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Natural Awakenings Coastal Carolinas

The Role of Estheticians in Skin Health

By Bonnie Briceno

Esthetics is the application of various treatments to the skin to maintain its health and vitality. Estheticians are trained in skin wellness, helping their clients balance oil and moisture content and achieve a healthy, youthful complexion. As well as various facial treatments, they commonly also perform other services such as lash extensions, lash and brow tinting and perming, face and body waxing, and other specialized treatments to rejuvenate the skin.

A variety of treatments and products are used to protect skin from environmental hazards and combat fi ne lines, wrinkles, and a dull, uneven skin tone. Estheticians are also skilled in managing conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema, dry skin and more. Also, skin care treatments are  wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating. If smooth, healthy skin is one’s goal, visiting a skin care professional can be beneficial.

The differences between dermatology, cosmetology and esthetics
Dermatology is a branch of the medical profession, practiced by licensed physicians that specialize in skin disorders. Esthetic practice excludes diagnosis, prescription or any other service, procedure or therapy that requires a medical license. If one is being treated by a dermatologist, an esthetician can provide complementary and support therapies. Also, estheticians are trained to recognize early signs of many medical conditions affecting the skin, and will refer one to a dermatologist in such cases.  Cosmetology is the study of beauty treatments including nail, hair and skin care; styling; and makeup applications and more.

Techniques and products
Techniques used by estheticians include facial steaming, wrapping, exfoliation, waxing, pore cleansing, extraction and chemical peels with creams, lotions, wraps, clay or gel masks, and salt scrubs. Machines may also be used to help deliver high-tech services.
Some common therapies are:

Chemical Peel: 
An exfoliation process, highly effective in treating a wide range of skin concerns such as aging, sun damage, acne, mild scarring, improving overall skin brightness and evening skin tone. Peels
can be light, moderate or deep. Light peels require no down time from work or normal activities.
Moderate peels may require a day or two of down time, and deep peels can require a week or more to allow the skin to fully heal. Estheticians that aren’t working in a medical setting perform light-to-moderate peels only. Deep peels are performed by a physician, or under a physician’s supervision, for safety.

Exfoliation: The removal of dead skin cells manually (scrubbing, brushing or using a system such as microdermabrasion) with a chemical peel (that causes dead skin cells to shed) or with an enzymatic product that digests dead skin cells.

Extraction: This deep cleans the pores, either manually (using gloved hands and cotton or tissue around the fingers with gentle pressure to remove the impacted pore) or using a metal extraction implement to clear blocked pores. Th is can also include the use of a lancet (a small sharp blade to lift the dead cells of the skin prior to extraction).

Facial: This is the most popular treatment performed by estheticians. It’s a good way for a therapist to get a good understanding of one’s skin before suggesting more aggressive  treatments. A facial generally includes makeup removal and skin cleansing, exfoliation by mechanical, enzymatic or chemical means, steaming, extractions, facial massage, a treatment mask, serum/moisturizer and sunblock. For most people, facials can be scheduled every four weeks, although some therapists may recommend a different schedule based on one’s individual needs.

Microdermabrasion: The process of resurfacing the skin using a machine that sands the skin’s epidermal (outer) layer, using either a wand tipped with crushed diamonds, or a spray of special crystals which are then suctioned back up along with the dead skin cells. It can be very helpful in improving skin texture, fine lines and the effectiveness of home care product penetration.

Waxing: Waxing removes unwanted hair at the root, either with hard or soft waxes. Soft wax is applied warm to the skin in a thin layer in the direction of hair growth. Cloth strips are then applied to the warm wax, rubbed in the direction of hair growth, and quickly pulled off in the opposite  direction. This method is best used on larger areas of the body like the legs, back or
chest. Hard wax, used without cloth strips, is applied warm, in a layer about the thickness of a nickel, allowed to dry and then removed quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth. It’s less irritating to sensitive skin and is excellent for the bikini, underarm and facial areas.

Visiting an esthetician
It’s always suggested to have a consultation prior to a fi rst treatment, especially if one is new to esthetic treatments. Th is provides the therapist a chance to discuss one’s goals and expectations for the first visit and long-term goals. During a consultation, therapists go over an extensive intake form and probably do a cleansing of the skin followed by a detailed skin analysis. This gives therapists the information needed to create an individualized treatment plan, both for a series of professional treatments and recommendations for products that can be used at home.

Home care
Much of the success of maintaining a visible improvement after treatment depends on consistent, correct home care. Estheticians are trained to select the products that will most benefit one’s skin and to advise on how to maintain professional results between visits. Like medical or dental care, following the right daily regimen at home is essential to get the most out of visits to a professional.

One’s esthetician skin care treatments should be provided by a properly trained professional. Don’t hesitate to ask skin care therapists about their background, training and experience—especially as it relates to the treatment one is considering. One’s therapist is a professional member of Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP). Members have been validated as meeting their state’s licensing credentials and/or core training  requirements, and agree to follow a code of ethics which ensures responsible treatment with the utmost respect. ASCP also provides its members with comprehensive resources for them to keep up with changing trends,  making certain one will receive the most up-to-date therapies available.

 Bonnie Briceno is a licensed esthetician and owner of Bliss Aesthetics Studio at 4712 New Centre Dr., Ste. 107, Wilmington. She offers all-natural skin care services and treatments using unique and naturally corrective products. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 910-515-7641 or visit