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Become an Acne Specialist

By: Laura Cooksey
Posted: January 31, 2013, from the February 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
inflammed acne

It took four months to clear this client’s inflammed acne and pigmentation, using a combination of mandelic serum, vitamin A proprionate serum and benzoyl peroxide.

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Retinoids. It seems logical that prescription retinoid preparations should work beautifully for acne. After all, they address the root cause of acne with their comedolytic action; they prevent the microcomedo from forming. However, one problem is that some acne patients are given the cream form of tretinoin that includes isopropyl myristate, a highly comedogenic ingredient. Even if patients are prescribed an appropriate retinoid, the retinoid often makes their skin so sensitive and irritated that they abandon using it before it becomes effective.

Isotretinoin. When the aforementioned strategies do not work, it seems the only choice left for the physician is to prescribe a round of isotretinoin. For many acne patients, the side effects are not worth the health risks. Although it can be the silver bullet for some acne-sufferers, one or multiple rounds of isotretinoin may be needed, only to break out again.

Get better results

An esthetician can be incredibly effective without the use of any prescriptions. More than ever before, skin care professionals have access to potent nonprescription active topical products. Product formulations with mandelic acid, lactic acid, vitamin A propionate, benzoyl peroxide and, to a lesser degree, glycolic acid and salicylic acid, can have a profound impact on acneic skin.

Research has shown that acne patients often do not adhere to physician-prescribed medication regimens and that more frequent visits by clients is associated with increased compliance.2 An acne specialist can take the time with acne clients that most physicians cannot by seeing them every two weeks for a two-to three-month period of time. This schedule makes the client compliance rate much higher—a key factor to getting results. (See An Effective Acne Specialist Can ...)

How to become an acne specialist

Most esthetician training focuses on spa and anti-aging treatments. Very few, if any, cosmetology schools sufficiently address acne concerns. To learn more about this aspect of esthetics, search for training that will give you the tools you need to get results with your acne clients. As an acne specialist, you will be able to do the following.

  • Recognize the grade of acne you are seeing, and have the ability to discern what is not acne, such as folliculitis, staph infections and/or steatocystoma multiplex.
  • Understand the properties of the active ingredients you are utilizing and discern which ingredients to use for each acne and skin type.
  • Become familiar with comedogenic ingredients.
  • Develop a sound protocol of home care for acne clients, starting slowly and adjusting as the skin becomes accustomed to product use.
  • Know which type of treatment to provide for clients’ acne type and skin condition, and know how to do proper extractions during these treatments.
  • Have a working knowledge of what exacerbates acne and how lifestyle changes will help the acne client.
  • Understand what to do when an acne client’s progress stalls.
  • Track your client’s progress and know how to handle client compliance issues.