Question And Answer Session. A Visit to The BrightenBar!

Nestled within the town of West Chester, about a half-hour outside Philly’s center city, is a building.  It’s off the beaten path, on a little lane—a mews actually.  The building is small and cute. And The BrightenBar is such a cozy and unpretentious place–I could have stayed all day!!!

Welcome to The BrightenBar ladies!!!

Look how cute it is!

The view from Rima’s chair!!!

And Dr. Laurene also performs SculpSure for the neck!

And in this building, is a dentist, Dr. Laurene and her practice.  There is also The BrightenBar™ (click link to find out more!), a girly, fabulous place to offer all things facial and skin care! The BrightenBar is owned and operated by Rima Vanhill-Seal, one of the most beautiful and interesting women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.

Trust me, it IS her passion!!!!

Rima, her exotic looks from her Greek/Lebanese roots and her lovely accent from being educated in London, can make one feel a bit intimidated.  But her down-to-earth demeanor and vibrant personality make you realize early on, that you can really have a great time with her and ask her anything about skin care related topics!  She loves to discuss all things beauty!

Ladies!  Meet Rima, owner of The BrightenBar!  Look. At. That. Skin. I’m telling you, IRL her skin is even more beautiful.  I was so jealous of  her skin!!!  And she’s every bit as beautiful!!!

And—get this; she left a career in law to become an aesthetician!  What’ not to love about that???

How did I find out about Rima and the BrightenBar™?  Well, do you remember the Buzzfeed article from a few months back?  Not the Fenty one but the one that showcased mature women and the makeup they wore?   This one:  24 Photos Of Women Over 40 In Makeup That Will Make You Smile Uncontrollably.  I was featured and so was Rima.  (I’m Number 19. Rima is Number 24)  She’s on Instagram as @aliveinheels. We’ve started following each and I’m always astounded at how beautiful her skin is.  It’s perfect.  She’s definitely worth following!!

From the Buzzfeed article!!

Anyway…. because I’ve always shared skin care products with you that I use, I reached out to Rima with a few questions that I, and I know you, would love to have answered.  I’m no expert—and I can review, but I’m in no position to advise.  And I thought it would be a great idea to have a Q & A session for you!!

Here’s some Questions and the answers—both answered by Rima and Dr. Laurene:

Q. Fillers are always a great topic but the choices are so confusing. It used to be that Botox was the only filler.  With Juvederm, Radiesse, Restylane…how do you know which filler is right for you?  And which fillers are best for lips, around the eyes, cheeks?

A. In fact, Botox is not a filler, it is a botulinum toxin. Botox was the first botulinum toxin, although it is no longer the only one. Xeomin and Dysport are other examples.  All three products do the same thing. Namely, decrease the contraction of muscle movement. Use is determined based on provider and/or client preference.  some people say that one works better than another for them.  Our preference for filler around the lips are Belotero, and Juvederm.  Radiesse works well in the nasolabial folds, particularly in older person, and is a great cheek enhancement for mid face volume loss.  Restylane is interchangeable with Juvederm and Belotero as to where it can be used on the face.  All three can be used to fill lips, marionette lines, nasolabial folds, and fine lines around the mouth and lip.

Q. Are there any studies of long-term effects on fillers—health related?A. Given that this is a medical FDA-approved treatment, there have been many studies described in the medical literature. Although there have been reported allergies and responses, all well documented in the medical literature, because fillers are reversible (via a product called Hyaluronidase can be injected to reverse the Hylaronic Acid), it is quite a safe treatment.

Q. I’m obsessed with fillers—what fillers can a woman take so she won’t have those duck lips? And which fillers are best for those lines above the mouth?

A.Duck lips are generally caused by either too much filler, and/or improper placement of the filler. In Dr. Laurene’s opinion, Belotero and Juvederm do the best job in and around the lips. Going to an experienced provider with extensive experience and expertise working with muscles, nerves of the face (such as Dr. Laurene) is the best way to avoid duck lips.

Q. Is microdermabrasion another way to go for the mature woman? Just what exactly is microdermabrasion?

A. Microdermabrasion is a non-chemical, non-invasive procedure that uses a spray of microcrystals to remove (aka exfoliate) the outermost layer of dry, dead skin cells and reveal younger, healthier-looking skin. Although I am great believer in exfoliation, I’m not a huge fan of traditional microdermabrasion treatments and we don’t offer it at the BrightenBar primarily because it is an older technology and there are many more effective ways in which to achieve the same or superior benefits, particularly for mature skin.

