A blog chronicling skin care, DIY beauty products, wishes and daydreams, life transitions, and other random stuff...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SUPER DISCOUNT SALE!! Bombs, Lotions, Soaps and Scrubs!

Bella Forté Products are all hand-made with TLC and 90% organic, natural ingredients. Only the safest, least harmful preservatives are used in water-based products (like lotions). Because of their natural contents, everything is made in small batches and the shelf life is shorter than store-bought products.  Please note the expiration dates, use liberally and enjoy!

Aromatherapy Bath Bombs
8 oz $4 / 5.5 oz $3 / Buddha Bomb / Skully / 3.5 oz $3
(Made with baking soda, citric acid, goats milk powder, olive oil, essential oils)
- Lemongrass-Basil (Detoxifying-Hangover Bomb)
- Peppermint-Lime (Wake-Up Call)
- Amber-Tangerine-Sandalwood (Sensual)
                                                      - Eucalyptus-Lemon (I Gotta Cold!)

Sugar Body Scrubs 8 oz $8 / 4 oz $4
(Made with coconut oil, olive oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut-based liquid soap & essential/fragrance oils)
- Vanilla-Cinnamon (Sugar Tits)
- Pumpkin Pie (Limited edition)
- Cherry Lemonade
- Amber-Tangerine

Light Hydrating Shea Butter Lotions 4 oz $4
(Made with shea butter, olive oil, jojoba oil and essential/fragrance oils)
- Vanilla-Cinnamon
- Cherry-Lemonade
- Amber-Tangerine-Sandalwood

Goats Milk Soaps w/ Shea Butter $3 / Mini-Soaps .25 each (5 for $1.00)
(Hydrating, gentle, silky soap made with goats milk and shea butter.  Excellent for shaving.  Keep it out of the water when you’re done to make it last longer.)
- Peppermint-Lime
- Amber-Tangerine-Sandalwood
- Lavender-Ylang-Ylang
- Cherry-Lemonade

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Peels! Not So Scary: Fruit Enzymes vs Chemical Peels

Does the word "PEEL" make your skin crawl?

People often recall images of red, swollen, burnt faces seen on their friends, coworkers or on Samantha in Sex in the City.  
Those are powerful chemical peels performed in a doctor's office.  These powerful peels can result in burning, peeling, scabbing and even scarring. The client must stay out of the sun completely.  Celebrities will hide at a retreat covered in gauze while their skin repairs...and sometimes the results are not as expected. These procedures are for people who want immediate results, are under constant care, and have a lot of money.

Personally, I don't believe in assaulting skin like that, but if it works for them, they can spend the thousands of dollars to do it.  

I perform peels that are gentle and create beautiful effects on the skin over a few sessions.  Clients have a choice of how strong they want their treatment, but I will always perform a regular facial prior to deciding on a peel.  This way, I can see how the skin reacts to ingredients, learn about the client's skin care routine, and prepare their skin for the next step.

Gentle peels create a variety of noticeable results

- Smooth skin by exfoliating dead skin cells
- Plump skin by stimulating collagen, elastin and new cell growth
- Improvement of fine lines
- Clear skin by unclogging blackheads and closed comedones (clogged pores under the skin)

Enzymes occur naturally in fruits.  They are nutrients and proteins that instigate metabolic processes and speed up biological reactions in all cells of all living things.  Just as enzymes are necessary us to digest food, they aid in digesting dead skin cells and stimulating active new ones.

They are like Pac-Man, gobbling away dead skin, allowing new skin cells to grow and nutrients to penetrate the skin:

Enzyme peels use fruit enzymes, combined with Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic and Lactic Acids).  The enzymes destroy dead skin cells and gently release new skin, while the AHAs loosen and detach the dead skin cells.

Why get rid of dead skin cells?  Well, they can increase the appearance of wrinkles, and clog pores, creating blackheads and pimples.  Acne is a result of an overproduction of skin cells.  The skin doesn't have a chance to shed them fast enough, the pore clogs with cells, bacteria gets blocked in, and a pimple grows.

