In the spa, discoloration ranks high on the list of client skin concerns. Not only unsightly, it also inevitably contributes to premature aging and requires targeted care to ensure it is effectively addressed. Commonly referred to as hyperpigmentation, these discolorations are often darkly pigmented spots that appear over previously clear areas of the skin. Because hyperpigmentation can be caused by many factors, effective treatment and long-term control become real challenges for clients and their trusted skincare professionals.
This History of the “Healthy” Tan
Once upon a time, pale skin was a sign of affluence, and maintaining a milky complexion was an important part of a beauty regimen. But from the 1920s on, this changed thanks to French designer Coco Chanel, who popularized tanning as a symbol of health, well-being, and an upscale social status. It also didn’t help that World War II veterans were returning home from combat in warmer climates sporting golden tans and a vigorous appearance. From that moment on, the golden tan gained popularity and became aesthetically pleasing, despite its detrimental effects on the skin. As such, many individuals suffered from sunburns, pigmentation disorders, and even skin cancer. Additionally, an increasing number of consumers erroneously believed they could achieve a tanned look without the side effects of sun exposure by using tanning beds. The result was overexposure to the sun and a population battling hyperpigmentation and uneven skintone, as well as various skin cancers.
Finding a Flawless Complexion
Today, the quest for prolonged skin health and radiance has become a more standard mindset, with consumers displaying an unending desire to reveal a flawless complexion. More popular than ever are anti-aging products with the capacity to counteract both photo-aging and chrono-aging as well as to effectively treat hyperpigmentation in order to deliver a more even skin texture with a brighter and lighter skintone.
Even though skin color depends on a combination of genetically determined elements, the cells directly in charge of skin pigmentation are located at the bottom of the epidermis. These cells, called melanocytes, are primarily responsible for skin protection against damage from solar UV rays. Another primary function is the formation of pigment that is so intricately connected to a person’s race through hereditary factors, thereby defining skin color. Lastly, melanocytes are less commonly known for their “dark” side of causing melanoma cancer. Pigmentation occurs simply because of multiple cascading chemical reactions that occur within melanocytes, involving an enzyme (biological agent) called tyrosinase that causes the oxidation of an amino acid called tyrosine. The result is the formation of pigment called melanin. Depending on the genetically pre-determined pathway followed, reddish or brown melanin can be produced. The biological regulation of pigmentation depends on many factors, such as age, hormones, sun exposure, photo-sensitizing ingredients, skin inflammation, skin trauma, and more. The presence of these factors, either singly or combined, can make the treatment and management of discolorations complicated. Regrettably, skin therapists often focus on a single hyperpigmentation cause and do not address the multiple factors responsible. This often leads to a resurgence of hyperpigmentation or to a dissatisfied client due to the lack of visible and long-term results.
In the U.S., where the overall population includes a strong Asian demographic, brightening services are constantly in high demand. It is well known that Asians are one of the primary consumers of brightening products and that their culture’s quest for a lighter, brighter complexion can be historically tracked to ancient beliefs and traditions. For most cultures throughout the centuries, lighter skin has symbolized an elitist social status that helped differentiate the rich from the poor. Those who were not privy to a lighter complexion sought to obtain one by applying dyes and fine powders. This practice came at the cost of degraded skin health and the development of visible discolorations, since many products used were lead-derived or contained other poisonous substances that lead to illness and even death.
The best way to deal with hyperpigmentation is to establish a clear plan of action. When dealing with mature guests, always consider a hormonal imbalance as a likely cause, in which case you should suggest a visit to an endocrinologist. Once the hormonal issues are addressed, the skin therapist can focus on a series of professional lightening treatments. To assure effectiveness, high performing ingredients with advanced delivery systems are a must.
For years, hydroquinone occupied the highest respectable seat among skin brighteners for medical and non-medical use. However, extensive research of skin problems due to hydroquinone side effects led to its global demise and opened up new doors for safer, more revolutionary ingredients. As a result, naturally derived arbutin, lactic acid, and mulberry extract were considered suitable alternatives for lightening agents, especially when used in combination with other pigment-reducing ingredients. Lately, this has changed with the arrival of newer ingredients and technologies.
The Latest Buzz in Brightening
The latest in-demand brightening ingredients, which are clinically proven to deliver highly effective brightening benefits, are diacetyl boldine and oligopeptide-68. Diacetyl boldine is an extract from the bark of the Chilean boldo tree. This powerful ingredient works at the tyrosinase-level to reduce and control pigmentation and is clinically proven effective at improving the skin after only 10 minutes of application, increasing complexion evenness and luminosity by 10 percent. Cumulative results with diacetyl boldine were also impressive within a consumer trial, which documented that 80 pecent of participants reported a 33 percent lightening effect on their skintone during a 56-day trial. As a highlight, diacetyl boldine is encapsulated into microliposomes to make it even more effective at reaching its target in the skin, more resistant to degradation, and more consistent in its results.
Due to its biomimetic liposomic time-release peptide delivery system, identical to the skin’s own structure and composition, oligopeptide-68 is capable of rapidly equalizing skintone and reducing unwanted hyperpigmentation. Combined with diacetyl boldine, oligopeptide-68 can elicit powerful results to satisfy the most demanding of guests with immediate, visible results.
Marketing Skin Brightening in Your Spa
It is imperative that skin therapists are up-to-date with ingredient trends, especially as it pertains to brightening and anti-aging ingredients so that they can stay competitive by offering products and treatments in high demand. A successful spa menu should always include at least one brightening treatment that offers immediate results as well as cumulative benefits. Your spa/salon menu should briefly describe the brightening treatment highlighting the overall benefits and results. Be sure to include buzzwords like “flawless complexion,” “youthful,” and “brighter” skin. Spas should always include a statement to the effect of, “A treatment series is recommended for intensified results.” This becomes of high importance, especially when the pigmentation disorder has been present for years.
The best time for effectively marketing brightening products and services is when a skin analysis is performed. Skincare specialists should utilize a Woods lamp to discover hidden pigmentation. They should also take before-and-after photos and talk to their guests about their skin problems. Although brightening is in high demand year-round, if a sunscreen regimen is seriously encouraged and promptly adopted, spring and summer can be ideal seasons to promote brightening awareness due to the harsh effects of sun exposure. Brightening treatments are also ideal for any person with an active lifestyle, as well as ideal for an instant boost before weddings, graduations, and special occasions. Planning a special skin evaluation event can be a great way to motivate attendees to seek solutions to their skincare concerns and find an effective treatment for hyperpigmentation.
The latest in skin brightening is a synergistic combination of groundbreaking ingredients and advanced delivery systems to instantly reduce hyperpigmentation, environmental skin damage, and aging signs while visibly lifting, firming, and refining skin texture.—Christian Jurist, M.D.