Human skin, like all other organs, undergoes chronological aging. Skin aging is characterized histologically by irregularly dispersed melanocytes, elastosis, reduction, and alterations in collagen and accumulation of a variety of lipid-derived pigments such as chromolipoids and lipofuscins. These internal and silent histological shifts manifest clinically in the skin and the visible benchmarks are identified by fine and coarse wrinkling, roughness, laxity, dryness, sallowness, pigmentary moddling, and actinic keratosis conditions.
What common link is the primary foundation of skin aging? The environment. Skin in direct contact with the environment undergoes all consequences of environmental damage causing dry skin, thereby exacerbating aging.
Aging skin slows down the cellular renewal process and dry skin is attributed to faulty desquamation, decreased water-retention ability, and increased thickness of the stratum corneum due to the impediment of normal skin cell exfoliation.
Why is exfoliation an important element of your skin services and the point of difference in all skin treatment programs, clinical and home care? Firstly, skin exfoliation is a naturally occurring physiological process whereby dead surface skin cells organically slough off daily. This process involves the elimination of non-neucleated corneocytes (dead skin cells) after they have made their terminal differentiation through the epidermis and up from the stratum corneum. The stratum corneum is the final product of epidermal differentiation. In this perpetual process, keratinocytes divide in the deepest epidermal layers and their proliferation compensates, under normal conditions, for the loss of cornified cells at the skin's surface. It is just before they desquamate that keratinocytes, at the most advanced stage of their terminal differentiation, form a highly resistant, compact, and anucleated horny layer. This layer is directly influenced by environmental conditions.
Skin depends on the regularity of the natural cell shedding process to maintain its health. The structure of this defensive immune organ wall holds well-built and very strong protein "bricks" that are imbedded in a matrix of intracellular lipid bi-layers gripping the entire structure together. The corneocytes are flat, pancake-like protein structures originating from the parent keratinocytes. Due to the very strong stratum corneum corneocyte barrier of these interlinking cells, if left untreated without consistent exfoliation, the skin will look dry, become dehydrated, flaky, exhibit uneven skin texture, cause itching, emit unhealthy coloring, irritate acne, increase the appearance of cellulite, impede active ingredients to penetrate and last, but not least – the skin will look years older!
Seasonal changes also affect the condition of normal skin and may set off various cutaneous disorders due to a decline in the barrier repair function (BRF). Winter xerosis is a very common scaling disorder associated with hyperkeratinization: the shedding of dry skin flakes which is polar opposite to the imperceptible shedding of superficial corneocytes that occurs in normal skin conditions.
As all the components of the stratum corneum, or at least their precursors, must be synthesized in visible cell layers, the entire chain of subtle modifications occurring within the horny layer, and leading to shedding of most superficial cells, appears to be genetically pre-programmed. However, the epidermis is an interactive tissue, well adapted to the fluctuating environmental skin conditions and during the cell's 28 to 32 day journey, the BRF becomes more acidic as the cells lose their nucleus and become saturated with keratin. This keratin is important to the skin's barrier because it provides the armor to protect from environmental assault. Given that, natural exfoliation of the epidermis stratum corneum is always in need of professional assistance. To understand this tiny, flaky world and why this brick and mortar layer of skin is in need of professional exfoliation treatments, means you are obligated for the sake of your client's skin health to comprehend the dynamics of both the corneocytes (the flaky cells) and the keratinocytes (the parent cells).
Skin is genetically programmed to naturally exfoliate, however the extra-cellular components of the stratum corneum play a key role in both the BRF and natural desquamation of the skin.
To grasp further why the stratum corneum BRF epidermal layer plays an important role in skin health is to comprehend the responsibility of this protective cellular sheath. The stratum corneum is a relatively water impermeable membrane and depends principally on the composition of the lipid 'mortar.' The lipid 'mortar' is in itself rich in lipids that contain various enzymes and naturally provides cell protection and nourishment. The flip side is the 'mortar' acts as a 'glue' anchoring dead cells to the stratum corneum, triggering dead skin build up and leading to a dry and dull appearance that impedes topical nutrients from penetrating and supporting the skin health. This is one of the main reasons why organic exfoliation is important to a skin care program.
The "science" behind today's professional only skin care products is key for optimal exfoliation results and achieved through mechanical or chemical constituents. Credit for exfoliation skin treatment originates with the ancient Egyptians who practiced this form of skin care centuries ago. Professional exfoliation therapy is established with professional procedures producing immediate results using several different types of organic enzymes, mechanical beads and droplets, fruit and vegetable extracts, AHAs, and chocolate.
The most common known exfoliators are enzymes. In professional skin care, these constituents are proteolytic that digest the keratin proteins off the surface of the skin in a gentle, effective action. Enzymes are a necessity for life and for every process in the body. These active members of the exfoliation family are considered a catalyst, meaning they cause chemical reactions to happen. Think of the enzymes as tiny Pac Men eating the dead skin cells away, exposing the new skin to emerge. The skin is immediately softer, smoother, and hydrated.
