• Bridezilla be Gone: Your Skin Guide Countdown to the Big Day

    Annet KingJune is the most popular month for weddings, and according to market research firm IBISWorld, the U.S. wedding industry is worth $48 billion. This recession proof business isn’t showing signs of letting up; in fact it’s predicted to reach $54.3 billion by 2016. So brides, bridegrooms and wedding parties are indeed big business for us, and creating a skin care countdown ensures skin is HD picture perfect! This also helps avoid disasters like “bride hives” from that mystery Taiwanese wrinkle buster!

    Here’s a checklist of professional skin “to dos” before the “I dos” are said:

    Book the Bride: Problem, breakout prone skin and hyperpigmentation issues are going to need consistent treatments and an-at home protocol to achieve significant results. Just like working with a personal trainer to get into the Vera, you’re the official skin trainer, so position yourself in the same way. Schedule six months out from the big day with monthly, then bi-weekly skin treatments, and tweak and customize the treatments and products throughout. Brides should also be alert to potential eyebrow issues at this time too – some areas that may have been over-plucked might need to grow in, which can take several months to accomplish.

    Month 1: Concentrate on deep cleaning for the first treatment, particularly if the client is new to skin treatments. The bride may breakout during this time as the skin is being encouraged to purge, so she shouldn’t be alarmed or discouraged and want to quit her regimen. Upgrade her existing cleansing regimen by adding an oil-based precleanser to dissolve excess sebum and debris prior to using her normal cleanser, and prescribe a clay-based masque to expel blockages and congestion from the skin.

    Months 2-4: These treatments should be spent on problem solving areas that need extra help. Stronger exfoliation should be performed and gradually increased throughout the series. Galvanic or microcurrent should be used to drive in actives to address lines, irregular pigmentation and over active sebaceous glands. Breakouts can be “zapped” with high frequency to expedite clearing. This is also the time that skin should be treated with potent, targeted products to correct problems.

    Months 5-6: The last two treatments should focus on getting the skin glowing, firm, energized and hydrated. This is also a tense time for the bride, and stress hormones can lead to sporadic breakouts. The skin should be pumped with antioxidants and hydrating, energizing ingredients in anticipation of the big day.

    Month 6: The big day has arrived! Schedule the final skin treatment three days before the wedding. Brides make the mistake of doing this the day before and risk a big pre-wedding nerve pimple. Eyebrows should be tidied during this time, and any waxing procedures, body treatments and/or self-tanning applications are best scheduled now. The day before the wedding should be dedicated to a 20 minute flash exfoliation and energizing masque, manicure, and pedicure. If possible, a calming massage can be squeezed in.

    BIG DAY: The day of the wedding should be reserved for makeup and hair – that’s it! Provide the bride with an emergency kit that includes a concealing pimple treatment for combating that stress related breakout, a vitamin-packed mist for keeping her make up fresh and to energize skin throughout the day and a lip complex for keeping those lush lips ready for the big kiss!

  • Lustrous Pearl Powder for Enhanced Skin Health

    For thousands of years, the pearl has been one of the favorite choices among Asian, Egyptian, Mayan and Indian cultures for both beauty and medicinal treatments. From ancient China and India to medieval Europe and Arabia, pearls have been used for everything from aphrodisiacs to cures for insanity. They have been worn for their curative powers or ground up and made into potions, salves and concoctions to treat a variety of ailments and to promote one’s natural beauty. In recent years, cosmetic industry scientists have focused their research on substantiating many of the benefits of Pearl Powder when topically applied in cosmeceuticals. In order to understand how Pearl Powder can impart a benefit to the skin we need to understand what it is first.

    Pearl Powder is a finely milled powder from natural pearls that is rich in nutrients and composed primarily of Calcium Carbonate, proteins, 20 different amino acids, some trace elements and Conchiolin, an organic (meaning made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms) protein. Conchiolin is what contributes to the lustrous finish of pearls, when alternating layers of Conchiolin and Calcium Carbonate crystals form the pearl’s nacre, often called mother-of-pearl. What’s more amazing is that this magnificent, lustrous substance really begins as an annoying irritation, which brings us to the question: how do pearls form?

    Natural pearls form under a set of accidental conditions when a microscopic intruder or parasite enters a bivalve mollusk (such as an oyster), and settles inside the shell. The mollusk, being irritated by the intruder, secretes Calcium Carbonate and Conchiolin to cover the irritant. This secretion process is repeated many times, thus producing a pearl.

    So how does Pearl Powder benefit our skin? Research studies using markers that indicate keratinocyte cell proliferation have demonstrated that Pearl Powder, when topically applied to skin, stimulates cell regeneration. When complexed with Silicium (a structural component of our connective tissue that helps maintain skin’s mechanical properties such as firmness and elasticity), Pearl Powder protects cells from free radical-induced damage and helps protect collagen fibers from glycation. Glycation is a process whereby sugars react with proteins (i.e. collagen) to form Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) that lead to inflammation and premature aging (i.e. cross-linked collagen). And of course, being a rich source of calcium, Pearl Powder helps in cell cohesion via desmosomes with their calcium dependent proteins, therefore, promoting skin firmness.

    Studies also indicate that Pearl Powder is comparable to Arbutin, the active component of Bearberry that inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme, thereby inhibiting melanin formation. Pearl Powder has also been shown to enhance activity of Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), a powerful antioxidant enzyme that scavenges free radicals and slows aging. And finally, studies testing Pearl Powder’s ability to impact skin hydration demonstrated that it enhances the water-holding capacity of the skin.

    As you can see, the benefits of Pearl Powder in cosmeceuticals are indeed impressive. What started off as a mere intruder in an oyster shell results in a beautiful pearl that has promising applications in the realm of skin care.

  • Treatments and Techniques for Aging Skin

    Bettina ZammertHardly any other issue in skin care is as important as aging. This is little wonder, because the “baby boomer” generation is not willing to simply accept skin aging. Expert knowledge is essential for anyone wishing to advise these discerning customers.

    In the past, it was always assumed that lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, and hyperpigmentation were part of the normal aging process and could not be influenced, or if so, then only slightly. However, new research has shown that over 90% of the changes that we see in our skin are due to exposure to daylight (photoaging), which is something we can protect ourselves against. No more than 10% is due to genetic factors.

    So it is quite clear that the best product to use against skin aging is good daylight protection, every day. It should be included in all home care regimens, and active ingredients such as antioxidants and peptides are “super weapons” in the fight against skin aging.

    Intensive exfoliation is particularly important in professional treatments for aging skin, since it increases the cell renewal rate and improves the absorption of the active ingredients. Many customers experience an increase in hyperpigmentation as they age. Treating this discoloration requires active ingredients that reduce melanin synthesis in the skin to a normal level. Systematic, consistent home is required, in combination with a professional treatment series, to bring about the desired success.

    When treating aging/changing skin, it is extremely important to remain reasonable with regard to expectations. Under no circumstances should you promise your customers any miracles, because you will quickly look unprofessional. Instead, work with your customer to draw up a precise treatment plan and the matching home treatment routine. This will show your customers that you are competent, and the expected treatment success will be achieved even more quickly!

  • Hormones and Your Skin

    Imagine balancing a scale with grains of sand. This is how your hormones (the grains of sand) maintain a balanced body. Even the slightest difference in either way- whether it’s having a little too much or a little too little- can have a significant impact in the way your body works. Hormones are chemical signals that impact every slow, long-lasting process in the body, from hunger and growth to sleep and emotions. Unlike the quick-acting nervous system, the endocrine system, which governs hormones, releases these chemicals over an expanse of time and distance, circulating through the blood vessels. Once they reach their destination, they can impact a number of bodily functions. As the skin is the largest organ, it is also under the control of hormonal fluctuations.

    Hormones come in many flavors. There are sex steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, growth hormones and inflammatory hormones, among a myriad of others. These hormones have significant effects on skin throughout our lifetime, from puberty, through pregnancy and menopause. Here’s a short list on how some of these impact skin:

    • Androgens, like testosterone, are responsible for increasing hair growth and sebum production.

    • Estrogens (and most likely Progestogens) are responsible for regulating hydration, pigmentation and collagen production in skin.

    • Thyroid hormones, when imbalanced, can lead to hair loss and changes in skin hydration. Too much and skin is moist; too little and skin becomes rough and dry.

    • Growth hormone stimulates insulin growth factor (IGF-1), which can also trigger sebum production. This is the primary reason behind new studies showing how milk, which is high in these hormones, can lead to acneic breakouts.

    When it comes to skin, hormones are a leading factor behind many of the blemishes, bumps, spots, flecks, sheen and stubble that plague many people, especially women. One hundred percent of women have to deal with hormones at some point in their life, so it’s important to understand their effects on skin, and what we can do to control them.

  • The Hows and Whys of Stretch Marks

    As temperatures rise and summer vacations get booked our attention shifts to our body. The prospect of showing a lot more skin and getting into that cute floral two piece can bring on mixed emotions, from extreme anxiety to a healthy dose of motivation to sign up for barre class. But while we know how to flatten tummies and perk up our glutes, solutions for treating and preventing stretch marks may remain a mystery. This is also a common issue among your expecting clients.

    What are Stretch Marks and Why do We Get Them?

    Affecting as many as 90% of women and known as “striae,” stretch marks are a form of scarring that occur in the dermis as a result of collagen and elastin fibers being unable to form to keep rapidly growing skin taut. This creates a lack of supportive material, as the skin is stretched and leads to dermal and epidermal tearing. Appendages like hair follicles, sweat glands and other structures are absent in areas affected by stretch marks.

    Stretch marks typically appear after rapid weight gain or loss, and the most common sites include the breasts, buttocks, thighs and lateral abdomen. They are most common during pregnancy and the teen years, when growth spurts and increased levels of steroid hormones cause substantial changes throughout the body. Stretch marks can also be brought on by weight lifting and over use of steroids like cortisone, which thins the skin and connective tissues, making it susceptible to tears. Like cellulite, there are hormonal and genetic factors, as some people are more prone than others. If your mother had them then it’s likely that you will have them too.

    Stretch marks are, sadly, not easy to treat. Once they have passed the initial stage of appearing pink, red or purple, to the later stage of looking white or silver with deeper indentations, they are much more challenging. However they can be prevented to some degree which is good news for your pregnant clients.

    Tips to Avoid Stretch Marks:

    • Avoid rapid weight gain and loss.

    • For best results treat stretch marks when they first appear pink and are early in development.

    • Moisturize 3-4 times a day to help the skin to become more pliant, hydrated and better able to stretch. Look for skin products that contain Vitamin E, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Omega 3s, Wheat Germ Oil, Gamma Linoleic Acid and Hylauronic Acid. Massage into breasts, belly, hips, and buttocks.

    • Post pregnancy, or for non-pregnant clients, ingredients like Retinol, Lactic Acid, derivatives of Vitamin C (i.e. Ascorbic Acid and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) and protein boosting peptides can also help repair stretch marks.

    • Zinc and Vitamin E supplements are recommended by some doctors and health practitioners.

    • Laser resurfacing and fractional lasers, when combined with Retinoic Acid, are commonly used by dermatologists to treat and remove stretch marks, though there are no guarantees that they will be removed completely.

    Remember it’s our imperfections that make us unique, and a great swimsuit, fabulous sunhat and confident stride go along way!