2024 Monthly Columns

The Skin Care Alphabet: Vetting Vitamins 

The word vitamin comes from the stems “vita,” meaning life, and “amine,” meaning amino acids. The name seems fitting when it feels like it takes an entire lifetime to master the ins and outs of seemingly singular letters like A, B, C, D, E, and K! 

Skin care professionals can introduce vitamins to the integumentary system to age gracefully, ward off sensitivity, provide lubrication, plasticize protective coating, and offset DNA destruction. We can also use them as adaptogens to remind skin of its natural regenerative abilities. Beyond having several options with mirrored benefits, the real complexity of vitamins lies in permeability, solubility, bioavailability, conversions, labeling accuracy, and understanding. One of the most important aspects of vitamins in skin care is delivery systems – that is, how the benefits of the vitamins actually get into skin. So how do we ensure efficacy as professional skin professionals? We vet our vitamins!  

THE VETTING PROCESS 

Permeability 

A great starting question to ask is do the topicals even cross the skin barrier? It seems 

like a basic question, but do you really know the answer? The stratum corneum (SC) actually lacks the vascularity that would allow for easy delivery of vitamins to the extracellular matrix. Whether intact, compromised, or obliterated, our barrier instinctually ensures external stimuli do not get internalized. If we picture the stratum corneum as an electric fence, the first step in getting vitamins to skin is to temporarily turn off its electrostatic abilities. 

Another revelation is that penetration and absorption are not necessarily interchangeable. Penetration typically refers to the integumentary system, skin’s canopy, and more superficial epidermal layers. For penetration of the epidermis, additives such as low molecular weighted hyaluronic acid (HA), linoleic acid, and certain kinds of alcohols act as vehicles, drivers, and delivery systems for better product drawdown. Undoubtedly, you’ve seen these additives in your skin care products; you maybe just didn’t know why they were present. Enhanced permeation is the reason vitamin C and E are often paired with ferulic acid. 

Absorption is used more when referencing the circulatory system and crossing the epidermal junction into the dermis and the bloodstream. Infiltrating this abyss is reserved for A+ elites, your handy dandy vitamin A. It is this depth dependency that has it considered as teratogenic for moms in the making. It achieves these depths because of its amazing skills within our next vetting process. 

  

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 Trisha Dowling is a 2004 National Aesthetics Institute graduate, a service provider for the Forbes Five Star Spa at the Phoenician/ Scottsdale from 2005 to 2014, lead trainer for Massage Envy/ Desert Massage from 2013 to 2015, “Aesthetician of the Year,” and found her forever home with Aveda Inspire Greatness Institute of Phoenix department lead and head instructor.  

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Special Delivery: Mediums & Modalities of Cannabinoids

Skin care and growing cannabis are actually very similar practices for me. While this is my 20th year in the treatment room, it is only my third year in the cannabis industry, and I’ve come to learn that it is measured in dog years – for every single year of changes and advances in the industry it feels like three or more has passed. The common ground is simply that, like people, plants are organisms whose existence, health, and equilibrium rely on basic needs: air, water, sun, and sustenance. 

Just like plants, we operate as organisms in optimum pH. Internally, our bodies need to be slightly alkaline, meaning basic. Externally, skin is happiest functioning in a slightly acidic environment due to our acid mantel, the oil skin produces to protect our body from pathogens, provide hydration, and lock in moisture. Without our acid mantel, any little microbe or pathogen that lands on our skin could ultimately kill us. The soil a plant grows in depends on a particular acidity to thrive as well, and every plant has different needs. Without proper pH a plant can be stunted, sick, or even die. Thankfully, being a skin care professional rarely gets that serious. 

