Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Sephora Sun Safety Kit April 29, 2010

Sephora and The Skin Cancer Foundation have teamed up once again to sell a Sun Safety Kit for only $25.  That small amount of money gets you 11 trial size sun protection products in a cute pink bag.  In the kit you’ll find sunscreens, moisturizers with sunscreens,a lip balm with sunscreen, a self-tanner with sunscreen, and make-up with sunscreens.  And the best part, if getting all those products for $25 wasn’t enough for you, 100% of the net profits from the sale of the kits goes to The Skin Cancer Foundation.

Enjoy shopping!


Do You Really Need An Eye Cream? April 27, 2010

Do you ever feel that a salesperson is just trying to sell you an eye cream in order to make a sale and that you definitely don’t need one?  Or do you ever wonder why you need an eye cream at all?

As a self professed product junkie I, of course, use an eye cream, but does everyone need one?  My answer would actually be – no, not everyone needs a separate eye cream. 


When You Don’t Need A Separate Eye Cream


If the skin around your eyes and under your eyes is no different from the rest of  the skin on your face than just use your regular moisturizer and sunscreen (yes, your sunscreen too) in your eye area.  Yes while the skin around your eye area is more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face that doesn’t mean that you still need a separate eye cream if the one you are using for your face doesn’t irritate your eye area.


When You Do Need A Separate Eye Cream


I’ve already addressed two of the most vexing eye area problems in my blog already – dark undereye circles and puffy eyes.  If you suffer from either of these common problems then you will want to use an eye cream that addresses those issues. Or if for instance you find that your face is oily but your eye area is dry then I would recommend using an eye cream.


Recommended Eye Creams





Further reading:  Eye Creams: Fact and Fiction by Paula Begoun





Ingredient Spotlight: Green Tea April 26, 2010

I want to address the issue of green tea in two different ways in this post.  First I’ll explain how drinking green tea benefits your health, and secondly I’ll explain how the topical application of green tea helps your skin.

And as always please note that I am neither a nutritionist nor a doctor, but I am careful to pass along information from reputable sources.  Please see the end of each section of this post for my sources.


The Health Benefits of Drinking Green Tea


So why do you want to drink green tea as opposed to black, oolong, or white tea?  Or as opposed to coffee?  In an article on WebMD Julie Edgar explains:

More than a decade’s worth of research about green tea’s health benefits — particularly its potential to fight cancer and heart disease — has been more than intriguing, as have limited studies about green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.

Green tea’s antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis.

Because of green tea’s minimal processing — its leaves are withered and steamed, not fermented like black and oolong teas — green tea’s unique catechins, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), are more concentrated.

The EGCG in green tea is responsible for most of anti-cancer and antioxidant claims made about green tea.  According the Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection:

EGCG can suppress the inflammatory chemicals that are directly involved in skin reactions, including acne.  Green tea has more antioxidants than black, but both help squelch free radicals and subdue inflammation.  Aim for four to six cups of tea per day.

While most of the studies about green tea and its anti-cancer benefits have been done on mice many doctors believe that it isn’t a huge stretch to think that green tea may help prevent cancer in humans.  Furthermore, Dr. Fredric Brandt writes in his book Age-less drinking green tea can also offer the following health benefits:

  • Restricts the increase of blood cholesterol
  • Controls high blood pressure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Suppresses aging
  • Deters food poisoning
  • Fights viruses
  • Reduces the effects of smoking cigarettes



Sources and Further Reading



Topical Green Tea Creams and Serums – What Do They Do?



Ok – so perhaps I’ve convinced you to start drinking green tea.  Now why would you want to put a green tea product on your face?  As already explained green tea contains powerful antioxidants so that is already one great benefit for your skin (see my early post about antioxidants for more information about why you want to use skincare products with antioxidants in them).  Studies show that topical green tea may reduce the damage of UV rays on the skin.  While the polyphenols (or antioxidants)  in green tea don’t actually block sunlight themselves they do interfere with uncontrolled cell division which leads to cancer.  When applied topically green tea protects both essential tissue elements and antioxidant reserves in the skin.  So basically the bottom line is that when applied topically green tea helps to repair UV damage on the skin, is a strong antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and has anticarcinogenic benefits.  Just remember though when applied topically green tea probably helps reduce UV damage to the skin you still need your sunscreen.  A green tea serum is not a substitute for a sunscreen.

Dr. Ellen Marmur points out that if a skincare product contains the 5% green tea extract necessary for it to be effective topically the product should be brown.  My favorite topical green tea products are Replenix® CF Cream and Serum .

Sources and Further Reading


Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against April 23, 2010

So what are oxygen treatments?  What are oxygen creams?  And above all – should you try one or the other or even both?

Why Our Skin Needs Oxygen


Skin that lacks proper oxygen flow looks dull and sallow.  Look at a smoker’s skin: their skin is wrinkled, dull, and even yellowish which results from not enough oxygen being delivered to skin cells and a lack of circulation.  But oxygen does so much more for the skin than just make it look vibrant and healthy.  According to Dr. Peter T. Pugliese writing in Skin Inc. magazine:

Oxygen revitalizes the epidermis and stimulates cellular growth by increasing cellular proliferation. It will kill surface bacteria, deep anaerobic bacteria and fungus. Oxygen will supply energy to the epidermis and to the dermis, helping to heal any small wounds and irritations. In the dermis, it will help produce collagen and elastin and help restructure the extracellular matrix. Oxygen is a micronutrient and it will assist with many metabolic processes in the skin. Lastly, it is critical for many enzyme reactions, and the presence of oxygen can often accelerate these reactions.


What Conditions Benefit from Oxygen Treatments?


Three skincare conditions that respond well to oxygen treatments are: acne, rosacea, and aging skin. 

Acne responds well to oxygen treatments since oxygen is anti-inflammatory, kills acne-causing bacteria, and even reduces swelling.  The same characteristics help treat rosacea since there appears to be a bacterial component to this condition.  Aging skin benefits from oxygen treatments because of oxygen’s ability to boost cell production and strengthen collagen and elastin.  Following a oxygenation treatment your skin will feel very soft and look plumped.


Oxygenation Treatments in Spas


There are a number of different oxygenation treatments available that are administered by professionals.  These treatments are effective because the skin has been properly prepared and by that I mean the skin’s protective barrier has been temporarily removed in order to allow for proper ingredient penetration.

There are three-step oxygen treatments that help deliver oxygen deep into the epidermis so that clogged pores are cleaned out and circulation is stimulated.  These treatments can temporarily turn you very red because they are stimulating, but by the next day you should have a great glow to your skin.  If you suffer from acne you should see an improvement in your condition after this type of oxygenation treatment.  These type of treatments are recommended before a big event such as a wedding so that you have a healthy glow on the day of the event.  Just don’t get the treatment the same day as the event since you will probably turn very red from the treatment.

There are also oxygen facials that in involve a pure oxygen mist being sprayed on the skin.  A mask is applied afterwards to help seal in the oxygen that was just sprayed on the skin.  This is usually the type of treatment that you hear celebrities have received.


Oxygen in Home Care Products


Home care products that contain oxygen claim that their products contain a stabilized form of oxygen that can penetrate the epidermis.  Companies that use oxygen in their products claim that their products can either flight acne or aging.

If you are interested in trying a home care product with oxygen here are two to look for:  Bioelements Power of Oxygen and GM Collin Oxygen Puractive+Cream


The Controversy


So getting an oxygen treatment sounds great, right?  Truthfully I’ve seen great results from professional three step  oxygenation treatments, but the whole issue of oxygen treatments and oxygen skincare products is quite controversial actually.

