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While getting to know Christine Tatum, chief executive officer of Denver-based communications company Media Salad, Inc., we quickly found a great person to explain the journey to healthy skin we at illuma Advanced Aesthetics are passionate about helping our clients navigate. Our deal was simple: we would introduce Christine to our services, and she would tell the unvarnished truth about her experiences. We all hope from the resulting series she periodically will maintain on this blog that you learn some interesting things to help you achieve your own skincare goals, laugh a little — and that you visit us at illuma to begin your journey.

I wasn’t looking for this kind of cleanup of my 50-year-old face; it found me. I am Christine Tatum, a busy wife and mom. I am also a longtime journalist and owner of a communications consulting company in metro Denver, so, when I am not shuttling teenagers to shopping malls and music lessons, I help other business owners promote their services and products. 

But never before with photos of myself.

“I wasn’t looking for this kind of cleanup of my 50-year-old face; it found me — and I’m so glad it did.”

I mean really, I am not exactly model material, and while I do a fair amount of public speaking, I consider myself lucky to make an engagement on time with matching earrings. I wash my face. I apply sun screen. I wear a little makeup. I am just not one to obsess about aging or to get all worked up about the lines beginning to appear under my eyes and on my forehead. In my line of business, those wrinkles are evidence of the continual squinting and furrowed brow of eagle-eyed editors. 

So, when Brittany Otto and Fran Valdiris, co-owners of illuma Advanced Aesthetics, asked my team to build a website for their new practice, I must be honest about my first thought:

“Oh, no. Aren’t these the outfits responsible for that woman who looks like a wildcat? And the people whose lips are on the verge of exploding? And what about all those folks who can’t raise their eyebrows anymore?” 

I simply didn’t know enough about all of this stuff — the laser resurfacing, the skin tightening, the Fibroblast Plasma Pen — and I wasn’t sure I wanted to, either. 

But then Brittany and Fran showed for our first meeting, and they looked completely normal — pretty and radiant even — and all of their facial muscles seemed to work just fine. Even better: they quickly demonstrated a passion for, and command of, skin care, both in terms of treatment and prevention. And as the wife of a psychiatrist, I especially appreciated their interest in helping clients feel better about themselves by addressing some of the common skin problems that often undermine confidence,  increase anxiety or exacerbate depression. They include: 

  • fine lines and wrinkles, 
  • pigmented irregularities,
  • loose and sagging skin,
  • vascular lesions,
  • acne and acne scars, and 
  • excess hair growth. 

Aesthetic skin care, I have come to understand, can be a lot like orthodontia or tooth whitening. It can be like a lot like having a personal coach, gym membership, Pilates instructor or a nutrition consultant. It isn’t absolutely necessary — but it can help mightily to achieve great health outcomes. This thinking about cosmetic lasers and dermal fillers might explain the markets’ rapid growth in just the last few years. The global cosmetic laser market was valued at more than $1.81 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach more than $5.4 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research. Similarly, Fortune Business Insights reports that the global dermal fillers market is expected to hit $6.64 billion in 2027, up from $3.73 billion in 2019. 

Still, there is great reason to be circumspect about cosmetic lasers and dermal fillers — and the companies shaving and shaping skin with those machines and syringes. Who hasn’t seen the ducky lips, unnaturally protruding cheeks and frozen foreheads reminiscent of the Stepford Wives? Let’s face it, a lot of bad results have convinced people like me to steer clear of advanced aesthetic skin care.

When Fran and Brittany asked if I would help them document the process of facial skin rejuvenation for current and potential clients — especially the middle-aged mamas out there — admittedly, I needed a little time to think about their offer for reasons I will explain in future posts about my foray into their professional world. But yes, I decided to make the leap and to let the smart, knowledgable and caring aesthetic skin care practitioners at illuma see if it would be possible literally to shave years from my appearance. 

I am so very glad I did — even though I felt as if I had been stung in the face by a mound of fire ants after my first procedure. I’ll get to all of that next — and I salute Fran and Brittany for wanting someone to tell their honest story so folks considering aesthetic skin care can have better understanding of what they might be getting themselves into