How do I Choose products?

As an esthetician I can use and retail whatever product I want and I have a lot to choose from!

Friends and clients have often said “you should make your own products”! Well, it is not as easy as people think. In order to create a product, that is going to actually have an effect on the skin other than simply moisturizing, a chemist’s and a chemical engineer’s knowledge is needed.

I do not have the funds to hire them!

The Beginning:

In order to tell you about how I have made my choices over the years I have to go back to the very beginning:

It all started with working at Eaton’s department store, selling cosmetics, where I learned that each company had their “shtick”, their marketing gimmick.

Hence, when I was looking for an aesthetic school to attend in Paris, one of my first criteria was that they did not have their own line, or promote a single line, of skin care products.

I lucked out big time because, not only was I able to find such a school (L’Ecole Internationale d’Estheticienne Technicienne de Beauty, on Rue Marbeuf in Paris), but the theory classes were all taught by doctors.

Dr. Renaud, a dermatologist, was our cosmetics chemistry instructor. Although he had his own line of skin care products, he never promoted it or referred to it. He not only taught us the basic chemistry ( and I mean basic) of cosmetics but he went further – to teach us how to be creative with products and ingredients, how to blend and mix them into a personalized treatment routine.

Research:

After setting up my practice, I continued my research through professional journals and books on the chemistry of cosmetics, dermatology, and plastic surgery, along with pharmacology and chemical engineering.

I was looking into:

  • How do ingredients penetrate the skin?  Most of the initial research was done in the pharmacology field as companies were trying to figure out how to administer medication topically (through the skin).
  • The efficacy and safety of anti-aging active ingredients. The cosmetic and toiletry, dermatology and plastic surgery journals, and  sometimes  the chemical engineering journals, had these articles.

That brings me to the next factor. I also looked for:

  • Products that are going to actually do something on a cellular level.

 

Investigation:

Over the last couple of decades, great strides have been made in skin care products and ingredients.

But, what you should also know is that skin care companies are not required to back any of the claims they make. You have seen the commercials about the wrinkles disappearing, or the skin getting miraculously firmer, all using scientific jargon.

I am only interested in working with professional product lines. That is, products that are manufactured for estheticians, because these companies would provide me not only with products to retail but also products to use in skin treatments. To blend and personalize the treatment and achieve the results that both the client and I require, I need concentrates or actives.

Once I have developed an interest in the product line I ask to see a full ingredients list, sorted according to relative quantities, to see if the active ingredient(s) they are touting is/are somewhere in the beginning of the list or towards the bottom.

If they provide samples, I try the samples to see, first, how the product feels, smells and wether it absorbs easily or just sits on the surface.

If I am interested in the line, I will purchase the products that are compatible with my skin and give it a proper 2-week trial. This way I can watch for results. 

Results:

Over the years I have spent a lot of money on products as well as entire lines. Those that I work with now have stood the test of time while others I have rejected for a variety of reasons. I do not consider this expense a waste because I have always either learned something new or the line has brought a new client to my door. Clients that have stayed clients because I have honestly expressed my views on the products.

At the moment I work with nine different lines. This gives me a range of products to pick and choose from to provide the best results.

Do you want to find out what is the best for your skin issues?

Get in touch with me and … Let’s talk about your skin, baby!

 

Talking the Walk

In the winter I do a lot of walking, both for exercise and to get around. For me walking isn’t just a physical exercise, it is also mindful meditation.

I try to go through parks as often as I can; one of my favourite routes is Philosopher’s Walk on the U of T campus

Earlier this winter I went to the New Balance store at Yonge and St. Clair  in Toronto and, with the help of Ken Bower, I purchased these fabulous water proof walking shoes. They give me proper arch support and I am able to articulate my ankle as I walk, for proper gait and posture.

In order to be able to walk long distances comfortably, your feet, knees and hips have to be in good shape.

Various foot issues that could impede walking or effect one’s gait and posture can later cause other problems in other parts of the body. Some can be easily remedied by a well-trained pedicurist/aesthetician, using a pedi-drill; some need to be looked after by a chiropodist; others need medical attention and nutritional/ supplementation help. 

In the beginning of my Esthetics career, I was seeing a lot of people, with various foot problems that were beyond my expertise, so I took a course to learn how to use a drill for treating some of them.

There is plenty of information on the net regarding foot issues, so I will not bore you. Instead, I will cover just a few of them. And, as a holistic nutritionist, I will touch on the nutritional aspects but will not go into detail as I do not believe in giving out generic information, without knowing everything else that is going on in the body. That is why it is called holistic nutrition!

Conditions that a trained Esthetician or Chiropodist can determine.

Foot and toenail fungus 

  • There are over the counter antifungal medications.
  • Tea Tree oil, Oil of Oregano and my favourite: Grapefruit seed extract, work very well.
  • Sugar feeds the fungus – so no sugar until it clears up! I am not kidding otherwise it becomes a vicious circle.
  • It is important to keep feet dry and refrain from wearing shoes that make the feet sweat.
  • Keep toe nails short.

Thick toenails 

  • Can be due to age, injury to the toe or nail fungus.
  • If it is a fungus, a good antifungal needs to be used:
    • by prescription, or,
    • Tea Tree oil, Oil of Oregano or grapefruit seed extract, if you want to save your liver,
  • If it is not fungus the nail can be easily filed down to a manageable thickness with a pedi-drill.

Yellow stained toenails

  • Usually caused by wearing polish. In this case it is very easy to file the surface of the nail with a pedi – drill.
  • Sometimes caused by psoriasis, eczema or a more serious illness – the underlying condition needs to be addressed.

Corns and Calluses 

  • They can be easily removed with a pedi-drill and regular pumicing.
  • Using a good quality, rich cream to moisturise the skin is recommended.
  • Corns are often painful because they have a central “eye” that can be quite deep and needs to be dug out.
  • I don’t recommend applying a corn plaster on the corn because it just creates more pressure in the shoe.
  • If the callusing is severe, with cracking, it is often keratosis (abnormal thickening of the skin), or another hidden cause – possibly allergies – which can be misdiagnosed as fungus or eczema. It is imperative to figure out a hidden cause.
  • Calluses can also be a sign of vitamin A deficiency.

Ingrown toenails 

  • Caused by the nail curling into the lateral nail fold. To straighten it, a chiropodist can apply a brace to the sides of the nail, this can take a few weeks and the brace has to be adjusted – just like braces with teeth.
  • Sometimes it is simply due to improper nail cutting (cutting the corners on a slant), the nail hits the nail bed as it grows, causing inflammation.
  • It can also be due to accumulation of dead skin under the lateral nail fold, which causes pressure and pain.
  • A few careful monthly treatments can clear the build-up under the nail and the nail can be trained to grow out properly.

The above conditions also need to be treated, daily, from the outside, with a good nourishing and healing body cream.

My favourite is the YonKa After Sun Cream (get over the name). It is one of the best creams on the market: everything else pales in comparison.

They also need to be treated internally, with a diet that is rich in unsaturated fats, balanced with saturated fats to keep the skin from drying. A diet rich in vitamin A or pro-vitamin A-Carotenoids, helps to inhibit thickening of the skin.

If any are due to allergies, that has to be addressed first and foremost.

Conditions that need to be diagnosed and treated medically and nutritionally:

Arthritis 

  • An inflammatory autoimmune condition.
  • Depending on the severity, medication may be required.
  • An anti-inflammatory diet is essential and one containing fish oils and essential fatty acids is beneficial even if you are on medication.
  • An Alkalizing diet is also very beneficial – the explanation for this is for another blog
  • Regular Manual Lymphatic Drainage treatments are beneficial (see blog on MLD).

Bone Spurs

  • Bony projection that forms where two bones meet, such as a joint or where bone meets tendon.
  • This can be caused by osteoarthritis – also an inflammatory autoimmune condition.
  • It can also be caused by constant rubbing and stress on the bone – like callusing.
  • As with Arthritis, an anti-inflammatory diet is beneficial.
  • Manual manipulation of the joint is helpful.

Hammer Toe

  • Effects the middle toe.
  • Weakening of the muscle causes the tendon to shorten and the toe starts to curl under.
  • Can be hereditary or from wearing ill-fitting shoes – high heels and pointed shoes.
  • A corn forms on the middle joint and is quit painful.
  • A hammer toe pad can be purchased at a drugstore. The pad stretches the toe out.
  • Depending on the severity of pain, surgery may be necessary.

Bunion

  • A bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, sometimes the little toe.
  • It can be formed if the big toe is pushed towards the next toe due to tight shoes.
  • One cause may be rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It can also be hereditary.
  • The constant rubbing in the shoe causes soreness and inflammation.
  • In the early stages, a toe separator may be used to push the toe straight.
  • To alleviate pain, a wider shoe has to be worn.
  • Anti-inflammatory diet is also beneficial.
  • In severe cases surgery may be required.

Gout

  • A form of arthritis
  • It used to be called “rich man’s disease”
  • Result of the build up of Uric Acid in the body, deposited in the joint of the big toe.
  • Diuretics can cause gout.
  • Very painful.
  • A low protein, alcohol-free diet is recommended.
  • Medication is often needed.
  • When the attack has subsided, Manual Lymphatic Drainage is helpful to address the swelling.

 

Physical and Spiritual Renewal through Ayurveda

January is a time for renewal.

After having gone through the hectic year-end period, it is good to take time to reflect on our well-being – be it physical or spiritual.

Waiting for the days to get longer, minute by minute, gives us a great opportunity for self-care and self-reflection.

The best approach for this is, in my opinion, through Ayurveda.

When I first learned about Ayurveda, at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, it resonated with me immediately because it married beauty and health so seamlessly.

I have since incorporated Ayurvedic concepts into all of the treatments I offer, whether I am choosing types of body work to recommend or the herbs, spices or oils I use in my personalized treatments.

spices

This is Ayurveda in a nutshell:

Ayurveda means “science of life”. It is an ancient healing system, dating back thousands of years, based on the  concept that, to be healthy, one must be in balance physically, mentally and spiritually.

An Ayurvedic practitioner/doctor determines an individual’s “Dosha” constitution and makes appropriate recommendations.

Ayurveda body types 01

The Doshas:

  • Govern physical and mental Function.
  • Effect our personality, temperament and intellectual capacity.
  • Are active in everyone; our Uniqueness lies in the balance of doshas we are born with

The Balance is achieved by:

  • Lowering the intake of what we have in excess.
  • Increasing the intake of what we don’t have.

When the Doshas are balanced we are healthier and happier.

body mind spirit balance

Ayurvedic recommendations encompass:

  • Nutrition – using appropriate herbs and spices and food preparation techniques.
  • Exercise – using those yoga positions which are best for you
  • Body care – having massage and skin treatments that suit you.

So that is where I come in!

I am offering an Ayurvadic Marma Facial for the month of January and to mid-February.

marma-001

Marma points are where the physical and spiritual worlds meet. Massaging them stimulates (even though it is a very gentle manipulation) the organs and body systems that they correspond to.

This treatment is the ultimate in relaxation.

You get the full, customized facial including a hand and foot massage.

With meditative music playing throughout, the treatment starts with a warming foot bath and ends with a mask – rejuvenating your soul as well as your body, by giving you time for meditation and reflection.

40 Years Ago

When I was about 18, I had a dream that I would go to Paris to study esthetics.

The dream actually started when I was 12, saw the movie Funny Face and fell in love with the whole beatnik thing.

At 19, I followed that dream and here is the receipt for the airfare.

receipt

Why have I held on to it?

Well, first, in those days no self respecting Armenian girl would dream of taking off on their own (my poor parents).

Secondly, because I actually fulfilled the dream. I did not allow anything to stand in my way: not my parents objections, not the fact that I did not speak French, not the fact that I really did not have a lot of money.

After all, at 19, anything and everything is possible.

Because it was my dream and my dream alone, I had to learn to be very resourceful to figure out exactly what I needed to do to live there as a student.

After several visits to the French embassy and with all of the proper letters  and applications in place and a list of esthetic schools (yes, I did not know what school I would be attending), off I went.

Once in Paris, I visited about a dozen schools with some very clear criteria in mind assuring them that by the following year I would be speaking French.

(Ok, much to my surprise, there were no schools that taught in English).

I felt incredibly strong because I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. Every so often, during those two years, I would think  to myself “holy f**k, I am in Paris!!!”

While running my business, over the following 38 years, I have tapped into that feeling numerous times, because marching to your own drum as a single self-sufficient individual is extremely difficult.

I have paid dearly for that independence.

But, through the years I have met the most incredible people as clients, business associates, landlords and tenants. Through you, my life has been enriched.

Through you, I have learned major life lessons. I have learned about love, loss of love, aging and death.

Through you I have also: gained travel tips and cottage trips, found apartments, been introduced to boyfriends, heard about the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (the nutrition school I attended), and been helped with writing resumes and introduction letters and navigating my webpage and social media. The list can go on and on …

Most of all, you have given me lots and lots of encouragement and support.

The rollercoaster ride has been very scary at times but because of all of you I have hung on.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude  and appreciation to all of you.

THANK YOU