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  • Get Sun Smart

    iStock_000012490582Small

    Like many people, childhood holidays were always spent on the beach, where young tender skin was exposed to the elements sun up to sun down. Mum’s beach bag contained the ‘Sun Oil’ and her first-aid bag the calamine lotion. If only we had known then what we know now about the dangers of the sun.

    Believe it or not, there are many people that are still uninformed about the importance of sun protection. Here are some common questions (or excuses) that we often hear from clients with ways to explain or debunk myths about sun safety.

    Q: The sun will dry up my spots.
    A: FALSE
    As you unwind on the beach and relax, stress hormones will begin to level out and eventually dwindle. As acne is exacerbated by stress, it makes sense that as we relax, acne may improve. You may be in and out of salt water and chlorine, which can also dry up spots. Overall it may seem that acne breakouts have cleared…wrong! The heat and often clogging sunscreens will cause oil to speed up production and skin to be in overdrive, leaving you with the same issues. There are plenty of SPF options for oily or acneic skins that will not clog but rather keep skin hydrated, while prevent more serious UV damage. Seek relaxation but avoid the sun!

    Q: I only need sunscreen when it’s sunny.
    A: FALSE
    UVA rays are the longest rays in the spectrum and penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin all year round, including winter months. UVA rays cause damage at a cellular level, making them responsible for most skin cancers and the main cause of visible aging in the form of wrinkles, sagging and sun spots. Other signs of damage are small blood vessels and spider veins on the face, neck and chest. UVA also goes through glass including most car windows and is present on cloudy days as well as sunny days. Protecting daily with a Broad Spectrum (filters both UVA and UVB) sunscreen should be included in everyone’s skin care regime.

    Q: How much sunscreen do you need for a face and neck application?
    A: FULL TEASPOON
    A full teaspoon for face and neck is a good rough guide—though it’s better to be more generous than to skimp. More importantly, to ensure an SPF is doing its job it needs to be applied 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, so don’t wait until you are on the beach before applying. Remember you need to re-apply regularly, especially if swimming, sweating or if removing with a towel, think about when eating drinking and wiping your mouth.

    Q: The SPF in my makeup protects my skin.
    A: FALSE
    The problem with relying on the SPF in your makeup is that you’re just not getting enough of it. You should wear at least an SPF of 15, but an SPF of 30 is ideal and topped up every 2 hours. The easiest solution is to use a moisturiser or primer (or both!) that also contain sunscreen. It’s fine to have sunscreen in your makeup, but consider it an added bonus, not your main safeguard.

    Q: Two layers of SPF15 make an SPF30. 
    A: FALSE 
    Adding another layer on top of an existing layer of sunscreen does not double the sun protection factor. Two layers of an SPF 15 sunscreen remains an SPF 15 and does not become an SPF 30. Re-apply every 2 hours if outside in summer months or on holiday in the sun.

  • Bacteria and Breakouts: A Deeper Look into P. acnes

    We’ve all experienced some form of breakout and sometimes it seems to have appeared overnight. How did this happen?! As skin therapists we immediately do a mental checklist of possible triggers—was it stress, hormones, diet, product? We know that on a basic level, acne occurs within the sebaceous follicle by excessive skin cells, sebum, inflammation and presence of bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). However, we also know the process of acne is anything but basic. Let’s take a deeper look at the one element of this process that is always with us: bacteria.

    P. acnes is part of the natural skin flora and accounts for about 87% of the bacteria. It grows deep inside follicles, lives anaerobically and feeds on the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands. For the most part, this bacteria can be relatively harmless; however, if follicles become plugged, the low oxygen levels and accumulating sebum create a prime environment for the growth of P. acnes.

    Using sebum as an energy source, the bacteria produces lipase that converts triglycerides into glycerol and fatty acids, causing inflammation and irritation. The inflammation then triggers the innate immune response and white blood cells are activated. Next they release destructive enzymes and free radicals that causes extensive damage to the surrounding tissue. This damage often stimulates the production of more pro-inflammatory mediators, making it easier for the bacteria to multiply and continuing its vicious cycle. By understanding the behavior of P. acnes, we can get a better handle on how it can be managed for acneic clients.

    Porphyrins as seen through VISIA

    Porphyrins as seen through VISIA

     

    The Other P Word

    P. acnes produce porphyrins, which are groups of organic compounds that play major roles in processes like oxygen transportation and photosynthesis. When observing skin under a Wood’s lamp, you may even see them as fluorescent spots or dots. P. acnes synthesize and store large amounts of porphyrins that ultimately pays favor to LED treatments, such as using a Blue light to treat acne. The Blue light excites the Porphyrins that causes them to release free radicals into the bacteria therefore killing them from the inside out.

    A Sticky Situation

    The bacteria also produces a natural self-protection mechanism called biofilms. These are clusters of bacteria that are attached to a surface and are embedded in a sticky slime layer. The biofilm surrounds the microbes and helps it adhere to the follicle and can further promote hyperkeratinization. This same biological glue that allows the cohesion of the biofilm could also cause keratinocytes to stick together creating comedones.

    Research has also shown that the formation of biofilms seems to be a natural behavior for bacteria, but this formation has a consequence—it appears to be resistant to antibiotics, a common therapy for the treatment of acne including topical and oral medications. It is suspected that the antibiotics are not able to penetrate into the biofilm because the bacteria are tightly packed into a cluster.

    What’s in a Strain?

    P. acnes reside in the pilosebaceous unit, but its presence doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual is going to have acne. Several studies have indicated that specific strains of P. acnes bacteria are more commonly associated with acne prone skin versus normal skin, which may point to why some individuals are more predisposed to breakout while others are not.

    A UCLA study discovered that acne bacteria contain “bad” strains associated with pimples and “good” strains that may protect the skin. Through metagenomics, or the study of collection and analysis of bacteria in our environment, research has uncovered three specific strains of P. acnes in the skin’s microbiome; two that are found to be dominant in acneic skin and one strain in healthy skin.

    As scientists continue examining the relationship between our microbiome and acne, we can at least steer our clients to specific key ingredients to help contain acne formation and keep P. acnes at bay.

    Ingredients to target bacteria:

    Colloidal Silver

    Lactobacillus Ferment

    Benzoyl Peroxide

    Tea Tree Oil

    Cinnamon Bark

    Spirea Ulmaria

    Polygonum Cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) Root Extract

  • Say Buh-Bye to Bacne

     

    bacne

    Spring has sprung, which means your clients might be ready to pack up their winter woolies and reveal more skin! But for some the very notion might make them anxious if they suffer from back or chest acne. “Bacne” as it’s now referred to, is more common than you think when you consider that nearly 85% of all people have acne at some point in their lives, most often on the face, chest, and back. Teen boys and men sometimes get the full brunt of this issue due to testosterone levels triggering increased sebum production, which leads to blockages and more breakouts. Only to be then further exacerbated by sweaty, occlusive gym clothes and let be real, questionable hygiene. But you can’t ignore the ladies, many acne prone and active females have their fair share of bacne issues too.

    Here are #3 simple rules to share with your clients.

    #1 No blocking. We have the most amount of sebaceous glands in the face, neck, shoulders, back and upper arms, so if these follicles are blocked due to oil, dead cells, waxy hair or occlusive body products, even SPF, breakouts sometimes even cystic type acne will result. Bear in mind that people are also less selective about what products they use on their body versus their face.

    Buh-bye Bacne Tip: Advise clients to treat their chest and back like their face, screen their shower and body products for comedogenic culprits like artificial fragrance, color, pure lanolins, petroleum derivatives and the “myristates”.  Have them ditch the dewberry shower gel and prescribe a soap- and fragrance-free anti-bacterial cleanser with ingredients like Salicylic Acid, Tea Tree and Citrus extracts.

    #2 No stripping. Steer your clients away from mentholated and alcohol astringents, the cooling sensation on the skin does not mean the skin is clean. In most cases, these astringents have an SD Alcohol base that strips the skin of lipids and causes the skin to actually produce MORE oil to only worsen the condition. Abrasive scrubs are also a no-no as they’ll open up lesions and spread bacteria.

    Buh-bye Bacne Tip: Introduce an oil and bacteria controlling toner. Look for alcohol-free that allow for spritzing on the back or portable purifying skin wipes with ingredients like Balm Mint, Witch Hazel and Salicylic Acid. Treat breakouts with topical treatments that reduce sebum production, dissolve skin cells and zap bacteria with the hottest technology like Lactobacillus Ferment, Colloidal Silver, Zinc Sulfate, Magnolia Bark and Niacinamide.

