Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Change Your Eyebrows – Change Your Life June 13, 2010

Ok so the above title is a bit of an exaggeration, but I still think it is totally legitimate to say:  change your eyebrows – change your face!   A well-groomed and shaped eyebrow makes a tremendous difference in one’s appearance and is a beauty essential that, in my opinion, no women should overlook.

I am not sure why some women resist getting their eyebrows done.  I think some people might feel that it is a vain indulgence to pluck or wax their eyebrows.  Others might see it as a waste of time and money.  Or perhaps still others see doing their eyebrows as time-consuming and perhaps even impossible to keep up at home.  Once again, in my opinion, I think nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes, having well-groomed eyebrows may mean that you have to tweeze a few stray hairs once a day, but overall having well-maintained eyebrows improves your appearance tremendously so I think it is worth the time and effort.

Should You Always Go to a Professional?


Though one of things that I do as a esthetician is shape, wax, and tweeze people’s eyebrows I actually don’t think that you always need a professional’s help to groom your eyebrows.  If you’ve never had your eyebrows shaped or its been a long time since you did I do think it is worth it to go to an esthetician to have them shape your brows.  Then you can maintain the shape at home on your own.

Important Tip: If you do go to a professional to get your brows done – Speak up!  I actually had a client the other day for an eyebrow wax who immediately told me exactly how she wanted her brows to look, and I really appreciated her input.  I actually always ask my clients to tell me exactly how they want their brows to look, and then I stop at least once or twice while I am doing their brows to show them how they look so we can consult.  I do this because, frankly, everyone has a completely different idea of how their brows should look and what constitutes a beautiful eyebrow.  Just because I think someone’s brows should look a certain way doesn’t mean that my client wants their brows to look that way.  In addition, people take the shape of their brows very, very seriously and can cry over what they perceive to a badly shaped brow.  Beauty is so individual so be sure to try to articulate what you want in an eyebrow shape.  Personally I like natural, thicker looking brows on almost everyone so I am inclined to follow the natural shape of a client’s brows   when I am shaping them.  But not everyone wants that so that is yet another reason to speak up before your esthetician starts shaping your brows.  I would even suggest bringing in photos of models from magazines or photos of celebrities if you see a brow shape that you really like.  Eyebrow styles come and go.  At the moment a thicker eyebrow is in style but that hasn’t always been the case.  See the photos below as an example:

(By the way is anyone else in love with the Drew Barrymore Cover Girl ads as much as I am?  In my opinion whoever is doing the make-up for the ads is hitting a home run every time)

Some professional are really amazing at doing brows and have based their entire careers around it – Anastasia for example.   And some women prefer to only let a professional touch their brows since they understand what a positive impact their brows have on their appearance.  That is entirely up to you.  But if you want to try shaping and maintaining your brows at home read below for tips and resources.


Going It Alone: How To Do Your Brows At Home


If you want to attempt to shape or just maintain your brows at home there are plenty of resources out there to help you.

When you are doing your brows at home have on hand the following tools:

  • A small scissors
  • A disposable mascara brush
  • a white eyeliner pencil – buy the cheapest one you can find
  • a tweezer

Make sure you are in a location at home that has good lighting so you don’t need to squint too much to see your brows.  Don’t do your brows with a magnifying beauty mirror!  The chances you’ll over pluck greatly increase if you are front of a magnifying mirror.  Be sure to stop, step back, and check your progress throughout the process.  And take your time – though eyebrow hair grows back eventually this isn’t a process you want to rush.

Everyone who wants to teach you how to shape your brows on your own is going to show you the three points that you need to look for in order to create the right shape for your brows.  See the illustrations below:

Use your white eyeliner pencil to create the shape that you want for your eyebrow.  Pluck only the hairs that fall outside the white line or on the white line.  Like I already mentioned keep stepping back away from the mirror to check your appearance.  Use a little eye make-up remover to erase the white lines when you are done.

You don’t necessarily need to follow your natural eyebrow shape if you don’t want to.

I always think of Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas as someone with very stylized looking eyebrows (and yes, I do spend an awful lot of time obsessing about people’s eyebrows).  If you want to go that route by all means go for it:

If you aren’t sure how to proceed on your own watch a video about how to do your brows.  Personally I always seem to learn better from watching someone do something than just reading about it.  Here are two resources:

One note – Though I thought both of these video tutorials were good I think both of them miss a step.  You can begin doing your brows by trimming your eyebrow hair if necessary.  For example, for those of us for curly eyebrow hair trimming our hair ever so slightly is a must.  Use your disposable mascara brush to brush your eyebrow hair up on an angle.  Take your small scissors and very carefully trim the long, curly hairs.  Then brush your eyebrow hair down and see if there if there are any hairs to be trimmed.

Another resource for how to do your brows with step by step written instructions is

If you are still stumped about the shape of your brows use stencils.  You can buy them at Sally Beauty or


Filling in Your Brows


Personally I have too much hair everywhere on my body except for my eyebrows.  Go figure.  So I fill in my eyebrows every morning with eyebrow powder.  I use Bare Minerals though there are many, many more eyebrow powders  and products out there to choose from.  If you are going to use a powder I suggest applying it with a very small, angled eyeliner brush.  I use a brush I have from a kit of travel size, mini brushes.  You could use an eyebrow pencil to fill in your brows as well.  If you have unruly brows use a tinted or clear gel to set your brows.  I personally like this brow gel from e.l.f. because it only costs a $1.

One last note – if your brows don’t turn out exactly how you want them to look don’t panic – they will grow back and then you can try again.

Also – check out this interview with eyebrow guru Damone Roberts for even more tips.

Learn about threading, yet another way to shape your brows, in this article from Beauty Etc.

And see my post Over Tweezed Your Brows?  Don’t Worry for tips on filling in sparse brows.

For more tips also see 4 Ways to Get Fabulous Eyebrows from Daily Beauty.


Sun Care for Your Baby and Child June 10, 2010

As parents we have an important responsibility to protect our children from all kinds of harm and that includes properly protecting our children from the sun.  I know there is a lot of confusion amongst parents about the proper way to protect children from sunburn and from sun exposure in general so I hope this post will help clear up any confusion.

I think it is important to keep in mind why sun protection for children is so important.  Research has shown that two or more blistering sunburns as a child or as teen can increase the risk of melanoma later in life.  Excess sun exposure can lead to dehydration, fever, damaged skin, and even cataracts.   Skin cancer is the affects of cumulative sun damage starting in childhood and can, though very rarely, affect even children.  It is believed that DNA damage to skin cells that are less than 35 years old can increase skin cancer risk later in life.

The information here in this post I received from a pediatric dermatologist, from my son’s pediatrician, and from Simple Skin Beauty by Ellen Marmur, MD.



Over all Tips for Sun Care for Your Children


  • If at all possible try to avoid time in direct sunlight between 11 am to 4 pm (or just between 11 am and 2 pm even) when the sun is the strongest.  Yes, as a parent I know that this is pretty much next to impossible, but nonetheless I felt that I should mention this anyhow since it is something to keep in mind.
  • Remember that sand, water, cement, roads (and snow) reflect over one half of the sun’s rays.
  • Cloud cover and even smog do not block a significant amount of the sun’s rays from reaching the earth.  Just because it is an overcast or cloudy day does not mean that you cannot get a sunburn.


Sun Care for Babies Under 6 Months

First and foremost I want to put to rest the myth that you cannot use sunscreen on a child who is 6 months or younger.  While you don’t want to slather your baby with sunscreen at such an early age it is fine to use sunscreen on small areas of their bodies like the face and backs of the hands.  Of course your first option in order to protect such a young baby is protective clothing, a hat, and shade.   There are plenty of ways to create artificial shade for your baby with umbrellas and stroller canopies.

