JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 31566
Thursday, 24 June 2010 21:30

Unlock the Mystery of Chemical Messengers

Written by

What I truly love about the skin care profession is not necessarily the “how” of treatments, products, and results; but the “why”. This is probably why I am so passionate about teaching. It is not enough in our business to simply be able to make recommendations and deliver visible results to our client’s skin, if we do not know precisely why we are capable of achieving such results.
As consumers place increasingly more confidence in our hands regarding meeting their skin needs and concerns, our professional responsibility to meet those needs has grown, requiring aestheticians to have a deep understanding of how those concerns even came to be. That being said, one of the most influential contributing factors to the condition of the skin, at many different ages, is fluctuations in hormones.

The human body has two types of glands, exocrine glands and endocrine glands. Exocrine glands secrete material out of the duct and onto the surface of the body (I like to think of them as exiting), such as salivary glands, sudoriferous glands, and sebaceous glands. Endocrine glands are composed of a special group of cells that form ductless glands, and secrete substances directly into the bloodstream; these substances are know as hormones.

Michelle d Allaird Feature

The Endocrine System

The major endocrine glands in the human body are the pituitary gland, pineal gland, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, ,-and pancreas. Let us take a brief look at the role of each one.
The pituitary glandis a small pea size gland located at the base of the brain, often referred to as the “Master Gland”. Hormones secreted by this gland function to regulate homeostasis and stimulate other endocrine glands. The pituitary hormones help control growth, blood pressure, uterine contractions during childbirth and the formation of breast milk, metabolism, water regulation in the body and kidneys, the functioning of sex organs in males and females, temperature regulation, and most importantly, the production of growth hormone.
The pineal gland is a small gland shaped like a tiny pine cone, and is located near the center of the brain, between the two hemispheres. Often referred to as the “third eye”, the pineal gland produces melatonin – a hormone that affects an individual’s sleep patterns, as well as alterations in seasonal functions. The production of melatonin is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. Specialized photosensitive cells in the retina detect light and directly signal the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a tiny region in the brain that controls circadian rhythms; the body’s natural functioning within a 24 hour cycle. The human pineal gland grows in size only until about one to two years of age, and then remains the same throughout life. Michelle D Allaird
The thymus gland lies just beneath the top of the breastbone and is a specialized organ in the immune system. The thymus is responsible for processing a type of white
blood cell called a T-Cell (hence the “T” for thymus). T-lymphocytes are known to regulate cellular immunity by assisting other cells in recognizing and destroying foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and even abnormal cell growth such as cancer.
The thyroid gland is one of the largest endocrine glands in the body. It is located in the center of the neck and is also known as the “Adam’s Apple.” This gland controls the rate at which the body uses energy, produces proteins, and controls the body’s sensitivity level to other hormones. The function of the thyroid gland depends upon the production of its’ two primary hormones, thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones regulate the rate of metabolism, calcium levels, and affect the function and growth of many other body systems. The thyroid gland is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary.
The adrenal glands are triangular shaped glands found on top of the kidneys. Their main function is the release of hormones associated with stress by means of adrenaline, cortisol, and corticosteroids. Each gland is separated into two sections, the cortex and the medulla. The cortex mainly produces cortisol, as well as aldosterone and androgens; while the medulla primarily produces epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. The adrenal glands also stimulate fat breakdown in adipose tissue, inhibit protein synthesis, and provide both an immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory role.
Last, but certainly not least, the pancreas. The pancreas acts as both an endocrine and exocrine gland. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on its endocrine function of producing key hormones, by means of the Islets of Langerhan; such as insulin, glucagon (which raises blood glucose levels, having an opposite effect from insulin), and somatostatin ( a peptide hormone that affects cell proliferation and neurotransmissions).


External Hormonal Stimulators and Their Relationship to the Skin

At this point you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the skin. Research has shown that hormones and hormonal changes have the greatest impact on the health of the skin, and most notably, on the aging process. There are multiple factors that influence hormonal changes, but there are six that are the most prominent and frequent; stress, pregnancy, menopause, a menstrual cycle, oral contraceptives, illness, and/or disease.
Knowledge of these factors and of their potential influences on the skin are terrific “red flags” acquired during the consultation process, and from the consultation form. Understanding that most of these factors are beyond our scope of practice, and are even beyond individual control allows us to improve the skin, knowing that permanent improvement is unlikely until the external factor is negated. In this section, we will look at each of the most common external factors that affect hormones.


Triggers hormones that affect the immune system and the adrenal glands. As you will recall these glands produce cortisol and growth hormones. When negatively impacted due to stress there is an impact on immune efficiency, proper inflammatory responses as well as cellular growth,
and reproduction.


Increases fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations in turn trigger melanocyte activity, stimulate blood flow, and enhance skin sensitivity as well as increase the risk of acne during the first trimester.


Causes a drop in estrogen levels. This drop decreases blood flow, decreases cell renewal, causes drier, more fragile skin, and a loss of collagen and elastin.

The Menstrual Cycle

Triggers fluctuations in estrogen and testosterone levels. In week one of the cycle, estrogen levels are higher, minimizing acne breakouts. However, once ovulation occurs, testosterone levels rise, stimulating the sebaceous glands and promoting acne breakouts.

Oral Contraceptives

Have similar hormonal effects to those of pregnancy. Higher doses of estrogen are frequently used for the treatment of acne.

Illness and Disease

Within the various endocrine glands will alter hormone production resulting in various skin manifestations:
Thyroid Disease: May present manifestations such as atopic dermatitis, ecchymosis, sarcoidosis, vitiligo, xanthomas, and edema.
Pituitary Gland Disease: May present manifestations such as excessive hair growth and thickening of the skin.
It is never a “given” that these manifestations will occur. Nor is it a “given” that they are the result of these external stimulators; but the relationships between them are well proven and documented. It is these relationships that will act as a guide for determining proper skin care protocols.


Michelle D AllairdA Closer Look at Key Hormones

Regardless of the various external and hereditary factors that may influence an individual's specific hormonal functioning, there are three primary hormones that have the greatest influence on the condition of the skin; estrogen, thyroxin, and androgens (testosterone). Keep in mind that while there certainly are a multitude of various hormones, these three are the most prominent, influential, and most easily fluctuated. Each of these common hormones interestingly can have an effect on both the skin as well as the hair.
Estrogen is important for maintaining collagen and skin moisture by increasing mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid and enhancing the skin's barrier function. It has also been noted that estrogen plays a role in promoting cutaneous wound healing. Estrogen-deprived skin; thins, loses collagen, and slows down the cell renewal process. Estrogen also plays a role in maintaining a full, healthy head of hair by encouraging hair to stay in its growing phase (anagen hair). This is easily recognized in the significant thickening of hair towards the end of many pregnancies. Likewise, when estrogen levels take a significant plunge, such as during and after menopause, the lower estrogen level allows the scalp hair to grow closer to the falling out stage (telogen hair), resulting in finer, more sparse hair. Unfortunately, that same drop in estrogen has the opposite effect on facial hair, which tends to increase and thicken most likely as a result of higher testosterone levels.
Thyroxin, produced by the thyroid gland, also has an influence on the appearance of the skin. Excess production of thyroxin results in a warm, smooth, sweaty, flushed skin appearance; whereas an under-activity of thyroxin produces a dry, coarse, thickening of skin with reduced ability to sweat.
Androgens, the male hormones, most specifically, testosterone, play a key role in the production of sebum in the skin. The oil glands of the skin are in part controlled by the level and activity of the hormone testosterone by having a direct impact on the stimulation of the sebaceous glands. This is seen in conditions such as acne; as well as polycystic ovary syndrome, which produce some elevation in testosterone, resulting in increased facial hair, irregular periods, and acne.


Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been used for several decades to combat the effects of menopause and replenish the estrogen levels that are depleted. HRT is capable of promoting a fuller-looking skin by minimizing the loss of subcutaneous fat, increasing hydration, and increasing the skins’ own natural moisturizing factors.


The Role of the Aesthetician

We are not doctors, we cannot diagnose... but, we can determine skin conditions based upon what we do know. One of the most difficult challenges that skin care professionals have is the demand to prevent and improve the effects of the aging process, pigmentation, loss of firmness, and loss of hydration. Aside from UV exposure, hormonal changes are the most common cause of the effects of the aging process.
Obtaining pertinent information during the consultation process is the key to establishing a treatment plan and protocol. This also allows for clear communication with the client. Being able to clearly explain the physiological influence of altered hormones on the visible appearance of the skin, will help the client understand the difficulty in the task of improving such appearance. It most certainly does not mean that our professional hands are tied, but the likelihood of making permanent improvements while the hormones are still fluctuating, is minimal. Combinations of professional treatments and effective home care will make instant temporary improvements, but will need to be continued in order to maintain such improvements.
The human body and the skin are complicated, yet fascinating... and as professional aestheticians we have the ability and the gift to improve the way our clients look and feel about themselves. Not only is this powerful, but an honor as well. Clients place their trust and their appearance in our hands, where we must rely upon education and knowledge to deliver results and establish satisfied clients for life.

