It’s the end of September, and that means it’s time for another round of Ask a Beautician! This month features questions like “What the hell am I doing wrong?” and “Why is foundation not made for me?” Stay tuned for answers!

Cosmetics makeup foundation powder brush

  • How about if you’ve developed a sudden (pregnancy-related) sensitivity to the bar soap you’ve used basically your entire life – Lever 2000 – (I know, but it’s antibacterial, and if I don’t use an antibacterial, I tend to be a stinky person in the summer, and this is what my dermatologist recommended), what can you recommend that avoids being a stinky person, but also avoids making your more sensitive parts angry? I’ll add that I have allergen sensitivities to most heavily scented or perfumed soaps. My laundry detergent is arm and hammer with nothing added.

Ohhhh, man. Well, hey, at least now we can get you started on something and hopefully pull Lever 2000 out of your shower forever! A gentle antibacterial body soap is hard to come by, especially one that’s pregnancy safe. However, I’ve found that for especially sensitive pregnancy skin, if a product is rated safe for baby, it’s gonna be safe for mama. I really like California Baby’s Tea Tree & Lavender Body Wash it’s *definitely* gentle but still gives a germ fighting punch with tea tree & lavender oils. They’re at such small dilutions that they’re safe for a baby’s sensitive skin, so you should be just fine. Plus, both tea tree and lavender have antimicrobial properties.

  • I often don’t have the time/energy to do a full skincare routine. Is there one super important thing I can do regularly that will make a noticeable difference in my skin but won’t feel like a chore on my low energy days?

I definitely, definitely understand that. Most estheticians will argue between a cleanser or moisturizer being more crucial, and I’m a firm believer in getting your face clean first and foremost. Using an oil cleanser suited for your skin type will make it so your skin stays soothed & hydrated but still gets fully clean. Not sure which one to use? If you feel more oily or are prone to breakouts, try a lighter oil like this one from The Face Shop a balm like this beloved option from Banila Co that’s better suited for dryer or sensitive skin that needs hydration.

  • Make up remover???? What’s the best? Even after wiping my face with remover, using a makeup remover sheet, using a cleanser … I still have make up residue when I use my toner…. what the hell am I doing wrong?

Are you doing this in the right order, and are you using cleanser that really breaks up your makeup? Use the makeup wipe first, then a makeup removing cleanser, then a regular cleanser, and then a toner for super stubborn makeup. Also, try googling what the best makeup remover for your foundation is. Long lasting foundations and lipsticks tend to need heavier duty makeup removers. Make sure you’re also really working in your makeup remover (which in my opinion should always be an oil cleanser) for a few minutes before washing it off. The best, in my opinion, is Dermalogica’s PreCleanse normal to oily and their PreCleanse Balm normal to dry or sensitive skin. However, the oils in it can be a bit much for some people, so the recommendations I offer in #2 and #14 might be better options if that’s a concern.

  • I know this is in your realm, but not sure if it fits in with these articles. Anyway, recommendations for bubble bath? I want big, fluffy Hollywood bubbles, and I have yet to find it.

I LOVE BUBBLE BATHS. I haven’t been able to find one either, not since I was little and used some luscious smelling stuff at my grandmother’s that I think came from England. The closest I can get is Philosophy’s 3-in-1 Shampoo, Shower Gel, & Bubble Bath but still, not quiiiite as fluffy as I want them.

Oprah in bubble bath

  • Your thoughts on sleeping with coconut oil on your face?

Do not do it unless you want clogged pores, skin that can’t breathe, and sadness. Coconut oil sits on top of the skin and does nothing beneficial to the skin. Stop believing the hype, it does not do anything for skin or hair. Save it to cook with!

  • Do the new laser devices coming out at places like Sephora actually work?

It depends on the laser, honestly. Hair removal lasers for at home use are becoming popular, and some really do work depending on your hair and skin tone. Part of how the laser works depends on there being a significant difference in color between your skin tone & hair color, so they’re not suitable for everyone. I do like the facial light treatments like blue light and red-light treatments, and the ones carried in stores now are more reliable. When in doubt, google some reviews!

  • This is kinda gross, but whitehead popping (even though frowned upon)…sometimes it’s necessary before a big event, What’s the best way to do it to prevent scarring and a big scab? Oh, and sometimes I have discolored spots even after the pimple clears up. Why is that, and what can I do to clear it up?

Before popping it, try getting a liquid aspirin tablet, pricking it with a needle, and dabbing a little of the liquid on the whitehead. Give it a few minutes to absorb, but it should do the trick and keep you from needing to pop it. Popping them can cause that discoloration afterwards, which is a form of scarring known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Those can ease over time with exfoliation and brightening ingredients like vitamin c. 

  • What is the best moisturizer to use at the end of my shower? I like to put something on while I am still damp in the shower. I tend to forget once I am out. I mean for my whole body, not my face!

Body oils are the best for this! Here’s a fantastic one to lock in moisture especially for dryer skin. A little goes a long way, so be wary!

  • What if I had long tusks, would I have to use whitening strips on them every so often? Also, is there a temporary tusk dye for parties or Halloween?

Ivory tusks can indeed yellow over time, but I’m not sure how well whitening strips would help. There isn’t a temporary dye, however many animal activists in the savanna are dying elephant tusks wirh the same dye used to print dollars which then makes the ivory worthless to poachers. So you might want that dye anyway!

  • I’m having hormonal breakouts. How do I deal with these pesky pimples??

Hormonal breakouts are 0% fun! I’ve come up with a nice little routine for these guys.

  • AM: gentle cleanser, toner, a dab of tea tree oil on each little breakout, lightweight moisturizer.
  • PM: cleanser, toner, a clay mask like this one from Origins grid:p297524 , then an acne patch like these from CosRX over each breakout to help dry them up.

If this isn’t helping, you might need to get a facial before or after each cycle to help minimize the effects.

Jennifer Lawrence

  • What’s the one skincare product that’s worth splurging on?

The longer something stays on your face, the more it’s worth the splurge. Serums, eye creams, facial oils, moisturizers, even toners can be worth the splurge. Exfoliation can be, too, depending on how picky your skin is. Masks and cleansers, however, you can generally get away with spending a bit less. Personally, I like splurging on facial oils. I massage them into my skin to give it a lovely glow. The Herbivore Botanicals Lapis oil has been a godsend for me and my skin.

  • Can you recommend some good face wipes?

I’ve been really liking the Pacifica wipes for oily/acne prone skin since they don’t leave a weird residue. I do follow with an oil cleanser if I’ve worn a full face of makeup, but it’s awesome at getting most of the gunk.

  • Can you use microdermabrasion to peel fruit or vegetables?

They’d get grainy. I mean, you could, but personally fruit & vegetables with crystals blasted in them doesn’t seem like a good time. Plus, the fruit & veggie skin would clog up my machine. Stick with knives & peelers.

  • My daughter wanted me to ask you what you recommend for cleansing/makeup removal. She says she doesn’t feel like her skin is really getting clean with what she’s using.

Some makeup doesn’t want to come off with normal makeup removers, and that’s where oil cleansers come in. Cleansing with an oil cleanser first is key to getting ALL the makeup off. The Banila Co Clean It Zero that I mentioned in question #2 is awesome at breaking apart makeup. Work it on dry skin with dry hands, really massaging it in for a few minutes, then use a steamy washcloth to gently remove it. Follow up with your favorite foaming cleanser to really get a good deep clean.

  • Is exfoliator supposed to have scrubbies in it? I see exfoliation products without them and I wonder how they work. I love the scrubby bits but maybe they aren’t so good for me?

Not all exfoliants have the scrubby bits, and professionally I much prefer the scrubby-less ones! Exfoliants fall into three main categories: mechanical or physical, chemical, and mixed. Mechanical or physical exfoliation comes from scrubbing beads, walnut hulls, shells, sand, and other abrasive ingredients as well as washcloths, loofahs, and spinning brushes (and waxing) to buff off dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants remove the dead skin using chemicals – salicylic, lactic, and glycolic acids are among the most popular – to resurface the skin. Mixed exfoliants use a little bit of both! While chemical exfoliants may bring to mind chemical peels and lobster red faces, that’s generally not the case. Chemical exfoliants for at-home use are made to be gentle but effective at resurfacing the skin without overdoing it or causing microtears in the skin, which physical exfoliants are prone to do. I know we all love the way the scrubby bits *feel* but trust me – on a microscopic level, it’s not so pretty. Making the switch to a chemical exfoliant or enzyme is a good move!

  • Is it true that microbeads were made illegal, environmental threat (I heard this), and what should I do with leftover MB stuff? And what to use instead– not apricot scrub!

It is indeed true! I believe they’re required to completely be off the market by 2020. Leftover products with microbeads can be dealt with in one of 3 ways, as detailed in this Forbes article about the microbead ban

  1. Donate your microbead-filled products to research centers that specialize in education concerning plastic garbage.
  2. Donate them to science! Chemists are constantly studying products on the market, and lots of labs are studying long term effects of microbeads still.
  3. Ship them back to the manufacturer. You can even print out a letter to send along with it courtesy of the International Campaign Against Microbeads In Cosmetics linked in the Forbes article.
  4. Please note that I’m not including the filter out option listed in the article, simply because it seems counterintuitive as it still ends up getting these beads in landfills and water drains.
  • What is the best facial hair remover that isn’t a wax? I hate pain!

Unfortunately, unless you want to shave, beauty is pain. You can remove vellus hair by getting dermaplaning, which is a type of facial that includes an esthetician using a surgical scalpel to scrape off the very top layer of dead skin cells, sweeping up that fine hair along with it. With darker hair, however, you’ll need to shave, wax, tweeze, get laser, or permanent hair removal like thermolysis or electrolysis to remove it.

  • My whole life, I have questioned my foundation choices. How do you find the right one on your own?

GOOD QUESTION!! It takes time. First, find what’ll work for your skin type. Do you need something better for holding in hydration? Do you need something that helps keep acne at bay? Then it’s a matter of coverage. Do you like just a sheer wash of color? Do you want to cover every last little shade difference in your skin? Somewhere in between? Then undertones. Go outside in the sunlight and look at your veins in your arm. If they look blue, you’re likely neutral. More purple-y means you’re cooler, and greenish looking veins indicate a warmer undertone. Armed with your skin type, how much coverage you want, and your undertone, you can easily go into a makeup store like Sephora and get samples of a few different foundations to figure out what you’ll like. I highly, highly recommend getting samples from both Lancome’s Teint Idole line and the new Fenty Beauty line, as they’re the most likely to get you the shade you want.

  • How does one get rid of bags under the eyes and wrinkles?

Grammy, you don’t. I know you want to, but nothing ever completely gets rid of them. Wrinkles can diminish with good exfoliation and hydration, and bags under the eyes can be minimized with hydration and firming ingredients, but unless the bags are caused purely from sleep deprivation, they won’t go away. I’m a beautician, not a magician!

Charlotte Smith is an esthetician licensed in Tennessee and Georgia. She’s married to a lumberjack version of Deadpool, is obsessed with huskies, is straight up in quarter-life crisis mode, and loves pretty much anything that could be considered creepy.

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