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beauty, simplified


Welcome to edition two of my beauty newsletter, Skinlexicon—a space for lovers of simple and minimal skincare that actually works. Of course, since this is a brand new concept I was interested to learn more about what you're reading and the products you're clicking on and after looking through the report, many of you wanted to read about my personal experiences with under-eye fillers and lip fillers.

Well, you're in luck because I am currently writing about a liquid facial I had with one of my favorite dermatologists in L.A. Dr. Nancy Samolitis at Facile for Byrdie—Nancy also treated my sun-damaged chest with Fraxel. I'll be sure to share the story here once it's published because it also includes several other treatments I've had from the Beauty Sandwich, Matthew Miller, and Dr. Jennifer Herrmann (she also did my first round of fillers).

For this week's skincare spotlight I reached out to one of my favorites, Candace Marino aka The LA Facialist on IG. Aside from being one of the nicest people in the bizz, she's also the most incredible facial masseuse I've ever had the privilege of working their magic on my face. Don't take my word for it though, check out the footage of her performing the Fire & Ice facial massage and see for yourself—it feels as good as it looks. Like Matthew Miller from last week, Candace is also incredibly knowledgable and isn't shy about sharing it. Her Instagram is a great resource and educational platform if you ever have any questions and she often hosts Q&A sessions on her IGS so definitely take advantage of those. Ahead, Marino shares the common skincare misconceptions, the biggest skin mistake people always make, and her top must-have skincare products.

I've included my top 5 beauty reads of the week and I'm also reposting my 12-step skincare routine with products included for those who missed it the first time around. What I use on my skin is one of the most common questions I'm asked on IG so I thought it deserved a second email. 

As a reminder, Skinlexicon is also a platform for product reviews so please let me know about the brands you want me to review, along with any topics or questions you'd like me to cover. You can email me at

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  • I started a new series on Create & Cultivate blog called From Scratch that documents the story behind founders and small business owners and how they built their company from the ground up—we even talk about how much they pay themselves which from many of the interviews I've conducted so far is nothing. I kicked off the series with Allison McNamara, the founder of MARA face oil followed by Dana Rae Ashburn's story, the brains behind Able Cosmetics and if you're interested in or have already started a beauty or skincare line, they are definitely worth a read.
  • If you love a podcast (like I do) then tune into Gloss Angeles. It's the new, highly entertaining and informative podcast from two beauty editors, Kirby Johnson LA-based host, beauty reporter, and producer (formerly of PopSugar) and Sara Tran, senior fashion and beauty editor at Bustle. They get nerdy on ingredients, discuss hot topics like "should face oil go before or after moisturizer?" and they also have a fab giveaway for a Skin Inc. Tri Light right now. Go check them out and hit subscribe!
  • Speaking of getting nerdy about ingredients, I love this story on Byrdie that breaks down ceramides. I think it's really important to know what's in the skincare you're buying and to understand if that ingredient is going to target your personal skin concerns. Just because ceramides are trending doesn't mean you should buy the next product that has it in them, unless you've researched the ingredient and found that it is something that could help or enhance your skin. This one on glycolic peels is also good.
  • I'm really into bathing as a form of mindful relaxation and meditation after a long day and have typically used Epsom salts but I recently learned about the benefits of pink Himalayan salt baths. Aside from tasting delicious in food, apparently, this salt also has a wide range of trace minerals that are important for our health—calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc—making Himalayan pink salt one of the best salts to soak in. In a process known as dermal absorption, the skin soaks up minerals from the water as you bathe.