Sun Care Tips for Children Over 6 Months


  • Try to dress your kids in clothes that are lightweight but made with a tight weave.  Hold up clothes to the light to check the weave.  The less light that comes through the better.
  • Consider adding sun protection to clothes with SunGuard.
  • Buy your kids clothes that already has UPF protection (ultraviolet protection factor) especially their swim clothes.  It is actually pretty easy and affordable to find swim wear with UPF protection.  I’ve found items for my son with UPF protection at Target, Old Navy, and even the Disney store.  Or buy through One Step Ahead which pretty much has a solution for every real (or imagined) child issue.  Another great online site for clothes, sunglasses, and sun stroller covers for kids is Shady Lady Products.  I was impressed by both the selection and prices on this site.  They even sell a book about sun safety for children.
  • Consider buying your child sunglasses with UV protection.  One Step Ahead is a good source for that.
  • Make sure your child wears a hat.  I’ve been buying my son bucket style hats since they shade his face, ears, and neck.  Getting a child to wear their hat is a whole other story, of course.
  • Use sunscreen yourself and reapply so that your children learn from your example.  Wear a hat too.
  • Use sunscreen on your children.

Sunscreen for Kids


  • Remember that if all possible to apply sunscreen to your child about 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside so that the sunscreen has enough time to start working.  I know this can be hard so just try to keep it in mind.
  • Use plenty of sunscreen on your child – don’t skimp!
  • Make sure to cover your child’s entire face including ears.  Don’t forget their feet or the backs of the knees.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.
  • Reapply sunscreen immediately after swimming or after your child has been sweating excessively.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen:


  • Make sure that your sunscreen is broad-spectrum so that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 though 30 is preferable.  Spfs higher than 30 don’t offer much more protection since spf 30 already blocks 97% of the sun’s harmful rays; spf 30 will give your child more than adequate protection as long as you apply enough and reapply it.
  • “Waterproof” and “water-resistant” sunscreens offer about 4 to 20 minutes of protection while you are swimming.

Which Sunscreen Should You Choose:

Of course since the EWG annual sunscreen report came out recently there are many concerned parents, and I feel that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the report yet again (see my earlier post about my opinion on the report).  By all means follow the EWG’s sunscreen ratings if you want.  Just know that the EWG seriously disapproves of spray sunscreens which, in my opinion, are a god sent to parents who have fidgety and/or uncooperative kids.

  • Most doctors recommend using a pure mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide on babies and on children’s faces.  (I actually found that my son developed a rash on his face, though not on his body, when I used a chemical sunscreen on his face)
  • The pediatric dermatologist that I took my son to recommended Blue Lizard sunscreen (which, by the way, gets a good rating from the EWG if that is important to you).  She also recommended Walgreens zinc oxide paste sunscreen for his face.  Last summer I had no trouble finding this sunscreen, but this year I couldn’t find it any more at my local Walgreens.  Instead I bought him Walgreens Spf 70 sensitive skin sunscreen since it was the only one I could find that just had zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in its active ingredients.  I saw online that Walgreens also sells another mineral sunscreen – Walgreens Baby spf 60 pure and gentle sunscreen stick.
  • In her book Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Marmur writes that her children use Banana Boat Kids Quik Sunblock Spray Lotion.  I couldn’t find that exact product online but Banana Boat has plenty of sunscreen options.  I bought Banana Boat Sport Spray spf 50 for my entire family to use on our bodies this summer.


What to Do if Your Child Gets a Sunburn


  • If your child is less than one years old and gets a sunburn call your doctor immediately.
  • If your child is over one and gets a sunburn call your doctor if there is blistering, pain, or fever.
  • In case of a mild sunburn:

                      Give your child water to replace lost fluids

                      Use cool water on the skin to make it feel better

                      You can give your child medicine to relieve pain – but consult with a doctor first

                      Only use medicated lotions on your child if your doctor oks it

                      Keep your child out of the sun until the sunburn heals

Here are some kid sun safety tips from The Skin Cancer Foundation.

 Thank you to Jenny Silverstone from Mom Loves Best for the great inforgraphic!

I hope these tips help.  Have a great and sun safe summer! 


I Got a Skin Cancer Screening – Here Are All the Details June 8, 2010



PLUS –  a few things I learned about sunscreen during my visit to the dermatologist:

I do think it is important to practice what you preach so I went to get a skin cancer full body exam.  Of course the fact that my husband mentioned that a mole on the back of my neck which I can’t see at all looked strange to him helped push me to make the appointment as well.

