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.

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 

Draper, Isabel. “Dimethicone.” Think Twice, 9 Oct. 2019, 

Rosacea 101

Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes redness, visible blood vessels in the face, the feeling of “heat,” and sensitivity. It may also produce small, red, pus-filled bumps. These symptoms may flare up for a few weeks to months at a time, or it may continue into a full progression of the 4 subtypes (or stages) of rosacea. Rosacea typically becomes more visible in our 30s, and continues to advance in severity with age if it goes unmanaged.

The Experience of Rosacea

Typically, the beginning stages of rosacea are marked by redness caused by superficial broken capillaries under the skin (erythema and telangiectasia). When left unmanaged, the condition can progress to include inflamed papules and worsen to the point of skin thickening — a result of prolonged inflammation scar tissue. While not every sufferer will experience all of these symptoms or the full progression of rosacea, clients with these symptoms will likely identify it as their primary skin concern.

That’s because rosacea sufferers consistently experience both the signs and symptoms of the condition.

Signs: what can be seen?

Symptoms: what can be felt?

This differs from many other common conditions, like hyperpigmentation or premature ageing, in that there is a physical discomfort associated with rosacea — which takes an emotional toll on those who experience it.

To help you identify the severity of your clients’ rosacea and choose the proper treatments, we’ve overviewed the signs and symptoms of each subtype of rosacea below.

The 4 Subtypes of Rosacea

Subtype 1: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea

Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is a mouthful. To help you remember it, you can break it down into two of its main characteristics:

Erythema refers to redness of the skin caused by hyperemia or increased blood flow in superficial capillaries. It can appear “rash-like” and ranges from mild to severe.

Telangiectasia refers to dilated or broken blood vessels located near the surface of the skin, appearing as fine pink or red lines. Both of these symptoms typically present in the middle of the face (cheeks and nose) in this subtype of rosacea. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Redness and broken capillaries (erythema and telangiectasia)
  • Flushes easily from internal and external triggers
  • May have a higher tendency to blush
  • Disordered barrier function or sensitization
  • Visible dryness or flakiness
  • Feeling of “tightness” in the skin
  • Occasional swelling
  • Warmth present in the skin
  • May experience stinging or burning sensations
  • Can be touch-sensitive

Subtype 2 | Papulopustular Rosacea

As the name suggests, papulopustular rosaceacan present with acne papules and pustules where the skin is exhibiting redness. It will also present with all or many of the symptoms associated with subtype 1, however often to a more significant degree.

Though papules and pustules will be visible, papulopustular rosacea doesn’t typically exhibit comedones (aka blackheads and whiteheads). This can help differentiate this subtype of rosacea from acne vulgaris.

Along with those listed in subtype 1, signs and symptoms include:

  • Very sensitive skin, accompanied by a stinging or burning sensation
  • High level of transepidermal water loss and barrier dysfunction present
  • Acne papules and pustules where skin exhibits redness
  • Rough or “built-up” areas of reddened skin (referred to as plaque)
  • Skin can be both oily and flaky at once

Subtype 3 | Phymatous Rosacea

Phymatous rosacea is typically a later stage of rosacea, meaning the sufferer has most likely experienced earlier subtypes of rosacea for a period of time without getting adequate treatment.

Phymatous rosacea is characterized by all of the visible signs of erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, but again, typically to a higher degree. Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • Thickened, bumpy skin
  • Skin can become nodular and irregular (most commonly on the nose – referred to as rhinophyma)
  • Enlarged pores

Subtype 4 | Ocular Rosacea

And finally, subtype 4 is referred to as ocular rosacea.

Ocular means of or relating to the eye — which can make this a particularly dangerous form of rosacea that may require medical attention. Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Eyes can feel gritty (as though there’s sand in them)
  • Watery, bloodshot eyes
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • Blurry and/or compromised vision
  • Broken capillaries on the eyelid
  • Cysts on the eyelid
  • Light sensitivity

Rosacea Triggers

Although a definitive cause of rosacea has yet to be identified by researchers and physicians, there are some patterns that show who may be predisposed to develop the condition.

Firstly, rosacea is known to be largely genetic, and frequent flushing in younger years can be a precursor to a more prominent condition of rosacea later in life. Typically, visible signs of rosacea begin between the ages of 30 and 50, and it tends to be more common in women than in men.