    #3 Keep it clean. Conduct a CSI level investigation into your client’s sheet preference, washday frequency, detergent products and clothing. Sweat, dead cells and oil are all yummy bacteria food. Synthetic fibers will further trap sweat and dead cells.

    Buh-bye Bacne Tip: Advise clients to change pillowcases at least every other day and sheets twice a week. They should also wear organic cotton clothing next to the skin and especially avoid moisture wicking gym gear. Same goes for the bed linen, avoid synthetics like polyester that trap sweat and bacteria. Also ditch the fabric conditioners as these coat the fibers and this in turn coats the skin.

    Last but not least book them for a weekly 30 minute back clearing or chest treatment and you’ll eradicate their bacne or chacne (chest acne) in a snap, and ready for that cute Easter dress or at least the first pool party!

  • A Clear Connection: IDI Adresses Adult Acne in Colombia

    It was late when we landed, but even in the late hours of the day, the city of Bogotá pulsed with an amazing energy. Working for a global company gives us the opportunity to travel and educate all around the world, and here we were in the metropolitan heart of Colombia, getting ready to share the latest in skin care ingredients and technology.

    For four days, my colleague Yorcka Kido, regional education manager for Latin America/Caribbean, and I had the honor to meet with our South American hosts and professional skin therapists. We were also able to connect to millions of consumers via local media to educate on skin health with a focus on adult acne.

    Our first two days kicked off with radio interviews to discuss skin facts and tips on acne. We also met with additional press for TV, magazine and newspapers such as El Tiempo, Caracol Colombia, RCN Radio, Televisa Colombia and Vanidades to share the story of skin health and the impact of adult acne for consumers. Questions such as “what causes acne, how do you treat a blemish, what are the best acne-fighting ingredients and can food affect your skin and cause breakout?” were just a few of the key topics during these interviews.

    On our final day in Bogotá, we were the guest speakers at a skin care event. Over 100 professionals attended the seminar ranging from skin therapists and salon owners to doctors and dermatologists. We presented the latest on industry ingredients and trends and also covered controversial topics like parabens, natural versus organic and alternative ingredients. With consumers having more access to various types of skin care, this topic was impactful and relevant for all professionals, especially to stay educated in what’s fact or fiction, and what works and what’s safe.

    Our afternoon featured the latest findings and research on acne and adult acne. We explored the science behind acne development including triggers, causes, and the four factors that contribute to this worldwide skin concern. Attendees also learned about key ingredients in professional and retail products that provide maximum control and innovative treatment solutions.

    Our experience in Bogotá, Colombia was filled with warm hospitality, gracious hosts and people that encompass a passion for skin care and for life. The entire trip allowed us to network, meet new friends and build relationships on the common thread of education. And that no matter where we are in the world, continuing education is truly important and critical to our client’s skin health and to the success of our business.

  • Sound Skin Advice For Your Clients on Refinery29

    Our very own skin guru and director of Global Education, Annet King, has been working feverishly to provide articles on skin health for the prestigious Refinery29, the largest independent fashion and style website in the United States. So why is she lending her skin expertise to the public at large? As it turns out, many of their readers had questions about skin care, and who else should they seek out but a renowned IDI skin expert! So now we’d like to turn over these articles jam-packed with helpful skin advice to you, the professional skin therapist. There are some great tips here to give to your clients on everything skin care. Happy reading!

    3 Reasons To Stop Fussing With Your Face & See A Professional

    Winter Woes: How To Get Your Complexion In Check

    Skin Flaking Off? How To Care For Your Visage In The Winter

    Is Your Diet Making You Break Out?

    Busted! The Most Common Skin Product Myths, Debunked

    The Must-Know Secret To An Even Complexion

    How To Get The Best Skin Of Your Life

    The Basics To Getting Perfect Skin

    4 Skin Care Lies You Need To Stop Believing

    Is A Man’s Skin Really Different From A Woman’s?

    What Really Happens To Your Skin When You Get Sunburnt

    Do You Suffer From This Embarrassing Skin Woe?

