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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 exfoliation 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.

Facial Fundamentals

PART II: WHY? WHEN? HOW?

If you missed Part I of this blog where I explain what facials entail, check it out here >>

Why should I get regular facials? Two reasons: Skin Health and Mental Health. In simple terms, getting regular facials helps keep you looking and feeling good. Your skin changes constantly, and it helps to have an expert identify what it needs right now. Estheticians use professional strength products to perform treatments that you just can’t do yourself. And let’s face it, no matter how good our intentions may be, we fall off the wagon at home anyway.

Additionally, the value of taking time out to relax and let someone else take care of your needs for an hour is immeasurable. Kids, spouses, work, laundry…the demands of life take their toll. And you need some recharge time to ensure that you don’t have a Mel Gibson meltdown moment, or end up hiding in a closet rocking back and forth.

When should I get a facial? As often as your schedule and budget will allow! Seriously, we all get busy with work, kids, and social obligations. But facials only take an hour. I waste an hour every day dinging around on Facebook or watching re-runs of Big Bang Theory. And the price of a facial is the same as one nice dinner for two. Surely keeping your skin healthy is worth that? Getting a facial once a month is ideal. At a minimum, come once a season to see what your skin needs and what you should be doing at home.

How do facials help at my age? In your 20s, it’s all about starting good habits that minimize bad ones…like drinking, staying out late, eating poorly, and stressing out over college. Oh the memories! Regular facials can help unclog pores, minimize breakouts, and counteract sun exposure that leads to damage down the road.

In your 30s, hormones and job stress run rampant causing adult acne and dehydration. Additionally, fine lines start to appear. Regular facials help re-texturize, nourish, and maintain muscle tone to help prevent pimples and fine lines from forming.

Your 40s and 50s require more: more exfoliation, more active ingredients, more hydration. Cell turnover starts to slow way down, and the elastin fibers that give your skin volume flatten out. Plus, the effects of aging, life-long sun damage, and menopause manifest in pigmentation, crow’s feet, dehydration, and new unexplainable growths. Fun times! Regular facials including peels and microdermabrasion can deliver advanced exfoliation to help correct these facial flaws while encouraging collagen production.

Your 60s and 70s can be a bit of a blessing because you just can’t see what’s going on anymore. But that is exactly why you need someone looking out for you to pick that giant blackhead or tweeze that long chin hair. Collagen and elastin continue to break down, forming deeper wrinkles. Regular facials help improve circulation while stimulating new cell growth for thinning skin.

Check out our facial menu >>

Facial Fundamentals

PART I: WHAT IS A FACIAL, ANYWAY?

People often ask me, “why should I get facials?” And every single, this question takes me by surprise. To me, it’s like asking, “why should I brush my teeth?” or “take a shower?” or “pay my taxes?” or “watch Game of Thrones?” It’s obvious, isn’t it? But if you’re not an esthetician, maybe it isn’t. I realized that, to a lot of people, facials are a luxury. An expense. A special occasion. So I decided to write this two-part blog to explain how facials are not an indulgence, but a necessity.

What is a facial? When questioned by her 5-year old daughter, one of my clients replied, “mommy is going to get her face washed.” This made me chuckle, and also admit that if you’ve never had a facial, you may not really know what they entail. All facials are unique, but there are some fundamental steps:

Cleansing. Yes, we wash your face. But usually with more excitement than you do. Especially after a long day of work, kids, and stress. This stimulating cleanse removes make up, pollution, and daily build-up while increasing blood flow to feed the skin.

Exfoliation. Next we apply either a scrub or an enzyme to help loosen dead skin cells and stimulate new cell production. Producing new cells helps heal almost any skin imperfection from acne to wrinkles to sun damage. Sometimes we use steam. Sometimes we don’t.

Extractions. To pick or not to pick, that is the question. Dermatologists everywhere have put the fear of God in us by preaching that picking leads to scarring. Well this is not entirely true. If you leave the pores clogged, then they can become distended and enlarged. Additionally, if a pimple lingers too long it’s going to pigment anyway since the body produces melanin as a response to inflammation. But there is a right way and a wrong way to pick, and estheticians know the right way. We also have a wonderful tool called High Frequency that helps sanitize the skin and reduce redness.

