Friday, September 23, 2011

Project: Get In Shape!

"Let's Get Physical!" Yes, I am a child of the 80's
For the last three weeks, I have been focusing on whipping myself back into shape. I have always been an athletic person over the years. I took tap and jazz dancing lessons when I was younger. I love wakeboarding and snowboarding. I also love to walk everywhere. Walking is one of the best ways to really explore and experience the city you live in. In my adult years, I have also discovered how much I love Spinning classes, yoga (especially Bikram), Pilates and even running.

Over the last year, I had to take time off from exercising on a regular basis, mainly because my schedule wouldn't allow me any extra time to do so. I was in school full-time AND working two jobs. Once I squeezed in a few hours here and there for some beauty sleep, there wasn't enough time or energy left to workout. I missed the sweating and getting my heart rate up on a regular basis tremendously. Not to mention, I felt incredibly sluggish and lumpy all the time.

Now that I have a somewhat regular schedule with regular hours, I decided to throw myself back into a workout schedule. This week marks Week 3 of Project: Get in Shape. Here's what I have been up to:

Running three days a week using the iPhone Couch to 10K app
Spinning class twice a week (added in Week 2)
Bikram yoga class at least three days a week (added in Week 2)
I started off the first week with just walking and running, using the Couch to 10K app. During the first week, the app starts off with a combination of walking for four and a half minutes and running for 30 seconds, for around 45 minutes on all three days. Totally do-able, especially for someone who hasn't been active in a really long time

On Week 2, I started to feel my old energy come back. I decided to fit in two Spinning classes with my all-time favorite instructor and stretch out my sore muscles from all the cardio with a few Bikram yoga classes. A lot of people get scared when they hear about a Spinning class. If you have the right instructor who is fun, energetic and plays really good music, it doesn't feel like working out at all. It feels more like a fun night out in the club, minus the cocktails and creepy dudes trying to dance too close. The first Bikram class I took this week was the hardest class I had ever taken. I hadn't been to a Bikram class in over a year and a half. I went to class first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach. I thought I was going to faint the entire time. I had to keep sitting down and didn't get to participate in much of the standing series portion of the class. By my third class this week, I was back into the swing of things. I didn't have to sit down once.

This week marks my third week of Project: Get in Shape. The running started to get a little harder this week. Now, the sessions are a little longer, up to an hour in length After the warm up, the app has you running one minute and 30 seconds at a time with only a three and a half minute break of walking in-between. It's still do-able. I haven't fallen off the treadmill yet. I can feel my endurance increasing and it's getting me hooked on running. Plus, having a great playlist makes everything so much more fun, easier and manageable. After running for three days, I look forward to my two Spinning classes of the week. It's nice to change up the cardio workouts. I'm not scared of Bikram anymore. I can get through the whole class without having to sit down. I am doing all of the poses and can feel the flexibility in my body increase. Nothing feels more amazing than a shower after a Bikram class.

I also am learning how to break my bad habit of weighing myself everyday. During Week 1 and 2, I would weigh myself every morning and could feel myself getting discouraged. My weight stayed exactly the same during the first two weeks. This week, I put away the scale and decided to focus on how I feel and what I eat. I have also incorporated the WeightWatchers program to my Project: Get in Shape, not so much because I need to lose a ton of weight. More so because I want to learn how I can eat healthier. This week, I have been cooking at home and tracking everything I eat. Now, I am only allowed to weigh myself once a week.

With my new workout routine, my body sweats at least nine hours a week. My skin feels and looks amazing!

Please remember, although I am a licensed esthetician, I'm not a doctor. Please consult with your doctor or physician before incorporating a get-in-shape program of your own to your own lifestyle. Everybody's body needs and health concerns are different. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ingredients: What is Lactic Acid?

My trusty cosmetics dictionary, A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients by Ruth Winter, M.S. defines lactic acid as being odorless and colorless. It's usually a syrupy product normally found in blood and muscle tissue that is a product of the metabolism of glucose and glycogen. In plain English, lactic acid is a member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid family that comes from sour or fermented milk. Even though lactic acid is known as a chemical exfoliant, its perfectly natural because it's found in our bodies. Lactic acid is the least irritating AHA of all, but can still cause stinging in the most sensitive skin types such as fair, damaged and allergy-prone skin.

What is lactic acid good for in terms of skin care? Lactic acid can be found in creams, lotions and peels. Lactic acid helps to moisturize the skin, slough off dead skin cells, diminish fine lines and wrinkles, reduce the appearance of sun spots, reduce hyperpigmentation, improve skin texture and even stimulate collagen production.

In over-the-counter (OTC) products containing AHAs such as lactic acid, the concentration is generally around 10% or less. Products administered by licensed estheticians generally contain a 20 to 30% concentration. Doctors can use products that have between a 50 to 70% concentration.

Regardless of the concentration of lactic acid your skin receives in your at-home or in-office treatments, it's important that whenever you use an active ingredient like lactic acid, be sure to limit the amount of time you spend in the sun and slather yourself with sunscreen. Don't be shy about reapplying sunscreen throughout the day either. In fact, it's crucial.

Can I get a "Moo!"?

Monday, September 12, 2011

5 Ways to Recover From an Upset Client

Ditch the Charlie Brown rain cloud
No matter how you shake it, if you have clients or have to deal with clients in your professional life, you have to have good customer service skills. Happy clients means a happy business A happy business pays the bills and keeps you on payroll. Having good customer service skills usually means being a client advocate. That translates to a lot of shut up and listening, apologizing when they're mad, convincing them that you know just exactly how they feel and understand why they would be so upset and giving them whatever they want (within reason).

In my new position at work, I am the lucky person clients get to speak to when they become escalated and demand to speak to a supervisor. In situations like these, not even my esthetician license can save me. I have to revert back to my old bartender survival skills by putting on my best pair a customer service pants, smile and take the call. Sometimes the calls are easy because they just want to hear the policy from someone who is in charge or at least speak to someone whom they haven't spoken to before. People get upset and want to vent. It's awesome when you can come up with a solution that both you and the client can agree on. The client hangs up happy and you feel like the good guy. Then there are plenty of times when the calls aren't so easy. They demand drastic action. They yell. They scream. They cry. They ask for the impossible. They expect you to deliver. And then there are those who are just downright cruel and make it personal.

Regardless of what industry you're in, it's never easy dealing with an upset client. Somewhere, somehow, someone has gone and pissed this client off. Now it's up to you to fix the problem and hopefully make that client happy. It takes a lot of work to put on the fake, happy, smiling front. It takes a lot of energy to keep that smile on your face. So how does one recover from such a negative experience while keeping their composure and dignity, along with their job intact? Here are some of my favorite remedies for recovering from an escalated client experience:

1. Get a mani/pedi.
Nothing sounds better than spending an hour in a chair while someone pampers you, massages you and smiles back at you while they make your nails pretty. I don't know about you, but I always feel better about myself when I have pretty nails covered in cute polish.

2. Take yourself to dinner.
Who wants to slave away in the kitchen or eat crappy leftovers for dinner after getting yelled at by a client? Not me! I want a big bowl of ramen with extra wontons and a side a gyoza along with a little green tea ice cream for dessert. As I stuff my face with my favorite dinner in my favorite restaurant, I smile as my favorite server winks at me while she bosses clueless patrons around. It's at that moment that I know my life is good again.

3. Hit the gym with an awesome playlist.
The bigger the pain in the ass the client is, the more effective this remedy can be. Find yourself a treadmill or punching bag, blast a playlist with some "Momma Said Knock You Out-esque" jams and sweat it out. It's one of the best ways to release aggression without landing yourself in jail or unemployed. Plus, it works wonders for your waistline. Take that mean client!

4. Retail therapy
You have to admit, buying yourself something pretty and shiny always makes the day a little brighter. Especially when it fits perfectly and its on sale. Want to extend the retail therapy glow? Make sure your new goods are work appropriate and rock them at work the next day. Who has time to worry about the escalated client who hurt your feelings the day before when you look so dang cute in your new outfit today?

