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The Holistic Approach Toward Aging

By: Lydia Sarfati
Posted: June 16, 2008, from the August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Currently, the United States’ inhabitants include 78 million baby boomers—those who were born during the great population increase after World War II—and they spent $6.4 billon on anti-aging products last year.* How well you understand the needs of this market segment will determine the success of your business during the next two decades.

The holistic picture

What is the holistic approach toward aging? Most people are born with a beautiful complexion. However, what you do and how you take care of yourself and your skin will affect how you appear. When I first opened my spa in New York in 1977, one of my first editorial interviews was about holistic care—a subject that was not covered very well at that time. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and, although it normally is thought of as ending at the neck, any discussion about skin care must include the entire body. Skin serves as a barrier—it keeps out bacteria, sunlight, germs, heat, cold, dirt and gases while keeping in water, blood, minerals, vitamins, hormones and proteins. (See Main Functions of the Skin.) I always took a holistic approach toward beauty by incorporating health, wellness, and face and body care. This also includes the importance of nutrition in the anti-aging process.

Bogus buzzwords?

The skin has two main layers: the epidermis and the dermis. Without it, you could not live, yet it is abused on a daily basis by overexfoliating, overirritating with chemical and physical peels, and overexposing it to the sun. The past two decades have brought many new discoveries in the fields of cosmetics and esthetic medicine. At times, new discoveries can be rushed into without a firm understanding of the consequences and without the benefit of in-depth knowledge. Buzzwords such as “cosmeceutical,” “medical-grade” and “pharmaceutical-grade” ingredients have penetrated the professional skin care arena, causing confusion and creating misconceptions. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), none of these categories are recognized legally. Products either are cosmetics or pharmaceuticals, available by prescription or over the counter. It is important to understand the facts, to share them with your clients and always to obtain information from reliable sources.

As a practicing esthetician, spa owner and product developer for three decades, owning a spa in the competitive market of New York sometimes tempts me to stray from my beliefs and give in to the latest trends, such as microdermabrasion, glycolic peels, light therapy and laser hair removal, to name just a few. But when I examine skin under a Wood’s lamp and see the damage caused by some of these treatments, I stick with what works—providing long-term benefits and lasting results. I know that many of you might disagree with this statement; however, everyone has to make a professional choice based on their own personal experience.

What’s needed

Estheticians should provide the following treatments to help rejuvenate the skin.