    Prevention says Pink Himalayan salt is a great natural detoxifier and that when we bathe in it, it helps to pull some of these toxins out of our skin through a process called reverse osmosis. According to Dr. Barabra Hendel in Net-a-Porter magazine, soaking in at least 1kg of food-grade Himalayan salt has the same detoxing effect as a three-day fast. The salt mimics the 80 trace elements found in the body and draws out toxins. "Pre-vacation, use twice weekly for 30 minutes, and drink water afterward as the effects are powerful," says Karin Davis, Westlab's chief pharmacist. It also helps our skin retain moisture—this is really amazing news to me because I suffer from fluid retention to this could be a great cure. I just ordered a bag on Amazon so I'll let you know how it goes for me in the next edition. 
  • I've been seeing lymphatic drainage trending lately (no surprises since it's summer and everyone is feeling that fluid retention, or is that just me?). I read a great article on Poosh about the benefits of this massage style and I really want to give it a go. The Poosh team recommends The Tox in L.A. but I've also heard great things about Anna from Ricari Studios. If you want to try some home remedies and supplements first then this Chalkboard mag article has some good options to try.


Photo: Jess Rochow

Beauty is a broad term, but what does it mean to you?
My definition of beauty is authenticity. There is nothing more beautiful than someone who is proudly, rawly and simply being themselves. 

Having your own business while being creative is a juggle. What motivates you to keep going?
First off, I genuinely love what I do but I'd have to say that Instagram is honestly what keeps me going. It's almost like an accountability program because followers keep you on track. Having an Instagram platform has motivated me in so many ways. My followers truly interact with me and keep me inspired to produce content. The more I engage the more inspired I get, the more knowledge I seek, the more I learn and grow, the more content I produce and share, it's a whole chain reaction.

Sometimes staying motivated is hard for me because I go through Instagram funks every now and then where I feel so uninspired to post, or maybe just feel like having some alone time or not sharing. But then I'll get a message from someone asking me a skincare question or a new esthi telling me they look up to me and I feel so grateful for the opportunity to help and inspire others. Then I say to myself "okay lady, make some damn content!" 

Why did you become an esthetician? 
I kind of always had a passion for it. I remember doing facials with my mom at home as a little girl. Also, my mom was the face of Dove soap in the early 80's after a talent scout noticed her perfect skin leaving the grocery store. I think knowing that about her made me prioritize skin above all other things beauty-related. When I was middle school age and girls were getting into hair and makeup and eyebrow tweezing (WTF?) I played along but deep down inside I was like, eye cream!!!! I definitely remember rummaging through my mom's skincare products and dowsing myself in them. 

How long did you work for someone else before you started out on your own? 
I'm actually writing this on my last day of working for someone else which is exciting yet scary as hell. I've been in the industry for 13 years, and I've moved around a lot because traveling has been a passion of mine. I've been lucky to have a trade where I've been able to work in all of the cool places I've lived, including Aspen and Costa Rica. So because of the nomadic lifestyle I've lived for so long, working for others was really the only way to go.

Since I became established in the medical aesthetic community, and I've stayed put (here in L.A. going on four years) I've had the opportunity to build a loyal clientele and finally feel confident enough to venture out on my own. For the past few years, a lot of my followers and clients and even some of the skincare reps I work with have said to me "go out on your own, you don't need to work for someone else."  I recently took their advice, so here we go.

"All skin, no matter the color is susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun and to skin cancer."

What do you love about taking care of people's skin? 
I feel like skin is something we can all relate to. Most of us know the horror of waking up on the day of a big event and having a zit, or the regret of self-extracting a minuscule blackhead and it turning into what I refer to as a "stage 5 clinger." I truly believe that skin is something we all relate to and it's such a talking point. I can walk into any room and when someone introduces me as an aesthetician I instantly have questions coming from so many people.

Skincare is also so tricky and confusing and intimidating to a lot of people so to answer the question, I love being able to help guide the way for people in regards to a topic that can be so emotional and frustrating. I nerd out talking about ingredients and science and figuring out why things work or don't work for a particular skin type, so for me it's like piecing a huge puzzle together. I get to play investigator and find the "why" for the client's skin condition, and once I figure out the problem and fix it, it's so rewarding. I also believe that facials are a beautiful self-care ritual and having the gift to give them to others is really fulfilling for me. And on top of all of that, I've met some of my most favorite people in the treatment room.

