top of page

Which Skin Therapy is Right for You?

When going for a professional treatment you want something more than you can get at home. A facial massage is lovely but there is so much more that your esthetician can accomplish. The key here is to establish clear goals for your skincare and communicating those goals to your esthetician.

Decide what's most important to you. What are your pet peeves? When you present these goals to your esthetician she will give you feedback as to how to achieve your best complexion without invasive treatments. You may also you want Botox or fillers which should be given in a medical setting, but at the same time you should not ignore your complexion. With or without fillers you want a clear, radiant skin that is plump, well hydrated and retains a youthful glow. This is the job of a competent esthetician.

Here are some skin therapies your esthetician should make available to you. Learn about what they do and decide if they should be part of your next treatment.

Improving Hydration Levels

The most common issue for skin of all ages is dehydration. There are many In-Spa skin therapies that help you achieve a plump, healthy, well hydrated complexion. The importance of keeping your skin hydrated is based on the fact that hydrated skin cells can more easily accept important nutrients and actives to maintain good skin health. Without proper hydration none of your treatments or products will work. Here are some modalities that offer effective hydration for your skin.

Spa Strength Peels

In my opinion every time you endeavor to have a skin treatment you should also include having a peel. It is impossible to hydrate that dead surface layer on the surface of your skin with just moisturizers. You need to remove the accumulation of dead cells. Then moisturizers and serum performance ingredients can get down into your skin where they are needed to make positive changes. The best peels for dehydrated skin are lactic acid peels (which has a special affinity for holding onto water) and enzyme peels (if your skin is sensitive to acid based peels).

Moisture Immersion Techniques

Sitting under steam is still a great way to get your moisture content elevated. A couple of rules here. Get your exfoliating peel first. Don't let your esthetician steam your skin too long: 5 - 7 minutes tops. Don't allow the steam to get too close. And don't steam bare skin.

Skin that has just been exfoliated will absorb more moisture into itself. Steaming too much can lead to over dilation of the blood vessels. Increased circulation is a good thing as it brings in oxygen and nutrients to the skin but, if your skin is sensitive it may be too much of a good thing. Sometimes a shorter steaming period or the steam being at a distance is the answer. This is particularly true for sensitive skin. Rosacea prone skin may not tolerate the warmth from the steam at all so you may need to look at other ways of hydrating your skin. A cool mist can work. An azulene based gel masque can also do the job. Even if you don't have rosacea you want to make sure the steam is an arms length away from your skin. Steam often works better for hydration when applying a peptide or hyaluronic acid based serum first. These humectants grab onto moisture droplets. Then add a massage cream and oil to lock in these water holding ingredients - follow up with a massage under steam. This gives an added layer of protection while hydrating the skin.

A finishing masque that doesn't dry (like clay masques do) is more hydrating. While collagen molecules are too large to get into the skin, they make especially good hydrators. Sheet masques with collagen work great. Applying cold at the end of the therapy tightens the skin and traps moisture in.

Moisture Infusion

Similar to moisture immersion, moisture infusion is a way of driving moisture particles into the skin. This is usually done with an oxygen jet infusion device. This device turns serum actives like peptides and antioxidants (which are both highly moisturizing) into tiny, nano particles that are easily carried deeper into the skin along with oxygen. Oxygen infusion enhances skin hydration, reduces redness and calms the skin, kills acne causing bacteria and increases uptake of skin nutrients via improved circulation.


Skin Therapies that focus on hydration should include a combination of many humectants. Humectants are ingredients that grab onto water and hold it within the skin. Since oily skin as well as dry skin can be lacking water, humectants are great for all dehydrated skin types. Ask if your esthetician is including humectants like: hyaluronic acid, peptides, glycoproteins, Natural Moisturizing Factors and botanical sugars in your treatment. Acne skin types may be in particular need for humectants as dehydrated skins tend to trap oil in the pores which could lead to blemishes.

Cosmetic Needling

This is a gentler version of microneedling. Cosmetic needling is an excellent tool to enhance the penetration capabilities of performance ingredients into deeper layers of the skin. Two such important ingredients that enhance hydration are hyaluronic acid and stem cell stimulators. Cosmetic needling pushes correctly formulated ingredients past the barrier layer and past the stratum corneum to hydrate the deeper layers of the skin.

