Over the last few years, I've become a bit of a beauty obsessive. However, this obsession wasn't the result of a natural curiosity, but out of necessity. I've always struggled with breakout prone skin, and its been a bumpy (pun intended) road ever since adolescence. I've seen dermatologists, have gone on and off medications, and had periods of beautifully clear skin and periods of mild to moderate acne.
After spending a semester abroad in London, my skin was wrecked. Despite loving my time there, my skin apparently hated me for the change in climate/diet/whatever it was that triggered almost a year of constant, painful, and emotionally traumatic breakouts. I entered my senior year in college with the lowest self-esteem I'd ever had, and very little hope.
Luckily, I found the right dermatologist, who put me on the right medications, followed up with me, and approached the problem from multiple angles. In a few months, my skin was amazingly clear, and stayed that way until my dermatologist weaned me off the meds. I've been off of all of the medications for quite a few months now, and my skin is still doing pretty well. It's a vast improvement over what it was when I went back to school, and thankfully, my breakouts are significantly smaller and much less frequent.
But my skin is still far from perfect. I stick to a simple regimen of unfussy products that do the trick, focusing on treating my skin with gentleness and respect instead of trying to punish it with every harsh acne product under the sun. Unfortunately, there's the odd occasion when I use a different product to remove my make-up, or drink waayyy too much coffee, or don't get any sleep, or do all of these skin no-no's at once. Which I did recently. Of course.
A few weeks ago, I started a new job (!) that I'm really enjoying, but forces me to get up early, sit through terrible traffic, and get back late through even more terrible traffic. Getting re-adjusted to these hours meant a few weeks of tumultuous sleep, and I decided that this was the right time to experiment with cleansing balms and oils (of which there are some amazing ones, but few have worked well for me so far). I had also been guzzling the coffee, and was approaching that time of the month. *GASP!* *TMI* (Sorry, I'm not sorry). Naturally, my skin went on a rampage, and I got the worst breakout I'd had in a year. YYYAAAAAYYYYYY.
Luckily, I had an appointment with Lisa at Sugar Me in West Hollywood, and it seriously couldn't have come at a better time. Lisa is a very well-rounded aesthetician, with expertise in not just facials, but brows, waxing, lashes, and sugaring. A Nor-Cal transplant, Lisa left her corporate career behind to explore the combination of science and artistry that defines being a great aesthetician. Lisa is one of the only aestheticians in California that specializes in sugaring, a form of hair removal that she demonstrated on a patch of my arm. A waxy-honey like substance, Lisa's homemade sugar goes on sticky and she sort of flicks it off to easily remove the hair. I was impressed at how, even for a baby like myself, it barely hurt! I'll be going back for a more in depth hair removal session soon, but back to the facial:
Lisa is very hands on and perceptive to what exactly is going on with her clients' skin. I really liked that she uses products with organic ingredients (like milk, sugar, almonds, and apples), but isn't one of those natural beauty fanatics that claims everything made in a lab is evil. In fact, she prefers products made in a lab so she knows that there are stable percentages of the ingredients, and how they will affect skin's pH (an often-overlooked but very important component to proper skin care). Unlike a lot of facials I've had, she doesn't use steam, as it tends to dehydrate and age the skin (eek!), but instead spends a good portion of it on the facial massage. Lasting about half an hour and intended reduce inflammation and stimulate lymph drainage, the massage was amazzinnngg. Easily my favorite part, and I'm dying to go back to get another one. The facial itself was gentle, hydrating, and relaxing, while still using products that seemed strong enough to address everything from my breakouts, to my combination skin.
I left the facial feeling revived. Lisa told me that a few under-the-skin lurkers would surface over the next few days (which they did), and my skin would be looking much better in a week or two. 7 days out, those breakouts had healed and my skin looked calm and wonderful. And then I used those stupid make-up removing wipes, got another lovely breakout, and attacked it with everything in my arsenal. Unfortunately, I've been left with some redness and inflammation, reminding me that everyday is a new battle with my breakout-prone skin. But the battle seems easier now that I have Lisa on my side; I'll definitely be going back soon for a calming facial session and another one of those fantastic facial massages!
For more on Lisa and her services, check out her website here!