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Aging With Edge

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

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First, it is your professional responsibility to suggest restraint. There is an absolute frenzy surrounding the anti-aging phenomenon. Many clients are feeling desperate as the sun sets over the Woodstock nation, and, as a result, some cosmetic surgeons, manufacturers and others have gotten greedy. Multiple dubious procedures have led to the emergence of a reckless new nation—that of translucent women. These are clients with radically compromised lipid barriers and serious inflammation, primarily due to too much exfoliation, which is anything but healthy. And, health aside, it doesn’t make the skin look any better. In fact, the overzealous stripping of the outer layers of the stratum corneum can make skin look 20 years older.

What you must keep in mind as the anti-aging hullabaloo blathers on around you is that, as an esthetician, beauty and looking good are not at the heart of the mission of professional skin care. You must be all about the health of the skin and the person who inhabits it.

What really works

Every client needs a reality check. First, provide a complete skin mapping and analysis. Find out what medical procedures they’ve had and what constitutes their home-care regimen—hopefully it does not include 30% glycolic acid purchased from the Internet. Give their skin a complete examination under a magnification lamp, then feel your way—in fingerpad-width increments—across the entire surface of their face and neck.

Allow your hands and eyes, as well as your verbal questioning, to reveal the entire client, not just the skin they’re in. They may volunteer information that offers personal insight into particular concerns with aging. Following are several common dilemmas that your boomer clients may be facing, as well as information about how to develop the proper treatments and recommend the correct take-home products.

Texture. Texture is improved by hydroxy acids; nonacids, such as UGL complex; lactic acid; and mechanical ingredients, such as corncob meal and rice bran. Explain that it is important to avoid rougher scrubs, such as those made with apricot pits and other stone fruits, because the jagged particles actually tear at the skin and irritate it. This is a key point: Many clients and some therapists mistakenly think that irritation is synonymous with a product’s effectiveness. This is why many use glycolic acid to exfoliate, when lactic acid has been proven to be more effective and less painful. Pain does not ensure gain.