West Chicago esthetician Geri G. woos Hollywood

At the American Music Awards last month, dozens of celebrities - including Paris Hilton, Ashley Tisdale, Lance Bass and Richie Sambora - came over to see the products West Chicago esthetician and makeup artist Geri Giagnorio had at her booth.

What wowed them the most from her Geri G. Cosmetics and Skin care line was a product called "Mixer."

"Mixer is brand new, and there's nothing else like it out there," Giagnorio said, adding that a patent is pending.

Mixer can be used in a variety of ways. It can go under makeup, over makeup, or be mixed with makeup, such as blush or mascara, to create a whole new product. Mixing it with another product makes the makeup go on better while also improving the skin's condition, Giagnorio says.

A bottle of Mixer comes with a brush, an instruction book and a mixing spatula. The kit costs $75 (including free shipping) at She expects to have her products in department stores next year.

In January, she'll offer a kit filled with travel-sized bottles of her most popular products, including the makeup remover, brush cleaner, two cleaners and the ginseng tonic.

Giagnorio, 40, became interested in skin care and makeup as a teen because she suffered from acne. So she set out to learn all she could about skin, and it led her to a career as an esthetician. She started a private practice in 1998 and also works as a makeup artist.

The problem she sees most often is that people don't understand the physiology of their skin. When she launched Geri G. Cosmetics and Skin care last year, her emphasis was on educating consumers.

"The market is so flooded with products that make all these claims and promises, but people don't realize what active ingredients are good for the skin and which harm the skin," she said. "Once you're more educated, you make better choices about what products you use. Cosmetics and skin care is all about feeling better about yourself."

Winter skin tips

According to a recent survey by Vaseline Clinical Therapy Lotion, the Chicago area ranks in the top 15 places where skin is tight, itchy, dull, flaky and cracked.

To combat that, Dr. Jessica Wu, a professor of dermatology at USC Medical School and expert, offers these tips:

• Limit showers and baths to 10 minutes. A long hot bath might feel good after being out in the cold, but hot water and soaking can strip skin of protective oils. Also, pat dry. Don't rub yourself dry with a towel.

• Apply a rich body lotion immediately after showering. Apply again before going outside and before going to bed. Look for ingredients like petroleum jelly, which holds moisture in your skin and fights dryness.

• Use a humidifier at night, which will help hydrate dry skin and soothe chapped lips, dry throat and nasal passages.

• Drink plenty of fluids and replenish your skin's natural oils by eating more omega-3 (found in salmon and other fish) and omega-6 (evening primrose oil) fatty acids.

Geri Giagnorio got interested in skin care after suffering from acne as a teen.
Geri G.'s popular Mixer kit
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