• Client Watch: Inspecting for Suspicious Lesions

    Sadly, in Australia we have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. This is not surprising considering our climate. However we are not alone – more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year and on average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) expects 1 in 5 Americans will contract skin cancer in his or her lifetime. These are certainly scary stats!

    As professional skin therapists, we not only have the skill set to understand skin, we also have a tremendous responsibility to care for the health and wellness of our clients. This includes sharing any observations we make with regard to manifestations and irregularities on their skin. It is of course not for us to diagnose, but we can advise them to seek medical attention. We can therefore be of great assistance with the early detection of any cancerous lesions or other skin disorders.

    The three main types of cancer we need to be on the lookout for during skin analysis are:

    Basal Cell Carcinoma: Pearly nodule or flat red lesion that may or may not have telangiectasia. It increases in size slowly and may form an ulceration in its center. It may also pigment. Keep an eye out for these on sun exposed skin, remembering your client may not notice this lesion as it does not itch or hurt.

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Small wart-like growth or a smooth waxy lump with poorly defined edges. They often appear on areas that have been burned such as the tip of the nose, forehead, lower lip, and hands. A tell tail sign is that the lesion persists and does not heal. It may also bleed.

    Melanoma: The most dangerous form of skin cancer and requires early diagnosis for successful treatment. Keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious, irregularly-shaped, raised, colored, mole-like lesions.

    Question your clients about the history of their lesions. Have they noticed them? If so, for how long has the lesion been present? Upon any indication of irregularity, recommend your clients visit a dermatologist as soon as possible.

    Make a note on your consultation card to re-check this lesion on your clients’ return. If it’s still present and the client has not had it checked, remember to encourage her or him to do so, you may just be saving their life!

    The latest research seems promising for the early detection. A new discovery by scientists at the Department of Dermatology at the University of Cincinnati has identified a pigmentation gene called the melanocortin 1 receptor, or MC1R. When this gene doesn’t function properly, skin cells don’t respond to the hormone α-MSH, which causes cells to produce melanin. This discovery may lead to new tests that can assess personal skin cancer risk and open the doors to a new generation of sunscreens.

    And if your clients are worried about the “scaremongering” with relation to the use of sunscreens, The Science Daily (May 15,2012) reports that A.A.D. has recently reiterated the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens to protect against the damaging effects from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. “Scientific evidence supports the benefits of sunscreen usage to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from UV radiation and outweighs any unproven claims of toxicity or human health hazard,” said Daniel M. Siegel, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy.

    For extra peace of mind, the FDA announced this month that new sunscreen regulations that clearly define the testing required to make a broad-spectrum protection claim can reduce skin cancer risk.

  • Nanotechnology Q&A


    Q: How would you summarize what exactly nanotechnology is, and how it has infiltrated the skin care world?

    A: Nanotechnology is simply the study and application of very small things. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, and for comparison’s sake, a sheet of newspaper is about 100,000 nanometers thick. A human hair is about 80,000 nanometers in diameter. This is a relatively new field, implemented about 30 years ago, and has permeated all aspects of modern science since then. From chocolate to computer chips, everyday products including cosmetics include nanotechnology nowadays. In skincare, nanotechnology has infiltrated the areas of anti-aging, sun protection and even make-up. The most widely studied and practiced area is in sun protection, as this technology allowed formulators to transcend the dreaded “white face” effect of 80s sunblock. Nowadays, sunscreen filters are no longer a thick block, but part of a sophisticated formula that allows for ultraviolet A and B (UVA/UVB) protection, along with other skin benefits, to be easily and transparently applied to skin.

    Q: How might nanotechnology change consumer wants and needs in anti-aging? What does it mean for product development in skincare?

    A: Nanotechnology is not yet the norm, so consumers may not even be aware that some of the products they are familiar with contain nanomaterials. Moreover, manufacturers are not required by US law to tell the US FDA whether they use nanomaterials in their products, so consumers again may not know that these are in their products. The more the technology is enhanced and advertised, the more consumers will be aware and curious about the technology and the products using it. This will mean manufacturers will have to be careful as to the nanomaterials used, as many of these do not have a lot of scientific data backing up their safety.

    Q: Why is nanotechnology important? What are some of the benefits?

    A: Nanotechnology is very important in many science fields. For example, a transdermal patch vaccine using nanosized particles would be more efficient and perhaps cheaper than a normal vaccine administered with a syringe (especially in third world or remote areas). In terms of technology, this will help with the invention of new materials that may help with space exploration, “smart” fabrics, etc. The possibilities seem to be limitless.

    Q: What are some of the detriments or possible risks of nanotechnology, and why is it controversial?

    A: Nanotechnology can be detrimental only in that we do not have a lot of scientific data supporting some of the safety of these materials. For instance, a very tiny particle may have different properties than its full-size component. This change in function may not have safety data yet and can pose risks to users. One major controversial nanomaterial in skin care is in the form of buckyballs. These are minute soccer-ball looking particles that are shown to be antioxidants, which we know from vitamins can fight premature aging of the skin. The problem is their size. Concerns around these mini-balls are that these nanoparticles may slip and potentially get into bloodstream, affecting our immune system.

