Frequently Asked Beauty Questions
Q. My skin has been feeling so rough and dry lately. What can I do?
A. The first step is to exfoliate the skin either mechanically or chemically to remove the outermost layer of skin cells, and then moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Mechanical exfoliators include mechanized brushes (such as Clarisonic), textured buffing sponges, or even a washcloth will provide a gentle scrub. Use a mild peeling cleanser with small, smooth granules to reveal softer, smoother skin! Chemical exfoliators usually provide a more drastic smoothing treatment. Commonly used products include Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) as their ingredients. The products can vary in strength and can be very powerful, thus the directions should always be followed carefully. Once the outermost dry layer of dead skin cells is removed, then your moisturizing products such as oils and creams can penetrate into the skin and nourish it. If you do not exfoliate the skin before applying moisturizers, you are only adhering more dead skin to your body, because the products cannot penetrate and work.
Q. What can I do about grey eyebrows? I have too many to tweeze out!
A. There are several options to choose from; the easiest solution is to have your brows tinted by a professional with a tested, safe eyebrow tint. This process takes only about 10 minutes and lasts several weeks. I would caution you to request a natural henna or other safe dye to be used around your eye area. Hair dyes are not tested on eyebrows and thus not recommended. Another option is to utilize a tinted brow gel that works like a mascara wand for the brows. It makes the brows fuller, darker, and keeps them in place for all-day hold. The final option is to try a brow growth serum to grow new, healthy, darker hairs. These products are quite pricey, but give you the most permanent results for aging, thinning brows.
Q. My son plays sports and has a lot of blackheads. Would a facial be good for him?
A. Absolutely! Getting the blackheads out will unplug the pores and allow his natural oils to come through, rather than getting clogged. The skin is a part of the body’s waste mechanism, so it needs a clear passage to let out sweat and toxins, for example. A skilled esthetician can remove many comodones (blackheads) in even just a single session! An additional benefit to removing the blackheads is that they will no longer stretch and enlarge the pores, resulting in a cleaner, more even complexion.
Q. I’ve heard that junk food makes you break out. Is that true? Are there any foods that make your skin better?
A. For better or worse, there is truth to the old saying “you are what you eat.” Consuming foods that are high in sugar, saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol does not just affect your body on the inside – it can also show in your skin. Skin is the largest organ of the body, so the healthier you are, the healthier and clearer your skin will be, too. In general, this includes a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Lean proteins such as grilled chicken and salmon are good, while dairy products and processed foods should be kept to a minimum. Of course drinking lots of water and exercising regularly are both vital for a healthy body. There are also certain foods that are especially good for your skin, such as olives, walnuts, and green tea, which is rich in antioxidants. Additionally, foods containing Vitamin C help to brighten the skin; this includes strawberries, oranges, broccoli, red peppers, and grapefruit.
Q. What is the difference between BB cream, CC cream, and foundation? Which one has the best coverage?
A. The “BB” stands for “beauty balm,” and is a combination of skincare and makeup. BB creams originated in Korea and quickly became popular in the U.S. over the past few years. Similar to a tinted moisturizer, BB cream provides just a light coverage and is generally marketed towards younger skin with fewer problem areas. It usually contains SPF for sun protection, and sometimes contains other beauty enhancers such as primers or anti-oxidants.
CC cream is “color correcting” cream. It is meant to even out redness and dull or sallow-looking skin and thus provides more coverage than a BB cream. CC creams also often contain SPF and/or Vitamins C and E for brightness, elasticity, and a healthy glow.
Foundation coverage varies by brand, but foundations generally have fewer skin benefits than BB or CC creams. However, BB and CC creams usually only come in a few shades whereas foundations offer many more shades and tones for a closer match. We recommend trying out different products to find what works best for you and your skin!
Q. What is the shelf life of cosmetic and skin care products? What happens when they expire?
A. The shelf life for cosmetics varies, but you should definitely be cautious about using old products because they can grow bacteria and either cause irritations or even make you sick. Eye makeup, especially mascara, is the number one culprit for this, and should only be kept for about 3 months. For concealer, foundation, and lipstick/gloss, a good rule of thumb is about 12 months. Powders and blushes can last for two years, since there is no water in them and thus less likelihood of bacterial growth. Skincare products such as moisturizers and cleansers usually have a shelf life of 12 - 24 months. Many products have a symbol printed on the back that looks like an open jar, and either 6M or 12M or 24M. This means that once the product is opened, it is good for 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months, respectively. In general, your nose is a good guideline, too. If a product looks or smells funky, or has a different consistency than it used to, toss it!
Q. What is the difference between gel nails, shellac, and SNS? Which one is best for your nails or lasts the longest?
A. Gel nails, not to be confused with gel polish, give a natural look without a paint overlay. They are set with a UV light, and thus require soaking to get them off, but they can be shaped and filed like a regular nail in between refills. You can get just a gel overlay, or a nail tip with an overlay to extend the length.
Shellac is a gel polish that comes in a variety of colors. It is not recommended to file and shape the nails in between polish changes, as they are likely to crack. You can get shellac off by soaking cotton pads in acetone, placing them on each nail, and wrapping it in tin foil (to hold in place) for about 10 minutes.
SNS gives a nice finish with lots of colors, but tends to be more expensive than shellac and is not as strong as acrylic or gel nails. Just like with shellac, it is not recommended to file the nails between polish changes. SNS is applied by layering and setting powder without a UV light. SNS is the least damaging to nails, as it should just slide off once soaked in acetone. SNS nails are visibly thicker, and thus more artificial looking.
Gel, shellac, and SNS nails all require fill-ins or polish changes every two weeks, so they all last about the same time.
