I am SO excited about this post and to share with you some of the best skincare knowledge from my beautiful friend and expert esthetician, Nikki Guiliani, owner of Jezebelle Skin Solutions. My skin has been crazy dry this season and I turned to Nikki to get the best advice on how to get my skin back on track. Not only is she an experienced skincare expert, she is also a badass #GIRLBOSS who has owned her own business, Jezebell Skin Solutions, since 2005. Below Nikki dishes about all things beauty, health and wellness.
To get us started, here’s a little background on Nikki and her business:
Lou: How long have you been an esthetician?
NG: Since 2002, so almost 15 years!
Lou: What led you into this field?
NG: I suffered from severe cystic acne when I was a teenager into my 20’s. I tried everything over the counter to prescriptions, such as Acutane, and topicals from dermatologists. I finally made a declarative statement to myself, “I refuse to go my whole life with acne. There has to be a solution and I am going to find it.” I made the decision to go into the esthetician program to learn everything I could about skin and skincare.
I resolved my acne issues by learning how the skin functions and how my daily habits, stress, diet, lifestyle all effected not only my skin but my entire well being. I learned my food triggers, which are dairy and sugar. Dairy creates a mucous in the body and comes out around the mucous membranes, eyes, nose, and mouth. Eliminating these foods got rid of the little small bumps under the skin I was continuously having. I learned that proper exfoliation and proper hydration for each individual’s skin type is the key to balance in the skin.
Lou: When did you decide to start your own business?
NG: I started my own business in July of 2005. I had worked in the industry for other people just over 2 years and felt it was time to go from commission to working for myself.
Lou: Did you have any business mentors or people that have helped to encourage you along the way?
NG: My parents were very supportive of me starting my own business and were my emotional rocks to lean on while I learned the trials and tribulations of being a business owner. My dad was a business owner so he had some wise words when things got tough. As simple as making a list of the bills to be paid, prioritizing them in matters of importance, then paying one at a time even if it was just a small amount. As you can imagine, being 25 and a business owner can be a bit overwhelming. This simple strategy gave me so much relief!
I also signed up for monthly newsletters from other successful estheticians and follow them on social media, such as Lori Crete, Rene Rouleau, and Shelley Hancock. I have learned how valuable it is to mirror and model other successful people in my industry. I value and trust these women as they have integrity and passion for what they do. I resonate with their values and admire them. It’s extremely important to have mentors.
Lou: What are some of your best tips for staying healthy?
NG: Drink lemon water every morning, it will alkalize your body after coming out of a fast from sleeping all night and it speeds up your metabolism. Great way to start your day! Cleanse your skin every night even if you’re tired. So important to get the daily grime off your skin and will reduce blackheads. Move your body, exercise as we all know, gets circulation moving which is vital for not only glowing skin but overall health. I’m also a big fan of supplements or antioxidant extracts that I can put in my water. I admit I don’t always eat a well balanced diet every single day. So using quality supplements to take or put in my water, I feel more balanced and know that I’m putting something good in my body daily.
Lou: Do you have a “golden rule” that you live by in order to maintain great health?
NG: Everyday when I wake up I tell myself “I feel good. Today is going to be a great day.” I walk my dog every morning and I call this my gratitude walk. I look at nature and feel immense gratitude for the beauty my eyes allow me to see. I think about all that I have in my life and how grateful I am for all of it. I can feel my body’s vibration shift to this incredible yummy delicious sense of being. I have a smile ear to ear and I can feel this in my heart. Doing this is so powerful and gives me immense momentum for my entire day. It has become my ritual. This is my golden rule that I live by.
Lou: How do you keep up with new products, technologies and education within your industry?
NG: My education never stops and I thoroughly enjoy it. A thirst for knowledge is a passion of mine. I keep up with the latest and greatest by attending trade shows, take workshops on products and development, webinars, following other professionals in my industry on social media, etc. This is a fast growing industry and you’ve got to stay on top of it. I’m known for bringing in new toys. I love equipment that enhances the results of a facial treatment. For example, I’ll do a microdermabrasion at the beginning of a facial and add the red LED light therapy mask at the end on top of a mask. These two pieces of equipment are a lovely pairing and compliment one another in facials. I love love love watching my clients skin change on my table.
Okay, so now that we know more about Nikki and her biz, let’s jump into the Skincare portion:
Lou: What is the best thing I can do for my skin in the Winter months?
NG: Adding a hydrating serum to your moisturizer day and night is my advice during the winter months. This time of year everyone needs to kick up the hydration a notch. My rule of thumb is to cocktail no more than 3 serums together. Also, exfoliate and moisturize. The right exfoliation technique along with the correct hydration serums or moisturizers for your skin type is the key to balanced, healthy, glowing skin. You have to remove the dead skin cells before you moisturize. Otherwise, you are just plumping up dead skin cells. I love enzyme masks that you can throw on in the shower and rinse off right before you get out. Once out, load up on your hydration.
