• What is Oncology Skin Care?


    Sensitive. Dehydrated. Barrier Impaired. Surprising as it may be, treating the skin of someone undergoing chemotherapy and related cancer drug treatments is often times the simplest part of the skin care service. In working with oncology clients it is actually the other considerations that go hand-in-hand with cancer treatments that pose the greatest challenge for the skin care therapist such as compromised blood cell counts, blood clots or risk thereof, involved lymph nodes, tissue integrity, bone involvement, medical devices, clients’ experience of side effects, and long term or late effects of treatment.

    In addressing skin specific considerations, identifying therapist guidelines for oncology clients starts by establishing whether you are working with a client in active treatment and recent recovery, or someone in long-term survivorship. With regards to the latter client population, understanding the modifications related to compromised lymph nodes will serve you best, and treating their skin will most often depend on your resource knowledge on how to treat aging, dehydrated, and sensitive skin (note order of words).

    In working with clients still in active cancer treatment or recent recovery, skin is usually extremely dry and dehydrated, inflamed and irritated, fragile, sun sensitive, and can be very reactive. In this situation treat the sensitivity first. Product properties that minimize exacerbating skin sensitivities include an acidic-neutral pH to minimize the flux in skin pH; surfactants or emulsifiers that will not strip the skin of its moisture or strip the lipids and proteins of the stratum corneum; moisturizing ingredients such as emollients, humectants, and occlusives; and formulas without potential irritants and allergens.

    Additional core guidelines model the “Less Rule” in practice; avoid excessive heat, steam, and anything invasive, aggressive, or too stimulating. Put on hold physical scrubs, Retin A or Retinol-based products, strong chemical peels, alcohols, astringents, anything that dries the skin, and extractions because of the potential for easy bleeding, easy bruising, inflammation, and the very serious risk of infection.

    Many cancer treatments can additionally cause photosensitivity. Help your clients understand that the best sun protection is reducing exposure, a hat, and a physical sun block.

    Oncology client: Anybody who is in, or who has a history of cancer treatment. Considerations are often different for each client, and during active treatment or recent recovery can regularly change.

    Oncology skin care: Oncology skin care is an advanced field of study and involves the modification of skin care applications in order to safely work with the effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Essential aspects of an oncology skin care therapist’s skill set are an informed understanding of the pathophysiology of cancer; the side effects of cancer treatments, such as medications, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; and the ability to modify skin care applications, techniques, and product selection in order to adapt for these side effects, as well as for the disease.

    Johnnette du Rand, CMT, NCTMB, CMLDT, Skin Therapist
    Greet The Day, Institute of Integrative Oncology

    Greet The Day programs complement medical care and have provided thousands of hours of oncology massage, skin care, and supportive health practices for people with cancer. Greet The Day is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization.

    Visit for more information.

  • Brazilian Waxing 101

    Ah, the things we do for beauty. And in the case of body waxing, what we remove for beauty is another story. With its increase in popularity with clients and profitability with skin therapists, Brazilian Waxing is a highly requested service.

    Hair removal is not something new for women or men, and regardless of whether it’s a bikini wax or a Brazilian wax, both have had a long history. Research has shown evidence of pubic hair removal all the way back to 4000 to 3000 BC in ancient India, while Western women made it more common in 1945 when bathing suits became more abbreviated. Brazilian waxing is said to have become famous when it was introduced into the United States by the J. Sisters in 1987 at their Manhattan, New York salon.

    So why do clients request this below the belt beauty trend? Whether it’s for swim suit season, cleanliness, convenience or as an alternative to shaving, each client’s reason will vary as well as the amount of hair removal requested. A Brazilian wax by any other name, however, is not always the same. Many salons and spas have varying names for their bikini waxing services. Some examples are the American Wax, a simple basic bikini wax; French Wax, leaves a thin vertical strip in the front, and the Sphinx or the Hollywood, involves complete hair removal from front to back.

    As a senior instructor and skin therapist, I have worked with many professionals of all waxing levels in the industry. Waxing in general can invoke both intrigue about the service and anxiety in the results. Whether you are a seasoned skin therapist and have waxing experience, or a new therapist who may be intimidated by this intimate service, the focus remains the same for every single client – care, confidence and customer service.

    Taking care of your client before, during and after a waxing service is one of the main reasons for client loyalty. The consultation card is vitally important and should be completed and checked every time a client has a treatment. There are contraindications to waxing such as inflammation, infected skin, systemic diseases, diabetes and oral medications like Isotretinoin. When in doubt, do not wax.

    Consult with your clients about their level of pain threshold, personal comfort, and of course, what to expect during the Brazilian wax. Check with the client on how much hair is being removed. Are they going bare or just barely there? I also recommend discussing the positions for the service. This ensures the client is not surprised when asked to hold the skin taut or to move into a pose for better access to the buttock region. Prep the skin first with a soothing, antibacterial solution which is ideal for cleansing and sanitizing. Ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid, Licorice and Panthenol are perfect for providing naturally antiseptic soothing actions on the skin. Avoid alcohol based products that can pre-sensitize the skin.

    Before application, test the wax consistency and temperature on the inside of the wrist of yourself and the client. What feels mildly warm to you may feel hot to the client. Check in periodically with the client during the service about her comfort and levels of heat sensitivity as that can change during the service. After waxing products are needed to calm, soothe and hydrate the delicate tissue. Ingredients should be water soluble versus oil based as to not trap heat into the skin. Aloe Leaf Juice, Bisabolol, Oat Kernel (Avena Sativa) extract,and Red Hogweed can quickly alleviate sensitivity and calm redness and irritation.

    With Brazilian waxing, clients want to be sure that their most delicate area is in the hands of a professional. Training is key to waxing success and client satisfaction as well as technique and touch. Be sure to know how to use your wax confidently in both application and removal. So which wax should be used? There are three key factors to consider: area to be waxed, strength, and sensitivity level. Multiple waxes can be used in the same service. Soft or cream wax is perfect for larger areas and stripless wax (sometimes referred to as hard wax) is excellent for removing coarser hair in small sections. Stripless wax is often the best choice for those intimate areas since it is used at a low temperature. This wax literally shrink wraps the hair and is less irritating to the skin. Since it does not require a muslin or pellon strip, it is easier to see where the wax was placed and how it will come off.

    Customer Service
    The Brazilian wax service does not end once all the hair has been removed. Providing a home care checklist will help clients understand what they should or should not do following the waxing treatment. For the next 48 hours after the service, the client should avoid sun tanning and tanning beds, saunas, or swimming as well as intense exercise, sweating and tight clothing. Do recommend light exfoliation a few times a week in between the service to help prevent ingrown hairs. Discussing these details with the client and providing the proper education about products to use after waxing will help to maintain a healthy waxed skin and create the best results.

    Best of luck and remember – practice makes perfect!

  • Easy on the Eyes

    The skin around the eyes is some of the thinnest on the human body – about 0.5mm thick – or roughly the width of 5 sheets of paper. With every furrow, blink, and squint the delicate skin tissue around the eye area is constantly changing. Add to that the stretching and rubbing we induce, and it’s no wonder that the very first signs of aging, stress and sensitivity show up in this delicate eye area first. And this looks like puffiness, lines, sagging and dehydration.

    It’s no surprise that treatments targeting aging around the eye area represent one of the fastest-growing market segments in the skin care industry. Unfortunately, these advances have failed to meet the needs of one important segment of our clientele – those who have highly sensitive skin, yet wish to treat the signs of aging around the eye area. Many of the highly-active formulations are just too aggressive for individuals with heightened sensitivity and can actually trigger an inflammatory response. Ironically, chronic inflammation can lead to premature aging and these anti-aging products can actually cause more harm than good for those with sensitive skin.

    Look out for these ingredients to help reduce eye puffiness and firm skin without the irritating drawbacks.

    Hexapeptide-11: A peptide derived from Yeast, to help firm the skin, improve skin elasticity and improve fine lines.

    Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP): A stable form of Vitamin C preferred for sensitized skin clients, as the pH of the delivery system does not have to be low or acidic, which can be irritating.

    Carrot Oil: Oil enriched with antioxidant carotenoids and provitamin A, which can be converted into Vitamin A or Retinol in our skin. Vitamin A helps to boost cell renewal and reverse the signs of extrinsically aged skin.

    Red and Brown Seaweed: Soothing extracts that hydrate while protecting skin from collagen degrading enzymes.

    Golden Chamomile: An African plant rich in antioxidant polyphenols that also helps soothe irritated skin and strengthen capillaries.