Formulators have developed products based on skin type for years, but there has been a recent shift in thinking, with some brands beginning to develop their products based on consumers’ individual genetic makeup. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, Maggie and Ella discuss whether ingredients can truly alter DNA to prevent aging and ask the question “Could the secret to perfect skin be in our genes?”
ASCP Esty Talk with Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman
Produced by Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) for licensed estheticians, ASCP Esty Talk is a weekly podcast hosted by Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman. We see your passion, innovation, and hard work and are here to support you by providing a platform for networking, advocacy, camaraderie, and education. We aim to inspire you to ask the right questions, find your motivation, and give you the courage to have the professional skin care career you desire.
About Ella Cressman:
Ella Cressman is a licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, business owner, and absolute ingredient junkie! As an educator, she enjoys empowering other estheticians and industry professionals to understand skin care from an ingredient standpoint rather than a product-specific view.
She has spent many hours researching ingredients, understanding how and where they are sourced, as well as phytochemistry, histological access, and complementary compounds for intentional skin benefits. In addition to running a skin care practice, Cressman founded a comprehensive consulting group, the HHP Collective, and has consulted for several skin care lines, including several successful CBD brands.
Connect with Ella Cressman:
About Maggie Staszcuk:
Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry, and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist.
Connect with Maggie Staszcuk:
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Founded by botanical visionary Danné Montague-King, DMK is the World Leader in Paramedical Skin Revision™. Our revolutionary concept of REMOVE. REBUILD. PROTECT. MAINTAIN.® aims to match an individual’s biochemistry with the appropriate skin therapy. DMK believes that the origin of most skin conditions is a result of disharmony within the skin. Using the principles of biochemistry, DMK has formulated a range of Enzymatic Treatments and Home Prescriptives that encourage the skin to return to its most balanced and healthy state. For skin care professionals whose business depends on generating long-lasting clinically-proven results, DMK’s education-first approach has become essential. Hundreds of salons, spas, and even industry experts have recognized the effectiveness of the DMK concept, witnessed by thousands of people worldwide whose lives have been changed forever.
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Universal Companies has everything the skin care professional needs for success. Keeping track of the latest trends and technology in esthetics, we offer products and equipment for the services clients are seeking. The independent practitioner can save on their everyday expenses, as well as enjoy the convenience of shopping across broad categories.
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About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):
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0:00:00.5 Speaker 1: DMK is the world leader in paramedical skin revision education with certification programs designed to give licensed professionals a thorough understanding of the skin and an in-depth study of the DMK concept of remove, rebuild, protect, maintain. Created by the botanical visionary, Danne Montague-King, DMK offers skin revision training and education for all ages, skin conditions and ethnicities in more than 35 countries, harnessing the body's innate healing mechanisms to change the health of the skin. Learn more at dannemking.com. That's D-A-N-N-E-M-K-I-N-G.com.
0:00:46.1 S1: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk because ASCP knows, it's all about you.
0:01:04.3 Speaker 2: Hello, and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm your co-host, Maggie Staszcuk, an ASCP cosmetology education manager.
0:01:12.4 Speaker 3: And I'm Ella Cressman, a licensed esthetician and content contributor for Associated Skin Care Professionals.
0:01:18.2 S2: And we're joined by Tracy Donley, Executive Director of ASCP.
0:01:22.5 Speaker 4: Hello. Hello. Hello. I'm so excited for this episode. We're gonna nerd out.
0:01:29.0 S2: We are.
0:01:29.7 S4: Oh, you guys are. [chuckle]
0:01:31.7 S2: So question for everyone. Could the secret to perfect skin be in our genes?
0:01:37.5 S3: Yes, probably. [chuckle]
0:01:39.7 S4: My liver is.
0:01:40.6 S3: Well, let's remember, as we talked about in episode 104, we talked about aging. And in that episode, we talked about extrinsic aging and some contributing factors for that, like the sun, which some people argue account for 80%-90% of aging. Or other studies suggest that our genetics account for 50%-60% of our intrinsic aging. So outside influences or inside influences?
