Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Skincare Tips For Cancer Patients From Dr. Ava Shamban January 26, 2017

Staying together in tough disease

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything about oncology esthetics.  I was certified in oncology esthetics by Oncology Training International over 4 years ago.  Since moving back to Israel in August, 2012 I have been advancing this esthetics field here in Israel where it is virtually unknown.  This past summer I started a Facebook page in Hebrew about oncology esthetics in order to better serve the Israeli population since there are few resources in Hebrew on this subject.

My last post about oncology esthetics was about how estheticians can help cancer patients.  In an even earlier post I shared skincare tips for cancer patients.   In this post I am privileged to share skincare tips for cancer patients that Dr. Ava Shamban shared with me.  Dr. Shamban is a Beverly Hills dermatologist and the creator of the skincare line SkinxFive.  She’s also the author of one of my favorite books about skincare called Heal Your Skin which includes a chapter all about caring for your skin during cancer treatment. You can read my review of her book here.

I’m sharing Dr. Shamban’s advice here along with some added comments of my own.  My comments are in italics.

The Skin Side Effects of Cancer Treatment:

How cancer treatment affects your skin (hair and nails) will depend on your individual physiology and the drugs you’re receiving. Side effects can occur right away or within several days, weeks, or even months of treatment. Always remember your mantra: take heart! There are ways to cope with even the most severe skin complaints.

Acneiform Rash (Follicular Eruption)

When you are treated with chemotherapy drugs that target the EGFRs you can develop a skin reaction known as acneiform (or acne-like) rash. It can look and feel like severe teenage acne, but it can erupt everywhere.

This skin reaction can look so similar to acne that you might be inclined to want to treat it with strong anti-acne ingredients, but this would be a mistake because your skin can be very sensitive at this time.  If you are confused about how to treat this skin condition be sure to talk to your oncologist or an esthetician trained in oncology esthetics about safe solutions to heal your skin.

 What to do: Acneiform can be tender, burning, and itching. If the rash is mild, you can try an over-the-counter low-strength salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide preparation followed by a moisturizer that contains ceramides. If the rash doesn’t respond within a short period, ask your doctor about using a topical or an oral prescription antibiotic to relieve the symptoms and lessen the severity of the rash.

Ceramides are an oily wax that is found in the outer layers of our skin.   They are naturally found in our skin and play an important role in helping our skin retain moisture by being part of the “glue” that keeps skin cells together.  When ceramides are depleted our skin has trouble staying moist and can be prone to not only dryness but sensitivity as well.   You can find ceramides in Curel products and in CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion.

Dryness

Extreme dryness is the most frequent skin complaint among patients in cancer treatment. Dehydration, extreme weather conditions, perfumed products, and allergies can contribute to dryness.

What to do: The best way to treat your dry skin is to use moisturizers regularly; Ceramides are a particularly valuable ingredient; they replace a skin lipid that chemotherapy specifically diminishes. Take a short shower or bath, then pat your dry skin with a soft towel and apply a moisturizer immediately. Use only mild, non-perfumed, non-deodorant soaps such as Dove, Basis, Aveeno, or Neutrogena. Wear cotton clothes next to the skin rather than wool, synthetic fibers, or rough clothing. Always wash clothing in a mild detergent and avoid any products that contain perfume, such as bubble baths, soaps, and lotions.

Caution: if you are receiving radiation treatments, do not apply anything to the skin in the treatment area without clearing it with your medical team first. Many common ointments and moisturizers, while nonirritating, may interfere with the ability of the radiation to penetrate the skin and do its work.

Nail Changes

Changes to your nails will depend on the treatment you receive. They are usually temporary, although the nails may take longer to repair themselves than the hair and other skin nails. Nail toxicity can occur weeks or months after you’ve begun a targeted treatment, and it often persists for weeks or months after stopping the drug.

What to do: Nail changes often disappear when the damaged nail is replaced by the growth of a new nail. Good nail care during your treatment can help you to avoid or diminish the severity of side effects.

  • Moisturize the nails and cuticles daily with a nonirritating balm, such as petroleum jelly. You can also use lip balm to soften the cuticles.
  • Do not trim or push back your cuticles. The seal they provide around the nail plate prevents infection.
  • If your nails begin to separate or show signs of breakage, try to keep them in place as long as possible. Even when loosened or shortened, they provide protection for the nail bed.
  • Inflammation can be treated in a variety of ways by your oncology team, such as by the use of topical antibiotic, an antifungal, or a cortisone cream. Wrapping the treated area with a bandage or clear plastic wrap (such as Saran Wrap) will help the ointment to penetrate the area. Some also find it helpful to apply a liquid bandage to the area at the first sign of any cracking skin.

