Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Realities of Being an Esthetician April 2, 2014

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Update:  Be sure to check out Part II of this post

I’ve written different posts about being an esthetician before, but frankly I never posted anything downright negative about the realities of being an esthetician.  I don’t want this post to be negative; I want this post to be real. I got thinking about this post since a few weeks ago when a friend of mine asked me via Facebook why I became an esthetician and if I thought it would be a good profession for her to perhaps consider.  The last week I received the following blog update from celebrity esthetician Renee Rouleau about being an esthetician, and then today I read this.

The “about” section of my blog already explains why I became an esthetician so I won’t go over all of that again here.  Instead I want to focus on the realities of being an esthetician – both the good and the bad.  Let’s start with the not so great things about being an esthetician.  You finish esthetics school excited to start working. You can’t wait to help people feel great about themselves by improving their skin or teaching them how to properly apply make-up or make them feel good by removing unwanted body hair and then reality hits. It can be very hard to find a job after finishing esthetics school since you have no experience and everyone wants to hire someone with experience.  Additionally, finding the right job for you as an esthetician well that is something that sometimes feels impossible.  Simply put – this isn’t an easy profession to break into and it isn’t an easy profession to succeed in.  Estheticians have to be ready to work nights and weekends, to put up with jobs that only pay you per service and have no benefits, to feel pressure to sell products to clients even if you don’t think they need products or they can’t afford them because if you don’t sell what is considered enough product you get harassed by your manager, and to even, in some cases, have the cost of the products you use during treatments deducted from the pay you receive for the service you  just performed.  These are all standard employment practices for estheticians.  So instead you think it would be better to work for yourself – great, right? Where are your clients going to come from?  Are you good at marketing?  Do you have the budget to properly market yourself and to buy all the products and equipment you need to work independently?  And you are still working nights and weekends even when you are self-employed.  And did I mention that you won’t be getting rich being an esthetician?  This isn’t a very high paying profession for the most part (the celebrity esthetician you see quoted in magazines are few in number).   And are you ready for no-show clients?  Late clients?  Rude clients?  Let’s be frank – being an esthetician means being part of an industry that requires hard work, long hours, and paying your dues.  There really isn’t any overnight success to becoming a successful esthetician.  If you want to succeed in this profession you have to love it and put up with a lot in the process.

I had a number of teachers at esthetics school and each of them was very different from the other.  Despite their differences one of the things I appreciated about each of my teachers was their honesty about what it was really like to work as an esthetician since all my teachers worked and taught.  One teacher in particularly was a bit of a “Debbie Downer” when it came to the realities of working at a day spa, but in retrospect her honesty, though brutal at times, was helpful.  For instance I still haven’t forgotten how she told us how much she hated doing facials for pregnant women (when an esthetician has a pregnant client we always lift the head of the bed up so the client is pretty much sitting instead of lying and then you end up doing most of the facial while standing) because of how tiring it was for her stand during an entire facial.  Because of my teachers’ honesty I finished esthetics school knowing that working as an esthetician wasn’t going to be a bed of roses and believe me that is what I found out.  As a matter of fact the worst job I ever had, hands down, was one esthetician job that I had not so long after finishing esthetics school.  I’m about to turn 39 and I’ve been working since I was 16, and have held a lot of jobs in many work environments in two different countries, so believe me when I say that if that job was the worst one I’ve ever had it really was.

I mentioned Renee Rouleau’s blog post, My Tips For Having a Successful Career As An Esthetician on the mark, others irked me greatly.  Some of the good things from her post include the following:

What tips do you have for a new esthetician right out of school?

It is a fact that a large percentage of people who go through the effort and investment of attending and graduating from esthetics school will never end up practicing esthetics or will do so for a short time. I believe this is because they could not find a job or if they did, the job was not the right fit for them. My advice is to explore every option for employment, but be sure to only apply for a position that best suits your style and personality.

This is very true.  Also a lot of esthetics students give up on an esthetics career after school because full-time, well-paying employment as an esthetician is very hard to come by, and they simply cannot support themselves and/or their families working only as an esthetician.

Some of things I don’t entirely agree with from the post:

What jobs are out there for estheticians?

