How to combine Alchimie Forever with your WrinkleMD device

I love it when my partners send me a case of Veuve Cliquot just because they love our partnership (and because our best-selling Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask is featured in this month’s Vogue Magazine). I also love it when my spa partners “invent” new ways to use my products, often in conjunction either with other brands they carry or devices they use in their treatment rooms.

This week, one and the same spa partner did both. Progressions Salon Spa Store sent me a case of champagne. And told me about the amazing results they are getting by combining Alchimie Forever products with WrinkleMD advanced ion-infusion technology patches. This brand focuses on enhanced infusions of hyaluronic acid and peptides through the use of ion technology. According to the brand’s marketing materials, “in independent clinical testing, 95% of women experienced an immediate improvement in skin texture and smoothness.”

I asked Teresa Hinton, master aesthetician and the spa director, to tell me more about this treatment she came up with. Here are her pearls of wisdom.

Since this is not out of any “company-approved” protocol manual, she initially tested this concept with guests she has been working with for quite some time, who know and trust her, and are willing to experiment. The ones who have tough, heavily textured, very dry on. She describes them as “those guests that I can go big on.” Here is her protocol:

Step 1: Cleansing of the skin with Alchimie Forever Purifying Facial Cleanser.

Step 2: Exfoliation, which can range from microdermabrasion or other advanced exfoliation, Alchimie Forever Gentle refining scrub, or Alchimie Forever Brightening Peel, or a combination of these.

Step 3: WrinkleMD around the lips; while WrinkleMD is doing its job in that problem area, she applies the Alchimie Forever Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask to the rest of the face; both remain on her clients’ face for 30 minutes.

Step 4: During these 30 minutes, she performs a massage the hands, arms, neck, shoulders to enhance the guest experience.

Step 5: Mask and WrinkleMD removal; she then follows WrinkleMD’s protocol for the WrinkleMD-treated area before applying the Kantic Brightening Moisture Mask to that area as well and leaving it on for a few minutes.

Step 6: Final removal of the mask with a hot towel.

Step 7: Application of finishing products including our Rejuvenating Eye Balm, Kantic Calming Cream or Protective Day Cream SPF23.

I ask her about the frequency of treatment. “While results are immediate,” she recommends “alternating a series with the professional WrinkleMD treatment exclusively every two weeks, and the full treatment ever four.”

Contraindications include pregnancy, having a pacemaker, peel ingredient contraindications, epilepsy, or any metal in the mouth.

While she started with the lip contour area, she is now performing this treatment on the forehead and in the eye contour area as well. She concludes: “The results are beautiful and transform the skin. The blend of the two brands is really amazing!”

Indeed, the before and after photos speak for themselves!

Screen Shot 2020-07-23 at 3.52.34 PMTry it if you carry WrinkleMD. And if you have your own “special” Alchimie Forever treatment you have created in combination with another product or device brand, please do share!

 

Pigment problems? We now have a product for that!

I am in love. With the new Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Any launch is always exciting to me, but our latest one is a particularly fabulous one. About a year ago I started seeing my first brown spots appear. Once in a while when in Geneva, I might have Maria (laser goddess) treat them with a laser at Forever Laser Institut. But what I really needed is a daily regimen to combat sun spots. Hence the need for our Pigment Lightening Serum. I love its texture, which is light and almost gel-like. I love that it layers beautifully under our Protective Day Cream SPF 23. I love the results it gives (sorry Maria, you might see me less often). And I love the ingredients it features.

