Tuesday, 29 December 2020 09:53

Ingredient Knowledge: Three Lesser Known “Active Ingredients” to Provide Real CHANGE

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The first portion of my Orientation with new Esthetics students begins with a question: “Did you know that you can create mitosis of keratinocytes?” Of course, students sit in their seats pondering what I mean by this. I move forward in discussing the layers of the epidermis and that keratinocytes are simply “fetal skin cells” in the stratum germinativum (basal layer) that are stimulated by Estheticians, through the use of specific acids delivered via nanotechnology, that then create mitosis. I then go on to explain that mitosis is the separation and division of cells into two new cells. Specifically, the keratinocytes are stimulated through “mitosis magic” (one of my many fun teaching explanations) and turn into a stem cell, which then turns into a mother cell, and finally, two new daughter cells. And thus, my point is made. Estheticians in 2020 are able to utilize nanotechnology and special acidic ingredients to create mitosis and desquamation of intercellular lipids, in order to create new skin. This take on science is fascinating for Estheticians - and propels Esthetics Practitioners to want to gain more and more knowledge of ingredients, benefits, and efficacy. Treating clients with the knowledge of skincare from a scientific, cellular perspective is not only incredible for the client, but exceptionally rewarding for the provider.

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Oftentimes, Estheticians are more familiar with acids such as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (which work from the bottom, up - specifically, the stratum germinativum to the top layers of the epidermis) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (which works from the top, down - specifically from the stratum corneum to the deeper layers of the epidermis). In my classroom, we dive deep into other acids such as Benzoyl Peroxide (delivering oxygen into the skin to kill bacteria), Hydroquinone (a tyrosinase inhibitor that lightens stubborn hyperpigmentation), and Retinol (which speeds up cell turnover and causes the skin to shed, in order to assist AHA’s and BHA’s to work even better). There are many scientific revelations that have been brought to modern day laboratories regarding the use of even better functions of acids and the benefits to consumers. Simply put: What can we do even better than before to create real change in the skin? There are several ingredients worth diving into, in order to better education our clients and assist in amazing visual results. 

Ferulic acid is one such ingredient that some Estheticians have heard of, but may not quickly recognize in regards to explaining to consumers. Ferulic Acid is an antioxidant found in the cellular walls of plans such as rice and oats. Ferulic is also found to play a key role in the protection and self preservation of the plants they are within, and can even be found in the seeds of apples and oranges. They key words are “self-preservation” - as Estheticians can connect this ingredient with anti-aging and the preservation and stabilization of other esthetically utilized ingredients. Ferulic Acid, when applied topically, acts like other antioxidants in regards to slowing the ageing process and reducing the effects of free radical damage to the skin. It is also thought to protect against sun damage, as well as assisting in the regeneration of skin cells that have been over-exposed. Ferulic also has the benefit of working well alongside other antioxidants, enhancing the stability and efficacy of Vitamin C and E. As Vitamin C can become more neutralized and lose its efficacy with more exposure to the opening and closing of bottles, exposure to sunlight, etc., the use of Ferulic Acid is a big deal in the esthetics community! Because it stabilizes more problematic antioxidants (specifically, the highly-oxidative Vitamin C), it actually makes other skin care ingredients work even harder and last longer. Game-changer! 

Pyruvic Acid is a phenomenal esthetics ingredient and serves as an intermediate in sugar metabolism found in cane sugar juice. Specifically, it’s a precursor to lactic acid and is excellent for treating oily and problematic skin, with excellent dead skin cell removal capabilities. Pyruvic Acid has been recently utilized as a medium chemical peeling agent in individuals with inflammatory acne, moderate acne scarring, excessive oiliness in the skin, actinic keratosis (precancerous lesions), and warts. In fact, Pyruvic was utilized in a clinical trial with twenty patients at four week intervals for four complete sessions in order to test its efficacy. It was found during these clinical evaluations that the patients demonstrated a smoother texture, less evident fine lines and wrinkling, and lightening of hyperpigmentation. Success! Pyruvic Acid is the simplest of the alpha keto acids - meaning, it hosts a carboxylic acid and a ketone functional group. Pyruvate, the conjugate base, is actually a key intermediate in several metabolic pathways throughout cells. Because Pyruvic supplies energy to cells through the citric acid cycle (also known as the Krebs cycle), Pyruvic Acid ferments to produce lactate when oxygen is lacking. This makes Pyruvic Acid a very active and stable ingredient that simply “does what it says it’s going to do” in esthetics science. 

Arbutin is a fun favorite of mine, personally, for hyperpigmentation treatment - and is a phenomenal alternative to the carcinogenic Hydroquinone (although effective!). Arbutin is a glycoside - specifically, a glycosylated hydroquinone extracted from the bearberry plant. The bearberry plant comes from a medicinal plant called the Genus Arctostaphylos, in the family Ericaceae. Applied topically, Arbutin is a tyrosinase (an enzyme turned on in the body that produces hormonal hyperpigmentation) inhibitor and prevents the formation of melanin. When consumers envision a light switch being turned on (the “tyrosinase”) and formulating melanin constantly, they can additionally understand that inhibitors of tyrosinase (Arbutin or Hydroquinone) consequently can then “turn off the light switch”, and thus, pigmentation is reduced. Arbutin, in very tiny amounts, are actually found in wheat, pear skins, and some other foods. Bearberry extract, in and of itself, is also utilized in more organic clinical skincare formulations and is used as a skin lightening treatment designed for long-term and regular use. Lastly, exposure to Arbutin of in vitro studies in human melanocytes reported decreased tyrosinase activity and melanin content with little evidence of cytotoxicity (the toxicity of cells by a stimuli). 

Phytocelltec Malus Domestica is another incredible ingredient, newly on the market in the esthetics industry - and is a patented liposomal preparation of apple stem cells derived from the ‘Uttwiler Spätlauber’, a rare Swiss apple variety. Stem cells are one of the most discussed and raved about ingredients in the esthetics community in 2020 - and labs everywhere are coming up with plant-based versions and derivatives that mimic human-based stem cells, for massive results! This patented stem cell blend use an extremely rare species of Swiss apple called the Uttwiler Spatlauber. The trees are so rare that there are reportedly only twenty trees left in the world. Initially these apples were heading towards extinction, because they lacked the flavor desired for agricultural cultivation. However, the surprising quality of these apples is that they can stay fresh without refrigeration or any preservative for periods lasting up to four months. After further study, it was observed that the tree displayed remarkably fast regeneration and healing abilities. The long-lasting lifespan and quick regeneration is credited towards the apple’s stem cells, which carry the provision for such qualities within the cells genetic structure. Scientists were able to cultivate the apple’s stem cells which are now available as a patented liposomal preparation called Phytocelltec Malus Domestica. This preparation incites preservation and regenerative properties in human skin stem cells. Human skin stem cells (epithelial stem cells) replenish and maintain the natural balance of cells within the epidermis layer of the skin. They also regenerate tissue damaged from injury or exposure. Unfortunately, with age, the number of these stem cells decreases and they slow their ability to divide and repair. This is due to a process called senescence. Senescence is the biological slowing down of cellular division as dictated by stem cells and genetic instructions. It is a sort of biological clock and a natural component of aging. Phytocelltec Malus Domestica works by delaying the senescence in epithelial skin stem cells. This results in newer, stronger and longer lasting skin cells, more resistant to UV exposure and all around healthier.

Perfluorodecalin is another active ingredient in modern clinical skincare, utilizing a high-density liquid fluorocarbon to carry large volumes of oxygen gas into the skin - to get rid of bacteria in the pores and bring life to asphyxiated skin. This makes it a very interesting ingredient in various fields of science and medicine. Notably, it is used in artificial blood substitutes and in liquid breathing. Because oxygen literally breathes new life into your skin, this makes Perfluorodecalin that much more interesting in skincare! Thanks to this incredible technology, the puzzle is solved and now oxygen molecules can hitch a ride on the Perfluorodecalin plasma molecules. Once in the skin, they are diffused, delivering an enormous amount of pure oxygen into the cells. Oxygen delivered topically through the skin reaches capillaries that don’t get as much oxygen with regular breathing. This positively influences the blood circulation in these areas and the production of collagen, elastin and keratin. This ‘aeration’ process helps accelerate the skin’s healing by assisting the skin to breathe, and promoting the propagation of new cells.The delivery of oxygen to the skin will displace any carbon dioxide that can collect in your skin due to impurities in the air, especially in polluted city environments. It also increases the penetration of any other beneficial actives which may follow. Perfluorodecalin provides an anti-irritation and anti-inflammatory response. When used over an extended duration (at least 30 days) it increases the metabolism of keratinocytes (protective skin cells). This strengthens the epidermal barrier to defend against pathogens, bacteria, parasites, viruses, heat, UV radiation and water loss.

Hexapeptide-30 and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 are two notable peptides that Estheticians must pay attention to going into the New Year! These incredible peptide strains specifically target the postsynaptic pathway at the chemical binding site of the muscle cells that cause wrinkling. The peptides influence binding sites, to avoid binding with Acetylcholine which would usually trigger the muscle contraction reflex. The result is smoother and calmer muscle movements that are not as hard and tense on the skin. Hexapeptide-30 is a longer chain acetyl molecule cousin to Acetyl Hexapeptide 3 and 8. Similarly, it inhibits acetylcholine release to block nerve signals that cause facial muscles to contract and eventually, form lines and wrinkles. This reduction in nerve signal intensity and muscular contractions reduces and prevents the formation of intense wrinkling, making the skin look frail and aged. Use of  Hexapeptide 30 in combination with other Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 molecules has an additive effect which is more powerful than using any of the amino-peptides alone. Hexapeptide 30 is classified in esthetics as “skin conditioning” and maintains its technology as an “anti-wrinkle” agent. Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 has water-binding properties and skin-restoring ability. The effects of Acetyl Hexapeptide-8 are almost immediate, and the user will see a clear reduction in deep wrinkles around the eyes, mouth, forehead, and other commonly affected areas. A daily routine works best since the peptide prevents deeper wrinkles from forming over time. With many well-regarding studies backing the efficiency and safety of Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, consumers can confidently utilize the peptide without severe side effects or complications. In 2012, the FDA oversaw a study which found that the peptide is safe for long-term use and is effective in reducing wrinkling and prolonging the beneficial effects of neurotoxin injectables, for consumers that enjoy receiving those. Estheticians can work confidently with both Hexapeptide-30 and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, alongside skin tightening treatments such as radiofrequency, skin tightening lasers, and so forth. Esthetics Practitioners should continuously research the benefits of peptide blends and create protocols for home use that seamlessly unite with their treatment room care plans. 

Estheticians everywhere are looking for more ways to become competitive in their field and set their talents apart from other Practitioners in the skin care industry. Clients additionally are becoming more savvy with their personal understanding of ingredients and how clinical skin care operates. Subsequently, Esthetics Practitioners must demonstrate that they can compete in such a complex, science-based field - with serious knowledge and consistent studying of modern ingredients, in order to best coach their clients and assist them with long-term anti-aging. Estheticians can create Care Plans, ingredient games, showcase pH levels between over-the-counter and clinical grade products; and ultimately, master the “Consultation Experience” skills necessary to provide their guests with even more added value in 2020. The proof is truly in the science - and once Estheticians hold this close to their hearts, they will become successful Practitioners that not only wow their clients with their impressive clinical-based knowledge, but make a difference in the lives of those they serve. 


Courtney Sykes is the chief administrative officer of Southeastern Esthetics Institute and is a licensed aesthetics instructor in South Carolina. Her passion lies in creating real change in the aesthetics industry, assisting her students to obtain gainful employment and make a difference in the lives of their clients. Sykes specializes in a science-based approach to skin health and education. Her primary focus is chemical peels, laser treatments, eyelash extensions, micropigmentation, and cosmetic lasers. Her background in medical spa management has led her to nationally accredit the largest licensed aesthetics school in South Carolina, Southeastern Esthetics Institute. ​

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