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About face:   skin care leads in any makeover

Healthy skin requires sticking to a suitable regime, but a finished look demands practice

 

 

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CHICAGO — Clear, healthy skin is the starting point of any look.  Makeovers are no exception.  When former high-school student and local basketbal star April McCarron embarked on a makeover to transform her look for college, she knew in advance that skin care expertise would be needed:  like many teens, she had a case of severe acne.  Her blemished skin was also part of the reason April appeared to be much younger than she actually was (see Before and After photos).

Hair artist and image consultant Susan MacCoy was in charge of April's makeover.  Currently based at Elizabeth Adam Salon and Day Spa in Chicago's Water Tower Place, MacCoy confidently delegated the direction of April's skin care strategy to salon owner and skin expert Elizabeth Adam.

Trained in Europe as a certified aesthetician, Adam has been a skin care analyst and practitioner since 1976.  She's operated her salon since 1987, first on Walton Street and the last three years at the Water Tower Place location.  "I've been an aesthetician for many years, but I still take classes regularly," Adam remarks.  She recently returned from a training course on maintaining muscle tone through facial exercises.  The class was held in Bologna, Italy.

Given that teens with troubled skin have always been a large part of her salon's clientele, Adam has targeted products and skin specialists available who know just how to deal with adolescent acne.

Adam herself was the head skin and beauty strategist. She designed April's home skin-care program.   The beauty services team Adam assembled consisted of:

  •   Basia (Barbara) Walasiak, skin treatment specialist;
  •   Irina Zinchikeva, eyebrow artist;
  •   Paula Sino, make-up artist; and

Healing comes first

April's own assessment of her skin was blunt:  "It was horrible."  An important factor that Adam took into consideration was that neither April nor her mother wanted the girl's skin to be treated with prescription drugs, meaning antibiotics or birth-control pills.  That meant that a course of specialized facials and skin products was the likely solution.

Adam handed over April's skin evaluation to skin specialist Basia Walasiak, who recommended a two-phase, six-stage facial cleansing and peeling program, accompanied by a home care program.  In the end, however, April didn't have a designated facialist, Adam said.  "I did some peels on her, and Irina and Basia worked on her.  We all did — whoever was available.  She had a very tight, crowded schedule."

Walasiak began by administering an initial facial to jump-start the skin care.  This phase-one facial consisted of steam, to open the pores; a vegetable peel, to prepare April's skin for very deep extraction; and an enzymatic peel, to calm the breakouts and allow her skin to begin healing.

Facial extraction means removing accumulated sebum from pores in the face.  Sebum is what clogs the pores and causes blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.  Extraction is done manually, very carefully and with a clean cloth against clean skin, after the pores are first opened with steam.  There is some slight pressure involved, and it's not the most fun experience, but it is necessary — and best done by a skin professional.  On the other hand, facial extraction is easier on the client and much less unpleasant than leg or bikini waxing.

"Mostly, I find that teenagers are not comfortable with facial extraction," Walasiak observes.  Part of the reason is that the treatment calls attention to the poor condition of their skin, and adolescents are very sensitive as it is about their appearance:  "They get very depressed when the skin breaks out and try to hide it."

For April's skin-care regime, Adam selected two products developed by Wilma Schumann of Germany — the O2 Oxy Blu system and DNA advanced skin repair for oily/acne-prone skin.  Oxy Blu is a hypoallergenic moisturizing gel that draws oxygen to the skin's surface and thereby inhibits bacterial growth.  DNA skin repair provides oil-free skin hydration to counteract the effects of too much sun.

April's home-care package included a cleanser to control oil production and inhibit bacterial growth that causes skin eruptions, an antibacterial toner with fruit essence, glycolic acid, and vitamin C, and, for evening care, an alpha-hydroxy acid preparation to help exfoliate the skin.  A certain amount of exfoliation is need to keep pores clean and clear; without it, skin looks tired and dull — but too much exfoliation too often can make skin overly sensitive.

Phase two marked the start of serious facials.  Facial number two consisted of steam followed by deep extraction, a glycolic peel, and a soothing masque.  After the first two facials, MacCoy and Adam decided that there were some positive results but that, because of her age and overall skin type, April really needed a complete series of facials throughout the course of the makeover, followed by maintenance facials afterward.

Walasiak concurred.  "Maintenance facials, at minimum every five to six weeks — this is very important.  Most clients have trouble keeping up the maintenance program" and thus don't always get the best possible effect:  results that last.  Not April, however, who was cooperative throughout the entire process, Walasiak quickly added.  "She was very patient.  You have to have patience with acne."

Later on, once April's skin was under better control, Walasiak substituted a chamomile-based cleanser to calm and soothe the skin.  April was also given a list of skin dos and don'ts right from the start:

  •   Drink a gallon of water a day — every day.
  •   Don't touch your face with your fingers; this keeps you from spreading bacteria that cause pimples.
  •   Absolutely no make-up until your skin heals!

Delaying make-up consultation until acne can be controlled has benefits beyond allowing the skin to heal faster, Adam notes.  "The better skin looks, the more we want to do with it.  Make-up should really enhance features, not cover them up.  A young face [like April's] needs light make-up."

 

Analyzing facial features

April's color strategy was entrusted to make-up artist Paula Sino, who has been with Adam since her first salon on Walton Street.  April "needed a lot of work on her skin and brows," Sino recalls.

Sino's first impression was of "a very tall girl [who was] very uncomfortable with herself at first."  However, April clearly had potential.  "I wanted to emphasize her best features — which are her eyes — and her hair."  Sino and eyebrow artist Irina Zinchikeva began by meeting with April and discussing the shape of the eyebrow as it relates to the face.  Once agreement was reached on the proposed line of the brows, Irina shaped April's eyebrows and taught her how to correctly tweeze them in between professional shapings.

Sino developed two different make-up palettes for April:  a light, natural daytime look, and a dressier, day-into-evening look.  For day wear, Sino chose an overall pink-beige color scheme, starting with a moisturizing foundation.  The brows had color brushed on, then were finished with brow set.  A light touch of mascara was added, plus beigey-pink lipstick.

For evening wear and special occasions, the palette chosen had more color, slightly deeper colors, and contour to better shape April's face, Sino explained.  "I taught her how to contour and bring out her bone structure.  She has wonderful bone structure."  That was accomplished using color correction and the deft use of blusher.  "We used lavender corrector for shadows under the eyes, and green wherever she was red."  Mauve eye shadow, a dusting of pink blush, and bright pink lipstick completed the look.

Next, Sino asembled a home/purse make-up kit that would be portable and easy to use.  She also spent extra time teaching April how to line the lips and eyes with pencils and to use brow set.  All this was new to the girl, who took her practice sessions thereafter quite seriously.

The practice paid off.  "I'm very happy with the outcome.  It really shows when you put in the effort," Sino notes.  No experimentation with color was needed, either, thanks to her considerable experience.  "I knew exactly how I wanted her to look, and it worked beautifully."

 

Nails:   the finishing touch

The beauty segment of the makeover still wasn't complete, however, without all-important attention to the hands. A nail restyling and manicure and gave April a paint-at-home-like-a-pro lesson.  She trimmed April's nails the first time and taught her how to file an oval tip.  A neutral-beige polish for April and taught her how to polish her nails and clean the edges for a professional-looking home manicure.  This, too, would require practice before the teen became adept at using the techniques.

Success at using these beauty skills was basically up to April.  After a few months, she's an old hand at both nails and make-up.  Now, "outside of school, I do my hair a lot and wear make-up."  That wasn't the case before, but the instruction and practice sessions made her more self-assured about her skills.  That, in turn, increased her overall confidence — which, not coincidentally, also increases the likelihood of longer-term results.  As one anonymous wag put it, nothing breeds success like success.

 Hair artist Susan MacCoy is based at Elizabeth Adam Salon and Day Spa, located in Chicago’s Water Tower Place.  She has taught in venues as diverse as the Goodman Theater of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Clairol Summer Sessions at Northwestern University; classes offered by Helene Curtis in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Africa; Clairol, Inc.’s Famous Haircolorists’ Educator Program; and sessions for Glemby International, as well as in training videos for beauty professionals and students.  Formerly manager of the Glemby International Salon at the Drake Hotel and long established on Michigan Avenue, MacCoy has served many famous clients, including Barbara Walters, Princess Diane Von Furstenburg, Lucille Ball, and Lady Bird Johnson.

 

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