Masking. Applying a mask at this stage of the facial can really help address skin health. Your skin’s needs change all the time. Sometimes you’re broken out. Sometimes you’re dehydrated. Sometimes you’ve had too much sun. We pick just the right mask for your needs, and apply it when your skin is prepped for maximum absorption.

Massage. All facials address skin health, obviously. But to us, mental health is also a very important part of the facial experience. It’s your time to relax and recharge. So we incorporate a scalp, shoulder, and hand massage into every treatment. This also helps you forgive us for all of those extractions.

Infusion & Hydration. The skin is the body’s largest organ. And it needs nourishment. Facials incorporate vitamin-rich serums, ampoules, and moisturizers that feed the cells so that they can fight free radicals, combat the signs of aging, and repair environmental damage.

Education. Probably the most important part of every facial is ensuring that your home care matches your skin’s needs. Estheticians can only affect so much in the treatment room. What you do at home extends the facial service and continues to improve your skin’s health. Maybe your products are working fabulously, but maybe they’re not. Maybe your skin’s needs have changed. Facials give you a chance to ask questions and get advice.

Watch for Part II (coming soon) when I explain why you should get facials, when you need them, and how they help at every age.

The Power of Peptides

A SPRINKLE A DAY KEEPS THE WRINKLES AWAY?

When it comes to anti-aging, a lot of ingredients come to mind. Retinols, Vitamin C, CoQ10, Glycolic Acid. But there’s another group of free-radical fighters that really packs a punch! These are, of course, Peptides.

What are they? Peptides are chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein in the skin. They send signals to our cells that tell them how to function. One important protein is collagen, which gives our skin its thickness and suppleness.

Why do I need them? When collagen breaks down in the skin (from age and environmental factors like the sun and stress), wrinkles form. Peptides applied topically to the skin send signals that trigger the formation of new collagen, which plumps the underlying tissues. Voila! Fewer wrinkles. Additionally, Peptides have been shown to reduce pigmentation by suppressing the creation of melanin. Bye bye brown spots!

Where can I get them? Once you start looking more closely at Peptides, it gets a little confusing. Matrixyl, Copper Peptides, Oligopeptides, Pentapeptides. Yikes! Ask your esthetician which products are best for you. And kick start it all with our Line-Refining Peptide Facial.

Microdermabrasion

What is is and is it right for me?

Microdermabrasion is a wonderful way to treat skin conditions like acne, fine lines, dark spots, large pores, and scarring with almost zero downtime.

What is it? Microderm is a method of advanced exfoliation that uses crystals and high-pressure air to exfoliate dead skin off the surface of the face.

Why is it better than what I am doing now? Exfoliation is the key to correcting skin issues. And turning over your skin cells faster encourages new cells to grow faster and correct problems faster. Even if you are getting regular facials/peels and practicing good skin care at home, nothing exfoliates as efficiently and effectively as microderm. It will also help your at-home products penetrate better.

How will my skin look afterwards? You may look a little pink after your session, but will typically return to normal within an hour. More sensitive people get a little bumpiness and remain pink until the next day.

What is the prep/post care? You will need to refrain from sun exposure and using retinols, glycolics, or other anti-aging/acne treatments 1 week before and after treatment. For best results, we recommend multiple treatments spaced 7-10 days apart.

Why Ritual Day Spa? It’s all about the machine. Unlike other units that utilize large crystals and low pressure, our brand-new, state-of-the-art machine uses small crystals and high pressure. This allows for a faster, more comfortable experience with less “aftermath” like redness and irritation. We can get better results in just one pass; no need for cross-hatching that can irritate the skin. It also allows us to treat areas that other machines can’t like the upper lip and eyelids! Unlike other systems, ours also includes an oxygen infusion which calms the skin and restores lost vitamins and minerals.

What about the newer diamond tip technology? Don’t be fooled by the fact that something is “new.” Diamond tip systems don’t allow for as much control as crystal systems do. Most of the time you end up with too much or not enough abrasion. We chose a crystal-based machine to allow for the maximum versatility to treat all skin types safely and effectively.

