• Experts Reaffirm Warning for Hydroquinone

    The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel recently completed another review of the safety of Hydroquinone as used in skin care and nail products. Once again they renewed their conclusion that, “hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of ≤ 1% for cosmetic formulations designed for discontinuous, brief use followed by rinsing from the skin and hair. Hydroquinone should not be used in other leave-on cosmetic products.” This has been the same story since 1994! What is it going to take to get the FDA to ban Hydroquinone whitening products (usually formulated at 2%) that sell at retail to consumers?

    Read the latest review for more details on the safety of Hydroquinone in cosmetics.

  • South Africa Embraces Oncology Skin Care

    Skin therapist education is essential in performing skin treatments on cancer patients or clients with a history of cancer. It is definitely an area that was not well explored when studying basic skincare in undergraduate school! Fortunately we were recently able to host a two day workshop with Johnnette du Rand, co-founder of Greet the Day and Institute of Integrative Oncology based in USA. Johnnette works in close collaboration with numerous cancer centers and has been trainer and supervisor for their integrative touch oncology programs since 2003. She received the 2008 Humanitarian Award from the Women’s Cancer Research Foundation for her work in the clinical center setting, and has worked in hospital, hospice and spa settings since 1999.

    The workshop introduced skin therapists to the unique and changing needs of oncology clientele, and helped prepare them with the skills and knowledge to provide safe, therapeutic treatments.

    This invitation-only exclusive workshop was hosted in three different locations across South Africa. Johnnette began her journey in Johannesburg on March 3, thereafter traveling to Durban to host the workshop on March 10 and finished off on March 17 in Cape Town. As there were detailed practical sessions involved in both days, a maximum of sixteen therapists attended each location, to ensure individual attention and perfect movements.

    The skin therapists were greeted by a humble-natured Johnnette and a seemingly large workbook! Her gentle nature and passion made the workshop come alive, as certain myths were clarified and personal stories were shared. The knowledge gained was absolutely incredible and the conversation flowed easily throughout the days. The practical sessions ensured that our students left the two days confident to work on either cancer clientele or survivors. We discussed treatment objectives, safety considerations, product selection and massage practices for oncology skin treatments, including adjustments required to safely address lymphedema, a common side effect of cancer treatment.

    Knowing that we, as skin therapists, are able to provide relief and comfort to a cancer patient through the ability to touch is eye opening. It reminded me why skin therapy is truly the best profession to be in!

  • IDI Supports California Legislation for Master Esthetics Licensure

    Heather HickmanWhat Is the AB 1153 Master Esthetics Bill?

    This bill would create an advanced education and licensure pathway for a master esthetician in California, while defining the scope of practice for both an esthetician and master esthetician. As it stands today, AB 1153 is being evaluated after passing it’s first step in the legislative process.

    Why Are We In Support of the Master Esthetics Bill?

    For over 30 years, IDI has pushed skin therapist education to its limits, literally redefining professional excellence and offering skin therapists a unique opportunity to reach their personal best by offering the most challenging and rewarding postgraduate skin and body therapy curriculum available anywhere today, with 38 postgraduate training centers worldwide, 18 of which are located in the USA.

    Our growth and development in the area of Post Graduate Education was based solely on the need in the skin care industry for higher education beyond the scope of licensure.  As the skin care industry has evolved through technology and consumer demand, the education provided through basic licensing has not been able to keep up and continuing education is not required in California.

    As an organization that provides education and product research and development, we are constantly aware of the need for training and educating skin therapists for their success and the safety of the consumer.

    As the worldwide leaders in Post Graduate Education, we want to ensure the many hours of advanced training taken by our IDI students are recognized and credited toward the master esthetics licensure, and that key IDI classes are counted as hours towards the Master Esthetic License.

    What Should You Do?

    As members of the professional skin care community you should stay informed and ensure that your voice is heard during the bill process. You can join the California Coalition for Advanced Skincare and Education and find out more details.

  • UK Team Celebrate International Women’s Day by Supporting

    Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. The first was held on 1911 and since then, thousands of events occur around the world to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

    In aid of this year’s  International Women’s Day on Saturday 8th March, The International Dermal Institute UK head office in Leatherhead, Surrey held a traditional afternoon tea, complete with homemade baked items and donated by creative members of the team.

