Wednesday, 01 July 2015 12:08

Skin Care for Adventure-centric Clients

Written by   Melissa Picoli, L.E.

Sometimes even the best aestheticians get a little stuck in ruts, and can think of skin simply as either dry, oily, mature, acneic, or sensitive. Client intake forms usually ask for current routines, skin types, medications, and goals, but rarely ask about a client’s lifestyle and activities. This makes it too easy for professionals to inadvertently treat and recommend based solely on how a client’s skin is indoors, without really thinking through their daily life needs. 

Clients who recreate outdoors require special attention to their skin routines and services. It is the skin care professional’s responsibility to take a client’s entire lifestyle into account when prescribing treatments and homecare routines, to ensure the utmost care and results. Every client wants to look their best, no matter how adventurous they are.

Adventurous clients are particularly concerned with keeping skin hydrated, nourished, and protected, while avoiding ingredients that can cause skin thinness or photo-toxicity. Considering that clients spend hours in water or on the slopes, this is no easy feat!

When professionals are first getting to know the client, they should go beyond the consultation card. They should ask about their client’s activities, what times of 1day and how long they spend outside, and get to know the environment in which they are spending time. Is it dry and sunny? Forested? Windy? These are all so important. For example, a client that loves to paraglide will probably be in very windy conditions, so a powder-based sunscreen would be ineffective during re-application. On the other hand, a mountain biker’s hands are pretty dirty halfway through the ride, so cream-based formulations would ensure a breakout. Gym lovers can handle ingredients, such as retinol, that an avid skier could not. Water babies need a different routine than outdoor runners. Even if the skin care professional does not personally enjoy these activities, having clients that do makes it important to think them through.

Here are some ideas to take the best possible care of client’s skin with their active lifestyles taken into consideration. By simply asking about their favorite activities, and incorporating their lifestyle into the protocols, professionals have just leveled up on their services and client relationship, thus ensuring the client’s skin will greatly benefit.

Gym-Based Workouts
The primary concern for gym enthusiasts is sweat and germs. No matter how good a gym is about keeping their equipment and facilities clean, bacteria is rampant. Sweating skin is more prone to bacterial issues resulting in cystic breakouts and rashes, not to mention colds and flus.

Advice: Ensure that the client is removing as much makeup as possible prior to working out, avoiding heavily scented body lotions, and wearing clean clothes each time. This will help prevent chafing and mild topical irritations. After the workout, the client should shower, using an anti-bacterial product such as benzoyl peroxide, and a body cleanser to thoroughly clean skin head to toes. Even non-acneic clients will benefit from a thorough cleansing with benzoyl peroxide. Clients should look for low benzoyl concentrations for regular use and formulas which include moisturizing ingredients such as aloe, milk proteins, and honey. Gym-loving clients can handle retinol-based anti-aging and will greatly benefit from peptide-infused face and body lotions. Having clients follow with a 2moisturizing lotion will help to balance out the extra dryness from antibacterial ingredients.

One to two times a week, the client should use a rhassoul based clay mask to keep pores clean without over-drying. Rhassoul clay deposits minerals and nutrients without over-stripping the lipid barrier, and is even great for both mature and drier skins.

Internal: Suggest propolis and lysine supplements to the client. This will help prevent colds, flus, bacterial infections, and cold sores from the constant exposure to germs and bacteria found in gyms. Cooties may not be a very scientific term, but it perfectly defines what you are helping protect the client from!

Outdoor Runners and Cyclists
Sun, air, pollution, and other elements are all huge challenges for skin health. Outdoor activities produce sweat, which interferes with sunscreen and anti-
oxidant ingredients.

Advice: Prior to activity, suggest that clients use a well-formulated antioxidant product containing good quality, stabilized vitamin C and tea extracts. Clients should apply the product to the face, chest and any area exposed to sun. These ingredients provide potent protection from sun and elements, and provide a barrier against pollution. Clients should follow the antioxidant application with a dry skin oil, such as rosehip seed or jojoba, which will provide barrier protection without clogging pores or feeling greasy; top it off with a zinc-oxide based sunscreen (ideally, a very simple formulation). If possible, suggest that the client carry a small spritzer bottle filled with an antioxidant mist. This is particularly helpful if activities lasts more than a couple hours. Proper physical protection, such as breathable, long sleeve shirts and hats, is more powerful than just sunscreen for true protection. Have clients pay special attention to other areas of the body, such as tops of arms and legs, that tend to age very quickly when not properly cared for and are regularly exposed to the elements. Remind the client that they are more than just a pretty face!3

Anti-inflammatory masks, such as those containing chamomile and honey, are a great way to care for skin during the week; a monthly vitamin-based facial will help keep skin glowing and help clients detect early signs of overexposure.

Internal: Carotenoid-based supplements and whole foods are crucial for any client spending ample time outside. Suggest the equivalent to four carrots a day (about four ounces of carrot juice). This will help build an internal sun protection factor to support sunscreen use. Alpha lipoic acid has also been shown to protect against oxidative damage from exposure.

Water Babies
Surfers, kayakers, kite surfers, and fresh-water swimmers have a serious challenge with keeping skin protected and nourished. Hours spent in the water is dehydrating to the skin and most products are easily washed off. To top it off, most water sports occur when the sun is out or wind is blowing.

Advice: Help clients keep a moisture barrier by suggesting a hyaluronic and vitamin C based serum, topped off with an occlusive barrier such as dimethicone or beeswax-based moisturizer. This may feel too thick upon application, but within a few minutes in the water, it will make sense. Have clients look for water-resistant, simple zinc based sunscreen formulas, and suggest re-application every two hours. Most water enthusiasts carry a bag for post-activity, since most water sports are followed by a 44drink at a local watering hole. This is a very important time to care for skin. In this bag I suggest that clients keep a bottle of witch hazel and cotton pads to remove product; they should follow with a luxurious skin oil to replenish skin. My favorite combination is rosehip and rice bran oil, due to omega acids and vitamin E anti-aging benefits. Skin wipes are also good, but nothing too harsh since client’s skin is already sensitized by elements. Most skin wipes contain surfactants and acids which are the last thing post-water skin needs. Ensure clients moisturize properly head to toes. Hands and feet age very quickly when they are not cared for and when regularly exposed to water. Once the client is home, suggest that they use a cream based cleanser with a face towel to thoroughly clean skin and follow with the preferred regenerative routine. 

Suggest a bi-weekly moisturizing mask and a monthly gentle lactic acid peel to keep skin strong and prevent hyperpigmentation. 

Internal: Oil and hyaluronic based supplements, as well as carotenoids, are crucial for water lovers. These supplements will help skin hold onto moisture at a cellular level and carotenoids help ward off sun damage.

Snow Enthusiasts
Snow activities, such as skiing and snowboarding, are a crucial component of living in mountain towns, but they are also very challenging for the skin. Professionals will often notice broken capillaries around the client’s nose and cheeks, as well as rosacea-like irritations on skin regularly exposed to frigid elements. The upside is that most of the body remains covered, so it is not as much of a concern, but the face takes a beating!

Advice: Similar to water-sports, it is crucial to protect skin with a thick barrier cream containing dimethicone or beeswax. An antioxidant serum underneath the cream and tinted moisturizer with zinc is important, especially since most mountain towns are at higher elevations. This will prevent loss of moisture, help skin 4retain some warmth, which protects capillaries, and help prevent premature aging from extreme conditions. Clients should wear a physical barrier, such as a scarf, around the face while on the lift and carry a moisturizing balm stick to re-apply often to skin and lips. I prefer something very gentle containing botanical oils and a bit of zinc oxide.The post skin care routine is just as important. A very nourishing mask, followed by regenerative night cream, needs to be part of snow enthusiast’s beauty routine. 

Internal: Winter sports are very harsh on skin and require great pre- and post-care. Hyaluronic acid, carotenoids, and vitamin C are important internal supplements. Also suggest a capsacain based supplement or tea blend to warm internal systems and keep circulation flowing smoothly.

Added Caution
Along with these sport-specific guidelines, there are ingredients in day-use products that all adventure-centric clients should avoid like the plague during their activity season. These ingredients, when exposed to sun and elements, have been linked to skin cancers, hyperpigmentation, rashes, and other irritations. Although there is some controversy on whether or not these ingredients will actually pose an issue, I prefer not to experiment on my client’s skin, preferring to wait for science to prove it will not. Sometimes a correlation is enough to warrant extra caution.

6Retinol plus retinyl palmitate is often found in lotions and sunscreens. These ingredients have been scrutinized as a potential link to skin cancers and are known to thin the skin, leaving clients predisposed to hyperpigmentation and irritations. Retinol has great anti-aging benefits for clients who do not spend much time outside, but wreak havoc when exposed to sun. Clients should opt for gentler lactic acid and/or enzymes for exfoliation.

Citrus oils are linked to hyperpigmentation and topical rashes when exposed to elements. Citrus is very difficult to avoid in skin care but crucial to evade when taking care of your outdoor client’s skin. This takes a lot of scrutiny. Sadly, the beauty industry continues to use too much citrus because customers buy citrusy smelling lotions. We also know that lemon oil can help remove hyperpigmentation from skin when there is no sun exposure involved. There are hundreds of masks suggested online written by non-professionals, with lemon as a skin care ingredient. The last time I checked, even my most non-adventurous clients still walk in and out of stores and hang out on decks with a glass of wine. Anything even remotely associated with hyperpigmentation gets added to my red list. It is not appropriate.

Salicylic acid is one of the best ingredients for keeping breakouts at bay, but is not appropriate during exposure. It should be limited to nighttime use. If a client needs a day-use spot treatment, look for sulfur-based alternatives.

Help keep your clients looking great as they play hard! Ensure that their skin care routines and treatments are customized to their lifestyle, and always catch yourself before falling into a prescription or treatment rut. Our clients deserve the best from us.


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Prior to her obsession with the beauty industry, Melissa Picoli was a whitewater kayak guide who traveled to remote regions of the world searching for the most beautiful rivers. She still spends plenty of time on winding rivers, lazy lakes, ski lifts, and in the woods. Her clientele is comprised of some of the most beautiful and adventurous women on the planet who are just as happy scaling a mountain as enjoying a bubble bath. She makes sure to care for their skin as individuals, not a skin type.

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