagen Induction Therapy


  • Fillers
  • Surgery (blepharoplasty)

Homecare strategies

  • Always use SPF and reapply, including the eye area
  • Apply ingredients gently with a tapping motion at the ocular orbit
  • Use Vitamin A / Retinoids at night
  • Use Vitamin C / Antioxidants during the day
  • Wear sunglasses and hats to protect the skin from UV rays
  • Practice at home orbital massage

Eye Treatment Products

ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Eye Serum

Powered by clinically proven ZO® Growth Factor technology, Growth Factor Eye Serum is designed to improve the appearance of expression lines, creasing + hollowness while plumping + encouraging healthy skin for a visibly revived look. The cooling applicator soothes the skin + re-invigorates the look of tired eyes.

ZO Skin Health Eye Brightening Créme

Specially designed for the delicate eye area. Helps minimize the multiple signs of aging, support skin’s elasticity, reduce puffiness, dark circles and fine lines.

Colorescience 3 in 1 Total Eye SPF Treatment

 Total Eye® 3-in-1 Renewal Therapy SPF 35 visibly improves the appearance of dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, and wrinkles while protecting the delicate eye area against photoaging with 100% SPF 35 mineral sunscreen.

Skin Ceuticals AOX Eye Gel

AOX+ Eye Gel is a groundbreaking serum-in-a-gel that contains a synergistic combination of 5% pure vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid), 1% phloretin, and 0.5% ferulic acid along with powerful botanicals to protect the delicate eye area from atmospheric skin aging – environmental damage and premature signs of aging caused by free radicals from UVA/UVB, infrared radiation (IRA), and ozone pollution (O3). This refreshing eye serum targets visible signs of aging such as crow’s feet and fine lines, and improves the appearance of puffiness, fatigue, and under eye circles.

IS Clinical Youth Eye Complex

Youth Eye Complex is a breakthrough formula that utilizes advanced technologies to combat the visual signs of aging. This formula is clinically proven to target visual areas of concern and, as a result, skin looks firmer and more resilient. Powerful peptides, key growth factors, and potent antioxidants help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and visibly brighten the under-eye area to keep skin smooth, hydrated and protected all day long.

Because dark circles, under eye bags and puffiness are brought on by various factors, it’s essential to identify which factors are contributing before the right treatment plan and products can be implemented. Want to know how to start? Book a consultation or service by clicking here.




MI RYUNG ROH, & KEE YANG CHUNG. (n.d.). Infraorbital dark circles: Definition, causes … – wiley online library. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved 2022, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1524-4725.2009.01213.x 

Education for the Modern Skin Care Professional. (n.d.). Retrieved 2022, from https://www.skincarelit.com/products/resource-library/categories/4403831/posts/14964988 

Park KY, Kwon HJ, Youn CS, Seo SJ, Kim MN. Treatments of Infra-Orbital Dark Circles by Various Etiologies. Ann Dermatol. 2018 Oct;30(5):522-528. doi: 10.5021/ad.2018.30.5.522. Epub 2018 Aug 28. PMID: 33911473; PMCID: PMC7992473.

Vrcek I, Ozgur O, Nakra T. Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2016 Apr-Jun;9(2):65-72. doi: 10.4103/0974-2077.184046. PMID: 27398005; PMCID: PMC4924417.

CIT – Collagen Induction Therapy

Nebula and galaxies in space. Abstract cosmos background. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

In the latest couple of blogs, we’ve gotten into all things collagen, from an overview of what it is and how it functions, to how our collagen changes as we age, along with abnormalities such as dermal scarring. Now we have finally arrived at how we can stimulate our own collagen production through Collagen Induction Therapy, aka CIT.

How does CIT stimulate collagen?

Collagen Induction Therapy stimulates our body’s own natural collagen through a controlled superficial injury to the skin, which incites a wound healing response within our skin. This leads to collagen synthesis among other skin health benefits such as the release of growth factors, improved cell-to-cell communication and cellular function, and overall skin health. CIT is also indicated for the improvement of many skin conditions such as acne, aging, scars, rosacea, etc.

