SkinSense Wellness Blog
Read on to learn about the latest news and tips to stay healthy, happy and ageless. We scour our trade journals and consult with many other health professionals to make sure the advice and recommendations we make are safe and beneficial. If there are any topics you would like to hear about, please let us know.
Here’s how nighttime is the right time for the skin to reboot, repair and refresh
By day, the body protects itself; by night, the body repairs itself. As aesthetic professionals we are constantly reminding our clients about the importance of their before-bed skincare ritual to piggyback onto this physiological phenomena.
So what exactly does the skin get up to when we are out cold in the Land of Nod (or as we British compatriots like to say, “Off to Bedfordshire”)?
Keeping the Beat
The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that regulates the bodies of all living creatures. In humans, it is often referred to as the ‘body clock’, for it tells us when to sleep, rise, eat, regulating many physiological processes. When we find ourselves getting hungry or sleepy at the same time each day, that’s the circadian rhythm at work.
Everyone has a slightly different circadian rhythm – hence Larks (morning people) and Owls (night people) – but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. Back in 1981, Charles Czeisler, MD, PhD, FRCP of Harvard Medical School showed that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment. This means that those who are most comfortable staying up late have naturally longer circadian rhythms than those who prefer to jump out of bed at the crack of dawn.
Generally, left to their own devices (that is, with no caffeine, party drugs, adrenaline or undue stress interrupting things), our bodies’ circadian sleep mode pattern kicks in around 9:00 pm.
Researchers also know that melatonin, the sleep hormone that protects the skin from pollution and sun damage during the day, begins to activate about this time signaling that it is time to wind down.
Then later as we sleep, serious skin revival and repair processes really kick in including increased production of HGH, the human growth hormone that helps all tissue repair and regenerate, as well as enhanced cell turnover.
So how can we as skincare professionals design our client’s nighttime skin care regime to capitalize on all this activity and ensure that the skin is refreshed and restored by morning?
Start by advising your clients on a few strategies and remember to remind them to treat their neck and décolletage at the same time.
• Leverage the 9 p.m. skin receptivity window: According to Anna Persaud, CEO at This Works, a skincare company based in the UK that pays particular attention to circadian rhythms and how they affect the skin, “The mid-evening phase, around 9 p.m., is when the skin is most able to absorb topical treatments and DNA repair is boosted.” So, even if your client doesn’t generally go to sleep until midnight, if she’s in for the evening, advise her to perform her abolitions at this time.
• Remove, rinse and repeat: Double cleansing at night is an absolute necessity no matter where you live because of today’s polluted atmosphere. Using two types of cleanser has become popular for good reason. Applying an oil-based product or micellar water first to gently remove make-up, followed by a deep pore cleanser that can be washed off, is an efficient way to make absolutely sure the skin is scrupulously clean. This is essential if your client uses mineral based cosmetics – which I love and recommend – but have found they can adhere to the skin more than conventional formulations.
• Exfoliate as needed: Adding an exfoliating product or mechanical cleansing brush (like a Clarisonic) to the routine is also very helpful; two to three times a week for sensitive skin and more often for normal. For those with super-sensitive or rosacea-prone skin, I recommend avoiding exfoliating directly around the nostrils as this area tends to redden and flair. Just make sure the client keeps the brushes properly cleaned after each use and changed on a regular basis.
• Don’t forget to tone: I always recommend toning after cleansing to make sure not a scrap of anything remains on the skin and to restore the pH. Toning can also add a little extra hydration for those with extra dry skin.
Aesthetician’s Tool Box
Figuring out what products to recommend is where your skill and experience come to the fore. Each client is individual, of course, with skin that responds differently to products and ingredients. Here are my favorite ones that enhance the skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself.
• Retinol to boost collagen production and speed cell renewal. Well reputed to aid in exfoliation, topical retinol products can be sensitizing so advise your clients when first starting with this to use once or twice a week initially to build up the skin’s tolerance.
