Q&A: Have skincare questions? Meet your answer

Maritza Ramirez, Haus Salon esthetician and the Twin Cities’ personal glow expert tells us to cleanse, tone, hydrate, repeat.

Maritza Ramirez, an esthetician at HAUS Salon in Minneapolis' North Loop, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 1.

Ellen Schmidt

Maritza Ramirez, an esthetician at HAUS Salon in Minneapolis’ North Loop, poses for a portrait on Tuesday, May 1.

Sophie Vilensky

Maritza Ramirez, an esthetician at the North Loop’s Haus Salon and proprietor of all things glowy, found her spot in the skincare world in a bit of a roundabout way. 

That’s not to say she hasn’t always cared about skin. At 19 years old, Ramirez was putting on “like 10 steps of skincare a night.” When friends would go tanning without sunscreen, they’d receive a lecture.

Graduating from St. Catherine University with a degree in clothing design during the recession of 2008, Ramirez found herself full of knowledge and creativity with few ideal job opportunities.

Having worked for a number of makeup and skincare companies throughout her life, Ramirez eventually moved to Seattle, where she worked for Nordstrom corporate. In 2015, she moved back to Minneapolis and did the corporate thing a little longer.

“I felt myself becoming a little disillusioned with the corporate nine-to-five life. I wasn’t happy,” Ramirez said. “So I was like – you know what? I’m just going to finally start over and become an esthetician. I went to Aveda Institute and was a full-time student again. I graduated just last June and have been at Haus ever since.”

Now an Instagram icon in her own right (find her at @maritza_at_haus) and the chosen facialist and brow magician for all of the dewiest local faces, Ramirez shared a little of her wisdom with A&E. Please moisturize to thank her!

Describe the skincare routine everyone should be doing.

A bare-bones skincare routine would be cleanser, toner and some sort of hydration. Twice a day. If you’re only going to do it once, do it at night, but I wouldn’t recommend it. If you’re not doing anything at all, cleanse, tone, hydrate.

And that’s everyone?

Everyone. Men. women, teenagers. 90-year-olds.

How about holy-grail products? A splurge and a budgeted pick?

If I were going to pick my favorite product, it would hands-down be the Susanne Kaufmann soothing tonic. It’s a super hydrating toner with sage and chamomile, and it’s gentle enough for basically all skin types. It’s that first layer of hydration, and it feels so good on your face.

On the other end of the spectrum, if I was going to recommend something that was more friendly on the wallet, I’d say Little Barn Apothecary aloe and rosewater toner. That one is a third of the price.

I think toner is the biggest step that most people aren’t using. Most people think of toner as like Proactiv or something that’s really astringent or for acneic skin, but toners can balance, they can be hydrating. And they can fight acne.

How important do you think real-deal products are compared to dupes? Like a facial steamer versus standing over a stove, or using witch hazel as toner?

First of all, there’s a new skincare line popping up like every second. Everyone has skincare: Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Nordstrom, a gas station — you can get a face mask anywhere.

I’d never put something on my face that I hadn’t researched heavily.

There are a lot of dupes out there. Anything claiming it’s going to revitalize your skin, change it, make you look ten years younger … I’m automatically skeptical. I just really think so much of it boils down to genetics and lifestyle. Not smoking, not being in the sun all day, eating fruits and vegetables — those are the most important things.

My personal philosophy is that plants are best. With that being said, I don’t tell people to use [non-diluted] essential oils or pure witch hazel because those things can be really harsh on your skin.

Where should we get our info in a world where everyone is a beauty influencer?

I think right now we’ve hit a point where it’s information overload. It’s that pay to play — who can you trust? Everyone’s either getting free products or selling products.

At the end of the day, everyone is being paid by some skincare line. Not to avoid the question, but I guess if there is somewhere you can go to find a non-biased, informative product comparison, I don’t know what it is. My tip would be to find an expert and go see them for a facial.

Why are facials important? How much are we hurting ourselves when we try to do at-home extractions?

Facial massage, a portion of a facial, is one of the most important things. When you do facial massage it helps stimulate the skin, promote new cell turnover, slough off any dry skin. You also get the steam and the extractions and you leave feeling so much better. 

As for at-home extractions … I would just say don’t do it; you can permanently damage your skin. 

Your pores will never shrink, but you can always make them bigger.

How often should people get facials?

Ideally, every four to six weeks; 28 days is the approximate amount of time for new cell turnover.

What about coconut oil? Everyone is obsessed — does it do anything?

It’s heavy and an occlusive product, which means it doesn’t let your skin breathe. I know some people swear by it and I’m not going to fight them, but for most people …. it clogs your pores. Absolutely no.

What should we stay away from when choosing skin care products?

It’s hard to know because there are always buzzwords. Like toxins — what are toxins? It’s a generic word that’s tossed around all the time for skincare, food. I’d say stay away from super-fragranced products. Natural fragrances are okay, but it goes along the line of not making your own skincare at home.

Natural products can be just as bad for your skin as not natural. Do your research and try things out. Your skin will probably let you know on its own if something is good or bad for you.

Okay, last question. Who is your skin icon?

Locally, Emily Eaton. Then there’s Iman, Naomi Campbell, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kim Kardashian, Linda Rodin — look her up right now, her style is amazing and her skin is amazing.

[Instagram DM addendum] “I completely forgot my ultimate skin icon – JLO!!!!!! Her skin is perfection and what I want mine to look like at her age (or right now, for that matter).”

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity