Spa Services: Customized Cleansing

Pros sound off on the importance of personalizing facial cleansing in treatment.

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Because cleansing is such an elemental skincare procedure, estheticians can find themselves in a rut, performing the same basic cleanse on every client. This is an oft-overlooked way to lose business. Facial cleansing needs to be personal, and that means taking into account these key variations in clients’ cleansing needs:
Skin type “Different cleansers are made to treat different skin types,” points out Dasha Saian, vice president of Saian. “Cleansers containing aloe and chamomile soothe sensitive skin, for example, and salicylic and alpha hydroxy acids treat oily and acne-prone skin.” Oily-skinned clients typically gravitate away from dense, creamy cleansers and toward foaming cleansers that rinse very clean, or gel cleansers, which are often made from polymers that bind water and trap the oils. Sandra Adams, global clinical educator at Innovative Skincare, prefers gels because “they traditionally work for all skin types, and they’re potent enough to cleanse deeply but mild enough to remove eye makeup.” Creamy cleansers, however, may be ideal for clients with sensitive, post-treatment or dehydrated or damaged skin because these formulas are usually gentler and contain ingredients that protect and soothe. Milk cleansers fall into the same category, and provide additional exfoliating and hydrating benefits thanks to natural lactic acid.

• Age Generally speaking, as we age, our skin becomes drier, so older clients typically turn to milky cleansers that don’t strip the skin of natural oils and moisturize as they clean. Younger clients may prefer a foamy cleanser for a squeaky-clean feeling. But as Saian points out, “It’s less about a person’s age and more about how the skin’s needs evolve through the years. Oftentimes those needs change considerably, and that’s the main reason to modify a skincare regimen.” Some rules of thumb apply, however: aggressive acids and enzymes may not be appropriate for young, adolescent or mature skin, according to Kris Campbell, owner of Tecniche.

Season As a general rule, the drier seasons of autumn and winter are perfect times to use a milky cleanser. Clarifying cleansers are more suited to summer and humid climates.

“Those who live in locations with extreme seasonal changes are most likely to benefit from using different cleanser formulations at different times of the year,” notes Phytomer spokesperson Alisha Racker, on behalf of the company’s education team. “In regions that are more humid from late spring to early fall, women with normal skin might want to use a stronger or more sudsy cleanser during that time. Those who live in areas that get very cold and dry in the winter might prefer a richer, creamier cleanser during that season.”

But not everyone is a fan of switching up products throughout the year: As Johanne Clement, national educator at Rose Skin Care Products, states, “During the winter, I recommend my clients change their moisturizers but not their cleansers. Not every client wants to spend the extra money.”

• Gender “There’s no doubt that men’s skin is different from women’s,” says Christi Roberts, educational program administrator at GlyMed Plus, whose company has a dedicated men’s skincare line. “A man’s dominant hormone is androgen, which increases his sebum production and provides for that increase in hair growth.” Furthermore, “men’s skin is better oxygenated and holds in moisture more effectively than women’s, and it contains more lactic acid, and therefore has a lower pH. Their skin is 25% thicker and they have more collagen and elastin fibers, masking the visible changes of aging.”

But because men’s skin contains fewer antioxidants, and they’re more likely to subject their skin to harsh environmental elements, they require more highly concentrated ingredients to achieve results. “It isn’t that they can’t use a cleanser made for a woman, but why should they have to when there is something best suited to them?” points out Roberts.

Of course, any definition of “best” depends on the client’s needs and preferences, so ask questions first. If a client is looking for hydration, a cream cleanser may be ideal; if she wants to clarify the skin, steer her toward a foaming cleanser. It’s also important to take into consideration lifestyle factors, such as how much makeup she wears and the level of air pollution where she lives or works.

Ultimately, it’s a question of personal taste, so be sure to ask the client which type of cleanser she prefers, notes Naturopathica’s Jaconi. “The most important part of a skincare regimen is regular use,” Lisamarie Jaconi, vice president, sales & education, at Naturopathica, “and if a client isn’t happy with the product experience, she is less likely to cleanse properly.”