Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Realities of Being an Esthetician April 2, 2014

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I’ve written different posts about being an esthetician before, but frankly I never posted anything downright negative about the realities of being an esthetician.  I don’t want this post to be negative; I want this post to be real. I got thinking about this post since a few weeks ago when a friend of mine asked me via Facebook why I became an esthetician and if I thought it would be a good profession for her to perhaps consider.  The last week I received the following blog update from celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau about being an esthetician, and then today I read this.

The “about” section of my blog already explains why I became an esthetician so I won’t go over all of that again here.  Instead I want to focus on the realities of being an esthetician – both the good and the bad.  Let’s start with the not so great things about being an esthetician.  You finish esthetics school excited to start working. You can’t wait to help people feel great about themselves by improving their skin or teaching them how to properly apply make-up or make them feel good by removing unwanted body hair and then reality hits. It can be very hard to find a job after finishing esthetics school since you have no experience and everyone wants to hire someone with experience.  Additionally, finding the right job for you as an esthetician well that is something that sometimes feels impossible.  Simply put – this isn’t an easy profession to break into and it isn’t an easy profession to succeed in.  Estheticians have to be ready to work nights and weekends, to put up with jobs that only pay you per service and have no benefits, to feel pressure to sell products to clients even if you don’t think they need products or they can’t afford them because if you don’t sell what is considered enough product you get harassed by your manager, and to even, in some cases, have the cost of the products you use during treatments deducted from the pay you receive for the service you  just performed.  These are all standard employment practices for estheticians.  So instead you think it would be better to work for yourself – great, right? Where are your clients going to come from?  Are you good at marketing?  Do you have the budget to properly market yourself and to buy all the products and equipment you need to work independently?  And you are still working nights and weekends even when you are self-employed.  And did I mention that you won’t be getting rich being an esthetician?  This isn’t a very high paying profession for the most part (the celebrity esthetician you see quoted in magazines are few in number).   And are you ready for no-show clients?  Late clients?  Rude clients?  Let’s be frank – being an esthetician means being part of an industry that requires hard work, long hours, and paying your dues.  There really isn’t any overnight success to becoming a successful esthetician.  If you want to succeed in this profession you have to love it and put up with a lot in the process.

I had a number of teachers at esthetics school and each of them was very different from the other.  Despite their differences one of the things I appreciated about each of my teachers was their honesty about what it was really like to work as an esthetician since all my teachers worked and taught.  One teacher in particularly was a bit of a “Debbie Downer” when it came to the realities of working at a day spa, but in retrospect her honesty, though brutal at times, was helpful.  For instance I still haven’t forgotten how she told us how much she hated doing facials for pregnant women (when an esthetician has a pregnant client we always lift the head of the bed up so the client is pretty much sitting instead of lying and then you end up doing most of the facial while standing) because of how tiring it was for her stand during an entire facial.  Because of my teachers’ honesty I finished esthetics school knowing that working as an esthetician wasn’t going to be a bed of roses and believe me that is what I found out.  As a matter of fact the worst job I ever had, hands down, was one esthetician job that I had not so long after finishing esthetics school.  I’m about to turn 39 and I’ve been working since I was 16, and have held a lot of jobs in many work environments in two different countries, so believe me when I say that if that job was the worst one I’ve ever had it really was.

I mentioned Renee Rouleau’s blog post, My Tips For Having a Successful Career As An Esthetician on the mark, others irked me greatly.  Some of the good things from her post include the following:

What tips do you have for a new esthetician right out of school?

It is a fact that a large percentage of people who go through the effort and investment of attending and graduating from esthetics school will never end up practicing esthetics or will do so for a short time. I believe this is because they could not find a job or if they did, the job was not the right fit for them. My advice is to explore every option for employment, but be sure to only apply for a position that best suits your style and personality.

This is very true.  Also a lot of esthetics students give up on an esthetics career after school because full-time, well-paying employment as an esthetician is very hard to come by, and they simply cannot support themselves and/or their families working only as an esthetician.

Some of things I don’t entirely agree with from the post:

What jobs are out there for estheticians?

What I love about being an esthetician is that there are many options for places of employment. There are day spas, hair salons that have a skin treatment room (this is where I got my start), skin care spas (like the two I have in Dallas), hotel spas, cruise line spas, medical spas, department store spas associated with a skin care line and resort spas. If you prefer not to be a service provider, there are still many options. You can become a representative for a skin care line that is sold to department stores, medical offices, or spas so you would provide education and training classes to your various accounts, as well as work at trade shows. You can work in a retail environment selling a line at the department store counter (they LOVE hiring estheticians) or other beauty retailers. You can also become an independent contractor and be on-call to work at various spas or even be a freelance esthetician. It is also possible to become an educator and work as a teacher at your local esthetics school. Another option is to become an entrepreneur and develop your own skin care line.

All of the above are valid career paths for estheticians but take the time to think about those jobs.  They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy job options.  Being an independent contractor or a freelance esthetician usually means uncertain hours which means uncertain pay and of course no benefits or job security.  How many people can live like that?  If you have a family there is just no way you can support your children with a job like that.  Becoming a skincare line rep is good for someone who is great at sales and doesn’t want to spend their days in the same place, but once again this is a difficult job were you are usually met by a lot of rejection and your salary is mostly (or entirely) paid by commissions.  Lastly, how fabulous to be able to develop your own skincare line, right?  But realistically who has the money for that?

