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  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 2 – Replenishing the Barrier with Exotic Plant Oils

    Chia Seeds and Camellia JaponicaThe use of plant oils in skin care has been around for decades, however, in the past few years our understanding of how these phytochemicals (AKA plant chemicals) affect our skin has been enhanced by numerous research studies. As a scientist with a PhD in plant biochemistry and a passion for the skin care industry, I am forever searching the globe for new exciting plant actives that can be used to treat the skin.

    Now that we know the causes that can lead to loss of lipids from The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them, we can address many of these signs with scientific expertise provided by nature in the form of phytochemicals. As you might expect, I have a few new favorite oils that we have been studying at The International Dermal Institute that have the ability to replenish the skin’s natural barrier lipids for optimized skin health.

    Let’s take a closer look at these oils and how they may be used to treat the skin.

    Camellia Japonica Oil

    Camellia japonica is often called the “Rose of Winter” and is a member of the tea family. It is a small flowering tree native to Korea and Japan. It is one of the native plants grown on Jeju Island famous for its unpolluted, clean environment. Closer examination of this oil reveals it is a rich source of critical membrane lipids or fatty acids including oleic, linoleic and palmitic acids. In laboratory studies it provided twice as much antioxidant protection than Vitamin E, Grapeseed Oil, and/or Rosehip Oil. Studies using human fibroblast cells demonstrated an increase in collagen synthesis when treated with a low concentration of the oil (0.001); as the concentration of oil applied increased (up to 0.1%) so did the stimulation to collagen synthesis. Most importantly, studies on human subjects using a 2% Camellia Japonica Oil topically applied to the face showed a reduction in wrinkles as measured by laboratory instruments and observations by trained clinical technicians and patients.2

    Camellia Japonica Oil also inhibited pro-inflammatory mediators3 and was more soothing than Bisabolol in erythema induced tests. Likewise, it provided lipid barrier properties that showed an inhibition in TEWL, helping to maintain skin hydration levels.

    Overall, this esthetically pleasing, lightweight plant oil soothes irritated/sensitized skin, maintains hydration levels by reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and helps stimulate collagen production to fight aging skin.1,2

    Chia Seed Oil

    In addition to Camellia Japonica Oil, the seed oil derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, otherwise known as Chia, has proven to be a new addition to the arsenal of active plant oils available to the cosmetic formulator. Chia Seed Oil is rich in antioxidants that help quench free radicals and omega-3-fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce inflammation.

    Salvia hispanica is a member of the mint family that is often used as a food supplement for energy—and was once known as the Mayan running food. It is grown primarily for its seeds that contain from 25% to 40% oil that are rich in omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acids. Both essential fatty acids are required by the human body for good health, and cannot be artificially synthesized.

    Researchers in Korea reported that a topical application of a cream containing Chia Seed Oil for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in skin moisture, skin thickening and crusty lumps in patients with pruritis caused by end-stage kidney disease and also in healthy patients with xerotic pruritis.4 Pruritis is an unpleasant skin sensation that produces a strong urge to scratch, and it is a characteristic symptom of some systemic diseases such as advanced kidney disease. Xerotic pruritis is a form of the condition that includes redness, dry scaling and cracks in the skin.

    Tamanu Oil

    Lastly we have Tamanu Oil, extracted from Calophyllum inophyllum seeds from the Ati tree of the South Pacific. Traditionally Tamanu Oil has been used to combat a range of skin problems and is highly beneficial as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The oil contains unique calophylloids that reduce stinging in skin and helps to control the growth of the acne causing bacterium, P. acnes.

    French researchers working with leprosy patients were the first to study the skin regenerating properties of Tamanu Oil. It has been used to heal stubborn and severe wounds with very good success. More specifically, scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil that have been credited for its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to reduce swelling and irritation with topical application.

    From a study conducted in 2002, participants applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement, so even older scars can benefit from Tamanu Oil regenerative properties.5

    Tamanu Oil is also excellent for individuals with acneic skin, as the mild antibacterial properties of the oil work consistently and without irritation to minimize growth of acne causing bacteria on the skin. The moderate antimicrobial activity of Tamanu Oil has been compared to antibiotics like amoxicillin. The actives, canophyllol and canophyllic acid, have been identified as the specific agents in the oil that provide the antibacterial activity.

    And finally, the xanthones and coumarins found in Tamanu Oil are potent antioxidants that inhibit the breakdown of cell membranes from free radicals. Consequently, this oil can help to counteract aging caused by UV-induced free radicals.

    Harnessing the power of phytoactive ingredients is one of the best ways to restore a compromised skin barrier to replace intercellular lipids that have been depleted from aging, environment, and the many other factors. And with the overwhelming amount of research on these oils and their phytochemical components they are prime candidates for incorporation into your favorite skin care products.

    Reference:

    1. Akihisa T, et al. Chem. And Pharm. Bull. Tokyo 45:1023-2016.

    2. E. Jung et al. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I collagen production and skin barrier function. J. Ethnopharmacology 112 (2007) 127-131.

