My Life as an Esthetician Got a Makeover!!

Me at Mt BakerHi Blog Readers! If you’ve visited my blog previously, you might have noticed that things look a little bit different here these days. I recently switched my blog over from to WordPress. Here’s what my old blog looked like, remember? I’ve been meaning to make this switch for the last two years, but haven’t had the time. I blame it on my day job, my move to Seattle last year and my recent engagement/marriage. All good things of course!

Now, my blog is WAY more user-friendly than ever before. In addition to making the entire blog much more esthetically pleasing, you can now easily search for any topics I’ve covered in in the Search box to the right or by clicking on any of the Categories below the Search box. I’ve also created a FAQs page that contains some of the most common questions readers ask me about. For those of you who are curious to see where I’ve written online other than my blog, I’ve created a Writing Portfolio page, which has a link to all of my work outside of my blog.

Getting ahold of me is now super easy. I’ve included links to all of my social media platforms in the top-right corner of my blog. I also have my contact information on the Contact Me page, just in case you wanted to send me an email.

I’m super excited about all of the new changes on my blog. I hope you are too. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover on my blog going forward, I’d love to know. Either leave a comment below or send me an email. I will be putting together e-mail newsletters from time-to-time pretty soon. If you’d like to sign up for my free e-mail newsletter list, be sure to look for the sign up box on the right-hand column.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. I’m really excited to get back into the swing of things!


What is the REAL Deal With Rodan + Fields?

Rodan_and_FieldsOver the last year or so, I’ve been receiving numerous emails and messages through my Facebook Page from different people wanting to talk to me about a lucrative business opportunity with Rodan + Fields. At first, I just ignored these messages. I receive messages from people all the time, wanting to sell me their latest and greatest skincare product line, in hopes of having their products featured on my blog. I don’t tune it all out though. I do keep my eyes and ears open for the really interesting and fun stuff, but nothing is a bigger turn-off than a hard, cold sell.

The emails I’ve received about the “incredible opportunity” with Rodan + Fields have felt pretty pushy. They always come from different people, asking if I’d be interested in partnering up with them to sell this amazing clinical skincare brand. I’m EXTREMELY picky about the products I add to my own home skincare routine. I think everyone should be. What works for one might not work for all. Half the battle of achieving good skin is about finding the right products and ingredients that work for your own skin. That’s why when I find a product or product line that I love and helps me achieve gorgeous skin, I stick by it and talk about it on my blog. I’m really unlikely to buy a skincare product I’ve only read about online and have been pitched to multiple times by multiple people about.

Even though I’ve ignored all of the emails and messages I’ve received regarding the Rodan + Fields business opportunities, I decided to do a little investigating on my own. What was this company all about? What’s the deal with their products? Why were so many people wanting me to work with them? Was I missing out on a great opportunity or even worse, was this a scam?

Turns out Rodan + Fields is a legitimate business. In 2002, two Bay Area practicing dermatologists, Katie Rodan, MD and Kathy Fields, MD, decided to partner up and start a clinical skincare brand. Between these two ladies, their credentials include being Stanford-trained professors, practicing dermatologists, board-certified and creators of Proactiv, an acne treatment system sold exclusively through infomercials. Creating a skincare product line seemed like the natural next step for these two women to do. Rodan + Fields was originally sold in department stores. In 2009, they took the skincare line out of stores and turned the business into a direct selling company. This meant that instead of the stores doing all of the selling, they’d have independent consultants do the selling for them.

All of the emails I’ve received over the last year have been from independent consultants wanting to either sell me products or become a partner with them so that I could sell products to people in my own Circle of Influence. Either way, the independent consultants would receive a commission off of anything I’d buy or anything I’d sell. Of course Rodan + Fields would take their cut from all of the business transactions from both parties, including the actual product sales. At first, I wondered why a company would pull their product out of stores if their line had been selling so successfully. Then I realized that the cost of selling the product line in department stores was probably a whole lot more expensive than having independent consultants who work on a commission base sell the product for them. What a smart business model! Rodan + Fields is really no different than companies like Avon, Herbalife, Mary Kay, Amway, The Pampered Chef, Tupperware, Nerium and Isagenix. The only thing that is different is the product they’re selling.

Okay, okay, so what about the products? Rodan + Fields considers their product line to be a clinical skincare brand. There are seven different categories within the brand: Redefine (for fine lines, wrinkles and pores), Reverse (for brown spots and sun damage), Unblemish (their solution to acne), Soothe (for sensitive skin types), Enhancements (includes scrubs and peptides), Essentials (where all of their miscellaneous items live such as body lotion, body sunscreen, sunless tanning lotion, lip treatments and supplements) and AMD MD, which looks like a mechanical exfoliating tool. All of the products “combine pharmaceutical ingredients with active cosmetics in aesthetically elegant vehicles.” Definition: super charged products loaded with active ingredients in pretty packaging. Plus, all of the “systems” are packaged in 60-day quantities because we all know that any skincare regime doesn’t start to show any effects unless the products are used consistently for at least four to six weeks.

This company was really interesting to research online. Anytime I thought I’d come across an article talking about how Rodan + Fields was a scam or a pyramid scheme, the article would end up being a sales pitch for a multi-level marketing company. Most of these type of articles would defend Rodan + Fields for not being a scam and then offer to sell their “secret” on how to be a successful, independent consultant for the company.  It’s extremely clever marketing on the MLM company’s part. These MLM companies knew that people thinking about becoming an independent consultant for Rodan + Fields might do a Google search for “Rodan + Fields” or even “Rodan + Fields scam.” What better way to advertise your marketing services to the very people who are looking to getting into marketing their own business as an independent consultant?

I did check out a few reviews online for a some of the products in the line. The general consensus I found online was that either people really loved these products or they really hated them. For the haters, they consistently stated that the products they used left their skin in a worse state than what their skin was before they started using them. I also stumbled upon a controversy about the actual ingredients being used in some of the products and a debate on whether or not these products had been tested on animals. According to PETA, they don’t.

I have never used any of the Rodan + Fields products on my own skin. If you’re thinking about trying these products, treat it as you would with any other skincare purchase. Do your research. Find out if these products would work well with your skin and treat the skin conditions you’re concerned about. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples. Always try a product before buying it.

My recommendation? If you’re treating something as complex as hyperpigmentation, acne or Rosecea, ALWAYS seek the advice of a licensed esthetician and/or dermatologist FIRST before prescribing skincare products and treating these conditions on your own. Always take the advice of a licensed professional over any salesperson or independent consultant who’s looking to make a commission off of anything you buy.


What Does Organic Mean?

USDA-OrganicTerms like organic and natural are popular buzzwords in the skin care industry. Everywhere you look these days, skin care companies are developing natural lines or claiming that they use organic ingredients. Now more than ever, consumers are searching for products that contain less chemicals and have more natural or organic ingredients. But just what does it mean when something is considered natural or organic? The biggest difference between natural and organic is government regulation. Natural product are not regulated in any sort of way. If a product is labeled organic, there are specific government regulations on how the ingredients are grown and processed, where the term organic can be placed on the label and how it’s presented on the product.

Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic ingredients are grown and processed according to strict standards governed by a third-party certifier who annually inspects the farms and facilities in which the ingredients are grown and processed. In order for an ingredient to be considered organic, the farm growing the ingredients must maintain a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic materials, pesticides or fertilizers.

The National Organic Program regulates organic ingredients used for personal care products. According to the NOP, products containing the USDA organic seal must be in compliance with US organic law. This means that you can see USDA organic certified products labeled in four different levels of USDA Organic certification:

100% Organic– This is the real deal. This means that 100% of the product is considered and labeled organic by the USDA. The use of the USDA Organic label is optional, but it’s more than likely proudly displayed on the front of the product’s label.

Organic-This means that 95% of the ingredients in the product are considered and labeled organic by the USDA. Just like with 100% Organic products, the use of the USDA Organic label is optional, but it’s more than likely proudly displayed on the front of the product’s label.

Made With Organic Ingredients-This means that at least 70% of the ingredients in the product are considered and labeled organic. These products cannot bear the USDA Organic label, but they can proudly state on the front of the label that the product is made with organic ingredients.

Less Than 70% Organic Ingredients-The only place on the label that can state that ingredients are organic are on the back of the label in the product’s ingredients listing. These products cannot bear the USDA Organic label

If you don’t see any of the four different levels of USDA Organic certification as listed above on a product label, then you can safely assume that the product in question is not recognized by the United States government as a certified organic product.

Even though the NOP can legally impose fines on products that are dishonestly labeled organic up to $11,000 per violation, there are still plenty of companies out there who incorrectly label their products organic. It’s a Buyer Beware market. Don’t assume that just because a product is labeled organic or the name of the product contains the word “organic” that the product is going to be a certified organic product using certified organic ingredients. Do your homework and research before purchasing organic products. Read product labels. Read ingredients listings. Check with groups such as the Organic Trade Association for a list of certified organic brands and companies.


