Benefits of Skin Therapy
Why should I see an esthetician?
Esthetics is the application of various treatments to the skin, to maintain its health and vitality. Estheticians are trained in skin wellness, helping their clients balance oil and moisture content and achieve a healthy, youthful complexion. As well as various facial treatments (described in more detail below), they commonly also perform body treatments such as salt or sugar scrubs, moisturizing or slenderizing body wraps, hair removal techniques such as waxing or threading, and hand/foot treatments to rejuvenate the skin.
A variety of treatments and products are used to protect skin from environmental hazards and combat fine lines, wrinkles, and a dull, uneven skin tone. Estheticians are also skilled in managing conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, and dry skin, to name just a few. And finally, skin care treatments are wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating. If smooth, healthy skin is your goal, visiting a skin care professional can benefit you.
What’s the difference between dermatology, cosmetology, and esthetics?
Dermatology is a branch of the medical profession, practiced by licensed physicians who specialize in disorders of the skin. Esthetic practice specifically excludes diagnosis, prescription, or any other service, procedure, or therapy that requires a medical license. If you’re being treated by a dermatologist, your esthetician can provide complementary and support therapies. In addition, estheticians are trained to recognize early signs of many medical conditions affecting the skin, and will refer you to a dermatologist in such a case.
Cosmetology is the study of beauty treatments including nail care, hair care and styling, makeup application, skin care and more. Esthetics is one branch of cosmetology; some estheticians work in other branches of cosmetology in addition to their skin care practice.
Visiting an esthetician
It is always a good idea to schedule a consultation appointment prior to your first treatment, especially if you are new to esthetic treatments. This gives you and your therapist a chance to discuss your goals and expectations for the first visit, and long term goals for the future. During a consultation, your therapist will go over an extensive intake form, and most likely do a cleansing of the skin followed by a detailed skin analysis. This will give your therapist the information she/he needs to create an individualized treatment plan, both for a series of professional treatments and recommendations for products you can use at home.
What about home care?
Much of the success of maintaining a visible improvement after treatment depends on consistent, correct home care. Your esthetician is trained to select the products that will most benefit your skin, and to advise you on how to maintain your professional results between visits. Like medical or dental care, following the right daily regimen at home is essential if you are to get the most out of your visits to a professional.
Your skin care treatments should be provided by a properly trained professional. Don’t hesitate to ask your skin care therapist about her background, training, and experience—especially as it relates to the treatment you are considering. Your therapist is a professional member of Associated Skin Care Professionals. Our members have been validated as meeting their state’s licensing credentials and/or core training requirements, and agree to follow a code of ethics which ensures you’ll be treated responsibly and with the utmost respect. ASCP also provides its members with comprehensive resources that allow them to keep up with changing trends, making certain you’ll receive the most up-to-date therapies available.
What is a chemical peel?
A chemical peel is an acid solution that is applied to the skin. It dissolves the outermost layer of skin cells, which then peels off over the following days to reveal the fresher, younger layer below. Peels are very effective in treating a large range of skin concerns such as aging, sun damage, acne, mild scarring, improving skin brightness, and evening skin tone.
Peels can be light, moderate or deep. Light peels require no down time from work and your normal activities. Moderate peels may require a day or two, and deep peels can require a week or more of down time to allow the skin to fully heal. Estheticians who are not working in a medical setting perform light to moderate peels only. Deep peels can only be performed by a physician, or under a physician’s supervision, for your safety.
Preparing for treatment
Most skin colors and types can benefit from chemical peels, though it is best to check with your esthetician about which peel might be right for you. If you’re taking acne medication, Retin-A or Accutane, talk to your esthetician and/or doctor about stopping the medication before and during treatment to avoid complications. Your esthetician can review any other contraindications with you prior to your treatment to determine if a chemical peel is right for you. Be sure to answer all questions honestly and completely on your consultation form prior to your peel.
What to expect during a chemical peel
The skin is cleansed and a prep solution will be applied to remove surface oils and allow the peel to penetrate the skin evenly. Any sensitive areas that cannot be treated will be protected with a thin film of petroleum jelly. Your eyes will be covered to protect them. One or more chemical mixtures will be applied, such as glycolic acid (from sugar cane), trichloroacetic acid (similar to bleach), salicylic acid (wintergreen—good for acne), lactic acid (from milk), or a combination peel called a Jessners peel. The peel will be applied in 1–3 layers, depending on the depth of penetration intended. The acids react with the skin to produce a “controlled wound,” allowing fresh skin to regenerate and emerge. A tingling, burning or hot sensation is normal. Most peels remain on the skin only a few minutes, and are closely watched by the esthetician. A fan may help you stay more comfortable. After some peels, a neutralizing solution is applied to stop the peel. Other peels are self-timed and stop on their own.
