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As someone who has worked for more than a decade in the spa industry, I have a number of very good friends with similar technical skills, but my best “spa sister” is my friend, Cheryl. Whenever we get together for a few days of female bonding, (which we try to do at least once a year), we always end up working on each other. I know that our husbands harbor some kinky fantasies about mud masks and hot oil and pillow fights, but it really isn’t kinky at all. Since we both have solid technique, we are actually showing off for each other, with the prize going to whoever gets the other to fall asleep in the shortest amount of time.

The truth, though, is that you don’t have to have extensive training to give your best gal pal a perfectly lovely spa treatment. We are girls, are we not? So, most of us have a fair amount of experience in the art of home beauty rituals and that talent can easily be put to work in creating a tandem beauty session that will have both you and your “spa sister“ looking and feeling like you’ve each indulged in a day of beauty. Now, after reading the remainder of this article, you may find the spa-at-home concept more trouble than it’s worth, and that’s okay too. Almost every spa is set up for side by side spa-goers; but if you’re ready to spa at home, read on.

The spa agenda I am going to suggest can easily take place at home using what ever features (jetted tub, shower, etc.) that you may have on-site. The only challenge can be the massage table. While the treatments can be done on a traditional bed or on the floor, the angle in which the person (who is doing the treatment) has to work is always a bit awkward and hard on the back. So, if you must do it this way, limit what you are doing to short sessions and be mindful of straining your back. Another alternative, if you have one handy, is a 6-foot-long conference table or even a dining table. I have used these for demonstrations a number of times. When properly padded with blankets, pillows or a foam pad, they can be quite suitable.

One of the other tricky parts is figuring out who is doing what to whom and in what order. It’s no fun to get completely relaxed and then have to give a treatment. So, the best way is to stagger the progression. Below I propose a spa agenda for you and a friend as well as some variations that you can choose from. So, review the agenda together and select the options that are the best for the two of you. Then pick a theme, such as tropical retreat, lots of lavender or seaside serenity and gather treatment products, candles and music that fit the theme. Most of the things you will need can be obtained from your local spa, salon, drugstore, specialty boutique or health food store. I have included a list of a few Web sites where you can find multiple items and some great spa gifts too.
Supplies List

(See resource list for recommendations.)

Non-foaming body scrub/exfoliant OR scrub gloves
• Both can be found at a spa or drugstore
• Make sure the scrub is more of a body polish and not a shower gel type of scrub or make your own (see Beautiful Body Scrub recipe below)

Super Soaker Body Masque (see recipe below)
• Body Moisturizer
• Moisturizing Masque
• Massage Oil
• Essential Oil (optional)

Plastic sheet
• use one per treatment
• painting drop cloths from the hardware store will work or…
• mylar blankets (also called micronized foil) the kind you see marathoners wrapped in after a race—which can be found with camping supplies, work well and are inexpensive.
• Last resort…cheap (new) shower curtain

• 2-3 large bath towels, bath sheets or beach towels (per treatment)
• 2-3 hand towels (per treatment)
• Eye Pillow
• Scented candles
• Relaxing music
• Spa Snacks (such as: fruit, nuts, hummus and pita chips, veggies and dip, truffles, sparkling mineral water, herbal tea, fruit juice, mimosas, etc,)
• Large bowl for foot soak (the jumbo salad bowls from restaurant or party supply stores are good, cheap and more charming than a bucket)
• Small bowls for masque and hand soak

Body Beautiful Scrub

(Mix the following together for each person.)

This simple, sea salt based scrub is rich in minerals and moisture. Simply move the product around on the skin with light, long massage strokes and be sure to check on your pressure as you scrub your partner as this formula can be very abrasive.

Sea Salt
4-6 Tbsp. Sea salt is better than regular table salt because the natural minerals actually nourish the skin.


Massage Oil
4-6 Tbsp.  Use a plain, natural oil such as: Apricot or Almond.


Essential Oils

5-6 drops. This is optional.

Super Soaker Body Masque Recipe

(Mix the following together for each person.)

Body Masks are generally not available to the public because self-application is impractical. But a moisturizing masque for the body is essentially a thicker version of a moisturizer with a combination of ingredients that allow sustained penetration of the moisturizers during the relaxation phase of treatment. To make your own, simply combine the following individual products together.

Body Moisturizer

6-8 Tbsp.  Only use a water based formula, the more natural the better and unscented is best. Do not use a body butter.


Moisturizing Mask
3-4 Tbsp. An inexpensive clay-based facial masque is best.


Massage Oil
3-4 Tbsp. Use a plain, natural oil such as Apricot or Almond. Do not use a warming massage formula or baby oil.


Essential Oils
5-6 drops This is optional.

In a glass bowl, blend the product together using a small whisk or new 2” paintbrush. The paint brush can be used to apply the product as well or you can simply apply it with one hand. You may need to balance the ratio of products depending on the consistency and the amount needed. (FYI: A petite female will need about _ cup to get medium-thick coverage.)

Here is the easiest way to carry out the application:
1. After blending products together, warm them in the microwave or place the glass bowl in a larger bowl (or sink) of hot water. Test temperature before applying.
2. Have the person who is receiving, lie face up on the plastic sheet and cover up with a large towel.
3. Have them sit up and using either the brush or your dominant hand, apply the product to their entire back.
4. Have them lie down again.
5. Move to their right side and have them lift up their leg and place their foot down so that their leg is on angle. This will give you access to the underside of the leg. They can also roll over slightly which will allow you to apply product to the gluteal area on that side.
6. Have them place the right leg down and apply the product to the front side of the leg.
7. While on that same side, apply the product to the right arm and hand and then wrap the plastic around that side of the body.
8. Repeat the same procedure on the opposite side.
9. Before closing up the other side you can either remove the towel they are covered with or reach under it to apply the product to the abdomen and décolleté. (FYI: Better penetration occurs when the plastic makes contact with the skin so, they can opt to remove the towel when you leave the room.)
10. After wrapping them up in the plastic sheet, cover them with another towel (in case there is product on the outside of the plastic) and a heavy blanket or comforter
11. Have them lift up their legs slightly and slide a pillow under their knees.
12. If they are comfortable being left alone, you may simply let them relax, or to make the treatment even better, place and eye pillow over their eyes and massage their scalp or gently brush their hair.
13. After 15-20 minutes, remove the blanket or comforter and help the “receiver” sit up. Offer them a towel to drape with and open up the plastic. They may either massage in any remaining product or remove the excess with a towel.

Spa Sipper

This natural lemon tonic can be served hot or cool and is thought to be an effective and flavorful way to detoxify the liver, especially when used as part of a “juice fast”.

2-3 Tbsp. Fresh organic lemon juice with pulp
1-2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup—do not use honey
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
8 oz. Spring or filtered water


Mani & Pedi Supplies This Web site has fun products, spa pedi-party kits and oodles of recipes for fun foot treatments.


Spa Tea

Selections include: Peppermint Spa Tea and French Lavender

More spa-inspired beverages than you can imagine

They have a lovely pre-made spa gift set with bath salts and soap

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If you are in search of a fabulous facial your choices are nearly limitless. But have you ever wondered what training and qualifications your facialist has obtained in order to earn the right to smear products all over your face?

The majority of facials are booked by people who receive skincare treatments relatively infrequently, according to Spa industry statistics. These people are known as peripheral consumers, meaning that their indulgence of an occasional spa service is just that — an indulgence. While they certainly enjoy receiving facial treatments, these individuals are less likely to view the experience as an investment in their appearance or the beginning of a continuing professional relationship with the technician. And so, to them, the qualifications of their technician are not a significant factor in determining when and where they receive service; but, maybe they should be.

Over the last 10 years the spa industry growth has fueled an increasing awareness of the types of services salon and spas provide and this, in turn, has triggered an adaptation of many state licensing programs. It wasn’t that long ago that Kentucky had neither an esthetic nor a massage license. This is very good news for the consumer because, it means that that the bar has been raised and you can now be assured that the technician who renders your treatment is someone who has logged in a major chunk of hours to learn how to do that service.

When it comes to facials however, there are varied degrees of competency. So, if your goals when booking a skincare service are more ambitious and long-term than an indulging “day of beauty” you may want to scrutinize the credentials of your service provider a bit further.

Before I aggravate any of my very skilled salon and spa colleagues, let me also make this point: the licensure a person possesses is the minimum of what the state requires. So, the type of license, a technician is issued, becomes a minimal safety assurance, not a complete assessment of skill. If your service provider is passionate about what they do, they have probably participated in a number of educational opportunities that the state may or may not require, acknowledge and/or keep track of. If you are afraid to ask what credentials (in addition to their license) your service provider has … don’t be. Salon and spa professionals who have spent their time and money to achieve a level of excellence within their industry are usually more than happy to tell you about it.

Another area of potential confusion consumers may face is that the spa industry often applies vague and confusing jargon to describe their facial treatments. So, treatments rendered on the face or to the facial skin can be called a hundred different things. In order to determine who the best person for the job is, you may need to draw some distinctions between the types of facial services that are out there, and which one you would like to receive. Only then will it become important who your technician is and what their qualification are. Here are some general distinctions that need to be made between facial services:

Massage-Focused Facials

What’s the best part of a facial–the massage, right? Spa programmers figured that out too, and now in many states and in many spas you can receive a facial that is primarily geared toward relaxation and not skincare. These can be amazing treatments, most often found on menus at resort spas, but you will encounter them in the occasional dayspa too. These types of treatments can be rendered locally by either an esthetician, a cosmetologist or even a massage therapist. So, what’s the difference? Well, consider the focus of the treatment. If I had the opportunity to choose, on this kind of service, I would pick the massage therapist. If it’s all about the touch, who better than a touch expert? With the other two technicians they may or may not have a personal passion for this kind of treatment; after all they went to school with the intent of studying skin and hair, not massage.

European Facials

This is the traditional facial category that most people are familiar with. The use of the word “European” in a facial description is considered spa code for the inclusion of extractions. This is the procedure through which the debris that resides in your clogged pores is “extracted”, hence the name. When it comes to extractions, I want them and I want a real pro doing it. So, give me an esthetician for that job and ideally someone who isn’t fresh out of school. The quirky skill of pore-squeezing requires some finesse, and that, in my experience, only comes from…well, experience. This type of treatment is also more focused on skincare. So, if you want a thorough analysis of your skin and some recommendations for a home-care program you want someone who has achieved a modicum of esthetic expertise.

Facial Peels

The first thing you should know about this is that all peels are not created equal. The strengths of these professional products range from something that could be purchased over the counter to strengths that could disfigure a person for life. Once you get into the higher strengths however, the liability issues dictate that those products be used only in a medically supervised setting. In a salon or spa it is unlikely that anyone is working with something that strong but, you should always ask for the details. Most estheticians should have garnered some experience with milder products in school, however, the mid-level peels do carry some risks. So, if your facialist is suggesting a mid-level peel, I would want to be certain that I had a seasoned esthetician and also ask the following:

  • What are the risks, if any associated with this peeling procedure?
  • What are the benefits in general, and specifically for my skin, that I can expect?
  • What specific after-care is needed to achieve the optimal results?
  • What training or experience have you had with this procedure?

Medical Esthetic Treatments

These types of treatments are exclusively rendered in medically supervised settings such as medspas, laser treatment centers, dermatology clinics and plastic surgery practices. The interesting thing about the services providers within these facilities is that they could have one of several types of backgrounds. They could be nurses, who have additional esthetic procedures training, or estheticians who have received additional medical procedures training, or even cosmetologists who have pursued specialized training in medical esthetics.

The medspa industry’s unique position causes it to be scrutinized by both medical and cosmetology standards but, actual certification for some procedures still fall between the cracks. What the consumer can be assured of, however, is that the physicians who oversee the practice are ultimately carrying the liability of the facility. With the physician’s, and the facility’s, reputation at stake and procedures that demand a level of proficiency that exceeds most traditional spas, it is likely that consumers will find both esthetic excellence and cutting-edge techniques within the medspa setting.

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A bathroom should be one of the most relaxing spots in a home (bubble bath, anyone?), but stark lighting, lack of ambiance and small pocketbooks keep most bathrooms looking lackluster.

Turn your bathroom into a spa paradise and keep your wallet intact by utilizing these do-it-yourself bathroom-fixup tips.

Candle in the Wind
An effective (and inexpensive) bathroom spa maker is aromatherapy or scented candles. Aromatherapy can set the mood of your experience, whether you want to just relax, or be rejuvenated. Lavender is a good choice for a laid back afternoon, while the smell of peppermint will energize your spa experience. Other great scents to try are lemongrass, patchouli or jasmine. Set diffusers or candles in all nooks and crannies in your bathroom, and when it comes time to unwind, the combination of subtle flickering and heavenly scents will set your firmly on your way to relaxation.

Spa Décor
Another way to simulate the spa experience in your bathroom is through the look. Any spa you visit will be impeccably decorated with soothing paintings and pretty accessories, yet there's no reason your bathroom can't be the same. Pick a theme you like, such as Asian, Thai or Moroccan, and go with it, choosing everything from rugs and bath towels to knick knacks and wall decorations to suit. Or if you're not into matching décor, a woven basket filled with prettily decorated towels could make all the difference. Rule of thumb? Decorate your bathroom with any accessories that your eye finds soothing, and you're on your way.

Light Your Way

Other than candles, another great way to create your bathroom-turned-spa without breaking the bank is through alternative lighting. Kick those fluorescent tubes and overhead lighting to the curb; instead, find a nifty paper Chinese lantern to hang in the corner or hang a teardrop-beaded chandelier from the ceiling. The lighting choices are endless.

Yanni It Up
Once you've set the smell and look of your bathroom to fit your spa tastes, the next step is sound. Every sound you'll hear coming from every spa's speaker is most likely from the new age genre, which may sound corny. But let's face it: those otherworldly stringed instruments and subtle drums are soothing. So drop by your local CD store or cruise iTunes for the latest and greatest to be found in the New Age genre. (Enya is a great choice.) That way, once the candles are lighted and that vintage rug you found at the flea market are in place, you'll have the perfect relaxation soundtrack to complement your soothing décor.

Brew Up Some Good Stuff
Now that your bathroom looks like a spa, it's time to get down to some serious spa business. In other words, draw a hot bath, throw in some salts, and soak! Or lie back while testing out a sea mud mask or body butter. Give yourself a facial, exfoliating scrub or body wrap using your favorite products. Or, if you're talented at mixing things up yourself, try a few homemade beauty recipes, such as hair oil made of lavender and rosemary or an invigorating coffee scrub. Check out, or for more recipes and ideas.

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The increasing amount of skin cream choices combined with personal preferences about benefits, texture, smell and price makes it almost impossible to single out a short list of specific product “stars." So, instead of a dictated shopping list, I am going to highlight the current ingredients that, I feel, are the most vital to any anti-aging treatment plan. Search for them, and you will find a virtual fountain of youth.

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, E and Others
These ingredient super-stars work to neutralize free radicals unleashed by the sun’s UVA rays, exposure to environmental stressors or other triggers such as the body’s own on-going oxidative processes. This activity is often referred to as “free radical scavenging.” Antioxidants have proven to be effective at preventing or minimizing tissue alterations that could potentially lead to damage or mutation of cells which, in turn, leads to aging and disease. They are particularly important in repairing photo damage, which is why forward-thinking sunscreen manufacturers are starting to include antioxidants along with the traditional physical and chemical blockers in order to provide what is considered to be the most complete spectrum of protection. Any products that make the claim to slow or prevent the aging and/or repair the existing signs of aging should unquestionably have antioxidants in their formulations.

While the spotlight shifts to different antioxidants, depending on the latest research, the consensus among skin care professionals is that vitamin A, C and E, which have been proven in numerous studies to have anti-oxidative properties, are the key players. Vitamin A, in particular, is essential! Not a month goes by that I don’t receive additional data supporting the role of vitamin A (AKA: retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinoic acid, retinol) as a critical component of skin care.
Some of you may have tried early vitamin A-based formulations whose usage brought with it some major drawbacks including dryness, redness and irritation. Those disadvantages have now been addressed through formulas that use different forms of vitamin A which are milder and build up the skin’s tolerance gradually. Finding the perfect product match with vitamin A can be tricky though, so this is where you may want to enlist the help of a skin care professional.

Other important antioxidants include: beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, selenium, superoxide dysmutase and alpha lipoic (thiotic acid); these too have all been studied extensively and show very positive free-radical-scavenging capabilities. A great deal of interesting research on all of these antioxidants can be found at

When searching for products with these ingredients, your best bet is to look for a formula that contains a cocktail of vitamins A, C and E, which have all been shown to have substantial benefits to the skin. It should also be noted that many of these ingredients, especially vitamin A and C, require very sophisticated formulations in order to deliver their payload of benefits. Much of what was formulated early on, when these ingredients were beginning to be used, was ineffective due to the instability of these agents.

So, if your skin care professional has products with these essential ingredients, ask them about the delivery and/or preservation and stability systems that are employed to guarantee efficacy. If you are simply label-reading, locate these ingredients on the packaging and then look for some additional explanation to support the touted benefits; and if you don’t see it—keep searching.

Exfoliants: AHAs and BHAs

Exfoliants are wonderful ingredients that can improve the skin’s texture, minimize fine lines, improve the penetration of other actives and temporarily even out skin tone. There are basically two types of exfoliants: enzymatic (which includes all alpha and beta hydroxyl acids (AHAs/BHAs) and acidic peels) and mechanical (which includes all abrasive or rolling-type exfoliants).

Enzymatic exfoliants literally digest the material that holds dead skin cells together so that they can be sloughed off the skin, whereas mechanical procedures either buff or roll away those cells. While mechanical exfoliants can feel good to use, better benefits seem to be obtained from enzymatic agents, which are sometimes used to boost mechanical formulas.

When speaking about exfoliants, particularly the enzymatic ones, the phrase “too much of a good thing” can apply. These ingredients have caused a fair amount of controversy within the ranks of skin care professionals who seem to fall into one of two camps: the over-zealous and the over-cautious. The explosion of exfoliating ingredients, specifically AHAs & BHAs, which occurred over the last 20 years, did increase the treatment options available to estheticians and consumers. But the unchecked use of some of these ingredients by both parties produced short-term benefits and some long-term problems.

Recent studies by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board* found that use of AHAs increased sun sensitivity by 13 percent overall, but in some persons by as much as 50 percent. This finding raises serious concerns about photoaging and the increased risk of skin cancer.

With this in mind, it is important to remember that the skin is our front line of defense against the environment and peeling off too much of that not only leaves the skin vulnerable to accelerated sun-damage, but also hampers the ability of the epidermis to bind moisture, which can leave the skin thin, dry and can even lead to hyper-sensitivity. When used properly, however, exfoliating agents play a very important role in skin care programs. So, when using AHAs and/or BHAs, the best policy is to use them with restraint and strive for the removal of only excess cells through a mild resurfacing regimen, and always wear a sunscreen.

Peptides: Matrixyl, Argireline and Dermaxyl

Peptides are one of the newest rock stars on the anti-aging skin care scene and they are stimulating many studies that have produced great results. They are highly respected for their ability to penetrate the skin and activate their target – increasing the production of collagen and elastin. Peptides, due to their small molecular size, have the ability to penetrate the epidermis, or superficial layers of the skin. This is where peptides really go to work, at the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ), where the upper layers of the skin meet the deeper layers, or dermal matrix. Peptides stimulate the healing process and trigger the rebuilding of this dermal matrix by activating, or “turning on,” the fibroblasts. These fibroblast cells are directly responsible for the creation of collagen and elastin, which are the components of our skin that give it the elasticity and firmness of young skin.

There are, however, two slight disadvantages when using peptides. First, their inclusion in a formula tends to result in a pretty pricey product. These are cutting edge ingredients that took years to develop, and because most of them are proprietary, the laboratory that created them can maintain exclusive rights to manufacturing them — a similar scenario to what takes place with pharmaceuticals.

The other downside is that peptides take an average of 90 days to produce their positive effects. But, if you can be patient, they do work. One peptide in particular, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3 (Matrixyl), has been shown to decrease skin roughness by 13 percent, reduce wrinkle volume by 36 percent, and decrease wrinkle depth by 27 percent after four months of twice-daily applications on the face and neck.

Similarly promising results have been cited for another peptide, acetyl hexapeptide-3 (Argireline), which is being used as a topical alternative to Botox. Rather than paralyzing facial muscles, these peptides gently relax facial muscles by interfering with nerve signals. Even though the results are mild in comparison to Botox, products containing these peptides can cause a noticeable difference. Studies indicate a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles in the 16 to 31 percent range as well as prolonged results for those who do receive Botox.

Finally, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide (Dermaxyl) is considered by many as one of the most potent anti-aging ingredients available today. Daily use of products formulated with Dermaxyl produce reparative results similar to vitamin A-based products, such as the prescription product Renova, but with very little irritation.

Just like most people, ingredients often work best in combination. I have even heard them referred to as “synergistic soldiers” accelerating and building momentum as they produce a collective effect on the skin. It should also be said that, any single ingredient may not be the “magic bullet” your skin will respond to, which is why most experts agree that a broad spectrum of reliable and stable formulations of established and trusted ingredients is the best remedy to deliver a more youthful appearance to the skin.


2. Lipotec / An integral peptide treatment for expression wrinkles: Dr. Arturo Puig, Dr. José María García-Antón and Ms. Montserrat Mangues

* The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board, is an independent panel of physicians and other scientists with no financial ties to the cosmetic industry, for the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA), the industry's trade organization in Washington, DC.

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Acne is aggravating at any age, but at a time in their lives when most women would be re-tooling their skin care regimens to address the signs of aging, they are distressed to find that controlling the outbreak of blemishes is their main focus. Adult acne has steadily drawn the attention of the skin care industry over the last decade. This refocusing is a natural response to the demand by the largest and most discerning block of consumers: the baby boomers. It is estimated that 20% of U.S. adults suffer from acne, and 6% carry that problem into their fifties. While younger clients might be somewhat resigned to the woes of acne, clients in the 25-45 year age bracket will tenaciously pursue a solution to this problem until it is resolved to their satisfaction.

What is Acne?

Acne is described as a disease of the pilosebaceous units that can occur at any stage in life. Found over most of the body, pilosebaceous units consist of a sebaceous (oil) gland connected to a hair-containing canal called a follicle. These glands are largest and most numerous on the face, upper back, and chest areas where acne tends to occur. The sebaceous glands manufacture the oily substance called sebum that normally empties onto the skin surface through the opening of the follicle.

At a glance, the pilosebaceous units appear to be part of the dermis or what is sometimes called the true skin, and in a way they are; but only in that they extend down into the dermal region of the tissue. While this is not depicted above, the follicle is actually lined with cells that are classified as part of the epidermis; and that is where the dysfunction begins.

For reasons still not understood by medical researchers, a change occurs to those cells that make up the inner lining of the follicle. This change prevents sebum from flowing through the pore as it normally would. Specifically, there are indications that the cells from the lining of the follicle are shed too fast and remain clumped together. Much like leaves that fall in bunches during a autumn storm and clog up your gutters, this clumped cellular debris plugs up the follicle's opening, thereby disallowing the sebum to reach the surface of the skin.

Another factor in the cycle of acne is the overall increase in sebum production. This abundance of sebum, both inside the follicles and on the surface of the skin, produces an ever-increasing alkalinity, thereby creating a hospitable environment for Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) the normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin. As these bacteria grow in the plugged follicles, they produce chemicals and enzymes that can cause inflammation, the skin’s characteristic reaction to disease or injury which is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain. When the plugged follicle can no longer hold its contents, it ruptures, spilling its contents onto the nearby skin.

This series of imbalances allows a number of different types of lesions to develop, including the following:

  • Papules: inflamed lesions that usually appear as small, pink bumps on the skin and can be tender to the touch.
  • Pustules (pimples): inflamed, pus-filled lesions that can be red at the base.
  • Nodules: large, painful, solid lesions that are lodged deep within the skin.
  • Cysts: deep, inflamed, pus-filled lesions that can cause pain and scarring.

What Causes Acne?

Most research seems to point to hormonal fluctuations as the underlying cause of the series of imbalances that trigger the onset of adult acne. Some researchers now hypothesize that this hormonal disruption is linked to xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are common chemical substances, found in numerous environmental sources, that mimic estrogens when they are assimilated into the body. Another theory, is that the surge of bio-chemicals that contribute to the development of acne, may be associated with the high level of stress that has been documented in women in this age group. According to Dr. Brent Boost, a Texas gynecologist who has studied the phenomenon and written a book on it, some 50 million women between the ages of 25 and 55 are affected by what he has termed: Hurried Woman Syndrome. He points to the hormone cortisol as the trigger for a host of health problems that stem from a decrease in natural immunity and can include: skin problems, thyroid dysfunction, and weight gain.
There is also a growing suspicion among skin care professionals that, in some cases, the stage is set for adult acne in our teens and twenties. Aggressive treatment of the skin during these years may engender an over-active cycle of sebaceous activity that continues into the future as the skin becomes “programmed” to protect and defend itself.

Call a Professional

Those who seek professional help in dealing with persistent bouts of adult onset acne will find a multitude of options both inside and outside of the medical establishment. For milder cases, a homecare program structured by a skilled esthetician may be an alternative to a physician’s prescriptive care or as an adjunct to medical protocols. In either case, the goal is the same: to improve the health, function and appearance of the skin. This is accomplished only when the dysfunctions, as outlined previously, are countered with a treatment program and products that initiate these actions which can serve as your checklist when discussing a treatment program and homecare with a skin care professional:

  • Inhibit the growth of the bacteria P. acnes
  • Normalize the skin’s pH
  • Increase cellular turnover, in order to:
  • Decreases the formation of microcomedones
  • Enhances the penetration of other beneficial actives
  • Increases the rate of healing
  • Refines the surface texture of the skin
  • Regulate sebaceous (oil) production
  • Reduce Inflammation

The Treatment of Adult Acne

Sufferers of adult acne should bear in mind that there are also a few age-specific challenges that are likely to be encountered during the course of treatment. As we age, the skin is much more vulnerable to the damaging effects of improper care than the resilient skin of our youth. The rate of skin cell renewal decreases, and this sluggish cellular turnover translates to a slower improvement in the superficial texture, as well as a slower rate of healing for acne lesions. Additionally, the natural thinning of the skin can not only make cystic lesions more apparent and more likely to produce scarring, but a thinner dermal barrier also becomes less efficient at binding moisture thus, becoming dehydrated.

Since the majority of acne care products contain ingredients that can be drying to the skin, this problem can be amplified exponentially with improper treatments, or treatments formulated specifically for younger skin. This decreased level of hydration in the skin substantially hampers the healing process and, thus, the visible improvement of the skin. So, to the list above I would add: Restore hydration levels. To be clear, we are taking about water not oil. The skin requires both for optimum function, and the presence of water in the skin is critical for both the short-term appearance and comfort of the skin but, also the long-term appearance, because of its role in the skin’s overall health.

A Final Word

Because of the increasing number of cases of adult acne, many new consumer products and pharmaceuticals have risen to the challenge of developing treatments that address the entire spectrum of care that is needed to treat the problem. So, if you think there is nothing new, think again, and contact a skin care professional or dermatologist to find out about the latest solutions and treatments. After all, at your age, you have earned the right to a beautiful complexion.

Caring for Adult Acne

Clean Skin Gently

You may be tempted to try to stop outbreaks and oil production by scrubbing your skin and using strong detergent soaps. However, scrubbing will not improve acne; in fact, it can make the problem worse by increasing the spread of bacteria. Esthetic professionals recommend gently washing the skin with a mild cleanser that does not strip the skin of its natural balance of oil and surface moisture. This protective layer is referred to as the hydro-lipidic (hydro=water/lipdic=oil) film. This invisible barrier plays an important role in providing the skin with a vital layer of protection against dehydration and the proliferation of bacteria.

Wash the face from under the jaw to the hairline, once in the morning and once in the evening. Avoid rough scrubs or pads as they can rupture the pustules on the surface of the skin, leaving traces of bacteria that may contribute to future lesions.

It is important to thoroughly rinse their skin after cleansing and tone with a mildly acidic toner. This will calm any irritation, close the pores and balance the skin’s pH. It is also beneficial to regularly shampoo the hair, as it can also contribute to the accumulation of oil in certain areas.

Avoid Frequent Handling of the Skin

People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their blemishes risk developing scars. Acne lesions can form in areas where pressure is frequently applied to the skin. Frequent rubbing and touching of skin lesions should be avoided.

Avoid Sun Tanning

Exposure to the sun darkens the skin, which can make blemishes less visible, lessen inflammation and make the skin feel drier for a little while. But the benefits are very temporary and can actually damage the specialized cells (called Langerhans) that are responsible for protecting the skin against free radicals, as well as infection. The sun also promotes aging of skin, and causes skin cancer. (Note: Many of the prescription medications used to treat acne can make a person more prone to sunburn.)

Choose Cosmetics Carefully

People being treated for acne often need to change some of the cosmetics they use. Products that are labeled as non-comedogenic (do not promote the formation of congested pores) should be used. Most mineral makeup work well for acneic individuals however, in some people, even these products may need to be avoided until the problem is under control.

Seek Professional Advice

A skin care professional can offer treatments that will deep clean the pores and a home-care program (perhaps the most critical factor in seeking improvement in the skin) that can be altered as the skin regains its normal function. Their knowledge and expertise will take some of the guesswork out of determining what will benefit your particular skin type and will speed the healing process.



From Tracee Cornforth, Your Guide to Women's Health. Reprinted from The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Ladies Home Journal, Ending the Stress Epidemic by Lisa Collier Cool (August , 2003).

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Want your lips to sustain that deeply-brilliant hue of Bordeaux while you sip a full-bodied Beaujolais Nouveau? While the lifespan of a lipstick may not be truly endless, the choices, within the long-wearing category, abound in price, texture and color.

It’s been over ten years since the first brands of this type hit the market: cloaked in innovative packaging, their sleek tubes touted exceptional staying power, seducing us into applying their rosy hues to our lips.

Unfortunately the first “glass proof” lipsticks were downright unsatisfactory. The color did stay for a bit longer than usual, but the products ultimately under-performed in almost every other way.

The truth is that nowadays, any brand with the moxie to market itself as a long-wearing contender for your cosmetics dollar is likely to be decent. The complaints and demands launched by the early brands gave formulators very specific criteria and as the technology evolved—they delivered.

The comparison grid below is not comprehensive, and again, we’re focusing on long-wearing, smudge-proof type products. With limited time and space to rate only a few of them, I zeroed in on the ones that consistently got high marks and very few complaints on beauty blogs and from my very verbal circle of makeup mongering friends. Bear in mind that these products cannot be compared to non-long-wearing lip color. If “providing moisture” is your number one criteria for selecting a lip color, none of the long-wearing formulas are probably for you. But, I think that, within these high-scoring performers, you will be able to find one that is a good fit for your preferences and budget.


One final brand worth mentioning is LipSense. This direct marketing brand boasts up to 16 hours of durability. Heaven help me if I have to look good for that long! This is not a product for a long-wearing first-timer, however, but for those of you competing in a beauty marathon it might be worth a look. I highly recommend the remover with this product unless you want to wear the color for an entire week— maybe that’s a value-added feature. It retails for $20 and comes in 32 shades. You can check it out and find a local distributor at:

If the brand you wanted to know about isn’t on there, forgive me. I only included the brands that I had a huge basis for comparison on in order to get a consensus. If you want to do more of your own research, you should know that a hefty percentage of the comments on beauty blogs is propaganda direct from the marketing office of the manufacturer. So, take it all with a grain of salt and read as much as you can before forming an opinion. A few sites that seem to be pretty good in giving you an unbiased opinion are:, and

There were also quite a few products that got love/hate reviews; five stars from half of the respondents and curses from the other half. Those brands included: Revlon ColorStay and the original Max Factor Lipfinity. The main problems cited seemed to be similar: application problems, dryness and not getting the color that was anticipated.

Some Final Tips for Long Lasting Lip Color:

  • With color issues being a common complaint, if you are a first time purchaser, it may be worth spending the extra money for a department store brand that you can try beforehand.
  • Nearly all of the formulas are quite permanent so do be careful during application, and by all means…use a mirror!
  • With two-step products, less seems to be best in the application of the base color. If you get too much it can be cakey.
  • Some brands (again these are typically the two-step products) recommend up to two minutes to dry before applying the top coat. So, read and follow the instructions.
  • If you don’t want to invest in an entire “wardrobe” of colors, most long-wearing formulas will sustain the durability of any lip color when applied as a base underneath them. Not all formulas are compatible though, so experiment with combinations before you plan on wearing it.
  • High-tech polymers may defy your attempts to remove them with traditional cleansers. Again, depending on the brand, the accompanying remover may be a good investment. Oily substances, such as Vaseline, generally work well too.

