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By Jeremy Lawrence | January 16, 2019

The good ol’ days provided simpler times when it was enough to tell your client that their product contained hydrating honey, soothing aloe, cooling cucumber, and revitalizing carrot extract. Relying on anecdotal properties of ingredients, while failing to understand or interpret the scientific data behind ingredient activity and product performance, can put an aesthetician at a serious disadvantage in today’s fast paced, information-laden climate. Even if we are able to wade through the data provided, keeping up with the latest information can become a full time job. Most people have neither the time, nor the expertise that is required, to dig through all of the complex research and correctly interpret the studies.

The science behind today’s products has become more sophisticated, complex and multifunctional, and the demand to measure changes in our skin, document results and prove product performance is greater than ever. Our clients are bombarded with compelling claims and provocative promises from skin care brands, causing them to ask more questions and seek further reassurance that the products they are using are safe and effective and deliver the promises that prompted their purchases.

Types of Tests and Studies
There are numerous tests and studies that play a part in developing a new product. Some tests are must haves, such as stability and container compatibility testing, while others are optional, but can still be especially relevant when used to substantiate a product’s ability to address the specific needs of a particular consumer demographic. Many optional tests involve finished product testing for product performance and claim substantiation, but most cosmetic companies simply cannot afford to put their products through expensive, time consuming independent clinical studies, the cost of which would ultimately impact the product itself.
Often, we are left to wonder what proof we have that our products are even working and, unfortunately, this is where it gets complicated. As far as the FDA is concerned, skin care products must be proven safe, but not effective and cosmetic manufacturers are not legally compelled to prove that their products actually work. Being that we are a self-regulated industry, it is up to the manufacturer to decide what kind of proof they will provide to the consumer, a decision that is most commonly made based on cost and claims subtantiation tests are far from cheap. After all, a dissatisfied customer whose product failed to deliver results is more likely to continue to use it or store it rather than file a complaint. On the other hand, a customer with an allergic reaction due to product contamination is much more likely to alert the FDA or possibly even pursue legal action.

Raw Ingredient Studies
In order to imply product efficacy, cosmetic companies often borrow from the studies performed on individual ingredients contained within a product. Some of the most impactful claims in our industry have been taken directly from ingredient studies concluding that certain peptides, stem cell activators, and antioxidants can reverse signs of aging up to 10 years. This practice is perfectly fine, as long as the manufacturer uses identical ingredient percentages to those used in the study. Sadly, some skin care manufacturers knowingly showcase ingredient studies to promote their product, even though the percentage used in their formula is far less than the percentage used in the very study they are citing. These unethical practices are creating a slew of problems for skin care professionals who rely on the accuracy of the information provided by the manufacturers when developing an expectation of product performance with their clients.

Beware of Extreme Patterns in Data
Both retail and professional companies can be guilty of presenting the highest numbers obtained in studies, as opposed to the more accurate average percentage of improvement. “100 percent of women agree fine lines and wrinkles are minimized and hydration is increased.” Establishing product performance expectations based on these test results will certainly lead to disappointment and brand disenchantment, yet so many companies still take the risk. Similar to presenting extreme patterns in data, up to claims can be equally misleading. “Up to 88 percent reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and up to 98 percent increase in hydration after just 14 days,” simply means that at least one person in the test group experienced these results, but it is much more probable and certainly more realistic to expect that most people will not experience such drastic results.

Read the Fine Print
Usually located under the before and after photographs or at the bottom of an advertisement, a small asterisk will often indicate the type of study that produced the quoted rate of improvement. The most commonly quoted studies by both retail and professional brands are self-assessment or consumer tests, which produce frequently spotted claims like “85 percent showed an improvement in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in just 14 days.” While those numbers may sound impressive, there is so much that can influence the outcome of these studies, that basing your product selection solely on such an extremely high improvement rate would be ill-advised. Most marketing materials will not provide information about the methodology of the study, control or baseline. Without knowing how the baseline was established, as well as the test subjects’ ages, ethnicities, geographical locations, and lifestyle or environmental factors, it is virtually impossible to predict the results you will achieve.

How to Detect Photography Manipulation on Before and After Photographs
In the past decade or so, technology that has made photography manipulation undetectable and has forever changed the landscape of before and after photographs. Even if a brand has not employed the use of editing, there are so many tiny details that can affect the accuracy of a photographic study. Factors like consistency of facial expression, angle, distance, position or view can significantly alter a study’s perceived results. Something as simple as the type of light used or direction in which the light is pointed can create the illusion of a treatment result. However, the number, angle, height, distance and brightness of the keylights in a before and after photograph, when identical, can provide fairly accurate clues as to the study’s veracity.
Even cosmetic giants like L’Oréal have been known to use such tactics, sparking consumer outrage in England and prompting civil litigation to be brought against the company. A British advertising watchdog group actually banned two advertisements for a L’Oréal foundation featuring actress Julia Roberts and model Christy Turlington. The company has also come under fire over the marketing of its anti-wrinkle creams featuring heavily airbrushed actress Kate Winslet, which, according to the complaint, does not reflect the true effectiveness of its products.

