New on THM: Confessions of an Esthetician

Confessions of an Esthetician: 8 Skin Truths You Should Know

Originally published on The Haute Mess | March 9th, 2016

I’ve have the best job for a girl boss who is also a hot mess. I get to primp brides, airbrush people from pale to bronze in a minute, and well, pop pimples! I’ve been an esthetician for eight years and I love to share what I know with everyone who wants to hear it. Through trial and error, education, and experience in my personal and professional life, these are the things I know to be true.

Acne is still a mystery

If it wasn’t, no one would have it. And the worst is, it doesn’t go away when you turn twenty. You can breakout your whole life (and probably will). I know I hate it too. Like many things in a girl’s world, there is still no exact understanding of acne. Different people have different kinds of acne for different reasons and it’s best to get a professional’s opinion before reaching for every over the counter product you can find. Using anything that strips your skin or is too harsh may clear some breakouts out initially, but your skin will usually end up worse.

  • Cystic acne is usually an internal issue or cause of skin dehydration and is best treated with benzoyl peroxide.
  • Whiteheads are a sign of bacteria and is common with oily skin, sweating, and touching or messing with your skin. I like salicylic acid to treat these.
  • Blackheads are debris, oil, and dead skin that have oxidized and winds up getting trapped in the pore. Professional extractions are the best way to rid these. Always seek out an esthetician for help with your acne. You may just need a facial and education, but you may need a dermatologist.

You should never have strip wax on your face

I just don’t think it’s a good idea. Ever. Strip wax can be great for body waxing but is often too harsh for the face. A hard wax dries and peels off without a paper strip. This wax sticks to the hair, not the skin, causing less contraindications. If you are sensitive, are on blood thinners, or using retinol (to name a few) and the person waxing you doesn’t know and uses strip wax, your skin will probably come off with the strip.

I truly believe thanks to inexperienced technicians and strip wax, so many people are horrified of waxing. Anyone who has ever been burnt, pigmented, or lost an eyebrow probably had it done with strip wax! Hard wax is the way to go.

Sunscreen is everything.

You must protect your skin from the sun. Period. Your cells will mutate without sun protection and can cause skin cancer, which one in five Americans will have in their lifetime. UV exposure is also responsible for 90% of premature aging. Hyper-pigmentation, wrinkles, and sagging is the result of not wearing sunscreen. Always cover at least your face, neck, chest and hands. These areas are exposed daily and always age first. Ever notice the neck, chest, or hands of a celebrity with plastic surgery? Those areas always give away their true age.

If you are break-out prone, oily, sensitive, or like natural alternatives, use ones with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide only. Preventing is a lot easier than treating, medically and esthetically. Trust me, I’ve had both issues!

Dehydration is the most common and misunderstood skin condition and it’s what is ruining your skin right now.

You can feel dry and actually be dry. You can feel dry and actually be oily. It’s as simple as understanding your skin type is in a range between oily and dry, and then there are skin conditions, which can apply to any skin type.

One of these conditions is dehydration and it causes your skin to “feel dry.” The biggest fix to this? Use a sulfate free cleanser, not soap, and cleanse over a sink with warm water, not in a hot shower. Remove cleanser with a clean, wet wash cloth and pat dry. When you’re looking for products and you tell someone who is not an educated esthetician that you are “dry”, and they give you a heavy moisturizer, you will break out if you’re actually dehydrated. Always get a recommendation! Skin consultations are usually complimentary at all spas.

Extractions are necessary.

Some people get cavities easy and are loyal to their dentist visits, some people can’t keep weight off and are loyal to their trainer, other people have high maintenance skin and they are loyal to me. There are reasons why there is a huge market for professional facials, the biggest reason being extractions. The sanitation, technique, and disinfection are steps that can only be done right by a good esthetician. When doing it yourself, you’ll spread infection, making it worse, and can damage or scar your skin. You’ve done it before. You know it’s true!

I wish we all had awesome eyebrows.

I love doing people’s eyebrows. I could do it all day. The one thing I wish everyone understood is that my waxing stick is not a magic wand. For some reason we tend to think if we only had someone’s eyebrows, we would look just like them, or that we have a lot more hair than we really do.

I can’t give you Megan Fox eyebrows if you have Lucille Ball’s. We can tint them, tweeze them, trim them, pencil them in, wax them, but I just can’t give you a brow transplant, an eye lift, and lip filler with a couple minutes and some wax. (I’m sorry!) It stinks. All you can do is leave them alone. Like really leave them alone. For a month! Let them grow in as much as possible and then we can go to the drawing board.

You will turn back into a pumpkin without some sort of regimen.

It is my job to educate my clients about skin and give professional advice after working with their skin one on one. Your time and money afford a professional and customized skin care recommendation, use it wisely! Ask questions and get a clear understanding of your skin. You don’t have to purchase from me and you don’t have to have a million products, but definitely invest in a cleanser instead of soap, or a moisturizer without sunscreen for the night when I tell you that it will change your skin. It only takes a couple of bad habits to wipe out that nice skin care treatment you have.

I’m not staring at you.

I love my disclaimer clients. I do airbrush tan and I thoroughly enjoy it if only for the amusement I get from my clients. The disclaimer clients will tell me their list of warnings all the way to the room. “I had a kid” “I have cellulite”, “I have stretch marks”, “I ate bread for lunch”, “My boobs are weird”, “I haven’t shaved”. Relax. I’m not actually looking at you. I’m looking at you without actually looking at you, like a doctor does, if that makes sense.

If I could have a giant sign that says “Just stop. You’re perfect” I would, but that would just be one more tan covered thing for me to wipe down. We all have flaws but we all need to be nicer to ourselves too! Be confident and remember I’m making sure you get the perfect tan and honestly couldn’t describe what you looked like five minutes after our visit. Except for the time you wore disposal panties on your head as a shower cap. I won’t forget that.

Your face won’t fall off without “x,y,z”.

You don’t really need a toner, or a masque, or an eye serum, to name a few. I classify products into three categories. Maintenance products which maintain your skin type (cleansers and moisturizers), treatment products which change your skin condition and are results oriented (serums, exfoliants, retinol), and fluff products. The shit you buy that you really don’t need. (Who seriously has time for a weekly masque anyway?) Save it for your facials.

I’m not perfect.

Don’t be afraid to tell me you use rubbing alcohol as a toner, I will cringe but I won’t judge you, I will help you! I think part of what makes me good at what I do is that I have freakishly been wearing night cream since age 7, cellulite cream since 11, and eye cream since 14. However, I definitely don’t do everything by the book.

Reader discretion advised: I don’t take my eye makeup off at night. Ahh I don’t. I wash completely around my mascara and eyebrows. So not okay.

I hope I’ve solved some of your skin blunders and inspired you to take better care of your skin now instead of ten years from now! Otherwise, you’ll come to me in ten years looking fifteen years older and wanting to look twenty years younger and I’ll be looking the same saying, this brush is not a magic wand. Hopefully I won’t have an eye infection.


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More about Erika Lauren

Erika Lauren is a Boston born French girl spending her days as a workin girl and dog mom, and her nights as a nocturnal writer. She's a content creator for The Haute Mess, XOJane, and Email:

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