SKIN MOMENTS 4 : IT’S ALL ABOUT REPAIR

This weeks routines have been a lot about building up my skin during the ongoing use of Retinol and some occasional use of a – stronger – peeling pad. I love to use some exfoliating acids on a regular basis ; it gives me the absolute feeling of keeping my skin “active” and going at its best.

So in the beginning of the weekI did 2 consecutive nights of Chamomile Cleansing Oil by the Body Shop, which – like you will know from my previous article – is very mild & effective and is ideal when you have some stronger treatment in mind.

This week, I also liked alternating with the Korean Banila Co Purity Cleansing Balm. This is a beautiful, deliciously scented and effective product, which gives you the mildest possible clean. It is, however, VERY EFFICACEOUS at removing (tinted) sunblock or BB  creams from your skin. Peeling, with an acid toner, was a bit on the stronger side, with 2 consecutive nights of Neostrata Smooth Surface Daily Peel, a product based on 10% glycolic acid.

Glycolic acid works like a miracle on my skin. It is famous for its skin purifying and anti-ageing benefits and should have a place in anyone’s skin care routine. It helps dislodge impurities, deals with hyperpigmentation spots and also works great on fine lines and wrinkles, by its COLLAGEN PROMOTING action. The Neostrata Peeling Pads are great for the lazy ones amongst you, because they are ready-to-use.Fabulous when you’re in a hurry (who isn’t these days?). Be aware, however, that they are STRONG, so don’t do them every day if your skin is on the sensitive side. I tend to exagerate in my enthusiasm and then my skin isn’t happy at all !

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After such a peel, my skin always needs a serious “moisture drink”. This week I opted for the lovely SVR Hydraliane Essence. This one is really unique, because it sooths, calms and moisturizes in just seconds. Ideal after some stronger acids !

Retinol, still from by beloved Nazan Tastan, has been on the menue every single night and will continue to be for the next few days at least. I’ve combined it with the very REPAIRING Missha Time Revolution Ampoule, which is, in fact, a copy of the famous Estée Lauder Night Repair (see my article on this legendary product). It is full of plant-based anti-oxidants, plus fermented ingredients that help skin find its balance in more difficult periods. We’ve had very cold weather and I’m doing Retinol now, som y skin can do with some extra help.

For nighttime, I like to use my CICAVIT repairing cream, which has helped me dealing with some post-surgery scars last years (see my review on this product). I’m planning to use it up on my entire face now and love it especially at night, to “seal in” any serums I’ve been using before. It’s a great product for those of you seeking for a skin-soothing, inflammation-reducing and repairing product.There will be an separate article on this product on my blog also.

Like you can see, taking care of your skin needs little adjustments regularly. It doens’t mean you need a wardrobe full of products, but it is nice to have a few different in each category (cleansers/serums), so you can adjust your regimen, according to your needs.

ACID TONERS & WHY I USE THEM (REGULARLY)

Keeping your skin clean is one of the most important things in your skincare routine. Keeping your PORES clean is what it is all  about. PLUS, making sure dead skin cells are removed from your skin in a regular, continuous manner.

Skin does this by herself, I know, but this natural proces scan be impaired by numerous reasons.

One of them is AGE. As we age, cell turnover slows down. Like everything else, by the way J. In a younger skin, our epidermis (first layer of the skin, seen from the outside), renews itself in a beautiful, 24-days’ cycle. As we get older, these 24 days become much more …..

In order to improve this turnover, many things can be done. Think of the use of Retinol, that will stimulate cell turnover from the deeper layers upwards. Think of regular cleansing(which we all do, don’t we ?), and of regular EXFOLIATION. Meaning : HELPING (not forcing) skin to perform better, by removing a few layers of dead skin material. Advantages ? MANY !

Skin will perform better and therefore, look more beautiful and fresh, to put it simply. Your (expensive) moisturizer will be absorbed better and your make-up will last longer during the day. To name a few advantages.

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One of my PERSONAL FAVORITES is the use of an ACID TONER.Meaning : a skincare toner/tonic with exfoliating (=peeling) ingredients. Fruit acids, like BHA/AHA’s can be used in this way. You can have them in your cleanser, but I’m not a big fan of that, because these products will sting your eyes and therefore, you will need a separate cleanser for the eye area, in case you use them. Acid toners, however, are left on the skin and perform as a “stay on” product. Their effect, for  his reason, will be much better than if they were used in a cleanser (which you remove).

ACID TONERS can have either AHA’s, BHA’s or a mix of both in them. One of my favorite AHA toners is CLARINS DOUX EXFOLIANT, that is both soothing and exfoliating. Very good in case you’re a “beginner”, because it’s a very mild product. I recently discovered EXUVIANCE MOISTURE BALANCE TONER, which has both AHA’s and PHA’s. The advantage of a PHA (POLYHYDROXY  acid) being that it will help give your skin an extra boost of moisture. I find this product to be VERY EFFECTIVE for my combination skin.

NEOSTRATA SMOOTH SURFACE DAILY PEEL and BIOLOGIQUE RECHERCHE LOTION P50 are excellent in case you are looking for a “FULL STRENGTH” product.They are both ideal for either oily or very aged skin. Sun damaged skin, for example, will improve a lot with the ongoing use of this type of exfoliator.

I personally use all these products, but not all at the same time. I alternate them, depending on the time of the year and the condition of my skin. I would advise you to have at least 2 different acid toners. UNLESS you also use a type of mechanical exfoliator, like a scrub. In this case, it’s important to know that you shouldn’t use them at the same time. This would be a bit too much for your skin.

Acid toners are simple, effective and easy to use. Like you would use a “normal” toner. I usually use an ESSENCE (see articles on Korean products and SVR Essence) directly after an acid toner and then follow my usual steps. For men : as we shave in the morning, it is generally better to use your acid toner in the evening in order to avoid stinging. My beloved Exuviance toner is an exception to this, however.

Bottom line :acid toners are great for regular exfoliation of our skin and help your skin to perform better. They will also make skincare being absorbed better and make sure your skin stays free of blackheads and other skin impurities.

SKIN MOMENTS 3 – WEEKLY UPDATE ON MY SINCARE ROUTINE

Hello you guys ! This is the third blog post about my skincare routine. Reading the two older ones, I realize how versatile skin and skincare can be. This is one of the reasons, it is so important for us to look at our skin well. Don’t stop at “skin type”, but rather treat your skin according to your skin moments.

I was tired these last few weeks – and so was my skin. Moving houses, plus a drive up and back to Italy (to sell our second house), has been stressfull and tireing. I ended up having a bad cold, which I still haven’t gotten rid of as I’m writing this post. Anyway, things will get better, but it’s always a challenge to keep skin fit during those more difficult moments in life.

Cleansing has been mild, as usual, alternating both cleansing oils with mild cleansing milks and creams. Body Shop Camomile was popular, so was Céravé Cleansing Cream. I really do love this product. You know I’m a fan of double cleansing, but this product is sooo mild, yet soooo effective, I’d almost say one cleanse does it all. Almost ….. It removes grime, oily residue and (tinted) sunblock in just seconds, and leaves your skin feeling soft and fresh. As I have combination skin, it tends to become oilier on the T zone and dryer on the cheeks when I’m under stress, but this cleanser balances it all back to normal. Plus, it’s very budget friendly! Great buy!

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Serums have been vitamin C from Mad HIppie and Retinol (night) from Nazan Tastan. The Mad Hippie vitamin C also has Kojic Acid, derived from a mushroom, that helps treating hyperpigmentation spots. Just what I need before spring will come. The Nazan Retinol is a great one too ! It has enough Retinol to make you see the difference, without having the strength of the strongest ones on the market. This is great, because you see it works, but without any irritation, even during “more difficult” periods.

For moisture, I continue to love Indeed Labs’ Hydraluron. Rather a gel than a serum, it absorbs immediately, without any sticky residue. These last few days, I alternated with Nazan Tastan Hyaluronic Serum (new), which I immedialtely loved. I ‘ll write a seperate post on this one, once I’ve had it for a while. It’s a very powerfull product, using a special technology to make the hyaluronic acid even more hydrating! Lush ! Both products are must haves for me!

New to the collection is the Embryolisse “Secret de Maquilleurs” (Make-up artists’ Secret) day cream. A very special product with a balmy texture, that helps improving skin surface immediately upon application. Nicely hydrating too, and although it seems like a balm, there is no sticky or oily residue. My combination skin loves it and  it and I  consider using it for night time too.

