Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

My Least Favorite Skincare Products April 30, 2012

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Recently I came across an article on WebMD that got me thinking.  Entitled A Few of My Least Favorite Things by Dr. Debra Jaliman the article lists eight of Dr. Jaliman’s least favorite skincare products, practices, and ingredients.  There were a few things on the list that I definitely agreed with like peel off strips, abrasive facial puffs, and highly fraganced products.

I decided that if I were to make up my own list of my least favorite skincare products, practices, and ingredients it would look like this:

  • Facial scrubs – I really am not a fan of facial scrubs for exfoliating.  I don’t mind them for the body, but I prefer that people use something different on their faces.  Facial scrubs are generally ineffective and yet simultaneously too harsh for a lot of people.  Since they only remove surface dead skin cells facial scrubs cannot get rid of blackheads or whiteheads or truly prevent acne.  Facial scrubs are not anti-aging products.  In order to prevent skin aging you need gentle acids and some version of retinol – either prescription or OTC.
  • Facial exercises – my husband sent me a link to a Japanese facial exercise mask which has to be one of the silliest things I have seen in a long time.  I dislike the idea that people think they can stop the aging process with 10 minutes of facial exercises a day.  See my post Stop Doing Those Facial Exercises!  Give Yourself a Facial Massage Instead in order to learn more about why facial exercises are a waste of time.
  • Skincare products that make false claims – there are so many examples of this phenomena that I can’t even begin to name them.  Suffice it to say – buyer beware when it comes to skincare products and claims.

My Related Posts:

Image from


What’s the NMF? April 26, 2012

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes someone else explains something so perfectly that I figure it is better for me just to pass along what they have to say instead of trying to paraphrase it.  Case in point, Dr. Leslie Baumann’s recent post on her website about the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF):

Natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is a blend of amino acids found naturally inside our skin cells that works to hold in moisture. Your skin’s NMF level is what determines whether your skin is “Dry” or “Oily,” but it can contribute to other skin concerns as well.

Dry skin has less NMF and environmental factors such as sun exposure and low-humidity air decrease levels of NMF in every type of skin. (If you’ve ever wondered why skin gets dry and peels after a sunburn, it’s because UV exposure lowers NMF levels.) Our skin compensates for arid air by producing more NMF, but it can take time (at least 3 days) for cells to ramp up and produce more. This is why skin often flakes and cracks after its first exposure to the winter elements.

When your skin is accustomed to a humid environment, the skin produces less NMF because it gets moisture from the air it’s exposed to every day. On the other hand, if you live in an arid locale such as Arizona, your skin will naturally produce more NMF.

Like we mentioned, you skin responds to dry conditions by producing more NMF, but it takes 3 days or so. But in the meantime, your skin will look and feel dry and tight. No moisturizer or oral supplement can provide the skin with NMF or prompt production, but extra hydration can ease the dehydration until your skin has a chance to catch up.

I found this skincare information particularly helpful in explaining how one’s skin reacts to environmental conditions such as weather and humidity.  Since I live in the Chicago area where we experience harsh winters (usually – this past winter was strangely mild) and humid summers I always try to stress to my clients how the weather impacts their skin and that you need to adjust your skincare products accordingly.  I also like the fact that the above information emphasizes the fact that our skin does repair itself and self-adjusts – it just takes time.  It is always important to remember that there are no overnight or miracle solutions for skin issues.  Patience is definitely needed if you want to see a real difference in how your skin looks and feels.

Image from


April is Rosacea Awareness Month April 23, 2012

Filed under: Skin and Skincare,Skin Conditions — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

April is Rosacea Awareness Month so I thought it would be a good time to remind my readers about this skin disease.

Here are some basic facts about rosacea:

Rosacea usually first strikes individuals between the ages of 30–60, and may initially resemble a simple sunburn or an inexplicable blush. Suddenly, without warning, a flush comes to their cheeks, nose, chin or forehead. Then, just when they start to feel concerned, the redness disappears.

Unfortunately, it happens again and again, becoming ruddier and lasting longer each time–and eventually visible blood vessels may appear. Without treatment, bumps and pimples often develop, growing more extensive over time, and burning, itching and stinging are common.

In severe cases, especially in men, the nose may become enlarged from the development of excess tissue. This is the condition that gave comedian W.C. Fields his trademark red, bulbous nose. In some people the eyes are also affected, feeling irritated and appearing watery or bloodshot. Severe cases of this condition, known as ocular rosacea, can result in reduced visual acuity.

Among the most famous rosacea sufferers is former President Bill Clinton, whose doctors disclosed that he has this condition in The New York Times. Others reported to have suffered from the disorder include Princess Diana, financier J.P. Morgan and the Dutch painter Rembrandt.

In new NRS surveys, 69% of rosacea patients said they experienced a flare-up related to emotional stress at least once a month, and more than 90% of the respondents said they had suffered some form of physical pain from their condition. A burning sensation was the most commonly reported discomfort, named by 75%, followed by itching, cited by 65%, and stinging, mentioned by 62%. Other types of pain associated with rosacea included swelling (44%), tightness (42%), tenderness (40%), tingling (31%), prickling (23%) and headache (20%).

Perhaps even more ravaging than its physical effects, rosacea often inflicts significant damage to people’s emotional, social and professional lives.

Source:  Only on April is Rosacea Awareness Month – Are You Helping Rosacea Clients Cope?

Though there is no cure for rosacea this skin disease can be kept under control by making lifestyle adjustments (avoiding alcohol and steam rooms, applying proper sun protection, and avoiding other individual triggers) and using the right skincare products.  The right skincare products will be soothing, gentle, and anti-inflammatory.  Figuring out what triggers your rosacea to become worse and then avoiding and controlling those triggers makes a huge difference in how your rosacea looks and then affects your life.

Hopefully in the future scientists and doctors will find a cure for this skin disease.

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from


When People Say the Following … April 19, 2012

As my fellow estheticians know we hear a lot of different statements about skincare from a lot of different people.  People share a lot about their lives when they come in for treatments.  I also get an earful about skincare practices, ideas, products, and convictions.  Of course I’ve developed a number of pet peeves about what people tell me.  Let me share:

  • “I only wear sunscreen when I’m outside during the summer” and “I don’t need to use sunscreen if I’m only driving in my car a short distance”  So many people seem surprised to find out that you need sunscreen 365 days a year – no matter what the weather or how long you are going to be outside.  Sunscreen needs to be a part of your daily skincare routine – no questions asked.  It that daily incidental sun exposure that really adds up and ages your skin.
  • “I never exfoliate”   Everyone needs to exfoliate – you just need to find the right exfoliant for your skin.  Personally I prefer lotion or serum exfoliants that you leave on the skin to scrubs since most scrubs are harsh and only remove surface dead skin cells.  On the other hand most exfoliating lotions or serums contain ingredients that not only exfoliate the skin but rejuvenate it as well.  Two brands that I like for exfoliating lotions are Epionce and Paula’s Choice.
  • “All skincare products make me break out” – this comment peeves me because it just can’t be true since there are so many skincare products out there.  If skincare products cause you irritation of any kind you need to go on a “skincare diet”.  Stop using all products and then add products back one by one so you can clearly determine if a certain product or ingredient is causing you problems.  There are also numerous skincare products on the market for sensitive skin so really there is something out there for everyone.
  • “I broke out right away when I used a product so I stopped using it”  Your skin needs time to adjust to new products, and you have to give yourself at least three months of trying products before you can determine if they are really effective or not.  If you are acne prone you can experience more breakouts at the beginning of using new products since new products can have a purging effect on the skin.  This means that the ingredients in the products bring to the surface breakouts or clogged pores lurking just below the surface of the skin.  This is something that is not uncommon when you are acne prone.  Don’t give up on new products before you give them enough time to work.  Try new products for at least 3 months before you give up on them.
  • “I don’t wash my face at night” and “I forget to take off my make-up at night”  I hear these statements a lot, and I can sympathize since I know how tired one can get by the end of a long day.  But despite how tired you are do make the effort to remove your make-up and wash your face at the end of the day.  This one simple step can be a life saver for your skin.

My Related Posts:


Image from


Back in Vogue – Retin-A April 16, 2012

While we are in pursuit of the latest and greatest skincare ingredients and the newest products that promise to miraculously give us perfect skin overnight we can lose sight of the tried and true skincare ingredients and products that really work as promised.  Case in point – Retin-A.

Vogue magazine recently published an article about Retin-A extolling its virtues and explaining its history:

All retinoids—the umbrella name for a class of compounds that encompasses retinol, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol aldehyde, and a host of others—are derivatives of vitamin A, one of the body’s key nutrients. Vitamin A’s mighty chemical makeup was identified in 1931, and the man who isolated and described it, Swiss chemist Paul Karrer, was rewarded with a Nobel Prize for his efforts. Retinol was a slightly rickety compound, prone to quick degeneration when exposed to oxygen and light. But by the 1960s, researchers were metabolizing retinol into its more stable (and more active) cousin retinoic acid and were beginning to understand its tremendous power in skin-care applications. Retin-A—a brand name for retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin)—was FDA-approved in 1971 as a prescription-strength treatment for acne, but dermatologists noticed almost immediately that a lot more than just breakouts were vanishing. Scores of patients began reporting a reduction in fine lines and hyperpigmentation, and the stampede began.

“Vitamin A is the go-to skin-care ingredient,” says Jennifer Linder, M.D., a Scottsdale, Arizona, dermatologist and chief scientific officer for the clinical line PCA Skin. “The best anti-ager is sunscreen; the next is vitamin A. Nothing else approaches it,” she says. Virtually all skin-care experts agree on this point—and in today’s world of peptides, growth factors, glacial water, and extracts from rare Corsican flowers, that’s saying a lot. “You can imagine that the question dermatologists get asked every single day is ‘What really works?’ ” says Linder. “Retinoids trigger change in the skin to make it look clearer and more youthful; they actually help skin get back to a healthier place. And there’s strong, strong clinical data behind that.”

What does Retin-A do exactly for the skin that is so effective?  Allure sums it up well:

HOW IT WORKS: Retinol speeds up cell turnover, sweeps away the dead cells that cause dullness, and boosts collagen and elastin by stimulating cellular repair at the deepest level of the skin. It also pumps up circulation by increasing blood-vessel formation, so skin looks healthier.

While Retin-A is the most effective anti-aging product on the market and can help erase both fine lines and acne for some people it can be irritating.  Known side effects of Retin-A include redness, irritation, dryness, and flakiness.  Keep in mind, though, that these side effects do not last forever.  After a few weeks, once your skin adjusts to the product, you will no longer experience those side effects.

Also remember that there are numerous prescription strengths and non-prescription versions of Retin-A available so there really is a formulation out there for everyone.  Once again I’ll turn to the Vogue article to explain:

In an attempt to tame the wildness of retinoic acid, researchers revisited its milder parent molecule, retinol. For decades it had been neglected as a skin-care ingredient because it was even trickier to stabilize than retinoic acid. The genius of retinol, researchers realized, is that it isn’t active when applied to skin. Retinol goes on in an inert form and is then switched to on-mode by your own skin. Your cells receive the retinol, hang on to it until they’re ready, and then convert only what they need into retinoic acid. This has tremendous benefits, says dermatologist Dennis Gross, M.D.: “It dramatically reduces the negative effects of retinoic acid—the peeling, sun sensitivity, redness—but has all the same fundamental results. It just takes a little longer to get there.”

The latest breakthrough has been in making retinol stable enough to live in a bottle with other active ingredients. (Until recently, says Linder, some over-the-counter products touting retinol as an active ingredient were largely ineffectual, as the retinol frequently degenerated well before application.) In the past few years, cosmeceutical companies have made big advances in the microencapsulation of retinol: The retinol molecules are each surrounded by a tiny polymer film, like a slim-fitting suit of armor that protects it from light, oxygen, and other aggressors. When you apply the cream to your face, you create chinks in the armor, which frees the retinol to do its work.

There are so many different ways to adjust Retin-A or retinol use.  You do not have to use it every night to get great results.  If you live in an area that is cold during the winter you can use your Retin-A twice a week during that season and then bump up your use during the summer when the weather is warmer and there is more humidity in the air.  You might need to experiment a bit, but in the end you’ll figure out the right strength and how many times you need to use it a week in order to see great results with your skin.

I love Retin-A so much (I use a prescription version that is 0.05% strength and apply it three times a week at night) that I always wonder why everyone isn’t using some version of Retin-A or retinol.  If you haven’t tried Retin-A yet consider it, and if you have used Retin-A or retinol in the past but stopped figure out a version that will work for you.

