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  • The Great Wall: Protecting The Skin’s Barrier Function

    You might not be able to see it from the moon nor with the naked eye, but one of the greatest walls ever built is that of the Barrier Function of the skin.

    This amazing feat of skin engineering means we have a strong, resilient ‘wall’ protecting our body from harsh environmental elements, helping to retain moisture and keeping allergens out.

    The Barrier Function is designed in the same manner as that of a wall, consisting of:
    • The bricks: the dead, dry skin cells which are soon to be shed
    The mortar: composed of lipids (ceramides, essential fatty acids and cholesterol)

    Sometimes the structure of this ‘brick wall’ is compromised and gaps can appear due to the lack of epidermal barrier lipids. As a result, our skin is susceptible to dehydration due to moisture escaping otherwise known as Trans Epidermal Moisture Loss (TEWL), and increased skin sensitivity as microbes and allergens now have a path of entry into the skin. There are many causes for the breakdown of this protective barrier, the most common being:
    The environment: cold, windy weather, air conditioning, heating, the sun, plane travel
    • Poor skin care: using harsh, stripping products like SD alcohol or soap, excessive exfoliation, water that is too hot, or not wearing a moisturizer
    Diet: excess alcohol, caffeine and salt consumption, not eating sufficient Essential Fatty Acids, insufficient water intake
    Stress: this itself can disturb the barrier function by slowing down synthesis of epidermal lipids
    Certain medications: such as nasal decongestants, general anesthetic, cancer therapies

    An impaired Barrier Function means the skin appears dull and lackluster. It can feel taught and flaky with fine lines around the eyes, over the forehead and cheeks. When pinched between the fingers, it will resemble a piece of parchment paper.

    Sadly, the Barrier Function declines with age as oil gland activity decreases, the skin’s natural hydrators decline as does its ability to regenerate these important lipids. The prolonged dehydration in the lower level of the skin can cause the depletion of the dermal tissue resulting in deeper wrinkles, elastosis and sagging skin.

    To re-establish a good Barrier Function, the key step to follow in a home care regimen is exfoliation. This step is important to prevent the skin from feeling dry, rough and flaky and it will help eradicate any dry patches. The key is not to use an aggressive exfoliant that causes any skin sensitivity or irritation. Try exfoliating boosters that are easily applied under the moisturizer and work gently throughout the day. There are also slightly stronger forms of exfoliations such as Hydroxy Acid, which can generally be used once or twice a week.

    To boost the moisture and regain the plumpness in the skin, apply layers of a hydrating serum, toner, moisturizer and primer (the skin responds well to layering). The moisturizer doesn’t need to be heavy or contain a lot of oil—a key point to remember is that the skin is lacking moisture, not oil. Try a medium weight moisturizer with SPF30 or higher. If the skin is tight and flaky, use an anhydrous (water free) moisturizer made with skin protecting silicones. This will seal in moisture and prevents the skin from drying out, while also helping to repair the Barrier Function. At night, look at applying an oil based serum or night oil to the areas of dry skin.

    For an added boost, apply a hydrating gel masque once a week, ensuring it’s applied close the corners of the nose, mouth and eyes to target these vulnerable areas.

    Though drinking water is important, it doesn’t correlate directly to having hydrated skin. It’s better to encompass products that hydrate the skin and protect your barrier function by preventing moisture loss.

    Some fantastic ingredients to use within your entire skin care regimen are for healthy Barrier Function include:
    Hyaluronic Acid: one of my favorite ingredients as it has the ability to hold 1000 times its own weight in moisture.
    Niacinamide: a potent form of vitamin B-3 with a multifunctional approach to treating dehydration. It addresses several aspects of dryness and dehydration simultaneously, thus protecting the skin from TEWL.
    Essential fatty acids (EFAs): look for Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil and Coconut Oil; another great ingredient to combat dry skin is Beta glucan.
    Omega-6 EFAs: these specifically are required in forming the skin’s barrier function and its structural integrity
    Sodium PCA: a terrific humectant that binds moisture to the skin
    Salicornia Extract: a plant extract that helps reinforce the natural moisturization factor (NMF)
    Algae Extract: nutrient rich to restore skin’s moisture
    Tomato Seed Oil: a great source of lycopene-rich lipids that help restore the barrier lipids of the skin
    Bambusa (Bamboo) Vulgaris and Pisum Sativum (Pea): help stimulate Hyaluronic Acid formation for increased hydration and elasticity
    Glucosamine: helps stimulate Hyaluronic Acid formation

