The cold and windy wintertime is here, and that can mean dry, flaky and irritated skin for many women. The majority of clients wish to hydrate their skin, but aren’t sure how and when to use a serum as opposed to a crème, and the overwhelming amount of moisturizers on the market is causing them lots of confusion. Thankfully, I have some useful advice for you and your clients – rest assured that with the correct professional treatments and targeted home-care, winter skin can be glowing, moist, and healthy!
First of all, I would like to mention some wonderful treatments that go hand-in-hand with winter, when the sun isn’t as bright, and the days are shorter. We all know about collagen facials that hydrate and replenish moisture, but there are some specific treatments you can add to your spa’s menu for the winter season. Many women suffer from hyperpigmentation, varicose veins, and unsightly hair, and all these issues require a series of treatments. The best time to start clients on a series of 6 is while we are still in the cold, winter months:
1) Sclerotherapy (Varicose Vein Treatment)
Varicose veins are a big issue for women of all ages, but are more prominent after pregnancy, and with age. In fact, by the age of 50, 2 out of 3 American women have to deal with them! These veins are characterized by their puffed purple appearance, and can swell up, causing discomfort. For the most part, women opt for sclerotherapy merely because of its cosmetic benefits. Although in the past, the best treatment for varicose veins was surgery, image-guided injection with depressurization is now effective in even the most difficult cases. I advise this treatment to be performed in the wintertime because the patient is required to wear compression panty-hose post-treatment. Winter is the perfect time to wear these stockings, because they tend to be so hot, and uncomfortable in the summer months! Especially in California!
2) Laser Hair Removal
How does getting rid of that unsightly leg fuzz sound? If you are ready to commit to a package of 6 to 12 treatments with a laser, forget about tanning for the entire duration of the treatment. Laser hair removal is typically performed in intervals of 4 to 5 weeks, so a package of 6 will take you months to complete. Keep it safe, and save the hair removal for winter, and even then, don’t forget your sunscreen!
3) Hyperpigmentation/ Melasma Treatment
As an experienced esthetician, I always advise clients to wait until winter for skin-lightening treatments. Hyperpigmentation treatments typically expose the skin, and exfoliate it, making it susceptible to more sun-exposure, and further damage, so it’s best to wait until winter to whiten and brighten! Use whitening peels containing Kojic Acid, and natural whitening ingredients such as Alpha Arbutin, and Tyrostat that are the best topical alternative to the toxic and habit-forming Hydroquinone.
When it comes to home-care, before making any recommendations, I like to conduct a client consultation, to analyze my client’s skin. For anyone with dry, and very dry skin, I always recommend to start with a moisturizing milky cleanser twice a day. This can be a cleanser based on Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Calendula, Sage, and Vitamin E. Choose a cleanser that doesn’t irritate the eyes, and also removes make-up well. By starting with a milky cleanser, you know that all steps in your daily routine are designed to hydrate. The face, neck and décolleté are exposed to the sun, wind and cold weather, and must be all cared for in the same way as the face during the professional treatment and at home. The delicate neck and décolleté area is often ignored when it comes to application of moisturizers and sunscreen, and is easily susceptible to dehydration and sun damage.
Most of us take very good care of our face, but often ignore the neck, décolleté and bust. Taking care of the neck and décolleté is no different than taking care of the face. To achieve a lifting effect, estheticians should start the cleansing and exfoliation routine upwards from the décolleté and continue to the face. At home, one should cleanse that whole area with cleanser daily, and exfoliate with scrub or enzyme mask once in three days. This is the only way to achieve an even transition in color and texture from the bust to the face. Décolleté products should not be too harsh, since the skin is thin in that area. It’s also preferable to have fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products, to avoid any reaction. I dislike using mechanical equipment on the chest, or by the thyroid, to avoid stimulation of the lymphatic system.
When it comes to moisturizing the skin, a serum always comes first. Choose serums based on Hyaluronic Acid containing Peptides that reduce wrinkles and rejuvenate skin. As we all know, ingredients are listed on the label starting with the most prevalent to the least prevalent. It’s important to choose a product which is water-based, and has peptides in the beginning of the ingredient list – this way you can be assured of the amount of peptides in the formula. You may also consult the manufacturer, and ask what percentage of a given peptide is used. Usually, 10% of each peptide is sufficient to give great results, if there is a blend of 3 or 4 peptides in a formula.
Avoid peptide combinations that are mixed with hydroquinone, parabens, and other toxins that can irritate the skin, and don’t forget to nourish your skin with Vitamin C. Three of the most potent forms of Vitamin C available on the market today are Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate. This powerful antioxidant combination in a serum fights free radicals, stimulates collagen production, nourishes the skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and brightens skin tone while keeping stable. Remember, a true serum has a watery, oil-free formula that is easily absorbable by the skin. This type of product is ideal for application around the delicate skin if the eyes, and the nasolabial folds. Most serums tend to be ionizable, and can be penetrated with a galvanic machine while the client is getting a facial. This is a great way to get the best results from the active ingredients in the product! You don’t need any big professional equipment – there are a number of hand-held units available on the market, that work as well as the large machine, and sometimes even better!