And now for the part of the post that really got me steamed:

I love that a career as an esthetician offers a very flexible schedule. Many places offer both part and full-time schedules so if you have another career or have children, this is ideal. I have employed many estheticians who were once full-time and now work part-time after having children.

Has Rouleau ever had a part-time job?  Does she realize how little a part-time esthetics job actually pays?  And even if you work part-time as an esthetician I can guarantee that you will be asked to work nights and weekends.  Now if you’re a parent – what do you do about childcare?  Finding and then paying for the right babysitter or daycare is one of the hardest things any parent faces.  And of course if you are working part-time forget about getting any benefits with your job.

And now for the great part of the post:

How can an esthetician build a clientele?

It truly takes a long, long time to really build up a good, repeat clientele. The reason is because you will not connect with every client, and not every client will connect with you. Being an esthetician is a relationship-based profession. My best tip for this is to mimic their personality. If they are not much of a talker, then don’t talk their ear off. You have to be a chameleon with every client.

Try paying close attention to body language. Asking specific questions on your client intake form that gives you insight into their expectations will go a long way. One of my favorite questions is “What are you goals for today’s visit?” I then provide various options they can check off on the form ranging from “stress relief” to “I want to learn how to care for my skin.” Depending on all that they select, I will make sure to create an experience that gives them exactly what they ask for. I will also discuss their goals during our consultation to make sure I have complete clarity. Having a client leave getting exactly what they wanted will help build the relationship and ensure they will come back to see you again.

In my opinion this advice is spot-on.  It isn’t always easy to meet clients needs and expectations.  Every esthetician eventually has the experience of thinking that they just bonded with a client and gave them a great facial only to hear back something negative from the client in the end.  It always helps to remember that even if you did give a client the greatest facial of her life she just might not be happy and a lot of time it has nothing at all to do with you.  Not everyone is going to like you.  Period.

Rouleau’s advice continues:

Another way to build a clientele is to give out free skin treatments. When you have an empty schedule, your goal is to fill it with clients. And waiting around for them to shell out money for a skin treatment that is often considered a luxury will leave you with an empty room and time on your hands. Make some really nice gift certificates and gift it to your friends, family, and anyone you come in contact with that you feel would be a good fit for you. Let them experience the services you provide at no charge because the more faces you can get your hands on, the more they can spread the word for you. Many of them may love the results and want to come back as a paying client. At the end of the appointment, give them a few of those free gift certificates and ask them to give it to their friends who they think would be a good client for you. Who would not love giving the gift of beautiful skin? Hands down, word of mouth with a referral will trump any other advertising or marketing opportunity. If you work this strategy long enough, and you give a treatment focused on managing expectations, you will no longer have an empty schedule. I promise.

I do agree that the best possible way to get clients is through word of mouth but giving away services isn’t always the answer to getting more clients, in my opinion.  In my experience once people receive a service for free they do not want to pay for it ever and they rarely refer their friends.  If you give away too many services you are simply losing a lot of money; esthetics products are expensive even with your esthetician discount.  I would recommend instead to give certain services at a discount and to sell products at a discounted rate to a select group of people who hopefully will spread the word about what a great esthetician you are.  Be careful who is in that group.  Unfortunately a lot of people will be more than happy to take advantage of your generosity.

Rouleau’s blog post continues with some more solid advice for the aspiring or struggling esthetician.  It is definitely worth reading even if, like me, you don’t agree with everything she has to say.

So I will readily admit that up until now this post hasn’t been entirely positive.  Of course there are lots of things that I love about being an esthetician- for instance, meeting new and interesting people, getting to know my clients on a personal level (I’ve met some amazing people through my work as an esthetician),  and feeling that I have had a positive impact on people’s lives through helping them care for their skin.  I always wanted to be part of a profession that would allow me to continue to learn and being an esthetician certainly is such a profession – there is always something new and interesting to learn as an esthetician in a variety of related fields from cosmetic science, to dermatology, and make-up innovations.  A lot of the ways I educate myself is through blogs and online magazines (on the right hand side of my blog you’ll find links to my favorite publications, blogs, etc.) and there are numerous courses that estheticians can take.  The problem is that these course usually cost money, a lot of money sometimes, but if you feel that you can eventually make that money back by providing a different or new service to your clients than investing in a course is important.

Another thing I like about being an esthetician are my fellow estheticians.  In my experience nasty estheticians are the exception not the rule.  Most estheticians are more than happy to share tips, ideas, and expertise with their fellow estheticians.  Estheticians truly help one another and to boot we are generally just a nice bunch of people.  There are also numerous groups on Linked In where estheticians help one another so even if you work solo you can be part of a network of estheticians.

I’ve been fortunate to have found a few mentors since becoming an esthetician.  The doctor I worked for in Chicago encouraged me and supported me immensely while I worked for her; she also took a leap of faith with me since I didn’t have much actual esthetics job experience when I applied to work for her.  She gave me a chance which was priceless.  Lately I’ve been encouraged by the advice I am receiving via email from estheticians in the oncology esthetics field in the US about how to market this important branch of esthetics in Israel.

If you are considering becoming an esthetician I encourage you to spend a day shadowing an esthetician to see what she really does during her work day.  In my opinion you really need to have a very strong passion for skincare and beauty in order to last in this profession.  Lastly, look before you leap.  As I already explained this isn’t an easy profession to break into and succeed in so be well aware of the challenges before you sign-up for esthetics school.

Resources and My Related Posts:

 

Reading Roundup March 17, 2014

It’s time for me to once again share a whole bunch of skincare and beauty related article that I thought you my readers would enjoy:

And now for a few articles for my fellow estheticians (and anyone else for that matter):

Happy Reading!

Image from http://www.theguardian.com

 

Check This Out: What I’ve Been Reading January 30, 2014

Lately I’ve read quite a number of interesting skincare related articles so I thought I would share them with my readers.

First up I wanted to talk about a website not an article, actually.  Caroline Hirons is a well-known esthetician in the UK.  I had actually looked at her website quite some time ago, but I recently rediscovered it through a tip from my loyal reader Rae (be sure to check out Rae’s blog Scatterbraintures!).  There is a lot of skincare information on this website.  I recommend reading the “cheat sheets”  (found on the right side of the home page) for solid, practical skincare advice.  If you do not live in England, I don’t, her product recommendations are not very relevant unfortunately.  While I do think that most of the skincare information that Hirons shares is great, there two things in particular that I disagree with her on.  The first is that Hirons keeps bashing products that contain mineral oil.  I wrote a long post in my blog about how mineral oil isn’t bad for the skin. If you haven’t already read my post (Why Does Mineral Oil Have Such A Bad Reputation?) please give it a look in order to get another perspective on this controversial skincare ingredient.  Secondly, Hirons seems to be a mission against foam cleansers (she claims they are needlessly drying and strip the skin).  I happen to disagree with this opinion as well.  I currently use a foam cleanser and do not find it drying at all.  So as with all skincare advice though I really do think that Hirons has mostly great skincare advice to share, be sure to keep an open mind and don’t think that everything she writes is true.

Now on to the articles I want to share:

If you’ve read any interesting skincare related articles lately please share links below!

Image from awesome-desktop.com

 

Looking Forward after Looking Back: 2013 Summary December 31, 2013

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Peace & Love

Since today is the last day of 2013 it’s that time of the year:  the time for my annual end of the year blog summary!  Wordpress sent me their annual report with their end of the year statistics about my blog: which posts were most popular, how readers found my blog, which posts received the most comments, etc., etc.  Though I always enjoy looking at my official WordPress statistics, this year I decided I wanted to do my own year end summary, something a little more personal.  I thought I would share links to my favorite posts from this year.  (At the end of this post I will share a few statistics from the WordPress report)

2013 has been a significant year for me professionally.  I started working for myself from home; I am now my own boss.  (For more information about my business please visit my website www.hanahtetro.com.  The site is in both English and Hebrew)  Being my own boss is both exhilarating and scary at times, but I am excited by the challenge and look forward to building my skincare business and helping people love their skin.

I have to admit that I wrote fewer blog posts this year than I have in previous years.  Sometimes my skincare information muse seemed to leave me as the events of my life rushed around me this year.  I found it hard to find the time to write posts.   The posts I am listing below as my favorites from this past year maybe didn’t get the most views or comments, but I learned a lot by researching and writing the posts or just enjoyed sharing the information in the posts with my readers.

My favorite posts from this past year can be divided into a few categories:

Skin Conditions and Diseases:

Skincare From A Scientific Perspective (Or At Least I Tried to Present It as Such):

Obsessions or Skincare Issues and Products That I Keep Writing About:

New Features and Topics:

According to WordPress my most popular posts (those that got the most views) were all posts I wrote in previous years which WordPress says is good since that means my writing has staying power.  Thank you WordPress :).  Pinterest and Facebook, as in previous years, were the top referring sites to my blog, and my blog readers came from a total of 194 countries.

I want to thank all my readers from this past year and all those people who took time to write comments and ask me questions either here on my blog or via my Facebook page.  I love hearing from my readers all over the world!  Please keep your comments and questions coming.

I thought I would end this post with a little inspiration from Nelson Mandela.  Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy 2014!

Nelson Mandela

Quotes all found on Pinterest

 

For My Fellow Estheticians and For Aspiring Estheticians: Resources and Inspiration July 31, 2013

Spa day cake

No matter what industry you are in you know how important it is to keep improving and learning.  Everyone experiences burn out sometimes and needs inspiration in order to keep doing their best.  I’ve been thinking about these themes lately are they pertain to being an esthetician and thought I would share some articles, a book, and a website recommendation with my readers.  I know that quite a few estheticians read my blog (which makes me very happy) and aspiring estheticians as well.  Even if you aren’t an esthetician I hope that you’ll find this post helpful as well.

Book Recommendation

I just completed reading Lydia Sarfati’s book Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business and am so happy that I got a chance to read this book!  Sarfati is the founder and president of the skincare line Repechage and an experienced esthetics professional.  She started her career as an esthetician and now owns Repechage and spas; she is also a spa industry consultant.  This book shares  invaluable experience, expertise, and advice for all estheticians – from those just beginning their career to those who have been treating skin for a long time.  Sarfati outlines how to start your own successful business, how to hire and manage employees (as a spa employee myself I thought this chapter was great since so many spas mismanage their employees), how to achieve retail goals, how to market yourself and your spa, and lastly how to balance your work life with your personal life.  This book did a great job at touching on all the important issues that estheticians have to deal with while being very readable and relatable.  If you are thinking of starting your own spa business this book is a must read, and even if you work for someone else at the moment you’ll find valuable tips in this book about how to succeed as an esthetician.  Even if you don’t work in the esthetics field I think her advice can be very helpful.  The chapter about managing employees can certainly help all bosses, no matter what profession they are in.  Highly recommended!

Though this book has nothing to do with skincare lately I’ve been reminded how important our words are and which words we choose to use (or not to use in a lot of cases).  Those thoughts made me reread an old favorite called Togue Fu! .  Knowing how to communicate with our clients (and our managers and our coworkers) correctly makes us much better estheticians.  As a matter of fact, without good communications skills it doesn’t matter how much skincare knowledge we have as estheticians we just won’t succeed.  So if you feel like you need some help in the communication department I definitely recommend reading this book.

Recommended Blog 

If you are thinking about becoming an esthetician or have just finished esthetics school it can be hard to find real-life information about your chosen field.  Looking for a job, especially when you still don’t have experience, can seem overwhelming at times.  Recently I discovered the blog My Life as an Esthetician which provides readers with very valuable information about being an esthetician such as resume advice and possible career paths   once you have your license.  It is well worth checking out.

Recommended Reading

Skin Inc. has published a number of interesting articles lately on how to maintain and manage your client base:

Recommended Resource

I’m a little late to the game with recommending the following website/forum, Skin Care Professionals, but I’m very glad I finally found it.  I follow a few esthetician groups on Linked In and find them very helpful as a way to connect and learn from my fellow estheticians and this website provides another way to connect with your fellow estheticians.  Once your membership with the site is approved you can post and respond to questions in the forum section. Many times as esthetician we work solo or only with a few other estheticians so having a way to “talk” with other estheticians can be invaluable and career enriching.  I always tell people that one of the reasons I love being an esthetician is that estheticians, for the most part, are friendly and helpful to one another, always willing to dispense tips and advice to one another.

I hope this post has both inspired and helped my fellow estheticians and all other readers as well.  Wishing everyone lots of career success and happiness!

My Related Posts:

Image from pinterest.com

 

What Are Free Radicals? April 23, 2013

I’ve written about the importance of incorporating a cream or serum with antioxidants into your daily skincare routine in this blog before (see the list below of my related posts), but when I came across the following information about free radicals I thought I should address the subject of antioxidants from a different angle.  That angle, of course, would be to address the issue of free radicals more in-depth.

In their book Physiology of the Skin Drs. Draelos and Pugliese devote an entire chapter (chapter 8) to the subject of free radicals and the skin (those words also happen to be the title of the chapter).  I want to highlight some of the more accessible parts of the chapter (page 163):

A free radical is any atom or molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons and is capable of independent existence.  Oxygen, then, is a free radical.  In fact, oxygen is a diradical, which means it has two unpaired electrons.

Here, simplified, is the secret of the free radical – one or more unpaired electrons in a molecule or atom that can exist independently, and can react actively with other nearby molecules to alter or destroy them.  An example will make this concept more graphic and easier to remember.

Water contains hydrogen and oxygen.  It is a very simple molecule, and is written in chemical notation as either H2O or HOH.  The hydrogen atoms exactly balance the electronic charges in the oxygen atom to give us one molecule of water.  If only one molecule of hydrogen would react with the oxygen molecule, a free radical would exist, the deadly hydroxyl radical ·OH.  The little dot to the left of the “OH” formula means it is a free radical.  This ·OH is called the hydroxyl radical and is a very nasty free radical because it reacts immediately with any molecule adjacent to it to alter or destroy it.  It is a blessing that oxygen does not react with hydrogen in this manner to form hydroxyl radicals because life would be impossible if it did.

The chapter goes into great detail about oxygen – its chemistry, the molecule itself, the process and repercussions of oxidation, and oxidative stress.  On page 171 there is a graph that clearly shows how free radicals affect cells by damaging DNA, nerves, and all body tissues.  According to the book “it is the oxygen that you breathe which ultimately destroys your body”.

At the end of chapter eight in their book the doctors discuss a few specific ways free radicals specifically impact the skin and how to combat these subsequent skin problems.  The skin issues discussed are: skin inflammation, photo-damaged skin (sun damage), and aging skin.  For example when it comes to skin inflammation the doctors explain (page 177):

Any inflammatory response will involve free radical formation – no ifs, ands or buts.  If you see a red area that is tender and hot, it is inflamed and seething with free radical activity.  Superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radical will be there.  Iron will react with the superoxide and peroxide to form hydroxyl radicals, and produce great tissue destruction.

