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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!

  • SPF and Aging

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    A good SPF product is a skin care essential, but clients often struggle with finding the right formula. Here is how to help clients choose the perfect SPF products for their skin at every age.

    20’s: Since oil production is still high, skin may be breakout prone. Clients need a daily SPF formula that does not clog pores or contribute to comedones; and fragrance, color, Isopropyl Myristate, Lanolin and Mineral Oil should all be avoided. Suggest a lightweight SPF that helps combat and treat breakout prone skin and soak up excess oil, and add an eye treatment with SPF to your clients’ regimens to prevent future ultraviolet (UV) damage like crow’s feet.

    30’s: Recommend a tinted moisturizer! Multi benefit, 3-in-1 products with a wash of color, hydration and built-in broad spectrum SPF are ideal. Another option is to customize your clients’ moisturizers by mixing in a SPF booster. Look for the latest Oleosome technology that also acts as an emulsifier and allows for a higher concentration of sunscreen ingredients without the irritation.

    40’s: Signs of aging and hyperpigmentation are more evident in your 40s, so SPF30 or higher will best address firmness, elasticity and age-related triggers like reactive oxygen species (ROS). Clients can layer an age-fighting skin primer with peptides, Pearl Powder and SPF30 to help combat harmful rays while smoothing lines.

    50’s and up: Skin is significantly drier and more sensitive in your 50s, so a chemical SPF might not be an option. Suggest an ultra-sensitive SPF30 that has physical sunscreen ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, as well as built-in calming complexes to soothe skin. If your clients’ skin is very dry, recommend an appropriate moisturizer under which they can layer SPF.

    This article was originally published on ModernSalon.com

  • BB Creams: Hip or Hype?

    Annet KingIf you are anything like me, then the much-hyped marketing term “BB Cream” makes you want to roll your eyes just a bit, which of course you’d never do in front of a client! For those of us who have been at this party for a while, we’ve weathered all kinds of promotional puff over the years – from stretch mark creams that supposedly erase wrinkles, to gadgets that zap hairs and pimples to the latest crop of glued on everything from lashes to nail art to tooth gems! But we can’t ignore the popularity of the BB Cream, which according to a report by The NPD Group, has amounted to over $9 million dollars in sales in U.S. department stores in the past year. And with a new BB cream being introduced every second in the professional, prestige and mass channels, the trend isn’t dying down any time soon.

    So what’s the history? The BB stands for Blemish Balm, Blemish Base, Beauty Balm or Beblesh Balm. The concept originated from Christine Schrammek, a Polish-born, early pioneer of skin care training and products in Germany who developed the cream for patients to use after receiving her peel. It was designed to provide light coverage and to protect and soothe the skin. So how does a German cream become an overnight sensation with Korean celebrities? It may have begun with the popularity of the peel among Asian women who wanted to quite literally peel away their hyperpigmentation and lighten their skin. The original Blemish Balm was then retailed for the client to use at home. Korean celebrities were quick to share their enthusiasm, and product endorsement ensued, igniting a craze in Korea marketed as “the secret of Korean actresses.” They now comprise 13% of the Korean cosmetic market. Faster than a Kardshian marriage, the trend spread from Korea to Japan, China, South East Asia and has since made its way to Europe and the U.S.

    So what makes them so special? In a nutshell, they help to save time, as they are truly just a multi-purpose cream much like a tinted moisturizer with SPF. They are essentially a cream that provides skin benefits or treatment, coverage and UV protection. They come in a variety of different formulations and levels of quality, so make sure you check that ingredient list before recommending one packed with artificial colors and Mineral Oil to an acne-prone client. Some claim to have skin brightening properties, while some say they’ll fight acne or wrinkles. Others can be used like a primer under foundation, or they can replace foundation. Some recently introduced creams claim to function as a primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF, and pore-minimizer all in one!

    As with any trend, it’s important to thoroughly investigate and research a product or treatment before jumping onto the beauty band wagon. Ensure you educate your clients on the facts, and as this truly is just a marketing term, the next time you are recommending that Sheer Tint SPF20 hydrating moisturizer, feel free to say it’s just like a BB Cream!

  • Does Oily Skin Need Moisturizer During Summer?

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    The answer is YES, absolutely! Everyone needs to protect their skin from moisture loss, as you can have oily skin but still lack water. The summer sun can both dehydrate and damage the skin, causing premature aging; so a moisturizer is important to use for protection. When you smile or pout your lips, do you notice fine lines suddenly appear? These are dehydration lines, meaning that your skin needs hydration. This can easily be fixed by using a moisturizer appropriate for your skin condition.

    If you are one of those people who had acne when younger or who currently suffers an oily or shiny skin, you may hate the word “oil,” or even moisturizer! Fortunately we have come a long way in the development of moisturizers, which can be more than barrier products—they can be treatment products that benefit your skin.

    Look for a moisturizer that contains Lemon, Ivy, Watercress and Burdock, which are natural astringents that help refine the skin, and Lavender, Mallow and Cucumber to soothe and hydrate. Moisturizers can also mattify the skin with ingredients like Niacinamide, Yeast Extract, Horse Chestnut, Licorice, Pro-Vitamin B5, Caffeine and oil-absorbing microspheres that regulate sebum and shine.

    Daytime protection is a must, even for oil-phobes! Look for a lightweight, ultra-sheer formula with Broad Spectrum sunscreen and silicones to help absorb excess oils on the skin. Combine these with sebum regulating ingredients, and you get an all-day matte finish.

    Nowadays there are so many moisturizers to choose from—the key is using the correct one for your skin! How can you determine which one is right for you? Start by paying a visit to a professional skin therapist who will analyze your skin and recommend products that fit your needs and lifestyle.