Wednesday, 11 November 2020 08:52

Retakes, Remakes, and Revivals

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Aesthetic professionals are always on the quest for the latest and greatest trends, products, and equipment to enrich both their knowledge and skillsets to meet the needs of a diverse and ever-changing industry. Learning potential is enhanced through the information highway and continual discovery. The internet and social media permits skin care professionals to have easy access to information and technology to explore trending products and equipment. Interestingly, the industry is much like the fashion industry – both evolve in cyclic patterns with occasional unveiling of influential perspectives and trends. True to form – skin care professionals have experienced an evolving and expanding resurgence of vintage products, tools, and equipment that are not new to the aesthetic industry. As the saying goes – what was once old is new again. Forecast trending and influencers alike are rediscovering well-loved aesthetic treasures that never left the toolbox – they have always been there waiting to be discovered.

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Enzymes have had their royal place in beauty dating back to Cleopatra, and in the early 1900s, Madam Ludmillia in the Romanov court of Russia used pancreatin and papain in various mixtures and powder blends for “shelusheniye” (desquamation).1 The use of protease enzyme compounds for the general commercial cosmetic and dermatological market emerged over 60 years ago. Many enzyme products used today are hybrid remakes of the original enzyme powders that were once blended with water or other solution into a paste – then brushed on to the skin and activated by the use of a steamer. Proteolytic enzymes were considered the major treatment focus in a European facial and were used consistently by a large majority of estheticians prior to the introduction of glycolic acid. The wide selection of enzyme formulations today offers an impressive array of natural fruit additives and other actives that resemble purees, rather than the traditional powder form of enzymes. Fruits have an abundance of natural enzymes, and the main active constituents of a traditional proteolytic enzyme formula is papain or papaya (carcia papaya) and bromelain or pineapple (ananas cosmous). Proteolytic enzymes will primarily target the degradation of proteins (corneocytes) and perform epidermal ablation. Enzymes are an alternative to chemical peeling and may be used on any skin type (including rosacea) as they act in an anti-inflammatory manner, assisting in dislodging sebaceous filaments and comedones, reduce visible skin scaling and dryness, and may improve efficacy of products due to corneocyte desquamation. Proteolytic enzymatic reactions are triggered by moisture and heat (steaming) and are influenced by the skin’s pH. 


Ampoules have recently resurfaced as a very popular trending beauty ritual and as a must have for backbar. They have also made their way into the retail consumer product market. Ampoules first appeared and were developed by the French pharmacist Stanislaus Limousin in the 1890s. They were used for storing liquid medicinals.2 The original presentation of ampoules was a unique design of a hermetically sealed slender glass reservoir. The advantage of this specialty process was to preserve and protect the bioactives. The ampoule appeared in the French beauty sector with the isolation of hormones, royal jelly, and egg yolks in the 1930s and were considered one of the most important aesthetic products included in the protocols of European aestheticians for decades.3 Ampoules were also manufactured to be ionizable. They were identified for having a particular catalyst of ions or pH and were integrated into facials to be used with a selected current and polarity with iontophoresis, sonophoresis, galvanic, microcurrent, or electroporation. Electrical modalities were and still are extremely popular in Europe and considered an important part of the treatment. Many American aestheticians practicing in the early 1980s were influenced by the original concept of the European facia (and variations of) calling for the use of two, three, four, or more ampoules in one treatment as each was selected and used for a specific purpose. This factor also supports the current popular trending of layering several serums and products at one time, which also has been a practice in use for decades. 

Since ampoules are encased with no opening until the scored glass seal is broken, they are also protected from bacteria. They contain concentrated actives or temperate solutions that if exposed to air, rendered oxidization, and will likely lose their potency. Ampoules are single-use applications of concentrated ingredients to target specific skin concerns and contain little to no preservatives. They are concentrates of a single isolate or sometimes a blend. Ampoules may contain isolate actives such as minerals, hyaluronic acid, fruit extracts, placentas, plant extracts, vitamin C, green tea, seaweed, CoQ10, amino acids, botanicals, and other highly desirable ingredients. They are priced somewhat higher individually and more costly to manufacture than serums with a simple bottle and dropper configuration (which often require more ingredients and preservatives for stability). Although the glass ampoules are more expensive than standard containers there are considerations, regarding efficacy where concentration, freshness, and all-glass containers are worth the extra cost.


The vac-spray first appeared in 1916 because of its discovery during that era. Suitable treatment for wrinkling of the skin required massage, compression, or some stimulation to increase blood circulation. The vacuum massage device was able to deliver a cupping motion though air suction with a tube and a glass cup placed on the skin.4 The design of the device, of course, evolved into what is now known as the vac-spray machine – and for most aestheticians, it was one of the first machine experiences in aesthetic school. 

The vac-spray machine offers several benefits in one relatively inexpensive unit. Firstly, the vacuum portion was intended to be used after an enzyme or exfoliant application and steaming. Glass ventuse pieces in several shapes are selected for their size and function and are attached to the hose to be used for the vacuuming of surface debris after desquamation. The suction pressure is generally not strong enough to dislodge comedones; however, it most certainly encourages blood circulation and machine-assisted cleansing that clients enjoy. Extractions may typically follow after the vacuuming. Another highly desirable application of the vacuum-spray device is the application of pneumatic (pumping) lymphatic drainage with a viscous and gliding serum. The rhythmic motion and gliding technique facilitate a gentle pressure and encourages the flow of lymph. The selection of the air pressure and the ventuse shape and placement on the face and neck will determine the actual pressure and flow of lymph. Many aestheticians use the ventuse suction in target areas, such as frown lines or wrinkling for lessening their appearance and improving circulation. The spray hose portion of the machine has a bottle attachment that may be filled with toners, floral waters, or other light refreshing tonics that finely mists the spray over the skin, rather than using a pump spray or toner sprayed on cotton pads and wiped onto the skin. 

There are many retakes, remakes, and revivals in products, tools, and equipment in abundance today with potentially new ways to augment services. The industry is rich in tradition etched with knowledge and experience from those professionals who paved the way. Perhaps the latest and greatest new thing is something that has been there all along just waiting to be discovered.


1.Coleman, Drew, and Danné Montague-King. “Education Archives – DMK Skincare: Enzyme Therapy.” DMK Skincare | Enzyme Therapy, May 19, 2020. 

2.Hawthorne, Amy. “Ampoule Filling: The Evolution of the Ampoule.” ReAgent Chemical Services, May 25, 2020. 

3.Bennett, James. “Embryo Extracts.” Cosmetics and Skin: Embryo Extracts, 2020. 

4.Bennett, James. “Vacuum Suction.” Cosmetics and Skin: Vacuum Suction, 2018. 


Erin Madigan Fleck


Dr. Erin Madigan-Fleck is an educational icon known for her 35 plus years of experience and expertise in dermatological skin sciences, integrative aesthetics, and wellness. She is licensed in Georgia as a master cosmetologist, aesthetician, and aesthetic instructor. She is also a certified dermatology technician, lecturer, author, and national educator for the skin care industry. She holds national certification with the NCEA, Oncology Esthetics International, and as a natural health practitioner with Certified Natural Health Professionals. She received her naturopathic doctoral degree from the University of Science, Arts, and Technology College of Medicine and is a member of the American Society For Nutrition, International Association for Applied Corneotherapy, and the Society of Dermatological Skin Care Specialists. Dr. Madigan-Fleck is the CEO and owner of Naturophoria, established in 2000.

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