I'm updating layout ...
As this website transitions into a fuller blog environment, I already have so many previous blog entries, I am hoping to pull these out and get them under their appropriate category for easier reading and access.
But before then, you will find most content here.
I have been a 'pet parent' - or steward, as I like to think of it - all my life ... so ignoring when I had animals as a child, a time when I wasn't making the decisions, it's been over 3-decades. During this time I've experimented with all the food options, and as my concern for my own food has grown, so has my concern over what I feed my pets. It's not easy out there in commercial food land. Marketing FAR outweighs logic. Why are there peas in cat food? Ah-hem, cat's don't eat peas - they eat MEAT - other animals. Period. That's it.
That is why when I found a somewhat local (Indianapolis, IN) supplier of REAL meat and all the goodies that go in a whole animal, I was overjoyed!
MyPetCarnivore.com supplies pet stewards with whole animals, humanely raised, and "prepared" (to be diplomatic, because killing anything is not a pretty business) in order to provide cats, dogs and other carnivores pure, fresh, animal meat - no gums, carrageenan (which is seaweed!), fillers or marketing-hype meat replacements.
Below is a post from their blog, which I found interesting and hope you do, too.
Have you been interested in what you are feeding your carnivore for very long? Then you have probably heard of AAFCO. But what is AAFCO? And if you have decided to feed raw or are feeding raw, does AAFCO matter? Let’s get educated on AAFCO together!
What Is AAFCO?
First of all, AAFCO stands for the American Association of Feed Control Officials. Basically, they set standards for the pet and livestock feed industry in the USA. If a kibble or canned cat or dog food says “complete and balanced” on it, then it meets AAFCO’s standards. Most people, sources, and vets that advise feeding kibble will stress that you need a kibble that meets AAFCO standards and is “complete and balanced.”
Where Did AAFCO Come From?
During World War II, food was scarce, hard to transport, and variety was severely lacking. So, the scientists came up with Recommended Daily Allowances. These allowances identified the minimum nutrients that the soldiers would need to survive. The scientists created meal plans and foods from this information so they could easily send it to the soldiers to keep them alive. However, the food was made to sustain life–not keep people healthy. It was a short-term solution.
After Recommended Daily Allowances were set, the National Research Committee (NRC) did more research. They looked at whole foods and started to set minimums, maximums, and even recommended values for an assortment of nutrients.
Later, AAFCO came along. They originally used the guidelines from the NRC but quickly realized that the processed foods that they were dealing with were very different from the whole foods of the NRC. In 1990, AAFCO started setting standards for processed animal feeds. Like the Recommended Daily Allowances, AAFCO mostly has only minimums of nutrients listed. They have a few maximums but make no recommendations as far as ideal or optimal levels of nutrients in food.
What Does “Complete And Balanced” Mean?
“Complete” means that a kibble has all the nutrients that AAFCO says are essential for dogs and cats to live. “Balanced” means that the nutrients of the kibble are in the proportions of which AAFCO approves. Interestingly, the nutrients that AAFCO says are essential as well as what proportions they approved of are constantly changing. (If AAFCO knew what the best diet for your pet was, why would they need to change their standards so frequently?)
AAFCO also has a list of approved ingredients that manufacturers look at to make their food. These approved ingredients are mostly waste products from human food production. They are typically very low in nutritional value and require the addition of synthetic vitamins and minerals to meet AAFCO standards. Also, AAFCO does not care whether the proteins come from meat, soy, peas, feather, or other high-protein sources even though dogs and cats have been designed to get their protein from meat.
AAFCO also does not test or have any standards that relate to the digestibility of the food. Technically, a manufacturer could make a completely indigestible food and sell it as “complete and balanced” as long as it passed the AAFCO chemical analysis.
As an interesting side note, dogs and cats have no need for carbohydrates in their diet. This is why you will not see carbohydrates listed on pet food labels–only protein, fat, fiber, ash, moisture, and possibly a few vitamins or minerals. So, a question. If carbohydrates are not required for your pet to live, why does AAFCO approve the use of carbohydrate sources in the food? Why do they approve food that is 40%+ carbohydrates as “complete and balanced”? Surely adding an unnecessary nutrient to the diet would leave less space for essential nutrients.
What Must A Manufacturer Do To Get Complete And Balanced On Their Label?
Manufacturers can have their food approved by AAFCO in two ways. First, they can put their food through chemical analysis. If the food has the proper amounts and ratios of vitamins and minerals, the minimum amounts and proportions of fat, it will pass AAFCOs chemical analysis. If you tossed enough synthetic vitamins and minerals on a peanut butter sandwich, it could pass.
The second way that a manufacturer could get “complete and balanced” on their label is to do a feeding trial. For the feeding trial, there must be eight animals (dogs or cats). Of those eight, two can drop out for any reason, so only six animals are really needed to finish the trial. These dogs and cats must be healthy before the study and then pronounced healthy after the study has stopped. The subjects can lose as much as 15% of their body weight and body condition. The breed and gender of the pet is irrelevant in the study. Additionally, the trial lasts 26 weeks. The animals in the study are fed only the food being tested, but they do have unlimited water access. After the 26-week trial ,hemoglobin, PCV, alkaline phosphatase, and albumin are tested and must meet specific minimums. Interestingly, AAFCO is not concerned with how much weight an animal may gain on a feeding trial. In a nutshell, for a food to pass a feeding trial, 6 pets must survive on the food for 26 weeks. That’s a little over half a year. Meanwhile, the marketing will tell you that you should feed this food to your furry one their whole life! Let’s hope your pet’s life is a lot longer than 26 weeks.
If the food passes the chemical analysis, it does not need to actually be tested on pets. If the diet passes a feeding trial, it doesn’t have to pass the chemical analysis. Seems a little weird. . . . I mean, I would want to know that my pet was getting all the nutrients they need–especially if I’m feeding so many synthetic ingredients. But, on the other hand, I think I would want the food to be tested on actual pets too.
Are AAFCO Standards Helpful?
If AAFCO standards are meant to help dogs and cats, then why is it that 90-95% of dogs and cats with cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases, irritable bowel, kidney failure, and other diseases get these diseases after a lifetime of eating AAFCO-approved kibbles?
AAFCO standards are really only mildly helpful for industrial pet food manufacturers. The standards help these manufacturers make food that can sustain the life of a pet. Remember, a sustained life is not anywhere close to a thriving life!
Are AAFCO Standards Applicable For Raw Feeders?
You may have noticed on many raw pet foods, including My Pet Carnivore’s foods, that the label states that the food is not “complete and balanced” according to AAFCO standards. This is because AAFCO standards are made for highly-processed foods. A raw diet is very unprocessed. Raw diets are so unprocessed that you need not add any synthetic vitamins or minerals because the original prey has everything a carnivore needs!
Nature Knows Best!
If we assume that a diet is “complete and balanced”, we assume that AAFCO knows everything that there is to know about the diet that a cat, dog, or ferret needs. This, in turn, would mean that AAFCO would never have to change their standards and there would be no need to have a variety of kibbles. Further, this assumption would lead to the thought that cats, dogs, and ferrets are as healthy as they can possibly be–that the rise of cancer, autoimmune disease, and all other diseases is 100% normal and/or not at all caused by diet.
We, as humans, don’t even know 100% what the best diet for humans is. How can we possibly think anyone knows what the best diet for a dog is? You know what I mean? Coffee is good for you–no coffee is so bad for you. Eggs are bad for you–no eggs are a wonder food! Don’t eat fat, eat fat. And on, and on, and on.
So, where do we turn for answers? How can we know what is actually a good and health-promoting diet for our beloved furry family members? Well, we need to look back to nature. Nature provides us with a simple meal plan for our pets. It’s the same meal plan that their ancestors ate and that our pets would have eaten pre-kibble. Nature provided them with whole prey animals.
Diet and nutrition become easy when we look at the diet Nature provides for dogs and cats like those of wild cats and wolves. Simply feeding your pet whole prey, with plenty of variety, is the best way to provide your pet with all the nutrients they need. Variety is key and something that AAFCO does not seem to value. I mean, who and what would ever willingly eat only one thing for 26 weeks? Certainly nothing in Nature!
One could argue that Nature’s feeding style of a variety of whole, raw prey is more scientific than that of AAFCO. I mean, dogs and cats have been eating whole, raw prey far before humans had even domesticated them. Nature’s feeding style has supported the species to this present day. That’s a lot longer than AAFCO’s required 26-week feeding trial.
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I wish I had known of MyPetCarnivore.com decades ago.
(And, contrary to some blogs today, this is NOT an advertisement or paid sponsorship or affiliate for MyPetCarnivore.com - I just believe in what they are doing, and want to pass this education along to help enhance the lives of our fluffy friends.
new, easier to read blog
I'm using both WordPress and this one from Weebly.
WordPress has more functions, like SEARCH, so if you can't find what you're looking for on my website, you can click the cat photo above to reach the WordPress Blog.
I have EVERYTHING from skin care to how to feed cats, and my thoughts on a variety of subjects.
Please let me know what you think.
April 17, 2020, a Friday.
It's been a month since I announced the decision to stop services due to this world-wide pandemic, and during this unique month I've had time to think about my life going forward.
Never once in the entirety of my career, spanning back to high school and the years following
have I ever had one entire month off, and to be honest, it's wonderful! - ;D
As any of my 'readers' will know, I've contemplated how to fully retire, and I think now is the perfect time.
Geesh, that's hard to write. So final. So emotional. But yeah, I think I will just ride this wave on out of here.
Coincidentally, April 17, 1990 was the date I got my 1st dermalogica/IDI diploma! 30 years.
Truly Deep Gratitude to EVERYONE who made my career dreams a reality.
BIG KISS & THE BIGGEST HUG EVER!
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.
It's been VANTASTIC!
Coronavirus update for April 2020.
Two weeks ago I made the decision to protect myself and my clients by halting services, and then shortly thereafter the Governor mandated that all salons and spas shut down until further notice. Well, here we are in April and we're still shut down.
I'm not only a spa practitioner, I'm also a spa client and I miss getting massages. And as a licensed Cosmetologist I can't even go to the supply house to get more hair color!
Here's a tip-of-the-day for ya - DON'T BUY HAIR COLOR AT TARGET!
I wanted to brighten my look a bit so I bought what looked like a professional brand and followed the instructions to the letter only to end up with ORANGE HAIR!!! Thankfully I still had some ShadesEQ to correct the mess and now I'm an Irish shade of red!
I don't know if the Governor knows what he's doing to our beauty routines.
There is going to be A LOT of regrowth, and some fuzzy faces (of the female kind) if this goes much longer than a month or two!
Plus, this is getting BORING. The parks are closed, even SHAKERTOWN! You can't even DRIVE through their bucolic setting until MAY! No restaurants, no chiropractors, no massages, and forget about spring travel.
