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Getting the Facts Straight

By: Mark Lees, PhD
Posted: December 31, 2009, from the January 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Premenstrual acne flares are very common in the chin and jawline areas. They have been associated with the hormone variations common with normal menstrual cycles; the beginning or discontinuation of hormonal therapy, including birth control pills; and potentially even gynecological illnesses.

If a client has chronic chin and jawline breakouts that are not controllable with topical esthetic care, refer the client to a dermatologist or an endocrinologist for analysis of individual hormone levels. There are drug therapies that can help with these fluctuations and their resulting acne flares.

True or false? Benzoyl peroxide often works for a while, but eventually acne bacteria become resistant to it.

50% answered true; 50% answered false

Acne bacteria do not become resistant to benzoyl peroxide (BPO). BPO is both antibacterial and keratolytic, helping to rid the skin of dead-cell buildup on the surface and in the follicle. When a client begins using BPO, there is usually a fairly fast response, resulting in substantially clearer skin. Clients sometimes then stop using the BPO, thinking they are clear and do not need it any longer. Of course, acne is a chronic condition and lesions will reoccur quickly if the medication is stopped.

Clients also sometimes overuse BPO, applying it more often or heavier than recommended. Because BPO is a peeling agent, it can be an irritant, especially if overused. The follicles can become irritated from overuse, resulting in perifollicular inflammation, and therefore causing acne flares. Benzoyl peroxide is a wonderful medication for clients with acne, and estheticians should take the time to educate their clients and coach them on its correct use.

True or false? You should avoid products containing any form of alcohol, because it dries the skin.

38% answered true; 62% answered false

The term alcohol is a chemical term, and it takes many forms in cosmetic chemistry. Certain forms of alcohol such as isopropyl, ethyl and SD alcohols are volatile alcohols and should be avoided in skin types that are dry or sensitive. However, oily and combination skin types may actually benefit from small amounts of volatile alcohols, helping to disperse excess sebum on the skin’s surface.

SD alcohol is sometimes also used as an evaporating agent, added to quickly dry products. Other forms of alcohols are actually moisturizing ingredients, such as cetyl alcohol, which is used in lightweight moisturizers.

True or false? Skin dryness and dehydration is a primary cause of wrinkles.