And They Put Up With Me.

I have entered the Golden Age of my life and I find that I am much more capable of seeing the goodness in those I work with.  I consider it golden because it is a precious commodity to work with people who have dedicated their lives to caring for others.  You see, I am the behind the scenes guy. I make sure payroll runs correctly. I meet with vendors and sometimes I fix the broken towel bar or clean a toilet. I find new ways to market the business while trying to build relationships with other downtown businesses. But that’s not what I really do.  I encourage. I dissect, I listen, I empathize and I sympathize. Sometimes I tease, some times I cajole. I do my best to make sure that my employees feel uplifted and empowered so that they will in turn do the same for our clients! The personalities found in Bella Visage fit the parallel world around us.  Yes, I work with the loving and the kind and the selfless. But I have spent years working with the not so loving or kind. I find it comforting to know that the Bella staff is some of the best at loving and comforting. And they put up with me!

“When a client comes to our spa, these are the people who take care of them:

The receptionists meet the client, make sure they are ready for their procedure, complete the paperwork, answer questions, and make certain the client is properly pampered and spoiled.  They clean and dust and put up inventory. And they put up with me.

Our Aestheticians are adept at counseling and instructing clients on the best skin care techniques. They offer world-class levels of service and professionalism. The right music, the right scented products, the right procedure for the client. The best sound in the world is for me to over hear a staff member and a client giggle at a conversation that no one else can hear. It provides me with a sense of satisfaction on many different levels. And they put up with me.

Our Nurse Practitioners make certain the room, the equipment, all the disposables, and every other detail has been covered.  They oversee that everything is checked twice, that everything is documented properly and that the right guidelines are followed every time.  They have spent years in school and specialized training. Their job is to ensure that we do everything right, every time, with no exceptions.  And they put up with me.

Our Massage Therapists put the clients at ease and then attends to them through every moment.  They listen if the client wants to talk and if need be just quietly massage away the build up stress from a client who has worked too hard or worried too much. They listen to their every breath and do their best to slow their heartbeat.  They make sure they feel safe and comfortable.  And they put up with me.

The people who directly help me with the endless back office duties are some of the best. From my Social Media “girl,” and events coordinator, along with my bookkeeper and accountant. They keep me grounded in truth and sometimes force me to look reality in the face. I also have a few downtown friends who have become my confidants. The ones I can go to when shit gets real. I simply could not do what I do without them. And they put up with me.

The truth is that the majority of our clients usually don’t even see me. They see the smiling faces of each one of our wonderful staff. The reason why I felt moved to share this with you, our clients and friends, is because of the love and joy that has been shown to Jeanna and I in the last several weeks, when our staff and friends learned that little Mike joined the Marines. Since we are a small business, but have become a large family, they know a lot about our home life. They are aware of some of the struggles that can occur in a blended family. You know, the daily real life struggles that occur when boy meets man and then man marries mom. Not always smooth sailing. Well I would be lying if I didn’t tell you just how proud I was to watch him make such a big decision to serve his country. Being the son of former Air Force retirees I am well aware of and proud of OUR military personnel. It was heart warming to hear the love and support from them. I have written before about our family business and how we are surrounded by people that have “IT”. The ones who know about your dreams and support you in the good times and the bad. They are the kind of friends who will provide us strength when they know Mike is struggling, so we can be his rock. They would take his anger or pain if it meant he would be at peace. They would pace the night with us if it meant he could get some sleep! They will let him know they support him every step of the way. And they also know that I will lead the pack. Someday I hope he will realize I was with him every step of the way. And in the end, through it all, he put up with me!”

Skincare and Summer Sun

Skin & Summer Sun


Who doesn’t love summer. Trips to the beach, boating and cookouts. Time to spend enjoying family and friends while enjoying the outdoors. While it can be the healer of moods, summer sun wreaks havoc on our skin. If we don’t take the necessary steps to change our habits and skincare routine we can expect to age prematurely at a very rapid pace. Especially here in Florida where it seems summer lasts ten months a year.

Summer is about heat and sunshine. Understanding summer heat and it’s effect on our skin is just as essential as knowing the dangers of summer’s sun. When it gets hot outdoors, and we’re not cooling off in air conditioning, we are subject to side effects unless we take the necessary precautions. Heat causes excessive sweating, which in turn releases chloride and sodium on the skin. Are you an acne sufferer? Sadly, sweat is your enemy! Acne becomes even more inflamed and infected from sweat and can double on your face and body. If you suffer from any skin condition at all, controlling body heat is essential to prevent or control your condition.

