Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

My Beauty Business Icons April 2, 2012

Filed under: beauty — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
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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


Lip Balm Lessons August 1, 2011

Can’t live without your lip balm?  Turns out there is a scientific reason for that.  And what exactly is lip balm made of that makes it do what it does?  This post will attempt to answer those questions.


Lip Balm Basics


First created at the turn of the 20th century by Dr. Charles Fleet, all lip balms share the same purpose – to moisturize and protect the lips.  Lip balms vary in formulation but typical ingredients include petroleum, shea butter, lanolin, and natural oils in order to prevent water loss from the lips.  Some lip balms contain ingredients like menthol and camphor which feel tingly when applied; these ingredients are actually mildly antiseptic and help soothe chapped and irritated lips.

One little tip – according to Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection (page 116) you should avoid lip balms with the ingredient phenol (Blistex, for example, has that ingredient) since phenol strips the top layer off your lips which then just dries your lips out instead of protecting them.

Lastly, during the day you want to make sure that your lip balm has spf in it.  Our lips do not naturally have any sun protection in them so you always need to protect your lips from the sun with spf protection.

Two of my favorite lip balms are:  Glo Mint Balm (with spf 15) and Dermalogica’s Renewal Lip Complex.  My go to nighttime lip moisturizer is Aquaphor Healing Ointment – it’s cheap and really works.


Is Lip Balm Really Addictive?


Ever feel like you can’t live without your lip product?  Do you feel the overwhelming need to reapply your lip balm continually throughout the day?  It turns out that there is a scientific reason behind this feeling.  The website The Beauty Brains does a great job at explaining this issue:

Skin signals for new cells

Skin is a very complicated organ with multiple layers. The top layer, the stratum corneum, consists mainly of dead, dried up cells. As those cells die and flake off, they send a signal to a deeper layer skin (called the basal layer) to produce fresh skin cells. This is a very simplified description of the process called cellular turnover. (Contrary to what you might have thought, “cellular turnover” does NOT refer to switching your mobile phone plan.)

Lip balm slows down the signal

When you apply lip balm, you’re creating a barrier layer that prevents, or at least retards, the evaporation of moisture from the inner layers of skin. Since the top layer isn’t drying and flaking off as much, the basal layer never gets the signal to produce new cells.

Your skin has to catch up

But when you stop using the lip balm, all of a sudden your lips dry out and your basal layer has to hurry up and start producing new cells. But since your lips already feel dry again, you add more lip balm which once again tells the basal layer “hey, everything’s fine up here on the surface – we don’t need any more new skin cells.”

The cycle repeats

But of course, once that application of lip balm has worn off and there are no new plump, moist skin cells to replace the ones that are drying out, your lips feel dry again and you have to add more lip balm. Etc. etc. etc. Get the picture? That’s why you feel addicted to lip balm – you’ve “trained” you body to rely on it!


Sources and Further Reading:




Gift Idea for the Men in Your Life June 27, 2010


My husband has little interest in the myriad of skincare products that are poised to take over our bathroom.  So it was a great surprise to me when he showed an interest in Dermalogica’s shave products.   I had received a sample of the products and passed them along to my husband not expecting much of a response from him, but my husband not only liked the products he asked if I could get him so more.

A great way to introduce these products to the men in your life is through the Dermalogica Shave System Kit.  The kit contains five sample size products – daily clean scrub, pre-shave guard, soothing shave cream, post-shave balm, and defense block spf 15 – for $35.  The products are the perfect size for airline travel, by the way.  So if your husband travels as much for work as mine does and never checks a bag he doesn’t need to worry about having these products confiscated from him at airport security (and in case you might be thinking the TSA has let up on that policy – think again.  My mother just had a jar of jam confiscated from her at airport security).

The products are said to be for all skin types.

You can order online through Dermalogica or buy online or in stores through Ulta.


My New Favorite Lip Product May 7, 2010

I’m always on the look out for great lip products since I have dry lips all year round.  Until I discovered Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex recently my two favorite lip products were Aquaphor Healing Ointment (the small tube) and Neosporin Overnight Renewal Therapy.  Now I still like both of those products for use in the evening since they are thick  and hydrating.  Unlike the Dermalogica product the primary ingredient in each of those two products is petrolatum which is known for its healing and protective qualities and can be a great ingredient for lips.  On the other hand, the Dermalogica product has cocoa butter, castor seed oil, wheat germ oil, and even Vitamin E (which is a great antioxidant) in it in addition to a polypeptide which is anti-aging.  But my main concern with a lip product is – how long does it last?  Well the Dermalogica products lasts for a long time making it my new favorite.  As anyone who has read this blog knows – I want all my products to have spf in them so I am disappointed that this does not.  So after applying this lip product in the morning I apply an additional lip product with spf in it on top in order to get proper sun protection for my lips during the day.

You can buy Dermalogica Renewal Lip Complex through Ulta.  Check out the online reviews; I’m not the only one who loves this product.

*Please note I get no compensation whatsoever for recommending products.  I just recommend them because I like them.*


Can You Banish Dark Undereye Circles? March 17, 2010

There are a few questions that I am frequently asked and one of them is – what can I do about my dark undereye circles?  I wish there was a magical cure for dark undereye circles, I have them myself, but there isn’t.  Undereye circles are caused by a few different reasons and so there is more than one solution for the problem.  Below I’ve listed the different reasons for dark undereye circles and possible solutions.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Hyperpigmentation


This hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the skin, is a genetic trait.  The skin around and under the eye area is actually darker than the rest of your skin, and you were born this way.  I can personally vouch for since my two year-old son inherited this genetic trait, and I noticed it pretty much immediately after he was born.  The area becomes darker as you age.  In order to double-check that this is the cause of your dark circles gently pull the skin away from the hollow under the eye, making the area flat and eliminating any shadows.  If the darkness is still there the skin is pigmented – in other words the skin there is naturally a darker color.  Since this is a genetic trait it isn’t so easy to get rid of.  One solution is to invest in a good undereye concealer.  I’ll recommend a few at the end of this post.  If you want to try to permanently get rid of the dark color of your skin you can try laser treatments and chemical peels that target hyperpigmentation.  Or you can get use a skin lightener in that area; this will take some time to work.  You can get a prescription hyperpigmentation cream or go with a OTC one.  See my previous post Help for Hyperpigmentation for more information about the subject of hyperpigmentation in general and issues concerning hydroquinone.

Home Product You Can TryMurad’s Lighten and Brighten Eye Treatment contains 1.5% hydroquinone


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Thin Skin


This can also be a heredity trait or it can be caused by aging.  As we age collagen and elastin breakdown and our skin sags and thins.  The thin undereye area skin rests on dark muscle or dark blood vessels and this creates the dark circle under your eye.  A good solution to this cause of dark undereye circles are injectable fillers such as Restylane or Juvederm.  A good cosmetic dermatologist can help you decide which filler is best for you.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Poor Circulation


There is a hereditary trait that causes blood flow to slow down in the undereye area of the body and then you have a dark area to contend with.  Some people have had success in treating this type of dark undereye circles with retinol.  Allure magazine recommends Quintessence Clarifying Under Eye Serum Capsules for this problem.  I’ve never tried the product, but I thought I would pass along the recommendation.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Tiny Blood Vessels


This is yet another genetic feature (gotta love genetics, right?).  If this is the cause of your dark undereye circles you can actually remove the blood vessels with laser treatments.  Be warned that new blood vessels may grow even after treatment.


Dark Undereye Circles Caused by Shadows


These shadows are frustrating because there is nothing you can do about them.  Believe me when I say this because my dark undereye circles are caused by shadows.  To see if this is the cause of your dark undereye circles stand in front of a mirror and tilt your head upward.  If the circles disappear your problem is shadow.  The shadow occurs when you have a deeply set bone structure so your brow bone causes a shadow under your eye.  Or as you age both the cheek and orbital bones dissolve creating a shadow.  The solution for this cause of undereye circles?  A good concealer.


Other Causes of Undereye Circles


Yes, not getting enough sleep can cause dark undereye circles because the body wasn’t able to properly drain fluid in that area.  Basically you get congestion in the veins under your eyes.  Drinking can dehydrate the skin making circles more prominent.  Allergies can worsen the appearance of dark undereye circles but that issue can be taken care of with an antihistamine pill.  And this might sound like a no-brainer – but don’t forget your make-up.  Eye make-up that runs during the day or if you rub your eyes during the day, can collect under your eye area and make it seem like you have dark undereye circles.


Does Vitamin K Work for Undereye Circles?


There isn’t much real scientific evidence that Vitamin K, when applied topically, will diminish darkness on skin associated with blood vessels.  It is true that Vitamin K, inside the body, helps blood clot but as of yet there is no evidence that it can do the same when applied topically. 

For more information about research about Vitamin K see Paula Begoun’s articleVitamin K



Products to Consider Trying:


Eye Creams:  Not sound too much like a broken record but the area under your eyes needs sun protection just as much as the rest of your body.  Your dark undereye circles can actually get worse from sun exposure.  My favorite daytime eye cream is Dermalogica Total Eye Care.  It has a great texture, a slight color to it, and spf 15.  The container is small but you don’t need much.  It lasts a long time. 


Undereye Concealers:

Sometimes the only thing you can do about your dark undereye circles is cover them up.  Luckily there are a lot of great products out there that can help you do just that.  Yes, none of these come cheap but they are well worth the investment since getting rid of your undereye circles, just like having well-groomed eyebrows, can greatly enhance your entire appearance.


 Sources and Further Reading:



Daily Skincare Routine – How Best to Care for Your Skin on a Daily Basis January 15, 2010

Clients ask me to recommend skincare products.  Yet before recommending specific products I think it is important to have your daily skincare routine down pat.

So here are my recommendations for a daily skincare routine.  This routine is good for everyone no matter what skin type you have or what skincare issues you want or need to address:



Tone (optional)

Serum (optional)

Moisturize (including eye cream)




Remove make-up


Tone (optional)

Serum – for correction, prevention, or treatment

Moisturize (including eye cream)

The Details

I recommend using toner only if you are VERY oily, otherwise skip that step.

Many women don’t realize how important it is to truly remove all your make-up.  That is why I recommend a two-step cleanse if you wear make-up.  Don’t worry about drying out your skin – if you use the correct make-up remover and cleanser that won’t happen.


So what do I mean by correction, prevention, or treatment?  Correction can mean wanting to get rid of hyperpigmentation (dark spots usually caused by the sun).  Prevention can mean using a product with retinol in it in order to slow down the aging process or slightly improve fine lines and wrinkles.  Treatment can mean using anti acne products.  Depending on what you are trying to correct, prevent, or treat you would use the product once or twice a day usually.

And let’s not forget Exfoliation:

Exfoliation is an essential step in any skincare routine, no matter what age you are.  Exfoliation helps to remove the dead skin cells that make up the very top layer of your epidermis; exfoliation is key to maintaining healthy and attractive skin.  When you exfoliate your skin looks smoother, more even toned, and healthier.  Your skin will also feel smoother.  Exfoliation can also help minimize the appearance of dark spots on the skin.  Do you want your skin to glow?  Exfoliate!  Do you want your skincare products to work better?  Exfoliate!  If you have oily skin or suffer from breakouts exfoliation is an absolute necessity since acne develops when dead skin cells and oil accumulate and get stuck in your pores.   Lastly, exfoliation is not only for your face; the skin on your entire body needs to exfoliated.

How do you exfoliate?

There are a few different ways to exfoliate.  You should choose a method that fits with your lifestyle and with your skincare needs.  I’ll give some examples.  I have combination skin that is quite acne prone.  Twice weekly I use Bioelements Karefole Deep Exfoliating Mask which I put on for ten minutes while I am in the shower.  I love this product and find that it works great for my skin so though using it takes a little extra planning and it can be a time suck I still use it.  For someone who doesn’t have 20 minutes a week to devote to exfoliating I would recommend a leave on exfoliator that can be used nightly or a few times a week.  This leave on exfoliator can contain either AHA, BHA, or fruit enzymes to exfoliate.  For example, I have a client in her late 60s who needs to be exfoliating gently but nightly.  I have her using Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Lotion with great results.  You can even use a gentle scrub nightly.  Perhaps you cleanser already comes with exfoliating beads in it or you can get a gentle scrub to add to your cleanser.   The exfoliation that you are doing at home should be a gentle process.  I don’t recommend using exfoliants with nutshells or sugar on your face, though that is perfectly fine for the rest of your body.  Every once in a while we all need a deeper exfoliation and for that I recommend a chemical peel or a series of chemical peels depending on what you want to treat.  Additionally, microdermabrasion, performed by a professional, is another form of deeper exfoliation.

I’ll use my daily skincare routine as an example of what a routine can look like:  Please note that I have no affiliation whatsoever with the companies mentioned below and receive no financial compensation for mentioning them. 


I cleanse with Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel.  Then I use PCA Pigment Gel on my upper lip and chin where I have hyperpigmentation.  I then use a Vitamin C serum over my entire face for its anti-aging and antioxidant benefits.  Currently I am using Dermaquest C-Lipoic Antioxidant Serum.  I then moisturize with PCA’s Protecting Hydrator and Dermalogica’s Total Eye Care on my eye area.  Before I put on make-up I use Paula’s Choice Ultra-Light Sunscreen because you can never have too much sun protection!


I remove my make-up with Dermalogica’s PreCleanse  (by the way, I can’t say enough good things about this product – love it, love it, love it!).  I then cleanse with Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel.  Once again I use the PCA Pigment Gel on my upper lip and chin for my hyperpigmentation.  Since I have acne prone skin (usually I have a breakout or two) I then use either benzoyl peroxide (Neutrogena On the Spot 2.5%) or salicylic acid lotion on my entire face.  I tend to breakout mostly on my chin and forehead so once or twice a week in those areas I’ve been using Dermaquest’s Rejuvaderm.  After letting everything dry I moisturize with PCA’s Clearskin and use my Dermalogica eye cream again.

Ok so you just read through my entire daily skincare routine and thought – I don’t have time for that!  Or I don’t need all those steps and/or lotions, serums, etc.  So in that case please, please at the very least use sunscreen everyday!  Everyone needs sunscreen, everyday.  “If you don’t need a flashlight you need sunscreen” – is my new favorite quote about sunscreen.  I read it in Allure magazine about two months back.

Please note that the products you use or need might change with the seasons and with how your skin looks and or feels.  If you are pregnant or nursing your skincare routine might change almost entirely.  Since it is now winter in Chicago I feel that I need extra moisturizer, but during the summer I only used my sunscreen as a moisturizer.  Play around with your products but keep your daily skincare routine steps the same. 

Bottom Line: Always use sunscreen, always cleanse your face, and always exfoliate.



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