Confession of an Aesthetician

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET
  • Lauren Fornes Skin health expert and co-founder of The Skinny (


I'm setting aside all vanity and sharing my worst photo with you. Surprisingly, it wasn't taken from below, it doesn't give me 13 chins nor does it capture me biting into an enormous forkful of linguine (although those images certainly exist and will inevitably end up on Facebook). Rather this image captures my deepest, darkest secret... my UV damage.

As an aesthetician, I've analyzed my own skin, analyzed other people's skin and had my skin analyzed by other people. A traditional skin analysis uses a magnifying lamp and possibly a Wood's lamp, which help determine the presence of excessive sebum, bacteria, inflammation and possibly pre-cancerous growths.

Technological advancements in the aesthetics field now make it possible to see below the superficial layers of the skin. This photograph captures my sun damage over the past twenty-eight years. It shows the sunburns I got in elementary school, the tanning I did in high school and my sunscreen-less college years.

In person, my skin appears more or less clear with relatively even pigmentation. However, the brown spots seen in this image will eventually come to the surface in the form of solar lentigines, more commonly known as freckles or "liver spots". Cancer risks aside, I will look older as a result. As doomsday-ish as this may sound, I prefer to focus on the positive: I can prevent future damage, and sunscreen can help.

My husband thought I should burn this photo, but I want to share it with you. Although I prefer to avoid fear-based education, I'm hopeful that you learn from my mistakes. Here's my advice:

Research sunscreens to find one that is both safe and effective,

• Apply enough sunscreen (one ounce over all sun exposed areas),

• Reapply sunscreen often (every 2-3 hours),

• Avoid the sun during peak hours (10 am - 2 pm),

• Wear a hat, and;

• If you're lacking motivation, get a skin analysis.

A special thanks to Nicole Alvino and Stephanie Warne of Dermalounge for arranging my skin analysis. I advise people everyday to wear sunscreen. Thanks to you, I now follow that advice... diligently!