THE SKIN CARE-CANNABIS CONNECTION 

While there is so much overlap between our body composition and that of the cannabis plant, there is also a lot of overlap in the skin care and cannabis market. Both have an overabundance of products hitting the shelves on a daily basis. Some of them are good, some of them are great, and some of them leave a lot to be desired. Even as a professional, the competition for your attention is overwhelming, but the same common sense your superior education and pedigree has bestowed upon you as a skin care professional should be equally applied to your CBD and cannabis products as to your traditional skin care. First and foremost, know your state regulations regarding cannabis. While it is a cold hard fact that CBD does not produce a high, it is still a highly regulated ingredient on a federal and state level and demands respect, integrity, and understanding.  

There is an important lesson in the emerging market of ever expanding results-oriented cannabis products: there are many good products out there. They might not be legally compliant, but that doesn’t make them bad. It just makes them noncompliant (illegal). To flip the script, there are many legally compliant products coming out, and more to come as the industry expands, that may not be very good. Therefore, it is the skin care professional’s job to understand how to decipher the snake-oil from the good stuff. Consider this article an introduction to the process.  

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Antonia Schreiber is a New York State licensed massage therapist, cosmetologist specializing in aesthetics science, and electrologist. With over 16 years’ experience in the industry, Schreiber’s work has brought her everywhere from the classroom to her certified green spa, the Windham Spa, to the United States Olympic Training Center and beyond. Outside of the treatment room she is a writer, speaker, and consultant with the New York State Department of Education, leading education firms and industry magazines. Antonia’s current passion projects include treatment research and development for burn patients, and assisting in the development of the United States Paralymic Bobsled and Skeleton Team. 

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AI in Action: Intelligent Business Solutions  

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly popular and can be a great tool for businesses to improve efficiencies, save time, and decrease costs. AI allows businesses to automate tasks, avoid human mistakes, make faster decisions, and generate market data which contributes to the overall success of the business. Here are seven ways that spas can leverage AI to strengthen and grow their waxing business. 

  1. ENHANCED CLIENT EXPERIENCE

Artificial intelligence can be used to improve the client experience in many ways. For example, implementing an AI-powered chatbot on your website or social media platforms will provide instant responses to inquiries and a more robust way to track mentions or tags on social media. This information can then be used for following up, which helps ensure there are no missed marketing opportunities. An AI-powered chatbot can also guide clients through the booking process on your website, eliminating the need for a staff member to constantly monitor and respond to these requests. Research driven by artificial intelligence can provide important insight into client preferences and behaviors, allowing you to tailor your spa menu and offer more personalized services.  

  

  1. APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING

AI systems can be used to facilitate client appointment bookings while also optimizing your spa’s schedule. Scheduling is an integral part of any spa’s operations as you want to reduce downtimes between services in order to fit in as many appointments as you can in one day. This is especially important during busy times, such as evenings and weekends. Gaps in the schedule can mean lost revenue and staff inefficiencies. Avoiding downtime between appointments maximize revenue and supports a successful business.  

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Lindsay Miller is the president of LYCON Wax North America. Having first discovered LYCON wax in the United Kingdom 10 years ago, she has dedicated her time to growing the brand across North America, including introducing LYCON to Canada. Training and product quality are extremely important to Miller and she prides herself on building a strong team around her that can offer the best customer experience possible. LYCON continues to be a market leader in hair removal wax and is used in top spas and salons around the world.  

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Shades of Care: Top Skin Concerns & Approaches for Melanin-Rich Skin  

Identifying and treating skin concerns is the basic calling card of every skin professional. The challenge, however, lies when the skin concern or condition is not as obvious to identify as we’d hope. Melanin-rich skin, to date, represents less than 20% of skin concerns in dermatology and basic industry curriculum textbooks. Not only do skin care professionals encounter uncertainties around traditionally identifying skin conditions, but for clients with melanin-rich skin, there exists an underlying belief of some levels of immunity to certain skin conditions. The truth is, all skin is susceptible to all skin aggressors and conditions. The primary factors skin care professionals should bear in mind are the variable nuances that can be masked and less than obvious skin concerns. 

As always, The Melanin Diaries are here to provide you with a few pointers to help you successfully navigate your client support for clients with melanin-rich skin. Before we call out the usual suspects of top skin concerns for various darker skin tones, we need to lay a good foundation. Human skin is more similar than it is different. To support and care for melanin-rich skin, understanding the inherent similarities it holds with all skin is fundamental, prior to being able to understand its unique elements.  

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Reference 

  

  1. C. R Cooper: The Skin Theologian. The No Compromise Black Skin Care Guide “Pro Edition”: The Skin ProfessionalSkin professional’s Culturally Intelligent Tool for Caring for Darker Skin. (© Charmaine Cooper Publications 2022) 

  


C.R. Cooper is a connective, knowledgeable, and compassionate educator who has been a skin enthusiast for over 24 years. As the education manager and master educator for a renowned global institute of learning in the skin health industry, Cooper values organizational and individual industry standards, professional and personal brand integrity, but most importantly the inherent worth in every skin professional.  

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Scraping By: Gua Sha 

Sometimes what’s old is new again. This can certainly be applied to gua sha. Gua sha (Chinese: 刮痧; pinyin: guā shā; pronounced gwahshah) began its rise to internet prominence in 2021 and has remained a topic of interest ever since. A search for #guasha results in over 2.9 billion views on TikTok, and over 728,000 posts on Instagram. Articles on gua sha can be found in magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Allure, and Harper’s Bazaar, and on news sites such as Newsweek, ABC News, Good Morning America, the Today Show, and more.

ANCIENT HISTORY 

It’s believed that the practice of gua sha can be traced back to the Paleolithic Age where hands or stones were rubbed on various parts of the body to alleviate pain or sickness, and it was documented as a form of treatment in medical journals during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) by the ancient Chinese.  

The name gua sha breaks down to mean: gua for scraping, and sha for redness. This longstanding Traditional Chinese Medicine healing method was adopted into other Asian cultures and goes by kashin in Japan, kerokan in Indonesia, gual sa in Korea, and cao gió in Vietnam, while practitioners in France know it as tribo-effleurage. Thanks to the virality of social media, as well as copious amounts of news coverage, gua sha is now universally known as a treatment modality. 

STUDIES SHOW 

 In gua sha, practitioners use a smooth-edged tool to stroke skin, gliding along the lymphatic system to improve blood circulation and aid in drainage function, resulting in the rapid rush of blood circulation to the treatment area. A 2021 study found that scraping marks (petechiae and ecchymoses) are formed when capillaries break open and blood leaks into the subcutis, and that cell debris is concurrently removed by microglia and macrophages. Hypothesizing that the nervous system and immune system interact with one another to generate a cascade of physiological responses to the scraping, through which scraping may result in therapeutic benefits. 

An earlier study conducted in 2007 aimed to study the microcirculatory effects of gua sha on skin and the subcutis in humans to elucidate physiological mechanisms responsible for the clinically observed pain-relieving effect of this treatment. Laser doppler imaging (LDI) was used to make sequential measurements of the microcirculation of surface tissue before and after gua sha treatment in 11 healthy subjects. The effect of gua sha treatment on the microcirculation of surface tissue was expressed as changes from baseline in arbitrary perfusion units (PU). It showed that gua sha caused a fourfold increase in microcirculation perfusion units at the treated area for the first 7.5 minutes following treatment and a significant increase in surface microcirculation during the entire 25 minutes of the study period following treatment (P .001). Interestingly, females showed significantly higher rates of response than males. 

ON A COSMETIC LEVEL 

As practitioners, we can appreciate that studies have shown that this daily ritual improves microcirculation up to 400%, however, most clients are looking for the reported aesthetic benefits often associated with a gua sha facial. The often-noted results include the reduction of puffiness, the sculpting of the jawline and cheekbones, the relaxation of facial muscles, the improvement of skin elasticity, and the minimization of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also reported that gua sha promotes the production of collagen, which can help even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of discoloration, such as hyperpigmentation. While there is some anecdotal evidence to support these claims, there is little empirical research to-date to offer concrete data for reference.  

This lack of research has not affected the interest and demand in gua sha facial treatments, so it may be something worth considering if you haven’t already adopted this modality. There are a number of certification programs available to ensure proper training and methodology, and all gua sha practitioners will want to familiarize themselves with the contraindications, such as injury to skin, like sunburn, rashes, abrasions, bruising, ulceration, and lesions. Also, any clients with bleeding disorders such as leukemia, anemia, and thrombocytopenia, or those taking blood thinners should avoid this treatment. 

TOOLBOX 

Lastly, there are a number of gua sha tools including wing-type tools, s-shaped tools, rollers and more. The gua sha tools market in North America and Europe is expanding at a significant rate and is estimated to grow during the forecast period due to its popularity, the presence of a number of beauty salons, e-commerce websites offering discounts on gua sha tools, adherence to strict quality controls, and existing product development processes. The numbers show remarkable market growth, which points to future opportunities on the treatment provider end, as well as retail sales. 

 

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Kisses From Cannabis: CBD Lip Love 

The perfect pucker is mandatory for Valentine’s Day, even if the only person you are kissing is your reflection (No shame!). The good news is that cannabis not only has a myriad of uses during the month of love but is an especially good ingredient to perfect your pout all year long. 

COMPLEX SYSTEMS

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 400 cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are compounds that are exclusively extracted from the cannabis plant and have a range of potential therapeutic benefits, such as easing anxiety, reducing inflammation, and anti-viral and antimicrobial properties, just name a few. Additionally, humans already have a network of receptors in our body that work with cannabinoids.  

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Antonia is a New York State licensed massage therapist, cosmetologist specializing in aesthetics science, and electrologist. With over 16 years’ experience in the industry Antonia’s work has brought her everywhere from the classroom to her certified green spa, the Windham Spa, to the United States Olympic Training Center and beyond. Outside of the treatment room she is a writer, speaker, and consultant with the New York State Department of Education, leading education firms and industry magazines. Antonia’s current passion projects include treatment research and development for burn patients, and assisting in the development of the United States Paralymic Bobsled and Skeleton Team.  

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The Waxing Wave: Wax Bars

Starting either a wax bar or full-service spa are both great business opportunities and each has its own set of benefits and considerations. Prior to deciding which business structure is best for you, it is important to do your research and build a business plan. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each will help you make an educated decision on which to choose.  

MASTER OF ONE 

Wax bars focus on waxing and the team is encouraged to perfect that skill to offer the best wax possible. Most wax bars have an expanded menu of waxing services which include multiple areas of the body that not all spas offer. Specialization allows the business to differentiate itself from other businesses because clients who are seeking a wax will most likely be more attracted to a specialized business. Clients will assume that a business that focuses on one service will be able to provide a high-quality, more comfortable waxing experience. Additionally, being known as a specialized business can boost the overall reputation of the business and build credibility in the waxing space. Although many full-service spas do offer waxing as part of their service menu, the professionals are not often dedicated to that service and therefore do not have the opportunity to build their skills as quickly as someone who is only doing waxing.  

 

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Lindsay Miller is the president of LYCON Wax North America. Having first discovered LYCON wax in the United Kingdom 10 years ago, she has dedicated her time to growing the brand across North America, including introducing LYCON to Canada. Training and product quality are extremely important to Miller and she prides herself on building a strong team around her that can offer the best customer experience possible. LYCON continues to be a market leader in hair removal wax and is used in top spas and salons around the world.  

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The Men, the Myths, the Legends: Men’s Skin Care

When we think of the skin care industry, we may not immediately think of what has traditionally been known as men’s skin care; however, it is an important segment of the consumer group, and worth time and consideration. 