The appointment itself was quick and easy and made all the better by the fact that the dermatologist was friendly and outgoing.  The nurse took my vitals and had me remove all my clothes except my bra and underwear; I put on a paper robe with the opening in the back.  Once the doctor entered the exam room I told her about the two moles I wanted her to look at in particular.  After she looked the moles over the doctor examined my entire body – from the scalp down, front and back including under my bra.   It took all of five minutes – quick and easy like I said.  Just think – five minutes to put your mind at ease (which is what happened with me) or to diagnosis a serious skincare condition.  I truly don’t see a reason not to do a screening.



And the sunscreen issue:

Since the dermatologist was so friendly I jumped at the opportunity to pick her brain a bit about some skincare issues.  First off I asked her what she thought about the EWG annual sunscreen report.  Her response was that she didn’t agree with the findings in the report and that the group’s conclusions were misguided and even silly.  Though my initially my thoughts about the EWG sunscreen report had been more borderline (see my earlier blog post about the report), that I was inclined to change my sunscreens to recommended brands by the EWG eventually, now after more thought I am beginning to think that the dermatologist is right.  Since the EWG is the ONLY group saying the things that they are saying about sunscreens I want validation for at least another source before agreeing with them.  The dermatologist told me that she recommends La Roche Posay Anthelios 45 Ultra-Light Fluid for Face and Vanicream SPF 30 (which by the way the EWG thinks is ok). 


So please consider getting a skin cancer screening ASAP.   All you need is five minutes (and ok time to wait to see the doctor too)


For more reasons to get a skin cancer exam read this article from Skin Inc. :  Skin Cancer Screenings More Important Than Ever


Exfoliation for your Body June 6, 2010

As the weather warms up we are all starting to show more skin.  And wouldn’t you want that skin to look great?  One of the best ways to make skin look wonderful is to exfoliate on a regular basis.


What Does Exfoliation Do?


Exfoliation helps to even out skin texture leaving your skin soft and smooth.  Without regular exfoliation your skin can appear dull and even be dry.  If you have body acne exfoliation is key in keeping your pores unclogged.  Regular exfoliation will help your body lotions and self-tanners will go on more evenly.  No more ashy or flaky skin either.  Each part of your body can benefit from regular exfoliation.  For instance if your lips are flaky from dead skin or dryness than your lipstick will appear flaky as well.  Exfoliating your lips can help get rid of that problem.


Recommended Products


  • One of my favorite body scrubs has been Soap and Glory Flake Away Scrub that you can buy at Target.  It works well, smells yummy (like peaches), and costs all of $10.
  • Sometimes I make my own body scrubs.  Mix household sugar with olive oil; use in the shower since this can be messy.  Or even use your coffee grinds after making coffee.  This works well but is messy as well so be prepared to have to spend time cleaning up your shower.
  • You can always use a washcloth to exfoliate.  It will do a decent job of getting rid of dead skin cell build-up and should make your skin a little softer and smoother.
  • Use a body lotion with added alpha hydroxy acids in it.  I would recommend using this in the evening before going to bed since acids make your skin more sensitive to the sun.  Products like this are particularly good for elbows, knees, and heels.  Ones to try: Paula’s Choice Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA or DDF Glycolic 10% Body Lotion
  • For lips New Beauty recommends The Lip Scrub by Sara Happ.  Personally I’ve never tried it, but I would love to hear from someone who has.



Feel free to share information about your favorite body exfoliation products.

For information about facial exfoliation please see my earlier post All About Exfoliation.


June is National Acne Awareness Month June 3, 2010

It turns out that June is National Acne Awareness Month. 

Did you know?

Nearly 80% of people will experience some form of acne during their lifetimes. Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting 60 million Americans at any one time, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Here are some resources to find out more information about acne, its causes, and treatment options:

  • – my hands down favorite online resource for all information about acne
  • Acne Month is a website set-up by the makers of  Differin and Epiduo.  This site is pretty good with lots good, basic information about acne and its causes.  Of course since it is sponsored by the manufacturers of prescription acne medications the site continually recommends that you go see a doctor for acne treatment.


Since I’ve suffered from acne ever since puberty I have a great personal interest in the topic.  No surprise – I’ve written about it a lot on this blog.  Here are some of my previous posts about acne:


If you have acne – don’t despair.  There are so many different treatment options available for acne.  There is a solution out there for your acne woes.


