how smoking impacts the skin

November 4, 2014

Smoking is one of the most controllable causes of disease and death today. It is also a major contributor to many skin conditions and complications, such as skin discoloration, breakdown of collagen and elastin, deep wrinkling, skin aging, poor wound healing and abnormal skin growths.

Our skin relies on oxygen in order to function properly. Air is pulled into our lungs, travels down to the smallest air sacs in the lungs, and is then carried throughout the body via the tiny and intricate network of capillaries. Without sufficient oxygen, the body and the skin suffer.

Nicotine in cigarette smoke causes vasoconstriction or blood vessel contraction, which limits the actual size of the vessel. Carbon monoxide in cigarettes bonds with oxygen, greatly reducing the amount available to the body. This combination of nicotine and carbon monoxide not only limits the size of the vessel, but also the amount of oxygen flowing through them.

some not so fun facts

  • Just one cigarette restricts blood flow for up to 90 minutes.
  • The body produces more blood vessels to compensate for the oxygen restriction due to smoking.
  • De-oxygenated skin often exhibits a grey or yellow tone.
  • It only takes 15-20 seconds for cigarette smoke to impact each part of the body.
  • Blood circulation is significantly decreased due to the vasoconstrictive nature of nicotine.

The sooner a smoker decides to quit, the sooner the vital organs and the skin start to heal. However, the breakdown of the dermal layers is not easily recovered by simply putting out the cigarette. Rebuilding of collagen, repairing elastin and improving the overall function of the dermis must be instigated.

Regular chemical peels will improve not only the production of collagen, but will also improve the tone and texture of the skin. Daily use of collagen-building topical products is also a vital component to reversing the signs of aging due to smoking. Integrating ingredients like vitamin C during the morning and retinoids at night, along with advanced peptides and epidermal growth factor, will prolong the benefits gained from monthly chemical peels.

The effects of cigarettes reach nearly every organ of the body, including the skin. The sooner a smoker puts down the cigarettes, the sooner the body will begin healing from the damage of the nicotine and various chemicals contained within. The skin, however, typically requires more attention. With monthly chemical peels and a comprehensive collagen-building daily care regimen, the skin can begin the recovery process.


Vogue dives into chemical peels with PCA SKIN’s expert advice

April 29, 2013

In the May 2013 issue of Vogue, PCA SKIN®‘s chief scientific officer, Dr. Jennifer Linder, is featured dispelling myths about chemical peels and assuring readers that they are the best thing you can do for your skin. The article, titled “Lift Off,” highlights Ultra Peel® I and explains the many benefits regular chemical peel treatments have on skin health, while amplifying the effects of daily care in the process.

Vogue, May 2013

Vogue, May 2013

“I always say, ‘You don’t have to peel with a peel,’” Dr. Linder says. Regarding Ultra Peel® I, she noted that following the treatment, “the skin takes on this lovely glow and looks more even.” When performed regularly, Linder said, “you can get to the same end points with peels as you can with lasers.”

article highlights

  • The latest cocktails have yielded gentle peels for virtually every skin type and issue: Have sun damage or discoloration? There’s a peel for that. Bothered by fine lines? Or just dull skin? Get a peel. Is acne a problem? A peel will help.
  • The new thinking trades the no-pain-no-gain mentality for the more palatable slow-and-steady-wins-the-race: Combinations of multiple exfoliating acids in lower strengths encourage the skin to shed its top layers, along with dead, complexion-clogging surface cells and impurities.
  • Beyond the luminous, near-instant gratification achieved by so many peels, [there is] another reason to incorporate one into a regular regimen: They help pave the way for daily skin care to perform better by removing dead surface cells that may be impeding its absorption.

Linder ends the piece saying, “Peels are the one thing that every dermatologist can do to help their patient’s age gracefully. The experience is much like getting a facial, but you get more out of it. You’re actually doing something to change the long-term health of the skin [and] it’s such an easy thing to do.”

Pick up the May 2013 issue of Vogue, on newsstands now, to read the full article. Follow PCA SKIN on Facebook and Twitter, and share the story on your own social channels to get customers buzzing about your peel offerings!

Interested in offering Ultra Peel® I in your practice? Call PCA SKIN at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or visit for more information.

PCA SKIN celebrates black history month

February 12, 2013

In honor of February being Black History Month, we wanted to focus this blog on treatments that are great choices for ethnic skin types. Many consumers may not know that chemical peel treatments are safe for people of color. PCA SKIN understands that everyone’s skin is unique and many of our treatments and products are safe and highly effective on ethnic skin.

Male Clinician

The following are appropriate for all Fitzpatrick types:


Sensi Peel® – This gentle solution is a blended trichloroacetic acid (TCA) treatment formulated primarily for ethnic skin. Lactic and l-ascorbic acids help to hydrate and strengthen, while kojic and azelaic acids brighten skin. Arbutin additionally helps even out skin tone.

Smoothing Body Peel – This two-step treatment combines TCA with lactic and salicylic acids to smooth and hydrate skin.

Note: The PCA Peel® with Hydroquinone and PCA Peel® Hydroquinone free can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-IV or I-V, respectively.The Ultra Peel® I can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-V.

Peel Alternatives

Detox Gel Deep Pore Treatment – This solution blends lactic, glycolic and salicylic acids to effectively penetrate pores and dissolve blackheads.

Oxygenating Trio – This three-step treatment combines alpha and beta hydroxy acids with superoxide dismutase and hydrogen peroxide to stimulate cutaneous oxygenation and rejuvenate stressed skin.

Therapeutic Masks

Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask – Utilizes oat extracts to remedy dry skin conditions, taking hydration to a new level.

Revitalize: Therapeutic Papaya Mask – Combines an active blend of papaya, honey and fruit extracts to revitalize skin.

Clarify: Therapeutic Salicylic Acid Mask – Combines 20% salicylic acid to clarify dull complexions.

Note: The Retexturize: Therapeutic Pumpkin Mask can be used on Fitzpatrick types I-IV.

Boosters and Enhancements

Esthetique Peel or Ultra Peel® II – Either optional retinoid booster may be used post-treatment for all peels, peel alternatives and masks.

Replenishing Gel and Calming Balm – These enhancements may also be added to any protocol for additional protective and soothing benefits.

Treatment outcomes can be maximized by learning the art of customizing with PCA SKIN’s multi-faceted corrective daily care products.  Always complete treatments with ReBalance and protect skin from harmful UV rays with the appropriate SPF product depending on skin type.

Remember that gentle treatment delivers more dramatic and consistent outcomes. Healthy skin naturally glows from the inside, resulting in beautiful skin!

Feel free to call us at 877.PCA.SKIN [722.7546] or email us at anytime with questions about treating ethnic skin.

fall-friendly treatments

November 14, 2012

The cooler autumn weather can be difficult for our skin to adapt to without some assistance. There are many exciting and beneficial ways to combine products and treatments to rejuvenate skin after a long summer in the sun and prepare it for the winter ahead.To help you and your patients achieve healthy, beautiful skin this time of year, consider this PCA SKIN® fall-friendly treatment protocol, that will improve skin health and maintain results, no matter the temperature or the season.

Hydration and Detoxification Treatment

 This treatment features Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask with Activator (Step 1 from the Oxygenating Trio®) and Detoxifier (Step 2 from the Oxygenating Trio®) to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and deliver a brighter and clearer complexion. 


1. Facial Wash Oily/Problem (pHaze 1) — Cleanse the area of treatment thoroughly. Rinse and pat dry.


2. Smoothing Toner (pHaze 2) — Apply to gently prep (degrease) the skin. This product may sting or tingle on some individuals. Assess sensitivity by asking the patient, “On a scale of one to ten, ten being extremely active, how do you rate this sensation (or feeling)?”


3. Hydrate: Therapeutic Oat Milk Mask — Apply a quarter-sized amount to the area of treatment using a fan brush. For best results, massage the mask into the skin with gloved hands. Use the scale of 1 to 10 to gauge sensitivity. Fan the skin to keep the patient cool. Allow the mask to remain on the skin for up to 10 minutes. Remove completely with cotton squares moistened with warm water.

4. Activator (Step 1 from the Oxygenating Trio®) — Pour a dime-sized amount into a small peel dish. Apply generously with a brush over the entire area of treatment. Allow to penetrate and dry thoroughly. The patient will feel internal warming as the oxygenation process is being stimulated.

5. Detoxifier (Step 2 from the Oxygenating Trio®) — Massage a small amount into the skin with your fingers in a circular motion for approximately two minutes. Take your time with this process as this step drives Activator (Step 1) into the skin and promotes circulation. Remove any obvious excess by gently blotting with a tissue or with Nutrient Toner (pHaze 5) on a cotton pad.


6. ExLinea® Peptide Smoothing Serum (pHaze 25) — Apply to areas of laxity and wrinkling.

7. C-Quench® Antioxidant Serum (pHaze 15+) — Apply a dime-sized amount for additional strengthening and hydrating benefits.

8. Hydrating Serum (pHaze 43) — Apply a dime-sized amount to the area of treatment to encourage ceramide, essential fatty acid (EFA) and moisture retention, improving the overall function of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF).