  • Vitamin C is the ultimate ingredient for achieving brightening and antioxidant effects. This antioxidant vitamin is a critical determinant of skin’s resilience, which significantly is reduced through aging. Vitamin C is a potent agent in combatting wrinkles and reverse some of the signs of aging, as it affects the body’s production of collagen and elasticity, which is lost through collagen’s disintegration over time. The inclusion of vitamin C allows this serum to increase collagen production and work against the formation of wrinkles. It also treats age spots from sun damage by healing cells that are sunburnt and damaged.
  • Vitamin E is also an antioxidant nutrient that works synergistically with vitamin C. UV light from the sun depletes the skin’s vitamin E stores, but this is combatted when combined with vitamin C since it provides sun protection. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E combats and provides protection against damage from free radicals.
  • Citrus is an ingredient that has anti-brown spot and complexion lightening properties, making it ideal in the treatment of pigmentation and uneven skin tone due to aging. It also reduces free radical production and helps to prevent signs of skin aging.
  • Hop strobile provides brightening effects by decreasing hyper-pigmentation and irregularities caused by sun, stress and aging.
  • Green tea (photoprotective properties, anti-brown spots effects) has a plethora of benefits when consumed internally but its effects can also be reaped when applied topically. Green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a powerful molecule that prevents the disintegration of collagen and supplies photo-protective properties. Green tea also helps to repair existing UV damage.
  • Alpha-arbutin has a powerful brightening effect, and unlike other skin brighteners on the market, is not irritating.
  • Sodium hyaluronate and jojoba oil both work to deeply hydrate skin cells while simultaneously infusing the skin with anti-aging properties. Jojoba oil (which is non-comedogenic) additionally provides long-lasting moisture, tames redness and irritation, and soothes skin, while sodium hyaluronate has a plumping effect on the skin.
  • European Blueberries are Alchimie Forever’s signature ingredient, imparting the skin with vibrancy with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Blueberries also have vaso-protective properties that help to reduce redness, making this ingredient ideal for rosacea-prone skin.

Sensitive skin: what is it and what can we do about it?

Sensitive skin: myth or reality?

In Europe, the United States and Japan more than half the population reports suffering from sensitive skin. That fact alone warrants a better understanding of this condition, how to diagnose it, evaluate it, and treat it. Alchimie Forever’s heritage makes this topic particularly near and dear to my heart, as our origin was in post-procedure skin care, meaning the treatment of sensitized skin.

Men or women? 

We women are more sensitive than men overall, that is common knowledge… and as a result, we typically report sensitive skin more often than men do. While this was previously thought to be due to the fact that our epidermis is slightly thinner than that of men, and due to specific hormonal differences,  recent objective testing has found that sensitive skin is just as prevalent for men as it is for women.

What is sensitive skin? 

We can define sensitive skin as a hyper reactive response of the skin to an external source that results in inflammation. The source of irritation can be environmental conditions, cleaning products, personal care products, clothing, or anything that comes in contact with the skin. The symptoms concerned are often one or a combination of the following sensations: itching, burning, erythema (redness), tingling, flaking (scaling), tightness, and dryness.

Causes of Sensitive Skin

So why is sensitive skin… so sensitive?  An exaggerated response to an external source may be caused by a compromise in the skin barrier’s protective function: specifically, a thinner stratum corneum and reduced corneocyte area. A thinner barrier makes it easier for water soluble chemicals to quickly traverse the stratum corneum and cause irritation, making the skin more sensitive than normal to environmental factors.

Neural transmission and structural changes to receptors in the epidermis can also contribute to sensitive skin. A study shows that all sensitive skin, when compared to non-sensitive skin, was found to have more nerve growth factors in the stratum corneum.2 This could explain hypersensitivity even when the skin’s barrier appears intact: sensory neurons are activated and we see an inflammatory response.

Evaluating Sensitive Skin

At times, sensitive skin symptoms are easily detectable, such as in the case of redness or scaling, but sometimes symptoms like burning, tingling and a sensation of tightness can be difficult to evaluate and quantify. Because of the presence of symptoms that are difficult to evaluate, sensitive skin is often a self-diagnosed condition, which does not make it any less serious (indeed, studies show that self-perceived symptoms of hyper-reactivity reliably precede the appearance of clinical signs). Apart from self perception, clinical assessment of redness, dryness, discoloration, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), and hydration, as well as engineering methods of Doppler flowmetry can be used to evaluate skin sensitivity. However, when there are no observable clinical signs, it can be a challenge to quantify and evaluate sensitive skin. This is one of the key reasons why this subject is not yet fully understood.

Sensitive Skin vs. Sensitized Skin

Many people who report having sensitive skin may in fact have sensitized skin. The difference is in genetics. People with sensitive skin have a genetically thinner or compromised stratum corneum barrier, which makes them more sensitive to factors that normal skin is protected from.

