Ep 01 - Back to Business Straight Talk with Dr. Mark Lees (Part 1)

In this two-part series, Dr. Mark Lees asks, “Would you eat a cake that has only been half-baked?” If you have decided that you want to go back to seeing clients, this podcast is a must to get the straight talk you need to hear.  Dr. Mark Lees shares ideas for reopening amid COVID-19 concerns based on his experience as a licensed esthetician and PHD in Public Health.

Author Bio: 

Dr. Mark Lees is one of the country's most noted skin care specialists, an award-winning speaker and product developer, and has been actively practicing clinical skin care for over 20 years at his multi-award winning CIDESCO accredited Florida salon, which has won multiple newspaper reader-voter awards for "Best Day Spa on the Coast", "Best Skin Care Center on the Coast", "Best Facial", and "Best Pampering Place".

His professional awards are numerous and include American Salon Magazine Esthetician of the Year, Les Nouvelles Esthetiques Magazine's Crystal Award, and Dermascope Magazine's Legends Award. Dr. Lees has been inducted into the National Cosmetology Association's Hall of Renown, and Dermascope Magazine's Academy of Legends. Dr. Lees has been interviewed and quoted by NBC News, The Associated Press, The Discovery Channel, Glamour, Self, Teen, Shape Magazine, and many other publications. Dr. Lees is former Chairman of the Board of the Esthetics Manufacturers and Distributors Alliance, and is a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, has served on the Board of Directors of the National Cosmetology Association, and is author of the popular book, Skin Care: Beyond the Basics, and contributing science author of Milady' Comprehensive Training for Estheticians.

Dr. Lees holds a Ph.D. in Health Sciences, a Master of Science in Health, and a CIDESCO International Diploma. He is licensed to practice in both Florida and Washington State. His line of products for problem, sensitive, and sun-damaged skin is available at finer salons and clinics throughout the United States.

00:01 Speaker 1: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for aestheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows it's all about you.


00:19 Tracy: Hi Guys. It's Tracy here with ASCP Esty Talk Back To Business. Let your setback be your comeback. And as you know, I'm your host. I'm also the executive director of ASCP and today I'm really excited 'cause we are joined by Dr. Mark Lees. So let me tell you guys a little bit about him. You may think you know him already but wait till you hear some of these details. So Dr. Mark Lees is a multi-award-winning speaker, Master Clinical Skin Therapist and product developer of Mark Lees Skin Care Products. Specializing in acne, sensitive and aging skin. He is also the author of Skin Care: Beyond the Basics, The Skin Care Answer Book and his latest book, Clearing Concepts: A Guide to Acne Treatment.

01:06 Tracy: Now, Dr. Lees has been interviewed and quoted by NBC News, the Associated Press, The Discovery Channel, Women's World, Glamor, Self, Teen, Shape. And I'm sure the list goes on and on. So in addition to his decades of work in professional skin care and product development, Dr. Lees has also an extensive experience in health-related research. After he began his skin care practice, Dr. Lees decided to go to graduate school. Going to school four nights a week for several years while he was still practicing skin care. Dr. Lees eventually was awarded his Masters in Science and Health and then later a PhD in Health Sciences. Did you guys know that? In addition to his practice and product development company, Dr. Lees has also consulted for a major pharmaceutical companies, universities and numerous state boards of cosmetology. He has authored chapters for two medical dental school text as well as a chapter in the cosmetic chemistry bible, Harry's Cosmeticology Volume 3. He has also taught continuing education in nursing for several hospitals. So without further ado, please let me introduce to you guys, Dr. Mark Lees. Thank you so much for joining us.

02:28 Dr. Mark Lees: Hi Tracy. How are you.

02:30 Tracy: Good. It looks very sunny and beautiful there in Florida.

02:35 DL: It is today. Tomorrow. All hell's supposed to break loose.


02:40 Tracy: Oh No.

02:41 DL: They say If you don't like the weather in Florida, just wait 10 minutes.


02:45 Tracy: Well get your pool time in today. We'll have a good interview and then get out there.

02:49 DL: Yeah but we're having a very pretty day today, we are.

02:52 Tracy: Good, good, good. Okay, well, let's get started. We are talking about what does it look like to go back to business? So the biggest question is, what do you think the biggest issues are facing skin care practices in this pre-pandemic time?