  • Tackle Teen Acne!

    What is a pimple? Is it dirty skin? A reaction to cosmetics? A disease? Well in a way, it’s all of that and much more. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne affects about 40 to 50 million Americans at any one time. The acneic condition presents itself in four grades (I – IV), with increasing levels of severity. But even healthy skin can even experience pimples, since the hormonal signals that trigger oil production and inflammation are easily stimulated by changes in diet, psychological stress and puberty. And since puberty means a time of growth and changes, the skin is also growing and maturing and may not be able to handle the extra oil produced that leads to clogged follicles. A clogged follicle is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and cause inflammation, which is compounded by the elevated sebum produced during puberty.

    At the onset of puberty, hormones from the hypothalamic region of the brain and the pituitary gland trigger the production of testosterone in boys and estrogen in girls to initiate sexual maturation. An unfortunate side effect is the surge in sebum production in many. For girls, this cyclic pattern may even progress into adulthood. However, teenage acne is different than adult acne. While adult acne affects mostly women, and it is characterized by larger, more inflammatory papules with no comedones, teenage acne can present comedones, papules, pustules, cysts, nodules and is not typically cyclical. In addition, hygiene can play a major role, as proper skin care may be lacking or underdeveloped.

    This is why it’s imperative to teach young teens about proper daily skin care, introducing cleansing, hydrating and treating as part of their regimen. Another aspect of educating is reversing some of the misconceptions about acne that adolescents tend to have – whether it’s scrubbing away all oils with harsh scrubs, tanning to ‘clear’ acne, picking at their skin, and a host of other skin sins.

    In your treatment room, look for multitasking products that minimize breakouts without irritating or drying out the skin as many acne-controlling products in the market tend to do. By reducing hyperkeratinization, minimizing bacterial infection, controlling inflammation, and most importantly hydrating, you’ll provide a service not only for the short-term pubertal acne woes, but also for the long-term skin health goals of your future return client.

  • Breakout Freakout

    Ah summer. The home stretch, the ninth inning, a time for preparation and relaxation and… final exams! This may stir up terrifying memories, or if you’re in the midst of it, elicit a reminder of what’s to come. This crunch time is key to passing exams with flying colors or not passing at all, and it can feel like a literal squeeze or crunch, with your mind racing at 100mph. What you may not even realize during this hectic time is how it can also affect your body and even your skin.

    Psychological stress is not just “in your mind,” although it does begin there. When we experience stress, a region in the brain called the hypothalamus releases signals to specific glands to produce even more signals, or hormones, which then circulate around the body and elicit the “stress response.” The stress hormones released by the glands sitting atop the kidneys are epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol.

    Cortisol is a stress hormone that can also impact skin health. When cortisol is released, it can trigger the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum as well as increase inflammation. In the skin, this increased inflammation and sebum is the perfect environment for P. acnes to thrive inside the follicle. The result? A breakout.

    We may not be able to avoid those finals, but we can try to avoid that stress-induced pimple by practicing relaxation techniques. Or at the very least, treat it with efficacious ingredients to help the skin heal. If you have teenage clients in the treatment room, remember this is a high-stress time so combine stress-relieving techniques with these ingredients:

    Benzoyl Peroxide: Stops breakout-causing bacteria in the follicle and helps clear skin.
    Salicylic Acid: A hydroxy acid that exfoliates surface skin cells and reduces inflammation.
    Bentonite and Kaolin Clays: Purifying clays pull oil from skin, deep cleaning and helping to control shine.
    Niacinamide: Assists in regulating sebaceous gland secretions while scavenging free radicals.
    Meadowsweet: protects against the production and secretion of excess sebum.
    African Whitewood: The bark extract of this tree has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and sebum-regulating properties.

    To learn more about stress and breakouts, check out this video that I shared for Ted Education:

  • Deep Cleanse Your Way to Clean, Clear Skin

    A sign of a healthy skin is a smooth, clear complexion, free of oily blackheads and breakouts. Many individuals suffer with congested, bumpy skin, not as a result of acne or some other related skin condition, but rather because of ineffective cleansing methods.

    Professional skin therapists can offer deep cleansing treatments to help tackle the accumulation of environmental residues, sebum and skin cells that cause skin impactions. A good deep cleanse is reliant on three basic strategies: efficient cleansing, good skin preparation and skilled extraction techniques.