Tips for dealing with hair loss

Keep in mind that you will need to take special care of your scalp. The skin on your head, neck, and forehead will suffer from the same dryness, propensity to irritation, and increased vulnerability to sun damage as the rest of your skin during cancer treatment. In fact, it may be quite tender. Here are some tips for dealing with hair loss:

  • My patients recommend using with hazel or a gentle baby shampoo to cleanse the scalp. Massaging the scalp gently with the fingertips can be soothing.
  • Don’t wear a wig or any other hair covering for too long a period in hot weather. Sweat can build up on your scalp and become very irritating.
  • There are many different options for wigs: real hair, synthetics, different hair colors. The most important aspect is the fabric of the skullcap.
  • Choose soft, natural, and breathable fabrics like cotton jersey for anything you wear on your head.

Rejuvenating Skin During Cancer Treatment:

  • Do not do extractions, exfoliation, or other procedures that might damage fragile skin.
  • Use only the mildest products that are free of irritants and potential allergens.
  • If your oncologist permits professional facials, have them performed in your dermatologist’s office by a licensed aesthetician working under strict sanitary conditions.

 

Always tell your dermatologist or aesthetician that you are undergoing cancer treatment before scheduling facials or other cosmetic treatments.

In addition to Dr. Shamban’s excellent tips, I want to share a few blogs and articles I came across recently.  The blogs and articles all deal with how to look your best while undergoing cancer treatment.  I am a very strong believer in the mind-body connection. When you like, or love, the way you look, it lifts your spirit.  Since cancer treatment can cause many negative appearance side effects I find these blogs and articles helpful in giving assistance and hope to those who need it during a difficult time in their life.

So in no particular order I want to recommend the following blogs and article:

  • Beauty Despite Cancer – this UK site sells products that cancer patients need and has a great blog with real life stories that will inspire you.
  • Someone With – an American website similar to the site mentioned above.  They sell clothes, beauty, and health products for cancer patients.
  • Leo with Cancer – a very personal blog by Dena who has breast cancer.  Lots of beauty tips along with her raw and honest thoughts about her cancer treatment and its side effects.
  • Beauty Products for Breast Cancer Patients has great tips for looking your best during cancer treatment from the perspective of someone who has been there.
  • My Cancer Chic came out of Anna’s need to look her best even while undergoing cancer treatment.  She not only shares her feelings about her cancer journey but beauty and hair tips as well.
  • In this moving article Deanna talks about how drastically her appearance changed while undergoing cancer treatment, especially after she lost her eyebrows.  That experience lead her to help develop a replacement brow.

I have a Pinterest board just for oncology esthetics.  Feel free to follow it.

And many thanks again to Dr. Shamban for sharing her skincare tips for cancer patients with me and my readers!

 

 

Gua Sha and Your Skin September 22, 2014

Filed under: Skincare Treatments — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
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A few months ago I took a wonderful course that was called “Japanese Facial Massage and Acupuncture”.  I had a blast in the course – learning new massage techniques, finding out about new acupressure points on the face, and discovering how to use gua sha and a jade roller to help my clients’ skin.  Some of my readers may have heard of gua sha and/or have seen pictures of red, bruised backs (or other body parts) that were treated with this Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique and are already wondering just how this relates to the skin and to facials.  It turns out that gua sha is wonderful for stimulating blood flow and lymph drainage in the face.  But before I get into all those details let me first explain what gua sha actually is.

In the article Scrape Away the Pain (found on Dr. Oz’s website) Jamie Starkey explains the principles of gua sha:

Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).

Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.

While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.

There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.

But how does this work with facials and skincare since you definitely don’t want to bruise the skin or cause long- lasting redness?  When it comes to facials and treating the skin gua sha is modified and the esthetician is much less aggressive when rubbing the skin.  While you still want the skin to get red you don’t want to leave marks that can last for days.  During a facial gua sha actually feels nice as the tools gently glide across your face after the esthetician applies a cream or oil.   Gua sha is used during a facial to increase blood flow to the face and to move lymph. In order to do both of these things there is no need to be aggressive.  I was even taught in the course I took to gently rub wrinkles and lines with the gua sha tools in order to stimulate collagen synthesis in those areas.  Following the gua sha treatment the esthetician can gently roll a jade roller all over the face in order to calm the skin.  Jade helps to soothe the skin.

You don’t need to wait to have a facial in order to benefit from gua sha.  If you have the tools you can do gua sha on your face for about 10 minutes a day if you want in order to enjoy the benefits of this traditional treatment.