In her book Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Ellen Marmur explains, in easier to understand terms, how the sun damages our DNA and how the sun produces free radicals (page 138 in the hardcover copy):

Free radicals may sound like some kind of rock band, but they are toxic by-products in the body.  To make a very long and complex scientific phenomenon short, this is how they are produced through UV damage to cell’s DNA.

A photon (the sun’s laser beam) zaps through the cell membrane and cytoplasm, through the nuclear membrane (the safe, womb-like center of the cell), and hits the DNA.  Imagine DNA as being like two pieces of spaghetti laid parallel, with crosshatches all the way along like a ladder, then rolled up and twisted like an intricately knotted cuff link.  When a photon burns a hole into the DNA knot, it starts to unravel and the two sides of the ladder begin opening up.  The immune system immediately sends out enzymes to fix the problem.  (Enzymes are proteins that act as workers in the body, fixing damage by causing chemical reactions.)  One enzyme comes in and gobbles up the damaged portion; then it creates a new DNA rung to fix that ladder.  Another enzyme double-checks it, another seals it together, and another wraps it up into a nice, perfect knot again.  All these chemical reactions done to reconstruct damaged DNA give off toxic oxygen by-products, or free radicals.  Oxygen can be stable, with two electrons in its orbit, or, if it has only one electron (as free radicals do), it’s on fire – trying to steal an electron from another molecule in order to become stable.  An unstable oxygen molecule races around like a toddler with a pair of scissors or a Tasmanian devil, causing destruction to anything it its path until it runs out of energy.  Antioxidants quench and destroy that toxic free radical.

Suggestions for combating these free radical induced skin problems include the use of sunscreens with antioxidants in them, taking multiple vitamins daily, using Retin-A, getting regular exercise, and avoiding stress.  Of course all those tips not only will help your skin stay healthy but your body as well.  Just keep the following in mind when it comes to skincare products, antioxidants, and combating free radical damage:

Any client with aging skin should be approached with the fact that treatment is a lifelong reality.  There are no easy fixes and no miracle products.  It takes time to age, and time to restore the skin to normal.  Good and effective anti-aging products address the free radical problem by containing antioxidants at levels that prove they work.  Do not buy a product that has not been tested for antioxidant activity.  Beware of products that have antioxidants listed at the end of the ingredients; they are low in concentration and are useless.  …

In addition, do not smoke cigarettes; they produce an alarming amount of free oxygen radicals that damage both the lungs and the skin.  Avoid sun exposure as much as is practical.  Use sunscreens that provide both UVA and UVB photoprotection whether working indoors or outdoors.  Increase dietary intake of fruits and vegetables at each meal, remembering to eat them freshly picked and raw to optimize nutritional content.  Unripened and preserved fruits and vegetables do not have the antioxidant levels found in fresh vine ripened varieties.

(Physiology of the Skin, pages 178 – 179)

My Related Posts:

I haven’t read this book yet, but it turns out that there is a whole book devoted to the subject of antioxidants and skin aptly titled Antioxidants and the Skin.

Image from docstoc.com

 

My Beauty Regrets February 12, 2013

This post was inspired by two separate posts I read online.  The first was Beauty Regrets I Wish I Knew In My 20s from My Beauty Bunny and the other was ATB Learning Curve: 10 Beauty Lessons I Learnt in My 20s from Addicted to Blush.  (Full disclosure – I found the second post since my blog is mentioned in the post.  Before then I did not know of this blog, but I am finding it quite fun to read a beauty blog from India)  Though I am well past my 20s, and nearing 40 more and more with each passing day, I did find parallels in my beauty regime to what the ladies mentioned in their posts.

Overall I try not to have regrets when it comes to anything or everything in my life.  But try as I might, of course, I do still have regrets.  Mine mostly revolve around something I should have said to someone or something I shouldn’t have said to someone.  I’m a work in progress but aren’t we all?

So without any further delays my beauty regrets are as follows:

  • Not taking sun protection more seriously sooner.  I started using a moisturizer with SPF in it back in high school (or at least I think I did, maybe it was college), but now I know I didn’t use enough and I never reapplied.  I have the sun damage to prove it.  In the last few years I’ve become a sunscreen fanatic, and I am never without a sunscreen at all times so that I can reapply.  Many people think I am insane because of my sunscreen fanaticism, but I don’t care :).
  • I wish I had learned about skincare ingredients sooner.  Until I started studying esthetics about five years ago I got all my beauty information from glossy fashion magazines.  Not that those magazines cannot provide helpful information for the consumer, but they are certainly just one perspective on a complicated and far-reaching subject.  Once I started my esthetic training I discovered a wealth of publications for estheticians that I currently read and blogs that help me sort through all the beauty mumble jumble out there (for a list look at the right hand side of my home page under “links I love”).  I also started reading lots of books by dermatologists which I have found very informative (look under “book reviews” for my reviews).  Better informed you are the better choices you make when it comes to taking care of your skin.  Lastly, always remember to keep an open mind.  I am constantly learning new things from my fellow estheticians, the reading I do, and from taking care of different client’s skin.
  • I wish I had understood the link between skin health, particularly acne, and food earlier.  Last year I read quite a few books about skin health/beauty and food.  What I found most fascinating was the information about an alkaline diet and skin health.  (You can find more information about this in my two earlier posts Is An Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin? and Book Review: Stop Aging, Start Living)  I also wish I had realized sooner how awful sugar is for your skin and health.  I am still trying to break my sugar addiction.  (For more information on how terrible sugar is for your skin see this post of mine)
  • I regret not doing chemical peels sooner.  Chemical peels are a great way to treat a myriad of skincare conditions including, though not limited to, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines.  (For more information about chemical peels see my post 13 Reasons You Should Get a Chemical Peel from an Esthetician)
  • I wish I had learned to apply make-up earlier.  I’ve reached the point in my life were I really look better with some make-up on instead of none.  It took me years and years and years to get over being intimidated by make-up, any make-up.  I can’t say that I am great at applying make-up, but I do have simple routine down pat.  Make-up is also a great way to be creative without having regrets since you can simply wash your face and be done.  (I recently discovered Lisa Eldridge’s make-up tutorials.  Check them out!)

So what are your beauty regrets?  Share below!

Image from http://www.underconsideration.com

 

The Benefits of Facial Massage January 31, 2013

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about how facial exercises are a waste of your time but a facial massage is very beneficial for your skin.  In this post thought I would expand on why facial massages are so helpful for your skin and your overall wellbeing.  Last year I even had a client who would just come to me for facial massages, not a full facial.  She was originally from Europe and explained to me that this was not an unusual treatment, just having a facial massage, in Europe.  I could definitely understand her thinking.  I believe that a facial without some sort of massage is not really a facial.  That is how strongly I believe in the benefits of facial massage.

According to the Skin Inc. article by Lydia Sarfati, Facial Massage: Experience the Benefits, there are quite a few ways that facial massage helps clients:

When performed correctly, massage can provide clients with a wealth of benefits for their health and skin. Specifically, facial massage:

  • Stimulates circulation;
  • Detoxifies;
  • Stimulates sebaceous production;
  • Relaxes the nerves;
  • Releases toxins trapped between the tissues and muscles;
  • Oxygenates skin tissues;
  • Provides physiological and psychological benefits;
  • Aids in the extraction process;
  • Hydrates by bringing nutrients to the surface layer of the skin;
  • Increases lymphatic flow; and
  • Eases muscle tension.

Almost every skin condition can benefit from a facial massage.  Your esthetician just needs to know what type of massage to perform on each client according to what is going on with their skin.  In another Skin Inc. article, this one by Danae Markland entitled Facial Massage: More Than Relaxation, different types of massages for varying skin conditions are explained:

Massage can greatly benefit acne, rosacea and other inflamed skin conditions. Acne is a wound to the skin, and increasing blood flow encourages the healing process. Many skin care professionals are taught to avoid massage with acne clients because of the risk of cross-contamination and overstimulation. Although this is a valid concern and many traditional massage techniques are not appropriate for acne sufferers, light manipulation for a short period of time increases blood flow, which brings oxygen to the skin, killing the anaerobic bacteria responsible for breakouts and providing significant improvement. Similar to acne, rosacea and other sensitive skin conditions involve chronic inflammation, which also benefits greatly from the enhanced circulation associated with massage. When dealing with acne and other inflamed conditions, limit massage time to no more than 10 minutes.

There is no denying that massage of any kind improves the appearance of the skin for a short period of time after a treatment. This instant improvement is again due to an increase in blood flow and, ultimately, an increase in cellular oxygenation. As with many aspects of the skin, circulation decreases with age, leading to a dull appearance. Massage improves circulation, leading to a more youthful complexion. Clients who smoke and those who engage in air travel regularly also benefit from enhanced circulation, because smoking and air travel limit the amount of oxygen obtained by the cells, leading to lifeless complexions.

YouTube is a great way to see different types of facial massage since each esthetician eventually develops her own facial massage technique.  In my opinion there isn’t a “right” way to perform a facial massage.  As long as it feels good than your on the right track to relaxation and healthy skin.

Image from massage-ce-solutions.com

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Honey January 24, 2013

If you are a fan of DIY facial masks you’ve probably come across more than one recipe for at home facial masks using honey.  Why does this ingredient repeatedly appear in DIY facial treatments?  It turns out for a few very good reasons.   Honey is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to the skin, is antimicrobial, and an antioxidant.

According to Shape magazine honey helps the skin(and your overall health) in a few different ways:

1. Skin ailments: Everything from burns and scrapes to surgical incisions and radiation-associated ulcers have been shown to respond to “honey dressings.” That’s thanks to the hydrogen peroxide that naturally exists in honey, which is produced from an enzyme that bees have.

2. Mosquito bite relief: Honey’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a good option to help reduce the itch and irritation of mosquito bites.

3. It’s an immune booster: Honey is chock full of polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that helps to protect cells from free radical damage. It can also contribute to heart health as well as protect against cancer.

4. Digestive aid: In a 2006 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers found that substituting honey for sugar in processed foods improved the gut microflora of male mice.

5. Acne treatment: According to preliminary research, Manuka, and Kanuka types of honey can effectively treat Acne vulgaris, the skin condition that is caused by inflammation and infection of the pilosebaceous follicle on the face, back, and chest.

(From 5 Health Benefits of Honey)

Future Derm highlights honey’s beauty benefits thusly:

Honey’s combination of vitamins, antioxidants, sugars and amino make it produce hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid — acidic solutions that are frequently used to clear dirt and bacteria from wounds.  It is due in part to its numerous antioxidants and hydrogen peroxide that honey is often lauded as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agent — good news if you have oiler skin that could collect dirt more easily, have superficial wounds and scarring, or if you just need something to give your skin a little extra cleaning (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

But honey’s effectiveness doesn’t just stop with being a skin cleanser – there is substantial evidence for its role in wound-healing. Coupled with its hydrogen peroxide, honey provides amoist environment for skin to repair itself, encourages epithelialization (skin cell regrowth), granulation tissue formation, (a type of connective tissue), and wound healing.  Plus, honey can reduce swelling and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent, meaning that it very may well reduce pain and irritation from skin lesions (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery)

Honey is also good for dry skin, especially skin disorders such as Eczema and Psoriasis. These two skin ailments are characterized by their excessive dryness, itchiness, inflammation and irritation. After using the a mixture of honey, olive oil and beeswax three times a day for two weeks, 80 percent of the eczema patients had reduced symptoms of itching, scaling, and oozing from lesions. 63 percent of the psoriasis patients also reported significant improvement in symptoms (Complementary Therapies in Medicine).

Users should know that there are several different strains of honey whose efficacy can vary, such as the medical-quality Manuka and Revamil. If using pure honey, take caution — honey is able to support the bacteria that cause gangrene and botulism, and are typically treated with gamma irridation to eradicate these bacteria (Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery).

(From Lancome Tonique Confort Rehydrating Toner Review)

Many sources claim that not all honey is the same and you actually need to use raw honey in order to receive all the benefits described above.  In an article from Beauty at Skin Deep the benefits of raw honey are explained:

It should be noted that not all honey is created equal. Most of the honey found in grocery stores has been processed with heat, which kills off healing enzymes and destroys a lot of the nutrient-rich content. But, raw honey hasn’t been processed and will give your skin the healing benefits that it needs. Also, if you have allergies, try a patch test first and/or ask you physician if raw honey is a right for you.

BENEFITS

Raw honey is an amazing natural beauty solution for all skin types because of its healing skin benefits. It does wonders for a wide variety of skin ailments including:

Acne and enlarged pores
Rosacea
Eczema
Hyperpigmentation
Sensitive, mature, and dull lifeless skin

With its natural pH level of 4.5, raw honey falls within skin’s naturally healthy pH range. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties make it great for healing cuts and burns by killing bacteria and fungus. Raw honey also contains gluconic acid, a mild alpha hydroxy acid that brightens the complexion, evens out skin tone, and lightens scars and age spots.

Depending on where the honey is collected from, it contains many nutrients and minerals excellent for skin health such as vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, potassium and calcium. It also acts as a humectant drawing moisture to the skin and is perfect as a gentle cleansing solution for even very sensitive skin. When mixed with water, honey releases peroxide properties which helps heal acne and impede bacterial growth causing more acne

(From Skin Benefits of Raw Honey)

Personally I’ve never tried honey, any type of honey, as a facial treatment, but I do find the information on it intriguing.  If you’ve ever used honey at home as a skincare treatment please comment below.

Sources and Further Reading:

Important read about the benefits of honey and the false marketing claims of beauty companies:

While researching this post I found that a lot of sources repeat the same information about honey over and over so I’ve highlighted just a few resources below.

Image from filmannex.com

 

Hard Water and Your Skin January 16, 2013

A few months ago I moved from Chicago to Israel and my skin went insane.  I had breakouts galore and overall my skin went from looking nice to a complete disaster.  Now try going to esthetician job interviews when your skin actually looks like it needs the help of an esthetician.  Not pretty.  (Luckily I found bosses who understood what was going on with my skin and overlooked it, hiring me anyhow).  I’ve written about the issue of your skin going psycho in the past so I had a pretty good idea of what was causing my skin woes.  I also met other people who had moved around the same time I had and were experiencing similar skincare issues.  So I realized that what was going on wasn’t completely personal.  In my case I blamed the following issues for my skin issues: change in the climate I was living in, different food, stress, and hard water.  In order to treat my skin, specifically my breakouts, I started using my strongest skincare products (Retin-A and salicylic acid serum from Epionce) more often than I had before.  As with many skincare problems my skin started to calm down around the three month mark of being in my new home.  Of course I still have breakouts occasionally but nothing like when I first moved.  I’ve also recently adjusted my skincare routine because of the winter.