5. Meet a friend for happy hour.
I don't advocate drinking your problems away, but being a bartender for the last eight years or so, I know firsthand how having one drink can help to take the edge off. I've worked so many long, late nights having to deal with drunk bastards who whined when I wouldn't "hook" them up or cut them a deal, stiffed me repeatedly on each round, refused to pay their tab, got in my face when I had to cut them off or bitched to me when they thought the drink prices were unreasonable. It was nights like these where nothing tasted better than the one shift drink I was allowed to enjoy, after my shift. Now that I have come out from behind the bar, the next best thing to enjoying a shift drink with my co-workers is attending a happy hour with friends. Happy hour means reminiscing over the incredible or unreasonable workday over cheap drinks and reduced priced apps while still having enough time to get home at a reasonable hour so I can wake up in time for work the next morning.

It can be challenging to not let an upset client get under your skin and ruin your day. Next time you find yourself in this situation, close your eyes, silently count to 10 and start visualizing yourself partaking in any one of the remedies above. Just as important it is for you to take care of the client, it's equally important for you take care of yourself.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Top 5 Most Popular Posts in August

August was quite a month for my blog and I. I had been receiving a ton of email from readers inquiring about beauty school, asking if they should go, which school they should go to, how to pick the right school for them and what they can expect from their program. Because the inquiries were so overwhelming, I decided to write a series of posts addressing these questions and concerns:

Should I go to Beauty School?
Do Your Homework Before You Decide on a Beauty School
Choose the Beauty School That is Best For You

In August, My Life as an became a finalist in CBS San Francisco's Most Valuable Blogger in the Lifestyle/Family category. You can vote for my blog everyday up until the voting ends on Friday, September 9th. I'm crossing my fingers that my blog wins. That would be so awesome!

The other exciting thing about August was Face & Body that took place in San Jose, August 27th through the 29th. I had such an amazing time and met so many great people. I am already looking forward to attending next year.

Below are the top five most popular posts on My Life as an for August 2011:

#5: Do Your Homework Before You Decide on a Beauty School

I wrote this post because it isn't enough to decide to beauty school, but it's just as important to choose to attend the RIGHT school for you. This posts guides you through some important things to consider when choosing a beauty school: ask your friends, family or anyone you trust who is already working in the industry for school recommendations and make a list of what your ideal school would have to offer. It's important to also check out the school online and visit the school in-person before making your decision. Plus, I also sprinkle a little bit of my own experience on how I chose the school I attended and why. Beauty school is an expensive decision. It's important to make the right choice for you.

#4: Makeup Look: Naked Palette

Even though the Urban Decay Naked Palette was first introduced to the beauty market a couple of years ago, it's still easily one of the hottest selling palettes by Urban Decay. This is probably why this post is still one of the most popular posts read on my blog. Luckily, Sephora is now able to keep this super popular palette in stock. With 12 shades ranging from light beige to charcoal, the "naked" eye look possibilities are truly endless. You can go as natural as you want with a work-friendly smokey eye to happy hour-friendly by adding a little smolder. These color ranges work on any skin tone, eye color and hair color combination.

#3: What is Face & Body Conference & Expo?

Face & Body is the weekend in August that licensed estheticians and estheticians-in-training wait all year for. It's literally three full days of education, networking, shopping and geeking out over anything pertaining to skin care. This was the first year I got to attend as a real-life attendee. We got a hotel room for the weekend, stocked up our business cards, charged the camera battery and didn't go anywhere without a pen and a notebook. You never know what you'll learn or who you'll meet at Face & Body. If you don't know what Face & Body is, you'll want to read this post. It's the who, what, when and where of Face & Body. You wont want to miss it next year!

#2: Beauty Splurge: Pt. III

Every couple of months, I find myself in need of some serious retail therapy. One of my favorite places to shop is I can most of my hair, skin care, nail and makeup needs from Sephora. I can always count on finding a nail polish color or a limited edition eyeshadow palette that I can't live without. The best part about is that I can shop from the comfort of my own home and in my pajamas, if I wanted to. As a Beauty Insider (and VIB), I'm also privy to fun and amazing 100-point and 500-point perks that are perfect for trying new products or are perfect to take along when traveling. I can't seem to get enough of the new Hello Kitty line that was introduced at Sephora, at the beginning of this year. Cute!