What are the biggest skin misconceptions you’d like to debunk once and for all? 
That darker skin or skin that tans well doesn’t need sunscreen. I literally want to beat my head against a wall when people tell me “I don’t need sunscreen, I don’t burn.” All skin, no matter the color is susceptible to the damaging effects of the sun and to skin cancer. I often like to point out that Bob Marley died of Melanoma which spread to his lungs and brain. This just goes to show that everyone is at risk and that the sun doesn’t discriminate.

Tanning and burning aside, the sun will rapidly age the skin, so if not for a health standpoint, wear it for vanity because once the damage is done, there’s not a lot that can be done to change the quality and texture of the skin. I cannot stress the importance of protecting your skin enough. I hear this literally every single day from clients “I wish I didn’t lay out in the sun when I was young" or "I wish I wore sunscreen."

What’s the biggest skin mistake people always make? Why? How can we fix it?
Not giving products a fair chance to become therapeutic in the skin. So many people want instant results, and unfortunately, skincare doesn't work like that. It takes time for your skin to respond. I tell my clients to give it at least six weeks before truly knowing if they love or hate something (*unless of course, you have a reaction). Having good skin takes commitment, its a lifestyle and consistency is key. 

What are the 3 skin product essentials everyone should have in their routine? 
Vitamin C—I call it your skin's insurance policy. It's preventing the damage that can occur from the sun and environment, and it kills free radicals that enter your skin that can cause pigment, sun damage, and skin cancers

SPF—it's a no brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many people aren't using it. Sunscreen is imperative to keep your skin youthful. The damaging rays of the sun break down the collagen and elastin fibers in our skin and cause premature aging and obviously cause pigmentation. 

Vitamin A—Retinol products get a bad rap for being sensitizing and drying, but luckily there are new technologies on the market that make delivery systems for retinoic acid which doesn't cause irritation. Sente Bio Complete serum and SkinBetter Science AlphaRet are two examples of beautifully formulated retinol products that won’t shock the skin. I love a good vitamin A serum to keep cellular turnover (exfoliation) up while stimulating new collagen to form. 

There are so many buzzy new treatments out there, lasers, and new ingredients we have to try, but how can we know what is legit and what’s just a fad? 
By creating a relationship with your aesthetic professional. When you find someone you trust, stick with them. They will be your best friend. I can't tell you how many texts I get a week from my clients with an Instagram screenshot of some crazy new treatment or asking if it's okay to try a certain product. If you find someone you vibe with, they will be so happy to help debunk all the fads for you. 

"So many people want instant results, and unfortunately, skincare doesn't work like that. It takes time for your skin to respond."

What treatments/products do you swear by for instant glow?
Products-wise, Olga Lorencin Red Carpet Facial in a Box. I've sworn by this for years. It's a 3-step at-home-treatment. First a light lactic peel, then a neutralizer which creates this amazing foaming effect (you feel a flash of heat which draws a ton of circulation to the skin), and finally a nourishing and calming mask. this is my secret weapon to give an instant glow. 

As far as treatments go, a good facial will always get you glowing. Facial massage is my #1 tool when someone needs a glow. A true glow comes from within. You can layer product after product to make the skin look shiny but glowing skin is oxygenated skin which happens through manipulation of tissue. I always say: "there is no facial device out there that can replace the power of the hands."

There are so many skincare brands now too, how can the average person read an ingredients list with confidence and know they are getting bang for their buck as well as an effective product that does what it says? 
This is tough. I think it's unreasonable to expect the average person to know the ingredients so I feel they should find a skincare provider they trust and stick with their suggestions. There's a difference between wanting good skin (doesn't everybody?) and being into skin enough to really get down and dirty and want to know about ingredients. So in my opinion, if you don't truly take a deep interest in skin and have a passion for trying new things and learning about ingredients, you should just follow the recommendations of a professional. There are enough of us ingredient nerds on IG who are more than happy to give recommendations, trust me.