What I love about being an esthetician is that there are many options for places of employment. There are day spas, hair salons that have a skin treatment room (this is where I got my start), skin care spas (like the two I have in Dallas), hotel spas, cruise line spas, medical spas, department store spas associated with a skin care line and resort spas. If you prefer not to be a service provider, there are still many options. You can become a representative for a skin care line that is sold to department stores, medical offices, or spas so you would provide education and training classes to your various accounts, as well as work at trade shows. You can work in a retail environment selling a line at the department store counter (they LOVE hiring estheticians) or other beauty retailers. You can also become an independent contractor and be on-call to work at various spas or even be a freelance esthetician. It is also possible to become an educator and work as a teacher at your local esthetics school. Another option is to become an entrepreneur and develop your own skin care line.

All of the above are valid career paths for estheticians but take the time to think about those jobs.  They are not, by any stretch of the imagination, easy job options.  Being an independent contractor or a freelance esthetician usually means uncertain hours which means uncertain pay and of course no benefits or job security.  How many people can live like that?  If you have a family there is just no way you can support your children with a job like that.  Becoming a skincare line rep is good for someone who is great at sales and doesn’t want to spend their days in the same place, but once again this is a difficult job were you are usually met by a lot of rejection and your salary is mostly (or entirely) paid by commissions.  Lastly, how fabulous to be able to develop your own skincare line, right?  But realistically who has the money for that?

And now for the part of the post that really got me steamed:

I love that a career as an esthetician offers a very flexible schedule. Many places offer both part and full-time schedules so if you have another career or have children, this is ideal. I have employed many estheticians who were once full-time and now work part-time after having children.

Has Rouleau ever had a part-time job?  Does she realize how little a part-time esthetics job actually pays?  And even if you work part-time as an esthetician I can guarantee that you will be asked to work nights and weekends.  Now if you’re a parent – what do you do about childcare?  Finding and then paying for the right babysitter or daycare is one of the hardest things any parent faces.  And of course if you are working part-time forget about getting any benefits with your job.

And now for the great part of the post:

How can an esthetician build a clientele?

It truly takes a long, long time to really build up a good, repeat clientele. The reason is because you will not connect with every client, and not every client will connect with you. Being an esthetician is a relationship-based profession. My best tip for this is to mimic their personality. If they are not much of a talker, then don’t talk their ear off. You have to be a chameleon with every client.

Try paying close attention to body language. Asking specific questions on your client intake form that gives you insight into their expectations will go a long way. One of my favorite questions is “What are you goals for today’s visit?” I then provide various options they can check off on the form ranging from “stress relief” to “I want to learn how to care for my skin.” Depending on all that they select, I will make sure to create an experience that gives them exactly what they ask for. I will also discuss their goals during our consultation to make sure I have complete clarity. Having a client leave getting exactly what they wanted will help build the relationship and ensure they will come back to see you again.

In my opinion this advice is spot-on.  It isn’t always easy to meet clients needs and expectations.  Every esthetician eventually has the experience of thinking that they just bonded with a client and gave them a great facial only to hear back something negative from the client in the end.  It always helps to remember that even if you did give a client the greatest facial of her life she just might not be happy and a lot of time it has nothing at all to do with you.  Not everyone is going to like you.  Period.

Rouleau’s advice continues:

Another way to build a clientele is to give out free skin treatments. When you have an empty schedule, your goal is to fill it with clients. And waiting around for them to shell out money for a skin treatment that is often considered a luxury will leave you with an empty room and time on your hands. Make some really nice gift certificates and gift it to your friends, family, and anyone you come in contact with that you feel would be a good fit for you. Let them experience the services you provide at no charge because the more faces you can get your hands on, the more they can spread the word for you. Many of them may love the results and want to come back as a paying client. At the end of the appointment, give them a few of those free gift certificates and ask them to give it to their friends who they think would be a good client for you. Who would not love giving the gift of beautiful skin? Hands down, word of mouth with a referral will trump any other advertising or marketing opportunity. If you work this strategy long enough, and you give a treatment focused on managing expectations, you will no longer have an empty schedule. I promise.

I do agree that the best possible way to get clients is through word of mouth but giving away services isn’t always the answer to getting more clients, in my opinion.  In my experience once people receive a service for free they do not want to pay for it ever and they rarely refer their friends.  If you give away too many services you are simply losing a lot of money; esthetics products are expensive even with your esthetician discount.  I would recommend instead to give certain services at a discount and to sell products at a discounted rate to a select group of people who hopefully will spread the word about what a great esthetician you are.  Be careful who is in that group.  Unfortunately a lot of people will be more than happy to take advantage of your generosity.

