Back to Basics
26 Apr 2018

New research estimates that two thirds of people in the UK are collectively investing around £369 million every month on short-term solutions to solve skin concerns.  Bupa Health Clinics surveyed 4,000 people and found that on average, women spend £11.64 a month, while men spend around £9.71 on their skin concerns. In London, this increased to £16.62 each month.

Over 34 million people in Britain battle with common skin conditions, including eczema, dry skin and acne throughout their lifetime, yet 89 per cent don’t seek expert advice1.

Consumers are being inundated on a daily basis by skincare and cosmetic brands (the NPD estimates that 92%
of cosmetic users get their information from YouTube) but the issue of skin concerns is rising.  

The answer to addressing skin concerns is about implementing the right foundational skincare programme to educate clients on the treatment properties of cleansers, toners and moisturisers. 

With warmer weather on the way, it’s a great time to go back to basics. 

3 steps

Skincare excellence starts at ‘hello’ 

The client consultation is critical. Therapists should treat any client appointment as an opportunity to understand lifestyle factors, nutrition, sleep patterns, environmental exposure (think sun worshippers) as  these are critical factors to knowing what is happening below the skin’s surface. A full technology driven facial analysis with photos, will provide the basis for a healthy skincare foundation and a programme to build on this. 

Vitamin A and active ingredient based skincare are the cornerstone

Every client should be helped to understand how vitamin A, antioxidants and other essential ingredients such as peptides, play an essential role in building healthy skin. Any treatment whether in salon or at home, starts with the preparation stage of cleansing and toning. This encourages maximum receptivity to essential active ingredients, within moisturisers designed to normalise and protect the skin.

Vitamin A is essential as it compacts the stratum corneum and thickens the epidermis. It influences the genes that cause epidermal stem cells to grow into fully functioning keratinocytes and mature into healthy layers of the epidermis. Vitamin A increases the growth of the basal layer which is why the epidermis becomes thicker and therefore more tolerant to everyday environmental and lifestyle stressors. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E will protect against the effects of free radicals and smart peptide complexes will help to smooth out lines and wrinkles and restores collagen levels, making the skin appear plumper, smoother and more youthful. 

pH: Balance in all things 

pH balance is more important than you think. 

As the skin is made up of water, the pH levels (potential of hydrogen) can be altered depending on the type of topical products clients use. Skin is covered in a protective film or acid mantle, made up of three fatty acids (lipids, palmitic and stearic), lactic acid and sebum. The skin has a natural pH level of approximately 4.5-6. Skin’s pH should be around 4.5-5.5 depending on age and skin type. pH levels are usually measured on a scale of 1-14, 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Anything over 7 is considered alkaline. Skin that falls on this end of the scale tends to be drier and present with more lines and wrinkles, and has a tendency to break out. Skin that’s too acidic can appear red, irritated and itchy. Clients that present with any of these skin concerns may indeed be using products that are disrupting the pH balance. 

Given the rise in reported skin concerns, there has never been a stronger need for therapists to provide intelligent personalised skincare advice. 

Des quote

What clients think
(and what popular media tells them)

“There’s no need to cleanse everyday”

Daily cleansing is important and best at night for the removal of debris such as dead skin cells, sebum and make-up. Cleansing should maintain the skin’s acid mantle but also increase the skin’s ability to be receptive to beneficial active ingredients. Look for ingredients such as jojoba seed oil and olive oil esters and hydrolysed oats which deeply hydrate the skin. Also, vitamin B5 (panthenol) which helps to calm and heal the skin and reduce redness. 

“Any cleanser will do. Water and soap.  Even facial wipes.” 

 Clients often strive for a ‘squeaky clean’ feeling by using frothy, over lathering cleansers. However, these types of cleansers strip the skin of its moisture and cause redness or irritation. Use low foaming cleansers with ingredients such as decyl-glucoside, as this is a lathering agent that is much gentler and cleanses the skin without disturbing the acid mantle. Facial wipes are simply a no, because the common ingredient is alcohol, which has a tendency to sensitise the skin.  

“Cleansing should include using a facial brush” 

Facial brushes are exfoliators and damage the all -important stratum corneum. Des Fernandes explains “it strips the skin of the important horny layer that is extremely thin - just 0.2 mm thick - and our only protection against the surrounding world”.  Aggressive or excessive exfoliation can compromise the health of the protective barrier resulting in an increase in sebum secretions. 

If clients with oily skin are inclined to reach for a facial brush as part of their cleansing routine, advise that they will benefit more from introducing an oil based cleanser and a ‘double cleansing’ routine using a pre-cleansing oil with ingredients such as coconut oil triester which helps to remove excess oil debris. 

“I don’t need a toner”

As the skin is very thin, a toner should always be viewed as a treatment. It balances the skin's natural pH levels after cleansing and prepares the skin to be more receptive to active ingredients such as Vitamin A.  Toners including other active ingredients such as niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) will lighten pigmentation, while peptides such as Matrixyl® 3000 will enhance the production of collagen. Lactic acid will hydrate as well as correct uneven skin tone. 

“I don’t need to invest in a moisturiser. They all do the same thing” 

Moisturisers have many benefits. They protect from environmental attack, soften and plump the skin. They also repair the damage from free radicals and other daily external stressors. In order to treat individual skin concerns, look for moisturisers that contain vitamin A, which is the crucial DNA regulator for 300-1000 genes and is known as the skin’s normaliser. There is no alternative or equivalent to vitamin A for healthy skin

“Oily skin types don’t need a moisturiser “

It’s a common misconception that oily skin does not need a moisturiser. In fact, oily skin still needs to be hydrated. Using a vitamin A enriched moisturiser will help normalise sebum production. Look for products with ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic and glycolic acid which will help to balance and regulate skin moisture levels.  

“I only need to moisturise in the morning”

Moisturisers applied during the day should provide antioxidants and active ingredients to protect against pollution and harmful UV rays. However, according to research2 new skin cells renew faster at night, so moisturisers applied before bed containing vitamin A and C, will work together to increase essential collagen formation and replace the depletion of vitamin A from light exposure and other environmental factors.  

“I don’t need to take supplements for my skin 

Feeding the skin from within will also help keep skin healthy. 

In a study by the Institute of Experimental Dermatology, a sample group was given an antioxidant supplement containing the phytonutrients lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene and selenium.  After 10 weeks, skin density had increased by 7% and thickness had increased by 14%.  Scaling and roughness decreased by 60% and 33% respectively3.  

Our own iiaa studies completed at our Skin Health Research Centre for Skin Vit A and Skin Omegas saw a 45% improvement in hydration and a 38% improvement in skin integrity after just 12 weeks.

Beauty starts from within so complement topical treatments with oral supplements of key vitamins and nutrients on the inside.  As a minimum start with Vitamin A, D, antioxidants and omegas to boost moisture. 

Take outs
2:H. Tronier, Skin Pharmacology Pysiology 19; 224-231 2006  3: