September 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

Contemplating Balance in Lives and in Skincare

By Guest Writer Cynthia Shaw

I was walking with a close friend and colleague after work the other evening when my friend commented she often noticed how confident I am and how I live a balanced life.

The comment took me somewhat by surprise. In thinking about it, I realized that, having lived through many decades, I have arrived at this moment of time pretty much by trial and error.

Now as a teacher, I share some of my hard won knowledge with the students as they try to balance work and their private lives. As an esthetician, I have realized that balancing one's life is not unlike skincare. Our lives get out of balance when we do not get enough rest, we do not eat balanced meals, we do not get meaningful exercise and we do not find ways to keep stress at manageable levels.

What does that have to do with skincare? When a client comes in for skincare, we start by removing the superficial layer of dust and cosmetics that might be hiding a true analysis of the skin.

In our lives, it is often helpful to remove the film from the surface appearance of our lives so that we can truly see what is beneath it. We cannot begin skincare, or move toward life balance, until we have taken that first step.

Next, we analyze the skin with the help of our magnifying light. It helps us more clearly determine skin type and current conditions. In life, we can do the same thing. Shine the light and look for conditions.

Some conditions will need correction; others will resolve themselves in a space of time. In skincare, an example might be a lesion that could be emerging, may need removal, or it may be in the healing stage and just need time to complete that process. If it is a lesion in our personal life, by correctly analyzing it, we can come to resolution in healing it.

The next step in a facial is massage. Benefits of massage help us relax the client and the facial muscles, improve overall metabolism and activate sluggish skin. Facial massage may relieve muscle tension and pain and provide a sense of physiological and psychological well-being through relaxation.

How do I translate that into real life? Well, if you can get someone to give you an actual massage, it is certainly a plus. However, for many of us, it is a do-it-ourselves project.

One of the reasons I like to walk is the fact that even a moderate walk offers a good time to let my subconscious work out problems, stimulate blood flow to all parts of my body, and bring clarity to my mind. One of my friends comes up with brilliant ideas standing in her warm morning shower. Others relax by reading or playing mind games. Ask yourself what it is that you like to do that allows you to relax and build your sense of well being.

Frequently, the next step in a facial is to apply something that exfoliates the skin. How much I exfoliate and the product or device I choose to do this with depends on the nature of the skin condition I wish to treat. If the skin is in good condition, I might select a mild exfoliating product. If I feel the problem calls for more aggressive exfoliating, I make a different choice.

The same idea can work in our lives. If we can determine what is causing the imbalance we can take measures to erase it. If the problem were small but irritating we would choose a mild solution to change the condition. Larger problems might call for remedies that are more aggressive.

Generally, next we treat the existing skin conditions. Does the epidermis need added protection with lipids? Perhaps a healing mask is called for. Another condition may be parched skin. We need to nourish the dehydration with carefully selected vitamins, minerals and hydrating ingredients.

So we might ask of our life, what condition is most in need of immediate care? Do I need a solution that will heal something that is hurting in my life and do I have a corrective measure for that or is time what I need. If my life lacks something as fundamental as water is to skin, how am I going to provide it?

You may need a friend or a professional in whom to confide. In skincare, we can usually find something to mitigate a skin condition. Often in life if we can truly identify the condition that is most troubling to us, we can also find the solution.

After I have applied a treatment mask to our skincare client, I usually then select an intensive serum, again with the skin condition in mind. In life, ask yourself what you can provide your soul that is powerful enough, even in small doses, to improve your life.

Do not forget your sunscreen. Sunscreen protects us from a painful burn that can leave a scar on the skin. So too your life needs care and attention, as a neglected life can develop its own set of scars.

Lastly, I remind our students that a facial is worked in a limited amount of time. Sometimes our client presents with several conditions that all need addressing, but we usually cannot repair all of them in a single treatment. A series of facials will provide better results. So too, improving your life will take continued effort.

Finally, there is home care. We know that we can see a client a couple of times but if she is not also faithfully following her skincare plan at home on a daily basis, she will not realize the full potential benefit.

So ask yourself, "If I want to make my life more balanced am I willing to work towards it a little each day?" Will you teach yourself to recognize small stressors when they are still little, and find a way to lift the strain before it becomes a bigger problem? Stress starts in very small packages. Learn to recognize them before they pile up.

Prioritize the things you want to change in the same way you must prioritize your client's skincare. You cannot do it all in a day. Just as with skin, it is a lifetime commitment to achieve maximum benefits.

Cynthia Shaw, is a NCEA Certified CIDESCO Diplomate and has over 25 years in the industry as an esthetician, instructor and supporter of all things esthetic.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit