Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The toes have it.

Who doesn't like a nice relaxing pedicure? (me) Who wishes their toes didn't look so funny? (me) Who is glad that a fresh coat of paint and some cute open-toed sandals can make them go from "ugly duckling" to "swan" in 60 seconds? (ME)

But let's be honest, pretty toes are nice but shouldn't come at a cost. As we're now venturing into pedicure season (although this can also apply to your hands too) we must "tred" with caution -- sorry I couldn't resist.
Sometimes it's no fun that I have a background in biology, specifically having studied microbiology and all the tiny, creepy crawlies that are invisible to the naked eye. (Like staph, athlete's foot and nail fungus.) But I'll try not to gross you out. Think of this as a cautionary tale...

If at all possible, schedule your appointment for first thing in the morning. Pedicure instruments and foot baths are typically cleanest at the beginning of the day. Also notice how much time the staff lets the foot bath "soak" between clients. (Pedicure disinfectants require at least 10 minutes to work.)
Also does the person who's giving you the manicure have clean hands? Are they wearing gloves? Look around the salon to see how clean and tidy they keep the place. If it's as disgusting as a teenage boy's gym bag, you may want to check out another place.

Hopefully, the salon you go to  uses an autoclave (most high end ones do). Autoclaving is the best way to sterilize and disinfect equipment and tools that have been used on countless individuals.  (You may ask "What's autoclaving?" It's a high pressure and temperature "oven" used to "bake" off bacteria. Don't confuse them with  UV sterilizers, which look like toaster ovens, with intense purple lights,to sterilize tools. These won't kill bacteria.)

Another thing most of us don't think of is using hair removal creams, or waxing your legs and feet during the 24 hours before getting a pedicure can cause cuts or subtle abrasions that you don’t even notice on your feet. Leaving a gaping wide open doorway for bacteria and fungus to come in.

On a related note most pedicures  usually include removal of dead skin or callouses on the feet, but this should be done with a pumice stone or foot file, not a razor-type tool. If used incorrectly, a razor can easily remove too much skin or cut you and cause infection or permanent damage to the skin. Cutting too deep could cause permanent nerve or tissue damage. (Please note this is nothing against diabetics but foot problems are a big risk for them so you might want to be extra careful.)

So to try and end this on a happy note, I did a little looking around and the on-trend thing right now is really bright/vibrant colors. Like the kind you find in a crayon box. Don't be afraid to be bold and wear a sunny yellow, bright green or classic "fire engine" red. My favorite is a cobalt blue or deep purple, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wearing foundation should not feel like Spackle

I recently chatted with a friend of mine discussing all the steps we women go through to make up our faces to go out at night. Honestly, when she referred to it as feeling like she was wearing Spackle, I was put off. Since when did the process of looking beautiful turn into a construction project?

As an independent beauty consultant part of my job is to educate women in healthy skin care and makeup application techniques. As it is, most women skip steps in caring for their skin: cleanse, tone, exfoliate, moisturize and protect. As a biologist, I could go on and on about the layers of skin and how it cycles. (But I won't bore you.) Feel fee to ask me more, and I'll chat with you privately on an individual basis.

To be honest, I knew these steps long before I was selling Mary Kay. I worked retail in the local mall like most kids during my college years. Fortunately, it was in one of those cute health & beauty shops. So I got to try everything! It also was great because with that discount I could buy lots of stuff cheap and play around with it at home.

I felt like an artist with a palate of beautiful colors. (The analogy works because I had just discovered makeup brushes too -- good bye foam tip applicators!) However, one friend told me years ago, you can't paint a masterpiece if you have a lousy canvas. So during the age of the "electric beach" but just before "spray tan" I started using SPF in my moisturizer and even in my foundation. I also used bronzer. (No, not the orange stuff.)

Yes, I was not a glamor gal at all. I never wore foundation, just lip gloss, one shade of eyeshadow, a little mascara and blush. That all changed when I started to really look at my face -- my pores were gross. Besides treating myself to facials occasionally -- I considered it "maintinance" -- I started a regular routine that became faster and easier with practice.

Then I learned there's a layering process: prep your skin, next use primer, concealer and then foundation. Once you have the basic face down, makeup goes on so much easier (and washes off later easier too.) The trick is keep the layers thin. Then you don't get "Spackle face." If I wanted to walk around with a windshield on my face, I'd be a car.