The Truth About Organic Skin Care


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!


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.

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.

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.

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?


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 >>

Facial Fundamentals


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. 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


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


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.


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 >>