radiant beauty works

Professional Skin Care Product and Spa Reviews with quirky observations just for fun

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Hey there!  I’m just back from a two week family visit to sunny California.  It’s hard coming back to all this snow (3 storms while we were gone?  Really??), but at least there’s more daylight and the promise of spring is just around the corner!  What better way to welcome spring than by treating yourself to a glorious facial or body treatment and getting your skin in tip top shape!  And while you’re at it, why not keep a few more dollars in your pocket?  Who’s with me???!!!

How do you welcome Spring?

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions about diet and exercise exactly on January 1st.  For me personally it seems like a hopeless cause…I need a little more time to get off my Christmas treat sugar high.  It’s when the days begin to get longer that I start getting into my “time for me” mode.  I tend to exercise a little more and pay closer attention to making healthier diet choices.  And might I add that with swim suit season being right around the corner, it adds a bit of fuel to my fire.   But it shouldn’t stop there.  Why not brush off the cobwebs (or in all actuality, dead skin cells) to reveal beautiful new skin during the time when the world is also transforming and renewing?  Besides…you’ll soon enough be showing a bit more skin anyways.  May as well make the most of it!

So what is Spa Week anyway?

Spa Week is a fabulous bi-annual event that takes place in participating spas nationwide.  You can find participating spas in your area that offer 2 or 3 full-service treatments at the low cost of $50 each.  This allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful, relaxing, and healing benefits that treatments can offer.  And it opens it up for many of us that feel it is too extravagant an indulgence to spend on ourselves.

The story in a nutshell.

It all started 9 years ago when Spa Week founder, Cheryl Reid, who resides in NY was contemplating on how stressful NYC living could be with it’s hustle and bustle attitude.  She basically wanted to introduce a way for her fellow New Yorkers to put the tension aside and take time out for relaxation.  After months of research and organizing efforts, and with 25 spas backing up her idea, Cheryl was able to bring  to the table something that had never been done before:  twice a year, give people the opportunity to have a spa experience that at $50 a service was no longer just a wishful hope, but a realistic possibility.

It didn’t take long for other spas to want in on the action.  Now with thousands of spas participating across the country, millions can enjoy a remarkable spa service that won’t break the bank.

If you’d like to find out more…

Check out:  www.spaweek.com/learn-more/

Disclaimer:  please note that each participating spa offers different services for the special Spa Week Event price of $50.  Please be sure to look on the spa’s website for more information on what they offer or call the spa directly to see what their offerings are.  It is up to you, the consumer to communicate to the spa that you are interested in their spa week event and to make sure there are no underlying conditions.  I am merely a spreader of good news and therefore can not be held responsible for any miscommunications between the spa and the consumer.  Spa in peace, my friends!



To Prime Or Not To Prime?

If that is the question, then what is the answer?  In my opinion I say prime, prime and prime some more!   I love the silky smooth way it glides onto my skin…like butter (or is it buttah?).  There are many reasons to use it (or not), so here are a few pros and cons to help you decide if a primer is right for you.


  1. It helps “fix” the foundation to your skin which in turn makes it last longer.
  2. It can contain helpful ingredients and botanicals which are beneficial to skin (see list below).
  3. Skin texture appears less flawed, making large pores or light scars less apparent.  It helps fill in fine lines so makeup does not “pool” into those areas which can cause  the skin to look older by accentuating those lines (smile lines, crows feet, frown lines, etc).
  4. It absorbs excess oil and creates a barrier between the oils on your face and your makeup so it doesn’t “melt” off your face.
  5. Eye shadow primer can really make your makeup color “pop”!  (although that expression always makes me laugh…”pop” is not exactly a word I want associated anywhere within my eye area…but I’ll just go with it!)
  6. You can use just a moisturizer under makeup (and at least a sunscreen is highly recommended), but without the primer I notice that my powder foundation will appear a bit cakey and dry in areas.
  7. Even if you forgo the foundation, using a primer leaves you with a wonderful matte finish.  At times this is all I’ll wear.



  1. It’s an extra step.  Even though it’s a small step, there are times I’d rather stick a hot poker in my eye than do one more extra of anything, let alone a beauty step.  Anyways, you know where I’m going with this…sometimes life does not allow the luxury of an extra step!
  2. Extra expense.
  3. Obviously if you have a sensitivity to any of the ingredients in the primer.  The beauty of silicone (the main ingredient in most primers) is it’s non-irritating properties, so most skin will not find this to be a problem.


