Treating Dry Skin: A Practical Application

Written by Natalya Rachkova, L.E., co-founder of the Better Skin Company

Dry skin is a common skin care issue that can often be easily treated with daily homecare and routine facials. Extremely dry skin can be the harbinger of more serious skin issues, such as dermatitis. Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin that may cause an itchy rash or patches of dry, irritated skin. Upon consulting with your client, pay close attention to the visible signs to determine how to best proceed with treatment.

To better understand how to treat clients with dry skin, it is important to first understand the complexity of the skin, reasons for dry skin, and the best way to administer treatment.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and a very complicated one at that. The skin is comprised of three major layers: the epidermis (the outer layer), the dermis, and the hypodermis (subcutaneous tissue). It is a great protector of other organs, but can also 'act out' when irritated.

The Epidermis
The layers of the epidermis are: stratum corneum, stratum lucidium, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and stratum germinativum (also called stratum basale). The stratum corneum is the outermost layer consisting primarily of dead skin cells. The lucidium is found on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The granulosum is a thin layer of cells in the epidermis. The stratum spinosum, or spinous layer/prickle cell layer, is a layer of the epidermis found between the stratum granulosum and stratum basale. The germinativum is the deepest layer of the epidermis.

The Dermis
The dermis lies below the epidermis and has two layers. The papillary dermis, the most superficial layer of the dermis, contains capillary blood vessels, small nerves, and lymphatic vessels. The reticular dermis is located beneath the papillary dermis and rests on the thick pad of fat known as the subcutaneous tissue. The dermis contains glands, some of them make sweat to cool the body, while other glands make sebum. Sweat and sebum reach the surface of the skin through pores. The dermis houses glycosaminoglycans, a complex carbohydrate that is attracted to water, which lend moisture to our skin. glycosaminoglycans decrease with age. The dermis also contains collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.

The Hypodermis
The hypodermis or the subcutaneous fat layer is made up of clumps of fat- filled cells called adipose cells. This creates a protective cushion that insulates the body and stores energy. The subcutaneous layer decreases with age.
The biochemical process of skin is complicated. One square inch of skin contains approximately a million cells, 15 feet of blood vessels, 12 feet of nerves, 650 sweat glands, 100 oil glands, 65 hairs, and 1,300 nerve endings. Skin contains approximately one-half to two-thirds of all the blood in the body and one-half of the primary immune cells.

Dry skin does not produce enough sebum to meet the constant need of the skin. The pores and follicles are usually small and sebum production is minimal. Sebum is the substance that moisturizes, lubricates, and protects the skin. Abnormal sebum production can lead to a variety of skin problems, including dryness and acne.
Many different factors contribute to dry skin. Genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalance, life style, extreme weather condition, drug use, unhealthy hobbits, wrong products usage, and aging process are a few common culprits.

Regular facials can be a key step in treating dry skin, as they act as an encouraging support system for the sebum-producing glands. Stimulating oil production and protecting the surface with occlusive products will help to hold in moisture in the skin and reduce dryness. The purpose of the treatments and products is to stimulate the sebaceous glands to supply the natural sebum the skin needs to keep it well lubricated.

Before the treatment, help the client to relax by explaining the benefits of the service and how it will address their dry skin and bring comfort. Provide a skin analysis, educational consultation, and answer any questions the client may have. Wash and sanitize your hands. The treatment should start by removing makeup with a gentle cleansing lotion. After makeup removal, apply a cleansing lotion to the face and gently remove it. Second, perform a skin analysis. Follow with the application of an enzyme or light glycolic peel that will help to gently dispose of dead skin cells and clean pores. Prior to the massage, apply a warm towel on the face and décolletage to help soften the pores. Avoid using a steamer on dry skin, because it could further dehydrate the skin. The warm towel will also prepare the skin to better absorb the appropriate products, while softening superficial lines and increasing circulation.

Perform the massage for 20 to 30 minutes with the application of an appropriate cream. A blend of organic oils can be included, such as jojoba oil, seabuckthorn oil, rose-hip oil, avocado oil, evening primrose, or castor oil. It is always beneficial to add antiinflammatory essential oils such as geranium, camomile, rose otto, or claris sage. The massage feels very rewarding for the dry skin as it increases micro circulation, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the cells while removing waste material from the skin tissue. After the massage, apply another warm towel. After removing the towel, apply the appropriate serum and a professional mask-preferably a leave-on with occlusive ingredients, for up to 10 minutes-followed by a cream, and sunscreen.

After the treatment, the client is rewarded with glowing, nourished, hydrated skin.

Encourage the client to continue the use of the products that were used and to book a follow up facial to review progress. Many clients will see their skin condition improve as they change their habits and incorporate positive healthy skin routines.
As always, clients with advanced skin conditions that cannot be comfortably addressed should be encouraged to seek the advice of a medical professional.

Sources: NIMA- national institute of medical aesthetic.
Milady's standard fundamentals for estheticians.

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