Resources and Further Reading:

Image from http://www.buychinaherb.com

 

Oxygen in Skincare Products and Treatments – Update October 17, 2013

I’ve discussed the subject of oxygen in skincare products and treatments before (please see my previous posts Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe? and Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against), but since the subject continues to be addressed in other places I thought I would share some new information that I came across.

Before I share some new information I learned I should mention that the argument about oxygen in beauty products usually, though not always, boils down to a product manufacturer saying that oxygen in a product or a treatment is great for the skin and a doctor saying just the opposite.  For example in the The New York Times article Oxygen Bubbles Into Facial Care Products Robin White from the skincare company Philosophy states:

“Oxygen is known to give skin brightness and clarity. It works on clogged pores and dullness, and brings back radiance and freshness.”

Or check out these other two examples from the same article:

“As we age, the oxygen in our body is depleted, which results in lifeless skin,” said Michael Ann Guthrie, vice president for retail for Natura Bissé. “Our oxygen products are based on stabilized hydrogen peroxide, which delivers molecules directly into the skin. This active ingredient breaks down into water and oxygen, and then supplies the skin with oxygen, which enables it to breathe.”  …

Bliss has also created a number of oxygen-infused products. In 2010 and 2011, they introduced the Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask ($54), Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Cleansing Foam ($28), and Instant Energizing Eye Mask ($50). In the spring of this year, two new items will be added to the line, including a rich oxygenating cream. The company’s spas also offer two oxygen facials, a 75-minute treatment and a 30-minute one. Both promise luminosity, include an oxygen spray, and are among the spa’s most popular, said Susan Grey, regional vice president of spa operations for New York Bliss Spas. “Oxygen increases circulation, which increases the delivery of nutrition to the skin, and gives your skin energy,” she said. “It also kills bacteria which keeps post-facial breakouts away.” And, she said that as oxygen travels through the body, the skin is the last to receive it. “By time it gets there,” she added, “it’s a little tired.”

And for the dissenting opinions:

… “There’s no scientific evidence that oxygen can penetrate the skin or that it can stay in the product,” said Dr. Bruce Katz, a clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the director of the Juva Skin and Laser Center in New York. He added that very few products can penetrate the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the skin.

Celeste Hilling, the chief executive of Skin Authority, a skin-care company in San Diego, is one cosmetics-industry professional who needs convincing; she believes better results can be achieved with other elements, like vitamin D or peptides.

“Oxygen is an inert ingredient, meaning it’s nonactive,” Ms. Hilling said. “We need it in the bloodstream to breathe and to live, but oxygen is what’s aging our skin. It’s oxidizing it. Plus, skin can’t absorb it.”

The apothecary giant Kiehl’s is another dissenter. “Oxygen is a gas and cannot be incorporated as a stand-alone ingredient,” said Chris Salgardo, the company’s president. “Products on the market that speak to ‘oxygenating’ usually use hydrogen peroxide, or other ingredients that will generate oxygen as the product is applied to skin.” To obtain the benefits oxygenating products are typically used for, like dark spots, wrinkles, pore size and elasticity, Kiehl’s uses other ingredients like vitamin C and calcium.

But products promising oxygen continue to make appearances. According to the NPD Group, a market research company, total oxygen-infused facial skin care products generated $4.1 million in department store sales from January through October 2012 in the United States, an increase of 54 percent, compared with the same time in 2011.

“Oxygen is appealing in concept because everyone knows it’s very good for you,” said Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, a facial plastic surgeon and the director of advanced facial aesthetics in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “But it’s not clear that adding oxygen to the skin is going to improve someone’s appearance. We also get enough oxygen to our skin by having healthy lungs and not smoking.”

So who is right?  Does our skin even need oxygen to be healthy?  According to Drs. Draelos and Pugliese in their book Physiology of the Skin, third edition (pages 249-253):

The skin uses very little oxygen.  In fact, it uses only 12.8 milliliters per minute, just a tad over two teaspoons of oxygen, which is only 4.8% of the oxygen taken into the lungs each minute.  Every 100 grams of skin uses only 0.3 mL/min.  One hundred grams of skin is a lot if you consider only the epidermis, because the dermis uses almost no oxygen.  …

Such a small amount of oxygen does not require the blood supply found in the skin.  This tells us that the skin is not an oxygen-using tissue.  In fact, it prefers to metabolize without oxygen.  …

Oxygen Therapy

Peroxides.  There are two forms of oxygen therapy used by estheticians.  One form is peroxides of some type – hydrogen peroxide, zinc peroxide or other basic elements such as calcium.  All of these compounds decompose to release oxygen and the hydroxide of the base element.  In the case of hydrogen peroxide, the most commonly found oxygen source in cosmetics, water and oxygen are produced.  As the oxygen is released, it reacts on the skin surface with anything that it can oxidize.  It becomes an effective bleaching agent and a weak germicide on the surface of the skin.  But that is all.  It cannot penetrate the skin.

