Aromatherapy has many places in a person's day-to-day life: a familiar scent that evokes a memory, a spice that engulfs their favorite food, or the flower they smell as they are passing by.
Aromatherapy, when not used topically, can help with insomnia, nausea, headaches and migraines, and aches and pains, among other ailments. In the beauty industry, aromatherapy is being used to aid in the health of the skin, as well as take clients on a sensory journey. There are many ways essential oils are utilized; they can be applied topically and through carrier oil, cream, soaking bath, inhalation, or a room diffuser.
A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the prevalence of prescription drug use in America among people 20 years of age and older had risen to 59 percent in 2012 from 51 percent just 12 years earlier. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled from eight to 15 percent.1 Another study cites the United States as consuming 75 percent of the world's prescription drugs.2
Skin sensitivity is on the rise. In fact, it is estimated that up to half of the world's population perceive their skin to be sensitive. It is important, however, to note that there is a marked difference between skin that is genetically sensitive and skin that has been affected by internal or external factors that can accelerate nerve responses and increase permeability of the stratumcorneum, resulting in the skin becoming sensitized.
The skin is a multifaceted, active organ that has many important functions to the overall health of our inner bodies. The protective functions utilize three systems: The stratumcorneum barrier, immunity and providing pigment to give protection from harmful radiation, including sun exposure particularly by the ultraviolet light (UVL) spectrum. UVL is the culprit that induces visible, extrinsic skin aging (photoaging), as well as most types of skin cancer.
Hyperpigmentation Explained: Understanding Hyperpigmentation and How to Professionally Address the Common Skin ConcernWritten by Christiane Waldron
Many clients notice every dark spot on their face. In fact, most skin care professionals would, more than likely, state that hyperpigmentation is a concern on par with aging and
wrinkles and affects clients from every ethnic group. While many clients often feel as if their spots appeared out of nowhere, the truth is that their hyperpigmentation has probably been brewing for decades.
Hyperpigmentation, which is caused by an increase in the skin's melanin content, is one of the most common skin concerns seen by skin care professionals. This condition is most often caused by sun exposure; inflammation; hormonal changes, such as pregnancy; certain medical conditions, like Addison's disease; and various drugs, such as certain antibiotics.
Hyperpigmentation is one of the most common skin conditions and often one of the most difficult to correct. Having and setting proper expectations and expressing the importance of consistency with professional treatments and a homecare regimen is the key to successfully treating dark spots and maintaining results.
Beautiful, glowing, and uniformly pigmented skin is a key visual sign of youthfulness. Yet, in a world where the impacts of harmful ultraviolet radiation and oxidative stresses from the environment are never ending – particularly as the ozone layer is slowly being depleted – achieving this goal seems elusive to many clients.
According to the textbooks, rosacea is still not fully understood. There are classifications of the condition, but they do not serve any real purpose in the diagnosis or treatment of rosacea. The Demodex mite and related bacteria have been the most commonly assumed cause and, yet, the skin presentation rarely supports that theory. An interesting, but often ignored, association is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which, in one study, occurred in half of the rosacea cases. This figure directs us to the real problem, which is inflammation in the digestive tract.
There is an old myth that massage therapy and other skin care treatments can encourage cancer metastasis. While this statement is untrue, what exactly is metastasis? Metastasis is the manner by which cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. Twenty to 30 percent of people who are initially diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer will develop metastatic breast cancer, also called stage IV breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer can occur five, 10, or even 15 years after the original diagnosis and even after successful treatments. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this type of cancer as most treatments are directed at controlling the spread of the disease and increasing the quality of life.
Sensitive skin is a common condition that affects a majority of people and commonly has predisposed factors such as ethnicity. Factors such as an impaired skin barrier, a weakened immune system, inflammation, and digestive health can contribute to the skin’s sensitivity. When treating sensitive skin, both internal and external factors should be considered.
The number of people affected by melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer in the United States, is consistently rising. It is commonly diagnosed in people under age 30. Dr. Hui Tsou, dermatopathologist and assistant medical director of Acupath Laboratories, offers five tips that skin care professionals can share with clients to help detect melanoma while it is still treatable.
Hyperpigmentation is a prevalent skin disorder that has multiple causes and can be challenging to treat. Many people suffer through years of unsuccessful attempts at eliminating the disorder and may be reluctant to professional treatment. Understanding the underlying causes and predisposed factors with hyperpigmentation will help assess each situation and help prevent the onset of the disorder in some cases. The initial consultation and health history will help determine the exact cause of the disorder and help skin care professionals establish a successful treatment protocols for clients.
I think the worst part of writing this article was that I had the “slapped in the face” realization that “oh no, this is me!” Although I am not quite yet experiencing the physiological characteristics, my age is certainly applicable as is the horrific realization that yes, I am getting older! So though my mindset of “30-something” keeps me in skinny jeans and knee-high boots, my body is clearly aware of the senescent truth! In any case, it is what it is, and I embrace not only every wrinkle that defines my life (not really) but every phase of womanhood as well. The years have been good to me and I can honestly say that I love being a woman!
Our skin changes in menopause just like during puberty (what fun huh?). In fact, the skin goes through normal, hormonal shifts every seven years, and clients should be ready to change up their skin care routine along with those shifts. Along with these changes, the expectation and pressure to feel and look beautiful can be overwhelming and cause the kind of stress that produces more skin problems. Change is inevitable, and all things in life temporal, but does that really mean these are negative occurrences? No. That is just how we have been taught – whether it be the media, the perfectly photo-shopped and weirdly-pulled actresses (come on, they look crazy!) – to think about ourselves. It is actually possible to mature healthfully and in fact, beautifully! Is it possible to evolve into our true selves and embrace our character and the experiences that show on our radiant faces, bodies, hearts, and stubbornly-wise minds?
There is a great correlation between the morphology of a skin condition and what is chosen for correction in both treatments and the cosmetic chemistry found in product lines. At times, there may be a great deal of emphasis placed on a brand or isolated ingredients without realizing that a manifested skin condition requires research and contemplation going beyond what is visually apparent. Products are directly formulated to impact the skin. A key factor is to realize that the skin care professional should perform a thorough skin analysis, following an intelligent pathway that leads to discovering the underlying cause of a skin condition. This information becomes a mainstay as we continue to build the ideal skin correction program for clients.
Aestheticians are in the unique position to observe many skin disorders and some diseases. Even though it is out of the aesthetician’s scope of practice to treat skin diseases, having knowledge is power, and skin care professionals should be able to recognize disorders and diseases that require medical referral to a physician or dermatologist. Many chronic conditions require treatment from both a physician and aesthetician; these include keratosis pilaris, acne, rosacea, and skin sensitivities. Many clients struggle with three common skin diseases that are not properly understood by aestheticians.
One must develop a thorough understanding of melasma to achieve successful treatment outcomes. It is one of the most frustrating conditions for skin care professionals to treat and even more confusing and discouraging to the client.
The term melasma is derived from the Greek word melas, meaning black. It is a painless, benign skin condition that affects approximately 50,000,000 women worldwide. Described as dark patches of pigment that lie in the upper (epidermis) or mid layer (dermis) of the skin, melasma commonly appears in facial areas. However, it can present in any sun exposed area.
A number of hormones are known to affect the human skin. Hair follicles and sebaceous glands are affected by androgenic hormones secreted by the gonads and adrenal glands.1,2 These hormones play a significant part in the development and the physiological function of human skin tissues. The skin both receives signals from many transmitters and sends signals to many receptor organs and organelles in the body. For example, skin color is under exquisite hormone control.3 Only recently was it understood that the skin is a major producer of sex hormones, as well as many other types of hormones. All hormones require a specific type of receptor to be active. Due to the nature of these receptors and how they function, this article will discuss how hormones affect melanin production and acne vulgaris in relation to skin color in various ethnic groups.
Hormones are critical chemical messengers that regulate the majority of all necessary functions within the human body. In individuals of all ethnicities, hormone fluctuations can be the cause of some unpleasant and frustrating skin challenges, including hyperpigmentation. This is especially true for individuals of mixed heritage or ethnicities who naturally have a more reactive pigmentation response. By understanding the best ways to identify patients who may be at risk of hormonally induced pigmentation and comprehending the detailed process by which this pigment deposit occurs, the skin care professional can effectively treat their ethnic clients who are fighting this frustrating condition.
There are many endocrine glands in the body, with the main ones being the pituitary gland, thyroid, thymus, adrenal, and the pancreas. Endocrine glands, which are special groups of cells, make our hormones.1
Hormones are dominant and it only requires a small amount of them to cause significant changes throughout the body. Both men and women produce hormones in the same areas with one exception, the sexual organs.
Hormones can regulate our body’s passage from childhood to puberty, middle, and old age. However, if they are out of balance, hormones can cause a variety of problems. Hormones are the chemical messengers in the body that travel the bloodstream to the organs and tissues. They work slowly and affect many of the body’s processes over time.
Along with aging and acne concerns, uneven pigmentation is one of the most common complaints skin care professionals hear in the treatment room. Changes in skin pigmentation can occur due to many different factors and can be the most difficult issue to tackle in the treatment room. Perhaps one of the most challenging pigmentary conditions to treat is melasma, a common disorder of hyperpigmentation that affects more than five million Americans.1 Melasma predominantly affects women with Fitzpatrick phototypes III through VI, or those with ancestry stemming from equatorial regions where ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is highest. Although sun exposure and hormones are closely associated with triggering, much remains to be understood about the origin and development of the disorder.
