Overdoing facial treatments can damage skin
Aggressive facial treatments such as microdermabrasion and chemical peels are as common as the weekly manicure. Facial treatments, once thought of as severe, are now considered a means to recapturing youth. But is this quest for skin perfection causing more harm than good? “Women are peel crazy. They will go from one office to the next and get peels everywhere . . . and will not let you know they are doing this,” said Jewels Deyo, an aesthetician at Moss Wellness Center in Scottsdale.
Beauty products have kept pace. At-home microdermabrasion kits, peels and masks line drugstore shelves, allowing women to take dermatology into their own hands.
Facial cleansers contain higher levels of benzoyl peroxide than in the past, which can strip the skin if used daily, said Tina Seitz, aesthetician manager at Moss Wellness Center.
“Overprocessed skin is not healthy skin,” said Kathy Krakora, owner of Scosh Makeup & Skincare Studio in Scottsdale. “Pairing chemical peels with microdermabrasion, a mechanical peel, can be a fairly aggressive procedure, as they are both skin resurfacing methods. Used together, they can potentially cause serious damage.”
Side effects can range from pinker to redder skin, more sensitive skin and very dry or oily skin, she says. Problems occur because the skin’s transepidermal barrier, the top layer that holds in moisture and protects skin, is lost.
African-American women, with more sensitive skin, can experience keloid scarring when the area heals and leaves a darker, raised scar, she says.
Microdermabrasion, a treatment that increases cell renewal and stimulates collagen growth, accounts for most of Krakora’s business, and she continues to see an increase in requests. She believes the treatment is extremely effective but cautions clients not to overdo it. Allowing enough time in between treatments and complying with aftercare instructions is crucial, Krakora said.
“Just like exercising your body, if it is overdone and does not have a chance to heal, then it is going to hurt it,” Seitz said. “The same with the peels and microdermabrasion – if you do not have time to heal, then you are actually breaking the collagen down rather than building it up.”
These treatments are fine to get, said Miriam Cummings, a dermatologist specializing in cosmetic care at Southwest Skin Specialists in Scottsdale, but adds that a dermatologist should be involved before trying intense at-home or spa treatments. The way a person’s skin reacts to these types of procedures depends on an individual’s skin type, color and texture.
“You never know what you are dealing with. All these things need to be under the guide of a doctor and a physician-recommended aesthetician,” Cummings said.
Dermatologists attribute the popularity of these treatments to an image-driven society.
“People are more cosmetically aware now. One friend has something done, and they talk, and that is how things spread,” Cummings said.
“In everything in our society, more is better. They (the women) get good results the first time and want to do more of it,” Seitz said.
Peels and microdermabrasion used to be offered only in clinical settings, but today you can get these services in most day spas and some full-service salons.
“Just like anything else, once something becomes more accessible and affordable, you’ll have more people doing it and more people who overdo it,” she said.
This doesn’t mean women have to ditch spa days and drop their aestheticians. Crystal Olson of Scottsdale achieves compliment-worthy skin by getting just one microdermabrasion treatment a month.
She was reminded of the importance of moderation when she saw a woman who had overdone it.
“She was getting a lot of treatments. The last one she had was a laser/chemical-type thing, and it, to me, looked pretty severe,” Olson said. “I would never do that to my skin.”