• Antioxidants to fight free radical damage. Our bodies naturally contain antioxidants that neutralize free radicals in enzymes like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase. There are also smaller non-enzymatic antioxidants like vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) and glutathione. However, these natural mechanisms can become overwhelmed if too many free radicals are present, which is where the idea of topping up with antioxidant-containing products comes in. Great options to boost stability include Vitamins C and E, ferulic acid, green tea, lutein, lycophene, and resveratrol.
• Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) to boost the skin’s ability to fight pollution from the outside and counteract daily stress from the inside.
• Peptides to promote collagen production. Composed of amino acids, peptides form a vital part of the skin’s biological signaling mechanism. They carry information to the cells and stimulate fibroblast activity. In serum form, Matrixyl 3000, argiriline and pentapeptides are three options that have proved most effective.
• Stem cells to speed cellular repair. The advantage of plant-derived stem cells is that they are unspecialized or meristematic, until they receive a signal from the host plant to differentiate or change. Meristematic cells are generated from a defense response from the plant when it is cut. The responding callus contains stem cells that are now neutral. As they carry the entire DNA gene expression of the plant, they can turn themselves into any particular cell that is needed to heal or regenerate. At this stage these cells are cultured in the laboratory, become a usable active ingredient that eventually, when applied topically can protect against free radical damage caused by pollution, UV exposure, inflammation and photoaging. And the results can be dramatic. Smoother, toned skin with improved elasticity and firmness. Green apple, edelweiss, gardenia, sea fennel, grape and lilac are all great options.
• ATP to support cell metabolism. Known as the “energy currency of life”, adenosine tri-phosphate is a coenzyme that stores energy and improves microcirculation while restoring suppleness, radiance and firmness to the skin.
• Hyaluronic acid and ceramides to fortify the lipid barrier. While we are sleeping, the skin becomes more permeable and consequently is more receptive to all these fabulous ingredients above. This is obviously a good thing. However, the downside is that it works both ways. Permeable skin can easily become dehydrated through loss of moisture particularly in dryer, hotter or especially chilly climates where one sleeps with the air conditioner or heater on all night. Hyaluronic acid and ceramides are both natural components in human skin and are compatible with every complexion type needing a boost in the hydration department.
Getting enough sleep is a challenge for many of us these days and your clients will appreciate your suggestions. I recommend printing this list off to hand out to them on their spa visits.
• Expose yourself to lots of bright, natural light during the day. Getting outside each day, even if it’s a quick 20-minute walk, will boost ability to sleep at night as well as your lift your mood and alertness.
• Set regular bed and wake times whenever possible.
• Avoid hot baths just before bed.
Contrary to popular belief, a steaming bath can interfere with sleep by heating up the body’s core temperature. At bedtime you want to cool down. If you love that scalding soak in the tub, make sure you have it at least one hour before getting under the sheets.
• Keep your bedroom screen-free.
This is a hard one for many of us, but banishing the laptop, TV and mobile phones is one of the best things any of can do for our skin, our health and our stress levels. Exposure to the blue light these devices emit can inhibit the release of melatonin dramatically. If you can avoid looking at bright screens one to two hours before bedtime, the difference in both your skin and your mood will be dramatic.
• Sleep on your back if you can manage it.
Lines, wrinkles and puffiness literally get pressed into faces that sleep smashed into a pillow.
• Slip on a silk pillowcase.
While sleeping on our backs is better for us, for many it’s just not doable. So to avoid those deep creases and puffy eyes, a silk pillowcase can help. These are also great for the man in your life to help prevent ingrown hairs.
• Use lavender or chamomile pillow sprays.
This lovely touch can be very effective to help you fall asleep more quickly. Inhaling the aromas with a deep breathing exercise for just a few minutes quiets the mind and allows you to slip into a deep restful slumber.
• Careful with the alcohol.
Alcohol can interfere with a good night’s rest so have that glass of wine earlier in the evening. A glass of water before bedtime will also help to keep the skin hydrated while you sleep and nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, add oil and therefore moisture to the body and skin.
• Enjoy a light snack before bedtime.
This one is from the inestimable Anna Persaud who says, “Go for foods rich in tryptophan like turkey, chicken, pumpkin seeds and bananas.”
