Monday, March 22, 2010

Exfoliation - Methods and Benefits by Angie Burns

First of all, let’s look at CRF (cell renewal factor), or cell turnover rate, which is what keeps dead skin cells from building up. New skin cells are created in the basal layer, the deeper layer below the epidermis, of the skin. Over time, these plump, round skin cells migrate to the surface of the skin and undergo a process known as keratinization, becoming more acidic and resulting in hard, flattened keratinized skin cells. In young, healthy skin, the approximate time it takes for a cell to travel from the basal layer to the surface to be sloughed off naturally, is about 21 - 28 days. Not bad - new, healthy, bright, smooth skin every month naturally. However, throw in age and external factors (i.e. pollution, UV exposure, smoking, poor diet, stress, medications, etc.) and that natural process slows down. For middle-aged people, CRF takes 28 - 42 days and for those 50 and older, 42 - 84 days. Therefore, as we get older, we have more excess accumulation of dead skin cells which can cause dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, rough texture, poor elasticity, uneven skin tone, and clogged and enlarged pores.

As CRF slows down with age and other factors, exfoliation can be used to help speed up the natural CFR process. Not only does exfoliation remove the outer layer of skin to reveal the newer skin beneath but it also simultaneously triggers the repair response deep in the dermis as well. This response in the dermis activates fibroblast cells and basal cells to kick into overdrive in an effort to replace that outer layer that was just removed.

There are two main types of exfoliation: mechanical and chemical exfoliation. Mechanical involves physically “scrubbing” dead cells off of the skin. Examples of mechanical exfoliants include microfiber cloths, granular scrubs, such as those make with almond meal, jojoba beads, sugar or pumice, or abrasive materials such as sponges, loofahs, brushes and forms of microdermabrasion. Many mechanical exfoliation treatments can be done at home with the exception of microdermabrasion.

Chemical exfoliation consists of products containing fruit enzymes, that act to dissolve dead, surface skin cells; alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid or malic acids; betahydroxy acid such as salicylic acid; and enzymes. AHAs penetrate into the skin and dissolve the intercellular glue whereas enzymes digest the dead cells on the surface. These all may be applied in various concentrations and forms.

The level of acidity, or pH, is important consideration in chemical exfoliation. Acids have a pH of 1 to 6 (neutral is 7) - the lower the number, the more acidic. Your skin is actually on the acidic side, between 4.2 - 6.5. In order for an exfoliant to be effective, it needs to be more acidic than skin. Over-the-counter exfoliants typically have a pH of 3.7 - 5. Professional esthetician administered typically do not fall below 3 due to state cosmetology laws. My “light peels” are noninvasive/nonaggressive in nature and are designed to create an enhancement of the epidermis by working on the dead cells, not the dermis, or living tissue. Your skin will not “shed” or “peel” but may feel a little dry or tight for a couple of days after the treatment. Doctor office peels have a pH of 2 or lower and are very strong and aggressive. These “deep peels” penetrate deep into living tissue or the dermis.

Chemical exfoliants can be scheduled in a series of four to eight treatments, one time per week. More than eight weekly “peels” is not recommended. They can also be scheduled once a month or as needed. In the summer, the sun is stronger, so chemical exfoliation treatments are not a good idea unless you use a strong sunscreen, wear protective clothing and limit sun exposure for at least one week after the treatment.

Exfoliation Benefits (Mechanical or Chemical)

  • It makes the skin smoother.
  • It facilitates the extraction of matter that clogs the pores.
  • A faster cell turnover rate brings cells to the surface more rapidly.
  • It improves the skin’s ability to retain moisture.
  • It helps product penetration and facilitates a more effective delivery of ingredients into the epidermis.
  • The skin is smoother and not as rough, which makes the application of makeup easier.
  • The mechanical treatment used in exfoliation stimulates blood flow.

Despite its benefits, exfoliation is either missing from many skincare regiments or practiced incorrectly. If you are using an at-home mechanical exfoliant, it is best to choose gentle products that contain smooth beads or micro-fine particles rather than nut pits whose jagged edges make micro cuts in the skin that lead to inflammation. Also, it is important to only use scrubs once or twice a week. Over-exfoliating can break down our natural protection and impede normal cellular functions. With either mechanical or chemical exfoliants, it is important to wear a sunscreen to protect your new skin.