In a study by Straits Research, the global men’s skin care products market was valued at $12.981 billion in 2022.1 It is estimated to be valued at $15.23 billion in 2023 and is expected to total $37 billion by 2033. The adoption of men’s skin care products is likely to advance at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.4% during the forecast period.2  

A FEW GOOD MEN 

The growing demand for gender-specific products such as shampoos, conditioners, shaving creams, face masks, and peels by men is expected to positively impact the market.3 Interestingly enough, it appears that men’s spending habits differ from women’s when it comes to impulse buying. Men are more than willing to splurge on skin care as a form of self-care due to their growing awareness of skin care products. In Deloitte’s latest update to its ongoing Global State of the Consumer Index, researchers found when men splurge, they spend 40% more than women globally and in the United States on various items.4  

However, the surging disregard of gender binaries among Generation Z consumers is a major growth opportunity the men’s skin care market offers.5 Nearly 40% of adults aged 18 to 22 have shown interest in gender-neutral beauty products, according to the NPD Group’s iGen Beauty Consumer report.6 

Digital Development  

 Men have been exposed to much more information about skin care, beauty products, and cosmetics as a result of the rise of social media beauty bloggers and influencers. While TikTok and Instagram have similar membership numbers, TikTok has a larger audience for male-centered beauty content. According to market and consumer data platform Statista, as of January 2023, approximately 54% of TikTok global users were women and 46% were men. The #mensskincare hashtag currently draws up approximately 350,000 results on Instagram; on TikTok, the same hashtag has over 295 million views. A representative from TikTok pulled up the viewership count for several of the most popular male-centered beauty hashtags: #mensgrooming has 1.5 billion views, #mensmakeup has 326.8 million, #mensskincare has 292.7 million and #mensskincareproducts has 31.7 million.7 

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Lila Castellanos has focused her energies into the beauty industry for the past 19 years, specializing in skin rejuvenation. As a licensed aesthetician, she has lent her expertise to several different environments including working as a paramedical aesthetician in the medical spa field as well as in both day spa and mobile spa business models. It was through these varied experiences, along with the interactions with her loyal clientele, that she honed her passion for improving and maintaining the health and integrity of her clients’ skin. Castellanos thrives on being able to use her extensive knowledge to customize each treatment to help her clients achieve the results they are searching for. Her adaptability and versatility are equally impressive in providing antiaging facials, treating acne, and minimizing the appearance of scarring or when addressing skin conditions that arise as a result of hormonal changes.  

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Lose the Offense & Deepen the Trust: Consultations for Darker Skin 

Welcome back to The Melanin Diaries. No one wants to walk on eggshells, especially passionate skin professionals. The bedrock of client care is effective communication, not the fear of offending them. There is a large advantage in leading a consultation with the positives of providing optimal solutions for clients and not with what could possibly go wrong. It is a level of confident empathy that can be felt.

Many skin professionals soar in their empathy levels, however, have to work a bit more on their confidence levels. It is not automatic for most. With the plethora of mishaps and miscalculated outcomes that have transpired in the treatment room for melanin-rich skin, some would argue that the concern is warranted. However, if risk alone was reason enough to not provide services, there would be no medical clinics, medical spas, or skin care studios. 

Therefore, mitigating risks, negative experiences, and mishaps for clients, rests on the levels of knowledge skin professionals possess. When it comes to caring for melanin-rich skin, there are at times invisible barriers that clients come to a skin health space with. 

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C.R. Cooper is a connective, knowledgeable, and compassionate educator who has been a skin enthusiast for over 24 years. As the education manager and master educator for a renowned global institute of learning in the skin health industry, Cooper values organizational and individual industry standards, professional and personal brand integrity, but most importantly the inherent worth in every skin professional.

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The Big Three: Waxing Strategies to Boost Sales 

Waxing is not always thought to be a popular spa service. It isn’t as glamourous as other services, such as facials or massages, yet it can prove to be a very profitable addition to your service menu and a great way to grow your overall business. Not only does waxing bring in a loyal client consistently every four to six weeks, but it also provides the opportunity to upsell through retail and other spa offerings. Below are three steps that can help grow spa sales through waxing. 

