Monday, 27 October 2014 22:08

More Than Skin Deep | How the skin protects against disorders

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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.

Main2Holistic Harmony
There is a profound synergy between understanding the structure and function of the skin and the physiology of how each cell relates to another. Whenever there is a continuous interruption to the natural biological function of the skin cells, such an impaired barrier function, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, acne, rosacea, and even potential lesions leading to cancer, inflammation becomes a common response. The keratinocytes and immune and defense systems go on alert.
They modify electrical frequencies and signal pathways (ions and cytokine activity) within the cell membranes and networks throughout the entire ego system of the skin. Their task is to adjust, restore, and repair so that the skin is returned to a state of equilibrium and barrier homeostasis.1 Furthermore, there is a profound link between skin structure and function and the product composition that is applied to support a restructuring process. Chemical components in products can also influence cellular activity within the skin layers. This link is essential when assessing potential corrective measures involving treatments and products.
While using adequate delivery vehicles, skin care formulations must meet specific criteria in order to be able to optimally bring forth their active ingredients. Topically applied products must be able to penetrate through the skin’s barrier defense systems in order to become effective. We begin repair at the acid mantle with an essential objective that supports the recovery of the stratum corneum and improves skin barrier function returning it to homeostasis.2 Skin care formulas based on corneotherapy principles should be biomimetic and compatible to the structure and function of the skin.3 For example, a compatible membrane structure repair cream could contain phosphatidylcholine, shea butter, ceramides, phytosterols, squalane, and natural moisturizers. Furthermore, products should be void of harmful substances such as irritants and allergens.

The Skin Barriers
The natural barriers of the skin are extremely vital for the prevention of foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and environmental pollutants. They are also vulnerable to damage from excessive sun exposure, disease, and barrier disorders. The three barriers and their sub-systems include the natural microflora, the epidermal barrier, and the immune system.4Main5

The Analysis
During our analysis, the skin is viewed as a three-dimensional structure: color, texture, and secretions. This perspective enables us to create an intelligent pathway to assess our client. It tells a story about what is occurring in the underlying skin cells and structures deduced from the health intake form and diagnostic devices used during the analysis. The skin analysis also establishes any risks surrounding treatment and application of products. Collectively, this information helps us create a more in-depth examination of the skin. After all, because clients are happier with a healthier look, our goal is to develop a suitable treatment program that produces results and builds loyalty.Main6

More Considerations
How old is your client? What cells and systems are affected by the client’s age? There are intrinsic aging factors that naturally affect them. Skin after 40 may have changes in the collagen structures affecting skin density and strength. Seventy percent of dermal tissue is comprised of collagen, the single most important body protein constituent of the fibrous connective tissue in the body. A sheath of this fibrous tissue surrounds all organs, muscles, and bones. During the aging process, especially after the age of 50, marked changes occur regarding these proteins. Main3
The normal function of the dermal-epidermal junction allows for the movement of oxygen and nutrients to seep from the dermis into the basal cell layer of the epidermis. Remember, there are no blood vessels in the epidermis. Basal cells rely on being very close to the area of nutrient exchange found within the fingers of the rete pegs containing capillary and lymphatic loops projecting up from the dermis and at the junction. The rete pegs also provide strength to this connective tissue area between the epidermis and dermis. Deterioration at the dermal-epidermal junction occurs during the natural aging process or damage superimposed from lifestyle and sun exposure. There is a loss of strength and adhesion. Furthermore, the capillaries found throughout the fingers of the rete pegs in this papillary area of the dermis reach up to feed the basal cells. The rete pegs may begin to flatten with age and/or premature damage. Thus, you observe conditions of vascular matting (telangiectasia) since it is important that the blood within the capillaries diffuse their nutrients into the basal area and also carry away cell wastes (lymphatics). Moreover, during the natural aging process, over-exposure and disease cause layers at the junction to lift away from the dermis, creating deep wrinkles and sagging (elastosis). 
A lack of water and oil-soluble nutrients to the keratinocytes results in a poor cell membrane and poor functioning barrier defense systems within the bi-layers and the acid mantle. What happens to the mitochondria within the cell? Decrease in mitochondria function can lead to disease. How do dietary habits affect the cells and systems? Are there fatty acid deficiencies (EFAD) that are required for strong cell membranes? Anything that affects the dermal structures will have an effect in the epidermis. Gathering adequate data during the analysis also supports a well-planned treatment program and choice of products.

When studying cosmetic chemistry as it relates to skin function, take a more global approach to expanding your knowledge. Study the characteristics of each ingredient and then relate it to the synergy of the formula. Ingredients work in tandem with one another and in turn influence the cells during the correction process.Main4


  1. Feingold, K. R., et al., (2007). The Regulation of Permeability Barrier Homeostasis, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 127: 1574-1576. Web.
  2. Florence Barrett-Hill, (2013). Cosmetic Chemistry. Las Vegas Symposium.
  3. Lautenschlager, Hans, Ph.D., (2014). Corneotherapy – What does the future hold? The International Association for Applied Corneotherapy. Web.
  4. Elias, P., Steinhoff, M., (2008). Outside-to-Inside, Pathogenic Mechanisms in Atopic Dermatitis. 128: 1067-1070. Web.
  5. Higdon, Jane, Ph.D., (2003). Vitamin A. Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University. Web.
  6. Thiele, J.J., (2006). The Epidermal Antioxidant Barrier, Skin Barrier, 23: 381. Print.
  7. Bardan, A. Nizet, V. Gallo R., (2004). Antimicrobial peptides and the skin. 4 (4): 543-549. Web.
  8. Nardo, A., Gallo, R., (2006). Cutaneous Barriers in Defenses Against Microbial Invasion, Skin Barrier. 22: 364. Print. 
  9. Elias, P., Steinhoff, M., (2008). Outside-to-Inside, Pathogenic Mechanisms in Atopic Dermatitis. 128: 1067-1070. Web.
  10. Lautenschlager, H., Jabs, U., (2010). Radio Waves and Boswellisa Nanoparticles – A New Derma Rejuvenation Therapy: Consideration on Skin Physiology and Skin Aging From the Biochemical Point of View, Asthetische Dermatologie. (4): 18-25. Web. 
  11. Haftek, M., Simon, M., Serre, G., (2006). Cornedesmosomes: Pivotal Actors in the Stratum Corneum Cohesion and Desquamation, Skin Barrier. 11: 123. Print.
  12. Pugliese, P.T., (2006). Advanced Professional Skin Cary – Medical Edition. 182. Print. 
  13. Bickle, K., M.D., et al., (2002). Autoimmune Bullous Dermatoses: A Review, American Family Physician. 65 (9). Web.

HeadshotAlexandra J. Zani is an international educator, researcher and author with a background in cell biology and medical. Her passion for education resulted in receiving numerous advanced certifications both in the United States and abroad. Zani earned an instructor license for aesthetics/cosmetology, is NCEA Nationally Certified, certified in Oncology Esthetics®, and the Pastiche Method® of Skin Analysis. She is a member of the International Association for Applied Corneotherapy (IAC). Zani presents education for advanced aesthetic technology including microcurrents, LED, and non-ablative laser. She is a specialist in the anti-aging sciences, including the effects of nutrition, lifestyle, and the mind/body connection.

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