Q.  OK. We’ve all read and seen tons about “shaving” for women.  And many of us lose hair on the top of our heads only to have it grow back on our chins.  So, is shaving okay or should we just wax?

A.  As someone who also suffers from female pattern balding, the irony of it is not lost on me! Even as I began to suddenly sprout dark hairs from my chin, I could see my scalp for the first time in my life. My most requested service is a Dermaplane.   Dermaplaning is a safe and highly effective physical exfoliation procedure. It requires the use of a sterile, surgical scalpel to gently “shave” the skin’s surface, removing the top-most layer of dead skin along with fine, vellus hair (aka peach fuzz).  My younger clients love it because they are left with a smooth surface on to which to pile on the foundation they don’t need.  As for the rest of us, it’s a good way in which to help product penetration of skin care and anti-aging treatments.

Q.  I look at all the products that I have for skin care and sometimes I’m overwhelmed. There are oils, creams, serums. How many products do we really need?  And which ones are better applied in the morning—and which ones in the evening?

A.  Skin care marketing and advertising is complicated. Sorting through the hype is overwhelming. The fact is, whilst a complex organ, skin and its care are relatively straight forward and can be quite simple. What skin needs at age 20 is vastly different that what one needs at 60.  Nevertheless, a few principles apply regards:  am and pm you need to cleanse, stimulate and protect.  There is a short list of key active ingredients skin needs to achieve optimal health.  What percentage or the best formulation is more specific to the individual; generally, you should apply products from thinner to thicker consistency.  It’s worth it to pay a knowledgeable skin care expert who is going to put together a skin care regimen and treatment plan based on your skin needs, your lifestyle and your budget rather than what they sell.  Once you have the base plan in place, you only need to ‘tweak’ periodically.

Q.  How can you a find a reputable administrator of fillers should she decide to go that route? And what is the average price?

A. How can you tell if you are being overpriced? A good way to find a provider is to look on the American Academy of Facial Esthetics website. Doctors trained by them have received extensive training. The average cost of a syringe of filler is $500-800, depending on the brand. Be wary of Groupons for Botox.  Sometimes they are selling a unit of Botox for less than it costs the provider to buy.  The only way they can do this is to over dilute the Botox, which means you are not getting what you think you are.  Remember, when things are too good to be true, they probably are.

Q.  Should we change up our routines with the seasons—and how?

A.  Tweaking is important. The fundamentals may stay the same – after all, Cleopatra was using Alpha Hydroy Acids (Lactic) centuries ago (Lactic Acid), technology and science of skin care and the mechanisms to deliver key actives has improved and continues to involve. Periodically reviewing your skin care and treatments is important to maximize effectiveness.

Q.  Hydration. I think that’s the biggest gripe with women in the over 50 demographic. It is so hard to get the skin hydrated.  So many of us drink tons of water but does all that water really help us?

A.  What else can we do to plump up our skin. There is internal hydration and external hydration. Drinking a lot of water is good for overall health but it does not guarantee that your skin will be very moisturized.  Often, women who complain of dry skin are in fact dehydrated because they are using the wrong products.  According to the World-famous Dr. Zein Obagi, we have gotten our skin cells so used to be hydrated by overapply moisturizers and occulusive products, our cells aren’t able to work as effectively as they should because of this.  If you stimulate the cells, wake them up, they will likely begin to again do what they we meant to be doing and hydrate your skin.  Back to the principles I mentioned above:  cleanse, stimulate, protect and clean skin so it can accept the moisture from above and within.  Stimulate cells to regenerate by exfoliating, by increasing blood circulation and therefore nourishment (from within and by accepting topically applied products). And protect skin (from the sun and free radicals) so it is healthy and can function.

My pet peeves are over moisturizing and over protecting.  Similar to the problems we are facing now thanks to the over use of gluten and in over use of anti-bacterial products, we are starting to see problems with overly dry skin and vitamin d deficiency.

Q.  OK. My husband is European and he is always amazed at how American women don’t get facials on a regular basis (I think he means me—lol). With all the DIY products available and the facial masks that are sold in drug and beauty stores, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think the home facials are a good bet?

A.  Yes! Although there are certain treatments you really need to get from a professional, there is so much we could be doing at home. Apart from having the right skin care regimen, the most antiaging and stimulating thing you can do for yourself at home is a facial massage.   DIY is like everything else these days.  Lots out there but overwhelming to try to sort through what’s rubbish vs. What’s good.

Less than 2 years ago I left a very lucrative corporate legal career to become an aesthetician in part because I was so infuriated at all the crap we are being fed every day — the marketing hype, the endless amounts of money we spend only to turn 50 and realize the miracle serum that was supposed to prevent the frown lines did nothing but occlude my face and turn my skin cells into lazy bones.  Why, by now, I could have paid for a half face lift!  I wanted to share what I had been discovering on my own aging journey with others.  I wanted to establish the kind of place I wanted to go to but couldn’t find – good effective non-invasive, low downtime services, at a reasonable price.  A place where advise was based on knowledge and expertise independent of whether or not they sold the product/service I needed.  That is what I hoped to do with the BrightenBar.


And I’m going to add a few things here.  When Rima spoke of over-hydration, I listened intently because I have a gazillion moisturizing products and I’m applying then in the morning at night they way a baker applies frosting to a cake.

Over the past week, I stopped and pared down to rotating two of my Ordinary products (Rima is a fan!) and a serum that Rima gave me.  When I was at the nail salon yesterday having my lip and chin waxed, Kim, who does my nails and face said that my skin was looking great!  I noticed an improvement in my skin as well—and in only a week’s time.

Over the past week, I’ve pared down to this….

…and this.  And I’ve been told my skin is looking good!!!!

In addition, Rima suggested rubbing my lips vigorously up to five times a day.  Exfoliating in this manner will lead to breaking the lip balm habit.  I’ve been doing this and it works.  I’ll still keep my Chapstick but I find I’m not reaching for it every 15 minutes like I was doing!

My bare naked chapped-free lips after exfoliation!

Also, Rima is a big advocate for Breast Cancer awareness.  In her office, rather than tips, she has a little box for donations to the cause which is a  great way to be an advocate for women!

Take a visit to theBrightenBar to have Rima take good care of you!

I hope you enjoyed this informative session!  And as this blog evolves, please let me know if you would enjoy more posts like this.  Now—I’m going upstairs to get ready for the day and I’m following Rima’s advice!!!

..from the BrightenBar!!!!  I’ll be back!!!!


About Catherine

Far from perfect, but enjoying life as a non-perfect and flawed individual at 60 years young. I'm still wondering what I'll be when I grow up! The characters in my life's screenplay include my better half. He is a refined Frenchman who grew up in Paris and summered in St. Tropez. I grew up in Long Island and summered in Long Island. I am not refined. My three grown children are also a big part of my life. For their sake, they happily live where their careers have taken them! But I can still mother them from a distance! I write about the mundane. I write about deeply shallow issues. But whatever I write or muse about--it'll always be a bit on the humorous and positive side! It's all good!
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22 Responses to Question And Answer Session. A Visit to The BrightenBar!

  1. HelloIm50ish says:

    What a wonderful and informative interview you had with the beautiful Rima!
    Loved her honesty and liked the fact she was more of an advocate of simple basic rules for the over 50 crowd.
    Well done my friend!!


  2. KEWLM0M says:

    Hi Cathe,
    Loved this very informative and interesting piece – thank you! Should you do more like this? I vote yes – please do!

  3. Liz C says:

    Great article very informative – more please!

  4. rimavh says:

    I am just so flattered! I am glad the deep passion I feel come through. Since you mentioned you could have spent all day, i’ll confess I debated barraging the door so you’d be forced to! What a bundle of joy, energy, wit and girl bravery. You are funny, beautiful and should have your own TV show! I throughly enjoyed every minute and have one question back: WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK?

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Rima!! I’m so very happy that you are pleased with this post. Questions that I certainly am not qualified to answer have been–and for that I’m grateful!!! Oh…I plan on coming back as soon as I become re-employed girlfriend!!!! XOXOXOXOXO!!!!