#1: The Five Layers of the Epidermis

I was surprised when I saw that this post was the most popular post on my blog this past month. I posted this back in April because I wanted my readers to know why the first five layers of the skin are so important to an esthetician. Naturally, there was a lot of talk about the epidermis during Face & Body because this is the layer of skin that estheticians can legally treat. Even though the epidermis is about as thick as a kleenex, it's really important to know all of the different layers and what is contained in each of them. The more you know about your own skin, the better choices you will make for your skin in regards to the products you use and the treatments you get.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ingredients: What is Vitamin A?

Use Vitamin A to fight off fine lines and wrinkles.
There's no getting around it. Our bodies and skin are always aging. Some of us age faster than others depending on the type of environment we live in. Smokers and sun worshipers typically age a whole lot faster than someone who is religious about wearing sunscreen, maintains a healthy diet, exercises regularly, doesn't smoke and gets at least eight hours of sleep a night.

Putting obvious lifestyle factors aside, nobody really wants to develop those dreaded fine line and wrinkles. Luckily, there are a few key ingredients out there on the market that are effective in helping to keep these pesky aging reminders at bay, even if you haven't been taking very good care of your skin all of your life.

Vitamin A is an amazing and effective anti-aging ingredient. It's an antioxidant that is used to neutralize and fight off the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin A can do a lot of great things for the skin, including:

resurfacing the skin by stimulating cellular turnover
creating softer, smoother, clean and vibrant complexion
aiding in the repair of skin cells and encouraging cellular renewal
smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles
increasing elasticity and collagen production
helping to fade discoloration and reduces acne scarring
visibly decrease pore size
treating acne by loosening clogged pores
helping to treat keratosis pilaris

Sound good to be true? Vitamin A can be extremely effective as long as you use the right variation for your skin and use it correctly. With skin care, there are two major types of Vitamin A available on the market: over-the-counter (OTC) and by prescription. Common OTC forms of Vitamin A are retinol, retinyl palmitate and retinoid. Tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova and Acutane are common variations of Vitamin A that are available in a prescription-only form.

The big difference between OTC and prescription-only Vitamin A is the ingredient's potency. OTC variations generally take about 12 weeks before users will start to see visible results. Prescription-only formulas are typically 10-15 times more potent than their OTC counterparts. Therefore, users can expect to see visible results within four to eight weeks.

Using the right form of Vitamin A for your skin is just as important as using the ingredient correctly. Here are a couple of key factors to keep in mind when using any variation of Vitamin A, either OTC or prescription-only:

1. Avoid using other products at the same time that might be irritating. This includes exfoliants, scrubs, alcohol-based toners and astringents and medicated cleansers.

2. If you must wax, wax BEFORE you start using Vitamin A. This ingredient tends to leave the skin dry and sensitized by causing redness or flaking. Waxing while using a form of Vitamin A will only aggravate the skin more.

3. If you can, try to use Vitamin A during the summer months when there is more humidity in the air. This ingredient can be very drying on the skin. The humidity will help to combat the dryness.

4. Use at night. Products are more effective at night because they get to sit on top of clean, naked skin. They are also more likely to get absorbed into the epidermis because they don't have to compete with other skin care and makeup products or the environmental elements.

5. Only use a pea-size amount and be sure to apply all over the face. Don't just use as a spot treatment. You'll have better results with an all-over face application.

6.  Cleanse your skin 20 minutes before you apply the Vitamin A product. Apply Vitamin A to clean, dry skin. Then wait another 20 minutes before applying a moisturizer. If you apply moisturizer too soon, you can lock in the Vitamin A on the skin and exponentially increase it's intensity.

7. Slow and easy wins the race, especially if this is your first time using a Vitamin A product on your skin. When first using the product, start off with applying it once every three days for the first two weeks. Then apply every other day for the next two weeks. Once your skin has built up a tolerance to the product, you can start to apply it once a day. If you want to continue to see results, you'll have to continue to use the product. Results are not permanent for topical applications.

8. Wear sunscreen. Vitamin A is an aggressive form of exfoliant that removes the top layer of your skin. Protect the new layer of skin from new sun damage and irritation by covering it with sunscreen during the day. Don't forget to reapply every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you want to help reduce inflammation, add a serum with green tea for calming effects.