Every Skincare and Aesthetics Secret I Learned Growing Up With a Medical Esthetician for a Mom

Every Skincare and Aesthetics Secret I Learned Growing Up With a Medical Esthetician for a Mom

I was 10 years old when I got my first facial — and I hated it. My mom, a makeup artist, was studying to become an aesthetician, and she was using my face to practice on. I couldn’t stand the steam, the picking and prodding, or the masks and creams she’d slather all over. But what I didn’t know during that hot, sticky skincare session was that one day, I’d be thanking my mom for it.

Now that I’m 27, I’m not only grateful to my mom for those facials (she still performs them on me, by the way!) but for everything she’s taught me about taking care of my complexion. I credit my smooth skin to her and her counsel on everything from the importance of wearing SPF every day to why it’s OK to try injectable wrinkle reducers. Keep reading to discover some of the best secrets she’s shared with me over the years.

Find a regimen you like and stick to it.

The first step to good skin is committing to a trustworthy routine. My mother instilled this belief in me during my middle school years, when she gave me my first skincare set from Dr. Obagi. Now, I always make sure to have her must-have ingredients in my arsenal: a vitamin C like Dermalogica® BioLumin-C Serum ($87) during the day for smoothing and brightening, prescription retinol alternated with a glycolic acid serum (I like Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night TransformationTM Gel, $48) every other night night to combat clogged pores and wrinkles. I also wear a hyaluronic acid treatment like SkinMedica® HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator ($178) all day, every day for added hydration.

[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.].

Never, under any circumstances, go to bed with makeup on.

This seems obvious, but one of the easiest ways to avoid breakouts and dryness is by making a conscious effort to go to bed with clean skin every single night. It doesn’t matter how long your day was, how many drinks you’ve had, or how little makeup you’re wearing. Make an effort to wash it off — your skin will thank you, and reward you by staying decongested and hydrated.

Makeup wipes don’t count as washing your face.

Sorry, they just don’t — they’re not thorough enough. If you must incorporate a wipe into your nighttime regimen, use it to remove your makeup, and then wash your face. Using face wash and water will ensure you help get all the grime off your skin and out of your pores (I prefer a creamy cleanser like ZO® Skin Health Hydrating Cleanser [$45], which lathers up to remove dirt, oil and pollution from the day).

Routine facials really make a difference.

You invest in your clothes, so why not your face? Make a budget not just for your skincare products, but also for regular facials, which fight aging, clean out your pores, boost circulation in your skin and much more.

According to my mom, Jane Ruffo, a medical esthetician at Omni Esthetics in New Jersey, “your skin regenerates cells every 28 days, so when you get a facial, your esthetician is sloughing away dead cells in order to bring the new ones to the surface. If you don’t remove those dead cells, they can get trapped in your pores, causing breakouts.” Preventing your skin cells from regular turnover will also expedite the signs of aging, so that exfoliation really is important.

Stop picking.

Every time I look into a magnifying mirror, I hear my mom’s voice repeating those two words in my head. Unfortunately, I learned this one the hard way. After spending hours upon hours during my teenage years squeezing every last blackhead I could find, I’ve been left with exactly what she warned me about: enlarged pores. “If you don’t squeeze a blackhead or pimple properly, you can scar your skin or stretch your pores,” says my mom.

Thankfully, there is good news — it is possible to treat them. “Products like topical vitamin C, a chemical exfoliator, or a gentle peel work to shrink pores over time,” she shares. (For a gentle chemical exfoliant, we love Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Universal Daily Peel, $88.) Learn more about shrinking enlarged pores here.

Yes, you will eventually see the results of wearing SPF every day.

Sure, I’m biased, but if the woman in the photo above wasn’t my mom and I didn’t know her age, I’d assume she was in her forties — not 63. At the beach, she slathers on SPF 50, wears a hat, and is always the first to position her chair in the shade. But if there’s anything she’s taught me about practicing safe sun, it’s that once you hit your sixties, you’ll be grateful — and the proof is in her line-free complexion.

Don’t fear a chemical peel.

As my mom has explained to me time and time again, the word “peel” really freaks people out. But if you tread lightly, your skin will simply look incredibly luminous instead of actually peeling. If you’re looking for an at-home treatment, “a fruit enzyme mask (like this one from Tata HarperTM, $62) will gently exfoliate your skin,” she explains, “whereas a 15 percent glycolic acid peel could leave some redness, which should subside in a few hours.”

For a stronger treatment, your esthetician or dermatologist will walk you through its potency, and whether or not your skin will peel as a result. Many estheticians can offer up to a 30 percent glycolic acid peel, while dermatologists’ treatments can skew even higher. Learn more about peels here.

Microneedling will change your skin.

You’ve probably seen that small roller with tiny needles on the end. It’s called a microneedling device and it works to poke microscopic holes in your skin. This sounds alarming, but it’s actually good for your skin. “It creates pinpoint bleeding, which prompts the skin to heal itself,” explains my mom. “This is a process that creates more collagen, aiding in tone and texture. Plus, it allows your skincare products to penetrate deeper.” Learn more about microneedling here.

Getting injectable wrinkle reducers is OK.

I’ll never forget the day when, at age 22, I discovered two horizontal lines on my forehead. They were prominent — and they weren’t going anywhere. I called my mom, who immediately told me I was too young to try injectable wrinkle reducers, a temporary treatment to help smooth the appearance of moderate to severe wrinkles. But after spending two more years fixated on my lines, I decided it was time for them to fade — and my mom, along with my dermatologist, gave me a stamp of approval. “Left untreated, lines tend to get deeper, not better. So why wait?” she says.

And it’s okay to talk about it.

Under one circumstance: “Don’t tell your father.”

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[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are a medical treatment and like all medical treatments, have risks and possible side effects. Consult with a licensed provider to see if injectable wrinkle reducers are right for you. Have more questions? Chat with a trained aesthetic specialist now.]

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