The famous humectant, Hyaluronic Acid has a large molecule which is very effective near the skin's surface for holding onto water, but has trouble increasing water levels in the lower layers. Cosmetic needling creates a temporary pathway for hyaluronic acid to penetrate and do it's work at a deeper level. Penetration is also enhanced through steam, microcurrent and radio frequency.

At the same time stem cell stimulators (like Stem Stim and Revitalize Cell Therapy) reactivate sleepy stem cells that stimulate the synthesis of aquaporins. Aquaporins are important water channels in cell membranes that allow the transfer of water into the cell's interior. Aquaporins shrink over time, making dehydration more likely. Stem cell stimulators increase the activity and the number of aquaporins in skin cells.

Peptide Infusion

Your skin was created to keep things out. This is why you need to do your at home protocols using AHA's, Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptides consistently to get past the barrier layer and get results. In-Spa we can increase the level of penetration in many ways. One way is to use Peptide Infusion. Peptide Infusion uses ultrasonic vibration to excite water loving peptide particles, transforming a spray into a tiny, high-velocity mist that is better at infusing humectants into the skin. Peptides that might not normally get past the stratum corneum now have an effective pathway. All peptides are hydrating but Acetyl Hexapeptide is particularly good for stimulating aquaporins. Tip: Combining Cosmetic Needling and Peptide Infusion yields a wonderfully hydrating result.

Decreasing Pigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a medical term used to describe darker patches of skin. These patches result from excess melanin production, which can be caused by everything from acne scarring and sun damage to hormone fluctuations. It is difficult to treat. It takes time, patience and avoidance of it's main trigger - the sun.

Corrective Peels

A chemical peel works by removing the top layers of the skin, revealing the less pigmented, more hydrated layers underneath. In-Spa there are two peels that work particularly well for pigmentation problems. The first is Lactic Acid. Lactic Acid is the gentler of my two recommendations. This milk derived ingredient is also particularly hydrating. For a deeper peel one might consider a salicylic acid peel.

Salicylic acid peels are treatments used to deeply exfoliate the surface layers of the skin. Salicylic acid breaks the bonds that hold the skin's surface cells together, causing them to shed away or peel. As the skin regenerates, it is rejuvenated. Salicylic Peels come in different strengths. Stronger salicylic acid peels that penetrate more deeply should be performed only by a professional esthetician. Always start with the milder strength. You can include a salicylic acid peel as part of your treatment or as a stand alone skin therapy. You may need a series of treatments to get the desired result. The lay person should not try salicylic acid peels at home because it is easy to burn your skin if not done correctly. Also, one should not inflame the skin, which may result in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Vitamin C Brightening

Getting your daily dose of Vitamin C is an essential step in keeping your skin protected and youthful. In a spa setting, layering a Vitamin C Peel with a Vitamin C Serum Concentrate and a Vitamin C Masque infuses the skin with higher levels of Vitamin C to bring about more dramatic anti-aging, pore clearing, anti-oxidant and skin brightening results. Vitamin C used daily is a wonderful treatment to keep your pigmentation even. Vitamin C is not just for pigmentation. It is a vital ingredient for collagen production and acts as an effective antioxidant that may improve your sunscreen's efficacy.

Ultrasound Exfoliation

Along with a brightening peel you should look for a treatment that incorporates ultrasound exfoliation. Ultrasound vibration lifts off those dead cells when the bonds have been broken by the peel. Instant lightening may occur when you combine this dramatic duo. Once this exfoliation is done, it's the perfect time to introduce tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase inhibitors are botanical brighteners that work by interfering with the enzyme that causes you to produce more melanin (the pigment that give your skin a darker color). Tyrosinase inhibitors are also good for gentle brightening at home. They include ingredients like Alpha Arbutin, Licorice Root Extract, Daisy Flower Extract and of course - Vitamin C.

Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Lines and wrinkles occur for many reasons, most notably sun damage but also from habitually folding the skin in the same direction, wear and tear on the skin, pollution, poor diet, poor circulation and poor sleep habits. [It also helps to choose the right parents.]

We don't recommend traditional facial exercises which fold the skin in the same way over and over until a mechanical dent (otherwise known as a wrinkle) is formed. The same is true when sleeping on your stomach or side where you crease the skin repeatedly. Gestures like those done when you smoke or drink from a straw are examples of habitual folding of the skin causing wrinkles. As you age the the collagen and elastin fibers which resist the pulling and creasing of the skin are depleted and your repair capabilities are compromised.