Hollywood makeup artist Richard Dean was quoted as saying: “More than 90 percent of women want long-wear lip color but only 25 percent of them currently use it.” There was good reason for our reticence, but maybe now we can actually get what we want.

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Cincy Chic: What are the first things someone should look for when diamond shopping?
Jimi Merk, owner/designer, Shine Your Light by Jimi Designs in Covington:
First and foremost, go to someone that's been recommended, or someone you can find a track record on. Also, for security measures, look for stones that are certified. When you're looking for an engagement ring, look at the diamond; the ring is just its podium.

Of course, you have the traditional "four Cs" with which most people examine and rate diamonds: carat weight, color, clarity and cut. However, in my opinion, quality matters most when you're looking for a stone. I wouldn't do anything less than an SI1. A good range to aim for is between VS1-SI1. As for color, there are colorless stones, which are DES, but you can get "near colorless" stones. I wouldn't go any more than H, for quality reasons. To ensure that the diamond will give off a good fire, shoot for a color in the range of D-H.

In general, make sure you look at a diamond through a loop, and you should see any serious flaws with it. Also, I don't recommend online diamond shopping unless you're a gemologist or you know how to read the scales. Otherwise, you run a high risk of getting a misproportioned diamond because you didn't know what all the numbers on the posted scale meant.

Cincy Chic: Can you dispel any myths about diamonds?
Platinum is not usually the best option. It's a mineral that is three times more expensive, but it dulls out faster. And because it's more expensive, it's more expensive to fix. I tell people to go with white gold. Yes, you might need it dipped in a few years, but that's a lot less expensive than the high costs associated with platinum. White gold is more durable than yellow gold because it has more nickel in it. But it polishes out a lot easier. If you are rock climbing every day, you'll need to get platinum or titanium. Otherwise, white gold is your best option.

Also, with last year's box office hit, "Blood Diamond," there has been a lot of skepticism about the diamond industry and how our diamonds are acquired. I have to tell you, most aren't taken from those types of mines. There are, and always will be dark corners of any industry with high dollar items, but this is a very reputable and trustworthy business.

Cincy Chic: Any trends in the diamond industry we should be up on?
From Europe, I've been seeing more pear shapes coming through. In addition, I've been seeing random cuts being matched together. For example, triangles with ovals and squares. The biggest trend are one-of-a-kind pieces. In the commercial fields too, they're advertising more custom-made pieces.

Cincy Chic: Are there any "tricks of the trade" people should know about diamonds?
If you want the most for your money, I would buy the stone separate. Also, I recommend going to to a broker for diamonds if you want better leverage on pricing. Brokers help out on diamond prices because there's less overhead. You can get a good stone anywhere, but it's the price that will differ. You can save 30-40 percent when going through a broker, in most cases.

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Anytime you attempt a painting project, the texture, current layers of paint, anticipated exposure to moisture or heat will dictate which paint is most appropriate. The same holds true for our complexions; by taking into account the texture, tendencies and the environmental factors we expose our face to, we can make better or more appropriate choices when purchases products to enhance the appearance of our skin.

With more than half a dozen different textures and a myriad of different ingredients to currently choose from, the task of selecting a foundation can be daunting, even for the seasoned cosmetic consumer. While there are textures (such as mousse) or application methods (powder brushing) that may instinctively appeal to you, an examination of your skin should always be your guide in making those choices.

Oily and Acne-Prone Skin

The mineral powder foundations may be the best choice for this skin type. These formulations are typically loose powders generally containing no perfumes, talc, alcohol, dyes, oils or preservative, which makes them one of the hottest current beauty trends.

Their light, breathable textures can minimize the appearance of imperfections and large pores and provide the full spectrum of coverage depending on how thickly they are applied. This allows you to concentrate coverage where you need it and blend into areas where you don’t, resulting in the illusion of near-perfect skin. The mineral complex on which these formulas are built also has natural oil-absorbing properties making it the perfect choice for oily skin. FYI: These are the same ingredients that also make foundations adequate sunscreens.

Sensitive/Reactive Skin

Once again, mineral makeup gets high marks due to the fact that it has very few, if any, ingredients that can penetrate the skin and cause irritation. In fact, many formulas have a soothing effect on the skin. This benefit, along with its excellent coverage, has made mineral makeup the darling of the medspa industry because it effectively conceals the redness that occurs in the aftermath of certain procedures, while minimizing irritation.

Another great choice for delicate skin is aerosol foundations. This new spin on what is essentially a mineral powder in a sprayable solution produces the closest thing to the airbrush technique used by professional makeup artists. Before you shell out $55 to $60 for a 2.5 oz can, bear in mind that spraying on your makeup requires a bit of finesse that may take practice to perfect.

Normal or Combination Skin

Women with normal or combination skin will have a broader range of choices. Liquid foundations with formulas that come in many variations such as: oil-free, waterproof, smudgeproof and longwearing, provide light blendable coverage, but may also require that you spot treat the undereye area and any other imperfections with additional foundation or by applying concealer. In either case, take a tip from the pros: spot-treatment is best accomplished with a brush. A brush allows perfect placement and will assist with blending. For long days, the sustained performance of the long-wearing brands is great, but the ingredients creating this durability have been known to cause slight skin irritation in sensitive wearers.

Other choices for skin needing moderate coverage would include cream-to-powder foundation. Products with this unique texture go on as a liquid, but dry to a powder finish that minimizes oil in the areas where it makes an appearance. These products often have superior staying power as well. When you combine that with the easy application and the fact that you don't have to put on powder for full coverage, cream-to-powder can be the perfect solution for a gal on the go.

