Talking to your clients is the best way to avoid problems on the treatment table. Getting the details of a client’s home-care routine is imperative. “Find out what chemicals or exfoliants the clients are using at home, if they’ve had a chemical peel or extended sun exposure recently, and if they’re on any over-the-counter or prescription medications that may cause hypersensitivity,” says Brian Goodwin, international trainer for Eminence Organic Skincare. “Some medications will trigger an adverse reaction to a peel, which can potentially create too much inflammation and cause lasting damage to the clients’ skin.”
To minimize the risk, know where you stand before jumping in with both hands. “It’s extremely important to tailor treatments to each skin type,” says Alicia Yoon, founder and CEO of Peach & Lily. “There are general guidelines around what is considered too harsh, but even a gentle treatment can be inflaming if your guest has extremely fragile or sensitive skin, for example, so customizing treatments and truly knowing their skin is key.”
Natalie Aston, licensed esthetician and international trainer for FarmHouse Fresh, points out that asking questions in advance is a critical step in the process. “Before performing a treatment, every esthetician should ask if their guests are currently using any retinol products, if they wear sunscreen on a daily basis, and if so, what level of SPF, if they’ve recently had any waxing, laser, microdermabrasion, or any other form of surgical procedure on or near the area that will be treated, and if they have any allergies,” she says. Conduct a patch test to see how the skin might react, and be sure to watch for signs of inflammation before performing any corrective or rejuvenating treatments. “You must be able to read the skin and recognize what’s going on beneath the surface,” says Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals CEO and director of education Shannon Esau. Anti-inflammatory ingredients are a huge support in the treatment room, and estheticians should keep them close at hand, just in case.
Finally, Elisha Reverby, esthetician, owner, and chef de beauté of Elique Organics, says, estheticians should consider scaling back all around when it comes to inflamed skin. “Less is more,” she says. “Why do you need to do a full-on cleansing facial before a microderm treatment? Less steam, and for goodness sake, stop picking pimples! The skin is inflamed, so do what you can to soothe it and allow for it to calm and cool, and only then see what remnants are left that you can gently clear out. Many estheticians over-exfoliate and over-extract. That’s a big issue.”
Estheticians also need to outline the preventative measures spa-goers can take outside of the treatment room. “We recommend avoiding the sun after undergoing rejuvenating and corrective treatments, always wearing a broad-spectrum SPF with a mineral base, such as zinc, to protect from sun exposure, and being aware of your lifestyle,” says Esau. “Poor diet, excess alcohol and caffeine consumption, smoking, stress, and a lack of sleep can all contribute to inflammation. Guests should try to get plenty of sleep and incorporate antioxidant ingredients such as vitamin A, C, and E, bioflavonoids, and polyphenols into their diet.” Sunscreen and diet only go so far, though, so if inflammatory issues persist, estheticians should know their limits and counsel clients to seek medical advice. “There are some chronic and genetic conditions that predispose you to a state of inflammation no matter what,” says Aston. “Always consult a doctor if the inflammation is uncontrollable.”