Monday, March 2, 2015

My review of Paula Begoun’s review of Yonka-Paris products

I came across the following review of the Yonka-Paris skin care line on Paula Begouns website. For those of you unfamiliar with who she is, Paula Begoun is best-known for her book, Dont Go To The Cosmetic Counter Without Me. You can read all about her on Wikapedia. To say that she and I disagree on the efficacy and practicality of Yonka products in general and essential oils specifically is a huge understatement.

I just cant help myself from writing this review of Begouns review, no doubt due to my absolute passion for Yonka products, having used them professionally for almost 30 years. So below you will find a mixture of Paula’s review along with my opinions about her viewpoint. Everyone is afforded an opinion, and I certainly have one regarding essential oils and their use in Yonka products. I have highlighted in bold some of the more interesting statements. Here is Paula Begouns review:

Yon-Ka Paris At-A-Glance

Strengths: Good self-tanner and after-sun moisturizer. 

Weaknesses: Expensive; mostly irritating cleansers; almost every moisturizer, serum, mask, toner, and treatment product is loaded with irritating fragrant oils; claims are ludicrous to the max; none of the products with SPF ratings contain active sunscreen ingredients; no reliable AHA or BHA products; skin-lightening products do not contain ingredients that fade discolorations, but do contain ingredients that can make discolorations worse; terribly formulated products to treat blemishes.

Yon-Ka Paris is a French line of cosmetics with a decidedly French accent, but that is where the √©lan of this pricey skin-care line starts and stops. The ads for Yon-Ka Paris declare that the company has a passion for the “world of plants … that nourish and heal the body and soul and restore the beauty of skin and spirit.” At these prices, thats the least you should expect. Adding to the allure is a description of the name Yon-Ka. “Yon” refers to a river with rapid, purifying water meant to symbolize the energy these products are said to provide skin; “Ka” is an ancient Egyptian term that symbolizes “the vital and eternal force that is inherent in each individual.” Taken together, the name is supposed to represent constant natural regeneration. Unfortunately, when you get down to the product formulas, most of them contain enough irritating ingredients that skin will suffer from degradation rather than regeneration.

Almost every Yon-Ka moisturizer contains a litany of problematic ingredients, the dastardliest of which are citrus oils, thyme, rosemary, and lavender. Others show up, but the aforementioned are the most consistent, and its amazing how many disparate claims are assigned to the products theyre in. Apparently, all it takes are fragrant oils mixed with standard, mostly benign cosmetic ingredients (thickeners, waxes, and a few water-binding agents) to not only firm skin but also erase acne, banish discolorations, reduce wrinkles, purify, and on and on.

Yon-Ka is available in many spas, and their Web site discusses how concerned they are about being selective with distribution. The logic, however flawed, is that they take so much care in creating the products and advising those who retail them how to sell them to their clients that they couldnt possibly let just anyone sell their aromatic blends. Believe me, any aesthetician exclusively retailing Yon-Ka is someone you dont want dealing with your skin (assuming he or she will only be using Yon-Ka products). Were not challenging the credibility or skills of such an aesthetician, just their judgment in deciding to sell a skin-care line so fraught with products that cannot possibly help skin. Anyone seriously interested in taking the best possible care of their skin could care less about a spiritually aromatic spa experience, and instead should demand products that are appropriate for their skin type and condition. Yon-Ka offers none of that.

What Yon-Ka does afford is a sensory experience that may relax you; its too bad that your skin will suffer as a result. And what about the fact that Yon-Kas daily routines do not include a sunscreen? Sun protection isnt even discussed, and the handful of Yon-Ka products with SPF ratings do not list active ingredients, which is as reliable as shopping for food without knowing whats in the package.

Even more deplorable is the companys view of *suntanning. We cant imagine trusting your skins health to a company that sells products that encourage you to get a tan. A skin-care line that turns a blind eye to the issues of sun protection and cumulative sun damage is as unethical as it is ignorant. 

Yon-Ka may be at the forefront of aesthetic aromatherapy, but thats about olfactory benefit, and in no way does that translate to smart, efficacious skin care. If you need to smell something nice, light a candle or wave perfume over pulse points, just keep it away from your skin.