LOU: I know everyone says, “don’t pick at zits” but am I really supposed to walk around with a white head on my face?
NG: Here’s my advice with “picking.” If it’s red swollen, or has a milky appearance, leave it alone, no picking. If you push on this kind of pustule you will push the bacteria down and spread the infection just below the surface and a family of 5 + can surface and this will take weeks to go away. I see this all the time. You want to treat the inflammation. Make sure you have a cleansed face, then put a hot compress to help bring to surface (do this at night) then apply an acne spot corrective or toner with either witch hazel, tea tree oil or salicylic acid just to the head of it using a q-tip. In the morning you can ice it for 15-30 seconds to help reduce swelling.
If it has a hard white bump that is just screaming to get out then here’s what you do: Make sure your face is clean, put hot compress on it, wrap fingers in tissue and gently press on the sides of white head and wriggle it out. When it’s out or you see clear liquid you are DONE. Clear liquid is actually clear blood and is a natural antiseptic. Do not keep pushing. Apply a product with tea tree oil or witch hazel to help kill bacteria on the exposed pore. Do NOT over use acne spot corrector here. This will dry and damage the healthy tissue around this area.
LOU: What type of treatments or products do you think are best for lightening brown spots?
NG: The number one thing you must do to start the lightening process is wear SPF rain or shine and reapply. I also love Vitamin C as an ingredient. In the industry we call it a BLT, brightener, lightener, and tightener. Vitamin C will also increase your natural SPF factor. A home maintenance pigment control product used daily is highly recommended. This is essential to keep up the lightening benefits of a deeper treatment. I love doing a combination of treatments for clients such as microdermabrasion, Kojic acid + TCA peels, Jessner’s, etc. I also just got in a tool called CryoClear that removes brown spots caused from sun by freezing the isolated area then it will flake off. A thorough consultation by a professional is mandatory before starting deeper treatments. The skin is examined and is determined if the brown spots are sun damage or melasma. Melasma is tricky since it is caused by hormones. Also, the ethnicity of the person’s skin is very important to consider before coming up with a plan of treatments. Getting rid of brown spots can be a journey, so the client needs to be patient with the process.
Lou: What type of treatments or products do you think are best for adult acne?
NG: The best thing an adult with acne can do is come in for a consult. There are so many variables as to what the cause is and what the treatment plan can be. I also find that majority, not all, adults with acne tend to be dry acne, not your typical oily acne like a teenager. I would also want to address the fact that we want to use anti-aging, proper hydrating products for this kind of acne as well. There is no one size fits all when it comes to skin care.
Lou: What type of products or treatments do you think are best for anti aging?
NG: I love retinols for anti-aging, specifically retinaldehyde. Forms of Vitamins A’s (retinols) have been proven to change the DNA of cells, soften fine lines that already exist, reduce pigmentation, scarring, and acne. I call it your cure all ingredient but I am very particular about which kind to use for the individual’s skin type. Best to have a professional recommend one. I also love growth factors and peptides. These will help boost collagen. Peptides are like replacing springs in a old mattress. You got to have that continued support to keep the cushion up and prevent sagging.
For treatments, honestly, coming in once a month to get ahead of your skin’s cycle and keep your skin’s tissue healthy for the new cycle is the absolute best things you can do for anti-aging and maintenance, hands down.
Lou: What is the most effective home remedy that you recommend for dry skin?
NG: A plain yogurt and honey mask is a great at home treat for dry skin.The lactic acid from the yogurt is exfoliating while stimulating hydration and honey is extremely moisturizing and soothing as well as antibacterial.
LOU: What is the best “routine” for dry flaky skin during the winter?
NG: Best routine for dry flaky skin is to properly exfoliate that skin off. I like using a microfiber towel to gently exfoliate sensitive skin, a gentle jojoba bead exfoliating product or a fruit enzyme mask which will dissolve the dead skin, while the antioxidants from the fruit nourish the cells. Of course, you have to follow this up with moisturizing the fresh exfoliated skin. I like to add Drops of Essence Hydration Drops to my nightly routine for extra yummy hydrating nourishment.
Lou: How often should someone with no significant skin issues be getting facials for maintenance?
NG: I look at taking care of my skin and getting facials like I do with my workouts and eating healthy… You can’t just work out once and say “Well why didn’t this last all month?” Getting a facial once a month is what is recommended to maintain healthy skin rejuvenation. Also, and this is key here, it’s being proactive and preventative by taking care of your skin now instead of waiting until you see a problem. I cannot stress this enough. I get excited when I have girls in their teens and twenties taking notice of their skin and wanting to learn and get on a regimen early. They will be so thankful they started young.
LOU: What kind of results should one see from getting regular facials?