Enzyme masks are fantastic and because of their divisibility, the aesthetician can become extremely creative. Pumpkin, berry mixes, and/or pomegranate enzymes are great for fall exfoliation promotional packages to combat dry, irritated winter skin because they are packed with potent antioxidants for healthier skin and boost the moisture factor – a critical element during the winter.
Organic acids, such as AHAs, provide a clinical approach to exfoliation and have a more potent biological action than the aforementioned enzymes. AHAs are exploding back on to the skin care scene and have been substantiated as safe and extremely effective for photo aged skin, acne, and pigmentation. Many of these organic substances are commonly referred to as fruit acids. The most familiar of these exfoliants are glycolic acid, which is a constituent of sugar cane juice; lactic acid produced by the microorganism Lactobacillus (responsible for the taste and odor of sour milk – Cleopatra's favorite!); malic acid, isolated from unripened apples; tartaric acid from grapes and wine; and citric acid isolated from lemon juice.
Lactic acid has been established not only as a superior skin exfoliant, but also as a great body peel, decreasing the thickness of the stratum corneum, increasing the epidermis deposition, amplifying the Natural Moisturizing Factor of the skin with 40 percent Amino acids and minerals naturally and provides indigenous skin nutrients to build back the acid mantle and barrier repair function of the stratum corneum. Lactic Acid is also a fantastic weapon against aging body skin! There are a variety of treatment modalities for each skin type and color and many of these acids can complement enzyme and mechanical exfoliation.
Organic exfoliant acids have a variety of different actions on the skin depending on their pH and concentration and appear to have multiple actions on the stratum corneum. In the last 20 years, these organic compounds have been used successfully in the treatment and prevention of dry, aging, acne, sagging and other skin conditions including on the body.
Incorporating AHA exfoliation into a spa's menu is a guaranteed way to increase profitability. Formulas of these diverse exfoliators range greatly, therefore it is important to do your research and purchase AHA products from a reputable company who provides sound business and skin education on application and how to create new treatment modalities that suit your skin menu philosophy and mission statement.
Because there is such a range of these organic exfoliators, the diversity makes it possible to create different menu add-ons for acne, photo aging, and pigmentation. One bottle of an AHA Exfoliator can generate almost $1900 in revenue as an add-on and even more profitability when offered as an independent treatment. In these challenging economic times, this is a perfect solution because they are cost effective, easy to apply, and have a Smithsonian room full of clinical documentation that prove how effective they are on the skin to reverse wrinkles, control and clear acne, and manage pigmentation. But just as importantly, these fruit acid exfoliants increase profitability to improve your business bottom line because they work and clients re-book.
The focus on exfoliation treatments is a growing movement to meet the expectations of your clientele. The demand in medical spas, skin clinics, spas, salons, etc. is at an all time high. These wonderful exfoliation preparations are extremely diversified, cost effective, easily and quickly applied, and smell magnificent ranging with essences of fresh licorice to pumpkin pie, chocolate, citrus, and other organic compounds that whirl away micro damaged dead skin, turns on healthy cells at the basal layer, increases internal lipids, combats aging skin, and builds collagen and antioxidant protection capabilities of the cell.
But this is only the beginning! If you are a spa owner who wants to incorporate these popular treatments in a variety of specialties sure to please your ever-demanding clientele for new therapies producing great skin results and more profitability to your bottom line, pay close attention to this article.
Seasonal exfoliation promotions are great opportunities to book additional treatments. Companies offering exfoliation products that are easily incorporated into any treatment can be a tremendous asset to your bottom line profit because these products are great as an "add-on" that boost your income productivity. In addition, an enzyme mask or exfoliant product with mechanical beads should be sold to your client to use in between their professional treatment, thus increasing your retail sales.
If you are a spa offering cellulite treatments, mechanical exfoliation prior will increase the penetration of your body products, therefore clinical results. Using exfoliation beads on the skin surface for these treatments increases stimulation by force of the mechanical beads followed by an officious cellulite cream. Cellulite exfoliation treatment packages are extremely popular and this time of year is perfect to offer these treatments as preparation for summer. If you already offer cellulite massage treatments, an additional add on of a mechanical exfoliation massage will increase not only the treatment results, but also the profitability of this therapy.
As extensively described, the outermost layer of the skin, stratum corneum, is generated by stratified epithelium that is constantly renewing. A well-regulated desquamation is a pre-requisite for epidermal homeostasis, essential for the normal functioning of the skin. This should be the central focus for all your treatment modalities.
In conclusion, exfoliation is good business. If you have not looked at offering this treatment from a science perspective, it makes good business sense to offer a variety of exfoliation therapy to your clients to increase bottom line profit.