    Training Specialist Beca Taylor chose to mark the occasion by creating individual gingerbread women in honor of the event theme. As part of the UK education team, we help to empower women daily with knowledge within our workshops to help them further their own independence. To support International Women’s Day I made gingerbread ‘women’ for our bake sale. The basic shape of the gingerbread women were all the same, but decorated them to represent woman globally,said Beca.

    All staff were invited to bring along a ‘gold colored’ coin as a donation, entitling them to enjoy the delicious sweet and savory treats. All proceeds were given to FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) to assist in their global push to help 50,000 women entrepreneurs start or grow their own businesses around the world.

    One loan of $25 from the proceeds has been made to Mary in Kenya.  Mary runs a profitable hardware store in Kitengela town and will be using this loan to kick start the payment of fees for her child who is in high school. This is her fourth loan term and she has paid her previous loans successfully using business profits. She intends to use her continued business success to pay school fees long-term, providing education and a firm foundation for her child’s future.

  • IDI & Dermalogica Host 2014 Nuts and Bolts Competition Winners

    IDI and Dermalogica welcomed the winners of the Nuts and Bolts Business Training Program to our corporate offices on January 27th and attendees of the International Business Student of the Year Award (IBSY) held annually at the International Salon and Spa Expo (ISSE) in Long Beach, CA. These special guests were given a tour of our education facilities and enjoyed a motivational presentation prepared just for them from Annet King, Director of Global Education. They also witnessed a live demonstration on advanced exfoliation by Whitney Johnson, Global Education Developer.

    Every Nuts and Bolts-affiliated school nominates a top performer to be in the running as an IBSY finalist. The judging criteria are based on: retail sales, up servicing, average ticket sales and customer service. Students also had to impress with a 3 to 5 minute video showcasing how they are applying their Nuts and Bolts training to their career goals, which is a very important part of their education.

    We congratulate this year’s winners of the student competition from Evergreen College in Washington, attendees from Salon Success and Total Transformation Institute of Cosmetology from Texas.

  • Compromised Lymph Nodes and the Skin Consultation – What to Ask

    There is no way to avoid working with clients whose lymph nodes have been compromised. A compromised lymph node is one that has been impaired as a result of medical treatments such as liposuction, thyroidectomy, breast reduction, or the node has been removed, radiated, or biopsied during diagnostic procedures or cancer treatments. It does not matter whether the diagnostic results were positive for cancer or not; the fact the nodes were tested means they have been compromised. Anyone with a compromised lymph node within a primary routing area – specifically cervical, axillary, or inguinal – is at risk for developing lymphedema.

    Lymphedema is an abnormal accumulation of a protein-rich interstitial fluid that can occur in the arms or legs, associated trunk quadrants, and also in the head and neck. The condition develops when lymph vessels or lymph nodes from a primary routing cluster are damaged or removed, or the integrity of the lymphatic system is in some way compromised. Although frequently associated primarily with breast cancer, lymphedema may also occur as a late or long-term side effect of medical treatment for melanoma, head, neck, and throat cancer, as well as cancers located in the lower quadrants such as ovarian or gastric carcinomas. The risk of lymphedema is a lifetime risk, and the condition itself is irreversible, uncomfortable and can be painful. While there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be managed.

    Managing lymphedema involves diligent care of the affected limb, and it is expensive and time-consuming. Skin treatment modifications during cleansing, massage, and heat applications on the neck, décolleté or arms during a treatment session will always be required for the client with compromised axillary or cervical lymph nodes.

    Many of us work with a detailed intake, which is essentially a compilation of well thought out questions intended to stimulate discussion about a client’s preferences, lifestyle and stress levels, sun exposure, and what her primary skin treatment objectives are. This type of comprehensive consultation reveals valuable information for the therapist, and although considered imperative for the first time client, it is often not revisited during the ongoing process of seeing regular clientele. Unfortunately clients don’t always readily self-identify as having compromised lymph nodes, and therapists who don’t know better seldom ask. Clients may not self-identify because they don’t understand the critical implications inherent in the modified delivery of their skin care treatment, or they think the therapist may turn them away, or perhaps the medical diagnosis and subsequent treatment are so far in their past that they think the information is no longer relevant.

