Wednesday, January 20, 2021


Hey there, hi there, ho there!

If you're reading this, it's safe to assume that you're acquainted with me on some level. Perhaps you come in for your favorite services, or perhaps you just follow me on social media. Either way, you've likely been introduced to me in some capacity. I try to regularly re-introduce myself on my social media platforms because new people follow me every day (insert creepy *joiiiiiin ussss...jooooooin us!* chant here). However, I realized that I haven't really done so on this platform. Plus, not everyone is constantly scrolling through social media like I am (okay probably many of you are), so I thought it was time that I talked about one of my favorite subjects-ME! (Kidding! Mostly).

My name is Cherrie, pronounced like 'Sherry,' just more inconveniently spelled. No vacation keepsake keychains for this girl, lemme tell ya. I'm 34, but I feel like I'm 19 most of the time (my lower back and collagen production do not agree). I have been a licensed esthetician since 2016, and I technically (aka legally) started my business in 2018. But let's rewind a little, shall we?

I've been obsessed with anything beauty related for as long as I can remember. My grandmother always had fun nail polish and lipsticks on her easily accessed bathroom shelf, and I helped myself to many swipes of both as a child. My mother didn't often wear makeup other than brow pencil and mascara, but she had a few extras on hand that conveniently sat right on the bathroom counter. If only I could go back to 11 year old Cherrie and explain that the white eyeliner was unused for a reason. But alas, I would smear it in jagged motions across my lashline, put on half a tube of shimmery pink lip gloss, and go on about my day as if I were the 6th Spice Girl. This wasn't a daily thing, but as I got a little older, I indeed started wearing makeup regularly. Gone were the white eyeliner and shimmery gloss, and in its place was dark brown eyeshadow up to my browbone, eyes rimmed with thick black liner, foundation 5 shades too dark, and brown lipliner with corpse-nude lipstick in the center. Why yes, I'm still cringing at my 8th grade class photo. Isn't everybody? We'll skip over the glittery green cream shadow days and head straight to my early 20s, thank you very much!

Because I was free to be creative with makeup for so many years (thanks, Mom!), I did eventually become fairly good at it. I would always be asked to do my friends' makeup on nights we'd be getting ready to go out (which seems like centuries ago, to be honest). Then, I started getting asked to do people's makeup for events that they were going to. Eventually, I started to build a rudimentary makeup kit and took freelance gigs-aka friends of friends were asking for recommendations and I was willing to do it for less than professional makeup artists were. I did the makeup for several weddings, and then began assisting other artists at events and weddings too. Now, I didn't make a career out of this. It was simply something I liked to do. I actually studied to be an elementary school teacher (and all you parents out there should be thrilled that I didn't end up going through with it, yikes). I did think about taking makeup artistry courses, but it seemed like an unnecessary expense for something that I had no real ambition to make a career out of. I had started seeing an esthetician in my early mid-twenties (hi, Adrienne!), and from time to time she would comment that the beauty industry might be up my alley. I didn't think I had what it took, to be honest. So I continued nannying and putting off thoughts of a career, but I did put myself on a few mailing lists of beauty schools in New York (CT did not have a licensing program at the time) just in case. Good thing, too, because I went through a breakup, and like most young women who have a flair for the dramatics, I decided to do something rash. I lost some weight in a weight loss competition, used my $950 winnings to head to New York and sign myself up for an esthetics course at Atelier Esthetique Institute of Esthetics. I had only been to NYC a handful of times in my life before that, and didn't know my way around AT ALL, so this was a big step for me. That relationship was good for something, I guess.

I worked my butt off in school. I didn't just want to be the best-I gave myself no other option. I didn't get less than an A on any test or assignment. I took it very seriously and studied almost every minute that I wasn't working my 10 hour a day job. I woke up at 5:00 every Saturday and Sunday for almost a year and drove to South Norwalk train station, where I took the 6:33 train into NYC. I didn't know how to navigate the Subway and couldn't afford cabs because I was paying $800/month out of pocket just for my tuition, so I walked to and from Grand Central Station to 14th & 7th every school day. Am I telling you this to impress you with my dedication? Yes, yes I am. I want you to know how dedicated I was to what I was doing, because it's what got me where I am right now-a business owner! But before I got to where I am right now, I followed a different dream. Being in NYC for school made me fall in love with it, and I thought there was no better place to start a career in the beauty industry. I took a leap of faith and moved to Brooklyn to embark on my journey into my new career. 

After living in NYC for about six months and feeling like I'd mastered the waxing aspect of esthetics, I began applying for jobs in skincare. I had my first interview and scheduled a second, where I'd be doing a facial demo...but before that could happen, I got a text from my own esthetician. Adrienne had been sharing her Ridgefield space with someone, and that person was not going to resign their lease. Would I know anyone who might be interested? Why yes, indeed I might...When she told me the price, I couldn't believe it. I knew that it was an opportunity that I had to consider. It was hard, though. It was the end of summer in New York, and I was having the time of my life. I had favorite places. I had friends. I had opportunities...but if I had moved to NYC to get experience as a stepping stone to being a business owner, why let a chance to do it sooner slip away? I hadn't been there as long as I'd wanted to be, and I'm not sure I would have ever come back without the opportunity, but I took another leap of faith. They kept working out, so why not? As it happens, I'm still mid-air. 

I moved back to CT in September, and I can tell you that moving in with your parents while you're in your 30s is not ideal...especially when you have to share a room with your sister. I had no savings. No car. No supplies at all. I took out credit cards with an already crappy score and started small. I didn't even have the money to get an LLC at first. I took family and friends and then friends of friends. I was still taking the train to my wax specialist job in NYC 4 days a week, where the commute was almost 3 hours each way. I did this until March, when I absolutely could not take the commute any longer. I got a car, got a job as a nanny, and changed my schedule again. A couple of evenings a week, half day Saturday, and Sundays. Between nannying and my business, I worked 7 days a week. I officially formed my LLC in November of 2018, struggled my way through 2019 while still working myself to the bone, and had very high hopes for 2020. We all know how that went! I briefly gave up, to be honest, and decided that when my lease was up at the Ridgefield location, I'd be closing my doors and maybe trying again in a few years. The defeat didn't last long, though. It was only about a week or so of despair until my friend Bethany told me that her friend was looking for someone to rent out a room in her wellness studio right in downtown Bethel. Downtown Bethel! Where I live! My dream location! Who was I to give up when opportunity still felt like knocking? Pandemic be damned, I met with Lori and leapt again. I was only allowed to do waxing from July-October, but I made it work (despite my nanny job ending six months before I was prepared for it to. Goodbye, safety net!). Facials resumed, and I was thrilled. Then, in October, a fire broke out in our business' building. My freshly painted space was ruined, along with a couple of furniture items/products/supplies. Honestly, I felt ruined too. I couldn't believe that after all of what had already happened in 2020, I had to deal with a fire. Luckily, it was only a couple of weeks before Lori found a temporary location and we were back up and running, but it was so much to deal with. Again, am I telling you this to impress you with my determination? Again, yes. But now let's get to the point.

When I had the chance to move back to CT to start my very own business, I could have designed it any way I wanted. I could have chosen to stick with just waxing. I could have chosen to be a facialist and focus only on skin. I could have went the makeup route. I was in control of creating whatever kind of services I wanted, and could price them any way that I wanted. I realized that I didn't want to focus on just one aspect of the beauty industry-I loved waxing, skin, and makeup. So I decided that I would offer all three. Working as a wax specialist at EWC, I learned a lot about the business. More specifically, I learned a lot about what sucks about the business. Visiting spas around NYC and in my hometown taught me about what I wanted and didn't want as well. I decided that I wanted to design a beauty studio that catered to people like me and my friends-average people who want a comfortable experience without having to spend an arm and a leg. I'm not really a "spa" girl. I hate the all white, cold, exclusivity vibe. When I think of places like that, I think of being at a fancy dinner with well dressed strangers while I'm stuck in the corner wearing sweats and confused which fork to use for what course. I don't feel like I belong. It doesn't feel like something I could make a regular part of my life. Plus, the prices can be bonkers-a lot of the spas that I researched charged almost $100 for a 30 minute facial. I was determined to create the opposite environment because I knew that I wasn't alone in thinking those things. Don't get me wrong, I don't think that there's anything wrong with these types of places, the practitioners that pour their heart into it, or the people that love going to them. I don't think there's anything wrong with a business charging whatever they want for their services. But unless a person has a lot of room in their budget, it's not something they can do on a monthly basis. As a matter of fact, most of my friends had either never had a facial before or only booked one for a special occasion. I thought...why do beauty services feel so exclusive and expensive? What about regular people? Despite other professionals in my entrepreneur group trying to dissuade me from designing an affordable beauty business, I was determined to prove that there was a desire for it. And though I'm still in the "start up" phase of my business (aka the struggle phase), the fact that I'm still kickin' means that I was right. 

I work very hard to keep my prices low. I don't do so because I don't value my work, I do so because I think that there's an entire group that is being overlooked when it comes to the beauty industry. But I see you, because I am you. We ALL deserve to look and feel our very best. I might not have fancy sheets or machines, but it's because I'm dedicated to bringing you an amazing experience that doesn't cost you a car payment's worth of cash-and as you've read, when I'm dedicated, I make it happen. I don't know what the future of my business holds, but I can promise that I will remain rooted in my mission to make beauty services affordable and accessible for all. You won't be seeing a chandelier anytime soon, but you'll definitely be glowing like one. 

love & lipstick,

Thursday, January 7, 2021


As an esthetician, I'm always getting asked skincare related questions. When working one on one, I can give specific answers and suggestions, but it's much more difficult to do that in blog posts or on social media. There are so many different factors when it comes to what's best for an individual person. However, there are some pieces of advice that are generally good for everyone to follow. Proper product order is definitely one of them, so let's start off the new year doing things correctly, eh?  

Step 1: Wash your hands. Don't skip this step. If your hands aren't clean, your expensive cleanser is    going to remove the dirt and oil from your hands before it can even get to the skin on your face.    Trust me on this, it makes a difference. 

Step 2: Remove makeup (if applicable). I like simple ol' Garnier Micellar Water. There's no need to buy an expensive makeup remover. Soak a cotton pad and gently press onto the eyes to remove eye makeup. You may need a fresh cotton pad for each eye if you're heavy handed on the liquid liner like me. I take a third cotton pad and swipe my skin if I'm wearing makeup on my face, too. 

Step 3: Cleanse. Do you need to double cleanse? If you've already removed your makeup, no. If you have super sensitive skin, no. If you have makeup on your skin, OR if you're about to do a weekly treatment, go for it. I always remove makeup with the cotton pad and I have sensitive skin, so one cleanse is fine. We want to protect our skin's barrier the best we can! On the nights where I'm giving myself a treatment, I double cleanse. Either way, take your time cleansing your skin. In order for the rest of your routine to work its best, you need to do this step properly. No hot water, no cold water-lukewarm water is best. Gently massage the cleanser into the skin and move in small circles, making sure to get all of the crevices and near the hairline as well. A cleanse should take a good minute-minute and a half. It sounds long, but trust me. Also, you should be taking every skincare product that you use down your neck and chest, and cleanser is no exception. A clean canvas is key!

Step 4: After gently drying your skin with a fresh towel, it's time to apply your serum. Serums are very concentrated, and are designed to pack a punch. There is no need to apply too much of it. The skin can only absorb so much, and over application does not increase the benefits of a product, it just wastes it! If the serum comes in a dropper, don't touch the dropper directly to your face or fingers. Put a pea sized amount onto the tips of your fingers, then press your fingers together and press serum into the skin. If you're using more than one serum, I suggest applying the serum with the most active ingredients first and then follow with the others. *NOTE* I know many estheticians who recommend putting eye cream on before serum. Personally, I don't think it matters much...but I would rather the serum cover more of my skin, and it can't do that if the eye cream is applied first. It's up to you!

Step 5: Apply eye cream. This may be controversial, but it really doesn't matter which finger you apply the eye cream with-it's not like you're going to be using a piece of sandpaper, so using your pointer finger instead of your ring finger isn't going to change the pressure much. As long as you're doing it super gently and patting instead of rubbing, you're good. If it makes you feel better to have some guidance, most people use their ring finger or their pinky finger to apply eye cream. You're going to be applying the eye cream (about the amount of a grain of rice) on a fingertip, dabbing the opposing fingertip into that, then dotting the cream around the orbital bone. You never want to put the product right up to the lash line, because products can migrate and you don't want active ingredients getting into your eyes-ouch! I always bring the eye cream out toward my temples and tap whatever remains on my fingers to the brow bone. Pro tip-put a dab of eye cream and tap it around the lip line. Double duty, baby!

Step 6: Apply moisturizer/SPF/night cream, depending on whether this is a morning or evening routine. If it's the morning, that means you'll be applying sunscreen (right? riiiiiight????). Now, many skincare pros say that whether your sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen or a physical sunscreen will determine if you should use moisturizer before or after. This sounds confusing, I know. The best way you can know for sure is to use a sunscreen/moisturizer combo. My favorite is from Image Skincare. Their holy grail Prevention+ Hydrating SPF Moisturizer was reformulated a little over a year ago, and that formula was HORRIBLE. Professionals complained, clients complained, and Image listened. They stopped production on the Hydrating SPF Moisturizer in the fall and the improved version is coming out in April, yay! They do have a Matte SPF Moisturizer and several others as well, but boy am I excited for the return of the Hydrating. ANYWAY, I digress. generally, SPF should be your last step, but if the product you're using states otherwise, follow their directions. If you are confused about what to do with your SPF, shoot me a message! And when applying, don't forget your neck, chest, ears, and lips! 

If it's the evening, you will be applying your night cream following eye cream application. You do NOT need a ton of this! A dime sized amount should cover your face, neck, and chest. Remember, the skin can only absorb so much. Putting more and more product is the same thing as throwing away your hard earned money. Less is more! Pro tip-dab your night cream onto the backs of your hands. The hands show signs of aging early!

Ta-da! You're done with the basics! But what if you're doing an at home treatment? Fear not, friend. I've got you. If you're doing the full she-bang, it would go as follows: cleanse, exfoliate, remove exfoliant, apply mask, remove mask, apply serums, eye cream, and moisturizer. Wondering where toner comes in on this list? Most people pop on some toner after cleansing the skin. If you're doing a treatment, I would do it after removing the mask. Oils can get tricky, because so many of them are not appropriate for the skin on your face. If you're using a facial oil, I recommend using it in the evening as the last step to seal in the applied products. And I don't care what J.Lo lies about. Olive oil is not her beauty secret and it shouldn't be yours. Leave it in the kitchen. I suggest grapeseed, jojoba, or avocado oil instead. 

Skincare doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) complicated. You don't need a 10 step routine. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on the right regimen for your skin. A basic skincare starter kit would be a cleanser, a moisturizer/SPF combo, and a night cream. Once you've gotten into a routine, you can start adding serums for specific concerns and/or find the right exfoliant and masks for your at home maintenance. Regular treatments are vital, too. When the same person is seeing your skin every month, they are able to see the changes in your skin and can help guide you toward changes you may need to make. Working with someone who listens to your needs and knows your lifestyle is the best way to ensure an effective regimen. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Like I said, I can't give specific advice online because skin and lifestyles are so unique, but I hope you learned a thing or two. If you need to tweak your regimen or have questions about designing one that's right for you, book an appointment for a facial treatment at my studio OR book a Virtual Facial Treatment-coming soon to Cherrie Darling Beauty!

love & lipstick,