3 Primary Causes of Rosacea:

  1. UV exposure: No surprise here — as skin pros, we know that UV exposure can cause or contribute to almost any skin condition we treat. In the case of rosacea, heat, sensitization, and inflammation caused by sunlight all play a role.
  2. Vasodilation: The dilating of blood vessels to increase blood flow (and the transfer of essential oxygen, nutrients, and white blood cells) to an affected area. Part of a healthy inflammatory response, however, chronic or overactive vasodilation will result in damage to these blood vessels (i.e. rosacea).
  3. Demodicosis: An inflammation-causing infestation of demodex mites (yes, mites!) found on human skin. While these mites are typically present on all human skin and generally harmless, when our immune system or skin barrier falls short, an overproliferation of these mites can lead to dermatitis or signs of rosacea.

While we don’t exactly know what causes someone to develop rosacea, we do have a general understanding of the factors that can trigger rosacea flare ups. In other words, what might cause someone’s signs and symptoms to worsen. You’ll notice that many of the triggers listed below are similar to those that trigger skin sensitization or barrier disruption, as these skin conditions are closely related.

Below are some of the most common extrinsic(external) and intrinsic (internal) factors that can trigger rosacea:

Extrinsic Triggers

  • UV exposure
  • Centralized heating and air conditioning (drying environments)
  • Dry, cold, or windy weather exposure
  • Hot water use (hot showers, steaming)
  • Chemicals such as chlorine in swimming pools or over-exposure to pollutants
  • External allergens
  • Moisture-stripping skincare formulas, detergents and surfactants (such as over-drying cleansers)
  • Over-exfoliation (using scrubs, BHA’s, AHA’s and enzymes too often)

Intrinsic Factors

  • Vasodilation medication
  • Exercise (increases heat and blood flow)
  • Vitamin & mineral deficiency (especially omegas)
  • Overconsumption of vasodilating foods and beverages (such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods)
  • Internal dehydration
  • Internal inflammation
  • Internal allergens
  • Hormonal fluctuation
  • Topical steroids
  • Calcium-channel blockers
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Demodex mite infestation (Demodex folliculorum overproliferation in the hair follicles)
  • Stress

As always, everyone’s skin won’t behave or respond exactly the same. What triggers rosacea in one person may not be a factor at all for another. However, for people with rosacea, preventing flare ups is going to be key in managing their condition.

Rosacea in Skin of Color (Fitzpatrick Types IV, V, VI)

Rosacea is often diagnosed earlier in Fitzpatrick Types I, II and III, since signs of flushing and broken capillaries are more visible in lighter skin tones. However, this doesn’t mean that rosacea is not present in those with skin tones that are higher on the Fitzpatrick Scale— and it’s our job to become experts at identifying it.

Signs & Symptoms in Skintones IV-VI

  • Frequent warmth in the skin
  • Dry, swollen skin
  • Patches of darker skin or discolouration
  • Yellowish or brownish hardened bumps around the eyes and/or mouth
  • Acne that will not clear with traditional acne treatment
  • Stinging or burning (for example, when applying skincare products)
  • Swelling or thickened skin on the nose, cheeks, chin or forehead
  • Enlarged pores
  • Symptoms of ocular rosacea (as listed above)

Managing Rosacea

While there unfortunately isn’t a cure for rosacea, you can help prevent and protect against flare ups, which will ionize symptoms and discomfort, and ensure it doesn’t progress to a more advanced stage of rosacea.

Because rosacea is caused by sensitivity to certain triggers, it is imperative to take a two-pronged approach to treatment.

Having a skincare plan focused on soothing and strengthening the skin barrier gives your more protection against environmental aggressors and won’t as easily trigger an immune response that’s causing redness and inflammation.

It is also important to simultaneously work towards identifying what triggers your flare-ups so that you can avoid exposure to them as much as possible.

As always, its is imperative to work with a skincare professional when dealing with any chronic skin condition. We are here to come up with an effective plan so you can get back to feeling your best.

Love Always,


SPF Reapplication Methods

Any smartie Sapien babe knows the importance of sunscreen compliance and reapplication. As an SPF lover myself I’ve basically mastered reapplying and overcoming any obstacle that could come between me and my sunscreen. Wearing makeup? No biggie. Can’t wash your hands? We can get around that. Forgot? Set a timer, easy peasy. I could do this all day. There are multiple methods of reapplication; lotion, spray, powder, stick, or UPF clothing. Once you have a clear understanding of the reason why you need to reapply and design a strategy that works for your lifestyle, you’ll never look back.

Why Reapply?

Source: The Skin Cancer Foundation

“Unlike with a UPF hat or sunglasses, sunscreen’s effectiveness against ultraviolet (UV) rays doesn’t remain constant.

