Project Description

Spa Sophia and our wonderful esthetician Natarsha Bimson received some love on Caviar & Cashmere. Read it below…


I recently discovered and fell in love with a true hidden gem in Venice Beach, a boutique day spa called Spa Sophia owned by a beautiful woman named Sophia Marzocchi. Sophia opened the spa, situated in an upstairs loft perched above the bustling Abbot Kinney Blvd., in 2013. Once you walk inside, you are transported into an unassuming, beachy retreat with wooden floors, high beamed ceilings, and a cool ocean breeze.

I was in love with Spa Sophia from the moment I walked in and learned about their philosophy – treating each person entirely, not just a specific ailment or issue, but as a whole. Each client is given a tailored treatment to ensure their long-lasting health and wellness. Specialties include everything from facials, waxing, massage, to Ayurvedic treatments.

In my love at first sight, I wanted to try everything immediately, but as that was not realistically possible, I decided to go ahead and get a facial by Natarsha Bimson, Spa Sophia’s resident aesthetician, whom is loved by locals and celebrities alike.

The facial was hands down the best I’ve ever received. Natarsha was incredibly thorough, knowledgable, and professional, all the while being friendly, talkative and super-smiley. The information I learned while getting this facial was invaluable, and knew I needed to share it with my readers.

I sat down afterwards with Natarsha, a self-proclaimed product junkie, who is known for her tailor-made regimens, and asked all of the important questions we should all know about skincare. Seeing as though our skin is the largest organ in our body, we should take the utmost care of it, from the inside-out. Here, Natarsha sheds her wisdom on how to put your best face forward.

Skincare Secrets from a Celebrity Aesthetician

Q: What five skincare products should every woman own?

A: Let’s assume that we have a decent moisturizer and a gentle cleanser! My top 5 products to keep your skin healthy would be sunscreen (20-30 SPF), washcloths, Vitamin C Serum, a leave on AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) & Retinol (Vitamin A). For Vitamin C, you want 10% to 25% and for retinol you should aim for around 0.5% to 1% for best results.

Q: When shopping for skincare products, which ingredients should you stay away from?

A: If you have sensitive skin, keeping clear of fragranced or essential oils is probably a good starting point. Alcohol is the one that I try to avoid the most, as well as petrochemicals (mineral oil, etc). Most people are quite surprised to learn that synthetic ingredients are often the most gentle and non-allergenic ingredients. Many plant-based ingredients vary so much due to the part of the plant used and the time of the year that it’s harvested, so they tend to be very inconsistent and can cause a lot of problems for very sensitive skin types.

Q: What should a woman’s daily skincare regimen be for morning and night?

A: Morning: A clean washcloth with hot water in the morning; wet it, ring it out, drape it over your face, press it to your face and then gently wipe, get in to all the little nooks and crannies. Hang it up to dry and then use it for your first cleanse at night. Follow up with a spritz of something hydrating and then a good quality Vitamin C serum. Before you apply moisturizer and/or SPF give the serum some time to sink in – go and have breakfast, read your emails, etc. Your SPF should be a separate product and I much prefer physical (zinc oxide) to chemical. Follow up with your usual make up routine.

Night: Your first cleanse should be oil, an oil cleanser or an oil based cream cleanser. The oil will break down the oil in your sunscreen and makeup, both of which are designed to stay on your face. You then use your washcloth, in the same manner that you did in the morning and follow up with a gentle cleanser using your hands. I recommend non-foaming. I would then recommend alternating a 5% glycolic toner or lotion and a retinol serum. Follow with moisturizer.

Q: What ingredient is the best for preventing and treating breakouts?

A: Benzoyl Peroxide is the gold standard for over the counter acne treatment. Benzoyl Peroxide scares a lot of people because it can often cause dryness, flakiness, redness and irritation when used at the wrong percentage. The latest studies to be published in the dermatology journals has revealed that when used at lower percentages, 2.5% vs 5% & 10%, it is as effective as the stronger dosage but without the side effects. In my experience, this is the case and I have had great success treating many clients with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. Used in conjunction with glycolic acid as part of a good regime, most grade 1 & 2 acne clears up, I’ve even had great success treating more severe grade 3 acne with this approach. Salicylic acid is ok but is better used for prevention once you have everything under control. It’s better for maintenance rather than treatment.

Q: Are there certain ingredients you should stay away from if you have acne-prone skin?

