Skincare Tips from my Favorite Esti

If you have talked with me about boudoir for more than five minutes, my love for Susan of Clean Slate Spa no doubt came up. I have seen Susan for close to 20 years now, and she did the makeup for my first ever boudoir shoots at the Iron Horse 11 years ago! I recently sat down to talk with her about skin care, since my own skin is changing with age (thanks hormones), and I needed to switch up my skincare routine.

SUSAN’S SKINCARE TIPS:

As we get older, our skincare needs seem to change. How often should we be switching up our skincare regimen? E​veryone’s skin is unique, and it’s constantly changing and adapting to its surrounding environment. This is why it’s so important to know how you should be switching up your skincare, not only for the seasons, but also according to your age. It isn’t necessarily about turning back the clock or trying to hide every wrinkle or mark, it’s about having healthy skin. As we age, the collagen in our skin is beginning to break down, and producing less oil. We want to look for rich skincare formulas that are really hydrating. I love skin brightening treatments, which compensate for the lack of moisture and duller looking skin. Now would be a good time to introduce Vitamin C to your morning routine, which is arguably one of the most potent brighteners and antioxidants!

My Top Tips:

Start Hydrating:​ As we age, the molecules in your skin that retain moisture are breaking down, which means your skin is likely to be dehydrated. That is why a hydrating mask once or twice a week for extra moisture is so important. Look for products containing natural humectants like aloe, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin, as these will draw water to the surface of your skin (plumping your skin), while also

delivering nutrients and moisture deep in the dermal layers. Switch from a drying foam face wash to richer cream cleansers and cleansing oils.

Use Retinol (Vitamin A)​: It’s a good time to ask your dermatologist for a cosmeceutical strength retinol as it’s stronger than the retinol you can buy over the counter. Super important to apply it around your neck and collarbone too, as this skin is extra sensitive to collagen loss (dreaded turkey neck).

Use an Eye Cream: ​Pay extra attention to your eyes and apply a high-quality eye cream every morning and evening. Look for an eye cream that contains anti-aging ingredients like retinol and hydrolyzed collagen, as these will help strengthen and smooththeskinaroundtheeye.Itshouldalsocontainp​ eptides​,aspeptidesboost collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Eat Plenty of Protein: ​I advise all my clients to “eat plenty of protein”, as this will help your body build strong collagen and elastin tissue. Remember beauty starts from within! You can also try drinking collagen powder, which is a super easy way to add protein to your diet, and the results are amazing!

What is the ideal time between facials? B​ecause our skin cell turnover cycle is 28 days long​,​ ​a facial once per month is the most ideal time frame. Nothing we do at home can replace professional products and attention. Also, your skin may be reacting differently depending on the season and your lifestyle. Having a monthly check-in with a professional ensures you are getting the best treatment for your skin’s needs. If a monthly facial does not fit in your budget, I recommend facials 3-4 times a year as the seasons change.

What are the most common questions you get from clients about their skin care? ​I get a ton of questions regarding products, skin conditions and concerns. Two which I get the most often are: “I have acne on my chin. How do I get rid of it?” I have a wealth of knowledge in this area and would be more than happy to elaborate. The other question I get frequently is, “ how do I get rid of hyperpigmentation (brown spots) on my face?” There are amazing treatments I offer to help with hormonal (melasma) or sun-induced hyperpigmentation. Please DM me if you want more information!

You are always up to date on the latest treatments-what’s the most groundbreaking treatment in skincare in the last year or so, in your opinion? ​I love this question!! There are so many answers…Product discoveries, new modalities and equipment and non-invasive approaches to skincare and beauty are all the trend. I see one of the biggest trends in skin rejuvenation is stem cell therapy. R​esearch has revealed the role stem cells play in tissue repair, particularly the skin. Human (not plant-based) stem cells reactivate the skin’s natural regenerative properties by utilizing stem and growth factor cytokines derived from human bone marrow, the most natural and powerful option to restore youthful skin. This trend will grow in popularity and eventually replace more invasive treatments and procedures. ** Stem cells are harvested from young, adult donors** Please DM me if you want me information on stem cell therapy treatments!!