Angie Burns is a licensed esthetician at The Ritz Hair Studio and Whole Body Retreat offering facials, body waxing, eyebrow and eyelash tinting, skin analysis, skin care product recommendations, make-up consultations and make-up applications. The Ritz Hair Studio and Whole Body retreat is located at 1611 Sixth Street in Brookings, SD. More information is on the web at or calling The Ritz at 605.692.6389.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Winterize Your Skin

As these cold bitter days of winter are upon us, you may be noticing that your skin is taking a turn for the drier. Now is the time to review your skin care products and possibly make some changes to protect your skin from becoming too dry. What has worked for you during the warmer and more humid summer months, may not work as well with the colder, drier air. Not only is the humidity level lower in the winter, but exposure to indoor heat can aggravate the situation.

First, let’s look at how and what you are using to cleanse your skin. Generally, soap has a high pH which will strip the skin’s natural lipid barrier which is responsible for maintaining a barrier for water/moisture in your skin. Be sure to use a gentle cleanser specific for your skin type. It should remove dirt, make-up and excess oil, but not be too harsh. That taut, well-cleansed feeling after using soap and water is a perfect example of skin that has been stripped of its lipid barrier. Also, long, hot showers and baths can contribute to transepidermal water loss by compromising the skin’s natural lipid barrier allowing excessive water loss. Limit your showers and baths to 5 minutes and use warm, not hot, water. When drying your face, pat the skin dry and be sure to spray your face with a hydrating toner like Bioelements' Equalizer. Toners are great at re-balancing your skin’s pH , hydrating and preparing it for moisture. Never use an alcohol based toner as this will dehydrate the skin more. Immediately apply moisturizer to your freshly toned skin.

Next, let’s look at your moisturizer. What was working for you last summer, may not be providing enough moisture for your skin for the winter. You may have to use a heavier moisturizer in the winter like Bioelements' Crucial Moisture. There are three categories of moisturizers: humectants that increase water content by altering the water flux from the dermis to the epidermis or bringing water in from the environment; emollients that smooth rough skin and treat itching/stinging/burning; and occlusives that prevent further transepidermal water loss. A good quality moisturizer should contain ingredients from each of these categories.

Humectants are molecules that act as water magnets helping to hydrate the layers of the skin. The list of humectants used in skin care products is quite extensive; some of the more popular humectants include glycerin, PCA, honey, propylene glycol and panthenol. Without a doubt, the most effective humectant is hyaluronic acid, also know as sodium hyaluronate or hyaluronan. Hyaluronic acid is found naturally in the cellular matrix of the dermis. Hyaluronic acid can hold a thousand times its weight in water, which helps keep the skin tissues well hydrated. You can add a moisture-boosting serum high in hyaluronic acid to your moisturizing routine to boost moisture during the winter months like Bioelements' Moisture x10, Oxygen Cocktail or Urban Detox.
Humectants are combined with emollients that help smooth and soften the skin, alleviating dryness and scaliness. Occlusives form a barrier on the skin’s surface helping to reduce evaporation of water from the skin. Molecules may be booth emollients and occlusives; mineral oil, lanolin, and petrolatum are all examples of occlusive emollient ingredients that are often found in less expensive, mass market products. The more elegant and effective formulas utilize dimethicone (silicone), squalane, shea butter, sweet almond oil, oil of primrose, avocado oil, olive oil and seaweed or algal extracts. To help seal in moisture and smooth skin, try Bioelements' Recovery Serum.
Take the next step in your skin care routine and add a hydrating or moisturizing mask twice a week. The mask will add moisture leaving your skin soft, hydrated, comfortable and revitalized. Try Bioelements' Ultra-Rich Cremetherapy or Gel Therapy. Also, using a light liquid gel exfoliator like Quick Refiner can combat flaky skin, eliminate dead surface cells and clear pores, so that skin can “drink up” moisture more easily.
Furthermore, don’t forget your lip care during the winter. Lips can get very dry and cracked. One thing not to do is lick your lips, rather, apply a moisturizing stick several times a day. Avoid lip balms with fragrances, dyes or colors and flavors. This will only irritate your lips more. Look for a lip moisture stick with vitamin E, shea butter, plant oils and extracts and aromatherapist oils like Bioelements' Instant Emollient.
Also, people don’t think they need sunscreen during the winter months; however, UV protection is very important year-round. In winter, reflection off snow can nearly double UV strength increasing the probability of UVA and UVB damage and sunburn.

Put moisture back into the drier air. Central heating systems in the home rob air of moisture which can have adverse effects on the skin by making skin dry, flaky and itchy. Purchasing and using a humidifier (or you can simply place bowls of water around your house) can help replace the moisture in the air. Put moisture back into your body by drinking plenty of water. The general rule is to drink at least eight 8oz. glasses of water a day, but a more personalized formula is to use your body weight and level of physical activity. Take your body weight and divide by 2. Divide this number by 8. The resulting number is how many 8-ounce glasses of water you should drink every day. For instance, if you weighed 160 pounds, you should drink 10 glasses of water a day. (160 / 2 = 80 / 8 = 10) If you are physically active, add two glasses of water to the final number.