What is your skincare philosophy?
"Beautiful skin is a lifestyle."  So many people want it but aren't willing to commit to it. It's more than just using the right products, it's the treatments you get (facials, peels, lasers, injectables), the frequency you do them, your diet, exercise, sun exposure, air and water quality, the humidity in your home, sleep, basic hygiene, washing makeup brushes, and pillowcases, cleansing skin after washing your hair, drinking and smoking—it's an entire puzzle. So when people come to me and say "I'm using the product you suggested and my skin isn't improving" I know that most likely there are lifestyle factors that are contributing to the way the skin presents. I come from a holistic approach meaning, if I'm treating your skin, I'm treating you as a whole and we're going to talk about all of the factors that come into play. 

Name your top 3 skincare IG accounts (that are educational) and why?
@marianalvergara—Mariana is a Nurse Practitioner who specializes in cosmetic injectables and lasers. She does an amazing job explaining her treatments and is so fun to listen to (you'll fall in love with her accent). I refer all of my clients to her for lasers and injectables, she's skilled and honest and I truly trust her.

@skinbybrit—Shes a recently licensed esthetician in San Diego. I love her passion for the industry and her content is refreshing. I find there is way too many "copy and paste" skincare accounts on IG that just Google stuff and post it, and it bores me to death. I truly feel that passion trumps experience. She might be new to the game but she knows her stuff. Her feed is beautiful, educational and to the point. I low-key want her to run my social media because her aesthetic is beautiful. 

@pielpeel—I had the privilege of working with Elizabeth at a previous practice and this girl is a true walking encyclopedia of ingredients. I honestly don't know if I've ever met a more ingredient savvy esthetician. She has the most beautiful energy and is truly passionate about helping people with their skin. Her stories and live videos are so informative; everyone, even the most seasoned esthetician will learn something from her. 

What are your thoughts on the new “clean” skincare movement? 
I'm into it. I've always loved and appreciated clean, organic products. I think there's room for both medical grade and clean products in every regimen, the two do not need to be mutually exclusive, which is a common misconception. My favorite clean skincare brand is Kora Organics. Besides having beautiful, clean ingredients and effective formulas, every single product they make is filtered through a rose quartz crystal to energetically charge the products with good vibes—I’m into it! 

What's your one tip for people who haven’t taken care of their skin before and don’t know where to start? 
Do your research. Find someone in your area who is experienced and reputable, and book a consult. this doesn't mean go to Sephora or a cosmetics counter. Go to a real skincare provider who offers consults and treatments, and can get you on a longterm treatment plan, and skincare regimen. 

What are your top must-have skincare products?
IS Clinical Extreme protect SPF 30 
Skin Better Science AlphaRet & Alto Serums
Restorsea Pro Foaming Face Wash 
Sente Illumine Eye Cream
Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening Mask 

Cosmedix Clarify Foaming Cleanser
Skinmedica AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
I love an exfoliating cleanser to slough off dead skin cells to keep blackheads away and keep my skin feeling smooth and fresh. Both of these are also incredibly gentle on the skin and never irritate or dry my skin out. I'm obsessed with Cosmedix's new foaming cleanser—it's a salicylic acid foaming cleanser but it's so gentle and doesn't have any parabens which I love.

Cosmedix Purity Balance Exfoliating Prep Toner
I'm a big fan of using acids and this one has both of my favorites, salicylic and lactic acids. I have been using this toner for at least 10 years now and it is truly one of my hero products. I love how it removes excess oil or residue (including makeup) to reveal smooth, clear skin. It can also be used as a spot treatment for breakouts and I've even used it in lieu of a cleanser when I forgot to pack it on a work trip once. It's really an amazing product. 

iS Clinical White Lightening Serum
I was gifted this product about two months ago and have been using it every day since and I do think that my skin overall is brighter and firmer. It's really lightweight (a waterlike essence consistency) too which I like because I use a lot of serums and if they're too heavy it can pill which I loathe. It is also paraben free.

