#InMySkin: Meet Marlene Garcia, a Disney Princess Turned Air Force Soldier Turned Medical Esthetician
Marlene Garcia isn’t your typical esthetician. Her journey with skin care began when she was a Walt Disney World performer in Orlando, Florida, and struggled with severe acne. After taking a break from the performance industry, she joined the United States Air Force, which gave her the opportunity to get her degree in paramedical skin care. Now, Garcia is a lead medical esthetician with an undying passion for skin care and helping others feel confident in their own skin. Read on to learn more about Garcia’s inspiring journey, including how she overcame challenges and some of her best skin-care tips.
Can you tell us about your background before you got into skin care?
I was born in Cuba and became a model at a young age. Eventually, I discovered my passion for dance and entertaining. After high school, I became a Walt Disney World performer in Orlando, Florida. I spent many years performing under very hot conditions wearing layers and layers of theatrical makeup. In my early 20s, I took a break from entertainment to join the United States Air Force. I figured I couldn’t perform forever, and I knew I wanted to go to college, but I didn’t have the resources. So, I joined the military, and it was the best decision I ever made. Not only did I have the privilege to honorably serve my country, but it also gave me the opportunity to get my associate of science degree in natural health with a concentration in paramedical skin care.
What led you to become a lead medical esthetician?
Growing up I had severe acne and then it hit me hard again in my late 20s/early 30s during my performing years. As a young woman and performer, it affected my self-esteem in a big way. I was so embarrassed that I had a hard time looking up and making eye contact with others. I hid behind my long hair. I dreaded looking at my face in the morning to only find more pimples. I remember feeling hopeless and tired.I found myself researching all the time and desperately buying every skin-care product invented. I was always on the hunt for the one thing that would fix my acne. And then, luckily, I met a medical esthetician, Nancy, who positively changed my skin health and, ultimately, my entire life.
Nancy was the reason I could finally hold my head up. She was the reason I was able to perform again. Using the proper skin-care products combined with in-office treatments to help kill the acne bacteria while restoring my skin’s barrier function was the answer I had been looking for. Nancy was my driving force to become a medical esthetician. I knew I wanted to be her when I grew up. I also knew I wanted to help inspire others through skin health.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced on your journey to becoming an esthetician?
It took me six months to find a job out of school. During the wait, I wondered if I had made the right decision to become an esthetician. I went back to performing and felt content, but not fulfilled. After several resume drop-offs and several follow-ups, I finally landed an interview. The hardest part was convincing a plastic surgery center to give a brand-new esthetician a chance. But some of the steps that helped me feel prepared were visualizing the job (I made a vision board), writing a letter to myself as my future self (she spoke about how much she loved her new career at the plastic surgery office), I created a clinicals binder with before-and-after photos and outlined treatment protocols, I attended every seminar about skin care that was available in my area, I dressed the part, and I was honest and vulnerable during the interview. I didn’t pretend to know what I didn’t know. And guess what? Ultimately my passion shined through the lack of experience, and I landed the job.
What’s your favorite part of your career?
My favorite part of my career is seeing the transition that occurs from start to finish with my patients’ treatment protocols. In the beginning, many people are in tears as they begin their journey with me. And then, a few months in, a shift occurs. They start to see a positive change, and the momentum that positive change brings is unstoppable. They start to hold their head a little higher. They have a bounce in their step, and they can’t wait to see their before-and-after photos at every visit. With every visit, I see a bigger and bigger smile. That smile — that’s my favorite part!
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by courage and commitment. It isn’t always easy to find the courage to honor our true selves and be brave enough to try, to commit and follow through. I’m inspired by all the patients who have shown up for themselves by finding the courage to make that first appointment with me. I’m inspired by their vulnerability to share their story, and I’m inspired by their courage to commit to themselves and show up for each and every appointment.
What’s your skin-care routine?
I’m currently using Alastin Skincare. It’s paraben-free, gluten-free and cruelty-free. I’m obsessed with its TriHex Technology because it helps clear old damage and debris so that skin can support its natural ability to produce new, healthy elastin and collagen. It also pairs beautifully with in-office procedures like chemical peels, micro-needling and laser resurfacing.
Here’s my AM routine:
Alastin Skincare Gentle Cleanser, Restorative Skin Complex with TriHex Technology, Restorative Eye Treatment with TriHex Technology, Restorative Neck Complex with TriHex Technology, Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer TriHex Technology and HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36.
Here’s my PM routine:
Alastin Skincare Gentle Cleanser, Restorative Skin Complex Serum with TriHex Technology, Restorative Eye Treatment with TriHex Technology, Restorative Neck Complex with TriHex Technology and Renewal Retinol .5.
I also love to give myself LED light treatments at night while I meditate. I do that at least three times a week after cleansing but before applying any other skin care. In addition, I like using a rose quartz roller and massager to promote healthy circulation and assist in facial lymphatic drainage.
What is one skin-care tip you think everyone must know?
Consistency is everything when it comes to good skin care. It’s such a powerful word. The more consistent we are with anything in life, the greater the results and our skin care is no different. Our skin loves consistency. And our skin-care products work with time, so it’s important to give those products the time they deserve to yield the results we seek, like healthy, glowing skin. Be consistent with your day and night routine (a.k.a don’t get lazy), especially at night.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is fully accepting who I am now while continuously working on being the best version of myself and not judging or hurting anyone or anything in the process.