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur is her book Simple Skin Beauty (page 298):

Oxygen, as a topical ingredient, is completely ineffectual.  Although I’m sure that an oxgyen facial makes your skin glowing and radiant, the effect has nothing to do with oxygen.  The machine used for this facial treatment has a hose-like attachment that discharges pressurized oxygen along with a hydrating hyaluronic acid serum.  The moisturizing mist is what plumps the skin and makes it temporarily look and feel dewy.  The use of oxygen cosmetically claims to a wound-healing effect on the skin.  This may stem from the fact that hyperbaric oxygen treatment has been proven to help heal wounds, but placing a patient in a hyperbaric chamber to increase the amount of oxygen in the lungs, which in turn delivers it through the blood to injured tissue, is not the same as having air and water sprayed onto your face.  It is impossible to infuse skin cells with oxygen from the outside.  It cannot purify or moisturize the skin, although too much oxygen has been known to generate toxic oxygen radicals that damage skin.  For that matter, I have no idea how a cream or lotion could contain a stabilized form of oxygen, which is a gas.  … In this case, the science behind oxygen as a skincare ingredient is pretty easy to see through.


While Dr. Marmur makes a pretty compelling argument there is another side, of course.  Writing in Skin Inc. Jeffrey Lapin explains that:

Some new product and treatment technologies are increasingly designed to put the proper level of oxygen, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients back into the skin. There are currently many creams, lotions, masks and sprays available to clients to put oxygen onto the skin. Because of the multitude of choices available, it is important to teach your clients that oxygen placed on the surface of unprepared skin will not penetrate beyond the epidermis. Yet, oxygen placed on the surface of the skin is a good thing. Oxygen is a natural antibacterial agent that effectively fights bad bacteria that cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. This can help with surface acne and helps to fight infection from open wounds.



Conclusion – Decide for Yourself – Keep Reading


Personally I am torn on this issue since, as I already stated, I’ve personally seen great results from professional oxygenation treatments, but I also feel that speculation about oxygen as a skincare ingredient is warranted.  Below you’ll find many sources for further reading to help you make up your mind for yourself:


Combination Skin April 22, 2010

I thought the above photo did a great job of illustrating what combination skin is.  Basically what combination skin comes down to is this – your T-zone is oily (and usually acne prone) and the rest of your face is either normal or dry.  Your T-zone is your forehead, nose, and chin – the areas marked with the gray mask in the model above.

Real skincare issues arise with the combination skin type when you treat your entire face as if it was oily or as if it was dry.  You actually need to treat your face in sections.  Don’t worry that you will need to buy two whole sets of products.  You’ll probably just need one or two extra products in order to keep your skin in balance, and as always, the key here is balance.   You want to degrease your skin of its excess oil and then hydrate the dry areas so that all your skin looks and feels great.

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty (page 67) you’re lucky if you have this type of complexion since it means that your skin is resilient and can pretty much use any type of product that you want on it.  She considers combination skin to be the closest thing to a “normal” skin type and recommends using products that are labeled “noncomedogenic” – won’t clog pores – and only using toner on your oily T-zone if you need it.


Skin Care Routine for Combination Skin


  • Cleanse with a gentle cleanser: Good ones to try are CeraVe and Cetaphil
  • Use a toner only on your T-zone if you are still oily there after cleansing: You could try Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Toner
  • Use a hydrating antioxidant serum: A good one to try is Replenix® CF Cream and Serum which has green tea and caffeine
  • Use an oil-free moisturizer with spf or just an oil-free sunscreen year round: I really like PCA Skin’s Protecting Hydrator
  • Reapply your sunscreen with a mineral sunscreen: I like Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral spf 30.  This will also cut down on shine during the day
  • If you get very shiny during the day: Use oil-blotting sheets like Sephora Matte Blotting Film
  • Moisturize at night with an oil free moisturizer
  • Use an oil absorbing mask on your T-zone if that area continues to breakout or be excessively oily
  • Exfoliate regularly with a salicylic acid product: You could use a cleanser with salicylic acid, a lotion, or a scrub.  A salicylic acid product will keep your pores clear of oil and dead skin cells and prevent breakouts, and it is also anti-inflammatory.  If you continue to have breakouts use a benzoyl peroxide lotion as well on the areas where you breakout.