After the peel
After most peels, the skin will be pink to red, and look shiny and tight. It is vital to apply sunscreen of SFP 30 or greater to the skin for the next 48 hours, minimum. You must also stay out of the sun, as your skin will be very sensitive to UV rays and could be damaged by sun exposure. The skin will begin to flake or peel within 2–3 days after the treatment, unless you had a lactic acid peel—these encourage moisture retention and may not produce any actual peeling. Sun-damaged areas of your skin will appear darker at first, then will lighten. This is normal. Deeper peels can produce peeling for a week or more. To assist in removing the flaking skin, an enzyme peel or light microdermabrasion treatment is sometimes scheduled a week or so after the initial peel. For maximum results, a series of peels is usually recommended, and may be necessary for treating challenging issues such as hyperpigmentation.
Home care after a chemical peel
Your esthetician will recommend healing products to use for the week or two following your peel. These will soothe and nourish your skin, and aid in its recovery. Usually it is best to avoid makeup during this time, to allow the skin to heal and function without interference. However, if you must wear makeup, mineral makeup will not adversely affect the skin.
What is a facial? Why do I need one?
A facial is a professional cleansing, purifying, and/or corrective treatment of the skin on the face and body. Facials are the number one treatment performed by estheticians, and a good way for your therapist to get a good understanding of your skin prior to suggesting more aggressive treatments.
For most people, facials can be scheduled every four weeks, although your therapist may recommend a different schedule. There are many variations of facials based on different needs, as well as different lengths of time. A mini facial may be only 20–30 minutes in length, while a more luxurious version may be 75–90 minutes in length. Tell your esthetician exactly what you want to get out of your facial, and she/he will be able to recommend a facial to meet your needs.
What to expect
Facials are generally very relaxing and soothing. Your esthetician will explain to you what the treatment steps will be. Be sure to communicate with your esthetician during the facial if any product burns, itches, or if you need anything or have any questions. Otherwise, just lie back and enjoy the experience. A basic facial generally includes the following steps:
Makeup removal and cleansing of the skin.
Exfoliation by mechanical, enzymatic or chemical means.
Massage of the face and neck, to aid in relaxation and stimulate blood and oxygen flow to the skin.
Extraction of blackheads and other impurities, either manually (using gloved hands and cotton or tissue around the fingers with gentle pressure to remove the impacted pore) or using a metal extraction implement designed to clear blocked pores. This can also include the use of a lancet (a small, sharp blade to lift the dead cells of the skin prior to extraction).
Application of products targeted to your skin type (dry, oily, mixed, sensitive, or mature).
After the facial
After a facial, your skin will probably be soft, smooth and well hydrated. However, if multiple extractions were needed or if you required a fair amount of exfoliation, your face may be somewhat rosy for one to two hours or more, depending on how sensitive your skin is. This is quite normal. You can apply mineral makeup after your facial if there is some redness you want to conceal.
What about home care?
Your esthetician will go over which professional home care products for you to continue the improvement in your skin following your professional treatment. This way, you will be using products that maximize benefits and prolong the effects of your treatment. Your therapist can explain how, when and how much of the products to use. Feel free to call the therapist later, if you have any questions.
What causes acne? How can skin care treatments help?
Acne is the most common skin disorder, and 85 percent of all Americans will experience it some time in their lifetime. While commonly thought to be an adolescent problem, it can appear at any age, most often on the face, back, and chest.
The causes of acne are complex, but usually involve the overproduction of oil, the blockage of follicles that release the oil, and the growth of bacteria in those follicles. This can be triggered by many things, including a change in medications or a change in hormone levels caused by stress or other factors. It’s important to treat acne early to avoid scarring.
There are 4 grades of acne. Grade 1 is the mildest form, with open and closed comedones (whiteheads and blackheads). Grades 2 and 3 include papules and pustules as well. Grade 4 is the most advanced form, with all the above plus the appearance of cysts or nodules beneath the skin surface, that can be dime size or larger and often require medical attention to treat. Acne is not only painful but can be very emotionally and psychologically challenging as well.
Who can benefit from acne treatment?
Anyone who has acne can benefit from treatment. Acne sufferers often state their quality of life and self-esteem improves dramatically once their acne is alleviated. If you are seeking a licensed esthetician’s care, chances are you’ve already tried over-the-counter preparations with disappointing results.
Depending on the grade of your acne, your esthetician will go over the treatment options that would be the most successful for you. If you have Grade 4 acne, your esthetician will refer you to a dermatologist who can treat it medically. Once your acne is under control and improving, your esthetician can suggest treatments that will assist you in accelerating the healing process, relieving pigmentation which often accompanies acne.
