One of the disadvantages of being 67 years of age and labelled as a “legend” and “pioneer” is that, in addition to making me feel ancient, it also puts me in the frustrating position of having to explain nearly everything over and over again, every ten years, to an entirely new group of beauty therapists who do not realise that at least 50 per cent of everything they hear as “popular” and “the latest technology” is, in fact, old and sometimes bogus technology paraded all over again in new high-tech drag (my apologies to professional drag queens who are true artists of illusion!)
It never seems to end, but there are a few outstanding things that really annoy me, mainly because the purveyors of so many new trends attempt to tout their range of machines based on scientific “terms” that actually have some validity to them or MAY have a future promise of hope, but have nothing whatever to do with the reality of skin care, beauty therapy or aesthetic medicine.
First of all, good beauty therapy and aesthetic medicine is based on hard work, unceasing study and research and total commitment to really changing people’s lives through their sense of self worth. This is the most fundamental aspect of serious practice. Without the above, you’re a sales person – albeit many times this is unknowingly due to lack of education and an innate laziness.
Did I say that? LAZINESS? Harsh words maybe, but the main advantage to getting older is that I can call it as I see it – and I see it time after time, locally and internationally. How else could so many “quick fix” machines and one-product does- 10-things-to-the-skin be sold, making the manufacturers so much money? These type of trends lead the lazy therapist (AND doctor) to believe that a great deal of profit can be made with little effort, study or diagnostic skills.
The USA is a prime example of this, with our sub-standard beauty schools (outside of a few high calibre institutes, about 23 per cent of the total schools available) The schools advertise in such a way that anyone without much formal education feels they can take a few hundred-hour courses, a State Board health test and be a professional aesthetician by virtue of a piece of paper called a license and go on to make tons of money!
In fact, the qualifications for a good aesthetician are much the same as for a good doctor with empathy and the desire to really change human suffering added to the above fundamental criteria.
When you have all this, money is secondary; it comes automatically as your reputation grows with each client success.
I am a wealthy man. Yet I never have been good with money – I never thought about it in all my years of research and work and travels, nor, as my business managers who are bald from tearing their hair out, would tell you, do I respect the dollar!
But, somehow, money was always there and more came with time and work. But now all I think about in regards to money is that it’s damn inconvenient NOT to have it when one gets old! Yet the thought of being reduced to pushing a shopping cart on the street is not daunting because I know that somehow, somewhere, someone would want to know what I know and help me out.
These trends that come and go and continue to confuse beauty professionals all around the world really do annoy me – they are distracting and keep you from the real journey of discovery and bettering your knowledge and practice. After all, when things are “fed” to you in totally scientific and glossy terms, you tend to believe them and stop thinking for yourself.
A great deal of this is perpetrated by the “misinformation highway”- the internet – a vehicle in itself that has to be used properly to get real information but instead many times the net is using you!
Here are my current pet peeves.
STEM-CELL THERAPY PRODUCTS
What a play on words THIS one is! I attended a huge manufacturer’s conference in New York city a couple of years ago where it was advertised that a group of brilliant scientists and doctors from Russia, USA and France would be telling us all but the future of stem cell therapy in cosmetics and skin care products.
Intrigued by the august list of names, I went to the seminar and sat there for two hours listening to the disjointed ramblings of each scientist and his research on stem cells and possible delivery into the body via medical procedures. Nothing at all was mentioned about products, except towards the end when they mumbled something along the lines of “Some day there MAY be a place in skin care for stem cell therapy, but that is still light years away”
This was, of course, a come-on to attract people to the conference in general, but now the word “stem cell” is being bandied around to promote skin care products all over the place.
Of course manufacturers of these type of products are clever enough not to claim actual stem cells are being used, and in fact they are really saying their products contain ingredients from the stems of plants! They are hoping that the word “stem” alone will create a scientific thought pattern in our heads that the products are cutting-edge science.
I have used a few stems myself; extractions from the stems of plants make good, natural cellulose for thickening the base of a crème or lotion, but not much else. While some plant stems do contain a few nutrients, the classic use of leaves, pods, seeds, fruits and roots of plants are the most reliable sources for minerals, amino acids, vitamins and so on – with a high potential for good botanical energy that actually DOES something for the skin!
That is how this started – but when no one came forth and objected, the companies got a little bolder with claims that their “stem-cells” from plants stimulated stem-cell growth in our skin, making us younger over time.
This is where I became annoyed as this kind of advertising is totally bogus and an insult to actual stem cell therapy that is yet in its infancy medically, with the possibility to save lives, regenerate diseased or wornout organs and hundreds of other uses. This would be by REPLACEMENT, not by “stimulation” of what is already there.
What stem cells we DO have have a life span and then that’s it! They can be compromised by disease or inflammation. No amount of stem cells from plants is going to stimulate NEW stem cell activity in the skin to replace old ones or ones that are already on their way out. Certainly we can remove a lot of inflammation from the tissue that will stop attacking our little stock of stem cells, but this is done by a lot of different treatments, none having anything to with stem cells from plant stems!
CHIRALLY CORRECT PRODUCTS
While on a recent visit to Australia, I was told of a number of beauty therapists there who were worried whether or not the products they were using were “chirally correct”.
This comes from certain companies that constantly shout how all of their products ARE chiral, making it sound like any other product not making the same claim is rubbish or dangerous.
Chiral (pronounced “kai-rel) has been around for a long time and has little to do with products being special. In fact any lab not producing chirally-correct products would not stay in business, according to the FDA or EU regulations. It is a standard for so-called safe and non-irritating products.
The word “chiral” relates to a type of molecule that lacks an internal plane of symmetry and has a non-super-imposable mirror image. The human hand is the universal example of chirality: the left hand is a non-super-imposable mirror image of the right hand. No matter how the two hands are joined, it is impossible for all the major features of both hands to coincide. Try shaking the right hand of another person using your left hand – or try to place a left handed glove on your right hand.
Chirality in turn, like our hands, has a LEVO side and a DEXTRO side.
A good example you would recognise is L-ascorbic acid.
Going back to the hand example, this means something is “off” or out of balance. Certain ingredients in skin care formulations are very active and can override all other ingredients. In professional use products only, this can be a necessity to get a result (with careful monitoring by the therapist to bring the skin back to balance after the treatment) A good illustration of this would be certain acid or alkaline products; great tools for the practitioner, but not things one would use on their skin on a daily basis! In the most basic sense, chiral means balance and compatibility without trauma.
Home or frequent use products HAVE to be balanced as far as the ingredients go – and if this is done during the manufacturing phase, with no single ingredients out-performing another, causing conflict, then the formula is chiral.
But claims that any product line using the term automatically makes their ranges better than anyone else is totally unethical and misleading. Another culprit in the same genre is product lines that boldly announce ingredients that are NOT in their products, making everyone believe that those absent ingredients are somehow “bad”. I saw this at the recent Sydney beauty where a product line had such a list on their stand that proclaimed ‘No vitamin C”!
I actually KNOW where this chiral craze started. (Again, my advanced age) It started back in the late 1980s by a man named Mike Bollman.
I met Mr. Bollman in less than pleasant circumstances, although we later became good friends. He sent out a newsletter along with his product pricelist and I received one that was front paged by one of my earliest articles on AHAs printed in Les Novelles Esthetiques in Britain.
As my article was not commercial and as I was in the early research stage of AHAs, I was enraged that someone would use my article to sell their own AHA products! He no doubt thought I was in the UK and would never notice.
He was shocked when I called him in a doomsday voice demanding to know what was going on. He sounded very humble and apologised profusely, offering to send me all his own research to collaborate on education that was so badly needed about these hygroscopic little acids that were so misunderstood and misused by the industry.
This lead to science chats back and forth over the years, but it was also in the days of the self-styled “skin care queens” in America, where a small group of women were vying for the position of top-dog in the industry – each trying to unseat the other by claiming extraordinary discoveries of new things. Mike, unfortunately, was under the control of one of these women. She seems to have disappeared in recent years, but I dare not mention her name, because this type of individual, if they are still alive, can rise up like Lazarus and attack like a dragon if their names are held up to ridicule.
She had poor Mike going on and on about “chirally pure” products, using the term as a buzz word for his products and insinuating that everyone else did not have this “discovery” available to them! Mike also coined the term “spin traps” in relation to certain anti-oxidant products and a host of other buzz words that made his range appear cutting-edge.
“NANO TE CHNOLOGY … Again, a valid and promising science that will NEVER be available in skin care— not in our century anyway… It is all about how and if we can directly control matter on an atomic scale.”
Mike DID have some great ideas and some good products, but no real concept. He became more and more reclusive over the years (stories of why abounded like tabloid news) and eventually, even I could not get a hold of him. His company carried on, headed by his ex-wife and exists to this day under another name as a private label company. Last I heard, Mike vanished somewhere in Asia, never to be heard from again. But the word “chiral” was out there and has re-appeared again. Just know that there is nothing special about this and if the registered and good products you are using do not say”chiral” you can bet that they are.
Again, a valid and promising science that will NEVER be available in skin care – not in our century anyway. Nano technology covers a vast array of applications in warfare, machines, chemistry and chemical processing to name just a few. It is all about how and if we can directly control matter on an atomic scale.
To date, many molecules can be altered or changed in shape and size with nano technology. I have been privileged to be in on some of the best research surrounding nanotechnology in the world, in a secret Government-funded lab, the location of which I have been told not to talk about.
I am amazed at what CAN be done so far, but if true nano technology were to be used in cosmetic skin care products as a delivery system, who is going to guarantee that the tiny molecules at that systemic level will not end up in our livers – or worse? The skin’s pathology can arm itself against a great many invasions from ingredients that would be harmful to deeper tissue. If accumulated into that tissue, many of our internal organs would perceive even innocent ingredients as foreign material and an auto-immune response would be set up, followed by inflammation. This in turn would be followed by the body’s ability to try and encapsulate that material in turn creating deep, granulomatype cysts that could be cancer-enhancing. And this is just the tip of a vast iceberg.
