Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Below is the link to an article, Excellence Code Masque: mask or moisturizer?, that gives an account of my experience with this masque that you’ll want to read. In short: I loved it, but as a moisturizer vs. using it as a mask. Read the post to get all the information!

The following is from Yonka headquarters: Yon-Ka Paris has proudly completed the Age Exception collection with the launch on EXCELLENCE CODE MASQUE and Excellence Code Contours eye treatment. These two new, high performance products are well suited for the multi-dimensional needs of mature, hormonally imbalanced skin.

As an innovator in anti-aging expert care, Yon-Ka counters all the signs of aging with its new and exceptional face mask, Excellence Code Masque, which doubles as an over-night sleep mask. Packed with potent active ingredients including its star ingredient, Nutgrass, strengthens the papillary dermis and maintains the skin’s youthful bounce and volume.

It also provides mature skin types with an astonishing radiance boost due to Red Algae, a patented ingredient used for its brightening powers. Skin is visibly younger; signs of fatigue fade away and your complexion instantly recovers its glow and freshness. 

92% of natural ingredients - 2 Patents -   Paraben-free
Multi-tasking, Versatile Product with Proven Efficacy:
Lifting Effect: +25% after first application, +61% after second application (Comparison was made between day 0 and day 3)
  • Radiance:  +65% then +95%
  • Wrinkles are smoothed: 100%
  • Skin is visibly younger: 100%

Don’t get me startedI don’t even know where to begin to explain what these percentage really mean. But as you can see, it is Yonka’s new way of describing the benefits of their products. For me as an aestheticianor just for me as an individualthese descriptions (“Skin is visibly younger: 100%”) border on the ridiculous.

Essential ingredients:
  • Sweet almond proteins, nutgrassinstant lifting effect, firmness and bounce
  • Lemon, orange, sugar cane, maple and bilberry with AHAs (fruit acids), marine collagenanti-wrinkle, smoothing effect, exfoliating
  • Hyaluronic acid with high molecular weight, vegetable glycerin, grape seed oil, allantoin, vitamins PP and B5hydrating, nourishing, repairing
  • Red algaeclear and even complexion
  • Vitamins A, C, Eanti-oxidizing, regenerating
  • Essential oils of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, rose, tonka bean and guaiac wood, Quintessence Yonka (thyme, lavender, cypress, geranium, and rosemary essential oils)invigorating, relaxing
Directions for use from Yonka:
1 to 2 times per week:
  • After cleansing, apply EXCELLENCE CODE MASQUE generously to the face and neck
  • Let mask sit on your skin for 15 minutes
  • After rinsing the masque off thoroughly
  • Spray Yonka lotion several times to energize the complexion
  • As an additional treatment option, apply a thin layer of Excellence Code Masque as an overnight treatment

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MYTH: Combination skin

When someone tells me they have combination skin, I always have to ask what exactly they mean by that. Usually I hear something to the tune of, “I have oily places and dry places on my face.” The truth is, all skins have a combination of several different things going on with them. Understanding correct terminology is helpful when it comes time to self-diagnosis your skin type.

The theory behind combination skin is dry patches and oily places on the same face. The facial axis (also called the t-zone) has more oil glands than the rest of the face, the nose housing the highest concentration. That’s why almost everybody has pockets of oil (blackheads) clogging the pores on the  nose to some degree. The dry patches most people feel is either on their cheeks or is a face-wide feeling of dryness.

My contention is you can’t have both oil-dry (what I call true-dry) and serious oiliness together. Oily and normal skin, yes. Oily skin that is dehydrated (feels dry)—absolutely. But thinking you have opposing oil conditions (dry and oily) makes it confusing as to what kind of products to use on your skin.
Many people experience what they call “dry” skin when in reality their skin is dehydrated, which feels like true-dry (oil-dry) skin. But as you can read in numerous articles under categories dehydrated skin as well as dry skin issues, there is a great difference between the two skin conditions: dry and dehydrated. And the treatment of the two different conditions is also very different.

For more information, see:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

My facial experience at “Mary’s Salon”

When I first move to a new city where I plan to open a skin care office, I like to find out about the top facial salons—the best places to get a facial treatment in that particular area. Sure, I like to know what the competition is like, but more so I want to know what my future clients have had available to them skin care-wise compared to what I offer.

