Breaking Out: Before and After

I’ve been lucky to have decent-enough skin for the moderate effort I put into it. I had some pimples as a teen, but definitely not acne. I have the rare hormonal breakout and my skin definitely shows signs of sun damage and aging, but I think I’ve been fortunate. Recently, a ton of changes at once caused my skin to freak out in a painful way.

Yikes! I have never had breakouts this bad, this was actually a bit painful.

I recently cut heavier bangs and switched shampoos. I’ve increased the amount of  sweat, gross lake water, heavy duty sport sun screen, and dog-slobber my skin sees. In hindsight, skin-rebellion was a sure thing.

To be fair, I should have gotten bad breakouts long before now considering the gross things I do to my skin!

My breaking point came the day laying down for a massage became too uncomfortable with the breakout on my forehead. I asked our esthetician Cassandra to overhaul my Rhonda Allison home care routine. She’s struggled with breakouts off and on and has lots of empathy and experience in treating them. She looked at what I was doing, subtracted a few products, and added some more. Surprisingly, she INCREASED the moisturizing I was doing.

My recommendations from Cassandra, which I followed pretty well (though sometimes used my BB Creme as my SPF.) I kept the image of the instructions on my phone to have handy while I got ready am/pm. The only fairly pricey product was the Mandelic Arginine and I decided it was worth the cost for the results.

Instead of masking just once, I used the wasabi mask twice in the week per Cassandra’s suggestion. She was right…it does start off a bit hot and tingly but it cooled off quickly and I think it really kick-started the healing for me the first night.

My first time using the Wasabi Mask. It was a bit toasty for a few minutes!

Within a couple of days the pain was gone and the hardest thing was not picking! I admit that I picked one area, which you’ll notice in the “after” image, but overall, I was thrilled with my results in a week of being very diligent with the home care. Too often we hear people say they don’t see results, but then they confess that they only used half of the recommended routine, or only did the routine for a couple of days then gave up.

In typical business-owner fashion, I decided to look on the bright side and see my skin “freak out” as a test of our professional advice and products and be glad I could document my progress for others who might be struggling. I tried guessing at a routine on my own for a few weeks, but it wasn’t working even though I was using good products. That’s where a licensed, professional esthetician comes in. Obviously what worked for me won’t work for everyone and I’m honestly surprised things cleared up so quickly.

After photo, totally smooth skin (minus the spot I couldn’t resist picking) just over a week after I started my home care.

If you are struggling with a breakout, or you have a history inflamed and uncomfortable acne, we have a few facial services that can be helpful in kicking off the healing when partnered with a good routine at home. The key is to stick to the advice and keep in touch with your professional esthetician. Want more information or to schedule? Consider starting with the “Clear Results” facial for true acne or the Wellness Facial for occasional breakouts.

How do massage therapists manage their own pain?

One of the most frequently asked questions I heard when I was practicing massage was “how often do YOU get a massage?” As massage therapists, we learn to get a good read on our bodies and learn what works well to prevent or manage our own pain.  Some of the LMTs on our team shared what works best for them, and their favorite referrals.

Camdine: I use a Lacrosse ball on my hips, back, and neck to massage painful spots. Camdine also uses locally produced Rapid Fire to reduce pain.

Julie: Daily stretches, epsom salt and Kneipp arnica bath soaks 3x week, a glass of warm Pure Inventions Tranquility tea (with magnesium) before bed, Rapid Fire to control small areas of pain, regular massages and chiropractic care as needed.

Julie’s favorite nighttime  drink is the Pure Inventions Tranquility which contains chamomile, passion flower, and magnesium.

Jamee: I use acupressure as a cure for everything but death, and I haven’t died yet. I see my personal massage therapist (co-worker Tiffany) regularly. I also purchased a Yoga trapeze that is a miracle for low back pain.

