Treatments and the Sun
Summer is a popular time for rejuvenating the skin. It is when many clients start to think about putting their best skin forward before they jet off to an exotic beach or lounge poolside under a cabana. However, when rendering a peel, enzyme, microdermabrasion or some other corrective treatment, whether on the body or face, during the warm, sunny season there are a few important things to keep in mind:
Sun exposure – Clients must avoid exposure to the sun for at least two full weeks after the treatment. Awareness and SPF are important for even brief walks through the parking lot to the car. Side note: never peel a client with sunburned skin!
Heat – Being outside in the shade may have some adverse effects as well. Excess heat will over-stimulate the skin. Similarly, over-stimulation and heat from vigorous exercise will flush the skin and increase the intensity of the peel.
Accessories – While sunglasses and hats offer protection from the sun, those that press too heavily on the nose or across the forehead will create compression and irritation causing wounds to appear.
Poolside – Swimming, even after dark, must be avoided for the first 48 hours as the chlorine will irritate and dry out the skin.
Beyond educating clients about the potentially harmful factors to avoid, it is also our responsibility to educate them about and provide the tools for obtaining and maintaining healthy skin, and that includes adequate sun protection.
Selecting Compliant Clients
Once you have educated your client on potential problems, be sure they truly understand and have a plan in place. When I had my clinic in the 1990s my bookings for peel services was as full in the summer as the winter. Clients planned the treatment around a week at home watching movies and catching up on reading – and it was implemented as soon as the peel was completed in my office.
I asked them to bring a large-brimmed hat, but if they forgot I had a coat stand filled with "loaner" hats. They were asked to park near the front door. If that was not possible, my assistant or I would bring their car to the door. We would also get the air conditioning going so the car was cool when they got in. Keep in mind that opening a car door in 90 to 100 degree heat is like opening an oven.
I provided them with a bottle of water and encouraged them to drink it all on the way home. My final instructions were to "go straight home, park in the garage, and avoid all heat and sun exposure." If a client would not follow my instructions and guidance on this, I would not do the service.
These precautions are not meant to discourage against summer treatments, more to serve as a reminder of the potential dangers in an effort to avoid damaging outcomes and undesirable results. Now that we have covered the potential hazards of summer treatments, let's get into the fun stuff.
Summer Peel and Enzyme Treatments
As I mentioned, for many the summer is often an ideal time for corrective treatments because they simply have more down time to let the skin recover. Peels and enzymes are great for correcting skin issues as well as nourishing the skin, helping it to defend against free radicals. While there are a variety of peel and enzyme formulas you can use, some that are particularly nice for summer include:
Flavonoids – powerful, polyphenol compounds known for their antioxidant activity are typically botanically derived from red super fruits such as apples (malic acid), grapes (tartaric acid), cherries, pomegranates and tomatoes. These offer gentle digestive and exfoliating support, softening fine lines, smoothing and polishing skin, stimulating the blood supply to skin cells while toning and firming. Pumpkin is also rich in flavonoids and works to stimulate collagen activity, targets melanin formation, and provides other naturally occurring ingredients such as zinc and salicylic acid.
Papain – an enzyme derived from papayas, it works to digest keratin proteins to help accelerate exfoliation. It also provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support, and is rich in vitamin C, E and
Bromelain – a proteolytic enzyme extracted from pineapples. It converts proteins into peptides and amino acids.
Mandelic Acid – derived from bitter almonds, this acid promotes healing and boosts collagen levels. It has lightening and anti-bacterial properties.
Flower acids – classified as second-generation AHAs, flower acids have the ability to increase cell turnover, as well as provide hydration (more than lactic acid). They are also non-irritating, with good cutaneous tolerance.
Retinol (vitamin A peels) – a vitamin A derivative, retinol promotes drainage of comedones and stimulates new growth of tiny blood vessels, which speeds up collagen production. It reverses signs of aging minimizing fine lines and photo-damage.
Microdermabrasion – a mechanical exfoliation that lifts away dead skin cells and stimulates at the collagen level. This is a valuable summer service and works well in conjunction with low strength enzymes and acids.
Many treatments may also be adjusted slightly to make them more cooling for summer simply by chilling topicals, masks and spritz formulas before applying them, or by gently rolling chilled Ice Globes over the skin. Some peel formulas may also be chilled prior.
There are many choices beyond those mentioned – the point is to select enzymes and acids that support the correction and repair of the skin, but that are not contraindicative of the season.
Peeling the Body
This time of year, clients also look to get swimsuit ready, so be sure you are there to fill the need. Remember the body ages just as our faces do, and are subject to harmful environmental elements. By treating the body with the same ingredients we use for facial rejuvenation, we can support our clients in achieving healthy, radiant skin all over.