0:02:07.3 S2: So for years, formulators have developed products based on skin type, oily, normal, dry, but recently there has been a shift in thinking and some brands are beginning to develop their products based on our individual genetic make-up. Yeah.
0:02:23.5 S4: I'm sorry. I just need to pause on that. I'm into that. Okay. I could kick out on this.
0:02:27.6 S2: So today, we're gonna dive into the world of DNA-based skin care.
0:02:32.6 S3: Fascinating, right?
0:02:33.7 S2: Totally.
0:02:34.3 S3: It reminds me of diet trends when we...
0:02:38.0 S4: Oh, that's a bummer. I hate diet trends. [laughter]
0:02:40.1 S3: Well, if you remember eating right for your blood type?
0:02:43.1 S4: Yes, I did that.
0:02:44.1 S3: Yeah, so there's maybe this kind of diet... There's how many, 9000 different types of diets. This type of diet works better for you because you're an O blood type, or this one is like an A blood type. And so the DNA skin care is looking at, "Oh, you are this kind of DNA, so you might need this type of skin care products." But just a few notes on DNA, we were born with it, it's nothing that we can really change. It determines the appearance and behavior of our skin. And though we can't change this, we can influence the external factors of our genes and the gene expression and how they're exposed and how to protect them from the sun, stress and how to give good skin care.
0:03:25.4 S4: Okay, that is awesome. That will be cool. I'm intrigued. More, please.
0:03:30.8 S2: Speaking of skin type...
0:03:32.3 S4: Oh yes, skin type. I hear you guys. I didn't know that you both know and live in it and breathe in it. Can you do that? Can you live and breathe in an app? Sure. If you don't, you should. What I'm talking about is the ASCP SkinPro app. That's only for ASP members, and it is so cool because it has ingredients and skin conditions, it puts it all in the palm of your hand, what else can I say about it, Maggie?
0:04:01.3 S2: It's awesome, you guys. You can use it while you're consulting with your clients, doing your analysis. It lists about 53 different conditions. There's over 100 ingredients. So if you need to just quick check yourself and determine if you are right in your thinking, pull up that condition, it will tell you if there's contraindications, how to proceed with your treatment. You can also review your ingredients, pull that same information, determine if your client's condition can proceed with the ingredient or the key ingredients in the products that you're using.
0:04:34.4 S4: Well, and I even love it, 'cause I remember the last time we were talking about it, Ella was saying that she will even just straight up like, you don't have to keep it your dirty little secret. You can show your client, like, "Hey, look what this says right here." You can use it as a tool with them.
0:04:50.3 S3: It confirms your street cred.
0:04:51.9 S4: Oh, I like that. I think that's a new tagline.
0:04:55.4 S3: It elevates your influence.
0:04:58.0 S4: I think it confirms your street cred. Yeah, I like that.
0:05:01.3 S2: Love it.
0:05:02.9 S4: Okay. Anyway...
0:05:03.8 S2: Alright. So one concept of DNA-based skin care, some companies are using this by gathering information about your genetic make-up, things like your ability to produce melanin, your collagen degradation, sensitivity levels. And this test is performed by things like a cheek swab or maybe they're doing blood sampling, and then developing an entire skin care line based on the information that's gathered, so that skin care regimen is very, very specific to you.
0:05:37.1 S4: Wow. Swabbing my cheek to come up with my skin care plan?
0:05:42.1 S2: Yeah.
0:05:42.4 S3: Well, this takes into account intrinsic factors. It doesn't take into account extrinsic factor.
0:05:47.2 S4: Well said.
0:05:50.1 S3: So there is... I think in our analysis, we do this not in a DNA level, but we do consider these parts, so we're thinking about lifestyle and asking questions based on what we know now, like food sensitivities, not necessarily knowing if you're Northern Irish or Southern Irish, for example, not knowing what your 23andMe are, but we know that, "Hey, you have some sensitivities. This could be... " We know that what happens inside shows up outside. So I guess this begs the question, does this approach feel any different from purchasing products based on what you know your skin type is on the outside?
0:06:27.7 S4: If I was a carny, [chuckle] and I was working, setting up fairs and working on the road a lot, that's gonna be a lot of pollution and things like that, that I'd be exposed to. So that would be considered my extrinsic?
