• Inner glow, outer glow

    When it comes to winter skin, balance is key. Exfoliating and moisturizing is important in maintaining the healthy glow throughout the winter months, but too much scrubbing can lead to even more skin woes. Drying out the skin can lead to an overproduction of oil, resulting in breakouts. It can also enhance the sensitivity brought on by low humidity, cold temperatures and even forced indoor heating. So what else can you do for radiant skin these winter months?

    Sunscreen. The biggest culprit in the winter months for skin damage is UV radiation. Not because the sun is hotter or brighter, but because we often forget to use sunscreen at this time of the year. Daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen is great for the office and especially important for hitting the slopes! Another tip for maintaining that glow is using a barrier protectant, which not only serves as a great primer, but also shields the skin against the elements by providing a silky layer that won’t evaporate in low humidity. Skin exposed to cold can end up looking rough and ruddy and the common cold can leave your nose red and chapped. Cover up the redness with green tinted treatment products that tackle the inflammation while covering up the red and leave that red nose to Rudolph.

    Complement your skin regimen with the added bonus of healthy foods that keep you looking beaming during the harshest of conditions. There’s nothing better than a cup of hot cocoa during the chilly season. This is the perfect time to take advantage of all the benefits cocoa can have. Avoid milky, sugary treats and opt for the antioxidant-rich dark cocoa. The flavonoids of dark cocoa absorb UV light and help increase blood flow to the skin, improving its appearance. Chapped lips are very common in winter, so munch on walnuts to prevent dry winter lips. Rich in Omega-3’s, these nuts can regulate cell turnover, leaving your lips moist and flake-free. You can also fake a tan the healthy way- veggies rich in carotenoids have been shown to give a healthy glow to skin. Stock up on bell peppers, oranges and carrots to give your skin the summer glow in winter, without the risks. The added bonus of looking like you’ve been on a cruise with veggie-glow is that they are also greatly beneficial for immune and reproductive functions and overall health!

  • Exfoliation in the Treatment Room: Rough or Smooth Sailing?

    The exfoliation step of a professional treatment can be bitter sweet. While it can be a profitable revenue stream and deliver visible results for your clients, it can also cause the most harm, and worst case scenario, create a possible legal situation for the skin therapist. So here are a few basic rules to ensure you keep sailing safely and smoothly through your exfoliation treatment:

    1. Ensure your client completes a consultation card. Check for typical contraindications like prior laser or resurfacing medical procedures, oral and topical medications that affect cell turnover (like Isotretinoin, Retin A, Renova) and note the client’s use of products containing exfoliating ingredients. Cleansers scrubs, masques, treatment serums and moisturizers that contain hydroxy acids, retinol, enzymes or physical abraders like grains, beads and particles all add up and can contribute to an overly exfoliated skin, especially when combined with professional level exfoliation. Don’t forget to also ask about tools like Clarisonic brushes and at-home microdermabrasion kits. Make sure your client signs the consultation card, which protects you should anything go pear shaped – like the undisclosed TCA peel she received 2 weeks ago! Also, maintain due diligence on your end by filling out all the details of what you did, what you used and for how long; in a litigious situation this could help to ensure you keep your license.

    2. The consultation card is only the first step – an in depth, hands-on skin analysis is critical before selecting your exfoliant! First, assess whether or not the client has a healthy, intact skin barrier. If you suspect that the skin is dehydrated, sensitive and/or could be reactive, aggressive exfoliation should be avoided. Always ask your client questions about how their skin feels: do they ever experience burning, itching, soreness or stinging? Perhaps when they apply a product or after they have cleansed their face? This helps to determine the integrity of the lipid barrier, as you may not always see visible signs of sensitivity. Even a recent cold that resulted in repetitive nose blowing can strip the delicate lipids that reside between the cells, and an application of the mildest Lactic Acid could result in a painful and traumatic skin response.

    Keep in mind that as professional skin therapists, we must work within our scope of practice, and that means removing only dead cells NOT healthy tissue! Exfoliants below a pH of 3 and over 30% Lactic Acid or Glycolic Acid are not permitted.

    To learn more about exfoliation techniques, sign up for our class, Acids, Peels and Exfoliants. Book online or call 1-888-29-CLASS (25277).

  • The Power of Touch

    We all know it feels good, but there is an increasing amount of scientific evidence backing the beneficial effects of touch therapy. Whether it is massage, targeted therapy or simply holding hands, supportive touch is perhaps the only truly universal method of delivering positive effects to our bodies. But how does this work?

    If we begin on the outside- with our largest organ – we can begin to understand how a friendly touch can yield such positive feelings. The skin is a highly complex, multi-functional organ that is laden with receptors that send messages all over our body and directly to our brain. These receptors receive messages about pressure, temperature, friction, pain, even the slightest tickle. These messages are then relayed through bundles of nerves to our brain. The brain releases more chemicals into our bloodstream that result in the warm, friendly and soothing feelings. In particular, research has shown that touch has the power of reducing the stress hormone known as cortisol. In an age where we are constantly stressing out over traffic, family, economy and personal matters, it is no surprise that cortisol levels may be at an all time high. Although an important hormone for certain activities, it is just as important to reduce these cortisol levels. In addition to reducing stress, the power of touch also floods our bodies with the ‘feel-good’ hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that promotes feelings of trust, bonding and love. Therapeutic massage has been shown to increase oxytocin levels in both children and adults. In the brain, this is compounded with more messages that stimulate a reward pathway, resulting in a biological foundation for human connection via the act of touch.

    So whether you are touching sweethearts or singles this Valentine’s day, remember that the powerful and rewarding human touch can go beyond skin deep. Need a refresher on your technique? Advanced Face Massage may be just what you need to reinvigorate your power of touch!

  • Valentine’s Day: is it time to re-aim cupid’s bow at a fresh target?

    V day is big business, this year sales are estimated to grow by 5.8% over 2010 to reach 18.6 billion. That’s a lot of chocolate, lingerie and little blue boxes. So whether you hate it or love it it’s prime time to capture gift certificate and product sales. So it goes without saying that it makes good business sense to blow up a giant gift certificate to hang in your window with an attention grabbing slogan that says something like “You can stop looking now, this is what your love really wants”. And I’m sure you already have your special V’Day treatment promotions planned that include couples massage, treatments for him and her and even silky smooth shaped like a heart waxing services! No doubt the displays are done and your shelves are packed to the brim with gift baskets of massage oil and body products. But before you refill the bowl with candy sweethearts, isn’t it time to reconsider what you are doing, isn’t it all becoming a little tired, dull and predictable? Not to mention nauseating for the single and happy people out there?

    So how about this for a new spin on V’day; plan a “Single and Sensational” Event, target your single clients through direct eblasts, your Facebook page, Twitter and free event websites and encourage them to bring their single friends. Charge a sign up fee that you can then donate to your favorite non profit and keep in mind that this also has the added benefit of hitting on the “embedded generosity” trend and helps to prevent no shows. Think of it as a Valentine’s Opt Out night out where strong, savvy, happy singles can mix and mingle, receive short “skinsational” treatments like flash exfoliation, tired eyes recovery and hands up treatments. They can take a seat at the skinbar and have a healthy skin cocktail and learn pro tips on how to care for their skin, or how to get a really great shave.

    Offer a raffle to capture data, bring in a great DJ and put together a fun gift bag with product samples and a treatment promotion. You can even teach some basic massage techniques and pair up singles if you really want to get the party started. Attendees might just go home with someone’s digits to go with that great skin and goodie bag!