For more information about Yon-Ka Paris, call (800) 533-6276 or visit

*On the suntanning issue: Yonka is indeed a French product line. It is fairly common knowledge that Europeans have a very different view on sun and tanning. However, foreign skin care manufacturers are changing their views these days probably due to the American market and our demand for higher SPFs. Im sure this was the case with Yonka. Over the past several years they have upgraded their sun products to keep up with the American market. In 2012 the FDA mandated SPFs cannot be higher than 50 (to limit unrealistic claims), and Yonka has kept to that regulation; they have several SPF products including an SPF 50. In years long past, Yonka didn’t have a sunscreen higher than SPF 15. That, to update this or any reviewer, was over 10 years ago.

Several times Begoun describes the use of “fragrant oils meaning the essential oil content of a product. There is so much information about the efficacy of essential “fragrant oils, it’s interesting Paula doesnt have any confidence in the litany of information available and only views these powerful ingredients as simply fluffy and aromatic. We have a huge difference of opinion, and I imagine that anyone using essential oils or products that contain them would also disagree with this world-renowned reviewers review of Yonka products.

I could go on and on about using Yonka for problem skin and even sensitive skin, contradicting what Begouns review states. There are many articles under the category Yonka products that talk about the use of these effective products for all types of skinespecially problem skin. And the writing in my articles is only reiterating what I find practically in my salon on real people.

To copy part of the above review, I am asking any of you who have seen me in any of my salons for facials over the yearswhether in Dallas TX, Los Angeles CA, Chicago IL, or Boulder COto write a sentence or two at the end of this blog post regarding the following. This is ME!

“Believe me, any aesthetician exclusively retailing Yon-Ka is someone you dont want dealing with your skin (assuming he or she will only be using Yon-Ka products). Were not challenging the credibility or skills of such an aesthetician, just their judgment in deciding to sell a skin-care line so fraught with products that cannot possibly help skin.

At the end of the day, its all just opinion; Paula has her opinion (is it based on using Yonka products on thousand of clients facesor even just her own?), and I have mine (having used Yonka products on literally thousands of faces as well as my own face for almost 30 years). 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

21 Years of Carolyn Ash Skin Care

Twenty one years ago today I opened my first CASC office in Dallas. Its been a great run thus far, and I have so many wonderful clients to thank for all their support for all of these many years. (2015 marks my 30th year as an aesthetician.) I am grateful for all I have been given, especially through the relationships with my clients. Thank you thank you thank you everyone!

Here is the (rather simple) snail mail notice I sent out to announce the opening of Carolyn Ash Skin Care in 1994. I was leaving The Spa at the Crescent, where I had worked for almost eight years. After careful planning, finding the perfect location, and a lot of courage and support, my dream was coming true.

A little inside tidbit: I actually gave my first facial on February 28th, 1994 because I had a client (Roxanne SI wish I could find you on Facebook!) who just couldnt wait until March 1st! Still, I kept 3/1/94 as my official start date.

Thank you one and all for these past 21 years in business!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Advanced Steps for Cleansing

If you want to have extra help when you’re cleansing (especially if you have breakout), try adding clay mask to your cleanser. After you have squirted or pumped your cleanser into the palm of your hand, take your clay mask and mix some into the cleanser. I would use two parts cleanser to one part clay. This will give you a little deeper cleanse, along with a slight exfoliating action. Due to clay’s earth nature, it does have a semi-granular texture. So if you have a lot of infection to your breakout, don’t use this or just be sure not to rub too hard. You never want to break open your blemishes, unless you are purposely extracting them.

Another recommendation is to add equal parts of a facial scrub with your cleanser. I typically use this mixture when I’m cleansing my face in the shower. I do this primarily for the circulatory benefits, but if you are sensitive to scrubs, try this suggestion. By adding some scrub of choice to your cleanser (only a liquid or milky kind), you can get a little bit of exfoliating without irritating your skin.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why You Don’t Want To Use A Magnifying Mirror

At the end of Chapter One of Timeless Skin I wrote:

I strongly recommend not using a magnifying mirror when it comes to looking at your face. Unless you require one to apply makeup, there is no need to make yourself crazy with this unrealistic view of your skin. No one looking at your skin can see what shows up through magnification. Not even you!

