The "other" medical esthetics

When we hear the phrase "medical esthetics," most of us think of Botox and lasers.  Morag Currin, of the Morag Currin Method of Oncology Esthetics, is on a mission to change all that. This esthetician and native of South Africa has written a book, Oncology Esthetics (from Allured) she is training estheticians in intensive workshops (some with an oncology nurse), and she has helped to create a product line for "health challenged" skins (not just cancer-challenged), called TecNiche.

Chemotherapy's side effects for the skin can include vitiligo and extreme dryness, hand/foot syndrome (where the extremities redden and burn, even crack.) Friction and heat are contraindicated for the chemo client. Thus, cooling products, a lotion and spray, are part of the range. All products are chirally correct, gluten free, fragrance free (since chemo patients can have powerful negative reactions to it) and dermatologist tested. They use only natural preservatives, including one extracted from honeysuckle.

Per Shan Albert, brand consultant for TecNiche, estheticians need to adjust their touch and their products when working with health-challenged skins. The line was developed to calm skin and relieve symptoms, as it helps to restore skin to health and protects it from infection. Health challenged skin usually loses its ability to produce sebum, the company explains, and re-introducing natural emollients is key to improving health. Calming, supporting, soothing, and protecting the skin is the goal of the whole range, which emphasizes a wide range of botanical ingredients.

The company's Restore Serum, an intensive calming treatment, has been nominated for an award by the CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women.) I'm also intrigued with their day-to-night DNA Protect Natural Sunscreen, with 13.5% Zinc Oxide, and the impressively formulated Taheebo Nail Balm, designed for cancer survivor's nails, which often stop growing during chemotherapy, as well as peel and break. This product has a finer ingredient list than most high end night creams.

Sitting in this session, I have the feeling that I may be watching the future of esthetics.  As the industry fights commoditization, forward-looking spas and estheticians must elevate the level of services we offer. We're still ignoring the needs of a vast group of health-challenged consumers, some of whom have had bad experiences at spas, or are afraid of having an adverse response and who simply avoid us.

In a sea of me-too products, TecNiche stands out as having a very original vision. Unique resources include a Pharmacist/Oncology Esthetician on the team to consult with estheticians about their patients' drug regimen and the correct skin care approach.  It probably gets my vote for "find" of the show.

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