Heather: Massage 2-3x a month, regular visits with chiropractor Dr. Pulley (East Village Chiropractic)

Our employees massage each other and also see therapists outside the spa when their co-workers are booked. We all know the importance of “practicing what we preach!”

Hannah M: Staying active after a hard day reduces tension for me.

Jamee (cont’d): …On second thought, I should get a med alert bracelet made up that says in an emergency, call my massage therapist (Tiffany.)

Brandi: Yoga and using a foam roller, a 30 minute daily walk, get adjusted at Shine Chiropractic weekly, Fadeaway Flotation monthly.

Tisha: Rapid fire for aches, pains, and headaches, cupping therapy, foam roller, yoga, and a monthly massage (more often when needed!)

Most of our employees swear by Rapid Fire for muscle aches and tension headaches.

Conny: I’m not in pain often, but if it happens, I either overworked something or an emotional issue came up. For physical pain, I use rapid fire and a soak in a hot bath with epsom salts, receive massage twice a month. A good book, a glass of wine, and a friend for heartache.

 

Conny is especially partial to Kneipp bath salts because like her, they are from Germany.

Cassie: The older I get the more my joints act up, especially after running, biking, and swimming. In addition to regular massage, I see Dr. Pulley for chiropractic care when I overdo it or something feels “off.” I have done regular pilates at Gigi’s Pilates for about 6 years. Sometimes stretching isn’t the answer (or isn’t the only answer). The strengthening techniques in Pilates really help my low back and knees from screaming after longer runs.

If I miss to many pilates sessions, my body rebels and I get low back spasms that make it hard to run. I have learned the importance of strength training to keep everything working like it should!

Want to try massage therapy or one of our favorite pain relieving products for your own aches and pains? Stop into East Village Spa at 601 East Locust or book online!

Managing Workplace Stress

One of my best friends had been solidly in the “Massage is weird, I’ll never get a massage” camp for years. He finally confessed that this year he tried massage and has been getting them regularly ever since. I asked him what prompted him to try, when all of my prodding for years didn’t convince him. His reply “work was getting to be too much and I didn’t know what else to do to manage it.”

Even if you love your job, work can be stressful! In fact, 65% of Americans cited work as the #1 contributor to stress in their lives (2012 APA’s Annual Stress in America Study). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has increased focus on stress as a workplace safety and health concern.

Even working in a spa, which would seem to be a low-stress job (to people who don’t work in a spa!) requires our team to carefully monitor their emotions and manage stress levels, both at home and at work. We see people at their most vulnerable and need to be sure we can be calm and present with them so we’ve become not only experts in relieving stress for others, but in practicing self care to keep our stress at bay and not absorb the stress from clients we’re working with.

At the spa, we hear anecdotal evidence from our guests that stressful issues at work (unclear demands, limited growth opportunities, time management concerns, supervisors, even workplace bullies) are a main reason they visit the spa. While our providers can’t change your work situation, we can offer coping mechanisms. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studied the effects of massage therapy on ICU nurses and found statistically significant benefits to nurses who received massage therapy to manage stress over those who did not.

A Canadian pilot study of seated workplace massage showed short-term benefits of 20 minute weekly seated massage on employees in stressful work environments and suggested further research is needed to see long-term benefits of such a program. The Touch Research Institute of Miami showed that a 15 minute chair massage was more beneficial than a typical 15 minute break in reducing anxiety and also improved cognitive performance. Forbes recommends that executives regularly receive massage to reduce workplace stress, increase productivity, and increase sleep.

Work stress is serious! Don’t take it from us, take it from the American Psychological Association. This is a great article on tips to manage your work stress from the pros.

When it feels like too much, sometimes a visit to the spa can help you feel like yourself again, whether it is a stress relieving massage, facial, or both. Learn more about our services or schedule time to refresh and de-stress here.