Oxygen is a gas, and gas will diffuse into other gases before it will dissolve in anything else.  You can’t affect anything other than the outer stratum corneum with these topical products.  Any claim that oxygen penetrates the epidermis, or goes to the deeper layers of the epidermis, must be highly suspect.  All other benefits from so-called oxygen generating products are not based on true science.

Oxygen as a gas

This form of oxygen therapy is a waste of time and money.  Here is why.  One molecule weight of oxygen will fill 22.4 liters of atmospheric pressure.  No matter how much pressure is in the tank, that comes out will be at atmospheric pressure when it hits the air.

If you spray this oxygen over a face that is dry, what will happen?  Nothing.  It immediately will go into the air, as oxygen does not diffuse into dry protein.  OK, so wet the face.  How much will dissolve in the water, or whatever fluid used?  Under atmospheric pressure, or 152 mm Hg, 5 micro liters of oxygen will dissolve per milliliter of water, written as 5 µL/mL of water.  Think about that for a minute; the water you are using consists of 1,000 mL of oxygen in the air or 1 million micro liters of oxygen.  How much water can you get on the face at one time?  Maybe an ounce, or even two ounces if a cotton cloth was used.  Now you have 60 mL of water in which 3 X 60 or 180 µL of oxygen at a maximum can be dissolved.

Of the one liter of oxygen that you have used, you have, at the very best, an opportunity to have 0.180 mL dissolve in the solution on the face.  You have wasted 500 times more oxygen.  Now here is the sad part.  None of the oxygen gets into the skin to do any good.  Even if it did, by some unknown law, it still would be of no benefit to the skin because of the skin’s physiological makeup.  Increased skin oxygen is only beneficial if the skin has an insufficient oxygen supply.  It is not possible to aid skin oxygenation of the skin already has as much as it needs.

Summary

…  The skin uses very little oxygen since 90% of the metabolic process in the skin is anaerobic, or does not require oxygen.  Oxygen does not penetrate the skin at atmospheric pressure or in a solution.  The action of oxygen is mainly a surface action; as an oxidant it is an effective bleaching agent and a weak germicide.  Gaseous oxygen has no basis of use in topical system since it does not penetrate dry skin and has very limited solubility on wet skin.  The medical application of gaseous oxygen is limited and difficult to use.  No data exists to support the use of topical oxygen for any non-medical application, but it may be of value to persons with wounds that are receiving insufficient oxygen.

New developments in skin oxygenation include the use of oxygen-releasing foams and oxygen-releasing skin care products.  The problem with evaluating this type of technology is that the oxygen is always used with a moisturizer.  Separating the effect of the moisturizer on the skin versus the oxygen is almost impossible.  It is for this reason that the value of topical oxygen has never been proven.

Now that you’ve read both sides of argument what do you think?  Yay or nay on oxygenation treatments or products with oxygen?

Further Reading:

Image from openwalls.com

 

So Just What Is Dry Brushing? July 11, 2013

Ever heard of dry brushing?  Never heard of dry brushing?  Ever wondered what dry brushing is?  Here are all the answers.

Dry brushing is a relatively simple process that uses, you guessed it, a dry brush on dry skin.

First lets begin with the benefits of dry brushing.  If you dry brush you’ll have:

  • Skin that is healthier and smoother: removing dead skin cells and opening pores to allow them to “breath” and absorb nutrients.
  • Stimulated lymphatic and circulatory systems: boosting your immune system and increasing circulation to help detoxify.
  • Stress relief: increasing your blood flow reduces stressed areas of the body and stimulates nerve endings in your skin which in turn rejuvenates your nervous system.
  • Reduced cellulite: increasing blood circulation to the skin helps break down and releases toxins that cause cellulite in legs and hips.

(From drybrushing.net)

I must address the issue of cellulite and dry brushing since almost any time you read about dry brushing you’ll find that supposedly dry brushing reduces cellulite.  Please don’t rush out to buy a brush and start dry brushing like mad in order to reduce your cellulite because, sorry to say, I really don’t think that dry brushing will reduce cellulite.  If your skin is smoother from dry brushing than the appearance of your cellulite might be reduced but nothing more.  Most people have some cellulite and there is no cure* for it so dry brush in order to exfoliate but not to reduce cellulite.  (For more information about cellulite see my previous post Can You Get Rid of Cellulite?)

