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Ritual Day Spa’s Bride Guide

HOW TO LOOK YOUR BEST ON YOUR BIG DAY.

If you’re a bride-to-be, chances are you’re using one of those countdown checklists that tell you what to do every month leading up to your wedding. When to buy your dress. When to book the venue. When to find a photographer. But most lists don’t include any schedule on how to get “you” ready for the big day. Until now…

12 MONTHS PRIOR

Get Monthly Facials: Make up artists can cover a lot, but wouldn’t you rather have glowing skin? Getting monthly facials can help correct physical flaws like acne and brown spots so you’ll look your best on your big day.

Change Your Regimen: Your at-home products might be just fine under normal circumstances. But this is your wedding! You need to make sure you’re using the right products to achieve your skin care goals. And there’s no better person to help you chose them than an esthetician.

6 MONTHS PRIOR

Start Shaping Your Brows: Nothing frames your face like great brows. But great brows take time. Since you may need to grow them in or start training them in the right direction, see your esthetician as early as possible.

Get Monthly Back Facials: Most dresses show a little skin. And you don’t want blemishes, pigmentation, or dry patches stealing the show. Back facials can help clear things up so you’ll look flawless from every angle.

3 MONTHS PRIOR

Start Getting Monthly Massages: Planning a wedding is stressful. And extra stress can take its toll on both your body and your skin. Monthly massages can help alleviate the mental pressure and keep Bridezilla at bay.

Start Waxing: No doubt you’ll want to be hair-free and carefree on the big day. But if you’re not a regular waxer, you need start now to ensure your skin gets used to it. Plus, starting to wax a few months prior helps the hairs sync up so you’ll stay smoother longer. Arms, legs, lip, bikini–we do it all!

1 MONTH PRIOR

Book Your Spa Bridal Shower: Who doesn’t love a little pampering? Ritual Day Spa is the perfect venue to host your friends and family for a bridal shower that’s truly unique.

The Truth About Organic Skin Care

“ALL-NATURAL” IS NOT ALL GOOD

The topic of organic skin care is a hot one. The media and marketing have painted a horrific picture of “chemicals,” parabens,” and the “toxic” nature of any product that is not “all-natural.” So I completely understand why people have switched to shopping at Whole Foods for their beauty needs. But I stand steadfast on my personal pulpit. Organic products are not good for your skin, and they don’t deliver results.

Blasphemy, right? Now don’t get me wrong, I love botanical and natural ingredients. But these ingredients must be combined with their synthetic brothers and sisters to actually work.

The Skin Won’t Absorb Natural Ingredients Without Help. Eating blueberries, carrots, and the like is great for the body. But the skin is not so hospitable. If your skin doesn’t recognize an ingredient applied topically, it will reject it in the form of allergenic reactions, acne, irritation, and the breakdown of collagen. In order for the skin to accept and absorb these unknowns, they must be mixed with biogenic ingredients (ingredients found naturally in the body) as well as lab-derived delivery systems designed to penetrate.

Chemicals and Parabens are Not Evil. In fact, they create stability in products that make them safer to use and more effective. You might have heard about some studies that said parabens were endocrine disrupters linked to breast cancer. But did you hear that these studies were later disproven? No, because the media didn’t want to admit that they jumped the gun on creating a panic. Thus cosmetic manufacturers were forced to go paraben-free, not because they were dangerous, but because the truth was swept under the rug.

Organic Products Don’t Deliver Results. It’s true. They’re simply unable to incorporate and use active ingredients such as peptides, retinols, and vitamins to fight aging. And natural ingredients that have beneficial properties like blueberries (antioxidant) or sulfer (anti-inflammatory) just won’t penetrate without the help of cosmetic chemists and lab-derived bonding ingredients. So get the best of both worlds…use products that contain both!

It’s Peel Season!

TIME TO GET TOUGH ON FACIAL FLAWS.

Everybody knows how much I love peels. This versatile form of chemical exfoliation sloughs off dead skin while triggering new cell production. Why is this important? Because almost every facial flaw–from acne to congestion to wrinkles to pigmentation–is rooted in exfoliation. And now that summer is over, it’s the perfect time to start sloughing!

Myth: Peels are Scary! I understand that the concept of a “peel” is a little foreboding. But there are so many wonderful options today that allow you to choose a pace that suits your lifestyle. You don’t have to peel to get results. In most cases, you won’t peel at all. And you definitely won’t look like Samantha from Sex & the City.

Light Peels. These can be added on to a facial or received a la carte. We offer AHA (lactic/glycolic), BHA (salicylic), and pumpkin peel formulations to ensure the perfect fit for your skin type.

