Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Always Judging June 25, 2012


Ever feel like the whole world is full of haters?  I think we all have days that make us just want to hide in the house and stay away from all other people (and lets be honest the internet as well).   And to be perfectly honest – when we aren’t feeling like someone is judging us we are probably judging someone else.  I realize that more and more especially if I stop during the day and evaluate what I have been thinking.  Without even realizing it I’m at it again – judging someone.

I think we judge others simply because it makes us feel better about ourselves.  I think it is human nature to judge, unfortunately.  And breaking that habit is very, very, very hard.

The actress Ashley Judd recently made headlines not for her new TV show but for her appearance while promoting that show.  Judd’s face appeared significantly more puffy than it had in the past, and many people and media outlets rushed to judge and conjecture why she looked that way.  To say that the people were mean and judgmental would be a vast understatement.  The comments were cruel and derogatory.

Judd decided to address the storm of criticism directed at her appearance, and she did so in a op-ed piece in The Daily Beast.  Here are some of my favorite parts from Judd’s article:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

I hope the sharing of my thoughts can generate a new conversation: Why was a puffy face cause for such a conversation in the first place? How, and why, did people participate? If not in the conversation about me, in parallel ones about women in your sphere? What is the gloating about? What is the condemnation about? What is the self-righteous alleged “all knowing” stance of the media about? How does this symbolize constraints on girls and women, and encroach on our right to be simply as we are, at any given moment? How can we as individuals in our private lives make adjustments that support us in shedding unconscious actions, internalized beliefs, and fears about our worthiness, that perpetuate such meanness? What can we do as families, as groups of friends? Is what girls and women can do different from what boys and men can do? What does this have to do with how women are treated in the workplace?

I ask especially how we can leverage strong female-to-female alliances to confront and change that there is no winning here as women. It doesn’t actually matter if we are aging naturally, or resorting to surgical assistance. We experience brutal criticism. The dialogue is constructed so that our bodies are a source of speculation, ridicule, and invalidation, as if they belong to others—and in my case, to the actual public.

As much as I liked Judd’s article I was equally impressed by Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure, who take on the controversy.  I’ve written numerous times in the past in this blog how much I like Wells’ take on all things beauty, and she actually made me like her more after reading her June letter to the editor:

[Judd] humanized the issue of beauty criticism, saying that it not only hurts but also demeans and reduces us all to our least interesting, least powerful aspects.

She’s right.  And when she asks, “What is the gloating about?” I might say, “How much time do you have?”  Judd was talking about nasty comments she received for something she didn’t do, but I also object to the stigma attached when a woman decides – for her own reasons, which don’t necessarily include self-loathing or “internalized patriarchy” – that she would like to get Botox or wrinkle-filling injections or lipo or a face-lift.  Those are perfectly legitimate options, too.  And if Judd or any other woman chooses to undergo these treatments, there should be no shame in that.  Being a natural beauty is excellent – and lucky.  Attaching a moral judgement to a cosmetic treatment is as unfair and ridiculous as carping about someone who colors her hair.  It wasn’t so long ago that women who wore lipstick or rouge were accused of moral turpitude.  The argument hasn’t changed.


What can we learn from all of this?  Perhaps to give ourselves and others a break.  Try for one day or even one hour to judge less.


For a great blog post about how to deal with haters see Rae from Scatterbraintures post:  Haters Can Cause Premature Aging – If You Let Them.   Check it out for her great advice on how not to let haters bring you down.


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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.

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Book Review: Allure Confessions of a Beauty Editor January 24, 2011

I will readily admit that I am quite a johnny come lately when it comes to reading this book.  It came out in 2006, and I am only getting around now to looking at it.  I figured since I am such a fan of the magazine Allure that it really was time to look at their book. 

I really wanted to love this book, but it definitely fell flat for me.  I’ve always enjoyed the letter from the editor page in Allure by Linda Wells, the magazine’s founding and current editor-in-chief, and once again her very short essays at the beginning of each chapter in the book were a highlight for me.  And the rest of the book – well it was a mystery to me frankly.  The book was so basic!  I still can’t quite figure out who the book’s intended audience was and why everything in the book was so dumbed down.  There are even instructions in the book on how to shave your legs! 

Is the intended audience for the book was a 13 year-old girl who was just starting to get interested in skincare and make-up then I would understand both the tone and content of the book, but I truly doubt that 13 year-old girls were the intended audience for the book.  In my opinion the magazine Allure is aimed at smart and savvy women who are very interested in skincare and make-up and who definitely don’t need to be told to exfoliate their skin or taught how to properly shave their legs.  I would assume that the average Allure reader really wants to know if there is a new and effective exfoliant on the market and how the latest innovations in hair removal work.  So why didn’t the book contain any information like that? 

Was there any new and exciting information in this book?  No, not really.  Overall I liked the make-up section the best.  Though most of the tips were old hat, I did pick up one or two new ideas on how to apply my make-up.  But so much of the book was extraneous and down right dull.  For instance, does anyone really need to be told that you have to apply your eyeliner before your mascara or you’ll end up with a huge mess?  I think you only need to be reminded of that if you have never applied eye make-up.

One more gripe for me were the photos.  The models in the photos are all extremely young, but what bothered me even more were how completely airbrushed the photos were.  Instead of offering up a realistic portrayal of how a woman could look if she followed the tips in the book, the photos instead offered an extremely stylized and unattainable beauty ideal.  No one has such perfect skin in real life.  The lighting in the photographs is amazing – no one and I will repeat no one can look that good in real life!  Yes, the photos in Allure are always stylized and high fashion, not particularly realistic, but the photos in the book, in my opinion, took that aesthetic too far.  Plus the photos looked really dated to me, as if they had been done in the late 1990s or early 2000 instead around 2005.  The photographs were so artificial that they ended up being a huge turn-off for me.

So who should you buy this book for?  I suggest getting the book for your favorite niece who is just starting to be interested in skincare and make-up or for your daughter who wants to begin wearing make-up and taking care of her skin.  And if you want a book at home with the most basic of information about skincare, body care, and make-up application this is the book for you.


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