Monday, August 17, 2009


I continue to get the same phone call..."How much do you charge for a female Brazilian bikini wax? Tell them the price and one of two things happens. They either book the appointment with me or continue to shop looking for a better deal.

I think it's pretty safe to say that people love bargains. My mom is the queen of bargain land. If the needle in the haystack had bargain written all over it, my mom could so find it with her eyes closed. I've had to draw the line when it comes to my bargain hunting; I don't buy cheap shoes, toothpaste, undergarments, or skin care.

The saying you get what you pay for is true. There are times when you've saved $30 to turn around and pay $80. I had a client come back in, in the fall, and she'd first gone to another salon in her neighborhood to get a bikini wax. After she'd paid her money, she ended up calling me to re-do what she supposedly had done at the other salon.

Now listen carefully; look before leaping into that bargain at a local salon or spa. Some things you should consider are:

1) Are they fluent in clientese?

2) Are they licensed?

3) Are the details for their services posted? Don't be afraid to ask for details of the service that you are looking for. If they can't give you details, keep going until you can get them.

Over the intercom...Thanks for waxing with Ms. Esthetician, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I feel the need to get this off of my chest...I've been going hard for the past three years now about no double dipping during wax services and esthy's wearing gloves when they wax. And it feels great to finally have someone that is also preaching the same message. I was elated when I received my latest copy of Skin Deep Magazine and the article "Double Dipping? Safety Is Your Responsibility" by Janet McCormick.

She spoke on the very things that I've preached...I leap for joy to learn that universal precautions does apply to waxing and that during every waxing service, no applicator should be reused and that every technician should be wearing gloves.

Hate to say it...but I told you so.

image credit:

Monday, August 10, 2009


When Michael Jackson spoke, the world listened. He told of a chronic disorder that caused his skin to lose its color leaving it without color in some spots. Small patches at first and then larger more noticeable areas would have patches. The single glittered glove that took us by surprise during the Motown 25 Review was his way of covering up this disorder during the early stages.

The rumors spread that he was embarrassed to be a black man, and so he physically altered his appearance. I never quite understood why Mr. Jackson chose not to address the issue concerning his skin's gradual lightening immediately, but this was his challenge, and his alone.

I was all too familiar with vitiligo at a young age. An acquaintance of my mother had this disorder. On my first visit to her home, my mother gave me a brief explanation of what I could expect; and I was instructed to behave normally.

When she opened the door, I was not totally prepared for what I would see. I was shocked beyond belief. The pep talk worked, and I was able to rebound quickly and smile a very timid smile, as we were invited into her home. I was no more than 11 years old, and I had a lot of questions.

She was all too kind to answer any that I may have had. After a very brief introduction, she'd given me permission to ask her anything concerning her disorder. So I asked does it hurt? She told me no, that it did not physically hurt her. Then I wanted to know how does something like this happen, and is there a cure? She said that doctors did not know what caused it; and at that time, there was no known cure.

Our weekly visits, although brief, no doubt left a lasting impression on me. Considering that they'd taken place over twenty years ago, I was more prepared than the average person for MJ's battle with this disorder, which was far from the public scrutiny. I vigorously defended him because I was not afraid of vitiligo. Sometimes people are so mean and full of fear for something that they don't understand that they resort to name calling and other hurtful actions.

No, vitiligo is not contagious. As of today, there is no known cure for it, and it affects less than one percent of the world's population. It is my dream that through educating people, just as I was educated at a young age, that the world becomes more compassionate and accepting of the differences that make us unique.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Desiree Mattox is the owner and lead chemist of Envie Bath & Body. She gives us the who, what, why, and how on skin lightening. She is also a great person to follow on Twitter@glam_scientist.

Skin lightening has been a practice in various cultures for decades, centuries even. Each person has his/her own reason for wanting to lighten their skin. In spite of the differences, there are things everyone should know about skin lighteners.

The general purpose of skin lighteners is to even the skin tone due to hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation is the condition in which the body produces too much melanin causing an uneven distribution of skin color. Melanin is produced by a chemical reaction of the tyrosinase enzyme. Most skin lighteners work by inhibiting the production of tyrosinase and thus prevent overproduction of melanin.

While most are proven to give noticeable results, all must be used with caution. Skin lighteners are known to cause some skin irritation and photosensitization, so they must be used in moderation according to the directions.

The following is a brief description of some veteran and rookie skin lightening treatments. Pay careful attention to where they come from, how they work, and possible side effects. Make your choice based on the proven facts.

Hydroquinone is the ultimate veteran skin lightener. It has been used to treat age spots, stretch marks, and other forms of hyperpigmentation for generations. In more recent years, concerns have been raised that hydroquinone may cause cancer, although there is no concrete proof. For this reason, hydroquinone has been banned in several countries.

In the US, the legal concentration of hydroquinone in over-the counter (OTC) and prescription topical creams is moderately regulated. I mean, there are rules; but let's face it--the FDA is not really too much on the ball with regulating cosmetic applications. The maximum OTC concentration is 2%, and prescriptions can be written in 2-4% concentrations. There are still some OTC creams with greater than a 2% concentration. I've even heard of prescriptions in the 6-8% range.

It may take a few weeks to see noticeable results because hydroquinone does not impact the melanin that is already present in the skin. Existing melanin is eliminated over time by the normal process of skin cell rejuvenation. When using hydroquinone creams, you MUST also use a good sunscreen. This is true for just about all skin lightening treatments. You also run the risk of ochronosis, which is the condition in which lightened skin gets darker and darker. The occurrence of ochronosis is rare, but you could be the rare case. It is advised that you discontinue use of hydroquinone after 6 months of continual use. Hydroquinone is still regarded as the safest and most efficient chemical skin lightening treatment on the market today.

Arbutin is known to be the safest, most effective natural skin lightener. It is produced in two forms: alpha-arbutin and beta-arbutin. Chemically speaking, both forms of arbutin are actually more complex versions of hydroquinone. They have the structure of hydroquinone attached to a molecule of glucose (positioned in 2 different ways). Because of the additional molecule, the hydroquinone is released more slowly and thus has less, if any, skin irritation properties. Alpha-arbutin is much more effective than its beta counterpart, which is due to its higher stability. Once again, it is very important to use sunscreen with either form of arbutin because it weakens the skin making sun damage a greater possibility.

Niacinamide (nicotinamide) is another natural skin lightener. I like it because it can be used in more sensitive areas without concern. Niacinamide is actually vitamin B3—it is beneficial to the skin and also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Unlike some of the other skin lightening ingredients, niacinamide does not have to be diluted in a cream or gel. You can purchase niacinamide in capsules and apply directly to the skin or make body masks to apply to the underarms, nipples (Really? Why?), elbows, and
knees and also to the external genital area. It is even gentle enough to be applied to the entire face. The increasing popularity of niacinamide has lead to the sale of lower quality forms. Be careful that you purchase niacinamide from a reputable source.

The skin lighteners described above are just a few of the treatments available. In my opinion, they are the safest and most effective…they get my recommendation. I would steer clear of kojic acid and azelaic acid because the level of skin irritation they cause outweighs the lightening properties.