Medium-Depth Chemical Peels. These stronger lactic peels from industry-expert PCA Skin are a great choice when you want to get a little more aggressive. We offer both TCA and Jessner formulations that are completely customizable. They take a little at-home prep work, and work best when done in succession, but can dramatically improve your skin with little to no downtime.

As an interesting side note: we get a lot of calls from people asking percentages on our peels. The strength of a peel has more to do with its ph level than the actual percentage. A 10% glycolic, for example, can be a lot stronger than a 30% glycolic if it is formulated with a lower ph. So if you are one of those people shopping for peels on Amazon, be very careful. These ph levels are rarely divulged so you don’t know what you are really getting.

Friendly Fare

Eating Your Way to Better Skin.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Sure…we get it. Eating well and drinking lots of water lead to a healthier body. Not a lot of argument needed. But what some of us don’t realize is how much food affects our skin.

Try These:

Salmon. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fishes like Salmon help combat inflammation that can break down collagen and elastin. They also strengthen the cell membranes, allowing the cells to hold more moisture for a brighter, plumper, and more youthful complexion. Can’t stomach this seafood staple? Try fish oil supplements instead.

Kale. Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that absorb and neutralize the free radicals created by UV rays. It’s also rich in Vitamin K, which helps diffuse dark under-eye circles. Plus, just one cup gives you your entire day’s requirement of skin-firming Vitamins A and C.

Dark Chocolate. This sweet treat is rich in cocoa flavanols, plant compounds that help protect your skin from UV damage, fight free radicals, and increase blood flow. Dark chocolate also helps reduce stress hormones that can lead to collagen breakdown (wrinkles) and excess oil production (acne).

Avoid These:

Dairy. Lactose intolerance isn’t the only side effect of your love affair with dairy. While yogurt, milk, and other items have plenty of health benefits, certain hormones in dairy products may stimulate the overproduction of oil that can lead to clogged pores and pimples.

Sugar. Cake. Cookies. Alcohol. Certain sweets kick-start a process called glycation, whereby sugar molecules bind to protein structures in your skin. This makes them weak and dysfunctional, which shows up on the surface as wrinkles, sagginess, and a loss of radiance.

Gluten. Oh sigh…how I love my bread. But high glycemic-index foods have been linked to both acne and wrinkles. First, they cause a spike in blood sugar, which triggers the hormones that stimulate oil production and breakouts. Second, just like sugar, they trigger collagen breakdown through the glycation process discussed above.

Check Out More Face-Friendly Foods >>

Summer’s Over…Why Wax?

On goes the debate over hair removal. Should I wax? Should I shave? What about laser? Can I get away without hair-tending in the winter? Should I tell my friend that Movember is just for men? Well, as expected, estheticians are cheerleaders for waxing year round. And here’s why:

1. Waxing lasts longer than shaving.
Clearly it makes sense that if you remove the hair from the root, it takes longer to grow back. 21 days longer, to be exact. And if you wax consistently, your three hair cycles sync up so you’ll get even more time before those hairs show their heads.

2. Waxing makes hair thinner.
If you shave every day, the constant stimulation of the hair follicle triggers a “healing” reaction where the body floods the follicle with nutrients designed to make the hair stronger. Waxing is done much less often, therefore less stimulation. Over time, yanking out the hair also retards the follicle so hair becomes thinner and may even stop growing entirely. Doesn’t that sound nice?

3. Waxing leads to fewer ingrowns and irritation.
We’ve all dealt with razor burn and ingrown hairs caused by frequent shaving. Waxing can definitely help reduce this since there’s no constant scraping of the skin.

4. Laser overpromises.
Of course there are people who are satisfied with their results, but I have a lot of waxing clients who have tried it and are still showing up on my table. That kind of says it all. Since laser is attracted to pigment, you need really dark hair and really light skin. And it takes a lot more sessions than they say. And after all those sessions, often the hair is not completely gone! I know waxing isn’t permanent either, but at least it’s a lot less expensive.

Check Out Our Waxing Services >>

Seeing Spots?

Take a stand against pigmentation

Uneven skin tone is probably the most hated facial flaw amongst women today. And it’s also one of the most difficult to treat. Even if you have success in lightening those stubborn spots, one week in the sun can often bring them back. So what’s a gal to do? The first step is to understand how melanin works, and accepting that if you choose to fight it, it’s a battle that lasts a lifetime. Sigh.