I am not the only one who thinks that the claim that dry brushing will eliminate cellulite is incorrect.  Dr. Weil, guru of integrative medicine, debunks some myths about dry brushing:

The notion that dry brushing can reduce or eliminate cellulite make no sense. Fat is arranged in large chambers separated from each other by columns of connective tissue. If fat overflows these chambers as a result of being overweight, or if the connective tissue slackens with age (as it invariably does), the result is the classic pitting and bulging we have come to know as cellulite. I have never seen any treatment that can effectively eliminate it. An improvement in the “appearance” of cellulite may be in the eye of the beholder, but I doubt that any objective change takes place with dry brushing.

The idea that the method can eliminate “up to a pound of toxins a day,” as some proponents claim, is ridiculous. First of all, the body does a pretty good job of cleansing and purifying itself. If you feel the need, you can help speed the removal of unwanted materials by drinking more water to increase urinary output, taking steam baths or saunas to promote sweating, adjusting diet and fiber intake to ensure regular eliminations, and getting enough aerobic activity to stimulate breathing. In addition, taking the herbal remedymilk thistle supports normal, healthy liver metabolism, aiding its important role in detoxification.

I would take the health claims for dry brushing with a big grain of salt. If you enjoy it and believe it benefits you, there’s no reason not to do it. But if you find that it irritates or inflames your skin, you might want to opt for a less abrasive spa treatment.

Just how often should you dry brush and how do you do it?:

How often: Dry skin brushing effectively opens up the pores on your skin. This is something you can — and should — be doing daily, even twice a day. Your skin should be dry, so the ideal time is in the shower before you turn on the water. Just a reminder, don’t get the brush wet.

Direction: You should only brush towards the heart. Making long sweeps, avoid back and forth, scrubbing and circular motions. Start at your feet, moving up the legs on both sides, then work from the arms toward your chest. On your stomach, direct the brush counterclockwise. And, don’t brush too hard: Skin should be stimulated and invigorated but not irritated or red.

Type of brush: The bristles should be natural, not synthetic, and preferably vegetable-derived. The bristles themselves should be somewhat stiff, though not too hard. Look for one that has an attachable handle for hard-to-reach spots, if necessary.

(From Dry Brushing Benefits: Banish Cellulite, Improve Skin Tone and MoreHuffington Post)

If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, have inflamed skin, or sunburned skin stay away from dry brushing.  I would also advise against dry brushing your face.  There are many more effective ways to exfoliate the face.

Personal Experience

I started dry brushing a few weeks ago before my evening shower.  I have to admit that I do forget to dry brush before some showers, but I have been pretty consistent over all.  I find the process quick and invigorating; it definitely wakes you up.  The one benefit I’ve noticed since beginning dry brushing is that my skin is super soft.  Yes, I moisturize after the shower but this is a level of softness that I can’t remember ever experiencing.  Otherwise, I have to admit, I haven’t seen any other benefits from dry brushing just yet.

Bottom Line:  I would definitely recommend dry brushing as an effective way to exfoliate the skin on your body.  Forget the claims about reducing cellulite and detoxifying the body.  Just dry brush away if it feels good!

*Though there is no cure for cellulite there is a promising new treatment for reducing the appearance of cellulite.  It is called Cellulaze.

Further Reading:

Image from healinglifestyles.com

 

 

Ayurveda Skincare June 6, 2013

I thought I would use this post as a way to introduce the theory and practice of Ayurvedic skincare to my readers.  Keep in mind that this post is just an introduction since subject and practice of Ayurvedic skincare is complicated and involved.  I hope that this post can give everyone a “taste” of what it means to practice Ayurvedic skincare.

What is Ayurveda?

The Chopra Center website provides an excellent explanation about Ayurveda:

Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Although suppressed during years of foreign occupation, Ayurveda has been enjoying a major resurgence in both its native land and throughout the world. Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda. Early Greek medicine also embraced many concepts originally described in the classical ayurvedic medical texts dating back thousands of years.

More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life,Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vital while realizing their full human potential. Providing guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of our senses, Ayurveda reminds us that health is the balanced and dynamic integration between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.

Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that predominate.

For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion.

An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.