Why You Need Sunscreen June 2, 2010

When I saw this article – For Boomers, Sunblocks Come Late –  in The New York Times a few weeks ago I debated if I should write a  post about it or not.  At the time I decided against writing a post about the article because I felt that I had already written enough in my blog about the need for proper sun protection and how you can and should protect yourself from the sun in order to avoid skin cancer.   But today I changed my mind in light of the EWG report on sunscreen and the overwhelming interest that people have in the report.  As I wrote in my own blog post about the report, one of the things that I am afraid that will happen because of this negative report on sunscreens is that people will stop using their sunscreens altogether out of fear that the sunscreens are doing more harm than good.  In my opinion nothing could be further from the truth so I felt that this article had now became more timely and showed with great clarity why you need and want to use sunscreen daily.

The author of the article Michael Winerip chronicles his own history of severe sunburns in his youth and skin cancer lesions he developed later in life.  As in the case of other articles I’ve written about in the past I think excerpting parts of the article here would be interesting (and enlightening):

Older white men like me are the worst when it comes to skin cancer rates. While the death rate from melanoma — the most severe skin cancer — has been declining for 20 years for people under 50, men over 50 have the highest increase in death rate, 3.2 percent a year since 2002. The highest annual increase in incidence of melanoma is among white men over 65, 8.8 percent a year since 2003. And while there’s also rapid growth among young white women ages 15 to 34 (40 percent of 18-year-old women have used a tanning bed in the last year, compared to 8 percent of men, according to the American Academy of Dermatology), nearly twice as many men as women die of skin cancer each year.

So here’s what I can’t figure: How could I have been so stupid? How was I so oblivious for 40 years, and could I blame my mother for any of this? Dr. Darrell S. Rigel, 59, a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology, and editor of “Cancer of the Skin,” a leading textbook in the field, advises against blaming mothers. “My own mother would spend hours tanning in the backyard, and developed a melanoma,” he said. “The public awareness on this is relatively new, 20 to 25 years.”

The progression from serious sun exposure to skin cancer can take decades to unspool in our DNA. “What we’re seeing now, in increased rates of melanoma, is what people did in the ’80s,” Dr. Rigel said. “Baby boomers out baking in the ’80s.”

Why didn’t baking boomers slather up? Turns out, the protective sunblock that we’ve doused our children with is relatively new. “In the ’60s and ’70s all we had was suntan lotion with an SPF of 2, to take a little edge off the sun,” Dr. Rigel said. “The first SPF 15 was introduced in 1986 and 30 SPF not until the early ’90s.”

Furthermore, dermatology was quite primitive when we were born. In the 1950s, Dr. Rigel said, doctors were still amputating limbs to stop the spread of melanoma. As late as the 1980s, he said, there were no good studies on how big a margin needed to be when removing a melanoma, and incisions would stretch 8 to 10 inches.

As to why we boomers were the first to metastasize in a big way, Dr. Rigel rounded up the usual suspects: increased wealth and leisure; the explosion in air travel, allowing more vacations in sunny Florida, California and Arizona and at ski resorts; a thinning ozone layer; and a longer life span that gives us the opportunity to die of more things.

The good news is that skin cancer is one of the most treatable of cancers when caught early. Since the American Academy of Dermatology undertook its first national public health campaign 25 years ago, there has been steady progress in reducing death rates. The five-year survival rate for melanomas has improved from 82 percent in the mid-’70s to 87 percent in the mid-’80s and to 92 percent by the mid-2000s.

Early detection is crucial. If a melanoma is removed while still confined to the skin, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent; if it has spread to the lymph system or blood, the survival rate drops to 65 percent; if it has reached the organs, 15 percent.

And if you need to be scared into a checkup, Dr. Rigel can do it: “For a melanoma the size of a dime, there’s a greater than 50 percent chance it’s already spread beyond the skin.”

And that, he said, helps explain why the mortality rate is increasing among men over 65. “They’re resistant to getting spots looked at,” Dr. Rigel said. “They tell me, ‘I’m only here because my wife made me.’ ”


I think this article does a great job of highlighting some key issues: why you need to use sunscreen, why you should be concerned about skin cancer, why you must avoid tanning beds (or cancer beds as I like to call them), and why you should go to a dermatologist for a skin cancer body scan.


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