If you have been to International Orange in the last 17 years, you will recognize Alicia M. by her easy smile and gregarious nature… and of course her gorgeous skin. From soothing the challenges of young skin to reversing the toll that age and experience take on mature skin, Alicia is a true master of her craft.
She started her journey in the late 90’s, finding her way to the team at International Orange in 2004. Even early on, she brought an unparalleled knowledge of skincare ingredients and a manner that puts any client at ease.
We are fortunate to have her still working her magic at IO all these years. She is the “go-to” for inspiration and an undeniable expert when it comes to skincare. She is a team educator and a trusted practitioner for her many dedicated followers. We wanted to feature Alicia this month, and dive into what keeps her inspired (and share some tips and favorites along the way!).
Q: 20,000 Facials?!? That is truly extraordinary. After all these years, you still bring so much lightness to your work. How do you stay inspired?
A: I am inspired by so many things. Often, it is collaborating with other estheticians who bring different perspectives and ideas. I love to research new ingredients that are "trending" and breaking down what's a hit vs. what's just hype. Listening to the experts in related professions (from dermatology to nutrition to Eastern medicine to cosmetic chemistry) talk about how imbalances are treated in their respective disciplines or how ingredients get absorbed and used differently by the body. It's all so much info to absorb, but it's fascinating and challenging. And I am inspired by a good challenge.
Q: What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry in the last 20 years?
A: When I first became licensed in 1997, the obsession was glycolic peels. It just seemed like the go-to peel and we all wanted one. Retin A by Rx was, of course, still a thing, but the use of other non-prescription forms of retinol had not proliferated skincare quite yet, and I love how far they've come!
Also, I've seen a flood of at-home devices (some of which I am very suspect!). It worries me that clients often use these devices incorrectly, causing damage to the skin, or spend on something "gimmicky" because it resembles a buzzed about in-spa treatment. At IO, we are not really device heavy-- although we do offer some trusted modalities beyond our hands (microdermabrasion, Oxygen infusion and LED).
Q: What is something you wish people understood about skincare?
A: SO, MANY. THINGS. [laughs] But to borrow a phrase, "It's a marathon, not a sprint." Results are only as good as your commitment to them. And the active ingredients in skincare products need time to show you what they can do. Also, acknowledge that there is a whole body and mind connection to the skins' health and appearance, so check your expectations and your health. Slow beauty can be just as rewarding as instant gratification.
Q: How would you say IO rises above the average "steam-and-cream" spa experience?
A: We all love a little "steam and cream." But we go above and beyond in how we personalize the treatment. We get to know you; your allergies, sensitivities, likes and dislikes. We ascertain what your goals are, as well as your level of willingness to progress your homecare. Sure, we have protocols for our facials. But we leave space for the expertise of our estheticians to shine. We take notes and make recommendations. We offer such variety in our menu and diversity in our retail offerings. We all stay educated on not only what is trending but what new info is being released about ingredients, their usage and safety. IO is one of the most discerning spas I know, particularly in who we hire and how we train. Our esthetic director keeps that process strong yet open to evolving.
Q: What's been your biggest skincare "misstep"?
A: I spent a short time living on Kauai and admittedly, I was VERY careless with SPF during that time. I should've known better as I'd been licensed for 4 years already and had sunscreens I liked. But I was not consistent, and I was definitely not reapplying. I took my redheaded mother's genes for granted and my freckles probably quadrupled! Brightening, antioxidant protection and SPF are a constant focus now.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 20 years?
A: More classes! I want to legitimize my oncology esthetics training. I took a simple class many years ago but I want to get certification so I can extend my practice to this group that needs very special care. In 20 years I'd love to be teaching more and of course still working on clients.
Q: Don’t be shy.. What are your top five products?
A: In no particular order:
1) iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum. The perfect Vit C serum. The formula leaves such a nice finish on my skin and I always feel like it looks better when I'm consistent with it.
2) Luzern Retinol Nuit Creme Luxe. One of my hands down favorite retinols. It's a soft buttery cream that's perfect for my combo skin. I love a good retinol and one thing most estheticians will unanimously agree on is RETINOL IS LIFE.
3) Luzern Micellar Cleansing Water. Honestly, this would benefit ANY skin type and condition as a simple morning cleanser. I devote the night to a deeper double cleanse, but for the morning, this preps my skin for all subsequent steps and I love that it doesn't need to be rinsed. So much better for my skin’s pH than just "rinsing with water" (makes me cringe when clients admit they do this!). I let it dry, follow with serums, then face oil or moisturizer, and lastly SPF.
4) Arcona Eye Dew+. I have been in love with this eye treatment for YEARS. It seems to freeze my skin in place while it delivers actives to my eye area in the appropriate concentration for that area. It's been my glow-up sidekick for nearly 10 years.
5) In Fiore Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence. Earlier I mentioned double cleansing at night. I realize it's "trending" to oil cleanse, but it's hardly a new concept. And once you do it, you just can't go back. Following with a milky or lightly foaming 2nd cleanser results in an unsurpassed feeling of clean, balanced, and not stripped skin. The aroma is gorgeous and simply grounding to me and sets the tone for my whole nighttime routine.