What Does Natural Mean?

treesThe beauty industry can be a fun and exciting place for many consumers. Unfortunately, it can also be confusing and misleading. With companies throwing around so many buzzwords these days, it’s now harder than ever for consumers to be able to decipher which products and ingredients are going to be effective and which products are just over hyped garbage. Many brands are doing a better job these days providing consumers with information on what exactly is in their products and what their products will do for consumers. Sometimes too much information can be just as bad as not having enough information. At the end of the day, it’s still ultimately up to the consumer to read through all of the information that is provided and make informed choices based on their own needs, concerns and conditions.

Natural is a buzzword that is constantly being thrown around the beauty industry and slapped on product labels. Many consumers see the word “natural” and assume that the product must be better in quality and healthier to use than its synthetic counterparts. Better than what exactly? What does natural really mean in terms of beauty, makeup or skin care products?

The first question consumers should be asking themselves is “What does natural mean to you?” When many consumers think of natural, they think of herbs, roots, plants, botanicals, flowers, essentials oils-any sort of product that was created in nature and not superficially made in a lab. Some people assume that if something is made in a lab then it’s full of chemicals and therefore not healthy to use on their skin. There are a lot of natural ingredients that are amazing for the skin. There are also lots of other natural ingredients like poisonous plants, mold, oil, petroleum and anything animal-based, which are all considered natural. Just because an ingredient is natural doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or even safe enough to rub all over the skin.

In the beauty industry, there isn’t a true definition as to what natural really means. There isn’t any sort of regulation on products that are labeled natural. What natural means to one brand, might mean something completely different to another. The word natural is really meaningless when it comes to product labels.

Just because a product is labeled natural, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better or good for your specific beauty needs, concerns or skin condition. The more detailed definition you have for what natural means to you, the better your chances for finding the right product. If there is a specific skin condition you are trying to treat or a particular ingredient you are looking to have in the products you use or even an ingredient you want to avoid, it’s important to do your homework ahead of time. Research. Consult with your Dermatologist and Esthetician. Know your ingredients. Ask questions. Read product labels.


The Five Layers of the Epidermis

epidermisThe epidermis is very important to an esthetician. An esthetician is only licensed to treat the five most outer layers of the skin, which make up the epidermis. An esthetician’s skin treatments stop where the blood starts to flow within the skin. Anything beyond the epidermis starting with the dermis layer, onto the subcutaneous layer of skin and beyond legally must be treated by a medical professional.

The epidermis is the protective layer that covers the entire body. The epidermis helps to protect the body from toxins, bacteria and loss of fluids. The epidermis is thinner than a tissue and thickens whenever the skin is hydrated.

Ever wondered what the five layers of the epidermis were? The easiest way to visualize the outermost, top five layers of the skin is to imagine that the cell is going on a trip. The trip the cell goes on is called cell turnover. The journey takes the cell an average of 28 days to make it through the five layers of the epidermis. Starting at the bottom of the epidermis, the cell’s journey begins in the Stratum Germinitivum with the birth of the cell. This layer of skin is closest to the dermis. This is where Parent Cells live. Parent Cells make an exact replica of themselves called Daughter Cells.

Melanocytes also live in the Stratum Germinitivum. Melanocytes are specialized cells that give your skin pigment and color, otherwise known as Melanin. Melanin protects the Parent Cells from damage. For every one Melanocyte, there are 37 Parent Cells that it has to protect. UV exposure triggers the Melanocyte to produce more Melanin. An overproduction of Melanin is what leads to hyperpigmentation on the skin.

On the second leg of the cell’s journey, the Daughter Cells then travel up to the Stratum Spinosium. In this layer of the skin, the Daughter Cells grow hair on the outside called Desmosomes. The Daughter Cells also get fattened up with Keratin and start losing a little moisture, showing the first signs of dehydration.

Langerhan Cells also live in the Stratum Spinosium. These specialized cells are part of the immune system and act as a line of defense. Think of the Langerhan Cell as “Larry” the bouncer. Larry roams around the Stratum Spinosium looking for anything trying to get through that shouldn’t be there, such as bacteria and disease. If Larry finds any of these invaders, he eats them up.

The next stop on the cell’s journey is the Stratum Granulosum. In this layer of the skin, the cell’s nucleus starts to break down. This is the part of the journey when the cell realizes that death is looming. The cell continues to get even fatter as its filled with more Keratin.

Within the cell, the buildup of moisture, oil and minerals encapsulate and form Lamellar Bodies. The Lamellar Bodies are then pushed towards the cell’s membrane, along the edge of the inside of the cell. The cell eventually excretes the Lamellar Bodies through it’s membrane. Once the Lamellar Bodies are released from the cells, they burst. The contents of the Lamellar Bodies are then pushed up through the Stratum Lucidum and right towards the Stratum Corneum.

The next layer of skin, the Stratum Lucidum is an optional stop for the cell on its journey. This transparent layer is packed tight with very dense cells. The reason why this stop is optional for the cell is because this layer of skin only exists if there are areas of trauma or friction on the skin. Area of trauma or friction on the skin usually result in the form of a blister on a heel, blister on a hand, corn, callus, acne or milia.

The final stop in the cell’s journey is in the Stratum Corneum. This is the layer of the epidermis where cells come to die. The Stratum Corneum is made up of dead skin cells. Itss about fourteen layers thick of proteins and Keratin. As these dead skin cells are sloughed off with regular physical and chemical exfoliation, they are continuously replaced with dead skin cells that have migrated their way to the top from the Stratum Germinitivum.

On top of the Stratum Corneum is the Acid Mantle. The Acid Mantle is a chemical protective barrier that sits on top of the outermost layer of the epidermis and acts as a second line of defense against bacteria and disease. Its made up of oil and sweat from the dermis. The Acid Mantle is at its strongest when its pH is between 4.5 and 6.5. When the Acid Mantle is acidic, it can chemically fight off bacteria and foreign invaders successfully.

It’s important to know the five layers of the epidermis. A basic understanding of the skin will help you make more educated choices in the products you use on your own skin, for the specific skin conditions you want to treat.


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How Much Water Do We Really Need?

Running WaterI have always been a firm believer in the more water you drink, the healthier you are. I never had any sort of scientific proof to back up this belief. I just knew that whenever I drank more water, my head and body always felt better. Plus, the more water I drank, the less likely I were to fill my body with food or drinks high in calories.

So just how much water are you suppose to drink for it to be considered healthy? I’ve read countless articles over the years stating that the average person should aim to drink 64 ounces of water a day. That equals out to be eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. But is drinking 64 ounces of water necessary in order to maintain a clean bill of health?

According to the Scientific American, there is no scientific proof that drinking 64 ounces of water a day provides a healthy benefit to the body. Heinz Valtin, a retired professor of physiology from Dartmouth Medical School says that the only people who truly benefit from drinking large amounts of water a day are people who suffer from kidney stones, urinary tract infections, people who perform strenuous activity, endure long airplane flights or are in a hot weather climate.

The body is 60-70% water. It’s true that your body needs water to function properly. Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a kidney expert at the University of Pennsylvania believes that when it comes to water consumption, more is not necessarily healthier. You can die from consuming too much water. Kidneys filter toxins. Toxins clear through urine. If there is a large quantity of water in the body, it can reduce the kidney’s ability to function as a filter therefore leading to “water intoxication.”

Some believe that drinking large quantities of water will also help clear out the toxins from your skin, therefore clearing your skin from any blemishes or future breakouts. In Dr. Stanley Goldfarb’s full editorial which was published in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, the only thing drinking water does for the skin is increase capillary blood flow. Drinking water will certainly help to hydrate the inside of the body, but there’s no proof that drinking more water hydrates the skin. Even though the skin is the largest organ of the body, its the last place to receive any hydrating benefits from ingesting water. The best way to hydrate the skin is to apply products topically.

There’s is also a popular belief that the more water a person drinks, the more weight they will lose. “Water is a great strategy for dieters because it has no calories,” says Madeline Fernstrom of the University of Pittsburgh. “So you can keep your mouth busy without food and get the sense of satisfaction.” A person can not drink their way to a skinnier self. Drinking water only works, in terms of weight loss, when a person chooses to drink water instead of a caloric beverage.

When it comes down to it, the only thing that really matters is “everything in moderation.” Too much of a good thing can be dangerous and even sometimes lethal. Don’t drink a ton of water each day just because you want to (1) lose weight, (2) have clear skin, (3) flush the toxins out of your body or because (4) some article you read in the break room told you that you had to drink a certain amount of water each day in order to be healthy. It’s really much simpler than that. Drink water because you’re thirsty.