A: It is not about avoiding ingredients but more certain things that you should avoid doing. Dried out skin tends to get worse break outs so I’d usually suggest avoiding using whole acne systems or ranges. You don’t need every product to be active, you need to balance your skin by treating it gently and using a treatment product such as benzoyl peroxide to get results. I’d also recommend avoiding scrubs and facial brushes as they can be overly abrasive and over stimulating for inflamed skin.

Q: What is SPF and what SPF should one be using daily?

A: SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and refers to the amount of time you can spend in the sun before you burn. For someone fair like me, for example, you can spend 15 minutes in the sun before you burn. If you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30, it means that you can then spend 7.5 hours in the sun before you burn (or 15 x 30 which equals 450 minutes or 7.5 hours). That’s provided that you’re applying the correct amount (1/4 tsp for your face alone and about an ounce for a full body application). That also means that no matter how many times you re-apply, once you reach 7.5 hours in the sun, you will burn. The ideal SPF is around a 30, this will block about 97% of the sun’s rays. To put this in perspective, an SPF15 will block around 93% and an SPF50 will block around 98%, so it’s not the case that the greater the SPF, the greater the protection, the SPF really just refers to the amount of time you will remain protected for.

Q: How often should you get a facial?

A: That depends on your skin and your budget! Generally I would recommend every 3 to 6 weeks. You are far better off having a great routine at home and getting a facial once a year than using ordinary products at home and getting facials every month. What you do each day will always make a bigger impact on your skin than what I can do once a month.

Q: Are there any fancy/expensive skincare gadgets that aren’t worth the money? If so, what alternatives can you use?

A: Bingo! So much of this industry is built on marketing. Whether it’s a gadget you “need” or an ingredient that “causes cancer,”there’s always something that you’re being told that simply isn’t true. Clarisonic is better than using your hands alone, but better than a washcloth, I don’t think so. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have great skin.

Q: Why is it so important to take care of your skin?

A: Your skin is your first defense against the environment, it keeps things out and it keeps things in. Maintaining the integrity of your skin supports it’s primary function. Healthy, well maintained skin shows. At the very least it boosts your confidence and makes you happy, so you can’t complain about that!

Q: Are there any drugstore brands/products you recommend?

A: I’m really impressed with CeraVe’s line of products. They’re excellent for people with sensitive skin which includes those with acne. For the price, you’re getting very well formulated products that are fragrance free and contain some excellent ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides & niacinamide. I also really like to have hydrocortisone on hand, as well as silver solution. Silver is antimicrobial and it’s a good one for the day after facial waxing, while your skin’s acid mantle is re-establishing itself and you skin is vulnerable.

Q: Are there certain foods to stay away from to avoid breakouts, or is that a myth?

A: 90% of acne is due to hormones. That being said, some food allergies look a lot like acne, so it’s always best to consult your doctor if your acne is not responding to over-the-counter treatments. I have heard of people having some success cutting out dairy or sugar but that is only anecdotal. Please discuss your diet with your doctor if you plan to cut anything out of your diet, things like dairy provide you with a large portion of calcium, essential for healthy bone development and preventing osteoporosis so you really need to know what to do to replace anything that you may be missing by cutting out whole food groups.

Q: Do you have any DIY tricks?

A: My favorite DIY is actually a bath soak, this is excellent for softening and soothing skin, especially eczema and dermatitis (omit essential oils if you have the aforementioned skin conditions):

  • 1 cup dry steel cup oats or oatmeal in a clean cotton sock and tied off
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • ¼ cup of jojoba
  • essential oils of geranium, lavender, bergamot & sandalwood

*tie the sock to the faucet and run the bath water through it, add remaining ingredients to water and soak, use the sock to rub the oat milk all over

Q: When traveling without your arsenal of products, what do you recommend doing or not doing?

A: Please don’t ever use soap on you face! One of my favorite tip for before and after long flights is to sneak in a couple of hydrating masks before and after your flights. Simply apply a hydrating mask when you get up, go and read your emails/have some breakfast and then wash your face as normal. You’ve snuck in 30 minutes of hydration without having to put any time aside and your skin will thank you for it, then you can just apply serums and moisturizers on the flight instead of being that girl with the mask on!

Q: What is the best way to prevent fine lines and wrinkles? How about to treat them?

A: Sunscreen! Around 80% of premature aging is due to sun damage, it’s never too late to start using a good quality, broad spectrum, physical sunscreen. As for treatment, there are a number of ingredients that work well to boost collagen production, inhibit collagen depletion and smooth texture. Look for Vitamin C, Vitamin A (retinol) & peptides. AHAs help your active products penetrate better so I always recommend using AHAs to exfoliate and prep your skin for active products.

Original article here.