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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. You can read her first and second posts. 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 uat illuma to begin your journey.

I finally have a sense of what it must be like to fall asleep face first in a mound of fire ants.

I mean really, just look at this photo. I am Christine Tatumato. 

This was far worse than the worst sunburn of my life — which happened when I was 15 and helped land me in this predicament. Talk about full circle. 

“‘That has to hurt,’ my son said. ‘You must really want to remove those wrinkles.’ And, ‘Oh, my,’ was all my daughter could muster.”

On my way out the door of illuma Advanced Aesthetics, co-owner Fran Valdiris — the Certified Laser Specialist, Registered Medical Assistant and Licensed Aesthetician with more than 13 years of experience as a laser technician and more than two decades of professional experience in the medical field (I really had to keep repeating her professional credentials in my head …) — handed me a list of instructions about how to care for my searing face and neck. I immediately reviewed them and couldn’t imagine how sadistic someone would have to be to break these general rules: 

  • “Avoid using ice. Use cold washcloths or compress only.” (No worries there, Fran. The mere thought of something, anything touching my facial skin — I wouldn’t have cared how cool — was horrifying.)
  • “Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours after treatment.” (Ha! No twisting my arm there.)
  • “No heat exposure (hot tubs, sauna, steam room) for seven days or until after skin is completely healed.” (Who in the world would invite more heat exposure?)
  • “No sun or UV exposure for two weeks after treatment.” (Holy moly, yet another thought to make my burning skin crawl.)
  • “No use of any exfoliating products or manual exfoliators for two weeks or until skin is completely healed.” (Who goes home and exfoliates after this?!) 
  • “No skin treatments or injections for two weeks or until the skin is completely healed.” (I was happy to see Fran and her business partner, Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist Brittany Otto, insist clients pace themselves …)
  • “Sleeping at a 45-degree angle will help to avoid excessive swelling.” (Wait. Excessive swelling? What excessive swelling?) 

The ride home was uneventful only because I made no eye contact with drivers pulled up next to me at intersections. However, walking in the door and facing my teenagers was a different story. Their jaws literally dropped. 

“That has to hurt,” the boy said. “You must really want to remove those wrinkles.”

“Oh, my,” was all the girl could muster. 

And then the doorbell rang. What?! We were not expecting guests. I specifically had arranged my schedule to avoid sunlight and steamy cups of coffee. How could someone possibly be ringing the doorbell? 

Alas, it was a three-man furniture delivery team thinking they were providing extraordinary and excellent service by stepping up their schedule. Under any other circumstances, I would have agreed. 

I opened the door — and immediately suspected these guys play a lot of poker. Their eyes widened for a split second, but no one flinched or otherwise acknowledged the painfully obvious. They behaved as if they see dancers who starred in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video all the time.

“OK, fellas, so I have a new variant of COVID-19,” I said matter-of-factly — and we all burst out laughing. By the time they left, they were wishing me well and asking how they could get their own sun spots, crow’s feet, acne scars and moles removed. 

It was a curious and fun way to make new friends before I hunkered down for what skin resurfacing veterans casually call “the Weekend Peel.”