I hope you are staying away from others while still getting outside to enjoy this GORGEOUS spring while Mother Earth does her own version of Spring Cleaning!
"It puts the lotion on its skin."
March 22, 2020
What is this now - day 7 of the coronavirus US version? As much as I am happy to stay home and distance myself (a beloved practice of mine already - LOL), I've realized that I don't want a world without Cosmetology, Chiropractic & Massage. What about you?
As our hair grows out and our roots begin to show PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do me and your hairdresser a favor - DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!! Waxing and hair maintenance is NOT - I repeat - NOT DIY! We will be a nation of shaved heads once this is over and you get back to your salons and your hairdresser says "What do you want me to do with THIS???" because you've tried to give yourself highlights or trim your bangs. Let it grow, let it flow, and we'll shape things up as soon as we can.
HOWEVER, one thing you CAN do at home to relieve some beauty boredom, is a FACIAL! Granted it will be nothing like what I offer at Vanities, but it can work in a pinch as long as you have a well stocked vanity. (Get the wordplay --- yes that is how I came up with the name of my spa.)
Step One :: if you have a pre-cleansing oil - like what I use professionally - or in a pinch, the one I first used from dermalogica, PreCleanse (these are the only two I have experience with but there are likely more) apply the pre-cleansing oil to DRY skin. Massage around fully, and then rinse off. This step is very useful in removing water-resistant sunscreen, oils and makeup - things that are not water-soluble.
Step Two :: With the cleanser suitable for your skin type [or skin condition] (creamy for drier skin, foaming gel for oilier), cleanse the skin (face, neck, chest) thoroughly using small circles, especially around areas that are prone to clog [yes, even dry skin clogs] - nose, chin, forehead. A massaging action can help to loosen embedded debris (sebum, whiteheads, blackheads, pimples). Rinse with warm water and a cleansing sponge or CLEAN washcloth.
Step Three :: apply the exfoliant of your choice. If you have sensitive skin an enzymatic mask is useful. These are made with papaya and/or pineapple enzymes and are not manipulated around the skin, but left on for 2-10 mins. OR use a textured scrub (NOT any with walnut husks --- ONLY ones with smooth, round beads) get back into circle mode and GENTLY massage the beads around the skin. Rinse thoroughly.
Step Four :: Clay mask. I recommend a clay mask for both oily and dry skin. But it depends on what else it's mixed with. In my treatment room I have a selection - one has zinc in it for deep clearing of pimples & pores (it's a follicle, not a pore, but for sake of wordplay, you get my drift), another is geared for skin exposed to pollution (if you jog on Man-O-War, this means YOU), and one is filled with vitamins for times when your skin is looking a bit tired. (Hmmm, I think I need that one tonight!) Apply a generous layer and let sit for about 10-minutes.
Tip-of-the-Day :: To REMOVE a clay mask, it is VERY helpful to first dampen your hands with warm water and apply to the dried mask, massage around a bit, and this will loosen up the hardened clay and make it easier to wash off with facial sponges or a CLEAN washcloth (yes same one from earlier. You can use one facecloth per facial, but get a new one for each new facial.)
Step Five :: Treatment Mask. I call this step the treatment mask not because all the other steps aren't good treatments, but because this phase can be either a gel mask or a cream mask depending on what skin you have. You guessed it ... gel for oilier, dehydrated and cream for drier. Although, in a professional setting where I see lots of DEHYDRATED skin, I will often layer the gel mask first, and then after that has had a few minutes to soak in, layer a cream mask (my MIRACLE MASK) over the gel for extra benefits. Remember, skin is OIL AND WATER. ALL SKIN is a mixture of water and oil (or sebum as we know it). One misconception why so many oily skin people think they are oily when they are actually dehydrated..... more on that if you are interested, just ask. EVERY SKIN needs a combination of oil and water in their products, it's just a matter of how much of each.
Step Six :: WHEEEE, ISN'T THIS FUN!!! After your treatment mask is rinsed off, you are nearly finished. You have some options now ... you can put on an anti-aging serum (coincidentally, I have one of the best ones on the market today ... my YOUTH SUPER SERUM); or select a serum for acne and breakouts (yep, got one of those in stock, too), you can put on eye cream, and then select your final product, your moisturizer!
An at-home facial will never replace the soothing lusciousness of The Vanities Experience, but until you can get back in that lush spa bed and let my fingers and my magic wand do their tricks, this will tide you over and keep your skin looking Vantastic. It's also a boost for morale! And if you have people at home with you, you can take turns playing Esthetician with each other! Now that really sounds like FUN!
BTW - If your vanity isn't as stocked as my treatment room is, I would be happy to create a little mini-facial kit for you to pick up at Vanities front door --- NO CHARGE! (Gee, did I just say that? It must be Spring Fever! (*no relation to any virus). But, yes, I would love to get back in the laboratory and play with my lotions and potions and hand pick some Pro products that you can enjoy at home until we get to meet again. Limit of one per customer, naturally.
(Or even better .... "healthy, wealthy, & wise"!)
My Life's Passion ... Now What?
Hi. I'm Nancy, Vanities' founder and loving Mother.
I've been working in "the beauty biz" since I was 17. I'm now 55 - (yes, really!) ;D
As much as I still ADORE Vanities and the spa world, I am beginning to think of that day when I do my last facial.
Jokes aside, it's tough.
Frankly, I don't know HOW to close this business.
It's been my life's passion.
I started beauty school when I was still in high school! Graduated and did my apprenticeship as a hairdresser and literally hit the road to Hollywood the month I obtained my Masters in Cosmetology.
I lived out my teenage dreams of becoming a Hollywood makeup artist - and even saw PRINCE on his motorbike just as I was leaving the exam room where I got my California Cosmetology License! I thought that was a good sign.
I've witnessed the skin care boom, from the days when doctors & derms wouldn't give us the time of day, to now when you can't find ANYONE who isn't selling a skin care line!
I've seen the "Day Spa" boom go from the days when your facial happened in the former broom closet of your local hair salon, to the huge brick and mortar day spas that had every conceivable beauty and wellness offering available under one roof.
I was on the front lines of a product birth (and death) known as dermalogica. dermalogica began as an extension of the "highfalutin" sounding International Dermal Institute which was Jane Martin's "post-graduate" training facility for people like me - those licensed to do skin care. As she was teaching classes on advanced European techniques, she saw an opportunity to create a product line for her students to use in their salons, and thus the line was born. A very modest beginning grew - thanks to her hard work, but also thanks to us - the unpaid therapists who hawked her products for her - to worldwide proportions and a massive 'over 200 million dollar' worth before being (sadly for us - great for her) sold to UNILEVER! Yes, the lady who spent her life trying to get Americans to stop putting soap on their face and bodies sold her company to a soap company!
My breakup with "little d." as I called it, was heartbreaking. We began our affair before I ever had my own brick and mortar ... this was in Vanities' infancy when I was working out of someone else's salon. I watched as d. grew - and Grew - and GREW - and actually LOVED every minute of my "partnership" with them. Mind you it was a partnership of minds and not of MONEY! I just really believed in what Jane was doing - and what she was teaching. I LOVED traveling far and wide to attend IDI classes on every topic imaginable. I learned hot stone massage - known as La Stone Therapy - from the Originator of the technique, Mary Nelson, while in a week-long IDI class in Chicago. [And NOT from a video like so many others.] (PS - The Master/Student method of learning is vastly superior to attempting to specialize in a technique you've seen on a video. And, frankly, it's very insulting to those of us who actually care about our craft and want to perform it correctly before putting it on a menu and "practicing" on clients.).
A story I love to tell, because it exemplifies exactly how I am different than most every other salon or spa professional I've ever met: In the early years of the IDI and dermalogica, they only had two centers - one in their corporate base of L.A. and one near Washington DC - their "east coast" branch. This center is an 11-hour drive from where I live (and don't forget, 11-hours BACK!). But I was so excited to take all the classes I could, and learn as much as possible, I happily submitted myself to the trip. No, I don't get paid for 'travel expenses'. And there is no 'reimbursement' when you are self-employed. Think about that for a minute. So I arrive and get situated in my hotel and noticed that there was a d. salon right across the street from the IDI center. I decided to see if they had any facial appointments available. I forgot to mention that I was currently the only salon in all of my region that sold dermalogica - and I can proudly say that I was the FIRST salon - the FIRST person - to use it and sell it in my state! So getting a dermalogica facial by someone like me was a rare opportunity. She did have an opening and I laid back and enjoyed the experience. Me and the other esthetician began to talk and I shared with her my reason for visiting --- to take the weekend class. I then said, "I bet you've taken ALL of the classes!" (since she is next door to them). What she said astounded me. "No. I DON'T HAVE THE TIME." I don't know if she saw my eyes roll, but they did. I lay there thinking, "DON'T HAVE THE TIME??? "I'm driving over 22-hours to attend this one class, plus make zero dollars while I'm away from work, and have to pay my own hotel expenses, and dining, and gas ..... AND YOU DON'T "HAVE THE TIME" TO WALK ACROSS THE STREET TO TAKE AN EXPLETIVE CLASS?????!!!!!".
Yep. THAT'S the difference.
Then one day we woke up and THE INTERNET was here. dermalogica was washed away (one could say both figuratively AND literally, since it could be said that Unilever waters down the product (allegedly, of course!).
Consumers had now heard of this "Professionals Only" product line and would seek me out for information and free advice about which products to use, and then, literally - in front of my face - after I had worked for 40-minutes FOR FREE explaining how marvelous d. was and why she needed it - would ask "Can I get this ONLINE?".
There was no reason to lie to her because I knew what she was going to do - do what everybody is doing - go online and look for it at a cheaper price. And sadly she would find it. See folks (gosh I hate that word), what the internet did to people like me was horrible. As a small business - a solopreneur - I could only stock so much product, and d. had their minimums, so I HAD to purchase at least 6 of any one item I wanted to retail. But if you were running a nameless, faceless, CONTACT-less internet business, for some strange reason, oh, yeah, I know - PROFITS - dermalogica would give you huge discounts because you were able to sell more than little ole me in my brick and mortar. So yes, a website called "Uncle Ralph's REDNECK Emporium" could sell the "professionals only" dermalogica at prices that were slightly above my wholesale price! BTW - you are supposed to double what you buy it for, at least. So if I competed with the internet I would be losing money - and how.
BUT, on the bright side, this gave me an opportunity to go back to my original plan which was to sell MY OWN LINE of skin care products. I didn't have the confidence in 1990, but I did now. And, I did learn a ton thanks to little d. Just wish they hadn't stabbed all of their "tribe" members in the back along their climb to get to the top. But that's commerce, isn't it?
Gosh, this is a LONG story.
But it would be. From age 17 - 55 ... 38-years and counting ... still. (?)
