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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.

  • 4 Tips to Maximize the Benefits of Retinoids

    The press is full of the virtues of using retinoids. And rightly so. The scientific data definitely validates them as probably the defining ingredient option of the decade for aging skin concerns. If your clients are using retinoid-based products prescribed by their dermatologist, or recommended by you as a professional skin therapist, it is worth sharing these important tips with them to yield the best results that retinoids can deliver.

    1. Use your retinoid product at night

    Unfortunately Vitamin A ingredients, such as Retinol, are not photo-stable. This means they degrade, or break down, in the presence of ultraviolet light. Not only can this reduce the benefit they will have on your skin, but can increase the free radical load, making skin more sensitive and reactive. So it’s essential to apply after dark and allow the retinoid to work its magic while you sleep.

    2. Introduce the retinoid gradually

    As we age retinoid receptors decline in the skin. But this can be remedied by using the dilutions recommended and building your skin’s tolerance. By applying gradually, you can build up the receptors and you will feel less ‘bite’ or sensitivity as you progress. Applying too much retinoid too quickly risks a dermatitis response that will leave skin very irritated. Use an accompanying buffer cream or your moisturizer to provide a dilution medium.

    3. Moisturize well

    It is not uncommon for skin to experience tightness, dryness or become flaky with retinoid use. The increased rate of skin renewal and desquamation initially causes the Stratum Corneum to thin, although this condition will improve over several weeks. The implications of this are increased dehydration and sensitivity that can make you quite uncomfortable in your own skin. Using a slightly heavier weight moisturizer will compensate for this water loss and ease discomfort, seek your professional skin therapist for a proper prescription.

    4. Always use SPF daily

    While there is a degree of debate on the specific mechanisms of increased photosensitivity with retinoid use, the skin will definitely be more vulnerable to ultraviolet exposure. Don’t worry about the debate, be safe and apply a minimum SPF30 daily and preferably an SPF50. Stop your retinoid at least two weeks before venturing on a sunshine holiday or you will burn faster and be at greater risk of hyperpigmentation issues.

    Taking sensible precautions will ensure you get the best out of your product and maintain your skin health, all while achieving fantastic results.

     

    Related blog posts:

    Is Microencapsulated Retinol Better Than Ordinary Retinol?

    Dr. Diana on the Benefits of Retinol

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Stressed Super Hero?

    So Mum, what have you been doing recently? If you’re the modern working Mum, you’ve been managing the children’s holiday, chauffeuring your kids from party to party and 101 sporting activities, doing the household chores, dealing with the daily pressures of work, and managing a relationship with your spouse. Is your super hero uniform getting a little ragged around the edges?

    Interestingly there is a new field of medicine called Psychodermatology, which focuses on the complexities of the mind-skin connection and the skin problems that are associated with or worsened by stress.

    Stress causes a chemical reaction in the body, making the skin more sensitive and reactive. It produces cortisol and other hormones, which trigger your sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. This can result in an increase of breakouts. Stress also impedes skin healing. Stress exacerbates psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation and skin irritation. Sadly, this results in a compounding effect on our stress levels, because when our skin isn’t great, it has a negative impact on our psyche!

    If you or your clients are struggling with the work life balance, it’s time for a “super hero intervention,” with some much needed stress management techniques.

    For stressed skin, the answer is to receive a prescriptive, professional skin treatment – a solution based treatment that not only addresses the effects that the client’s stress is having on the skin (acne, pigmentation, sensitization, dehydration, etc.), but that also incorporates stress reduction touch therapies such as scalp massage, pressure point face massage and stress relief back massage. All of this will help melt away the tension associated with stress.

    Product choice at this time is essential (think calming). Select products and treatments that addresses the neurogenic and immunogenic inflammation associated with stress. Look for these calming ingredients when treating the stressed client:

    Boerhavia Diffusa (Red Hogweed) Root extract: targets neurogenic inflammation.
    Oat Avenanthramides: anti-irritant and anti-redness properties, inhibits histamine release.
    Ginger and Bisabolol: act synergistically to reduce inflammation-induced itch, redness and irritation.
    Anti-inflammatory extracts: Cucumber, Echinacea, Wheat Germ Extract, Comfrey, Raspberry, Grape Extract, Allantoin, Panthenol, Vitamin E, Bisabolol.

    You can also offer or suggest these types of treatments for the body:

    • Swedish/remedial /aromatherapy/stress reduction massage
    • Body wraps
    • Hot stone
    • Reflexology
    • Spa water and heat therapies

    And while you’re at it, create a “super hero pressure pack” for everyday use with these therapies:

    Bach flower remedies:
    • Rescue remedy
    • Impatiens
    • Hornbeam
    • Larch

    Herbal supplements:
    • Gingko Extract
    • St John’s Wort
    • B group Vitamins
    • Magnesium
    • Niacinamide
    • Folic Acid
    • Tranquility teas

    As skin therapists we often give, but seldom do we receive, so don’t forget your “me time” too! An aromatherapy or mineral salt bath, combined with your favorite hobby such as reading, walking, exercise or seeing friends, will help relieve tension and stress levels. So advise your clients to receive these amazing treatments, but be sure to book yourself in too!

  • IDI International Congress: Shed the Red

    Dr Claudia AguirreI had the pleasure of heading over to Scandinavia this fall to present an IDI congress on all things red…that is, inflammation and some of the diseases associated with it. Covering Sweden, Finland and Norway, I spoke about sensitive skin, eczema, rosacea and the inflammatory process. We had such a great turn-out at all locations and the students were amazing. Not to mention, I got to experience Sweden’s medieval Gamla Stan, Norwegian fjords and a traditional Finnish sauna!

    Everyone was so welcoming and eager to learn more! What a great market. I hope to visit back soon and continue to help IDI provide the best education a skin care therapist could ask for.

  • 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.

  • Treating Sensitized Eyes

    Sharon MaxwellThey say that the eyes are the window to the soul. Why does the eye reveal so much? The eye is directly connected to the brain via the optic nerve, and it will tell the condition of the nervous system and the brain. When the nervous system or brain have been injured, the eye changes, loses clarity and alertness, and it even loses its ability to see.

    The skin around the eyes tells a story of how we have lived our life. Too much sun, smoking and stress will leave telltale signs such as sagging, bagging and wrinkles. The skin around the eyes is ten times thinner than on the face, and it is therefore more delicate and susceptible to damage. Avoid tugging the delicate tissue, be gentle, and wear something as simple as sunscreen and sunglasses to protect the area. There are fewer sebaceous glands around the eyes than the rest of the face, so to combat dehydration, it is important to use an ultra-rich cream of replenishing phytonutrients, antioxidant vitamins and soothing botanicals to help diminish those fine dry lines.

    Eyes really carry the strain of everyday living, beginning their work as soon as we are awake, and only relaxing when we are asleep. The orbicularis oculi muscle surrounding the eye is responsible for narrowing the eye to frown and squint and closing the eye to wink. It is a very overworked muscle and the one that is underlying ‘crow’s feet, the lines that appear on the outside corner of the eye.

    Eye Relaxation Technique
    Try massaging the eye area with a simple movement that leaves the eyes feeling lighter and brighter. This brings such a welcome relief to tired, sensitive eyes! Working both eyes, grasp the eyebrow between your thumb and middle finger, moving in the direction of the inner eye to the outer eye area. Then work under the eye, outside to inside with small circular movements using your middle finger. Apply pressure to finish on the sinus point under inside brow line (bladder 2 pressure point). Your clients’ tired, sensitized eyes will soon brighten!

  • 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.