Skincare advice from Ashleigh’s Esthetician: Skincare by Sophia

Being stuck inside during quarantine is a blessing and a curse. While you may be anxious or worried, one of the things I have found to be helpful during this time of uncertainty is to control the things I can control. I can control my sleep habits, my diet and exercise patterns, and what my mind chooses to focus on and my perception.

I’ve taken this time to reflect on my goals and to take self care to the next level. I’ve jokingly, but also half seriously, mentally turned this period of time into what I’m calling in my house, “A wellness retreat”.  I have been gel painting my nails, cooking lavish healthy meals and diving deep into 6 step skincare routines.

Before I do anything skin related I always get advice from my skincare expert, Sophia Phan (@skincarebysophia). I text her at all hours of the day about micro-needling devices to creams I’m eyeing.  She’s been my Esthetician for almost a DECADE, and has literally transformed the skin of anyone I’ve ever referred, myself included, and everyone is OBSESSED with her facials. I am sure not to miss one every time I am in LA.

I reached out to Sophia to ask her some questions I thought we could all benefit from during this time and learn how to take your skincare game PRO.

  1. Tell us about yourself, what got you into the skin business and what’s your passion within it? This is my bio…

Sophia Phan is a California licensed esthetician, and owner of Skincare By Sophia, Inc. a skincare and facial esthetics spa that she started in 2019. She has over 13 years of experience working in a medical setting, having worked under top dermatologists and plastic surgeons in New York City and Beverly Hills. She is passionate about helping others look and feel their best and enjoys educating her clients on ways to correct, protect, and maintain a healthy and radiant complexion. Sophia specializes in treating acne, aging skin, pigmentation irregularities, and sun damage. She also offers a full range of advanced skin care services to enhance physician-administered treatments.  Through a comprehensive evaluation of your skin, she will customize a treatment plan, along with a home skin care regimen that will optimize treatment results and overall skin health.

2. As far as regime’s go, what do you recommend for AM & PM routine?

Everyone’s skin is different, so I recommend speaking with a licensed esthetician to evaluate and customize a regimen that suits your needs and lifestyle. Right now, I’m offering complimentary virtual consultations and free shipping on products. Please DM me to schedule.

For my AM routine, I cleanse daily and exfoliate using a physical scrub every other day. After toner, I apply an antioxidant, (AKA Vitamin C serum) because it protects skin by neutralizing free radicals that cause premature aging and sun damage. It’s also slightly acidic which helps everything you apply after it to absorb better. Immediately after, I apply specialized serums which include hydrating serums, hyaluronic acid boosters, stem cells, growth factors, and skin brighteners in the order of thinnest to thickest. Next, comes eye cream, then moisturizer before the serums dry—this will lock in hydration. Lastly, I cap everything with a mineral sunscreen.

In the evenings, I double cleanse—First cleanse is to remove make up. Second is to cleanse the skin. Next, I apply stem cell hydration serum and a lightweight moisturizer, and eye cream. Twice a week, I use a retinol instead of moisturizer.

3. Here is the order of application I generally recommend along with some basic tips:

CLEANSE: Apply a dime-size amount on to dampened skin to create a lather and massage for 45 seconds before rinsing. Tip: If you cleanse in the shower, make sure you wash your face after washing and conditioning your hair. Sometimes hair conditioner binds to skin and creates a lipid barrier that could potentially cause breakouts. 

ANTIOXIDANT SERUM: Apply 4-5 drops to face and neck. Protects skin by neutralizing free radicals that cause premature aging, and sun damage. Daily use will build collagen, enhance broad spectrum UV protection and improve radiance. My faves are SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF and Obagi Medical Professional C 20%

SPECIALIZED SERUMS: (Hyaluronic acid, growth factors, peptides) Favorites are: Revision Skincare Hydrating Serum, PCA Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, PCA Skin Rejuvenating Serum, PCA Skin ExLinea, SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum, Stem Cell Beauty Innovations Gold Serum

MOISTURIZE: Creates a seal to help skin’s barrier function by balancing water and oil levels for optimal hydration. Tip: Don’t wait until your serums dry before applying your moisturizer. You will lock in more hydration if you apply your moisturizer while skin is still moist from serums.

EYE CREAM: Pat gently over orbital area. Avoid pulling the skin. The eye area has more delicate and thin skin with fewer sebaceous glands so it’s important to give it an extra hydration boost to help prevent premature aging.

SUN PROTECTION: This is the most important step in preserving healthy, youthful skin. Generally, most people do well with a sunscreen that contains a combination of both physical and chemical blockers to get full UVA and UVB protection. Ideally, look for one that contains 5-10% physical blockers, which are Zinc Oxide and Titantium Dioxide. When combined with chemical blockers such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate, you will get the best of both world.

Favorite combination sunscreen: PCA Skin Weightless Protection, Obagi Medical Sunshield Matte

For skin that is prone to pigmentation, it’s better to find a mineral sunscreen that contains a higher concentration of zinc oxide (14% or more) which will protect your skin from discoloration, as well as burning and aging. Zinc is an anti-irritant and well-tolerated by sensitive skin types and is often found in baby products. Zinc oxide also provides the most complete UVA protection (while titanium dioxide is weaker in UVA protection).

Favorite mineral sunscreen: Revision Skincare: Intellishade TruPhysical

PM –


EXFOLIATE 1-2x week: Reduces excess dead cellular build up to smooth fine lines and prevent clogged pores. Also improves efficacy of products. Depending on your skin type, a physical scrub like PCA Skin Pore Refining Treatment ( or  chemical exfoliator like Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta® Extra Strength Daily Peel would help smooth texture and help products penetrate better.



  1. What’s 1 product you think everyone should have?

Everyone should have a product that contains Hyaluronic Acid. 

It binds 1000x its weight in water, so it’s an effective moisturizer for all skin type and helps your skin store hydration (in the form of water, not oil). Using HA serums will trick oily skin into producing less oil which could help reduce breakouts. It’s also a game changer for drier skin because it reduces the visibility of fine lines by retaining moisture which creates a plumping effect.

Favorite HA Serums: Revision Skincare Hydrating Serum, PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, SkinCeuticals Hydrating B-5 Gel

2. Fav product for acne/anti-aging? 

RETINOLS or Prescription Retin A By adding a retinol or Retin-A into your night time routine, you’ll notice improvements in fine lines, discolorations, texture, and tone. It also helps to reduce breakouts by increasing cell-turnover, which brings new healthy cells to the surface and forces damaged, dull and congested skin cells off. Tip:  When first starting a retinol, you might notice mild flaking, irritation, and redness, so add it slowly and gradually. Best to start with one night per week and increase use as your skin adjusts. If you are extremely sensitive, apply a thin layer of moisturizer before applying retinol to dilute the strength.

Some of my favorite medical-grade retinol formulations are: 

1) PCA SKIN Intensive Brightening Treatment: 0.5% pure retinol

2) Obagi Medical Retinol 1.0

3)SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0

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