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Antioxidants in Natural Skin Care

Szilvia Hickman November 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
professional skin care client eating antioxidant-rich grapes

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Antioxidants work to prevent damage to the body before it actually happens. They protect and nurture cells naturally, combating disease and promoting good health. Antioxidants come in many forms, including minerals, enzymes and vitamins. Vitamins and minerals with antioxidant properties are called nutrient antioxidants. The family of naturally formed components protects cells from free radicals, which are highly charged oxygen molecules with unpaired electrons that attempt to obtain electrons from other molecules.

Free radicals are formed naturally in the body, but their production is increased by factors such as smoking, sun damage, stress and toxins like air pollution and asbestos. The resulting damage diminishes the skin’s structural support and decreases its elasticity, resilience and suppleness, leads to inflammation, and is the source of liver spots and poor skin condition. In addition to being the main culprit of wrinkles, free radicals, in essence, accelerate the aging process. Studies have shown antioxidants stop this cellular chain reaction of oxidation by neutralizing free radicals.1

Vitamin power

Antioxidants can improve cell function; increase collagen production; improve elasticity; create healthier, younger skin cells; and reduce sun damage ... but the improvement takes time. Like a healthy diet, the more potent the antioxidants used, the healthier the results. Black currants, cherries, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, peppers and spinach are among a growing variety of foods found to contain surprisingly high levels of disease-fighting antioxidant compounds, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2004. This study is one of the largest, most comprehensive analyses to date of the antioxidant content of commonly consumed foods.

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Treatment How-to: Free Radical-fighting Facial

Cost: $85

Duration: 60 minutes

Contraindications: Clients who are allergic to the ingredients in this facial and those who use tretinoin should not receive this treatment.

Equipment and supplies needed:

Treatment table

Warm towels

Gauze cloth

Products needed:

Cleansing milk containing grape seed and OPCs

Toner infused with natural vitamins and minerals

Exfoliator containing natural ingredients, such as corn meal, sulphur or enzymes

Mask with bioflavonoids, polyphenols and pectins

Antioxidant-rich serum

Moisturizer formulated with OPCs

Physical, biochemical sunscreen

Step 1: Have the client complete a client intake form in order to evaluate her needs. Lead her to the treatment room and ask her to put on the wrap and get under the sheets, face up. Leave the room to allow for her privacy, and return in a few minutes.

Step 2: Apply warm towels to the décolleté and the face to prepare the pores. Be sure to include the neck in your treatment; it is often neglected and, as a result, it shows aging faster.

Step 3: Cleanse the skin with a cleansing milk containing antioxidant-rich grape seed and OPCs. Apply a small amount of cleanser over the entire face and neck area, and, using your fingertips, massage it in gently for 30–60 seconds, moving in circular motions. Then, wipe it off with a warm, damp face towel. Repeat this step if necessary, or perform a second step cleansing with a deep cleansing product.

Step 4: Next, apply a toner to the skin with a gauze cloth or spritz the face lightly to remove any excess product and to balance the natural pH of the skin. Use a toner infused with natural vitamins and minerals to rejuvenate the skin, evening out the pores and readying the skin for better moisture absorption.

Step 5: After the skin is cleansed, gently apply a thin layer of exfoliator to the skin, leaving it on for 15 minutes. Look for an exfoliator containing natural ingredients, such as cornmeal, sulfur or enzymes that work to remove dead keratin cells, stimulate blood circulation and soften the skin.

Step 6: Apply a mask to revive collagen fibers. Seek out masks that are formulated to bring more oxygen to the skin as they detoxify, reduce inflammation and stimulate cell reproduction. Most masks should remain on the face 20 minutes for maximum results, or until dry. Natural key ingredients to look for include bioflavonoids, polyphenols and pectins.

Step 7: Apply an antioxidant-rich serum, such as one containing grape seed oil. This is ideal for fighting free radicals, and the decreased elasticity that is associated with aging, dehydrated or tired skin. Grape seed oil is packed with antioxidants, helps firm the skin by stimulating collagen production, and serves as a key ingredient in hydrating, softening and leaving the skin silky smooth.

Step 8: Apply a thin layer of moisturizer to the skin. Use a moisturizer formulated with OPCs to help renew the collagen fibers, and regenerate the epidermis and the connective tissues. Look for products with grape seed, red grape skin and pine bark, which are known to be the three most potent OPC sources. Skin will feel toned, smoothed and strengthened by the antioxidant ingredients delivered from each step.

Step 9: The final step in the natural free radical-fighting facial is sun protection. Use a sunscreen with physical—such as non-nano titanium dioxide—and biochemical—antioxidant-rich herbs and vegetables including tomato and carrot—sunscreen effects.

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