It is possible! However, while many of the same ingredients may be used on the body as the face, the skin on the body experiences a different host of issues and in different ways than the skin on the face. Thus, the way in which people use those ingredients becomes important.
How can skin care professionals solve and effectively treat the biggest challenges that impact the body? There are numerous solutions – many of which professionals may already be using to treat the face, neck, and décolleté – but it first starts by understanding the most common issues that challenge the body and the root cause behind those issues.
COMMON BODY ISSUES
It may go without saying, but aging skin is one of the top concerns among clients when it comes to their body’s appearance. Beyond the appearance of aging, however, the body commonly experiences a host of other skin issues, including eczema, keratosis pilaris, cellulite dimpling, acne, and acne scarring. These conditions are among the most common issues clients struggle with and it is often detrimental to their self-esteem since the conditions tend to impact the overall appearance of the skin.
Helping clients overcome these challenges and return skin to optimal health requires the right mix of ingredients and a customized approach to skin care. In other words, skin care professionals should deliver the same quality of facial care to the rest of the body. The great news is that clients love treatment programs specifically designed for the body! Aside from the pampering effect, when they begin to see their skin restored to a healthy state, it positively impacts their self-esteem.
TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME
There are two primary culprits of skin aging: intrinsic and extrinsic agers. Extrinsic agers are the external, more controllable factors, such as sun exposure, smoking, sleep, diet, stress, and lifestyle factors, each of which contribute to the presence of free radicals in the body. Intrinsic (internal) refers to the biological aging that occurs with the passing of time. It is the less controllable of the two factors as it is primarily due to genetic programming and physiological decline.
While much insight has been made into what causes cells to stop or slow the regeneration process, an effective way to reverse this process has not yet been discovered. Adding to the challenge, genetic programming significantly impacts the degradation of skin cells.
Skin cells are amazing structures, but they are very sensitive. Cells have the ability to repair themselves, but as the body ages, the process slows and cells have trouble combating the numerous elements that threaten their integrity. The damage occurs when oxidative stressors – like the sun, pollution, chronic stress, smoking, and free radicals – penetrate skin cells, break down collagen, and impact the DNA structure of the cell. Over time, as damage occurs, the cell is more likely to replicate and the damaged cells multiply.
DNA aging also impacts the production of collagen, which is the main component of connective tissue and is responsible for inhibiting the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and saggy, slack, and crepe-like skin. Unfortunately, production of this youth-preserving protein decreases with age. Signs of aging occur when the fibroblast cells that step in to repair damaged collagen fibers cannot complete their work – a product of aging cells.
Although people cannot stop or reverse their internal clock, they can slow intrinsic aging by focusing on reducing the exposure to extrinsic agers. Luckily, a great deal is known about extrinsic agers and how to stop the progression of their damaging effects.
The most common extrinsic factors include sun exposure, smoking, pollution, chronic stress, and poor sleeping, diet, and exercise habits, all of which are known producers of free radicals, increased inflammation, and glycation. While free radicals play an important role in several biological processes and are created as an essential part of life, they are highly reactive. When they reach this state, they can cause unwanted side effects and become quite harmful to the skin and the body as a whole.
Supporting skin cells in healing, repairing, and maintaining healthy mitochondria is extremely important, particularly as people age. To do this, skin care professionals must address any issues that may be causing free radicals, inflammation, or glycation and combat them with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich ingredients, as well as ingredients that provide mitochondrial support. For supporting the body in healthy cell regeneration, turn to ingredients such as pyruvic acid, which supplies energy to the cells; algae extract, which protects the mitochondria of skin cells and increases cell turnover; CoQ10, which regenerates and assists in cell growth and contributes to the production of energy; vitamin C and L-ascorbic acid, which protect against photodamage, neutralize ROS, support wound-healing, and deliver antioxidant and collagen support; thermus thermophiles, which ferments to assist in ATP production, supports healthy oxygenation, and protects against environmental stressors; and glucosamine HCI (D), which provides anti-inflammatory and anti-glycation support. Other effective ingredients include glycine soja, which promotes collagen and elastin synthesis and is also an important antioxidant and matrix metalloprotease inhibitor; epidermal growth factors, which heal skin injuries and stimulate cell proliferation; omega 6 essential fatty acids (linoleic and oleic acid), which provide anti-inflammatory, skin-building benefits; and peptides, which activate tissue growth factor and collagen production.