    It’s important to avoid soap and soap-based cleansers and body washes as the alkalinity dries the skin and causes sensitization. Also avoid products with S.D. Alcohol and hot water as both are very drying to the skin.

    And finally, don’t forget to feed your skin by including plenty of essential fatty acids in your diet!

  • TLC for Sensitive Eyes

    Eyes Spring2The delicate eye area is taking quite a hammering at the moment not only from environmental challenges, which play havoc on our eyes. A common cause of redness and itchiness around the eyes is hay fever (allergic rhinitis), occurring mostly in spring and summer. Or it may be atopic dermatitis caused by the inhalation of allergens, such as pollen, dust or animal fur, which trigger inflammation.

    We’re also in the era of the ‘super lash’, just about every other person is wearing eye lash extensions or false lashes, or using eye growth serums—all of which can be quite irritating and sensitizing to the eyes.

    Here are some easy things that can be done to care for red, itchy eyes.

    1. Ensure makeup is removed thoroughly using a very gentle, fragrance and S.D. alcohol free eye makeup remover. It will need to be water soluble to ensure that all traces of the product and makeup is leaving no residue (perfect for the contact lens wearer). Choose one with the added benefit of built-in lash conditioners (Silk Amino Acids) that prevent lashes from becoming dry and brittle, as well as keeping the skin around the eye area soft, hydrated and smooth.

    2. To help alleviate dry eyes, place a few drops of artificial tear drop solution; or for red eyes, try some vasoconstrictive eye drops.

    3. When the eyes feel, red, puffy and irritated, place a cold compress or cooling eye packs over them for 5 to 10 minutes. A cooling, hydrating eye masque (kept cool in the fridge) can also be used around the eye area, underneath the compress.

    4. To alleviate the dry, itchy skin, apply a reparative and intensely nourishing protective eye cream (fragrance free) each evening. Key ingredients will include Vitamin A, C, E and Pro-Vitamin B5, as well as soothing botanicals such as Green Tea, Cucumber Arnica and Butcherbroom

    5. If the eye area is very dry and in need of a ‘super protector’, apply an anhydrous moisturizer that melts into the skin, repairs the natural barrier lipid layer and reduces irritation and dryness.

    6. Wear hypo allergenic makeup that has been screened of all known irritants.

    7. Lastly, we should all know the ultimate skin sin by now—never, ever go to bed with your makeup on!

    Ensure everything placed near or in the eyes is super clean. Makeup brushes need to be washed in an antibacterial cleanser monthly, contact lenses need to be changed regularly and always kept thoroughly clean.

    It’s also important to check eye makeup and eye care products; have they been shared with anyone who may have an eye infection? Could your products be rancid, or well past their use by date harboring fungi or bacteria? It’s not common knowledge among makeup users that mascara is only supposed to be used for two months before discarding, perhaps this is the cause of the eye sensitivity.

    As red, itchy eyes can also be a result of an eye infection, it’s important to seek medical advice from a doctor if symptoms do persist.

  • 5 Key Assets to Land the Job of Your Dreams

    Dream job 1

    As part of my role I am responsible for recruiting my team. I’ve interviewed literally hundreds of people over the years, so I’d say I’m pretty qualified—from an employer’s point of view—to share with you some key assets I like to see from a candidate. Take a look at these 5 simple tips to land the job of your dreams.

    1. A well written resume can change your life

    A powerful resume should be concise, with sufficient applicable content to get you an interview—ultimately it has to ‘sell you’ to the employer by making yourself an attractive proposition on paper. Ensure it’s honest, include what you believe to be your strengths and areas that need development, every employer knows no one’s perfect. Include your qualifications, work history, key duties and how long you’ve worked in each role, please state the month as well as year you began. A nice touch is giving a brief reason for leaving each position.

    I’m never impressed by anyone who just emails me their resume without an accompanying cover letter. It allows the employer to get a sense of who you are. In brief, explain your career goals and why they are aligned with the vacant position, as well as providing a summary of your skill set that matches the job description. Ensure to include what you respect about that business and why you really want to work for them. Be enthusiastic and make it personal.

    And before you hit ‘send’, have someone who can effectively proofread it, there’s no excuse for mistakes and they could cost you the job!

    2. Do your homework

    Go prepared by knowing as much about the business, their culture and the role as much as possible. If applying for a position in a spa or treatment center, ensure you’ve checked out their menu of services, know their trading hours, which treatments you’re already skilled in delivering and the ones in which you may require additional training. Acquaint yourself with the product range(s) they use.  It’s also a good idea to check their online reviews and see what their customers are saying about the business, chose one or two you can happily quote.

    3. References

    It’s amazing how some people listed on a resume have no idea they are actually that person’s referee! It’s so important to speak to your referees prior and ensure they are still happy to provide a reference, and to let them know they may expect a call. At the same time check you have the right contact details for them. Avoid putting a referee down who may not provide you with a positive reference (it happens), it can cost you the job! Referees need to hold senior positions from your most recent employment history.

    4. Personal branding

    You’re your own walking, talking brand. How you speak, what words and tone you use, how you chose to dress, how you wear your hair, present your nails, your jewelry choices, all reflect ‘brand you’. You need to demonstrate a positive image to the prospective employer, and one they can see also aligns with their own.

    Be aware of:

    •  Your voice mail message with “busy par-tay-ing woohoo, leave a message!” just may need changing while in the pursuit of a new job!

    •  The email address like ‘crazymadwoman@gmail’ is perhaps not the one you should be sending your resume from.

    •  Do a Google search of yourself and see what comes up, check if there is access to your personal social media e.g. Facebook page. See what a prospective employer sees when they do a background check on you, if it’s not favorable, get it deleted fast!

    •  Who you speak to pre and post meeting the interviewers, often staff members will be asked how you presented yourself ‘outside’ of the interview room.

    From the first initial conversation on the phone through to the interview itself, it’s vital you present the very best of yourself.  Any uncertainty, ask friends and family for help, check out websites, video tutorials on successful interviewing. And never be late, if the worst happens and you are, ensure you call to apologize and let them know you’re running late.

    If you change your mind or secure another position don’t just not show up! People remember those who demonstrate negative behavior. Always do the right thing and withdraw your application. You never know when you may cross paths with the interviewer or business again!

    5. Follow up

    Either call, send a handwritten note or the last option, email to thank them for taking the time and giving you the opportunity to be interviewed. You can reiterate your great interest and excitement in the position, and let them know you’re looking forward to hearing from them in the near future.

    I know it may sound obvious, but never go for a job that your heart’s not in it, find yourself a role that will bring the best out of yourself and you’ll really enjoy. Now all that is left is to do is wish you successful job hunting!

  • Zurich Welcomes New Training Center

    March was the perfect month to visit Zurich, Switzerland, as spring in Europe is magical. I love the cold, crisp air, the sun shimmering in the brilliant blue sky, it made the perfect backdrop for this beautiful and picturesque city to speak about.

    The first thing on my agenda was a media event, held at one of Dermalogica’s Corporate Skin Bars in the iconic Globus department store. This was the perfect environment to showcase the signature skin analysis and retailing concepts that guarantee success, as well as introduce to the media a new skin brightening product system. This was a really fun, engaging and entertaining event and everyone left enriched by the experience and ready to tackle those pesky spots!

    The best part of this visit was the privilege to be invited to officially ‘open’ the brand new Dermalogica offices and training center. The learning environment they have created for their customers is absolutely spectacular.

    A welcome breakfast was hosted by the team and food provided by one of Zurich’s top chefs, Pascal Schmutz. We got ‘down to business’ with the seminar focusing on ‘How to Sell to The Most Powerful Consumers on Earth,’ and the launch of the ‘Face Map Our Nation’ campaign, along with the new product system.  Having launched this campaign in Australia last year, it was a great opportunity to share our initiatives and success stories, and to inspire a little ‘friendly competition’ with the challenge to Face Map more people in Switzerland than Australia, proportionally to the size of the population of course! With the energy and enthusiasm displayed by the attendees I don’t this think will be too difficult a task at all.

    It was an honour and a delight to work with the inspired and energetic Swiss team, and a privilege to have the opportunity to meet with and speak to their very dedicated, passionate customers.

    The only real challenge of this visit, showing restraint by trying not to over indulge in the most delicious chocolate in the world!

  • Destination Success – Planning Out Your Business Road Map

    Benjamin Franklin once said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  Starting any new calendar year requires business due diligence. It’s the time for any business to set out its road map for the year. What will the final destination be? How are you going to get there? What will you change this year over last to make things better? Remembering, if you do exactly the same as you did last year, you’ll end up with exactly the same result! In fact you’ll end up with less, because everything costs more due to inflation.

    Starting the New Year first requires a review of 2014. Did your business experience growth? If so how much, and what was this growth a result of? Secondly, if you didn’t grow or your business was in decline, why? Where did you go wrong? Once you have identified your business position you are now able to make informed choices and plan strategies to ensure (as best as possible) that by the end of 2015 you’re looking at a healthy balance sheet, one where your business has experienced a healthy growth and profit margin.

    After you have determined your overall growth prediction and where you plan for that growth to come from (treatment sales, retail sales, saving on budget expenditure, new clients etc.) you can then divide that into quarters, bite sized time frames that allow you to achieve your goals.

    Your first quarter planning should include:

    1. Ensure you have a strategy meeting with your business development consultant(s)/sales representatives from your product suppliers. Find out their plans and company direction. What promotions do they have in place for the first quarter? What business advice can they lend to help support you in your 2015 business plan?

    2. Meet with your accountant to ‘set the books straight’!

    3. Set your quarterly budget.

    4. Set your retail and treatment revenue targets.

    5. Identify your cash flow needs.

    6. Set your marketing plan to include advertising, seasonal promotions, new product launches, your social media (blog, Facebook, etc.) content, newsletters, etc.

    7. Order both retail and professional products ensuring your can deliver the perfect customer service experience.

    8. Plan and budget your staffs training needs.

    9. Ensure all equipment and salon repairs have been amended.

    10. Get your staff on-board.

    Once you have made your plan it is then time to get your whole team on board, because without them you simply won’t achieve much. Organize a staff meeting to share your overall goals for the year, give them your business vision for 2015. This may include purchasing new equipment, being trained in new skills, renovating your reception area, revamping your treatment rooms, buying new laundry or hiring new staff. Share with them how important their input and support is to the overall success of the business. Also in this meeting review the targets and goals of the first quarter and how you and they believe you’ll achieve them, share their training and development plan for the first quarter and any promotional events you have planned.

    Lastly plan your diary. You have a lot to do and if you allow time to run away with you then it’s likely you’ll never achieve your goals. Set your business time, your entrepreneurial time, your staff training time, your marketing time, etc. into your daily planner. Then make a promise to yourself to try very hard never to cancel this valuable time from your diary!

    Remember “a goal without a plan is just a wish.”  – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Here’s to good fortune for 2015 for all of us!

  • The Game Changer: Mobile Apps

    I seriously question if the mobile phone is now an actual appendage of most people’s bodies, literally  an extension of ones hand! Let’s face it, just about everywhere you go you see people with their phone in their hand (not their bag or pocket). If we are so heavily reliant on our phones and we know that technology changes daily to increase the function and benefits of the phone to our everyday life, then I question, why is it we are so slow in our industry to understand its importance to our business?

    Our customers communicate and manage their life through their phone, so we must provide them with the ability to communicate and manage their services and products with us via their phone. That means they need to be able to book online via the phone, buy product, view our services and products on video, get educated, write comments, engage with others and much, much more. That means we need to have  a website and support systems that are all configured for mobile applications and consider having supporting apps for your customers to access.

    According to beauty-app master Modiface, app downloads during December 2013 were up year-on-year by 25 percent, while apps that provided specific functionality were up by 38 percent. From these statistics, we can see consumers are downloading apps that address a certain need or help them with specific tasks rather than being purely content-based applications.

    So don’t procrastinate any longer, face your fears just go out there — get on board and ‘do it’!

  • Keeping the Brain Ticking – Through Education

    Just in case you were in any doubt how important it is to keep exercising our brains and stimulating it with new ideas, a recent research study from the University of British Columbia has discovered how brain cells change (for the positive) during learning. The research shows that learning stimulates our brain cells to cause a biochemical modification, which is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity; thus improving how we learn and our memory function.

    Especially with Alzheimer’s disease on the rise, it’s a pretty convincing argument to continue your education with IDI — all it takes is a trip to a training center near you. Not only will your brain be grateful by stimulating a few million brain cells, so will your business!

    As Benjamin Franklin once put it, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

  • On Track

    Can you believe we’re three months into the year already? I know, where has the time gone? This can be a dangerous period for any business because it’s so easy to have now slipped into “working in the business mode” not “working on the business mode.” This means not taking the vital entrepreneurial time to look at both the big picture and the finite financials. March should be a crucial period for your business planning, when it’s essential to take stock of where you are positioned currently in 2013. Is your business resembling a runaway train going speedily off the rails, or right on track to your chosen destination (as per your business plan)?

    How to Stay on Track:

    1. Put some time aside NOW to review your progress.

    2. Get your business plan out and measure where you are currently in 2013 vs. 2012, and note where you are according to your 2013 budget.

    3. Make clear assumptions as to where you are on track, and where you have deviated from your business plan.

    4. Identify where, what and why you’ve been weak in certain areas. You can:

    • Review your treatments sales
    • Review your retail sales
    • Review your expenditure
    • Assess your current cash flow and future projections
    • Audit your current staffing levels
    • Review your promotional/marketing calendar
    • Revisit your training protocol

    5. Identify where, what and why the areas you have been excelling in.

    • What needs to be amended in your current business plan to capitalise on your successes

    6. What do you have to do now, YES NOW, to get yourself back on track? Create the measures you need to put in place to get yourself on course for the rest of the year. Set weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks and objectives allowing you to reach your goal in bite sized pieces.

    7. “Tweak” your business plan accordingly.

    8. Share with your team the current picture of where the business is and the changes you plan to initiate to get back on track. Ask for their suggestions and buy-in and advice what role they must play in attaining these goals.

    As a business owner you are in the driving seat, you map your course, you fuel your engine, you drive with either caution or recklessness to your destination, you choose to deviate or stay on track, and you are in total control – it all comes down to you.

    I therefore wish you a safe and successful journey that gets you to your chosen destination!

  • Time to Make a Change?

    Have you ever visited a hotel and thought to yourself, “hmmm, this place is looking a bit dated, it needs a mini face lift”? These kinds of details are easy to see when it’s someone else’s business, but it may not be so easy when it’s our own. Just as hotels date quite quickly, so do skin treatment centers. Since your brand image is sacred to you and your customers, it needs to be kept fresh and on trend!

    Consider these points:

    • Your image is the magnet to attract new clients. A strong, clear-branded image translates to powerful marketing.

    • Your reception area offers clients the opportunity, experience and ease of buying from you. Are you capitalizing on this?

    • Your image should say “we are progressive, we move forward with our customers ever-evolving needs” not “same old, same old.”

    • A treatment center revamp shows your customers that you care about your business and you care about them too.

    You don’t have to break the bank with a revamp – some simple but effective changes can make all the difference. Try these enhancements:

    A new coat of paint- consider changing the color of your space, perhaps even slightly. Neutrals work well in the relaxing treatment room environment. I recommend you avoid the color pink – women seem to be over the use of pink in representing something as “feminine”.

    Buy new towels or headbands, maybe in a new color. Nothing feels nicer than fresh, clean laundry.

    Move your posters and art work around. Clients get bored staring at the same images in both your treatment and reception space.

    Get new merchandising pieces such as acrylic frames, boxes, cubs etc. to spice things up a bit.

    Consider moving your “hot spots” around to again make the familiar unfamiliar.

    Invest in dimmer switches if you haven’t already. Mood lighting makes a HUGE difference to the overall ambiance.

    Move shelves around and look at re-merchandising all your stock.

    Less is definitely more. If your space is starting to get cluttered with too many pieces of furniture, plants, ornaments, dried flowers, magazines, etc., have a cleansing session.

    Peruse online decorating sites or buy some home styling magazines for inspiration.

    The hard bit is getting started, so as Nike says, “Just Do It!” Once done you’ll feel and look amazing. Good luck!

  • Stressed Super Hero?

    So Mum, what have you been doing recently? If you’re the modern working Mum, you’ve been managing the children’s holiday, chauffeuring your kids from party to party and 101 sporting activities, doing the household chores, dealing with the daily pressures of work, and managing a relationship with your spouse. Is your super hero uniform getting a little ragged around the edges?

    Interestingly there is a new field of medicine called Psychodermatology, which focuses on the complexities of the mind-skin connection and the skin problems that are associated with or worsened by stress.

    Stress causes a chemical reaction in the body, making the skin more sensitive and reactive. It produces cortisol and other hormones, which trigger your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This can result in an increase of breakouts. Stress also impedes skin healing. Stress exacerbates psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation and skin irritation. Sadly, this results in a compounding effect on our stress levels, because when our skin isn’t great, it has a negative impact on our psyche!

    If you or your clients are struggling with the work life balance, it’s time for a “super hero intervention,” with some much needed stress management techniques.

    For stressed skin, the answer is to receive a prescriptive, professional skin treatment – a solution based treatment that not only addresses the effects that the client’s stress is having on the skin (acne, pigmentation, sensitization, dehydration, etc.), but that also incorporates stress reduction touch therapies such as scalp massage, pressure point face massage and stress relief back massage. All of this will help melt away the tension associated with stress.

    Product choice at this time is essential (think calming). Select products and treatments that addresses the neurogenic and immunogenic inflammation associated with stress. Look for these calming ingredients when treating the stressed client:

    Boerhavia Diffusa (Red Hogweed) Root extract: targets neurogenic inflammation.
    Oat Avenanthramides: anti-irritant and anti-redness properties, inhibits histamine release.
    Ginger and Bisabolol: act synergistically to reduce inflammation-induced itch, redness and irritation.
    Anti-inflammatory extracts: Cucumber, Echinacea, Wheat Germ Extract, Comfrey, Raspberry, Grape Extract, Allantoin, Panthenol, Vitamin E, Bisabolol.

    You can also offer or suggest these types of treatments for the body:

    • Swedish/remedial /aromatherapy/stress reduction massage
    • Body wraps
    • Hot stone
    • Reflexology
    • Spa water and heat therapies

    And while you’re at it, create a “super hero pressure pack” for everyday use with these therapies:

    Bach flower remedies:
    • Rescue remedy
    • Impatiens
    • Hornbeam
    • Larch

    Herbal supplements:
    • Gingko Extract
    • St John’s Wort
    • B group Vitamins
    • Magnesium
    • Niacinamide
    • Folic Acid
    • Tranquility teas

    As skin therapists we often give, but seldom do we receive, so don’t forget your “me time” too! An aromatherapy or mineral salt bath, combined with your favorite hobby such as reading, walking, exercise or seeing friends, will help relieve tension and stress levels. So advise your clients to receive these amazing treatments, but be sure to book yourself in too!