Recently a new client, Diane, called me about her problem skin, wondering if I could help her. We spoke for a few minutes, and she booked a facial. She came in without makeup, and I noticed her skin looked to be in pretty good shape although she reiterated her concern for “all the breakouts” she was experiencing. At first glance I thought perhaps she had gotten a little too much sun over her lifetime, but all in all, she didn’t have a lot of problems that I could see. Later I would look at her skin under magnification. That would tell me the real story.

I filled out a questionnaire and proceeded with the facial. I asked what her top concerns were regarding her skin and she replied, “I want to stop all the breakouts and stop my skin from aging.” I stepped up onto my soapbox about the aging process, basically explaining to her my philosophy that “you will age!” And yes, certain things can be done to keep the process from speeding up, but certainly nothing can ultimately be done to literally stop the aging process from happening.

As I examined her skin, I wasn’t finding the breakout she complained about. I could see some residual spots clearing from previous infections, but her skin looked good to me with just a few areas that needed clearing. She simply had normal skin with a few spots here and there, but nothing major. The first red flag presented itself.

I questioned her about her diet and found out she didn’t eat well. Normally she ate lots of fast foods and was a consumer of large amounts of sugar. (She did have a few places on her nose that looked to me like sugar spots—tiny infections with sebum in the middle, but she was lucky her skin wasn’t a mess due to her diet.) I thought to myself, “Something is wrong here; we are not seeing eye to eye.” This is not to say that a client’s view of his or her skin is always the same as my own opinion. But with Diane, she really had a very critical view of her skin, and I wasn’t able to concur.

When I look at a client’s skin, I am comparing what I see to thousands of clients who have come before. And in Diane’s case, I not only wouldn’t classify her skin as the worst I’ve seen, but she wouldn’t even make the list of clients with problem skin. I was beginning to realize her problem was something other than with her skin.

Later in the facial she started asking me what she could do about “all the hair on her face.” What hair? She meant the normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill peach fuzz we all have on our faces. “You need to leave it alone,” I said.

Then it hit me: She has a magnifying mirror. I asked her if she used one and sure enough, I was right. Everything looked huge—her pores, the hair on her face, any small blemish that might be present—everything! No wonder she had a skewed view of her skin. Nothing looks normal in those mirrors! She had been looking at her skin from the point of view of almost seven times its normal size.

She said she needed to use the mirror to tweeze her brows. I asked Diane if she could restrain herself and only use the magnifying mirror to shape her brows and not look at her skin. She said she would try. It would take discipline, but I have faith that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I wanted to tell Diane’s story to illustrate how you can drive yourself crazy by looking at yourself enlarged. What would it be like if we magnified our voices seven times the normal volume or magnified pain seven times? Don’t magnify your perfectly good skin seven times larger by looking at it through a magnifying mirror! Otherwise you are simply and completely setting yourself up for failure, disappointment, and ultimately for taking steps to solve a problem you probably don’t even have. Trust me, don’t use magnifying mirrors for anything other than applying makeup (if you can’t see very well), shaping your eyebrows*, or for some other positive reason. And if you do have problems with your skin, looking through a magnifying mirror certainly isn’t going to help clear it up. Looking at your lifestyle habits and making better choices will be a surer way to bring about long-term, permanent change.
*Using a magnifying mirror to shape your eyebrows can be equally disastrous for your skin if you don’t use restraint. Once again, no one can see the stray hair of your brows unless he or she is standing extremely close to your face. What usually happens is you will see hair that no one else can see, perhaps hair that isn’t even ready to be tweezed. You go after it, can’t get it, and then have to get it. Due to your diligence you break the skin, causing a tear, which will cause a scab to form. You may have gotten that stray hair, but now you have a very obvious scab or scabs on your brows. You have just given attention to something you were trying to conceal.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Just Say NO to a Lip Wax!

