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Spa & Skin Care Blog

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The Essential Steps of Skin Care-Step 1 Cleansers

Hey everyone! We are excited to introduce our first installment (Step 1 - Cleansers) of Marianna’s six-part blog series on 

The Essential Steps of Skin Care

1. Facial Cleansers

2. Exfoliates & Masks

3. Toners

4. Special Serums & Gels

5. Moisturizers

6. Sun protection.

Step 1- Facial Cleansers

Cleansing is a critical first step in your skin care routine. Throughout the day and night your face continually accumulates oil, dirt, and air particulates. Cleansing your face removes these extraneous elements and prevents your pores from becoming clogged and blocked. Additionally, cleansing aids in the removal of dead skin cells, and prepares your skin to be receptive to the skin care products that follow in your daily regimen.

Picking the right type of cleanser for your skin can seem daunting, but not to worry, we are here to help. Here are some tips and information about Cleansing Milk, Cleansing Gel, and Cleansing Cream, so that you can choose which is best for you.

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Cleansing milks (also known as cleansing lotions) are thin, usually runny, emulsions or suspensions that are more emollient (moisture rich) than gels, and thinner than creams. Cleansing milks may be suitable for dry, dehydrated, sensitive, mature, and even oily skin, depending on the active ingredients, pH, and concentration of detergents (ingredients that remove dirt and debris) and surfactants (ingredients that lift oils) the product contains.

Dry, dehydrated, and mature skin types require lower concentrations of surfactants, and a pH close to 5.5 — that of the human skin. Milks also seem to be gentler on sensitive skin than both gel and cream cleansers. Additionally, active ingredients that target sensitivity, redness, or rosacea, tend to be more stable in milky emulsions.

There are some very effective cleansing milks for oily, blemish-prone, and acnaeic skin, however, most people with these skin conditions tend to “feel” cleaner with gel facial cleansers. Meanwhile, key active ingredients, used to kill bacteria and control sebum, for oil and blemish control cosmetics (such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and the much harsher benzoyl peroxide) are stable in both gel and emulsion bases.

Many facial cleansing gels contain alcohols as stabilizers. Look for gel cleansers without alcohol, since alcohols can be drying, sensitizing, and irritating to any skin type. For example, Marianna’s own AD. Purely Botanical Cleansing Gel, a plant-based formulation that is more emollient and gentle than many milky cleansers, and is designed to thoroughly cleanse without stripping your skin.

Cleansing creams are dense, rich, thick emulsions that are typically used to remove heavy make-up, including theatrical mascara and pancake make-up. Cleansing creams are not recommended for oily, blemish-prone, acnaeic, or sensitive skin types. They are too heavy for pores that tend to clog, and require more friction to apply than milks or gels—which may irritate or redden sensitive skin. Often, cleansing creams (as well as some brands of cleansing milks) may not rinse off completely, thus leaving an undesirable film on the skin surface.

All in all, the texture of facial cleansing product you choose is a matter of personal preference, but quality ingredients without counter-productive chemicals or harsh ingredients is of paramount importance. Please consider the tips and guidelines I’ve provided to select the best performing cleanser for your skin’s needs, and don’t forget to contact me with any questions that you may have regarding your skin and skin care regimen. Remember, we can help you with your skin, but half the battle is what you do and use on a daily basis at home.

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7 Tips for Self-Care this Holiday

Holidays are joyful times to share with family and friends, and are, for the most part, occasions to foster fond memories to last a lifetime. But most of us experience at least some level of stress during these times; be it air or road travel, hectic traffic in the streets and shops, rushing to find the perfect gifts, cooking to impress, or simply having enough of commotion and being deprived of solitude and quite time.

Follow these few tips to help your body balance stress:

1- Take a daily walk, concentrating on your breathing, and being aware of the environment around you. Sometimes we will walk or drive the same stretch every day, and become blind to the beauty of the space around us.

2- Find time to meditate, if possible, otherwise make #1 above your time to do so. Making time for yourself is really important.

3- Moderate your time with friends and family. It's okay to take a break. Don't feel obligated to overextend yourself when you feel the need to escape.

4- Drink alcohol, stimulant-rich, and sugary drinks in moderation.

5- Get plenty of sleep.

6- Connect with your community. Volunteer and practice gratitude. Those less fortunate could really use extra love and kindness at this time of year.

7- Set reasonable boundaries at  home and work for yourself and those around you. Try creating lists for chores, reponsibilities, and gift budgets.

To enjoy your family and friends to the fullest, you have to be at peace with yourself. Of course, if you really need to get away, there's no place like Marianna's to escape for a totally relaxing facial or massage.

Wishing all a happy and safe holiday!

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Summer Sun Safety

Living in Colorado's high altitude, sun protection is essential year-round. But now that its time for bathing suits, scanter clothing, and spending time by the water, we must really spread the sunscreen.