For the night, I ‘ve alternated Malu Wilz Thalasso Hydro Gel with Estee Lauder Nightwear. Both are classics. Not new on the market, but great product that moisturize without feeling heavy on the skin. Ideal for normal/combination skins.

Even in this grey weather, I kept using a sunblock. SPF 30 Gel from Heliocare. My favorite brand for SPF. Light, soft, creamy, not sticky. Not irritating to the eyes (important!), so they get my vote. Superb formulas and plenty of textures to choose from.

The bottom line is, I kept skincare moderately “active” this week. No acids, but a bit of good Retinol and lots of vitamin C to keep skin cells going. And lots of moisture, LOTS. That is always a good idea …

SKIN MOMENTS 2

My dear friends and readers of the blog : I am truly, TRULY sorry, but there was not one moment in the past ten days to write another (second) “skin moments”. Stupid, isn’t it, how one can just be too busy/stressed out, to find even a few minutes to sit down and write about one’s skincare routines ?

Well, speaking about routines ; there were only few in these past ten days ….. Why, you will ask ? Well, we’ve been moving …… Horrible, well not the fact of moving houses, that IS indeed lovely. No I’m speaking about having to pack your entire life into boxes and the unpack them not knowing in what order to start, because there is still no kitchen, my office is a mess and well, you get the picture, I guess…..

So I kept things basic, very basic. Cleansing, Serum, Moisturizer/ SPF. Honestly, that’s all I did these last ten days. Mostly using my wonderfull Bodyshop Chamomile Cleansing Oil to clean my face, whiping it off with a cloth and warm/tepid water. No toner, didn’t know which box they were in…. Used Retinol from Klapp (from the Skin Boosters Series). Nice one, very, veeeeeerrrrrryyyyy mild. Mostly hydrating with a bit of Retinol. Just enough to keep my stressed skin going. Plus a Clarins Moisturizer for the night : Multi-Active Nuit, still ones of my most beloved ones. Hydration plus a few beneficial plant extracts. Nothing complicated. And Heliocare Satin Gel SPF 30 for day. Even in winter : there is light, so there’s UV Radiation. Plus the BLUE LIGHT from our computers, cell phones etc. Think of that and you will be wanting an SPF all year round.

No time for exfoliation, no acid toners or peels. No AHA or BHA serums. It’s time to introduce them back into my routine again. I found them today, together with my other (hydrating toners). I had put them in the same box….  Neostrata, Exuviance, Biologique Recherche, Clarins, Lancome, Klairs, Leegeehaam and Missha are back. Lush, lovely. Ten days is a long time when you’re a skincare junkie !

To be continued …..

SKIN MOMENTS (1) : WEEKLY UPDATE ON MY SKINCARE ROUTINES

“Temps de peau”they say in French. A beautiful way of describing how versatile skin can be. How quickly it can change from being “normal” to reactive, sensitive, stressed and even oily. Our skin changes all the time, from day to day, from week to week. So keeping your skincare routine up to date with your skin’s needs, is one of the most difficult things about being a beauty lover ….

As I worked a lot (abroad, mainly, involving long travel), my skin was stressed this week.Or rather, more sensitive than usual. Plus, I ‘ve been “retinolling” (thank you dear Caroline Hirons, for introducing this word to our vocabulary), meaning I’ve been using quite a bit of (potent) vitamin A products on my skin. Giving it a boost, an anti-ageing one, to be more precise. Times come when one needs a bit of that.

So cleansing has been very soft, alternating Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Oil with Origins’ Clean Energy Gentle Cleansing Oil. Both are super-gentle, yet very effective cleansers/make-up removers. I personally believe there’s nothing better to clean your pores than a cleansing oil. Not only will it dissolve EVERYTHING on the surface of your skin, it will also DEEP CLEANSE your pores as “like dissolves like”, meaning the oil in the cleanser dissolves the sebum in your pores also. Think about it, it’s the most logical thing on earth !

I love both these cleansers, for mornings, to prepare my skin for (a hard working) day, and evenings, when skin is a bit stressed and/or out of balance.Skin feels super clean and comfortable with each one of them. When I’m in a “very soft mood”, I ‘ll have the Body Shop product, when I feel a bit more “aromatic”, I go for the Origins version (gosh that smell is beautiful!!). Both are great and work well for ALL SKIN TYPES, including sensitive and oily skins.

