Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Facials 101 March 15, 2012

Every once in a while I come across a great post on another blog that I feel I need to share immediately with my readers.  The latest one comes from one of my favorite beauty blogs Gouldylox Reviews which is a wonderful resource for anyone since it is filled accessible beauty information and make-up ideas.

Recently Gouldylox Reviews published a fantastic post called What to Expect at Your First Facial.  Truthfully, I couldn’t have said anything better myself!  The post goes step by step through the facial process – from arriving at the spa to entering the treatment room, and even includes really on target tips about how to tell if you are being treated by a good esthetician or not.  I always get a little nervous when I see that people are writing about spas and estheticians since, unfairly and unfortunately, estheticians can get a lot of bad press.  So I very pleased when I read through this post.

Here are some of the things, according to Gouldylox Reviews, that set a good spa and esthetician apart from a so-so one:

Since not all spas are created equally, here are my guidelines for what I look for. I’m picky, so if certain things don’t bother you, then carry on.

1. The esthetician must take time to ask you how you are hoping to benefit from the appointment (unless you are a regular client and they know you really well).

2. If they glower at you when you mention you use drugstore skincare, I would not return again. Nothing irks me more than snobby estheticians who try to profit by making you feel less, looking down on because of how much you spend on your products. Skincare can be very expensive. Many drugstore brands work beautifully and many very expensive brands do not. It’s a personal decision and anyone that makes you feel less than for not using expensive products is missing the point. They should be concerned with what is best for you. It could be that a Kate Somerville product may be perfect for you. But if you can’t afford the price tag, it should not affect the quality of care you receive.

3. The treatment rooms should be quiet and clean. Your esthetician should not smell of smoke, including her hands, or chew gum. Call me picky, but these two things make me insane and feel dirtier, not more clean.

4. They should always observe your modesty.

5. They should be knowledgeable about all products they use or recommend. Skincare is changing at lightning speed, and like any professional, it’s important to stay on top of what’s available and how it works. This includes products as well as treatments like lasers, peels and other medi-spa options.

Finally, if you are happy with the service, you should tip 20%. If you were uncomfortable or unhappy with your service, you should politely tell them why, so they can change and suit your needs better. A good spa will want to know how to improve your experience. While it’s great if you can financially swing a facial each month, it does your skin good even if you can only go quarterly.

Fabulous advice!  I agree wholeheartedly that estheticians should not be trashing a client’s home care regime – no matter where her products come from.  If someone asks me what I think about a specific product I’ll give them my honest opinion, but only if they ask.  Having said that there are some estheticians out there whose whole shtick (aka personal gimmick, attitude, ploy, or persona) is to have a “I know better than you” attitude.  Some people actually like this and don’t mind when the esthetician trashes their skin, their home care routine, and choice of skincare products.  I guess they think that the esthetician is an expert so she knows what is best for them.  Or perhaps they like being around forceful personalities.  Who knows?  Personally I don’t like when people treat me in a condescending way so I try to avoid doing this with my clients at all costs.  Plus I want my clients to come back and see me (and refer me their friends) so I want to make sure that they feel good about their experience.  In my book putting someone down doesn’t equal a positive spa experience.

Though I also agree that an esthetician should be up to date on the latest skincare, make-up, and treatment options available I think you need to evaluate this criteria from a very personal perspective.  If you know more than your esthetician about the latest innovations in skincare and the newest and greatest thing in the beauty industry is important to you than perhaps you should think about finding someone else to go.  But if you just want to relax for an hour and don’t care if your esthetician knows all about the developments in laser technology than you can asess your esthetician on different criteria.  That is a truly personal choice.  But as pointed out above since the whole skincare industry changes at lightening speed, if your esthetician hasn’t heard of something but is open to finding out about new things take that as a positive not a negative.

And if you are a beauty junkie or novice I suggest subscribing to Gouldylox Reviews for on-target beauty tips.

Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from www.facefactsclinic.co.uk

 

What Is Dermal Micro Needling? March 12, 2012

Ever feel like the universe is looking out for you?  I know that may seem like an exaggeration, and I would agree, but I found it interesting that just as I was starting to research this blog post, and failing to find real, scientific information about dermal micro needling, I discovered that the there was a great article on the subject in the February issue of Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa A Collagen Boosting Alternative: Dermal Micro Needling.  Not only did I come across the article I just mentioned pretty soon after coming across that article I was finding articles about micro needling from legitimate sources in different places.  So with the help of these articles let’s jump right into the whole subject of micro needling.

 

All About Dermal Micro Needling

According to the article from LNE & Spa:

The principle of skin needling is to stimulate the body’s own production of collagen.  DMN involves the use of a sterile roller, comprised of a series of fine, sharp needles to puncture the skin.  Medical needling is performed under a local anesthetic; the needling device is “rolled” over the surface of the face to create many microscopic channels deep into the dermis of the skin, which stimulates your own body to produce new collagen.  At a microscopic level, proliferated skin cells, such as fibroblasts, migrate to the point of injury and transform into collagen fibers, resulting in increased fiber strength and elasticity.  This treatment improves your skin by increasing production of collagen, facilitating natural repair and growth and making the skin stronger and thicker.  The new collagen fills depressed scars and wrinkles from the bottom up, lifting the depression so they are level with the surrounding skin.  This process takes two to three months to produce visible results, and can also help thicken thinner, fine skin types.

There are a few different type of dermal rollers, which is what the dermal micro needling devices are called.  The ones designed to be used at home have shorter needles than those used by physicians.  Dermal micro needling can be combined with other skincare treatments and products in order to enhance the collagen building results.  Additionally, the procedure can be used on all skin types.  The side effects are mainly varying degrees of redness; the amount of redness depends on how long the needles used were and how deeply they entered the skin.  Potential complications can arise if the healing skin isn’t cared for properly.  Those complications can be infection, scarring, an outbreak of cold sores if you are prone to getting them, and even post inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can last up to 12 months.   Proper care after treatment involves the use of healing creams or ointments along with a broad spectrum spf for the first day or two after the treatment.  Depending on what you want to fix about your skin you may need between 3 to 8 treatments spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart.

 Yes or No?

To quote the article, again, from LNE & Spa:

DMN has been used successfully to treat fine lines, wrinkles, lax and sun damaged skin to reduce the appearance of stretch marks; improve acne ice pick scars; and induce hair’s regrowth.  It has also been used to tighten skin after liposuction.  The advantages of this procedure are that the skin becomes thicker, with an increase in collagen deposition exceeding more than 400 percent.

But for all this positive talk about DMN there are naysayers as well.  On About.com they have this to say about DMN:

Does It Really Work?

Depends on who you ask. Personally, I’ve seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos – so dramatic, in fact, they made me even more skeptical than before. However, there have been a few scientific studies showing micro-needling to be effective in the treatment of scars. On the other hand, I have seen TV interviews with doctors who have seemed  to be saying that its real value lies in its mechanical exfoliation action on the skin. In researching how it works, it seems like it certainly could be effective for at least some of the conditions it claims to treat. However, I also believe that only time will tell just how effective it is, and whether or not it’s worth it.

Furthermore, according to Annet King in her article for The International Dermal Institute Skin Needling: Hurting or Helping? – there are a lot of variables that one has to keep in mind when considering dermal micro needling:

Effects on the Skin: Medical vs. Skin care
Most of the claims about wrinkle reduction and new collagen growth come from the manufacturers of the rollers or those members of the medical community who are associated (remunerated) by those companies. What’s important to keep in mind is that in most cases, patients in the study also used a topical Retinoic Acid or Retinol based product in conjunction with the skin needling. However some independent dermatologists do claim to see positive scar reduction outcomes in their patients, and another upside is that it does offer a cost effective alternative to fractional laser resurfacing. In general, skin needling is a long term commitment of 1-2yrs of combined in office and at home treatment.

