Health & Beauty: 3 Levels of Skin Care

BY Stephanie Karampelas

Beautiful skin is the best accessory and yours glowed all summer didn’t it? But with fall fast approaching you’re realizing there’s a price to pay for all that fun in the sun. Those long lazy days spent swimming and beaching have left your skin a touch tired a tad dull a smidge flat and now begging for attention. Since the first step to brightening and tightening after a glorious WB summer is choosing the right treatment we’ve peeled back the layers to investigate three levels of skincare to restore your healthy glow.

Level One

An occasional pick-me-up visit to your favorite spa can have a startling impact on the overall appearance of your skin. Not all facials are created equal however. When searching for the perfect spa pay attention to those all-important “P” words — product and passion. The quality of skincare products make or break the facial but the passion and touch of the esthetician are equally important factors.

One step into a spa or salon and you’ll recognize that these professional people love what they do. You’ll receive personalized treatment from the estheticians and access to outstanding Parisian products. A facial at Luxuria Day Spa and Salon is suitable for any skin type and for any struggle — from acne to aging. The products used throughout the facial contain the five essential oils — rosemary cypress geranium lavender and thyme.

“These oils work together synergistically to penetrate the skin and make a dramatic difference ” says esthetician Connie Pilla of Luxuria.

First the skin is cleansed to remove makeup dirt and other impurities. A Lucas Spray is misted over and massaged into the skin acting as a toner and lotion. A common starting point for facials the Lucas Spray cleans hydrates revitalizes and calms irritation. It also has antiseptic properties that make it beneficial for treating breakouts and excessive oiliness.

Next the esthetician will analyze your skin to determine the appropriate products to use for the remainder of the facial addressing problems such as acne rosacea sun damage and dullness. Exfoliation removes dead skin and extractions clear the skin of clogged pores and blemishes zapping bacteria caused from environmental factors.

Then comes the best part a facial massage lasting between five and twenty minutes that tightens and firms the skin facilitating product penetration. A hydrating mask designed for your skin type will nourish skin back to health and after a quick application of sunscreen you’ll be on your way.

At Head to Toe Day Spa and Salon you can ramp-up the intensity of a facial by adding a 30-minute microcurrent treatment. This procedure also called “the nonsurgical face lift ” is the hottest new advancement in the anti-aging industry. Safe painless electric impulses are sent to the face to smooth fine lines improve circulation and relax muscles that have turned rigid from repetitive facial expressions. Although this procedure visibly improves skin after a single visit a series of treatments are recommended for optimal results.

Level Two

Advances in cosmetic soft tissue injectables like Botox Juvaderm Collagen and Restylane have created a whole new arena in the art of wrinkle reduction.

“It’s the fastest growing segment of the minimally invasive skin-care market ” says Dr. Tor M. Ljung of Azalea Coast Plastic Surgery Laser and Skin Center.

Soft tissue injectables decrease the prominence of deep wrinkles and camouflage finer facial wrinkles. The results can last anywhere from three to six months and are usually given as a series of small injections placed throughout the face in strategically anatomic areas.

Virtually any consenting adult is a candidate for these treatments but Dr. Ljung cautions anyone considering this kind of skin care procedure to consult with a board certified physician. “These are licensed medical products and must be administered with appropriate medical supervision ” says Dr. Ljung.

Microdermabrasion. Maybe you’ve heard the term or seen the results on your friends. But what is it about microdermabrasion that makes it so effective … and pricey? Is it worth it? Is it the right treatment for you? First things first.

Even though the epidermis — the skin’s outermost layer — is your primary defense against the environment over time your skin has a tendency to exhibit wrinkles acne scars enlarged pores and age spots. Microdermabrasion works to reverse all of that damage by causing “superficial injury” to the skin.

Simply put microdermabrasion can be defined as fine crystals or diamonds emitted from a wand that remove the outermost layer of skin resulting in a smoother more youthful appearance. Despite its complex nature the procedure is a simple and painless process — it feels like light soft sandpaper brushing against the skin — that takes about forty-five minutes. After the skin is thoroughly cleansed the physician will guide the wand over the skin’s surface to remove the damaged layers. A vacuum will suck the used crystals and exfoliated skin particles back into the device. Your skin will appear slightly sunburned for a few days after the procedure and you will be required to stay out of the sun while you heal.

Another resurfacing procedure — this one a bit more invasive — used to treat deep wrinkles and scars is the chemical peel.

“The fall and winter months are the perfect time to get a chemical peel ” says esthetician Julie Stebbins of Glo MedSpa. “You must stay out of the sun after a peel though a difficult thing for people who live at the beach.”