And remember – keep everything in balance.  Never be too drying or too moisturizing with your skin.

Further ReadingSkin Care Solutions for Combination Skin Paula Begoun.  As always with Paula Begoun – you don’t need to follow all her advice percisely, use it as a guide.


A Few Of My Favorite Things April 20, 2010


I would describe myself as a product junkie so I am always trying new things.  But there are a few products that I won’t give up and truly love. 

  • Make-Up RemoverDermalogica PreCleanse – I’ve mentioned this product before, and I’ll mention it again.  PreCleanse is a great way to remove your make-up before cleansing your skin in the evening.  It even removes stubborn eye make-up
  • Moisturizers with Sunscreen:  PCA Skin Products  – I use the moisturizer with spf for normal to oily skin daily and love it.  It feels light and not at all greasy or heavy.  I love the Face and Body moisturizer for my body during the summer.  It is a great way to get enough sun protection and moisturize at the same time.
  • Face Powder: Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder – I had wanted to try this product for a long time but was skeptical if all the claims made about the product were true.  Turns out it is a great product that leaves your skin looking fabulous, and you don’t need a lot of the product to get great results.  I even found a smaller size of the powder at my local Sephora store for $15.  Only problem with this product – it’s messy so be careful when you use it.
  • Brush On Sunscreen: Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Spf 30 – a great way to reapply your sunscreen throughout the day.  It’s portable, and you don’t have to worry about messing up your make-up if you use this sunscreen.  Also eliminates shine so what’s not to love?
  • Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil – doesn’t budge.  Urban Decay is a great cosmetics company that is committed to no animal testing.  They have great vegan make-up brushes and an eyeshadow primer that really works.
  • Body Moisturizer: Trader Joe’s A Midsummer Night’s Cream – a wonderful thick body moisturizer, and 16 fluid ounces costs about $7.

Great Skincare Ingredient: Vitamin C April 19, 2010


It seems like everyday a different skincare company is announcing the discovery of a new and great antioxidant that is better than all the other antioxidants discovered so far.  Truly there is no “best” antioxidant.  It is great idea to use a variety of antioxidant in your skincare products.

Vitamin C is definitely an antioxidant worth looking for in skincare products.  This water-soluble antioxidant has a proven track record for being an effective skincare ingredient.  Not only does it protect the skin from free radical damage, it plays an important role in collagen production, it slows down the effects of sun damage on the skin, it helps boost the effectiveness of sunscreen, and over time it can brighten the skin.  And like all other antioxidants Vitamin C can reduce inflammation in the skin.  Frankly there is no reason not to give it a try.

There are many different forms of Vitamin C that you will find in skincare products.  The best forms of Vitamin C, which means these forms of Vitamin C are stable and effective, are: ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.  Vitamin C deteriorates in the presence of light so it is important to look for a closed, opaque container.  Skinceuticals sells a great Vitamin C serum in a non-opaque container.  They say that there form of Vitamin C will not breakdown in the presence of light. 


Vitamin C Products Worth Trying




Sources and Further Reading




And don’t forget: Don’t mix copper peptides and vitamin C –  using the two together, even if they are in separate products, just cancels out the effects of both.


Hair Removal 101 April 18, 2010

I guess it is because summer is just around the corner, but lately I’ve been seeing more than a few articles about hair removal.  Estheticians don’t just help people with their skin; a big part of our job is hair removal and eyebrow shaping so anytime I see something about hair removal, particularly waxing, I take notice.

First of all we can get philosophical about the issue of hair removal in general.  Do you even want to remove any of the hair on your body (that isn’t on your head and actually some people remove that too of course)?  The New York Times just published an article all about women who don’t shave using Oscar winning actress MoNique as an example; she seems to have helped touch off the debate about shaving almost single handedly.  But this post won’t be about the issue if you should shave or not though if you want to comment about the issue feel free.  Keep reading if you are concerned about hair removal.



