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Skin Analysis
by Dr Gavin Chan - Victorian Cosmetic Institute

Benefits of skin analysis The skin is the outer covering of the body, responsible for protecting muscles, bones and internal organs and is also the largest organ in the body. However, the skins functional layer isn’t the only important factor; the appearance of skin conveys a person’s health and age and overall appearance.

Some people may have problematic skin that requires treatment, while others may have very few problems however people with both types of skin may want to improve the quality of their skin. This can be done in a number of different ways after professional skin analysis is conducted to establish if skin is dry, oily or sensitive.

Improving skin quality

An analysis of the skin is essential to assist in coming up with a correct care and treatment plan to help improve skin quality. Skin analysis involves three steps.

The first step in analysing the skin involves determining if there is a medical condition. Certain types of medical conditions can cause problems with the skin, for example redness of the cheeks may be caused by Lupus or Rosacea.

Determining skin history is the second step in improving skin quality. Current skin care regimes should be assessed as well as sun exposure history and if sunscreen is used regularly. A person’s current regime may be causing skin problems; which is why skin history is an important factor in assessing an individuals skin quality.

Assessing a person’s basic skin type is the third step. All skins types will require a different treatment plan. Taking into consideration current skin care routines and any medical conditions will also help in determining the best skin treatment.

Skin Types: Dry or oily?

The easiest way to establish if skin is oily or dry is to assess the skin after washing. Dry skin tends to feel tight or flaky after washing and oily skin types feel shiny and oily after washing. Oily skin signs include enlarged pores, acne, blackheads and shine. Signs of dry skin include flaky and tight skin as well as cracks in the skin.

People who have oily skin in the T-Zone area (nose, chin, and in between brow) may experience dry skin around their cheeks, this is called ‘combination skin’. In this case, it is only necessary to moisturise the cheek area.

Sometimes it is hard to determine skin types just by the feel of the skin, for example oily skin sometimes can feel dry which is why a Wood’s lamp is used. A Wood’s lamp works by emitting a UV light frequency where different skin conditions show up as different colours under the UV light. After using a Wood’s lamp, a proper skin treatment plan can be used.

The use of moisturiser may be required to treat dry skin. Moisturisers, however, do not change or improve the skin quality, they temporarily affect how the skin feels by compensating for the lack of moisture or oil emission by the skin.

Oily skin is likely to form acne and the more oilier the skin is the more likely it is to form acne, therefore people with oily skin do not require the use of moisturisers. Oily skin can be treated by using toners, such as Purity Balance from Cosmedix, which helps reduce shine and removes excess oil. Topical retinoids (Retin-A, Stieva-A, Cosmedix Refine) will also help reduce oil, as well as to increase cell turnover and reduce acne formation.

Oily skin might feel dry due to excessive dead skin on the surface layer. If this is the case moisturisers will not work as it will only be moisturising the top dead layer of skin. Exfoliation of the skin will help, using products such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) or topical retinoids to remove the dead skin and make the skin feel moist.

Sensitive skin: Treatments

Sensitive skin is generally a skin type that is easily irritated and tends to form lumps and is prone to redness. Sensitive skin may be due to other skin conditions such as rosacea, atopic dermatitis, eczema or contact dermatitis.

Those with sensitive skin often find it difficult to find skin care products that aren’t irritating on their skin. People with sensitive skin may even find sunscreen irritating to the skin. The active ingredients in sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, such as those found in Reflect and Serious Protection from Cosmedix have a lower rate of irritation.

People with sensitive skin may also experience oily skin, in cases like this it is often difficult to reduce oil and acne without causing irritation. Gradually introducing active ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids e.g. glycolic acids, beta hydroxy acids e.g. salicylic acid, vitamin C, or retinoids may minimise skin irritation.

Agents that can help reduce irritation and redness include non-prescription actives such as aloe vera, calendula and lichocalone and prescription variants such as metronidazole (Rozex). Other Products such as the new Cosmedix products and Results Rx contain active ingredients such as azelaic acid and salicylic acid that help fight oil and acne. These are combined with anti redness and anti inflammatory agents such as willow herb to minimise irritation.

Part two coming soon ...

Dr. Gavin Chan (MBBS)
The Victorian Cosmetic Institute
Level 6, 200 High St
Lower Templestowe 3107

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