    3. S. Kim et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Camellia japonica Oil. BMB Reports 2012: 177-182)

    4. Se Kyoo Jeong, et al. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Ann Dermatol. 2010 May; 22(2): 143–148.

    5. A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002

  • Product Solutions: 3 Ways to Deep Clean the Skin

    deep-clean-blog

    Pore refining! Blemish free! Blackhead busting! All you have to do these days is flick through the latest copy of your favorite magazine or switch on the TV to see images of people with happy faces and flawless skin, usually accompanied with claims for products or ingredients that promise to deliver that clear skin we all strive for.

    In fact, breakouts and blackhead concerns follow very closely on the tail of our top contender, aging skin! And it’s no wonder because every one of us will experience unwanted blemishes at some point in our lives. I can bet that many of us even have a fail proof home remedy, like the humble toothpaste for example, which some believe can banish a spot overnight!

    Whatever the chosen method, for us as professional skin therapists there are varied options that enable us to graduate into different levels of ‘deep cleansing’, which we can recommend to our clients depending on their skin needs.

    Deep clean with Cleansers: Remove surface debris

    To fully reap the rewards of a consistent skincare routine we need to ensure that we start out with the most important step of all, a thorough cleanse. The ‘often underestimated’ cleanse can either make or break the remaining steps of any skin care routine or professional treatment. Many of our clients are under the impression that a cleansing wipe is all it takes to wipe away the grime that collects on the skin throughout the day, but unfortunately this is not enough to remove hard wearing makeup, SPF and dirt. To ensure a deep and effective cleanse we advise to do a ‘double cleanse’. 

    Using an oil based cleanser for the first cleanse is a bit like using a magnet to attract excess oils and debris from the skin. It is brilliant for lifting that initial film of impurities and preventing potential breakouts that can occur through poor cleansing habits. However, there is the small minority of clients who won’t be swayed to use any kind of oil on their skin especially if oiliness is their key concern. In this instance it is best to opt for a clay based cleanser containing a hint of Menthol, which will absorb excess oil and act as an astringent, leaving the skin matte and refined—an oil-phobe’s dream!

    To enhance the cleansing step there are additional tools we can use such as a soft bristle brush which will further assist with removing oils and debris, turning an ordinary cleanse into power cleanse.

    Deep clean with Exfoliants: Renew and refine 

    As we already know, our skin naturally renews and sheds itself every 28 days or so. However, for various reasons this process can sometimes become a bit sluggish and needs some intervention… enter exfoliation. We know that exfoliation smooths and brightens the surface of the skin by removing dead and dulling skin cells but it also helps to clear out excess oil in the follicles, the combination of these two elements are the usual suspects in the formation of the dreaded ‘spot’. There are different types of exfoliants we can choose from such as a scrub, which make use of ingredients like Corn Cob Meal to gently polish the skin. Other types are hydroxy acids and enzymes, which include ingredients such as the lipid loving Salicylic Acid that actively clears out any impactions and provides anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce obvious redness and irritation. Whatever your client’s skin concern, this is that key step that can bring about dramatic and instant change to the skin, especially when it comes to keeping unsightly breakouts at bay.

    Deep clean with Masques: Detox and purify 

    The possibilities are endless when it comes to treating the skin with a masque. Yet this is often the step of a home care routine that is neglected, so we need to ensure that we are communicating the benefits of masquing to our clients. Introducing a masque into the routine is the best way of getting highly active ingredients into the skin in a matter of minutes, and the good news is that we can use more than one in order to address a number of skin concerns often found in different areas of the face at the same time. A great option for purifying and detoxifying is a current trending ingredient, Activated Charcoal, which is great for pulling impurities out the skin leaving a smooth and more lively looking complexion.

    When we hear the term ‘deep cleanse’ we tend to think only of oily or congested skin as the perfect candidate, when in actual fact all skins can benefit from a good clear out. With Spring around the corner many people will be planning on de-cluttering their homes and living spaces, so what better time than now to do the same with our clients’ skin. Bring it back to basics to achieve a fresh and luminous looking skin this Spring.

  • Making Scents of Essential Oils

    Lavender field

    If you visited the dentist recently, there could be a chance that you were offered inhalation of lavender to reduce anxiety pre-procedure. This is because dental practices and hospitals are now including the use of essential oils in the hallways, rooms and reception areas to relax patients and visitors.

    I am a true fan of using essential oils in the treatment room and for use at home, as I often notice changes in the skin as well as the client’s demeanor. How can this be? In Chinese medicine, when a plant herb or flower is turned into an essential oil, it is said to have its “soul freed”. And now more than ever, we can rely on science to help explain how they can change your mood, your energy and your day.

    Channel through the body

    The most effective way for the body to absorb the therapeutic components of an essential oil is through a combination of inhalation and topical application.

    With inhalation, oil molecules are dissolved in nasal mucous, produced by the outer tissues of the nose that are packed with millions of sensory receptors. Nerve impulses travel through to the cranial cavity followed by the olfactory bulb and eventually into the limbic system, also known as the “emotional brain”. This area is directly connected to parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. Essential oils also enter the lungs and alveoli during inhalation, where they get picked up by the circulatory system and delivered throughout the body.