Rouleau’s blog post continues with some more solid advice for the aspiring or struggling esthetician.  It is definitely worth reading even if, like me, you don’t agree with everything she has to say.

So I will readily admit that up until now this post hasn’t been entirely positive.  Of course there are lots of things that I love about being an esthetician- for instance, meeting new and interesting people, getting to know my clients on a personal level (I’ve met some amazing people through my work as an esthetician),  and feeling that I have had a positive impact on people’s lives through helping them care for their skin.  I always wanted to be part of a profession that would allow me to continue to learn and being an esthetician certainly is such a profession – there is always something new and interesting to learn as an esthetician in a variety of related fields from cosmetic science, to dermatology, and make-up innovations.  A lot of the ways I educate myself is through blogs and online magazines (on the right hand side of my blog you’ll find links to my favorite publications, blogs, etc.) and there are numerous courses that estheticians can take.  The problem is that these course usually cost money, a lot of money sometimes, but if you feel that you can eventually make that money back by providing a different or new service to your clients than investing in a course is important.

Another thing I like about being an esthetician are my fellow estheticians.  In my experience nasty estheticians are the exception not the rule.  Most estheticians are more than happy to share tips, ideas, and expertise with their fellow estheticians.  Estheticians truly help one another and to boot we are generally just a nice bunch of people.  There are also numerous groups on Linked In where estheticians help one another so even if you work solo you can be part of a network of estheticians.

I’ve been fortunate to have found a few mentors since becoming an esthetician.  The doctor I worked for in Chicago encouraged me and supported me immensely while I worked for her; she also took a leap of faith with me since I didn’t have much actual esthetics job experience when I applied to work for her.  She gave me a chance which was priceless.  Lately I’ve been encouraged by the advice I am receiving via email from estheticians in the oncology esthetics field in the US about how to market this important branch of esthetics in Israel.

If you are considering becoming an esthetician I encourage you to spend a day shadowing an esthetician to see what she really does during her work day.  In my opinion you really need to have a very strong passion for skincare and beauty in order to last in this profession.  Lastly, look before you leap.  As I already explained this isn’t an easy profession to break into and succeed in so be well aware of the challenges before you sign-up for esthetics school.

I wrote a part 2 to this post:  The Realities of Being An Esthetician: Part II

Resources and My Related Posts:

 

For My Fellow Estheticians and For Aspiring Estheticians: Resources and Inspiration July 31, 2013

Spa day cake

No matter what industry you are in you know how important it is to keep improving and learning.  Everyone experiences burn out sometimes and needs inspiration in order to keep doing their best.  I’ve been thinking about these themes lately are they pertain to being an esthetician and thought I would share some articles, a book, and a website recommendation with my readers.  I know that quite a few estheticians read my blog (which makes me very happy) and aspiring estheticians as well.  Even if you aren’t an esthetician I hope that you’ll find this post helpful as well.

Book Recommendation

I just completed reading Lydia Sarfati’s book Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business and am so happy that I got a chance to read this book!  Sarfati is the founder and president of the skincare line Repechage and an experienced esthetics professional.  She started her career as an esthetician and now owns Repechage and spas; she is also a spa industry consultant.  This book shares  invaluable experience, expertise, and advice for all estheticians – from those just beginning their career to those who have been treating skin for a long time.  Sarfati outlines how to start your own successful business, how to hire and manage employees (as a spa employee myself I thought this chapter was great since so many spas mismanage their employees), how to achieve retail goals, how to market yourself and your spa, and lastly how to balance your work life with your personal life.  This book did a great job at touching on all the important issues that estheticians have to deal with while being very readable and relatable.  If you are thinking of starting your own spa business this book is a must read, and even if you work for someone else at the moment you’ll find valuable tips in this book about how to succeed as an esthetician.  Even if you don’t work in the esthetics field I think her advice can be very helpful.  The chapter about managing employees can certainly help all bosses, no matter what profession they are in.  Highly recommended!

Though this book has nothing to do with skincare lately I’ve been reminded how important our words are and which words we choose to use (or not to use in a lot of cases).  Those thoughts made me reread an old favorite called Togue Fu! .  Knowing how to communicate with our clients (and our managers and our coworkers) correctly makes us much better estheticians.  As a matter of fact, without good communications skills it doesn’t matter how much skincare knowledge we have as estheticians we just won’t succeed.  So if you feel like you need some help in the communication department I definitely recommend reading this book.