It has been a long journey. And I'm so thankful for every piece of it. (Well, maybe get that knife out of my back "little d.". And some of the clients along the way I could have skipped meeting - oh THOSE stories ... that will have to come later! Bwahahahahahaha).
But I will say how deeply touching it has been getting to know each and every person who has made their way into my plush spa bed. I never would have had an opportunity to meet such an impressive group of ladies (and some gentlemen --- and some "not so gentlemen" --- and the reason I only work with females now!)
The clients who kept me going - not just kept my business afloat for well beyond my original "20-years and then we'll see what happens", but were there for me to lean on in times of personal strife - and some seriously tough strife it has been. I've certainly gotten more out of this than all of my lovely clients combined.
Lovely Ladies, I've leaned on you as if you were my sisters - my spa sisters! (Hey, that's pretty clever ... "Spa Sisters" [trademark, copyright]!)
Where else would I have had the opportunity to spend nearly 20-years with one of the first women in our state to become partner in a law firm? Or met such interesting people as the brilliant doctor who became "Queen of the Doctors" as she served as President of the American Medical Society? Or delved into many deep discussion on how we are going to fix all the world's problems with the beautiful blonde lady from South Africa --- the only client I ever had that phrased her request like this: "Nancy, may I please have a facial Thursday?". Just lovely.
I feel like I'm at the Spa Oscars trying my best to thank EVERYBODY who has contributed to my journey. But it's impossible to mention them all by name. [But I'll try!]
Gayla, Anita, Terrell, Linda, Cindy, Terri, Angela, Susan, Ginny, Dan, Doug, Ashley, Carolyn, Erin, Eric, Glenda, Vickie and Vicki and Vicky, Janet, Jennifer, Judith, Jessica, Kim, Kimberly, Liz, Mary Ann, Marianne, Rachel, Rhonda, Sonja, ... and so many more ... and of course, my very first customer, my Very BEST customer, My Mommie who bought everything I ever sold!
And to someone who gave me my first leg up - that first spark of having my own place one day - Pat. (If you ever read this, Pat, please contact me, I have a present for you!).
Gosh, thinking back from the beginning to now, it is impossible. So many faces to thank.
My life's passion.
I'm not quitting just yet ... just realizing that even perfect things don't last forever. There will be a day when I move on to something different. I don't know when that day is.
Might as well say "Thank YOU" now.
Feb 24, 2020
"Don't take things personally." (and other topics... like these "Syringe Clinics" masquerading as "Medi-Spas" - and more.)
I was just writing in my diary about an incident that happened yesterday between myself and a client. It was developing into a monologue about how the industry I have spent HALF MY LIFE in has changed over the years - dramatically changed - so I thought I'd pull it out of private diary status and blog about it. You're welcome. ;D
What happened was, a client came in for a facial, and as soon as I felt her chin I knew she had gone somewhere else for some other kind of 'treatment' because it was raw and red and I typically frown on 'treatments' that cause that kind of damage to skin, so I avoid them. So I inquired, sort of hoping my instincts were wrong and that maybe her husband was growing a beard and that's what was causing the irritation!
Nope. Right again. Shoot. She excitedly told me about how she did what a friend of hers did and went to a "Medi-Spa" for glycolic peels and was using Retinol at home. Ok, right away I need to clear something up. There is NOTHING SPA about a "Medi-Spa". What they 'should' be called is "Syringe Clinic for the Greedy and Gullible". That's truth in advertising.
Unfortunately, because I am human with an ego and experiences that lead me down the wrong path sometimes, instead of hearing what she was saying, "Nancy, I haven't had the time to take care of myself in a very long time, and now I am finally doing something for myself and I want to excitedly tell you all about it.", what I heard was "Nancy, you aren't good enough to give me RESULTS so I go elsewhere for that - but I LOVE your warm bed and "fluff and buff" frivolous facials - but you are not a serious professional in skin care."
WHOOPS. So I kind of went off on her a bit. My ego was bruised - PLUS I don't actually think strong peels and retinol are the best things for your skin long-term - which is WHY I DON'T OFFER THEM! If I thought microdermabrasion was the fountain of youth, I would have bought the machine way back in the 1990's when the craze first started, but I DON'T! I don't believe STRIP MINING your SKIN is the way to healthy, beautiful skin! It's popular, but so is McDonald's. Just because it's out there and people offer it doesn't mean it's what is best for your skin.
And that's when my ego gets riled up.
WHY ARE YOU COMING TO ME IF YOU AREN'T TAKING/HEEDING MY ADVICE?
I have spent HALF MY LIFE in this industry. I have a bookcase FULL of trade magazines that I read like the Bible; and countless books and videos. I've spent weekends watching webinars on skin biology, trying to keep up with the latest REAL scientific breakthroughs - not the ones Cindy Crawford found in a melon! I drove ELEVEN HOURS ONE WAY to take a weekend class on skin care! And you know what the lady who WORKS ACROSS THE STREET from the school said to me when I said "I bet you've taken EVERY CLASS they offer?" She said, "I DON'T HAVE THE TIME."!!!
I have poured my heart and soul into my work.
So, yes, I "take it personally." Wish I didn't, but at least I care enough to get upset.
One client (and friend), who I had a row with because she stopped using my serum - which was BRINGING HER GREAT RESULTS - in favor of some horrible multi-level marketing gimmick that her 'friend' recommended she use; as we were "passionately discussing" my horror at her new choice, I reminded her of how much I do to make each decision the right decision - the studying I do, the travelling I've done, the time and energy I've put into this career. She said, "Of course you do, that's what ALL professionals have to do in their career - that's nothing special." WELL, honey, yes it IS special! I'm also a client and have gone to countless places for facials and you know what? Most every therapist/cosmetologist/esthetician I've met has not one clue there is anything beyond showing up for work, putting in their hours, and getting their paycheck. Then when the paycheck goes down because no one markets the business, they jump ship and look for another 'job' at another salon. Repeat. 99.99% of all licensed grads STOP LEARNING as soon as they graduate. THAT IS WHY I TAKE THIS SO PERSONALLY.
It's so frustrating to have poured so much of yourself into something you are passionate about only to continue to find so many uphill struggles.
Back when I opened Vanities in the early 1990's the "professional" aspect of this industry was in it's infancy. There have always been skin care products, and a multitude of people selling them. So what made the educated and licensed skin care graduate different from the Mary Kay ladies or the clerk behind the counter? THAT has been our battle from the beginning. And, sadly, we're losing. Frankly, one could say "We've LOST the battle - and the war."
Back then you couldn't get in the door to even speak to a dermatologist about skin care products. Now they are trying to put us out of business because they realized that there is money to be made schlepping products and they are DOCTORS so they should rule everything. WRONG. Derms don't take ONE HOUR of skin care training. ZERO product knowledge. ZERO ingredient knowledge. Just simple greed.
So let's say you went to beauty school, graduated, tested and got your license ... then opened a skin care salon where you needed to not just do services, but offer professional grade products for your clients to keep up their treatment results at home. So you research and scour all your options and settle on what you deem is the best for your clients and their skin. Now you have to sell it. Great. No, not so great. You are now in a sea of skin care products riding the currents along side Estee Lauder, Lancome, L'Oreal, and that's not all ... now there ARE DERMS who are selling skin care products, Dr. Murad, Obagi, etc. ... but wait, there's MORE ... EVERY celebrity wants to sell skin care products, too ... so add Cindy Crawford and Jessica Alba and MADONNA to the list ... but wait, we're not done yet. Don't forget about all the multi-level-marketing mashers like Mary Kay, NERIUM, Nu Skin, Arbonne, that list gets so long I can't even keep up. You think we'd be done, but you'd be wrong. In the 2000's the organic trend came on the scene so now every heath store has skin care. The internet has skin care coming out it's ears (if the internet had ears!). IT'S ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.
So, that leaves me with a question. After spending half my life as "Nancy at Vanities", WHO AM I? Am I the professional I've been trained to be? Or am I just a "facial lady" who slathers creams on people in a dimly lit, soothing environment?
Another question: can you be a professional when even your own industry can't keep it's standards afloat? The company I started with even before I opened my salon, so we're talking late 1980's, was dermalogica. When I first started I didn't have the courage or confidence to launch my own line, but I knew what I would have wanted it to be if I could have: results focused products that worked gently, with plant-based ingredients, and the latest scientific breakthroughs. In the late 80's that line was dermalogica. So instead of standing in front, I chose to stand behind a line and let them lead. It was still an uphill battle because NO ONE had ever heard of this line and still no one understood skin care could be a PROFESSION. In Europe professional skin care was highly thought of, but in the US, it was still a world of cold creams and nothing more.
For nearly 20-years dermalogica and I were, by all accounts except by legal definition, PARTNERS. Jane, it's founder, I held in high esteem and valued her as a mentor. I rode the wave as this small company grew and grew and advanced and advanced. dermalogica's parent company was the IDI - or International Dermal Institute, and as one aspect grew, both parts grew. In the 80's there was only one IDI - it was in Southern California, where Jane was. Then by the time I joined in, there were two: one more in Reston, VA just outside D.C. (and the site of the 22-hour round trip I made just to attend classes there.).
For a long while the ride was exciting and fun. I felt empowered to represent what was truly FOR PROFESSIONALS ONLY. An exclusive line just for us Estheticians and as they are known elsewhere in the world, Beauty Therapists.
THEN THE INTERNET CAME.
The internet ruined everything.
Now instead of a client coming in to see me and taking home the correct products they could just 'go online' and source their "professional" products themselves - and often at such a discounted price I could barely BUY it at those internet prices. So America's love of the quick fix ruled the day - and put most of us out of business.
Jane would always teach that our businesses should be 50% service dollars and 50% RETAIL dollars. So if you paid $100 for a facial, you should buy $100 in products. That's great for business - and great for Jane who sold her products to us! So if you were able to run your business that way and suddenly all your clients who had never heard of a line before you educated them on it were now just 'buying online' - you just lost HALF YOUR BUSINESS INCOME! Not so nice.
Never mind all the while we were preaching the benefits of real PROFESSIONAL skin care, we were still competing with ALL those other lines and the constant hustle of "this is why you need my line and not their line" was quite draining.
Fast forward $200 MILLION DOLLARS later, and sweet Jane (and husband) SOLD their "professional" skin care line to - get this - UNILEVER! "Thanks Jane for stabbing us in the back by allowing internet sales, and now thanks very much for absolutely KILLING any "professional" connotation to your precious dermalogica line." So, the lady who spent HER entire life trying to educate people against using SOAP on their skin sold her company to a SOAP COMPANY. Ah, the irony. Big bucks does strange things to people. Or maybe, she just got tired of the uphill fight, too? That knife still hurts my back, by the way.