From the Lab to the Real World
While a product may perform well during testing, the way it is treated in the real world can reduce or even destroy its activity. Phytochemicals, vitamins, peptides, delivery systems, and other ingredients can be altered or destroyed when exposed to heat, oxygen, light, or pH variations. Packaging can also effect product performance, especially long-term. Ingredients of limited stability, such as certain forms of vitamin C or various antioxidants, must be protected by the container; therefore, ultraviolet-resistant or opaque packaging with little or no headspace and an appropriate dispensing system is highly recommended.

Product Care for Good Skin Care
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the retail skin care provider to instruct their clients on the proper use and care of their skin care product in order to prolong ingredient activity. Storing products, especially jars, in a cool, dark area will protect ingredient integrity and ensure more optimal product performance. It is also important to be mindful of any expiration date.

The Future of the Proof
Cosmetogenomics, which employs the use of microarray analysis as the latest innovative tool for identifying biomarkers in order to explore skin properties and product efficacy, can also provide new insights into the mechanisms of ingredient action and the cellular targets being addressed by new and old ingredients, so that we may finally understand their mode of action.
Researchers are cautious, however, of making too many claims about how their products actually work. Skin care professionals need to be aware of the limitations that cosmetic manufacturers are facing when communicating product performance to the consumer due to the archaic FDA definition of cosmetics.

As consumers, skin care professionals must continue to ask questions and demand further proof; the skin care industry is responding by employing more sophisticated technology and measuring tools in order to substantiate these increasingly ambitious marketing claims. Understanding and interpreting this technology will become exceedingly difficult for the average aesthetician, making their relationships with their product manufacturers more important than ever.


Irena-James-2014Director of Custom Product Development and Education for YG Laboratories, Irena James has educated on skin care ingredients, treatment protocols, and brand development. James’ versatile experience in the skin care industry spans over 20 years, during which she worked as an aesthetician, educator, territory sales manager, and director of business development in the EU. She is an assistant instructor at the UCLA Extension Cosmetic Sciences Program and a member of BIW and the Society of Cosmetic Chemists.



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By | January 16, 2019

It is a well known fact in the health care industry that the herbal supplement and vitamin market are multi-billion dollar industries. In the stressful environments and circumstances of modern living, we need some extra support than nature can provide from highly concentrated nutrients. Pollution, over-crowding, demanding work lives, economic concerns, family responsibilities, and compromised, depleted food supplies all contribute in varying degrees to depressed immune systems, stress-related disease, and chronic conditions that are so costly to health, happiness, productivity, and prosperity, that the American government finds itself embroiled in a debate over what clearly is a health care crisis.

