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Skin Science 101

By: Ada Polla
Posted: August 29, 2011, from the September 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
skin science 101

As a professional in the skin care industry, it is your responsibility to make people feel good and to know things; mostly, things about skin, facial treatments, massage and ingredients. Here are some skin science 101 facts to remember and convey to clients.

Skin aging

There are more than 300 theories about why skin ages. The most prevalent and accepted in the scientific community is the theory of oxidation, which suggests that oxygen by-products known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), including free radicals, are the main culprits in aging. Almost all skin care resources are replete with explanations about how free radicals are bad for the skin because they accelerate aging, and how the sun increases skin aging, because the sun is the main source of free radicals. Here are some additional facts related to the theory of oxidative aging that may be less commonly known.

  • Inflammation is another major source of free radicals. Because of this, reducing inflammation will decelerate aging. Inflammation can be reduced by incorporating anti-inflammatory ingredients in your clients’ skin care routine, and by avoiding excessive inflammation-inducing treatments, such as peels.1
  • Antioxidants, whether natural or synthetic, are the best defense against oxidants. Different types of antioxidants work through different mechanisms of action: some prevent the formation of free radicals; some neutralize existing free radicals; and others increase the skin’s defense mechanisms. As a result, combinations of antioxidants are more therapeutically effective than individual antioxidants.2

Ingredient penetration

What about the penetration of ingredients? This is a particularly two-sided topic. Various so-called controversial ingredients, such as parabens, propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfates and phtalates, are nefarious because they must penetrate to the cellular level; however, many professionals and clients don’t believe products are effective if the active ingredients do not penetrate the skin to get where they need to go.

It is important to review the three layers of skin.

Epidermis. This is the top layer of the skin that contains corneocytes, meratinocytes and melanocytes, the cells responsible for melanin.