Recommended Blog 

If you are thinking about becoming an esthetician or have just finished esthetics school it can be hard to find real-life information about your chosen field.  Looking for a job, especially when you still don’t have experience, can seem overwhelming at times.  Recently I discovered the blog My Life as an Esthetician which provides readers with very valuable information about being an esthetician such as resume advice and possible career paths   once you have your license.  It is well worth checking out.

Recommended Reading

Skin Inc. has published a number of interesting articles lately on how to maintain and manage your client base:

Recommended Resource

I’m a little late to the game with recommending the following website/forum, Skin Care Professionals, but I’m very glad I finally found it.  I follow a few esthetician groups on Linked In and find them very helpful as a way to connect and learn from my fellow estheticians and this website provides another way to connect with your fellow estheticians.  Once your membership with the site is approved you can post and respond to questions in the forum section. Many times as esthetician we work solo or only with a few other estheticians so having a way to “talk” with other estheticians can be invaluable and career enriching.  I always tell people that one of the reasons I love being an esthetician is that estheticians, for the most part, are friendly and helpful to one another, always willing to dispense tips and advice to one another.

I hope this post has both inspired and helped my fellow estheticians and all other readers as well.  Wishing everyone lots of career success and happiness!

My Related Posts:

Image from pinterest.com

 

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:

Image from seedsofnature.com

 

Treat Your Skin By Zones February 23, 2012

The idea I’m proposing in this post isn’t new at all, but hopefully it will help people who have wondered how to  treat multiple skin issues simultaneously.

So how do you take care of skin that has breakouts on the chin, sun damage on the cheeks, and dry patches by the nose?  It’s simple – divide your skin into zones and treat accordingly.  (Dermalogica has based their entire skin analysis process on this idea.)

Celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville explains the concept well in her book Complexion Perfection! (page 68):

I frequently tell my clients that our skin isn’t always one way, all the time; rather, it has different “ecosystems.”  To illustrate what I mean, think about Maui.  This small island has several distinct ecosystems all characterized by different weather patterns: it’s cool and dry in the upper elevations; there are warm to hot interior areas; the windward areas are wet; there are even wetter low areas below the mountains; and there’s the coastal, salt-spray zone.

Similarly, the face can be just as varied.  While a lucky few of us have very balanced and temperate “climate conditions” on our faces, most of us don’t.  It can be calm and clear on the forehead, dry and patchy on the cheeks, and broken out on the chin.

Here’s an example:

You have breakouts on your chin, sun damage on your cheeks, and fine lines around your eyes.

Here’s how to treat your skin by zones:

  • use an anti-acne lotion just on your chin
  • use a brightening serum just on your cheeks
  • use a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles just around your eye area

Another product that may be used only in some areas is  moisturizer since you might find that you don’t really need a moisturizer all over your face but just in some areas.  Apply your moisturizer where you feel that you need it most.

The one product you do need to use all over your face, every morning, is sunscreen.  (Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knew that advice was bound to come at some point)

Image from skincarelogic.com

 

No Excuses: Everyone Can Easily Care For Their Skin July 14, 2011

Estheticians hear a lot of things while we are taking care of our clients.  One thing we always ask clients the first time they come to us for a facial, or sometimes every time they come to us for a treatment, is what is their home skincare regime – products, steps, etc.  I cannot tell you how many times a client tells me that they don’t wash their face everyday or do little to nothing to their skin at home.  Not caring for your skin twice a day at home is such a missed opportunity.  Everyone should care for their skin twice a day – no excuses.  A home skincare regime doesn’t need to be confusing or complicated.  It doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time either.  Everyone needs to use just a few products a day – once again – no excuses!

I was pleased when I came across the following Prevention article – 5 Worst Skin Mistakes – which clearly explains why so many typical excuses people use to explain why they don’t care for their skin are just wrong.  Believe me – I’ve heard all these excuses too many times to count.  I like the article so much, and its online version is very concise, that I’ll copy it all here:

1.  I’m too tired to cleanse  “It’s been a long day, and the last thing I want to do is wash my face.”

Excuse Buster: The 2 minutes it takes to cleanse before bed helps ensure a fresh-faced look for years. “Sleeping with dirt, oil, and makeup on causes acne and enlarged pores,” says Audrey Kunin, MD, an associate clinical instructor of dermatology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. To easily remove debris, keep no-rinse face wipes in your nightstand.