Body peels work beyond just the surface to reduce course texture and fine lines, diminish age spots and hyperpigmentation, and help maintain healthier, more youthful looking skin. Peels are like a workout for the skin, and clients will notice an almost immediate difference in firmness, which most of us want as we head into summer.
With body peels there are different techniques and skin issues to be cognizant of prior to treatment. The body has tougher skin. Enzymes, AHAs like L-lactic acids, and other acid combinations may be used to lift away deeper layers of dead skin cells, provide antioxidants, and regenerate and hydrate, leaving the skin smooth and polished. Skin assessments are essential and attention to any existing scar tissue, sun damage, spots and moles is imperative. Whatever correction is being done for the body, never peel more than 25 percent of the body at the same time.
The same post-treatment precautions also apply for body peels – remind clients to be even more aware of the sun and heat. They will also need to abstain from swimming in chlorinated water in the first 48 hours following the peel treatment.
Continuing the Care
To keep the skin supple, toned and glowing all summer long, you may consider sending clients home with a body care regimen to be used between treatments. A good system will include an exfoliant (physical or enzymatic), a skin building and nourishing moisturizer, a sunscreen, and possibly a nourishing sunless tanner.
Exfoliation is essential. It stimulates the skin and cell turnover, lifts dead cells, and begins the regenerating process. Physical exfoliators will scrub away dead skin cells, refresh and hydrate, while enzymatic and acid exfoliators blend fruit acids with vitamins and minerals to activate cell renewal and give skin an antioxidant boost. These can be used in tandem or on their own.
Keeping the skin nourished will also help fight photoaging. Some of the most vital nutrients for healthy skin include peptides, essential fatty acids, growth factors, and amino acids. These supply energy to the cell, activate collagen production, detoxify skin tissues, hydrate, soothe and support the rejuvenation process.
Achieving the bronzed look is not typically an essential step in skin care, but it is important to offer an alternative to sun bathing and tanning beds. Using a skin-fortifying self tanner will give skin that natural, sun-kissed glow without subjecting it to damaging UV rays. Look for a formula with age-defying peptides to support the skin in the rejuvenating process and help prevent photoaging.
Nourish to Fight Photo-Damage
Some free radical exposure is inevitable. To counteract their effects, it is vital to boost antioxidant, amino acid and essential fatty acid support through topical applications and proper nutrition. While most clients are privy to the importance of antioxidants, it may be worth revisiting the subject and stressing the role they play in fight-
Antioxidants work to disable free radicals and prevent cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. An interesting fact, however, is that antioxidants are actually oxidized themselves, which is what enables them to effectively terminate oxidation chain reactions. Antioxidant-rich topicals are a great way to maintain healthy skin in between treatments.
Good topical formulas should be easily absorbed by the skin, which allows for optimum delivery of antioxidants to the deeper skin cells to tone, firm and refine lines. Look for topical formulas with:
• Vitamins A, C and E
• Ascorbic acid
• L-lactic acid
Bolstering Skin Protection
As I mentioned, sun protection becomes even more vital post-treatment when the skin is most vulnerable. Not all sun care formulas are created equal however, and you will need to take into account the type of work you are doing and your client's daily skin care regimen.
For instance, if a client is on vitamin A derivatives, other acid-based correctives and lighteners, or they are receiving skin peeling treatments or microdermabrasion, we have to consider the protection level as well as how that sunscreen will interact with the disturbance to the skin and the sun/heat exposure.
Hats, clothing and shade work well, but also remind clients to always opt for an SPF of at least 30. Mineral-based sunscreens like those using zinc oxide or titanium dioxide have been shown to be more effective in protecting against both UVA and UVB rays.
These naturally occurring ingredients are safer, protect against the full UV spectrum, and are less likely to irritate the skin in the post-treatment. Look to formulas that also deliver antioxidants, as it will further support the fight against free radical damage.
Zinc oxide (ZnO) is an inorganic compound that plays an important role in cell production and healthy skin. This powerful mineral provides broad-spectrum protection which in turn reduces UVA-induced free radical production in the deeper layers of the skin. Also commonly used, titanium dioxide (TiO2) provides highly reflective properties. It is a non-irritating, non-allergenic and non-comedogenic mineral. It too is a physical blocker, offering both UVA and UVB protection.
Corrective treatments are a great tool for fighting photoaging and keeping skin radiant all summer long. They just need to be supported with the proper nourishment, protection and education. Be sure you are educating clients about the effects of the sun and heat, and have them commit to a skin nourishing and protecting regimen.
Rhonda Allison, a pioneer in the skin care industry, is the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals and RAW Skin Care for Men. She is also an author and internationally known speaker with more than 30 years' aesthetic experience.