Beyond sun damage, the main cause of skin aging is the loss of energy produced by the mitochondria in skin cells. Building up energy to repair the skin is a wonderful tool for protecting, repairing and strengthening the skin from line formation and loss of skin tone.

Red Light Therapy

True LED technology uses tiny little computer chips containing light emitting diodes of a certain wavelength. When using wavelengths around 640 nanometers the light penetrates down to the dermis and stimulates the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the energy molecule that sparks fibroblasts to create more collagen.

In the same way that plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy, high intensity light emitting diodes (LEDs) utilizing specific, proven wavelengths of light that can trigger a natural biostimulatory effect which increases circulation, accelerates tissue repair, decreases inflammation and improves skin tone, texture and clarity. Simply put, LED phototherapy provides compromised cells with added energy so the cells performance is enhanced. For example, fibroblast cells will increase collagen and elastin production in connective tissue to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles in our skin and increase the rate of wound healing.


Hydrodermabrasion hydrates the skin deeply while it exfoliates. It is a technology that uses a device that produces a vortex-like suction to removes dead skin cells. At the same time infusing salicylic or lactic acid into the skin for exfoliation. The device also delivers hyaluronic acid and peptides into the skin for additional hydration and valuable skin rejuvenation.

Skin Tightening

There are hills and valleys at the dermal/epidermal junction in our skin. As we age, these hills and valleys flatten out, leaving skin a little lax. Here are two great treatments to deal with this as well as the loss of collagen that contributes to loose skin.

Radio Frequency

In our late twenties, our collagen production starts to decline by around one per cent a year, due to both internal and external factors, such as smoking, UV light, and our diets. Again we are talking about fibroblasts - trying to get them to work a little overtime. Radio-frequency is one of my favorite collagen induction therapies. It’s a form of electromagnetic energy. When applied to the area treated, it causes molecular friction to produce heat. By doing this, we can contract the collagen fibers, resulting in an immediate skin-tightening effect, as well as increased collagen synthesis, meaning the results are both instant and cumulative.


Another cause of skin loosening over time is the reduction of muscle volume under the skin. Microcurrent, unlike radio-frequency doesn't work directly on the skin, but exercises the muscles underneath to increase volume. There is an immediate lifting effect that can be seen. This effect only lasts a few days, but it is great for just before an event. Microcurrent also increases ATP and better product penetration for the long term effect of better skin repair. You might consider microcurrent at home. If you do, you should remember, that like exercise you need to be consistent to reap the benefits. In-Spa it helps enhance other treatment modalities.

Reduce Sensitivity

Sensitive skin needs to follow a less is better approach when it comes to skincare. Often heating up the skin too much, using acid peels or strong ingredients leaves sensitive skin more vulnerable than before the treatment. Don't fret, In-Spa therapies done the right way can be very helpful in alleviating sensitive skin problems. Here are some alternate solutions for your skin.

Enzyme Exfoliation

Stay away from scrubs or acid peels if you have sensitive skin. Enzyme peels are much better because instead of tearing apart the glue on the surface to exfoliate, one uses enzymes to gently coax chemical changes to slough off those dead cells. Sometimes a little steam is okay when placed far enough away from the skin. Sometimes it's not, so an enzyme peel can be activated using a cool, soothing oxygen spray. The goal here is to leave your skin feeling fresh, comfortable and well hydrated.

Cold Ultrasound

Sensitive skin should leave the facial room feeling calm and comfortable. To calm and remove the heat from the skin a healing masque based on epidermal growth factors can be used - activated by cold globes or cold ultrasound. Growth factors calm and stimulate healing. Cold ultrasound reduces over active circulation. Don't allow your esthetician to put ice rollers on your skin as they are too harsh for this skin type.

A Gentle Touch

We all love getting our pores cleaned out. But when you have elevated histamine levels you are going to get red, and stay red for an extended period of time. This means your esthetician should prepare your skin properly for easier extractions. This is why a little steam, at a distance might be a good thing. It works for softening clogged sebum. A disincrustation solution is also helpful. Usually applied with steam it uses specific surfactants that soften oil. Some clients ask why we do the massage before extractions. It may seem a waste to get all relaxed, then press the heck out of your skin. Keep in mind that massage, using an emulsified oil will lower the melting point of sebum trapped in the pores. Definitely making extractions easier and less traumatic for the skin.

