News

  • Spring Skin: The Seasonal Change that Can Come with an Itch!

    Being a native South African, I can honestly say that I’ve currently come through one of the longest, most severe Canadian winters of my entire life. Having survived through -27 C, months of endless grey skies and snow storms, I am nearly at the point of jumping out of my skin at the mere thought of Spring and its promise of blue skies and brightly colored blossoms!

    However, the thought of Spring can leave some less fortunate individuals with a dreaded promise of an ensuing runny nose; red, puffy eyes and itchy, sensitive skin.

    In Spring, the skin is exposed to invisible airborne allergens, such as pollen, which in some individuals can lead to release of histamine, a neurotransmitter that dilates blood vessels and leads to inflammation. Higher levels of histamine can lead to the skin being more reactive and can even trigger eczema and allergies. The most readily effected areas for this to occur on the face are on the cheek and the skin surrounding the eye.

    Due to climate change, experts are predicting a worse-than-average spring allergy season and expect the situation to escalate as time goes on. The reason being that concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen, which increases the release of allergen levels such as pollen and types of fungal growth, such as mold, and the spores they release.

    As professional skin therapists we need to be armed with a few handy tips that we can provide to our clients as part of a prevention plan:

    Reduce Stress Levels
    Stress has been found to actually make your response to allergens worse. Offer a 15 min back massage as an add-on to an anti-inflammatory skin treatment and market it as a “Spring Skin Program.”

    Change Up Your Routine
    If you tend to be someone who experiences some of the symptoms of “Spring Skin” then you may need to consider temporarily switching to a 4 week skin care program that can actively target skin inflammation, puffiness and irritation while repairing the barrier function of the skin. Once your skin is healed and all your symptoms are gone, it’s more than likely that you’ll be able to revert back to your normal home care program.

    Ingredients to look for in your “Spring Skin Care” program should include Avena Sativa, which is proven to have natural anti-irritant and anti-redness properties, and Red Hogweed Root Extract, another amazing ingredient that targets inflammation by limiting the production of pro-inflammatory agents (such as prostaglandins), as well as promoting the production of natural anti-inflammatory agents in the skin. The delicate eye area is often the first to show signs of irritation, so try using a light weight, gel-based eye cream that contains Harpoon Weed and Norwegian Kelp combined with Golden Chamomile. These three ingredients work very well together by limiting the inflammatory mediators, thereby significantly reducing eye puffiness and inflammation by 43%.

    Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption
    Many may not be aware that there is naturally occurring histamine in alcohol, which is made during the fermentation process. Wine, beer and champagne contain the highest concentration of histamine which could exacerbate your symptoms.

    Eat Right
    “Avoiding certain foods and adding more of others — can affect your likelihood of developing seasonal allergies, as well as the severity of your symptoms”, says Leonard Bielory, M.D., American College of Asthma and Immunology.

    German researchers from the University of Bonn published an article in 2007 in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” (AJCN) that identified high-histamine foods. Fish high in histamine include mackerel, herring, sardines and tuna. According to the Michigan Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Specialists (MASAS), fermented, aged and processed meats and cheeses are also high in histamine. It would be advisable for you to refer your client to an allergist and or nutritionist to really get some expert advice in regards to what food to avoid and include in their diet.

    Resources

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/10/best-worst-foodallergies_n_3017544.html#slide=2300996

    http://www.livescience.com/28320-climate-change-allergies.html

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/106451-foods-trigger-histamine-response/#ixzz2QZCqcovx

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/106451-foods-trigger-histamine-response/#ixzz2QZF4d3OX

  • Top Tips for Reaching Your Team Targets!

    The MacLeod Review of employee engagement proposed that the relationship between employees and employers should be placed at the center of business plans. Strengthening this relationship can have a multitude of benefits on the overall success of your business and can be the tipping point of whether you achieve set targets or not.

    One of the best ways to build a positive proactive relationship is through implementation of a rewards program into your business. Employees that work in businesses that have a reward program in place say they feel more valued (85%), are more loyal to the business they work in (65%) and get better results (60%).

    Tips for Implementing an Effective Rewards Program
    When introducing a reward program, be mindful of these few points:

    1. The program should have well-defined business objectives (increasing their retail sales or raising productivity or ability to upsell or cross promote).
    2. Your rewards program needs to be meaningful and valuable to employees, and it must encourage better levels of performance. It should not put their targets beyond realistic reach.
    3. Employees need to be consulted so that the benefits of the rewards program can be effectively communicated and clearly understood by all those participating. One-on-one meetings tend to work best in this regard.
    4. All set targets need to be tracked on a daily basis and their results measured and reviewed regularly.

    It is important to choose a reward program that is customized to fit your team and business model. Take the time to get to know your team and what motivates them, and try different rewards until you can until you can formulate what works best for you.

    Here are a few basic examples of reward incentives that could work for your business:
    • Reward therapists for retail sales using a sliding scale for commission.
    • Reward entire team when monthly goals are achieved.
    • Reward highest re-booking rate.
    • Reward achievement of productivity goals.
    • Reward for therapist with the highest retail-to-service ratio.

    Remember that money is not the only reward that motivates people. Other options might include:

    • product allocations
    • time off
    • tickets for a special event
    • internal staff recognition program

    While rewards will incentivize some team members, others may simply need some additional training. We all know that knowledge equals growth and success, yet it always surprises me how few businesses in our industry actually invest in staff training. One the biggest reasons why someone is not good at retailing is because they have little to no knowledge about the product that they are retailing and therefore lack the single most magical ingredient when it comes to retailing – confidence! Investing in staff training is a sure fire way to boost confidence levels while providing the individual with the fundamental retailing skill set. It’s imperative that you partner with a company that has an ongoing training program that provides your team with a variety of workshops to help them refine or develop their individual retailing skill set.

    These workshops should be followed through with a specific action plan that has been set by management. The action plan should include specific, realistic retail targets and a customized reward incentive for achieving those targets.

    Ideas to help your team achieve their goals might include:
    • Use a strong retailer to coach someone who needs improving.
    • Have a product focus of the week/month and follow through with education at your team meeting.
    • Allow team members to try samples or testers of products. Therapists are more confident in recommending products they use and love themselves.
    • Make sure that your day-to-day management is positive. You’ll waste both money and time if you use negative reinforcement as your management style. There’s no substitute for daily contact with employees – asking how they’re doing, asking if you can help with any problems and, most importantly, recognizing even small improvements.

    By implementing a few of the above-mentioned strategies, you’ll find that success is easier than you may have initially perceived. Wishing you a successful and prosperous 2013!

    The MacLeod Review of employee engagement: http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file52215.pdf

  • The Scary Truth Behind Halloween and Accelerated Skin Aging!

    When it comes to celebrating Halloween, many of us don’t realize that the “trick really is in the treat”! Those sugary delights that await us as we eagerly go knocking from door to door, could be leading to more than the anticipated side effects of tooth decay!

    Researchers have discovered that sugar consumption leads to a rapid rise in blood glucose levels, which triggers a series of biochemical reactions in the cells that cause inflammation and glycation, which ultimately leads to accelerated aging of the body.

    Glycation in the skin occurs when blood sugar levels rapidly rise and sugar molecules attach to one of the fundamental architectural structures in the skin, Collagen. Once sugar bonds with Collagen, the process of “Glycation” takes place, and produces harmful molecules called Advanced Glycation End products, which ultimately undermine the skin’s internal scaffolding, weakening its strength and turgor. With the repetitive attack of sugar to the skin, fine lines and wrinkles will eventually start to manifest and the skin will take on a more fragile and flaccid appearance! YIKES!!!

    Scientists from the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and Unilever in the UK measured the blood sugar levels of 600 men and women aged between 50 and 70. Photographs of these people were presented to a board of 60 independent evaluators. What these evaluators perceived in this study was that those with higher blood sugar levels looked older than those with lower blood sugar levels. The researchers also discovered that with every 1mm/liter increase in blood sugar, the perceived age of that person rose by five months! Now if that does not scare you then I don’t know what will!

    How much you can tolerate before glycation occurs depends on your age, metabolism and how much you exercise. If you’re an active 25-year-old, your body can tolerate more sugar than if you are a sedentary 35-year-old.

    The good news is if you change your ways and start to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, then you should quickly see benefits manifesting on the surface of your skin. The aim should be to ensure that high Glycemic Index foods make up less than ten percent of your total diet. The results you achieve from your dietary changes will be further accelerated by making sure you use skin care formulations that fight the effects of sugar from the outside in. Skin care products rich in anti-inflammatory ingredients and sugar trapping cosmeceuticals such as Arginine Lysine Polypeptide are a definite must have!

    Try to repair existing damage by using ingredients that can stimulate the skin to produce more collagen. Examples of ingredients with collagen stimulating capabilities include:
    • Hydroxypenacolon Retinoate, a brand new, non-irritating form of Vitamin A
    • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, a stabilized form of Vitamin C
    • Palmitoyl Hexapeptide 14, a small amino acid chain molecule that stimulates the fibroblast cell into action.

    And if you simply can’t help but give in to those sugary cravings, then try some fresh strawberries dipped in 70% dark chocolate, which has a substantially lower glycemic index and is considered by some to be an antioxidant “super food!”

    Here’s to a happy, healthy Halloween!

  • Sunscreen and Expiration Dates Explained

    One of the most critical products that I would advocate a client use before any other type of skin care product would be a sunscreen. We know that Ultra Violet Radiation (UVR) is responsible for a number of skin concerns ranging from various forms of hyperpigmentation to more serious precancerous and cancerous lesions. We also know that approximately 80-99% of extrinsic aging comes from exposure to UVR! For this reason, the International Dermal Institute recommends using sunscreen every day, not just during the summer months.

    The FDA requires that all sunscreens retain their original strength for at least 2-3 years, and in order to make these claims the sunscreen formula has to undergo a series of real time or accelerated stability tests to prove that the ingredient is still active up until the time of expiration. It’s important to point out at this point that if you’re using sunscreen every day and in the correct amount, a tube should not last that long. Most clients don’t realize that their sunscreen has a limited time in which it can be used effectively, so it may be a good idea to point out the expiration date to the client when they purchase their next sunscreen product from you. Most expiration dates can be found stamped on the crimp of the product packaging tube or printed on the bottom of the product carton.

    If sunscreens have expired there is a good chance they are still good for a few months; however once you reach the expiration date there is no guarantee that the level of activity is still present. You may also want to point out a few of these basic but important tips to your clients next time they inquire about purchasing their sunscreen from you:

    • The best place to store your SPF product is in a cool place out of direct sunlight and heat.

    • Buy smaller sizes of your SPF product vs. larger “30% extra for free” products, which will inevitably expire before you get a chance to use them all and you’ll end up having to throw them out.

    • Don’t use any SPF formulation that contains fragrance or perfume as this may cause hyperpigmentation and, in some cases, a photosensitized reaction on the skin.

    • If your client has a more sensitive skin she or he would be better off using a physical SPF (containing Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide), as these formulations tend to have a larger molecular size that does not penetrate and potentially cause irritation.

    • Try to look for a formulation that can potentially deliver additional skin health benefits, such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C to the skin, as these types of sunscreens help to minimize the amount of free radicle damage to the skin, thereby offering a more advanced level of protection.

    • Many clients are hesitant to use sunscreen because they feel the formulations are too thick, heavy or pore clogging. Professional products, however, use new technology that delivers more sophisticated SPFs, which have the ability to benefit different skin types and conditions. This allows you to prescribe a sunscreen that’s perfectly customized to your clients’ needs.

  • What are High GI Foods and How do They Affect Acne?

    Benjamin Franklin once said that, “nothing can be more certain in life than death and taxes.” Having suffered with grade 3 acne myself and treated many clients with various forms of this skin disorder, I could quite safely say there are many of us that would agree acne is most definitely another “certainty” that we are likely to experience at one point or another in our life time.

    For those of us who have experienced acne, it may come as no surprise that it is considered to cause more psychological or emotional stress than any other skin disorder. Studies have indicated that 33% of individuals with acne believe that the reason that they have the condition is because their skin is not clean. Many clients feel socially ostracized and isolated as a result of having acne. The irony is that the emotional stress of acne has the propensity to exacerbate the condition, increasing its severity and the associated inflammation.

    For many of us, one of the first things we turn to when feeling stressed is food, and very often it’s those refined, sugary, High Glycemic Index (GI) comfort foods that we turn to, such as cookies, candy, chocolate, breakfast cereals, chips, white bread and processed foods. The problem with these foods, according to a report published in the Archives of Dermatology*, is that they cause large fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and have been linked to the development of many health problems, including acne.

    Research has indicated that consumption of high GI foods results in acne breakouts due to an increase in insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1. IGF-1 and insulin have the ability to bind to receptor sites on the sebaceous gland and to stimulate sebum production by up to 60% in some instances.

    Sugar consumption increases blood levels of the androgen hormones by decreasing in the volume of a specific androgen regulating protein. The increase in androgen hormones directly stimulates the sebaceous gland to produce more of a thick, sticky type of sebum, which clogs the sebaceous follicle, leading to acne development.

    Some Food for Thought:

    When performing a consultation on your acne clients, it may be worth your while to investigate what types of food they are consuming. Educate them about the effect of high GI foods and how they could be exacerbating the problem. You may even want to refer your clients to a local nutritionist for a more thorough overhaul of their diets.

    By offering your client a more holistic approach to their acne concerns, combined with an effective homecare program that utilizes OTC actives (such as Salicylic Acid) and calming, hydrating ingredients, you’re guaranteed to get the best possible results.

    *Acne Vulgaris A Disease of Western Civilization Loren Cordain, PhD; Staffan Lindeberg, MD,PhD; Magdalena Hurtado, PhD; Kim Hill, PhD; S. Boyd Eaton, MD; Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD . Arch Dermatol. 2002;138:1584-1590.