Sensitized skin is rather a result of external influences damaging the skin’s protective barrier, or of chronic exposure to damaging conditions wearing down the skin’s natural protection. A sensitized condition is a temporary state of sensitivity that can be reversed by ceasing exposure to the irritant and creating an ideal environment in terms of moisture and temperature so that the skin can restore its protective barrier.

A genetically sensitive condition is permanent and irreversible; exposure to provoking factors should be limited in order to avoid irritation. Extra steps should also be taken to protect sensitive skin.

Sensitive Skin vs. Irritated Skin

Sensitive skin is a condition, irritated skin is the result. Sensitive and sensitized skin can result in irritation. Irritated skin can be caused by any physical or chemical factor damaging the skin.

Sensitive Skin and Age

Children tend to have generally more sensitive skin than adults; their protective skin barrier is thinner and becomes thicker as they age. However, adults are chronically subject to conditions that can lead to sensitization with age.

Factors provoking irritation of Sensitive Skin

There are a variety of factors that have been found to provoke sensitive skin irritation. These factors affect people differently and irritation can result from a chronic or acute exposure.

  • Household or Self Care Products or Treatments: alcohol, soaps, dyes, abrasive and harsh products, aggressive cosmetic treatments and more.
  • Environmental: cold, heat, frequent and significant changes between temperatures, pollution, dryness in the air, indoor heating or air conditioning.
  • Lifestyle: Emotions, stress.

Managing Sensitive Skin

There is no standard treatment for sensitive skin, it is a genetic condition and irritation is due to so many different factors. But there are some ways to protect and avoid irritation.

  • Avoiding exposure to provoking factors.
  • Using anti-irritant products that have a cooling, soothing, anti-inflammatory, or healing effect helps repair the skin barrier to its unique optimal state (my favorite is the Kantic+ intensely nourishing cream).
  • Protecting your sensitive skin year-round with UVA and UVB sunscreen. I love our Protective day cream SPF 23 and its lightweight texture.

(Thank you to my fabulous Geneva intern Rachel for your help researching this blog post; references available upon request.)

Warm weather skin care tips

While the first official day of summer is still almost two months away, as I sit in my hotel room in Miami (taking a quick break from the amazing Tuff Love Aveda / Neill hair show taking place this week-end) and watch the people lying out by the pool, the topic of summer skin care comes to mind.

My mother always told me that the change of seasons was the perfect excuse to do a deep cleaning of my house, more specifically of my closets. My father, on the other hand, always told me the change of seasons was the perfect time to take another look at my skin care products and skin care routine and adapt it accordingly.

How do late spring and summer affect our skin? Of course, sunburns come to mind. Sweating, heat rashes, and clogged pores are also typical concerns of warm weather skin care. Sunshine and higher temperatures also mean dresses, shorts, sleeveless tops, open toed shoes and flip flops…. Here is how I deal with warm weather skin:

  1. I switch to a gel-based cleanser. My skin type is pretty normal, and as is typical, I am dryer during the winter months and oilier during the warmer months. To get rid of all traces of sweat and to avoid clogged pores, I love a “squeaky clean” feel, and our Purifying facial cleanser is perfect for that.
  2. I take cooler showers. Really, hot water, while delightful and relaxing, is not great for the skin, in any season. In warmer months, I find it easier to enjoy slightly cooler water, which is great to tighten pores, stimulate circulation (my Mom swears it is her daily cold showers that have given her her cellulite-free legs…), and give my hair some added shine.
  3. I make sure to exfoliate regularly with our Gentle refining scrub, both face and body. I find that regular (aka twice weekly) exfoliation helps to keep my blackheads under control, and actually ensure a longer, more even sun-kissed look. While I don’t use self-tanner, exfoliation is indeed crucial prior to applying tanning lotion, to ensure it goes on smoothly and avoid streaks.
  4. I switch to a lighter moisturizer. Whether I am in DC or in New Orleans, there is plenty of moisture in the air starting April. While humidity can be awful for hair, it truly is wonderful for skin. Skin will absorb some of the moisture in the air, and as such, most skin types can benefit from a lighter moisturizer during the warmer months. Our Protective Day Cream SPF 23 is particularly ideal and leaves a very matte finish on the skin.
  5. Sunscreen is a must. Indeed, while sunscreen is a must every day, it is a MUST when out by the beach, the pool, or the river. My father always recommended SPF 50+ on the face and body, and until we develop our own sunscreen, his favorite is LaRoche Posay’s Anthelios. He also taught me to avoid the sun between 11 am and 3 pm, and to be particularly careful when in the water, as sun gets reflected and is then twice a dangerous.
  6. Don’t forget your lips – they too are prone to sunburn. Whatever sunscreen you apply on the face, don’t avoid your lips or lip contours. And make sure you use a lip balm that contains an SPF.
  7. Don’t forget your eyes – sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the sun, and will help prevent squinting, which leads to wrinkles.
  8. Shorter dresses and arm-bearing tops mean that I am particularly conscious of my body. Our Firming gel for neck and bust and our Optimizing body contour gel take care of my upper and lower body respectively, preventing sagging and minimizing cellulite. Of course, a couple extra sessions of Barre3 will help more than any product…
  9. For many, summer means more frequent shaving. If you experience post-shaving irritation or ingrown hairs, remember to shave only after you have been in the shower for a few minutes (your hairs will be softer), to change your blade often, to exfoliate, and to shave with a cream-based product (shaving cream or hair conditioner work best).
  10. Don’t forget your feet – for me, open-toed shoes mean more frequent pedicures, but also dryer feet and the propensity to cracked heels. I use our Dry skin balm religiously every evening.
  11. Last but not least, hydrate from the inside out. With warmer weather comes more sweating, which means it is doubly important to drink those recommended 8 glasses of water per day. Emergen-C in my water helps it go down better…