    When applied topically, usually through the form of a carrier oil base, essential oils are attracted to lipid portion of the sebaceous gland to the surrounding tissues and into the blood stream. This is the fastest route, whereby remaining oil components are absorbed via the follicle. Most essential oils, unless they are water-soluble, enter via the sebaceous follicle when applied topically.

    Calming arrival

    We know the traditional uses of essential oils for massage or as an addition to a product for the aroma, but there are so many other aspects and uses we can all embrace.

    Too many times the client arrives at their appointment late or rushed, where you feel the need to calm them down before the start their service. If this occurs, you can start their visit with some inhalation therapy by applying a small amount of oil above the upper lip or rubbed into the scalp. You can also try a steam towel followed by an oil to their feet, this pulls the energy away from the head and gives them permission to switch off.

    A good blend of oils to center this client would be Lavender, Cypress and Eucalyptus.

    Treatment room scents

    Before you begin, make sure the client likes an essential oil or blend before applying them during the treatment as they are difficult to remove once applied. It is said that we are drawn to the oils that benefit us the most. Sometimes memories linked with aromas can be powerful and also positive or negative depending upon the emotion that is conjured up. Essential oils also stimulate the immune system and are strong antioxidants, creating an unfriendly environment for free radicals, so there’s no denying their skin benefits. You can further customize the treatment by utilizing a blend of oils and adding to steam towels, rinse water, linens or compresses.

    Try an essential oil or blend containing Ylang Ylang for breakout-prone skin, Neroli for aging skin and Cypress for sensitive or sensitized skin.

    Aromatherapy at home

    Don’t forget about the many uses of essential oils in our personal space. Oils such as Peppermint and Lemon can provide an uplifting mood booster and set the tone for the client’s home environment. They can also be used as simple home remedies, especially during the cold season. Recommend adding Cypress, Tea Tree, Peppermint or Eucalyptus to steam inhalation—these are great for decongesting the respiratory tract and are anti-viral. Have clients experiencing trouble sleeping? Rose Oil or Jasmine can be beneficial when applied to facial pressure points. And nothing beats a muscle soak at the end of a stressful day with Cedarwood, Orange and Sandalwood added into warm bath water.

    Our sense of smell is 10,000 times stronger than our other senses, so why not capitalize on the many uses of essential oils in your business or home life. Start making scents work for you!

  • Does Oily Skin Need Moisturizer During Summer?

    Waterbeads

    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.

  • Oil or Water – an Old Dilemma!

    annet croppedOne of the biggest areas that consumers, beauty editors and even some skin therapists can get muddled over is the misconception surrounding dry and dehydrated skin. More often than not, clients complain that their skin is dry, when really it’s dehydrated. This often results in the wrong product and/or treatment recommendation.

    When you consider that a dry skin (lacking oil/alipoid) can also be dehydrated (lacking in water), and oily skin, which has an abundance of oil, can also be dehydrated, eyes can roll back and heads start to spin! Feel dizzy yet? The fact is that there are some significant differences between the two and because of that, there’s a prime opportunity to educate clients and adjust their regimen.

    Oil and WaterSo how do we decipher the difference?

    Generally, we all suffer from dehydration; the body, after all, is about 75% water and a perfect target for moisture zapping environments. If unaddressed, dehydration can also lead to increased skin sensitivity and inflammation. In the case of oily skin, it can lead to an actual increase in more sebum production. Yep, that alcohol in the drugstore acne product dried your skin out and then made your breakouts worse. But dehydration is a skin condition and can affect any skin type. It’s caused by multiple factors that you should verbally cross check while conducting your consultation or when retailing. For example:

    • Environment: Low humidity, warm and cold weather, air conditioning, sun exposure and flight travel.

    • Products: Stripping cleansers and toners, over exfoliation and makeup.

    • Diet & Lifestyle: Medications, high sodium foods, lack of water consumption, caffeine, soda intake and of course alcohol.

    Dehydrated skin is thirsty skin and needs to be rehydrated while vital moisture is locked in. Start by recommending the following: Gel or cream cleanser; Gentle, daily exfoliant; Hydrating spritz toner; Gel-based masques and concentrated serums with Hyaluronic Acid to layer beneath a medium weight moisturizer.

    True dry skin is a genetic skin type and is not confined to face and hands but experienced over the entire body. The sebaceous glands are smaller and under-active, and the follicle opening is tight and fine. Lines will be more evident, and in winter months the extremities will be itchy and flaky.

    Ask your clients who complain of dry skin whether they experience this even in their hair and scalp. This skin requires oil-rich emollient products to nourish and stimulate. You can recommend: Creamy cleansers; Antioxidant packed toners; Full body exfoliation; Replenishing vitamin-based serums; Eye products and heavy weight moisturizers.

    Whatever the skin dilemma, we welcome it with open arms, hands, eyes and ears! This is our unique role as professional skin therapists—who else can truly guide clients and consumers to their healthiest skin?