Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Beauty Products That Make Me Happy August 27, 2012

Filed under: beauty — askanesthetician @ 4:19 am
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I’ve been in the process of moving for over a month now, and at this point my life feels rather chaotic.  Being in a constant state of flux, not feeling settled, and having to live without a lot of your stuff makes you appreciate your things – both the things you have with you and the things you don’t have with you.*  And realizing that you can live with less is also a very important lesson, for me at least.

In order to make myself feel like everything is normal despite the change happening all around me I turn to my beauty routine and beauty products to feel better.  Making sure I put my make-up on in the morning starts my day off right so that I can face the world even if I nothing my kitchen besides a dull knife, a scratched frying pan, and an old pot. The power of your beauty and make-up routine shouldn’t be underestimated. Making sure my lashes are curled and my mascara is on helps to make me feel normal despite the fact that my life is very different today than it was a week ago.

I’ve written before in this blog how a little mascara, some blush, and lip gloss can do wonders psychologically for everyone. I’ve seen it with the cancer patients I worked with through Look Good … Feel Better, and I feel it now myself.   So I guess I am really suggesting that if you’re experiencing a lot of change keep up your beauty routine in order to bring some normalcy back to your life.

And so in no particular order here are the beauty products that make me feel good:

  • Tarte Amazonian clay smart mascara – I really can’t vouch for any of the company’s claims about what this mascara does for the health of your lashes, but I can tell you that it goes on easily and leaves me with full, lush lashes. And I’ll be relying on mascara to give me fabulous looking lashes since all my Latisse spilled out of its container somewhere over the Atlantic while flying to my new home.
  • Any and all of Urban Decay’s 24/7 eyeliners.  Also Urban Decay’s 24/7 Glide On Eye Shadow Pencils make applying eye shadow a snap especially when you are not in your normal make-up applying environment.
  • Nars The Multiple, especially the shade Orgasm.  I’m certainly not the first and won’t be the last to talk about how fabulous this product is both as make-up and as a shade.  Easy to use, always looks great.
  • Sugar rose color tinted lip treatment from Fresh with spf 15.  Gives me natural color along with sun protection quickly and easily.


If I had a wine glass I would raise it now to the power of make-up as a feel good tool.  I always travel with lip gloss in my purse for a reason.


*And I don’t want to even begin to talk about the horrible things that are happening to my skin as I move from place to place and climate to climate.  Distressing to say the least.

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UPF Clothing – Really Protecting You From The Sun? August 20, 2012

Loyal readers to this blog know that I am sun protection obsessed.  Besides for reminding my readers to always use sunscreen I have promoted the use of clothes with built-in sun protection and laundry detergent additives that wash sun protection into your clothes (I have also used this laundry additive myself) in this blog.  But I had to rethink my promotion of these products when I read The New Times article New Breed of Products Is Said to Offer Sun Protection, but Doubts Linger back in May.  (Yes, May.  I’ve been slow to write about this issue)

Now why would I start to rethink my position on these products?  For a very simple reason – there is no oversight over their production, just over how they are advertised.  So you have to trust that the product is doing what the manufacturer says it is and being the cynical person I am I sometimes doubt that companies have the consumers best interest in mind.

The article does a good job at explaining the dilemmas surrounding these products:

…  manufacturers are upping the ante with whole new categories of chemically treated products that purport to block ultraviolet light. The products range from clothing and shoes to makeup and umbrellas. There are even sunscreen bikinis that pledge to shield those patches of skin that they actually cover.

But consumers and dermatologists have their doubts. Among those doctors who view this new breed of products as just so much marketing is Dr. Naomi Lawrence, head of procedural dermatology at Cooper University Medical Center in Camden, N.J.

“When it comes to sun protection, you really can’t beat a dark shirt with a tight weave and a good hat,” she said. “There is a lot you can do and not spend a lot of money.”

Which is not to say that many UV-protective products do not do what they promise. UV-protective clothing — once the realm of specialty retailers catering to skin cancerpatients, but now a hot seller for brands like the Gap, Izod,Uniqlo and Lands End — add protection by infusing fabric with chemicals that absorb UV rays, like titanium dioxide or Tinosorb. Sunscreen-infused laundry additives work the same way. With the infusion, summer-ready materials like cotton and linen can keep harmful rays from reaching the skin, even if the fabric is white, yellow or light blue, for example.

Because standard clothing must be densely woven or dark colored to offer advanced UV protection, these specially treated clothes are “good if you want something long-sleeved that is also lightweight,” Dr. Lawrence said.

But as sun-protective clothing has made its way into the mainstream, seemingly obvious features like sleeves have occasionally been sacrificed, defeating part of the purpose. Lesser offenses include shorts and sleeveless shirts, while items like bikinis — which claim to offer the maximum degree of sun protection — might be a bit of a stretch.

…  The Food and Drug Administration briefly regulated sun-protective clothes in the early 1990s, classifying them as medical devices. While it no longer does that, the Federal Trade Commission does monitor marketing claims about garments and sun protection. A measurement called UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, is the standard for UV-protective clothing. Developed in 2001 by ASTM International, a product-testing agency, a UPF ranges from 1 to 50, with 50 being the most UV light that is blocked by a garment.

Despite the doubts about these clothes why are consumers still purchasing them?

While no one tracks sales of sun-protective products across categories, the market for them is clearly growing, said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with the NPD Group, a research company.

“Coming out of the recession, consumers are looking at products with a greater level of scrutiny and greater expectations,” he said. “They want their products to do more than just one thing, not just to look good, but to travel well and to match their lifestyle and to protect them from the environment.”

So is it a good idea to invest in these types of clothes which generally are not cheap?  I think that if you spend a lot of time outdoors in a sunny climate than yes.  Clothes like these could definitely benefit people who exercise outdoors in the summer and have a tendency to both sweat off their sunscreen and/or not have the time to reapply.  Clothing with built-in sun protection could be a real help to such people.  Just make sure you buy your clothes and products for a reputable manufacturer and read consumer reviews before hand.


Further Reading:

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My Most Popular Posts August 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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WordPress makes it easy to learn all sorts of statistics about your blog.  So it is always interesting for me to see which posts of mine are the most popular.

My Three Most Popular Posts

  1. How to Get Rid of Blackheads
  2. 13 Reasons You Should Get a Chemical Peel From an Esthetician
  3. Bumps on Your Arms: Solutions for Keratosis Pilaris

I’ve always found it fascinating that my post on keratosis pilaris is so popular.  The popularity of this post made me realize that this is obviously a common skin issue that many people are seeking relief from.

The Most Popular Search Terms That Lead Readers to My Blog

  1. Blackhead
  2. Sunscreen

And what’s the third most popular term that leads people to my blog?  Blackheads.  Since blackheads are a persistent, widespread, and vexing problem I am not surprised that so many people are searching online for solutions for this issue.

Top Shared Posts From My Blog

The results in this category were particularly intriguing to me.  Here are the top two posts that people shared from my blog:

  1. Are Parabens in Skincare Products Safe?
  2. About

I was actually pleased to see that people shared my post about parabens since there is an incredible amount of misinformation and misunderstanding out there about parabens, their use in skincare products, and their safety.

I was intrigued by the fact that people would share my about page with others.  What makes that page so interesting?

The most popular place to share my posts?  Facebook, of course, followed closely by Twitter.

And speaking of Facebook – if you haven’t liked my Ask an Esthetician page on Facebook yet please do!  I share articles and information there that do not make it into my blog.

And many thanks to all my devoted readers!

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What Personality Traits Does An Esthetician Need? August 9, 2012

Filed under: Esthetics/Estheticians — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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I’m not quite sure why, but I’ve been thinking about the contents of this topic for a while now.  What personality traits do you need in order to be a good esthetician?  Why are certain personality traits important if you want to be an esthetician?

I would say that an esthetician needs to have the following personality traits in order to do her job well:

  • be compassionate
  • be a good listener
  • be empathetic
  • be helpful
  • like people or be a people person
  • be open-minded
  • be patient
  • be caring and kind
  • be professional
  • want to always continue learning
  • be genuine
  • have a thick skin
  • be positive

Why did I choose the above personality traits?  When working with people very closely, as an esthetician does, you have to be compassionate, caring, kind, and empathetic because people are going to open up to you both about their skin issues and about their lives.  This is also why you need to be a good listener.  Since estheticians are dealing with their client’s appearance (after all we literally wear our skin for the entire world to see) you have an opportunity to positively impact someone’s life during your time with them by giving them a genuine treatment that meets their skincare goals.  I put the word “their” in bold for a reason – one thing that an esthetician always has to remember is that you are there for the client.  So if the client asks you to apply their make-up a certain way or shape their brows in a strange way you have to consider their request very seriously.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t gently try to steer your client in another direction that you think is better, but if you want to keep that client you need to do so in a gentle and caring manner.

An esthetician has to be both open-minded and like people in order to succeed. I’ve met the most interesting people while doing facials for them, and I have clients of all races and religions.  It is wonderful how cultural and religious barriers breakdown easily while doing a facial so always keep an open mind when meeting a new client.  Having said that you as an esthetician don’t need to tolerate racist or abusive treatment by your clients.  You can definitely set boundaries.  And having learned this the hard way, I can definitely say that you should try to steer away from speaking about politics and religion with your clients unless you know them really, really well.  Those subjects are so personal and sensitive it is easy to both offend or get offended when discussing them.  It is just best to avoid them altogether.

Ideally estheticians should love helping people in a very genuine way.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me feel to hear from someone that a treatment I gave them or a product I recommended helped their skin look better.  If you are bitter about life your clients will sense that.  Keeping a positive attitude, even if your personal life is falling apart all around you, is vital to being a good esthetician.

An esthetician should be knowledgable about skin functions and products, but she should also have the drive to want to keep learning.  The esthetics field is constantly evolving and changing so you have to stay up to date.  If you don’t like learning new things being an esthetician might not work for you.

Lastly, to be an esthetician you need a thick skin.  I have always been a sensitive person so this last one is still a struggle for me.  Not everyone is going to like you even if you give them a great treatment.  They might never come back to you for reasons you can’t even understand.  And there is always going to be someone who won’t like how you do their eyebrows, or wax their legs, or do their facial.  As long as the naysayers are outweighed by the positive feedback you’re doing fine.  Some days are hard, some clients are impossible and that is why staying positive is always important.  Believe me I know that this is easier said than done especially after seeing a nasty client, but trying to focus on the positive is really the only anecdote to all that negativity.  So many times when someone is nasty to you, you just need to remember – it is all about them and really has nothing to do with me.

So my fellow estheticians who read this blog and those out there who get spa treatments – do you agree or disagree with my above list of personality traits esthetician’s should have?  Let everyone know what you think!  Share away!

Further Reading From My Blog:

Further Reading from Other Sources:

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Time to Stop Spray Tanning? August 6, 2012

Filed under: Ingredients,skin cancer — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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I’ve recommended several times in this blog that if you want to tan you need to fake it.  I’ve discussed different ways to get a faux tan including the use of bronzers, self-tanners, and spray tans.  But as many of my readers may already know the safety of spray tans has recently been called into question.

In June of this year ABC News broadcast their investigation into the dangers of DHA, the ingredient in spray tans and self tanners that gives you your tan, when inhaled.  Basically, if inhaled DHA could be a possible carcinogenic.  Let me be clear – you need to inhale DHA, like you would do while receiving a spray tan, in order for it to pose a health risk.  Applying a self-tanning lotion to your body with DHA will not pose a cancer threat since you do not inhale the lotion through your nose, mouth, or eyes (or at least you shouldn’t if you apply it correctly).

According to the ABC News report the FDA has never approved the use of DHA in spray tans, but does allow its use in self-tanning lotions and creams, yet has not banned its use either in spray tanning.  There is also little to no oversight over the tanning industry (a fact I have lamented here in my blog more than once) so that this industry can pretty get away with saying whatever they want about the safety of tanning beds (which don’t kid yourself are never safe) and spray tans.  The ABC investigation included an undercover reporter who went to various tanning salons and inquired about the safety of spray tanning.  Her concerns were dismissed repeatedly.

The New York Magazine piece about this controversy quotes one of the doctors seen in the ABC News report:

“I have concerns,” said Dr. Rey Panettieri, a toxicologist and lung specialist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “The reason I’m concerned is the deposition of the tanning agents into the lungs could really facilitate or aid systemic absorption — that is, getting into the bloodstream. These compounds in some cells could actually promote the development of cancers or malignancies,” he said, “and if that’s the case then we need to be wary of them.”

Back in the seventies, when DHA (short for dihydroxyacetone, the chemical ingredient that darkens skin) was first approved by the FDA, it was only meant to be an ingredient in tanning creams. No one foresaw the popularity of spray tanning today, which obviously disperses DHA into the air (and, by proxy, into your lungs if you’re nearby).

“DHA should not be inhaled or ingested” today. It tells consumers on its website, “The use of DHA in ‘tanning’ booths as an all-over spray has not been approved by the FDA, since safety data to support this use has not been submitted to the agency for review and evaluation.” The agency advises consumers who spray tan they are “not protected from the unapproved use of this color additive” if they are inhaling the mist or allowing it to get inside their body. The agency recommends, “Consumers should request measures to protect their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation.”

While further studies will be conducted for more conclusive results (the original data was formulated after testing DHA on nonhuman cells), the bottom line is, be pale. You’ll look and feel much better in the long run.

(Now Spray Tanning Might Cause Cancer, TooNew York Magazine)

I always like to present two sides to every controversial topic I bring up here in my blog so I was interested to read a rebuttal to the ABC News report on the esthetician centered publication website Skin Inc. in the article Is Spray Tanning Safe?:

Many questions have recently been posed regarding a story featured by Good Morning America/ABC News regarding the safety of spray tanning. Kelly Richardson of B.Bronz offers her response to the report, and provides some tips and advice when discussing this with clients, employees and others.

The report, information and interpretations

The study that was used in the report presented by the media was done by the European Commission Scientific Study on Consumer Safety. This study was published in 2010.

The news media did not differentiate between data that was obtained for automated spray booths and for hand-held turbine devices. The hand-held turbine devices are considered to be safe and do not need/require many of the safety precautions that the automated spray booths require.

Spray tanning technique

The techniques that should be used are designed to minimize dihydroxyacetone (DHA) exposure to the clients. The suggested treatment time consists of less than two minutes of spraying with approximately 50 mL of product. The spray pattern should be designed to push the overspray to the ground, minimizing it and, lastly, it is always recommended that you do not run fans during or after the treatment, as it promotes inhalation. Also recommended is using an extraction fan if you do not have proper room ventilation.


The report by the European Commission shows that high levels of DHA should not be inhaled by either the technician or the client. Most “rapid-developing” products that are on the market have active ingredient levels of 14-22%, which are considered too high for inhalation.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

DHA (the same active ingredient in every self-tanner, spray tan or sunless tanning treatment) has been approved for decades by the FDA for cosmetic use. As there have been no studies on inhalation and exposure done directly by the FDA (even though the European Commission has done studies), they advise that the products should not be used in the mucous membranes. It is a good idea to have this verbiage in your client release form or available for your clients to review.

Additionally, the FDA has not studied DHA, and pregnancy or nursing. It is recommended you have clients who are pregnant or nursing to ask or get permission from their doctors before starting any tanning regimen.

Safety equipment

It is important to use a face mask or other protection when spraying. If you are spraying, especially multiple clients in a poorly ventilated area, it is crucial. Keep items stocked at your skin care facility, including lip balm, nose plugs and silicone covers for the nipple areas.

After having discussions yesterday with many spray tanners, and professionals in the industry from insurance companies and other manufacturers, most had serious questions as to whether or not eye coverings used in tanning salons for UV protection would protect for spray tanning. It was our general consensus that these products do not, and better protection would be having the customer keep their eyes closed during the treatment. I would discuss with your insurance agent and find out what they require and recommend you to have on hand for your customers.

Of course, the ABC News report gave me a lot to think about.  Anytime I have a client who tells me how much they love tanning (either on the beach, by the pool, or in a tanning booth) I recommend that they get a spray tan instead.  I guess I should stop giving out that recommendation or recommend that they wear a mask, nose plugs, and goggles while receiving the spray tan.

Please share your thoughts below on this controversy.

Further Reading:



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Olympic Special: Hair Removal August 2, 2012

Filed under: Hair Removal — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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I’m obsessed with the Olympics.  There I admitted it.  I’ve actually always loved the Olympics – both summer and winter.  So as you may imagine over the last few days I’ve been watching a lot of Olympic swimming competitions.  And you may have noticed like I did how hairless and smooth all the male swimmers’ bodies are.  (I also noticed that male divers shave their chests but not their legs)  I know that swimmers shave off their body hair in order to avoid causing any drag in the water.  Since we know that Olympic swim events are now won by the difference of hundredth of a second that actually makes a lot of sense.  But it turns out that there is another reason to shave and that reason is exfoliation.  Shaving removes dead skin cells and reveals fresh new skin which helps the swimmers feel and sense the water better.

But, of course, I got to wondering just how are these athletes removing all their hair?  It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wondering this.  Vanity Fair interviewed Olympic swimmer Ricky Berens and asked him the following:

Now, one of my friends insisted that I ask about depilation. I’m sure different swimmers use different tactics, but how do you get rid of all that aerodynamic-sapping hair?

Women’s shaving cream. We always just shave. Once or twice a year. No special waxes or anything. We do our own thing. We’ve always heard that the women’s extra-hydrating is best for us, because it makes our skin soft, instead of men’s shaving cream, because that’s for the face.

Does soft skin have some aerodynamic advantage?!?

No, it’s just for soft skin. The chlorine in the pools just kills your skin.


Now I am asking myself – since chlorine is so terrible for your skin what are Olympic swimmers skin rituals?  I’ll have to keep looking for that answer.


Sources and Further Reading:


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