A sunscreen’s Sun Protection Factor (SPF) measures how well the product will protect you from the sun’s UVB rays— the type of UV that is primarily responsible for sunburn. For example, if your unprotected skin begins to burn within 20 minutes of sun exposure, applying an SPF 15 sunscreen would theoretically keep your skin from burning 15 times longer: 300 minutes, or about five hours. But experts agree that no sunscreen can remain completely effective for that long, as active ingredients degrade over time. This is why dermatologists and The Skin Cancer Foundation recommend reapplying sunscreen at least every two hours, regardless of the formula, SPF, or brand of the product.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

SPF is a measure of how much solar energy (UV radiation) is required to produce sunburn on protected skin (i.e., in the presence of sunscreen) relative to the amount of solar energy required to produce sunburn on unprotected skin. As the SPF value increases, sunburn protection increases.

  • Apply Sunscreen 30 Minutes Before Going Outside. This is particularly important if you’re using a chemical sunscreen, because it takes time for the skin to absorb the chemical filters that help protect you. Regardless of the type of sunscreen you use, applying sunscreen well before you go outside is a good habit to get into, so you don’t end up being exposed to the sun before remembering to apply sunscreen.
  • Use the Right Amount. Studies have shown that many people apply only half (or even a quarter!) of the amount of sunscreen they should be using for full effectiveness. You should go through sunscreen bottles pretty quickly if you’re applying the correct amount—an ounce, or about a shot glass full, should be sufficient for the entire body. And you should be reapplying the same amount throughout the day.
  • Apply it Everywhere. Speaking of the entire body, that’s where sunscreen should be applied! It’s easy to forget about spots like the top of your ears or the back of your neck, but those spots are common places for skin cancers. It’s especially important to liberally apply sunscreen to the face, since the skin there is thinner, and often highly exposed to UV rays. Finally, apply sunscreen before donning your clothes or swimsuit; otherwise, it’s easy to miss a spot at the edges of the clothing.
  • Reapply Immediately After Swimming or Sweating. Even if you put sunscreen on right before you jump in the pool then dry off, you should reapply right away. No sunscreen is truly waterproof — though there are great water-resistant formulas available — and toweling off means you’re wiping away the sun protection afforded by the product you used.
  • Don’t Rely on Sunscreen for Complete Protection. Sunscreen is just one part of an effective sun protection plan. It’s an important one, but no method alone is foolproof. That’s why The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends seeking shade and covering up with hats, sunglasses and clothing in addition to daily sunscreen use.”

At Sapien, we’ve researched and tested tons of sunscreen products in order to deliver you the very best and make light protection easy, enjoyable, and effective. Read below for some SPF tips from me to you, categorized by method of reapplication. Click any photo to shop the product shown.

  • Lotion

Reapplication with a lotion is my preferred method because it’s a 2 in 1 moisturizing and protective step and you’re likely to get the best application since it’s easy to measure the quantity. If you’re worried about makeup or wanna go hands-free, I recommend packing your SPF in a ziplock bag with a clean beauty blender or foundation brush for easy reapplication.

  • Powder

This is a perfect reapplication method for all of my on-the-go babes. When you’re using a sunscreen powder be sure to check that your product is loaded into the brush head before you begin. Get maximum protection by making multiple passes over your skin for a full, even coverage.

  • Stick

Sunscreen sticks are great for sweating and swimming, or for easy hand/body reapplication. As with any ‘alternative’ reapplication method, ensure that you’re getting adequate protection by applying multiple layers.

  • Spray

SPF sprays are convenient, hydrating, be sure to really douse yourself in this and get dewy. When using a body sunscreen spray, it is best to rub in the product after a hefty spray in order to make sure you’re creating an even shield.

Stay safe and dewy this summer. XOXO,



Diffey BL. When should sunscreen be reapplied? J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Dec;45(6):882-5. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2001.117385. PMID: 11712033.

Venosa, A. (2021, June 9). Reapply on the Fourth of July. The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Pro Extractions vs Picking

If you’ve experienced acne then you’re likely familiar with the art of extractions or you’ve possibly attempted them on your own. Be warned; home extractions often lead to more harm than good so leaving it up to the professionals is your best bet. Day to day, acne patches are amazing to help support your healing process by keeping your skin protected, moist, and drawing out edema. So, what are professional extractions? How do they differ from picking? Why should I keep my hands off of my face, you might ask?

