Many of the products in your beauty arsenal might be natural or organic, paraben-free, gluten-free or vegan…but does that really make them better for you? We wanted to find out, so we talked to aesthetician Sladjana Orescanin of Mitchell James Salon—and were happy to find that, in many cases, the answer is yes!

LN: Tell us about your background.

SO: I’m originally from southwest Croatia, where I practiced aesthetics. I’ve been a citizen of the U.S. for 14 years, and I love St. Louis! I trained for four years to complete my licensing here.

LN: Is skin care different in Croatia than in the U.S.?

SO: In Croatia, the process of creating facials and skin care regimens is much more creative. However, it takes much longer. In the States, everything is much faster because it is already made-to-order. I like to take the creativity for custom facials and combine that with the convenience that is needed for busy day-to-day life.

LN: Why is it important for cosmetics to be paraben-free?

SO: Paraben-free products are healthier because parabens are a preservative that has been linked to cancer; however, they are not active ingredients in most skin care/hair care products. All of my products are paraben-free, alcohol-free, PBA-free and gluten free.

LN: The salon offers UNITE products, which also are sulfate-free, gluten-free and 100 percent vegan—how are those attributes important?

SO: Products that are free of sulfates preserve the shine and vibrancy of hair and skin. Glutens can cause breakouts. Also, many people have gluten allergies and don’t even know it. When you’re buying skin care products, also look for ones that have no artificial colors, no formaldehyde and no mineral oils for good quality. deep

LN: Would you recommend a facial to get rid of impurities in the skin?

SO: Plantomer is one of the best facials for removing impurities. It is semi-exclusive to Mitchell James Salon. Plantomer facials cleanse, heal and exfoliate all at the same time. Jan Marini products also are semi-exclusive to us. They’re very high quality and huge on the coasts!

LN: What are some things women often overlook when it comes to skin care?

SO: Peels make the biggest impact on the appearance of skin. Our most popular peel right now is the Flower Enzyme Peel. It contains hibiscus and pumpkin extract, which remove superficial dead cells, stimulate and tone the skin while providing anti-oxidant protection. The Jessner Peel, another peel we offer, boosts collagen and reduces the appearance of freckles, acne and mild cases of rosacea. Floracide peels address the presence of sun damage, fine line wrinkles, acne, coarse texture and hyperpigmentation of the skin. The lacto-peel is a highly praised acid peel. It exfoliates by removing dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, as well as providing a renewing effect by moisturizing and hydrating. It also reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

LN: Do you have any other tips for getting great skin?

SO: The key to great skin is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate your face and body. And when you’re choosing skin care, remember: the more natural ingredients, the better the skin.