Monday Motivation: Stand up and do the right thing

Just a quick post as this was quite a difficult weekend for me which challenged my morals and values.  Unfortunately, I witnessed acts of disrespect inflicted on others.  I can’t get into specific details about it, but I was faced with the decision to either do something about it or to just walk away.  I chose to stand up for what was right and I’m glad I did.  Being disrespectful towards other people is not acceptable and I wasn’t going to tolerate it.

In that moment, I could have responded with hateful actions and words, but instead I approached the situation with compassion.  I was angry, so all I wanted to do was yell and be nasty right back.   However, throughout my life experiences I’ve learned that standing up and doing the right thing doesn’t mean responding with hate and disrespect.

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After that experience I felt really bothered and I started to hate the world.  Why do people have to be so cruel?  But just when you start to believe there are no good people left in this world, God sends someone to prove you wrong.  I met an amazing woman yesterday afternoon who works diligently in the Los Angeles area to help mentor troubled children and families.  Just hearing her speak about her passion in helping the community was enough to inspire me to start thinking about what I can do in my own life to reach out to others with acts of kindness.  I used to volunteer a lot in school, so this woman actually inspired me to start working with the community again.

So I challenge you this week to reach out to others with acts of kindness and do what is right.  I know in our everyday lives we are faced with difficult situations.  It may seem better to not say anything at all and just turn away.  But what message are we sending when we don’t stand up for those who are being disrespected and terrorized?

Fitness challenge of the day: Plank it!

So remember how years ago everyone was planking on buildings, stairs, desks, trains, etc? Well, it’s time to bring it back!  You can do it anywhere and it’s a great way to strengthen your core!  There are different variations, so please see Neila Rey’s five minute plank below and have fun planking!

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Monday Motivation: Gratitude

What’s the first thing I do when I wake up every morning?  I thank God for giving me another day and for keeping my family and friends safe.  Expressing that gratitude towards God is so powerful because it reminds us that we can never take things for granted.  All the things that happen to us, good or bad, are blessings from God to help strengthen and enrich us.

With that said, what happens when our day simply seems as though there’s nothing to be thankful for?  You know what I’m referring to.  The guy who cut you off on your morning commute, your kids not listening to anything you tell them, running late for work, that deadline at work that you procrastinated on.  I mean, is it possible to express any type of gratitude on a day like that?  The answer is yes!

I attended daily mass this morning and I have to admit I was feeling really grumpy.  I couldn’t shake off the feeling.  As a result, I already had it embedded in my mind that today isn’t going to be a good day. Fortunately, the homily gave me some things to think about which instantly helped me put things in perspective.  One, God doesn’t leave us to suffer as much as we believe He sometimes does.  Two, we all have something or someone in our every day lives we can be thankful for if we only make the effort to open our eyes and ears to what God is trying to tell us.

Think back to a time when you felt appreciated.  Perhaps it was a time when your husband or wife thanked you for listening to them vent about a bad day they had.  Maybe it was your boss who praised you for taking the extra time to pick up the slack on the last minute project.  How did that make you feel?

That brings me back to what I mentioned above which was God doesn’t leave us to suffer.  If we look around us, we have the blessings of family, friends, coworkers and yes, even strangers!  God works through other people to inspire us and pick us up when we are feeling down.  So let Him work through you today by expressing gratitude towards someone.  If someone holds the door open for you, make sure to thank them even if you are in a hurry. Tell your wife you appreciate her making breakfast.  It may be a small act of kindness, but it can make a big difference.  We don’t know what someone’s day has been like, so the least we can do is make it better with something so simple and powerful.

So I challenge you today to express some sort of gratitude towards someone and see what happens.  Tomorrow isn’t promised to us, so make the most of this blessed day.

Here’s also something to think about in the big picture: What difference do you think it could make  in the world if we all expressed more gratitude towards each other?

My journey in 2015

Goodbye, 2015.  You were a tough one, but ironically you were the best thing that ever happened to me.  I didn’t think I would ever recover after a hard breakup and I certainly didn’t think I would make a career out of my passion.  Well guess what.  It all worked out (with lots and lots of hard work!)  Here’s what I learned and accomplished this past year.  I hope it inspires you to follow your dreams as well!

  1. I learned to trust in God again. I went to Catholic school all my life and I come from a religious family.  Unfortunately, I never took it seriously.  I really hate to admit it, but I went to church every Sunday and didn’t always believe God had a plan for me.  In fact, I didn’t know if any of it was real.  After all, I’m the one in control, right?  Can it be that some higher power has anything to do with my life?  Well, a few years ago, I started to question my faith and I found myself making some bad decisions.  I was also unhappy with my job and how my life was going at that time.  I couldn’t help but wonder, “What purpose does my life serve here on earth?”  Yes, pretty heavy stuff.  I ended up talking to a priest at my church for some insight and it really helped me a lot.  I realized that I kept asking God for answers but my problem was that I wasn’t listening!  It was hard for me to believe that God had a plan for me, but He did.  It just required some work on my part and to learn to trust in Him again.  I kept making excuses that I didn’t have time for God, yet I had so much time doing other things that were bad for me.  So this past year, I made the effort to make it to church a few times a week other than Sunday’s and really devote my time to God.  It’s made a big difference in my life.  I know God has truly given me the strength and courage to pursue my dream career and build healthy relationships in my life.
  2. Your family and your friends will be there for you – if you let them in. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn.  Sometimes I felt like I couldn’t share my problems with my loved ones because I didn’t want to be a burden, but I learned that family and friends will do anything they can to help you get back on your feet. It’s important to open up and share.  Sure, family and friends may not always agree, but going through a difficult time by yourself can be depressing. Besides, wouldn’t you do anything to help someone you love?  It’s not about being a burden, but rather it is about working through hardships together. You stick together and pick each other up.  I am extremely grateful and lucky to have family and friends who have supported me through hard times.

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    With my awesome family!

  3. I made my health a priority. I’ve always loved fitness and exercise, but I fell off track for a few years eating lots of sugar, drinking lots of beer and not making the time to work out whatsoever.  As a result, I gained about 20 pounds!  Seeing that my clothes weren’t fitting properly and I was always feeling so sluggish, I decided to make a change.  I broke bad habits and replaced them with good ones.  I quit drinking alcohol because that was the one thing that sucked the life out of me the next morning!  Not to mention it always made me so hungry for late night snacks.   I also started eating healthier meals by cooking at home with my mom and working out again.  I made an effort to be more active outdoors because I always loved the outdoors as a kid!  Plus, LA has a lot of cool hiking trails to offer.  There’s also a personal trainer and fitness advocate out here in LA who really inspires me.  Her name is Tanja Djelevic, and watching her videos has allowed me to challenge myself every day!  I became more aware of my mind, body and spirit.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to look good (although that is a great benefit) but I just wanted to feel energized and ALIVE again.  It was about incorporating discipline in my life.  I lost 22 pounds in one year and I feel absolutely amazing.  I figured if I take care of myself and stay strong, then I’ll be able to take care of others.

 

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Healthy Food!

  

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Feels good to be back in shape!

  1. I simplified my life. Believe it or not, I gave away half of my stuff and it was HARD.  Nice purses, clothes, shoes, and jewelry. I focused on just the basics in life and I have to say there is something so rewarding about living a simple life.  I feel more balanced and at peace.  Not to mention it has saved me a lot of money!  How many clothes and shoes do I really need when I tend to wear the same stuff all the time?  (I know I’m not alone on this one!)  Honestly, I never thought I would be happy living with just the bare essentials, but it’s helped me focus on more important things in life like family and friends instead of the material things.
  2. I incorporated goals in my life. I always believed there are two ways to live your life: being reactive or being proactive.  Well, for a while I was being reactive, but then I started to choose the latter.  How many times did I tell myself, “I’m going to do this” but came up with a lame excuse not to.  Well as Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “You can have results or excuses.  Not both.”  No kidding!  So I started to set goals to challenge myself every day.  Some goals were in regards to fitness, esthetician school, career and family.  Having a goal to focus on each day allowed me to be more productive and live a much more fulfilling life.
  3. I spent more time looking into my soul instead of in the mirror. Yes, I love cosmetics and enjoy being physically attractive.  And yes, it’s true my job is to care for people’s skin and make them look good.  It’s so superficial right?  (Well, it’s not and I’ll get to that later).  But the reality is that the exterior will only last for so long, so I had to ask myself, what else do I have to offer?  Am I compassionate towards others?  Do I make time for other people?  Am I a good friend?  Am I a good daughter/sister?  Do I truly care for other people?  Am I a hard worker? Am I smart? What can I do to help someone today?  What can I do to be a better person? All these questions flooded my mind.  So I made more of an effort to focus on my relationships with others, make better decisions, strengthen my skills and work on my faults.  It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve learned to slow down, be grateful, be patient and let go of negativity and anger.

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    With my best friend, Amy.

  4. I learned to embrace who I am. For years, I thought I had to be someone.  I had to be this woman who was beautiful, gifted, successful and happy.  I had to look and feel a certain way to be accepted by society.  Then it hit me.  All I had to really do was be me!  I am a beautiful, gifted, happy woman who is successful.  I just never believed it.  So now, it’s not really about fitting in, but rather it’s about standing out!  If you have a gift, don’t be afraid to do something with it.  That person you have been longing to be has been YOU all along!
  5. Everyone has something to offer. I have to admit, I was a bit of a know it all.  But as I went through training for Esthetician school I found out very quickly that I DON’T know everything!  If you go into something thinking that you know it all, you’ve already compromised your success because the world is always changing and there’s always something to learn.  Plus, I was surrounded by students who were fantastic Estheticians and I learned so much from them.  You have to be open to learning from others and teaching them what you know too.  It’s how you strengthen your skills and work on your weaknesses. It’s all about working as a team.
  6. If you want to live your dream, you have to take risks. Believe me, it wasn’t an easy journey changing careers.  Especially getting into a career that is so competitive.  I spent a lot of time thinking I made a mistake.  That perhaps I should have just played it safe and stayed at my old job.  I was scared, but I had to stay strong and take some risks.  Getting what you want isn’t easy, but if you want it bad enough, you better be prepared to work your hardest.  I made a lot of sacrifices but in the end it was all worth it.

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    I did it!

  7. I discovered what I really want out of my career. It’s funny because I went to Esthetician school thinking I would come out having the knowledge in skincare, but really I would be a freelance makeup artist doing fashion shows and photo shoots.  As I was going through the program though, I discovered that I really love helping people with their skin and that I would be successful in an environment that also promotes health and well being.  So I became more interested in skin treatments, spas and holistic health.  It was such a surprising discovery and now I really love it!
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Working on a client during training.

Now I am living my dream as a licensed Esthetician administering facial and skin treatments at a fitness center and spa exclusively for women.  I love it because it’s an environment that empowers women to take care of their health and well being.  We have a gym, fitness classes and a spa.  What I discovered is that I may be spending time making women look good on the outside, but it’s actually a therapeutic experience that affects their minds and bodies. It goes beyond skincare.

I have clients of all ages and in different phases.  Some are working moms, stay at home moms, single, business owners, or retired.  They all come in despite their busy schedules for treatments or to work out because they have made it a priority to take care of themselves.  I truly believe that is so important in a world that is fast paced and hectic. Being raised by a single mom, I’ve witnessed what stress can do to you if you neglect your health.   A huge part of my job is encouraging these women to make their health a priority, to be confident in who they are and to achieve their goals.  It’s not about fitting into a mold or looking like someone else.  It’s about being you and doing what’s best for you.  In return, these women have inspired me to be a strong and confident human being.  I value my relationships with them and care for them in my heart. And that is truly what I find so rewarding about my career.  I am so lucky to use the gifts God has given me to work in a place that encompasses my values in life. I hope to one day open my own spa and wellness center.  I know that for the rest of my life, I want to inspire and encourage people to live happy and healthy lives.

What’s in it for 2016, you might ask?  Well, I still have a lot to learn but I plan on continuing my journey in my faith, career and family.  I hope to be successful, to remain humble and to always give back to those who have helped me in my life.  I am grateful for all the blessings, graces and lessons 2015 has brought me.  Here’s to 2016!  Thank you God, family and friends for helping me find myself again.

 

How I learned to slow down and live life, not race through it!

It’s been quite an interesting 2015 so far.  In some ways it has been good, and in some ways bad.  I took the plunge to change careers, quit my job, went back to school to study my passion (skincare therapy), went through a really tough breakup (lost my best friend of 4 years), started a new diet (successful!) and got in a car accident.  It has been a roller coaster of emotions.

One day, I was sitting at Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades with a good friend of mine.  We were both trying to find serenity.  I stared and stared and stared at that beautiful lake and scenery not knowing how I was going to handle these overwhelming emotions.  Then it hit me.  If I want to be happy, I need to take action and start living!

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I didn’t realize that all these years I was racing through life and not living it.  I was so entwined in the everyday hustle and bustle and sweating all the small details that I simply have forgotten to stop and smell the roses!  I know, I know..it’s not an easy thing to do especially in today’s world with work, family, kids, etc.  But start off with a few small changes and work your way to bigger changes.

Here are some of the changes I’ve made to help me start living life to the fullest and feeling great!

1.  Practice Gratitude: I learned this from a sales coach we had at a company I worked at.  Taking the time to find 3 things you are grateful for each day can make a huge difference in your outlook on life, your relationships and how you feel about yourself.  We truly have a lot to be grateful for!                                                                                                        gratitiude2.  Meditation: I NEVER was the one to meditate and it was always difficult for me.  I thought, “who has time to do this?”  I was always anxious and couldn’t get my mind to settle just for a moment.  But I did some research, talked to some people, and realized this could make a big difference in your attitude even if it’s as simple as closing your eyes for 2 minutes to focus on your breathing.  It calms me and makes me feel more at peace.

3.  Letting go of anger: It’s like the song from Disney’s Frozen.  “Let it go! Let it go!”  I never thought I could let some things go.  And yes, I can get angry very, very easily.  Then I realized I’m only hurting myself and ruining the potential of my day over a driver that cut me off!  If I wanted to start living life, I couldn’t waste my energy on anger, especially on small things that will have little impact on my day.  So now I tell myself, okay that sucked, but move on!

4.  Staying active: We all know exercise is good for you, right?  Releases endorphins, releases toxins from the body and makes you feel good!  So it may seem ironic that I quit my gym membership.  But I wanted to start enjoying the outdoors and nature while getting a workout.   Jogging, walking, hiking and biking in the sun are really what keep me alive.  I also started to practice T’ai Chi which takes a lot of patience, but I think I’m getting there.

hike5.  Focusing on my core: Along with staying active, I’m focused on a lot of core workouts and a diet that supports it.  I have always been a firm believer that if you have a strong core, the positive energy radiates out to all your extremities.  This is why I enjoy practicing Pilates so much because it focuses on strengthening the core.  I’m also on the Abs diet and it has done wonders.  Lots of veggies, whole grains, protein , zero alcohol and less processed foods have made a huge impact on my energy and body.  I fit in my skinny jeans again and feel great.  My energy levels are sustained throughout the day and I’m not crashing at 2pm.  In addition, a strong core has helped me feel centered and balanced both mentally and physically.

6.  Pampering myself: I’m in school studying to become a licensed esthetician also known as a skincare therapist.  My goal is to work at a wellness spa and have my own someday.  I love making clients feel relaxed while giving their skin treatments.  Afterwards, they feel good and healthy. While I love giving that gift to someone else, I know I need to take the time to do that with myself too.  It’s all about making time to de-stress.  This could be as simple as putting on a facial mask to nourish your skin, listening to some relaxing music or taking a nice, relaxing bath.

IMG_6170crop7.  Eating slowly: No more eating in the car or inhaling food.  I’m taking the time to sit down and actually taste my food, enjoy the flavors and textures.  It is amazing how different you feel after eating this way.  It goes back to gratitude.  Feeling satisfied and grateful without feeling bloated or sluggish.

kale8.  I swapped my alcohol for tea: Alcohol is a depressant and has never made me feel good.  After a night of drinking, I’m lazy with zero energy the next day.  Zero energy means I’m not going to be productive or enjoyable to be around for that matter.  So instead I’m drinking all different kinds of tea.  Green tea, chamomile, ginger, white tea, blueberry, rooibos..there are so many satisfying flavors.  Plus, they contain good antioxidants for your skin and body!

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 9.  Make time for friends and family:  It’s easy to get wrapped up in responsibilities and chores, but make sure to spend quality time laughing with your loved ones!

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10.  Smile:  Last but not least, smile!  Make the time for others.  Smile and say good morning to whoever you pass by.  You will feel good and so will they!

These are just some of the things that are helping me live my life to the fullest. Hopefully, this inspires you to make some positive changes so you can be successful and START LIVING LIFE AGAIN!

New Year, New Life, New Products!

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an update. To be completely honest, I’ve been so busy with work, life changing events and haven’t been motivated.  But guess what? I have some exciting news. Probably the most exciting news I’ve shared on here. I am finally pursuing my dream as an esthetician and makeup artist. Yes, this is for real!

I’ve always been passionate about skincare along with makeup artistry. Ever since I was 15 years old, I have been dreaming of this. The first time I touched someone’s face doing makeup for theater, I knew I had a gift. I loved transforming someone into a character they were playing and I was damn good at it. Now, I want to help people with the health of their skin and help them feel confident and beautiful.

I left my job of 3 years to pursue an esthetician program full time.  I have to say it was a difficult decision because I had an awesome boss and coworkers. However, I couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by. A good friend of mine went through a traumatic experience this year (Alan, hey there!) and we both realized we need to start taking action to fulfill our dreams. That led me to this decision and this exciting new chapter in my life. I’m so excited!

With that said, it’s a new year with a new beginning. So of course, I’ve been testing some new products to kick it off! Here are my favorites so far!

“Eye” love these for the windows of your soul!

Green Tea Eye Patches by ToGoSpa

Extremely soothing and relaxing!

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Shiseido’s Pure Retinol Express Smoothing Eye Mask

You can also use these around the mouth for those frown lines!

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For glowing and radiant skin:

                Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Face

 Exfoliates and really makes your skin smooth and glowing! I love these so much!

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                Karuna’s Age Defying Face Mask

 Okay these are brilliant! I’m so into cloth face masks right now and this moisturized my skin after one use!

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I’m looking forward to writing more posts!  I’m feeling great and extremely motivated now that I’m starting to live my dream!

 

 

Yes, you can have healthy skin!

Yes, you can get healthier, more beautiful looking skin!  So what does that mean for you?  It means that taking good care of your skin should be bumped up on your priority list.  I am a firm believer that when it comes to healthy skin, it is all about achieving balance.  To me, that means it is neither dry nor oily, it is neither irritated nor dull, and the tone of the skin is even on the entire face.  It’s not always easy to achieve healthy looking skin especially when you live in today’s world.  There are many factors that contribute to the overall health of your skin.  Weather conditions, harsh chemicals, environmental pollution, sun exposure, stress and your diet are all things you should be aware of when it comes to maintaining a beautiful complexion.  You may not always notice it, but your skin communicates to you on a daily basis.  When it’s red and itchy, it’s shouting “I’m irritated!”  When it’s dry and flaky, it’s saying “I’m thirsty!”.  When warning signs like this come up, your skin is telling you that something is not right.

When I was struggling with mild acne years ago, I started to pay close attention to my diet and the products I was using.  I was eating a lot of junk, which showed in my skin (they always say you are what you eat, right?).  So I started to incorporate more vegetables and fruit in my diet. Back then I was also switching to different skincare products every week, and putting on a number of creams and serums.  I thought I was doing my skin a favor by lathering on all these different products, but now I know that less is more when it comes to beautiful skin.  I also learned that you have to find a routine that is best for your skin.  Since my skin is both sensitive and oily, I stopped using heavy creams, and also started looking for products that were hypoallergenic.  Sometimes products can cause an allergic reaction in your skin, which causes redness, dryness, itchiness and even acne.  After a few years, I found a routine that is gentle on my skin and keeps my skin balanced.  I really love DDF products and you will see some of them listed in this article.

A few things to remember when taking care of your skin is to BE GENTLE.  I can’t say it enough.  Stop picking at it, stop using harsh soaps, and simply stop touching it throughout the day if you can help it.  Make sure to use sunscreen whenever you will be exposed to the sun.  As I mentioned before, the condition of your skin will depend on the climate and environment you live in.  In the Midwest, I grew up in extreme weather conditions.  We had cold, dry winters that transitioned into hot, humid summers.  It takes a toll on your skin, so you really have to change a few habits every season to maintain healthy skin.

Now that I live in southern California, I am constantly in dry heat (goodbye Midwest humidity!), so my main priority is to keep my skin moisturized and hydrated.  That means using a moisturizer on my skin day and night, and drinking plenty of water. My goal for the past couple years has been to improve the clarity and tone of my skin so that I no longer have to wear foundation.  I’m doing very well so far, and I don’t even feel the need to use foundation on a daily basis anymore since my skin looks pretty good when I wake up.

Below I have listed the skincare routine that has been working wonders for me, and I hope this works for you as well.

My simple daily routine for both day and night in 3 easy steps:

  1. Cleanse:  I cleanse with Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Wash.  I have been using this face wash for as long as I remember.  This really helped balance my skin out when I was having acne problems.  It gently cleanses your skin without leaving it feeling tight, itchy or dry.  This is truly one of THE best products ever made, and I always recommend this face wash to anyone who is experiencing skin problems.

2.  Tone:  This can be optional, but I use a toner after I cleanse and before I moisturize because my skin tends to be on the oily side.  I use a little bit of DDF’s Glycolic Acid Toning Complex.  I pour a little bit on a cotton ball (a little goes a long way) and apply it all over my face. To me, this has been a miracle worker because it has evened out my skin tone, treated my acne, and has controlled the excessive oil production in my skin.  I recommend this toner if you have oilier skin, have dark sun spots, mild acne, or are concerned about the prevention of fine lines.  From what I know, Glycolic Acid is part of the Alpha Hydroxy  Acid family and it helps increase cellular turnover in the skin.  That process usually promotes a clearer and more refined skin tone.  I know some people have used this to treat their acne and it really does give you a more clear complexion.  If you are new to using toner, you can use this every other day for starters (especially if your skin is on the drier side) and see how your skin reacts to it.  If you don’t think its right for your skin, you can skip this step and just focus on cleansing then moisturizing.

3.  Moisturize:  What’s the best moisturizer out there?   Is it a DDF product?  Yah, you betcha!  I love DDF’s Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew.  I really do recommend this moisturizer for everyone.  Even if your skin is oily, you can use this moisturizer because it’s not greasy or heavy.  It uses grapeseed to comfortably hydrate the skin.  Once you apply it to your face, your skin absorbs it right away and feels as though you are wearing nothing.  Another perk is that this moisturizer is perfect for sensitive skin.  It’s hypoallergenic and dye free.  There’s no perfume or scent.  And it contains healthy vitamins such as A, E and C.  They make two different versions of this moisturizer.  One with SPF 15 and one that is without.  I recently purchased the one with SPF since it’s the summer time and I’ve been more exposed to the sun.

Once a week treatment:

Origins Modern Friction Face Scrub:  They say that this product can give you almost the same results as if you went and got a microdermabrasion treatment at the dermatologist’s office.  I have never gotten microdermabrasion done, so I can’t compare.  However, I can tell you that this product is one of the most amazing products ever made in the history of skincare products!  My mom and I discovered this about 8 years ago, and we have both been using it ever since.  It sloughs away dead skin cells, makes your skin appear brighter, and leaves you with a youthful, smooth face.  This is a great exoliator that you can use once or even twice a week depending on your skin.  I use it twice a week, but that may be too much for some people.  I just love it so much haha!  Remember to be gentle on your skin when using this product.  If you feel your skin is on the dull side and needs some revitalization, then this is a great product to use.

A quick tip for acne prone skin:

If you have acne prone skin, I recommend DDF’s Sulfur Therapeutic Mask.  Sulfur has proved to banish acne for me, so I would recommend using this mask once a week if you are having acne problems.  You can also use this as a spot treatment at night.  Just take a q-tip and apply it to your pimple(s).  I will warn you though, it does have a slightly unpleasant odor since it is using sulfur (like rotten eggs), but the results are amazing!

Hope you found this helpful!  Now go show off your beautiful skin!