 

Talk to your doctor about massage

When I was 22 (in about 2002), I picked up a small item from the floor as someone called my name. When I turned my head to see who it was, my neck caught. For a month, I had a stiff neck. Growing up, we never used chiropractic or massage therapy so my first instinct was to go to a walk-in clinic doctor. The doctor briefly assessed me, then told me I had arthritis and needed long term pain medication to treat this condition he presumed would plague me for life. That was that. I was too inexperienced to question him, but the visit literally took 10 minutes and I left thinking I had serious arthritis at 22. I took the medication for months, even though the pain had subsided after just a few days. When the medication was pulled from the market after dangerous side-effects emerged, my pain never returned.

I haven’t had any other issues related to that little injury and I truly believe, knowing what I know now as a massage therapist, that a trip to a good chiropractor coupled with a massage would have managed the pain I experienced at 22 just as effectively as the medication. Fun fact: that experience is one of the reasons I became a massage therapist!

I believe that had I experienced the same kind of injury today, doctors would have responded differently. In fact, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012 showed chiropractic care and specific exercise were more effective than NSAIDs or Narcotics for treating neck pain.

For acute or subacute low back pain, one of the most common reasons for physician visits, physicians are changing their tune as well. The American College of Physicians recommends in a 2017 report that physicians FIRST recommend treatment with heat, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, or acupuncture BEFORE resorting to pain medications. For chronic low back pain, physicians are instructed to recommend rehabilitation, spinal manipulation, stress management, exercises like yoga or Tai Chi, in addition to other non-pharmaceutical interventions.

Where does massage therapy fit into the mix? Many studies have shown massage therapy to be an effective treatment for pain, especially low back, neck, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and more. A summary of some of the research is available through the National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health. The Touch Research Institute has many studies about massage therapy available online as well. Because more research is always beneficial and because the guidelines for physicians are evolving, you can make a difference.

If you have had positive experience with  massage therapy for pain management, be sure to let your physician know what you are doing. It is always important to let your physician know all of the wellness services you are receiving so they have the whole picture of your treatment. Because some are less familiar with the benefits of massage therapy or see it as “merely” a pampering service, hearing first hand from their patients about the relief they get from massage is helpful in shaping how they might approach others with similar conditions or how they might answer questions for patients who broach the subject of massage for pain relief.

Haven’t tried massage for pain? We’d love to visit with you! Visit our website to learn more about our service and providers, or Book a service with one of our experienced, licensed massage therapists to see if massage therapy could be part of the solution for your own wellness and pain management.

5 “Awkward” summer issues to mention to your spa provider

We’ve all been there, you show up for a spa service and realize you are wearing your stinky sandals, or you spent a day at a pool party and got some extra sun a couple of days before your massage. The good news is it is fine, and expected, for our guests to mention these and other common summer issues to their provider BEFORE the session so we can make accommodations!

Stinky Feet Situations:

If you are worried your feet are not as fresh as they could be and it is going to bother you so much that you can’t just relax, it is fine to mention it to your provider before hand! While you’re getting ready, they can prepare some hot towels with tea tree oil to freshen up your feet so you can relax into your session! Other spas and massage therapists are likely to have solutions as well.

Plantar Warts:

Tell your therapist if you have plantar warts, especially because some rooms are pretty dark and we don’t always see them. While plantar warts are not super likely to spread between people in a massage situation, we don’t want to spread on your feet and we know they might be painful to massage. Your therapist can also do deep compression work on your feet or hit reflex points through a sheet over the immediate area (assuming it isn’t painful) so not to worry, you’ll still get a great foot massage and we promise we won’t be weirded out! (Get more info about plantar warts here.)

Post-sun flaking skin:

Summer is the season of “bonus exfoliation” in massage treatments. Dry, sun-exposed skin will sometimes ball up as we massage the back, but fear not because we have a solution. Once this starts, we’ll add some extra oil to the back and buff it with a dry towel, this usually takes care of the layer of dead skin so we can get back to massage! If you suspect this will happen, let us know in advance so we can start the session this way and your massage can have a better flow to it. If you have big pieces of peeling skin or a serious burn, that is different. In that case, it is best to reschedule your massage with plenty of advanced notice or ask your therapist to avoid the area.