One of my favorites is Smashbox Photo-finish Foundation Primer.  This is a great, high quality product and contains some pretty cool stuff inside.

  • Silicone–used as a barrier to help stop water evaporation on the skin and provide improved softness as well as being non-irritating.
  • Vitamin A–improves skin texture and firmness and contributes to cell turnover.smashbox primer
  • Vitamin E–an antioxidant with moisturizing properties.
  • Grape Seed Extract–an antioxidant and antibacterial with soothing properties.
  • Green Tea Extract–an antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.

Quality primers are not hard to find.  Any Ulta or Sephora carries them and with that comes the benefit of trying  out a few brands before purchase.  Most makeup lines carry them.  Smashbox alone has several (one for dark spot correcting, luminizing, hydrating, and color correcting, OH MY!).

So, to prime or not to prime?  I’ll leave it for you to decide.  But if you think your makeup has been lacking lately, why not give it a try?  You may just be pleasantly surprised!

Thank you for reading!


Enspri Collagen Mask Review

Happy snowy Friday everyone!  I figured I should get to this week’s post before we lose power, which could be any minute by the looks of it outside!  Here it goes…

My husband and I like to play pranks on our kids.  There’s nothing like hearing the little squeals of laughter coming from them when they realize they’ve been “had”.  My husband’s favorite is to call the kids upstairs while he is shaving.  He pretends he’s mad about something (like their clothes scattered across the bathroom floor, or the toilet left un-flushed yet AGAIN!).  When he hears them outside the door, he whips it open and watches as the kids stop short, staring in frightful dread at the inch-thick of shaving cream slathered all over his face.  Then it’s the obligatory chase around the house like he’s going to kiss them to death or something similar and smear the creamy crud all over them.  It’s very entertaining and funny…even funnier that they fall for it every time.Image

My cunning trickery comes in a similar form, but for some reason it’s a bit more unsettling to them.  I get ’em when I have a mask plastered all over my face.  One that is thick and greasy and occasionally in an extremely contrasted color to my own skin.  My hair is tied back, eyes bugged out and lips protruding–all accentuated by the lack of mask in those areas of my face. The closest I can come to describing my look is that of a sock monkey.  Yeah, that describes it pretty well.  At any rate, I like to do the old sneak up behind them routine.  You know what happens next (by the way…if you are going to be trying this out at home, it is advisable to place ear plugs in your ears prior to the sneak up.  Take it from me, I’ve learned this the hard way).

Although I’m sure you are both astounded and a bit appalled by this visual, I do assure you I am leading up to something a bit more absorbing than our at-home follies.  Another review perhaps?  You betcha!


This mask is nothing short of a miracle.  It involves a powder (Collagen) and a gel (Vital Hydrator) that you mix together to form the mask just prior to applying to your face and neck.  With 100% pure marine collagen peptide, as well as nourishing ingredients in the hydrator, this is one mask that won’t steer you wrong.  And it’s great for all skin types including sensitive skin.  Look at what you get in addition to the collagen:

1. Organic Aloe-hydrating, healing, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory

2. Cucumber Extract-binds moisture, soothes, softens, tightens and heals as well as Imageproviding an anti-inflammatory response

3.Green Tea Extract-antioxidant with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties

4. Vitamins A, C, and E-all antioxidants that are moisturizing and help soothe fine lines and wrinkles

WARNING: Once the mask is on your face, it won’t be pretty.  It will dry and you will look crepey like the old lady witch in Snow White.  If you are compelled to sneak up behind your kids, be aware that they will scream when they lay eyes on you and they will run away (I would love to say I do not know this from first-hand experience, but as I disclosed with my sock monkey story above, I obviously can’t).  Remember…you’ve been warned!

Sadly you only get to have fun with this for 10 minutes.  This is when you rinse away the mask, being left with radiant and glowing skin so soft it could be compared to a baby’s you know what.  Which brings me to a second warning…this mask is addictive!

So no matter what you do, this product is a must try.  Chasing horrified kids around the house…definitely an optional bonus!  If you are interested in finding a salon near you that offers Enspri products, please follow the link below.


Thank you for reading and keep warm out there!


What’s Your Skin Care Product Personality Type? And what the heck does it have to do with toilet paper?!

My children make me laugh everyday.  By now you may have read about my toilet paper-roll hoarding 5-year old daughter.  As you can see by the photo, she’s on to new artist measures…T.P. sculpting.  This has led to much grief of my husband who has taken it upon himself to disassemble these pyramids, only to find himself having to do it several times a day (apparently my daughter visits the bathroom as soon as he leaves so she can recreate what has been dimageestroyed).  No one in this house can argue that art is hard work!  To be honest, if we didn’t already know her history with t.p, we wouldn’t even know it was necessarily her doing it.  It’s done so silently…the pyramid is there; my husband takes it apart; it magically reappears, all without a peep (well except for my husband’s grumblings).  At any rate, it got me to thinking about her funny, quirky, and very driven personality (I have no idea where she gets it from!) and how different everyone’s personalities are.  And of course I thought I’d have a little fun and relate personalities somehow (although it’s a stretch) to skin care.  Let’s see how this turns out….

So what skin care product personality type are  you?  See if you fit into one of the following categories:

*The Eager and Ready-for-Anything Type:  You are open to new experiences and do not hesitate to try new and exciting products.  You keep up with all the latest and greatest, and are always in pursuit of the next best skin care fad.  If Kim Kardashian is using it, so are you!  You are fun, a fashionably sharp dresser, witty, and you always smell nice.  Your ideal skin products would include anything with gold flakes and caviar as ingredients.

*The Commonsensical Type:  You are very methodical about your skin care needs.  You want the truth and nothing but and will research products to make sure you are getting exactly what will benefit you.  You are not swayed by what the latest celebrities are using.  You make sound decisions and it may take you many weeks before you find the perfect fit for yourself.  You are smart, confident, matter-of-fact, and like comfortable shoes.  Your ideal skin products have a lot of science backing them up.

*The Enthusiastic Type:  You can be quite impulsive in your skin care decisions.  The very sight of a certain product causes you extreme euphoria….how it smells, the package appearance, the feel on your skin, and how it is presented in stores…all regardless of how it will work for your skin.  You are very likely a product hoarder.  There could be years worth of products in your cabinets that didn’t exactly work out for you, but you can’t part with them because of the investment.  You are sensitive, spontaneous, a good listener, and Kleenex commercials make you cry like a baby.  Your ideal skin products include anything that sparkles.

*The Thrifty Type:  You are more concerned with the bottom line than with the quality of the product.  Even better is if you can create a skin care product yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen.  You are neat, organized, have a purse full of coupons, and there’s a good possibility you are a blogger with some great advice on how to save a penny.  Your ideal skin products include anything available from a drug store.

*The Stubborn Type:  You enjoy a good debate and admire Jon Stewart immensely.  You will not be swayed by any product until you know all the facts and benefits of what it will do for you.  Not one to be pressured into anything, you are ready for a show down if need be.  You are the life of the party, a loyal friend, and the one to be with in a dark alley.  Until there is proof stating otherwise, bar soap and water will do just fine as your ideal skin product.

So there you have it!   What type of skin care product personality are you?  I fell somewhere in between Enthusiastic Type and the Eager and Ready-for-Anything Type (all except for the fashionably sharp dresser…that’s not me at all!).

Hope you enjoyed and had fun with this post.  Although I shouldn’t have to mention this, everything written here is for FUN…none of it means a thing and was not meant to insult or infer anything about anyone (except me and my incredibly poor taste in clothing).

Thanks for reading and have a great week everyone!

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Want Radiant Skin? Try AloeGlyC from Lexli Today!

imageI’m a lucky girl.  A good portion of my professional life has been spent in a dental office, and I have to say I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  With that came the task of trying out new tooth brushes and tooth pastes and sometimes deciding which was more efficient: waxed or woven floss.  Although very exciting (please refrain from eye rolling), now that I have a new career path ahead of me, if  given the choice of trying out dental products over skin care products, which do you think will win out?  Now don’t get me wrong…dental care is extremely important, as is choosing the right tools in which to properly care for your teeth (and yes, I am one of those hygienists that questions if you are flossing, and yes, I will know if you are lying to me).  I’m just saying that after 20 years of caring for everyone’s choppers, skin care is an exciting and  fascinating new venture for me (and it’s close to the mouth area, right?).  So with that has come the undeniable pleasure of being able to try out and review beauty and skin care products.  I’m telling you…I’m a lucky girl!

This brings me to my very first review and I can’t think of a better way to start out.  I recently was fortunate enough to come into contact with an exceptional skin care company named Lexli out of Fargo, ND, founded by Dr. Ahmed Abdullah.  One of the things that first caught my eye was the simplicity of their line.  It’s difficult to navigate around a company’s website when they sell everything under the sun, making skin care more confusing than it has to be.  If I, as an esthetician, can’t wrap my head around 100 products in one line, then how is the average consumer supposed to do so?  With 14 products and two kits (normal/dry and oily), Lexli has combined simple and effective into a beautiful skin care package.

The basis of their products starts with the best of the best: certified organic, pharmaceutical grade aloe vera.  Since water cannot penetrate into the skin, it makes sense to have your main ingredient be something that will.  Aloe has long been touted as a healing plant.  How many of you growing up had a mother that would pluck an aloe leaf fresh off the plant and apply it to your sunburn?

Although there are many benefits of aloe, some of its features really stand out.  It has aspirin-like properties making it an excellent anesthetic and  explaining why so many use it to treat burns.  It is antimicrobial, which makes it beneficial in treating acne-causing bacteria.  In addition, it is anti-inflammatory, making it suitable to treat many skin conditions that tend to be inflammation-based, such as dermatitis, or from sources that cause inflammation such as sun exposure, smoking, or environmental pollutants.

Since my own skin concerns include aging, I tried the normal/dry skin kit.  Everything about it screamed beautiful skin!  From the non-foaming cleansing lotion (which I LOVE), to the night moisturizer (not too light or too heavy and perfectly indulgent), my skin felt extraordinary.  I have to say however, the highlight to this kit for me was the exfoliation cream, AloeGlyC (and you know how I feel about exfoliating!).  From the very first application my skin was left with a healthy, pink glow.  Because my skin is tolerant to exfoliants, I did not experience any stinging sensation, although it is perfectly normal to feel a slight tingle (and even if you don’t, the product is definitely still doing its job). If you do feel a tingle, it is recommended that you “dilute” the product with one of Lexli’s moisturizers until you build up a comfort level.

Now let’s break down the ingredients of the AloeGlyC to show how exceptional this product is:

1. Organic/pharmaceutical grade Aloe Vera–an emollient with hydrating, healing, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

2. Vitamins A, C, and E–all antioxidants which are known to fight against free radical damage in the skin.  In addition to that, Vitamin C helps with increasing collagen production, Vitamin E is hydrating, and Vitamin A promotes cell turnover and helps with elasticity.

3. Vitamin D3 which improves skin firmness and aids in pigmentation suppression.

4. Vitamin B5 which assists in tissue repair and has moisturizing properties.

5. Green Tea Extract–an antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.

6. Jojoba Esters, derived from the oil and used as an emollient and skin conditioner.

7. Allantoin which is an extract derived from comfrey root and is healing, calming and soothing.

8. Glycolic and Salicylic Acids which is what makes the product exfoliating.


So how can you get your hands on these incredible skin care products?  Follow this link:


Type in your zip code and you will be able to find a participating salon/spa near you that carries Lexli products.

Thank you for reading, and enjoy your radiant skin!



*Lees, Mark, Dr. Skin Care Beyond the Basics. Albany, NY. Milady, 2012

*Michalun, Natalia and M. Varinia Michalun. Milady’s Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary.Albany, NY. 2010

*Abdullah, Ahmed, Dr. The Power of Pure Aloe. Dermascope. 2010


Dull, lifeless, drab, lackluster, and just plain BLAH…

IMG_2413nNo, I’m not talking about the latest Twilight movie (sorry Twilight fans…loved the books, hated the movies, and although I’m not losing any sleep over this, the fact that Kristin Stewart never smiles really bugs me for some reason).  Lucky for you this isn’t a movie review so I’ll get right to the point.  All these words describe exfoliation, or more specifically, the lack thereof.

So why exfoliate?  Regeneration is the name of the game, my friends.  We are in a constant state of renewal where old skin cells are pushed to the top allowing new cells to grow underneath.  This process allows our skin to be healthy and protect it against outside sources such as UV rays, toxins, pollutants, bacteria, and other irritants.  Over time however, if we do not exfoliate or remove the top layer of dead skin cells, our skin starts to look dull and lifeless (hence the above adjectives).  It can contribute to dryness since the dead cell layer blocks moisture from penetrating properly.  This means even if you are great about moisturizing, the thick dead cells on top will not allow the live cells underneath to get fully nourished.  It can also be the cause of breakouts from buildup of dirt and oils that get trapped underneath the dead skin cells.  Proper exfoliation helps stimulate new cell growth and keeps the skin in tip-top shape.

Exfoliating happens to be my very favorite beauty routine and in my opinion one of the most important.  In school I was sort of known as an obsessive exfoliation queen.  My instructors had to lock up the peels to keep me from overdoing it (yes, I’m exaggerating, but it was kind of a running joke…I would pretend I was in constant “danger” of falling face first into a bowl of glycolic peel like every day…at the time it seemed funny, but maybe you had to be there).  At any rate, who could blame me?  My skin looked and felt fabulous after a peel or enzyme treatment and anyone that has experienced it would agree with me…the results are awesome!

So where do you start?    There are two types of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical, both of which I detail below.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Using a scrub or a mechanical brush such as the Clarisonic, are examples of mechanical exfoliation.  Typically these would be used by you at home.  If you choose a scrub, try to avoid ones that contain walnut or other nut shells which can cause tiny lacerations and damage the skin.  I can’t stress enough that more is not better in this case.  You are only exfoliating the top layer of skin.  Trying to “go deeper” or harder could result in hypersensitivity, acne (which can lead to pigmentation), and other skin conditions, all of which will counteract what you are trying to accomplish.

Microdermabrasion is another type of mechanical exfoliation that is done at a spa or doctor’s office.  This machine is more aggressive and uses crystals (either aluminum oxide, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium chloride) that are “blasted” against the skin and then suctioned back, taking with it the top layer of dead skin cells.  What’s left is beautifully resurfaced skin (your skin care specialist may recommend a series to achieve the results you desire).

Chemical Exfoliation

Enzyme treatments, alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s), and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA’s) fall under this category.  These chemicals help dissolve the intercellular adhesive that fasten the cells to the skin’s surface.

Enzymes are usually applied as a peel or in a mask.  My instructor, Michele, used to call the enzymes little “pac men” that would eat up all the dead skin cells (she always left us with the best visuals–it’s quite a talent I’d say!).  Some of the ingredients you can expect to find in these treatments include pumpkin, papaya (papain), and pineapple (bromelain).

AHA’s include lactic acid (which is derived from milk, is very mild, and a really good first time peel), glycolic acid (which comes from sugar cane), and malic acid (found in apples), just to name a few.  These are used on skin that has problems with pigmentation from sun damage, fine lines, and aging.

BHA’s only include one acid called salicylic, which is derived from willow bark.  It’s very important to note if you are allergic or sensitive to aspirin, then you should not use salicylic acid peels on your skin.  If you are not contraindicated for this type of peel, then those with acneic or oily skin would find this very beneficial.  It’s purpose is to penetrate into the pores where the sebum (oil) is and unclog them.

As you can see, there is a lot of information in regards to exfoliation.  I’m going to leave it at this for now and in future posts break it down into skin types and follow-up with some good products that you are sure to love.  And men…don’t forget that exfoliation is not just for the ladies.   Your skin needs and deserves TLC too!   As always, thank you for reading.  Oh and by the way, I’m so glad I was able 127229_green_bottles_5to get that Kristin Stewart thing off my chest! (sorry Twilight fans!!).


Quick update on Make-up Whore-ding

One of my readers brought it to my attention that she loves mineral makeup because it is inert and will not support bacterial growth.  While this is certainly true, and since I need my mineral makeup like I need air, I decided to do a quick check on this since it seems to be a bit confusing.  My contact at Jane Iredale got back to me and this is what she told me: “If the products are unopened then they have an infinite shelf life.  Once opened, powders last 24 months and creams last 12 months.”  Hmmmm….unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I do not have any unopened containers of mineral makeup.  So the good news is you get more time to love your minerals.  The bad news (at least for me…) is I’m going to have to go shopping ASAP.

Talk soon!