You can’t do a chemical peel as often as you can a microdermabrasion. In fact a deep phenol chemical peeling is usually only done once in a lifetime. But don’t be intimidated; there are three levels of chemical peels to suit the sensitivity of your skin and desired results.

“For the first time we use a low level of chemicals to see how your skin responds ” says Stebbins. “It’s important to increase the intensity of a chemical treatment gradually.”

Milder levels of the treatment are usually administered every six weeks over the course of several months or until you’re satisfied with the results. In each level a chemical solution is applied to the face causing trauma to the skin’s outermost layer. Healing can take up to two weeks as your skin stiffens and peels — if you want serious results you have to make a serious commitment.

Level Three

They’ve been riding the skincare merry-go-round for years in fact they’re on a first-name basis with their dermatologist and they practically live at the spa. They’re kindly called “skincare enthusiasts ” and they know enough about microdermabrasion and chemical peels to write a book. For folks who fit this description it may be time to consider a procedure a bit more invasive to achieve the youthful appearance they so strongly desire: laser treatment.

To prepare for a laser treatment it’s vital to adopt a simple at-home routine that cleanses tones hydrates and protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. “First and foremost the most important thing for skincare is your home regimen ” says esthetician and laser technician Sarah Brechtlein of Wilmington Plastic Surgery. “Being consistent is key.”

And yes the old saying is true even when it involves your skin: When it comes to choosing skincare products you get what you pay for. Pharmaceutical product lines such as SkinMedica and Obagi will penetrate the skin deeper and provide better results than those bought over the counter when prepping for a procedure.

Now that you’re prepped and ready it’s time to talk treatment. Wilmington Plastic Surgery’s Alma Pixel Laser Treatment uses pixel resurfacing to treat scarring enlarged pores fine lines and wrinkles. In this procedure lasers cause superficial damage to the epidermis initiating a rapid resurfacing process that results in even-toned smooth-textured skin.

“This will dramatically improve the texture of the skin; a good choice for skin that needs to be rejuvenated at the end of the summer ” says Brechtlein.

Another plus is that you won’t be out of commission for too long. After the procedure you’ll spend two days using a copper cream — a healing ointment with the consistency of Vaseline — and then peel for about three days. One more visit to the doctor for a light microdermabrasion session and a hydrating mask and the procedure is complete.

A second option the Intense Pulse Light Laser Treatment (IPL) will even out skin tone and get rid of those red and brown spots that can make your complexion appear blotchy and dirty. Similar to the Pixel Laser treatment IPL targets specific dark spots on the face. If there’s a negative it’s that your skin will look worse before it looks better — the targeted dark spots of your face will turn a deep shade before they come off. It may not be the ideal treatment to do right before a first date but a series of IPL will dramatically lighten darkened spots on the face.

“And of course anytime you use a laser you’re stimulating collagen and elastin so it’s great for fine lines and wrinkles ” says Brechtlein.

Rules of the Road

Great skin is within your reach. But whether you’re interested in a basic facial a chemical peel microdermabrasion or a laser treatment there are some important rules of the road regarding your skin that you need to know.

First the sun is dangerous. You’ve heard the expression “harmful rays?” It’s not just an expression.

“Skin cancer numbers in this country are staggering ” says Dr. Rosalyn George of Wilmington Dermatology Center board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and a Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. “Melanoma numbers are skyrocketing and dermatologists are the ones trained to detect these cancers. You need to have your skin checked by a board certified dermatologist once a year every year unless you have a history of skin cancer in which case you should be checked more often.”

Though a lot of people have anxiety about going to the dermatologist to have a skin check it’s really a very easy process. “It takes about ten minutes to perform the exam from the top of your head to the skin between your toes and the bottom of your feet ” says Dr. George. “The dermatologist is looking for irregular moles and unusual-looking spots what I call ‘ugly duckling spots ’ that look like they don’t belong on your skin.”

Another rule to remember is that while all these skin care procedures are wonderful and there are a lot of tools available to make you look younger and enhance the appearance of your skin cosmetic procedures need to be done by a trained professional.

The real key to younger-looking skin however is a regimen that involves the daily application of sunscreen.

“That’s always my first recommendation ” says Dr. George. “If someone wants a skin care regimen my first question is ‘What are you doing for sun protection?’ You can spend thousands of dollars on cosmetic treatments but if you’re not going to protect yourself first then it’s all for nothing.”

Bottom line? Be sure to establish a daily routine that cleans tones moisturizes and protects your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.