Sources and Further Reading:

My Related Post:
  • All About Retinol  – a relative older post of mine, but a goody (if I do say so myself)

Image from


Is A Vegetarian Or Vegan Diet Bad For Your Skin? April 12, 2012

I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years, and have no plans to start eating meat any time soon, so could that mean I am hurting my skin instead of helping it?  Truthfully I didn’t think that the lack of animal protein in my diet was hurting my skin at all until I read the following post from esthetician Renee Rouleau on her blog:

From working with skin hands-on as an esthetician and skin care expert for over twenty years, I have to say that I most definitely have seen similarities in the skin of people who have a vegan diet versus those who are not. What I have noticed is a dull, tired, sallow look to the skin, similar to that of a heavy smoker’s skin, as well as a premature loss of skin tone. By no means am I knocking someone’s choice to live a vegan lifestyle, I’m simply sharing my observations and thoughts.

Because a vegan diet consists of mainly fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains, those that follow it may have trouble getting enough protein—the building blocks for skin. Protein is an essential component that makes up cells in the epidermis, including collagen and elastin fibers to keep skin firm and smooth.

Many vegans rely on beans and soy as their main source of protein, but protein that comes from fish, poultry and meat may be more complete and therefore make for a better effect for the appearance…

Now I am not going to argue with Rouleau’s hands on experience and observations about how people’s skin who follow a vegan diet looks because of her experience and expertise (and on a side note, the more I read of Rouleau’s blog the more I like her and her advice, usually), but I can go by my experience being a vegetarian for a long time and I certainly can research this topic – which I did.  Though Rouleau mentions specifically an issue with vegan’s skin, vegan’s do not eat any animal protein or any food derived from animal sources like eggs, dairy, or honey, I chose to tackle this question by looking at both a vegetarian (a vegetarian will eat dairy, honey, and eggs) and vegan diets as well.

I found it really interesting that a lack of animal protein in someone’s diet would influence how their skin looks since you can get enough protein in your diet from dairy, eggs, and legumes (not to mention certain grains as well like quinoa).  Making a statement that a person needs animal protein in their diet for good skin – is that just an anti-vegetarian or vegan bias?  I have to admit that the minute I read Rouleau’s post I got a little defensive about my vegetarian diet and how my skin looks, and I really wanted to research this topic further.

Yes, Protein Is Important But You Don’t Need Meat

A well balanced diet is key to both having and maintaining great skin, but a well balanced diet means that you eat a wide variety of foods from many sources not just animal sources.  I looked through my various books at home and searched online in order to see if others agreed with Rouleau’s statement that consuming animal protein was necessary for building collagen.  I only found one other source that said the same thing.  Mostly my research yielded the similar lists of foods that promote great skin and good health like a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts, olive oil, lean protein like fish, poultry, tofu, and legumes, and whole grains.  When it comes to building collagen in the skin, in particular, New Beauty suggests eating the following foods:

Boost your body’s collagen with the following eight foods:

1. Water-rich vegetables like cucumber and celery have a high sulfur content, which is important in collagen production. Collagen can’t be produced if sulfur isn’t present.
2. Fish creates stronger cells. Fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Skin cells are surrounded by a fatty membrane that protects them. When the cells are healthy, they are able to support the structure of the skin.
3. Soy blocks aging. Whether sourced from soymilk, cheese or tofu, soy contains genistein (plant hormones that serve as antioxidants), which prompts collagen production and helps to block enzymes, like MMPs, that can age the skin.
4. Red vegetables are a natural form of SPF. Tomatoes, peppers and beets contain the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene protects the skin from damage while increasing collagen levels, acting as a natural sun block.
5. Dark green vegetables, rich in vitamin C, like spinach and kale, rev up collagen production. In topical products, vitamin C stabilizes messenger enzymes that break down collagen. It also prevents weak collagen by protecting against free radicals.
6. Berries ward off damage. Blackberries and raspberries scavenge free radicals while simultaneously increasing collagen levels.
7. White tea supports structure. According to research conducted by Kingston University and Neal’s Yard Remedies, white tea may protect the structural proteins of the skin, specifically collagen. It’s believed to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen, contributing to lines and wrinkles.
8. Orange vegetables, like carrots and sweet potatoes, are rich in vitamin A, which restores and regenerates damaged collagen

So while an animal protein does show up on this list there are plenty of other options as well for building collagen.  Dermatologist Nicole Rogers, MD, on WebMD, answers the question about what to eat in order to prevent wrinkles thusly:


What kind of foods should I include in my diet to prevent wrinkles?


It’s helpful to ingest foods that are high in antioxidants. These foods can help absorb the free radicals created in your body by UV light exposure, which can break down collagen and create fine lines and wrinkles. Foods high in antioxidants include dark berries such as blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Beans are also high in antioxidants, including red beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Also, drinks that may be helpful include green tea, red wine, and coffee, all in moderation of course.

No mention here either of having to eat animal protein.

I also turned to Dr. Carl Thornfeldt in his book The New Ideal in Skin Health to see what he had to say about diet and aging (pages 445-446):

It is well known that a poor diet contributes to exacerbation and severity of skin lesions, preventing proper healing and reducing remission time.  The blame has been directed at many different types of food, and while many of those claims are not valid, a healthy and balanced diet certainly can make a huge impact to one’s skin.  Beginning in elementary school, Americans are taught to eat according to the FDA four food groups that has been upgraded to become the Food Pyramid.  However, most people do not actually follow those guidelines.  To help with overall skin health, the reduction of sugar consumption is critical and should be the first step.  Incorporating at least one additional serving of preferably fresh fruits and vegetables a day is also an effective way to improve overall health that corresponds directly to the health of one’s skin.

Furthermore, Dr. Thornfeldt points out that there is an ingredient that is widely and universally consumed that is ruining our health (and aging us by causing inflammation):

Refined White Sugar is Nutritional Public Enemy #1

The least popular recommendation I make is to avoid refined sugar.  When raw sugar – from sources such as sugar cane or sugar beet – is bleached so that only the pure sucrose is left, it is called “refined sugar.”  Refined sugar is what you would buy in the store as white sugar.  Refined white sugar is nutritional health public enemy #1 because it activates the glycation inflammatory pathway and stimulates excess insulin production by its high glycemic index, which is the speed of raising blood glucose levels, inducing an insulin spike.  This leads to further destructive inflammation.  Corn syrup contains fructose, which consists of a glucose and galactose.  Galactose has a lower glycemic index with slower absorption.  Brown sugar, molasses and honey all contain more complex sugars and proteins, thus improving the relative nutritional value as well as reducing the glycemic index.  (page 450)

In my opinion, and from the reading that I have done, I would call out sugar as a bigger collagen destroyer than not eating animal protein.  I struggle with my own addiction to sugar and keep trying to cut down on my sugar consumption in order to preserve my skin.  It’s hard.

Bottom Line:  in order to keep your skin looking youthful limit your refined sugar consumption and eat a balanced diet filled with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (from any source), and whole grains.

Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from


Applying Skincare Products One on Top of the Other – Was I Wrong? April 9, 2012

Last summer I wrote a post about if you actually needed to wait in-between applying skincare products, and I pretty much concluded that unless the product manufacturer told you to wait before applying another product on top of the one you just applied or if the bottom product proved in compatible to the top product without a waiting period then there was no need to wait.

So it seems that I was slightly off the mark with the advice that I gave.  I’ve come around to a new way of looking at things because of a post I read on The Beauty Brains website and because of my experience with the Epionce skincare line.  Since starting to use Epionce I’ve learned that I have to wait, which is hard for me, between certain steps in the routine.  For instance after applying my Lytic lotion or my Retin-A (I alternate nights with these products) I have to wait at least 7 minutes, but more is preferable, before applying my Epionce moisturizer or I run the risk of deactivating the active ingredients in the Lytic lotion or Retin-A.  It turns out that you need to allow your skin to fully absorb a product before applying the next one or you run the risk of not getting all the benefits from your skincare ingredients.

So that got me thinking about how important it is to allow products with active ingredients to be fully absorbed into the skin before going ahead with your next step in your skincare routine.  My nighttime and morning skincare routines are now a matter of playing a waiting game.  I apply one product, go do something else like brush my teeth, apply another product, get dressed or put on my pjs, and then apply another product.  Quick?  No, but at least I now know my products are getting time to absorb and I am not diluting them or halting their effectiveness.

Further Reading:

Image from


Anti-Aging Musts April 5, 2012

Creating an anti-aging skincare routine isn’t all that hard. If you keep a few key things in mind you’ll help your skin look great now and into the future.