Well, our hands carry loads of bacteria and transmit microorganisms between people, pets, inanimate objects, and our environments. This is exactly why frequent hand washing is so important. Many bacteria are harmless, although there are also many harmful microbes that can be spread by our hands including;

  • Staphylococcus aureus (including MRSA)
  • Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A Strep)
  • Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)
  • Klebsiella
  • Enterobacter
  • Pseudomonas
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Candida

Hygiene aside, touching your face and attempting home extractions (aka picking) often causes more harm than good. Improper extractions can lead to spread of bacteria, damaging your follicle (aka pore) walls, inducing more inflammation, breakouts, and possibly post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, scarring, or both. All while prolonging your body’s healing process.

I recommend popping on a mighty patch to keep your skin clean, protected, and leave extractions to the professionals. Pro tip: Rather than using your patches on dry skin, apply your moisturizers underneath. Then, when you’re ready to remove them at the end of the day or in the morning, hop in the shower to cleanse and allow the mighty patch to get waterlogged so that it will easily slip off rather than peeling off the patch (and potentially your skin).

In terms of professional treatments, one of the best ways to control breakouts is to get regular facials with extractions. Do they hurt? Yes. Do they help? Yes. Continue reading to get the 411 on professional extractions.

What are extractions? 

An extraction is the process of clearing a clogged or compacted pore by manual or mechanical means. 

How do they help?

The benefits of facial extractions include an even, clear complexion, less congestion, better product absorption and efficacy, and less breakouts in the future. If performed successfully, the extraction may contribute to a reduction in inflamed acne lesions.

When is the best time to get extractions?

For females, it is best to remove the comedones at the time of ovulation, prior to the reduction of the size of the sebaceous orifice and epidermal barrier function, to counteract the onset of increased sebum production, prevent blockage of the pores and subsequent bacterial colonization and inflammation.

Sounds perfect, right? Ready to book a facial? Our Treatment Facial is customizable and is a great way to reset and remove what could become breakouts down the line. Click here to book with one of our estheticians and get on the path to acne management.




Steventon K. Expert opinion and review article: The timing of comedone extraction in the treatment of premenstrual acne–a proposed therapeutic approach. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Apr;33(2):99-104. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00610.x. Epub 2010 Aug 30. PMID: 20807258.

Acne 101

Most of us have had to deal with acne at some point or another as it is a common chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects about 89% of adolescents, and often persists into adulthood due to a myriad of reasons.

Before we dive in deeper to acne and it’s causes, let’s take a look at the appendage of the skin central to acne development: the Sebaceous Gland.

The Sebaceous Gland

A sebaceous gland secretes sebum, the skin’s oily substance. These glands are found within the dermis and are typically attached to a hair follicle.

Sebaceous glands that aren’t associated with a hair follicle open directly onto the surface of the skin via a duct. These are called sebaceous follicles and are typically found around the upper lip and corners of the mouth, the chest, back and genital area.

On the face and scalp, there are as many as 400-900 sebaceous glands per square centimetre — compared to just 100 glands per square cm on average for other areas of the body. This explains why we tend to feel more “oily” on our face (and in particular, the t-zone) compared to elsewhere on our bodies.

Note that sebum is NOT the same as sweat. While sweat is primarily water, sebum is made up of triglycerides, fatty acids, wax esters, squalene, and cholesterol.

As estheticians we typically hear clients complain about sebum but, it actually plays an important role in skin health. In particular, it helps lubricate and protect the skin, as well as prevent a certain level of dehydration. However, when sebum production becomes imbalanced problems can begin to arise in the skin.

Causes of Acne

While many factors can lead to the development of acne, the mechanism that causes all acne is the same. Essentially, a combination of corneocytes (hardened, late-stage keratinocytes) and sebum build up within a follicle and block oxygen from entering — creating an ideal environment for the anaerobicbacteria c. acnes (previously p. acnes) to proliferate. In some cases, this blockage can become inflammatory trigger an immune response).

Note: Acne bacteria was recently reclassified from p. acnes to c. acnes with the recent discovery that this bacteria is not more present within the skin of those who suffer from acne — but actually it is more likely to become inflammatory due to the specific conditions of one’s skin. It is the presence of an inflammatory response to c. acnes bacteria that makes a skin condition truly acne vulgaris

The sebum and skin cells within a follicle react with the c. acnes bacteria present, causing it to proliferate and increasing the likelihood that an infection will develop. An infection triggers our natural immune response: white blood cells rush to the area to heal the infection, inflaming the surrounding cells and increasing sebum production, which can further block oxygen from the pore. In turn the inflammation increases, which can create pustular or cystic acne in more severe cases.

