Seasonal Appropriate Treatments:
A professional responsibility
By Florence Barrett-Hill
There are times in our career as a professional skin treatment therapists when we must resist promoting or delivering treatments to clients that are not appropriate for the particular season or climatic environment. This is our professional responsibility.
As an example, I was on a recent summer holiday in an typical Australian sun & surf town and was disappointed to see one of the local beauty therapy clinics promoting glycolic peels to the holidaymaking clientele on the sandwich board outside the clinic.
So what was wrong with this you may ask?
Consider this: Why would a professional skin treatment therapist actively promote a treatment that is largely contra-indicated in seasons of high ambient UVR? Especially when there are other treatments that can easily be substituted? (A treatment for environmental defense would make far more sense!)
Why would a professional therapist risk the pigmentation damage to the client in such conditions knowing the likelihood of the clients exposure to UVR to be high during the period of the holiday?
If the client was told of the post-treatment risks, why on earth would a person going on a holiday to a sunspot for some beach R&R want to avoid sun exposure at all costs while on that holiday?
It simply does not make sense. A chemical peel is one of the most inappropriate treatments you could offer a client while on a summer holiday in a high UVR environment.
While the blame for not fulfilling their professional responsibility of selecting appropriate treatments falls on the therapists shoulders, (as would any detrimental outcomes) we must look at the influences that would contribute to them making such a potential error of judgment, as quite often it is lack of education that is the root of the problem.
During one of my training workshops, the attendees were discussing the subject of chemical peels, and it was interesting to hear some of the comments made.
In one instance, a therapist explained that one of her product representatives had offered her a special to promote a chemical peel just before the summer season. The therapist, who was well experienced was puzzled by this, as it flew in the face of what she considered safe and sensible practice.
When I probed a little further, the therapist explained that the special also included a high SPF sunscreen, and the rep had advised the sunscreen be sold with the peel as a bundle.
While the sunscreen add-on was a commendable attempt to follow the protocols for chemical peels, the fact that it was a treatment far better suited to the autumn or winter seasons did not seem to matter.
What was the motivation to promote a chemical peel in the summer? Who knows?
Perhaps it was lack of knowledge by the sales representative. Perhaps it was a warehouse clearing promotion that did not get the professional consideration it deserved?
Fortunately, the therapist politely declined the offer, (much to the surprise of the product rep) explaining that she would have little use for the peel over the next few months, however she would consider a similar package should it be offered in autumn.
With this incident in mind, the question begs to be asked: If inexperienced therapists were offered the same package would they trust that the sales rep was acting in their best interest? There is serious potential here to give clients pigmentation or cellular damage problems that will need to be addressed at a later date.
At another seminar, a less experienced therapist told the tale of a similar situation were she was advised that chemical peels during summer were safe as long as the client used sun block every day. While this is true to a degree, we all know that clients rarely follow the aftercare protocols as properly as they should, especially when away from home and on holiday. Why tempt fate? There are so many other treatments we can offer during summer that will have much more client satisfaction.
This article does not to aim to be alarmist. It is simply a reminder that some treatments (specifically chemical peels and microdermabrasion) are much safer when undertaken under ideal conditions.
There will be situations where peels will be undertaken during the summer months for remedial work for specific conditions, however they will be in a controlled environment and require the same strict aftercare as facial surgery.
If a client insists on a peel during the summer months, it would be preferable to offer a vitamin C or fruit acid treatment that offers antioxidant and tyrosinase inhibiting properties.
You have the power to steer the client in the right direction, as a peel is not a treatment to be sold as a one-off service to transient clients wanting to fill in time or pamper themselves while on holiday.
As a professional, it is your responsibility to ensure you are fully aware of all of the contra-indications that will reduce the likelihood of unfavorable outcomes, and that knowledge will guide you to offer the most appropriate treatment your clients needs.