03:08 DL: I think when we go back, the overriding thing that we need to think about is protecting ourselves and our clients from the spread of the virus. That's the number one thing.

03:22 Tracy: Absolutely.

03:23 DL: Okay? I think we need to make good choices about safe practices and I want everyone to think health first and I'll probably say this in different ways throughout this interview. But we have to use our brains, our health science left brains to talk about this thing as opposed to our desires. We all wanna go back to work. We're all upset that there's no money coming in, including myself. I still own a salon clinic. Okay, so I know. I'm missing that money and my staff is... Fortunately, we got in on the PPP program but still, it's just, we're looking at eight weeks of being paid but what happens after that? So everybody's a little edgy and that's understandable. And I understand people wanting to go back to work. I understand the clients wanting to come back but this is a question I'd like you to ask yourself. And that is, would you eat a cake that hadn't finished baking?

04:23 Tracy: That's interesting.

04:25 DL: And why wouldn't you eat the cake that hadn't finished baking?

04:29 Tracy: 'Cause you're worried you're gonna get sick?

04:32 DL: Well, yeah. If you're worried you're gonna get sick. You're worried it's gonna be bad. You're worried that it's not ready yet. [chuckle] Okay? And we don't have the data and I'm putting my science head on here. We don't have the data in and enough testing to have that data to make good decisions about when we should reopen at this point. You have to remember that skin care or a massage or any other wellness service that involves a body touching a body is intimate. How do you safe distance and give a facial? And dental hygienists have the same problem. Optometrists have the same problem. Anybody who is face-to-face with somebody or in their face, even when they're gloved up and shielded up and masked up, there's still air. This is a very contagious virus and it is airborne. Okay, so...

05:32 Tracy: I want you to underline that and say that one more time for people because...

05:36 DL: It's a very dangerous virus. It is not the flu or a cold.

05:41 Tracy: It is airborne.

05:42 DL: This virus can kill anyone at any age. There are all kind of stuff on TV about it doesn't kill kids. It doesn't kill people under 20, balls. That's just crap. Okay, it can kill anybody. And it's very... Now not everybody's gonna have symptoms and that's great for the people who are... It just passes through them or they have a built-in... That their immune system is great and it responds to it right away and they never see anything. But in the meantime, they are carrying that for weeks. Two or three weeks. They are able to spread it to other people. So if you get infected and even if you don't have any symptoms. You can give it to a client or even if you're just intimately talking to the client. We're gonna talk about some of the precautions we're gonna start having to take anyway but just... Saliva goes everywhere when we talk. If you take micronized photography of me talking to the screen or you took a swab off the screen, there would be my saliva on this camera screen at the end of it.

06:49 Tracy: And let me ask you a quick question here. Everyone is, especially in our industry, talking a lot about washing off surfaces, but it's more about what's coming, it's the aspiration, it's the droplets, right? That are coming out of your mouth.

07:05 DL: The droplets that are airborne, but if those droplets land on a surface and somebody touches that surface with their hands, that's usually how, as opposed to right face-to-face. Because if you stand six or eight feet away from someone, and you have on a mask, there's very little chance of you getting it. But when you get up in someone's face, even if you have a mask on... A client can't wear a mask because how are you going to give a facial to someone with a mask? [chuckle] They can't wear a mask, so that's one side already. Now you do have a mag lamp and that's helpful. Okay, you might have a face shield on top of your mask. And that's what I'm gonna recommend when we do go back, when it's safe to go back, that's what I'm gonna recommend. But the client has nothing to... They're naked basically, as far as PPE. They they don't have any...

08:01 Tracy: They don't have choices.

08:02 DL: They don't have choices, right. Exactly.

08:04 Tracy: So before we get too much down the road into PPE and protective things. One of the questions, the big picture question, is who should skin care professionals or beauty professionals be listening to for the most accurate and current information? 'Cause there's a lot out there.

08:29 DL: Right. Well, definitely the CDC, the NIH, anybody from those two organizations. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, they are excellent people. Dr. Fauci was around... I was in graduate school studying health during the original AIDS crisis, okay? And Dr. Fauci was involved very much in the virology of the AIDS epidemic back in the late '80s. He's been a hero of mine forever and Dr. Birx is very well qualified so, those two. But do not listen to celebrities, or politicians or talk show hosts because they don't know anything, okay? They are not doctors, they are not scientists. I'm not an MD, but I know a lot about science 'cause I have a PhD in Health Sciences, so I know a lot about epidemiology. A lot of epidemiologists are not MDs, they're PhDs. Those are the people, they understand the statistics, they understand the graphs, they understand the...

09:35 Tracy: The science.

09:36 DL: Plateaus, and the science and the wave of the charts. They understand all that and they are able to come up with the best suggestion. So that's who I would listen to and I would not listen to politicians.

09:48 Tracy: So check your sources, right? Check your sources.

09:50 DL: Right, and also why would you eat a cake that hadn't finished baking? Okay, why would you do that? So that's where we are right now. I'm a little bit appalled that Georgia is opening this soon and I watched an interview with Anderson Cooper last night with a very intelligent lady from Georgia who was a hair salon owner. And she said, "I'm not opening." And she said, "A lot of people I'm talking to aren't opening because we don't wanna endanger ourselves. We might have money coming in, but money ain't any good if you're dead or your client is dead or your client's kid is dead because something got spread that we weren't ready to do yet, okay?"

10:34 DL: And that's the way I feel about it right now, we are not ready. We are not there. Everybody needs to take like a month, I think, and let's re-evaluate in a month. You're venturing out in an unknown area. We don't know anything, we don't know. This is a new thing. We don't know what this virus does. And a virus can't vote. All of these politicians that are trying to manipulate things around the virus, virus doesn't care. The virus doesn't care. I think we really need to think. Like I said, nobody wants this over with more than me. I think most of us... I can't think of anybody who doesn't wanna go back to work.

11:17 Tracy: So, sorry to interrupt you...

11:18 DL: That's alright.

11:19 Tracy: But what do you say to those aestheticians or hair stylists or manicurists who say, "I don't have money, I don't want to lose my practice because I need to make money, I need to pay my rent, I need to pay my lease on my space." What do you say to them? What advice can you give them right now?

11:39 DL: That's an excellent question. And certainly, I feel for those people, and I think that they need to apply for unemployment. They have all sorts programs set up, they just passed another $400 billion allotment yesterday to pay for unemployment and they need to look into unemployment until this is over, and they've opened it up 1099 people and people who are entrepreneurs and...

12:07 Tracy: Gig-workers, yeah.

12:08 DL: Sole practitioners. So that's good. So definitely listen to Dr. Fauci, listen to the CDC. CDC has a website on Coronavirus. Any of the better medical schools including Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins does a lot of research in that. The Mayo Clinic, anybody like that, Ochsner. But look for a university credential. Don't take advice from a celebrity, they're actors, they're not doctors. That's a very easy thing for people to do because they're convincing and we feel like we know them already. Politicians are... They have their own agendas and I will have to say, and I don't wanna paint myself into a political corner here. Governor Cuomo has done an amazing job.

13:03 Tracy: Amazing job, yeah.

13:04 DL: And he gets along with both parties. But if you listen to his dailies, he's right in the middle of it. So I think he has good information. He has good people with input too. So that's my answer to that. But don't listen to politicians or talk show hosts.

13:20 Tracy: Hey guys, stop. Let's take a quick break.


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14:12 Tracy: Alright, so now kind of getting into what is that day-to-day practice gonna look like? What should they be doing once they do go back to practice? Can you kind of talk us through what that might look like from the minute that the client enters the spa or the salon?

14:33 DL: Okay. We're going to have to do a little education program the first time these people come in with every client that comes. So you're gonna have to sit the client down or maybe book them 15 minutes early, and say, "We're anxious to see you. We're so glad you're here, we're glad to be here too, but this is gonna be a different experience for a long time, probably. So we're doing things differently. And the first thing I want you to do is go in the bathroom and wash your hands, you'll find handwash in there, you'll find fresh throw away-able towels. Disposable towels and you will find some hand sanitizer in the bathroom. I want you to do that before we get started and I'm gonna go do the same, I'm gonna be working with you with a mask and a face shield and I'm gonna wear my gloves." I've always worn gloves. So that's nothing new in my practice. We wear gloves for everything.

15:22 Tracy: Okay, for every part of the facial?

15:24 DL: For everything. [chuckle] We wear gloves.

15:26 Tracy: It's good to know.

15:28 DL: Nitrile gloves are the best bet. You can get nitrile gloves on any website, some of the beauty sites have it, some of the medical sites. You just Google nitrile gloves and all sorts of statements will come up. They don't need to be sterile 'cause these aren't sterile procedures.

15:43 Tracy: And out of curiosity, just on a side note, why have you always worn gloves? And what made you make that decision?

15:52 DL: Well, I didn't when I was in school back in the late '70s, we didn't wear gloves in school. And I started wearing gloves about the time I started graduate school because then we were getting into HIV and things like that.

16:05 Tracy: Hearing a lot more about that.

16:06 DL: But you can't get HIV from from someone's hands. But we didn't know at the time. So there was a period of time we didn't know how it was spread and everything. And hepatitis is a lot easier to catch like that than HIV is, so we just started gloving up. So I've been using gloves since probably 1982 on a routine basis. And I've trained my staff that way, and everybody knows that's just what we do. The nitrile gloves are best because they're the most form-fitting and they're a lot less likely to cause allergies. Latex gloves, latex comes from the rubber plant. People are allergic to plants. Plant proteins get into the skin, cause allergy problems. Vinyl gloves are too floppy. They're too hard to work with, they're fine for handling food, but they're not good for giving facials. Nitrile gloves will also not dissolve if you get oil on them. Latex will dissolve if you have oil, when you're doing an oil massage or something like that. The nitrile gloves are the best bet and they're relatively inexpensive, shop around on Amazon or...

17:07 Tracy: And do you think because they're not sterile, that PPE is probably gonna be more likely to be purchased at this time? The nitrile gloves?

17:18 DL: No, I think the nitrile gloves, to my knowledge, there's not glove shortage right now, and I might be wrong about that. I don't think gloves have been... There have been glove shortages in the past. Again, go to Amazon and or any medical site, do shop though because you can find the same thing for $20, you can find the exact same thing for $10 on another site. So, just do shop around. And you need to make sure you know your size, you want them to fit snug. Because you're gonna be changing them, sometimes two or three times a client. You're having to run out of the room to get something. You don't wanna have their germies all over the dispensary, so you may have to change gloves two or three times. So the client's gonna be doing that and continued... We all have been trained anyway, on sanitary practice. So just bone up on that. Go back to my Beyond The Basics book, has a great chapter on it to understand everything from how to sanitize laundries well to things that you can throw away. Throwaway stuff is a good idea. So, disposables are an excellent idea. They go in the trash. You don't have to worry about them, you don't have to clean them. They will also save you some time. Think about the money that you're spending trying to wash what could be a disposable.

18:46 DL: The linens are gonna have to be changed all the time, the chairs are gonna have to be sprayed down between clients with a hospital grade disinfectant, something like CaviCide or one of those. The counters will need to be washed. We are going to start, we already talked about this, we're gonna start working with Mayo trays. Mayo trays, you see them a lot in dental offices. They're usually a stainless steel pole with a little flat tray on it.

19:12 Tracy: Oh, yeah.

19:13 DL: And they put the dental instruments on it as they're cleaning your teeth, and things like that, and they're small surface so if you just work off that surface at the end of the facial, just for convenience, all you have to do is get rid of the trash and clean the Mayo tray all well. And that way you don't have to do the counters every time somebody comes out.

19:32 Tracy: Yeah, so does that mean that too, when you're just maybe taking a big picture and look at your treatment room, are you removing more things out of the room? Maybe having less pretty things?

19:43 DL: I think that's a really good idea. To just keep the essentials or maybe go in the beginning of the day and look what you're gonna be doing to everybody and make sure you're set up. Go in a half hour early and make sure everything is clean. We have always had a rule that our rooms are clean when we leave, so we never leave the room a mess. There's nothing that gets Dr. Mark more upset than a messy room when he comes in the morning, and somebody hadn't cleaned up the night before. Okay?

20:09 Tracy: Okay. [chuckle]

20:10 DL: And they know that. [chuckle] They know that, so do that and take some extra time. You're also gonna have to block out more time between people because you're going to have to do a more thorough job than normal, but that's a very good point. The least clutter you can have is fewer places for viruses to hide. So, that's all a really good idea but to bone up on those practices that we've been doing and think about other things, cleaning of the room between treatments we already talked about that, but there are ozonators now available and you see them online a lot and they are... These are little UV lights that put off ozone and one will kill pretty much everything in a 100 square foot or 200 square foot space.

