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Assessing Skincare Needs
Dissolving Damage And Boosting Beauty

by David Sandoval

Throughout the ages, before the advent of the modern spa, women of power and influence have had access to beauty secrets that common women only could envy. These included everything from makeup and eyeliner to special lotions for the surface of the skin. Regardless of status, however, women from every culture have attempted to master the art of beauty and defy the hands of time. Today the secrets of ancient cultures have combined with modern science to create a new wave of age-defying products. Spas can help clients discover that a more youthful appearance is no longer just a dream; upon their next visit to your spa, they may just leave with a few extra products in their bags.

The mirror does not lie. Have staff members take off all of their clients’ makeup, turn on all the lights, and have the clients look closely into the mirror. What will they see? Signs of aging in the form of wrinkles, creases, spots and scars. Fortunately, today’s new class of products offers a real opportunity to dramatically alter a client’s appearance without surgery. The key is to choose the right products.

First, it is important to learn about skin, the largest organ of the body. Did you know that skin actually breathes and is home to billions of bacteria? Skin also contains enzymes that help break down and eliminate dead skin cells. Most importantly, the skin acts as the first level of defense for the body, protecting our flesh and organs.

The body uses a series of layers to build skin, with the top layer being fully developed skin cells called the epidermis. All of these cells begin at the basal level, where they form keratinocytes out of fat and keratins (proteins). These new epidermal skin cells rise, replacing older dead and dying cells. Below the basal level is the dermis, home to sweat glands and hair follicles. This layer also contains the vitally important blood vessels that transport nutrients, lipids, moisture and oxygen needed to keep skin healthy.

It also is important to understand how wrinkles and lines form. Wrinkles are a sign of accumulated skin damage. Despite what most people have been told, wrinkles simply are not caused by dry skin. However, damaged skin cells do lose their moisture easily and quickly will begin to die. These dying cells soon pile up and damage new emerging cells. Eventually, these damaged cells create a domino effect, by which dehydrated or deflated cells become visible wrinkles. Dehydration does not cause damage; damage causes dehydration.

Avoiding Damage

There are many ways to damage skin. However, avoiding the following may significantly reduce skin cell damage:

1. Avoid smoking cigarettes, as they rob the skin of oxygen.

2. Avoid swimming in chlorinated or chemically treated water. In addition, chlorine in drinking water damages skin cells.

3. Avoid sunburning the skin. If you are going to be in the direct sun, do so responsibly and moderately.

4. Eat less meat. Eating meat causes bacteria to grow and die in sweat glands.

5. Avoid carbonated beverages, since they also deplete the body of vital oxygen.

Remember, in terms of avoiding wrinkles, what clients don’t do is almost as important as what they do. A spa-goer’s beauty regimen can have dramatic effects on existing wrinkles. Below are personal care steps clientele can adopt to get the results women used to only dream about.

1. Cleanse—Before using any cream or serum, a 100-percent clean facial surface is needed. Start with purified water and a non-greasy, non-soap cleanser. To avoid skin sensitivity, make sure the cleanser is pH-balanced. Cosmetics, pollution, smoke, food and acids all contribute to the residue that clogs pores, causes acne and, most importantly, damages skin cells.

The ideal cleanser will penetrate, lift and remove 100 percent of these impurities. Unfortunately, many cleansers actually contribute to the residue by containing wax, soap, oil or harsh chemicals that remove too much sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that lies between the cells to hold in moisture.

2. Exfoliate—It is important to exfoliate using antioxidant-rich and only mildly abrasive ingredients. Exfoliating removes the dead cells that accumulate and thicken the skin. These piled up cells can smother the underlying epidermis, giving wrinkles a more pronounced look. Recommend to your clients that they exfoliate no more than one to two times per week to minimize over-stimulation, which can contribute to skin sensitivity.

The epidermis layers are between 35 micrometers to 50 micrometers thick (one micrometer = one thousandth of a millimeter), except on feet and palms, where accumulated dead skin creates calluses, which are much thicker. By removing the outer layers or callused part of the skin, new skin cells are allowed to form undamaged, breathe out toxins, absorb moisture and radiate the skin’s natural beauty. Exfoliation unclogs pores, refining the skin’s texture, tone and color. Utilizing a mask or peel is another non-abrasive method of removing dead skin cells.

3. Masks And Peels—Masks and peels are non-abrasive and employ either acids or enzymes, which separate and remove the outer layer of the skin. This guarantees that an even layer of skin is removed. These treatments create a more oxygenated surface by increasing circulation, which brightens the complexion. They also cleanse deeply into the pores, removing embedded grime, dirt and residue from makeup, pollution, cleansers and lotions. These mask and peel processes also allow cutting-edge creams and serums to work more effectively.

4. Creams And Serums—Hyaluronic acid (HA) quickly is becoming recognized as the most-effective moisturizer ever. HA is a chemical the body produces to draw moisture into its cells. It helps lubricate joints and ligaments and, more importantly, it helps skin cells remain plump, supple and hydrated. When skin cells are damaged, HA easily leaches out of the skin and the cells quickly become dehydrated. These dehydrated cells look depressed or deflated, like a balloon with too little air.

The HA used in skincare products comes in two forms: injectable, like Restylane®, and topical creams. There also are two sources of HA—animal and vegetable. Studies show these work equally well to hydrate and restore skin cells to their normal size. HA also is unique because it only affects the cells that are HA-deficient and need to be hydrated; this is how it lifts and repairs the depressed regions, effectively smoothing out the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

HA was first used in eye surgery to keep the delicate optical nerves and corneal tissue moist and supple. When used on the skin—in combination with penetrating compounds like liposomes, DMAE and/or minerals—HA can have a dramatic effect on even the most severely damaged skin. Antioxidant serums, particularly vitamin C serum, have been proven to tighten, tone and repair damaged skin cells, especially when combined with a powerful rehydrating compound like HA.

For best results, choose a high-potency serum that contains a wide variety of vitamin C esters, both water- and fat-soluble. Each type of vitamin C performs a slightly different function, so using only ascorbic acid or ascorbyl palmitate creams will not have the same effect.

5. Herbs And Foods—A wide variety of herbs are purported to contribute to skin health. Cherries, blueberries, pomegranate and dark-pigmented fruits contain bioflavonoids and antioxidants important to skin health. Aloe vera juice has been shown to increase basal carotenocyte (skin cell reproduction) activity by up to 400 percent and also contains polysaccharides that are beneficial to the skin.

Green foods such as wheatgrass and spirulina detoxify, oxygenate and renew skin cells. Bamboo shoots and the herb horsetail contain abundant silica that helps build hair, skin and nails. Ho Shou Wu, a Chinese herb, has been used for centuries to restore youthful skin. Also try chamomile, valerian and melatonin to help relax nerves and contribute to healthy sleep patterns, as stress and lack of sleep contribute to dull and unhealthy-looking skin.

Bringing It Home

These treatments and products represent the greatest opportunities to establish a retail relationship with existing clientele and to dramatically increase revenue. One way to draw attention to homecare products is to merchandise them on a counter in clear sight.

Signs or posters also can be used to help these products stand out. To seduce the senses and stimulate interest, retailers can provide samples. Creating gift baskets with assorted spa-quality skincare products is a good way to encourage customers to share these wonderful new discoveries with others. Combining the gift basket with a gift certificate for a spa treatment also can expand business while helping clients achieve radiant, younger looking skin.

Today’s discerning spa consumer has product options even Cleopatra never imagined. So encourage your clients to treat themselves like royalty and experience that youthful feeling day after day. Let them know about the fabulous and beneficial products they can take home and use to continue “re-youthing” their skin when not being pampered in your spa.

David Sandoval is the founder of Organic By Nature Inc. and the originator of Green Kamut® Wheatgrass. He currently formulates and produces nutritional products for more than 100 companies, from cancer-treatment centers to internationally recognized health-food companies, as well as some of the most popular personalities in the nutrition industry. His audio book, “The Healing Miracle of Green Foods,” has been translated into many languages with thousands of copies distributed worldwide.

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