I also love collagen! Marine collagen is a form of collagen that derived from an assortment of sea algae species Laminaria and Padina. This marine collagen polypeptide is designed to stimulate type III Collagen deep down within the skin. Collagen is a large molecule that alone cannot penetrate into the skin – so scientists found that polypeptide technology can actually stimulate the synthesis marine collagen in the skin. This new technology allows the skin to open up and allow the collagen through, because the regular molecule is too large to get in. Combination of marine collagen with polypeptide technology, will help our skin by stimulating collagen production, and elastin collagen thickening, encouraging skin renewal and minimizing muscle contractions, reducing the appearance of deep wrinkles and fine lines, helping provide long-term improvements in deeper wrinkles, helping prevent collagen and elastin breakdown to firm the skin.
After applying a serum, it’s best to apply a creme. The reason for this is that a creme creates a barrier that helps keep the serum from evaporating. Since serums don’t have oil, they penetrate quickly, but don’t feel like they are moisturizing enough. Most of the time, serums leave a tight feeling on the skin. After application of creme, the skin will feel softer, more shiny and moisturized. This is especially beneficial during the wintertime, since most of us feel dry and chapped. For cremes, I recommend looking for a hyaluronic acid base with Peptides, Apricot Kernel Oil, Squalene (from olives, not shark liver), and Jojoba Oil. There are also some great new ingredients specifically designed for the wind and cold, such as Antarcticine. This ingredient helps the skin retain water, preventing cutaneous dryness, stimulates fibroblast adhesion and keratinocyte growth, regenerating tissues and enabling a faster healing of wounds, and increases collagen type I and IV, as well as elastin, resulting in a restructured skin and a reduction in wrinkles. This active ingredient also reduces the depth of wrinkles, especially on the forehead and around the eyes.
To complete the daily skincare regimen, use sunscreen daily, regardless of season, since the sun shines on us every day of the year. I recommend a sunscreen which is non-comedogenic, and non-toxic. Remember to choose a sunscreen with physical blocks like Zinc and Titanium dioxide, as opposed to chemicals which will enter the bloodstream and cause long-term damage in the long run.
Those experiencing rosacea are especially prone to irritation and the flare-ups of broken capillaries during the cold months. Rosacea is essentially redness caused by breaking capillaries, (couperose skin) but present as a chronic condition. Usually we see rosacea on the cheeks, and sometimes on the nose. Sometimes this redness can be accompanied by postules and blemishes – these can be quite sensitive and painful. For topical treatment, remember to shield the face from exposure to wind, sun, and extreme temperatures (hot or cold). This also applies to daily cleansing – absolutely no hot showers, hot baths or steaming the face. A knowledgeable esthetician will not use a steamer on her couperose client.
I don’t recommend using acids, or products containing alcohol for cleansing the face. These particular products dry out the face, and tighten it, when our goal is to moisturize and nourish. Avoid using scrub to exfoliate the face – only light enzymatic masks are OK. The perfect mask for the rosacea client is one based on oats and clay with enzymes – it cools down the redness, and effectively cleans and brightens the face.
We all know that Aloe Vera is soothing and cooling, and Chamomile is calming and relaxing, but did you know about Arnica? This amazing medicinal herb has been taken internally in Europe for centuries to heal organ trauma, and applied topically to reduce swelling, treat bruises, wounds and bug bites. It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is mild and non-aggressive in topical skin care products. What is really amazing, is Arnica’s ability to reduce bruising – the mechanism in lies in the herb’s ability to stimulate blood flow and move stagnation through the veins and capillaries. When a lesion of capillaries is traumatized by physical impact, or inflamed from exposure to the harsh elements, we see the dark color on the skin’s surface. Applying an Arnica creme to the area affected by rosacea significantly reduces the swelling and dark patch, and brings the color back to normal, as well as moves blood through the damaged capillaries for reduced discomfort and pain. To maximize the treatment of rosacea, I recommend using a crème with both Arnica and Vitamin K. The combination of these two ingredients does miracles for redness.
As for internal treatment, the best way to reduce flare-ups is by avoiding all hot and spicy foods that cause the rush of blood to the face, breaking more capillaries. It may seem like a hard task to some people, but it will be much harder trying to camouflage the redness from day to day with make-up. There is nothing better than the freedom of letting your skin breathe without make-up – all year round!
Whether you live in the snow, or in the heat and the sun, please remember that beauty is optional, but health is not. Take care of your and your clients’ skin using the best natural and hypo-allergenic ingredients all year-long, and remember to eat right and drink lots of water. When your body is functioning at an optimum level, your skin will also glow! Enjoy life all year long, and don’t let winder slow you down!