Michelle D’Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D’Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical, and laser courses.

Want to read more?

Log in or subscribe to continue reading this article.

Related items

  • Dallas Based Entrepreneurs Launch Medical Hologram B+A and Marketing Assistant Serving the Aesthetic Community Dallas Based Entrepreneurs Launch Medical Hologram B+A and Marketing Assistant Serving the Aesthetic Community

    Aestheia Imaging, a hologram content management, and advertising subscription company introduced its disruptive technology at the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery last week at The Aesthetic Meeting in New Orleans. The company breaks the mold of in-practice marketing with the unveiling of XTHEIA; an interactive hologram display toting a Virtual Consult Assistant for medical office waiting rooms. Aestheia's launch poses a resolution to poor patient awareness; an underserved focal point of product education in the aesthetics industry.
    The company is led by Austin JM Podowski, CEO and accomplished Dallas Healthcare Business Tech executives Mike McDonald, President and Paul Herchman, Advisory Board Member. Well known Plastic Surgeon and photographer Dr. Barry DiBernardo of New Jersey Plastic Surgery leads the companies Medical Advisory Board and will continue to work to enhance upon the application. The company offers a connected holographic media platform to story map the patient journey to brand and product education. Through the research and development of Aestheia's Medical Advisory Group, the company will offer holographic before and afters to patients so they can see pre-operative and post-operative procedure outcomes in true 3D, not previously available in the space.

    "We are dedicated to providing novel and ground breaking product innovation for the entire Aesthetic Community," comments McDonald. The company today offers a fully-automated and comprehensive holographic playlist for physician waiting rooms tethered to a cloud-based solution developed by the management team.
    "We are changing the way medical companies and physicians communicate with their customers and patients. The ALEXA of Aesthetics is now in the room," states Podowski. The team has also designed a customer facing iPad Pro application that allows a physician to remote control the device offering an in-app camera for patient photos. Mr. Podowski later comments, "The response received at ASAPS The Aesthetic Meeting affirms that our vision and product meet a need and resuscitate a lost connection with the consumer."
    The management team is dedicated to further pioneering advancements in hologram, AI, and AR in the evolving medical practice of the 21st century. The company is finalizing a third-round capital raise and will begin placement of their technology throughout Plastic Surgery Offices in North America in July 2019. The technology will also be on display in direct to consumer retail kiosks throughout the United States later this year. To get a sneak peak of Aestheia, follow the team's development, or learn more about the technology, follow @aestheiaimaging or visit www.aestheiaimaging.com.

  • Micropigmentation Procedure October 2010
    Micropigmentation Procedure October 2010

    Micropigmentation Procedure Helps Breast Cancer Survivors Regain Self-Esteem & Confidence!

    Cranberr facial mask

    Cranberr facial mask
    According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), it is estimated that in 2009 there were 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed among women, and approximately 1,910 new cases in men. For the many men and women who have been, and will be diagnosed this year, the battle to get through treatment and surgery is only the beginning of the journey to survive. Although the feeling of survival is unsurpassed, the physical scars at times may leave some survivors anxious with their new appearance. Ruth Swissa has taken her passion and artistic expertise in the permanent makeup industry to provide areola pigmentation for breast cancer patients post reconstruction to help renew self-confidence and boost self-esteem.

    "Many of my patients have said that waking up every morning, and looking in the mirror is a constant reminder of their battle, which although comes with a sense of pride, it also at times causes insecurities because they don't feel like themselves," says Swissa.

    Micropigmentation is an alternative method of creating a realistic nipple and areola after a mastectomy, to achieve a more symmetrical shape and even coloring using artistic light and shade effects. Swissa works closely with her patients in order to achieve the desired coloring and size to create a natural looking effect. This procedure takes less than an hour and is usually painless.

    Ruth uses a customized medical tattooing technique for applying permanent makeup for areola pigmentation. This unique method proves to be more exact, very gentle, and less invasive than traditional cosmetic tattooing. The results look more natural and subtle in appearance.

  • Five Ways to Find Safe and Natural Relief from Osteoarthritis October 2010
    Five Ways to Find Safe and Natural Relief from Osteoarthritis October 2010

    Five Ways to Find Safe and Natural Relief from Osteoarthritis

    by Deirdre Shevlin Bell

    Cranberr facial mask

    The search for safe and effective relief from osteoarthritis (OA), a condition that occurs when joint cartilage wears down over time, can feel like an uphill battle. Certain natural remedies can bring lasting relief from OA according to the Arthritis Research Council (ARC) study and other experts. That is good news, since the pain, stiffness, and loss of flexibility from arthritis makes it the nation's most common cause of disability.

    One massage, and call me in the morning
    Spa-lovers with osteoarthritis will be pleased to learn that all those massages that leave you feeling loose and limber are doing more than just helping you relax. According to a 2006 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, Swedish massage improves flexibility, decreases pain, and increases range of motion in individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee.

    Low-impact exercise
    "When people start to hurt, they tend to cut back on exercise," notes Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University Montgomery and Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. But that is a mistake, as inactivity can make pain and stiffness even worse. Olson recommends Pilates and swimming or doing aqua-aerobics, but she emphasizes the importance of choosing gentle, weight-bearing exercise. Michael Murray, N.D. suggests that a person should find something they love, and find a way to continue doing it: If walking on concrete sidewalks is too hard on the joints, walk on the golf course.

    Spice rub
    Using a gel containing capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili, is very effective at providing temporary relief from osteoarthritis pain. Studies have found that capsaicin can deplete the substance that acts to transmit pain signals from nerve endings to the brain and cause inflammation in the joints.

    Healing herbs
    An ARC study evaluated several herbs and herbal combinations and found that one stood above the rest. Phytodolor, a branded combination of three herbs – aspen (Populus tremula), common ash bark (Franxinus excelsior), and golden rob herb (Solidago vigaurea) effectively manages the pain and inflammation associated with OA. Some studies have shown that aspen contains a substance that when ingested inhibits the production of certain prostaglandins in the nerves, resulting in pain relief. Common ash bark and golden rob herb also have pain-relieving properties, and common ash bark is an antioxidant – meaning it may reduce oxidative damage in the joint. The combination of the three herbs has been shown in animal studies to reduce inflammation. No major adverse effects have been reported, though some people do experience diarrhea, stomach upset, or skin reactions.

    The SAMe Game
    First discovered in 1952 and widely investigated for its usefulness in treating depression, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is now showing promise as a treatment for OA. SAMe is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in the body, where it contributes to the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Studies suggest that when taken as a supplement, SAMe reduces pain and also stimulates the synthesis of collagen and proteoglycans, which are the major components of joint cartilage. Adverse effects are infrequent and mild, but can include nausea, restlessness, headache, dry mouth, and stomach upset. People with depression should consult with a healthcare provider before taking SAMe, as some incidences of anxiety and mania have been reported.

    Copyright© HealthyLifestyles.com

  • The Impact of Psoriasis on Personal Relationships October 2010
    The Impact of Psoriasis on Personal Relationships October 2010

    The Impact of Psoriasis on Personal Relationships Survey Fact Sheet

    This survey was created in partnership with the National Psoriasis Foundation and Galderma Laboratories, L.P.

    Within this issue, as well as our November and December 2010 issues, we will be printing important findings revealed from the recent survey, "The Impact of Psoriasis on Personal Relationships." This survey, sponsored by Galderma Laboratories, was distributed to the National Psoriasis Foundation membership database via Survey Monkey. The survey was completed by approx 1,520 people; statistics below represent the percentage of people who answered a specific question (not always all 1,520 respondents). Statistics are rounded to nearest percentage point and percentages may not add up to 100 percent depending on the structure of the question. Not every respondent answered every question.i Below is a list of findings relating to psoriasis and its impact of social relationships.