Visiting your esthetician for acne treatment
Be ready to fill out a medical questionnaire and describe what medications and skin care products you are using. Your therapist will do an analysis of your skin, look for any interactions between products and medications, and devise a treatment plan that’s suitable for your unique needs. Keep in mind that results require a commitment on your behalf to follow a prescribed home care and professional treatment program. This often involves a series of professional treatments. It takes time to balance the skin and treat acne. Though results may not happen overnight, you are on the path to reclaiming your beautiful, clear skin!
What should I expect from my acne treatment?
You should expect regularly scheduled treatments. Your treatment program may begin with an acne facial. This may include deep cleansing and extractions (clearing blocked pores), special exfoliation that will not increase inflammation or spread bacteria, a balancing/calming mask, anti-bacterial and balancing products, or some combination of these. The goal is to deeply cleanse follicles and disinfect them, clearing away oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells.
Your esthetician may also recommend a series of chemical peels. Once the active acne is cleared, microdermabrasion will assist in minimizing the appearance of scarring and diminishing residual darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation).
What about home care?
Your esthetician can provide the best guidance on caring for your skin between treatments. Generally, this will involve keeping your skin clean and avoiding picking at your blemishes—the single biggest cause of scarring. It’s very important you follow instructions given to you by your esthetician. Untreated or undertreated acne can lead to continuing, worsening outbreaks and scarring. Your esthetician will be in close contact with you to be sure your products are working effectively for you. As your treatment progresses, your esthetician may change your home care routine to fit your changing skin’s needs.
What is rosacea, and how is it treated?
Rosacea (rose-AY-sha) is a chronic skin disease that causes varying degrees of redness and swelling, primarily on the face, but also at times on the scalp, neck, ears, chest, and back. It is considered a vascular disorder (a disorder of the blood vessels).
The condition can develop over a long period of time and is more common in adults, particularly those with fair skin. More women get it than men, though in men the condition is often more pronounced. Severe, untreated rosacea can lead to a disfigurement of the nose called rhinophyma.
There are four grades of rosacea:
Grade 1: Mostly redness.
Grade 2: Pimples and other blemishes.
Grade 3: Edemas (swelling due to fluid retention) and inflammatory bumps on the nose.
Grade 4: Symptoms affecting the eyes.
No one knows the cause of rosacea, but it is thought to run in families and can be aggravated by environmental factors and diet. Although rosacea can be accompanied by pustules, it is not acne. Researchers believe rosacea might be caused by several things: abnormal function of the blood vessels, sun damage, and an abnormal inflammatory reaction.
People with rosacea often learn that certain things trigger their flare-ups. It is believed that fluctuations in temperature (especially extreme heat or cold) is a common trigger. Spicy foods and alcohol consumption can also cause flare-ups.
How is rosacea treated?
The key to rosacea treatment is to catch it early. It may start with skin that merely flushes red. Reducing skin temperature and calming the skin is usually the first objective. Once inflammation is under control, other treatments follow. There are many treatments, including topical agents containing azelaic acid or the antibiotic metronidazole. Both have proven helpful in relieving the symptoms of rosacea. Your physician may also prescribe internal antibiotics in the tetracycline family. Esthetically, rosacea is treated with chemical exfoliation, ultrasonic treatments, and calming, soothing, hydrating treatments.
While not a cure, any of these treatments can help control symptoms, sometimes for several years. Self-treatment is not advised, beyond a simple and gentle cleansing routine. Some over-the-counter remedies may actually worsen symptoms, as will aggressive scrubbing and rubbing. Your licensed esthetician may refer you to a dermatologist for evaluation and medical support.
What to expect from a rosacea treatment
Be ready to fill out a medical questionnaire and describe what medications and skin care
products you are using. Your therapist will do an analysis of your skin, look for any interactions between products and medications, and devise a treatment plan that’s suitable for your unique needs. Be prepared to commit to a series of treatments and a home care regimen.
After your professional treatment, your skin care therapist can recommend a home treatment plan, as well as follow-up professional treatments. Your skin may be more sensitive after treatment. Many professional skin care lines provide specialized products that sooth the inflammation of rosacea. Your esthetician will carefully choose products for you that are least likely to irritate your skin.
What about home care?
Your esthetician can provide the best guidance on caring for your skin after a treatment. In general, people with rosacea should keep a diary of things that trigger their condition: environmental factors such as sun, wind, stress, exposure to heat or severe cold, alcohol or spicy food consumption, and irritating face products. Responses to treatments vary widely; trial and error is unfortunately part of the process when working with rosacea.