Shaving is inexpensive, quick, and you can do it at home.  I would not recommend shaving the hair on your face because it will grow back quickly so basically – what’s the point?  Instead get that hair waxed or removed with laser hair removal.  There are two main problems associated with shaving.  The first issue is that the hair grows back quickly since you only remove the hair at the skin’s surface, not the root.  The second problem associated with shaving is really a triad of problems:  red bumps, irritation, and ingrown hairs.   (By the way, it is a myth that shaving will cause hair to grow back thicker and darker)   Using moisturizing shaving creams and a sharp, new razor when you shave can help eliminate those problems, but I would recommend waxing or having laser hair removal instead if you continually suffer from those problems.  Both of those hair removal efforts involve an investment of both time and money on your part, but I feel both are well worth it for the results.




Estheticians spend a lot of time in school practicing waxing.  Practice makes perfect basically.  Waxing removes the hair from the root so that it takes a lot longer to grow back – between 6 to 8 weeks usually.  There are plenty of home wax kits that you can buy and try in the privacy and comfort of your home, but ideally I think you should leave waxing to a professional especially if you want your bikini area and face waxed.  By the way, never wax your own eyebrows!  That is just a recipe for disaster; leave that one to the professionals.  Tweeze at home if you need to touch up your eyebrows.  Waxing is actually more complicated than it appears.  The esthetician needs to understand how the hair grows in the area that is being waxed, what temperature the wax should be at, and she also needs to prepare the skin properly before the wax treatment and treat it properly after the wax treatment.  Like I said –  perhaps you want to leave this one to the professionals.  Also it is extremely important to be very sanitary while waxing.  So if you do go to a spa for waxing be sure it is very clean.   Another reason to go to a spa for waxing is the fact that wax is messy.  It drips everywhere very easily and is not easy to clean once it has dripped.  Waxing can be quite painful so if you have a low pain tolerance take a painkiller about an hour before your treatment.  The area that has been waxed can remain red and sensitive for a long time after waxing; you can even bleed from waxing.  Personally I’ve been red for an hour or more after waxing.  So I wouldn’t plan on going on a date right after having your upper lip waxed.  Waxing leaves your skin very smooth, but you can breakout after waxing.  Use a little salicylic acid on the area of the breakouts.  Sometimes you can have ingrowns after waxing so be sure to exfoliate the area that was waxed regularly.  You can even use a washcloth for the exfoliation.  There are many different types and formulations of wax available.  That is another reason to leave the waxing to a professional who knows the different options.




Personally I’ve stayed away from depilatories ever since I used one at age 14 or so on my bikini area and gave myself a horrible, painful, red rash.  I also think they smell horrifying.  So I’m not a fan of depilatories though that doesn’t mean they don’t work for some people though personally I also don’t think they work very well.  In my opinion skip the depilatory and just shave since both shaving and depilatories are the same method of hair removal and last the same amount of time.  Depilatories are made from caustic ingredients like calcium hydroxide and sodium thioglcolate which literally melt and dissolve hair on the surface of your skin.  Once again, in my opinion, just shave if you want to temporarily remove hair.




Electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal since it kills the hair bulb at its source with electricity.  Even laser hair removal is not considered permanent just electrolysis.   The person who performs electrolysis has been specially trained just in that field and will licensed just in that area of hair removal.  I’ve never tried electrolysis, but I know from a friend who has that it is quite painful.  It also takes a long time to get the desired results from electrolysis, and as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong, you can only get electrolysis on your face.  I think it would just take too long and be too painful anywhere else on your body.


Laser Hair Removal


Laser hair removal is becoming more and more and more popular for a reason – it works.  Well usually.  Results vary so don’t expect a miracle when you get laser hair removal.  But I definitely think that if you have the budget for laser hair removal you should try it.  I had IPL hair removal on my bikini area and it worked wonderfully.  I also had it done on my underarms and it didn’t work at all, but I felt that my money was well spent because of the results on my bikini area.  Laser hair removal is considered a permanent hair reduction NOT removal.  Do not go to a place that guarantees to remove all your hair permanently with laser treatments.  It is actually illegal to make that claim.  There are so many different types of lasers on the market and new ones are coming out each day so I am not going to go into specific in this post about lasers.  Just be aware that it will take at least four if not many more sessions to get the results that you want with laser hair removal.  The process shouldn’t be particularly painful but the pain issue varies from laser to laser and person to person.  Laser hair removal should not be taken lightly.  Be sure to find a reputable place to get your treatments at and ask a lot of questions before paying any money.  If you don’t get the answers you want during your consultation take your business elsewhere.