The effects of skin needling differ according to needle gauge, length and the manual pressure that’s used with the roller. Therefore the level of skin invasion and subsequent inflammation on the skin can vary from gentle stimulation to piercing the skin and drawing fluids, i.e. blood and lymph. With the variances of effects skin needling rollers can have, most devices are disposed of in the appropriate biohazard container or are properly sanitized and given directly to the same client for at home use. Whichever method is observed, it is important that correct sanitation measures are followed to prevent the chance of cross contamination from occurring. As with many methods, it’s vital to respect the boundaries of medical, professional, and at-home tools, and skin benefits shouldn’t be confused. Dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, and crystal-containing scrubs come to mind! The marketing hype can baffle the end user and incense the professional!

Different Needles Different Outcomes
A roller with wide gauge, short length needles that are under 0.25mm in length is generally non-invasive and cannot cause trauma to the skin, but rather it stimulates and provides gentle exfoliation while increasing superficial circulation. This action, much like manual massage and other electrical modalities, may enhance the penetration and absorption of active ingredients into the deeper layers of the skin. Therefore, additional age fighting skin benefits can be achieved when skin needling is combined with products that contain collagen boosting and skin fortifying ingredients like Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides.

The longer, thinner needles around 1.0mm or 1.5mm in length are more hazardous; the potential for breaking the skin, drawing fluids, causing injury and subsequent risk of infection is much higher. Extreme caution must be used as this is considered highly invasive and high risk. It may also be beyond a skin therapist’s legal scope of practice. Therefore, this procedure is best conducted under medical supervision as adverse reactions and post procedure complications can occur. When the barrier of the skin is compromised to this degree, bacterial skin infections, adverse skin reactions, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation and premature aging (due to inflammatory mediators being drawn to the area) can result. Products that are calming and anti-inflammatory would be ideal to soothe any inflammation post needling, and for pre-care the most important aspect is that the skin is thoroughly clean to prevent any possibly risk of infection.

In my opinion the jury is definitely still out on this skin treatment.  I would like to see more real scientific research done on the subject before offering a concrete opinion if this is a skincare treatment to pursue.  If you are an esthetician who does micro needling I would love for you to comment below, and if you have tried micro needling please comment below as well.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from Derma-Rollers.com

 

Caring for Your Skin During Cancer Treatment October 17, 2011

 

 

I’ve had the privilege to volunteer for The American Cancer Society’s great program Look Good …  Feel Better for over a year now.  When I run a session of the program the first thing that I talk about is caring for your skin while undergoing cancer treatment.  I wanted to share some of those tips in this post though please keep in mind that the information contained in this post is not meant to negate or replace the information you are receiving from your oncologist.  If you have any questions about the information contained in this post please ask your doctor.  Furthermore, the information that I am presenting here is general in nature so your specific needs may be different.

The September issue of the spa professional publication Les Nouvelles Esthetiques & Spa contains quite a few articles that address the care of cancer patients.  The article Chemotherapy and the Skin by Jennifer Linder, MD is a great resource for both the cancer patient and the skincare professional.  It starts off with some important information:

As we know, chemotherapy is necessary to eradicate various types of cancers, but it undeniably wreaks havoc on the skin.  As the largest organ of elimination, the skin of those undergoing chemotherapy has an overwhelming task.  In addition to simply trying to process the drugs that are introduced into the body during these necessary treatments, the skin also is reacting to the unavoidable increase in emotional stress that a cancer diagnosis will likely cause.  …

Common side effects 

Chemotherapeutic drugs’ most common effects on the skin are severe dryness, sensitivity, allergic reactions, flushing, hyperpigmentation, photosensitivity, and folliculitis (an acne-like skin rash of the follicles).  Additionally, these patients are more susceptible to developing infections due to the suppression of their immune systems.  For these reasons, a gentle approach to treatment and home care product use is critical.

