Finding Solutions for Oily and Acneic Skin

by Annet King

Oily and acneic skin often requires a deeper cleanse to clear out debris and compactions in the follicles. While certain ingredients can make quite a difference, they're no comparison to the professional, deep cleansing treatments available in the treatment room.

Electrical modalities offer a stronger, more precise professional treatment for maintaining certain skin conditions. Options for electrical modalities for oily and acneic skin include steam, desincrustation by means of Galvanic Current and Direct High Frequency.


Steam not only feels good for the client, it softens the skin by moistening it and relaxing the tissues, allowing debris, sebum and compactions to release more easily prior to manual extractions. It also stimulates circulation, oxygenates the skin, helps clear the sinuses and reduces nasal congestion. In addition, it keeps the skin and product moist while performing the cleansing step of the facial and while using other electrical treatments, such as Vacuum Suction.

Steamers send vapor through a spout that is directed at the client. While it appears to be a gentle and simple machine, keep the following in mind when operating the device:

    • Do not use steam longer than 20 minutes; 7-10 minutes is recommended
    • Make sure the skin is cleansed or being cleansed
    • Steam should sit at least one foot away from the client's face
    • Make sure the water is always fresh for each client
    • NEVER allow hot water to drip from the spout; this can burn you or the client
    • Always use filtered water; hard tap water can cause damage to the steamer
    • Never allow the water to evaporate, because the glass container in which it sits could break

Note: Ozone used to be added to steam for its drying properties on acne. Ozone was achieved by including a UV bulb in the neck of the steamer. As the water vapor passed over the bulb, the UV light would react with the oxygen naturally present, and convert it to ozone gas. This ozone gas “split” the water (H2O) molecule's oxygen portion to ozone (O3) and the steam appeared thicker and heavier. However, ozone is now considered to be a respiratory irritant and its use is not recommended.

Steam is more effective for oily and acneic skin when used in conjunction with a desincrustation solution, which is an alkaline fluid that helps soften impactions in the follicle. When applied to the skin with steam, the solution can be used with Galvanic Current.

Galvanic Current: Desincrustation

Galvanic Current is a low level, continuous current that flows in one direction. It has a low voltage and medium amperage. This makes it a direct current with dual polarity of a positive or negative charge. Galvanic desincrustation is a process that softens and emulsifies sebum and compactions in the follicle. Desincrustation solutions have an alkaline pH and are negatively charged, so they require the active galvanic electrode to be negatively charged. The client holds the positive electrode and the negative electrode operates as the working electrode.

The desincrustation solution is applied to both the skin and the gauze, cotton or a sponge over the active electrode and moved around the affected area. The alkaline solution attracts to the positive electrode in the client's hand and the negative ions in the solution are repelled by the negative electrode, causing an alkaline reaction in the skin. This works on the theory that like poles repel and opposite poles attract. The desincrustation solution, combined with the action of the active negative electrode, results in the saponification of sebum. The alkali and sebum react to form sodium hydroxide; this process is a chemical reaction by which the fatty stearic acids in sebum react with the alkali to form soap, therefore softening the sebum for easier extractions.

Galvanic Desincrustation has the following effects and benefits:

    • An alkaline reaction
    • Softens the tissues
    • Dilates follicles
    • Increases blood and lymph circulation
    • Increases sensitivity
    • Softens compacted sebum and keratin within the follicle
    • Helps control oil production

As a result of the desincrustation process, Hydrochloric Acid is produced under the inactive electrode. Therefore, the electrode must always be covered with a sponge or gauze for protection.

Direct High Frequency

Whereas desincrustation is a pre-extraction procedure, Direct High Frequency has a germicidal effect and is used post-extraction. Direct High Frequency is most efficient when treating acne-type lesions for oily skins with overall congestion.

High Frequency uses an alternating radio current called the "Tesla Current." The glass electrodes fill with either argon or neon gas. If the electrode fills with argon gas, it produces the familiar violet ray. If it fills with neon gas, it produces an orange / red ray. Both gases have similar effects, but argon is good for acneic skin conditions and neon is used on oily skins or to create warmth in a localized area for better product penetration.

The Tesla Current is conducted to the gas where it ignites. The gas is inert in a vacuum, so it is quite safe and stable. Once the gas ignites, light energy is given off, which forms ozone around the glass electrode. When the oxygen, which is naturally present in the air around the electrode, is electrified, it forms ozone. The more oxygen that surrounds the electrode, the more ozone forms, thus creating a greater effect. Therefore, when the electrode is lifted away from the skin surface and more oxygen surrounds it, a more intense drying and healing action occurs. This method, which uses the argon gas electrode, is called “sparking.” We achieve a "spark gap" by applying layers of dry, cotton gauze over the skin, thus creating a narrow space between the skin and the electrode for ozone to form. Never create a gap of more than ¼” as tissue destruction can occur and the skin will heal, leaving brownish marks.

Electricity for Oily and Acneic Skin

Electrical modalities for oily and acneic skin are a great way to not only enhance the skin treatment but to really get into the skin more deeply than what is possible just manually. Clients will appreciate feeling thoroughly cleansed, and each of you will notice more rapid results that will encourage continued skin health through professional treatments.

Copyright © by The International Dermal Institute. All rights reserved.

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Finding Solutions for Oily and Acneic Skin