Sadly, the debate centers mostly around how to bring administrative costs down to make the very limited arsenal of high-cost allopathic medicines and services more affordable to more people. Prevention is not even at the table – even though the American public is demonstrating by their spending habits that they want to stay healthy, not just be helped when they get sick. And, supplementation is a very crucial component of preventive health (rather than sickness) centered medical care.
But, even if we step out of the political fray, the tradition of Ayurveda teaches that after the age of 45, most of us benefit from supplementation. According to Ayurveda, the most active part of our lives, from about age 8 to 50 years, is a pitta stage of life. Our hormones are cooking, our metabolic processes are as strong as they are ever going to be during our lives. And then slowly, we begin to cool down and dry up, entering a vata stage of life. Our metabolism begins to slow down and our organ and muscular-skeletal systems begin to show more of the strains of living. Even if we have not been living in the fast lane, our dietary and lifestyle needs require us to adjust our nutritional intake. Adding supplements that spark digestion, promote detoxification, and assist in slowing down other signs of aging ensure that we are more able to live a quality, vital life.
But, then comes the big question. Which supplements and how many? This is not just question for individuals. This is very much a spa question; a question that is asked to spa therapists by their clients, a question that also concerns spa managers and owners as they consider and offer (as many do) supplements for their clients. Supplements generate revenue. But, the question then becomes even more tricky. It becomes a medical and ethical issue. Certainly, you can make a disclaimer that says that you offer these to your clients as a service, but as you are not prescribing them, you do not make claims as to their effectiveness, and so on – hence accept no liability. But still, in the interest of client satisfaction, most of you will want to offer what you think is the very best for your clients.
There are thousands – if not millions – of books, magazines, Internet articles, and websites devoted to telling you which supplements you should be taking. And, there are thousands of companies offering millions of supplements – each with their own claim of having the best, most effective, most organic, most digestible, synergistic, etc… How do you choose? There are so many variables to consider. For although it would be nice to say that what is most organic and unprocessed is best, these (usually more pricey) brands are not always any more effective than cheaper, inorganic, highly processed compounds.
When it comes to supplements, Ayurveda teaches that it is herbs, minerals, and other substances in combination that are most effective; that it is a synergy that best works with the complexities of our human bodies. Consequently, just oregano, or vitamin A by themselves – for example – would never be considered balanced for the body to properly assimilate. Most Ayurvedic supplements have a minimum of five different ingredients, all working to make it absorbed with absolutely no side effects. Side effects are considered a sign that the medicine or supplement is the wrong one. This is especially true with more curative pharmaceuticals. So, there is no such thing as the PDR (Physicians’ Desk Reference) in Ayurveda. An Ayurvedic physician should be sufficiently trained to know the constitution and condition of their client to ensure that all medicines and supplements ingested do exactly what they are supposed to do and nothing more.
But, with that said, the simple fact is that we do hear and read about supplements and choose them by ourselves – or with a little guidance from various professionals. Without the skill of an Ayurvedic physician, what can you do to ensure that what you take will work for you?
In the Tibetan Ayurvedic tradition, there is a simple test that can be done by oneself at home. Some spas may wish to offer this test on site, but more than likely, what you will elect to do is to provide the following information to your clients so they can do the test themselves. For it involves the testing of one’s urine to determine the absorbability of the supplement. It is a technique that has been around for thousands of years and yet, I know of Tibetan physicians that have used this in modern hospitals to sort out the best medicine for their clients. But, as the technique is quite simple to do, anyone can master it and get great results. The results we are speaking of are being able to effectively select the supplements that work best for you.
This technique will only work with substances that are powderable including foods, herbs, vitamins, and medicines, be they allopathic, herbal, etc.. This test will not work with gel capsules, oils, or liquids. It can be that you are already taking such substances, or you are considering or being advised to take something new. In this regard, if you sell supplements to your clients, you may wish to break open a few sample bottles of supplements so your clients can take a few home to test them.
Tibetan Urine Testing for Supplements and Medicines
Upon rising, use a clean jar to collect the mid-stream of your first morning urine. This means that you allow the first part and last part of your urine to be dispensed with. These have the most amount of toxins and waste products. The mid-stream has semi-metabolized substances from foods, vitamins, etc. and is considered the cleanest stream of the urine. For a woman, it is best that this test is not done while in menstruation. To do this supplement and medicine testing, you will need the following:

  1. a small pot for heating the urine
  2. shallow white or un-patterned clean bowls in which the urine will be poured
  3. a mortar and pestle, useful for substances that need crushing (capsules and powders will, of course, not need further crushing.)

Procedure

  1. Take each supplement to be tested and crush with pestle in the mortar if necessary. Do each supplement or substance separately and place the powder on a piece of clean paper in front of one of the bowls. Be sure to label the powder so that you know which substance you are testing in a given bowl. Wash mortar and pestle in between substances to avoid mixing.
  2. Pour the urine from your jar into the pot and heat slowly on the stove until the urine just begins to show steam – a bit higher than body temperature.
  3. For the number of bowls and substances, equally pour the urine from the pot into the bowls so that it is about three quarters of an inch of depth. Obviously this means that you can only test as many supplements/foods/vitamins/medicines as the amount of your urine supply will accommodate.
  4. Now take a pinch of the substance before one bowl and drop it into the center of the urine in the bowl.
  5. Observe the rate of dispersion and whether part of the powder sinks or not. A supplement or substance is good for your body if, when you drop the powder on the surface of the urine, it spreads rapidly across the entire sample and none of it sinks. A supplement or substance is not useful for your body if, when you drop it on the surface of the urine, it sits in the middle without spreading and/or starts to sink. A supplement or substance is neither good, nor bad if it starts to spread, but does so slowly, does not spread out over the whole sample, but stays more contained and then some of it sinks. In this case such a substance may be good at some times and other times, not. It deserves re-testing at a later date, but at present, it is doing little to benefit your body. There are also cases in herbal compound or combinations that some of the powder spreads very fast and part of it sink. This indicates that you may need to take each one of the mixture’s ingredients and test them separately.
  6. Repeat this test for each powder in front of their respective individual bowls.

If you are planning on taking them for a prolonged period of time, it is best to test supplements and other substances about every three weeks to see how your body is handling them, as this test depends on your current state of health. It can be that as your condition changes, supplements or substances you are taking no longer need to be taken and your continued taking them may have adverse effects. It can also be that in accordance with how your body changes in relation to seasons, climate, etc., that your needs for such will change. Hence, the practicality of this test.
This test is very objective. It is a useful method to use at home when pulse diagnosis is not available. To my mind, it is more objective than kinesiology, although with oil-based substances, gel capsules, and liquids, kinesiology may be the next best low-tech or home method to employ. Such a method also eliminates our subjective desire to see certain supplements and substances work more than others. Sometimes we think that natural or herbal substances are better than processed, allopathic medicines. I have seen many clients shocked to find out that their allopathic medicines were better for them than some of their herbal supplements. The body knows what it needs and its natural intelligence is generally more open and accepting than our mental concepts. In that way, Tibetan urine testing is very holistic.
By offering this information to your clients, you will be providing an invaluable service. You will empower them in making them more responsible and informed over their own health care choices. You will also help them to reduce the costs of their supplements as there are many people who take more medicines and supplements than they need and/or can absorb. And lastly, as they see greater effectiveness in what they take for their daily wellbeing, you will prove yourself or your spa as a thoughtful and effective provider of complimentary health and wellness care.

With a educational background and training that is as conventional as it is ‘alternative,’ Robert Sachs is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a licensed massage therapist, yoga instructor, and has been a student of Indian and Tibetan spiritual and healing traditions since the early 70s. Along with his wife, Melanie, Robert runs Diamond Way Ayurveda, the foremost promoters of Ayurveda in the spa and beauty industries. Robert and Melanie live in San Luis Obispo, Calif. They have three children, Kai Ling, Harriet Christina, and Jabeth David-Francis. 866-303-3321

 



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By | January 16, 2019

With over 900 million adolescent girls and young women in the world, Clean Scene by Murad is looking for just one passionate and enthusiastic young woman to be the voice of her generation.

Clean Scene by Murad announced today the creation of the Amazing Skin - Amazing Life - Amazing Future! video contest running from June 21-July 18, 2011. Through the video contest, applicants will answer the question “If I Had One Minute with the President of the United States, I would…” where Clean Scene by Murad will choose one lucky winner to attend a special teen conference on August 11, 2011 in New York City. 

The one-day event will bring together over 175 focused teens and tweens, along with noted  celebrities and VIPS, to discuss topics and issues important to youth, including poverty, world education, hunger, gender equality, environmental sustainability, and global partnerships. The day will include a press conference, listening panel, interviews with noted members of media, politics, and entertainment and activities to inspire girls to change the world for the better. More information on the conference is available on the AllyKatzz website at www.allykatzz.com/page/summit/

To enter, applicants between the ages of 13-24 must submit a video by following the directions outlined on www.mycleanscene.com/NYConference answering the video essay question. The video can be as original as the applicant’s imagination; songs, poems, photo collages, and speeches are all welcome. Videos will be judged on originality, creativity, strength of voice, focus, clarity and adherence to rules.  

2-2-2-2 Clean Scene Hosts Video Contest 

In addition to entry into the Conference, the winner will receive round-trip airfare and two-night hotel stay in New York City for herself plus a chaperone, a year’s supply of Clean Scene skincare products, an exclusive swag bag full of Clean Scene goodies, and $500 spending money. The winner will also be highlighted as the next Clean Scene Spotlight feature on the official Clean Scene by Murad website to serve as an inspiration to their peers, sharing their passion for teen issues. The winner will also blog, record and document their experience in real time for Clean Scene fans via Clean Scene’s social networking channels. 

To apply or receive more information, including the full Terms and Conditions, please visit www.mycleanscene.com/NYConference.

To follow the Clean Scene Delegate’s journey, log on to www.MyCleanScene.com, www.facebook.com/mycleanscene and www.youtube.com/mycleanscene.



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By Peter Slattery | January 16, 2019

It's the season to celebrate moms! In honor of Mother's Day, we're looking for a mother/daughter duo to win a day of pampering at SPA ONE at The Plastic Surgery Group. Submit a photo and a brief description of the photo. Please be aware that the image will be used publically on Facebook for the contest.

The mother and daughter making up the pair that can get the most "likes" on their photo will each win a $250 gift card to use for services at SPA ONE! Aside from the grand prize, we will also select one mother/daughter pair to receive a $200 gift card to share as runners-up. The last day to enter is June 4th. Either you or your mom must be a Fan of our Facebook Page to win. Winners will be announced June 6th. We wish you the best of luck!

Enter to win at https://www.facebook.com/ThePlasticSurgeryGroup and let your Mom be pampered this Mother's Day.

Albany's #pamperedMOM Contest



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