If you havent ever had your upper lip waxed—dont! The reason I dont recommend a first-time lip wax is simply because you will be starting a never-ending process. You could be creating thicker, darker hair in an area that may actually be just fine as it is.

What I have found throughout the years working on thousands of female clients is that they have a defective view of the hair that exists above their lips. Granted, some women do have a true moustache that contains thick, dark hair that may need to be removed. But for the most part, women just think they need to have a lip wax, when in actuality they have no real noticeable dark hair on their upper lip. There are more blog posts here on waxing and other hair removal techniques that may give you some ideas on how to handle unwanted hair. See waxing and hair removal.

I used to offer waxing at my salons. Why? I knew people (mostly women) were going to get waxing procedures done. At least in my salons I would have done the best job I could to ensure every client would have a proper waxing experience. Call it quality control. I didn’t personally execute the service, but my employees did. They were, however, discouraged from waxing someone for the first time, especially a lip wax. The reason I instructed my employees to never do a first-time lip wax is simply because they would be starting that never-ending process mentioned above. I didn’t want to contribute to that for any of my clients—ever. 

Now, I no longer have employees and I havent personally given waxing services since working at a spa, which was my second skin care job in 1986. So not only do I not recommend waxing, I am no longer qualified to give the service. Truthfully, I didnt like waxing simply because I was and am more interested in helping people take care of their skin, from the inside out, so removing hair wasnt going to be a service I provided. I do, of course, have referrals for anyone who wants to get waxing services (here in Boulder).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Accutane and Depression

When you take anything orally, the substance enters the bloodstream and is introduced to all the cells it comes in contact with. Whether it is a medication or vitamin pill, it affects your body chemistry. And this includes brain chemistry. Depression, which occurs due to altered chemicals in the brain, is one of the side effects that can be caused by taking Accutane. If you choose to take Accutane, I caution you to pay close attention to your emotional life. If you think you may be experiencing medication-induced depression (depression brought on by the use of this oral medication), call your doctor!

The following are the symptoms listed on the Informed Consent/Patient Agreement form that must be filled out by every patient about to undergo Accutane treatments. It instructs you to immediately tell your doctor if:
  • you start to feel sad or have crying spells
  • lose interest in your usual activities
  • have changes in your normal activities
  • become more irritable
  • lose your appetite
  • become unusually tired
  • have trouble concentrating
  • withdraw socially
  • start having suicidal thoughts
 This is an instance where you are trying to fix a problem (acne), and you may accidentally create another, more undesirable problem (depression).

Obviously Accutane does not cause depression in every patient. But without knowing the possibility of it occurring, you may not be watching out for the signs of depression. I recommend talking with your doctor about this aspect of Accutane specifically so you can be clear about what to watch out for and what to do should you start feeling emotional changes. I realize you want clear skin, but don’t make your body (and mind) pay the price. Knowledge is power; know what all the roadblocks are and keep your eyes open. Be sure to read other articles under accutane on this blog.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Aestheticians/Pros: PLEASE READ THIS!

I have been posting new articles for the layperson here on ageless beauty, timeless skin every other day or so for several months. I hope this information is and continues to be helpful for you in keeping your skin healthy and balanced.

Many asetheticians also read this blog, and originally I was going to post articles here to help professionals from my 30 years of experience. I changed my mind and created a new blog: Help for Aestheticians. There I will be posting many articles for skin care pros. I have scheduled articles to publish every day or so.

For the most I will be writing about how to run a successful business—or how I have, anyway. There are many ideas that can help almost any business looking to increase their client base along with ideas to build client relationships.

For any of you interested in seeing how I have run my business, read away! Some of the posts may actually be interesting to you, although I wrote them for professionals who I hope will get good ideas to help them in their businesses and their careers in skin care.

Also, I won’t be posting the articles from the professional blog on my FB page like I do from this ageless beauty, timeless skin blog. You’ll have to visit the Help for Aestheticians blog site in order to read any new or existing articles. Enjoy!