How does it work?

Phases of wound healing;

Inflammatory Phase (1-3 days): In the inflammatory phase, macrophage cells are responsible for phagocytosis (white blood cells migrate from capillaries to clear damaged tissue and debris) and the release of growth factors that cause the migration and division of cells involved in the proliferative phase. The vascular response is a prolonged period of vasodilation following vasoconstriction which results in edema, erythema, and heat.

Lag & Proliferative Phase (3-5 days): The proliferative phase includes angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels by vascular endothelial cells), collagen deposition, granulation tissue formation, epithelialization, and wound contraction. Concurrently, re-epethelialization of the epidermis occurs.

Fibroplastic Phase (5-20 days): The fibroplastic phase is usually established within 5 days of injury and lasts for up to 4 weeks. To produce new tissue, fibroblasts (The cells responsible for collagen production) proliferate in the wound and migrate with the help of the growth factors and fibronectin.

Maturative and Remodeling Phase (28 days-2 years): During the maturation phase, newly formed collagen is strengthened while collagenase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down collagen, breaks down inappropriately oriented collagen molecules. The result is that the new collagen, initially laid down in a chaotic, disorganized way, becomes oriented in a manner similar to the way that nature intended, while non-traumatized collagen appears. This process lasts for 20 days up to 2 years and scar collagen regains about 70%-80% of normal collagen’s original tensile strength.

What is CIT good for?

Dermal needling was initially promoted mainly for increasing and remodeling collagen, hence the term collagen induction therapy. However, collagen induction is just one aspect of this treatment. Controlled microinjury of the skin appears to reboot cellular function. For example, if melanocyte (pigment producing) cells over or under produce pigment, micro needling can normalize melanogenesis. The same goes for keratinocytes when hyperkeratinization exists, or sebocytes which over produce sebum. Because of this, micro needling or CIT is indicated to treat a number of skin concerns.

What are the types of CIT?

The main treatment which is well known as collagen induction therapy is microneedling. At Sapien, we offer a range of options for micro needling such as the Microneedling Facial, Advanced Clinical Microneedling (Microneedling Facial plus a targeted chemical peel for atrophic scars), and Radio Frequency Microneedling with Potenza. We also offer 1540 Fractional Laser Resurfacing which is a collagen stimulating treatment, and Tempsure which is a no-downtime version of CIT utilizing RF energy without the needles. To find out more about these individual services, check out our services and FAQ pages here. Wanna know which is right for you? Book a service consultation here.

See you in the treatment room!

Love, Kristen


Setterfield, L. (2017). The Concise Guide to Dermal Needling. Acacia Dermacare. 

Hyperpigmenation 101

From freckles to melasma, pigmentation changes in the skin are a common occurrence most people will experience through different stages of life. However, the causes of hyperpigmentation (also known as dyschromia) are often misunderstood, and the road to correcting discoloration can seem elusive and long.

Pigment changes occur in the skin due to a myriad of reasons, but the primary source of course, is light. That’s right, those cute little freckles are actually the first marker of significant radiation damage in the skin, and evolve later in life to wrinkles, skin abnormalities and skin cancer. Not so cute anymore, right?

Now melsama on the other hand is an entirely different beast. Of course light is the biggest factor to consider when treating melasma (like every skin condition), but melasma is also primarily due to hormonal changes, which makes it one of the more challenging skin conditions to manage. For example, something as simple as getting too warm or enjoying spicy food can trigger the pigment to come back.

Before we dive in deeper, let’s take a look at the basics in understanding pigmentation.

Forms of Pigmentation

There are two primary categories of pigmentation.

1.) Constitutive Pigmentatiuon

Constitutive pigmentation refers to the pigment in skin that is genetically determined without exposure to hormonal imbalances, UV, or trauma. This is the natural pigmentation that determines skin tone, and is NOT a skin condition that requires treatment.

2.) Facultative Pigementation

Facultative pigmentation refers to the pigment that can be induced by inflammation, hormones, and ultraviolet exposure. Unlike constitutive pigmentation, facultative pigment may be reduced or even reversed with treatment. When we talk about hyperpigmentation as a condition, it’s obvious we are talking about facultative pigmentation.


