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Not Your Mom's Skin Care

Celeste Hilling
mother and daughter

Although society’s view of everything from preventive health to nutrition has been updated, skin care is still looked at the way it was in the 1950s: cleanse, tone, moisturize. The truth is, your mom’s skin care no longer makes the cut. From eating habits to the environment, to the use of tanning beds and prescription drugs, to skyrocketing stress levels—people’s lives have changed, but the way most think about skin care has not. Let’s change that for your clients.

  • The skin, which is the body’s largest organ, is linked to everything else that takes place within the body.
  • People who have been diagnosed with skin cancer have double the risk of developing other types of cancer when compared to those with no history of the disease.1
  • The sun is responsible for 80% of the effects of aging, and before the age of 18, 70% of the aging process has started.2
  • Stress is the No. 1 contributor of free radical damage, which is shown by an increase in fine lines, wrinkles, redness, inflammation, breakouts, tired eyes and sagging skin.3

Those are some serious numbers, and they give you more information to use in order to educate your clients about how their lifestyle choices affect their skin.

Correcting unhealthy lifestyles

Following are some of the details you are likely to find out about your clients’ lifestyles.

They smoke. It may have been trendy to smoke when grandma was young, but the hipness of lighting up has died … literally. According to, studies show that 50 people per hour throughout the world die as a result of smoking. That’s 1,200 people every day. The average smoker loses an estimated 12 years of life due to complications from smoking.

In addition to its negative, carcinogenic effects on the body and overall health, smoking causes premature aging. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 toxins, many of which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and are taken by the blood into the skin’s structure. Smoking also thins the skin, reduces collagen and contributes to an unflattering “apple” body shape in women because it influences body weight and the distribution of fat.4 Bottom line, if your clients smoke, ask them to stop.

They are stressed out. Many can remember a calmer time, before the Internet and cell phones became the norm. Now, with texting, tweeting and PDAs, the advances that were supposed to make people’s lives easier often end up causing more stress. The American Medical Association (AMA) reports that stress is a factor in more than 75% of illnesses today, and the World Health Organization (WHO) calls stress America’s No. 1 health problem.

In addition to what stress does to the heart and brain, it does not paint a pretty picture for the skin, either. Stress is evident through wrinkles, inflammation, breakouts and tired eyes.

Help your clients learn to de-stress at home by teaching them basic massage techniques, sending them home with aromatic bath products and helping them create mantras that can be repeated throughout the day in order to ease their nerves. You can also recommend products and foods that help prop up tired, stressed skin. See Stress-free Solutions.

They use tanning beds. There’s a reason why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is debating how to toughen up warnings about tanning beds—they are dangerous. A recent study shows that the risk of melanoma jumps by 75% in people who used tanning beds in their teens and 20s.5 Not to mention that tanning beds cause wrinkles, sagging, age spots and rough, uneven skin.

For a natural, safe look, encourage clients to use self-tanners and spray-on tanning formulas. Consider offering facials that include a bottle of self-tanner, along with a lesson about how to best apply it.

It’s also critical to drive home the importance of practicing safe sun year-round. The key is to wear sunscreen to protect against the silent killer, UVA, which has rays that are invisible and painless. You’ll want to offer sunscreens that have an SPF higher than 15 and that contain active ingredients, such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide or anything in the avobenzone family.

This summer, the FDA is taking sun protection seriously by implementing a star rating system to measure UVA protection in addition to SPF, which only measures UVB.

They take prescription drugs. Almost every type of drug available today has a side effect for the skin. Antibiotics make skin sensitive to sunlight, and antidepressants, blood pressure medicines and inhalers all contribute to dry skin. Urge your clients to consider asking their physicians about how a drug can affect their skin, and work with their physicians to inform them about any skin care or beauty products that may react negatively with prescription drugs. Fragrances, dyes and chemicals in products can cause negative skin reactions when combined with the drugs.

They live in toxic environments. The WHO reports that reducing environmental risks worldwide could save 13 million lives every year. These risks include air and water pollution, agricultural practices, ecosystem changes and UV radiation.

Skin is the major source of absorption for the body, so everything that is inhaled, absorbed and consumed eventually shows up on the skin. Educate your clients to detoxify regularly and always drink plenty of water.

They eat processed foods. reports that an astounding 90% of Americans’ household food budget is spent on processed foods; the majority of which are filled with additives and stripped of nutrients. Most processed foods are laden with sweeteners, salts, artificial flavors, factory-created fats, colorings, chemicals that alter texture and preservatives. Just as clients should think about saying no to fragrances and dyes in skin care products, they also have to consider the same approach with food. Instead, feed and nourish the skin through a skin-healthy diet of fatty acids, antioxidants and proteins.

  • Fatty acids, such as omega-3 and omega-6, improve the skin layer that holds moisture in and keeps irritation out, and they may also improve rosacea and dermatitis. Sources include salmon, tilapia, cod, flaxseed, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts, as well as safflower and sunflower oils.
  • Vitamin D is found in many dietary sources, such as fish, eggs, fortified milk and cod liver oil. The sun also contributes significantly to the daily production of vitamin D, and as few as 10 minutes of exposure per day may be enough to prevent deficiencies.6
  • Antioxidants play a key role in neutralizing free radicals; detoxifying; and repairing cell structure, connective fibers and the moisture barrier of the skin. Green tea is a great resource of numerous antioxidants that can reduce the risks associated with cancer, aging and inflammation. Broccoli and sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and K, and almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E to increase the moisture level of the skin.

An educated touch

As a skin care professional, offering educated information and guidance evolves your role from a simple cosmetic advisor to a knowledgeable provider of life-saving education for clients. Make every touch an educated touch. Don’t just offer a treatment; offer an opportunity for knowledge and self-improvement.

Try the following methods to enrich your clients’ appointments.

  • Create healthy skin recipe cards for clients.
  • Send a skin care tip of the week or the day to clients via e-mail, text, Twitter or Facebook, along with a special incentive to book their next treatment.
  • Offer free sunscreen with every facial or, when a client purchases sunscreen, throw in a complimentary mini treatment.
  • Speak about healthy skin to women’s groups in your area, such as the Junior League, sororities and business organizations. Give certificates offering a special rate on future treatment and product purchases.
  • Present information about sun safety to local school groups, and supply them with samples of sunscreen.
  • Offer a complimentary session at the spa about speaking the skin care language. Explain terms such as pH, UVA and AHA, and include mini treatments for guests.
  • Because the skin changes when lifestyles change, it’s important to maintain consistent contact with your clients. Pregnancy, menopause and new seasons all affect the skin. Be sure to schedule at least quarterly consultations with your clients to evaluate their lifestyles, stressors and overall health.

Making a difference

You will see that by making every touch an educated touch and learning as much as you can about your clients’ lifestyles, they will become more loyal and purchase more products, resulting in the growth of your bottom line. Plus, you will receive a positive feeling from knowing that you are making a lasting and positive difference in their lives.


1. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, online version,, Aug 26, 2008 (Accessed Jun 14, 2010)

2. CR Taylor, et al., Photoaging/Photodamage and Photoprotection. J of Am Acad of Derm 22 (1990)

3. L Ohman, et al., Longitudinal analysis of the relation between moderate long-term stress and health. Stress and Health 23 131 (2007)


5. The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group, The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: Asystematic review. International J of Cancer 120 1116–1122 (2006)

6. (Accessed Jun 14, 2010)



Stress-free Solutions

Antioxidants play a key role in neutralizing free radicals, as well as detoxifying and repairing cell structure, connective fibers and the moisture barrier of the skin, and they are found in products containing the following:

  • Vitamin A products, such as retinol and retinyl palmitate


  • Vitamins B and E


  • 20% vitamin C serums


  • Minerals, such as zinc, iron, copper, potassium and magnesium

And, encourage clients to include the following antioxidant-rich foods in their diets:

  • Green tea


  • Broccoli


  • Sweet potatoes


  • Almonds


  • Cranberries


  • Pomegranate


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