Some skin care salons advertise free “skin analysis.” What exactly should I expect from this and will I be obliged to buy any products afterward?

The purpose of the analysis is basically to determine the type and condition of the skin. By examining many factors the esthetician will be able to discuss your particular skin care needs and suggest an individualized program of facial treatments and home-care products. In most salons, this service is free and comes with no obligation to buy products or to have treatments.

Your skin is thoroughly cleansed before the analysis is done. The esthetician will use a magnifying lamp or a specialized skin lamp called a Wood’s lamp to study the skin of the face and neck. She will use her fingers to slightly stretch the skin to reveal the texture of the skin and the size of the pores. This also helps to determine if the pores are clear or clogged and reveals fine lines, flakiness and dehydration.

Most people think that knowing their skin type means deciding whether it is oily or dry. But the esthetician will be looking for much more than this to determine your skin’s condition. Factors other than oiliness to be checked for: The presence of blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes.

Moisture level, flakiness, fine lines, “crepiness”, wrinkles.

The circulation: signs of dilated capillaries (fine red lines), flushing, blotches, poor circulation, warmth or coolness of the skin.

Is there excessive facial hair growth (eg, hormone imbalance)? Is the complexion dull, coarse, yellowish, pale? Are there signs of scar tissue, sun spots? Tone of the tissues and underlying musculature (firm or sagging.) signs of sensitivity.

As you can see, a skin is more than just one type, for example, it could be dry, dehydrated, blotchy and probably sensitive.

In addition to looking at your skin and touching it, the esthetician will likely ask questions regarding your past and present skin care as well as some personal and medical history. This is because some important causes of a skin care problem can be revealed in this way. For instance, if your skin is quite dehydrated, it may be due to improper skin care, too much sun, prolonged use of certain medications, poor diet or inadequate fluid intake, too much steaming of the face or use of saunas, harsh working environment, alcohol, smoking, etc. So, considering the causes, it is probably not going to be enough for the esthetician to recommend just a cream. Rather, she will be able to discuss other things that you can do as well to help improve your skin’s condition.

Usually the analysis will take anywhere from 15 minutes to one half hour. At the end of it, the esthetician will make her recommendations to you but the final decision is up to you.

If you feel confident that this person understands your skin and you feel personally comfortable with her then you may want to follow her advice, but don’t feel pushed or obligated in any way.

How often can I perm my hair?

A generalized guideline for perming hair is approximately every three months. But in actual fact, there is a wide range of timing, depending on the hair type.

Some people can go for as long as seven months before having to re-do a perm. The timing depends on whether the hair is coarse or fine, length and the condition of the hair. An over permed or improperly permed (using too- harsh products) hair may become frayed, brittle and lose elasticity. In this case, take a rest from perming, and restore your hair with protein treatments, shampoo for damaged hair and a good conditioner. Ask your hairdresser for advice for your hair type.