Is there a REAL way to minimize cellulite or is it all phoney? Before we talk about treatments to reduce cellulite, we need to discuss that cellulite is not a fat issue. It is a connective tissue, known as fascia, and a circulatory issue. The reason fat (i.e. cellulite) has lumps and dimples is because the fascia bands have thickened and stretched under the surface of your skin, while the fat underneath begins to “pop” through these bands causing the dimpled look of cellulite. 80-90% of women have cellulite in one degree or another. It is also a genetic issue. If you mom and grandma had cellulite, most likely you will too. So, to answer your question, creams, lotions, drinks may be a temporary fix will not work to eliminate/reduce the appearance and exercise. Diet (reducing salt intake, avoiding alcohol and sugar) and exercise (weight-bearing activities to produce more muscle) can also help. Massaging cellulite ridden areas has proven to increase circulation and dry brushing is an excellent way to stimulate the area. These are often temporary too. HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound) is a non-invasive​ treatment which focuses ultrasound on the area with cellulite. The ultrasonic waves reach under your skin to heat up the fat and muscle tissue. This causes your muscles to contract which helps your body produce collagen, ultimately making the skin appear firmer and younger. This treatment is in the $400-600 range and can highly effective.​ There are also several ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite which cut the fibrous bands. Cellfina and Cellulaze are invasive procedures costing $3500-8000 and performed by a medical doctor. These treatments actually use a laser fiber and a vibrating blade to cut away at the fibrous bands. There can be uncomfortable and there is downtime associated with more intensive treatments.​

How do I take care of white/black heads that pop up!? How do I minimize pores without the crazy chemical laden products out there? ​Great question! Unfortunately, pore size is genetic, increase as we age, and are more prominent with certain skin types (oilier skin for example). Open comedones (blackheads) are nothing more than dead skin mixed with oil which oxidizes and causes it to turn grey or brown. The aging process is often the biggest culprit, as well as smoking and sun exposure. ​As we age, our collagen and elastin structure starts to lose its firmness, ultimately causing our pores to expand. Your pores cannot be made smaller or open or close your pores, but what you can do is reduce the appearance of their size. “Pore-shrinking” products cannot claim “smaller pores”, but can tout “refined” or “reduced in appearance”. Dirty pores, oily pores, or pores clogged with debris also tend to look bigger, so general-skincare advice applies if you want your pores to “appear” smaller.​ I highly recommend exfoliating products, such as serums and moisturizers, which contain salicylic acid. ​Salicylic acid plays a vital role in eliminating blackheads because it can penetrate deep enough to unclog pores and restore a normal flow of oil on the skin’ssurface. Gentle scrubs are also effective by polishing the skin​. In addition, retinol products, when used consistently, can also help with removing dead skin build up and oilin the skin.​ ​Retinoids help skin turn over faster, leaving you with fresher and cleanerpores​.​ If you are interested in more aggressive treatments, chemical peels, microdermabrasion (all in the $100–200 range) are perfect to tackle the blackhead issue. A right combination of treatments and products can make a huge difference.

I need to know more about the whitehead question!! Is it a closed comedone (milia or solar comedone) or is a white pustule? Where are they predominantly located? It is difficult to recommend products or treatments without knowing more information. They are all treated very differently.

Best moisturizer for face with combination skin my nose looks oily but at thesame time flaky so frustrating!​ I would like to to know more! Are you seeing redness or inflammation on your nose or cheeks? Are you experiencing the flakiness year round? Any diseases or underlying conditions.I would like to know your current skincare routine, as well as diet! I can recommend products, but I like to take a more internal approach by trying to understand what is going on systemically. It may not be as simple as applying a product superficially. .

What is the ONE product that is a must have for the woman that is just lazy about taking care of her face. A skin-enhancing tinted moisturizer with SPF. It’s a moisturizer, it’s an SPF and a lightweight foundation. It brightens the skin, gives you a little coverage for imperfections without the heaviness of traditional foundation, while leaving a dewy look on the skin. It is easy-breezy!

How do I make old eyes look young and minimize wrinkles? Ha! I’m struggling with my eyeliner right now. Start with a great eye cream to hydrate the area. Also, make sure your brows are properly filled in. ​A lot less eye makeup is necessary when your brows have been properly defined. You also need to have a great primer for the lower and upper lid area. A primer fills in any wrinkles or crepiness, which allow liners and shadows to go on much smoother and last longer. Cream shadows are also better than powder because they glide better.To create a sexy look with a dark eyeliner, use a very soft eyeliner pencil to trace the shape before buffing a bit of darker matte or satin shadow on top to diffuse the line. By diffusing the line, we need not worry if the line is completely straight. Do not try to hold the lid taut when using your eyeliner. A really soft pencil should not pull or tug on the loose eyelid skin. Pencil should be sharp, allowing you get as close to the lash line as possible.

Black circles under my eyes. I have tried lots of creams with zero results. Even when I’m very well rested they’re terrible. A family member once even thought I had a black eye. I’m grateful for concealer but I’d like to get rid of or reduce them. They’re not puffy, just dark. People often think dark circles are due to tiredness and a lack of sleep. Although this can be one cause, there are other reasons for dark under eye circles, such as allergies, ethnicity or the natural aging process. Common factors for dark circles under the eyes:

AGING​: Loss of fatty tissue and thinning of the skin around the eyes are part of the aging process. These changes can make dark circles appear more defined as we age.​ This is because as we get older, skin loses collagen, becoming thinner and more translucent​.​ In addition, the tear troughs lose adipose tissue (fat) becoming more hollowed looking, making the darkness more apparent.

GENETICS:​​Darkcirclescanbehereditary. Research has proven that if someone has dark circles under their eyes, these also appear in other family members. We often see them in ethnicities with darker skin tones because of the increase in melanin in the skin.

Home remedies are typically very temporary. Cucumber, cold compresses, tea bags can work in the short term.. Gently facial massage can also help to improve circulation. When used over time, Vitamin C and caffeine are wonderful ingredients added to eye creams which help with reducing darkness. Bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone is effective if used regularly. Fillers, when used appropriately, have amazing results​ ​with volume loss in​ the under eye area and tear trough. This is a more dramatic approach, but most under eye circles/darkness remedies are temporary. A more permanent fix may require injections and can be quite expensive. LowerB​ lepharoplasty is also an option, but runs $3,000 and up.

ABOUT SUSAN:

How did you get started as an esti? ​I was previously working as a Director of Marketing for a manufacturing company and getting facials on a regular basis. I was always intrigued with the profession. At the time, my esthetician had an amazing wealth of knowledge about skincare and I loved to pick her brain about ingredients and new treatments each time I saw her. One day when I was receiving a facial she said, “have you ever thought about becoming an esthetician?” Of course I had not, but two weeks later, I quit my job and went to esthetics school. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely love my career!!

How long have you been running Clean Slate Spa? ​2020 will be my 12th year in business.

What is your favorite thing about your job? ​The power of touch and self-care can be transforming. Since the start of my career in esthetics, giving a facial has shown me the importance of touch coming from a loving place.The result of a facial is not only that a client looks better, but also feels better. Through the years, I have discovered that self-care and nurturing my clients benefits more than just their skin.

Do you have a favorite skin care product? ​I actually have two! Amlactin Body Lotion (can be purchased at Walgreens or Amazon). I LOVE this product!! It not only hydrates the body, it also exfoliates. Most body lotions only provide hydration, so if you have dead skin build up it will not penetrate and will not work as intended. By using 12% lactic acid, Amlactin exfoliates your dry skin and provides intense hydration. Furthermore, if you have keratosis pilaris (KP) it is the best! The other product is Retin-A (or another type of retinoid) T​hese vitamin A derivatives have been proven to boost collagen production, speed cell turnover, even out discoloration, brighten the skin and unclogs pores. Retin-A is amazing from acne to aging!

Favorite item in your makeup kit? ​Nars Blush in “Orgasm” and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. These two products work well with any skin tone and should be in everyone’s kit!

What is your current facial of the month? The Hydrafacal!! Our winter, dry skin just drinks this facial in!

What is your skincare regimen? ​I make sure to cleanse at night. Even if you don’t wear makeup, we build up dirt and oil throughout the day. Cleansing at night is so important when the most crucial skin healing is done when we are sleeping!. I also exfoliate 3-4 times a week, use a peptide-filled eye cream, sunscreen daily, as well as applying Retin-A every other day. I also get regular professional treatments such as chemical peels, microcurrent and oxygen facials.

If you haven’t visited Susan, what are you waiting for?!?

xoxo

Melissa

Bombshell

I love it when clients come back for a second (or third, or fourth) shoot with me. Each time you learn a little bit more about yourself, you love yourself a little bit more, and you learn to embrace and trust the process. And the afterglow is just as amazing every time.

This absolute bombshell came in to shoot with me for the second time recently and we had so much fun! Her last shoot was just before I moved out of my last studio so she got an entirely new look this time. This is what she had to say about her experience:

“If you have ever considered doing a Boudoir shoot, whether it be for yourself (which is what I did) or as a gift for someone else… DO IT! And not only that, but please make sure you do it with the best in the business, Studio M! Melissa made me feel so comfortable, and so so beautiful! Seeing my pictures afterwords brought tears to my eyes because Melissa was able to capture images of me that I didnt know were possible. I’m so excited to see my book and will forever be grateful for my experience with Melissa at Studio M! I am already looking forward to doing another shoot with her in the future!”

Listen to Miss N. Treat yourself. 🙂 I’d love to work with you too!

Candlelight Sessions!!

This year I am offering four different limited edition specialty shoots-first up are Candlelight sessions! It is so important as an artist to change things up, to challenge your creative process and to feel inspired. This shoot definitely accomplished all of that. David and Dash and I headed into the studio for two different test shoots, one with fewer/smaller candles and one with larger candles for little bit more light. I absolutely LOVE what we came up with and am so excited to share these with you!!

Sessions will be available on March 21 ONLY and include hair and specialty makeup including body shimmer, highlights and lip gloss to pick up the candlelight, and of course (always) lashes! Also most of the wardrobe you see here will be available for use-body jewelry and the gorgeous sheer black lace dress!

Click here to grab one of the four spots, or message me for more info!

Here is a behind the scenes peek into the creative process with the most adorable assistants on the planet.

I’m so excited to create more beautiful candlelight images!!

xoxo

Melissa

What Your Esti Wishes You Knew Before a Brazilian

I have known Susan Keefe of Clean Slate Spa for almost twenty years now. She somehow continues to get more and more fabulous. Fun fact: Susan did makeup for my very first boudoir clients ever (eleven years ago), was at my grand opening for my first studio and she continues to be one of my biggest cheerleaders.

She is the absolute BEST at Brazilians – I”ll never go anywhere else! I sat down with her to talk about what clients need to know before having a Brazilian wax!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BRAZILIANS:

Is there anything I should do to prepare for a wax? ​I recommend you try to book your appointment about a week after your period. At this time, you tend not to be as sensitive. Please stop shaving for at least 2-3 weeks before your appointment. This will give your hair ample time to grow out to the length that is appropriate for waxing. The day of your appointment just try to relax. Even though you will be given a sanitary wipe to freshen up prior to your appointment, it is highly recommended to shower as close to your appointment as possible. Also, please avoid caffeinated beverages a few hours before your service. Caffeine can stimulate the nervous system and make us more jittery and anxious. In addition, you may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever about 45 minutes before your appointment to help minimize inflammation, sensitivity and discomfort. Wear something loose to your appointment too!

How much outgrowth should I have before my appointment? ​To maximize the waxing, I recommend the hair be at least a 1⁄4 inch long. It doesn’t require that you get a ruler out to measure it. That’s normally about 2 weeks of outgrowth (no shaving!). Any shorter than that, and it’s very difficult to pull out. If you happen to have thicker or stubborn hair, you may want to grow your hair out a little longer like a 1/2 inch. Perhaps, 3 weeks instead of 2 weeks.