    I invite you to reconsider the consultation process, especially with your existing clients. Return to basics. Remember, the consultation is about communication. Communication is the process by which information is successfully shared between two or more people. Ask your clients whether they have had medical treatments that affected any of their lymph nodes, and then modify your service accordingly.

    Karey Hazewinkel York has 12 years of experience specializing in advanced skin care education. A licensed esthetican, massage therapist and spa consultant with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and gerontology, Karey runs a program at the Hoag Family Cancer Center, providing support to patients focusing on skin changes during and after cancer treatment. Being a breast cancer survivor herself, she is keenly aware of the importance of assisting all patients in feeling more comfortable with this new part of their life.

  • What is Oncology Skin Care?

    Sensitive. Dehydrated. Barrier Impaired. Surprising as it may be, treating the skin of someone undergoing chemotherapy and related cancer drug treatments is often times the simplest part of the skin care service. In working with oncology clients it is actually the other considerations that go hand-in-hand with cancer treatments that pose the greatest challenge for the skin care therapist such as compromised blood cell counts, blood clots or risk thereof, involved lymph nodes, tissue integrity, bone involvement, medical devices, clients’ experience of side effects, and long term or late effects of treatment.

    In addressing skin specific considerations, identifying therapist guidelines for oncology clients starts by establishing whether you are working with a client in active treatment and recent recovery, or someone in long-term survivorship. With regards to the latter client population, understanding the modifications related to compromised lymph nodes will serve you best, and treating their skin will most often depend on your resource knowledge on how to treat aging, dehydrated, and sensitive skin (note order of words).

    In working with clients still in active cancer treatment or recent recovery, skin is usually extremely dry and dehydrated, inflamed and irritated, fragile, sun sensitive, and can be very reactive. In this situation treat the sensitivity first. Product properties that minimize exacerbating skin sensitivities include an acidic-neutral pH to minimize the flux in skin pH; surfactants or emulsifiers that will not strip the skin of its moisture or strip the lipids and proteins of the stratum corneum; moisturizing ingredients such as emollients, humectants, and occlusives; and formulas without potential irritants and allergens.

    Additional core guidelines model the “Less Rule” in practice; avoid excessive heat, steam, and anything invasive, aggressive, or too stimulating. Put on hold physical scrubs, Retin A or Retinol-based products, strong chemical peels, alcohols, astringents, anything that dries the skin, and extractions because of the potential for easy bleeding, easy bruising, inflammation, and the very serious risk of infection.

    Many cancer treatments can additionally cause photosensitivity. Help your clients understand that the best sun protection is reducing exposure, a hat, and a physical sun block.

    Oncology client: Anybody who is in, or who has a history of cancer treatment. Considerations are often different for each client, and during active treatment or recent recovery can regularly change.

    Oncology skin care: Oncology skin care is an advanced field of study and involves the modification of skin care applications in order to safely work with the effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Essential aspects of an oncology skin care therapist’s skill set are an informed understanding of the pathophysiology of cancer; the side effects of cancer treatments, such as medications, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; and the ability to modify skin care applications, techniques, and product selection in order to adapt for these side effects, as well as for the disease.

    Johnnette du Rand, CMT, NCTMB, CMLDT, Skin Therapist
    Greet The Day, Institute of Integrative Oncology

    Greet The Day programs complement medical care and have provided thousands of hours of oncology massage, skin care, and supportive health practices for people with cancer. Greet The Day is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.

    Visit for more information.

  • Antioxidants: Past, Present & Future

    In this recent Q&A, Dr. Claudia Aguirre met with American Spa Magazine to discuss the latest in antioxidants and skin care. Get the scoop on these famed ingredients and find out what trends in antioxidant research we can expect to see next!

    Q. “Antioxidant” is an overused buzzword in the beauty industry. What should people look out for when choosing skincare products? Are there any common marketing claims that are particularly misleading?
    A. Antioxidants are so widely varied, with a multitude of functions, that they can appear to be as ubiquitous as moisturizers themselves. In fact, there are over 600 known carotenoids and over 8,000 sources of polyphenols found in nature. And those are just the ones we know. The activity and effectiveness behind a product’s antioxidant power comes from its unique formulation. It all depends on the formula when it comes to antioxidants, and since the formulas are not always disclosed, the best thing for a spa owner or consumer to do is to look for products coming from reputable brands which spend heavily on research and development.

    Much of the marketing claims that are in fact misleading are typically confined to the food industry. For example, the word ‘superfood’ is not recognized as a true category of food in the scientific community although many people believe the antioxidant power behind goji berry is better than blueberry (or other food not currently in the spotlight). These trendy foods of course then get translated into skin care formulations that highlight the ‘superfoods.’

    Q. What are some common misconceptions about antioxidants?
    A. Probably that they’re quick acting. We are always looking for a quick fix, and compared to sunscreens and retinoids, antioxidants are more preventative and protective rather than corrective. However, over time these can correct some signs of photodamage, as vitamin C has been shown to lighten up sun-induced pigmentation.

    Another is that a vitamin is a single compound. A ‘vitamin’ is typically a family of compounds. For example, Vitamin A can be sourced from animals (retinoids) or plants (carotenoids) in our diet. So they’re not as simple as we think.

    Q. What are some of the most promising emerging antioxidant ingredients on the market and why?
    A. Vitamins are tried and true and many people may not realize that these also have a number of derivatives which can produce the same effects on the skin as the original vitamin compound. For instance, vitamin C has an active form of L-Ascorbic Acid but has a long list of derivative compounds (MAP, Ascorbyl Glucoside, etc) that can also provide benefits to the skin such as lightening up photodamage and promoting collagen production.

    The plant based antioxidants – polyphenols – are also great at scavenging free radicals in the skin. However, these likely have benefits that extend beyond preventing oxidative damage. Recent studies suggest these compounds can also promote oxidation (prooxidant) and trigger cell death, which may prevent tumor cells from growing and proliferating. Some may even mimic our own chemical messengers like hormones, as in the case of soy isoflavones1. Others like the catechins found in green tea can also impart anti-inflammatory benefits to sensitized or irritated skin.

    Q. What is your company doing to increase the antioxidant power in your skin care products?
    A. The biggest issue when it comes to antioxidants in skin care is how to deliver it efficaciously to the skin. We at Dermalogica not only use a wide variety of antioxidant compounds from botanical, marine and synthetic sources, but we also employ the latest technology to ensure delivery and penetration of the product. Since these are highly sensitive compounds, they easily ‘rust’ or oxidize, turning the product brown and rendering it useless. We encapsulate derivatives of stabilized vitamins in an advanced liposomal delivery system to optimize results on the skin. This ensures we don’t get adverse effects like irritation, and allows the ingredient to penetrate without being oxidized by the environment. Some packaging options such as airless tubes can also help with the delivery.

    Q. Are there any other trends that you’re seeing in antioxidant research?
    A. Combinations of antioxidants have been shown to work better than when used individually. So you’re likely to see products with a cocktail of vitamins and antioxidants rather than a product based on a single ingredient.

    Some of the current research is focused on marine algae, a large and diverse group of species that include kelp and seaweed. These have shown to include a large variety of antioxidant compounds such as carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamins and polysaccharides2. It won’t be surprising to see products crop up with marine antioxidants as the next trend in anti-aging cosmetics.

    Other carotenoids besides β-carotene are also being closely investigated. Powerful antioxidants found in tomatoes, peppers and even microalgae include lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, among many other compounds.

    And just as combinations of antioxidants are proving to be better than using them separately, combination treatments are also becoming more popular. A recent study concluded that ‘the addition of polyphenolic antioxidants to an IPL regimen improved the clinical, biochemical, and histological changes seen following IPL treatment alone3,’ suggesting that topical antioxidants are not only great protective elements in skin care, but they can even impact the efficacy and results of other treatments.


    1. Scalbert, et al. Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond Am J Clin Nutr January 2005 vol. 81 no. 1 215S-217S
    2. Cornish, M.L. and Garbary, D.J. Algae 2010, 25(4): 155-171
    3. Freedman, B. M. (2009), Topical antioxidant application augments the effects of intense pulsed light therapy. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 8: 254–259

  • Branding for an Experience

    As we all move through our day-to-day lives we often do not realize the subtle trail of familiarity. From the Starbucks mug we pour our coffee into, to the Apple logo gracing the back of our beloved mobile phone, or even the golden arches of McDonald’s lining the streets of our commute. All of these recognizable shapes and colors may seem like the backdrop to our hectic days but they are in fact part of a much larger picture – these images are part of a brand. They establish what the brand is without words or sounds, and they instigate memories and curiosity. Branding is essential in any business because it allows us to tap into something that is unique to each person, and the feeling that is left from the experience can be hard to forget.

    When clients comes in for a treatment they have a certain expectations. It is safe to say that anyone walking through a salon or spa door is looking for results and enjoyment, and the last thing we want to do as a business owner is pour our business model down our customers’ throats! This is where branding comes into play. From the moment your clients walk through the front door, you want them to feel the experience your business offers. Creating visually appealing merchandising on shelves, counter spaces, and focus tables is a great place to start. Clutter-free, easy to shop spaces make exploring products enjoyable, helping to set the tone for your clients and the image you’d like your business to project. And it shouldn’t stop there! You can spread that experience throughout the space, and a clever way to achieve this is to feature pieces tastefully in the treatment room such as a blanket or client wrap.

    The most powerful marketing tool you can use is your brand, and the key as you drive your business – and the products that support your business – is to make your branding distinct. The treatment room is an amazing place to help mold your image, and linking the pleasurable experience of the treatments you offer to your brand is a unique and creative way to represent your business’ overall model!

  • The Details on TCA

    The Science
    By Dr. Claudia Aguirre

    While our skin naturally sheds (desquamates) its outer layer on a regular basis, this process slows with age. Chemical peels are a powerful tool to resurface and rejuvenate skin with instant results. Other skin issues like photodamage and acne can also greatly benefit from chemical peels.

    You might be surprised to know that many of today’s chemical peeling agents originated from household kitchen items. Take the hydroxy acids: Tartaric Acid comes from grapes, Malic Acid from apples, Glycolic Acid from sugar cane and Lactic Acid from sour milk, to name a few. Similarly, the more potent peeling agent TCA (trichloroacetic acid), is a modified synthetic chemical based on common vinegar, or acetic acid. However it’s a powerful solution that effectively desquamates the outer layers of the skin without posing serious risk for toxicity.

    TCA is considered a keratocoagulant, meaning it coagulates the skin’s proteins together. This process is a lot like cooking egg whites – the raw egg white is slightly clear and goopy and cooking it turns it white and hardens it. On the skin, once keratin proteins are coagulated, they too turn a whitish color. This whitening is called “frosting” on the skin. Once frosting occurs, the TCA chemical self-neutralizes and is no longer active. Since the frosting is visible, it serves as a good marker for the professional skin therapist to know when to end treatment with the acid. In the treatment room, you’ll find that it’s a fantastic peeling agent that can tackle concerns of pigmentation, aging and even acne.

    TCA and the Skin Therapist
    By Whitney Johnson

    TCA is a great acid that any skin therapist can incorporate into her or his treatment arsenal to focus on pigmentation and aging. If combined with other chemical agents (like Salicylic Acid), it can also show marked changes on acneic breakouts and the common side effects that acne leaves behind, such as post-inflammatory pigmentation.

    While similar to Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs), TCA is a much stronger acid that causes a denaturing of skin proteins. As Dr. Claudia specified, the effect will produce a white “frost” on the skin or cause the tissue to turn white. This characteristic of TCA is a great tool for skin therapists as it helps us to monitor the progress of the peel. If frosting has occurred during the treatment, it is a signal that the peeling step of the treatment is done; progressing further will only inflict serious damage to the skin as frosting is a sign of cell death. Achieving a frost on the skin will give great results, however frosting may not always occur and should not be forced. Remember: peeling is about controlled inflammation – triggering excess inflammation would encourage premature skin aging, and that defeats the whole purpose of a peel!

    Another unique characteristic of TCA is that it has the ability to self-neutralize. Therefore, TCA does not depend on timing to trigger a frost or change, unlike AHAs. This feature makes the ingredient an especially unfailing chemical agent for skin therapists to use.

    Sometimes a manufacturer may offer TCA as a stand-alone formulation. While it is effective when used alone, research has shown that when combined with other ingredients like Lactic Acid or Salicylic Acid, it will enhance the effects of these ingredients and provide a more effective skin resurfacing result. Look for concentrations under 20% as it is an excellent acid for use in superficial chemical peels. Note that higher concentrations lead to medium depth peeling, which should only be done by a medical professional.

    *Be sure to double check your manufacturer’s directions when using a formulation with TCA, as some may require a neutralizer of some sort.