I’m a huge fan of Barbie so I couldn’t resist including the above image in this post.  I guess even Barbie takes her hair removal seriously while wearing heels.

Sources and Further Reading



Why Visit An Esthetician? And How to Find a Good Esthetician April 14, 2010

I was already planning on writing this post when I received a question the other day from a reader.  The reader asked basically:  “How can you know if you’ve found a good esthetician?”.  This post will attempt to answer that question, and I would love comments and feedback from readers if they agree or disagree with my take on things.


Why Should You Visit An Esthetician?


The way I see it first and foremost you should visit an esthetician to get expert skincare advice.  There is so much confusing skincare and product information available to the average consumer that it is completely overwhelming.  Estheticians are concerned with the beauty and health of the skin so if you have questions or concerns about the appearance of your skin an esthetician can help you cut through all “the noise” so to speak and help you understand what ingredients and products are right for your skin.  Of course, if you think that you might have a skin infection or if you have a suspicious growth, etc. do not go see an esthetician about those concerns.  You need a doctor to address those issues.

Go to an esthetician to relax.  A basic facial should for the most part, except during the extractions part obviously, be a relaxing and pampering experience.  For instance when I do a basic facial I do a neck, shoulder, face, and hand massage during different points in the treatment.  When performing a basic facial I want my client’s to relax and forget about their problems for an hour.  There is nothing wrong with indulging yourself a bit.

You should go see an esthetician if you want to get to know your skin better.  I know that might sound a bit strange, but an esthetician will look at your skin under a magnifying light so she will see things that you cannot when you look in your bathroom mirror.  Additionally, estheticians are used to looking at all types of skin and skin conditions so they can let you know what they think of the health of your skin and help you plan a home care regime that will improve the look and health of your skin.

Estheticians can sell you great skincare products that are not available in stores.  Yes, there are great products out there that you can buy at the drugstore, Target, Ulta, and Sephora.  But there are also really wonderful products, quality products, that can only be purchased through an esthetician.  And there is no need to think that skincare products you purchase through an esthetician will be expensive.  You can find great products at all price points.

Get a treatment from an esthetician that you can’t do on your own.  By this I mean treatments like microdermabrasions and chemical peels, and even laser treatments if the esthetician works for a doctor.  These “hardcore” treatments will get you more dramatic results in much less time than by just using products at home.

Lastly, you might see an esthetician once a month, but you take care of your skin twice a day so go see an esthetician in order to develop a personalized home skincare regime.  Your esthetician can sit with you and go over the products you are using now, recommend new products, and write out the steps of your home care regime.  Getting the right home care products will make a tremendous difference in the upkeep of your skin and in its health and beauty.

How To Choose An Esthetician or How To Find A Good Esthetician

So I guess I should define what a “good esthetician” is.  I actually think that the definition of a “good esthetician” is entirely subjective when it comes down to it.  I think finding the right esthetician is finding the right esthetician for YOU.  And that comes down to chemistry, almost like dating.  Sometimes you click with a person, sometimes you don’t.  I actually only started to consider a career in esthetics because the esthetician I was going to see, and whom I trusted and liked, recommended that I think of this as a career path.  It took me time to take her up on your suggestion, but obviously I am glad that I did.  If you feel comfortable with someone than they are the right esthetician for you (and even help you figure out a career path).

When it comes to finding an esthetician to sculpt your eyebrows or do your waxing I would ask friends for recommendations.  If you like the way your friend’s eyebrows look ask her where she gets them done.  Or look online for reviews of spas.  Of course, the reviews that you find online can be overwhelming and confusing at times (one person loves a place, the next person who reviews it hates it) so I still think asking friends for recommendations is a good idea.