Improve Problem Skin

Problem skin comes in many forms. You may just have clogged pores. Thus your focus should be on choosing modalities that ease your esthetician's ability to extract dirt and oil from your skin. Others may have inflamed blemishes that sometimes can be extracted but mostly must be disinfected to eliminate acne causing bacteria and calmed to promote healing.


Disincrustation again is an indispensable tool to facilitate easy extractions. A disincrustation solution will soften oil with the aid of gentle steam. Still the esthetician should only use enough pressure to loosen and bring the clogged material to the surface and be removed. If the pore is not ready to be cleaned over exertion can actually cause blemishes to form. Choose an esthetician who knows how to distinguish what can and cannot be extracted.

Salicylic Peels

This is the peel of choice for acne prone skin. Salicylic acid is an oil soluble acid that mixes easily with oil in your pores which helps dislodge the clogs. Salicylic is also anti-bacterial. Unlike benzoyl peroxide salicylic it is much less irritating. Salicylic acid is known as a beta-hydroxy acid, or BHA, and has been used on the skin for more than 2000 years. It comes from natural sources of salicylates like willow bark, sweet birch, and wintergreen leaves, but it can be made synthetically.

Benefits of Salicylic Acid:

Comedolytic Salicylic acid cleans out your pores and sloughs away dead skin cells that build up around your hair follicle and cause blemishes.

Anti-Inflammatory Salicylic acid can lower inflammation, redness, and swelling caused by acne.

Antifungal Salicylic acid is used for fungal infections. A salicylic acid peel can also help treat infections like fungal acne.

Desmolytic This means that salicylic acid can break down and exfoliate cells in your skin by disrupting the connections in your cells. The shedding of skin cells helps keep pores clear.

Lowers oil production Sebum is a natural oil that moisturizes skin. Too much oil and dead cells can clog pores, causing breakouts. Salicylic acid lowers the amount of oil in skin with acne.

Improves hyperpigmentation While not used for dark spots as often as other acids, a salicylic acid peel can help improve sun spots or melasma. Breaking down the superficial layer of the skin can help rejuvenate the skin and improve appearance.

Blue Light Therapy

This is one of my all time favorite treatments for inflamed, problem skin. LED blue light therapy works by killing acne-causing bacteria at the source, deep beneath the skin’s surface into the pores.

Blue LED light therapy emits specific, clinically-proven wavelengths of light to trigger an all-natural effect, killing acne-causing bacteria, decreasing inflammation, mitigating excess oil production and improving skin tone, texture, and clarity from the inside out. A combination of blue and red LED light light-therapy is as an effective option for the treatment of inflammatory acne. One study concluded that blue light and red light act synergistically in improving acne by combining antibacterial and anti-inflammatory action, rendering phototherapy with blue and red light an effective and safe treatment for acne vulgaris.

If you have active acne you may need a series of Blue LED treatments done fairly close together. These can be done alone or as part of a problem skin facial. Look for an LED treatment that is medical grade, meaning the strength of LED is appropriate for where you want to target the treatment. In the case of blue light it should be about 400-480 nanometers. The best devices are full face medical devices. The reason being instead of doing a spot here and there, you can address the whole face during a given amount of time. Treatments range from 10-30 minutes. Longer treatments trend to be more effective.

High Frequency

A high frequency device targets specific blemishes to make them heal faster and can be used to help disinfect the entire area being worked on. High frequency should be used in a problem skin treatment right after extractions to keep bacteria at bay. High frequency electrodes contain an argon gas filled glass tube that emits a small electrical current into the skin. When the current comes in contact with your skin, it generates oxygen inside your pores. Acne-causing bacteria prefers anaerobic (no air) environments, like clogged pores where oxygen can't easily get in. By generating oxygen within the pore, the High Frequency Device helps kill acne-causing bacteria and prevent it from growing. The oxygen also reduces inflammation and redness while shortening the lifespan of your breakout. While this modality has been around for decades clients still rave about its effectiveness for healing blemishes fast!


A problem skin facial should end with a masque which is both disinfecting and anti-inflammatory. The anti-inflammatory piece means using calming ingredients like azulene or licorice root. The disinfecting piece may mean using a milder strength salicylic or tea tree oil.

The goal here is to look over the information just presented and decide which modalities apply to your skin. Then, the next time you visit your esthetician for "skin therapy" you will be well informed and can have a valid discussion as to what direction your treatment should go in. Don't be afraid to have this discussion with your esthetician. She will value your knowledge and gladly offer effective treatments to create your most beautiful skin.


bottom of page