I cannot underestimate the importance of putting nighttime to work for maximum skin health and beauty. When a client is compliant, that’s when the results can be really remarkable. A motivated client recognizes that she is in a partnership with us, the aesthetician, to bring out the best in her skin. We know that what they do for their skin every day – and every night – is as important as what we do for them once a month when they visit us in the salon. Clearly, it makes all the difference in the world.
What is an LED?
You may well ask how light treatments can actually benefit the skin. I am talking about the LEDs (light emitting diodes) that seem to be popping up everywhere. Truthfully, it took me a while to be assured of the benefits. However, at SkinSense we have found that both blue light and infrared light therapy can be really effective at treating acne, eczema, rosacea and even aging.
Blue light therapy kills the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P acnes, which is found in the sebum and oil glands of the skin. These bacteria can cause inflammation and breakouts on the skin surface. The good news is that P acnes is sensitive to blue light and can actually be eliminated with this kind of therapy. Coupled with proper cleansing and treatment regimens the blue light offers a safe alternative to antibiotics and harsh topicals.
Red light therapy has a different function to blue light. It can speed wound healing and stimulate collagen production, promote firmness and improve skin texture. Additionally, red and blue light treatments can be used together on acne conditions to heal the skin, diminish scarring and reduce inflammation.
At SkinSense we have been using the hand held units during our facial treatments to great effect and have also been retailing them to many clients for home use. It is great to have a zit zapper that can get rid of pimples and breakouts at your fingertips! We have also found that by using the blue light at home, clients are less tempted to pick their skin because the breakouts clear up quickly and don’t leave a mark. It only takes minutes a day to treat each area.
Light therapy is painless, non-invasive and requires no recovery time. Both red and blue lights can be used on all skin conditions and ages and has no side effects. So on your next spa visit ask about our LED treatments and maybe consider adding a hand held unit to your skincare routine at home.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-increasing demands of life. We all experience varying levels at different times and in many situations. Under these circumstances the brain’s hard-wiring system kicks in. When it perceives a threat, the brain signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the “fight-or-flight” response and is a normal bodily reaction that is meant to protect us. However, because we now live in a world of nonstop stress most of the time, our alarm systems rarely shuts off!
Without stress management and over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems including a myriad of skin issues.
Hormones, neuropeptides and other signaling molecules released during stressful times may be second only to sunlight in aging the skin. And the really bad news? Women are more prone than men. That means wrinkling, loss of tone and increased levels of sensitivity, particularly as we age.
Additionally, proteins and DNA in the epidermis and dermis are broken down by prolonged periods of stress and this in turn can cause acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema and hives.
Feeling bad about the way we look makes us less social and more isolated. This aloneness diminishes the production of Oxytocin, the bonding hormone.
What to do?
It is unrealistic to imagine we can ever live a stress free life but we can commit to developing coping skills that maintain balance, even at the worst of life’s moments.
Here are some of my favorites:
Getting outdoors and in touch with nature. Hiking, gardening, sitting on a park bench all reconnect us with our natural surroundings.
Breathing deeply and meditating. Not just when we are really stressed but at regular times throughout the day.
Disconnecting from social media for a day or if that sounds unimaginable, half a day!
Changing your mindset. When a challenge presents itself, think of it as an opportunity for personal growth.
Have a supportive tribe so you don’t waste time with negative or toxic people.
Sweat out tension with a workout.
Curl up with a good book.
Watch a comedy.
Play with a pet.
And of course, my favorite, get a massage and a regular facial at SkinSense.
Confucius once claimed: “True quality of life comes from lasting harmony between body and mind.” This is a goal worth aiming for.
A life without humor is no joking matter. We all love a good laugh and the feeling it gives us – and there is a reason – there are true health benefits to a good giggle or hearty chuckle that can be essential to our well-being. UCLA Medical School established a Humor Research Task Force after Norman Cousins managed his pain with laughter therapy and now there is actually an American Association of Therapeutic Humor. Babies begin to smile within the first few weeks of life and laugh out loud within months of being born. Children laugh on average 200 times a day whereas adults only 26 times daily. Experts recommend that we get a good 15 minutes of deep belly laughter every day and here’s why.
