Carolyn Ash

Over the years, many people have asked me why I became an aesthetician and started my skin care salons. Since I was young, I have always had a fascination with the human body. Perhaps because I grew up as a ballet dancer, I had a unique view into how the body functions under unusual circumstances, since dancing is quite an athletic event, and ballet in particular puts you in touch with your body like it or not!

After 20 years of ballet, I wanted to switch careers and become a massage therapist. But I was offered a position as an aesthetician at a friend’s salon, and she was kind enough to put me through skin care school. I jumped at the chance since my interests were not only in massage, but skin care as well.

Of course, straight out of school I knew nothing compared to what I know now, but I did my best. Through struggling to learn more and more about the body and skin in particular, I achieved my current level of expertise.

Eventually, by the way, I did graduate from massage school. I worked for several years both in skin care and massage, but I discovered that helping people with their skin in the context of a facial was the best application for my talents. After several years in practice, I stopped renewing my massage license in favor of being an aesthetician only. I guess I felt ‘jack of all trades; master of none might apply if I didn't’t concentrate my efforts.

Being an aesthetician and now writing about skin care has brought me much joy. I am lucky to say I truly love what I do. For me, this is my life path; the work I was put here to do. It truly is my number one passion.

The Chicago Connection. Because I went to school in Dallas, it was natural for me to start a salon in that town. However, I always knew I wanted to expand my business, so I was on the lookout for the perfect city in which to start a new salon.

Chicago was the natural choice for my first new location. Chicagoans are undaunted by the famously frigid winter winds and hot, humid summer days. I was eager to teach new ways to manage the elements with a skin care routine that limits stress, improves diet and enriches the skin from within.

The new salon, located at 2480 N. Lincoln, features a facial oasis and one of the few retail boutiques in Chicago to offer the exclusive French line of YonKa-Paris skin care products. I personally trained my staff in the art of my signature facial, an experience that relies on the human touch to refresh the skin from the inside and out. The experience begins with a professional analysis of your skin's condition before an hour plus of relaxing, therapeutic treatments administered completely by hand. Clients who are accustomed to facials done with steam machines, motorized brushes, vacuums, Galvanic current shock treatments, high-frequency electrodes, and oxygen blasting will be pleasantly surprised to find none of them at Carolyn Ash.

Getting regular facials and using high-quality products at home are vital to achieving and maintaining clear, vibrant skin. But I believe you must also care for your skin from the inside out to bring about the best results. Understanding the correlation between internal, balanced health and external beauty is what my work is all about. If microdermabrasion and deep acid peels are your preference, you won’t find those in my practice. Strong topical treatments can cause adverse reactions in many people. I’m interested in long-term, obtainable results that help my clients achieve healthy skin for a lifetime.

Along with operating my skin care salons, I also write about the subject in magazines as well as in my two books, Timeless Skin: Healthy Skin for a Lifetime and my new publication, Face The Facts: Skin Care from A to Z (due out later this year). My books don’t spend much time on trends and fads in the skin care world. I don’t believe that the latest and greatest anti-aging product or procedure is really going to get you where you want to be in terms of healthy, clear skin. What I am providing is the kind of interactive conversations I have with my clients in a no-nonsense, easy to read format.

Aging Gracefully. Since joining ‘The Club’ (the 40-year-old club), I have had a new found sense of joy about my age. I am definitely not the person who feels a sense of loss at 40; I actually feel a sense of excitement about being older. I refuse (refuse) to bow to what society says about aging. There is too much that is good about getting older. These things are not physical (no kidding!), but they are profound and real. I feel better mentally; I have a much deeper spiritual connection than I did in my 20s; I can handle complex situations with a maturity I am just now developing. Psychologically I understand myself and the world around me much better and more realistically, and I have a much deeper sense of appreciation and love for life and for the people in my life than I did even five or 10 years ago. I have chosen to find the beauty in the aging process vs. trying to fight it year after year for the rest of my life.

Part of why I started writing in the first place was to give a voice to that choice. I wanted to add volume to my anti-anti-aging paradigm, knowing I couldn’t possibly compete with the anti-aging world a round me. But because I felt strong in my convictions about accepting aging, I also wanted to help my readers and clients who wanted to feel the same way and yet might have felt like they’re losing the battle. Today I am here to say stand up strong and don’t succumb to all the hype, media attention to youth, advertising, and (even though it is my chosen industry) the skin care world.

I definitely advocate doing all the right things to keep your skin looking healthy at any age. But then, after getting enough sleep, eating right, drinking enough water, avoiding sugar, exfoliating, and applying your sunscreen, go out and face the day! Do something wonderful (or mundane). Enjoy your breath, the ability to move, and stop focusing so much time and attention on your looks. Be wise and don’t belabor the task of looking good. Your looks can be taken away in an instant, or a lifetime; memories of adventures and life experiences last forever.

Carolyn Ash Skin Care is located at 2480 N. Lincoln (at Altgeld) in Chicago. For a facial appointment, call (773) 528-2100. YonKa-Paris skin care products are available in the storefront, open Tuesday--Friday 10am-6pm. Saturdays 10am-4pm. You can also visit

Carolyn Ash

YonKa Skincare Products