Knowledge of FDA nomenclature Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is great, but there is a lot more to sun protection than the information that is typically shared. For example, did you know that Critical Wave Length is more important than just an SPF number?


Sun Protection Science

Solar radiation travels in waves. The SPF system rates the level of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) or sunburn protection that a product provides. The system does not measure the dangers posed by UVA rays. These rays are responsible for premature aging and sun-induced skin cancer. Critical Wavelength (CW) is the most effective way to rate UVA protection. Solar radiation of 290nm (nanometers) to 400nm (the UVB-UVA range) is reproduced in a laboratory device designed to measure the amount of radiation absorbed by a sunscreen.

Starting at the beginning of the UVB range (290nm), progressively higher wavelengths of light are aimed at the sunscreen. A protective absorption curve or “umbrella” is produced. The Critical Wavelength® defines how far this umbrella (actually 90% of the umbrella) extends into the UVA range. So for a Critical Wavelength of 383nm, 90% of the sunscreen’s protective “umbrella” is between the beginning of the UVB range (290nm) to 383nm.  The higher the number, the better. A sunscreen with a Critical Wavelength® over 370nm is considered Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB protection.

To that, our highly popular Luca Sun Screen Products, one of the few brands on the market that measures and packages with CW, are greaseless, light-weight, and really nice formulas.

Freaky, Frightening Facts:

      • Each year, skin cancer affects more people than breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers combined.
      • The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
      • About 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. annually. Melanoma will account for more than 73,000 cases of skin cancer in 2015.


Safe Sun Practices:

        • Apply a generous amount of broad spectrum sunscreen to all skin that will be exposed 15 minutes before going outdoors.
        • Reapply immediately after swimming or sweating, and as a rule of thumb every hour or fraction of an hour for 1/10th of the SPF. For example, reapply an SPF 15 every hour and a half, an SPF 30 every 3 hours, etc.
        • Don't forget the little ones. Good habits start early.
        • The sun's UV danger is strongest between 11am and 3pm. Seek shade between those hours.
        • Is your left arm, hand, or side of your face more sun damaged i.e. dark spots? Our car windows act as magnifyng glasses for damaging UV rays. That's why pilots have an incidence of skin cancer than the general population. Use sun protection on a daily basis.
        • Topical Vitamin C offers a potent defense against hyperpigmentation, free radicals, and UV damage. Apply AD. Vitamin C Serum 20% .By applying a 20 percent concentration of topical vitamin C under your sunscreen, the extra C boosts the immune defense of your skin cells against UV damage.
        • Examine your skin every month for changes in moles or drastic skin texture changes, and see a dermatologist annually. We may notice something questionable, in which case we will recommend that you seek a dermatologist's examination.
        • Replace your sunscreen after 12 months. The formulas are tested for three years stability on the shelf but the active ingredients, apart from physical mineral barriers such as Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, are quite reactive, and tend to degrade more quickly.


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Stress Can Do a Number on your Mind and Body.

Take steps to control your stress.


Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn't mean that life is free of stress.

On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet, and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result you may feel as if you're constantly under assault. Like a huge knot in your belly. But you can fight back. You don't have to let stress control your life.

Understanding the natural stress response


When you encounter a perceived threat — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

When the natural stress response goes haywire


The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.

The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.

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Four Fat Flushing Foods

Four Fat Flushing Foods

Well, we all know that Boulder is continually ranked the #1 healthiest, slimmest, and fittest city in the country, by numerous reports. However, as Thanksgiving approaches, most of us wish to shed a couple of pounds before we start indulging in holiday feasts (or getting a bikini-ready body for that winter vacation).

Here are four of our favourite fat-burning foods and spices to include in your diet:

Green Tea

Catechins in green tea are fat burning enzymes (lipases), so even if you are caffeine-intolerant, you will still gain benefit from drinking green tea...not to mention the antioxidant values that green tea is so high in. Of course caffeine has a thermogenic fat-burning benefit on its own.

Hot Red Pepper

All hot peppers —jalapeño, habañero, Scotch bonnet, Serrano, etc.— are loaded with capsaicin, which is known to increase metabolism by influencing the activity of calcium channel proteins in the cell membrane. Capsaicin is known to be a natural appetite suppressant, too.

Bitter Orange

bitter orange

You can find this as an oral supplement and in juice form. It is both a thermogenic metabolic stimulant and an appetite suppressant. By virtue of high concentrations of p-syneprine it increases lipolysis – the breakdown of fats.



Rich in the carotenoid facoxanthin, seaweed increases metabolic rates and affects the satiety center of the brain, in so reducing appetite. Sushi, here I come!

There seems to be some correlation with ingredients that both boost metabolism and affect satiety. More to come…

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