Peek into an Esthetician's At-Home Beauty Arsenal: It's simpler (and cheaper) than you might think

Lisa Bova

With the arrival of spring comes the re-evaluation of our skin. Warmer temperatures mean less makeup as we allow our natural beauty to expose itself along with our ankles. This time of year is the true test of our skin health. Do you feel pretty without makeup? Does your skin look smooth and clear without heavy foundation and concealer? Can you get away with a light tinted moisturizer and feel confident? If the answer is no then fret not, because getting gorgeous makeup- free skin is not impossible to attain.

We have this idea that great skin is achieved by expensive monthly facials or ridiculously priced skincare products. While seeing a professional skincare expert once a month is important for good skin, the real work happens at home. Your esthetician can scrub, peel, steam and infuse your skin silly, but if you neglect your skin the other 29 days you don't see her, that work is utterly useless. Obviously using professional products in your daily skincare routine are imperative to maintain great results, but this is just the start. To really allow your skin to be it's absolute best, it needs a little help. Here are some at- home treatments and devices that can take your skin to another level of gorgeous without breaking the bank.

Retinol: First and foremost this is THE best thing you can do for your skin. Regardless of skin type, everyone with every skin concern should be using a prescription strength retinol. It will clear acne, reduce hyper pigmentation, prevent aging and exfoliate to give skin a bright smooth appearance. What else could you possibly want! Retinol is an absolute must for anyone concerned with aging, clarity, tone and texture. It is truly the fountain of youth, and the sooner you start the better. Skip the OTC formulas and go straight to your dermatologist for prescription strength. Most insurance covers the bulk of cost for these little tubes of pure gold. If you are obsessed like me (I use two different types) not even a high price tag can deter the use of precious retinol. I am never without it.

LED Facial Devices: I absolutely love light therapy and find it a wonderful modality for all skin types for a wide variety of skin concerns. Technology once found only in dermatology offices and med spas is now available for everyone for a minimal investment. This non-thermal, non-invasive treatment comes in several forms like lamps, wands and panels, but I prefer the ease of a mask. Sure they look a little goofy on you while in use, but with such great results who cares! Acne, discoloration, and signs of aging can all be addressed with one device. I find using my LED mask at night before bed to be super relaxing and a habit quite easy to maintain, making all the difference as consistency is key.

High Frequency Device: Anyone who has ever had a facial probably remembers the buzzy zappy little wand with a smell reminiscent of static that was glided over the skin right after extraction. Aside from killing bacteria and sanitizing the skin surface, this argon gas electrode also aids in oxygenation, blood and lymphatic circulation. This device is super effective for mild acne and a few "zaps" markedly speeds up drying and recovery time for breakouts. Different types of gasses can accommodate the electrode making this modality effective for different concerns, including firming and anti aging. Using this device several times a week will keep skin in tip top shape.

Face Steaming: While there are loads of tabletop steamers for sale out there, this easy beauty treatment need not be complicated. I'm pretty old school and simply use a large cooking pot filled with boiling water and a bath towel over my head, making sure the steam is far enough away so as to not burn. Steaming helps to soften the skin along with any debris or compactions in the skin making extraction a breeze to routinely clear out blackheads. The steam also adds moisture to the skin while helping with blood circulation. I like using a large boiling pot so I can add herbs like rosemary and sage along with essential oils like cardamom and lemon to my water to infuse added benefits. While a general steam producing hot shower is great for skin, a 5-10 minute sit down to specifically steam the face is a relaxing and soothing time out we can all benefit from.

Face Shaving: Like many estheticians in on this secret, I'm a huge fan of face shaving and will never be ashamed to admit it! While this is only a once a month or so thing, face shaving is a wonderful way to exfoliate and expose super smooth skin. Along with removing unwanted peach fuzz, face shaving gives you baby soft skin and allows makeup to go on like butter. Like any type of exfoliation, face shaving also helps your lovely skincare products to penetrate better and adds an overall glow once the dulling hair is removed. Once you feel the results you will never waste your money on fancy battery operated hair removal devices again.

Microdermabrasion crystals: A microdermabrasion treatment can run into the hundred of dollars at a med spa. The aluminum oxide crystals used in the professional treatment can be purchased for home use and are perfect for anyone a bit unsure about chemical peels. Unlike smooth beads or other particles used for exfoliation, aluminum oxide crystals are jagged and uneven, so they effectively grab, lift and remove dead skin cells from the surface. A tiny pinch of these crystals can be added directly into any foamy or creamy facewash. By using gentle circular motions on the skin with no added pressure being sure to avoid the eyes, this crystal facewash mix transforms your morning wash into a amped up power clease. Doing this only once or twice a week can minimize breakouts, as dirt and debris are swept away before they can clog the pores.

Ok, so I'm a little high maintenance when it comes to skincare, but hey, I'm an esthetician what do you expect?! While all these devices and treatments are affordable and have massive benefits, like anything else in life, consistency is the real secret. As long as you can check off any internal issues that may be causing a major skin imbalance (food allergies, hormonal issues, medications), there is no reason you can't get gorgeous skin. If you are serious about getting that radiant lit from within summer skin, then a few extra bucks and a few extra minutes can get you there.

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