Though I don’t advocate going crazy with anti-aging treatments when you are in your 20s do start thinking at that time about protecting your skin. As the Web MD article 10 Ways to Slow the Aging Process explains:

Think the early twenties is too soon to see signs of aging skin? Dermatologists see them commonly.

“The earliest signs of aging really start around the eyes. You can start to see some fine lines, and then on the face in general, some broken blood vessels and sun spots,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Typically, the more sun exposure, the greater the damage, she says.

Fortunately, the twenties and thirties are also prime decades for women to learn how to counter sun damage and other factors that age the skin, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is also director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center.

“What you do for your skin or against your skin will have ramifications as you age,” she says.

First, younger women must understand the pitfalls. For instance, Waldorf sees many who still embrace tanning. Often, they wrongly believe that skin aging is something to worry about down the road, not in their youth, Waldorf says.

Another common habit that damages young skin: smoking.

Ok so the article already mentioned two of the big no nos – sun and smoking. Here are more tips about those and other anti-aging musts:

  • Use sunscreen daily, even when it is overcast outside. When spending the day outside wear a hat and sunglasses, and reapply sunscreen every 2 to 3 hours when spending the day outdoors. Don’t forget that you get lots and lots of sun exposure even when you are going about your normal daily activities like driving, walking around the neighborhood, sitting by a window, and running errands.
  • Don’t smoke – smoking ruins your skin is so many ways. See my post below for more information about smoking and your skin.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – exercise, practice relaxation techniques, and eat right. When you take good care of yourself it shows in your skin.
  • Use skincare products with antioxidants in them to protect your skin from pollution, free radicals, and the sun.
  • Use a retinol or prescription Retin-A skincare product starting in your 30s in order to correct skin damage, smooth your skin, build collagen, and treat acne (if you need to).

My Related Posts:

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from


My Beauty Business Icons April 2, 2012

Filed under: beauty — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Allure published a list of their beauty innovators a while ago and that got me thinking: just who are my beauty industry icons? Allure named Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Max Factor, Bobbi Brown, and Charles Revson (founder of Revlon) as their beauty innovators since combined these five transformed the face of American beauty (or should we say faces?). While of these entrepreneurs have made lasting and important contributions to the American beauty industry I decided that my beauty icons were a little different (except I do agree about one of the people mentioned above). I’ve been thinking about this post for some time and finally decided that it was time to publish it even if, at the moment, only four people came to mind whom I wanted to highlight at this point. I have a feeling there will be a part two to this post in the future.

The four people I want to talk about in this post are: Bobbi Brown – make-up artist and mogul, Jane Wurwand – founder of Dermalogica and advocate for women everywhere, Linda Wells – editor-in-chief of Allure magazine, and RuPaul – drag superstar and role model. I know it is a diverse crowd, but why leave anyone out?

Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown began her make-up empire because she saw a hole in the beauty industry for make-up that real women wanted and needed. Allure explained it best in their piece about Brown:

As a makeup artist in the high-artifice times of the late ’80s and early ’90s, Bobbi Brown sensed that something was missing from the marketplace. She wanted to wear makeup that enhanced rather than transformed, that celebrated uniqueness and was easy to apply. So she made it herself, starting with a pinkish brown lipstick that instantly took off. But as much as women loved Brown’s colors, it was her underlying philosophy of self-acceptance that really struck a chord. “Beauty isn’t about looking perfect,” she said. “It’s about celebrating your individuality.”

Reading The New York Times‘ recent article about Brown, The Mogul Next Door, made me admire her even more. Brown seems down to earth and approachable and is really committed to helping others . She very actively supports Dress for Success which helps women from disadvantaged backgrounds find, prepare for, and keep professional jobs. Not only does Brown really does want all women to feel great about how they look she gives them the tools to do so. I have Brown’s book Makeup Manual which I really love. This book really helps someone learn to apply make-up beautifully – for daytime or nighttime looks and for all ethnicities. I learned how to do a smoky eye from this book. I feel that Bobbi Brown sets a great example for anyone looking to succeed in the beauty industry. She also shows that nice girls can finish first.