Be sure to baby your skin during cancer treatment:

  • Look for skincare products labeled “for sensitive skin”, “gentle”, and “soothing”
  • Fragrance can irritate sensitized skin so make sure your skincare products are fragrance free
  • Use warm water when you wash your face and body and don’t stay too long in the shower.  Long, hot showers, no matter how good they feel, dry out the skin
  • Gently pat your face and body dry after showering and washing your face.  Rubbing your skin will just irritate it.
  • Moisturize with products that contain both humectant and occlusive ingredients.  Humectant ingredients draw moisture to our skin and occlusive ingredients prevent moisture from evaporating from our skin
  • Use body and face moisturizer immediately after you shower when your skin is still damp.  Damp skin absorbs skincare products better
  • Consider switching to dye and fragrance free laundry detergents

Sun protection is key during cancer treatment since chemotherapy can cause photosensitivity:

  • Always use a sunscreen of spf 30 daily even if you are only leaving the house for a short period of time
  • Since chemical sunscreen ingredients can irritate sensitive skin look for a sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as its active ingredients (Vanicream is a good choice)
  • Wear protective clothing, a hat, and sunglasses when you are outside or in the car
  • Try to avoid sun exposure between the peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm

More resources and further reading:

 

Food in Beauty Products: How Fruits and Veggies Help Your Skin June 6, 2011

This post was inspired by two articles that I read in the February 2011 issue of Day Spa magazine (unfortunately I cannot find the articles online).  Not surprisingly since the issue of the magazine was for February both wine and chocolate were featured in the articles.

This got me thinking about how different fruits and vegetables help our skin when applied topically.  According to the Allure article Feed Your Face:

Hippocrates wrote that we should let food be our medicine. More than 2,000 years later, scientists now believe this wisdom extends to what we see in the mirror. Increasingly, women can treat fine lines, sunburn, dullness, and splotches with ingredients usually found on our plates. “Dietary substances known to be good for the complexion are sometimes better applied topically than ingested,” says David H. McDaniel, director for the Institute of Anti-Aging Research and an assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. “You can get higher concentrations in the skin this way.” Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as adding a little pureed pineapple to a scrub because it’s been shown to even skin tone, or pomegranate because it’s a potent antioxidant. “Effectiveness is not based in the ingredient alone—extracts must be specially formulated so that they get into the skin,” says Leslie Baumann, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute.

 So let me highlight a few fruits and vegetables and explain their benefits:

  • Grape seed based products and treatments are anti-aging powerhouses because of the antioxidants and polyphenols in grapes.  According to the article in Day Spa magazine: “chemical compounds belonging to a group of substances found in plants, polyphenols include tannins, lignins, resveratol and flavonoids.  Rich in antioxidants, they’ve also been found to contain similar properties to some anticancer drugs.  When applied topically, they act as free radical scavengers, defending the skin, promoting tissue elasticity and ultimately achieving a more youthful appearance.”  Not only can you find numerous skincare products with grape or wine extracts amongst their ingredients many spas offer vinotherapy or spa treatments utilizing wine and/or grapes.  This spa niche was pioneered in Bordeaux, France (where else, of course?) at the Caudalie spa which opened in 1993.  Find grape seed in Eminence Organic Skin care products, and Murad products among many others.
  • Chocolate:  I have a confession to make – I love chocolate; I eat it every day actually.  So it makes perfect sense to me to buy a skincare product with chocolate in it or get a spa treatment that utilizes chocolate.  So what benefits does chocolate have for our skin?  According to the article in Day Spa magazine: “the antioxidant-rich seeds of the cacao tree work wonders on the senses, and tighten, firm, and hydrate the dermis.”  All antioxidants fight free radical damage, reduce skin inflammation, and are soothing for the skin.  If you can get all those benefits from chocolate what could be more wonderful?  Try it in Rhonda Allison chocolate antioxidant mask, and  Biotone cocoa comfort massage lotion among other products.
  • Oatmeal is a great ingredient for sensitive skin since it is anti-inflammatory, calms irritation, and even hydrates.  Aveeno is a mass market brand that has oatmeal in its products.
  • Cooking oil – According to the Allure articles:      “Dietary oils contain copious lipids, some of which skin cells need to remain healthy,” says Baumann. Their primary role is to restore the skin’s protective barrier, especially when it’s dry—but medical research has revealed other benefits as well. Safflower oil contains oleic and linoleic acids with anti-inflammatory properties. And olive oil has polyphenolic compounds that may protect against inflammation and may also prevent the onset of UV-induced skin cancers.  PRODUCTS: Borba HD-Illuminating Hydrator, Eau Thermale Avène Trixera+ Seléctiose Emollient Cream, and Trish McEvoy Dry Skin Normalizer have safflower oil; Korres Natural Products Olive and Rye Day Cream and PerriconeMD Cosmeceuticals Protective Hydrator SPF 15 contain olive oil.”
  • Pumpkin is a great exfoliant since it contains enzymes that help eat away (I know not the greatest image to have in mind but it works) at dead skin cells leaving you with a smoother and softer complexion.  Pumpkin also contains the antioxidants bioflanovoids and Vitamin A that protect the skin.  Find it is GloTherapeutics Glopumpkin enzyme scrub.

