Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

What I’ve Been Reading May 14, 2015

Filed under: Recommended Reading — askanesthetician @ 2:09 am
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A Woman Reading

I might not find time to blog like I used or read as many articles about skincare and beauty as I would like, but I’ve done enough reading lately to have a number of articles that I want to share with my readers here.

Those readers who follow my Facebook page know that I’ve been sharing quite a few articles about the nail industry lately.  Last week The New York Times published two very important articles that exposed the dark side of the nail industry in the United States.  The first article detailed the extremely exploitative work practices for workers in this industry, and the second article explained the health risks that workers suffer from because of the chemicals in nail products.  Happily, the articles caused a flurry of reactions both from New York’s governor and from the woman who regularly use these services.  Here is a list of all the relevant articles:

Now for some non-nail related articles.

Summer is on its way so and so are the sunscreen articles:

Once again I’ve come across an article about beauty elixirs or drinks, drinks that promise perfect skin.  I’ve written about this topic in the past here on my blog (see my articles Can You Drink Your Way To Firmer Skin? and Drink Your Way To Firmer Skin – Taste Test) so let me be clear – looking to a drink to clear your skin or make it firmer is generally a waste of time.  Instead invest your money in good skincare products and a proper and balanced whole foods diet.

If you read my previous post (which was from this past winter) than you know that I am writing the skincare articles on  You can easily keep up to date with my articles by following my Pinterest board devoted to that topic.

Lastly, just for fun.  It turns out that there is now a BB cream for nighttime use.  I can’t even imagine what they will think of next.

If you’ve read any interesting beauty related articles lately please share a link below.

Image: “A Woman Reading” by Camille Corot from The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Starting The Year Off With An Apology January 24, 2015

Filed under: Esthetics/Estheticians,Recommended Websites — askanesthetician @ 11:23 am
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I meant to write this post at the end of December, 2014 and now it’s almost the end of January, 2015.  Anyone who has been following this blog for a long time might have noticed that I have been posting less and less.  My newest subscribers might be wondering if I ever write new posts so I feel like it is time to offer an explanation.  Normally I don’t share that much about my personal life on my blog, but in this case if I don’t share some personal information my readers might just think I’ve stopped blogging.  Rest assured I still love the idea of blogging, I just don’t have the time I used to in order to devote myself to writing new posts that are up to (my self-set) standards.  In the middle of June, 2014 I had a beautiful and healthy baby girl, and she is home full-time with me until September, 2015.  If you are a parent yourself than you know that being home with a baby means every moment that the baby is awake you are pretty much with the baby.  So much for blogging during the day.  Then in the evening once the children go to sleep (I have an older son as well) I think “now I’ll write!”, but I’m exhausted so once again, so much for blogging.  As the picture says above: please bear with me.  I don’t lack for ideas of what to blog about I simply lack for time and energy at the moment to follow through with writing posts.

Another reason I don’t have time to blog regularly is that happily in September, 2014 I started working as the skin care expert (their words, not mine) for   While some of the topics I’ve covered for have been covered in my blog as well others are new like a post I wrote about chia in skincare products.  If you haven’t already looked at my articles you can check them out here.  If there is a subject or question that you would like covered in an article for please let me know by commenting below.

What I do have time for is posting to my blog Facebook page.  There I share skincare related articles that interest me.  I also continually pin articles and tips to my Pinterest skincare page.  I’m still completely and totally obsessed with Korean skincare products and make-up.  I have a Pinterest board for that as well, of course.  Recently I ordered quite a few Korean skincare products to try; once I do try them I’ll be sure to share my thoughts and experiences here.  I’m still reading books about skincare and hope to write a review or two sometime soon.  Lastly, I’m always thinking about how to grow my business and how to improve as an esthetician and wouldn’t you know it I have a Pinterest board for that too.  :)

If you are a newish reader of this blog be sure to use the search option in order to find posts for topics that might interest you.  I’ve covered a wide range of skincare related topics (plus some make-up and nail topics) over the years so I might have already written about a subject you want to learn more about.

Once more please bear with me for now, I’ll be back to regular blogging before you know it.  In the meantime keep in touch with me through Facebook or Pinterest.

Belated Happy New Year to all my readers!  Wishing you health, prosperity, happiness, joy, and peace in 2015.

Image from


Winter Skincare Round-Up December 14, 2014


Winter can bring about a lot of unpleasant skin changes – dry and itchy skin, red and irritated skin, cracked hands, chapped lips.  Fun, right?  As always I want to help my readers best care for their skin under any weather conditions, but instead of writing a new post about winter skin care I’m going to share my older posts on the topic.  Looking back at my previous posts I realized I had covered so many issues related to winter skincare that, at the moment, there wasn’t something new to add.

Happy reading and wishing you beautiful and healthy skin during the winter!


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Gua Sha and Your Skin September 22, 2014

Filed under: Skincare Treatments — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
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A few months ago I took a wonderful course that was called “Japanese Facial Massage and Acupuncture”.  I had a blast in the course – learning new massage techniques, finding out about new acupressure points on the face, and discovering how to use gua sha and a jade roller to help my clients’ skin.  Some of my readers may have heard of gua sha and/or have seen pictures of red, bruised backs (or other body parts) that were treated with this Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique and are already wondering just how this relates to the skin and to facials.  It turns out that gua sha is wonderful for stimulating blood flow and lymph drainage in the face.  But before I get into all those details let me first explain what gua sha actually is.

In the article Scrape Away the Pain (found on Dr. Oz’s website) Jamie Starkey explains the principles of gua sha:

Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).

Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.

While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.

There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.

But how does this work with facials and skincare since you definitely don’t want to bruise the skin or cause long- lasting redness?  When it comes to facials and treating the skin gua sha is modified and the esthetician is much less aggressive when rubbing the skin.  While you still want the skin to get red you don’t want to leave marks that can last for days.  During a facial gua sha actually feels nice as the tools gently glide across your face after the esthetician applies a cream or oil.   Gua sha is used during a facial to increase blood flow to the face and to move lymph. In order to do both of these things there is no need to be aggressive.  I was even taught in the course I took to gently rub wrinkles and lines with the gua sha tools in order to stimulate collagen synthesis in those areas.  Following the gua sha treatment the esthetician can gently roll a jade roller all over the face in order to calm the skin.  Jade helps to soothe the skin.

You don’t need to wait to have a facial in order to benefit from gua sha.  If you have the tools you can do gua sha on your face for about 10 minutes a day if you want in order to enjoy the benefits of this traditional treatment.

Resources and Further Reading:

Image from


Beauty after Baby September 2, 2014


Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child



Any mother with a newborn or a baby knows one thing for sure – your baby’s needs always come before yours.  That’s just the way it is.  Finding time for yourself, not to mention household chores, sometimes seems like the most impossible thing ever when you have a baby at home.  Depending on how much sleep you are getting, probably very little, taking care of yourself quickly falls by the wayside once you have a baby.  So I’m here to remind you that even when you have no energy or it seems to silly to invest in your appearance because so many other things require your immediate attention, that you should and can take five to ten minutes a day for yourself each day.  Believe me I know how ridiculous that sounds when you’ve had four hours of sleep or when your baby decided to start their day at 5 am.  It’s hard; it seems pointless, but consider giving it a try.  Yes, if you had an elaborate skincare routine before you gave birth you probably can’t keep up with it now.  Don’t beat yourself up about that.  Keep in mind that when you feel good about how you look (even if you haven’t lost all the baby weight and that takes lots of time) your outlook changes about everything around you.  So don’t neglect yourself after you’ve had a baby.  Do take a few minutes each day to concentrate on your appearance; there is nothing selfish or wrong about that.

In no particular order here are some tips for a fast beauty routine when you have a baby at home:

  • Remember to wash your face – at the very least at night.  Once you’ve gotten your baby to sleep (or passed off childcare to your partner) take a moment to wash your face.
  • Use sunscreen!  Take a moment in the morning to apply sunscreen.  In case you need a reminder about why sunscreen is so important take a look at this video.  If your skin really needs a moisturizer use one with SPF in order to cut-down on skincare routine steps until you have more time for yourself.
  • Find an under-eye concealer you like and use it.
  • Use multitasking make-up products like Nars The Multiple which is for both lips and cheeks.
  • Think about what beauty or make-up product always makes you feel good and use it.  Is that product mascara?  Or a facial mask once a week?  Don’t give up those feel good products.  The baby can cry for a moment while you apply your mascara and everything will still be fine with the world.
  • Is there a beauty service that you really can’t live without?  Well don’t!  For a lot of women getting their eyebrows professionally waxed is just something they can’t give up and in my opinion shouldn’t.  Eyebrow waxing when compared to other beauty services is one of the fastest and cheapest services out there.  You can probably even bring your baby along to your eyebrow wax so keep up with having well groomed  brows.   Remember that having your eyebrows waxed or tweezed can change the look for your entire appearance for the better.  For other people their weekly manicure is a must so I fully endorse finding the time to keep up with the beauty service that makes you feel like yourself again after giving birth.  Keep in mind that there are many estheticians and nail techs that will come to your home to provide services so if you really can’t leave your baby or don’t want to have the service come to you.


I strongly believe that the better we feel about ourselves the better parents we can be.  So even if it’s only a few minutes each day take that time for you.  Even your baby will appreciate it.


Further Reading:


Image from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Midnight: Mother and Sleepy Child by Kitagawa Utamaro



A Slew of Interesting and Important Sunscreen Articles July 21, 2014

Filed under: skin cancer,sun protection,Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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Allure magazine’s Daily Beauty Reporter recently published a few excellent posts about sunscreen that I decided to share here all at once instead of posting them piecemeal on my Facebook page:



How to Read a Skincare Ingredient Label And Is That Information Enough In Order To Judge A Skincare Product? June 12, 2014



Understanding the ingredients listed in the ingredient list of a skincare product and figuring out if those ingredients are actually effective for your skin is an important skill for skincare consumers to have. But interpreting a skincare ingredient label is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  You need to not only have some basic skincare product formulation knowledge but also be able to recognize different ingredients and their function in skincare products in order to understand what you are reading and if the product will be right for your skin and will do what it claims to do.  I’ve addressed this topic in the past here in my blog, but lately I’ve come across a few interesting articles on the subject and thought it was time to revisit this issue much more in-depth than I did before.

The Basics and Some Examples

So let’s start with some basics about skincare labels that everyone should know.  In his Skin Inc. article Ingredient Labels Explained Robert Manzo writes:

There are basic rules that product manufacturers must comply with in order to list ingredients on their products.

  • Standardized names. Ingredient names must comply with the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) format. The ingredient names are standardized in this format so that all products can be compared to each other easily and for safety reasons.
  • Descending order. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of concentration to 1%. Ingredients below 1% can be listed in any order

How does this come together for the consumer?  Lab Muffin recently published yet another excellent post called How to Read an Ingredients List: Face Moisturisers in which she takes actual moisturizer labels and explains the ingredients for her readers.  For instance:

When looking at most product ingredients lists, the ingredients will be in order from the highest concentration to the lowest. Typically, when deciding if a moisturiser will suit your skin type, you don’t need to look past the first 6 ingredients or so, since they make up the majority of the product, and will be responsible for the moisturising action. It’s a different story when you’re looking at more potent ingredients that target specific concerns (e.g. anti-aging, exfoliants, antibacterials, lightening), but those tend to be useful regardless of skin type.

With this in mind, I’ll be classifying the top 6 ingredients in each of these facial moisturisers, as well as commenting on some of the notable ingredients further down in the list. If there’s no comment next to the ingredient, I’ve probably explained it in a product further up.

To recap, the main categories of moisturiser are:

Occlusives – block water from evaporating from the skin, especially good for dry and dehydrated skin
Emollients – smooth skin and help repair
Humectants – draw moisture to the skin, effective even at lower percentages.

Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturising Cream

Aqua (water) – The base for most face creams, and the definition of moisture.
Cetearyl alcohol (emollient) – A blend of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, two fatty alcohols that are nothing like drinking alcohol (that is, ethyl alcohol), but are great for smoothing skin down as well as making sure the oily and watery parts of the moisturiser don’t separate (it’s an emulsifier). It can be derived from coconut oil.
Rosa canina fruit oil (emollient) – This is the technical name for rose hip oil from a specific species of rose. It mainly contains oleic and linoleic acids, which are excellent for repairing skin, as well as antioxidants.
Safflower seed oil (emollient/occlusive) – This also contains many linoleic acids and antioxidants.
Caprylic/capric triglyceride (emollient/occlusive) – This also comes from coconut oil, and smooths skin as well as blocks evaporation.
Jojoba seed oil (emollient) – This stuff is a lot like natural sebum.

Glycerin and honey are a little further down in the list, and there’s aloe vera extract as well – these humectants together would probably add noticeable humectant action to the mix (glycerin is typically used in moisturisers at 2-7%, otherwise it feels sticky).

Overall: Lots of emollients, a small amount of occlusives and some humectants. It’s suitable for all skin due to all the skin-repairing emollients, but drier skins might need some more occlusives on top.

Or for example how to interpret a serum label:

Generally, serums are used to deliver active ingredients to skin in higher concentrations in order to generate a specific skin response. Typical serums address skin-specific issues, such as hyperpigmentation, lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, texture, tone, pore size, acne, redness and irritation.

Understanding ingredient listings in serums is often difficult. Active ingredient names can take the form of Latin names for botanically sourced compounds, and more generic INCI names may be used, such as yeast extract, which can mean a multitude of biologically active ingredients. Quite long chemical names are often found.

Understanding the dose of active ingredients is also difficult by trying to interpret ingredient listings. If a particularly active ingredient is very biologically active, it may be dosed in the formula in part-per-million levels and be very low in the ingredient listing, but still be quite effective. Examples of these are epigenetic factors, epidermal growth factors and vascular growth factors.

Serum realities

1. There are more than 16,000 listings in the INCI dictionary. No one can know all the cosmetic ingredients at any given time. If you are unsure what dose and what active ingredient is in particular serum, request that the manufacturer supply that detailed information.

2. Watch out for serum claims and their target biology. For example, if you have a serum that claims it can improve collagen and elastin by stimulating skin, the ingredient would need to penetrate to the dermal tissue. If you need to lighten skin, ingredients must penetrate no more than to the epidermal-dermal junction, where color-producing cells exist. If you want to exfoliate, the serum should not penetrate far below the stratum corneum.

(From Ingredient Labels Explained)

 Putting It Together

Now that you have some basic knowledge about how skincare labels work is this really enough information in order to know if a product is right for your skin or not?  Sorry to complicate things for you, but even the most savvy consumer can get tripped up by a skincare ingredient label.  Renee Rouleau gives a great example in her blog post Can You Judge a Skin Care Product by an Ingredient Label?:

With so much awareness on skin care ingredients (the good, the bad and the ugly), consumers now more than ever are getting educated on what’s used in formulas, so they can make the best choices for their skin when it comes to choosing products to apply to their face. But by looking at an ingredient list on the back of a bottle or jar, can you really determine if it will deliver good results or not on your skin?

The answer is no. You might look at the ingredient list and form assumptions about the ingredients you may have read about or heard of. For example, if you’re prone to breakouts you might see shea butter or sunflower oil listed, and assume it will be greasy and pore clogging. These assumptions can be invalid, because the results a product delivers are based on the percentages of the ingredient used in a product—and this, you’ll never know from looking at the list on the back of a bottle.

Here’s another example of a time when one of my products, Daily Protection SPF 30, was reviewed by a fairly well-known ingredient expert who has written many books on helping you choose the best products when you go to the cosmetics counter. She had requested the ingredient list of my sunscreen to review, yet didn’t request the actual product. When the review was published, she gave it a really good review however, she said based on the moisturizing agents used in the formula, it was best suited for dry and very dry skin types. Really? Our Daily Protection SPF 30 is recommended for oily, acne-prone skin, because it is so light, and dries to a matte finish on the skin. As a matter of fact, when we get a customer return for this product, it’s usually a dry skin client saying it was too drying on their skin. Our oily skin clients absolutely love it because it disappears completely and leaves no residue. This is definitely not a sunscreen moisturizer for dry and very dry skin types, yet an ingredient label reviewed by an ingredient expert couldn’t tell this. (No disrespect to the expert, this is simply my experience.)

(Obviously Rouleau is writing about Paula Begoun here)

So Where Does That Leave You?

It is important to learn about ingredients and how skincare products are formulated in order to be an educated skincare consumer.  The more you know the better choices you can make for your skin, and you can save yourself time and money from buying the wrong products.  Part of that education is learning to read a skincare label instead of just blindly believing the manufacturers’ hype and marketing campaign.  But don’t let the skincare label be your be all or end all in order to know if a skincare product is right for you.  Try products first before rebuffing them.  Ask for samples and find online reviews from people who have actually tried the product before rejecting a product based just on reading the ingredient list or taking advice from someone who reviews products only according to their ingredient list.  Two websites that I like for product reviews combine both information about the products’ ingredients and actually try the products themselves before writing a review.  Those websites are FutureDerm and Lab Muffin.

One last thing – ever wondered what all those symbols (letters, numbers, and pictures) are on your beauty product container?  Into the Gloss has a guide that explains them all.

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