Jane Wurwand

I am sure that unlike Bobbi Brown few people outside of the spa industry have heard of Jane Wurwand, founder and owner of Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute (which offers post-graduate education for estheticians). In my opinion, the fact that Wurwand isn’t as well-known as Brown is a shame. As an esthetician I find Wurwand to be a great role model. Wurwand’s online bio from Dermalogica explains her key beliefs and causes:

Two core concepts guide the growth of the brand, as embodied by Jane herself: the transcendent power of human touch, and the far-reaching effects of education. These dual qualities have not only shaped the success of Dermalogica, but also provided a social blueprint for women’s financial success in every country and economy.

As a passionate advocate for mentoring and entrepreneurship, Jane writes and speaks frequently about the specific financial needs of women, especially in the developing world. Within the context of the skin care profession itself, comparatively modest licensing requirements and initial capital investments costs offer many women unusual access to financial independence. This experience is further enriched, socially, culturally and politically, by the fact that 98% of all professional skin therapists are women, and that these professionals attract a clientele which is 92% female—literally creating more woman entrepreneurs than any other industry in the world.

Through her work in many areas of philanthropy, education and women’s business development, Jane now champions her brand, via The Dermalogica Foundation, to create and support similar opportunities for women in other professions through a hand up, not a hand out. Jane shares the view that the future for world-economy depends upon the ability for women, especially marginalized women, to financially support themselves and their children. In January 2011, through her foundation and in partnership with, Jane launched a global initiative to empower women worldwide called FITE – Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship. The first microlending Web site that solely focuses on women entrepreneurs, FITE will help a minimum of 25,000 women to start or grow a business in over 57 countries around the world.

I think that it is great that estheticians have such a strong advocate for estheticians’ continuing education and success. I really admire Wurwand’s committment to helping women everywhere achieve financial independence. If you want to know more of what Wurwand thinks of a whole range of subjects be sure to read her blog. She’s feisty and opinionated, and I love it.

Linda Wells

Anyone who has read my blog with any consistency knows that I love Allure magazine (of course I even began this post by mentioning the magazine).   I love Allure for the make-up tips and tricks and for the up-to-date, excellent skincare information.  Yet another reason why I am a devoted reader of Allure is because of its editor-in-chief Linda Wells.  I wish Wells could be my friend since I feel like I know her just from reading her monthly letter from the editor in the magazine.  There is a realness to Wells’ attitude about beauty and celebrities that is refreshing and a pleasure to read.  Ok while I may be a die-hard Allure fan I feel like most people can really find something of value in this magazine in order to enhance their beauty routine.  Wells always seems to find the right balance between trying to look good and youthful without going overboard and being fake.  Lastly, unlike some beauty magazine editor-in-chiefs she really seems far from aloof which makes me like her even more.  And Allure almost never has articles about how to land a guy and what the newest sex position is.  It’s a magazine for intelligent women who just want to look good.

Coming in as a close second for my favorite editor-in-chief of a beauty magazine is Joanna Coles of Marie Claire magazine.  I “discovered” Coles while watching Project Runway All Stars where she was the mentor for the contestants.  I love the fact that Coles is straight-forward without being mean, that she’s intelligent, and a great advocate for women, especially working women.  I just wish I liked the magazine she edits more.  And by the way, am I the only one out there that develops “crushes” on magazine editors?  It must be a side effect on my life long fascination/addiction to glossy beauty and fashion magazines.


I know that my inclusion of RuPaul in this list of my beauty business icons may seem odd to many and quite a stretch given the category, but here’s a fact about me – I love drag queens. And I really love RuPaul. Yes, sometimes RuPaul can be over-the-top and outrageous, but I also think that she is very beautiful and glamorous. I also believe that RuPaul is a great role model and not just for gays or aspiring drag queens. I think everyone can learn more than a few self-esteem lessons from this drag superstar. Though RuPaul is really an entertainer above all and not a beauty maven, in the past RuPaul has been a cosmetic spokesperson (as the first face for MAC’s Viva Glam make-up whose sales support HIV/AIDS awareness), as well as a music star, and now a mentor to other drag queens on his show RuPaul’s Drag Race (and yes, I have watched the show, well I watched one season all the way through). If you read any of RuPaul’s books or bio you’ll see that RuPaul has struggled with finding his place in the world, low self-esteem, and substance abuse issues. Having overcome all of these I really believe that RuPaul serves as a gorgeous role model for anyone looking to express themselves without shame or embarrassment. Lastly, RuPaul proves that true beauty knows no boundaries.

I would love to hear who you admire in the beauty industry. Please share below.

image from


%d bloggers like this: