Ep 172 – Blurred Lines: Where Modern Convenience Interferes with Professional Esthetics

woman with hands on her face

With the new standard of free two-day shipping, the world has opened to reveal a bounty of “things” available to consumers. We can find just about anything we think we need, and even more that we absolutely don’t. This rings true in the beauty industry with products that make us prettier and devices that could cause damage. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, Ella and Maggie examine the blurred lines between products that make us feel independent and those that could give the professional industry a bad rap.


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:

Website: www.ellacress.com

Website: www.hhpcollective.com


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:

P 800.789.0411 EXT 1636

MStaszcuk@ascpskincare.com or AMI@ascpskincare.com


About our Sponsors

Truth Treatment Systems:

All Truth Treatment Systems products have one thing in common—they work! Our products are made with 100 percent active and functional ingredients that make a difference to your skin. No fillers, preservatives, waxes, emulsifiers, oils, or fragrances. Our ingredients leverage the latest biochemical understandings and use proven strategies gleaned from years of compounding prescription skin health products for the most discerning physicians and patients. 

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About Rhonda Allison:

Rhonda Allison Skincare recognizes that every person’s skin is unique—we have beautiful skin down to a science. 

For over 30 years, we have looked to nature for inspiration, blending the best active, quality-driven, natural ingredients with highly beneficial, scientifically developed compounds to create superior products. 

World-class biochemists and CEO Shannon Esau are in constant research to uncover the latest scientific advancements and next-generation ingredients to give you time-tested, proven ingredients that will transform the condition of your skin. 

No matter what your skin care needs may be, we have a skin care line that will meet those needs with quality products proudly free of synthetic dyes, synthetic fragrances, sodium lauryl sulfates, and parabens. Everything you want in skin care.

Connect with Rhonda Allison:

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web: https://rhondaallison.com/

blog: https://ra.skin/blogs/news


About DMK:

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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About Elleebana:

Elleebana continues to push the treatment evolution envelope and influence the global market. Company Director, Otto Mitter is a qualified Cosmetic Chemist of the Institute of Personal Care Science and award-winning global & lash brow educator. Highly passionate about product ingredients, research and development and ongoing education, Otto is the innovator for the world famous Elleebana One Shot Lash Lift system, Elleeplex ReGEN and Elleebana Brow Henna, as well as Co-Producer of the Belmacil Lash & Brow Tinting System. Otto continues to extend the boundaries of product development within the world of beauty and in collaboration with other world leaders in the industry.

Connect with Elleebana:

Website: https://elleebana-usa.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elleebanausa

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elleebanausa/


About Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) is the nation’s largest association for skin care professionals and your ONLY all-inclusive source for professional liability insurance, education, community, and career support. For estheticians at every stage of the journey, ASCP is your essential partner. Get in touch with us today if you have any questions or would like to join and become an ASCP member.

Connect with ASCP:

Website: www.ascpskincare.com

Email: getconnected@ascpskincare.com

Phone: 800-789-0411

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ASCPskincare

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ascpskincare

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0:01:31.6 Ella Cressman: Hello and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm Ella Cressman, licensed esthetician, certified organic skincare formulator and content contributor for Associated Skin Care Professionals. 


0:01:42.8 Maggie Staszcuk: I am Maggie Staszcuk, licensed esthetician and ASCP's education program manager. 


0:01:48.1 EC: And I am still coming to you live from my home studio. Hopefully just a few more weeks until I will be out and about again. I can't wait to see you there, Maggie, pretty soon. 


0:01:58.9 MS: We're all looking forward to it, Ella, and I hope that you are on the mend. 


0:02:04.0 EC: I am. It's crazy. It's been an interesting process of healing. It's been really hard to to watch my wound heal. That sounds really interesting but... And not be able to do anything. They're like, "Don't touch it. Don't touch." I'm like, "Yeah, but I could just make it better", in my mind, but I'm just sitting here. So, in order to distract myself, needless to say, I've spent a lot of time on the internet. 


0:02:28.9 MS: Oh, I bet. 


0:02:29.5 EC: And that is where I found our shout out. So, a shout out to, Imee of San Francisco Esthetics in Daly City, California. Hello, thank you for listening. She's got a beautiful Instagram profile and thank you, really. Really, really appreciate you checking us out. There's also something else that I have found that is alarming. Before we get into that, Maggie, let's talk about it. Back in the day, there was a definitive line between professional esthetics, really between spa and medical, right?  


0:03:02.5 MS: Yeah. 


0:03:02.8 EC: There was spa and there was a medical. And then there was medical spa. And then there was a difference between professional esthetics and over-the-counter. Very, very different. But in the past few years, the lines in between all of that have become lighter and maybe a bit blurrier, wouldn't you say?  


0:03:24.8 MS: Oh, totally. Yeah. 


0:03:25.3 EC: We see that now, especially with marketing campaigns of these over-the-counter or big-box store brands and the way they're saying different approaches, very ingredient heavy. But there's also even more availability. But before we get into that, I think we need to add a disclaimer, wouldn't you say?  


0:03:44.4 MS: Yes. 


0:03:45.8 EC: First off, as professionals, we absolutely cannot endorse the products we're going to discuss or the methods in which to obtain them. And I will go further to personally warn against using them if you are not a trained professional. And even if you are, think about it before you go for it. 


0:04:01.5 MS: Yeah, and please note, some of these things that we are discussing may not be covered by ASCP insurance. 


0:04:08.9 EC: Even if you get your hands on them. One for sure... Well, so this is how it starts out. I got a text message from my friend and she says, "What do you think about this?" With a link. And I click this link, and in there, I see an Amazon product that reads, X brand filler, two pack. Free 2-5 day shipping, removes lines, plumps lips, fills wrinkles, works with PDO threads. Amazon Prime. 


0:04:38.7 MS: Wow. 


0:04:39.1 EC: $70, with a coupon. 


0:04:43.2 MS: Hang on. Is Amazon selling PDO thread lifts?  


0:04:46.2 EC: Great question. I looked, I didn't find them. 


0:04:48.4 MS: Okay. Thank God because... 


0:04:48.8 EC: But they are selling... 


0:04:50.2 MS: Yikes. 




0:04:51.5 EC: They are selling this product, which comes with a syringe and needles and it's lip filler. It's fillers, it's marketed as fillers. The description is hyaluronic acid, which adds volume and contour to face and body and removes even the deepest wrinkles. I, at this point, am mortified. And then you know like with Amazon, you can scroll down and it says, "Compare with similar items." Well, there's a list of them. Bonafill Deep By, blah, blah, I'm not gonna say the brand. Wrinkle corrector. So after further investigation, by the way, these are a 4 1/2 star review, 84% five star, 16% one star. And what these are intended for is, I think, I'm not for sure, but it's those Hyaluron pens. 


0:05:41.0 MS: Yeah. 


0:05:42.9 EC: So that is freaky to me, that... And I'll tell you why they sent this to me. Their friend's teenage daughter was buying these from Amazon and giving herself lip fillers. 


0:05:52.5 MS: Okay, I'm curious. When you go to Amazon, it tells you who's selling. Is this like black market?  


0:06:01.0 EC: I don't know, but... I don't know. 


0:06:03.8 MS: Am I gonna see this on Trafficked?  


0:06:05.9 EC: Maybe. [laughter] Maybe. Or what is that show on Netflix, Broken? Like the counterfeit stuff?  


0:06:12.7 MS: Yeah. 


0:06:13.1 EC: There's a question though. They have a question, customer questions and answers. Is this injectable? The answer is, "Yes. This is an injectable filler." The answer came in February 2023. "Yes, but I think it's just under the skin." Oh, okay. It's just under the skin. [laughter] What the heck? Oh my good, Maggie!  


0:06:31.7 MS: Yeah, I mean, write back when your lips fall off and tell us. 


0:06:36.5 EC: Well, here, some of the five-star comments, "Half a syringe did the job. I want my lips really big, so I'll be using the other half in seven days." 


0:06:45.3 MS: No!  


0:06:46.4 EC: "But I feel much better about the outcome already. In love. Sorry, I'm a bleeder." 


0:06:50.8 MS: Sorry, I'm a bleeder?  


0:06:52.7 EC: Yes, it is a little... Well, I shouldn't, I'm judging. A young woman. A young woman. Oh my gosh. Ugh, crazy!  


0:07:00.9 MS: So what can go wrong?  


0:07:04.8 EC: Girl, what can go wrong? Let's talk about it. What can go wrong? First of all, let's talk about granulomas and how they're formed. So, if you're injecting a needle into a place and you're an untrained... Shoot, if you're a trained professional, you could cause damage. But a granuloma is, when healing goes wrong and you have different... It's the healing process, there's four stages of skin healing, and one of those stages is interrupted, so now you have a lumpy, bumpy lips, and that's not pretty. Let's talk about infection. If you're not cleaning the area properly, if you're not taking care in this application, that care that you would learn as a trained professional, you can get an infection. And guess what, oozy goosey lips, not pretty. And let's talk about the opportunity for permanent nerve damage. As an esthetician, I know enough to know that I'm not a trained professional to be putting needles in anybody's faces, let alone myself. What do you think? There's a lot of other things. 


0:07:57.3 MS: I worry about people who are purchasing this and say, "Sure, I understand I can use this for my lips, to pump my lips," but decide they wanna try pumping something else and inject it where it shouldn't be. 


0:08:10.0 EC: They have them touted for the... And the way that it's written, you can tell they're not from this country, but they're talking... Basically they're talking about the marionette lines, and then they're talking about crows feet. Now you're gonna put this up by your eye? You know what's not cute? Accidentally making your eyes droop, one eye droop even. That's not cute. 


0:08:31.3 MS: Yeah. 


0:08:32.0 EC: There's a whole host of things that should not come with free two-day shipping, and one of them is injectables, period, unless you're diabetic and you know what you're doing, and it's from a prescription source. But if it's for lip pumping or reducing wrinkles, imagine in the 11s, and what if it migrates? I'm thinking of all kinds of scenarios now. What if it migrates and this filler moves down your nose, if you're trying to do your glabella, for example? That's freaky. So then I went down a rabbit hole of just what else is available. So I'm certified in micro-needling, and of course, I follow the guidelines by my state. I stay in my scope of practice, and I know that's one of the requirements from ASCP, to be covered for these advanced treatments, you have to be... You stay in your guidelines and be trained. 


0:09:21.6 MS: Yeah, yeah, you gotta show us the proof of training, send us your certificate. And it can't be like, you watched a YouTube. 


0:09:28.9 EC: Funny you should bring that up because someone else was asking on those fillers, "How do I do this?" They go, "Oh, watch a YouTube, this guy is great." That was their instructions for administering that product. Hold that thought, we'll be right back. 


0:09:43.6 S1: 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, Danné 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. 


0:10:31.0 S1: Elleebana, Australian born, globally loved. Elleebana's story is simple, they love lashes and brows. They shoot for the stars and lift lashes to new heights. Their addiction is real, their passion is popping, and there is nothing more they crave, than offering excellence, service and innovation in products. Elleebana Lash Lift allows you to offer your customers luscious, lifted lashes that can last up to 12 weeks in one safe 20 minute treatment. Learn more at elleebana-usa.com. 


0:11:07.9 EC: Okay, here we go. Let's get back to the podcast. So what else is available are these adjustable needle length micro-needling devices. So when we're doing adjustable needle length, that means that we have the potential to go outside of our scope of practice, whatever that's designated by your state. The price is remarkable. When you look at other pen devices, the medical devices that you can get, this is for a limited time, it's $50 off $99. So, this is a $49 pen that you can get. And it's a very popular one, I'm not gonna say the brand, but it's a very popular one, and with it, you get different needle cartridges, 16, 36, 42. And you can get this, just as a consumer. So if you are someone who has watched TikTok and someone has said, "Oh, micro-needling is really good." Or I have these clients, I've had these clients in the past who ask a bunch of questions about a particular modality or procedure, and I answer all these questions and then they never come back for it, so this could be the case. "I wanna know about micro needling and all the effects", and you can go buy this online and do it yourself. How do you know the difference between 16, 36, 42 or nano?  


0:12:25.7 MS: Yeah, I mean, I was joking with the... Well, half joking about the black market when we were talking about the injectables, but a $50 pen on Amazon, probably is not the real deal. 


0:12:40.2 EC: No. But they're gonna buy it. Guess what questions they're asking on there too. "I read that most people's skin peel after this treatment. Why is that my skin peeling? What am I doing wrong?" Guess what the answer was. 


0:12:51.7 MS: Tell us, I'm dying to know. 


0:12:53.3 EC: Thought-provoked and professional, eh? [laughter] It says, "Maybe you aren't going deep enough. You will bleed and have very red skin when done. That seems to lessen with each treatment. I suggest watching YouTube videos or even go have a couple treatments done by a professional before doing it yourself. I did the latter through Groupon. I found they suggested once a month going a little deeper each time. They also used hyaluronic acid on the skin instead of micro-needling on dry skin." 


0:13:23.4 MS: Freaky, what's out there, right?  


0:13:25.7 EC: Guess what else is available? Laser hair removal devices. Now you have experience in lasers, what is your take on this?  


0:13:33.1 MS: Well, I've seen these. You can go to some big box stores and purchase rather small devices that claim to do laser hair removal. But I am here to tell you, these devices do not have enough energy output to really get the job done. 