21:02 Tracy: Wow.

21:02 DL: So if you have one in every treatment room, it's gonna be constantly fighting surface stuff, so it kills 99.99% of viruses and bacteria. So that's a really good thing to just have constantly going, and you have to check the instructions on how long you have to really leave them on for. Ironically, this is so funny, 'cause I used to be in veterinary medicine when I was an undergrad. And we used it in the kennels at the animal hospital. I worked at a really big animal hospital.

21:30 Tracy: Oh, you did?

21:30 DL: And we probably had 400 cages and runs for dogs in the Animal Hospital kennel, and we used to use ozone. This is back in the '70s. We used to use ozone generators in all of the... Because it would kill kennel cough. So were constantly using them. Now it will smell a little bit like a Vegas casino, because they also use them for smoking, okay?


21:55 DL: And it will have a little bit of an ozoney smell, so that will happen. But that's something you can do...

22:01 Tracy: I like that smell. I like that ozone smell.

22:03 DL: I think it smells really fresh.

22:05 Tracy: I do too.

22:05 DL: It smells like a rainstorm. Now, this is a biggie, and this is maybe hard to do, but this is gonna need to be... Take place in that talk that you have with your client. When she comes back in for the first time since we've been closed, we can't talk to each other a lot during a facial. While I'm working on you, neither one of us talks, okay? While I'm in your face, I have my hands on your head, I have my hands on your face, you can't talk, I can't talk, especially she can't talk or he can't talk because he's not... You don't have a mask on, okay?

22:38 Tracy: Yeah, the client, the client can't talk.

22:39 DL: The client can't talk 'cause he has nothing... He or she has nothing to prevent stuff from flying. And granted I've got a mag lamp, a face shield, and a mask on, but things do fly and they particularize so we're gonna have to have a... We can talk before the treatment and we can talk after the treatment. Now, the other thing is to try to emphasize relaxation and a good massage. Nobody wants to talk during massage. Instead of us chatting during your extractions, and please hold your face still. [chuckle] How many times have I said that, so please don't talk for a minute. You have a big coming down on your lip. [chuckle] Okay, instead of that, let's spend time with massage and get some great music, wonderful relaxing, calming music and emphasize that instead and let's not talk about that. We can chat for a few minutes before or after your session.

23:39 Tracy: So are you talking about like hand massage, shoulder massage, foot massage.

23:44 DL: Whatever your normal treatment...

23:46 Tracy: Your state law allows you?

23:47 DL: Whatever your state allows, whatever your normal procedure does. We only do hands and face at my place, 'cause I went to school with this wonderful, wonderful institution mentor of mine who was Christine Balmy.

24:02 Tracy: Oh, yeah.

24:02 DL: Now, Christine Balmy used to say, "Hands that touch the face should never touch the feet." Okay?

24:08 Tracy: I like it.

24:08 DL: So we don't do feet, we have people that do feet, but we don't do them during the facial. That's a whole separate thing. So we don't do that. But if that's your protocol, that's fine, stick with your protocol, put an emphasis on getting people to relax instead, I think this is a great idea. And the other thing I would think about now while you're off is to think about every step of the procedure of your normal procedures and think about what might present a hazard or an issue. And I'll tell you a good one we thought of, our hot mitts. How do you clean the inside of a hot mitt? Okay, really? Okay, you can alcohol them down and you can wipe them out with alcohol and try to sanitize them but there are little crevices and cracks and everything like that. So from now on, no hot mitts, we're just going to be doing hand-wrap with film and I'll let that be it, and there won't be any hot mitts.

25:08 Tracy: Well, this concludes part one of Back to Business with Dr. Mark Lees hopefully you all have enjoyed his insights. Make sure you tune in for part two, Back to Business with Mark Lees, he is getting ready to share some really amazing resources with us. And you don't wanna miss out. Thanks guys.


25:27 S1: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear, and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all-inclusive association for aestheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights, and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills join @ascpskincare.com. Only 259 per year for all this goodness, ASCP knows it's all about you.

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