Secrets From the Treatment Room - Choosing the Right Product for YOUR SKIN!

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Let's be honest, we LOVE shopping! What is it about purchasing that sets us free? Maybe it's the feeling of reinventing ourselves, or having an outlet for creative expression, or feeling alive in our own power (I work hard, I can provide for myself thankyouverymuch!) Whatever that lovely feeling of discovery is, it seems to all die very suddenly for people when they enter the skincare product department. And I'll tell you why: you practically need an Esthetics license to navigate the options! ENDLESS are the product options when it comes to skincare.

We LOVE product, but we HATE trying to find the ones that work for us. We want results, we want it to smell good, foam perfectly, apply flawlessly, not leave us greasy in the morning, not break up our makeup, not break OUT our skin, protect us from the sun, give us more oil, less oil, no oil. Face it, with so many ways this product could go wrong for you, how can you justify upwards of $50 per ounce with a "no return on opened packaging" policy? The solution? Consult a professional. Most Estheticians (myself included) can get you started on the right products after a very simple consultation. Of course, coupling it with a facial does give us more information (and you more satisfaction), but a cursory analysis and some simple questions will also do.

When I consider a clients' regimen, here are the some of the questions I consider:

1. What is your skin type? (This is the genetic blueprint of your skin - oily, dry, sensitive, acneic, or normal.)

2. What is your skin condition? (This is where it gets a little more complicated, but generally things like - dehydration, pregnancy or hormone changes, environmental factors, hyperpigmentation, sun exposure, smoking, pre-mature aging, loss of collagen/elastin, allergies, congestion, stress levels, acne scarring, etc)

3. What are your specific goals? (So what you have every one of the conditions listed above, you are obsessed only with this one line on your forehead. Treat that line first.)

4. What is your budget?

5. What is your routine like? (Here, I really factor in things like: are you getting five kids off to school in the morning, going to the gym, applying makeup, do you have time to mask? Are you up late partying and sleeping in your makeup - don't act like you haven't done it! For men, usually we are cutting the grease and keeping it simple, while hopefully encouraging them to use sunscreen at least.)

6. What are your personal convictions - beliefs about chemicals, parabens, natural products, organic ingredients? Do you like fragrance vs. essential oils? Foaming vs. cream based? Allergies, favorite ingredients, products you can't live without, etc. Knowing what you like can really inform your decision. If a product is great for you, but you don't like the smell, you will never use it!

So, the first part is really about understanding your skin. The second part is about understanding the product. Product knowledge is usually second nature for any Esthetician, as we spend most of our day concocting dreamy combinations of alpha-hydroxy acids and anti-oxidants. We are secretly just total chemistry nerds, but you didn't hear that from me.

It is also important to understand the difference between high-end well marketed products, and high-end PROFESSIONAL lines. A professional product line means they have one line of products that is available for retail, and another line that can only be purchased with an Esthetician's license and used in the treatment room. Why is this important? Because the Professional line is regulated by the government, and must subject their line to testing by the FDA. This means, they are required to report exactly what is in their product and in what percentage strength. Other "high end" products are usually the same price point, but have no legal responsibility to claim what is really in their products. This means they are usually about 99% filler, with a single 1% active ingredient that their packaging is RAVING about on the front. Stick with a professional line, and you will be getting way more bang for your buck!

Some words of caution: with all the "it" words and jargon that the marketing gurus at major companies have spoon-fed us, don't go thinking you know what some of these chemicals are capable of! Let me break it down for you - all of those brand name products from all of those different skincare lines? They are almost all owned by four companies: Estee Lauder, Proctor & Gamble, L'Oreal, and Johnson & Johnson. Most products are not that different from each other, but they have some heavy-hitter skills in their advertising divisions, so don't get lost in the marketing! While you are looking for the right regimen for your specific skin, steer clear of the quick fix/miracle promises, as they are usually empty and expensive. Choose wisely! There are some really fantastic products out there, ones that are just right for you!

A few ingredient clues:

Hyperpigmentation: Kojic Acid, Alphahydroxy Acids (Glycolic and Lactic are the most common), SPF (do NOT let hyper pigmented skin play with the sun's rays!) Emblica

Acne: I would steer you AWAY from Benzoyl Peroxide and stick with Tea Tree oil, Salicylic Acid, Sulpher, and then a mix of healing elements like lemon balm, colloidal oatmeal, and antiseptic or calming herbs like aloe, witch hazel, seaweed and kelp extract.

Pre-Maturely Aging or Dehydrated: Go for the major anti-oxidants Vitamins C, E, blueberry extract, acai berry extract, Co-enzyme Q-10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid

Talk to an Esthetician today, and stop wasting your money on product after product. A great Esthetician will sample you on the products they think you will love. Then once you have tried them, they will continue to make recommendations based on your feedback. Even if they can just help you to understand your skin in a better way, you will feel far more prepared to head down that skincare aisle!

Lindsay Keene is an Esthetician and Owner of Sweet Cheeks Skincare in San Francisco. She is also currently enrolled in the Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship Program at Western Carolina University.

Sweet Cheeks is a full-service skincare studio offering personalized skincare and waxing services in the Outer Richmond District of San Francisco.

Owner Lindsay Keene is a nurturing and intuitive Esthetician whose objective is to help her clients reach their skincare goals, while stepping into a little piece of paradise. She is a nine-year veteran of the spa industry who is deeply committed to the health and happiness of her clients. She approaches all of her facials with attentive and intelligent skincare, while offering a fully relaxing and decadent experience. She believes that the foundation of beauty is health, and that health is a personal, dynamic, and ongoing evolution. Whether you are looking for education on your skincare choices, or an ultimate spa experience, you are sure to be in good hands. Lindsay started her skincare company Sweet Cheeks with the goal of providing her clients the empowerment and joy that comes with feeling pretty from the inside out.


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