Facials 101: Anti-Aging Skin Care

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Somehow I reached my fiftieth year without ever having had a facial, much less any other kind of anti-aging treatment or procedure. I’m not sure how that happened but I suspect it’s because I’ve been blessed with good genes since, despite the abuse I’ve dished out to my face and neck, it always looked pretty decent.


Until this last year, that is.


Oopsie, that’s when the perimenopause thing kicked in and suddenly my skin began looking dry and creepy. (Argh, that is a word that should be reserved for women like Gloria Swanson or Bette Davis—really aged and, even more, dead!) Wrinkles started showing up around my eyes and between my eyebrows. And blemishes that used to surface and resolve themselves in a few days now just sat there as swollen, sullen inruptions. That’s my own word to describe the fact that they just would not come out. They seemed to turn inward and just SIT there for days looking ugly.


That’s when I got myself to the Escobedo Skin Center in Austin, Texas to begin learning about … well … my skin options. Dr. Mike Escobedo and his personable aesthetician, Diana de la Torre, were most helpful in putting the confusing lexicon of options in context.


They are adamant that it all begins with good basic skin care. Facials are a very effective part of that foundation. Without good basic skin care, other procedures are ineffective. In other words, basic skin care is the weak link in the chain. So, I made the sacrifice for you WomenBloom members and had a facial so you could come to your own conclusions.


As Diana pointed out, teeth and skin both require good maintenance to remain healthy and vibrant. Think about basic skin care as flossing and regular teeth cleaning for your face and décolletage. That’s a word Diana introduced me to and it means your lower neck and chest. Whatever you do to your face should be done to the other two. I haven’t done that over the years and I’m paying for it now.


Diana asked me to say one thing I’d like to change about my skin. I told her that I sometimes wanted to slap my face around because I felt like my skin needed stimulation; it just didn’t look lively and awake. No problem, she said, that’s a common situation with older skin. With that, we got started.


She told me the phases of a good facial: cleansing, toning, exfoliating, extracting, and then treatment masks to help tighten up and moisturize the skin. She agreed that stimulation was a critical part of skin care. That goal gave her the information she needed to create a custom facial for me.


We began with a steamer to cleanse and help open up my pores. Diana then went through the steps using a custom blend of products every step of the way. A hydrating citrus toner. An exfoliating tomato mask rich in alpha hydroxy acid layered with paprika pepper to generate some heat (that skin stimulation!) and some honey and lavender on my neck and chest.


Once I’d been exfoliated, Diana was able to see areas that needed some extra help, meaning I needed some extractions. This process was the least pleasant although by no means intolerable. Getting out those blackheads and milia is simply a necessary evil and a good aesthetician is better able to see and gently remove them because the top layer of skin has been exfoliated.


What are milia? I did a little research, and had my feelings validated concerning my “inruptions.” Milia are those hard little white bumps that form under the skin and are difficult to remove. Basically they are a collection of skin cells that have become trapped under the skin and walled off into a cyst-like object. They can occur for several reasons including sun damage, aging skin with a thicker epidermis, or use of heavy cosmetics that keep them from reaching the surface of your skin.


Ah, that’s one reason regular exfoliation is so critical.


While Diana worked her magic, I asked her about other things that were supposed to be good for our skin. Drinking water? Actually, she said, our skin only gets about 3 percent of the water we ingest. It’s good for you certainly, but you can drink plenty of water and still have dry skin. Fish oil? Omega 3 oils are essential to health skin and body. Garlic is another power food that helps nourish our skin.


Finished with the extraction process, Diana wrapped up with an eight-green and sour cherry mask to tighten up my pores. Some greens are an excellent source of phytoestrogen and this product introduced estrogen to the top layer of my skin. Estrogen is responsible for collagen production, which is why at menopause the skin becomes thinner and less plump. Diana assured me that this product would not penetrate my skin and change my hormone levels. Too bad, I can use all the help I can get.


We finished up with a super-hydrating and super-toning firethorn cream. Sure enough, as I looked in the mirror, my skin felt incredibly moist and looked radiant, I must say. I see now why brides often have facials on their wedding day. The effects of a good facial should last three to five days and I felt I could see a difference for about four days.


I could certainly get used to having one of these regularly. I wonder if Dr. Mike and Diana could come up with a Frequent Facial card. You know, get nine facials and get the tenth one free!


Vist Escobedo Skin Center to find other useful information on anti-aging treatments.

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