Hyperpigmentation and Sun Damage
Inside our skin we have pigment cells called melanocytes that determine the color of our skin. They also serve as protectors, manufacturing melanin whenever our skin experiences some sort of “injury.” And just like with a tan, the melanin slowly fades away once the injury has healed. But if the skin is injured repeatedly by sunburns, sun exposure, or recurring acne lesions, the melanocytes go into a sort of permanent overproduction that never stops. Some spots can take up to 20 years to develop, and the darker your skin tone, the more melanocytes you have, thus the more prone you are to pigmenting.

Melasma
Often mistaken for sun damage, Melasma is a form of hormonally induced pigmentation that can occur any time hormones change. Pregnancy, lactation, contraceptive use, perimenopause, and menopause can all trigger the body to produce more melanin, resulting in large, dark patches that look like symmetrical stains on the skin. And while the sun doesn’t cause Melasma, it can definitely bring it out.

Treatments
Once pigment becomes permanent, meaning the Melanocytes have entered the state of ongoing overproduction, fighting it becomes multifaceted. First, you have to exfoliate the skin to bring the damaged (discolored) cells to the surface. Microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and exfoliants like Retinol are my favorite methods. But just like a penny at the bottom of a pool, as the cells rise up, they often look darker and more distinct before they fade away.

Next, you need to break up and lighten the melanin clusters in order to reduce their appearance. Vitamin C, Arbutin, and Licorice Root all do a good job in this department. Finally, you need to suppress new melanin production with ingredients like Hydraquinone, Kojic Acid, or Niacinamide.

With these simple steps, and a little patience, you can achieve some dramatic results. Just remember to stay out of the sun!

Hello, Hindsight?

SKIN CARE ADVICE FOR MY YOUNGER SELF.

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing receptionists. And when I asked these 20-somethings if they ever get facials, I was shocked when most of them said, “not really.” I couldn’t believe that taking care of their skin wasn’t a priority. And then I thought, “I was no different at their age.” Which made me ask…if we could go back and advise our younger selves about skin care, what would we say?

Julie: “Wear SPF 30 every day.”
Can I get a hallelujah? Now I will admit, if I’m going to be inside all day, I don’t wear sunscreen. But any time spent outside can trigger melanin production, break down collagen, and cause “sun damage.” What does that look like? Wrinkles, brown spots, and skin cancer, baby! And you’ll spend thousands of dollars trying to get rid of them down the road.

Erin & Colleen: “Cleanse your skin every day, especially before bed.”
Totally agree! So many young people tell me that they don’t wash their face before bed. But going to bed wearing makeup, oil, pollution, and the dirt from the day, and then rubbing in your face in your pillow all night, is just a recipe for clogged pores and irritation.

Judy: “Don’t smoke!”
It’s true. Smoking asphyxiates the skin which leads to clogged pores, dehydration, and collagen breakdown. And those vertical lines around your lips? Totally caused by puffing and puckering.

Amal & Kimia: “Go easy on the makeup / don’t wear MAC.”
Sorry girls (and MAC), but they’re right. I know heavier brands like MAC give good coverage and have amazing hues, but it really is the most comedogenic (clogging) makeup out there.

Kelley: “Get regular facials.”
I know they seem like a luxury in your teens and 20s, but facials really do make a difference. It’s all about skin wellness and prevention. Just like going to a doctor you need to see an esthetician to help keep your skin healthy. If you can’t afford it, ask for a facial for your birthday, Christmas, anniversary, etc. At the very least, get some good products to use at home.

Suzanne: “Don’t use drug store products.”
It’s true. Products sold to the masses are not designed for “you.” They’re either “inert” so as not to fry everyone’s face, or they have a lot of alcohol and cheap ingredients. I know they appear more affordable, but you’re paying a different price in the end. You can get amazing products from your local spa for just a little bit more, and they are so much better.

Adrienne, Sandy, & Nancy: “Hydrate / moisturize early in life.”
So many young people don’t use moisturizer because they are afraid of breaking out, or because their skin is “fine.” But hydration is essential to keeping your skin healthy and functioning properly.

Kristin: “Start using Eye Cream before you think you need it.”
Oh crow’s feet…how you taunt me every time I look in the mirror! Using eye cream in your 20s helps keep fine lines from forming in the first place.

Bruno: “Take high quality fish oil and Alpha Lipoic acid”
Good advice! Both supplements are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, which helps repair cell damage. And Fish Oil increases oil production to hydrate your skin from within.

Serious Serums

Tiny bottles. Big price tags. Are they worth it?

I used to think serums were stupid. It’s true! Blasphemy, right? An esthetician who doesn’t sell serums? I’ve always believed in simplicity when it comes to skin care regimens. Use only the number of products you need to keep your skin healthy. Then a funny thing happened…I turned 40. And all of a sudden, my needs changed. My simple regimen was no longer enough to fend off wrinkles and sun damage. I needed more.