The following is one experience I had when I moved to a new city where I eventually opened a Carolyn Ash Skin Care salon. I offer this information because knowing what to look for—and what to look out for—can be helpful when getting a facial. These are my experiences and my opinions, they may not be yours. Some of the things I don’t like in a facial may be one or more of your personal favorites. For obvious reasons, I am using alternate names for this salon as well as the aesthetician who gave me this facial treatment.

I was introduced to “Mary” and I immediately liked her. She had a pleasant demeanor and was very direct. She had been working in skin care in one form or another for 25 years and seemed to know her stuff. She started out in electrolisis (hair removal), moved on to permanent makeup, then skin care and facials currently. By the way, Mary owned the salon, although she also had a few aestheticians on staff.

I appreciated the time she was taking to greet me and introduce herself. I found out we have similar philosophies about skin care even though she didn’t know I was in her same field. (As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I generally don’t announce I am an aesthetician when getting a facial. Not because I want to spy but because in the past, when I have let aestheticians know, invariably there is a lot of shop talk. Whether I’m getting a facial for pleasure or research, I don’t want to talk about the business. And in this case, I simply wanted to see how Mary's facials were for an average client coming into her salon.)

Mary wore heavy makeup and foundation so I never got to see what her skin really looked like. I understand many people like to cover their so-called facial flaws (or some people simply like to wear makeup), but in this context I think it’s a negative—not being able to see the skin of your skin care consultant. If the aesthetician you’re going to for advice doesn’t have “good” skin, then will she really be able to help if you have issues now or in the future?

First, there was a very long form to fill out with many questions I believe she should answer regarding my capillaries, skin condition, and so on. With over 30 years of clients coming to see me, a very small percentage actually know what a capillary is! I certainly don’t want them answering questions about their skin, capillaries included, that are answers I, the professional, will find out for myself accurately and from experience once I have taken a look at their skin.

After introductions and filling out the long form, there was a 45-minute consultation face-to-face with Mary. She took lots of photos of my face, then, which I liked, she did an ultra violet light test. This shows sun damage on the surface of the skin along with how oily your skin may or may not be. I thought this particular step was a high-value service being offered. Probably every person who sees the results from one of these tests about the amount of sun damage they have acquired will be shocked. Any sun exposure equals some form of damage to the tissue. Whether it’s superficial or deep down damage, ultra violet light causes disturbances to the skin.

Next, I was led into the treatment room. The facial bed was OK on the comfort scale. I’ve been in more comfortable chairs in the past, but at the same time I’ve also had very uncomfortable beds when getting facials. This particular one was just in the middle. The room was kind of blah without much personality. Sometimes this is a plus; I’ve been in facial rooms that were overdone or decorated in a way that wasn’t soothing to me. Still, this room lacked oomph.

One thing I noticed immediately—there was no music. This might be a personal preference, but as an aesthetician I wouldn’t dream of giving a facial without relaxing music playing in the background. Music, if it’s the right kind, can make a huge difference in the comfort and relaxation level of every client. Without music, the client will be focusing on every sound the practitioner makes, including her breathing. The absence of music was a big negative to me.

After cleansing my skin, she introduced a facial scrub. This particular product was way too abrasive for my skin, probably because she used a rotary facial brush as well. As an aesthetician, you really can’t tell how a scrub is affecting a client’s skin sensitivity, and the clean up (removing every single little particle) is next to impossible. Luckily I have Yonka’s Gommage along with other liquid exfoliators available to use in my facials vs. having to suffer through using (and removing) a messy scrub.

She then pointed the steam machine toward my face. I am not a fan of steam at all. I have written several articles about why this is the case (one is listed below), but the bottom line is—I don’t want steam on my face! However, when getting a facial from an unknown aesthetician, I like to just let them do what they do, therefore I did let her steam my face for several minutes. She left the room, so I turned the machine off early, otherwise I would have asked her to remove it from my face.
Next came the endless extractions. In a word: OUCH! Her technique made the extractions so painful, and because she was relentless in her quest, this process made me want to jump out of the chair and get away! Then she started extractions in my ears. Although I actually did appreciate her thoroughness (not many facialists will look in the ears let alone extract them), again—ouch!

Extractions certainly aren’t ever the “fun” part of a facial, but I can only hope that all of my clients could say that the extractions in my facial were less painful than elsewhere. I certainly know they are less painful than from Mary (sorry, Mary)!

Now it was time for the facial massage. Ah, finally some relaxation! Unfortunately, I was not impressed. If the practitioner you go to doesn’t have a good “touch,” the massage stage of a facial loses an important opportunity to thoroughly relax you. Since I was the client here, I was so disappointed to not receive a wonderful massage. I was not only not relaxed, I was left wanting more.

After massaging, she applied a gel-type hydration mask. Hopefully whatever she used was meant to calm down my no-doubt ravaged and inflammed face after all of those extractions. I believe a clay mask is the best thing for the skin bar none. It helps to soothe redenss and takes away inflammation along with other attributes. I have many articles about the benefits of clay masks—for all skin types, not just problem skin. It is my preferred mask almost 100% of the time.

There were more machines used on my skin, then some quiet time when Mary stepped out of the room. This facial (and I imagine all treatments from this salon) utilized so many machines, which I personally find unnerving. As you can read in the article listed below, I am not a fan of using machines nor having them used on me in facials. Mary used high frequency, galvanic, a brush machine, steam, and spray toner. These were things we used and were trained on in skin care school. It was disappointing to see them all used here.

At the end of the facial, I was happy my skin didnfeel oily, which is something that happens all too often. After many facials, I can be found wiping the heavy, oily creams off my face after a treatment. Although my skin wasn’t greasy after this facial, it did look a bit ravaged and red.

My general feeling was the whole facial felt disconnected from me, the client. Mary was just going over the steps of the treatment, but it didn’t have heart. Steps without soul. Oddly our interaction started off with a lot of connection and interaction, so I was surprised the facial left me wanting. I left the salon feeling very confident in what I have to offer and disappointed in the treatment I received. But I didn’t need the ego boost—I was looking to see what potential clients of this city were getting facial-wise.

I was also hoping I would find an excellent treatment that I could get routinely (monthly) as I recommend to my clients. Although I can do most of my facial steps at home, it’s never the same—just like giving yourself a massage. It is oh, so much better when someone else is doing all the work for you.

I will continue to look for a good or dare I say great facial. In the meantime I will continue to relay my experiences to you here so perhaps you can glean something that will help you when it comes time to find a place to get a facial treatment.

For more information, see:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Few Quick Tips from THE BASICS

Following are a few tips that come from The Basics chapter in my first book, Timeless Skin:
  • If you left your makeup on overnight (shame on you), you’ll need to exfoliate to get that embedded junk out of your pores before you put on another day’s makeup. Don’t skip this step!
  • Use your spray toner throughout the day in the summer months so you can enjoy a cool spray of refreshment on your face during a hot summer’s day.
  • Don’t use heavy creams around your eyes at night, or it’s very likely you’ll wake up with puffy eyes the next morning. Use eye cream sparingly but often and apply where your wrinkles are, not right up to your eyes.
  • Treat your lips to healing, non-petroleum lip balms whenever you’re not wearing lipstick. It’s especially effective to use these products before you go to bed so it sits on your lips all night long.
  • Try not to bite off the dry, flaking skin on your chapped lips. This will perpetuate the parched, flaky tissue and give you the potential for open sores where the skin has come off. It’s a hard habit to break, but it will help keep your lips from bleeding and give them time to heal.

For more information, see:

Monday, August 14, 2017

Darker skin color & sun protection

There are certain characteristics to dark skin that keep it from receiving severe sun damage. However, if you have a darker skin tone, you’ll want to heed the same warnings as those with lighter skin.

Dark brown or black skin genetically produces large amounts of melanin, giving you a dark skin tone. Because melanin is produced to protect the body from UV radiation, it makes sense that descendants of people from areas near the equator will have darker skin. Genetically you are blessed with nature’s own sunblock.

It’s also true that dark skin tends to age better than lighter skin because of this extra melanin production. But it is not true that dark-skinned people don’t need to use the same common sense protection from the sun as light-skinned people.

If you have dark skin, please don’t think you will escape the ravages of the sun. You are perhaps even more susceptible than lighter-skinned people. Why? Because you feel armed against the sun due to your skin tone. Therefore you may forgo wearing sunscreen and a hat.

Dark skin is better protected than light skin, but you are in no way fully protected from sun damage. No one really escapes damage from the sun. Dark, light, black, white, young, or old—everyone needs to wear sun protection.

Wearing sunscreen and hats apply to all people—no matter what.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Is makeup good for my skin?

I hear the “Is makeup good for my skin? question a lot. I also hear, “Makeup is protecting my skin, right? And to those questions I say “no” and “no!” To clarify, the makeup Im talking about is foundation or anything covering your skin as a whole. Eye makeup, lip productsno problem. Its the face makeup/coverup Im more concerned about when it comes to the healthy functioning of your skin.

Answering the second question first, yes, makeup does add another layer between your skin and the environment, and many coverups have SPF in them, so on some level they are “protecting” your skin. I don’t like using that word protection because it connotes something that I don’t believe is really happening. But yes, makeup does add another layer between you and the environment.

What makeup is also doing is sitting on your skinall day; it’s not meant to penetrate very far or really at all. Makeup’s purpose is to give color to the surface of your skin and so it just sits there, seeping into your pores and just hanging out. This prolonged visitation can cause enlargement of the pores (something you want to avoid at all costs) and for some women, it can cause breakouts.

If you have problem skin, you no doubt use makeup to cover up the problems. And perhaps you don’t have skin issues but just feel better about how you look wearing foundation. I am not saying dont wear makeup, but I do want you to understand that is can actually cause problems while covering your skin. 

I’ve listed some helpful articles below that you can read to further explain the notion that makeup is actually good for your skin. It just isn’tor at least it isn’t good in general but if it makes you feel better about your skin, well, there is something to be said for that.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Acne Q & A—“How long does it take to clear up problem skin?”

Can you provide any referrals for products that treat severe acne?

Severe acne will not be totally eradicated by using products, even with an exceptional treatment product. True acne is a sign of an internal imbalance that needs to be attended to more than just topically. However, treatment products that employ essential oils, which are antiseptic and antibacterial, are perfect for helping to calm down infected skin. Again, nothing used topically is going to fix a problem that stems from the inside, but these types of products can definitely help. 

How long does it take to clear up problem skin?

There is no definitive answer to that question. It is totally individual and depends on numerous factors. “Why is my skin not clear?” would be a good first question to ask yourself. If you continue to do things that contribute to poor-quality skin, then your skin may never clear up. Improper cleansing, sleeping with makeup on, using products that are drying, eating sugar or junk food, disregarding constipation, and not drinking enough water are just some of the factors that help to create unhealthy-looking, unclear skin.

Then there is the genetic component that cannot be overlooked. You can have all the unhealthy habits in the world and still (perhaps) get away with it due to inheriting miraculous genes for good skin. On the other hand, the opposite can also be true. You can do all the “right” things to support internal and external health, and having clear skin still may be a struggle if you have a genetic makeup that predisposes you to having problem skin.

So my answer to the question “How long does it take to clear up problem skin?” is: Good question!

What are you willing to do to improve the balance of health inside and out? Perhaps adopting a life philosophy where you see you are either contributing to your healthy mind and body or contributing to the destruction of health, incluidng your skin. This, by the way, can apply to any and every area of your life—not just your diet and how you are taking care of your skin.

Ask yourself these questions: How are you contributing to or contaminating your skin? Your body? Your health? I bet the answers you come up with will not only be interesting, but will help you understand how you could be causing your skin problems. And also (here’s the good news), how you can be the creator of healthy skin.

For more information, see:

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sun Protection: Face, neck, and hands

I want to turn your attention to a few specific areas on your body where sun exposure is continual. These areas are the face, neck, and hands. They are usually exposed to sunlight all year round, especially if you live in continually warm conditions. In cold weather climates, your body is protected with clothing in the winter and therefore is safe from the sun. But unless your face, neck, and hands are constantly covered up, these areas will still be exposed to UV rays no matter what the climate or time of year.

Although exposing any part of your body to too much UV light is not desirable, it is the face, neck, and hands I am most concerned with here. Remember, sun damage is cumulative from birth. Because your face, neck, and hands are exposed throughout the year (much more so than your body), this tissue is going to show the ravages of sunlight much more quickly than the skin on your body.

The early signs of overexposure include lines and wrinkles, causing the skin to age prematurely; pigmentation spots, sometimes called liver, age, or sun spots; and flaccid tissue, skin that is sagging or has lost its firmness. It is important, therefore, to keep the face, neck, and hands protected throughout the year, minimizing their exposure to the sun. Obstruction (including clothing, hats, and gloves) is best for keeping direct sunlight off the skin, and wearing sunscreen on these areas helps to filter the damaging rays of the sun.