Finally, my father always reminded me not only of what to do, but also of what not to do during the summer. Avoid photo-sensitizing products such as retinols (or use them less frequently), avoid laser treatments on tanned skin, and avoid stronger peels on tanned skin.

Happy bathing suit season!

My favorite skin care tips

In honor of  National Wellness Week, which is coming to an end, I thought I would share some of my favorite skin care tips, so that you might add to and enhance your wellness resolutions as they are proposed by SpaFinder.

1. Listen to your skin. If your skin breaks out when you use a product, that product is not for you. If your skin feels uncomfortable, irritated, blotchy, raw when you use a product, that product is not for you. Think of your skin as a baby – it can’t express itself in words, so it finds other ways of telling you how it feels. Listen to it. Try our Kantic Calming Cream which helps to soothe and calm irritation and redness.

2. Always apply products from thin to thick. That means serums first, gels second, creams third, and sunscreens last. Watch this video to learn more about how to layer your skin care products.

3. Don’t mix your treatment product with your protection product. Do you use a shampoo and conditioner in one? I didn’t think so. Why do to your skin what you wouldn’t do to your hair?

4. If you are old enough to have a cocktail, you are old enough to be using an eye cream. No ifs or buts about it. The skin of the eye contour area is the thinnest (other than the skin of our lips), and will start showing age earliest. Check out our eye care products here.

5. Always apply your eye cream or gel with your ring finger (our weakest finger), and from the outside in. That will minimize the likeliness that you will tug at this delicate area, stressing it further instead of treating it with some TLC.

6. Our faces lie, our necks tell our age. Make sure you use your facial products on your neck and décolleté. Even better, invest in a product that is specifically designed for this delicate area such as our Firming gel for neck and bust.

7. Our hands also tell our age. Aging does not happen from forehead to chin, but on our entire bodies. Our hands in particular, which are as exposed to the elements as our faces, deserve the same anti-aging care. Try our Dry skin balm to help soften and nourish any dry skin.

8. Prevention is key. Don’t wait for the brown spots and wrinkles to show up before you start using quality anti-aging products. Our Pigment lightening serum is especially formulated to help reduce the appearance of brown spots and even out skin tone. It’s suitable for all skin types and skin tones.

9. Sunscreen is also key. SPF 15 during the winter months (SPF 50+ on the ski slopes), SPF 30 during the sunny months (SPF 50+ on the beach or by the pool). Check out our Protective day cream SPF 23 for your daily skin care regimen.

10. Don’t expect of your products the same results you will get from treatments in a spa or medical office. Products are a complement to treatments, not an alternative.

Just as National Wellness Week was to serve as a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves, that we need to commit to health and wellness, let us also commit to a healthy skin care regimen. Find the products that work for you, and use them morning and evening. Every day, as part of your self care ritual.