 I’ve written in the past about how great green tea is for our skin both when we drink it and when we apply it topically.  See my post Ingredient Spotlight: Green Tea for lots more information.

The list above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to exploring how fruits, vegetables, and other foods can benefit our skin when applies topically.  The Allure article highlights more foods if you are interested in continuing your reading.

 

Botox Explained January 27, 2011

 

Since Botox’s approval by the FDA for cosmetic use it almost seems like its uses, potential side effects, and safety are taken for granted.  But do you really know how Botox works, how to store it, and how it is injected?

Skin Inc. just published a very comprehensive article that really explains everything you need to know about Botox.  Entitled Chemodenervation From Physiology of the Skin, Third Edition the article succinctly goes into detail about the history of the use of Botox, how it is injected, how injecting Botox affects facial wrinkles and also other body conditions like excessive sweating, and the potential side effects from Botox injections.

If you have ever had any questions about Botox be sure to check this article out.  Reading it will only take a few moments and leave you much better informed in the long run.

 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Facial December 28, 2010

This post was prompted by an article I read in Spa magazine entitled Your Therapist Needs to Know … .  (Unfortunately at the moment I cannot find the article online)  The article outlines what information you should be sure to share with your massage therapist or esthetician before and during a treatment.  Of course I’ll focus on issues that have to do with estheticians and facials. 

Before you have a facial your esthetician will have you fill a questionnaire that will ask about your general health and about your skin’s health.  You’ll also probably be asked what skincare products you currently use, what skincare issues you are concerned about, and what you would like to improve about your skin.  If the questionnaire doesn’t ask you those questions, hopefully your esthetician will ask you a variation on those questions either before or during your treatment.

If you suffer from cold sores, especially if you are currently experiencing an outbreak, be sure to tell your esthetician.  Steam can make a cold sore worse or even spread to another part of your face.  You can still have a facial if you have an active cold sore, but your esthetician just needs to be extra cautious when treating that area.  And by that I mean, the area with the cold sore shouldn’t be treated at all.  If you have sensitive or irritated areas on your face, neck, or chest be sure to point that out to your esthetician.  If you have ever had a negative or allergic reaction to a skincare product tell your esthetician.  Hopefully the questionnaire you have filled out will have a place to check if you suffer from rosacea or eczema, but even if they do be sure your esthetician has made a note of that before beginning your treatment.  Mention if you have had precancerous or cancerous lesions removed from the areas that will be treated during the facial.  If you have just spent a lot of time in the sun or are sunburned mention that too.  Some of these conditions might be completely obvious to your skincare therapist, but it never hurts to gently point them out before beginning treatment.