Another cleanser I like to use when my skin is a bit sensitive, is the Bèta-Glucan Cleanser by Klapp Cosmetics. This is a very creamy, fragrance free and ever-so-gentle Cleansing Milk. It’s part of the Bèta-Glucan series by the brand. Bèta-Glucan is supposed to calm down any skin reaction to external agressors and bring back sensitive skin to normal. For me, these products work beautifully. I use this cleanser both mornings and evenings. When I use in the evening, it is usually my second cleanser after an oil.

Leegeehaam (Korean) Hyal B5 Essence Toner & Serum were my favorites this week when it comes to treatments. The Essence toner is a very moisturizing, softening and smoothing product, that’s just GREAT when your skin is quite a bit DEHYDRATED or SENSITIZED. Together with the serum, it hydrates intensively and brings back a stressed skin to normal in no time.

Although the weather has definitely become darker and colder, we should always keep in mind, that light is present around us all the time (well during daytime, that is), so we should remember to wear a (light) sunscreen anyhow. I used up the last bit of my very beloves Estée Lauder Daywear, which is an ANTIOXIDANT rich cream with an added SPF 15. Great for winter days, I’d say. Antioxidants protect our cells from environmental damage, meaning they are a preventive form of anti-ageing for your skin. Embrace them, we need all the help we can get in our modern world…..

As you see, skincare was simple this week. No fuzz, just good basic hydration + protection. That’s all it took. See you next week !

BEST (AND WORST) SALON TREATMENTS FOR BETTER LOOKING SKIN

AHA PEEL

This one is by far my personal favorite !A treatment with FRUIT ACIDS is SIMPLE, EFFECTIVE and visibly IMPROVES skin in only one session. This doens’t mean you’ll need only one, but it’s nice to see some effect afther the first session.

Fruit acid peels work by exfoliating the dead, dull skin cells on your skin’s surface. Salon fruit acid peels will be more intense than the fruit acid products you might be using at home. The treament isn’t really a “wellness” experience, as you may experience some itching & burning during the treament. But the results are suerly worth it !

In general, your aesthetician will advice you a course of 4 to 10 sessions. Four being for a good skin condition, ten being for those of you with specific problems like acne or hyperpigmentation.

Skin can be a bit red during and immediately after the treatment and you might experience some flakiness (dead cells shedding) in the days following the session.

Prices are generally moderate and every skin type, except ultra-sensitive will benefit from these treatments.

Exuviance makes some damn good peels you should absolutely look out for. www.exuviance.com

www.exuviance.be 

IPL PULSED LIGHT TREATMENT

This one has been around for quite a few years now, but still can be a good option if you have specific skin concerns like hyperpigmented areas and (light) sagging of the skin or (fine) wrinkles. Don’t expect miracles, but a number of sessions can give you really visible results.

LED LIGHT THERAPY TREATMENT

Collagen stimulation by light isn’t a new one either, but it has proven to be effective for skins that need (moderate) anti-ageing. Can also be combined (ideally) with the AHA Peels mentionned above. Red LED Light will stimulate the fibroblasts that produce COLLAGEN & ELASTIN in your skin, meaning your skin will be TONED and more FIRM  afther a number (generally 10) of sessions.

Blue LED Light is a great option in case you suffer from ACNE, as blue light emitted by LED Diodes kills the acne bacteria. Can ideally be combined with some peels also. Like with red LED light, expect a number of sessions to be required to get best results.

OXYGEN TREATMENTS

Listen, guys, or rather : girls. Oxygen sounds great, but is it really so good for skin ? I wonder, but if you have to believe the marketing claims, oxygen treatments are a real miracle. However : oxygen can be quite damaging to your skin cells, as it generates free radicals…. You know, those evil little bastards we are trying to combat with our anti-oxidant loaded serums and creams. So where’s the logic ? Put a cream to combat negative “oxygen” reactions and put extra oxygen into the skin at the same time ???!!! Stop the nonsense please and take a good deep breath when you’re on the beach or in the woods (please do not in the centre of town), so you can get some good extra oxygen IN A NATURAL MANNER. 

FRESH CELLS TREATMENT

Fresh cells used  to be very popular during the ’70 & ’80 of the last century, but then lost their popularity after the introduction of diseases like BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and others. Of course, fresh cells have to be harvested from somewhere and this generally is from animals like bovines or sheap.

The results, however, of FRESH CELLScan be quite spectacularand I have many (women) friends who absolutely swear by them. The idea of fresh cells is that the natural defense and repair mechanisms in our skin will be stimulated by the presence of certain proteins, thus having a REJUVENATING EFFECT on your skin.

If you decide to give this one a try, find yourself a KLAPP* beauty salon/spa, as they have a very famous treament with frozen cells.

  • * as KLAPP Cosmetics is a brand I work with on a professional basis, there is NO affiliated link whatsoever.

MICRODERMABRASION

Microdermabrasion uses a technique that “polishes” your skin with fine (aluminium/diamond) cristals in order to peel away dead skin cells. It is being recommended for scars (acne), wrinkles and uneven skin tone. Personally, I don’t find this technique to be as effective as an AHA Peel, and therefore, wouldn’t recommend you to spend a lot of money on this. Some beauticians do a light microdermabrasion during another treatment (to prepare for a peel, for example), and this is fine for me. Just don’t expect it to be as effective as a course of Fruit Acid Peels.

SCALPEL TREATMENT

The latest HYPE !But don’t worry, there is nothing bloody about this “invention”. A scalpel treatment consists of “scraping” away dead skin cells of the skin with a special type of scalpel. The result ? Well, where did we hear a similar thing before ? YES, indeed microdermabrasion works exactly the same way, but uses polishing cristal instead of a “scalpel”. Skip this one, if you ask me ……

ACNE & ADULT ACNE

According to Dr. Nicolas Perricone, dermatologist, there are 7 different stages of acne that can be distinguished. Stage one being the beginning, stage 7 being the worst state of acne.

  • Retention Hyperkeratosis. In a healthy skin, dead skin cells are shedded in a natural, ongoing manner. This also goes for the skin cells INSIDE the pores. In the case of retention hyperkeratosis, the dead skin cells inside the pores do not exfoliate in that natural manner and cling together with the sebum (natural skin oils). As a result of this, pores get clogged. The condition is triggered by several factors, one of them being genetics. In order to normalise this process, vitamin A derivatives like Tretinoin or Retinol can be applied to the skin. Retinol normalises the way skin cells behave inside our pores. Salicylic and glycolic acid can help prevent new pores from getting clogged, as these ingredients will further help exfoliation (elimination of dead skin cells).
  • Bacterial accumulation and multiplication inside the follicle. The acne bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, starts multiplying inside the clogged pores. Infection is around the corner. Antibiotics are used (as well orally as topically) by dermatologists, but there is a risk of developping resistant strains. Benzoyl peroxide kills the acne bacteria by releasing oxygen into the skin. This also means that free radicals are being formed, leading to possible cell damage and premature ageing. Benzoyl peroxide can also be very harsh to the skin and is not tolerated very well by sensitive skin types. Light Therapy with a wavelength of 410-420 Nanometer is very effective. Combined with the stage 1 treatments good results can be achieved.
  • Microcomedones/comedones formation. Meaning whiteheads and blackheads. Treatment should now be focused on anti-bacterial and light therapy.

4/5  Papule and pustule formation.Also called “stage 2 acne” by dermatologists. These are the well-known red, irritated and inflamed pustules that are so typical for people with acne. Treatment as in stage 3.

6/7 Nodules and cyst formation. This is a severe form of acne. Not every patient/acne sufferer gets to this stage. I did myself, unfortunately, mainly due to bad treatment in those days. Treatment now consists of Roaccutane (Isotretinoïn) orally. A course of about 3 to 4 months is generally effective at clearing the acne. Roaccutane has some serious side effects, like :

  • Bad vision at night
  • Hair loss (at high dosages)
  • Dryness of lips, nose, eyes
  • Increased triglyceride levels (this has to do with liver functions)
  • Severe birth defects in pregnant women

I personally did a course of 3 months of this medicine. It saved my skin and got me back on my feet after years of being depressed because of my severe acne. I only suffered dryness and had some increased triglycerides levels by the end of the course. This gets back to normal once you stop taking the medicine.I an soooo happy I did this !