If you are someone who reads Allure and New Beauty and keeps up on all the latest skincare research herself I suggest you ask your esthetician some questions in order to gauge her knowledge level.  Personally, one of the reasons I entered this field is because there is always something new and interesting to learn; there are always new scientific discoveries that pertain to skincare so the field never gets boring.  I believe that estheticians should constantly be reading about new breakthroughs and keeping up with the latest trends in our field, but some people don’t find that as important as others.  But I do believe that it is important for consumers to be educated about skincare because, unfortunately, there is so much misinformation and marketing bs out there.  If the esthetician cannot answer your questions in a manner that you see fit (and I do feel it is ok for the esthetician to say “I don’t know the answer to that”) you might want to consider taking your business elsewhere.  Personally I also think that estheticians should talk to their clients about the importance of daily sun protection and emphasize the need to need to apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

Don’t assume just because a spa is expensive that the estheticians who work there will be “better” than someone who works at a small business or works from her home.  Don’t forget how people often get jobs – through connections not necessarily through actual skill.  Yes, it is safe to assume that a spa that has made a name for itself will invest in extra training for its staff, but you also never know.

Another way to figure out if you’ve found the right esthetician for you is, of course, how much you enjoyed your treatment.  If you went to get a facial to relax and the esthetician talked the whole time perhaps you need to find someone new or simply be more clear at the beginning of the treatment of your expectations.  I actually think the more you speak up at the beginning of your treatment – whatever that may be a facial or an eyebrow waxing – the better.  If you are more clear on what you want the esthetician can give you the best possible service.

So those are my suggestions/ideas.  I would love comments!

Further Reading:


13 Reasons You Should Get A Chemical Peel From An Esthetician April 11, 2010

I think chemical peels are great and not just because they are part of my repertoire as an esthetician.  I like to think of chemical peels as a “reboot” for your skin allowing healthy skin appear.  A series of chemical peels can help treat a myriad of skin issues.  There really is no reason not to try one.

This post addresses the issue of chemical peels performed by estheticians.  There are plenty of “peels” that are available for home use.  Peels that you use at home provide very superficial peeling, simply exfoliation, and can help you maintain even toned, healthy skin.  Chemical peels performed by estheticians have a lower pH than home use products so that they can penetrate much deeper into the skin, will normally cause you to turn red, a lot of time your skin will peel following a peel, and these peels, when performed in a series, can treatment skin conditions such as hyperpigmentation and acne.  Simply put – a chemical peel performed by an esthetician will do a lot more for your skin than a home use product called a peel.

What Are Chemical Peels?

There are many different types of chemical peels, and each company that sells peels has its own series of formulations.  Having said that the chemical peels used by estheticians are generally a solution that has a combination or sometimes just one alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA).   The solution is applied to the skin, normally in layers though some peels are simply one layer, like a treatment mask.  The peel is either removed at the end of the treatment or left on to self-neutralize.  The acids in the peel work to dissolve the top layers of the skin creating a controlled wound and thus allowing the skin to regenerate itself.

Reasons to get a Chemical Peel

A chemical peel will:

  1. Improve the texture of your skin
  2. Increase the cell turnover rate of your skin
  3. Improve your skin’s ability to hold moisture
  4. Help your skin produce more collagen
  5. Reduce fine lines
  6. Decrease hyperpigmentation
  7. Unclog pores and help clear up acne
  8. Leave your skin smooth
  9. Make your skin softer
  10. Make your skin look more even-toned
  11. Give you a “glow”
  12. Make your skin look dewy
  13. Improve minor scarring

A chemical peel cannot make dramatic improvements to deep wrinkles or very sagging skin.  Conditions like that need to be treated with lasers or cosmetic surgery.

Who Can Get a Chemical Peel?