    Q: Are there some uses of nanotechnology that are safer than others (for example, it appears there have been some important advances in suncare)?

    A: FDA and other global government organizations like EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) have reviewed the safety on some of the sunscreen filters that have been micronized such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. As of recent, these have been deemed safe for use as sunscreen filters on human skin. In fact, the European Nanoderm project concluded that “we do not expect any adverse health effects for the topical application of sunscreens containing TiO2 nanoparticles (especially when coated) on healthy skin which are related to the particulate state.”

    A recent Cosmetics & Toiletries article also summarized that the SCCP in 2009 found “the use of zinc oxide in its non-nano form to be safe. As a consequence, micronized zinc oxide was approved for use as UV filter, e.g. in Germany, with the prerequisite of a yearly renewal of the approval.”

    Q: When making buying decisions, what are good questions to ask to figure out which products/treatments with nanotechnology are safe or beneficial, and which are not?

    A: It is up to the consumer to do some homework here. Nanosphere technology in cosmetics is not yet regulated in the United States by the FDA, therefore there is no way to determine whether nanospheres in cosmetics deliver toxic substances into the body and bloodstream. There is some good data backing the nano particles in sunscreens, so at the moment these are deemed safe. More research into the safety of these materials will be made by government agencies like the FDA and should hopefully provide more clarification for consumers.

    As seen in American Spa Magazine

  • The Summer Skin Switcheroo

    Heather HickmanOH YEAH BABY! Summer’s here, not that we have actually noticed here in supposedly sunny California, I guess “June Gloom” is just a way of life for the beach dwelling Angelino. But my gripes aside, now’s the time to start thinking about varying your clients Skin Care routines and cranking up your treatment offerings to address those seasonal skin shifts.

    Hey, Heather! I hear you cry “isn’t changing my clients’ skin care routine just a cunning ploy to make them buy more product?”… No ma’am, it is not! Read on and try not to weep…

    When sunlight comes into contact with skin, a cascade of damage results – like the stripping of barrier lipids causing dehydration and inflammation, the production of reactive oxygen molecules that affect healthy cell growth and the stimulation of collagen destructing enzymes. Need I continue?

    Congestion and breakouts can also result on oilier skins, mainly from the use of daily SPF and increased humidity and temperature levels. We (hopefully?) use more sunscreen in the summer months and these are designed to adhere to the skin and sit on the surface. Not cleansing the skin thoroughly enough will result in breakouts. Chlorine, salt water, heat, humidity and travel also lead to dehydration, which are a big part of the summer lifestyle. Get the picture? Well alrighty then. Now that we are in agreement that a change is in order, let the games begin!

    Keeping it Clean
    Switch your clients to an oil based cleanser. I know, it sounds a bit scary, but oil dissolves oil… yes, really! An oil based cleanser will eliminate excess sunscreen, dirt and grime, leaving a cleaner, clearer skin. And a gentle reminder to double down on the double cleanse won’t hurt either, twice in the morning, twice in the evening.

    The Key to Hydration Is…?
    EXFOLIATION! Corny, I agree, but true none the less.

    You want to up the ante while ensuring that you are choosing the right exfoliant for your clients’ skin type: gentle rice bran for sensitive skin, hydroxy acids and Vitamin A for aging skin and clay-based exfoliants with enzymes and Salicylic Acid for oily skin.

    Portable Spritz
    Cruising around with the roof down and sitting in an air conditioned environment: cool though it may be, it can suck every drop of moisture out of the skin.

    A great tip for your clients is to always carry a mini spritz toner in their purse to mist and hydrate skin throughout the day. Using a toner under moisturizer also helps layer moisture, even out absorption and stretches the moisturizer further when the skin is damp. Look for hydrating ingredients like Aloe Vera, Balm Mint and Lavender.

    At our company stores, we love putting travel size spritz toners on ice by the front door during the summer, so our clients can sample the product and hydrate and cool down at the same time.

    Defying Gravity
    Your goal is to fortify and strengthen the skin throughout the summer months. Packing the skin with age-fighting antioxidants, peptides and botanicals to protect against free radical damage and enzymatic breakdown of proteins will help prevent ultraviolet (UV), age-related damage. Look for cocktails of Vitamins E, C, D, E, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide, tripeptides, oligopeptides and Retinol in serums and concentrates to go under moisturizers or in eye creams.

    Breakouts Be Gone
    For those clients who tend to break out, be sure to recommend an oil-free SPF. Treat any summer breakouts with a topical solution containing 5% Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid. This will kill bacteria, expedite healing and no doubt make your client summer far more pleasurable.