Ayurveda and Skincare

Just as all people (and the state of their health) can be divided into the three dosha types – vata, pitta, and kappa – so can our skin.  Once you determine your Ayurvedic skin type then you can start to treat your skin accordingly.  So for example:

Vata Skin Type
If vata is predominant the skin of a person is dry, rough, cold, wrinkled and thin with fine pores. Vata skin may age faster, and tends to be dry, rough and flaky when out of balance.
Vata Skin Care and treatment
Vata skin is typically dry and delicate, and tends to lose tone and plumpness prematurely unless nourished on a regular basis. For Vata skin to stay youthful, skin care products used should be very nurturing and should include some essential oils or herbs in combination, which can nourish the skin and rehydrate it. Some treatment approaches to vata skin care includes having sufficient sleep, eating regular meals that will help balance Vata and nourish the skin and avoiding physical and emotional stress.

Pitta Skin Type
If pitta is predominant, the skin is fair, sensitive, soft, warm, and of medium thickness, less tolerant to hot food and burns easily. When out of balance, Pitta skin can flare up in rashes, rosacea, acne, or sunspots.
Pitta Skin Care and treatment
Pitta skin is generally sensitive, especially to the sun, and needs protection to stay in balance.The Pitta skin type needs both cooling and nurturing. Tanning treatments and therapies that expose skin to steam for extended periods of time should be avoided.

Kapha Skin Type
If the constitution is of kapha dosha the skin of a person is oily, cold, heavy, soft, slow, dense, dull, lubricating and thick with a tendency towards large pores and proneness to cystic acne.
Kapha Skin Care and treatment
Toxins are the bane of people with Kapha skin. This is because of its oily nature which attracts impurities. The skin should be cleansed from the inside and the outside, or else the skin breaks out because of toxin build-up. Kapha skin needs to get both internal detoxification and external detoxification on a regular basis.

(From Skin – Skin Care and Skin Treatments, Ayurvedic Skin Care)

Furthermore, remember that Ayurveda comes to treat the body as a whole not just your skin issues.  So keep in mind that treating your skin according to Ayurvedic principles isn’t just about what you put on your skin, it is also about what you eat and other lifestyle choices.:

Ayurveda’s holistic approach to health aims at treating the entire individual, not just a symptom or specific ailment.

The Ayurvedic approach to health encompasses all aspects of a person’s way of living. From nutrition to mindset and from exercise to sleeping patterns, the Ayurvedic approach takes into account not just the person individually, but also the environment that he lives in.

When it comes to skin care, the quality and youthfulness of a person’s skin is viewed as a reflection of one’s health. A person who has acne will therefore not just be treated to get rid of the blemish itself, but rather the blemishes will be looked at as a symptom of a deeper underlying condition. A treatment plan will then be suggested that correlates the person’s constitution, or his dosha.

Digestion, elimination, nutrition and metabolism all affect the quality of skin, according to Ayurveda. If any of these processes are out of balance, it will show up through the quality of the skin. An Ayurvedic approach to skin care will therefore intend to restore balance to any or all of the systems that are interrupting the body’s natural desire to healthy skin.

The quality of the skin is determined by a person’s dosha, or constitution. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. While each person has all three within herself, usually one or two are more dominant, which creates certain imbalances. Therefore in order to restore health to the skin, the doshas must first be balanced.

The overall concept when it comes to Ayurveda and skin care is to choose a skin care regimen that matches the kind of skin a person has.

According to Ayurveda, if a person has oily skin, it is largely due to an imbalance in the kapha dosha. A treatment of oil-free cleansers and cooling tonics like cucumbers and lemons might be recommended. In addition, heavy and rich foods, and make-up that clogs pores should be avoided and instead should be replaced by light foods and light make-up. Exercise to release toxins through the pores and to get rid of excess oil is also recommended.

If a person has dry skin, a strongly vata condition, the treatment plan looks quite different. Oil-based cleansers and moisturizers are instead encouraged and a diet with a modest amount of healthy fats like olive oil, sesame oil and ghee are also recommended.

When it comes to Ayurvedic skin care, natural is best. Ayurvedic skin care products as well as Ayurvedic skin care practices rely only on natural ingredients, chemical-free processing methods and holistic regimens.

Some of most commonly-used Ayurvedic skin care ingredients are sandalwood, sesame seed oil, macadamia nut oil, lime oil, lemon oil, clary sage, sunflower seed oil, Gotu Kola, other essential oils, herbs and botanicals.

(From Live Strong – Ayurveda Skin Care)

I know this post just provided the briefest of introductions to Ayurvedic skincare.  Below I’ve listed more sources for learning about Ayurveda.  If you’ve ever treated your skin according to Ayurvedic principles please share your experiences below.

