Hannah Sowd
The Serious Skin Care Blog

Ultra Hydrating Facial with Custom Serum

Do you ever feel like your skin needs a drink of water? I decided to incorporate my love of mixing custom, oil-based, skin serums into a luxurious hydrating treatment and the Ultra Hydrating Facial was born. Each session includes a serum designed specifically for the needs of your skin, you even get a 1/2 ounce bottle to take home after the treatment!

The ultimate in hydration! This session begins with a gentle cleansing and beta hydroxy enzyme exfoliation under steam. Minimal extractions are performed before the skin is quenched with a oil based serum custom blended specifically for your skin. A pampering face and neck massage awakens dull, dry skin before the soothing gel mask is applied. Ultrasound technology is used to enhance the performance of the mask as well as firm the skin. A half ounce bottle of your custom serum is included for continued care at home.

Book your session online HERE::

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

How to get adequate Vitamin D

There is a lot of information floating around about Vitamin D, it can get very confusing!

As of November 2010, the recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults is a minimum of 600 IU  and a maximum of 4,000 IU.

The three vitamin D "super foods" are:
    •    Salmon
    •    Mackerel
    •    Mushrooms exposed to ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D

4 ounces of Wild Salmon contains 511 IU so it can be difficult get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from food alone.  I prefer a supplement like  Emergen-C which contains 1000 IU of Vitamin D and 500 MG of Vitamin C along with Calcium and other goodies.

Other food sources of vitamin D include:

    •    Cod liver oil
    •    Tuna canned in water
    •    Sardines canned in oil
    •    Milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D
    •    Beef or calf liver
    •    Egg yolks
    •    Cheese
Exposing your skin to UVB rays is an easy way to absorb Vitamin D as long as you are careful. For most people 10 minutes of direct sunlight per day is enough. This is not an excuse to skip the sunscreen on your face!

Tanning beds offer only UVA rays, not UVB rays so they will not affect your Vitamin D levels.

Fun fact:

Redheads burn more easily when exposed to UV rays, but their paleness can serve as an advantage. Their lower melanin-concentration actually allows them to produce their own Vitamin D within their body when exposed to low light conditions.

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

Skin Care Advice for Sun Junkies!

Summer will be here before we know it and I have a few clients that can't get enough of the sun's warm rays. Whether it's regular vacations to Hawaii or outdoor sports, the end result from sun exposure is the same.

Most importantly, be honest with yourself and your skin care therapist about your sun habits. This empowers you to make a plan together that will allow for your skin to be at it's best without creating further damage.

Use an antioxidant serum every day. Layer it under your sunscreen for increased protection and to combat the free radicals associated with sun exposure.

Moisturize your entire body every day; use a rich cocoa butter, skin oil or antioxidant vitamin C body lotion.

I've seen articles recommending coconut oil as a "natural sunscreen". Coconut oil has a naturally occurring SPF of 7 so it will protect you for 7 times longer than the amount of time it takes your skin begin to burn in the sun; about 45 minutes to an hour.

I recommend using a sunscreen containing zinc oxide, like Suntegrity, while in the sun, save the coconut oil to moisturize afterwards!

Minimize your exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the peak hours of 10am-2pm. Wear a hat with a large brim to shade your face and thin layers to give your body a break from the sun when on the beach.

If you can't get enough of the golden glow, opt for a sunless spray tan. Companies like SunFX have perfected their products so no one will be the wiser!

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

Beauty Product Buyers Remorse!

It happens to the best of us; in the relaxed haze of an island vacation (or the sleepy haze of a late night infomercial) we purchase a slew of skin care products that are all wrong for our skin.

The first step is always check the return policy, many companies will allow returns or exchanges of the unused portion within 30 days of purchase.

If your stuck with the product, don't fret. There are creative ways to make use of items not suited for our complexion!

Creams that are too heavy for the face are wonderful to use on the body. The night cream that clogged the pores on you face will do wonders for your dry cuticles and hands. Same goes for oil based serums.

Retinol, AHA, and glycolic products that prove too strong for your face will smooth your rough elbows and heels in no time. Same goes for harsh facial scrubs.

Creamy cleanser too creamy for your oily skin? Most cream cleansers can do double duty as an eye makeup remover.

Foaming cleanser drying out your combination skin? Use it as a body wash, especially good for areas like the chest and back which might be prone to break outs.

Resist the urge to stow these items away in your beauty closet, they will just sit there until they expire and you'll waste them entirely. Get creative!

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

The Anti-Aging Food Pyramid

Hannah Sowd is
a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of
Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

Eye Lash Growth Serum

Q: Do eyelash growth serums work? What is the difference between prescription and over the counter products?

A: These serums contain ingredients which extend the anagen or growth period of the natural cycle of eye lash growth as well as conditioners to improve the look of the lashes. They have been proven to be very effective when used consistently.

Bimatoprost is the only ingredient proven effective by lab studies and currently, Allergan (the makes of Latisse) has exclusive rights to its use. It was originally used in glaucoma medication to relieve pressure in the eyes and a side effect was longer, thicker eye lashes. It has been proven safe to use for everyone except those with a history of glaucoma.