How much does it cost? Check out our pricing here >>

Horrible Hormones

If you can’t beat ’em, treat ’em!

Hormones play a huge part in our skin’s health and appearance. They are essential in regulating all activities of the body including growth, reproduction, mood control, digestion, metabolism, and skin function. It’s only when they fluctuate that they wreak havoc on our faces.

Hormonally Induced Pigmentation. Commonly referred to as “pregnancy mask,” Melasma can occur any time hormones change. Lactation, contraceptive use, perimenopause, and menopause can all trigger the body to produce more melanin, resulting in large, dark patches that look like stains on the skin. And while the sun doesn’t cause Melasma, it can definitely make it come out.

Hormonally Induced Acne. Hormone fluctuations, especially during puberty, menstruation, and perimenopause, can create an environment where acne flourishes. These fluctuations trigger an increase in oil production that causes the pores to clog up under the surface. Stress can also be a factor. While it doesn’t cause acne, it can definitely make it worse by increasing cortisol levels that lead to additional oil production and inflammation.

What Can You Do? Hormonal effects are best treated with a combination of in-spa services like corrective peels, microderm, and facials combined with at-home products such as lightening serums and acne gels. Talk to your esthetician to see which treatments would work best for you.

‘Tis the Season of Dehydration

LEAVE THE RED NOSE TO RUDOLPH THIS HOLIDAY!

This time of year I hear the same complaint over and over, “my skin’s so dry!” Fine lines, flakiness, redness, roughness, itchiness, tightness, unusual breakouts…such are the woes of winter skin. But given the season, it’s possible that dehydration, not dryness, is the real culprit.

Dry or dehydrated–what’s the difference? Dry skin is defined as a lack of oil production. It is your genetic “skin type,” and probably something you’ve dealt with your whole life. It can definitely be made worse, or better, by your products, the season, and your lifestyle. Dehydration is defined as a lack of water or moisture in the skin. Even oily skin can experience dehydration. It is a “skin condition,” thus much easier to control.

What causes dehydration? Living in California, specifically during the winter, is especially hard on the skin due to the low humidity. And we all admit that when the temperature drops below 60 we start blasting our heaters, which evaporates water from the skin. Additionally, lifestyle changes such as holiday stress, hot showers, cold medications, winter sports, and increased party-going make matters worse.

What can I do? The key to treating dehydrated skin lies in retaining moisture. You need to re-hydrate the cells, from the inside and from the outside, while preventing water evaporation. Use moisturizers and serums rich in hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalene, and plant lipds, and don’t forget to keep exfoliating or your products won’t penetrate. And drink plenty of water. Sleeping with a humidifier can also help tremendously.

Learn More >>

Aging & Antioxidants

What’s our beef with free radicals anyway?

You’ve probably been told that staving off the signs of aging requires using antioxidants to fight free radicals in our skin. And you probably nodded agreeably even though you were thinking, “what the heck is this person talking about?” “What’s a free radical?” “What’s an antioxidant?” “And why do I need a $75 serum?” Well for all of us afraid to ask for fear of looking stupid, here you go….

What’s a free radical? Basically, free radicals are atoms that have lost an electron and have gone rogue. They live to become whole again. They need that electron back. So they go around and steal one from a happy, whole atom, hence turning that atom into a free radical, too. But alas, the stolen electron eventually gets rejected and the original thieving atom turns back into a free radical. And so the process continues exponentially.

What causes free radicals and why do I care? Smoking, drinking, sun damage, stress, pollution, and aging in general all cause electrons to die through oxidation. Clearly, a lot of these factors can’t be prevented. Once an atom loses an electron and no longer functions properly, it can lead to tissue damage that appears in the physical form of wrinkles and sunspots. Who wants that?

What’s an antioxidant? Antioxidants are electron-filled ingredients like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Retinol (Vitamin A), Peptides, and CoQ10 that are capable of counteracting the damage free radicals cause. They do this by donating compatible electrons to the defective atoms, allowing them to become whole and function like proper cells again. In addition to preventing future damage, antioxidants also help the body repair itself by encouraging cell and tissue growth. Sign me up, please!