If you’re like most women, getting a facial is a luxury you don’t have the time or money to enjoy on a regular basis. After all, facials these days can cost upwards of $150 and that’s before you’re pressured into buying all the products used during your treatment.
To fight these budget-breaking woes, LA-based esthetician Melissa Lekus decided to create a retreat right in her own home where she offers personalized facials for those who want to improve their skin but can’t afford those pricier day spas.
“I am a 10 year licensed esthetician and I love what I do! I have worked in beautiful boutique spas and luxury hotels, but my favorite is working from my home as my own boss. This allows me to really focus on your specific concerns and I can keep the cost super budget-friendly.”
After experiencing Melissa’s work firsthand, I can vouch for her practical approach to skincare. She won’t upsell you, the pricing is fair, and oh yeah, she has two doggies who will greet you at the door.
Read on to get Melissa’s pro tips on skincare (hint: it does NOT include steam), and the four steps everyone can take to attain and maintain clear skin.
What’s your overall skincare philosophy?
My overall skincare philosophy is Simplicity. Achieving youthful, glowing, healthy skin doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. As women, we get bombarded with impossible expectations to maintain our youth and beauty. Marketing and social media pressures us with the idea that we are not enough. It reinforces the concept that in order to be beautiful we must buy lots of expensive products which often times aren’t necessary or appropriate for one’s skin.
I believe that skincare should be something that makes us feel good and is an extension of self-care with the added benefit of looking great when done consistently and with the right product. There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding skincare and achieving realistic results. My goal is to educate my clients to show them there is another way to care for your skin… pressure free.
You had a mid-career change and decided to become an esthetician even though you were already successful in another industry. Tell us about how challenging (or easy) it was to transition.
I think anyone that has made a major career change or any major shift in their life would agree that it is both scary and difficult. Despite being massively unhappy or dissatisfied with one’s current situation, change is challenging. Even if ultimately it was the best thing that ever happened, those first steps are so hard.
For 10 years I worked in the film industry as an assistant director, a department of on-set managers. It’s a hard thankless job, as many film crew positions are. My days often consisted of working outside for 12-18 hours surviving on 4-5 hours of sleep. The lifestyle had taken its toll on my spirit and my skin.
I started my career switch by researching the esthetics industry to see if there was a place for me. I was concerned that only girlie girls became facialists. I mistakenly stereotyped the career as girls that giggle and wear dresses and love all things pink and feel that their appearance defines who they are. Which I knew wasn’t me, and was unsure if I would fit in.
Instead, what I found were women, not girls. Women that laughed out loud and loved all the colors of things and really cared about the health of skin, not just their own but of all the women (and men) in their lives. These women wanted to nurture, not coddle their clients. The estheticians that I met loved science and loved to see how products could transform not just the skin, but people’s self-esteem. It was inspiring.
Coming from a career in management, I was happy to create structure and routine for people’s skincare habits without standing on my feet all day long watching my own skin become leather from lack of sleep, water and proper nutrition.
What’s your advice to other women who are thinking about switching careers?
I would encourage anyone not happy in their situation to take a deep breath and make a change for themselves! And don’t let anything stop you. Not your family, not the naysayers, not your own internal voice.
If you are dissatisfied, make a change. Now, I don’t advocate just up and quitting. What I recommend is to think long and hard about what you want to do and make a plan.
You may want to take some time to journal out your feelings. What does the new career you are thinking about offer financially and in personal satisfaction? What are the pros and cons of making this adjustment?
Do your research. Interview people currently in the industry of interest. Find out if there is training that may have costs associated with them. What is the average yearly salary? How much money do people generally make in the first 1-5 years?
Don’t let age EVER stop you. There are many inspiring people that successfully changed careers or started something new at ages that were deemed “too old”. I say limiting beliefs be damned. Need additional inspiration? Just google Julia Child, Vera Wang, Grandma Moses, or Sarah Blakely.
If you have doubts, feel overwhelmed, or are unsure of exactly what it is you want to do, I highly recommend a career or life coach. They can be extremely instrumental in providing guidance to find the best profession for you, as well as helping you discover your passion.
Tell us about the “Wash Your Face” challenge you launched earlier this year.
I did a 10-day #facewashchallenge to help kick off the 2019 New Year. I wanted to create something interactive through social media that would get people washing their face. I loved sharing my cleansing routine with people and seeing others do theirs. It was so much fun.
I hear so often that people have difficulty creating a routine for washing their face and they discount the importance of clean skin. There is the assumption that it has to be a time-consuming arduous task. I am telling you, after recording myself washing my own face twice a day, it only takes a little more than a minute. (The videos are still available to watch on my Facebook page).
I received amazing feedback from people that participated in the challenge as well as the people that just enjoyed the stories but didn’t engage. People saw a real difference in the look and feel of their skin, they were able to put less product on and were more consistent with their skincare routine. A few folks discovered their cleanser wasn’t appropriate for their skin, so together we found a better option for them.
Why is it important to get facials?
It’s imperative, just like going to the dentist. It’s so important that I wrote an entire blog post about it. Facials maintain the health of your skin. Skin changes constantly, especially as women. Our hormones adjust monthly as well as through the different phases of our life. Facials can keep these changes at bay.
As an esthetician, I have a wide range of ways to treat different skin types and conditions as they arise. Facials remove all the dirt and oil that have been left behind from your cleanser, it will also gently remove layers of dead skin cells to allow your skin to glow.
It is important to have someone in your corner to help make product adjustments when your skin changes. Finally, facials give you a moment to yourself, they allow you to relax, step away from life’s stresses and maybe even take a nap.
Do facials really make a difference?
Oh yes, they make an immense difference. It’s incredibly helpful to have a professional assess your skin and evaluate your current products to ensure they are appropriate for your skin and lifestyle.
Facials give you a deeper exfoliation than you can give yourself at home as well as being a great way to get that much-needed personal downtime… time that is specifically dedicated for you and about you, giving your body time to rest and your mind to relax. It’s really the ultimate self-care.
How often should we get facials?
Ideally one should get a facial every 4 weeks to keep the skin healthy and prevent dead skin cells from building up. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or finances for that so I recommend seasonally if possible, but really whatever time frame is comfortable for you.
Since facials don’t always fit into everyone’s lifestyle, I offer Virtual Skincare Consultations. I coach clients needing a results oriented home care routine, assisting with the right products for the individual’s specific skin and particular concerns.
My main goal is to help my clients feel supported in their product choices and being available when questions arise about which products are the best for them.
Facials can be really expensive, which is a major reason why many people simply don’t bother. Why are facials so pricey and how have you managed to make them more affordable?
Often facials get expensive because the common business model uses upgrades to increase the base price. An upgrade may include any or all of the following: A peel, brow and lip wax, LED treatment, microcurrent, microdermabrasion, specialty eye or face masks, the list could go on and on.
When I go for a treatment, I do not want to have upgrades or sales pressure. As soon as I started working for myself, I decided that I was not comfortable with that style of pricing. I wanted the price to be all-inclusive, I didn’t want my clients to feel like they could not make the best choices for their skin because of cost concerns.
So I decided to take all the guesswork out. I created a price that allows me to include anything that will be beneficial to the client’s skin while making it a great experience and affordable.
The products I choose to retail fit into that same philosophy. I offer high-quality, results-driven products at a price point that I would be comfortable purchasing, but that I also feel is priced appropriately for the quality of the products and the ingredients used.
I basically created a facial environment that I would want to go to. No sales pressure, fair pricing and gorgeous glowing results. I am actually considering eliminating gratuity as I feel that is often another uncomfortable component of facial pricing.
I grew up thinking that steam was an essential part of getting a facial, but you offer no-steam facials.
Skincare technology has advanced us past the need for steam. In the past, steam was used to activate ingredients in products placed on the skin in preparation for extractions. Exfoliating products no longer need to be heated up or activated to work.
Steam creates heat, which causes inflammation. It will also dehydrate the skin which causes more pronounced lines and can injure the top barrier of the skin. Both cause the skin to age unnecessarily and we are trying to slow the aging process, not speed it up.
Therefore, I ditched the steam in my facials. Once my guests are cocooned in the warm cozy spa bed they don’t even notice the lack of steam.
Nobody ever told us that we’d be having problems with acne and breakouts as women in our 30s, 40s and even 50s. What can we do as we get older to combat this issue?
So rude isn’t it? I have to say that I resent it was never fully explained that we are hormonal creatures, and we would be hormonal our entire lives. Hormones adjust and change throughout our life.
This, along with stress, children, aging, menopause and a slew of other things can cause breakouts. These hormone changes can cause the typical breakouts we associate with our teenage skin but often cause cystic breakouts. Cystic breakouts are those hard painful bumps (cysts) that sit under the surface of the skin typically around your chin or jawline.
If cystic acne is your issue, then this may be more challenging to tackle and definitely takes specific products. As with all breakouts, but especially cystic acne, please promise me you won’t pick! Cysts aren’t pickable, so picking just adds endless amounts of frustration and could lead to scarring.
As an adult, it’s important to know you shouldn’t treat your skin the same way you did when you were a teenager. We are often no longer dealing with excess oil production. Instead, your skin may now need more moisture to keep fine lines at bay while combating breakouts. If dealing with “normal” non-cyst breakouts, I advise a salicylic spot treatment, applied under your regular moisturizer and sunscreen.
Good nutrition and regular sleep habits also contribute to healthy glowing skin especially as we get older. If facials, skin-appropriate products, and lifestyle changes don’t help improve your skin, you may want to see about getting your hormones checked in case they are out of balance.
What would you say are the top three things every woman needs to do in order to attain (and maintain) clear, smooth skin?
I think it can be fairly simple to achieve clear smooth skin if you do these few things consistently:
- Exfoliate 1-2 times a week
- Use SPF
- See a facialist
Is it ever too late to improve skin (without plastic surgery, Botox or fillers) even if wrinkles and sun damage have already crept in?
It’s never TOO late to improve your skin, but you do need to have realistic expectations. Skincare alone will never give the instant gratification results that artificial means may achieve, but a good facialist and a consistent home care routine will definitely yield improvements. Also, sleep. I can’t overemphasize the importance of sleep.
If someone only has $30 to spend, is there a must-have product(s) she should buy?
Yikes, that is such good question. There are a myriad of products that one can get at a $30 price point. The 3 must-have skincare products in my opinion are:
- A good cleanser
- A skin appropriate moisturizer
Trader Joe’s offers a nice selection of skincare products that would keep you on budget. Their products are reasonably priced and cover the basics. Again, you should check with your facialist about what kind of skin you have before you start purchasing products without a plan.
I offer a comprehensive virtual consultation program where I get to know the client’s skin and assess all the products she (or he) currently uses.
I carefully curate products that are appropriate for their particular skincare concerns and easily provide options that can be $30 or less in price, per product or for the entire arsenal.
How can people get in touch with you to schedule an appointment or virtual consultation?
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