• Falling in Love Again

    Annet King

    Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been out and about sharing with the media, fellow skin therapists, undergraduates and our own incredible instructors. Throughout all of these interactions we have chatted about the magnificent organ that is the skin, the literal “handmade craft” that is skin care and the potent, emotional and physical connection we have through touch. All great stuff!  As a (somewhat bizarrely obsessed to some) Skin Therapist and Educator, I relish all that is skin – the challenges, the diversity of 35 beautiful shades of color, the countless anomalies that it can present, it goes on. There isn’t a wart, a cyst, café o’lait lentigo or crop of keratosis that I don’t get very excited about; in fact sometimes I have to stop myself from reaching out to have a quick feel of the skin of a complete stranger. Not advised while in the grocery checkout line.

    So while preoccupied with the day to day “business” of our profession of capturing and securing clients, prescribing pustule potions and tweeting about what we do, we might just start to treat the skin like our partners after 10 years of marriage and overlook all of its magical wonders.

    So beyond protecting us, regulating temperature and helping us to communicate, here are eight other reminders of why we love skin:

    • We’d evaporate into thin air without it.
    • Dead skin accounts for about a billion tons of dust in the atmosphere.
    • In 30 minutes, the average body gives off enough heat (combined) to bring a half gallon of water to boil.
    • The sense of touch is more sensitive among women than men because our fingers are smaller.
    • There are 2,500 nerve receptors per square centimeter in the human hand.
    • Goose bumps appear when it is cold or we experience a strong emotional reaction such as fear, nostalgia, pleasure, awe, admiration, or sexual arousal.
    • The most sensitive areas of your body are your hands, lips, face, neck, tongue, fingertips and feet.
    •  We can live without seeing or hearing—in fact, without any of our other senses. But babies born without effective nerve connections between skin and brain can fail to thrive and may even die.

    If you need some more inspiration and want to learn about some of the significant studies around touch and the impact of our work check out these two great resources:

    Skin Lover

  • What Effect Does a Summer Swim Have on Your Skin?

    Swimming pool

    As the temperatures rise in the northern hemisphere, off we head, swimsuit (and hopefully sunscreen) in hand, to the closest beach, pool or lake we can find. No harm in a quick dip right? Well, not exactly!

    An Ocean Swim

    Rich in trace elements and minerals, and with a composition not dissimilar to human blood plasma, seawater, arguably, has many unique healing properties for the skin. Many skin health benefits are specifically attributed to the Dead Sea, such as treatment for eczema, psoriasis and other extreme, dry skin conditions. Yet it is important to note that these benefits do not come from “salt” or sodium chloride, but from the high magnesium levels found in this body of water.

    Nonetheless, it’s not all good news. Salts in high quantities can be the skin-drying scourge of the summer flesh baring masses. Diluted salt is almost impossible to remove from the skin with lye based soap or non-foaming wash, so even after showering, traces of salt deposits may remain on the skin, absorbing essential moisture. Couple this with excessive sun exposure and you have a dehydrated skin with an impaired barrier function – never a great combination!

    A Day at the Pool

    Chlorine is a toxic chemical; it has been used in water systems to combat disease for over 100 years. It is a necessary component of swimming pools and hot tubs, due to its disinfectant qualities. Chlorine’s harsh composition strips the skin of its natural lipids, therefore exacerbating moisture loss in the skin that leads to dehydration. Showering immediately after exposure can help to reduce the moisture loss by ensuring the skin does not suffer prolonged contact.

    Another potential risk of chlorine exposure is skin irritation. While technically waterproof, our skin has the capacity to absorb chemicals from water sources. This means that low level exposure to chlorine, as found in swimming pools, can cause skin irritation in the form of contact dermatitis. Wetting the skin with non-chlorinated water prior to exposure can lessen the amount that can be absorbed and lower the risk of irritation.

    Now, let’s not even mention what chlorine does to your summer highlights! I’m on a one women crusade to bring swim caps back in vogue…who’s with me?

    And on that note, chlorine and salt deposits are not the only culprits of swimming related dehydration. Water itself (ironically) removes moisture from the skin, and need we talk ocean pollution?

    Proactive Post-Dip Tips

    Summer swim trips can still be fun; just share these post-dip skin steps with your clients to help them maintain a healthy, hydrated summer skin:

    • Shower as soon as possible after swimming – and don’t forget to reapply that sunscreen if staying outdoors.

    • Cleanse the skin with a foaming skin wash. Look for natural foaming agents such as Quillaja Saponaria and skin conditioners including Panthenol (Pro-vitamin B5), Lavender and Sandalwood.

    • Exfoliate. Recommend exfoliating products that have additional cleaning qualities to further aid in the removal of chemicals and salts. For the face, choose Rice Bran and Papain to gently slough away dry skin cells. For the body, choose mild abrasives such as Olive and Date Seed.

    • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Lock in hydration; repair the barrier function and calm irritation with Evening Primrose Oil, Vitamin E and Madecassoside.

    And why not introduce a post-bathing body wrap or chlorine combating skin treatment to your summer menu, your clients’ skin will thank you for it.

    Final tip about swimming this summer – don’t swallow the water! The effects of that could be a whole other blog!

  • Hydration is Key!

    Annet KingHydration: it’s something we all need. Whether you live in a warm climate or a cold one, you have dry skin or acneic, or you’re an athlete or an artist, your skin and body need water. Lack of hydration is often an underlying cause for many skin conditions, such as that stubborn oily skin that is somehow also dry. And drinking water alone is not enough for the skin. Skin is the last organ to receive nutrients that are consumed internally, and water is no exception, so it’s important to infuse the skin with hydrating ingredients on a daily basis to ensure adequate moisture levels at all times. For those celebrating the summer months, take these words of advice to keep that vital hydration in your skin:

    Keep Your Skin Hydrated
    Adjust your skincare regimen to provide more hydration to your skin in the summer months. Look for light moisturizers, serums or boosters, spritz toners and gel masques. Layer your products to build moisture instead of using one heavy or rich cream. You can spritz toner whenever you feel like it: at your desk, in the car, at the gym, on a plane. Products should feel light and absorb easily; they should never feel greasy or occlusive on your skin.

    Keep Your Whole Body Hydrated!
    Higher temperatures and more time outdoors lead to internal dehydration, resulting in headaches and dizzy spells! We need to consume at least eight 8-ounce glasses of plain, filtered water every day to maintain the critical moisture balance of the body and skin and to assist in detoxification. For every caffeinated drink you consume, you need to drink triple the amount of 8 ounce glasses of pure water. Consumption of more than eight alcoholic beverages per week will also contribute to skin dryness and body dehydration.

    Be sure to educate your clients about the importance of staying hydrated and using proper at-home care during the summer months. They, and their skin, will thank you.

  • What Exactly is a Sunburn?



    How many of you have ever experienced a sunburn? I’m guessing that almost all of us have, with an embarrassing blush! Yes, we know it’s wrong and we kick ourselves when we are wincing with pain as we try to dress. But maybe if we truly understood what is happening to our skins as we nonchalantly lay in the sun for that extra 10 minutes, we wouldn’t be so lax.

    What is a Sunburn?

    A sunburn is the skin’s response to extreme ultraviolet (UV) exposure and indicates severe damage. In as little as 10 minutes of intense UV exposure, the skin sets into motion a system of defense against this enemy. The first indication of damage is redness. This is the body’s inflammatory response in situations requiring repair and is a result of dilating blood vessels. The skin will then start to lose moisture and hydration, which will be apparent with a feeling of tightness. Slowly, skin cells will start to thicken and melanin pigment will be produced (tanning) in an attempt to stop the UV rays from penetrating through to the deeper layers and damaging the DNA of the cells. When the skin is exposed to high levels of sunlight this may result in hypo or hyperpigmentation which appears as irregular light or dark patches. The body is excellent at coping with minimal amounts of damage, but if exposure is greater than the body’s ability to repair and mop up, more serious consequences may result. If DNA is damaged and its repair mechanisms are inhibited, skin cancer may occur.

    Why Does the Skin Peel?

    Peeling after a sunburn is your body’s way of getting rid of the damaged cells that are at risk of “losing control” and becoming cancerous. Due to this danger, all damaged cells are instructed to self destruct by repair mechanisms within these cells. This mass destruction of cells results in whole layers of damaged skin peeling off, to be replaced by other cells underneath those layers.

    I Have a Sunburn, What Should I Do Now?

    First of all, you should take care of the cause of your problem: get out of the sun immediately. Drink plenty of water as you may be dehydrated. If skin is severely blistered, seek help from a medical practitioner. Otherwise it is important to take down the inflammation and try to reduce damage to the deeper layers of your skin.

    Take a cool bath (no products added) and then blot skin dry. Avoid greasy creams, which prevent the skin from cooling and may make the situation worse. Rather, apply generously a soothing after-sun gel to red areas and then stay out of the sun and the heat. Look for ingredients such as Clove, Licorice, Lavender, Cucumber and Yucca to reduce irritation, pain and redness. Also look out for an incredible ingredient called Japanese Alder to accelerate the repair of UV induced DNA damage. Couple this with ingredients such as Algae and Hyaluronic Acid to rehydrate the skin and you should be well on your way to a calmer skin.

    And no, it is not then ok to go out into the sun the next day for another blast! Remember, your skin is still trying to heal and so must be kept out of direct sunlight for a good few days. Keep in mind, the skin is a great record keeper and even with a great after-sun product, irreparable damage may have occurred in the form of premature aging or skin cancer that may only reveal itself later. Think twice next time you decide “just another ten minutes;” your immune system is listening!

  • Traveling Skin

    Sometimes we fly for work and sometimes for pleasure. Whatever the reason, there’s no escaping the fact that the price of flying is not only on the purse strings but also on your skin and body. When in a plane, you can be sat (in a long metal tube) for hours and hours, literally having the moisture sucked out of your body. You know the symptoms: your eyes start to get itchy, red and puffy, and your skin feels dry and irritated.

    What Can You Do to Save Your Skin?
    Pre and post flight, give your skin some extra attention. If possible, visit a skin therapist for a thorough cleanse, an exfoliation treatment, a hydrating serum and a moisture rich masque. In addition to that, treat your skin at home with a hydrating booster each morning followed by a spritz of toner, sealed in with a moisturizer. At night, use a light microfoliation skin polish, followed by a vitamin concentrate, a vitamin eye cream, a super charged moisturizer and, very importantly, a lip complex, as the lips take a real bashing on a long flight. During the week prior to the flight remember to exfoliate, use a multivitamin masque for the face and neck, and apply a hydrating eye masque.

    If possible, during your flight follow these steps to keep skin hydrated and nourished, which you can repeat post flight:

    • Apply a hydrating spritz toner (alcohol and fragrance free), and/or a hydrating booster (key ingredient to look for is Hyaluronic Acid, it can hold 1,000 times its own weight in moisture).
    • Apply a lipid-based multivitamin complex. This concentrated dose of Vitamin A, C, and E will defend the skin against environmental stress.
    • If you are dry or have an impaired barrier function, spread a layer of therapeutic balm, which is designed to protect the skin from climate changes.
    • Layer on a silicone-based (anhydrous/water free) moisturizing gel, which will form a silky, protective barrier over the skin surface (including the eye area), helping to prevent moisture loss.
    • Apply a long lasting therapeutic balm or reparative lip treatment every few hours, especially after eating or drinking.
    • Look after your hands and your nails with a hydrating vitamin therapy hand cream. For the nails you can use some of the vitamin complex capsule you used for your face to protect the nails from splitting.

    What Else Can I do to Help My Skin?
    Before flying, be sure to drink lots of water or herbal tea (caffeine free) to hydrate, and only eat a light meal with easily digestible foods, fruit and vegetables.

    On a short flight you can get away with wearing make-up but on a long haul, your skin needs to be make-up free. The average moisture hydration level on a plane is only 10%, so it’s vital to keep your skin’s moisture levels as high as possible. Throughout your flight, freshen your skin and supplement the moisture with a fine mist of toner.

    If the skin looks tired after a flight, apply a moisturizer that contains optical illuminators. This will provide luminosity to the skin by reflecting, light thus diminishing the appearance of fine lines.

    While you’re away don’t give your skin care routine a holiday by omitting it, remember it won’t be long before you have to hop back on the plane and fly home and no one enjoys looking like a dried prune!