    Seasonal Treatments
    If we are changing up our clients home care routine, we should follow suit by offering seasonal specific treatments too. One of our favorites is an SOS (save our skin) summer quick fix:

    Of course, you are going to use your oil based cleanser – that goes without saying. We then use a gel-based after sun product and galvanize it into the skin with positive polarity galvanic current, or we penetrate the product with microcurrent. Follow this with a calming and hydrating oatmeal masque, an application of a Hyaluronic Acid-based serum and an oil free sunscreen, and you have the perfect summer skin pick me up… you’re welcome!

    Enjoy your summer!

  • You’ve Got Male!

    Lesley CorridanWith Father’s Day looming, we’re undoubtedly flooded with memories of the impact various men in our lives have had on us. Whether its fathers, grandfathers or our own partners who share the parenting responsibilities with us – they all deserve a little recognition, and now’s the time to celebrate the male species! However, as an industry that is predominately made up of women, with a female clientele, we need to make sure we know our facts before we claim to be authorities on male skin. Further, according to Global Industry Analysis, INC, the global men’s grooming products market is said to exceed $33.2 billion by 2015. This is not an industry you want to miss out on!

    First thing’s first – is there a difference between male and female skin? Absolutely! This is due to the action of the sex hormones; in men it’s primarily the higher level of male androgens. These hormones cause coarse hair growth of the beard, larger sebaceous glands and higher likelihood of sebum production. Testosterone, one of the male androgens, increases collagen production in the dermis, leading to approximately 25% thicker skin than women. Genetic differences aside, many men are faced with additional skin concerns.

    Shaving causes razor bumps and ingrown hairs as it “sharpens” the free hair end, facilitating its ability to pierce back into the skin. If men shave daily it can accidently serve as a form of over-exfoliation, as well as lead to a compromised lipid barrier. Also consider that the skin could be left vulnerable due to the misuse of shaving products, soap-based formulas and insufficient protection from ultraviolet (UV) light. The result is additional skin sensitization and aging, not to mention any of the other common skin conditions also found in female skin.

    So we have the knowledge to coach men on achieving healthy skin, but how do we entice them in? Male shopping behavior is vastly different than that of women. For men, shopping is a mission that must be accomplished with minimal distraction or interference. With that in mind, does our environment speak of a clean, professional and no nonsense approach to skin care? Men will not enter a skin center that is shrouded with mystery or cluttered with merchandise! We may have the environment right but men are not necessarily just going to walk off the street into your business. Firstly, use your female clients to get to their men! Educating women about how their men should be looking after their skin could mean they end up using their persuasive powers to get him into your business. Especially with Father’s Day around the corner, make sure you have retail promotions with limited edition male skin kits that can be bought as gifts. Include a free treatment voucher to entice the recipient back to experience your services.

    Fun and interactive educational events might be another option, as men prefer safety in numbers. Demonstrate your credibility as a skin therapist by discussing male skin concerns and providing an interactive skin lesson including cleaning the skin, preparation for shaving and protecting the skin. If you’re struggling to get groups of men in, book out 30 minute one-on-one skin lessons for a less intimidating approach. Most men are pleased to receive the advice and will take your recommendations seriously. Product solutions that are straight forward, practical and revolved around their common challenge of shaving will be willingly incorporated into a daily routine.

    What about communication? While it might frustrate the female species that men constantly problem solve when we just want them to listen, it’s a great clue on how to approach our communication with them. For men it’s all about a resolution to an issue – name the problem, identify a solution and implement it! When talking skin care to a man keep it simple, and focus on his skin concerns and what is going to resolve it. Men are not interested in the fluff and padding so make sure you’re getting to the point. The great news is that once they’ve been convinced you’re credible and they trust your advice, they can become your most loyal clients!

  • Sun Safety

    Summer’s just around the corner and your clients will likely be spending more time outdoors than usual. As professional skin therapists, we know that this really shouldn’t matter when it comes to keeping safe from ultraviolet (UV) rays – UV protection is something we need year round! But between the change in seasons and the new FDA laws for sunscreen, now’s the perfect time to brush up on your UV and sun safety knowledge so you can help keep your clients out of harm, outside of the treatment room!

    Find what you need to know about sun safety in these articles and blog posts from the experts at IDI!

    Shedding Light on Sun Safety: Vitamin A in sunscreen

    Shedding Light on Sun Safety: Oxybenzone in sunscreen

    Sunshine, Vitamins and the ‘Sunshine Vitamin': The Vitamin D debate

    Sunscreen and Expiration Dates Explained

    Update: New FDA Rules Regarding Sunscreen

    Give Sunscreen a Boost with Plant Oleosomes!

    Why do I Need Sunscreen Year Round?

    What Exactly is a Sunburn?

    Sunscreen: Facts, Tips, Tricks

    The Statistics Sound Staggering: The dangers of indoor tanning

    Saving Skin… One Conversation at a Time! The importance of sun safety

    The Low Down on D: More on Vitamin D