There are many factors that can lead to or contribute to the conditions that result in acne. Some common ones include:

-Use of heavy cosmetics

-Candida overgrowth in the gut

-Hormonal imbalances or fluctuations in androgen levels (caused by hypothyroidism, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, or even a normal menstrual cycle)

-Stress (which triggers the overproduction of cortisol, resulting in increased sebum production)

-Food sensitivities (for example, dairy, sugar and gluten may trigger inflammation)

-Overly drying or “stripping” products that disrupt the skin’s natural moisture factor (aka the NMF) causing overproduction of sebum

-Genetic predisposition

-Environmental factors such as humidity or pollution

-Over keratinization (build-up of corneocyte cells in the stratum corneum)

-Fatty, rich or fried foods (may contribute to higher levels of inflammatory fatty acids within sebum).

Types of Acne

  1. Open Comedones (aka blackheads):Follicles that have formed a block or “plug”of sebum at the surface of the skin. Exposure to the environment causesoxidation of the sebum, creating the darkgrey or black colour.
  2. Closed Comedones (aka whiteheads):Similar to open comedones, however, a layerof corneocyte cells are protecting thesebum plug from oxygen exposure andoxidization.
  3. Papules: Pimples that appear as a red and elevatedbump on the skin. They develop whensebum and keratinocyte build up and c.acnes inflammation begins to form underthe skin.
  4. Pustules: Papules that have become overburdenedwith sebum and bacteria, causing visibleinflammation of the follicle – including pus(what we see as a “white head”)that appears at the surface of the skin.
  5. Cysts: Large, deep pustules that form when thecontents of the pustule burst through thefollicle wall, causing a spread ofinfection into the surrounding areas underthe skin. They usually appear as a large, redor boil-like lump at the surface of the skin.
  6. Nodules: Similar to cysts, nodules are pustules formed deep under the skin – however, they have not yet “burst” through the follicle wall. Instead, with no place to go, the inflammatory contents harden and nodules appear as large, skin colored or red lumps under the skin. Their depth makes them difficult to treat and they can often take weeks or even months to heal.

Grades of Acne

Grade 1 acne is considered MILD ACNE and is characterized by the presence of comedones (i.e. blackheads and white heads), and a few or infrequent papules and pustules.

Grade 2 acne is considered MODERATE ACNE and is characterized by the presence of comedones like in grade 1, as well as more consistent papules and pustules. Bothgrade 1 and 2 acne is typically confined tothe face.

Grade 3 acne is considered MODERATE TO SEVERE ACNE and is characterized by the presence of papules and pustules, as well asoccasional cysts or nodules. Grade 3 acnemay also present on the back and chest.

Grade 4 acne is considered SEVERE NODULOCYSTIC ACNE. Grade 4 acne is characterized by large, painfulpustules, cysts and nodules with significant inflammation. Often grade 4 acne will spreadto the back and chest as well.

Acne Management

While there is no cure for acne, it can be managed with lifestyle modifications and by the skincare products we use. Acne is very complex and there are usually multiple nuanced factors contributing to active acne- I highly recommend consulting with a professional before taking matters into your own hands.

Although it can be really frustrating, the good news is that all acne is essentially the same in that it starts with a clogged pore, and there are universal steps that can be taken for relief.

 It can be so tempting, but the most important step is to avoid picking or popping pimples. First, we’re interrupting the natural healing process and actually prolonging the condition. We’re also likely to spread the acne bacteria, giving it the opportunity to clog surrounding pores. And most importantly, we run the risk of rupturing the pore wall and spreading the infection further under the skin – which causes cysts and nodules. These more severe forms of acne take longer to heal and are more likely to scar due to being inflamed for a longer period of time. Post Inflammatroy Erythema (PIH) are the pesky post acne marks that linger for months or years, and are usually what bothers us the most about our acne.

Touching or picking at an acne lesion is a guarantee that there will be PIH left behind even once the acne is healed. While I know simple ‘not picking’ isn’t the quick fix you were hoping for, I promise consistency here is key when it comes to acne.

Ice your face! Using a cold compress multiple times a day helps bring down inflammation and relief from painful acne lesions.Always use a barrier on your skin and note that your face should never hurt from using ice.

Sunscreen sunscreen sunscreen. The more you apply, the less inflammation, and the less likelihood of scarring.

Hydrocolloid patches like the one from Hero Cosmetics are helpful in aiding the healing process and reducing inflammation aka lessening the chances of scarring.

Minimize inflammation in your diet. Sugar, gluten, alcohol and dairy are the biggest sources of inflammation from what we put in our mouths.

Stress management. The emotional and physical effects of stress take a toll on our bodies and can exacerbate acne.

Minimize bacteria being introduced to your face. This includes any type of face touching by any object, frequently changing pillow cases (3x a week), using bleach on towels and bedding, cleaning makeup brushes, washing your hands before washing your face, cleansing your scalp daily, and double cleansing your face in the shower twice daily.

For everything else related to your own personal acne management, it truly comes down to your unique needs and triggers. This almost always requires professional guidance so that you can get a skin education that lasts a lifetime.

I have personally suffered from acne for years, but after making some changes, I now manage my skin health with ease so I can get back to living my best life. The emotional and physical toll of acne is worth investing in yourself.

Love, Jess

The Many Benefits of Facial Massage

Facial massage not only feels amazing, but it also relieves tension, reduces stress, and increases circulation which plays an important role in skin aging. Many of us tend to hold stress in our faces and frequent facial massages are great for both relaxation and skin health. Who doesn’t love a little TLC with the science to back it up?

One of the challenges that we face due to aging is a decrease in circulation, which includes reduced blood flow to our skin. This is important because nourishment is brought to basal cells in the epidermis from the blood vessels (aka capillaries) found in the dermis. These blood nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water, and oxygen are all necessary for our cells to function properly. It has been shown that as we age skin blood flow decreases significantly. There is about a 40% reduction from ages 20-70 years old (Tsuchida, 1993). This likely reflects age-related changes in the microcirculation throughout the body.

“The microcirculation is defined as the blood flow through arterioles, capillaries and venules, which are the smallest vessels in the vasculature and are embedded within organs and tissues. Microcirculation provides tissue perfusion, fluid homeostasis, delivery of oxygen and other nutrients, as well as controlling temperature and the inflammatory response. Age-associated delays in microvascular responses to stressors lead to impairments in processes that are pivotal for wound healing” (Bentov, I., & Reed, M. J. (2015).

As with all other components of healthy skin, it cannot be achieved without a focus on overall health. Other strategies that can help to improve the function of microcirculation include; physical activity, optimizing inflammatory responses, and attention to deficiencies in growth factors, sex steroids, or the extracellular matrix.

As for the blood flow to your skin, a 2018 study showed that five minutes of facial massage produces short term effects of increased skin blood flow to the treated area for at least ten minutes after the massage. Continuous massage over a five-week period had long term effects on skin blood flow and vasodilation. These results imply that long-term continuous facial massages may improve the skin’s vascular function through the residual effects. This means better healing, better functioning cells, and happier glowing skin.

Benefits of regular facial massage:

  • Relieves tension in facial muscles
  • May help increase circulation when done regularly
  • Increased blood flow accelerates healing in the skin
  • Increased blood flow to the tissue helps to nourish, heal and hydrate your skin

Wether you’re receiving professional facial massage or giving yourself one at home, the main goal is to manipulate the tissue, relieve tension, and increase circulation. A few guidelines I’d recommend for self-massage are to use a product for slip and moisture, work in upward motions, and find what feels good for you. Tools such as gua-sha stones and massage rollers are optional, although not necessary. Your hands are the best tool you could ask for. So, get in there with your serums, moisturizers, masks, or while cleansing your face in the shower and treat yourself to a facial massage. You’ll be glowing in no time.

My favorite home-care products for massage medium;

ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense

And if you’re looking for a pro facial massage, you’re in the perfect place. At Sapien, our facials are fully customizable and can be massage focused upon request (P.S. it’s as amazing as it sounds). Click here to read our facial FAQs and schedule your appointment.




Bentov, I., & Reed, M. J. (2015). The effect of aging on the cutaneous microvasculature. Microvascular research, 100, 25–31.

Holowatz, L. A., Thompson-Torgerson, C., & Kenney, W. L. (2010). Aging and the control of human skin blood flow. Frontiers in bioscience (Landmark edition), 15(2), 718–739.

Tsuchida Y. The effect of aging and arteriosclerosis on human skin blood flow. J Dermatol Sci. 1993 Jun;5(3):175-81. doi: 10.1016/0923-1811(93)90764-g. PMID: 8241073.

Miyaji A, Sugimori K, Hayashi N. Short- and long-term effects of using a facial massage roller on facial skin blood flow and vascular reactivity. Complement Ther Med. 2018 Dec;41:271-276. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.09.009. Epub 2018 Sep 14. PMID: 30477852.

Why Sun Shields and UPF Clothing Are Essential

When it comes to safe and healthy sun habits, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to create a strategy and stick to it. While we know that it’s essential to be diligent with your sunscreen year round, clothing is the most reliable option for UV protection, especially during the summer months. It requires no reapplication, provides consistent coverage, and you can look cute while doing it. Enter; UPF clothing and Bluestone Shields. If you’ve seen us at Sapien then you’re no stranger to Bluestone Sunshields and you’re probably well aware of our love for them. This is because they’re the ultimate UPF protection for your skin and we highly recommend them to everyone to protect your investment.

How does UPF differ from SPF?

UPF measures the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate fabric and reach your skin. Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, is based on the time it takes for UV-exposed skin to redden; if you burn after 20 minutes, if used correctly, an SPF 15 sunscreen may protect your skin 15 times longer. Another important distinction: UPF measures both UVB and UVA rays, while SPF measures only UVB. This is why it’s important to search for UVA/UVB broad spectrum protection in a sunscreen. For a deeper dive on UV radiation and the importance of sunscreen, click here to read “Why You Should Wear SPF Everyday (and reapply)”

Factors that affect UPF rating in clothing:

(Source: Skin Cancer Foundation – Sun Protective Clothing)

  • Color: Dark or bright colors keep UV rays from reaching your skin by absorbing them rather than allowing them to penetrate. That’s why these colors offer better protection than lighter shades.
  • Construction: Densely woven cloth, like denim, canvas, wool or synthetic fibers, are more protective than sheer, thin or loosely woven cloth. Check a fabric’s sun safety by holding it up to the light. If you can see through, UV radiation can easily penetrate the fabric and reach your skin.
  • Content: The composition of your fabric really matters. Unbleached cotton contains natural lignins that act as UV absorbers. Shiny polyesters and even lightweight satiny silks can be highly protective because they reflect radiation. High-tech fabrics treated with chemical UV absorbers or dyes prevent some penetration from UV rays. Fabrics that have the highest UPF 50+ rating are lycra/elastanes, plastic, and nylon while polyester and cotton provide less consistent UPF.
  • Fit: Loose-fitting apparel is preferable. Tight clothing can stretch and reduce the level of protection offered, as the fibers pull away from each other and allow more UV light to pass through.
  • UPF: Some clothing makers provide UPF labels, which indicate exactly how much of the sun’s rays the garment can shield. Look for our Seal of Recommendation whenever you shop.
  • Coverage: The more skin your outfit covers, the better your protection. Whenever possible, choose long-sleeved shirts and long pants or skirts.
  • Activity: Regardless of UPF, if your clothing gets stretched or wet, it will lose some of its protective ability and become more transparent, exposing your skin to more UV light.

UPF hats and shields:

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are the most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 90 percent of all skin cancers, and often appear on the head and neck. Wide brimmed hats and sun shields help to protect your scalp and face from dangerous UV rays. As with clothing, not all hats and UV visors are created equally. Be sure to search for hats that are wide brimmed, tightly woven, and shields that offer adequate UV protection.

  • Wide brim: The best hats for sun protection have a brim of at least four inches to shade the face, scalp, neck, shoulders, upper back, tops of the ears and back of the neck. We recommend 9 inches for full face coverage.
  • Tight knit: Look for a tightly woven hat rather than a loosely constructed straw hat that lets in the UV radiation.

UPF clothing, hats, and shields that we love:

Cynthia Rowley Wetsuits and Rash guards

  • SPF 50+
  • Fabric content: 80% neoprene, 20% nylon

Lack of Color hats

  • UPF 50+
  • Wide brimmed options

Bluestone Sunshield

  • Blocks 99% UVA/UVB/UVC rays
  • Protects from Blue Light
  • ANSI Z80.3 Approved (American National Standards Institute)
  • Heat Resistant / Adjustable / Transparent Lens
  • Ideal for long days in the sun, post- treatment protection, and ultimate sun protection
  • Bluestone Sunshields start with the same processes of mixing UV filtering material into the lens. The processes allows for 99.0% UV rays to blocked.  For the Clear Lux Shield, after this step the lens would then go into production.
  • Anything with a tint or color treatment has a few extra steps which also add additional blocking capabilities.  Our Black Lux Shields have UV Blocking + Tint which allows for closer to 99.5% and our Colored Shields (Rainbow, Chrome, Mermaid) have Color Treatment + UV Blocking + Tint which allows for closer to 99.9% UV Blocking.”

Remember, healthy is sexy! Stay safe this summer and you can look cute while doing it.

For more UPF clothing, follow these links from the Skin Cancer Foundation; “To help you choose your sun-safe products, look for The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation and check our Product Finder.”




