Have you ever had a million questions about something and felt afraid to ask because you didn’t want to overwhelm or annoy the knowledgeable person? Well, that’s how I am with estheticians. I’m a skincare nerd, and ever since I was 22 have been putting at least 247 different products on my face every day. Lately I have been sort of worried about the true effects of all of these products and wondering if all the good I’ve been doing is actually bad. Luckily I met the beautiful, accommodating, and knowledgeable Elizabeth Bentley, the owner of Neu Skin here in Austin. She uses only organic products when she gives facials, and she does it out of a stylish and elegant bungalow on West 6th Street. Usually, I keep my mouth shut during facials, but when I visited Elizabeth, I felt chatty and we bonded. Whenever I bond with someone I ask for an interview (watch out!) and she graciously said yes!!! Read on to learn all about which self-tanners are safest, why organic skincare products are so smart, and all about my new favorite word “sebum.”
It’s so lovely to meet someone who wants to talk about the same stuff I do. Like pores, wrinkles, and skincare products. What got you interested in skincare?
Skincare became an eat-sleep-breathe fixation at a young age. In my late teens, after a 30-day camping trip in Wyoming, I came back to Texas and my skin flipped out. I spent the rest of the summer tormented by the emotional and physical discomfort of my acne ridden face. I went on an unsuccessful quest to conceal it while attempting to cure it. I’ve learned a lot since then…
What I noticed and really appreciated about getting a facial from you is that you really seem to enjoy doing it. What is your favorite part about giving facials to people?
I love my job. I enjoy sharing knowledge, improving my client’s complexion, seeing them leave with a smile on their face and the feeling that I gave the very best service I know how. I give each person the experience that I would hope to receive if getting a facial.
The extractions, which I can imagine would be super satisfying on some level, are also super gross on another. I can relate to this because when it rains on our family vacations my cousins and I end up playing esthetician, and do “back facials” on our fellow family members. Popping other peoples’ zits is equally repulsive and satisfying. Perhaps it’s satisfying because of getting something repulsive out?
Extractions are not gross to me but rather, satisfying. I know that if I’m relieving the pore of the built up infection/congestion then the skin will begin to clear, it will then heal and reduce the size of the pore. If pores are not cleaned the acne can scar from within, leaving pockmarks. Pores will get larger trapping more sebum and dirt, creating more blackheads and a less then desirable texture. Extractions are essential to any facial and there are few estheticians who really know how to do them properly.
Your business is centered around the fact that you use only organic skincare products. What are the benefits of organic products over, say, Noxema and Oil of Olay?
The products I use are made of certified, food-grade, organic, locally sourced ingredients. Organic skin care is free of toxins. The skin is our largest organ, it’s also the thinnest. Only 1/10th of an inch separates you from all sorts of toxins. Skin is highly permeable, allowing what you apply to your skin access to your bloodstream. The toxins used as preservatives and fillers in commonly known drugstore and department store products are carcinogens. I would strongly advise people to steer clear of the following ingredients: Parabens, propelene glycol, mineral oil, patroleum, tolyene, acrylamide and sodium laurel sulfates. Bottom line, you should not put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t be willing to eat. Organic products are grown and processed per the USDA’s strict national standards. We should have the same strict standards for the products we put on our skin.
Noxema and Oil of Olay are chalk full of chemicals….deplorable products!
I have been having a passionate, not-so-secret love affair with Nivea self-tanner this summer. Am I filling my body with so many toxins that I may as well be baking in the sun? Are there any organic and/or better ways to self-tan?
What, besides wearing sunscreen, can we all do to help our skin stay younger-looking, longer?
There are chemical free self tanners!!! To name a few: Alba, Arcona, Kiss My Face, Nature’s Gate and True…
Maybe T.M.I. BUT when chosing a self tanner:
1. Look for paraben-free self-tanners: Parabens (which includes methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, and butyl-parabens) are a family of preservatives which can affect the endocrine system that produces the body’s hormones. Studies have shown that some parabens can mimic estrogen in the body, though the FDA asserts that parabens are safe because their estrogenic activity is much lower than the body’s own estrogen.
2. Avoid 1,4 Dioxane: Since 1,4-dioxane is used in a chemical conversion in the manufacture of products, it’s not listed as an ingredient. To avoid it, watch out for ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate and those that have “PEG”, “xynol”, “ceteareth,” and “oleth” in their name. In scientific studies, 1,4-Dioxane has caused cancer in animals; scientists have not yet confirmed the long-term effects on humans. The FDA says current levels do not pose a hazard to consumers but they have advised manufacturers to lower amounts in cosmetics as much as possible.
3. Choose self-tanners scented with plant-based oils rather than chemical fragrances: Fragrances are volatile organic compounds (VOC), which add to air pollution, are persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife. An estimated 5.72 million Americans have skin allergies to fragrance, while around 72 percent of those suffering from asthma claim that their condition can be triggered by synthetic fragrance.
4. Go organic: Because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spends only a tiny portion of its budget investigating the chemical composition and toxins in skin care products, self-tanners can tout their use of organic ingredients and still have up to 30 percent synthetic materials, even the ones labeled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” The only way to be sure that the product you are purchasing is, in fact, organic is to look for the USDA Organic Seal on the label. This seal guarantees that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, which bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering.
5. Look for self-tanners that do not employ animal testing: While you’re contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. So stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
Aside from wearing sunscreen, you need to wear a hat and sunglasses. Your diet, lifestyle and skincare regimen are extremely important. The obvious advice that most of us know: a diet rich in omega3s and antioxidants, organic veggies and lean meat, exercise, get enough sun exposure to produce Vitamin D but not enough to burn your skin, restful sleep and a natural skin care regimen. Regular skin maintenance/facials will certainly aide in the anti-aging crusade. You should nourish your skin the same way you nourish your body.
I’m a picker. That is, when I have something on my face, I HAVE TO PICK AT IT. Do you have any advice for stopping this terrible habit?
Picker! I think most people are “pickers”. I certainly am, but an educated one. I envy those rare few that can actually leave their face to the professionals. If you’re going to pick, which you really shouldn’t, then you better have freshly washed hands and use a tissue. You will more than likely push whatever is clogging your pore deeper causing more of an infection or you may think you’ve accomplished an extraction but you don’t know that there’s another pocket full of sebum underneath which was not released…so that bump never quite goes away even after a scab has formed and fallen off. You have to gently massage the congestion out of the pore…BUT you should really just have a professional take care of it!!!
Can you recommend any great organic makeup? I love the cleansing products and masks you use, but I am addicted to Sephora. Should I be getting something else?
These are my “go to” organic make-up lines: True, W3LL People (Austin based company on Lamar), Josie Moran (sold @ Sephora). The line that I use, Inventive-Eco Organic, just came out with the most AMAZING 100% organic mineral powder ever. I’m obsessed. You don’t have to grind it with your brush and it leaves your skin baby soft and glowing. It retails for $28. It’s hands down the best mineral powder over Bare Minerals, Jane Iredale, etc.
Is there anything else you’re dying to tell people about what you do, or what you know about skincare?
I have a lot of beauty secrets but you need to come see me…promise to share!
….Wow! So there you have it, folks. This is like a dream come true for my skin-nerdy self, and I hope you guys got something out of this too. If you’re here in Austin, and love a good facial, contact Elizabeth! She really does love her job, and it’s obvious when you receive a facial from her. She is gentle, nice, and obviously super-knowledgeable when it comes to the products she uses. You can contact her here, and tell her I sent ya!
July 28, 2011