Using your esty toolkit for the best results possible!
There are so many skin care treatments, procedures and equipment out on the market today, it can often be overwhelming to figure out what and when and even how to use each. Sometimes “we” as estheticians stick with staying within our own comfort zone, or if you are new to the industry you may not understand how to utilize or even upsell treatments to your client. A lot of questions I hear from estheticians is how to use all the features on their multifunction machines. Some multifunction units offer as many as 14 features in one.Some estheticians choose to have separate pieces of equipment in their spa or treatment room. However you decide to go being able to understand what you are using, why you are using it and how you can combine multiple treatments in one are key to providing your clients the ultimate facial experience!
The easiest way to start is by understanding the benefits of each procedure or treatment. As an instructor at an esthetics school, our students are taught the basics and are introduced to chemical peels. They are so excited when they learn that they can combine them together or even throw in some LED or microcurrent and their minds are blown! So let’s start with the theory behind some of our favorite treatments and see where you can begin to combine and create some skin care magic within your own treatment rooms!
Retinol is a natural, alcohol form of vitamin A in the family of molecules known as retinoids. Other common natural retinoids used in skin care are Retinyl Palmitate (ester form), Retinaldehyde (aldehyde form), and Retinoic Acid (the active acid form), with each maintaining their unique molecular characteristics, pharmacokinetics, and potency. These forms of vitamin A have been used extensively since the 1940’s to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne and aging, and they have an abundance of data and statistics proving their therapeutic potential. Vitamin A, and its analogues, are essential cellular “nutrients” that play significant roles in cellular growth and differentiation. In fact, aging can largely be considered a nutritional deficiency, as the suns UV rays rapidly deplete the vitamin A levels in our skin. They are true anti-aging workhorses! With the evidence clearly in favor of Retinols efficacy, what problems would present that would warrant the usage of an alternative?
The unfortunate downstream effects of using retinoids (with some exceptions) can be irritation, excess peeling, dryness, and enhanced sun sensitivity. All too often, retinoids are off the table for sensitive and hyperreactive skin types. In addition, your stronger pharmaceutical acid forms of vitamin A can deleteriously impact the integrity of your skin’s protective barrier, leading to a vicious cycle of sub-clinical inflammation which is, by definition, pro-aging.
While a few active raw materials presented to cosmetic formulators have made the bold claim of being retinol alternatives, none of these have come close to the retinol-like characteristics of Bakuchiol. With close scrutiny, let’s analyze the evidence.
While Bakuchiols molecular structure is not identical to that of Retinols, they do have similar behavioral characteristics. From the perspective of achieving the same clinical outcomes as retinol, without the inherent negatives, Bakuchiol seems to stack up. When we look at an aged face, we see the hallmark signs of lines and wrinkles, mottled pigmentation, loss of elasticity, and an uneven skin tone. The goal of any effective anti-aging ingredient, and something Retinol is known to do well, is reverting these extrinsic symptoms back to a more youthful state. In a double-blind 2018 clinical study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, a comparative analysis was performed, with the participants either using 0.5 percent Retinol on their face, or 0.5 percent Bakuchiol. After 12 weeks, measurements were taken to assess each molecules ability to treat these cutaneous signs of aging. Surprisingly, in virtually all measurements taken, both Bakuchiol and Retinol had remarkable clinical efficacy in treating signs of photodamage, with no statistically significant difference between the two. In layman’s terms, that means they achieved the exact same performance objectives. However, unlike the Retinol group that experienced stinging, erythema, and irritation, the Bakuchiol group presented with none of these clinical adverse effects.
While a visual assessment of efficacy (when using these ingredients, what will consumers SEE when they look in the mirror) is often considered paramount in clinical studies, alternative types of testing do exist that exploit what an active ingredients true potential is. We know Bakuchiol achieves the same effects as Retinol from a visual and extrinsic perspective, but the real question is how it measures up from a genetic perspective. Not widely used in mass produce commercial skincare, DNA microarrays, or quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) tests can show us how a single molecule, or group of molecules, influences the genes in our cells. This is the new gold standard in proving an ingredient’s worth – highlighting what genes it turns on and which genes it can turn off. In order to establish Bakuchiols true retinollike characteristics, it was put through this type of rigorous testing and the results were published in a 2014 edition of the International Journal of Cosmetic Science. What did the data show? While Bakuchiol and Retinol do not have the same molecular structure, they do have an almost identical genetic footprint. (2) Modulation of key retinoid binding and metabolizing genes is Bakuchiols strong suit, however, not all retinoid binding genes were activated in the study. The gene expression of true retinol includes activation of retinoic acid binding proteins, which gives these forms of Vitamin A their inherent toxicity and irritation potential. Bakuchiol, cleverly, bypassed the expression of these genes in particular. This upregulation (and downregulation) of gene expression, combined with genes associated with key structural proteins such as collagen, elastin, dermo-epidermal junction (DEJ) genes, hyaluronic acid and aquaporin genes, and other essential genes associated with youthful skin, are what makes Bakuchiol a TRUE functional analogue of retinol. When one needs a clear and definitive explanation of an ingredient’s therapeutic potential, you cannot get more concrete evidence than a gene expression analysis.
However, healthy skin is more than just a robust production of skin proteins to reduce lines and wrinkles, as there are many complex molecular and biochemical pathways that contribute to tissue (skin in this case) behaving in a more youthful manner. Bakuchiol has proven to target all main contributing pathways linked to aging from oxidative stress, inflammation, mitochondrial cell energy production, MMP regulation, and protection against UV induced skin damage. In fact, Bakuchiol outperformed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity of commodity raw materials known to be gold standards in this category.