What I also discovered during this stage, is how important GOOD, NON-AGRESSIVE skin care can be. It makes the whole difference, during and after the acne.

SKIN CARE REGIMEN FOR ACNE:

DAYCARE :

  • Start the day with a GENTLE, non-drying cleanser. Avoid foams if you can. A cream or milk will be just as affective, believe me ! Céravé Hydrating Cleanser, Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser, Klapp Bèta-Glucan Cleansing Milk, Clinique Take the Day Off are excellent.
  • Use a SPOT treatment ON your pimples. Try a solution with BHA/Salicylic acid. It will help reduce inflammation and “dry out” your spots (no, I know, you can’t litterally dry them out, but some of you NEED to hear it this way J)
  • Use an oil-controlling/mattifying product if you need to. A light moisturizer can be great too. Look for anti-inflammatory ingredients like Centella, Green Tea and Chamomile. Silver is great too.
  • Use suscreen (oil free) SPF 30 at least or a make-up with SPF. Avoid stick/compact make-up, as these often have waxes which could clog your pores.

NIGHTCARE :

  • Doublecleanse (see my articles about cleansing). Your first cleans eremoves make up and SPF. The second one cleanses your skin.
  • Spot treatment
  • Use a Retinoid:vitamin A derivative like Retinol. Many brands have good retinols and they all have different percentages. If you want a stronger one choose Paula’s Choice or Neostrata. If you want to start milder look for Klapp Micro Retinol Soft Cream or Mad Hippie serum.
  • Moisturize:with a light moisturizer. Hyaluronic acid based product are great. A gel like l’Occitanes Aqua Réotier or Leegeehaam Serum is wonderfull at this stage.

SOME INGREDIENTS TO AVOID:

  • Mineral oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Isopropyl myristate & palmitate
  • Lanolin
  • Myristyl myristate
  • Propylene glycol (some persons, not all)
  • Sodiul lauryl & laureth sulphate.

Remeber that not everyone has the same reaction to cosmetic ingredients and some of the above mentionned will be perfectly ok for some.

Be consistent in what you do and seek for medical/dermatological advise if your acne doesn’t get better or gets worse.

SHOULD YOU GO FOR A FACIAL : YES OR NO ?

Are you going for a facial regularly ? Or were you planning to ? A good facialist can contribute to the overall condition of your skin. Here are a few tips to make the right choice:

– Experience. Choose your facialist according to the experience she/he has. A younger person does not have to be, per definition, unexperienced. Many younger facialists train with an experienced collegue/salon, before starting their own business.
– Professionality. Meaning: how does she/he present the salon (spa), how’s the website, what type of treatments does she/he offer.
– Brand. Don’t go because of the brand they’re using, go because of the person.
– Type of treatment. Before you decide where to go, ask yourself the question of what type of treatment you’re looking for. Wellness/relaxing or Intensive.
– “Anti-ageing” treatments often require the use of machinery (like Laser/LED). Articles about these will follow.
– Intake. Does the facialist do an intake before starting a treatment ? Questions about your expectations should be a part of the intake, as well as your medical background (discretely). No intake : stay away, I would say!
– Hygiene. Your first impression is most important here. Clean smell, but not smelling of desinfectant to make even the cat run away ! How’s the working material kept ? Clean towels before every new client. Soft background music and pleasant lighting. Might seem a bit over the top, but just imagine laying in a room lighted like an operation theatre. Not very pleasant, I assure you ….
– Price. Make sure you pay an “all-inclusive” price. No extras during treatment. Think of modelling of your eyebrows, extra masks. Should be clear on forehand.
– Ask how much time the facialist will actually be “working” on you. No use laying still with a clay mask on your face for half an hour. Do this at home ; you’re paying for the time !
– My believe is that the facialist should choose the right treatment for you. He/she knows what to do best. You’re not in a restaurant.

For very specific treatments, like stronger peels (Fruit Acids AHA/BHA) or acne treatments, go to a specialised salon. Some brands offer special training to their depositories. Make sure before you go !
Last but not least: your facialist can NOT replace your daily routine at home. A facial is meant to BOOST your skin. Your daily homework makes the real difference. In case you have a limited budget, just buy the best skincare you can afford and go to a facialist when you want to give yourself a treat.