You don’t have acne or any other skin condition? Unfortunately for you it’s still easy to develop a rash of itchy and uncomfortable whiteheads. Heat raises the bacteria level in our core, and unless it’s very dry outside, sweating doesn’t cool the body down very well. Sweat cannot evaporate in humidity, and sweat that cannot evaporate raises bacteria levels, which leads to infection. Remember, excessive heat causes inflammation in our skin and organs. Drinking plenty of water and knowing when to get out of the heat will be your only prevention from ailments that range from heat rashes and skin infections to heat stroke. Consider heat the breeding ground where bacteria can grow.

Although the summer sun creates heat for happy days ahead, the sun’s ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, cause premature aging and skin cancer. Reminder: you’re still getting sun on a cloudy day! At the very least, the sun causes the skin to change color temporarily. Occasionally you may experience a tan or a burn that turns your skin into a blotchy mess better known as hyper-pigmentation. (Those dark patches that don’t belong on your cheeks, the age spots, and the freckles you didn’t inherit!) We all make mistakes, and yes, there are solutions to even the most stubborn sunshine side effects. With the advent of new skin care therapies, we can reverse most pigmentation. However, even if you’ve reversed some of the effects of aging on the skin, you still have to take precautionary measures against the sun.


So what can we at Bella Viságe do to help.

Education! Come in and let our Aestheticians and Nurse Practioners give you a free consultation.

Good quality skincare. We carry the best products available and can train you on the proper way to care for your skin

Good mineral based makeup. The less make up the better. Using a high quality line of makeup will provide long-term improvements in your skins health.

High-end medical spa treatments. We offer multiple services that can help repair the damaging effects of sun damage and aging. Consultations are free!


Thanks again for taking time to read our blog. We appreciate you following and supporting Bella Viságe.

Pure & Simple Treats

Live Beautifully, Live Naturally!



That is the manta that Angela Barkett lives by. As the owner and master chemist at Pure & Simple Treats Angela has found a niche in the handmade, chemical free home and skincare products market.

Angela was born near Manchester, England and relocated to the U.S. in 2011. As she has said, “I found my passion in the States, thousands of miles away from where I grew up.” Angela and her husband Mark moved to Lakeland where they opened up Exotic Car Services and have been active in the community ever since.



“Moving to Florida stirred up some allergies for me, so I set myself on a mission to heal my own skin & health. The more I researched the toxic chemicals in so many home and skincare products, the more I experimented with my own recipes, and they worked! My allergies cleared up, and it sparked a huge passion, so in 2015, I turned my hobby in to a business so that I can share my creations with others.”

She hand makes 100% Soy Candles, Reed Diffusers, Soy Wax Melts, Soy Tea Lights and Essential Oil Room Sprays. She also has a line of all natural lotions and lip balms. Her latest creation is a line Pure Essential Oil Blends & Salves.


I have known Angela and Mark for several years having met them thru Lakeland Business Leaders. She told me she was “playing with some soaps and creams and stuff,” since she was battling her allergies. After watching her for a few months, I decided to approach her with the idea of having Pure & Simple Treats create a line of products for us to complement our national brand products. So in December of last year I approached Angela about private labeling some of her products exclusively for us. Since we are all about fostering local, we wanted to have a local option for our customers. We have been adding products ever since.

We are constantly collaborating on new scents for the candles and lotions and flavors for the lip balms. Angela’s products are some of the fastest moving inventory that we carry.   Our customers are in love with her great smelling products.

Thank you Angela for believing in your dreams and putting in the hours that it takes to keep our clients smelling good and happy.


See you next week.

Collagen Peptides

Why, How, & When to Take Collagen Protein 

Thanks for your continued interest in the Bella blog. In this blog I will introduce you to Collagen peptides which are dietary supplements that can be introduced into almost any daily diet. We carry VITAL PROTEINS which is an all natural collagen peptide. Peptides are short chain amino acids naturally derived from collagen protein. These natural peptides are highly bio-available, digestible and soluble in water. The intake of collagen ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of skin, hair, tendon, cartilage, bones and joints. Collagen is a natural and healthy ingredient that has been used for centuries. Collagen rich foods were a large part of the traditional diet. Our ancestors utilized sustainable whole animal nutrition, which provided an abundant amount of collagen.  Over the past century modern food processing has removed this natural and healthy protein from our diets.  Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body. It is vital for our body and is the basic building block of skin, hair, nails, bones and joints. Vital Proteins’ Collagen Supplement is sourced from pasture raised bovine hides from Brazil. This ensures a natural, high quality, and sustainable source of this nutritional powerhouse.

Gelatin, which is cooked collagen is a true superfood! Many experts have been singing the praises of collagen and gelatin for many years. In my opinion it is one of the best things you can incorporate into your diet. The benefits are wide ranging. Wrinkle reduction, healing of the gut, stronger bones, easing of joint pain and much more.

Do I Need Collagen Supplementation?

As we age, the amount of collagen in our body decreases. By age 25, collagen levels are decreased at a rate of 1.5% a year. By age 40, collagen is depleted faster than it is produced! And by age 60, over half of the body’s collagen has been depleted. Collagen is what holds us together! It’s found in skin, ligaments, cartilage, tendons, muscles, bone tissue, blood vessels, the gastrointestinal tract, and even in the cornea of the eye.

6 Surprising Benefits of Collagen

Here’s some benefits of collagen protein.

  1. Digestive Aid 

Collagen soothes and heals the digestive tract and helps repair the mucous lining. It also helps break down the protein and fat from foods, making them easier for the body to digest.

  1. Weight Loss 

Collagen is a great source of protein. Vital proteins provides 18 grams of protein per 2 scoops! Studies show that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins (such as whey or soy). This correlates to a 20% reduction of food intake at lunch.

  1. Joint and Bone Health 

The two amino acids in collagen are gylcine and proline. They help repair tissue, lessen inflammation and provide relief from joint pain. This is  similar to taking cortisone or ibuprofen. The glycine also speeds wound healing, helps stiff joints and promotes recovery. Another more recent study assessed the efficiency of collagen peptides in a randomized, double blind, controlled multicenter trial. 250 subjects with primary osteoarthritis of the knee were given 10g of collagen peptides daily. The results showed a significant improvement in knee joint comfort. The subjects with the greatest joint deterioration benefited most. Several studies also show that supplementing with collagen builds bone density. Collagen peptides stimulate osteoblasts, which are the cells responsible for bone formation.

  1. Athletic Performance 

The specific amino acids, primarily glycine and proline help repair tissue, lessen inflammation, shortens recovery after exercise and helps with sports related injuries. Supplementation with collagen peptides showed a reduction of risk for injuries on muscle, tendons, and ligaments in athletes.  Also the glycine and arginine content in collagen aids athletic performance and help maintain and restore muscle mass. Arginine stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. This is known to increase muscle mass and that may explain the performance gains.

  1. Sleep Tonic 

Glycine plays an important role in the neurotransmitters within the brain. Recent research shows that glycine improves sleep quality in people who have difficulty sleeping. Ingesting collagen improves sleep quality but it also helps reduce daytime sleepiness and helps improve memory during waking hours.

  1. Skin Health 

It’s almost as if we saved the best for last. Some doctors refer to collagen as the new anti-aging product of the century and I have to agree! It ensures cohesion, elasticity, and regeneration of the skin. Collagen contains the amino acids alanine and hydroxyproline. These particular amino acids are shown to reduce the signs of aging. Clinical research has shown that Vital Protein’s Collagen promotes younger looking skin, improves skin moisture level, improves skin smoothness, improves the signs of deep wrinkles and improves skin suppleness. Not only would you have healthier hair, skin, and nails but all the other more important benefits as well.

If you have questions please don’t hesitate to call us. We will see you next week when we will be reintroducing you to our staff.  Until then.


Coco Chanel and the accidental connection to a health glow


In 1923, the French Icon, Coco Chanel spent a little too much time in the sun and accidentally developed a tan. Almost 100 years later tan skin and that healthy Sun kissed glow is more popular than ever. In fact most people now find that they like a bit of a healthy glow all the time.

Long before science had determined the damage that sunbathing caused, we thought having a tan was the optimal of skin health. With beautiful bronze bodies everywhere it was what we all sought.

The tan is truly the one fashion that never seems to go out of style. Celebrities like it, doctors even recommend it and it has been the secret to a youthful glow for many years. Melanie D. Palm MD, the founding director of Art of Skin in Solana Beach, CA and the Assistant Professor at University of California in San Diego has stated that she “personally uses these products and recommend them to my patients as a safe alternative to traditional tanning.” ( In her article she continues to describe the benefits of self-tanning products and breaks down the skin’s molecular reaction to tanning. Either way, Dr. Palm says to “love the skin (color) they are in.” As most of us know, tan skin has the potential to hide skin imperfections such as broken blood vessels, spider veins, and wrinkles. Lucky for us, it also helps to diminish the appearance of cellulite.

Now, let’s fast-forward.  We now know the sun increases premature aging and can even cause skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be extremely damaging to your skin. The easiest way to describe this in Layman’s terms is that UVA ages us causing wrinkles and UVB burns us causing brown spots. This is where my love for spray tan comes into play.

The principal tanning agents used in all self-tanning formulas is dihydroxyacetone otherwise known as DHA. This chemical compound does not produce a real tan by increasing the skins melanin levels; rather it creates a tanned appearance by developing a brown color on the surface of the skin. The action of the DHA is limited to the upper layer of skin and involves a reaction between DHA and skin proteins and oxygen that produces the brown compounds. This process is similar to what occurs when you slice open an apple and the surface of the Apple browns when it is exposed to oxygen in the air. The development of color takes anywhere from 2 to 4 hours and the intensity of the color is dependent upon the DHA concentration in the product, as well as one’s individual skin characteristics. The color developed by the DHA usually lasts 5 to 7 days and begins to fade as the top layer of skin naturally exfoliates itself.

DHA solutions take a minimum of sixteen hours to fully develop; however the ideal timeframe is twenty-four hours. Clients will receive the best results if they can avoid bathing until the day after their tanning session, because soap lessens the effectiveness of DHA. Delayed bathing allows the DHA bronzer sufficient time to complete its reaction with the amino acids proteins that are within the skin.

The myth that all spray tans turn you orange is just that…a myth. Period. Mystic tan and other cheaper solutions have left a bad taste in consumer’s mouths and poor color quality on their bodies. Sunless tanning solutions have come a long way since those early days. The active ingredient (DHA) in spray tanning solution has been refined and more importantly the additives in the solution are higher grade. Brand names we recommend are: Norvell, Amber Sun and Versa Spa.

If your family has a history of melanoma or you are fair skinned, or maybe you are worried about premature aging and wrinkles, it would be prudent to not only stay out of the tanning bed, but also stay out of the sun as well. Sunless tanning is a viable option that has the same results without the medical consequences. This is a big deal.

Sometimes important events creep up on us. If you need to get a little color and you only have two days, traditional tanning will not be ideal. Even the day of the event is not too late to be sprayed given you allow the 4-6 hours of “downtime” so the solution sets in properly.

Tanning beds are notorious for leaving tan lines, white pressure points on your back, stripes on your side, and feet that don’t get tan.  With sunless tanning, you need not worry about tan lines because you get sprayed wearing whatever you want based off of your comfort level. Sunless tanning technicians perceive which parts of your body need to be sprayed a little darker to blend with the rest of your body; something a tanning bed could never achieve.

During the Spray-Tan session, the color that is immediately visible is the result of the cosmetic bronzer. Don’t be alarmed when the color washes off during your first shower, this is a normal occurrence. What remains is the DHA bronze tan. To prolong the color, it is important to keep skin moisturized after sunless tanning allowing dry flaky skin to slough off faster. Your goal is to basically slow down your body’s natural exfoliation process.

Some of the bronze color might rub off on your clothes immediately after the tan or on your bed sheets. To minimize the chance of the bronzers transferring to clothing we recommend you wear  loose fitting, dark clothing to your spray-tan session. Try to refrain from physical exertion that could result in sweating until after the twenty-four hour period when you shower. In most cases, because the cosmetic bronzer is water-soluble, the color will come out of the clothing in the washer, however it is important to note bronzers may stain light hair, wool, spandex, Lycra, silk or other fine fabrics. If the spray-tan product comes in contact with your hands or clothing, rinse immediately.

So there you have it! All the benefits of healthy bronze skin with out the dangers of the suns harmful rays. Next week we will talk about how collagen can improve our skin and other benefits.  See you then.