How soon before my shoot should I schedule my wax? ​My recommendation is always to schedule your Brazilian waxing appointment 2-4 days before any special occasion. It’s also not a bad idea to prepare yourself by doing a few waxing trial runs before the big day, just in case you experience redness or sensitivity. You would rather have the extra day or two to recover than be miserable. It’s better to be safe than sorry…

Can I work out the same day?​ I do not recommend working out the day of your wax. Before or after…Exercising generates, sweating, heat and flushed skin. Waxing can further irritate the skin, causing inflammation and you may be at risk to folliculitis, which is an infection of the hair follicle caused by bacteria.

How soon can I get frisky?​ Give yourself a minimum of 24 hours if you are new to waxing. Most clients are completely fine and walk out of my spa with no sensitivities or issues. I do, however, recommend not a lot of rubbing and friction for the first 24 hours. Be safe, not sorry!

How often should I schedule?​ I recommend a schedule of 4 to 6 weeks between waxes.

ABOUT SUSAN:

How did you get started as an esti? ​I was previously working as a Director of Marketing for a manufacturing company and getting facials on a regular basis. I was always intrigued with the profession. At the time, my esthetician had an amazing wealth of knowledge about skincare and I loved to pick her brain about ingredients and new treatments each time I saw her. One day when I was receiving a facial she said, “have you ever thought about becoming an esthetician?” Of course I had not, but two weeks later, I quit my job and went to esthetics school. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I absolutely love my career!!

How long have you been running Clean Slate Spa? ​2020 will be my 12th year in business.

What is your favorite thing about your job?​ ​The power of touch and self-care can be transforming. Since the start of my career in esthetics, giving a facial has shown me the importance of touch coming from a loving place.The result of a facial is not only that a client looks better, but also feels better. Through the years, I have discovered that self-care and nurturing my clients benefits more than just their skin.

Do you have a favorite skin care product? ​I actually have two! Amlactin Body Lotion (can be purchased at Walgreens or Amazon). I LOVE this product!! It not only hydrates the body, it also exfoliates. Most body lotions only provide hydration, so if you have dead skin build up it will not penetrate and will not work as intended. By using 12% lactic acid, Amlactin exfoliates your dry skin and provides intense hydration. Furthermore, if you have keratosis pilaris (KP) it is the best! The other product is Retin-A (or another type of retinoid) T​hese vitamin A derivatives have been proven to boost collagen production, speed cell turnover, even out discoloration, brighten the skin and unclogs pores. Retin-A is amazing from acne to aging!

Favorite item in your makeup kit? ​Nars Blush in “Orgasm” and Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30. These two products work well with any skin tone and should be in everyone’s kit!

What is your current facial of the month (or other promo)?​ The Hydrafacal!! Our winter, dry skin just drinks this facial in!

What is your skincare regimen? ​I make sure to cleanse at night. Even if you don’t wear makeup, we build up dirt and oil throughout the day. Cleansing at night is so important when the most crucial skin healing is done when we are sleeping!. I also exfoliate 3-4 times a week, use a peptide-filled eye cream, sunscreen daily, as well as applying Retin-A every other day. I also get regular professional treatments such as chemical peels, microcurrent and oxygen facials.

If you have never visited Susan for a wax or one of her incredible facials (I recently had the Cannibliss facial), what are you waiting for?!? Check out her website here.

xoxo

Melissa

Congratulations, beautiful.

So, I’m definitely not going to claim responsibility for this, but this gorgeous babe DID get engaged after her photo shoot . . . . .

In all fairness he didn’t even see the photos until after he’d asked her to marry him. She is insanely cute and even sweeter that you could imagine, and they are going to be so happy together. This sexy collection of photos was just icing on the engagement cake.

She has already booked another shoot and I can’t WAIT to come up with some insanely beautiful ideas for her to share with her new husband. Congrats, K. I am so incredibly happy for you.

Starting off 2020 with a Beautiful Mama

One of my biggest regrets is not having maternity portraits taken of myself. I think maybe 2 photos exist of me pregnant. Regardless of how I felt about my body at the time, every.single.time I see them I feel an incredibly joyful nostalgia. I miss holding those sweet little babies.

THIS right here is why it is so important to exist in photos. To be able to look back at this incredible time in your life to appreciate what your body has done-the almost unbearable excitement, waiting to meet your sweet little bundle and hold them for the first time. To embrace being sexy AND being a mother – we are allowed to do both!!!

Miss M came in to celebrate her first baby, and she glowed with happiness her entire shoot. She is going to make an incredible mama, and I can’t wait for her to meet her beautiful little girl.

2019 Year in Review

This is a chronological (ish) look at 2019. It is so crazy to look back at the images taken at the Hide House studio. It feels like it was a million years ago that I moved into the new studio in Walker’s point!

Not only did I move into an entirely new studio, but I completed the third installment of the secret project and worked with so many people that helped me grow as a person and an artist. I am so grateful for every one of these beautiful, amazing souls.

Thank you for the opportunity to do this work that I love so very much.

Here’s to 2020.

Stand in Your Power

So many boudoir shoots are about reclaiming your power. The inner beauty and mojo that you KNOW is there but have somehow lost. Sometimes it is a monumental life event, like walking away from a terrible marriage. Sometimes it is losing yourself in motherhood. Sometimes you wake up one day and wonder who you are and where your old self went. These are my favorite types of shoots. Reconnecting with yourself, loving yourself, celebrating yourself. We all need it. Here is what miss C said about her shoot:

“Melissa! Thank you!!! You showed me a version of me that I never knew was actually there, and you showed me the beauty of standing in my own power.”

Her images are so stunning and I can’t wait to deliver her album just in time for the holidays! A gift, indeed.

Back to Blogging

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I blogged!!!

Black Friday through Cyber Monday is one of the busiest times of year for me-I booked out half the year with the sale! I am SO excited to work with everyone that treated themselves to an incredible experience of self love and empowerment.

Now the focus has switched to the 12 Days of Christmas in my facebook group-we play games every day and someone wins a prize from one of my favorite local businesses!! So far we have given away prizes from Colectivo Coffee and Indulgence Chocolatiers! The first day we had a compliment challenge and it was so amazing to watch all these women lifting each other up and cheering each other on.

Today’s prize is a sassy one-come join our group if you want to play! There is always an amazing grand prize on the last day . . . .

In the meantime, I’ll let these absolutely gorgeous images speak for themselves.

The 2019 Secret Project

There are so many things I could say about this project. My gratitude goes out to each and every person that participated in the project-all the models that put themselves out there for all to see, to David for being a continued phenomenal (and handsome) guest photographer, to Althea’s Fine Lingerie for fitting the models and to Schumann Studio Creative for the amazing prints. But the impact and importance of this project is really summed up by a message that I received the morning after the project reveal party.

As an artist, you put work out there and hope that it resonates, inspires, makes a difference. You are vulnerable, hoping it sends someone strength. This is the type of message that keeps me going, fills me with humility and inspires me to do more, keep growing, keep seeing beauty in everyone (as if I could stop). Thank you, K. You will thrive indeed. And all of us are rooting for you. ❤️❤️❤️


“I wasn’t able to attend your event last night but I just flipped through the images you shared and I couldn’t help myself from wanting to send a message and thanking you for your honest and thoughtful inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds in your projects. I know this is something you work at and I have seen the progress through the years. In a post-Trump world, I have tried to be more conscious of what business and people I support. I believe you take your mission of inclusion and diversity (in ALL the ways) very seriously and that it means something to you. I am proud to support your business and you! And as if it needs to be said – the images are gorgeous and powerful.

On a personal level, I have come in for two sessions with you in the past. The first time, you were still in your first marriage and the second time you had went through your divorce. I was struck by the transformation and growth I saw in you and inspired by it. I had no that idea that several years later I would spend all of 2019 unexpectedly fighting for my marriage and going through some of the most painful and heartbreaking experiences I can imagine. Being in your FB group and watching you be strong, vulnerable, confident, and sincere has given me so much hope that whenever I find the end of this struggle – whether it result in divorce or a saved marriage – I will be ok and I can and will thrive. So thank you for being open about your story and experiences – in case you weren’t sure, they have impact and have helped me.

Sending all my best and with sincere gratitude.”

xoxo

Melissa