As a skin pro, the most common question I get from my family, chums, Twitter buddies, and even complete strangers on a plane, is whether professional skin treatments are necessary. So, I thought we’d break it down into how the skin works and what you can expect from a skin pro. I could always remind you that you’ve only got one skin and can’t forget to take care of it, but you're smart. So, let’s start with this juicy nugget!
Because your skin is a big, smelly, dirty organ.
It produces a ton of oil, sweat, and about one million dead cells a day in an effort to regulate temperature and keep bad stuff out and good stuff in. But, all of these secretions can plug and expand your follicles (also known as open, large pores and blackheads), making you feel greasy and slick (and your foundation disappear by lunch). And, if you have a family history of acne, the skin’s natural sebum provides the ultimate feast for bacteria, resulting in pustules, papules, and, at worst, cysts. In addition to this natural activity, we pile on sunscreen and 24-hour makeup that’s designed to stick, and we live in a grimy, toxic world. Feeling dirty yet?
Go Pro: While you think your twice-daily cleansing routine and weekly scrub gets you an A+, it’s not enough, especially if you have problem skin. You're doing the equivalent of daily brushing and flossing, but we pros do the big regular deep clean job. Think of us as “dermal hygienists.” Regular professional treatments will help keep all of this under control; we’ll professionally double-cleanse under steam, maybe with electric brushes and sonic tools, and both an oil-based and skin type-specific cleanser. Then, we’ll select the right exfoliant and strength (acids, enzymes, vitamin A combos, TCA, or mechanical methods perhaps, based on your skin’s strength and needs). Next, we’ll liquefy, soften, and expertly extract any blackheads using special products, steam, negatively charged electric currents and our special manual finger-rolling techniques. These pesky plugs of oils and dirt will ease out painlessly with no risk of scarring or infection, unlike when you pick with your fingernails in the bathroom mirror. We’ll then kill the bacteria and hurry along the repair process with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, blue LEDs, oxygen and high frequency devices.
Your skin is part of your immune system, and it protects you better than Daniel Craig in enemy territory, fending off relentless attacks by bad guys like smoke, sun, cheap ingredients in products, junky food, booze, stress, bacteria, and a host of other stealth chemicals. It renews itself and heals cuts and scratches, yet most people pay more attention to their split ends and gel-encased nails (which, by the way, are dead keratin protein tissue). However, all this superhero activity slows down as we age — or the crazier your lifestyle — resulting in wrinkles, lines, saggy jawlines, brown spots, dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation.
Go Pro: We get to use professional-strength products that are stronger than what you buy as a consumer. These professional products have a higher percentage of skin-correcting actives, which is why you can’t buy them. We are protecting you from yourself, as you aren’t trained and are at a risk of melting your face off! We can then deeply penetrate these age-fighting, free radical-busting elixirs into your skin with our various hands-on techniques (which also feel really good), and technology like microcurrent which gives your muscles a tone-up at the same time. The effects? Quicker, more visible and longer-lasting results that delay the need for more invasive tactics from your plastic surgeon. Your daily dose of peptides and antioxidants is important to help fight the daily onslaught of attacks. And, for aging woes, we bring on the big guns.
The majority of the population doesn’t understand their skin type and condition or how to take care of it, and that’s because it’s a moving target; it can (literally) change with the weather and your emotions. Add onto that the gazillions of products that are available, via a scan or click. As shoppers, we’ll self-diagnose and select what gets five stars, what our BFF likes, or what’s on today’s flash sale site. No wonder you don’t see results and end up abandoning that $50 cream and moving onto the next shiny new thing! I’m flabbergasted by what people tell me they use, and even more floored when they show me how they use it.
Go pro: We are like skin detectives and want to know everything about you: how much soda you drink, what ovary is ovulating, and every dirty little secret. We then analyze and map your skin sometimes using black lights, algorithms or magnifying head lamps, while asking you even more questions to help you solve all of your skin issues — even the ones you don’t know you have yet. That means if we are doing our job properly, we’ll get you onto a routine with products that get results so we can guarantee the outcome. And, we’ll want to see you regularly once a month — that's how long it takes for your epidermis to renew itself.
So lastly and sadly, not all skin treatments or skin professionals are created equal. Just like any service profession, there’s good and there’s bad! Here’s what’s good: You should be knocked off your feet about how thorough your treatment was, every time. Leave cleaner, brighter, smoother, softer and smarter about your skin. And the bad? If you're feeling underwhelmed, unloved, feeling greasy, pink, puffy and still clueless about your skin, it's time to switch pro's. You should feel great, see a visible difference in your skin and want to return.
As Dermalogica's in-house skin care guru (oh, and their Director of Global Education), Annet King is an invaluable trove of beauty know-how. Luckily, she's letting us pick her brain on everything from hyperpigmentation to the best supplements for your visage. Prepare to get schooled.