Try: Boots No7 Quick Thinking 4-in-1 Wipes ($7; Target) or Pond’s Clean Sweep Age Defying Wet Cleansing Towelettes ($6.50; CVS).

2.  SPF is for summer  “I don’t need sunscreen, it’s winter!”

Excuse Buster: Exposure to UVA rays, the primary culprit behind aging, happens all year long. And because they can penetrate glass, you’re susceptible even when you’re indoors, says Fredric Brandt, MD, a New York- and Miami-based dermatologist. The number one way to guard against this and keep skin looking youthful: Every day, use a sunscreen or moisturizer with an SPF 30 that’s labeled broad-spectrum. For the best protection, choose one that contains either avobenzone, Helioplex, Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide.

3.  Products are too pricey   “Taking care of my skin costs too much.”

Excuse Buster: To save, shop at drugstores. Studies show that mass products are as effective as (and sometimes more than!) more expensive lines. “Look for active ingredients, not fancy labels,” says David E. Bank, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Columbia University/Presbyterian Hospital. The most effective anti-agers include retinoids, AHAs, peptides, vitamin C, and hydrators such as hyaluronic acid.

4.  My efforts are futile  ” I’ve tried almost everything, and nothing seems to work.”

Excuse Buster: It can take at least 8 weeks to see the results of many ingredients, so give products time to deliver their benefits.

5.  My skin is too sensitive  “Exfoliating makes my face red and irritated.”

Excuse Buster: Getting rid of dead cells helps soften wrinkles and brighten skin, but aggressive scrubs can lead to redness and irritation. To slough safely, choose a chemical exfoliator, such as glycolic acid, or gentle cleansing beads. Avoid scrubs with an uneven texture, such as walnut shells. Exfoliate just once or twice a week; if you’re using an OTC or Rx retinoid or AHA, it alone provides sufficient skin sloughing.

 

One great point from the article is the fact that you need patience in order to see results from a new skincare routine.  Though the article states that it takes 8 weeks to see results, I typically tell my clients to wait 3 months before giving up on their new routine.  This is especially true when it comes to treating acne and hyperpigmentation.  There are absolutely no overnight cures for either of these skincare problems (and I hate the fact that so many beauty ads promise that there are!).  So don’t give up on your products unless you have really given them a chance.

Finding both the right products for your skin and establishing the right daily skincare routine for you might take some trial and error, but it certainly doesn’t have to take a lot of your time or money.

At the very least make sure you have the following products at home:

  • the correct cleanser for your skin type 
  • a treatment serum if you need one.  That could mean an anti-acne treatment or a serum that helps with hyperpigmentation
  • an exfoliant to use at least once a week.  This also doesn’t have to complicated.  You exfoliant could be a scrub or mask you simply apply during your shower twice a week.  Or even easier – a serum or lotion you apply before bed.
  • A moisturizer if you need one
  • A sunscreen – this is not negotiable!  Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs sunscreen year round.

And if you really want to break it down even further – wash your face twice a day and use sunscreen in the morning (and don’t forget to reapply throughout the day).  Now – everyone can perform those two steps, right?

Believe it or not, though I definitely do not do this myself, I do like the recommendation above that if you are really tired at night (or let’s face it – lazy) to use wipes to remove your make-up and cleanse your face.  I even have a client that uses baby wipes at night.  Baby wipes are super gentle so I have no objection to their use on your face.  One of the worst things you can do for your skin is to go to sleep with your make-up on and without washing your face.  Even if you don’t wear make-up just think of all the dirt and grime from pollution that has built-up on your face during the day.  Ugh!  You definitely want to get all of that off.

As for not spending a lot of money on skincare products – it is definitely true that you can find effective skincare products at your local drugstore.  In order to make sure you are buying the best products be sure to do a little research before blindly buying (use my blog as a guide, for instance  🙂 ).  Be sure not to be swayed too much by ads in glossy magazines.  Those ads get away with as much as they can legally – their claims are far from accurate.