Further Reading:

Ayurvedic Skincare Lines:

There are numerous Ayurvedic skincare lines available.  I haven’t tried any, but a simple Google search produced an impressive number of sources:

Quizes to Determine Your Dosha:

Image from http://www.mindbodygreen.com

 

The Benefits of Facial Massage January 31, 2013

Almost two years ago I wrote a post about how facial exercises are a waste of your time but a facial massage is very beneficial for your skin.  In this post thought I would expand on why facial massages are so helpful for your skin and your overall wellbeing.  Last year I even had a client who would just come to me for facial massages, not a full facial.  She was originally from Europe and explained to me that this was not an unusual treatment, just having a facial massage, in Europe.  I could definitely understand her thinking.  I believe that a facial without some sort of massage is not really a facial.  That is how strongly I believe in the benefits of facial massage.

According to the Skin Inc. article by Lydia Sarfati, Facial Massage: Experience the Benefits, there are quite a few ways that facial massage helps clients:

When performed correctly, massage can provide clients with a wealth of benefits for their health and skin. Specifically, facial massage:

  • Stimulates circulation;
  • Detoxifies;
  • Stimulates sebaceous production;
  • Relaxes the nerves;
  • Releases toxins trapped between the tissues and muscles;
  • Oxygenates skin tissues;
  • Provides physiological and psychological benefits;
  • Aids in the extraction process;
  • Hydrates by bringing nutrients to the surface layer of the skin;
  • Increases lymphatic flow; and
  • Eases muscle tension.

Almost every skin condition can benefit from a facial massage.  Your esthetician just needs to know what type of massage to perform on each client according to what is going on with their skin.  In another Skin Inc. article, this one by Danae Markland entitled Facial Massage: More Than Relaxation, different types of massages for varying skin conditions are explained:

Massage can greatly benefit acne, rosacea and other inflamed skin conditions. Acne is a wound to the skin, and increasing blood flow encourages the healing process. Many skin care professionals are taught to avoid massage with acne clients because of the risk of cross-contamination and overstimulation. Although this is a valid concern and many traditional massage techniques are not appropriate for acne sufferers, light manipulation for a short period of time increases blood flow, which brings oxygen to the skin, killing the anaerobic bacteria responsible for breakouts and providing significant improvement. Similar to acne, rosacea and other sensitive skin conditions involve chronic inflammation, which also benefits greatly from the enhanced circulation associated with massage. When dealing with acne and other inflamed conditions, limit massage time to no more than 10 minutes.

There is no denying that massage of any kind improves the appearance of the skin for a short period of time after a treatment. This instant improvement is again due to an increase in blood flow and, ultimately, an increase in cellular oxygenation. As with many aspects of the skin, circulation decreases with age, leading to a dull appearance. Massage improves circulation, leading to a more youthful complexion. Clients who smoke and those who engage in air travel regularly also benefit from enhanced circulation, because smoking and air travel limit the amount of oxygen obtained by the cells, leading to lifeless complexions.

YouTube is a great way to see different types of facial massage since each esthetician eventually develops her own facial massage technique.  In my opinion there isn’t a “right” way to perform a facial massage.  As long as it feels good than your on the right track to relaxation and healthy skin.

Image from massage-ce-solutions.com

 

Chemical Peels for Darker Skin Tones October 16, 2012

Recently a blog reader who was African-American asked if it was safe for her to get a chemical peel.  My answer was resounding “yes, but” and by that I meant – yes, but make sure you are careful.  The reason for my warning?  The darker your skin tone the more prone you are to hyperpigmentation which means you can receive a chemical peel you just can’t have a very deep one.

First let me just refresh your memory, in case you need it, to the benefits of chemical peels.  The WebMD article Chemical Peels and Your Skin explains what peels can do for your skin:

Chemical peels can be done on the face, neck, or hands. They can be used to:

  • Reduce fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth
  • Treat wrinkles caused by sun damage and aging
  • Improve the appearance of mild scars
  • Treat certain types of acne
  • Reduce age spots, freckles, and dark patches (melasma) due to pregnancy or taking birth control pills
  • Improve the look and feel of skin

Areas of sun damage may improve after chemical peeling.

After a chemical peel, skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun, so wear sunscreen every day.

According to the Skin Inc. article Understanding Darker Skin Tones does a good job of explaining the unique issues facing darker skin tones:

Despite prevailing misconceptions, if you’ve got darker skin, you’re not immune to the effects of sun damage and premature aging. While the rules of cleanse, moisturize and SPF apply to everyone, darker tones do need unique care. Mona Gohara, MD, assistant clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine department of dermatology in New Haven, CT, a key promoter of skin care awareness and sun safety in non-Caucasian populations, explains the chemistry and concerns of darker skin.