The lawsuits that would follow such applications would be too numerous to even contemplate and insurance companies would storm the exits in droves! Cosmetic insurance coverage is hard enough to get even now.
So what about the so-called “nanospheres” being advertised as a new and improved delivery system into the skin?
There are two types of nanospheres available to cosmetic chemist, both rather pricey. They are what the word says – little spheres that can break open and disperse whatever ingredients are in the product ONTO the skin, not INTO. In my opinion, this is no better and in fact is not as GOOD as micellised oils which I have favored for decades due to their water attraction abilities and piggy backing of water into the epidermis.
However I do feel that nanotechnology will be great in PREPARING topical products. If we can alter a plant molecule down to a tiny and symmetrical size, without losing any of its natural botanical potency, we could dissolve it instantly into pure water, making boiling of the herb or plant or extracting juice from it unnecessary. The resulting solution would be stable and easily mixed into bases without additional power-weakening heat. In this sense, nanotechnology in skin care has a future.
THE STEM CELL FACELIFT
This has been in the USA for about five years but had never been headline news until lately AND IT IS COMING YOUR WAY! Like the now defunct “Feather Lift Threads” a lot of competent plastic surgeons and dermatologists will be attracted to this because a) it seems to be benign and non-invasive so what’s the problem, and b) it is an expensive procedure to have done.
Purported to be created by one doctor, this is the latest Beverly Hills surgery du jour, everything else outside of the good old-fashioned facelift being exhausted and proving to have minimal results at best.
What it promises is the re-administration of fat, from the stomach, bottom or sides, along with “stem cell growth factors” with a little hormone twist to it, to your face. It aims to fool your own facial stem cells into acting young again and multiplying, making fillers, face lifts and botulinum toxin (all proven methods) unnecessary. Your own stem cells will multiply and replicate themselves over time.
Fat transplanting has been around since the Earth was cooling and the results, if done properly by a competent surgeon, are great. I have seen it many times and tried it myself years ago. If you have a healthy skin, about 40 per cent of the LIVING fat cells injected under your skin may survive long-term – the backs of ageing hands also come out amazingly youthful, but few surgeons want to do this (I only know of one personally in the USA, Dr Lawrence Birnbaum in Beverly Hills – a genius)
Over time the patient can have their fat graft topped up with another chance of some of the living cells staying in place, the rest of them dying out.
It was the living fat that stayed alive that became the mystery. In fact a few years ago I had a special meeting at the exclusive Jonathan Club with eminent reconstructive surgeons Dr. Henry Kawamoto and Dr. Jim Bradley. Both were aware that fat did have its stock of stem cells and perhaps there was some medical use for these after all. Research at UCLA began on this and is still pending.
But the “new” method takes this mystery into a false reality by adding “special ingredients that are stem-cell growth factors” to the fat withdrawn from the donor site and injected into the face. And charging a bundle for it.
I paid little attention to this hype until an old friend, a woman whom I had walked through many good plastic surgeries over the years and who respected my opinion, asked me if she should have this done.
I researched it and the term “stem cell growth factor” bothered me; there was very little scientific evidence to support whatever this cocktail of ingredients really was doing. I of course asked the opinions of other well known colleagues including Kawamoto who laughingly told me that he had a surgeon friend in Japan who was performing this procedure, did not know much about the “added ingredients” but was making “plenty of yen!”
At the end of the day I surmised that this was just a new twist on an old and reliable procedure and not worth the mystery and added expense. I discouraged my friend and told her to go to Dr. William Binder in Beverly Hills (recently lecturing in Australia) and have a sub-malar implant put in with a little of her own fat to smooth out the edges.
When considering a fat transplant for yourself or a client, Dr. Michael Zachariah of Sydney is the best man I know personally. If you have another choice, make sure the doctor “spins” the fat before re-injecting it, using only the LIVE cells left after spinning. This will ensure a long-term result.
The bottom line is I am annoyed by companies using words and terms of science that COULD be based upon scientific fact but have no place in skin care or treatment. It is misleading, unprofessional and costs you thousands of dollars that would be better spent on skin revision concepts that actually DO work – providing you have the commitment for work! Real results take time and patience (and also patients!) Learning about internal hormonal aspects of the body such as cortisol levels can determine how you approach a flaming rosacea client or a pizza-faced acne sufferer, both who would give almost anything for some real results.
Rolling a mini pin-cushion over the skin and slapping a few electric transducers on a client or flashing a few lights onto their face regardless of length of light wave or frequency is not going to get rid of the problems your clients have. There is no “stand alone” machine, piece of equipment or product that will address all the complex conditions of the skin. There is only the body and skin of the client themselves and its self-healing potential, your inquisitive mind, a pair of eyes that learn how to really LOOK at things and the power to use that inquisitive mind to think things out before making an assessment of treatment. This, in addition to religious commitment to the proper home prescriptive on behalf of the client, will get long lasting and continued results. The more you practice, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better the results. And real results have a way of getting around. People talk, people SEE – and eventually, everyone in your area will be coming to see YOU!