Now here I am nearing the final stages of my career and the fight continues. I'm not struggling against the loyal Mary Kay followers as much anymore, and I've given up on trying to outsell the internet. No now my challenge is the syringe clinic (falsely marketed as "Medi-Spa") and the harsh "treatments" they are selling a gullible audience. I get to see the strange bumps a bad filler injection is causing, and listen to the lady who will suffer for months because there is nothing to fix a bad injection. I get to witness a client of mine seeking outside services and see the red irritated face she brings to my table but with no knowledge that what she just did to her skin has created long term damage. She didn't think to ask me first, she trusted a "friend" instead and followed her to the syringe and strip mining clinic. It's beyond frustrating.
In conclusion - if there ever is going to be a conclusion - 26 years ... HALF MY LIFE ... and what has it all meant? That's a question I'm in the process of figuring out.
Thanks for listening.
This May Be Your Last EMAIL
Dear Customers From My Email List:
This may be the last email you receive from me.
Marketing a spa is a lot like online dating ... you watch the commercials and you believe that if you are not on Match.com then you are missing out ... the perfect man is right there waiting for you, get on the ball lady and JOIN! Same with marketing emails ... you are told by business professionals that your clients WANT to hear from you - and they want to hear from you REGULARLY! If you don't, you are missing out and you will lose clients; so get out there and start those email blasts ... ask them to review your business, ask them to facebook fan you, beg them to keep buying from you - weekly if possible like everyone else does.
But do you want to know what the reality is? Well, I have tried online dating and I didn't meet wonderfully successful and attractive men, I met weirdos ... LOTS of weirdos, to the point that I finally had to give up. And here is the reality of email blasts:
Before I even get to the speed I'm up to now in getting these things out, I have already spent my "free time" on the computer Google researching which companies offer the service, how much they charge, can I find any for free, etc. Then I have to test drive the one's I've chosen as possible candidates and see if they are easy to use or so complicated I can barely figure out how to set them up. I finally decide on MailChimp. I'm happy with MailChimp - it's FREE for one, and now that I know how to use it, I can whip an email out faster than I ever could before.
But I remember the days when I would work so hard making an email beautiful with carefully chosen photos, effective links so clients could quickly click to the website, and think I was ready to "send" only to realize that I hadn't downloaded my client list correctly, and instead of hitting "send" and getting out the door, I was stuck on the computer trying to figure out what I had done wrong. TIP: I have to select clients from the online booking system; download to the computer; upload to an excel spreadsheet - then remove the placeholder information the next place doesn't want like your phone number only leaving your name and email address (and correctly named for the new platform - no "email 1" here, it has to say "Email Address" or the new platform won't recognize it!); then upload to MailChimp ... THEN select list and FINALLY triple check everything is ready to go and T-H-E-N press "send". A fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, for sure. (Not.)
So now that I have spent years battling the email platforms, I have settled in with my favorite and am ready to enlighten and entertain my viewing public.
(Yes you can start laughing now!)
NOW, we're finally at the story of the last email I sent out ... Mother's Day 2017. I worked up a very pretty "Buy your Mother a Gift Certificate for Mother's Day" email, with the obligatory pictures (which, by the way, no one will see unless they allow their email provider to "display pictures"! That has been yet another battle!).
I sent out nearly 400 emails.
"Yeah!" MailChimp says to me and gives me a "high-five" congratulations on my beautiful work!
My first response back from one of those nearly 400 customers ... "UNSUBSCRIBE".
Well, maybe she doesn't have a mother anymore.
And again: "Drats, you have another UNSUBSCRIBE."
Well, guess what folks, Mother's Day is OVER. It's Monday morning and NOT ONE PERSON BOUGHT A MOTHER'S DAY GIFT CERTIFICATE THIS YEAR!!!!!!!
I look into my MailChimp reports and it's depressing: 68 Opened; 8 people clicked the links I had set up to take them to the GC buying portal; 4 emails bounced, meaning MailChimp couldn't find the person, so the email is old or full; and lastly we have our 2 unsubscribes.
Well, MailChimp where's my "high-five" now?
So you can see that this is not as fun or effective as advertised.
After over 25-years of self-employment, where it's my responsibility and mine alone to shake the bushes and round up inactive customers, I'm TIRED. I think I will spend my mornings and Sunday afternoons playing with my animals or seeking a new course for my life.
I'd say "thanks for reading", but I know I'm probably the only one who will ever read this blog post. Good luck to the 20-somethings as they live their life online. I'll be outside enjoying the day!
Those who need to read this the most won't, while those who already are healthy will. That's how it goes, isn't it? Part one of what I assume will be lots more on this topic ....
If you've been wondering why my online booking calendar has been full for a while, I've just returned from a VEGAN CRUISE!!! "Oh, you poor dear", you say, "Did they STARVE you to death?" On the contrary, I've never eaten so much food in my life! And really good food, at that (well except for the pitiful tofu and the sad broccoli and sliced carrots that they put on top of white rice and served to us on a white plate on our "fancy dress" night). Had to skip that one and order me some shrimp! (not vegan). It was a very interesting experience and one I would like to share with you so you may benefit and perhaps learn, as I did.
For those of you who don't know, a "Vegan" is someone who doesn't eat any animals - not even honey since it comes from bees. I would prefer they change their name to "animal-free" since vegan sounds so foreign to most people. In fact, you have been eating vegan all your life, but just didn't know it! Carrot baby food ... vegan. Apples ... vegan. RUM ... vegan. (Thank goodness! I am on a cruise, after all!)
I learned about the cruise from a magazine I pick up on occasion when I'm shopping at the Good Foods Co-op: VEG NEWS. After seeing the ads time and again, one day I got a wild hair and booked it! But I thought I was getting on an ONLY vegan ship - not a partially vegan ship. I was thinking of this as a spa week - one where I wouldn't be tempted by the gelato on our Italian ship! But we had to share with "meat-eaters" on this one. I was a bit disappointed.
I also had some pretty common preconceived notions about who my fellow vegan passengers would be: the hippy-dippy crowd with their dreadlocks, tattoos, Birkenstocks and patchouli wafting through the air - or perhaps skeletons who were too frail to stand, or the "whiny-asses" who say in their whiny voices, "I can't eat that, it's not VEGAN." "Hey pal, drop that water it's not vegan - there's a gnat in it!" And I was sure to get into a fight with anyone who announced that they fed their cat a vegan diet and the cat was fine. (Yep, met one of those, too. Had to get up and leave the lecture before I punched her.)
Before I left, my friend said, "I think you will be surprised.", and I was. Of the 1700 vegans on board, there was every type of person imaginable: old ones, young ones, skinny ones, fat ones, male ones, female ones, single ones, married ones, gay ones, hippy dippy andpreppy ones; healthy looking ones and skeletal looking ones - especially in their eyes. Some were 100% vegan with no exceptions, others were in a range. Some were just in their first year or so as a vegan; while others had eaten that way for decades. Some were on the cruise to learn; and some were hoping to bring new motivation home and try to get their husbands to eat better - especially those who's husbands had already had heart attacks. Lots of vegans became vegan AFTER they had a health crisis: everything from cancer to digestive disorders to heart problems. One lady was diagnosed with cancer and was told she had only months to live - that was 30 years ago! While some were simply health conscious and wanted to learn new recipes.
We also had on board the top researchers and leaders of the vegan movement: Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Co-Author of The China Study); Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (and his wife and daughter - the former firefighter son was not on our ship, but all the family is vegan); Dr. Neal Barnard (promoting his newest book "The Cheese Trap"); Dr. Michael A. Klaper who lectured on the "leaky gut"; Dr. Michael Greger (his latest book is called, "How Not to DIE" - should sell with that title!); PBS TV chef, Christina Pirello who did some great cooking demos; and several top-level competition athletes who are vegan (and big and STRONG!): Robert Cheeke, a two-time natural bodybuilding champion; Derek Tresize (and he was "TREE SIZED"!), a World Natural Bodybuilding Federation [WNBF] Pro bodybuilder; and his wife, Marcella Torres, a mother of two vegan children, a dancer and competitive bodybuilder, who together run the website veganmuscleandfitness.comand operate a fitness gym; and a "local-ish" man from Asheville, Matt Frazier, author and ultra-marathon runner, who's athletic goals and requirements differ from the body builder's, but who keeps up his fitness and stamina with a purely vegan diet of "greens, beans, and grains" ... and fruits and seeds and nuts and other vegetables, too!
Even amongst these top leaders there was a variety in "how" to eat. All agree on not eating animals (for health reasons but also for cruelty reasons and how eating and supporting the cow industries is RUINING our lovely planet --- that is the truth. Even the world-renown chef Ferran Adrià, who began the critically acclaimed restaurant "El Bulli" said in an interview, "I'm telling you, vegetables are the future. It's simple - I love meat so much but every time we eat a steak acres of trees are cut down in Brazil. Veggies have the power to change the world." Couple that with what Albert Einstein said (who was NOT on the cruise!), "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." and you start to understand why so many people are choosing to not eat animals. But what the lecturers differed on was whether to include salt and/or oils in your diet. Christina is Italian, so you will never pry the Extra Virgin Olive Oil out of HER hands! But the heart doctors were vehement that salt - and added oils - would KILL YOU. Then there were the Gluten-Free crowd. So, yes there are people walking this planet right now who don't eat any animal products, do not season with salt, do not cook in oil, and don't eat gluten. I met one of them and she seemed healthy and happy, and she was "over 60". The married fitness couple were in a round table discussion where they took questions from the audience and gave in minute detail how they ate down to the calories per day, the percentage of protein (around 10%), and the XXX-disciplined way in which they time their meals! So if you would like to ask one of these mega-men "But where do you get your PROTEIN?", be my guest. My guess is that they would say, "FROM PLANTS." Google it. Robert Cheeke actually documented on his website EVERYTHING he ate:
I guess it all boils down (pun intended?) that you eat the way you need to eat with whatever genetic pre-disposition or health issues you are having - or want toavoid having.
