When treating skin for any type of condition, whether it be acne, redness, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, or other typical conditions, it is critical to understand the role of the skin’s microbiome and barrier function.
Let’s examine acne, for instance. Clients often present themselves to a skin care professional after they have failed with retail products or home remedies. Typically, they will have used benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or a retinol. All three or any one of these ingredients can evoke an inflammatory response when used chronically. This inflammation will inevitably cause barrier disruption and impairment, which can worsen the original condition in a cyclical way. The skin care professional then observes multiple condition issues on the skin and starts to treat the inflammation symptoms rather than the root cause and the client remains in a bad skin care cycle.
Similar issues can occur with hyperpigmentation. While there are multiple root causes for hyperpigmentation, inflammation is one. Inflammation can cause a condition known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This happens when a peel, laser treatment, or any other skin disruption occurs. Again, inflammation gives rise to barrier impairment, which makes the inflammation worse and, therefore, the hyperpigmentation.
Topical products often give rise to these same issues. If the pH of the skin is not in the normal reparative range (4.5 to 5.0) the barrier of the skin may not recover completely. The barrier and microbiome of the skin may be affected, as well.
One effective way to avoid these types of complications is to baseline the skin. This means no matter the condition being treated, use a known sensitive skin cleanser, lotion, and active barrier repair serum for at least four weeks. This allows the skin to return to its own baseline. Often, this will clear the skin on its own. If it does not, the skin care professional now knows exactly what to treat and not the side effects of previous treatments.