Laughter attracts us to one another and in turn makes us more attractive and sociable. Think of the feeling you get from telling a good joke and having people respond favorably.
Laughter is relaxing and relieves stress, tension, pain and conflict and inspires hope. It triggers the release of happy hormones – endorphins that activate the body’s opiate receptors causing an analgesic, calming effect. It also allows us to let go of inhibitions and defensiveness and as a result we feel more connected to each other. It can improve heart health and even help with weight loss.
Laughter can balance cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure too. This hormonal steroid produced in the adrenals helps us cope with stress but when over produced can make us susceptible to illness, weaken our immune systems, and interrupt our sleep.
So let’s consider ways to get a good dose of daily laughter.
Be social with fun people who don’t dwell on the negative.
Smile a lot.
Be prepared to laugh at yourself. It can shift your perspective and very often offer a solution where there was a problem.
Find a good comedy or sitcom and watch with friends.
Try laughter yoga.
The message here is laugh lots and live longer. Exercising those facial muscles regularly will also make you appear more youthful.
As Victor Hugo wisely quoted: “ Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”
The power of scent can make you feel something. It can remind you of places, people, your favorite food experiences and beyond that, can change your mood completely. Smell begins in the olfactory region behind the bridge of the nose. It is connected to the limbic system in the brain which has a very potent sense of recall that can trigger memories from way back!
And talking of way back, essential oils have been used for centuries. There are all kinds of references about kings, queens, lords and ladies all the way down to peasant folk using oils and herbs on a daily basis to fragrance themselves, their homes and to keep themselves healthy. Even Sir Walter Raleigh used a strawberry and rose cologne every day!
It has recently been discovered that Alzheimer patients lose their sense of smell as their memories diminish and for the record, women have a stronger sense of smell than men. So how to harness this extraordinary power?
There are many ways to incorporate essential oils into your daily life. Most oils are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory. We use grapeseed oil as a base at SkinSense and sometimes evening primrose oil if the skin is very dry.
In the home:
With these cooler evenings, add aroma to your fireplace by applying ten to twelve drops of essential oil to a dry log. Let the oil permeate the wood for at least a couple of days before burning.
Refresh the air by adding twenty drops of your favorite oil to a small spray bottle filled with water. Shake before use and spray as desired. This natural air freshener won’t irritate your sinuses.
Relax your mind at the end of the day with Chamomile, Lavender, Bergamot or Cedar wood in your bath water or a diffuser. And talking of diffusers, they also help in the kitchen too, and pretty much every room in the house.
A diffuser on the desk containing a blend of spearmint, rosemary and lavender will keep you alert, able to concentrate on the most challenging of tasks.
And while commuting, lemongrass and sage can keep you alert and safe. Dab a few drops on a Kleenex or on your wrists or temples.
Always include an essential oil with any massage you receive – the citrus oils are mood enhancing and of course, lavender is super relaxing. Ylang-ylang and jasmine add a romantic touch.
For meditation, combine frankincense, cedarwood and geranium.
To sooth a headache use peppermint, chamomile and lavender.
To hydrate dry skin, use a blend of rose and geranium and apply under your night crème.
Finally, with the holidays around the corner, take a blend of lavender and tea tree on board when you fly and dab a little under each nostril. It will keep those winter germs at bay!
Essential oils are curative of mind, body and spirit so inhale deeply and stay calm in these challenging times!
If you want healthy skin, the best place to start is with a healthy lifestyle and an excellent skin care routine. Nutritious food, adequate sleep, regular facials and good quality skincare products are the building blocks for maintaining a glowing complexion that gets noticed. However, there is one often-overlooked factor in skin care that might be affecting the health of your skin—pollution.
Like it or not, pollution is a fact of modern life. When we talk about heavy pollution, many Asian cities come to mind. We have all seen images of people wearing masks to work every day in Beijing, Tokyo and Delhi. But the effects of toxic air are also being seen in many ways in western cities, like Paris, New York and London.