Q. What exactly is primer for and how do you use it?
A. Primers serve as a multifunctional base for your foundation: they help fill in your pores, creating a smooth, even layer to put your makeup over. They also act as a barrier between the skin and the foundation, helping to make your makeup last longer without looking cakey or worn off. Some primers work as color correctors, for example green primers counteract redness, and lavender primers brighten the face. A primer is applied on top of your moisturizer and underneath your foundation. You can also use primer on its own without makeup, to even out your skin on no-makeup days!
Q. What can I do about deep, embedded blackheads?
A. The most effective thing you can do is book a deep-cleansing facial with an esthetician who is experienced in extractions. For best results, the blackheads will first be softened with steam and then a decongestant serum will be applied. Afterwards, an instrument called a comodone extractor is run over the skin, causing the blackheads to pop out under the pressure. As a last step, a purifying serum and a clay-based mask are both applied to the skin to prevent future breakouts. Using a clay-based mask at home once or twice a week can also help to clean out the pores and minimize breakouts in between visits to your esthetician.
Q. Can I prevent split ends with products that claim to “remove” or “prevent” split ends?
A. Products will not remove your split ends, unfortunately. The only way to remove split ends is to see your stylist for a haircut. However, there are moisturizing hair products that will help prevent future split ends. When styling your hair with hot tools (i.e. a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling wand), use a heat protectant that can be used on both damp and dry hair. For extra protection and added moisture on the ends of the hair, you can also use a dry oil such as Moroccan oil. The key to smooth, split-end-free hair is a combination of heat protection, moisture, and regular haircuts.
Q. I suffer horribly from allergies but I hate depending on allergy medication all the time. Is there a natural way to relieve sinus pressure?
A. There are reflexive points on your feet that correspond to points and organs throughout the entire body. Holistic Eastern practices often target these points to naturally relieve pressure in the body and promote optimal functioning of the organs. Getting a foot massage that incorporates reflexology can help to relieve your sinus issues. You can also get a lymphatic drainage massage, which works by stimulating movement through the lymphatic system, easing the symptoms of sinus discomfort.
Q. What exactly is a facial for? Is it really necessary? How often should you get one?
A. The primary purpose of a facial is to deep cleanse the skin and to target different skin issues with specialized serums, masks, and moisturizers. Facials may not be necessary for healthy, normal skin, but they are certainly beneficial for any skin type. For more problematic skin concerns such as acne or severe dryness, getting regular facials will make a huge difference. Estheticians can dramatically help to improve many skin conditions, and can also help you set up a daily/weekly at-home skincare regimen for in between visits. Getting regular facials takes a proactive approach to anti-aging and addresses the skin’s changing needs. Additionally, clients love the relaxation and massage that comes with the facial, as well as the boost to mood and energy levels from having an hour of “me-time.” Getting a facial once or twice will not make you look ten years younger in the same way working out once or twice will not make you lose ten pounds. For optimal results, we recommend coming in for a facial once a month to continually address the skin’s needs, or at the very least four times a year, as skin changes with the seasons.
Q. I’m nervous about turning 30. What kind of skin products should I be using now? When does “anti-aging” really start?
A. Anti-aging is most effective when it is done as a preventative measure rather than trying to reverse the signs of aging once they have set it. Thus you should start protecting the eye area in your early 20s with a serum and/or eye cream. The skin around the eyes is very thin and delicate and loses moisture quickly, so this is the first area you want to target to retain moisture and prevent lines and wrinkles. One of the best ingredients for anti-aging on your face and body is olive oil, which contains anti-oxidants and preserves the skin naturally. Additionally, adding a Vitamin C serum under your moisturizer gives you further antioxidant protection and brightens the skin. Once you hit your mid-thirties, or at the earliest signs of aging, add a night cream containing retinol. The most important preventative measure, above all else, is to use a sunscreen every single day. It is a good idea to come in for a facial at least a few times a year, and make sure you use moisturizer on your neck, hands, and décolleté to prevent signs of aging in these areas as well.
Q. I have lots of small bumps on the back of my arms. How can I get rid of them?
A. The little bumps you are referring to are clumps of dead, dry skin called Keratosis Pilaris, which is a common but harmless occurrence on arms. Start by using a gentle body scrub containing lactic acid to exfoliate the skin and slough off the outer, dead skin cells. Then apply a moisturizer containing ceremides. These lipids help prevent moisture loss and keep your skin soft and smooth. For a fun, luxurious treatment, try a professional Body Buff with a salt or sugar scrub and rich shea butter lotions for ultimate smoothness.
Q. How exactly does a peel work? Why do people get them?
A. When you look in the mirror, most everything you see is dead – your hair, your nails, and the outer layers of your skin are all dead cells. A peel works by sloughing off these dead cells to reveal fresher, younger layers of skin beneath. Peels come in different grades: there are commercial cleansing peels that you can do once a week at home, and there are also stronger procedures called chemical peels, which penetrate deeper and shed more layers of skin for a long-lasting youthful appearance. Getting regular peels has additional benefits such as lightening sun damage, decreasing pore size, minimizing wrinkles through increased collagen production, and giving skin a healthy, natural glow.
Q. How can I get my makeup to last longer?
A. Choose a foundation formulated for your skin type. If your skin is oily, choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula that will not block your pores. Start in the middle of your face and work your way out for a smooth transition without harsh edges, and don’t forget the neck! You can use a flat brush, a stippling brush, a dampened cosmetic sponge, or your bare, clean hands. Dust a light layer of powder or bronzer over the face with a large, fluffy brush for an oil-absorbing, matte finish.
For eye makeup, use a shadow primer. The tacky texture of the primer allows shadow to adhere better to the skin, and keeps it from creasing. After all makeup application is complete, use a setting spray that keeps everything in place and adds a boost to your hydration!