 

Further Reading:

If you still have questions about product choice or steps in creating a home skincare regime please use some of my older posts as guides –

And here is a link Paula Begoun’s advice on how to put together a skincare routine.  Begoun heavily pushes her own products along with her recommendations and though her products are good I wish her advice would come without the sales pitch.  I also think that her skincare routine could definitely be abridged if you felt like it.  Once again – use Begoun’s advice as a guide not a be all and end all.  (Please see my post Paula Begoun – Friend or Foe to the Skincare Consumer for my take on Begoun, her advice, and products)

 

Do You Have Porexia? June 13, 2011

Thank goodness forThe New York Times because sometimes they just publish the perfect article.  Case in point – the article entitled Do My Pores Look Big to You?.*   One of the biggest complaints estheticians hear from their clients is that the client wants to minimize the appearance of their facial pores.  It turns out that this obsession with one’s facial pores actually has a name – porexia.  The article explains:

Some fret about fine lines and sun spots; others are fixated on pores. High-definition television has arguably upped the ante. Consider the celebrity with glistening teeth and yogic arms, but a jarringly pock-marked nose in close-ups. Viewers think, “If her pores look like that, what do mine look like?” said Dr. Mary Lupo, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Like home renovators who overhaul the kitchen only to then find fault with the master bath, some dermatology patients feel that, once their wrinkles are relaxed and their brown spots treated, their pores stand out. Such is the level of worry that doctors have nicknamed the condition “porexia.”

“There’s a level of obsessiveness,” Dr. Lupo said. “Instead of looking at the global picture, they overfocus on an individual component of the picture.”

It’s not just women who are concerned about large, perpetually clogged pores. Tony Silla, an owner of the Face Place and the head aesthetician at its Los Angeles flagship, said men vent about the craterlike look of enlarged pores more now than when he got into the business 16 years ago. “They don’t want their nose to look like their grandfather’s nose,” he said.

Now for those of you who might have porexia or for those who will admit that they suffer from this condition here are a few things to keep in mind:

Pore size is mostly genetically determined and grows with age, despite the conventional wisdom that only teenagers are swiping their noses with Stridex. The more collagen lost, the looser the pores’ natural support structure becomes, making them great nets for dead skin cells. “Loosening that girdle over time” makes them look bigger, said Dr. Amy Derick, a dermatologist in Barrington, Ill.

And most importantly remember the following:

No matter what marketers might lead the gullible to believe, pores cannot be shrunk permanently. But they can look smaller, temporarily.

Don’t get disheartened by the above statement.  First off there are tons of products on the market that will help minimize the appearance of your facial pores, but before you go investing in such products I want you to ask yourself  the following question:  are my pores really that big or am I obsessing about them needlessly?  There is a reason that I selected the photo above to illustrate this post.  Unless your eye sight is poor please throw out your magnifying mirror – those mirror just make people obsess needlessly about their appearance.  If your pores appear big because you examine them nightly in your magnifying mirror keep in mind that your facial pores probably aren’t large at all.  If you can’t see your facial pores without a magnifying mirror don’t go looking for them.  You’ll only find them because you looked for them.  Keep in mind that no one’s skin can look like the skin on models in cosmetic ads and fashion magazines.  I call those photos – “the tyranny of perfect skin”.  Rarely, rarely does anyone’s skin look like that in real life – including the model’s skin.  They airbrush the hell out of those photos.  I find that many people think they have large pores when they do not so please take a moment to really assess the appearance of your skin.

OK –  so what can you do to minimize the appearance of large pores if you really do have them?  Here are a number of suggestions:

Dr. Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist in Manhattan and Coral Gables, Fla. [says] “Keeping pores cleaned out is going to make them look a lot smaller,” he said.  …

But like exercise, physical exfoliation even once or twice a week can seem an unpleasant task. “Most people surprisingly don’t exfoliate,” Mr. Silla said. “It’s laziness.”

Even the lazy, though, can use a cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid routinely, or get a prescription for a tretinoin like Atralin or Renova, if it doesn’t irritate their skin (causing redness and flakes on top of the pore problem).

Dr. Rendon added that there is another reason to fear sun damage: “It leads to bigger-looking pores,” she said. She recommends daily, year-round use of a sunscreen. If the damage is already done, treatments that aim to stimulate collagen — for instance, intense pulsed light (IPL) and certain lasers or peels — can improve the appearance of pores for 4 to 12 months at most, Dr. Lupo said.

But “it will require constant maintenance,” she warned. Alas: “We have no permanent solution to make pores appear smaller.”

And don’t forget the power of a good make-up primer and powder.  Both will temporarily help minimize the appearance of large pores.  For tips on how make-up can disguise your large pores see my post Large Pores – Can You Shrink Them?.

 Further Reading:

*I’ve actually written about this subject in my past in my blog (see my post Large Pores – Can You Shrink Them?) which included much of the same information that is in The New York Times article, but I loved The New York Times article so much I wanted to write a post about.