Can it get any better? The science suggests it can. Bakuchiol has also shown significant power in treating acneic skin types, not only from its anti-inflammatory capacity, but its ability to regulate sebum output, modify the microbial ecosystem, downregulate localize hormone levels, and reduce hyperkeratinization. (3) And, finally, to further highlight this ingredients protective potential, it has proven to stop the proliferation of cutaneous malignancies such as skin cancer.
While Bakuchiol is a relatively new raw material available to us in skincare, it is an extremely promising active with a wealth of benefits for the skin. As more research is devoted to exploring its therapeutic potential, for now, we can confidently say that, while not identical to Retinol (nutritionally and molecularly), Bakuchiol has proven to be a worthy competitor, whether used on its own or to potentiate Retinols performance when combined. The hype is certainly justified.
Chemical peels are usually a favorite amongst clients looking to improve upon skin tone, texture, fine lines and wrinkles. This a great treatment to brighten the client’s skin before an event or special occasion. Chemical peels utilize various acids to dissolve the bonds, like desmosomes and intercellular lipids. When we weaken or denature these bonds, the corneocytes are released and we speed up cell turnover. We are chemically creating exfoliation of the skin from the inside. Microdermabrasion or even dermaplaning are mechanical versions of exfoliation. With microdermabrasion, each treatment removes roughly 30%-60% of the Stratum Corneum. This process stimulates new cell growth by inflicting damage on surface skin. This will allow for 100% product penetration! Another great form of exfoliation is an enzyme treatment. Enzymes are what’s called proteolytic, which means protein dissolving. If you mechanically exfoliate the skin from the outside with microdermabrasion or dermaplaning to create cell turnover, follow with an enzyme to dissolve the dead surface skin, then add on a chemical peel chosen for your client’s needs. You can give your client the ultimate exfoliation treatment, leaving their skin glowing and refreshed.
We can even take this exfoliating facial up a notch by simply adding in LED or even galvanic current. LED light therapy converts electrical energy into light energy. The light energy in the form of photons are then absorbed by chromophores in the body’s cells to increase cellular energy or ATP. When we excite the cells by increasing their energy, the cells are able to perform more efficiently. Cell proliferation, tissue oxygenation, cellular metabolism are all in full effect after a treatment. So when we inflict some superficial damage on the skin via exfoliation, we can speed up the healing process and skin’s repair with LED. Choosing which form of LED will be based off of what you are trying to accomplish within your peel facial. Red, amber and infrared lights in an LED target healing and anti-aging,. They will specifically help build proteins and other growth factors within the skin. Red and amber lights help build up collagen and elastin. They will also help reduce inflammation and increase circulation. Blue light LED has been helpful in destroying P.acnes bacteria.
Galvanic current is a direct electrical current that is used for phoresis, or introducing water soluble solutions into the skin. This creates two different reactions on the skin: desincrustation or iontophoresis. Utilizing iontophoresis, specifically cataphoresis, we are able to penetrate ions of an acidic solution deeper into the layers of the skin. We can utilize this after removal of a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, or dermaplane, after we apply serums such as vitamin C or hyaluronic acidthis will help calm, soothe, tighten and decrease blood circulation. Be sure to check for any contraindications prior to any treatment. Both LED or galvanic current can be added in at the end of the micro-peel treatment over any serums you choose to apply prior to SPF.
Micro-current has been all over the news lately as an amazing service to offer to our clients. This treatment is a wonderful and easy stand alone treatment that can have so many different benefits. This is by no means a new procedure, but it is now easy for estheticians to offer this great service with new technology and smaller, more portable devices that save a lot of space in our treatment rooms. It’s no surprise that our bodies produce electric current. Micro-Current in fact, mimics our body’s own bio-electric current. So when used on the face and on the muscles it helps to stimulate cellular energy known as ATP. Microcurrent can also help to stimulate the production of amino acids, collagen, and elastin. It basically is exciting our cells and helping them to work more effectively. It is a very comfortable treatment, and as part of any anti-aging facial has amazing and cumulative results. Its also been shown to help with acne and even lymph drainage, because of its stimulating and healing benefits.
This is just the start of so many options and opportunities we have to bring to our clients treatment after treatment. It can be overwhelming especially to new estheticians to feel comfortable with new techniques in our treatment rooms, and using your equipment on clients, let alone how it all works together to treat the skin. Take a chance and step out of your comfort zone. If you are a seasoned esthetician you may be hesitant to change up your routine or even add on new techniques for fear your clients may not want to pay for or try something new. Start off slow when introducing new concepts or add ons, just like we do with their home care routine , so we know what works! If you try new combinations or “cocktails” on friends, family, or your loyal clients first and they agree to let your document their journey, you will have before and after pictures to show clients who are on the fence about trying something new.
No matter what you decide, always do a thorough consultation, especially when introducing electrical equipment. Educate yourself or take some continuing education classes on anything you choose to bring into to your salon and spa. Grab some friends and family to practice on until you get used to whatever it is you are working with. We are lucky to work in an ever changing and growing industry, we just can’t forget to change and grow with it! And as always, have fun, and bring your excitement with you to each of your treatments. Clients will be more willing to try anything, if you believe in and bring the excitement with you in your treatment room!