• Restoring the Barrier Layer with Skin-Repairing Ingredients

    Barrier function. It’s one of the most important aspects of healthy skin and the strength of it needs to be assessed before any product recommendation. A lack of barrier function can lead to breakouts, dehydration, sensitization, pigmentation and aging. Common disruptors of the epidermal barrier integrity can range from hydroxy acids and soaps to stress. In order to repair the damage, skin therapists need to conduct not only a thorough skin analysis, but also ask key questions to determine how the skin became irritated or how the barrier was compromised. Once this has been done, skin repairing ingredients can be incorporated to restore optimal skin health.

    Years ago, consumers and skin therapists alike may have used barrier creams with occlusive ingredients to cover the skin and allow it to heal, however more modern ingredients can provide many more benefits than simply being occlusive.

    Healing the skin is the first step to improving the barrier layer, and an essential component is replacing depleted lipids. Tomato Seed, Argan Oil and Rose Oil are all rich in antioxidants and lipids that restore protective barrier lipids. Carrot Root Extract is a good source of Vitamin A, which battles oxidation and rejuvenates dry, stressed skin. Panthenol heals and hydrates the skin.

    The next step to improve the barrier function is to ensure optimal hydration within the skin since dehydration can be one of the leading causes of most skin conditions. Cross-linked Hyaluronic Acid provides increased hydration and improved elasticity, and it holds more moisture than a traditional Hyaluronic Acid. Salicornia Extract, or, Glasswort, helps reinforce the skin’s Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) and increases water content in the skin. Green and brown algae help regulate moisture content and water levels to provide in-depth moisturization.

    In addition to healing and hydrating, inflammation needs to be reduced and controlled. Acetyl-Hexapeptide-15, a neurocosmeceutical soother, can minimize the pain associated with inflammation. Red Hogweed targets neurogenic inflammation by limiting the production of prostaglandins, as well as promoting the production of natural anti-inflammatory agents in the skin. Avena Sativa, or, Oatmeal, has been proven to have natural anti-irritant and anti-redness properties and is considered a favorite for conditions like chicken pox, psoriasis and eczema.

    One last and very important note is to reduce stress levels. Stress is one of the biggest trigger factors for all forms of skin conditions. Encourage clients to take time out by receiving regular massages, trying meditation and thinking positively. Your support with their skin care recommendations has the potential to alleviate stress levels!

  • Weave Your Web

    Over the years I have met many inspiring women that have connected me to professional information and helped me grow personally, allowing me to expand and strengthen my web around the globe. On March 8 we celebrated International Women’s Day, and to honor the women in my life, I would like to share some stories and lessons learned.

    While speaking at a conference in eastern Canada I was privileged to see an amazing presenter, Ildi, a woman who owns her own training and human resource company. Her charisma and presence captivated the audience of 250 people and gave me information about myself and other women on my team that I have benefitted from to this day. Since then, we have had her as a guest speaker at our Toronto training center and our company has sponsored a conference she organized, Women in Leadership and Business . She developed this conference because she “wanted to come up with the right forum, which I believe is a combination of practical tools, knowledge and strategies that is enhanced by the chance to network and make connections with other business women.” Through one chance meeting, we both have benefitted from cross-promoting our businesses and I have learned many skills.

    Our sales manager Reagan was looking for groups to help her stay motivated and inspired and found that common groups weren’t a good fit, so she started her own. She wanted to create an atmosphere where “women felt welcome to attend, could further their own education through a specific topic and could network in a genuine environment.” She didn’t like the concept of giving a business card to someone before having a conversation with them. Pink Tank instills an environment where women can get to know each other and creates a community of success. The best advice she has ever received from a woman: “A challenge is simply an opportunity.”

    While at a cottage for Family Day, Julie, a vivacious women who owns her own landscape design business, made the comment “I will do anything to support women in business. If a friend or someone I know starts a company, I will take part in that business – from hosting a jewelry party to supporting events they are throwing.” She belongs to her local Chamber of Commerce as well as a women’s group of her region. The best advice she’s received from a woman is “Be your own true, authentic self” and “if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now!”

    These are just three examples of how connecting with other women can positively influence our lives. Whether you become involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, fitness groups, Toastmasters or skin care classes at The International Dermal Institute, some additional benefits to you would be:

    • Expanding your network and partnering with other women to gain new leads
    • Inspiring others (as well as being inspired) to achieve desired goals and aspirations
    • Bartering with people who are strong where you are weak, such as an accountant to help with financials or a marketing guru to help bring your
    business from good to great
    • Learning skills from other women or finding out about the latest technology
    • Out-of-the-box thinking and translating advice from different industries to our own
    • Engaging in the lives of others for the better
    • Giving back

    The inner strength of a woman is phenomenal. Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the world’s food and invest 90% of their incomes back into their families. It has been shown that when women in a community are successful, the community thrives. Successful women are amazing role models creating a positive trend – the offspring will be successful. Women in our lives offer words of wisdom and often lead by example.

    Whether you “like” an inspiring woman’s Facebook page, follow motivational women on Twitter or invest in a woman entrepreneur through FITE, reaching out and giving back will keep you motivated, expand your network and increase the amount of support you give and receive.

    The skin care industry is an amazing sector to be involved in as clients are paying us on a daily basis to touch them. From doing a simple manicure to giving an elaborate skin treatment, people benefit from this touch in so many ways. This literal feeling that our clients experience needs to be taken to a figurative level to help us weave a web of connectivity in our lives.

    Appreciate and honor the women in your life now. Life is too short. Spider webs have the strength of steel, but with more elasticity. Never be afraid to weave a world wide web because the more women we connect to, the more resilient and strong our communities will be.

  • Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

    Holly SherrardOh the weather outside is frightful… at least in the Canadian great white north! Chapped lips, flaky skin, dehydration and sensitization are all symptoms people face when the temperature drops. When clients seek our advice to treat their winter skin, it gives us the chance to create insanely great treatments and alleviate uncomfortable skin conditions!

    So what can you do during a winter skin treatment? Start by offering clients a warm drink upon arrival, such as an herbal tea or mulled cider in celebration of the holiday season. Heated neck pillows, which soothe muscular stress from holiday shopping bags and alleviate cold winter chills, are perfect to get clients relaxed. They may also enjoy changing into a heated wrap, robe and slippers before climbing into a warmed bed.

    During the treatment, we must always customize according to what skin conditions we see – skin treatments are not one-size-fits-all. When it comes to exfoliation for example, consider your options. Professional exfoliation removes dull surface cells and prepares the skin for optimal penetration of active ingredients. Mechanical exfoliants remove surface flakes, while chemical exfoliants, such as Lactic Acid, have multiple effects such as increasing hydration and decreasing pigmentation.

    For skin that is sensitized, use ingredients such as Red Hogweed, Oat Kernel and Ginger to reduce inflammation and redness. To reinforce the barrier lipid layer, look for Colloidal Oatmeal, Evening Primrose and Borage Seed oils.

    Massage techniques will vary according to clients’ needs and wants. Although a deep, stress-relieving massage may feel wonderful on a dry, aging skin, a sensitized skin will benefit more from Chinese Acupressure. No matter the method of massage chosen, keep in mind the physiological and psychological benefits of touch – decreased stress and anxiety, positive effects on brain waves, breathing and immunity and pain reduction. Our touch is the perfect gift for a client to receive.

    Body treatments should include ingredients like Ginger and Wasabi, which have warming and anti-inflammatory properties and plant oils like Olive and Grape seed to minimize evaporation of water, which can lead to body chills.

    We never want a client to feel like they have simply been steamed and creamed with lotions and potions, so it is important that we leave them with home care advice to maintain excellent results from the treatment. Be sure they know about these important steps for at-home treatment of their skin:

    • Dry body brushing is one of the best ways to remove dead, dry skin cells, improve lymphatic circulation and increase cell turnover. This technique should be done daily in the direction of lymphatic flow.

    • Shower once every other day and use warm (not hot) water. Use mild cleansers only on necessary areas, and minimize the length of time in the shower or bath. While skin is still wet, apply conditioning oils such as Vitamin E, Grape Seed, Olive, Kukui Nut or Apricot Seed Oil to prevent water loss. Follow with a rich moisturizer with conditioning ingredients such as silicones, Shea Butter, and Evening Primrose Oil.

    • For clients experiencing dryness and dehydration on the face, ensure they use a mild, acid-balanced cleanser. Layer hydrating ingredients onto the skin such as a toner enriched with Hyaluronic Acid, a serum or concentrate to minimize inflammation, a moisturizer and daylight protection.

    • Drinking plenty of water will maintain hydration levels internally; however it does not always solve epidermal dehydration.

    When the holiday bustle leaves our clients feeling overwhelmed or stressed, make your environment delightful and ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!’

  • Mechanical vs. Chemical Exfoliation

    Holly SherrardExoliation is an ancient tradition dating back to Cleopatra’s milk baths and Greeks using an ivory blade to scrape skin cells off their bodies. In the early 1920’s, the leather tanning industry figured out that phenol peels don’t only remove the hairs from hides, but they also smooth the leather. Times have certainly changed with the early 1970’s discovery of alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and today with multiple options when searching for a soft, wrinkle-free, smooth skin.

    Have you ever noticed that when you go to the beach and walk around in the sand, the callouses soften on your feet? Sand is a type of physical exfoliation, granules which are sloughing off dead skin cells from the body. Mechanical exfoliants are any abrasive material or substance that physically removes cells from the skin. Corn cob meal, silica, date, fig and olive seeds are all types of mechanical exfoliation as well as facecloths, loofahs and dry body brushes. When using these, be mindful to use a gentle touch to avoid leaving micro-scratches on the skin or causing any inflammation.

    On the other side of the exfoliation coin, we have chemical exfoliants which dissolve keratin protein or break apart the bonds (desmosomes) between the skin cells. AHAs are the most common of chemical exfoliants and are naturally occurring acids derived from plant sugars. These ingredients, in particular Lactic Acid, have the ability to stimulate hydration in the skin by increasing the glycosaminoglycans which bind water within the epidermis. Ceramide levels increase, which improves the barrier function of the skin, and collagen production increases. We see a decrease in fine lines, hyperpigmentation and hyperkeratosis.

    Enzymes are biological catalysts which enable chemical reactions in the skin. Papain (Papaya), Bromelain (Pineapple) and Bacillus Ferment all eat away at dead skin cells, revealing a healthier epidermis underneath. (Keep this in mind the next time you have irritated gums after eating pineapple…you have just exfoliated your mouth!).

    When choosing an exfoliant, ensure a proper skin analysis has been performed. Look for a combination of ingredients that work on multiple levels, such as Silica to remove dead surface cells with a synergy of Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid and Prickly Pear – all excellent ingredients to regenerate the skin cells, brighten the skin and leave a smooth finish!