One lady, who had a heart attack that nearly killed her, went vegan-no salt-no-oil, and it saved her life! She lives near Chicago, and she would not mind at all if you contacted her: Sherry Shrallow firstname.lastname@example.org
People would ask me, "If you're not vegan, why are you on this cruise?", and my typical answer was, "Because I like FOOD." I expected the food to be healthy, and I hoped it would taste great. Wish granted! I'm not a morning person so I missed their too-early-for-me breakfast seating, but I made it for nearly all of the noon vegan 5-course lunches and the 5-course 6:00 dinners! We would have a starter: fresh guacamole with tortilla chips; or smoked shiitakes with balsamic reduction drizzle served with crispy garlic toast (gluten free and oil free version available); a soup course: rich broccoli soup with garlic and lemon; or perhaps smoky sweet potato soup; or Asian coconut curry soup with baby spinach leaves (oil-free version available); then a salad (which one would assume they would excel at): Provençal potato salad with fresh tarragon and capers; and my FAVORITE, shredded kale and citrus salad with pumpkin seed vinaigrette (ooh, wow, that was good!); then we'd move on to the main entree ... if you could find room for more ... cauliflower mushroom tacos with seasoned pinto beans; baked tempeh reuben with side salad; and FINALLY came dessert! Being a chocolate/caramel lover, for me their "sugar-free, only sweetened with maple syrup" desserts missed the mark on a number of occasions, but I did enjoy some terrific citrus-scented brown rice pudding - which I would love to eat for breakfast - and some pretty decent fruit compote/oat/nut mixtures that were good enough to swallow (and frankly speaking, um, my plate went back empty!). Tiramisu it ain't, but hey, we saved the life of a cow and her soon to be veal male offspring, and that's enough to make you be appreciative. The man who created this cruise, Sandy Pukel, also has a book of the recipes from the past 14-cruises called, "Grains and Greens on the Deep Blue Sea" (yep, you can find it on smile.amazon.com. Why smile first? It will donate .50% of your purchases to the charitable organization of your choice! I highly recommend it.) They are celebrating their 15th YEAR next year, and if you are interested, all the details can be found here:
One thing I did get angry about while on this "vegan" cruise, was that the vegans were segregated ... to the back of the bus, as it were. One could only get "vegan" food for a limited amount of time, and only in specific places. I REALLY wanted to eat at a "finer dining" restaurant onboard, called "Eataly". I think it's the same "Eataly" that the celebrity chef Mario Batali is associated with. I LOVE food and always have dining at a celebrity chef's restaurant on my "bucket list". But as I read the menu, I got sadder and sadder: meat, meat and cheese, cheese and meat. I could barely find one dish a "vegan" could eat. "WHY?" I asked myself. Why can't "vegan" food just be food? Why does it need to be segregated from the other food? Why can't I get good tasting healthy food in EVERY restaurant in the world? Why does it need to be such a struggle to get GOOD FOOD??? There is more to life than PIZZA AND BURGERS, PEOPLE! The menus on this cruise proved it.
Do I think there is a HORRIBLE IMBALANCE in how the greedy cow industry is tilting nature away from our favor and toward a place of disaster, YES I DO. One of my first thoughts after getting on board the vegan ship and talking to practicing vegans was that I see why the Earth NEEDS extreme veganism - it's to counter the extreme cow (beef/milk) industries. Do I think extreme is the right way for ME? No, I don't. I believe the middle way is the best way, but even finding your way to the middle is extremely hard in today's fast food - convenience food - JUNK FOOD - world.
It doesn't matter what city or town or dot on the map you're in, you can count on there being a "McJunk food" restaurant there. Sadly, this American trend is taking hold world-wide now. The Chinese want to be like us and WELCOME restaurants like McD's, Wendy's, Arby's - gosh the list is endless. When I went to London, England the imports that I talked to had no idea KFC stood for "Kentucky Fried Chicken", they just like the taste of the SALTY, FRIED food (and I use the term "food" as loosely as it can get). Which also means that they had no idea that the chicken they were eating were from ginormous factory farms where the chickens NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY; where the chickens HAVE THEIR BEAKS CHOPPED OFF; where the chickens are shitting all over each other ... and they are bred to be unnaturally huge, so your chicken breast at Kroger will look like a good deal. To quote our new President, "WRONG!".
I ask you to "Google" factory farmed chicken ... or cow ... or pig ... or even fish. Brace yourself, the days of our grand-parent's farm life are O.V.E.R. It's GROSS, INHUMANE, AND DOWN RIGHT WRONG.
Here's one tiny example, of zillions (and it's the "nice version" - not nearly as putrefying as the visual reality):
Thank you Tyson, Perdue, and KFC for taking what was once a life-giving family farm animal and turning it into a disgusting, immoral, profit-producing nightmare for humanity. (And I didn't need a vegan cruise to learn about this.)
The vegan body-builder mom was talking about how she breast-fed her children, and then weaned them off milk and on to water. She reminded us that no other species of mammal weans it's baby off mother's milk only to transition them to A DIFFERENT MAMMAL'S MILK. Think about it, the cow doesn't say (that is if it's given a natural life and is not on a farm where it's baby is taken away well before it's weaned), "Now little Bessie no more mamma's milk for you, it's time for you to start drinking HUMAN milk." That would be weird.
So how should most of us "normal" people eat? (I use that term since one of the non-vegans onboard used it.) The vegan just laughed it off. She said it's funny how when you tell someone you're vegan, the first thing they say is, "Oh, I could NEVER be a VEGAN." and she replies, "We're not asking you to." It's a choice for the individual to make. But it's also our responsibility as pet-owners, animal lovers, and mammals ourselves to KNOW more about what has happened to OUR food.
I won't ask any of my readers to become vegan. That's not why I went on the cruise and not what this post is about. Nor do I want to turn you off food with some of the books and websites that showcase the reality of what's going on in our nation's meat and milk industries - and it's bloody gross. But I am going to ask you to do one thing:THINK FIRST. Educate yourself. Go to the library and find some of those truth telling books. I dare you to get through one of them, I couldn't. Find some vegan blogs and learn more about eating WHOLE, GOOD, FOOD. Nutritious food. TASTY food. CRUELTY FREE FOOD.
Thankfully, the health-conscience have spoken and cow milk sales are dropping in favor of plant-based milks. Thankfully, the vegan restaurants that began life in California and NYC are finally making their way to us "normal" people. Maybe one day instead of there being a McCrap Burger on every corner, we'll have just one animal-free option???
You can turn your head to the truth about the food - and supposed 'nourishment' - you are putting into your mouth - and the mouths of your children - on a daily basis - and many choose to do just that - but I am THANKFUL that there are those who THINK first, who use their CONSCIENCE when deciding how to feed their families, and not the coupon circular. I'm grateful to those who can - and do - stay diligent and follow a strictly vegan diet. We NEED those people. Our food chain is desperately out of balance. Unnecessary cruelty is happening every day we breathe. More cow farms is not the answer to our children's future - or health.
Did I board the ship as a vegan? No. Did I disembark the ship as a vegan? No. But what I did do was realize that it's all about doing the best you can. I'm lucky in that I don't have (and don't hope to have) any life-threatening health problems. For those who are at a place of crisis, then a vegan, or even macrobiotic diet could be life saving.
I come away from this vegan cruise perhaps maybe not determined to "BE VEGAN" 100% of the time, but I come away with the strength and support to think more about how to get the best nutrients into my daily meals (all 3 to 5 of them!) and how to make some changes that can benefit my health, well-being, and happiness, as well as the gorgeous place I call home: Planet Earth.
I believe I will be writing more about this topic, so stay tuned.
BRIE CHEESE ... VEGAN BRIE CHEESE!!!
I have found a company that makes REAL brie cheese ... with ALMOND MILK ... so Nancy can indulge and not have "nose problems" the next day. I am SO HAPPY!
KITE HILL SOFT RIPENED
Soft Ripened is velvety and aged with a white, fluffy rind. It has a tangy mushroom-y flavor profile with a rich, silky texture and pungent aromatics.
Currently only found in Whole Foods (but I will work on the Co-Op to see if they can get it).
PLEASE SUPPORT THIS AMAZING MAGICAL CHEESE MAKER!
This is my second Tempur-Pedic mattress and it will be my last. I fell for the commercials - twice - and twice now the bed has not lived up to it's advertised standards.
I bought my last Tempur-Pedic August 2015, I was D.O.N.E. with it December 2016. This Goliath that is nearly impossible to move is temporarily replaced with the mattress I had on my guest bed - a cheap, old "extra-firm" mattress with a 3" foam pad over it, and a slightly quilted cotton mattress cover - while I wait for my new mattress to arrive. And I will tell you what I noticed IMMEDIATELY after one night on my latest setup: NO HIP OR LEG PAIN! NONE! It's been a few nights now, and not once have I woken up with my hands and arms ASLEEP - totally dead.
I hope my new mattress is just as good as my setup now, or even better. I'll let you know.
The Dentist - a story about facials?
I was visiting a new dentist recently for a crown and she asked if I wanted to schedule a cleaning, "We recommend that if you haven't had a cleaning in the past six months, then you should get one." to which I replied, "And we recommend that you get a facial every month!"
Did you know that little fact? That facials aren't just for special days, or only when you are on vacation, or when you have a gift certificate?
Later that week, I was talking to a lady who when asked if she gets regular facials she answered, "I do those at home." I didn't want to be rude, but what I wanted to say to her was, "No, you don't. What you are doing at home with your scrub and masks is called MAINTENANCE! Unless you have professional strength products in your bathroom (and you REALLY shouldn't), and you have a steam machine, a light therapy device (which runs about $15,000!), therapeutic-grade essential oils, Vitamins & serums - then, NO, you aren't doing "facials" in your home. What you ARE doing is CORRECT and you get major bonus points for keeping up with Vantastic skin care at home, so applause for that. But just like a visit to your dentist for a professional cleaning will get - and keep - your teeth in their healthiest state possible, facials are the deep cleaning and correctives to your home care maintenance.
Maybe it's the word, facial, that needs updating? Perhaps we should rename them: Professional Skin Care Treatments. Would that get the point across better?
You know, it's been a LONG, HARD ROAD forging professional skin care in America. For the longest time we (those gals and guys who have actually gone to school for this - and keep up-to-date with continuing education - and renew their state licenses every year ...) were thought of as "snake oil salesmen" (the younger generation will have to Google that one!). And for a long time skin care was just about Ponds cold cream, and "pampering" (gosh, we pros detest that word - it really devalues all the work we put into our profession) - and I suppose to many people it's still thought of that way today.
It's hard to believe how incredibly things have changed. 25-years ago, we DIDN'T have a separate Esthetics licence - or even a massage therapy license yet. The Day Spa concept hadn't occurred, nor had Physicians realized how much more profitable hawking skin care products would be compared to the hard work of actually being a physician! No, in fact, a licensed Cosmetologist couldn't even get her foot in the door of a dermatologist's office. We were thought of as those silly girls slapping cream on people. Definitely not smart. Definitely frivolous. Definitely not worth their time or attention.
Then things changed.
The Day Spa market BLOOMED - hair salons were cleaning out their broom closets and sticking a massage table in them - all ready to become a "spa". Doctors not only saw value in selling skin care products, but even tried to push us out of our own profession - you'd believe a DOCTOR, right? He must know EVERYTHING since he went to medical school. HA! Fun fact - they don't actually study skin care, or take any product knowledge classes - ahem, they are supposed to be studying to cure DISEASES - NOT SELL SKIN CARE PRODUCTS! Incredible.