The other brightening cream I LOVE is Skinmedica's Lytera. This product really works to help even skin tone and manage pigmentation. I'm super obsessed with even skin tone so I have several brightening serums in my regimen, including Cosmedix X-Cell which also has niacinamide and microencapsulated Retinol. I love mixing it with their Vitamin C crystals for an added boost.

iS Clinical Super Serum Advance
This one is also lightweight but I love it because it has a really high concentration of L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a whopping 15% to be exact. I also love the Cosmedix Vitamin C crystals which you can combine with any serum or moisturizer—Versed also has one.

Cosmedix Refine RX Retinol Resurfacing Treatment
I have been using retinol for years so I can handle the highest strength version from Cosmedix but if you're just starting out or have sensitive skin, they have a range of retinol so you can work your way up. Serum 16 is a good place to start.

Skinmedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
There are a lot of hyaluronic acid serums out there—I mean, a lot—but after trying almost everything out there (well, not all, but a lot!) I consistently come back to this one. It works, plain and simple. I have been testing out the new Versed Hydration Station too which is more of a watery essence than a serum, but it is nice to pat into the skin for a refresh later in the day when it's feeling dry. 

Cosmedix Cell ID
Matthew Miller recommends this serum to almost everyone. It has really high levels of Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3 that helps to manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkles. This is a really nice everyday defense serum. 

iS Clinical Active Serum
I mix a few drops of this with the iS Clinical Super Serum Advance and the iS Clinical White Lightening Serum morning and night straight after I've toned my skin. I've been doing this for a few months now and I can honestly say it instantly tightens and brightens my skin. I have definitely noticed a difference. I really love how fresh it makes my skin feel too. 

Cosmedix X-Age
I have been using this moisturizer for about a year now and I notice the difference in my skin texture and overall appearance when I stop using it. This is worth the $$. It has encapsulated Vitamin A and a ton of antioxidants to help improve the texture and elasticity of aging skin. I just really love it. I mix it with my face oil every night for added hydration and dewy skin. Humidify is also lovely when I want something hydrating but lightweight. 

DMK Seba-E Oil
I was first introduced to this face oil through Matthew Miller and I have been hooked (actually I think it's safe to say obsessed) with this face oil ever since. I love to mix it with my moisturizer and even reapply it throughout the day for dewy, glowy skin. It can be mixed with makeup too. Mara Beauty Universal Face Oil is also really beautiful and great mixed with makeup as is the new face 100% organic oil by Kohza Numbers (touted as a daily supplement serum with vitamins A, C, and E).

Cosmedix Eye Doctor
This magical eye cream is hands down one of the best ones out there. Honestly, you have to own this product. It is like eye cream and a highlighter in one. Their Opti-Eye Crystal (which is slightly cheaper) is also great and one of their best-selling products. But I personally prefer the Eye Doctor because it has retinol and feels more targeted to my anti-aging needs.  

iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50+
This is almost like a mousse in texture, it's light, not too oily and mixes into the skin without leaving a white residue, but also keeps my skin dewy. I love the size of the bottle and I use it for my face and body. It's paraben free and doesn't have any active chemical ingredients. My husband had a terrible reaction to oxybenzone and avobenzone so if you're sensitive please look out for that ingredient and avoid sunscreens that have it.

Face Mist
iS Clinical Copper Firming Mist
I have tried sooo many face mists but this is by far my favorite. It does feel firming and is a great spritz to set makeup. I also really love Cosmedix mystic. It smells so good and is incredibly hydrating. 
Thank you for reading this all the way to the end! If you have any industry news, brand updates, new product launches, or stories you'd like to share or see featured, please email me:

Image 1+4+5: Tasya Van Ree
Copyright © *2019 *Stylexicon*, All rights reserved.

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