  5. Kathy says:

    Very interesting post, thank you. I’d never heard of rubbing lips to get over the lip balm addiction – I’m an addict too! Rub with fingers? Or what….?

  6. Hey Catherine I nominated you for the Sunshine Blog Award! Don’t feel you have to respond to the questions or anything, but I wanted to make my admiration for you official! x

  7. Sarah says:

    Your photographs are really nice!
    And I really enjoyed the post about skin .
    Y’know, I just started blogging and I’d love it if you could come visit and give some feedback!?

  8. Anne Nickol says:

    Great post. I am now going to do more exfoliation of my face, scrub my lips, and try the 3 items you are now going to use on your face and see if they improve mine.. My face is very dry and flaky. Absolutely want to improve this.

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Anne. I’ve been rubbing my lips with either a dry facecloth or my fingers and I’m finding I’m using lip balm less and not as habitual!!!! XOXOXOXXO!!!!

  9. Anne Nickol says:

    Just checked the price of getting the anteage accelerator system. 2 different products for a total of $200. Too expensive for me to use on a regular basis. We are retired and need to keep costs down. Darn it!!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Anne. Rima is a beg fan of the Ordinary’s skin care products as well and they are very inexpensive. Check out their products on their website. I need to re-order a couple of the serums!!! XOXOXOXO!!!!

      • Anne says:

        Catherine, I ordered the two Ordinary items, but not the great moisturizer, and that is what I really am in need of. I also have one of the Ordinary primers on your advice. 🙂

  10. Beverley says:

    Really interesting, and a great reminder that more isn’t better. My English grandmother had lovely skin, (despite living her adult life in Canada with our climate extremes) courtesy of Ivory soap, and Pond’s Cold Cream, smile. I try to remember this when my own routine suffers from product creep. (Ha!!) Of course, she was of a generation that did not sunbathe, didn’t smoke, and rarely drank anything stronger than tea. ; )

    A touch of cream rouge, a little eyebrow pencil, a quick light lipstick, and she was elegant and ready for anything. I hope to take a lesson from this now that I’m 60, lol!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Beverly! So true–sometimes we forget that more isn’t necessarily better. My mother was a devotee of Ponds cold cream and I’m telling you, her beauty regimen did not have more than perhaps four products. Ponds; a Rose Water pink cream; Noxema and Dove soap. She also drank a ton of water!! We need to revisit that!!! XXOXOXOXO!!!!

  11. Rima says:

    Sorry, ladies, but Ponds cream and rose water won’t work if you espouse to the 60 is the new 40 view. I do! AnteageMD is the product I recommend and really the only one I sell because I am a very reluctant retailer — I’m so sick and tired of most places trying to convince you what they are selling is the best. I carry AnteAgeMD because it’s bloody good and very hard to get around these parts.. I love Deciem/theOrdinary but it’s like comparing a VW bug with a fully loaded Maserati. You couldn’t even get the same options for one. Even if you could, by the time you got all the actives you really need for repair, restoring and maintenance, it would cost you all sort as much and you’d still have to figure out how to layer all the essential actives into your routine. Once over 40, save the $$$s being spent on facials, nails, purses, creams, shoes and commit to serious MD grade products that will give you real bang for your buck. I looked for the best of the best and this two step product (the PRO version is $220 – the MD version is $320) is it that by far; for what it actually does, it is on the less expensive side of similar grade products. Lasts about 6-8 weeks and is a complete system for normal ante aging skin concerns. The only extra you need is SPF. I do appreciate that some of just can’t afford it and I try to suggest alternatives (provided I don’t bump into you at Sephora buying that new Tom Ford lipstick!) but getting your main antiaging routine based on The Ordinary products for us over 50’s just isn’t going to do it. I m almost 54 and I love and use Deciem products to supplement but only after I’ve properly covered my basis with AnteageMD.. I’m happy to answer any questions so long as you are okay with me being very direct so that we don’t waste precious time and money. At my advancing age, discovering 5 years hence that a little Rosehip oil and some mild retinol in Squalene did little to repair, restore and reverse my sun damage, pigmentation and wrinkles would be terribly upsetting which is why I claim the title ‘no BS aesthetician’. Love Cathy and her blog — don’t mean to rain on any parades,

  12. Rima says:

    Sorry about the grammar and typos. Passion, passion, that’s what it is!!!

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