1. What is the basic skin biology of people of color?

There are three layers that comprise the human skin: the epidermis, the dermis and fat. Within the epidermis there are pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is the substance that confers skin color. People all have the same number of melanocytes, regardless of complexion–the browner you are, the more melanin you are producing. In short, melanin determines skin color. Melanin has many different functions in human skin. Most importantly, it provides inherent protection against the sun and is a natural antioxidant.

2. What are some of the common skin issues affecting people with darker skin tones? Are these issues different than people with lighter skin tones and if so, why?

Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) is a condition that occurs more frequently in individuals with darker skin. It is localized skin darkening that occurs after trauma or inflammation. For example, when people of color get a pimple, for some reason melanocytes rev up and produce more melanin. As a result, when the lesion fades, the skin gets darker. The same phenomenon applies for cuts, bruises and resolving rashes. To treat PIH, you need to use an SPF of 30 or higher every day, and give it time. Other remedies such as hydroquinones, retinol, glycolic acid and chemical peels can also help speed up the process.

So how can you make sure that you are helping your skin instead of hurting it when you get a chemical peel?  According to the article Peels and Hyperpigmentation by Pamela Springer from the July/August 2012 issue of Skin Deep you need to keep the following things in mind:

Generally, peels and other exfoliating agents are used to resolve photodamage, fine lines and wrinkles, and dyschromias (the brown spots associated with aging).  These conditions are most often seen in individuals with lighter skin coloring, Fitzpatrick I-III.  Those with pigmented skin, Fitzpatrick IV-VI, are more likely to have conditions such as dark postacne lesions, hyperkeratosis, pigmentary reactions, pseudofolliculitis barbae, or textural changes.  But despite the disparities, dark skin is not as complex as one would image, and it will respond well to superficial chemical peeling as long as certain protocols are followed.  …

The outcome of a chemical peel is determined by how well the skin has been prepared.  For darker skin, the concern is avoiding PIH [post inflammatory hyperpigmentation].  Peels that penetrate too deeply can generate heat or erythema (redness) while on the skin, potentially altering melanin synthesis and/or causing abnormal melanin distribution.  Deep penetration can also destroy the melanocyte, leaving an area of the skin void of color.

To decrease this risk, the client should be placed on a pretreatment home-care regimen for four to eight weeks (depending on how dark the skin is) prior to a scheduled light- or medium-depth peel.  During this time, the goal is either repair the acid mantle or to perform other treatments that will enhance the outcome of the peel.  If the acid mantle is intact, the home-care regime should consist of a skin-lightening agent, 2-5 percent glycolic products, and a full-spectrum sunscreen.

There should be visible reduction of dyschromias after two to three weeks of the home-care regimen.  Priming the skin in this manner will go a long way toward eliminating post-peel complications.

The article further points out that manufacturer instructions for peels can be modified in order to work for darker skin tones.  For instance a peel that is supposed to be left on the skin for 5 minutes should be left on for 1 or 2 minutes on darker skin tones.  There are numerous peeling agents that can be used successfully on darker skin tones such as:  lactic acid, mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and jessner’s solution.

Tips for Before and After A Peel

If you are considering a peel and have a darker skin tone do some of research before getting a peel.  If you have a spa or doctor’s office in mind for where you want to do the peel ask to come in for either a facial or at the very least for a discussion with the esthetician who will performing the peel.  This way the esthetician can understand your skincare concerns and see your skin before the peel.  This is also the right time to assess what sort of pre-peel regime you need to be on at home in order to both enhance the peel results and to prevent any complications for arising.  This pre-peel consultation and/or facial is essential for the receiving the best result with your peel.  The esthetician should be able to clearly explain what type of peel she would choose to do on your skin and why and how she might modify the peel because of your skin color/tone.  You should also discuss post-peel treatments in order to calm the skin and prevent any PIH.  If you have any allergies, have had an adverse reaction to a skincare product or ingredient in the past, are on any medications and/or prescription skincare products, or spend a lot of time in the sun all of these issues need to be discussed in length with your esthetician before having a peel.  Also keep in mind that sometimes the best results from peels come after a series not just from one peel.

Bottom Line:  Anyone with a darker skin tone can benefit from a chemical peel as long as they properly prepare their skin before hand, receive the peel from someone who knows the risks in involved with peeling darker skin tones, and practices proper post-peel care.  Chemicals peels remain a viable and great option for a host of skin issues for all skin colors and ethnicities.

My Related Posts:

General Reading About Chemical Peels:

Articles About Ethnic Skincare:

Image – Three Friends by William H. Johnson from sparklepony.blogspot.com

 

 
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