To rejuvenate the skin, look for ingredients such as retinoids, resveratrol, tocopherols, and L-lactic acid. They may be incorporated into professional treatments and a homecare system.
SMOOTHING KERATOSIS PILARIS
Another common skin condition is keratosis pilaris, which appears as rough patches and small, red bumps typically found around hair follicles on the arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks. While harmless, painless, and non-contagious, it is a chronic skin condition that many clients desire to treat because of the appearance.
Keratosis pilaris results when follicles become clogged; while most cases clear up on their own, some persist for nearly a lifetime and there is no known cure. Luckily, there are ways to improve its appearance. For instance, exfoliation and hydration are key, particularly since keratosis pilaris tends to worsen in dry conditions. Additionally, overexposure to the sun may also stimulate the condition, so awareness of sun exposure and wearing a high-quality, mineral-based sunscreen daily is essential.
In the treatment room and with homecare, the goal is to stimulate cell turnover, keep the skin hydrated, and support regeneration. Ingredients to incorporate in both areas of treatment include L-lactic acid, which gently and effectively assists with cell turnover while providing hydration and regeneration, salicylic acid, which exfoliates and stimulates cell turnover and is also particularly effective in getting the outer layer of the skin to peel; and retinol and encapsulated retinaldehyde, which encourage tissue regeneration and strengthening. For more sensitive skin, use encapsulated retinaldehyde as it offers the same rejuvenating benefits of retinal without the irritation.
In the treatment room, peels and corrective treatments work well to treat keratosis pilaris. They may be performed on the thighs and arms, but are not recommended on the buttocks area. Enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids, like L-lactic acid or flower acids, work well with the body’s tougher skin to lift away deeper layers of dead cells. Following the acid or enzyme application, rebuild and nourish the skin with ingredients like growth factors, amino acids, and oxygenators, which stimulate respiration and circulation. If the peel is performed during the day, always finish with a mineral-based sunscreen.
For homecare regimens, suggest that clients use an acid-based topical nightly in order to clear up keratosis pilaris. Consistency, however, is imperative. To soothe and rebuild healthy cells, clients may apply a nurturing serum during the day. Look for ingredients like willow herb, cocoa butter, epidermal growth factors, and tocopherols to help maintain hydration, reduce inflammation, and nourish the skin. If a scrub is suggested, stress to the client that they should avoid over-scrubbing the area. Doing so will bring about irritation and induce inflammation.
HEALING THE EFFECTS OF ECZEMA
It is estimated that eczema, or atopic dermatitis, impacts more than 30 million Americans. This condition appears on the skin as an itchy, red rash. While it is not typically contained to a specific part of the body, most people tend to experience it on their elbows, neck, hands, or back of the knees. Generally, skin impacted by eczema will be dry and sensitive and, in some escalated cases, can cause the skin to crack and become extremely uncomfortable.
Eczema is commonly confused with other conditions, such as psoriasis. When skin care professionals are unsure of a client’s exact condition, it is typically best to refer them to a dermatologist or physician before beginning treatment.
Although the causes of eczema are unknown, some physicians believe it may be inherited or linked to allergic diseases. Either way, there are triggers clients should be aware of, including certain soaps and detergents; extreme temperatures (hot or cold); certain foods, such as diary, eggs, and soy; and common allergens, like pollen and dust. Stress management is also key as it can cause certain cases to worsen.
For skin impacted by eczema, the primary goal is to heal, nourish, and hydrate the skin. Ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties will help restore skin health and promote healing. Look for ingredients such as linoleic and oleic acids, which promote healing and provide lipids that are very close to the skin’s natural lipids in order to soothe discomfort and dryness while increasing hydration in the epidermis; arnica montana, which soothes chapped skin, speeds healing, and provides anti-inflammatory support; witch hazel, which provides a rich, antioxidant supply, as well as astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties – it also soothes and heals problematic skin conditions and protects cells; and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and prevents transepidermal water loss.
In the treatment room, professionals should take a gentle approach, being careful to avoid active correctives. Instead, opt for mild exfoliation and nourishing and healing the skin. To help reduce stress levels and further promote healing and detoxification, create a deeply relaxing, soothing environment.
Even more important than treatment, however, will be educating clients with eczema about proper care and prevention. Inform them about avoiding hot baths and showers; the importance of moisturizing daily, particularly after bathing; wearing softer, loose fabrics; and using a humidifier in dry or cold weather conditions. For homecare, a custom system comprising of omega 3 essential fatty acids, growth factors, and hydrocortisone compounds will be essential for caring for eczema-challenged skin. Healing ingredients applied daily will help relieve and keep eczema at bay. If a client’s eczema is widespread, it may be best to refer the client to their physician or naturopath.
REDUCING THE APPEARANCE
OF ACNE SCARRING
Acne scarring is one of the more challenging issues to deal with in the treatment room simply because it appears on the skin in a variety of ways. Not only does it appear in varying degrees of severity, but it can also take on different forms in different skin.
Acne scars typically manifest in the form of depressed scars or pits, or they may take the shape of raised scars known as hypertrophic. Discoloration is often also a factor. The key is to understand and properly identify the type of scarring presented so a customized treatment can be created. This process starts by understanding the cause behind it.
Scars form when an acne breakout penetrates the skin deeply, damaging the tissue beneath. When the acne breakout clears, the body goes into repair mode, stimulating collagen production. If too little or too much is produced, a scar forms. If not enough collagen is present, the result is often a depressed scar. On the other hand, if there is too much collagen, a raised scar may result. Knowing the scar types will aid professionals in determining the best course of treatment.
Removing surface cells is key to allowing other nourishing and corrective ingredients and oxygen to penetrate the skin. Keep in mind, scar tissue is difficult to address and this fact is especially true of scar tissue on the body. While it is possible to reduce the appearance of a scar, it is a permanent mark and the damage will remain at the dermal layer. Do not get discouraged if it never fully goes away.
Taking into consideration that damage will remain at the dermal layer, there are treatments and ingredients professionals can utilize to help soften the tissue, reduce rigidness, and improve the appearance at the surface level. Look for corrective topicals, such as alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, and retinol.
Alpha hydroxy acids will penetrate the cells to stimulate cell regeneration by loosening the ceramides holding the cells together. Salicylic acid will support exfoliation and cellular regeneration. It is also particularly effective in stimulating the outer layer of the skin to peel, which makes it useful in treating psoriasis, calluses, and keratosis pilaris. Retinol encourages tissue regeneration and strengthening. It is also extremely beneficial in treating scar tissue as it works to “re-educate” damaged cells, speed cellular production, and improve circulation.
There are several modalities that may be utilized in the treatment room to smooth acne-scarred skin. Depending on the location of the scarring, body peels, microneedling, microdermabrasion, or a combination of modalities may be used.
Peels using higher-strength acid formulas, such as a tricholoacetic acid-alpha hydroxy acid combination, flower acids, and vitamin A with peptides, will create necessary exfoliation action while delivering repair and strengthening qualities.
Microdermabrasion is very effective in reducing scars because it removes cells from the stratum corneum, allowing other corrective and nourishing ingredients to better penetrate the skin. A mid-depth or deep treatment will work best. Following microdermabrasion, a skin-strengthening peel will be essential as the skin needs to be rebuilt from the inside out.
Microneedling, particularly deeper microneedling procedures, works well to remodel scar tissue, but caution must be exercised. If pushed too deep, subcutaneous scarring may occur.
Prior to any corrective treatment, professionals should do their due diligence. Take extreme care to consider all factors that may impact the client’s skin, including ancestry, lifestyle, and health issues. As professionals are performing the treatment, work slowly and be aware of how the skin is reacting so that any issues can be caught before they escalate.
At home, clients will do well with epidermal growth factors, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and essential fatty acids. These ingredients will support the restoration, repair, and strengthening of their skin, especially following a corrective treatment. Be sure to incorporate a mineral sunscreen to be worn daily and – for nighttime exfoliation – regenerating, corrective topicals, such as retinal or salicylic acid, may also be used.
CONTOURING MINUS THE KNIFE
While cellulite does not present any serious danger or discomfort, it is an issue that most people are particularly sensitive about. Cellulite is the protrusion or cleaving of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue that displays skin dimpling; it tends to accumulate around the buttocks, thighs, and abdomen region.
Though fat is part of the equation, it is really only part of the story when it comes to cellulite. Fibrous connective tissue adheres skin to the muscle beneath and, as the body ages, this connective tissue contracts and stiffens, causing it to pull down or tighten the skin, which pushes the fat cells out against the skin; this reaction causes the dimply appearance.
Although there is no known cure for cellulite, a healthy lifestyle helps to prevent and, in some cases, correct it. Professional treatment and the right homecare focused on increasing circulation, flushing toxins, and strengthening collagen may also be used to greatly improve its appearance.
To increase circulation, flush toxins, and strengthen collagen, use physical exfoliants such as pearl powder and bamboo to scrub away dead surface cells while stimulating circulation and enzymatic exfoliants, like L-lactic, glycolic, and L-malic acids to provide surface exfoliation and repair tissue damage. Goji berry is another wonderful ingredient. As a superfood and powerful antioxidant, it stimulates cell regrowth and repair while improving detoxification. Organic stem cells will further support antioxidant activity, skin strengthening, and the skin’s ability to resist oxidation.
In the treatment room, body peels are a great way to support clients in noninvasively diminishing the appearance of cellulite. For instance, a body peel formula containing L-lactic, salicylic, and citric acids will soften skin cells, stimulate cell turnover, and deliver antioxidant support, which will help support a smooth, toned textured. Vitamin A peel formulas with peptides are another good option as they will regenerate and firm the skin.
Corrective treatments should be followed with rebuilding ingredients, like growth factors, peptides, antioxidants, and organic stem cells. A good homecare system will also be important in supporting the work skin care professionals are doing in the treatment room. Be sure to include a granular scrub to remove dead skin cells and give skin a polished glow. The scrub may be used as a dry rub prior to the shower. Also, incorporate an energizing formula of peptides to retexturize, awaken, stimulate circulation, and oxygenate the skin. Strengthen and rebuild the skin using ingredients like stem cells, growth factors, and peptides, which tone, reform, renew, and repair the skin. Finally, do not forget sun protection. A natural physical blocker, like zinc, will also deliver important vitamins and minerals to the skin.
ADDRESSING LIFESTYLE CHOICES
For all of the aforementioned challenges, professionals may also want to talk to clients about lifestyle, as it will also contribute significantly to the health and vitality of their skin. Getting adequate sleep, taking measures to properly manage stress, and eating a healthy diet will support healthy skin cells across the body. Additionally, low-inflammatory ingredients, like omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants, when incorporated into the diet, will also support healthy cell activity. Such ingredients might include vitamin A – carrots, kale, spinach, pumpkin, liver, and cantaloupe; vitamin C – camu camu, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, guava, and citrus; vitamin E – olive oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, oats, tomatoes, and carrots; bioflavonoids – citrus, berries, onions, tea, red wine, dark chocolate, and sea buckthorn; and polyphenols – berries, tea, dark chocolate, walnuts, peanuts, and pomegranates.
The single biggest contributor to skin aging is the sun. Remind clients the best defense against aging is prevention. It is best to limit ultraviolet exposure during intense daylight hours; use a mineral-based SPF of 18 at minimum and 30 at a minimum, daily; and, if planning to be in the sun for extended periods, wear a broad-brimmed hat and ultraviolet-protective clothing. Though sunlight is important – it produces a positive effect on the state of and is a source of vitamin D – clients must be careful not to overdo it.
Finally, in addressing these issues with clients, remember that it can be a particularly sensitive subject for some. With regular check-ins and opportunities for clients to ask questions or discuss concerns, skin care professionals will be able to establish more rapport and trust and allow for a more natural dialogue to unfold.
Rhonda Allison, a pioneer in the skin care industry, is the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals and RA for Men. Allison is also an author and an internationally-known speaker with more than 30 years of aesthetic experience. rhondaallison.com and ramethod.com