Melanogenesis is the process in which pigment(melanin) is created by the melanocyte cells within the skin. This is the precursor to what is known as dyschromia, or what is more commonly referred to as hyperpigmentation

Melanogenesis is a complex series of biochemical events that begins with the activation of the enzyme tyrosinase- an event referred to as melanogenesis signaling. Melanogenesis signalling can be activated by a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic factors however, they all lead to the same process in the melanocyte cell.

When triggered, the enzyme tyrosinase is released within the melanocyte cell. This creates tyrosine – an amino acid that melanin pigment is derived from. This results in another amino acid,L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (commonly known as DOPA), setting off the reactions that actually synthesize new melanin pigment. While the process is even more complex than this, you’ll often hear it simplified down to just the initial trigger – the activation of tyrosinase – and the production of melanin.

The Melanocyte

It all begins in the cell responsible for producing pigment: the melanocyte. Melanocytes are dendritic cells – specialized immunity cells of the body that serve a protective function and are known for their “tree-like” shape. There are approximately 1300 melanocyte cells for every 1 square centimetre of human skin.

These are slow-cycling cells, which means their lifespan is longer than their neighboring keratinocytes – which renew approximately every 30 days in healthy, youthful skin. In comparison, melanocytes are produced during fetal development. Although they can regenerate approximately every 3-5 years, as we age, some of these cells are lost and cannot be restored.

Melanocytes produce granules called melanosomes which contain melanin. Melanin that is pigmented brown/black is called eumelanin, while melanin that is pigmented yellow/red is called pheomelanin. (As humans, we produce both types of melanin- however, the amount and ratio of each will determine our skin, hair, and eye color.) Melanocytes sit among the keratinocytes in the basal cell layer of the epidermis, and transfers the pigment-carrying melanosomes to the cells of the granular layer of the epidermis. As the melanosomes move upwards through the layers of epidermis, the pigment or color will become visible at the surface of our skin.

Melanin Production: A Protective Mechanism

The production of melanin is a protective mechanism of the skin designed to shield the surrounding cells’ DNA from oxidative or physical damage. When the melanocyte is triggered by the threat of damage (from UV rays or other internal or external triggers), melanogenesis is activated andresults in a “pigment dump.” This melanin is then transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes to protect our DNA from the impending threat. Healthy, intact DNA within the keratinocyteis integral to a healthy cellular lifecycle and replication.

While this is a necessary process part of a healthy immune system, it is also what leads to the darker patches of discoloration that we identify as hyperpigmentation on the outermost layers of this skin. Over time, when over used and over-activated, the melanocytes can become damaged and malfunction – leading to varying conditions of hyperpigmentation.

Treating Hyperpigmentation

The most important step in correcting and protecting your skin from hyperpigmentation is of course with the use of medical grade skincare products, number one being SUNSCREEN. Without the proper use of sunscreen there is no possible way that hyperpigmentation will ever improve, and is a guarantee that it will appear and accumulate throughout our lifetime. Even missing one sunscreen application can cause pigment to reappear. Sun damage can take up to 30 years to appear on the surface of the skin after the damage is accrued, so even if sun damage isn’t visible the skin’s surface now, it likely will be visible later.

Some great products to include in your routine after you’ve established a solid sunscreen routine include vitamin c, retinoids, and other specific tyrosinase inhibitors like kojic acid, tranexamic acid, ferulic acid, azelaic acid, alpha arbutin or hydroquinone etc. One of my personal favorites is Discoloration Defense from Skin Ceuticals for it’s gentle yet effective qualities. Shop it here https://www.sapienskin.com/collections/skin-ceuticals/products/discoloration-defense

As always, it is best to work with a professional when treating any skin condition so you can get on a plan that gets you the best results.

Now go reapply your sunscreen 😉

Love, Jess

Skin Scarring and Treatments

Scars are a long-standing concern in the aesthetic realm, ranging from acne scars to stretch marks or scarring from an injury. Last month we dove into collagen, the dermal protein responsible for the juicy, firm, bouncy skin that we all love to have. Collagen also plays an important role in scars and scar revision treatments through collagen induction therapy. Continue reading below to get the 411 on what scars are, why we get them, how they form, and how they can be improved.

What are scars?

Scars are a result of tissue repair within the skin that has been brought on by trauma. This could include any dermal injury such as acne, cuts or incisions, burns, etc. Exceptions to this include tattoos, minor scratches, microneedling, or controlled injury to the skin.

What went wrong?

Pathophysiology; Scars are the result of an excess accumulation of collagen as a result of trauma or injury. This is the case with raised, hypertrophic, or keloid scars.

Why do we scar?

It is hypothesized that wound healing is evolutionarily optimized for speed of recovery under dirty conditions, where a multiply redundant, compensating, rapid inflammatory response with overlapping cytokine and inflammatory cascades allows wounds to heal quickly to prevent infection and future wound breakdown. A scar may therefore be the price we pay for evolutionary survival after wounding to prevent further damage.

What factors determine if an injury will result in scarring?

There is a vast range of variation in scarring potential between individuals and even within the same individual. Scars tend to be the worst in the deltoid and sternal regions and best in intraoral tissues, reflecting the biological and mechanical differences between these areas of the body. Injury in children and young adults typically results in worse scarring than a similar injury does in elderly people, which reflects the difference in inflammatory and cytokine profiles in wounding of older vs. younger individuals. Meanwhile, people with darker pigmented skin have been shown to be more prone to severe skin scarring than those with lighter pigmented skin.

What are the different types of scars?

Fine line (Normotrophic):

Skin tissue repair results in a broad spectrum of scar types, ranging from a “normal” fine line to a variety of “abnormal” scars, including widespread scars, atrophic scars, scar contractures, hypertrophic scars, and keloid scars.

Widespread (stretched) scars:  

Appear when the fine lines of surgical scars gradually become stretched and widened, which usually happens within three weeks after surgery. They are typically flat, pale, soft, symptomless scars that are often seen after knee or shoulder surgery. Stretch marks (abdominal striae) after pregnancy are variants of widespread scars in which there has been an injury to the dermis and subcutaneous tissues but the epidermis is unbreached. There is no elevation, thickening, or nodularity in mature widespread scars, which distinguishes them from hypertrophic scars.

Hypertrophic –

Raised skin scars are described as hypertrophic or keloid scars.

Hypertrophic scars are raised scars that remain within the boundaries of the original lesion, generally regressing spontaneously after the initial injury. Hypertrophic scars are often red, inflamed, itchy, and even painful. They typically occur after burn injury on the trunk and extremities.

Keloid scars are raised scars that spread beyond the margins of the original wound and invade the surrounding normal skin in a way that is site-specific. Ear lobe keloids often grow as large lobules, central sternal keloids commonly develop a butterfly shape, and deltoid keloids tend to extend vertically. A keloid continues to grow over time, does not regress spontaneously, and almost invariably recurs after simple excision. It is difficult to apply the term keloid until a scar has been present for at least a year, although there is no precise time interval. Histologically, keloids have a swirling nodular pattern of collagen fibres. Keloids are unique to humans, and there seems to be some genetic predisposition, with dark-skinned individuals being more prone to them, though there are few large epidemiological studies. They develop predominantly in people aged 10-30 years, with an apparent predilection for emergence and deterioration during puberty and pregnancy.

Atrophic –  

Atrophic scars are flat and depressed below the surrounding skin. They are generally small and often round with an indented or inverted center, and commonly arise after acne or chickenpox.

Contractures –

Scars that cross joints or skin creases at right angles are prone to develop shortening or contracture. Scar contractures occur when the scar is not fully matured, often tend to be hypertrophic, and are typically dysfunctional. They are common after burn injury across joints or skin concavities.

How can a scar be improved?

As master aestheticians at Sapien, our wheelhouse mainly includes acne scarring, mild stretch marks, and normotrophic fine line scars. The scar treatments that we offer include microneedling, advanced clinical microneedling (which includes a targeted chemical peel for scars), RF microneedling, and 1540 fractional laser treatment. These treatments range in modalities used to target scars, although they are all focused on scar improvement through the mechanical breakdown of existing scarring and the induction of your body’s natural wound healing cascade in order to stimulate collagen and remodel scar tissue.

There are a variety of factors that determine the expected outcome of scar revision therapies, such as type of scar, maturity of the scar collagen, size, etc. If you’re interested in scar treatment, I always recommend booking a service consultation to discuss a full treatment plan to determine the right treatment choice for you and your expectations for results.

Stay tuned for the next blog post all about how collagen induction therapy works and treatment options.




Bayat A, McGrouther DA, Ferguson MW. Skin scarring. BMJ. 2003 Jan 11;326(7380):88-92. doi: 10.1136/bmj.326.7380.88. PMID: 12521975; PMCID: PMC1125033.

Setterfield, L. (2017). The Concise Guide to Dermal Needling. Acacia Dermacare. 

Collagen 101

Collagen is EVERYWHERE. Literally. If you’ve explored any portion of the skin-care world, then you’re likely familiar with collagen, the amazing protein that deserves all of the hype that it receives. Understanding this dermal protein is imperative in understanding skin aging, so here is a basic breakdown on what it’s all about.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein within the body. It is made up of a series of complex protein fibres arranged in long chains. Found in tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, corneas, teeth, and last but not least, skin and muscles. Within your skin, collagen fibres form a vast network in the dermal layers and are responsible for providing structural support and most of the skin’s density. As we age, collagen depletes which presents as loss of firmness, elasticity, strength of the skin and in turn fine lines and wrinkles.

Where is collagen found in the skin?

The dermis houses our essential connective tissues, like collagen, elastin, and reticulin. The Reticular Layer makes up the bulk of the dermis, acting as the primary support of the skin. It contains closely packed collagen resembling woven strands. Collagen makes up 10-30% of the weight of the dermis.

What is it made of?

Proteins are long chain amino acid structures, and collagen fibres are made up of many long chain protein fibres. Type I collagen, the most abundant form, has a long chain triple helix structure. Collagen is characterized by a triple-helical structure of three polypeptide chains with a characteristic amino acid sequence (Gly-X-Y) which is repeated frequently across the fibril structure, where Gly is glycine and X and Y would frequently be amino acids such as proline and hydroxyproline.

What are the types of collagen?

There are about 28 different forms of collagen found within the body. The Collagen family of proteins includes both fibril-forming and non-fibril-forming proteins, however the main collagens in the skin are the fibril-forming types, predominantly Type I and Type III. Type I collagen is present in skin, tendon, vasculature, organs and bone. Type II is predominantly present in cartilage. Type III is commonly found alongside Type I and usually represents about 15% of skin collagen. Collagen Type 1 is the strongest form of collagen, and Collagen Type 2 provides tensile strength to the tissue while Collagen Type 3 is inflexible. 

How does our collagen change over life phases?

Our bodies gradually produce less collagen as we age, beginning in early adulthood (around age 25) fibroblasts, aka the cells which produce collagen, become less active causing collagen production to decline by about 1.0%-1.5% a year. However, it decreases most quickly due to extrinsic aging factors such as sun exposure, smoking, excess alcohol, and lack of sleep and exercise. As our skin sustains cumulative exposure and damage, these factors damage collagen fibers and decrease in their ability to function correctly, reduce their thickness and strength, and lead to deep wrinkles and a loss of firmness.

Aged skin is characterized by dermal atrophy with reduced density of collagen fibres, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. In addition to reduced density, the collagen and elastin fibres in aged skin are found to be disorganized and abnormal compared to young and healthy skin. As we age and collagen levels decline, the collagen structure becomes more fragile and brittle leading to a weakening of the skin’s structural support. The proportion of the collagen types in our skin changes with age, younger skin contains about 80% type I collagen and about 15% collagen type III.

What cells create collagen?