CONFIDENT WAXOLOGY 

Even if your team is already incredibly skilled and competent, they may not all be confident in their waxing skills and may require more training. In general, waxing is not a primary subject of focus at most aesthetics and beauty colleges and, as a result, specific wax training can be minimal. Skin care professionals end up graduating and having little experience in waxing, so they may not feel comfortable promoting this service. Staff training for all services is an integral part of the business operations and should not be overlooked, but it is especially important for waxing, as the training provided at schools is often basic. The time and money spent invested into education and training in the wax room will pay off as your team builds confidence and begins to feel assured when marketing their waxing services. Overall, sales will naturally increase as a direct result of new clients coming in for a wax and as current clients begin requesting more areas to be waxed. 

A great place to start when looking for training courses is your current wax brand as they typically provide training and support. Wax brands often offer both virtual or in-person trainings and your individual budget and preference can help decide which is best. Not only is training for current team members important to help improve and freshen their skills, but it is also essential for new team members to ensure consistency and quality in the wax room.

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Lindsay Miller is the president of LYCON Wax North America. Having first discovered LYCON wax in the United Kingdom 10 years ago, she has dedicated her time to growing the brand across North America, including introducing LYCON to Canada. Training and product quality are extremely important to Miller, and she prides herself on building a strong team around her that can offer the best customer experience possible. LYCON continues to be a market leader in hair removal wax and is used in top spas and salons around the world. 

   

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Skin Smart: Cultural Intelligence in the Treatment Space  

As the new year begins, skin care professionals have immense opportunities to honestly reflect on business wins, client wins, and best practices from the previous year. The other side of that same coin is to also be brutally honest, while maintaining levels of optimism for continual growth for the year ahead.

How did your client growth strategies turn out last year? Was client diversification and inclusion a part of your growth strategies for the entire year? Have you asked yourself why?

Everyone loves a fresh start, clean slate, or new chapter, and January has a way of bringing that to top of our minds like no other month can. No doubt, you had some indisputable wins, along with some legitimate areas for growth. 

MELANIN MATTERS

Although no one is asking you to whip out your 2024 resolution journal, you are invited to journey alongside “The Melanin Diaries” for the next 12 issues to explore how to deliver genuinely inclusive business and skin health practices where clients with melanin-rich skin are truly cared for. 

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C.R. Cooper is a connective, knowledgeable, and compassionate educator who has been a skin enthusiast for over 24 years. As the education manager and master educator for a renowned global institute of learning in the skin health industry, Cooper values organizational and individual industry standards, professional and personal brand integrity, but most importantly the inherent worth in every skin professional.

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The Shelf Showdown: Product Detox 

Supporting existing clientele while attracting new devotees is the name of the game when it comes to maximum business engagement. In order to successfully run an aesthetics business, it is imperative to understand everything from what is ahead in the skin care world to making a business a safe place for all, while staying within the scope of the aesthetician practice. 

TIME FOR A TIME-OUT

Suggesting products and at home treatments to clients is a common part of the standard treatment plan for skin care professionals. It is normally recommended that clients use products for a period of one to three months to gauge their effectiveness. However, over time, skin care routines can become less effective as skin adapts to products and builds up a tolerance to certain ingredients, leading to diminishing results. 

If clients report that they are no longer seeing the desired outcome from their at homecare products, or that they have noticed negative or unwanted changes in their skin, such as issues with their tone, or texture, redness, dry patches, breakouts, or irritation, it is time to re-evaluate their products and make some changes. 

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Lila Castellanos has focused her energies into the beauty industry for the past 19 years, specializing in skin rejuvenation. As a licensed aesthetician, she has lent her expertise to several different environments including working as a paramedical aesthetician in the medical spa field as well as in both day spa and mobile spa business models. It was through these varied experiences, along with the interactions with her loyal clientele, that she honed her passion for improving and maintaining the health and integrity of her clients’ skin. Castellanos thrives on being able to use her extensive knowledge to customize each treatment to help her clients achieve the results they are searching for. Her adaptability and versatility are equally impressive in providing antiaging facials, treating acne, and minimizing the appearance of scarring or when addressing skin conditions that arise as a result of hormonal changes. 

Read more...