9. Oxygenator (Step 3 from the Oxygenating Trio®) — Massage a small amount into the skin with your fingers in a circular motion over the entire area of treatment. A little of this product goes a long way, so do not overuse. Avoid contact with the eyebrows and hair due to possibility of bleaching. Coverage should be thin, even and thorough.

retinoid booster (optional) 

10. Esthetique Peel — Apply one pump for increased exfoliation, purifying benefits and an even skin tone. Gently spread the product over the area of treatment, keeping the application even and thin.

hydrate and protect 

11. ReBalance (pHaze 17) and Perfecting Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 30 — Complete the treatment with this combination to calm, hydrate and protect the skin from UVA and UVB exposure. An alternate PCA SKIN® broad spectrum SPF product may be used to increase customization: Weightless Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 45 for oily, breakout-prone skin; Protecting Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF 30 for normal to oily skin; or Hydrator Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 30 for normal to dry skin.

smoking and the skin

October 26, 2012

We are now approaching the end of October, and while the month of November brings to mind fall leaves, pumpkins and giving thanks, it also marks the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout.  November 15 is the date for this year’s 37th Great American Smokeout, reminding smokers to either mark this day as a time to quit smoking permanently or to refrain from smoking for just this one day.

Interestingly enough, most people begin to smoke as teenagers, thinking that it will make them appear older.  This thought couldn’t be farther from the truth!  In fact, smoking does exactly that!

Smoking is one of the most controllable causes of disease and death today.  It is known for directly contributing to heart and lung disease, but the damaging effects to the skin are less known and often ignored.  Smoking can cause poor wound-healing, collagen degradation, abnormal skin growths, oral cancers, deep wrinkling and premature skin aging, as well as a dull, sallow appearance.

Healthy skin function requires oxygen, and smoking causes a restriction of oxygen flow to the skin cells.  One cigarette causes vasoconstriction for up to 90 minutes.  Additionally, the carbon monoxide in cigarettes binds with oxygen and prevents it from reaching the skin cells.  Smoking also causes an increase in the enzyme responsible for breaking down collagen.  This accelerated degradation of collagen in conjunction with the repeated lip-pursing and eye-squinting during inhalation also contributes to increased severity of wrinkling and skin aging ……. especially in female smokers.

Professional treatments that encourage oxygenation and detoxification to the skin will improve the appearance and health of all skin types, especially those who smoke.  PCA SKIN’s Oxygenating Trio Treatment is an excellent choice, as it may be performed weekly and will increase oxygenation and the cells’ ability to detoxify, resulting in a radiant, healthy glow.

the benefits of oxygen

November 7, 2011

Oxygen has many benefits to the skin, one is its ability to help in the fight against acne.  Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in America. More serious grades of acne can cause permanent scarring and skin damage, but even mild to moderate acne can cause a person severe emotional damage. Using targeted methods to clear acne quickly can help truly change a person’s life.  One important piece of the acne-clearing puzzle is oxygen.

The bacteria that proliferate and fuel acne are called proionibacterium acnes (P. acnes).  These bacteria are anaerobic, meaning they cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. Many of the time tested acne-controlling ingredients work by delivering oxygen into the follicle where the bacteria thrive, therefore killing them off.  One of these ingredients is benzoyl peroxide.  Another oxygen-delivering ingredient is hydrogen peroxide.

If you remember skinning your knee as a child and having hydrogen peroxide put on your cut it would foam.  This was the hydrogen peroxide working to kill bacteria so your cut wouldn’t get infected.  Using a professional treatment that uses this same type of action will help alleviate bacteria in breakout-prone skin.  Choose a treatment that provides the skin with low level AHA as well as stabilized hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and detox the skin,  You can also use this on dull or sluggish complexions, as well as on smokers who’s skin is chronically deprived of oxygen.

So give your patients healthy skin with a breath of fresh air.

what is autophagy and why is it important?

August 23, 2011

A critical biological process that has not gotten much attention in the skin health industry is autophagy. This, along with exocytosis is responsible for the cells’ ability to rid itself from spent materials within themselves, allowing important cellular functions to continue properly.  Just as we need to take out the trash on a regular basis to keep our homes running efficiently, the cells also need to expel waste material to maintain proper function.

Step two of the newly reformulated PCA SKIN Oxygenating Trio®, Detoxifier, contains hydrolyzed candida saitoana extract that helps to promote healthy autophagy within the cells.  This step performs repairing and detoxifying functions that allow the skin to maintain homeostasis and rid itself of damaged proteins that can lead to disease, skin dysfunction and premature aging. One theory of aging is that over time, defective components accumulate in cells that ultimately disrupt the proper functioning of living processes. This extract is a byproduct of the metabolic process of a specific type of yeast. It has the unique ability to promote the formation of lysosomes that capture spent materials within the cells.  It also enables the fusion of these multi-membrane structures allowing the waste materials to be degraded by lysosomal enzymes.  Once the materials are degraded, they move slowly toward the cell membrane and released into the extracellular matrix through the process of exocytosis.

This critical process in the healthy function of cells is complex, but can be simplified into one elementary concept – taking out the trash. Although the Oxygenating Trio® has always been an effective treatment for detoxifying skin, with the new addition of hydrolyzed candida saitoana extract, it can assist in the purification and healthy function of cell at a whole new level.