Ever wonder which clean beauty products are best for you? My interview with a clean beauty esthetician and her recommendations for my acne-prone skin.
Today I’m pleased to introduce you to a wicked smart boss lady who recently launched a unique online business. Mae is a clean beauty esthetician, also known as a holistic esthetician. I got the opportunity to interview her, and I wanted to share what I learned with you all.
Mae and I met at ShiftCon 2019, an eco-friendly and wellness influencer conference, and it was like the stars aligned. The second I read “clean beauty esthetician” on her name tag, it was love at first site.
I’m pretty open to strangers, and I didn’t waste a second telling her about my acne woes (cutting out dairy but still occasional hormonal breakouts), and my search for safer ingredients that help me with post-acne hyperpigmentation.
She immediately got to task and started looking at my skin in the middle of the conference. (Girl after my own heart, you guys).
I was so surprised to have a professional tell me I had “nice skin” (we all believe the worst of ourselves). Mae also said she didn’t think I actually had “acneic” skin, and what I was experiencing was moreseo a reaction to something. (I tend to break out on the lower ⅓ of my face especially around my period).
She recommended I get a skin allergy test when I came home from the conference. Mae wanted to see my skin without makeup in order to give me a consultation. One night during the conference, I took her up on the offer.
I went to her room, washed my face with all the magical goodness she packed with her, gave me a mini facial (peel + moisturizer), and sent me on my way with samples and instructions. Her roommate also got some amazing pampering at the same time. It was a much needed girls’ night!
Mae amazed me with her insight and knowledge, and I asked her (see also: begged) to come on the blog and share more about what a clean beauty esthetician (is and) does, and share my consultation results with you all.
She’s also providing a pretty generous discount to La La Lisette readers. Read through the end for more information.
Interview with Mae from The Clean Beauty Specialists
Without further ado, here’s a little Q&A with Mae from The Clean Beauty Specialists. We both could talk about this for hours, but we made this as short (ha!) as possible. The following exchange are burning questions I had about this new-to-me profession.
Clean Beauty Esthetician vs Traditional Esthetician
Q: I’ve never heard of your title before. Can you tell me what makes you different than a “regular esthetician?”
A: A clean beauty esthetician or holistic esthetician is more specialized in the world of clean ingredients and products. We prefer to also look at the skin from a holistic perspective rather than just treating the symptoms (i.e. acne). We like to treat the issue while in tandem working on making sure that the root of the issue is addressed.
Q: With more consumers looking at ingredient labels, we can expect more estheticians to join your ranks. What tips would you give a “regular” esthetician who cares about ingredients, but works in an environment where unsafe products are used?
A: Fortunately, more and more spas are offering holistic treatments with safe skincare lines, so ideally they can be the force for change in their current space. The option is also always there to become a contractor in their own space so they can control all aspects of treatment. Or they can come work as a clean beauty esthetician for me!
Q: What certifications or qualities should we look for in someone in your profession?
A: First and foremost someone should have their esthetician license. It is perfectly reasonable to request to see the license of your esthetician if it is not displayed in their treatment room.
Secondly, it’s important to understand the knowledge of your esthetician. While certain ingredients are regarded as safe (i.e. salicylic acid) it does not mean that it is right for all skin types and tones. You really want an esthetician that is not a “one size fits all” type.
Ask if the products used contain parabens. That is the easiest way to gauge whether or not your esthetician has an understanding of the ingredients in the products he/she is using and the potentially harmful effects of “unclean” products.
The Clean Beauty Specialists
Q: Tell me more about The Clean Beauty Specialists. Do you have any criteria for which products make it your shop?
A: We do! All lines that we carry are cruelty free and are clean, which means that they are all non-toxic products that are made without the long and ever-evolving list of ingredients linked to harmful health effects.
Q: Talk to me about what led you to expand your preferences from cruelty-free to clean beauty?
A: When I started out 15 years ago, there wasn’t a lot of education or information about the harmful ingredients in skincare, but I was aware of the process of testing on animals, and it was always very troubling to me.
In the quest for cruelty free products, I stumbled into the world of clean beauty, and more importantly I discovered all of the truly harmful ingredients in over the counter skin care.
The idea that we were sacrificing animal lives and our own personal safety in the name of beauty just wasn’t going to work for me, so my mission was to find cruelty free, clean AND effective skincare.
Q: What would you say to someone who doesn’t believe clean beauty works as well as drugstore or high-end brands? To be clear, some clean beauty brands can be high-end.
A: I get this a lot. I understand where the sentiment comes from, because it wasn’t long ago that clean beauty was essentially limited to coconut oil or something you could make from the essential oil collection on your desk, but that’s not the case anymore.
Arcona for example is one of the most effective skincare lines out there. I have seen it clear up cystic acne and lighten melasma in a much more effective manner than Accutane or Triluma.
There is a product that will work for everyone, but they need to understand their skin first. That is why the consultations are so important.
Clean Beauty Consultations
Q: How and when did you feel the need to start offering clean beauty consultations?
A: Working in a spa there is always a consultation portion of an appointment where I can ask questions, learn about my client and study their skin.
I realized that so many people go online and look to what packaging looks nice, what is being promoted, what their friend uses, what is being celebrity endorsed etc, without being empowered about their own skin type and what works for them.
Just because something is clean, or worked on that beautiful celebrity you follow or your best friend does not mean it will work for you.
Q: How are your skin consultations typically done? Is there video involved?
A: We use a chat button on our site. Customers can upload pictures if they feel comfortable, but most feel confident explaining their issues, answering our questions and exploring the recommended products.
Clean Beauty on a Budget
Q: Name 3 products you’d recommend to someone who wants to start out with safer beauty, but is on a tight budget.
A: I always ask what people use the most of and start there. The answer to that question is typically a cleanser and moisturizer.
If I am recommending universal products, the Indie Lee Rosehip Cleanser, the Arcona White Tea Purifying Cleanser, and the Snow Fox Foaming Cleanser would be my favorites because they work for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
They don’t necessarily target specific conditions, but they are a great starting point to a clean beauty routine and will give your skin a real glow. They are all under $40 will last up to 6 months. Moisturizers are less universal, but the above brands all carry moisturizers that will hydrate all types of skin.
Book a consultation and we’ll find the right one for you :)
Q: If you had to pick one clean beauty brand as your favorite, which would it be?
A: Oh no! That is like picking a favorite child! I think I have a particular fondness to Snow Fox Skin Care, because they have captured an audience that I don’t think most have.
Their founder Phoebe Song suffered from terrible rosacea and developed the line with sensitive skin in mind. She understood that sensitive skin is not a “type”. If you have sensitive skin and have ever filled out one of those online skin quizzes, you know that the products recommended are usually very heavy and “nourishing”.
That doesn’t work for someone with oily sensitive skin, or acneic sensitive skin. It’s a very discouraging box to be put in and the struggle to find products that don’t cause a reaction is real! Snow Fox addressed this with their line in that it works for all sensitive skin, but is tailored to the underlying skin type.
My Clean Beauty Esthetician’s Skincare Consultation
The following are recommendations Mae made for me after seeing my face without any makeup. Guys, she’s good!
Q: I have aging, acne-prone skin (cystic bumps and white heads) and I’m sensitive to dairy. How common is my condition, and what are the best skincare practices you would recommend to someone like me?
A: Finding that dairy can increase acne is a fairly common issue, but what I find interesting about this is that a lot of dairy caused acne can be found in the chin area which is a symptom of hormonal acne. When my clients come to me wondering about eliminating dairy due to their “chin acne”, I implore them try only organic dairy and see if that makes a difference. I can say that in 90% of my clients, organic dairy causes them no issues.
I could write a whole other article explaining why that is, but the short version is that conventional dairy contains hormones that we as humans are not meant to have. Organic does not. Our body can reject these additional hormones by purging them onto the skin. The second part of this dairy discussion relates to the percentage of milk fat in the dairy.
When my clients have cheek acne, this is typically a symptom of a high sugar diet. If they have a lot of dairy, I ask what percentage milk fat. Almost always the answer is 2% or skim. I implore them (much to their horror) to try whole milk instead (in smaller doses of course). 80% of my clients saw improvement in their acne by trying this.
This is due to the process of extracting the milk fat and the additional sugar that is added to the milk. Dairy has natural sugars and fats. When you remove the fat, the taste suffers so sugar is added to compensate. Sugar is your skin’s enemy unfortunately. This is not to be taken as medical advice. Purely anecdotal :)
Now let’s talk about aging skin, since this is of particular interest to most women. This is something I hear on a daily basis from clients. How can I look younger?
The truth is that healthy skin inherently looks younger. Hydration is key. But you need to hydrate for your skin type. There are creams, lotions, oils, gels (you get the idea) that can all provide proper hydration for the youthful glow that everyone desires.
Q: You also recommended I get allergy testing done for my acne. What are some unexpected allergies or sensitivities in the foods that we eat (and substances in our environment) that can cause acne?
A: This is an interesting topic for me. I will use myself as an example. I suffered from perioral dermatitis for years (fancy phrase for unknown bumps and irritation on my face). I knew how to treat the symptoms, but I also knew that the dermatitis was inflammation that I could not seem to get to the root of. I used fragrance free everything and was very conscious about my diet.
I finally went to an allergist who performed 2 tests. The first was food. I did not show any allergies. The second was environmental. I showed an allergy for mold. This was not really a surprise to me, but I never created a nexus between what I was eating and my mold allergy.
I never ate blue cheese and would certainly not eat food that had been spoiled. My allergist then explained that fermented foods had higher levels of mold along with certain nuts and cheeses (not just blue) and mushrooms.
I went on a mold free diet for 2 weeks and my dermatitis was gone. Acne is so often a symptom of something internal and while it’s important to treat the symptoms, it’s also important to understand where the acne is coming from.
Clean Beauty Esthetician’s Recommendations for Acne-Prone Skin
Q: Which products would you recommend for my aging and acne-prone skin, and what are their key benefits?
A: I would recommend a clarifying wash such as the Arcona Raspberry Clarifying Bar or the Snow Fox Foaming Cleanser. The Raspberry Clarifying Bar has ingredients that will rid your skin of excess oils while still protecting the dermis, and the Foaming Cleanser will do the same in a less intense way, but I know you love the burn :)
Raspberry Clarifying Bar – $40
Clarifying cleansing bar effectively cleanses skin and alleviates dead skin cells that can contribute to breakouts.
Snow Fox Skin Care
Cooling Foam Cleanser – $35
A gentle cleanser made with a coconut-based foam that cools & brightens the skin while removing dirt, bacterial and make up residue without stripping natural moisture levels.
Because I know your skin can handle it, I would recommend the Arcona two-step exfoliating process: the Gentle Solution and the Cranberry Gommage.
The Gentle Solution is the first step, used night 2 times per week. This is used in place of a serum before your moisturizer and acts as an unclogger.
It gets deep into your pores and loosens up all of the gunk that will cause you breakouts. For sensitive skin, this product should be used on its own and washed in the morning with a cleanser.
Gentle Solution – $56
Gentle, but highly effective, nighttime serum refines and resurfaces all skin types, especially dry and sensitive skin, as you sleep.
For more tolerant skin such as yours, I recommend the Arcona Cranberry Gommage to be used the morning after the Solution. This has rounded grains that will clear up and scrub out what the Solution loosened the night before. The result is pretty astonishing and the glow is real.
Cranberry Gommage – $48
Purifying cranberry exfoliant cleanses, tones and decongests enlarged pores, leaving skin visibly clearer, smoother and more refined.
I always recommend a toner after cleansing as well. For your skin I would recommend either the Ilike Organic Skin Care’s Rosehip Toner or the Stonecrop Toner. Both have such a high concentration of Vitamin C and are incredibly brightening.
Toner is a very important step that often times people skip. It creates the optimal PH balance on your skin so that all of your products used after can impact your skin in the maximum capacity.
Ilike Organic Skincare
Rosehip Toner – $64
Rosehip soothes irritation and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin C guards your skin with antioxidants as it supports collagen production
Ilike Organic Skincare
Stonecrop Toner – $64.50
Stonecrop extract soothes inflammation as it works with malic acid to reduce hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C protects collagen and brightens your complexion.
For your skin, I also recommend using an oil as your moisturizer. I know it sounds scary to put an oil on oily skin but think of it as your way of telling your skin that you are all set in the hydration department and it can stop producing all of that extra oil.
I like Snow Fox Youth Oil due to its highly potent anti-aging properties. It contains Brazilian Paracress which is a muscle relaxant and has been shown to reduce fine lines.
Snow Fox Skin Care
Herbal Youth Oil – $82
Brazilian Paracress extract, known as “Nature’s Botox”, which can help smooth out fine lines and wrinkles while minimizing new ones from forming.
And last but not least, the Indie Lee Eye Serum. It soaks in like a dream and can help with those smile lines around the eyes.
I-Waken Eye Serum – $48
Light textured daily eye serum with Horse Chestnut, Mountain Ash Bud and Witch Hazel to address dark circles and puffiness.
Q: Let’s talk about my favorite self care ritual: masking. Which are the best clean beauty masks for acne-prone skin, in your opinion?
A: I love masking too! There is something seemingly indulgent about the whole process, but I am all about results. My absolute favorites for acne prone skin are:
1) Indie Lee’s Clearing Mask (it has a pretty high sulfur content but the smell isn’t offensive). This mask works even for the most sensitive skin. Your skin will be baby soft after removal.
Clearing Mask – $60
Salicylic and Glycolic Acids work to exfoliate dead skin cells. Bentonite Clay and Colloidal Sulfur help to gently draw out impurities.
2) Arcona’s Magic Black Ice mask. I do not recommend this for sensitive skin, as the volcanic sand can be a bit much.
Magic Black Ice – $68
Icelandic Volcanic Sand physically exfoliates and extracts congestion and excess oil. Black Lava and Charcoal purify and minimize the appearance of pores. Mandelic Acid brightens and exfoliates for luminous, firmer and younger looking skin.
3) Snow Fox’s Arctic Breeze Rescue Mask. Snow Fox makes their sheet masks out of 100% organic bleach free cotton and the potency of their ingredients is practically unrivaled in the clean beauty world. This mask really calms and reduces the redness of breakouts.
Snow Fox Skin Care
Arctic Breeze Rescue Mask – $35 (set of 5)
Snow Fox’s signature Arctic Breeze Mask is an all-in-one-rescue that hydrates, brightens and calms redness, enlarged pores, inflammation, break outs and after-sun fatigue.
LED Treatment for Acne
Q: I’ve heard blue LED light is great for acne. If you’ve used them in your previous line of work, have you seen noticeable results in clients?
A: I have seen tremendous results through LED light both red (anti-aging) and blue (acne). This used to be done exclusively through a med spa or dermatology office, but you can now buy devices to use at home to accomplish the same goal.
Personally I have found the best results (and my clients agree) with the Dr. Dennis Gross SpectraLite Mask, but it’s important to note that these devices are incredibly expensive. It can be justified for some since a treatment at a spa will run you around $120 (the Dr. Gross Mask is $435).
But, I am always mindful about recommending high priced items particularly when someone is just entering the world of clean beauty and the cost can seem overwhelming.
Dr. Dennis Gross
Skincare DRx SpectraLite™ FaceWare Pro LED Light Therapy Device – $435
An FDA-cleared, LED red light and blue light device that helps smooth wrinkles and zap acne-causing bacteria in just three minutes.
Q: Is there anything else you feel the average consumer needs to know about clean beauty, and what working with you will do for them?
A: It can be overwhelming and often times people are overstimulated with information and just shut down or revert back to their old products. I want people to know that clean beauty can be simple and empowering. I want to help guide them into that journey so that they feel beautiful in their own skin, makeup or no makeup. There is a clean routine for everyone. I’ll help them find it.
Thank you so much Mae for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us! I have already seen amazing results with the samples I came home with. I look forward to see how much more my skin will improve following your tips!
Make sure to say hi to Mae, the clean beauty esthetician, at The Clean Beauty Specialists. At her site, you can book a complimentary consultation, and you can find the products she recommends right in her shop.
La La Lisette readers can save 15% on their first order using LISETTE15 at Clean Beauty Specialists!
Have you ever heard of a clean beauty esthetician?