In the ever-changing beauty industry, there are endless ways individuals attempt to defy the aging process, whether through facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, microneedling, dermaplaning, microcurrent, LED and infrared light, laser resurfacing, injectables, radio frequency, or Fraxel. While clients are constantly searching for the next great thing to elongate their life or help them appear ageless, the evolution of beauty trends will keep them on their toes. And, with that, another option now available is biohacking, also known as DIY biology. While this is not necessarily new, the way people are using it is. Biohacking is an extremely broad term that can cover a huge range of activities. Some have performed science experiments on yeast or other organisms, while others track their own sleep and diet. One extreme is to attempt to change one’s own biology by pumping a younger person’s blood into one’s veins in the hopes that it will fight aging. Yes, this is a real thing. It is called a young blood transfusion.
There are two types of biohackers: ones with PhDs and the amateurs. Of course, many types of biohacking can be controversial. The ways of trying to hack biology is diverse and vast. It also can be tricky to understand all the types of biohacking that are currently being practiced. Understanding how biohacking relates to traditional medicine versus the types that may make one question how legal or safe they are is essential. Biohacking is becoming more and more common in the news and greater information is being provided. There are many documentaries on biohacking that can give an even further explanation to this intriguing new way of attempting to take one’s health into one’s own hands.
The definition of biohacking depends entirely on who is asked. Dave Asprey, a biohacker that created the company, Bulletproof, defines it as, “The art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” Now, let us discuss the ways biohacking has made its way into the aesthetics industry. The word that best describes biohacking is control. People wanting to optimize and upgrade their mind and bodies are essentially seeking a new level of control. Why do people crave this type of control? Why is biohacking so popular? On a very basic level, people just want to feel better and possibly see how far they can push their body. Some want to push their mind and utilize their brain to its fullest ability, while others want to cure illness. Some use biohacking to increase their physical ability and some attempt to defy the limits of aging.
BIOHACKING AND SKIN CARE
When looking at how biohacking is being used in skin care, it is important to look at what professionals would consider common knowledge for antiaging.
Facial massage is one of the best and most relaxing ways to increase blood flow and boost circulation, giving a client that post-treatment glow. Developing a unique and stimulating facial massage relieves muscle tension and stimulates collagen production. Doing research into facial manipulations and their benefits can train the skin to heal itself. Teaching clients at-home facial massage techniques is a type of DIY biology.
Building collagen is another way to biohack the skin. Skin care professionals all know that collagen production declines with age and is also affected by lifestyle and poor gut health. Microcurrent and microneedling can go deep into the skin as an internal treatment. Skin care professionals have also been applying products that build collagen topically for years. But, biohackers have found new ways to build collagen. Biohackers add collagen to their diet to achieve antiaging results by consuming bone broth and pasture raised and grass-fed collagen protein powder. Changing one’s diet by incorporating organic foods that are naturally high in collagen, such as, fish, chicken, kale, spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, eggs, tropical and citrus fruits, berries, garlic, leafy greens, cashews, and tomatoes is a method of biohacking. Is diet really that effective? It remains to be seen as how much collagen is rebuilt specifically for the skin from food alone. But, adding organic protein, fruits and vegetables, and clean supplements will most likely leave an individual feeling amazing and looking even better. Ingesting skin- building allies is always a good idea.
Dry brushing is another way to biohack the skin. Removing dead skin cells allows for new skin cells to surface. Dry brushing before a warm shower stimulates the skin and cleansing washes away the toxins.
Hormonal imbalance plays a key role in the health of the skin. External factors that can have a major effect on hormones are nutrition, exercise, quality of sleep, mindfulness, and gratitude. All of these contribute to positive changes in the skin and body. Of course, emotional stress, poor sleep quality, alcohol, poor diet, smoking, and excessive sun exposure lead to hormone and skin problems. This is common knowledge. Taking a healthy, positive approach to one’s emotional state and how one treats one’s self and others will undeniably improve how one feels.
One blog discussing biohacking suggests that the morning time is the opportune time to nourish and energize the body and that the ingredients to avoid when biohacking the skin are emulsifiers, dioxins, parabens, and phthalates. Upon further research, most biohackers feel the same.
Most suggest cleansing the skin with an emulsifier-free cleanser to start the day. Some emulsifiers can cause drying in the skin, essentially working as a binder. Ideally, skin should be slightly acidic, so a pH around 5.5. Emulsifiers can weaken the skin’s immunity by bringing it to a pH of six to seven – neutral. When the skin is slightly acidic, it has the ability to fight off pathogens. Common names for emulsifiers are polysorbate, stearate, steareth, cetearyl, and ceteareth. Moisturizing the skin replaces the natural oils stripped while cleansing. Some do not recommend a sunscreen, but it is a god idea to apply sunscreen and recommend it to clients to protect from harmful ultraviolet rays. Of course, a deep cleanse in the evening is an absolute must. Biohackers recommend exfoliation in the evening as well. This is also the time to use a clay mask. This is not too much different than what most professionals already teach their clients. The general message – clean products are better.
Dioxin, an emulsifier byproduct known as 1,4-dioxane, is also on the do-not-use list of biohackers. Dioxins have been linked to causing problems with reproduction, development, and the immune system.
Parabens are chemical preservatives used to increase the life of products. Some other names for parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben. Parabens are known endocrine disruptors, so for biohackers, this would be a big no-no. Disrupting the function of the endocrine system is a step in the wrong direction for biohacking.
Lastly, phthalates, dissolving agents, are highly toxic and cancer-causing ingredients do not belong in products used.
There are so many different methods to biohacking for healthy skin. Here are some additional common biohacking methods.
INCORPORATING BIOHACKING IN THE SPA
How can a skin care professional use biohacking in their treatment room? Creating a red LED light therapy treatment with the focus on the benefits of biohacking can be a nice add-on to any menu. Three-dimensional body scanning has become popular amongst the biohacking community. Adding a virtual float tank could be a treatment with meditation in mind, as well.
A treatment to utilize in the spa is a skin treatment designed for biohacking of the skin. The focus is creating a type of sound therapy, meditative music, or sound. Use headphones if working in a shared space. Perform a very detailed facial massage focusing on stimulating the muscles and rebuilding collagen and elastin, including the neck and dêclottê. Then finish the treatment with red LED light therapy.
For a medical spa, cryotherapy would be a great addition. Intravenous drips can deliver supplements directly into the body, and then there is the young blood transfusion. Blood is collected from donors between the age of 16 and 25 and used in a transfusion to an older client. This treatment can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000 and unfortunately does not have a lot of supporting research. This is a very controversial treatment and may be on a temporary hold by the FDA.
Incorporating biohacking into a regimen at home seems somewhat easy, but may also take some willpower and dedication on the client’s part.
As far as educating clients, it is important to stay within license regulations. It is very important to understand that without knowing a client’s full medical background, giving nutritional advice may not be the best decision. Living a healthy lifestyle and recommending natural, clean products and how to use them is what clients rely on skin care professionals for. Biohacking is a very interesting way for one to take control of one’s body and mind.
Courtney La Marine has been a licensed aesthetician since 2006 and continues to grow and learn in the skin care industry every day. She is based in Denver, Colorado and owns Clove Studios. She has worked with many skin care and wax lines as head of education. Working with top resort spas and destination hotels has allowed La Marine to create a unique approach to how skin care is presented to clients. Not only does she have a skin care studio in Denver, she also takes clients in Uvita, Costa Rica and researches new ingredients for a fresh take on skin care. La Marine is a result-driven professional who loves what she does, creates unique treatments for each client, and wants to give clients the skin they deserve. Staying current with new trends, innovative ingredients, and the latest technologies is of the upmost importance to her.