 

Stop Doing Those Facial Exercises! Give Yourself a Facial Massage Instead April 11, 2011

A while back a college friend of mine contacted me via Facebook to tell me that she was doing facial exercises nightly in order to maintain and improve her appearance and thought that she was getting good results.  But she was wondering if perhaps she was just seeing things and if facial exercises actually work.  I quickly emailed her back with a link to Paula Begoun’s take on facial exercise which, in a word, is that they are bogus. 

What are facial exercises anyhow?  I’ll quote from the book The Yoga Facelift in order to explain:

Facial expressions that reflect worry, unhappiness, and anger have a way of becoming permanent.  The good news is that we are not stuck with what we see in the mirror – if we don’t like what we see, we can change it.  There are a number of ways we can effect change.  First of all, from a purely physical stand-point, exercises do a lot to counteract the effects of time and gravity.  Over time our muscles lengthen as gravity pulls ever downward, causing the sagging we start to see everywhere in our faces; eyes start to droop, foreheads and cheeks sag, and jowls start to form until it’s almost like watching a snowman melt in slow motion.  Exercising shortens muscles, and so we end up with tighter, firmer faces as we tone the musculature underneath.  This method of addressing sagging is far superior to plastic surgery, the other option, because it actually improves your appearance over time. 

 

Sounds rather persuasive, doesn’t it?  The program outlined in this book takes an hour to perform and you need to do that hour long program once a day for about three months before you can go on a maintenance program that only requires you to do facial exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day.  I tried a number of the exercises in the book just for fun.  Some were strange, uncomfortable, and difficult to do while others were just relaxing.  Truthfully even if I did believe that facial exercises worked I certainly don’t have a free hour each day to perform them.  But even if you do have that amount of free time to devote to facial exercises don’t waste your time!  Here’s why (I like how Paula Begoun explains why facial exercises don’t work so I’ll quote her here):

For the most part, facial exercises are more a problem for skin than a help. Facial exercises provide little or no benefit because loss of muscle tone is not a major cause of wrinkles or sagging skin. In fact, muscle tone is barely involved in these at all. The skin’s sagging and drooping are caused by four major factors:

  1. Deteriorated collagen and elastin (due primarily to sun damage);
  2. Depletion of the skin’s fat layer (a factor of genetic aging and gravity);
  3. Repetitive facial movement (particularly true for the forehead frown lines and for smile lines from the nose to the mouth);
  4. Muscle sagging due to the loosening of facial ligaments that hold the muscles in place.

Facial exercise is not helpful for worn-out collagen, elastin, or the skin’s fat layer, because none of that is about the muscles. It is especially not helpful for the lines caused by facial movement! Instead, facial exercises only make those areas appear more lined. The reason Botox injections into the muscles of the forehead and facial lines work to create a smoother face is because Botox prevents the muscles from moving!

Facial exercises won’t reattach facial ligaments; that is only possible via surgery. One procedure in a surgical face-lift is to re-drape the muscle of the cheek and the jaw, drawing it back and then literally stitching it back in place where it used to be. Exercise doesn’t reattach the ligaments, it just tones the sagging.

The ads for facial exercises often tout the fact that the facial muscles are the only muscles in the body that insert (or attach) into skin rather than into bone. They then use this fact to explain why, if you tone facial muscles, they directly affect the appearance of the skin. What this doesn’t say is that skin movement is one of the things that causes the skin to sag. If you are doing facial exercises and can see your skin move or frown lines and laugh lines look more apparent, it only makes matters worse.

 Now if doing facial exercises relax you after a long day then that is the only time I am all for them.  If you really want to do your skin and face some good consider giving yourself a nightly facial massage.  By giving yourself a short facial massage you are able to release tension that you hold in your face, relax, destress, relieve muscle pain, and make yourself feel good.  A facial massage also stimulates blood flow to your face and helps with your circulation.

In my opinion the easiest facial massage you can do on yourself is a pressure point massage.  Take your index fingers and gently make about 15 circles on the pressure point.  See the photos below for some ideas of where you can find pressure points on your face.  Only press as hard as you feel comfortable.  The idea is relax not hurt yourself.  I hold a lot of tension in my jaw so I particularly like to rub that pressure point.  A pressure point massage can be performed on any skin type even on someone with acne.  You can do it while watching TV.  Give it a try – you won’t regret it!

 

 
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