0:06:44.3 S3: Extrinsic, yeah.
0:06:45.5 S4: Okay. Okay, getting it.
0:06:47.9 S3: Yeah, I think that... I think this is very exciting because it could be again, like one more tool for us to use. Can you imagine if you're like, okay, is part of your consultation, I'm gonna email you the forms and I'm gonna send you a kit. [laughter] like would that, would look like in an initial consultation.
0:07:05.7 S4: I'm gonna send you a kit. That's because it's a doctor appointment.
0:07:08.3 S3: I'm gonna swab your cheek. We're gonna send off. And then we're gonna come in and review it together.
0:07:13.4 S2: Tell me if you agree with this theory, there are estheticians who believe that it's not just... Here's your regimen and you stay on it for life, not taking into consideration that obviously you age, and you're gonna change your products line to account for that aging. But also that the skin is gonna get used to those products for lack of a better explanation. And so you wanna change it up over time. So if you're gonna do this test, and these are the products that are for you based on your genetics, then that's it. That's the end all, be all.
0:07:48.1 S4: End scene. [laughter]
0:07:49.3 S2: Exactly. This is it and done.
0:07:51.5 S4: No that's a good point.
0:07:54.4 S2: So there's then no altering that regimen.
0:07:58.1 S4: Like saying, okay, you're only going to use 5% retinal for the rest of your life, 'cause you will respond the best to that.
0:08:06.5 S3: Or is it going to be in your 20s, you're going to use one person, and then you're gonna up it up in your 30s because your DNA shows that your degradation happens most in your late 30s. So in prepare or whatever, I don't know. I'd be interested to find out what their... What that process actually was.
0:08:23.0 S4: Well, and then even too like what if... Two ingredients would perform better together than separate or, you know what I'm saying, there's mixing things together.
0:08:35.5 S2: I guess it depends on...
0:08:36.6 S4: Alex is looking at me like I'm a crazy lady.
0:08:38.0 S2: No, I'm thinking [laughter]
0:08:38.8 S3: What information is being obtained from this test.
0:08:42.0 S2: Yeah.
0:08:42.2 S3: So like to your point, Ella, if they're able to look into the future and say. Okay, in 10 years, this test is indicating that your collage and degradation is this, or we can foresee that your oil production will slow to this. So your regimen will change then yeah. But if it's just that, no, we've determined based on this test that you are oily. You have this, you have this, you have this. So here's your skincare plan. It seems that it's not really that tailored that you do need the esthetician who can regularly assess this is actively what's happening on your skin today.
0:09:19.7 S2: And to Tracy's point and at your point, new ingredients come out all the time. So how would we know like what the new peptides that come out or new plant stem cells that come out, how will we know that that data capture in 2022, in 2026 may be different.
0:09:38.1 S4: Because absorption too, different ingredients are going to, or even carriers are gonna absorb at different levels.
0:09:45.3 S3: Yeah.
0:09:45.8 S4: So it's not just like, here's the ingredients.
0:09:48.5 S2: Do they have a site that we can send away to?
0:09:50.6 S3: There's multiple manufacturers that are doing this.
0:09:53.1 S4: We should do it.
0:09:53.5 S2: We should try this and follow up and to see really what the process is, because I'm curious to see if this is just creative marketing.
0:10:02.3 S4: Which kudos, creative marketing your brains out.
0:10:05.0 S3: Yeah. You don't hear about eat right for your blood type anymore. Is it a craze that they're trying to get to cut John? What is it really about? Let's do it.
0:10:12.1 S4: Let's do it.
0:10:12.6 S2: And then have a follow up.
0:10:14.2 S3: Hey guys, stop. Let's take a quick break.
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0:10:52.6 S2: Let's get back to the conversation.
0:10:57.5 S3: What we do know, is this a question... A question is can products actually alter your DNA to prevent aging?
0:11:06.6 S4: Ooh.
0:11:07.2 S3: And the answer is kinda, so do you know what a telomere is?
0:11:11.2 S4: I've heard the word before, but I just play one. I'm just a scientist on TV, I just play one. [chuckle]
0:11:16.9 S3: It's a very fancy way. So the telomere is like the in-cap on the DNA chain. So it's kind of like on your shoe laces, that plastic piece on your shoe laces, it holds it in there. So you're able to lace your shoes up really well.
0:11:31.0 S4: Ah, yes.
0:11:31.2 S3: But it also keeps your shoe lace from fraying. So that's telomere.
0:11:35.2 S4: That's a good example.
0:11:36.1 S3: It keeps your DNA from fraying. Both with, intrinsic and extrinsic factors, mostly extrinsic factors and duplication, the telomere shortens each time it's duplicated or influenced. And something speed up that shorten like sun, for example, or free radical damage. Anytime that the cells have to reproduce so fast, there could be a shortening and once it's gone, it's gone. And when it's gone, then your DNA is vulnerable to fraying.
0:12:05.7 S4: Is that when you get cancer?
0:12:07.0 S3: Yes, potentially.
0:12:08.0 S4: Okay.
0:12:08.6 S3: Or other kind of rewriting the code, it can rewrite your book.
0:12:11.8 S4: Okay.
0:12:12.5 S3: And so the goal is to keep those telomeres as long as possible, for as long as possible in life. This is why stress free is encouraged. This is why we meditate. This is why we go for walks. This is why we eat Vitamin rich foods. And this is why we put good skincare on our faces.
0:12:30.2 S4: I wish that I could swab my cheek at every week to see how long my telomeres are.
0:12:34.8 S3: Maybe it's coming [laughter]
0:12:35.8 S4: Okay.
0:12:36.7 S3: But in the meantime, there are these products or these ingredients that help keep it longer for longer.
0:12:45.5 S2: So what Ella is getting at is known as epigenetic skincare. So this is still in its infancy. It's based on the concepts that ingredients can in theory, alter our gene behavior. So there's a lot of analogies out there. You can think of this, like a dimmer switch, turning that gene behavior up or turning it down. Or another analogy that you can think of is our genes are like the keys on a piano. We have all of the keys, but it's just which keys are being played at that moment.
0:13:17.6 S3: I found a really good definition of epigenetics too.
0:13:20.9 S2: Oh. Yeah. Share with us.
0:13:21.8 S3: It's the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than the alteration of genetic code itself. So it's the way, in other words, it's how the message is translated down or up. So it's kind of like imagine how the tone is translated. So imagine someone speaks German...
0:13:42.3 S4: Okay.
0:13:42.3 S3: And someone else speaks Latin.
0:13:45.3 S4: Spanish. Okay. Spanish.
0:13:46.4 S3: Latin, and so how those are translated to come off... Let's just say in English, when one person is saying, "Oh, no. That will never happen", and you could tell them to go take a hike. And the translator can say verbatim that, or they can say...
0:14:03.1 S4: Oh, I thought that you were gonna say it.
0:14:04.3 S3: No. Or they could say, "You know, we're not sure that that's going to be in our best interest, so we might take a pass unless you have a better offer." So it's like one's inflammatory and one's not, and so the translation of a less inflammatory way would be an interruption or an influence in the expression.
0:14:22.7 S2: Yeah. So to relate this to skin care, if you carry the DNA for freckles, or for melasma, or rosacea, for instance, Tracy...
0:14:32.9 S4: And she's pointing out my face, right now.
0:14:34.7 S2: Yeah. Epigenetics can turn the dimmer switch up or down for presenting those conditions on the surface of the skin.
0:14:44.0 S4: Okay. Well, I'd like to turn it down, please.
0:14:46.5 S3: Yeah. And that's what these ingredients do now, and as Maggie mentioned, they're in their infancy.
0:14:51.5 S4: So it's not like, "Oh, we're gonna put the on 'cause it calms your skin and it takes the redness out." It's literally gonna shut it down at the source.
0:15:00.4 S3: It changes the tone of the translation.
0:15:02.1 S4: Nice.
0:15:02.7 S3: Or turn... She says it, dims it from aah to Oh, hi.
0:15:09.6 S4: Wake up everyone that was Ella...
0:15:13.4 S3: I was overtaken by analogy.
0:15:15.9 S4: That was good, I like it. I don't want it to be like, "Oh." Not too much.
0:15:19.3 S2: So what are the benefits of these epigenetics?
0:15:23.1 S3: The benefits are that they help the body help itself, and that helps to regulate processes that occur naturally in the skin. So when we think of cell proliferation or natural exfoliation, that it would go at a more normal cadence or a more useful cadence, if you will, or if you think of sebum production, oil production, it's the Goldilocks just right, not too much, not too little.
0:15:47.8 S4: You know what I'm thinking about while you're saying that is that I wonder how this... If this really takes off and we start seeing this as a big... Not even a trend, but just a way to treat, does that change a lot of that cosmetic surgery, more extreme med spa type of treatments, like maybe you aren't peeling your face off every day because you don't need to, because you've turned... Dimmed it, and brought up the goodness, so you're not aging as fast.
0:16:22.3 S2: I think the definition of... Has changed, and I think we see that now, and I think they called it... What did this guy that stopped by the shop the other day.
0:16:29.9 S4: Anti-aging? [laughter]
0:16:32.4 S2: No, that's a four letter word.
0:16:34.1 S4: Okay. [laughter]
0:16:34.4 S2: Check out our episode.
0:16:36.4 S4: Oh, that's right.
0:16:38.1 S2: No, it's called prejuvenation rather than rejuvenation.
0:16:41.7 S3: Oh okay, okay.
0:16:42.8 S2: Yeah. So they've recognized that this was a laser rep that came in.
0:16:46.9 S4: Oh, I love that pre-rejuvenation.
0:16:48.6 S2: Pre-rejuvenation. So he came in and they're recognizing that it's a lot less reactive, our industry is a lot less reactive and a lot more proactive and is evidenced in even these epigenetics...
0:17:00.9 S4: Yeah, for sure.
0:17:01.0 S2: Ingredients is that they're proactively maintaining the length of the telomere, if you will, or keeping these cells healthier, these DNA chains healthier for longer than before, where they were like, "Great, now what? We're gonna burn it off, cut it off."
0:17:15.9 S4: Yeah. Well, it's kind of like, "Eat right now, so you don't have to take tons of medication later." You know what I'm saying? It's like our parents generation was like, at least my parents, I don't know about yours, they carry a suitcase around full of pills, like so many pills and then they lay it all out because they're reacting versus this gives you that opportunity to be proactive. It's like taking vitamins versus pills.
0:17:42.1 S2: And there's a whole... This newer generation, the people in their 20s now are not gonna have the same procedures, the same frequency, the same... This is not your mother's pill.
0:17:54.3 S4: Wow.
0:17:56.1 S2: They're having self-care, they're seeing the value in facials instead of the people my age, who saw the value in pills in a reactive way.
0:18:07.1 S4: This is so key when people are considering their business, like the life of their business and how they continue to adapt as an aesthetician.
0:18:17.0 S12: Yeah.
0:18:17.2 S4: It really is, and who their target market is.
0:18:19.2 S2: Well, I think that all of it too is about educating the client and retail, which we always are stressing, you're gonna get the results by using the proper products at home, and you still need to come in for maintenance to see your aesthetician, but it's all about the client understanding in what they're doing at home, and self-care, like you just said, Tracy.
0:18:39.8 S4: Boom, drop the mic, that is it right there. So I love that because the aesthetician is definitely still part of the equation.
0:18:48.5 S3: 100%
0:18:49.7 S4: They're gonna be evaluating, seeing how your home care... It's just a different type of home care.
0:18:54.4 S3: Some of the disadvantages, of course, 'cause of every positive you have to think of the negative.
0:18:58.9 S4: Oh.
0:19:00.0 S3: Or just to be aware of is that we're not exactly sure at this point, though, most of the studies have been positive that maybe there are some undocumented side effects depending on the ingredients. So where some ingredients have been around since 2000... I know of one in particular since 2011 that has been around, and some have been studied as early as 2007. As it catches on, we need to make sure that these are thoroughly studied.
0:19:26.7 S2: But that is still so new. When you start thinking about the ingredients that we're applying to our face all the time, they're just versions of what's been around since the 1800s.
0:19:38.4 S3: Or longer.
0:19:39.1 S2: Or longer. And so that's like baby. This is like a little tiny new baby thing.
0:19:45.8 S3: Yes. And for that, to your point, we have limited research on them, we have white papers that you can definitely ask for from the companies that you... That are having these ingredients, but...
0:19:57.7 S4: What's an example of an ingredient? I feel like your tiptoeing, it's killing me, the fact that you really, "I know one."
0:20:03.7 S3: No, I know several, but there was one that... The first one that ever came out, this used the example of telomeres and it was used in a sunscreen and a brand, they use them like peptides.
0:20:13.7 S4: Okay.
0:20:14.2 S3: So RoyalEpigen P5 is one, for example.
0:20:17.1 S4: Okay, okay.
0:20:17.7 S3: And that's a more recent one.
0:20:19.0 S4: Are they trademarked? Is that why they're specific to certain brands?
0:20:23.3 S2: I believe so.
0:20:23.9 S4: Okay.
0:20:25.2 S2: It's kind of like BV-OSC is the trade name for liposomal vitamin C.
0:20:30.7 S2: Okay.
0:20:31.1 S2: But many companies use BV-OSC. So they're peptides, and they do have brand names, and they have these brand names that are incorporated by brands in their formula, but oftentimes they'll call them their inky name versus their brand names.
0:20:47.3 S4: Okay, well, 'cause I know everyone is like, "Come on, Ella tell us what the name is." they're screaming at their radio right now.
0:20:52.5 S3: There's a lot of different ones, I don't wanna say that's the only one.
0:20:54.8 S4: Yeah, that's okay.
0:20:54.9 S3: But RoyalEpigen P5 is one, for example, and it works to mimic the benefits of royal jelly honey.
0:21:02.0 S4: Oh, yes.
0:21:02.5 S3: Yeah. So in the skin specifically, the way that it works is it works to calm and sooth. So it's calming and soothing the process that would normally have that to happen.
0:21:13.4 S4: But that's not necessarily gonna keep your telomere long.
0:21:17.5 S3: Yeah, yes.
0:21:18.2 S4: It will, okay.
0:21:18.8 S3: Because inflammation shortens telomeres.
0:21:20.9 S4: Oh okay, yep, got it, thanks.
0:21:22.1 S3: So you just need that circle back.
0:21:22.8 S3: But not all anti-inflammatory agents address telomere specifically.
0:21:27.8 S4: Now I get it. Thank you.
0:21:29.0 S3: Yeah. So even though some companies are including ingredients that affect gene behavior, it's not like we can claim, "Hey, this product works on a genetic level." And that is because that function falls into a drug category potentially.
0:21:44.8 S4: Oh yes. Out of scope.
0:21:46.4 S3: Yeah, out of... Well, it's just a different regulation, so different requirements for packaging and testing.
0:21:54.0 S2: Well, when you're altering the function of the body, that is the function of a drug, not a cosmetic.
0:22:00.3 S3: So you could potentially...
0:22:01.7 S4: So that would be out of scope. Yeah.
0:22:03.8 S3: Well, salicylic acid is a drug, and it's just listed on there.
0:22:07.5 S4: Are we're gonna get in a fight today?
0:22:08.8 S3: Yeah. [laughter]
0:22:09.1 S4: Is that we're gonna do? We're gonna just fight, fight it out? I'm just kidding. [laughter] That's so fun.
0:22:14.3 S3: It just happens to be how you can say that it works.
0:22:16.8 S4: Okay.
0:22:17.5 S2: Now listeners, we wanna hear from you, could the secret to perfect skin be in our genes? Share with us on social media by commenting on our Instagram or Facebook posts or by emailing email@example.com. Thank you for listening to ASCP Esty Talk. And for more information on this episode, or for ways to connect with Ella and myself, or to learn more about ASCP, check out the show notes.
0:22:39.4 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 at ascpskincare.com only $259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows it's all about you.