Gambichler, T., Altmeyer, P., & Hoffmann, K. (2002). Role of clothes in sun protection. Recent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progres dans les recherches sur le cancer160, 15–25.

Adam J. (1998). Sun-protective clothing. Journal of cutaneous medicine and surgery3(1), 50–53.

Sun Protective Clothing. The Skin Cancer Foundation. (2021, May 28). 

FAQ. (n.d.). Bluestonesunshield. Retrieved 2022, from

Skin Care: The Foundation of Results

You know we LOVE our sunscreen at Sapien. However, as bonafide skin care junkies, we also can’t be asked to live without retinol, antioxidants, cleanser, moisturizer, and exfoliation. These are key products that almost always must be accounted for in order to have a comprehensive routine that will harmoniously cleanse, protect, heal, hydrate, renew, and nourish our skin.

It’s important to note that selecting your own routine, cherry picking your routine, not using professional products, using products with zero or low efficacy, or skipping your routine altogether will not generate results. Depending on what you’re using and where your skin is at, sometimes this can even make situations worse.

The answer to most skin related questions is, “well that depends,” because there are a multitude of factors coming into play.

In order to create results we must master the art of daily skin care at home. 

Our skin  almost instantaneously reflects back to us our actions and our environment because it takes on the most damage, and receives the least support from our body while being our largest organ, and also a protective barrier from our surroundings. This incredible organ is a real time mirror, and needs support from all of our other systems in order to function optimally. 

Our skin continues to improve the most with daily care because that is simply what it requires. Continually protecting your skin from light (aka radiation), supplementing topically with daily vitamins, antioxidants and moisture, as well as removing debris and build up has the most meaningful impact on our skin. Skipping one day of your routine, or just one sunscreen application, can set you back.

Everyone wants one product and one treatment, but that does not exist. In order to create results, we must diligently follow the instructions provided by our skincare professional on a daily basis. Home-care (especially sunscreen) is where the bulk of your results will come from because or skin requires consistent daily support.

Coming to monthly treatments alone will get you no where, and you may not be eligible for most regenerative skincare treatments without proper use of home-care. This isn’t to gate keep or to up-sell you, but to keep you and your skin safe and healthy. Once you have mastered home-care and are also incorporating treatments and practicing a healthy lifestyle, that’s when exciting physical changes start to happen.

It’s a marathon, not a race. You got this babe.

With Love,


The Secret Damage of Sunless Tanning

Sunless tanning has famously been marketed as a healthy alternative to tanning induced by ultraviolet radiation. However, there is data to support that dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active tanning agent in sunless tanning products may have adverse health effects.

There is no such thing as a healthy tan.

DHA causes a “Malliard reaction” when contacting proteins in the outer layer of the epidermis. During the Malliard reaction, sugars in DHA react with cell proteins causing oxidation of the sugar derivatives, which causes a cascade of chain reactions leading to cell trauma and free radical injury to the skin.

DNA glycation is a process of reducing sugars that damage nucleic acids and then create Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). AGEs are formed via the Maillard reaction caused by DHA.

Excessive amounts of AGEs in body tissues or circulation can become pathogenic, causing oxidative stress and inflammation, which alter the structure and function of proteins. AGEs have been associated with the development of chronic degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Aside from the damage our DNA takes on from DHA, there are other risks associated for consumers who spray tan.

The FDA has not approved the use of DHA products applied via aerosols because of exposure to areas such as eyes, lips, nose, mouth. Some physicians have expressed concern about spray tan use increasing the risk of pulmonary diseases, asthma, and cancer.

Undoubtedly, there are consequences that come with fake tanning, whether it comes as a lotion or an aerosol.

So what can you do?

Throw away the mindset that tanning is an ideal beauty standard, and start to see it for what it really is, because it is in fact an injury to your skin that leads to premature aging.

Remember to always wear protective clothing, sunscreen like this one, and get your skin checked regularly by a dermatologist. Your natural skin tone is beautiful, and your health should always be your first choice.

Bursting your Bubble With Love, 


B;, Petersen AB;Wulf HC;Gniadecki R;Gajkowska. “Dihydroxyacetone, the Active Browning Ingredient in Sunless Tanning Lotions, Induces DNA Damage, Cell-Cycle Block and Apoptosis in Cultured HaCaT Keratinocytes.” Mutation Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 

Gallagher, Mary. “Exposure to Dihydroxyacetone in Sunless Tanning Products:… : Journal of the Dermatology Nurses’ Association.” LWW,