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Are You Choosing the Right Exfoliation Method for your Client?

By: Terri Wojak
Posted: May 28, 2013, from the June 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

A rough-surfaced instrument is used to polish the skin during the performance of microdermabrasion.

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Is the client nervous when you say the words “acid” or “peel?” These terms can be scary for some. Clients may relate it to a TV episode—such as the infamous Sex and the City episode where Samantha gets a chemical peel resulting in a deep burn—or physician-level peels, from which there is a significant recovery period. In the case of a nervous client who may be uncomfortable receiving a treatment, avoid pushing them into receiving it. Be certain the client knows all possible side effects and precautions before any treatment takes place. You can always graduate a client into stronger services down the road once trust has been developed.

Is the client sensitive to touch or certain products? If a client is sensitive to touch, physical exfoliation methods, including microdermabrasion and dermaplaning, should be avoided. These clients will likely respond better to a chemical exfoliation method. Conversely, if sensitivities to products are a concern, a physical exfoliant would likely be a safer choice. Dermaplaning is an option as long as the blade does not contain nickel, which can cause irritation on overly reactive skin. Microdermabrasion, with a diamond tip or aluminum oxide crystals, can also be used. Neither of these methods are likely to cause a chemical reaction on the skin.

Has the client received any exfoliation treatments in the past? Maybe she has experienced great results with BHAs in the past and you know it would be a good choice for her skin. Alternatively, if a client has experienced a negative reaction to a past treatment, it should be excluded from your choices.

Does the client need to physically feel exfoliation to be sure the treatment is effective? Although estheticians know that a chemical exfoliant can provide a better result than a mechanical one, in many cases clients want to experience a method in which they physically feel the dead skin being removed. If the treatment is appropriate, you can provide it for them, but it may be valuable to educate them on why an alternate treatment would be better in the long run. Another option is to add a mild chemical exfoliant to introduce the client to this type of treatment and to boost its effects. The same idea goes for those who need to feel a product tingle to believe it is working.

Does the client have outdoor events or vacations coming up? If the client will be exposed to the sun or warm weather, only a surface exfoliant should be carried out in order to cut the risk of side effects or complications. The same rule applies if the client has an important event in the upcoming 10 days. Although most clients tend to visibly peel within three to five days following an exfoliation treatment, that is not the case for everyone. Educate clients thoroughly about the risks involved, and explain that you are recommending the best option for their skin at that time.

For more in-depth information on exfoliation, purchase the Exploring Mechanical Exfoliation Techniques video from Skin Inc. Video Education, featuring Terri Wojak!