0:13:51.6 EC: Say that again for the people in the back. [laughter] Because even though this treatment or this device is $109, 45% off, plus a $35 coupon, this poor person is like, "I love it. It's IPL at home. I've done 16 treatments so far, and it's definitely slowed the hair growth." [laughter] 


0:14:12.5 MS: Dang!  


0:14:13.2 EC: But 16 treatments, as a laser professional, what is your take on that?  


0:14:15.2 MS: If you are slowing hair growth and you are not seeing that hair gone, probably it's because, as I said, it doesn't have the energy output to get the job done. I mean, for all of these things, if it seems too good to be true, as the saying goes, it is. 


0:14:32.6 EC: Yeah, walk away. 


0:14:35.4 MS: Walk away, yeah. For real. 


0:14:36.4 EC: Guess, what else we've got?  


0:14:38.2 MS: Tell me. 


0:14:39.0 EC: Chemical peels. 


0:14:40.4 MS: Yes, I feel like we've talked about this before, and chemical peels doesn't surprise me, but man, that's not one I would mess around with. 


0:14:51.0 EC: You know what we have? We have training we have to follow, and we have state regulations that we have to stay within. But you go online and you can get a 70% glycolic acid gel peel or a 50% glycolic gel peel. Let's see, 50% TCA, 30% AHA, 2% BHA, 70% glycolic, which has a prep glycolic neutralizer. Oh, thank goodness, they've got that at least up there. This, to me, there's a couple of factors, we can guess they're probably a really high pH. 


0:15:20.4 MS: We would hope, yeah. 


0:15:22.2 EC: Hopefully, but come on, don't do this. Obviously, these companies are, "Hey, at your own risk", they have their own set of legal jargon, but don't do it. Why would you do that? Unless you're a trained professional. 


0:15:35.6 MS: I saw a company that was selling to the consumer, they were selling a body peel, and it was a blend, and it was like a TCA, but it was blended, I think with glycolic, and it had some salicylic in there, and I was looking at the reviews and people were commenting, "Oh, body peel. " They were literally doing their full body at one time... 


0:15:58.5 EC: Oh my gosh!  


0:16:00.2 MS: With a TCA. I would imagine they're selling to the consumer, so like you're saying, hopefully a high pH, low percentage. But I'm thinking, you don't apply a chemical peel to your entire freaking body at one time. I mean, that's going into the skin, it's staying. That's it, it's done. It just sounds like a bad idea. 


0:16:19.8 EC: There's an opportunity for toxicity, systemic toxicity at that point, which we learn that in school, but you're not gonna learn that from watching a video on YouTube after you've gotten it, after you've received it. So I would say there are some really great things that you can do at home yourself, arts and crafts, just different sewing projects or maybe make a book-shelf, whatever it is, but do not chemical peel, do not... Well, laser your hair if you want, it just doesn't work, is that what you said? Don't do filler! And don't do chemical peels on your body!  


0:16:55.5 MS: Yes, bad idea, go see your esthetician. 


0:16:58.5 EC: Go see your esthetician. And for you professionals, if you have people... Being aware of these, I think, is an important thing because you're gonna hear about it, maybe you're gonna have to fix it, or maybe you know what, make this part of your... Let's do a campaign, a social media campaign of, "Don't do this", post in your stores, tag us at ASCP or @ellacressman. "The reason why you shouldn't do these crazy things at home. Come to me, I'm a licensed professional." 


0:17:25.5 MS: I was gonna say it, you said a key thing there, which is, you're probably gonna have to fix it. I think that's true. I know even 10 years ago when I was in the treatment room, clients coming in because they did DIY at home and then wanted it corrected. 


0:17:41.3 EC: Yeah, there's some DIY things like a yogurt mask maybe, but nothing that can disfigure you or make you sick or hurt you. Even strawberries are dangerous. Like, remember the story of... I don't remember if this is like a tale, a professional esthetics tale that we hear or what, but somebody did a muddled up strawberry, put it on their face and left it for way longer than they should have, and it burned them. Like, it went deeper than intended. 


0:18:07.8 MS: Yes, that happened at the school. 


0:18:09.3 EC: Oh, there it is. Don't do it!  


0:18:12.6 MS: Don't do it. 


0:18:13.6 EC: But listeners, we really wanna hear for you. What are your thoughts on the availability of these professional only modalities, but they're now available to the public? Crazy, right? Be sure to let us know, slide into our DMs, comment on our social media posts or send us an email at getconnected@ascpskincare.com. We want to know all the details. But in the meantime, thank you for listening to ASCP Esty Talk. For more information on this episode or for ways to connect with Maggie or myself or to learn more about ASCP, check out the show notes and stay tuned for the next episode of ASCP Esty Talk. 


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