Latisse claims to make the eye lashes darker over time but I have not personally seen this result nor have any of my clients. Some people do experience irritation or a darkening of the skin along the lash line.

Consistency is key, you must use the serum daily for 90 days to achieve the maximum results then a few times a week for maintenance.  

The over the counter products you see on the market are "lash conditioners" or "lash enhancers" and because of Allergan's patent, they cannot contain bimatoprost. They might make your lashes healthier but not necessarily longer. Many popular companies have been forced to reformulate their products over the past few years, make sure to check the ingredients and read the label so you know what your are purchasing!

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

Delicious DIY Body Scrub

This is a post from guest blogger Jacquelyn Omotalade, lifestyle blogger and founder of Ruth Omosunbo.

The weather outside is frightening!

I have a tough time keeping my skin moisturized.  The changing weather temperatures are brutal on my skin.  I pine for the skin of a newborn baby – soft and delicate.  I have found a DIY body scrub that helps me get it. 

I am very wary of a lot of over the counter lotions and creams.  If, I can’t understand or pronounce the words on the back of the container, how do I know the products are safe for my body. 

My concerns lead me to develop my own products for my skin at home and the results have been fabulous.  One of my favorite products is my brown sugar and Coffee scrub.  It has worked miracles on my skin.  I use it 2-3 times a week and find that it helps my skin stay soft and moisturized.


2 cups of coffee grinds

1.5  cups of dark muscovado sugar

2 cups of coconut oil (liquid form)

2 cups of olive oil

2 tablespoons of ginger powder

2 tablespoons of cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon of tee tree oil

½ cup of vegetable glycerin

2 12-16 oz air tight containers 

I first add the coffee grinds and sugar into a clean bowl.  Add the coconut oil and stir the mixture together.  Next add the ginger and cinnamon powders and tea tree oil.  Mix the ingredients together.  They should begin to form a paste.  Mix in the olive oil and glycerin. Make sure the paste is completely mixed together.

Coat the inside of the air tight container with coconut oil.  Pour the paste into the container. 

To use, take a shower as you normally do, then turn off the water and scrub your whole body with the exception of your face with the body scrub.  Rub as much of the scrub as you can off your body, then rinse your body off with luke warm water.  Pat your skin dry and go about your day. 

Jacquelyn Omotalade is a socially conscious lifestyle blogger, founder of Ruth Omosunbo, a batik and textile boutique founded to enrich the lives of artisans around the world and one of my favorite all around divas! She currently resides in San Francisco.

How can I fix my rough, dry heels?

Q: My heels are dry and rough from the winter weather, what can I do to fix this?

A: You can have smooth the feet, the key is consistent care.

1. Purchase a basic pumice stone and use it daily in the shower. The goal is to remove the dead skin cells so the moisturizer can penetrate.

2. After you shower, apply a glycolic acid cream to the area continue the exfoliation process and add moisture.

3. Before you go to bed, apply a thick layer of a rich cream like shea butter or cocoa butter all over your feet and put on socks. You don't need the fancy socks designed to smooth your feet, just an old pair you don't mind getting dirty.

Continue this routine daily until your feet are soft and smooth then at least once a week for maintenance.

Many nail salons offer fancy pedicure that include shaving off callouses with a blade. If your feet are heavily calloused, check with a podiatirst before having any invasive treatment. Done incorrectly, it can lead to infection and long term foot pain.

Hannah Sowd is a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of
Hannah Sowd Skin Care .

Please help me win a small business grant!

Enzyme Therapy: Exfoliating Mask

Exfoliation is such an important part of any skin care routine and there are many options on the market. Most products fall into one of three categories: physical, chemical or enzyme. I prefer an enzyme because they are gentle yet very effective when used correctly.

Enzyme Therapy: Exfoliating Mask employs beta hydroxy acids as well as fruit enzymes from pumpkin and pomegranate to lift dead skin cells and release oxidized sebum from the pores.

This gel mask is designed to be used 1-3 times per week, depending on your skin. Apply a thin layer to clean, damp skin and spread evenly over the face. Allow the product to sit for 3-5 minutes- this is when the magic happens! Rinse clean with cool water and apply a serum or moisturizer.

Enzyme masks can be a little more time consuming than a scrub or an acid but the results are worth it.

Hannah Sowd is
a San Francisco based esthetician and massage therapist. She is the owner of
Hannah Sowd Skin Care .


Recent Posts

  1. Ultra Hydrating Facial with Custom Serum
    Wednesday, April 09, 2014
  2. How to get adequate Vitamin D
    Sunday, March 30, 2014
  3. Skin Care Advice for Sun Junkies!
    Wednesday, March 19, 2014
  4. Beauty Product Buyers Remorse!
    Sunday, March 09, 2014
  5. The Anti-Aging Food Pyramid
    Wednesday, February 26, 2014
  6. Eye Lash Growth Serum
    Sunday, February 16, 2014
  7. Delicious DIY Body Scrub
    Tuesday, February 04, 2014
  8. How can I fix my rough, dry heels?
    Sunday, January 26, 2014
  9. Please help me win a small business grant!
    Thursday, January 16, 2014
  10. Enzyme Therapy: Exfoliating Mask
    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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