Health & Wellness

Healthy skin, healthy you

COVID-19 has separated and isolated people in ways they have never experienced before. Many are missing their old routine when they felt safe going about their business – getting together with friends, going out at night, extended family time, hugs … and for some who consider it a priority to take care of the body’s largest organ, their skin, and ensure that it looks hydrated, youthful and blemish-free, they’re missing their esthetician.

Social distancing, restrictions and in some instances, finances, have forced many people to forgo beauty treatments like facials, which for some, aren’t just indulgences, but a requirement as an essential part of a healthy skin care routine, and for others, a relaxing form of self-care.

Carlethia Thurston, spa manager at Amber Spa at the Warwick Hotel, which can currently only offer manicures and pedicures due to COVID-19 restrictions, said for months she has been bombarded by clients seeking advice on at-home skin care as they can’t visit the spa, and in some instances, aren’t able to access products they’re accustomed to using.

“People have been asking, and it’s been extremely tough as an esthetician, because I can’t go out and touch someone’s skin, to determine what their concerns are, so that I can give the best advice,” said Thurston. “As a trained eye – what I may see may be different from what they are seeing with their untrained eye.”

But until such time as people are able to avail themselves of the full spa offerings and visit their esthetician for treatment, Thurston said her best advice is for people to do their best to “de-stress” and drink lots of water to ensure their skin remains hydrated and supple. And if they happen to have trouble finding their favorite products at this time, she has a few tips for items that can be found in the house to ensure you stay on routine.

“You have to drink water. Drinking water is key. Water, water, water. You have to clean your body from the inside out and you have to watch what you eat,” she said.

She stressed that her at-home tips are not long-term replacements for expert treatments, but rather temporary suggestions to get people through until such time as they can return to the spa, safely.

One of Thurston’s favorite mantras is to cleanse the face morning and night. She said cleansing is a crucial part of any kind of skincare routine as it helps rid the face of dirt, excess oil and makeup. She recommends double cleansing with your favorite cleanser.

If by chance you’re out of your favorite cleansing product, her suggestion is to mix one tablespoon baking soda, with two tablespoons oatmeal and two tablespoons of honey; dampen the face and spread mixture in circular motions before rinsing off. She assures this is good for all skincare types.

Exfoliating is another important step that she said people should not be forgetting at this time, and that should be done at least once a week, as exfoliating the skin helps remove dead skin cells that tend to clog the pores. She said exfoliation also instantly brightens the face as removal of dead skin cells reveals a younger and healthier layer.

And since you can’t have exfoliation done at the spa currently, a do-it-yourself (DIY) scrub she likes includes mixing a cup of sugar mixed with a tablespoon of honey and approximately a half cup of whatever oil you have on hand – olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil. (Thurston is partial toward coconut oil and almond oil). The mixture she said should be applied to a damp face after cleansing and gently rubbed in an upward circular motion. The exfoliator is removed with cool water.

Once the exfoliation process is done, if you’re hopping into the shower, Thurston recommends the safest way to steam at home is in the shower for about 15 minutes, to open the pores, before continuing with the at-home treatment.

Once out of the shower, she said you can apply your favorite mask from the product line of your choice, or a DIY concoction of honey mixed with yogurt for normal/combination skin; or a mashed banana and honey for dry skin.

Thurston said people should also never forget the toning step, as toner helps remove any residual dirt while sealing pores and also helps make the skin more receptive to hydration.

Her tip for an at-home-made toner is a half-teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a teaspoon of water; the apple cider vinegar balances the pH of the skin while also closes pores.

The last step of the at-home routine will be to moisturize to help hydrate the skin and lock in moisture.

In the pandemic, Thurston has been making use of rosehip oil, which is harvested from the seeds of rose bushes, is full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that she assures has done wonderful things for her face. She adds it to her favorite moisturizer, and said she sometimes uses the rosehip oil by itself, at night.

“The rosehip oil has vitamins A and C, which help to stimulate collagen production, so we don’t lose water, which means reducing fine lines and wrinkles; vitamin E, which helps battle skin tone and texture and vitamin F, which helps to strengthen walls.”

The esthetician and manager at the boutique spa said anything she recommends, she would use on herself, as she practices what she preaches.

“Whatever we tell our clients, we have to do first because we’re walking canvases.”

The era of the pandemic in which she nor any of her staff have not been able to have a hands-on approach with clients she said has put a sharp focus on educating on the things they can do as alternatives, so they understand why their skin reacts the way it does, so they can make better decisions as far as products when they can’t get their hands on their tried and true favorites.

She also encourages people to remember that now that we are in the winter months, that means switching up from products that would have been used in summer.

And while she said for many people, spending money on facial products may not be a priority now, she encourages them to go the organic route and use items they may have at home, to ensure they keep their skin healthy and glowing until such time as they can safely return to their favorite spa and esthetician for treatment.

And in an effort to bring the feeling of the spa at home and making the facial routine more of an experience, and not just another chore, Thurston encourages people to create a calm atmosphere for themselves, which she says will help release stress and boost the effectiveness of the treatment, just as a day at the spa does in its calming environs. And that she is eagerly anticipating the day when Amber Spa clients have access to their full services once again.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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