Lastly, protect your skin from the cold, harsh winds which can damage your skin. Never forget to wear a scarf across your face, a hat down over your ears and mittens or gloves on your hands.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

ACNE 101 by Angie Burns, Licensed Esthetician, Ritz

Acne is a common skin condition that affects teens and plagues many people throughout adulthood. In fact, nearly 85% of people will experience some form of acne during their lifetime. There are many myths about how to treat acne. In order to treat it correctly, it is important to understand what causes acne. There are three factors that produce acne: sebum (oil), enclosure (clogged pores) and bacteria.

Sebum (oil) is produced by the sebaceous glands situated at the root of the hair follicle in the dermis. Sebum travels, or is wicked up, by the hair follicle to the skin’s surface. An increase in oil production can occur during puberty and may also be triggered by hormonal fluctuations (pregnancy, menopause, menstruation, etc.), pharmaceutical agents (prescription drugs, birth control, etc.), stress, heat and humidity.

Not everyone with oily skin has acne. Clogged pores are stage two of acne. As dead skin cells are shed, they can impede the opening of the hair follicle and slow down the movement of oil to the skin’s surface. Combine the extra production of sebum and the dead skin cells and other debris becoming trapped and that creates a plug that blocks the hair follicle. Blackheads and whiteheads are both types of comedones, another term used to describe a clogged pore.

Bacterial infection by Propionibacterium Acnes (P. Acnes) is the leading cause of inflammatory acne. P. acnes bacteria feed off the oil in the clogged pore and attract white blood cells to the area and inflammation ensues. This inflammation can cause raised papules, pus filled pustules, painful deep nodules or deep pus-filled cysts.

There are many types of treatments for acne, but you have to deal with the three main factors – sebum, enclosure and bacteria. This can be done by using a three-tiered approach of a home care program, professional esthetic treatments, and a healthy diet. There are three main ingredients to look for in a home care program – salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid which targets the sebaceous gland and dissolves excess oil while it also works as an exfoliant to slough away dead skin cells. Salicylic acid is especially helpful in treating acne because of its ability to penetrate the follicle. It encourages the shedding of dead skin cells from within the follicle, helping keep the pores clear of cellular debris. In this way, it reduces the number of pore blockages and breakouts on the skin. Salicylic acid can be found in certain cleansers, toners, moisturizers and masks.

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the first proven treatments for acne, it has been used for decades and is still one of the most popular and successful treatments for acne. P. acnes (bacteria) cannot live in an aerobic (oxygen-rich) environment. Benzoyl peroxide works by introducing oxygen into the pore, thereby killing P. acnes. When the bacteria population is reduced, the number of breakouts on the skin is reduced as well. Another factor that makes benzoyl peroxide so effective is its ability to help rid the follicle of excess dead skin cells. Clearing the pore of cellular debris will lessen the chance of pore blockages, or comedones. Because of this, benzoyl peroxide helps prevent breakouts before they start. Most commonly, benzoyl peroxide is found in a lotion or gel of 2.5% strength.

Sulfur is one of the oldest known acne treatments. When applied topically, sulfur causes the skin to dry and peel. Despite how this sounds, it is actually a good thing for your skin if you have acne. Sulfur helps reduce skin oiliness, prevents pore blockages and helps heal existing blemishes. Sulfur is found in a wide array of skin care products, including soaps and cleansers, lotions, masks, and spot-treatments.

Moisturizers and skin nutrition is vital to any home care regimen – especially acne. Salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sulfur dry excess sebum on the skin resulting in a drop in natural moisture levels and an increased risk of dehydration. Just because you may have oily skin does not mean you don’t need a moisturizer. Use a lightweight gel or lotion preferably containing anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant ingredients.

Skin care experts can effectively combat the visible signs of acne with advanced ingredients and skin care technology. Professional esthetic treatments can be performed by either an esthetician (skin care specialists) or a dermatologist. These treatments include acne facials, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, ultrasound, phototherapy, intense pulsed light and laser surgery.

Never pick or squeeze pustules. It will only make your acne worse because picking can spread P. acnes bacteria and squeezing can result in pushing infected material deeper into the skin, causing more inflammation and even scarring.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome To the All New Ritz

Well we made it! New digs. New website. New "whole body retreat" services from head to toe thanks to the lower level "retreat" area including a sauna, couples massage room, shower, locker room, pedicure throwns, private waxing and skin care/esthetician room. It all feels perfecto;-) We've been hearing from all you wonderfully patient folks 'bout how much you love the new space. Thank you for the kind words. And for being patient...and loyal all these years.