Enzymes penetrate the top layers of skin, stimulate new cells, detox the pores, and increase the natural exoliation process, resulting in immediately better tone and texture.

Enzyme peels are usually recommended for dark skin, active acneic skin, and sensitive skin, as there are no extreme chemicals, friction or temperatures involved.

I have two great fruit enzyme peels:  

The Pomegranate Enzyme Peel is good for all skin types, as deeply cleans pores while adding hydration and brightening qualities.  Lactic Acid can be added to the peel for additional brightening.  

The Pumpkin-Yam peel is best for oily and break-out prone skin.

Chemexfoliation is one of the least invasive ways to improve your skin's appearance.  Chemical solutions are carefully applied to skin by a certified practitioner to improve break-outs, texture, fine lines and pigmentation, resulting in a healthier glow.  A combination of alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are used (such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and maleic acid).

I have been certified by PCA Skin, the provider of my chemical peels.  They are the lightest and gentlest and come with a Post-Procedure Kit to ensure the best results.

PCA chemical peels can be very effective at treating facial blemishes and acne, uneven skin pigmentation, fine wrinkles, and damage caused by the sun, aging, and other sources of skin imperfections.

It is normal for clients to experience some temporary redness, flaking, scaling, and/or dryness which usually resolves as the skin adjusts to PCA chemical peels. In order to achieve the desired results, a client will often need a series of PCA chemical peels. 

Here's a really good article about the Myths and Truths about chemical peels:

Top 5 Myths and Truths about Chemical Peels

If you're interested in learning more about peels, or would like to schedule one, please feel free to contact me any time!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Toys, New Peels, Better Facials!!

Hi friends!
I went to the Face and Body Expo in San Jose this weekend and bought a bunch of new serums and masks from one of my favorite skin care lines, Skin Script.  I'm excited about their new Pomegranate Enzyme peel, a mild but effective enzyme peel that has lots of antioxidants, hydrates and brightens all skin types.  

I bought a new gadget called the bt-Micro.  

The bt-Micro tool uses ultrasonic sound waves to "shimmy" off dead skin cells, plus microcurrent (safe, low level positive electrical impulses) to stimulate collagen and elastin, retrain the facial muscles, and when combined with serums, creams and masks, increase product penetration.  It has another desincrustation function that uses negative electrical impulses, which open pores and release sebum for easier extractions and deep pore cleansing.  

It's so rad.

Finally, I got these crazy magnifying glasses that make me look like a mad scientist in a cave. But they replace the use of a mag light, which I always felt is cumbersome and expensive for what it does.   These things work pretty well, if you don't get scared.

The show was a fun and educational, but a little overwhelming with all of the products and machines being pushed.  I attended a few lectures about ingredients and new therapies, and even had a telangiectasias spot (small, dilated blood vessels) removed on my jawline by a machine called a Lamprobe.  The spot was immediately 50% lighter, but I can't tell if it's completely disappeared yet because now the blood is coagulated and scabbed (as expected), so when that falls off, I will let you know if it works.  The machine is used to remove blood vessels around the nose, red spots and small moles.  Unfortunately, it costs around $6,000, so I won't be buying one any time soon, but I will share what I know about it if you are looking in to getting a treatment.  It's usually $150 per treatment at a high end spa or medi-spa, and can take a few visits to completely remove the spot.

Well, I came home broke so please come in for a treatment so that I can make some money back!  I'm still offering facials for only $25 and that includes LED light therapy, light facial waxing, and with the bt-Micro to deep clean your pores, and make the most of the serums to plump your skin.  

I need the practice and it's the end of summer, so you might need a facial.  It's a win-win!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Website is Finally LIVE!!

Hello Friends!!

After being in a creative coma for the past several months, I'm finally back in the game and have launched the Bella Forte Skin Care website.  The website still needs a lot of work, but it's a start.  

I am currently working on the shopping cart to sell my bath & body products.  

Check it out!



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

DIY Brightening Facial with Sake Rice Wine

I was pretty excited to find an article in Skin Deep magazine today about the benefits of drinking sake, as well as applying it to your face.
A brewery in Japan conducted an experiment on it's employees after noticing how soft their skin felt.  They had the employees drink 10 ounces of sake a day and found the moisture content of their skin was 30% higher than the employees who drank regular booze.  This was not surprising, as it's been heard that Geishas used to bathe in it.

The molecular structure of Kojic Acid

The results of this experiment inspired more research and they found that the fermentation process breaks down the rice acids and enzymes to a low molecular weight.  This is crucial, as it allows beneficial ingredients such as B complex vitamins, minerals and kojic acid to penetrate the skin down to the keratin layer.

I always knew that kojic acid is a natural skin brightener available in many over the counter products, but I thought that it was only derived from mushrooms.  Rice enzymes are used in my favorite professional exfoliator for facials, Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.  As a skin exfoliant, enzymes gently digest dead skin cells (without physical exfoliation, or "scrubbing").

I am a fan of kojic acid and other brighteners, since my face has stopped getting "tan" and during the summer, ends up with a lot of spots and blotches.  As an esthetician, I know that hyperpigmentation is a major concern for a lot of people, so any home treatment that we can create in our kitchens is always exciting.

Internally, rice increases the production of ceramides, which are natural fats that help hold the cells together and lock in moisture, slowing the aging process.

So I just high-tailed it to the Korean market and bought a huge bottle of sake (I bought Yaegaki Sake, created by Reiko Kushibiki, the first female sake master in the U.S.).

With a little more research, I created a really EASY Do-it-Yourself face mask.  This mask left my skin super smooth and soft and it does look a little more even.  I have sensitive skin and it did tingle a little, but was not uncomfortable or red.  Other articles suggested that we use the mask a couple of times a week until skin reaches your desired goal.

Sake Skin Brightening Mask
1 tsp sake (flitered)
1 tsp plain yogurt (contains lactic acid, another brightener)
1 tsp organic honey (anti-bacterial and hydrator)
1 tsp white kaolin clay (or green if you skin is oily)
1 - 2 drops rose and/or geranium essential oils (for dry / mature skin)
1 - 2 drops lavender and/or rosemary essential oils (for oily / combination skin)

Spread evenly with a brush over cleansed, dry skin, leave on for 15 - 20 minutes.  


Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm Celebrating my New Home w/ $25 Facials!

Happy Summer Time!

It's been a while since I've posted, and a lot has happened.  I moved to a new apartment and love my new space!  I'm finally living alone and my kitchen is my very own little laboratory.  I've been working on new recipes for lotions, scrubs and masks, all formulated for summertime skin issues.  
In celebration of my new life and finally coming out from under my rock, I'm offering a special on services that you're not going to find anywhere else:

European Facials and Back Treatments at the new Bella Forte headquarters for $25 through the end of summer!
That's basically the cost of the products.  Also, major discounts on waxing services.  

Did you know that the ingredients in sunscreen will clog your pores more than regular moisturizers?  It is very difficult to completely remove with regular cleansing.  

It's extra important to exfoliate more during the summer.  If you are overexposed to the sun, you'll want to slough off that dry, dehydrated skin and pamper it with a nourishing mask loaded with antioxidants.  

If you're prone to summer breakouts, you'll want to clear up your skin with a detoxifying mask and high frequency for stubborn zits.  

My facials and back treatments are customized with nourishing, natural, healing products, a double cleanse, light therapy, aromatherapy and finished with a relaxing massage that will bring your skin back to life immediately.

Friends, I need your help to get back in the swing of things.  I've been out-of-service for a while and need to get my hands on your pretty faces!  Come over for a mimosa, we'll catch up, and you'll be glowing for the next party.  
And Pistol misses you, too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Time Specials - Facials and Peels

Winter is over and it's time to slough off the old, dry skin and get glowing for Spring!  I'm doing customized European facials for only $30.  See major improvements with a mild peel for only $50, including a take-home product kit that is worth $20 retail.  If you have dry, aging skin, brown spots or acne, you'll see glowing improvement with one PCA peel and major improvement with a series of 4 - 5 monthly peels.  Treat yourself or buy a gift certificate.  This will cost your over $100 at a salon.

Here's a link to before and after photos:  PCA PEELS BEFORE AND AFTER

I use PCA products.  This is the most popular line for chemical peels and used by most doctors.  I also have two very gentle enzyme peels.  I've done lots of peels on clients, students, and myself.  I am Certified by PCA in Skin Biology and Chemical Peels and have taken several classes with them.

Contact me if you need a boost and want a glow!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Natural Products, Science, Preservatives and My Products

I've been making scrubs, balms, facial masks and more for over ten years.  I'm a self-proclaimed Bitchen Kitchen Beautician.  Almost one year ago, I decided to leave my full-time corporate job to pursue my passion for skin care.  I educated myself by getting my esthetician's license and attending product seminars to get a deeper insight on the anatomy of skin and a broader understanding of ingredients.

As a student, I've learned a lot about scientific breakthroughs and trends, as well as old-school ingredients and facial methods that still work.  I believe that nature's ingredients are great on their own, but science and safe chemicals boost the effects of those natural ingredients.  I use 99% natural ingredients in my bath and body products.  I depend on the safest chemicals to preserve my lotions and scrubs.  Without preservatives, products containing water will last a few days, at most, then rapidly grow bacteria, mold and fungus.  I'd rather have a tiny amount of tested, safe preservative on my skin than bacteria or mold!  So I use only .05% of preservative in my lotion recipe.  The rest is all luscious, natural, organic oils, butters and herbs.  

My products have a shelf life of one year.  The products that you buy at the drugstore or pricey department store counter will last four or five years.  Why?  They are often so full of water and fillers that they need a lot of chemicals and preservatives to keep them "safe" from bacteria, fungus and mold.  But the trade-off is paying for a product containing very low-quality, inexpensive ingredients and fancy marketing.   Read the ingredients list:  There's usually a lot more water and chemicals in the product than the trendy new magic ingredient highlighted on the label.

That being said, there are amazing ingredients being produced in science labs that are also safe and extremely helpful in skin care, so don't be intimidated by every long Latin ingredient name.  Many natural ingredients provide excellent benefits, but their molecules are too small to penetrate the skin in the most effective way.  Scientists can break down those molecules so that we will receive the most value from a plant.

Regarding the controversy over PARABENS:  well, I believe that parabens have a slightly bad rap.  As a product creator, I've done a lot of research on safe preservatives and parabens.  I've found that there is no concrete evidence that they cause breast cancer in humans.  A test was done on mice, injecting ridiculous amounts of pure paraben in to the little lab mouse, and they found an accumulation of parabens in their breast tumors.  We'll never ingest that amount in our entire lifetime.  

Parabens exist naturally in food.  I've read that we consume ten times the amount of parabens from food than skin care products. Natural foods such as strawberries, mangoes, alfalfa sprouts, royal bee jelly or split peas contain parabens.  Almost all processed foods contain them, such as bacon, cereals, cake mixes and frosting.  But I see people very happily ingesting strawberries, bacon and cupcakes and terrified of a tiny amount of paraben in their lotion.  

In regards to anything in life, use everything in moderation.  That being said, I'm still not 100% convinced that parabens are 100% safe, and I figure most consumers would rather be safe than sorry.  This month, I'm switching to a new paraben-free preservative with my next batch of lotion and will send that to a lab for microbial testing.  The catch?  A lot of scientists are coming up with new preservatives, but their ingredients have not been tested as thoroughly as paraben-based preservatives.  The long-term effects are not well known at this point.

My choice is to avoid loading my products with anything very controversial or untested.  Therefore, I deal with costly manufacturing challenges by making products in small batches that can't sit on a shelf for five years.  I use the minimal amount of preservative so that the product is pure, clean, bacteria-free and safe.  

The link below is a little nerdy article about parabens in our food and our cosmetics:
Parabens in Food and Cosmetics - Futurederm article

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Toys! High Frequency Machine for Acne & Wrinkles and a Wood's Lamp for Deep Skin Analysis

High frequency machine in use
Santa brought me a high frequency machine and a Wood's lamp for Christmas.  I must have been really good last year!  

A high frequency machine is a super-cool esthetician's tool that helps with a wide variety of skin issues.  It's pretty magical.  I've witnessed, first hand, big, cyst-like pimples reduce in size by up to 50% after one visit.  In a nutshell, the tool is a wand that holds electrodes.  The electrodes help heal blemishes by creating ozone on the skin, killing bacteria, promoting healing & circulation, and removing toxins.  It also helps aging and wrinkled skin by oxygenating the skin and allowing for better product penetration.  It stimulates circulation which helps produce collagen and elastin.  It can also be used on the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

A Wood's lamp is an ultra-violet light that sees beneath the skin's surface.  It can detect all skin issues, including clogged pores, blemishes, dehydration and sun damage spots that are working their way to the surface.  By using the lamp, the esthetician can start working on these areas long before the issues reveal themselves.  
Skin under the ultra-violet Wood's Lamp light shows a variety of conditions beneath the surface
I'm adding these treatments FOR FREE ($15 - $30 value) to all of my facials for a limited time.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A DIY DETOX FACIAL - Be a Bitchen Kitchen Beautician

So the holidays are over, you pushed the limits and now you’re tired, broke and feeling ugly?  You spent all of your money on gifts and partying and you don’t have enough for new skin care products, let alone a pampering facial?  

I’ve been in that situation almost every Monday of my adult life.  I started experimenting with at-home facials a long time ago, and I’ve learned a few things since beauty school that I wish I knew back then.  I love expensive products, but it’s not realistic to expect people to spend crazy money on skin care right now.  That’s how I became a bitchen Kitchen Beautician over the years.

I have a simple Detox Facial that uses cheap ingredients from your cupboards and fridge.  You won’t even need to go to the store.  No excuses. 

One of the first symptoms that you might notice after the holidays is sallow, blemished, irritated or dehydrated skin, red, puffy eyes and lackluster lips.

Lots of parties often means more make-up, falling in to bed without washing your face and waking up with a big ol’ zit or blotchy break-out along with your hangover.  Then your lips are dry and flaky and your eyes are dark and puffy.  It sucks.

A lot of skin is dehydrated.  There’s a difference between “Dry Skin” and “Dehydrated Skin”.  Dry skin is a genetic condition and refers to skin that is lacking oil production.  Even skin with pimples and clogged pores can be dehydrated, so you need to do something about it.  FEED IT.  Dehydrated skin refers to a lack of water.  Indoor heat, air conditioners, wind, smoking, and drinking causes the skin to lose water content, making it tight, sensitive and irritated.

First, don’t feel bad.  Everyone around you is going through the same thing and is feeling the same way when they look in the mirror.  I get up-close-and-personal with a lot of faces and believe me, every single person has something going on that they aren’t happy about.  So get over it and go to your kitchen.


Prep:  Gather the following:
-       A pot of water
-       A towel
-       A washcloth
-       4 Chamomile, green or black tea bags
-       Jojoba, Grape seed or Olive oil
-       A gentle face cleanser
-       White or brown sugar
-       Exfoliating mask ingredients (see below)
-       Blemish spot treatment (if needed)
-       Moisturizer
-       Aloe Vera gel (optional)

1)    Put pot of water on stove and bring to a boil.
2)    Moisten two teabags and place in refrigerator.
3)   It's best to do this facial at night, before bed.  You skin warms up as you sleep, which helps the nutrients penetrate deeply as you sleep and repair.

Start with a Cleansing Oil Massage. Pour 1 – 2 tablespoons of jojoba, grape seed or olive oil in your palms.  Massage in to face and neck and around eyes for 2 – 3 minutes.  Rinse by adding warm water, little by little, until you can feel the normal texture of your skin again.

I know this sounds crazy, but a lot of oils are really good for all skin types, including oily skin.  Jojoba is the best, but if you don’t have that, grape seed oil or olive oil are also very good.  Here’s how it works:  Oil attracts oil.  So, when you massage oil in to your skin for several minutes, you increase blood circulation to the surface of your skin, opening the pores and loosening the dirt, make-up and sebum.  As you continue through the cleansing process, that loose sebum will eventually get washed away.  The antioxidants and other nutrients in the oils help to heal and feed your hungry skin and blemishes.

Now you need to cleanse with a very mild soap or creamy cleanser.  Even if you’re having a breakout, start gentle and your skin will thank you.  Please don’t use any harsh soaps, especially something like Irish Spring, Ivory, anti-bacterial soaps, little hotel soap bars or any other random soap on your face!  These types of soaps strip the natural oils.  All skin types need those natural oils to keep skin pH in balance.  You’re better off rinsing your face really well with water than using harsh soaps with fragrances and chemicals.  Don’t forget, you’re DETOXING.

Steam.  Sometimes I just take a nice hot bath or shower, or you can boil a pot of water and drape a towel over your head for 10 minutes.  Add some tea bags or other herbs like rosemary, sage, chamomile or calendula, if you have them.  Do not steam if your skin is extremely sensitive or dry, you are experiencing Rosacea or a major acne breakout.

Exfoliating Mask.  This is important!  Exfoliation will help shed dead skin cells, bring circulation to the surface for nourishment, and further loosen clogged pores.  It also allows for deeper penetration of the nutrients.

You might not have a favorite exfoliating product or mask, but you can still easily exfoliate at home and should do this at least a couple of times a week.  

Make an exfoliating paste with fine grain sugar (white or brown is fine) and some of the following ingredients, depending on skin condition:

      - Oatmeal (for soothing irritated skin).  Grind the oatmeal in a coffee grinder until fine.
-       Plain yogurt, milk or cream (for soothing, hydrating and lactic acid exfoliation)
-       Honey (pulls moisture toward the skin and acts as an anti-bacterial agent for blemishes)
-       Egg white (tightens skin and pores, good for oily skin)
-       Tomato, blended (Good for blemishes and toning)
-       Lemon juice (brightening and toning - not for sensitive or acneic skin)
-       Pineapple pulp, blended (for brightening and toning)
-       Canned pumpkin (for extra exfoliating acids for blemished skin)

Please note:  If your skin is extremely sensitive or acneic, gently massage your face with a washcloth and gentle cleanser at the end of the second cleanse.  Make a mask with the appropriate products above and do not add the sugar, as it can be too irritating.

Massage in to skin, including lips (but avoid eyes) for 2 minutes.

Apply cooled chamomile, black or green tea bags to your eyes while you relax and the mask does its thing for 10 – 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.

Hydrate.  This is also important for all skin types.  It’s crucial to keep the moisture and oil content of your skin in balance.  Overly stripped skin will cause an over production of oils, leading to more pimples down the line.  Use your favorite moisturizer, or spot-treat blemishes, and then follow with aloe vera for oily or blemished skin.  For dehydrated or sensitive lips and face, apply a light layer of jojoba, grape seed or olive oil mixed with aloe vera and let it soak in overnight.

You will wake up glowing, dewy and gorgeous.