    Nearly 80 percent (78.7%) of question respondents feel that psoriasis has had a negative impact on their personal relationships.ii

    Social Relationships

    • When having a psoriasis flare-up, 63.3 percent of respondents are less likely to go out socially iii and 53.6 percent have declined social invitations or cancelled plans because of a flare-up.iv Nearly 70 percent (69.6%) feel that psoriasis has impacted their social relationships.v
    • When meeting someone new, 74.3 percent of question respondents worry that the person will notice their psoriasis,vi and 72.1 percent of respondents are concerned that people that notice will think of them less favorably.vii
    • When going out for social occasions, 79.5 percent of respondents usually only wear outfits that cover up
      their psoriasis.viii
  • Pomegranate the Ancient Red Goddess October 2010
    Pomegranate the Ancient Red Goddess October 2010

    Pomegranate the Ancient Red Goddess!

    by Natalie Pergar

    Cranberr facial mask

    Known not only as part of the elite group of super fruits, the all mighty pomegranate, English word comes from the Latin words for apple; "pomum" (apple) and "granatus" (seeded), has been dated as far back as 1,000 BC and was introduced to North America by Spanish settlers in 1769. This red beauty represents global symbolism and history ranging from righteousness, prosperity, and fertility.

    With over 760 varieties of pomegranate it is one of the oldest known medicines to man. Ancient Greek healers would use pomegranate juice to manage health problems similar to arthritis, circulation problems, digestive disorders, and infections. And to add to the wonders of the pomegranate, the fruit was also involved in ancient beauty concoctions. Today with our growing beauty culture and desire to turn back the clock, we find ourselves revisiting what our ancient friends already knew with the help of modern science and research.

    Pomegranates are packed with phytonutrients, vitamin B, and an abundance of vitamin C. They contain red arils, tiny edible seeds that are loaded with juice and provide valuable fiber. They are delicious and fantastic to eat - though I would not recommend eating the white membrane that surrounds the arils as it is quite bitter and the consensus is that it is not recommended. And for those of us that count calories, a 1/2 cup of raw pomegranate has 80 calories and 0 grams of fat!

    According to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), pomegranate fruit extract contains several polyphenols and anthocyanidins (pigment that gives certain fruits their dark red colors). Its antioxidant activity is higher than that of red wine and green tea and research suggests that pomegranate extract may have significant clinical benefits in decreasing risk for skin cancer.

    By taking pomegranate extract capsules, one could reduce or reverse the signs of aging by promoting cell turnover and creating new, healthy skin. But that is not all! Evidence shows that including it in your skin care regime can provide wonderful results too. Rich in ellagic acid to manage free radicals, pomegranate oil contains punicic acid, an omega 5 conjugated fatty acid effective in aiding cell regeneration and proliferation. Pomegranate also carries beneficial phytoestrogen and a rare plant-based source of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), an anti-carcinogen.

    So I salute you, oh red goddess of history. Bring me health and wellness with all your super fruit power!

    Pomegranate, Almond Oil, and Honey Mask

    ½ pomegranate
    2 tsp almond oil
    ½ tbsp organic honey

    Warm up the honey until it becomes liquid (not too hot!) by putting it in a small glass or metal bowl which is immersed in hot water. Peel the pomegranate half, cut the fruit in pieces, and put these in a bowl or food processor. Add the honey and almond oil. Blend it all into a smooth and uniform paste. Spread this gently and equally with your fingertips on your clean face and neck: keep the eye area clear. Now lie down, relax, and leave the mask on for 20 minutes. Then, wash it off with lukewarm water and end with a splash of cold water; pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Finally, apply a moisturizer, this way you "seal" your skin to keep the water inside. (For all skin types). *This fruit mask recipe peels your skin and we do not recommend using it on acne skin.

    Copyright ® 2009-2010 Natural – Homeremedies-For-Life

    Pomegranate Oat Bran Scrub

    2 ounces pomegranate juice
    2 ounces orange juice
    2 tbsp honey
    2 tbsp sea salt
    3 to 4 ounces oat bran

    1. In a container large enough to hold two cups, combine pomegranate and orange juices. To this add the honey and mix together well.
    2. Now add sea salt and oat bran. Mix together and allow the oat bran to soak up the liquids, about 10 to 20 minutes.
    3. Make sure to apply to a clean face. Probably the easiest way is to apply in the shower after you clean your face and allow it to set while you do other things. The steam from the shower helps allow the ingredients to penetrate your skin. Then, gently scrub off as you shower.

    Copyright ® eHow.com

Login to post comments

August 2020

Wellness Blogs

Brands of the Month

  • DMK Skin Revision Center
  • Eminence Organic Skin Care
  • Repechage