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  • TLC for Sensitive Eyes

    Eyes Spring2The delicate eye area is taking quite a hammering at the moment not only from environmental challenges, which play havoc on our eyes. A common cause of redness and itchiness around the eyes is hay fever (allergic rhinitis), occurring mostly in spring and summer. Or it may be atopic dermatitis caused by the inhalation of allergens, such as pollen, dust or animal fur, which trigger inflammation.

    We’re also in the era of the ‘super lash’, just about every other person is wearing eye lash extensions or false lashes, or using eye growth serums—all of which can be quite irritating and sensitizing to the eyes.

    Here are some easy things that can be done to care for red, itchy eyes.

    1. Ensure makeup is removed thoroughly using a very gentle, fragrance and S.D. alcohol free eye makeup remover. It will need to be water soluble to ensure that all traces of the product and makeup is leaving no residue (perfect for the contact lens wearer). Choose one with the added benefit of built-in lash conditioners (Silk Amino Acids) that prevent lashes from becoming dry and brittle, as well as keeping the skin around the eye area soft, hydrated and smooth.

    2. To help alleviate dry eyes, place a few drops of artificial tear drop solution; or for red eyes, try some vasoconstrictive eye drops.

    3. When the eyes feel, red, puffy and irritated, place a cold compress or cooling eye packs over them for 5 to 10 minutes. A cooling, hydrating eye masque (kept cool in the fridge) can also be used around the eye area, underneath the compress.

    4. To alleviate the dry, itchy skin, apply a reparative and intensely nourishing protective eye cream (fragrance free) each evening. Key ingredients will include Vitamin A, C, E and Pro-Vitamin B5, as well as soothing botanicals such as Green Tea, Cucumber Arnica and Butcherbroom

    5. If the eye area is very dry and in need of a ‘super protector’, apply an anhydrous moisturizer that melts into the skin, repairs the natural barrier lipid layer and reduces irritation and dryness.

    6. Wear hypo allergenic makeup that has been screened of all known irritants.

    7. Lastly, we should all know the ultimate skin sin by now—never, ever go to bed with your makeup on!

    Ensure everything placed near or in the eyes is super clean. Makeup brushes need to be washed in an antibacterial cleanser monthly, contact lenses need to be changed regularly and always kept thoroughly clean.

    It’s also important to check eye makeup and eye care products; have they been shared with anyone who may have an eye infection? Could your products be rancid, or well past their use by date harboring fungi or bacteria? It’s not common knowledge among makeup users that mascara is only supposed to be used for two months before discarding, perhaps this is the cause of the eye sensitivity.

    As red, itchy eyes can also be a result of an eye infection, it’s important to seek medical advice from a doctor if symptoms do persist.

  • The Perfect Winter Skin Care Regimen

    As the colder days draw near and we look forward to crisp winter walks and cozy nights by the fire, our skin may indeed take a down turn. I for one have a skin that does not take well to the harsher climates and I have to switch to a different skin care regimen in order to come out the other side looking a little less than an over dried prune! While many of us experience itching, dryness and redness, the key change occurring at this time of year is a reduced barrier function in our skin. This leaves skin vulnerable to extreme sensitivity and redness that, if not checked, can result in permanently dilated capillaries and inflammation.

    So here are my top tips to share with clients, or to adopt in the treatment room, for the perfect winter skin regimen:

    • Cleansing the skin properly is the first step in strategic care. Alkaline soaps and hot water set sensitization into motion. Switch to an extremely gentle, sulfate-free, non-stripping gel or cream cleanser which will fortify the protective barrier function without leaving a residue. If you find that even water makes skin sensitive, use a cleanser that may be removed with tissue or a soft cloth. Ingredients to look for in this type of cleanser include Raspberry, soothing Cucumber, a rich source of phytochemicals (including Ellagic Acid that acts as an antioxidant) and Panthenol (Provitamin B5), which helps to regenerate tissues.

    • A spritz of calming spray is a perfect, day-long salve. The newest and most effective formulas now contain cocktails of not only anti-inflammatory agents such as Avena Sativa, but ingredients to fight neurogenic inflammation, such as Red Hogweed. Ginger and Bisabolol (derived from Chamomile), when combined, work synergistically to reduce inflammation-induced itch, redness and irritation. Combine this with Red Hogweed, which targets neurogenic inflammation by limiting the production of pro-inflammatory agents such as prostaglandins, and you have a complete system to target inflammation.

    • Chapped and sensitive skins that are fond of exfoliating may use an ultra-gentle exfoliant, only on the condition that the lipid barrier is not damaged. In this case, recommend an ultrafine product which delicately polishes fragile skin with microparticles of rice bran and rice enzymes. Also note that even conventional washcloths and towels can irritate sensitized skin; recommend a high-tech, microfiber sponge cloth for cleanser and masque removal.

    • Masques are especially helpful for winter skin since the prolonged effects of a calming and hydrating weekly treatment may deliver lasting results. Use after gentle exfoliation to either the whole face or on spot areas that require instant soothing. Key ingredients to look for include pharmaceutical grade Colloidal Oatmeal, Red Hogweed and Mushroom (Cordyceps Sinesis) extract that reduce short and long term inflammation and redness. Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris) and algae extracts also soothe irritation and provide a light film to reduce redness from ultraviolet (UV) exposure and chemical irritants.

    • A concentrated booster can be the needed “brakes” on runaway inflammation and barrier dysfunction. Look for serums containing the latest newcomer Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, a peptide that reduces discomfort and pain by lowering pro-inflammatory mediators in the skin that are associated with neurogenic inflammation. Also recommended: Portulaca Oleraca Extract Lipids, Sunflower Seed, Evening Primrose and Avocado Oils to reinforce the barrier lipid layer that keeps environmental chemicals from penetrating the skin.

    • Moisturizers and UV protection are also essential during winter to protect against dehydration and free radical damage. It may be necessary to switch to a richer formula as weather cools and central heating takes its toll. A medium-to-heavy weight product works best, to form a substantial layer of lipid barrier protection and humectant hydration around tenderized areas like cheeks, nostrils, or any other hot spots. Use a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical sunscreen if sensitivity is an issue.

    It is always wise to complete a thorough skin analysis and fresh consultation at the start of the winter season in order to provide sound advice on which products will help your customer not only survive the ravages of winter, but emerge with a hydrated and calm skin!

  • 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!

  • Holiday Season Skin Survival

    Heather HickmanI hate to be the one to break it to you, but only Rudolf can carry off the “red nose” look with any semblance of finesse. So, if your clients are suffering from glowing noses and rosy cheeks this winter, it’s time to provide a few home truths and crusade for party season skin survival.

    A good place to start is triggers and tripwires that may be the root cause of redness and sensitivity; here are a few main ones that you may come across this holiday season:

    christmas-party-champagne1. Alcohol

    Although we know it is not the cause of Rosacea or sensitivity, alcohol, especially in excess, dilates blood vessels, making a red face look redder. In a survey of 700 Rosacea suffers published in the “Rosacea Review,” certain alcoholic beverages saw a higher percentage of redness occur after consumption; these include beer, red wine, vodka and tequila… so maybe skip the shots? Also try turning down the “one for the road” (or “road soda” as they’re known in my circle) and alternate drinks with a tall glass of water. And don’t forget your designated driver!

    2. Diet

    If you pig out this season, remember that heavy meals put a strain on your system in general, especially your digestive system. This will result in a higher blood flow to the digestive system, and in turn, a higher residual blood flow to the face. Smaller meals spread throughout the day will help to avoid the strain. And remember: Simple Carbohydrates. Are. Not. Your. Friend! They enter the bloodstream quickly, causing hyperglycemia. This rapid influx of sugar into the bloodstream is a potent vasodilator.

    3. Smoking

    Strange things happen to some people at parties, a couple of glasses of wine and they’re outside having a sneaky cigarette giggling like teenagers… you know who you are! Smoking has so many adverse effects on the skin it’s hard to know where to start, but skin dehydration is one of them as well as the depletion of Vitamin C and how this affects collagen production, and of course collagen supports the capillaries. Find an alternative. Have a carrot, chew a matchstick, dance a holiday jig, just don’t do it! If you’re a committed smoker, it’s never too late to quit… New Years’ Resolution… pinky swear?

    Now before you start posting comments about me being the “Queen of the Party Poopers,” I’m not saying don’t have fun this holiday season—far from it—I’m just saying do it in MODERATION, your skin will thank you for it next year!

    Happy Holidays!

  • Taking Care With Sensitized Skin

    Bettina ZammertMore and more, people are suffering skin reactions and unpleasant feelings with itching, burning and redness – a particularly bad problem at the colder time of year! It is also a well-known fact that stress can not only cause physical problems such as tension, headache and stomach ache, it can even cause redness, itching and other skin reactions.

    Unfortunately, there are many factors that will unbalance the skin:

    • Inflammation, caused by the immune system or stress
    • Restrictions of the skin barrier
    • Genetic factors and hormones
    • Environmental factors such as air pollution, chemicals and foods.

    To ensure that skin care products cause no unpleasant surprises, a thorough skin analysis by a professional skin therapist is essential for effective care at home. Here are a few tips to help choose the right products:

    • Only use products that do not contain artificial dyes, colors or fragrances.
    • Support your skin’s lipid barrier and use a moisturizer with slightly higher lipid content, especially in the colder months.
    • Don’t forget to use physical sun protection. Suitable products contain Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide.

    Not only are the products themselves important, but so too is the “how” when it comes to caring for sensitive skin. “Less is more” is a good rule of thumb. “Less” refers to the amount of product being used – do not overload your skin with active ingredients and over-process it. Also, avoid mechanical irritations such as rough sponges, brushes and manual exfoliation, and ask your professional skin therapist which products, if any, you should use for acute outbreaks of neurodermatitis or eczema.

  • Sensitized Skin and Exfoliation? It’s Possible.

    We all love how our skin feels after it’s been exfoliated: smooth, brighter, revitalized and softened texture. However, for those with a more sensitized skin, caution and due diligence are required when choosing the correct exfoliating product, otherwise (as you would well know) the skin can respond by becoming irritated and red with increased sensitivity.

    People with sensitized skin must not think they a) can’t exfoliate their skin, and b) would not benefit from exfoliation; both would be untrue. There is a simple premise to follow when choosing the correct exfoliating product:

    1. Avoid all scrubs and forms of exfoliation that cause friction.
    2. Use non-friction exfoliants such as hydroxy acids or digestive enzymes. They work by breaking
    down/dissolving the structure of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin.
    3. Exfoliate less frequently; once or twice per week is normally sufficient.
    4. A fantastic alternative to an exfoliant, or to use in-between, would be to use a “microfoliant.” This is a much gentler option for sensitive skin. A microfoliant lightly and very gently polishes the skin surface with a base of Rice Bran Powder, because it is extremely gentle it can even be used daily (for those exfoliation junkies).
    5. Use products that contain lots of anti-inflammatories.
    6. Avoid exfoliants that contain artificial fragrance (a known skin sensitizer).

    There is a valid concern that too many people may be over-exfoliating their skin at home. Unfortunately, they tend to subscribe to the erroneous belief that “if a little is good, more must be better”. With repeated over-exfoliation, the inevitable result will be to diminish the skin’s natural barrier function, thereby contributing to a potentially sensitized skin condition and increased dehydration, so it is essential choose wisely when and how you plan to exfoliate your skin.

    People with sensitization should seek out exfoliants that contain the following ingredients:

    Salicylic Acid
    Salicylic Acid exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, making products containing the ingredient seem less irritating than Glycolic Acid, even though they are more powerful. The anti-inflammatory effects of Salicylic Acid make it a preferred option for people with sensitization and Rosacea.

    Phytic Acid
    Rice Bran has been used for thousands of years to relieve inflammation, cleanse and soften the skin. Rice Bran contains Phytic Acid, a B complex vitamin which aids in the natural exfoliation process. Gentle in nature, this is a great option for daily microfoliation. Phytic Acid is also terrific for brightening the skin, and increases its luminosity.

    Enzymes
    Enzymes are mild and gentle in nature, and they have the ability to digest and clean-up dead skin cells from the very surface layers of the skin without any aggression. Enzymes such as Papain, Bromelain and Bacillus Ferment are classified as proteases (protein digesting enzymes), which are another great option for sensitized skin.

    Urea Glycolysates INCI: Glucosamine HCL, Algae Extract, Yeast Extract and Urea
    State-of-the-art technology is using acid-free smoothing agents that enhance cell renewal and promote natural exfoliation without any irritation or flaking. Algae, Yeast, Glycosamine and Urea are not pH dependent as are hydroxy acid formulas. They activate epidermal and dermal cells and stimulate cell renewal and the production of Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen. They also provide an overall improvement to skin texture and firmness and are a great option for aging, sensitized skin. These ingredients can be found in exfoliating creams, masks, boosters and serums.

    With the professional skin industry having access to the latest ingredient technology and sophisticated formulators, there are some fantastic, results driven, therapeutic, exfoliating options for everyone suffering from skin sensitivity.