Also please tell you esthetician if you have an infectious disease, especially one that could be transferred through bodily fluids.  Though esthetician follow universal precautions, which means we have to assume that everyone has an infectious disease, it would be best to alert your esthetician about such a situation.  If you are pregnant, but it isn’t obvious yet, or if you are nursing be sure to tell your esthetician since many skincare ingredients are off limits for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Hopefully your esthetician will ask you what your expectations are for your treatment – relaxation, intense exfoliation, treatment of acne, anti-aging, etc. – but if she or he doesn’t be sure to let them know if you have any specific expectations from your treatment.  Of course, keep those expectations in check.  A facial won’t make you look 24 if you are really 50 (go to a plastic surgeon if you want that kind of change).  If you are interested in hearing about new skincare products or want to hear the esthetician’s opinion about certain skincare lines – ask.  Personally I love to share what I know about skincare products and most other esthetician do as well.  On the other hand, if you are happy with the products you are using you can politely tell your esthetician that.  Part of our job as an esthetician is to recommend the skincare products that our spas or offices sell.  If you don’t want to hear about other skincare products just politely let your esthetician know that.

In my opinion there are two other essential parts to getting the most out of your facial – ask lots of questions and speak up.  I always tell my clients “let me know if something doesn’t feel good, and I’ll fix it.”  Of course, extractions never feel good, but the rest of the treatment should be pleasant and even wonderful (the massage).  Personally, I’m a talker so I love clients that like to chit-chat about life or just about skincare products.  I am more than happy to share my knowledge, but if you just want to close your eyes and drift off to sleep during your facial tell your esthetician that at the beginning of the treatment.  You’ll enjoy your facial so much more if you speak up about something that might be bothering you during your treatment.  Instead of complaining afterwards to a manager tell your esthetician at that moment so they can correct what is bothering you.  Spas are driven by customer service so we are there to please you – the paying client.

And above all, relax and enjoy!

 

Further Reading –   11 Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your Spa Experience – Spa Magazine

 

Facial Waters: What Are They? August 13, 2010

 

I must admit that until very recently I was a bit confused and skeptical about the concept of facial waters.  I wondered if they were just an overpriced, bogus product promoted by skincare and beauty companies to make money off of suckers.  Ok – so I was more than a bit confused and skeptical about this product.

Recently I finished reading Leslie Baumann’s book The Skin Type Solution and while I wasn’t the biggest fan of her book (see my review) I did learn a few new things including what exactly facial waters are and how they benefit the skin.  I have to say that I was intrigued.  Facial waters can definitely be of benefit for those with dry skin or as a temporary solution for when you are in a low-humidity environment like an airplane (see my earlier post Airplane Travel and Your Skin for more skincare travel tips).

 

What Are Facial Waters and How Do They Benefit The Skin?

According to Dr. Baumann (pages 198,199, and 216 of her book):

Facial waters come from thermal springs.  They do not contain chemicals such as chlorine that are added to our tap water to keep it free from algae and other organisms.   The constituents of the water vary according to the source.  Vichy water contains sulfur, while La Roche-Posay water contains selenium and has been shown to be effective in treating eczema.  Both selenium and sulfur can be anti-inflammatory.

Spray facial water on your face just before applying eye cream and moisturizer.  The moisturizer and eye cream will help trap the water on the skin, giving the skin a reservoir to pull water from.  This is particularly beneficial in low-humidity environments such as the dry winter air, on airplanes, in air-conditioning, or in windy locales.

Essentially facial waters deposit much needed water and soothing ingredients onto the skin.  I like the idea of using a facial water in combination with a traditional moisturizer.  If you find that your regular moisturizer isn’t doing the job consider adding a facial water to your regime before throwing away or switching your product altogether.  Perhaps the solutions to your dry skin is only a spray away.

 

Products to Try

 

Further Reading:

 

 

 
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