Tips and Tricks for Treating Sensitive-Skin Clients

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More and more, estheticians are seeing a spike in the number of clients coming in with sensitive skin issues. Some experience mild, occasional flare-ups while others deal with constant redness, breakouts, excessive dryness and discomfort. Sensitivity increases with age and on average, skin becomes 10 percent drier each decade after the age of 20. The less moisture skin retains, the weaker the cellular barrier and the more irritants get in and wreak havoc. “Clinically speaking, sensitive skin is a genetic condition where the protective outer layer becomes less efficient at blocking irritants and allergens, and becomes prone to reactions like redness and inflammation,” says Beth Bialko, Associate Director Global Curriculum at Dermalogica. “Sensitized skin, on the other hand, results from external factors like cosmetics, pollution, lifestyle and stress, and becomes chronically inflamed.” Here, our experts discuss best practices for treating clients with sensitivity concerns.

Q Are there any new modalities for treating clients with sensitive skin issues?
A
Professional treatments and products should address three main symptoms of sensitized skin: redness, compromised barrier and dehydration. When it comes to treating the skin, a skin therapist should follow the “less rule”—less time, less product, less heat and less friction. Overdoing it on sensitive skin can accelerate inflammation and aging. Right now, we’re seeing the popularity of LED used during treatment to help with healing and repairing, But microcurrent and galvanic iontophoresis still maintain their place as effective options. These modalities help hydrating and redness-reducing ingredients such as zingiber officinale extract and bisabolol and anti-inflammatory boerhavia diffusa root extract to penetrate and help restore skin integrity.
—Beth Bialko, Associate Director Global Curriculum at Dermalogica

Q How can sensitive skin clients achieve the benefits of more intense treatments, like chemical peels and microdermabrasion, without actually having to undergo them?
A
The latest way to get a peeling effect without the potential irritation is to use an express peel in a clay-based mask form. This is the concept behind the Repêchage Biolight Luminex Mask. It uses deep-cleansing kaolin clay, moisturizing Laminaria Digitata and Ascophyllum Nodosum combined with glycolic acid and natural brightening ingredients such as licorice root extract, willow bark extract and pelvetia canaliculata extract. This is a great alternative to the standard glycolic peel as it can gently exfoliate, deep cleanse, and help skin appear brighter without the irritation factor. Another option is the Repêchage Rapidex Marine Exfoliator. This is a safe and effective uni-dose exfoliation program based on phyto-marine extracts and natural fruit acids. It has the optimum pH of 3.5 making it the most effective treatment even for the most sensitive skins.
—Lydia Sarfati, master esthetician and Repêchage CEO and Founder  

Q What advice do you give to sensitive skin clients to practice at home?
A
Be gentle and patient. Sensitive skin needs extra care, so with every step you take, use a gentle touch. Avoid hot showers and scrubbing your skin with towels. Also, patch test products. Before introducing any new product into your regimen, take a tiny amount and apply it to the thin skin on the inner forearm near the crook of the elbow. Finally, limit environmental exposure. Sensitive skin can be damaged very easily. Protect yourself from the environment—not just UV rays, but also wind, pollution, low humidity and extreme temperatures.
—Lydia Sarfati, master esthetician and Repêchage CEO and Founder

Photography: Courtesy of Dermalogica