What is Skin Adaptation and Why Do You Need to Know?
Working with Adaptation
You and your clients have probably noticed that the “one-size-fits-all” approach to acne management is at best, a temporary fix; and rarely gets someone completely clear (if at all) or staying clear. Most of the time, the acne sufferer is given a prescription or a set of products and then left on their own as to use them. The story I hear over and over again from my clients is that while some of these products worked at first, the effectiveness wore off in about three weeks. Why is this? Quite simply, the skin has the ability to adapt to product use. If you do not take this into account, you will have a difficult time getting your clients clear.
Once the skin over adapts to a homecare routine, it generally stops responding. The skin's ability to adapt to products is one of the most important things to consider when treating your acne client -- you are conditioning those pores not to clog up with dead skin cells (the cause of acne). You need to keeping pushing the skin to clear, but no so much that you irritate and dehydrate the skin. It will be a delicate balance of pushing the skin to clear but backing off when needed. This is the fine art of acne homecare management.
It’s important to start your acne client slowly with as strong a product as their skin will tolerate and then adjust their home care routinely - about every two weeks. Always test your client’s skin with serums to make sure they are not feeling too much tingling or burning. I prefer keeping it to below a “2” on a scale of one to ten. When you find the serum that is right for their skin type, their acne type and their skin tolerance, you will start slowly so their skin can adapt to it - every other day working up to twice a day, if needed.
For most acne clients except for the mildest cases of acne, always start with a water-based emulsion of benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide can be an extremely irritating and harsh product; however, used correctly, can be one of the most amazing tools in your arsenal. It is critically important to give your client a very specific timetable for allowing the skin to adapt to benzoyl peroxide. We start our clients out very slowly – 15 minutes a night to start and gradually working up to an overnight routine. One of the most interesting things about it is, that most client’s skin will become less sensitive over time to all products after they have used benzoyl peroxide for about a month.
Next Steps in Managing Homecare
As your client’s skin adapts to products you will want to adjust the strength of their homecare about every two weeks. Which product you choose to strengthen and how much to strengthen depends of many factors – skin type, acne type, acne severity, Fitzpatrick type and/or environmental factors.
It is imperative to test the skin with any new serum before you give it to them. They can alternate the weaker with the stronger one until the weaker one is used up. It is helpful to have a variety of strengths of the same serum so that you can adjust your client’s routine incrementally. During this time of adjustment of strengthening homecare, you always run the risk of irritating and/or dehydrating their skin. It’s crucial to keep communication lines open between you and the client so they make sure and tell you if this happens.
Getting someone’s skin clear is not rocket science, but there are a few key concepts you need to keep in mind. Skin adaptation is a big one and you will truly differentiate yourself from other skin care professionals when you embrace it with your acne clients. It can truly make the difference between getting results and not.
To know more about all the key concepts in getting your clients clear, consider getting trained as an acne specialist with Proven Strategies for Treating Acne course.