What happened got me thinking about how hard water affects our skin so I decided to investigate and share what I learned with my readers.*

eHow explains how hard water hurts your skin in the online article The Effects of Hard Water on Skin:

Hard water is comprised of high concentrations of undissolved minerals, such as calcium carbonate and dolomite. Although hard water contains these elements, it is not detrimental to your health, but it is harsh on your skin.  …

Damage to Healthy Skin Cells

  • Hard water can cause damage to healthy skin cells. The elements such as zinc, lead, magnesium and calcium found undissolved in hard water will break down the elastin and collagen found in healthy skin cells. When this happens, the skin becomes vulnerable to sun damage through harmful ultraviolet rays.

Acne

  • Since hard water is composed of undissolved minerals, acne can occur on a more frequent basis. Hard water dries out the skin, depriving it of natural oils. This causes skin irritation, which leads to acne breakouts.

Dry Skin

  • The insoluble minerals found in hard water wind up settling on the surface of the skin and cause itchiness and dryness. In severe cases, the skin will become inflamed, crack, and bleed.

Ineffective on Germs

  • Skin is more prone to germs when washed with hard water because it actually coats the skin with a dull film, due to the insoluble minerals in it. When this happens, the body’s natural oils are unable to reach the epidermis of the skin, and this leads to failure in the skin’s natural antimicrobial properties.

Self magazine investigates the issue even further in the article Is Your Water Causing You to Break Out?:

The problem with hard water is that its high mineral content prevents it from properly reacting with soap and, instead of triggering a lather, it creates a soapy layer on the skin. This not only clogs pores, but also irritates the skin, making it itchy, flaky and dry.

“These impurities in water make it difficult for soap and shampoo to wash off, leading to dryness of the skin and scalp, which directly irritate skin and cause redness and rosacea,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, Manhattan                                    dermatologist and founder of the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare product line.

There’s also a correlation between hard water and skin disorders, like eczema. “The minerals, such as calcium, that are found in higher concentration may cause loss of moisture in the skin, which can lead to irritating conditions, such as eczema,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Eric Schweiger. Research at the University of Nottingham found that, out of over 7,500 school-age children, eczema was significantly more common for those living in hard water areas than those living in soft water areas.

It’s not just a matter of converting hard water to soft, which can be achieved with an at-home filtration system, because this does not take care of the heavy metals–like iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and lead–that cause skin issues. “An at-home filtration system is not an effective means of safeguarding the skin because the heavy metals are microscopic and present in the actual solution of the water,” says Dr. Gross.

So what are these heavy metals actually doing to our skin?

According to Dr. Gross, the impurities cause a chemical reaction with the skin’s natural oils, changing the consistency of the oil from a liquid to a wax, which in turn, clogs the pores and leads to acne. They have the same response to creams, even those that are non-comedogenic.

“After the face is washed and dried, the impurities from water still remain on the face and cling to the skin,” says Dr. Gross. “Even though these creams are formulated with oil-like substances specifically created to not block pores, when the creams come in contact with water impurities left on the face (after it has been washed and patted dry), the remaining impurities cause the oil-like substances to clog the pores.”

Also, the impurities found in tap water can act as free radicals, which bond with healthy skin cells and then destroy them. This in turn leads to the breakdown of collagen and leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.  …

But Dr. Gross thinks it’s just a matter of time until dermatologists start considering the havoc water is wreaking on our skin. He wasn’t concerned much with water, either, until the skin woes of patients at his Manhattan practice led him to investigate further. “They would return from trips in the U.S. or abroad with irritated skin–even though they were using the exact same skincare regimen,” he said. Concluding that their skin issues resulted from the variation of city water, Dr. Gross began running lab tests on tap water nationwide. “I was shocked by the variation of heavy metal content from city to city,” he says.

In his research, Dr. Gross found that each metal pointed to a certain skin issue. He considers iron–with high amounts in Los Angeles, Park City, and New York–to be the most detrimental metal found in tap water because the accumulated deposits get energized by the sun, which has been linked to some cases of skin cancer. But for those individuals who are breakout prone, he says that calcium and magnesium are the two elements that will cause the most damage. “Both of these elements cause one’s own oils to become comedogenic and form waxy plugs that clog pores and lead to further breakouts, inflammation, flare-ups and irritation,” he said.

Some, after making this discovery, have quit tap water cold turkey–opting to cleanse with anhydrous (no water necessary) products or bottled water (so Paris Hilton). Washing with distilled water often leaves those unaccustomed with a “slippery” feeling, as the water instantly lathers and dismantles the soap scum later that lingers on skin.

But for those who can’t resist that refreshing rush of H20 pouring down on their faces in the shower each morning, they can opt for products that contain chelators, an organic complex that sequesters the heavy metals on the surface of the skin, preventing them from penetrating into the pores and causing damage. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s Hydra-Pure Intense Moisture Cream is infused with Dr. Gross’s Chelating Complex, which he says “is likened to washing your face with pure H20.”

Personally I don’t think any of my skincare products have chelators in them, but I am going to try to be more vigilant about using toner (I have quite a few and forget to use them all the time) after cleansing in order to make sure that I have removed some of the mineral deposits left on my skin.  One day I would like to get a filter for our water, but in the meantime I’ll just have to get creative.

Further Reading:

*I also need to add that my hair and scalp has been a complete disaster since I moved because of the hard water where I live.  I still haven’t figure out how to fix that issue.

Image from personal.psu.edu

 

 
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