While hyperpigmentation products and devices are frequently written about and analyzed, hypopigmentation receives far less discussion. The technical definition of hypopigmentation is abnormally diminished pigmentation resulting from decreased melanin production. The collective term for loss of pigment is Leukoderma. This is a complex and varied skin disorder, characterized by a lack of skin color. The causes can be due to genetics, chemicals, hormones, injury or the autoimmune disorder, vitiligo. Aside from vitiligo, there are numerous factors that can result in varying degrees of pigment loss as well.
Clients present high stress regarding the possible signs of fungus growth on their bodies, which can be unsightly and embarrassing. The most common fungus presented is athlete’s foot, also referred as tinea pedis. It presents itself as redness, peeling, itching and burning. This fungus grows in warm, moist environments and is common in the summer. Athlete’s foot is mostly experienced by men and women wearing tight shoes, allowing their feet to become sweaty. The best treatment is antifungal cream, open toe shoes and keeping the toes dry.
In essence, fungus skin reactions can be minor but can also be very stressful. Even though we may be able to clinically identify a fungus reaction on the skin of the scalp, back, feet and/or the face, we must have a physician confirm a medical diagnosis.
My career in specialized skin care transcends over 25 years of functioning behind the chair recognizing skin diseases and performing professional clinical skin care treatments. During this time, I have seen some of the most challenging facial conditions which would cause a majority of aestheticians to either panic or refuse. Embracing the difficulty of severe skin problems is what I love, therefore, I have built my career on this. I encourage aestheticians to expand their learning curve to recognize the most common skin diseases to provide a clinical remedy appropriate to the client's condition and your skill.
Skin conditions can be distressing at a visible level, however they are often triggered by responses occurring inside the body. Skin, being the largest organ of the body, can represent what is taking place from internal stress, to hormonal fluctuations, to an unhealthy lifestyle. The most common skin conditions seen by aestheticians are acne, rosacea and hyperpigmentation. Although there are actions we can take to assist clients in reducing the appearance of these unappealing conditions, treatments are not always skin deep. Aside from the physical effects of skin conditions, there are emotional obstacles that can develop as well.
Diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease that results in high levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes or "diabetes mellitus" refers to a group of diseases that affect how the body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Glucose is the main source of energy for the cells that make up muscles and tissues, including brain cells, and is therefore vital to health. Insulin is the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the body, and inadequate amounts of insulin result in diabetes. Aestheticians should be alert to the special needs of diabetic clients. As diabetes affects all parts of the body including the skin and nails, aestheticians should be aware of what diabetes is and how to inform the client about possible complications and precautions of the desired procedure.
Dermatologists evaluate only about 40 percent of people suffering from a skin disease or condition. Because of this fact, aestheticians are often the first line of defense for skin care needs. Clients/patients usually do not realize that what is believed to be an irritation, sensitivity, or problem skin may be a treatable disease. Although unable to officially “diagnose” a skin disorder, the trained skin care professional or licensed aesthetician often has the opportunity to notice changes in a client’s skin, which should trigger a referral to an experienced physician, preferably a dermatologist, for further evaluation and diagnosis.
Welcome to the second part of the series looking at skin disorders. In this part we will look at the next level of common skin diseases. Previously we defined diseases as abnormal appearance, feeling, or sensation of the skin requiring diagnosis by a medical practitioner, which may need treatment either by prescription medicines or procedures performed by a medical professional. This information is important for your practice to help your patients with skin abnormalities receive proper care. As a skin care professional, you can also help them cope with their disease, encourage compliance with treatments, and provide complementary non-prescription adjuncts for control and prevention.
In my article “Guidelines for Recognizing Common Skin Disorders," we looked at the most prominent skin diseases including acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, hyperpigmentation, and actinic keratoses. In this article, we will cover the next level of common skin conditions skin care professionals will face, which can be improved with or without the use of prescription topical therapies for which a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant is needed. It is also important to know that several conditions, when severe, will have increased size or number of lesions that indicate there is a significant risk of an underlying potentially serious disease. These will also be addressed.
As most aestheticians will confirm, typically, people with skin disorders don’t always seek the help of an aesthetician. However, because of the explosion in professional skin care technology, this trend is shifting. More and more people are beginning to understand the helpful role the aesthetician plays in the treatment and management of skin disorders, including physicians. As most disorders are treated by a physician, adding the services of the aesthetician is the best case scenario for the patient and/or client.
The aesthetic industry is opening itself to what is unique about contemporary times, detaching from outdated procedures and instead adjusting them to our current needs. Cultural, environmental, and dietary changes within our society have altered how our skin interacts with traditional treatments. In order to provide optimal results to our clients we must begin by acknowledging various skin conditions that are on the rise in our culture, understand their source and adjust our procedures accordingly.