As an esthetician, I want to help you have the best skin possible. It’s helpful if you meet me half way. Here are the top six things I wish you would stop doing between visits.
1. Picking at your skin. We know you have heard this a million times, but there is a reason we reiterate that you shouldn’t pick at your blemishes. First, this increases your risk of infection at the blemish sites. There are products and tools that can help you reduce blemishes. Even more importantly, we need to determine the cause of the breakouts so we can prevent them. But if you pick at them in between, they take much longer to heal and actually look worse during the healing process than they would if you left them alone. Picking can create scarring that may last for months or even years. Last but not least, you can collapse the follicle walls, which can lead to inflammatory acne.
2. Going to bed without washing your face. I know, you’re tired at the end of a long day. But whether or not you wear makeup, oils build up on the surface of the skin, and pollutants collect there as well. At night, your body goes through many metabolic changes, and you can nourish it by cleansing and moisturizing properly. This one bad habit can clog your pores, cause breakouts, increase wrinkles, break your lashes, and make skin dull. “Dirt and makeup trapped against your skin cause environmentally-induced oxidative damage,” says dermatologist Dr. Annie Chiu. “This leads to a breakdown of the skin barrier and prematurely ages your face.” Isn’t preventing all this worth the ten minutes it will take you to wash your face twice a day?
3. Skipping moisturizer. This is usually something I hear from people with oily skin. They feel that since their skin is “already oily”, they don’t need to add more oil. However, moisturizers don’t add oil to your skin. They simply provide a protective barrier to seal in the hydration (water) in your skin.
Think of it like a cut melon you put in the refrigerator. If you put it in without a cover, it will turn brown. But if you put a cover on it, it will remain fresh for days or weeks. That’s what moisturizer is – it retains much of your own skin’s water, and protects you from environmental elements. The trick is finding the right one for your skin type.
4. Skipping sunscreen/going in the sun. These days people are getting mixed messages. We have always been told to use sunscreen, but now there are studies that show we need sun exposure because we need the Vitamin D. What to do?
While the studies are correct that we need sun, the relevant factor is that most of us need just 10 minutes per day. So this doesn’t mean we should skip sunscreen altogether. My clients often think they need sunscreen only when they are going to the beach or will be in direct sunlight for a prolonged period. This is also not true. Even when indoors, windows let in up to 50% of the sun’s UVA rays, which can still damage skin.
Please don’t tell your esthetician that you are using sunscreen if you are not. When we ask questions, we’re not judging you – but we are trying to create the right treatment for you. Certain treatments (like microdermabrasion, or chemical or enzyme peels) are contraindicated if you plan to be in the sun without protection. These treatments could actually make your hyperpigmentation worse because your skin is photosensitive afterward.
And do remember, the sun doesn’t discriminate! People of all ethnicities and skin tones get skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology says, “Who needs sunscreen? Everyone. Sunscreen use can help prevent skin cancer by protecting you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, gender or race. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.”
5. Expecting a miracle. Sometimes people come in after years of neglecting their skin, and think that one facial is going to correct everything. The skin is a living organ, with multiple layers. Achieving results is going to take time and multiple treatments. It can be frustrating when someone tells us they are not achieving results after only one or two treatments. It’s like going to the gym – you have to be committed and you have to stick to the treatment plan in order to make meaningful changes.
6. Buying every product you see. Some of you (you know who you are) are product junkies, ready to buy every shiny new skin care product you see. Curiosity is a good thing, and you may stumble onto some great products. But if you have problem skin, or if you want to maintain the healthiest skin possible, save your money and stick to the regimen your esthetician gives you. It’s very difficult to assess what is working when you are switching products all the time.
On that note, we also don’t want to hear, “I found that same thing you told me about, but cheaper”. We have spent time researching the best products and carry those for your convenience. Just because another brand seems to have similar ingredients doesn’t mean it will perform the same. Often brands are less expensive because they use a lot of fillers and additives – which means you will have to use a lot more of it to get a similar result. Presumably you are seeing an esthetician for her expertise, so my advice is to use the products she recommends. If you feel they are outside of your budget, let her know that, as well. Estheticians can help you get the best skin at an affordable price.
The bottom line. Believe me when I tell you that your esthetician wants your skin to be perfect. You are a walking representation of her work. So please follow her suggestions, including suggestions for in-spa treatments as well as at-home treatments. Your skin will be glad you did!