Foot or nail fungus:

Let your therapist know before the service starts. While people with a healthy immune system have better luck avoiding person-to-person infection from a fungus, people who are pregnant or who have certain health concerns may be especially susceptible to infection so they will want to avoid the area or work with gloves. If you are booking a nail service but have a nail fungus, your nail technician can complete all of the service safely except that if you want polish, you will have to bring your own or purchase a bottle of polish and any base or top coat you wish to have used for the safety of other guests. Unfortunately, a pedicure can’t cure a fungal infection. Learn more here.

Mystery Rashes:

If you have a rash that is more than on just one small area of the body away from where your therapist or esthetician will be working, please reschedule your service. If you have poison ivy, you definitely need to reschedule! The risk of transmitting poison ivy to your therapist and to many clients they see is too great. Please give as much notice as possible and believe us, we’ll thank you for rescheduling. Click here for our blog post on poison ivy.

Whew, see, that wasn’t so awkward, was it? It is important to have an open dialogue with your massage therapist, esthetician, and nail technicians. They are experts at what they do and are eager to help you feel comfortable, but they need good communication and feedback from you to make that possible. Ready to schedule a visit? Click here!

 

6 reasons our skin ages, and how we can help!

Guest Blogger, Licensed Esthetician, Nail Technician, Cassandra Lacina-Griffin

Aside from the passage of time, there are other key factors in how our skin ages. Our esthetician, Cassandra, shared some of the top reasons skin shows signs of aging and how the Rhonda Allison Minus 10 Facial helps to slow or reverse the aging process.

1. Reduction in collagen, antioxidants, and barrier function (skin’s ability to minimize moisture loss):

1% of collagen is lost naturally every year. The decreases in hormone levels impact cell renewal and elastin strength. The foaming peptide cleanser, Chronopeptide A, and peptide 38 used in the Minus 10 Facial provide firmness and minimizes wrinkles. The loss of the barrier function, or the skin’s natural ability to retain moisture, causes dry, dull skin. Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids and Drops of Essence Hydration Drops used in the Minus 10 Facial support the barrier function by adding moisture and healing benefits to the skin.

2. DNA Breakdown:

Causes for DNA breakdown can be smoking, pollution, toxins, UV radiation. Our body is always repairing DNA damage; however sometimes it goes too far and as a result the cells kill themselves. The Rhonda Allison eye and lip renew serum and Peptide 38 serum assist in preventing DNA breakdown.

3. ATP Energy Deficiencies:

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an energy source for cellular and muscular functions that is produced in the mitochondria. ATP is what makes out bodies run similar, to how a car uses a battery. Studies have shown that near the age of 60 our ATP ability is half. The Mandelic Arginine peel is used to increase cellular energy and stimulate collagen.

4. Glycation:

Glycation is a process by which sugar molecules attach to proteins and lipids, hardening them and causing them to lose their collagen and elastin strength and elasticity. The AGEless serum in the Minus 10 Facial is an anti-glycation product.

5. Inflammation:

Increase in inflammation is stimulated by UV radiation, stress, and pollution. The milk mask provides inflammation support in the Minus 10 Facial with cooling and calming effects. Sheer tint moisturizer or Daytime Defense SPF 30 help prevent future inflammation from UV radiation.

Cooling eye globes help to reduce inflammation and “cool” the feeling of the more active products.

6. Loss of volume and the extracellular matrix

When skin loses volume and when the extracellular matrix that provides structural support to skin start to decline, skin starts to appear loose or sallow in areas. Chronopeptide A and the Hibiscus Peel in the Minus 10 facial help to provide support and increase volume.

The Rhonda Allison Minus 10 facial addresses all of these causes of aging (except for reversing the passage of time, of course!) In addition, it is an incredibly nurturing service so you’ll appear instantly younger as your stress levels dissipate and your facial muscles relax! We recommend the Rhonda Allison Minus 10 facial in a series of 3 services a couple weeks apart for best results. Want to learn more or schedule your service online? Click here!

 

Top dry skin solutions, all under $30

Every year we like to compile a list of our current favorites for dry, chapped skin.  This year we have some new additions to the mix!

farmhouse-fresh-hydrationFarmhouse Fresh Plum Chiffon Balm: Pure Shea, cocoa and mango butters have been combined into a rich, solid, scrumptious all-purpose balm that melts into skin on contact, nourishing dry, chapped hands, knees, knuckles – even lips! This blend of butters is a highly effective skin conditioning formula that helps fight wrinkles through deep penetration of vitamins A & E. The Farmhouse Fresh team even suggests dabbing a bit to the outer eye area before bedtime, for a deep moisturizing sleep shield. I personally used it with socks last night when I realized I could exfoliate one foot with my other foot!This balm really does it all.  $12.50

Farmhouse Fresh Shea Butter Hand Creams: Shea butter and Vitamin E-packed Jojoba and Soybean oils calm even the severest of dry skin. We recommend the shea butters over the body milks for this time of year for a longer lasting burst of hydration. The purse size tube is just $14.

Farmhouse Fresh Honey Heel Glaze: Great for hands, feet, any dry patches! Use as a mask and remove after 15-20 minutes or leave on. Great to leave on overnight with an old pair of socks or do a home spa treatment and put your hands in saran wrap or baggies to let the mask work! One client had us order 10 of these so she can gift one to all of her friends for a “My Favorite Things” party theme. $25

Farmhouse Fresh Clementine Oil: Antioxidant rich Olive Fruit and Grapeseed oils combine with Orange Peel, Jojoba, Sunflower Seed and Apricot Kernel oils to nourish and calm the most sensitive of skin types.  Great for after the shower while pores are open OR a few pumps in the bath (just be careful getting out) so you don’t have to sacrifice your skin to enjoy a hot soak in the tub.$18

hspureinvPure Inventions Drink Mixes: Hydrate from within!  Pure inventions mixes are a great alternative to caffeine or alcoholic beverages (or to stay hydrated between them). Because these drinks are caffeine free, sugar free, and free of other icky ingredients, they are hydrating and satisfying! (I won’t lie, I make a big mug of the Cranberry Elderberry blend with a cinnamon stick and orange wedge and add a splash of Jameson for the best hot toddy ever…yes, you lose some of the health  benefits this way!) $28.95 (60 servings in a bottle)

hssolaroilSolar Oil Cuticle Oil: Hand cream is a must have, but it won’t quite do the trick to hydrate cuticles. A cuticle oil that is designed to penetrate better into the nail are than thicker balms should be used morning and night to help prevent painful hangnails and dry cuticles and that can open the way for infections. The mini bottle is just $2.50 so you can keep one in your car, one on your night stand, and at your desk!

hsraultraRhonda Allison Ultra Hydration Cream: This is a rich moisture cream that delivers and binds humectants within the skin. It contains the purest and most potent form of hyaluronic acid – L-Sodium Hyaluronate and Cassia Betaglycan (plant hyaluronic) to increase moisture by 300%. Hyaluronic Acid is said to be the principal water-regulating molecule and can bind up to 6,000 times its weight in water.  Because of this, it will keep skin hydrated all day or night, without going on heavy or oily. $15 for the trial size bottle.

evspa-133Book a visit! Need more than home care to ease your dry skin? Our favorite skin hydrating services are the Gong Fu Chai Body Scrub, our EV Signature Facial Experience, and the EV Signature Manicures and Pedicures. Our Seasonal Hydrating Honey Plum features are also designed with winter skin in mind!  To learn more or book your services, visit our website!

 

Can spa services offer benefits for Raynaud’s Disease?

Some people experience periods of time when their fingers or toes turn color to white or blue and go numb.  This phenomenon is called Raynaud’s disease and it is fairly common, affecting 5-10% of the population.

What is Raynaud’s Disease?

My typical post cool weather run "trick" when a couple of my fingers turn white and go completely numb."

My typical post cool weather run “trick” when a couple of my fingers turn white and go completely numb.”

Raynaud’s disease is a condition characterized by periods of time when the fingers or toes (sometimes nose and ears) turn color and go numb due to an interruption of blood flow to the extremities due to a vasospasm (Mayo Clinic).  Often they will turn white, sometimes blue, and then red when blood flow returns.  Typically people with Reynaud’s feel numbness in the affected areas during an episode and may experience pain when blood flow returns.  The most common cause of a flare up is exposure to cold, though sometimes people experience the phenomenon during times of stress.

Raynaud’s may be primary (meaning it isn’t due to an underlying cause) or secondary (the phenomenon is due to a condition such as nerve damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.).  According to Mayo Clinic, some medications can also cause the Raynaud’s phenomenon.

The majority of people who experience Raynaud’s symptoms do not report it to a physician, (Raynauds.org) but it is worth noting at your next medical visit as occasionally Raynaud’s disease presents before a more serious disorder.

Nails may turn blue during an episode and over time,  nails might develop ridges related to Raynaud's.

Nails may turn blue during an episode and over time, nails might develop ridges related to Raynaud’s.

Can spa treatments help with Raynaud’s disease?

While I could not find research on spa services and Raynaud’s disease, some services may help with some of the causes and help to reduce some of the symptoms.

  • Deep tissue or orthopedic massage may be able to help people with wrist, arm, and hand injuries (like carpal tunnel) that may be contributing to the Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • Hot stone massages will likely feel great and boost circulation for individuals who are perpetually cold, but aren’t going to “cure” Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • If you notice an increase in Raynaud’s phenomenon at times of emotional stress, you might consider regular massage or spa services you enjoy that have been shown to lower stress.
  • If you are self conscious about the way your nails look as a result of Raynaud’s disease (sometimes nails can become “spooned” or develop ridges) a professional manicure and application of a shimmer or glitter polish can help to disguise any nail disfiguration due to the Raynaud’s.
  • Products like Kneipp mineral baths are great to purchase for an at-home spa experience to warm up during a flare-up.  I personally use the Kneipp mineral baths after every cooler-weather run to relax my muscles and bring blood flow back to my hands and feet.

Can spa services trigger Raynaud’s phenomenon?

Spa services aren’t likely to trigger Raynaud’s phenomenon unless you get cold.  It would be wise to let your provider know any concerns.  Options to make sure your hands and feet don’t get too cold:

  • Ask if you can keep your socks on during a massage until the therapist works on your feet (I usually do this!)
  • Ask for an extra blanket on hand in the room.
  • During pedicures or manicures, after a soak in water, ask for your foot or hand to be wrapped in a towel so it isn’t exposed to air
  • Cut the toes off of a pair of old socks and bring them to put on before your nail technician polishes your nails.  While your toes will be exposed, at least your feet will be warmer while your polish dries.  You can cut the finger tips off of an inexpensive pair of “one-size-fits-all” stretch gloves for a winter manicure.
  • After a service like a body wrap or hot stone massage, make sure to have plenty of warm clothes and gloves (especially in winter) or grab a cup of hot tea to hold after your service so you aren’t shocked by a temperature change.

If you are one of many of us who experience discomfort from Raynaud’s, don’t be afraid to speak up when getting a massage, skin care, or nail care service!  Your provider will be happy to make adjustments because he or she wants to make sure you can get full enjoyment and benefit from their work without worrying about your fingers and toes going numb!

Resources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/raynauds-disease/basics/causes/con-20022916

http://www.raynauds.org/

http://www.nailsmag.com/article/82109/what-is-raynaud-s-disease

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3721961/