Monday, April 13, 2020


I didn't really get into skincare until I was in my late 20s. Before I went to esthetics school, the idea of paying more than $6 for a cleanser (or "face wash," as those who are not in the field tend to call it) was an insane concept. It brings me great shame to admit, but yes, I was once...*GULP* a Clean & Clear, Neutrogena, St. Ives Apricot Scrub user. So trust me when I say that I understand why people are hesitant to pay the price tag that comes with using professional skincare products. I've been in your shoes! Take this journey with me to learn why you should be marching those shoes right out of the CVS beauty aisle and why you should make the switch to professional products instead.

I can say with 100% certainty that the most common question I am asked is "what drugstore products do you recommend?" To put it bluntly, I don't. You don't come in for a service and expect me to use drugstore products on your skin, right? You're spending your hard earned cash to experience a professional treatment. During a facial, I use cleansers, toners, exfoliants, masks, serums, moisturizers, eye creams, facial oils, lip treatments, etc. Hundreds of dollars worth of products! Clients are always so happy with their results, and are eager to learn how to maintain them between the recommended monthly treatments. And of course, they want to do so in the most inexpensive way possible. But I didn't use a $6 cleanser or a $12 serum on your skin during the treatment, so how can I tell you that doing so at home will get you the same results? It won't! 

OTC (over the counter) products differ from professional products in a variety of ways. They are mass produced, made for consumers who are "self diagnosing" their own skin conditions, and therefore contain a very small percentage of active ingredients (and a large percentage of filler ingredients) in order to avoid irritating skin (and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the stuff you're buying at Sephora, Ulta, Macy's, etc. is also considered OTC...despite costing just as much as pro products!). Professional products, however, are made in small batches so as to maintain the integrity of the ingredients. Pro skincare lines also use more technologically advanced delivery systems, meaning that active ingredients can get to where they need to go in order to do what they need to do. For instance, if you have a serum that is making a claim to have x% of an active ingredient, but the molecules of that serum are too large to actually penetrate the skin's surface, that ingredient cannot do anything other than sit on top of the skin. Professional lines use molecular technology that allow ingredients to penetrate the skin's layers in order to effect change. They also take into account the skin's pH, whereas OTC products normally do not. The skin's pH should be between 4.5-5.5, but OTC products make the skin too alkaline, which leaves the skin susceptible to bacterial growth and free radical invasion. Protecting the skin's barrier is the most important thing for all skin types! Bottom line-OTC products strip the skin. Let's leave the stripping for bachelor parties, shall we?

I've seen some articles claim that the best way to see if a product has effective active ingredients is to check the order of ingredients listed, but unfortunately that's not exactly true. I was trying to find a way to say this well in my own words, but I think this quote from celebrity esthetician and trusted skin care expert Renee Rouleau does a better job than I can:

Two products can have the exact same list of ingredients, and one will be highly effective while the other could be completely useless. The difference is the concentration of those ingredients. One product may use a very small amount while the other uses a clinically active level. Unfortunately for you, the consumer, there is no way to understand the difference. This is because all ingredients are supposed to be listed in order of the concentration used, but for ingredients with a concentration less than 1% they can be listed in any order. There’s a big difference between an ingredients used at .01% versus 1%, but you would never know it from the label on the bottle, tube or jar.

Don't forget that a lot of the claims that you see have absolutely no ACTUAL, LEGAL meaning. Terms like "dermatologist tested," "clinically proven," or "studies show..." are not regulated. A dermatologist can take a product, test it on their own skin and no one else, have a terrible reaction, but the product can still make the claim "dermatologist tested" because it's technically true. It's misleading, though, because it leads the consumer to believe that it's been tested on a ton of people and has been proven by a doctor to be considered safe. False! There is a lot of bullshit in the beauty industry, and consumers don't have time to do their homework on every product or every claim. That's why it should be left to the professionals. The claims that professional skincare lines make are usually based on results from an unbiased, third party lab, and there is information readily available to back it up. Professional brands work directly with estheticians in a very hands-on way, so you can be sure that when you're having a regimen designed for you, it's done by someone who knows what they're doing. There is a reason why licensed estheticians only work with one or two skincare lines. They take trainings from these brands, they use the products on all different skin types and conditions, and are constantly updating their knowledge based on the newest information available. They know how that specific line's delivery systems work, they stay up to date on product reformulations, and they are able to check in with clients on a regular basis to see how their skin is reacting to new products. Your local drugstore employees aren't checking in with you to see if your new moisturizer is working with your acne prone skin, but I bet your esthetician does!

I know that it's tough to want to shell out $60 for a Vitamin C serum when you see one on the shelf for $15. But it's not the same! When you use a high quality product, you don't need to use as much of it and you don't go through it as quickly. Professional products will last longer, they'll do more for your skin, and they come with an expert who can help you tweak your regimen to make them work for your specific skin type and concerns. Yes, that does mean that they cost more. But cost and worth are not the same thing. Plus, when you're using the right products, you don't need as many of them! You can start your professional skincare journey with just THREE products and see positive results, I guarantee it. Once you see the difference the right products make, you won't even look in the direction of St. Ives anymore. There are a lot of professional lines out there, and it can definitely be overwhelming. Reach out to your skin care specialist (if you don't have one yet...ahem...allow me to introduce myself). Personally, I use a well respected, industry leading brand called Image Skincare and have recently added Hale & Hush (a brand dedicated to sensitive skin and Oncology patients) as well. I'm obsessed! I can't wait to reopen so that I can share their products with you guys. Until then, if you are looking for some advice on building a regimen, I can guide you via the internet. Simply reach out via my website (, my Instagram (, Facebook (, or my email ( Now is the perfect time to try something new! As always, let me know if you have any questions. I'd love to hear from you!

love & lipstick (& liposomes!),

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