I have always worn “driving gloves” since I was in my early 20s. With my hands up on the steering wheel, I could see how much sun exposure they were getting and I would always hear older people complain about how old their hands looked. When I say driving gloves, these days they are actually work gloves that I have retired and now use exclusively for driving, but any glove that covers the tops of your hands will do. If you decide to wear gloves while you’re driving, don’t choose ones like in this photo. Why not? The very skin you are trying to protect (the tops of the hands) is left unprotected!

In The Forgotten Places: The Neck (link below), I go over some information to help keep the sun off your neck, especially when driving. And I think (I hope!) we all know how to protect our faces in the sun, but the hats article below will give you some ideas as well as a link to another article about how much sun protection your personal hat of choice might be giving you.

Keeping our face, neck, and hands in mind when outside getting sun exposure will help make sure these places are no longer forgotten or neglected when it comes to protecting them from ultra-violet sun rays.

For more information, see:
OK, this is extreme. However it is important to keep
your skin protected from direct sunlight!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Are you addicted to picking at your skin? If so—please read this!

Please dont ever ever extract your skin like this!!!
I am not a fan of self-extracting. I can do it to myself—but I’m a trained professional! The kind of self extraction Im talking about is the kind other people do—especially my clients—and possibly you.

I have seen so many people over the years do horrible “picking” jobs with disastrous results—some causing permanent scaring. Im not suggesting no one should extract a blemish that is just asking for it. But please follow the advice here and in other blog posts (listed below) to understand how and why to do this self extraction properly. If youre not going to follow these instructions, or some facsimile of them, just dont do it! 

Extractions. As I’ve said, I do not recommend extracting your own skin; this is one skill better left to a professional. Since I know it’s futile to think you won’t pick at your skin (I have many clients who are addicted), I am including the following guidelines for you to follow. Please know this: your zit has a mind of its own, and it will always win. You’re trying to make something less noticeable, but after self-extracting you usually end up with the opposite effect. By using the following rules it is my hope that you will at least not scar or damage your skin. 

Rule #1: Always wrap your fingers in tissue. I want to emphasize the importance of this simple step. Even if you just washed your hands, you still want to protect against bacteria, not to mention your fingernails. Take a tissue, fold it in half, then tear it in half, and use the two folded halves to wrap around your index fingers. 

Rule #2: There must be a clear and defined head on the blemish or it is not extractable. Many blemishes are actually cysts underneath the surface that cannot be extracted. In trying to remove debris from one of these cyst-type spots, you will drive the infection further down into the skin, forcing it into the surrounding tissue. This will cause the blemish to get bigger, look redder, and take longer to go away. Scarring is a possible result from trying to extract these unextractable places. 

Rule #3: After one or two tries, leave it alone. If you’ve tried to extract a certain spot and after a few attempts the debris won’t budge, leave it alone. I think this is the hardest rule to follow. It requires self-discipline and control, something a lot of self-extractors don’t have too much of. If you continue to pick at a place relentlessly, you will most likely scar your skin. There is no way around this. Debris comes out when it’s ready. Pressing harder or going at it longer won’t change this fact; it will only cause harm to your skin. Comedos (common blackheads) by definition are open pores. Usually they will extract without giving you trouble. Still, if the debris doesn’t want to come out, follow Rule #3 and leave it alone. 

Rule #4: You must treat the places you’ve extracted.
At the very least, put a dot of a clay mask on any spots you’ve just picked at. This will help soothe the area and help fight bacterial infection. Please don’t leave these places as open, untreated wounds and just walk away. If you’re going to pick, you must do it correctly. If you can, leave the clay on for at least 5-10 minutes. Essential oil of geranium is antibacterial and can be applied directly to the spots as well. This might be a better alternative since you can apply the geranium (or most any essential oil) and leave it there vs. having to remove the dollop of clay after a while.

Here is what I really recommend. As your fingers are approaching your face warming up to do a fantastic picking job, change their direction and grab your clay mask instead. Put it on the spots you were going to extract and walk away from the mirror. You have just put something beneficial on your blemishes while not incurring any damage through picking. Congratulations! This is always the best course of action to follow. If your skin is in need of extractions, I recommend getting a facial and letting a professional do this delicate work.

For more information, see: