An esthetician shares the most common questions she gets about skin care


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Photo: Tamon George

Skin-care advice is simple—until it isn’t. What’s the most effective way to get rid of a breakout…fast! How do I use a jade roller…quick! What on earth is the difference between retinol and a retinoid…SOS! As an esthetician, I receive questions on a daily basis, especially on Instagram. Seemingly over the last year, my clients have morphed into die-hard skin-care fanatics. Maybe it’s the predominance of self-care or the environmental consciousness of today’s society, but nowadays, people have questions.

The truth is, there’s no real one-size-fits-all solution in the beauty world, and while there’s plenty of great advice being given, it can be difficult to know whose suggestions to take. To cut through the clutter, and to bring you real skin solutions that I’ve seen success with in my 10-plus year career, I’ve narrowed down the most commonly asked questions I get as an esthetician in my Instagram DMs. Here we go.

What’s the fastest and most effective way to get rid of dark spots?

First and foremost patience is key. There are no quick fixes. Effective results come from consistency and time. Microdermabrasion, enzyme peels, and natural sources of vitamin C and E work beautifully at treating dark spots. Both are potent antioxidants that work together to prevent free-radical damage to the skin, and simultaneously vitamin C brightens while vitamin E promotes new skin cell regeneration. Always follow up with sunscreen, because dark spots will only get darker with sun exposure.

I suffer from cystic acne. Any recommendations on how to prevent it?

Gut health is very important so if you’re consistently battling cystic breakouts, making subtle tweaks to the foods you are (or aren’t) eating can be a helpful remedy. Try to eat foods high in zinc such chickpeas and oatmeal and probiotics like kimchi and yogurt. Cut out processed, sugar-based foods as they exacerbate inflammation. Topically, I suggest turmeric masks, because turmeric has antiseptic properties so when you apply it to cystic acne, it can help to dehydrate the blemishes, drain out the pus, and reduce all inflammation. Leave mask on for 45 minutes, rinse, tone, and apply moisturizer.

Want an easy two-ingredient mask? Turmeric powder + liquid base (like aloe, water, or yogurt)

My pores are huge! Any recommendations on how to shrink them?

Unfortunately, you can’t actually shrink your pores. Whatever pore size you are born with will be with you forever, but, you can certainly make them appear smaller. Rebalancing the skin’s oil production is crucial, so while you’ll want to make sure that your skin is clean, you don’t want to over cleanse, which can strip it an cause an over production of sebum as a result. Keep the acid mantle nice and intact by using creamy and oil-based cleansers that don’t tap high levels of surfactants. If you’re looking for an in-office treatment, Laser Genesis treatments help as well.

Any tips on avoiding breakouts and keeping skin in check while flying?

I fly pretty often and have mastered the art of never getting a blemish post-flight. The key is to prep skin a day or two before your flight by applying an intense hydrating mask for 15 minutes. The day of travel you’ll want to do your nighttime skin-care routine before you get on the plane. Doing this will reduce any breakouts that may be caused due to flying. Also, carry a travel size bottle of rose water to mist skin with periodically while in flight and drink loads of water. Staying hydrated is key.

Wait, what is oil cleansing, and will it break me out?

No, the oil cleansing method with not break you out, in fact, it’s designed to do the exact opposite. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to use oil to clean your face but it’s actually one of the best methods to adopt, especially for acne-prone skin. Oil dissolves oil, it’s the basic principle of chemistry. The best way to dissolve over sebaceous glands (oil) is by using a similar solvent in composition: Other oils.

By doing this, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones to keep skin balanced and hydrated without disrupting skins acid mantle. I use it on all of my clients and myself. The best combination of oils I had success with for all skin type is a mixture of hemp seed oil and safflower oil with a drop of sea buckthorn and two to three drops of your desired essential oil (unless these are sensitizing to skin).

If you’re interested in how a derm would shop at the drugstore for under $100, we’ve got that and while we’re at it, here’s how much of each product to use on your face.

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