Truthfully pretty much anyone can get a peel as long as they don’t have any of the contraindictions listed below for peels.  Generally people with darker skin need to take more precautions before getting a peel and must make sure that the peel they are receiving is formulated for their skin type.  The reason for this is that very strong chemical peels can actually cause more hyperpigmentation on darker skin.

Contraindications:  It is generally recommended that pregnant and nursing women not receive peels since there are no studies, as of yet, about the effects of peels on fetuses or nursing babies.  You cannot get a peel if you have been off Accutane for less than 6 months.  If you are prone to cold sores a peel can actually bring on an outbreak so you need to take anti-viral medication before, the day of, and the day after your treatment.  Also if you have a tendency to scar, are taking antibiotics, have cancer or an autoimmune disease, or have an open sore you cannot get a chemical peel.

Everyone’s skin will be more sensitive to sunlight following a peel so make sure that you have plenty of sunscreen on hand after your peel, and be sure to vigilantly apply and reapply your sunscreen after a peel.  Hopefully the esthetician who performed the peel will either include post-peel products in the price of the peel or have them available for purchase at a reasonable price.

Make sure that the esthetician who is performing the peel has asked you an extensive list of questions before going ahead with your peel.  An esthetician must keep many factors in mind before performing a peel so that the client gets the best possible result with the fewest possible side effects.  You will be asked questions about medical conditions, allergies, the products you are currently using, and the results you want to achieve.  You may also want to go with a lighter peel the first time you get a chemical peel and build up the strength of your peels from there.  All of these issues should be discussed with your esthetician before you receive your first peel.

How Are Peels Performed?

Before you get a peel you should exfoliate at home or have a professional microdermabrasion treatment so that your skin in properly prepped for the peel.  Your skin will be cleansed and “degreased” before the peel is actually applied.  This means that all surface oils and debris are removed so that the peel can penetrate properly.

How Does It Feel?

Generally you will feel a warmth over the area being peeled during the procedure.  The esthetician performing the peel will either fan the area being peeled or provide you with a small electric fan to hold over the area.  You may feel stinging, burning, and even itching while the peel in performed.  Those sensations will stop once the peel is over.  Your esthetician will check in with you throughout the peel so if you ever feel any great discomfort she or he will know to stop the peel immediately.

What to Expect After a Peel

As I already mentioned first and foremost your skin will be quite sensitive to the sun following a peel so be extra vigilant about sunscreen use following your peel.   Because of this it usually isn’t a good idea to get peels in the summer or right before going on a vacation to a warm climate.

Following a peel your skin will feel tight and then a little dry.  You may remain red for an hour or so following the peel.  If you peel after the chemical peel treatment peeling will begin approximately 3 to 5 days following your peel.  The extent of peeling varies according to the person and the depth of the peel.  Not everyone peels following a chemical peel actually.  Some people have some mild itching following their peels.

Keep In Mind

Because chemical peels are stimulating you actually need to modify your lifestyle behavior slightly following a peel so that you don’t cause any unneeded irritation or hyperpigmentation to your skin.  So following a peel avoid excessive exercise with sweating for a few days.  Don’t scrub or pick at your face.  You cannot use retinol products or AHA products for at least 10 days following your peel.  And avoid any sort of excessive heat source like a sauna or hot tub.

How Often Can You Get a Chemical Peel?

Generally it is best to get a peel every four to six weeks.  But if you suffer from acne there are some peels that you can do every two weeks until you get the results you want.  Generally it is a great idea to buy a series of four or five peels up front so that you can achieve the treatment results that you want.  Also when you buy a series of peels upfront you will probably receive a discount.  Consider buying a deal that allows you to get chemical peels interspersed with microdermabrasion treatments or facials.  The microdermabrasions and the facials will enhance the results of the peel by helping to exfoliate the flaky skin you have on your face.  These treatments will also help prep your skin for your next peel.

When Will You See Results?

Truthfully chemical peels can be a bit unpredictable.  Some people see results as little as 10 days after their peels.  Other people won’t see results until about three weeks following their peel.  And for people who receive many facial treatments a chemical peel may just enhance the normal way their skin always looks.

Sources and Further Reading


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