    For thoroughly clean skin, start with a double cleanse. The first cleanse will remove superficial debris that has adhered to sticky sebum and irregular epidermal cells including makeup, pollution, SPFs, and everyday dirt and dust. Ideally, choose a plant-based cleansing oil that will dissolve this surface grime. Emulsify with water and wash away.

    The second cleanse, using a cleanser appropriate to the general skin condition, will then be able to deep cleanse into the follicle openings, lifting away excess skin oils and minimizing build-up. It also guarantees a hygienic environment if proceeding with extractions.

    Top Tips for Effective Cleansing:
    • Cleanse in an upward, circular motion to lift hairs and get into follicles.
    • Focus on facial creases where sebum collects such as corners of the nose or crease of chin, or where more congestion is felt such as the
    T-zone or along the jawline.
    • Use steam to improve emulsification of cleansers, and encourage natural detoxification of the skin.
    • Use light pressure so as not to overheat skin with heavy friction movements, as this could sensitize and increase oil production.
    • Never reuse cleansing sponges on a different client. New client = new sponges to maintain hygiene standards.

    An exfoliant will begin to prepare skin for extractions. Removing loose cell layers will expose follicle openings and comedones – ideal for easing the impaction out of skin with reduced discomfort for clients.

    Application of an extraction or desincrustation fluid that further softens and loosens cellular debris will make it easier to extract blackheads without bruising. Most fluids are alkaline in nature to achieve this effect. Alkalinity assists with emulsifying the natural skin oils too, promoting the deep cleansing result.

    Top Tips for Extractions:
    • Allow enough time for the desincrustation fluid to process.
    • Avoid metal comedone extractors that bruise and damage tissue; rather manually extract with a careful rolling technique.
    • Use vinyl gloves to maintain a sterile environment and avoid cross-infecting.
    • Only extract non-inflammatory lesions to avoid scarring or spreading infection to neighboring follicles; wipe carefully and away from follicle
    rather than back into it.
    • Apply an astringent antiseptic post extractions to soothe and prevent infection.

    Focusing on the cleansing stages of the treatment can yield great results. But be sure to follow-up the deep cleansing treatment with relevant advice on cleansing at home to maintain the benefits!

  • Hormones and the Skin Q & A

    As seen in CLEO Magazine, Australia, July 2012

    Do hormones affect our skin? How?
    Absolutely! There are dozens of hormones that have major effects on the body, including our skin. Scientists are still discovering new hormones and new actions of known ones when it comes to effects on skin. The major hormones that affect skin are the sex steroid hormones, thyroid hormones, and growth hormones. The key is balance when it comes to hormones. When there is an imbalance, effects are seen on skin, hair and nails. For example, too much thyroid hormone and you get moist, smooth skin. Too little and you get rough, dry skin. Too much or too little and you can get alopecia. Too much of the androgen (male) hormones increase skin oiliness and face/body hair. This can lead to acne in both men and women. Too little of the female hormones (estrogens and progestogens) and you get thin, dry skin with reduced collagen and elastin, something that is seen in menopausal women.

    Why do we sometimes get pimples in the same spot around the time of our periods?
    Many adult women get a pimple around the time of ovulation, typically a couple weeks before the start of their period. This is most likely due to the surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) that is seen at this time. This hormone can trigger sebaceous gland activity, leading to increased oil production and the perfect environment for an invading bacteria to cause inflammation. Hormonal breakouts are quite common and can be controlled.

    What can be done to stop this kind of skin problem?

    Some methods of birth control can help regulate the hormones that lead to oil production and breakouts. But a good skin care regimen will do wonders for breakout-prone skin. Using mild cleansers that don’t strip skin oils is a good first step, since many people believe that the more squeaky-clean they are the better. Using harsh soaps to remove all oils can actually cause skin to produce even more oil, in an attempt to self-regulate. Next you want to moisturize with oil-free moisturizers to maintain hydration without clogging pores. And using spot treatments with Sulfur and Salicylic Acid are great ways to control breakouts without causing unwanted inflammation, which can worsen the problem. Retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) are also good ways to manage adult acne and skin aging at the same time.