That was 6 years ago, and now I covet my serums like Gollum and his “precious.” I only wish I’d started using them in my 20s and 30s so I could have prevented these flaws from forming in the first place.

What is a serum? Lightweight and chock-full of potent, active ingredients, serums are designed with small molecules to penetrate faster and deeper. They “feed” the skin with concentrated vitamins and antioxidants that trigger cell renewal.

How do they fit into my regimen? Serums can be used day, night, or both depending on their ingredients and their purpose, and should be layered underneath your moisturizer and SPF.

Which serums should I use? That depends on what you’d like to improve or prevent. Fine lines? Look for serums containing Vitamin A (retinol), peptides, or CoQ10. Pigmentation? Vitamin C, Kojic Acid, and Hydroquinone are your best choices. Acne? Try salicylic acid, glycolic, or benzoyl peroxide serums. And don’t use an “all-in-one, do everything” serum. Too many ingredients start to dilute each other’s efficacy. And they’re usually more expensive, anyway. You’re better off getting two serums and using one in the morning and one at bedtime.

Why are they so spendy? Since serums are formulated with higher concentrations of active ingredients, they often come with a higher price tag. But you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars. We’ve got some amazing budget-friendly choices that work wonders!

Learn More >>

Pregnancy and the Skin

Not everyone gets the “glow!”

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how pregnancy affects your skin. The baby news may be joyful, but the problems that follow are anything but.

Acne. If you don’t have acne-prone skin, then you probably won’t break out during your pregnancy. If you do, then it often depends on where your normal hormone levels lie. Thus, if you tend to be a little heavier on the androgen side, then being pregnant with a girl can reduce breakouts. On the other hand, being pregnant with a boy can lead to excess oil production and make your breakouts worse. But don’t despair! There are plenty of baby-safe treatments to try:

Yes: Low-dose Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Sulfur Masks, Microdermabrasion, High Frequency
No: Accutane, Tetracycline, Retinols, Salicylic Acid

Pigmentation. During pregnancy, many moms-to-be see an increase in pigmentation called Melasma or Chloasma. Caused by a rapid increase in melanin production triggered by rising estrogen levels, these patchy brown spots are usually temporary and can be treated safely with a number of different ingredients:

Yes: Azelaic Acid, Vitamin C, Kojic Acid, Arbutin
No: Hydroquinone, Retinol, Sun Exposure

Eczema/Dermatitis. Pregnancy hormones and increased blood flow will often make your skin more sensitive. If you start to see dry patches or flare ups, try one of these anti-inflammatory treatments:

Yes: Chamomile, Calendula, Coal Tar, Antihistamines, Oatmeal
No: Cyclosporine, Protopic, Elidel, Alcohol, Harsh Detergents

Of course, check with your doctor if any concerns arise.

To Peel or Not to Peel, That is the Question

(OR QUITE POSSIBLY THE ANSWER)

When I ask people to tell me about their skin care regimens, the one step most often missing is exfoliation. Everybody understands the importance of cleansing, moisturizing, and sunscreening…but exfoliating? Why bother? Well, exfoliation is probably the most important thing that you can do to keep your skin healthy.

Teens. When hormones start ramping up, both oil and cell turnover go into overdrive. And it takes time for the skin to figure out what the heck to do with it all. The result is a face full of oil trapped under layers and layers of dead skin cells, A.K.A a fun-fest of bumps, blackheads, and pimples. Exfoliation helps keep dead skin from building up so pores remain open, oil flows freely, and no bacteria can grow.

20s-30s. College, jobs, kids…the 20s and 30s truly define the term, “stress.” And with stress comes hormonal fluctuations that create an unbalanced ecosystem of oil production alongside dehydration. Additionally, our busy lives often lead to a lack of self-preservation. Exfoliation can help our products penetrate better in order to protect healthy cells from environmental damage.

40s-50s. As our skin ages, cell turnover slows way down. What used to take 21 days now takes 35 days or more. Meanwhile, time has left lots of dead, damaged skin cells sitting around making pores look larger, sun spots darker, and fine lines less “fine.” Just like a snake, we need to shed that outer layer to reveal the beautiful skin beneath. Exfoliation triggers the underlying tissues to produce new, healthy cells so that old, damaged cells will take a hike.

What are my exfo options?
From at-home scrubs and enzymes to in-spa peels and microdermabrasion, there are many options to choose from. All options come in different formulations and intensities, so let your esthetician pick the best one for you. It just might be the answer you’re looking for.