Smile Politely

Let’s get a facial with Blue Moon Esthetics

A brown woman with dark curly hair, a cream sleeveless sweater, and jeans stands in front of the mirror taking a picture with her phone. She is standing in front of a massage table against a light blue wall.
Louise Knight-Gibson

I’ve had some very cool experiences this year with my “let’s do this” series. I’ve gone rock climbing in Urbana, foraged at Allerton Park, I tried stretch therapy, and I learned more about myself when I got my birth chart read. For my last article of the year, I decided to get my first facial with Blue Moon Esthetics. I’ve always wanted to try a facial and I loved that Drea Riley has Champaign’s only vegan, CBD infused, holistic spa that specializes in skin health and lash lifts. I made an online appointment easily and prior to my session I filled out a form that asked about my skin history and the type of products I use each day. From our first interaction, Riley was warm and made me feel at ease. She works out of the Sola Salons studio space and has a private suite in the building. We sat down and reviewed my form, discussed my goals, and went over what to expect from our time together. 

A massage table with moon sheets and towel sit in a small room with light blue walls there is a framed moon picture over it and a shelf with a candle on the wall.
Louise Knight-Gibson

I laid on a massage table that had a warming pad underneath it and it was a very cozy situation. Riley came back into the room, sat on a stool at the head of the table, turned on a lamp that projected stars and the moon onto the ceiling and began. She started by wrapping a warm towel around my face, and honestly she could have left me just like this, and I would have been perfectly happy.

A projected image of a moon and stars on the ceiling.
Louise Knight-Gibson

But then, the warm towel was followed by the cleansing step, which used two small feathery brushes — which I’m pretty sure were made from the wings of cherubs — there was face oil, more warm towels, a hand and neck massage, and lymph draining, which sounds a little scary but simply involves a half moon shaped brush being gently run along your chin and down your neck.

A hand with dark nail polish holds a small half moon shaped brush with brown bristles, against a dark blue wall.
Louise Knight-Gibson

To conclude my facial, Riley, in my opinion, saved the best for last by incorporating tuning forks. These forks create tiny vibrations when struck together and then Riley gently moved the smooth, rounded edge of one fork up and down my face. Riley goes into more detail about it in our interview, but the sound of the forks and then the gentle vibrations against my face created the most relaxing and calming moment and it truly felt incredible. 

My facial was over before I knew it. I assumed my skin would feel extremely soft or different afterwards, and my skin did feel more moisturized, but not like the freshly peeled, baby soft skin I was imagining. However, the next day and in the days since, my skin has looked more even, it’s been softer, and it feels amazing. Not to mention I got to spend a full hour of my day in a quiet, darkened space (a dream come true for this introvert). Riley recommends another facial in four to six weeks, and I already cannot wait to go back. 

After this experience, I sat down with her to discuss Blue Moon Esthetics and how it came to be. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

A close up portrait of a white woman with long dark hair and bangs. She is wearing a dark shirt and a stone pendant.
Drea Riley

Smile Politely: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do? 

Drea Riley: I’m a licensed esthetician here in Illinois. I originally started my career setting out to be a makeup artist. Then I discovered my passion was really for skincare and I fell in love with facials. I have been an entrepreneur for only the last two years. Before that, I worked at a couple of different locations here in town, and got some experience.

A dark blue wall with mirrored moons in different phases. underneath is a small counter and shelves with various products.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP: Can you tell me a little bit about Blue Moon Esthetics? 

Riley: Blue Moon was really my transformation into becoming a more holistic esthetician. Before this, I was really known for chemical peels and more invasive services. People are always calling the top layer dead skin cells and kind of brushing it off as unimportant. But the more I learned about skin, the more I learned that these cells are actually the king communicator cells and they are instructing all of the immature cells below what to do. So I transitioned from someone who relied heavily on exfoliation for results for my client, into someone that worked for the body from the inside out by coaching people on different lifestyle choices and what kind of skincare products they can use. I find that it’s so important for people to know that what we’re doing day to day affects our skin.

A sink with a moon and giant amethyst crystal there are some facial tools in the sink waiting to be washed.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP: Can you tell me about the products you use? 

Riley: All of my products are vegan, organic, and third- and fourth- party tested to make sure there are no heavy metals within the product. They’re a very responsible and sustainable company. Also their morals and values really align with my own in making sure that the employees have lots of mental health days. The products are infused with CBD, which is a cannabinoid. It reduces inflammation and brings the skin to homeostasis or balance. There’s no synthetic dyes, fragrances, parabens, or other harsh ingredients. The company is woman-owned and I just love it. 

SP: What are some misconceptions people have about facials?

Riley: Thinking you can’t speak up during a facial. I mostly cater to women and a lot of times we won’t speak up for ourselves. So just knowing it’s your facial, if you need more pressure or if you need something to be different, tell your esthetician. Don’t wait because there’s no reason to be uncomfortable. 

The other misconception is that facials are a luxury. I think that it’s healthcare. And I think it’s self care in so many ways. It’s also establishing loving and safe touch, which a lot of people need reestablished. I think facials are more than just skin and what I do is try to incorporate love for the nervous system, and even spiritual work. 

A hand with dark nail polish holds a metal tuning fork against a dark blue wall.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP: During my treatment you used tuning forks on my face. How were you introduced to that? 

Riley: I actually was just on Facebook one day, and I saw this advertisement for life changing energy and sound healing certifications. I was just intrigued, I thought it was something very unique and interesting. Some of them are unweighted, which I use outside of the body in the person’s energy field to help balance things out. And then the weighted ones, which are what you experienced, is called the sonic slider, it has the same frequency and resonance of planet Earth; it’s known as the Schumann resonance. It has a grounding effect on what’s known as our electrical body. Because we’re electromagnetic beings, I find that it’s so important to incorporate this energy type healing through sound in addition to the physical touch. That specific frequency and the reason I use it is to help with lymphatic drainage and it also has a beautiful effect on the skin. You’re just bringing life right back into the skin through the power of sound. 

The hallway outside Blue Moon Esthetics. The sign above her door has the logo of a moon and three stars.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP: Where did you get the inspiration for your name? 

Riley: My favorite color is blue. I’m a Pisces. So in astrology the moon is actually associated with my zodiac sign. And I’ve always been drawn to it, it’s also considered the feminine or female, and I just really resonated with it. I love the stars and the moons. So that’s kind of where the name came from. Something cute about the logo, there are three stars to represent my three kids. And the moon kind of represents me looking over them.     

SP: You’re from Champaign originally, right? What are your favorite places in the area? 

Riley: My favorite place to go is Curtis Orchard. My favorite restaurant is Kohinoor. The food and the atmosphere are so good and you can taste the love in their food. I love nature. So I go to Busey Woods a lot and do nature walks, too.

SP: What are some ways we can take care of our skin at home? 

Riley: Definitely get yourself a humidifier for your bedroom. We’re going through months where the moisture is really out of the air in the fall and winter. So our skin can get dry and dehydrated, especially with those super harsh winds. Look into using facial oils instead of makeup wipes for cleansing the skin at night to remove makeup. Just throw away the makeup wipes or give them to an enemy; they’re not helping you at all. My favorite oil is Jojoba oil. You want it to be organic and cold pressed, you can get it at places like Harvest Market or Common Ground Food Co-op. But really, it’s all about hydration in the winter and protection. So just slowing down on exfoliating, you don’t really want to exfoliate more than once a week. And if you use a physical exfoliant like a scrub, you want to be super gentle with your skin. Using a heavier moisturizer is well advised for wintertime. Change pillowcases once a week and clean your makeup brushes quite often. Eat lots of nourishing foods; you want to eat warmer foods in the colder months. Just make sure you’re eating real food, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, anything that came out of the earth is really important.

A wood floor with a line of crystals in various colors and shapes.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP: I was curious about the little crystals under the table, can you tell me about them?

Riley: Each crystal is working with your chakra system. Orgonite is blocking EMF, which is coming from our cell phones and things like that. And because it’s a pyramid, it’s an energy generator. The red is a jasper, it’s for your root chakra. The orange is carnelian and it’s for your sacral chakra; this is a citrine which is great for the solar plexus which is the stomach, and this one is rose quartz, the color associated with the heart chakra. This one is angelite for the throat. This is solidite for your third eye or intuition than amethyst or clear quartz is for your crown chakra which would connect you to God or a higher power. They’re under the table to align with the person above.

A small room with a black curtain on the right side. On the light blue wall is a framed picture of the moon phases and in front of a mirror is a dresser with a blue rock light on top.
Louise Knight-Gibson

SP:  What makes holistic esthetics different than other approaches? 

Riley: The regular beauty industry can really hone in on fears and insecurities. Whereas holistic esthetics is really embracing the aging process. To me, it’s not about selling products it’s about taking care of people, holistic esthetics is definitely more heart-centered and love based. It’s very intentional. I just want to make people feel better and more confident. And I think I’ve always been able to do that regardless of what products I’m using. But it makes me feel good to know that I’m also using very safe products. 

SP: Is there anything else that you want people to know?

Riley: You don’t have to have a skin issue to come here and to feel better. It’s just one of the best places you could send someone who is going through some tough time. It’s a safe space, everything is done with intention and love here and I’m able to hold space for people that have gone through a lot.

Learn more about Blue Moon Esthetics’ services and book an appointment here.

Culture Editor

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