Collagen is produced by cells called fibroblasts, which are a specialized cell found predominantly in the dermis. Fibroblasts are also responsible for the production of the protein elastin which gives skin the flexibility to stretch, and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are part of the extracellular matrix and are pivotal for wound healing and moisture.These cells are essential to some of the work we do as estheticians, since many treatments are designed to create a controlled wound healing response in order to activate the production of new collagen fibres.

Wanna learn more about these amazing anti-aging treatments and the concept of CIT – Collagen Induction Therapy? Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll dive deeper into collagen synthesis through treatments.

Xoxo, Kristen


Reilly DM,  Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plast Aesthet Res 2021;8:2. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153

Ricard-Blum S. The collagen family. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2011 Jan 1;3(1):a004978. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a004978. PMID: 21421911; PMCID: PMC3003457.

Wang F, Calderone K, Do TT, Smith NR, Helfrich YR, Johnson TRB, Kang S, Voorhees JJ, Fisher GJ. Severe disruption and disorganization of dermal collagen fibrils in early striae gravidarum. Br J Dermatol. 2018 Mar;178(3):749-760. doi: 10.1111/bjd.15895. Epub 2018 Feb 4. PMID: 28815554.

Skin Friendly Makeup

When it comes to skin health and beauty, cosmetics are always a hot topic whether the questions are surrounding acne, sunscreen and makeup, or which cosmetics are Sapien tested and approved by our estheticians. I’m here to answer all of your burning beauty questions.

What makes certain cosmetics more skin-friendly than others?

The first factor to consider when choosing cosmetics is of course how your skin responds to them. When you’re managing certain skin conditions like acne, sensitized skin, dehydration, etc. it’s important that your cosmetics don’t derail your progress. This comes down to ingredients – the hard truth is that most makeup just isn’t good for your skin. It will often only make problems worse by causing breakouts or rashy skin. No stress, at Sapien we’ve tested many products and have a list of skin loving cosmetics that will complement your skin journey.

Keeping it clean

It’s reccomended to clean your makeup brushes at least once a week if not after every use. You can clean and disinfect your tools by washing them with soap and water, drying, spraying with 70% isopropyl alcohol and letting it evaporate. To further eliminate bacteria, a phone soap UVC sterilizer is the way to go. You can put all of your brushes, tools, and makeup sponge into this along with other household items that are making contact with your skin like glasses, your phone, etc.

Shown below; Uve antibacterial beauty blender and Phone Soap UVC sterlilizer. Click the names of either on the list below to learn more and shop.

Sunscreen in makeup

Many foundations contain sunscreen in them, but that alone is very unlikely give you adequate protection. You need at least 1/2 tbsp for your first application of sunscreen for the day and about 1/2 to 1 tsp for reapplication throughout the day (depending on how much skin is exposed). Most people aren’t wearing that much foundation day to day, which calls for a seperate sunscreen cream in order to give you enough protection. The good news is that it is totally possible to layer your SPF and cosmetics, reapply over makeup, or replace your foundation alltogether with tinted spf or a more skin friendly option.

What makeup is Sapien tested and approved?

Tinted Sunscreen

We have tons of tinted sunscreen options at Sapien that are beautiful and range in shades and formulas for all skin types. Click here to schedule a product consultation with one of our estheticians and learn which one is the best pick for you!

Foundation and Concealers

Nars Light Reflecting Skincare Foundation

This foundation is one that looks great, provides buildable coverage, and won’t make you break out! It’s a beautiful skin-like finish in a hydrating formula.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation

This is a purely mineral powder foundation which is fantastic alone or my favorite method; mixing the powder with Extreme Protect sunscreen for a custom cream foundation. It’s dewy, radiant, hydrating, and allows for seamless reapplication of SPF throughout the day.

I also love Alima Pure’s mineral blush, bronzer, and eye shadows.

Shop all of our Cosmetics collection on the online shop here!




I have acne! is it okay to wear makeup? American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2022, from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/causes/makeup 

Draper, Isabel. “Dimethicone.” Think Twice, 9 Oct. 2019, http://sites.utexas.edu/think-twice/2019/10/09/dimethicone/.