An Inside Look At Product Effectiveness

When shopping for skin care and makeup it is really easy to get overwhelmed and just grab something from a drug store that will somewhat get the job done, or at least end the torture. So many people ask me what makes a professional line so different from drug store or beauty counter lines.

#1- Professional

#2- Beauty Counter: like Lancome, Clinique, Estee Lauder etc

#3- Drug Store: anything you can buy from Walmart, Walgreens, etc

If you have ever switched from drug store to beauty counter or up to professional I am sure you noticed a difference, even in the feeling of the products, Professional products are going to be smoother and are definately going to yield better results, and a lot faster. So, when you see the price difference don’t immediately freak out. You may be paying more but you are actually going to see results.

Another thing that sets pro lines aside from the Jo Schmoes is the delivery systems. The skin is a rather impermeable organ. It is a protective organ so it’s literally its job to block stuff from penetrating. When you use a pro line you are using a product that has been through so many testing stages, you are sure to have the proper delivery system for your ingredients. Your product can have a decent percentage of an ingredient, but that isn’t always enough! It needs to be formulated well, all around!

Some lines get away with saying things like- “lactic acid is good for reducing hyperpigmentation, sun damage and acne scarring.” See, in reality when you look at the percentage of lactic acid in a drugstore line, its generally so small that it really isn’t going to do a whole helluva lot for your skin, if anything at all. But because it is an ingredient they can claim its benefits. Lines generally list their ingredients in order of the percentage in the product. Unfortunately, anything 1% and under can be listed however they want. So, if you only have 0.1% of something it will be listed in the same clump as the 1%. Obviously, 0.1% of something isn’t going to do much for you! Labels aren’t as regulated as you would think, which is another reason why having a pro help you along the way is a good idea.

Quick Comparisons

Pro- Small batch, and sometimes hand poured. This ensures consistency and freshness, which in turn helps its efficacy. Quality over quantity!

The Other Guys- Large batches made for the masses that are loaded with a bunch of preservatives and fillers.

Pro- Higher percentages of active ingredients.

The Other Guys- Ingredient lists can be deceptive due to how they’re regulated, the ACTIVE ingredient percentage may be too low to yield results.

Pro- No added synthetic fragrances. Fragrances can be super irritating, even for people who don’t have sensitive skin, and can exacerbate acne.

The Other Guys- Use synthetic fragrances to make their products more appealing to consumers.

Pro- Multiple products to choose from instead of using one collection for every skin type.

The Other Guys- Tend to lean towards a one size fits all approach to products.

Pro- Actually heals and balances the skin by way of active ingredients that don’t just mask issues (no pun intended).

The Other Guys- Generally wont give you a huge change in your skin. A great example is how many of these lines will use ingredients that just absorb excess oil instead of balance the skin’s sebum (oil) production to a healthy level.

There are so many other things that separate the pros from the other guys, but this will give you an idea of why you are paying more for a pro line vs a cosmetic counter, or worse, drug store level stuff.

Now lets talk about DIY vs Spa Treatments

Think about something as simple as a milk bath. Milk contains an alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid. In the right percentages, lactic acid can help loosen the bond between dead, dry skin and the healthy skin underneath. Cleopatra and Elizabeth I are both mentioned in many references to milk baths. Now, consider the milk they had back then, unprocessed, fresh milk. The fat content would have been higher, it wouldn’t have been watered down, and I’m sure even today’s whole milk has nothing on fresh milk. They also weren’t pouring a couple cups into their bathtub, they were filling that baby up with nothing but milk. I’m not saying adding some organic milk to your bath is going to hurt ya, but it may not work as well as you are hoping. If all it took was a bot of milk on your skin to get all the benefits of lactic acid, people wouldn’t pay for lactic acid chemical peels.

I’ll admit, I like adding certain things to my bath, even knowing I’m not getting the benefits some pins may like me to believe I am. Pretty baths make me feel good, so it is still considered a win in my book. I’ll add flowers, herbs and crystals to my baths and love every minute of it. Pretty things are great, right? Herbs definitely have benefits, and a lot of flowers have benefits as well, and we know crystals do. But, when I am formulating a bath tea I make sure there’s enough of each ingredient in my formula to really make a difference.

My point is, before you consider investing your time and money into trial and error with DIY masks, really think about the science behind it, and be rational. We all know a cup of  2% milk in a big ole bath probably isn’t going to be as productive as an entire tub filled with whole milk. The fats in milk play a big part in this, so go for whole milk if you’re going to do this, and consider adding some other things like essential oils, herbs, clays, salts etc that will also help target your concerns. This is synergy and delivery, like I mentioned before.

We are at a time where we think we can DIY just about anything, and its true! With social platforms like Pinterest it makes it really easy to find step-by-step tutorials on just about anything. Enter with caution and excitement! I am a huge fan of organic honey masks, but baking soda and lemon juice is never a good idea. Be ingredient conscious when you are choosing your DIY mask. If one of the ingredients is something as peculiar as Elmer’s Glue, move on.

First thing you want to do before you do anything with your skin care products and routine is to be sure about your skin type. A lot of DIY masks are going to be beneficial for most skin types and concerns, and since you probably wont be making a large batch of these, you’re probably okay to try whichever ones you want. But, if you are getting serious about this, you will want to be sure you choose ingredients that are going to have the most benefits for you.

If you have a daughter or niece, or mom or grams, get them in on the fun! A girly night with your bestie or sister mixing up some masks and margaritas sounds like a good time to me! Any takers? The best part about DIY masks is the experience, have fun with it! Margaritas with guacamole and a nice honey avocado mask sounds beneficial and delicious. Avocados have a ton of skin and hair benefits, and margaritas are a sure fire way to relax. Again, I will call it a win!

As an herbalist I love mixing up different self-care products for my apothecary business. Sometimes it isn’t just about maximizing the benefits. Things can be relaxing and pretty, and make you feel better all the same. But, maybe there’s a better way for your face.

If you can do all this stuff at home, why would you spend the money to go to the spa? 

We all know how daunting it can be to try to build the best arsenal and routine. Having a professional on your side is never a bad thing. Not only are we happy to talk to you about products, give you your true skin type, and suggest the best treatment plan for you, but the best of us are more than willing to help you through the entire process. I am always happy to give quick advice to my clients (even those who don’t come in really frequently) over a text or on Facebook. I have their back! If you don’t have a trusted esty, Im your gal! I do online consults and I am happy to schedule you for an analysis in the spa or over email, FB, text or whatever is most comfortable for you!

Spa visits aren’t always in the budget, and I get that. Even those of us who keep their prices reasonable and try to do discounts and specials, know that we are a often a luxury, an indulgence. Spa trips aren’t necessities to everyone. For those who suffer severe skin issues, appointments can feel more like a necessity than a luxury, but even then its an expense that isn’t always in the budget.

Why spend the money in the spa?

Estys tend to know all the right questions to ask when you are going through skin issues. Say you are having some dry skin issues. Your routine has stayed the same so what is happening?! I have a list of like five basic questions and then even more detailed questions to figure out what the problem is. Sometimes its as simple as a weather change. The change in season (or bipolar weather) can trigger major skin disfunction. If you aren’t a frequent spa goer, consider scheduling when the season is about to change. It can make your skin go haywire and seeing or consulting your favorite esty before the havoc ensues can be a huge lifesaver.

Seeing a professional also takes some of the responsibility and stress off of you. Instead of killing yourself over which products you really need, let a pro help you navigate this! A good esty will give you a few different options with different budgets in mind. I like to give my clients at least three different options, a basic collection, one with a mask, and one with the appropriate boosters. If someone is trying to convince you to go over your budget, or is being too pushy, you may want to rethink your skin pro. You should never feel pressured! It is our job to make our clients comfortable, regardless of their budget. Some of my clients choose a facial over investing in the products I offer, and that’s ok! Some of my clients are the exact opposite. While I think your best bet is to get facials every four to six weeks (or more or less frequently) and to use the line I like, at home, I understand that some people simply like what they currently use, and that’s fine! Every esty should understand this, the good ones do. If I know that my client is using bad products at home, I let them know why I think what I do of the products and leave it at that.

We can’t forget those amazingly beneficial and relaxing treatments, can we? Not only do you feel pampered but your skin is much better for it! I specialize in Dermafiles and for good reason! All my clients love them, they’re non-invasive and extremely beneficial for all skin types and concerns. When booking a pro treatment don’t just consider the pampering benefit. Spend your money wisely and go for the result oriented treatment. You are going to feel pampered just because you took time for yourself and seriously, just laying on the bed makes me feel like a million bucks. If you suffer from acne, go for the acne treatment. The esty will generally do a really good cleanse, exfoliation, extractions and appropriate mask. If you have dry or aging skin, go for a good exfoliation and moisture mask or good booster application. If you have normal skin look for a deep cleanse or good exfoliation (everyone benefits from good exfoliation). If you have oily skin you need to look into a balancing treatment or maybe a light chemical peel.

To summarize, you are definitely better off to have someone you can trust to help you along the way. I think deep down we all know that there’s a better way to skin care than the drugstore brands.  If you haven’t seen it in your skin care, chances are you have seen it in your makeup, it’s the same concept. For instance, some makeup lines have 50% pigmentation (very few actually, but LimeLife by Alcone is one of them). You’ll be hard pressed to even find one as high as 23% because a lot of lines can fall as low as 18%! If you knew you were only getting 18% pigment, would you buy it? Wouldn’t it be easier to spend a little more for 50% pigmentation? Higher pigment content means you are going to use a while lot less of the foundation so it is absolutely going to outlast the pan of foundation that has HALF the pigment percentage. How about the eyeshadows that use cheap dyes? Eyeshadow that has a true pigment is going to be brighter and again, last you a lot longer. There is nothing worse than buying an eyeshadow that looks so pretty in the pan and putting it on to have it be ten shades lighter than you thought, or worse, not even close to the same color. Some companies still use mineral and lanolin oil- gross, and petroleum (insert major eye roll). Petroleum is a tricky bastard and makes you think and feel moisturized but it doesn’t penetrate or actually moisturize. Your makeup ingredients are just as important as your skin care product ingredients. You only get one face, it is absolutely worth the investment.



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