Early in my career - after my excursion to L.A. to pursue being a "Hollywood Makeup Artist", I learned about a company who was doing things the right way: they positioned themselves as "Professional Skin Care Therapists" and chose the specific channel of licensed salons to sell their products. THIS was exactly as it should be. Who else knows your skin best but the person who is actually touching your skin, and learns about it as the months progress, but your licensed skin care professional? Not a nurse, or doctor, or Cindy Crawford, or Elizabeth Arden or Estée Lauder ('cause they're dead!) - but the person who sees you every month for professional skin treatments. OF COURSE they would have the insiders knowledge to the best products for YOUR skin. They aren't trying to sell their way to the big pink Cadillac, or decided to leave their job selling cell phones in favor of the glamorous world of At-The-Mall-Big-Corporate-Skin-Care-Companies. No, they chose this profession of skin care - a mission - a calling - to HELP PEOPLE. I chose this profession to help people! You can't imagine the satisfaction gained when someone comes in to see me with a problem, be it skin care, emotional stress, you name it, and during the time we spend together things gently slide back to a healthy balance and they leave with a big smile on their face. Job well done!
So if you've never had a facial, or only think of it as a special treat, or even if you think you're doing enough on your own at home, give me a call, or email, and let's talk. Professional skin care has come such a long way from the cold cream days. It's astonishing sometimes when I delve deep into the science behind things today. Quite overwhelming at times, but so beneficial to you and your skin care needs. We really do have the tools to reduce wrinkles, improve firmness, clear acne, support a sensitive skin, and so much more! I can't promise you a quick fix, like sticking a poisonous toxin in your face might, but what I can promise is that with consistent care, you will have the best skin of your life!
Book your professional skin treatment today and experience it for yourself! I think you'll be amazed!
Goji Berry (lycium barbarum) is a rich source of skin-protecting antioxidants - contains more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene than carrots!
Over 3000 years ago, the father of Chinese medicine, Shen Nong, praised the humble goji berry for it's miraculous properties. Today this delicious fruit has the highest antioxidant count of all the superfruits!
You can find goji berries in your local health food store ... and also featured in my contour treatment mask! Eat them & wear them!
I thought I had seen it all!
I am a "professional" Google researcher, and I'm frequently googling other skin care lines just to see what's out there - since I know you are, too! Mind you, I've sold one form of product line or another since I was a wee teenager - I think even before I was of driving age, so like around 13 or so. I've either used, sold, or known everything from the Mary Kay's and NuSkin crowd, to the department store brands, to what was referred to as "Professional's Only" back in the 1990's when we actually had a profession - a time before the internet came along and watered down and destroyed everything we had worked so hard to build. (But isn't that for another blog post?) As I was "googling" the other day I came across yet ANOTHER skin care line who's claims just stopped me in my tracks!
On their beautiful website, next to the lady who looks very excited to be free of whatever ailment this product has "cured", they claim: "The secret to our dramatic results lies in this holographic energy conductor"!!!
They put a metallic silver graphic on their plastic bottle and THAT'S the reason why the product works so miraculously - not the INGREDIENTS???
I then went on to read what the actual working ingredients were and found that not only was this product "vegan and gluten free", but it was also free of NEGATIVITY!!!
I thought green-washing had hit it's limit by now, but I see I was wrong.
The marketing ploys continue.
P.S. - I don't know if there is any "negativity" in my products or not, I only know that they WORK because of the SCIENCE of skin biology & INGREDIENTS that create RESULTS!
Can I get an "OH-BOY" for that one!
SMILE for Charity = smile.amazon.com
Do you shop on Amazon.com? Did you know that they have a separate site which allows you to put some of your shopping dollars to work for the charity of your choice? Simply go to “Smile.Amazon.com” and choose your charity. Then .5% of your purchase goes to that charity!
The one I’ve chosen is a local charity that helps spay and neuter feral cats!
SOS :: Spay Our Strays
And for anyone who wants some Good Karma points, SOS needs helping hands! They need man (or woman) power to help place cages and then nurture for one night after spay or neuter surgery.
trust me i'm an expert
Don't you wish you were prepped and ready for every question that came your way? It's like in school when you got thrown off-guard and your zinger comes to you - not then - but when you're well on your way home? That sort of thing just happened today.
I had a new client who found me by Googling "best facial". So she came in with the expectation that I am an expert at treatments.
She had her expert facial and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I asked if she would like to see the products I would recommend for her. She did. Oh, did I forget to mention that she is coming from the 'natural' world ... "non-toxic" ... that sort of vibe. Well, I showed her what I thought her skin needed, including a scrub to exfoliate and help with her congestion, but she passed on it because ... wait for it ... "THERE WERE TOO MANY INGREDIENTS".
This is where I got thrown off course.
Of course it's now, several hours later that I have come up with my come-back ...
It's FOOD that should have fewer ingredients - and ones you can pronounce, not your SCRUB.
I don't mind an inquiry, but I do mind comparing my products to whatever multi-level-mayhem is currently on the market trying to compete with mine.
Where is the disconnect from treatment room to product shelf?
Wouldn't logic dictate that if I am an expert in skin care treatments wouldn't my selection of skin care products be on the same level - or higher - since this is something clients are using every day, not just once a month or during their spa treatments???
May 13, 2015
Why NOT to use Cetaphil
Facts to consider, please:
FROM THE ESTHETICIAN'S PERSPECTIVE:
Many of our clients are surprised when they find out that we don’t love Cetaphil. I mean, it can’t be all bad if your dermatologist recommended it, right?
Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients in the cleanser that claims to be “gentle and non-irritating.”
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser:
So, besides WATER and THREE parabens to destroy bacteria that could grow IN THE PRODUCT (not for any bacteria on your skin) and keep it shelf stable, what's left? Some humectants and a wax for texture. The worst ingredient by far is
the sodium lauryl sulfate. SLS is a surfactant, meaning it releases oil and dirt from the skin and creates that foamy texture we love so much. The problem is that SLS can be stripping for dry skins(which may explain the inclusion of cetyl and stearyl alcohol to neutralize the stripping effects), and it can also be an irritant. Why would you include this in a product that claims to be gentle?
The SLS detergent alone is over-cleansing, but the conditioner added (which is, in fact, the first ingredient after water) leaves a film, so that on one hand the detergent can irritate, while on the other the conditioner renders the wash strangely ineffective.
Every skin needs some cleansing, even the driest, but a harsh detergent with a film-creating emollient isn't the answer.
The truth about Cetaphil is that dermatologists recommend it for two reasons. The first reason is that it doesn’t have any of the obvious irritants in it like synthetic fragrances or dyes. But the primary reason your derm may have told you to use Cetaphil is that the makers of Cetaphil ship thousands of samples to dermatologists across the land, making that recommendation easy. MDs have a big Pharma love affair with the manufacturer, Galderma, the offspring of Nestlé and L’Oréal, which also makes acne drugs like Differin!
Dermatologists know about disorders of the skin NOT about products (generally speaking of course - there could possibly be a few exceptions - I've never met any exceptions, however), and they often have neither the time or the desire to shop the shelves to figure out what cleanser is best for every skin type and concern you may have. Also, most dermatologists (especially male derms) don’t consider a cleanser’s ability to remove makeup in their recommendation.
The problem with Cetaphil from an Esthetician's point of view: we take issue with any line claiming to be gentle while using the harshest surfactant out there
[SLS]. Additionally, it does a terrible job of removing makeup If you are curious about what skin cleanser you should be using, please contact me - your State Licensed Esthetician/Cosmetologist (and Massage Therapist) with OVER 30-years in this field.
Why I'm Getting SMARTER!
If you've noticed me getting SMARTER ... THIS is why:
This is an answer to the question "Why are there different types of hyperpigmentation (what we used to call "age spots"):
The yellow-brown pigment I was referencing is called lipofuscin, and is the result of cellular detoxification systems declining in their activity or being damaged. Our cells are equipped with their own "cleansing & detox" mechanisms whose role is to get rid of cellular waste. Some of that cellular waste represents oxidized cellular organelles such as mitochondria, for example, or other proteins and lipids within the cell that undergo damage and oxidation. Our cells utilize two main detox mechanisms - proteasomes and autophagy to dispose of these cellular oxidized mechanisms, but even proteasomes and autophagy (which employs lysosomes) slows down with age and oxidative damage. In that case, cellular waste (*AKA oxidized proteins and lipids) clog up the cell, contribute to yellow-brown pigment formation and eventually cellular senescence (cell becoming non-productive, damaging 'zombie-cells".) Addressing pigmentation today is so much more different than before, simply because we know more about what's involved and we have more at our disposal to address all of this.
We are SO FAR AWAY from Mom's Cold Cream days!!!!!!!
So, now you know why my face goes screwy when someone asks me: "Do you have anything for brown spots?" OH, if it were only that simple!
I have been seeing more and more clients who have full-face acne. When I inquire about their diets, they all say how much they LOVE milk and dairy products.
After reading about milk and acne when I was researching the vegan diet (Alicia Silverstone's book "The Kind Diet"), I sort of let that information slip by me as my diet became no longer pure vegan.
But now I'm back to reading about the link between milk and acne. I wanted to post this link as it is an easy to read and understand article about how getting dairy out of your system for several months CAN clear up your acne.
Makes sense since acne is hormonal in most cases, and milk is filled with hormones!
If you suffer from acne, or know someone who does, try the experiment and see if it helps - then write me with your results!
What’s NOT in Vantastic SKIN
All Vantastic SKIN products are FREE of these controversial but still commonly used ingredients:
· sodium laurel and laureth sulfates
a very common way to bring the bubble to your gel. can strip the protective layer of the skin, causing dryness and dehydration. can exacerbate winter ‘after shower’ dryness if it’s in your bath & shower gel.
· mineral oil
controversial in that it’s been accused of clogging the skin. can come from a variety of sources - some not so purified.
· bovine-sourced ingredients
seriously, do you want pig lard on your face? I didn’t think so.
· propylene glycol
can be irritating to the skin in higher percentages.
the fat from sheep’s wool - need I say more? clogging, allergenic & potentially irritating.
· solvent alcohols
stripping and drying to the protective outer layer of the skin.
· synthetic color and synthetic fragrance
artificial colors are unnecessary and potentially dangerous. fragrance ranks as the most common cause of allergic dermatitis. can you tolerate a Yankee candle store? I cannot.
in fragrances - helps to make fragrance more soluble - Phthalates have been shown to have a negative effect on liver and kidney function as well as abnormalities in male and female reproductive systems.
is thought to be an endocrine disruptor (affecting hormones. weakly estrogenic). although parabens have been tested as safe for decades, an internet scare caused conscious chemists to reformulate. they are among the 10 most used ingredients in drugs and cosmetics (but you don’t see the drug companies touting “paraben-free”!). we are concerned about the long-term effect this quantity of parabens would have on our environment. waste water the reason you won’t find it in Vantastic SKIN is more because of the run-off into our streams, lakes, and rivers. better safe than sorry!
None of these emulsifiers because they make dry and sensitive skin more irritable:
Check the moisturizer you are using now, and see if this is why your skin is still dry.
· stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate
· NO comedogenic ingredients
meaning none of the formulas will CAUSE breakouts. remember, my job is to help heal & beautify your skin!
Below is a list of common preservatives that are allergenic, and can release formaldehyde, which itself releases toxic off-gasses, and is thought to cause cancer.
· imidazolidinyl urea
· diazolidinyl urea
· DMDM hydantoin
We don’t use any of those. Only safe & gentle preservatives are chosen to protect Vantastic SKIN products!
But I do have to admit to one thing: we test on animals - live humans! Of course, if you’ve ever met me you know I would NEVER allow animal testing. It’s barbaric, and completely unnecessary.
And, because science has now proven chronic inflammation is the bottom-line of aging (and practically everything else), we add soothing ingredients to every product - making all Vantastic SKIN products both gentle and effective!
Filtering through truth and marketing schemes is tough for me,too, and I've been at this a LONG TIME!
When it comes time to choose a product, say, like a sunscreen, if you're like me, you will read the labels just like you do in the grocery store. You "hope" what you are reading is true and trustworthy. Because if it isn't, then where do you go to find what IS true and trustworthy? Having sources you can count on is super-important, but so many groups, companies, and websites aren't reliable - even when, at first glance, it "seems" legit.
[Once I started researching for this post, it very quickly became VERY LONG. So grab a comfy seat, and a beverage, and enjoy!]
I've taken issue with the cosmetic industry's "bending the truth" for quite some time - probably starting when I was in a training session at Elizabeth Arden (I was a guest make-up artist of theirs). The lady 'teaching' the class had no professional skin care background at all - she was probably a marketing major, if that. When she passed around a new moisturizer I naturally said what I thought, "This is GREASY!", which was rebutted by her. She "corrected" me by saying, "No, dear, that's EMOLLIENT." Meaning, you don't tell the customer it's greasy, you say "emollient" - it sounds nicer and will sell more products that way. I was not impressed.
Over the years, I left the cosmetic counter and went behind the scenes of the real beauty industry - the one where we are licensed and trained by actual specialists - and held to a higher standard. During my process of learning as much as I can about how products are made, I've come across some amazing cosmetic chemists and formulators who continue to teach me the actual truth. But, I am still as susceptible as the well-meaning consumer who is doing her best to wade through the cosmetics jungle: in other words, I can still be fooled by slick marketing and scare tactics.
Case in point: EWG.org and their "Campaign for Safe Cosmetics".
While studying, I came across this message from a trusted source. He writes:
If you work in the cosmetic industry, then you should know about the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their off-shoot group the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The EWG focuses on providing information while the CFSC attempts to get legislation passed. Ostensibly, they are consumer advocacy groups who endeavor to ensure that cosmetic manufacturers produce only safe products. A laudable goal and one that all cosmetic chemists can get behind. However, cosmetic chemists, formulators and the cosmetic industry already support this goal so the cosmetic products we produce are already safe. The EWG & CFSC are unnecessary.
But I’m certain that the good folks at these groups would disagree. From their perspective cosmetics are not safe. And cosmetic chemists can not be trusted to create safe formulas. They seem to believe that there are cosmetic chemists who want to create formulas that will poison their families and cause widespread cases of cancer. They don’t think very much of cosmetic chemists or formulators.
The problems with these groups
The primary place that consumers (and beauty bloggers) find out about the EWG is through their online ingredient resource called the Skin Deep database. It’s an interesting concept and they’ve clearly put a lot of work into it. Unfortunately, it is full of misleading information & many things that are just wrong.
Skin Deep database Flaws
There are a few obvious flaws in the database that have been pointed out to the EWG but they don’t seem interested in changing them.
There is false information in the database but they don’t seem interested in fixing it. For example, they have a listing for Polyparaben. They even give it a chemical rating and call it an endocrine disruptor. Unfortunately, there is no chemical called polyparaben. It doesn’t exist. How they managed to come up with a toxicity score and links to studies about a non-existent chemical is baffling and it certainly doesn’t build faith in the reliability of their data. If they had a cosmetic chemist review the information they were putting up before entering it into the database, perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem. Clearly, they don’t. And they don’t care to fix it because this has been pointed out to them directly.
Creating a hazard score is a dubious activity anyway (since it is the dose that makes the poison) but they aren’t even consistent within their own scoring system. For example, they have listings for both Sodium Coceth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Cosmetic chemists know that these compounds are essentially identical with minimal differences. But somehow the Sodium Coceth Sulfate gets a 0 hazard score, while Sodium Laureth Sulfate gets a 4 hazard. This makes no sense.
Belief not science
Perhaps the worst thing about the EWG Skin Deep database is that they are unwilling to modify their conclusions when new evidence comes to light. They base their actions on a belief and use science only when it supports what they want to believe. Since they are a politically motivated group, they are unable to accept new science which might indicate an ingredient is more safe than previously thought. There is not a single instance of them changing their stance on any cosmetic ingredient.
No courage of their convictions
But the most galling thing about the EWG is that they are hypocrites who either don’t believe what they say or are more interested in making money off people than protecting them from “dangerous” products. For example, they list a Hall of Shame for sunscreens. In it they list specific products that are typical of “…what’s wrong with the sun protection business.” Of course, this does not stop them from making money through their Amazon Affiliate program by selling those same products. For example, they list Aveeno Baby Protection Sunblock as a Hall of Shame sunscreen because it is dangerous for babies but they’ll happily take your money if you want to buy the product.
This means they either do not care that they are making money off of products that they believe are dangerous…or…they don’t believe the products are really dangerous. Either way, it’s shifty.
EWG and cosmetic chemists
If the EWG & the CFSC is to be believed, cosmetic chemists are evil people who do not care about the safety of the formulas they create. I think this is BS.
Read more at http://chemistscorner.com/3-reasons-the-ewg-is-dubious-resource/#dPVwpliSCrT5Di2P.99
EWG.org (part 2)
Still learning ...
This is from the 'Honest Company' website - even they are getting frustrated with EWG.
"We’d like to take a moment to point out what we’ve learned since the release of their latest guide.
1. It’s data aggregation – NOT product testing.
EWG’s assessment is chemical-by-chemical. They don’t take into consideration ingredient concentration or test final product formulation. Their site even has this disclaimer: “The ratings below indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product – not the product itself.”
Imagine if you tried using a recipe database that only assessed the flavors of individual ingredients at full strength. You wouldn’t want to eat a mouthful of salt, or raw egg, or flour, or probably any other ingredient that goes into a cupcake. But mixed in just the right amounts, baked just the right way, a cupcake is divine. That’s the magic of chemistry!
Product formulations work the same way.
For example, we use a preservative in our dish soap called methylisothiazolinone. Some people have expressed concern over this ingredient due to studies based on full-strength or high-exposure levels. In real life, exposures are quite small. In this situation, methylisothiazolinone is used at very low levels—parts per million (one part per million = one drop in a 55 gallon drum).
To give you an even deeper understanding of our use of this preservative, you should know that in 2004, the European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) suggested that companies limit the maximum concentration to 0.01% (100 ppm). The concentration in our dish soap is well below these standards at .00003% (just enough to battle the microbials that will eventually grow in a liquid product and cause a whole host of other health risks). Yes, concentration counts!
Another aspect of product formulation overlooked in a chemical-by-chemical assessment is the chemistry of acids and bases. Sometimes ingredients balance or neutralize one another resulting in a final product that’s safer than the individual ingredients. (We’ll get to that science lesson another day.)
2. A Catch-22 for companies.
In our efforts to help EWG better understand the safety of our formulations, as well as our efforts to better understand their methodology, we spoke with several top staff – repeatedly – at every level. Fulfilling our commitment to transparency and consumer education, we wanted to find a way to collaborate and help EWG not only assess our Honest products in a more legitimate manner, but ALL the products they rated.
The Honest Company offered to share our complete product formulations—that means 100% transparency of concentrations of each individual ingredient. This offer was received with mixed feelings from EWG. We were told that if we shared our formulation, they would be compelled to share that information with the public. We’re happy to let the world know what ingredients we use, and we even thought about disclosing the ranges of percentages, but to share the exact formulation…c’mon EWG, you know that needs to remain proprietary.
On top of this Catch-22, we were later told that even if they did see our exact formulations, they didn’t have the capacity, resources, or robust scientific understanding to fully assess them.
But, wait…if they don’t have the capacity to assess product formulations, why are they rating products?
Which leads us to perhaps the biggest problem with the endeavor. They state that the main goal of the guide is to compel transparency and a large part of the grading system is based on ingredient disclosure. But by trying to weigh how transparent a company is while trying to rate the toxicity of the ingredients used ends up creating a confusing algorithm and misleading results. It’s like trying to grade a student on a music performance and a book report simultaneously. The final grade doesn’t really tell me how the student fared on either effort in any useful way.
EWG does an impressive job of pulling a ton of information together into one searchable database. But the system is far from infallible and cannot be substituted for actual product testing. It’s a starting point for better understanding the chemicals in your products, but definitely not an ending point for understanding specific products. We’re hoping our conversations and thoughtful assessments of EWG’s guide can help them, industry, and regulators find ways improve how products are assessed and how they communicate that to the public."
I'm on a roll here!
Found a super-duper website devoted to cosmetic chemistry. I won't post all the goodies here, as this post is way long by now, but here is a quick link to get you started reading. Click all of his articles - they are fascinating!
Youth Serum (yes, it works!)
NO NEEDLES NECESSARY!
Is there a fountain of youth? YES! Vanities Spa has one and it's poured into a bottle that you take home and drink from every day! [No, you don't actually DRINK it!] It's called:
Vantastic Skin | YOUTH SERUM
FOR :: Aging, Mature and Menopausal Skin |
Skin lacking firmness | Sun-Damaged Skin |
Dull, tired, devitalized skin | Dehydrated and flaking skin | Red, Sensitive, Rosacea-prone Skin
Re-energize your cells at their foundation and see visible results in days!
As you age, skin cells die, youthful proteins decline and moisture-holding lipids decrease.
Waiting to receive the molecular message to take the place of dying cells are reservoirs of adult stem cells hidden in microscopic niches within your skin.
Recently, scientists discovered messengers in a North Atlantic alga that reactivates dormant stem cells found in mature skin. Within days, skin is energized. Within weeks, skin appears regenerated. Contours become more defined, firmness returns, lines smooth and wrinkles are less noticeable!
Vital for life-giving hydration, aquaporins are newly discovered cell membrane proteins known to channel water into cells. Unfortunately, these water channels decline with age. Skin may be hydrated, but little water is actually delivered inside the cells. Skin looks flat, dull, lackluster. Remarkably, molecules from the Brazilian tree Piptadenia colubrina increases the presence of aquaporins up to 11 times. Within hours, a radiant plumpness is restored to cells - while signs of unwanted puffiness are minimized!
Repair the cellular blueprint
Damage to DNA increases dramatically after the age of 30. Purified enzymes from the Mediterranean Arabidopsis plant repair the most common form of DNA damage within 2 hours of exposure to these corrective enzymes. Skin begins to act younger almost instantly!
Turn on cellular enzymes
Known as the “Guardian of the Cell”, cellular enzymes called sirtuins are thought to protect against DNA damage and cell death, boost cellular antioxidant defenses and increase the lifespan of cells. Resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant and sirtuin-booster famously found in red wine, is even more potent in Japanese Knotweed. Within two weeks, skin sensitivity is reduced, elasticity improves and deeper signs of aging begin to disappear!
With age, cellular energy – the moving force of life – declines. After the age of 60 your cells have 50% less fuel to operate than at 30. Ergothioneine, the cell’s principal energizing antioxidant, restores power to cells, quenching age-producing radicals and supporting cellular activities from detoxification to the production of youthful proteins. Within days, visible redness is calmed, signs of repair are enhanced, and an even tone and clarity begin to return to skin!
YOUTH Serum contains 5-powerhouses to correct all signs of aging!
YOUTH Serum MUST be used twice a day to get the results you expect. And, trust me, you are going to LOVE the results!
ORGANIC Skin Care
Here is the point-of-view of "organic" skin care from me - a 30 years+ professional skin care veteran - who buys organic food, but does not sell organic skin care products, and why she doesn't.
Those Darn Spots
Hyperpigmentation is one of the most frustrating skin conditions not only for the client, but for me to treat as well.
Currently, there is only one FDA approved "solution" and it's called "hydroquinone". The following article will explain why this "solution" isn't the greatest and that we need to look for others. (And why it's in "quotes".) PS - I am "anti" hydroquinone, and you will read why.
This was written by Dr. Diana Howard. I know her personally and can vouch for her expertise and trustworthiness in this area.
This is a LONG one, so settle back and enjoy the ride! You will feel SO SMART afterward!
Hydroquinone: Is the Cure Worse Than the Problem?
By: Diana Howard, PhD
March 27, 2009
With any aging population comes the manifestation of skin that includes not only wrinkles, but also hyperpigmentation. Along with this, consider an increased incidence of adult acne often leading to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and the newest baby-boom, which accounts for more melasma among women, and the result is an increased demand for skin-lightening products in the United States.
For many years, hydroquinone has been considered one of the most effective skin-lightening agents for treatment of sun-induced pigmentation, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation often associated with aging skin. In the United States, hydroquinone is classified as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that may be used in concentrations of up to 2%. Most prescription-strength hydroquinone formulations contain 3–4%, but concentrations as high as 10% may be available through compounding pharmacies. When prescribed by a physician, it is often combined with other actives, such as tretinoin, retinol, vitamin C or glycolic acid.
How does hydroquinone work?
There are various theories about how hydroquinone works to affect hyperpigmentation. Some researchers claim that it denatures the melanin-protein complex, causing a decoloration of the skin. Others claim it inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme, as well as the synthesis of the protein associated with melanin. Because of its cytotoxic impact on the melanocyte, it is said to disrupt basic cellular processes, including DNA and RNA synthesis. Regardless of the mechanism used to lighten skin, the focus these days should really be on the more important concerns regarding the safety of hydroquinone.
Is it safe?
There is no doubt about it, hydroquinone is an effective pigment-lightener; however, much attention is now focused on its safety. Not only is safety an issue, but concerns also stem from its designation as “an extreme sensitizer;”. Many individuals are allergic to hydroquinone, and others experience serious contact dermatitis with repeated use, leading, unfortunately, to a prescription for a steroid cream to counter the associated irritation. In extreme cases, a condition known as onchronosis can occur, resulting in blue-black macules or hyperpigmentation accompanied by acne-like lesions. Onchronosis generally requires higher concentrations of hydroquinone and is more prevalent in darker skin. However, lower concentrations may also illicit a poor response, too, which has led many dermatologists to a prescriptive cycling of hydroquinone involving using hydroquinone-containing products for four months, stopping for four months and resuming again for four months, and so on. During the off months, a hydroquinone-free brightener is recommended. At the other end of the spectrum are concerns that hydroquinone causes hypopigmentation, or white spots.
Being a metabolite of benzene, hydroquinone has potential mutagenic properties. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States claims “hydroquinone is mutagenic and has cancer-causing potential.” In 1994, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology (now known as the International Journal of Toxicology) published “The Addendum to the Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Hydroquinone.” Its conclusion stated that “hydroquinone is a potent cytotoxic agent that causes mutations and alterations to DNA, and that it should not be used in any leave-on type of product; it is safe for rinse-off products when used in concentrations less than 1%.”When this was published, many cosmetic manufacturers opted to discontinue their hydroquinone lighteners and some countries went so far as to ban hydroquinone from skin-whiteners. For example, hydroquinone is strictly regulated in many African and Asian countries, and its use is prohibited in the European Union (EU) and Japan. Unfortunately, many hydroquinone-containing whiteners remain on the market to this day. As a matter of fact, most skin-whitening serums and creams currently available contain 2% hydroquinone.
For whatever reason, hydroquinone still remains the only ingredient recognized as a “lightening agent” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its use falls under the regulations as stated in the monograph on skin lightening, which designates hydroquinone as the sole acceptable lightening agent. This means that the use of other ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation cannot be called skin-lighteners or whiteners, so the industry has coined the term “brightener” for these nonhydroquinone alternatives. As recently as 2007, the FDA reported its intent toward banning the use of hydroquinone in nonprescription products due to safety issues, but as of yet has not implemented any new regulations. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Board has agreed to revisit the safety of hydroquinone and report back by March 2009. Perhaps the FDA is awaiting the new report before passing any new regulations or amending the monograph on lightening.
Alternatives to hydroquinone
Most of the safe alternatives to hydroquinone impact the key enzyme, tyrosinase, that mediates two key steps in melanogenesis.
Tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase inhibitors, such as hydroxycinnamic acid, gluconic acid, zinc glycinate, kojic acid, aspergillus ferment, rumex extract and ergothioneine, that chelate or bind copper. Binding the copper inhibits this reaction from occurring and controls melanin formation.
Hydroxy acids. Although the use of hydroxy acids—lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid—in skin-brightening products has generally been utilized to accelerate desquamation and removal of melanin-containing corneocytes, it has recently been shown that a 5% concentration of lactic acid will inhibit the formation of the tyrosinase enzyme, thereby slowing the process of melanin synthesis. Other exfoliating agents used in brightening products include pumpkin enzyme, sutilains (a protease enzyme), lactobacillus ferment and galactoarabian, a molecule that stimulates natural desquamation in the skin.
Controlling inflammation. Controlling inflammation is another strategy for treating hyperpigmentation. The use of anti-inflammatory agents, such as white tea, licorice and green tea, helps address the connection between inflammation and pigment formation. These extracts also may act as antioxidants, slowing many of the oxidation steps involved in melanin formation.
Melanin formation. Of particular interest are ingredients that impact melanin formation in multiple ways. An example is zinc glycinate, which stimulates synthesis of an antioxidant protein called metallothionein that binds the copper and reduces tyrosinase synthesis and activity; in addition, it suppresses melanocyte growth factors that stimulate melanin synthesis. Niacinamide has been shown to stop the transfer of melanosomes to neighboring keratinocytes. Glucosamine and dithiooctanediol stop the activation of the tyrosinase enzyme, a step that involves glycosylation, or the addition of a sugar molecule to the inactive proenzyme structure, converting it to the activated enzyme. Obviously, if the enzyme remains inactive, melanin formation ceases.
New studies indicate that melanin formation can also be controlled by affecting the signaling process involved in melanin biosynthesis. Sunscreens and anti-inflammatory agents work by turning off the messengers that signal melanin synthesis to commence. A brown seaweed called Ascophyllum nodosum has been shown to inhibit endothelin-1 (ET-1), a molecule synthesized and released from the keratinocytes after UV exposure. ET-1 stimulates the melanocyte and triggers tyrosinase activity. When the signal molecule ET-1 is inhibited, melanin formation is likewise inhibited. In a similar role, the use of Palmaria palmata, a red algae, has been shown to inhibit the release of stem cell factor (SCF), another signaling molecule released by keratinocytes upon exposure to UVB radiation; SCF activates the melanocyte to make melanin. Palmaria palmata inhibits the release of SCF and therefore inhibits melanocyte activation.
In the past decade, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) has been used to control melanin synthesis. Newer stabilized derivatives of vitamin C include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), ascorbyl glucoside andtetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. These derivatives scavenge free radicals that cause erratic melanocyte activity, as well as act as antioxidants inhibiting oxidation steps along the biosynthetic pathway of melanin. They have also been shown to inhibit tyrosinase synthesis and activity.
Finally, the newest and perhaps most exciting agents to fight melanin formation are the peptides. Oligopeptide-34 is a state-of-the-art synthesized peptide that has been shown to decrease alpha-MSH activity and inhibit tyrosinase activity. Although the mechanism is not clearly understood, results indicate that it brightens skin, especially sun-induced hyperpigmentation, in half the time when compared to other brightening complexes. The use of peptides, such as oligopeptide-34 to control pigmentation, may very well be the newest and most effective approach to treating hyperpigmentation. And if safety studies are a good indicator, they are a lot safer for the end user.
Dealing with issues of pigmentation will undoubtedly continue to be a focus in the skin care arena, and there is certainly no shortage of products designed to address these issues. But the most important question is: Which are effective and safe to use? Although hydroquinone continues to be the only authorized OTC whitening agent in the United States, there are numerous studies that question its safety, which accounts for its being banned in most countries throughout the world. Fortunately, the pressure remains on pharmaceutical houses, cosmetic companies and even raw material suppliers to find safe and legal alternatives to hydroquinone. This past decade has seen a myriad of new brightening agents, all promising to reduce hyperpigmentation while enhancing skin luminosity and, although most have fallen short of hydroquinone’s ability to whiten skin, new cocktails of brighteners are now available that are close in performance and a lot safer to use.
~Told you, you'd be smarter by the end of this! (Yes, this is what I do for FUN!)
Now, what does Vanities Spa do to help her clients with hyperpigmentation?
I recommend a weekly series of LED facials, along with a specific home care regimen - AND DAILY SPF 30 USE - which will not only lighten your spots, but clarify your skin leaving it clearer, firmer, and healthier! And we ALL want that!
See you in the spa!