Closer to home, with the heat upon us in Los Angeles, the smog has returned and unfortunately, the fires. Plus, here in the southern part of California, we did not get the rain we anticipated earlier in the year, and that has added to the level of unfriendly particulates in the air. This toxicity is having a very detrimental effect on the quality of our lives here and worldwide.
The Bad News: The real culprits?
Traffic pollution is particularly bad for the skin. Tiny particles called PMs that contain nitrogen dioxide and other harmful chemicals have now been linked to cancer, wrinkles and aging. It has also been discovered that these particles can actually penetrate into the skin, stimulating the melanocytes which then produce an overabundance of pigment and brown spots. Additionally, there is evidence that toxins can increase the production of extra blood vessels which cause redness, irritation and rosacea. One final point to take into consideration is that pollution can actually heighten the intensity of UV light and cause even more damage to the skin tissue. Never have SPF’s and EPF’s been so important.
The Good News: What to do?
On the bright side, modern technology is not only helping us understand these issues but is coming up with some protective measures and great products we can use to neutralize the damage without all of us having to wear biohazard suits every time we step outside.
We need to get back to beauty basics in a serious way and that means paying great attention to our night-time rituals as well as our morning routine.
Double cleansing at night is now an absolute necessity in today’s polluted environment. A deep pore cleanser will remove the grime that builds on our skin during the day. Using two types of cleanser – an oil or cream based product before the deep pore formula – can ensure that every scrap of make-up is wiped off. This is very important if you are using mineral based make-up – which I love – but it can adhere to the skin more than traditional formulations.
Whatever routine you chose, make sure it is thorough. Adding a Clarisonic brush to your cleansing routine is very helpful. For sensitive skins I would recommend only 2-3 times a week; less sensitive, once a day. And I am a huge proponent of following with a toner. Toners re-establish the pH of the skin and prepare the way for hydration and treatment products. Night-time cremes and serums should be an area where you invest more time and money. Alternating products that contain Retin-A, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, peptides, ceramides, stem cells and AHA’s really makes a difference to how the skin ages but don’t overdue the exfoliating. We need to protect our skin barrier as much as possible these days and being over aggressive can create vulnerability to the environment. This is an area where your aesthetician can advise you and work out a routine that gets the best results.
Add Niacinamide – vitamin B3 – to your EPF ingredient list ( environmental protection factor.)
Switch to mineral cosmetics on top of your SPF to add an extra veil of protection during the day.
Use an air purifier at night to reduce indoor air pollution.
Change pillow cases at least twice weekly.
Continuing research will provide more ways to protect us from the damaging effects of pollution but taking steps now will make a big difference to how healthy our skin will be as we age.
After working out, shower immediately. Cleanse the face and apply a hydrating sunscreen before leaving the gym. Running errands straight away without doing this causes breakouts and irritation.Clients prone to back breakouts should bring a clean t-shirt to change into.
Always cleanse your skin in the morning. During the night your skin goes to work repairing itself and absorbing the treatment products you have applied before bed. And there is such a thing as indoor pollution that can be equally as unhealthy as outdoor. So a gentle cleanse in the morning gets rid of any residue and gives you a fresh start.
Never go to sleep without cleansing off the day’s make-up and pollution. According to the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, every night you don’t cleanse your skin, you age three days more quickly. And yes, I am trying to scare you into the bathroom!
Always exercise before a facial – working out afterwards can cause additional break-outs.
Wipe off your cell phone several times a day. It attracts dirt and make-up that can cause clogging. Have a special holder for your phone so that it stays cleaner and is easier to find.
Always wash your hands before cleansing your face.
Tools to Help:
Carry travel sizes of cleanser, toner and moisturizer/SPF in your gym bag and a clean t-shirt.
Store wipes in your bag to keep your cell phone clean. Hand sanitizers can work too.
Use ear buds whenever possible.
As we all know, oxygen is essential for life. It makes up about 20% of the air we breathe, depending on where we live. But it is important when discussing skincare treatments to differentiate between oxygen entering the body through respiration versus the benefits of topically applied oxygen. When applied in too large amounts to the skin, oxygen can have a detrimental effect and produce free radicals.
However, at SkinSense we use a controlled and measured delivery system that enhances penetration without forming free radicals.
This solid state oxygen treatment uses no hydrogen peroxide or gas wands and all the activity is generated by enzyme action which suits a variety of skin conditions.
Here are the main benefits:
Stimulates collagen production by increasing cellular activity. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.Calms rosacea and acne by reducing bacteria levels on the skin surface.
Ideal for deep cleansing clogged, congested and acneic conditons.
Speeds recovery after laser treatments, peels and microdermabrasion.
Facilitates the absorption of active ingredients applied after treatment.
Tightens the skin surface and leaves the complexion glowing and refreshed.
Oxygen can be performed as regularly as once a week, but results are evident after just one treatment. In other words oxygen facials are the perfect tool to combat the pollution and stress of city life and provide all of us a welcome opportunity to have a continually healthy, glowing complexion.
Today we have some great tools available to tackle the aging process on both the top and in the deeper layers of the skin – all in one session.
At SkinSense, microcurrent has become a very popular electrical protocol that we offer to all our clients interested in keeping the skin firm, toned and youthful. Originally used in the medical field to treat stroke victims, Bells Palsy and for pain relief of injured muscles and tendons, we perform microcurrent as a stand-alone treatment or as an add-on to other facial protocols.
Here are the main benefits:
Tightening – the low-level electricity combines with our bodies’ own electrical impulses to trigger movement – rather like taking your skin to the gym for an exercise session.
Glucose production – microcurrent can also trigger a chemical reaction at a cellular level that enhances the production of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) by almost 500%. This is the fuel that energizes all cellular activity in the body and is essential to cellular health.
Microcurrent has a very calming effect on Rosacea and skin which tends toward redness and irritation.
It can also soften scar tissue, improve circulation and get rid of puffiness by stimulating lymph flow which clams environmental sensitivity and allergies.
Topically, AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) can be naturally derived but in skin care today are mostly synthetically produced. The most popular AHA’s are Lactic and Glycolic acids and we also use Mandelic acid at SkinSense.
The main benefits are:
Treatment of sun damaged skin and pigmentation.
Normalizing hyperkeratinization – skin that appears over–thickened and dull.
Increase in exfoliation of dead skin cells which tends to slow with aging.
This combination of topicals and electricity has an immediate effect on the skin – benefits that make the skin appear immediately youthful and radiant and that also last long past the day of treatment. We are currently offering this combination treatment for $130.00 – a savings of $70.00 – so book now and Spring forward with a magical glow!
I get asked this question by a client at least once a day at the spa… Are home skin care devices just for people who can’t afford a facial or maybe are too busy to go to the spa? Will I get the same results I get here at Skin Sense?
Technology is always changing and improving. Ultrasonic cleansing brushes and hair removal devices have had the best track record so far according to Philips and Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd., two global aesthetics consultancy companies who track these devices. That might be because results are immediately tangible – less hair, cleaner pores – and fit easily into one’s daily routine – cleansing and shaving.
Anti-aging devices are a little harder to assess and some are so high-tech that they need FDA approval. Many of these devices are quite costly as well ($500.00- $1,000.00.) They also need to be used 10-15 minutes a day for several weeks before seeing results. And some of the more sophisticated devices could potentially damage your skin if used incorrectly or on the wrong skin type/color.
Maybe most important – how many times have any of us purchased workout equipment with the best of intentions only to have it collecting dust three months later? Compliance and consistency are your skin’s best friend. I think only the most disciplined and leisurely of us could comply with the recommended use of these home devices. And honestly, isn’t a relaxing 75 minute treatment at Skin Sense where we use the most cutting edge and proven electrical equipment more appealing and doable for the majority of us? See our post “Electricity R” post.
So in conclusion, I don’t think we have reached the point where the fountain of youth can be found in our bathrooms or anywhere at home. But I do think that at home devices, once proven safe and effective, can be used by the disciplined client as an adjunct to a regular skincare routine while prolonging the benefits gained from regular visits to Skin Sense.