NG: I have a monthly membership program and my clients who come in regularly are always telling me how they can see a significant difference in their skin by coming monthly. A professional treatment is able to go deeper with cell removal and stimulating healthy cell turnover. This process sets the cycle of new happy healthy cells for the next 30+ days. By coming in monthly we’re continuing and keeping up this healthy cycle. Day by day, natural or unnatural stress occurs, your eating habits, lifestyle choices, weather, life events, etc. will all effect your skin daily. Once a month treatments along with quality home skincare will keep your largest organ, skin, healthy and happy.
Lou: Is coconut oil really that great for your skin? What about other popular oils such as jojoba?
NG: Coconut oil is very hydrating and I actually massage my clients arms and décolleté with coconut oil. It also has a very small amount of natural SPF in it, so great for a body lotion daily. Nut oils or vegetable oils are not active so you will not see a whole lot of anti-aging results per say. However, they are a wonderful natural skin conditioner.
Lou: What is best for deep pore cleaning? Is there a way to minimize pores?
NG: My favorite deep cleansing tip is to use a cleanser with an acid in it such as glycolic, lactic, or salicylic. When cleansing at night I will do one cleanse first to remove makeup, dirt, etc with a milk or gentle cleanser. Then I will do a 2nd cleanse with one of these acid cleansers and leave on my skin for 3-5 minutes like a mask. I love letting these ingredients permeate my skin. This will break through the glue that hold cells together for a wonderful exfoliation without being abrasive. This technique will minimize the size of pores.
Lou: I have friends who have tried Botox and I am not going to lie, I have been very curious, is it a no or a go in your opinion? Is it really preventative?
NG: Haha I get asked this all the time. If you can visibly see lines when you have a resting face, which we call static lines, then you may want to consider adding a retinol product, which has been proven to get rid of the fine lines that already exist. If you still see heavier lines and they bother the individual then yes, you may want to consider Botox. In my research, I have read and have witnessed clients who agree it has been very beneficial for them. It trains the muscle not to make that movement, therefore over time it can be preventative. I always tell my clients to do their own research as well, ask a 2-3 professionals, and if they feel comfortable going to bed at night with their decision to get Botox, then I support their decision.
Lou: Is there any product or ingredient you would NEVER let touch your skin?
NG: Yes, mineral oil. I’m very picky about oils too and how they have been treated. If not treated correctly before putting them into a skincare product it can be very clogging.
LOU: How often should we exfoliate our skin and what is the best way to do it?
NG: People with thin skin or broken capillaries should stay away from abrasive scrubs or Clarisonic and instead use enzyme or acid mask exfoliations 2-3 times a week. People with normal to oily can use a light granular scrub 2-3 times a week. My advice is the amount of pressure one should use while using an abrasive scrub is the weight of a nickel on the back of your hand. People like to really grind these scrubs into their face, especially around their nose and this is very damaging. Less is more.
Lou: Let’s talk eyes – how do I get rid of dark circles? Is eye cream a must?
NG: Yes, use an eye cream! The eyes are the first place we show aging because the skin tends to be thinner around here. I am obsessed with Cosmedix Opti Crystal. It is so hydrating and I swear my fine lines under my eyes are way softer and not so noticeable. It’s extremely hydrating too. I highly recommend wearing an eye cream nightly so you marinate in these yummy ingredients. This will protect your eyes if you are a side or stomach sleeper. As you can imagine being in this position for hours can cause lines. I love ingredients like Copper Complex, Spin Trap, Vitamin C, and Coconut Extract.
Lou: What ingredients do you feel are essentials in skincare products for acne prone skin?
NG: Salicylic Acid and Glycolic Acid ingredients are very beneficial for acne prone skin. Along with a good hydrating serum to balance the skin.
Lou: What ingredients do you feel are essentials in skin care products for dry skin?
NG: Linoleic acid, Oleic Acid mimic our skin’s lipids increasing skin’s thickness. I also recommend Tocopherol (D-Alpha) and Sodium Hyaluronate (L).
Lou: Should we be switching products based on what season it is?
NG: Yes, absolutely! When the seasons change is a great time to visit your esthetician. They will evaluate your skin and recommend what needs to be changed up in your home care. For example, winter months, obviously we all need more hydration. In the summer time I love more antioxidant rich products such as Vit C. Spring and fall are those in between seasons and a slight adjustment in your skincare routine is usually needed and can honestly make a significant difference.
Lou: Whats the best way to keep my lips from peeling and cracking this Winter?
NG: Yes, salves are great for dry lips year round. Also, you can use your toothbrush a few times a week and gently scrub your lips, then apply salve. My clients absolutely love the Pro Salve by Rhonda Allison. I apply this to people’s lips after every treatment. It has lavender and palmarosa oil in it which gives it a very light spa scent.
Be sure to check out Nikki’s website jzbell.com for all of her information and to book a consultation if you live in San Diego! Also, follow Nikki on FaceBook and Instagram to stay up to date with the best skincare knowledge!
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