After doing a few maya tutorials that used the mila_material, I felt I could return to this project and improve the skin on my models now that I have a better understanding of it. My main goal was to see if I could reduce the render time while still achieving the look I wanted. I found that my new version of the skin renders much quicker than my original one which probably has to do mostly with the resolution because my old shader I had to keep at 1 while the new material seems to be ok at 1/2. I also think rendering on a proper computer rather than my laptop will also improve my render times.
There are a few differences between the two materials... for example my original had Fresnel: Glossy Reflection while my new one has a Fresnel: Specular Reflection. I'm not sure if this makes much of a difference or if one way is more realistic than the other but I prefer my new one over my old one...it feels less washed out and I can keep it at 1/2 quality it seems and still get reasonable results (the screencap says it's at resolution 1 on 'New_Skin' but I only rendered it at 1/2). I'll post the differences between my old and new materials just in case anyone has feedback.