Mature Skin

It often costs more than other cosmetics because you're paying for the added air and specialized packaging, but just like butter or cream cheese, you’ll immediately note the speed and ease of application that is gained from the innovative texture. While whipped foundation is good for all skin types, it is especially nice for those with mature skin because of its tendency to go on smoothly and evenly instead of accumulating in the facial lines.

Skin that needs to combat the appearance of lines and wrinkles in order to achieve perfection can benefit from the application of mousse or whipped foundation. This type is easier to apply in thin layers than liquid makeup, so you have more control. Mousse makeup is essentially liquid makeup with air whipped in, making it lighter and smoother. The mousse form comes in a spray or aerosol-type can, like whipped cream, whereas the whipped variety usually comes in a jar.

Dry Skin

If dry skin is your facial foe, opt for a cream-based foundation or a moisture-rich liquid foundation. These types of textures are creamier and will "plump up" skin, reducing the reoccurrence of that dry tight feeling.

Ingredients such as sodium hyaluronate (also referred to as hyaluronic acid), which have been used for years in skin treatments cream and mask to re-hydrate the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines. For a less made-up look, a tinted moisturizer is another good choice for dry to normal skin types. To “set” either a cream based formula or a tinted moisturizer, try a light application of a mineral makeup powder applying it sparingly on top of the foundation. These powders, which are great foundations for oily and combination skin types, tend to make dry skin even dryer when used directly on the skin, but their light formulas work nicely as a powder.

What’s New?

This relatively new addition to the cosmetic shelf sounds just like what it is, and for most busy women, it is a step they can live without. However, for those who were not blessed with flawless skin, but want a truly flawless look, this additional step may be the secret. I was introduced to skin or foundation primers when I worked in New York. Primers literally prime the surface of the skin to produce the smoothest surface possible for makeup and some also provide color correction to cancel out red or sallow (yellow) undertones. So, if the summer heat and humidity has your foundation migrating toward your décolleté or you have found that using foundation alone does not produce the perfectly poreless look you want, a primer could be the solution.

What do I wear?

Well, once you consider skin type and tendencies, the other major factor in selecting foundation is climate. Since my work takes me to every part of the U.S. and sometimes overseas, I will confess that I actually have every type of foundation mentioned above. So, does that mean that we should change our foundation to reflect the season? The answer to that is "probably." In most cases, however, that simply means moving one step up or down on the spectrum; again, my suggestion would be to simply let your skin be the guide.


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We spoke with Tanya Tieman from Tanyas Image and Wellness Salon and she has a few essential steps to share:

  • Begin with a mineral or medium coverage powder, sweep evenly all over face
  • Apply soft blush and/or bronzer on cheeks
  • Sweep a light shade of eye shadow all over lids
  • Apply a medium shade of eye shadow in the crease of the eye
  • Line the top of the eyes along lashline
  • Apply a couple of coats of mascara
  • Lastly, yet still very important, apply lip gloss

If you need to skip a step due to time constraints or personal preference, Tieman recommends skipping applying the medium eye shadow in the crease. This list may seem like it will take longer than five minutes, but believe me, that’s all you need. I timed it out myself!

As an added bonus, here are some helpful tidbits from makeup artist Carmindy’s Web site. If you are not familiar with her by name, she is the makeup artist on TLC’s What Not To Wear, and works with a plethora of magazines; Elle, Cosmopolitan and O, just to name a few.

  • Make sure when applying blush, whether cream or powder, blend well. Avoid harsh lines or splotches. Apply to the apples of your cheek and cheekbones. Cream blush is recommended only for those with smooth skin. A pinkish coral color looks good on almost everyone.
  • Bronzer should be applied to the apples, cheekbones, temples and a little on the forehead, nose and chin. This gives that nice sun-kissed glow.
  • A highlighting eye shadow can be all you need on your eyes. Apply under eyebrows and on tear ducts. This gives you an open and awake look.
  • When lining your eyes, the closer to the lash line, the more natural the look.
  • Mascara on the top lashes is a must.


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Thanks to celebrities like Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Li'l Kim and Tyra Banks, a new string of contemporary wigs – from the popular Florence Human Hair Wig to the Chanel Wig – are moving into the fashionable mainstream.

But Tracy Downey, of Cincinnati, was way ahead of this fashion trend as she started wearing wigs years ago when she was diagnosed with Trichotillomania, a condition that results in hair loss from areas of the body, usually from the scalp. But, Downey says, wigs aren't just associated with illness anymore.

"They're a fun way to change your look, and there are a lot of great wig shops here in town," she says. Ava Maria Rose, an Oxford-based Miami University student, agrees saying that she'd rather throw on a wig than spend time fixing her hair every day.

Most wigs aren't returnable, so make sure you try before you buy. Downey says some places charge $1 for a wig cap to try on wigs, and there is also usually a limit – typically three – of wigs you can try on. "I highly recommend trying them on, because something cute on a wig model may not be cute on you," she says. "Some are really 'wiggy' looking, have a cone head aspect or in my case, a lot of them are just too big for my face and take over!"
Also, if you do have an hair-loss related illness, call to make sure that shop has a privacy area. "I have found that to my surprise many places do not have a private area to try them on, which is difficult when you have Alopecia or cancer," says Downey. "It can be uncomfortable."

Downey provided this list of local shops that carry wigs. "The top one is my favorite place to go because they are usually fashionable and affordable," she says. Wig shops in malls have a nice selection at a reasonable price point, according to Downey. Some of the other shops carry top-quality wigs, but are at a higher price point.






102 W. 7TH ST