ASK THE Experts |

9 mins

ASK THE Experts

Our beauty experts answer your questions about every aspect of running a salon or spa business

Is it possible to use sheet masks in a sustainable way?

The simple answer is yes. Do not be fooled into thinking all sheet masks are the same, or that just because they are a single-use product, they’re all a bad environmental choice – that is not necessarily true.

There are brands out there which have put a huge amount of research and resources into ensuring their sheet masks and packaging are both ethically sourced and sustainable. For example, suppliers could be asked if they have organic certification or if they use ecological farming methods. Salon owners need to do their own research into whether a sheet mask brand can actually provide proof of its sustainability programme.

A good way to gauge what is available in the industry is to stay in the loop with professional news. Use the resources available to you, such as trade press, professional trade shows and professional sites on the internet. There is nothing wrong with also contacting the brand directly and asking them for their sustainability credentials if they are not readily available. Trade shows and trade press are also great ways to keep up to date with trends, new formulas and what brands are doing to protect the environment.

Things to look for include valid certifications and logos, so check your supplier’s sustainability credentials. Examples would be The Vegan Society’s logo, being certified cruelty-free by PETA, or the Forest Stewardship Council logo which confirms that the paper, wood and card packaging being used come from a forest source that is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability. To add these official logos or certification credentials to their product packaging, a brand must apply and register with the association to authenticate the product or packaging.

At +maskology, our sustainability initiatives are really important to us. For example, our sheet masks are constructed from a sustainable source of bamboo fibres, meaning they are 100% natural and biodegradable so, after use, rather than placing them in the waste bin, they can be added to a garden compost bin to biodegrade within a matter of weeks. Our sheet mask sachets can be returned to us where we recycle them into plastic pellets, which are then used to manufacture playground equipment and park benches.

In terms of formulas to look out for, ask your sheet mask supplier if theirs are plant-based, whether the ingredients are ethically sourced, and whether the formulas are also water free – which is another huge factor when looking at sustainable options.

Deborah Carrington is a national trainer for +maskology with over 30 years’ experience in the industry as a salon owner and beauty educator.

How can I take the best nail photographs to showcase my skills?

Getting the right nail photo for social media is never easy and you’ll always take far more pictures than you use, but there are some things you can focus on to help you get the money shot.

1. Camera settings: first, you need to look at your phone’s camera and understand the different settings. Depending on the phone, there may be different settings for “vivid warm” and “vivid cool”, for example, which could help you take more realisticlooking photos of colours. Warm or cool colours, as well as glitters, foils or other nail art, will photograph differently and need adjusted settings.

2. Lighting: using a daylight bulb will give a more natural glow and take away the yellowness that can appear, and it will also help with shadows in the background.

3. Background: this is crucial because a messy background can take away from the nails, while a patterned one can look too busy. I use sample wallpapers so that I can change the background according to the colour I’m trying to capture, or just use them as different backgrounds to change up my Instagram grid, or when creating product shots or flat lays. I love a brick wall wallpaper because it gives texture without detracting, but I also love taking pictures outside with natural lighting and plants as a background.

4. Hand pose: one of the most controversial topics of discussion around great nail shots is the hand pose. There are lots of hand poses on social media, but my advice is to choose a few that are easy for your clients to pose for, and ones that show as many of the nails as possible.

Clients want to see what colours or nail art looks like on a whole hand, and both hands if possible, rather than just one or two fingers. They want to be able to imagine it on their own hands to judge if the colour is too bright or the design is too much. Your social media will look far neater if you have consistency in your images, and this means using the same poses for a few posts at a time or every other post, for example.

5. Props: last but not least, try to take photos with at least some of the products used in the hand as a prop or in the background because it will often catch people’s attention and generate interest in what you’ve used. Product bottles are also the perfect size to fit in clients’ hands so they work well for hand poses.

Suzanne Clayton is a nail tech and beauty therapist with over 20 years’ experience. Clayton is the founder of support group Nail Tech Awareness and the brand development manager at Louella Belle.

What is azelaic acid and how can I use it in my treatments?

Azelaic acid is a dicarboxylic acid that can be derived from grains like barley, wheat and rye. However, the lab-engineered form is typically used in skincare formulas because of its greater stability and effectiveness.

The ingredient is typically well tolerated by all skin types, even by those with sensitive skin. Azelaic acid is a great treatment for an array of skin problems, including:

Acne: concentrations of azelaic acid above 10% are useful for the treatment of the acne-causing bacteria propionibacterium acnes and staphylococcus. A study showed that the use of azelaic acid for three months led to remission in 64% of acne patients. If the treatment continues for six months, the acidic efficacy becomes similar to the effect of an antibiotic, benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin, as well as to the influence of tetracycline in daily doses of 0.5-1g/g.

Rosacea: in one study, the relative efficacy of a 15-week treatment with azelaic acid was compared with the usual treatment regimen used against rosacea. The results indicated that azelaic acid was much more efficient in treating inflammatory response, but less effective in treating erythema. However, participants in this study reported greater satisfaction with the results of treatment with azelaic acid.

Pigmentation: azelaic acid selectively works on hyperactive melanocytes and does not affect normal pigment, making it a great choice for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and melasma. It is clinically proven that azelaic acid in concentrations over 20% inhibits tyrosinase.

Azelaic acid is also useful for neutralising and preventing oxidative damage due to active oxygen species such as superoxide anion radical (-2) and hydroxyl radical (-OH). There are also reports of antiviral and antifungal actions. It can be used in the treatment of ingrowing hairs, folliculitis and keratosis pilaris.

It works well alongside vitamin C to treat pigmentation and in its antioxidant approach. Niacinamide is a calming ingredient which also works well with azelaic acid to alleviate inflammation.

Since azelaic acid works so well with other ingredients, at Noon Aesthetics we have created multitasking products. For postinflammatory hyperpigmentation and dark spots there is Double White, which combines 20% azelaic acid with 5% alpha arbutin – an ingredient that helps to lighten pigmentation, as well as 11% stabilised vitamin C. The Azelaic Forte 25 product is the highest concentration that doesn’t require a prescription, and it also contains 5% alpha arbutin. It is safe to use on all skin types due to our DermShield technology.

You would not use azelaic acid in combination with device-led treatments. However, as a supporting ingredient alongside courses such as laser, IPL, peels, needling and waxing, it helps prevent posttreatment pigmentation, boost healing and restore skin function to reduce downtime.

Laura Morgans heads up the UK training team at Noon Aesthetics and is the commercial manager at distributor Advanced Esthetics Solutions.

What is regenerative beauty and how can you tell if a brand is really trying to make a difference?

Regenerative is a concept that goes beyond sustainability. Rather than “less bad”, regenerative is actually positive: restorative for the planet and restorative for the body and mind.

To be positive for both the planet and for humankind, regenerative means we need to put back more than we take out. This could be measured in several ways, such as improving the health of life on the land and in the sea by focusing on biodiversity and soil health.

One of the main ways a beauty brand can be regenerative is to use organic and regeneratively grown ingredients. Regenerative organic agriculture is a holistic, sustainable approach to farming that aims to restore the nutrient content of the soil during the farming process – as well as sustaining the world around it with conservation and rehabilitation measures.

One very important part of that ecosystem is the microorganisms in the soil. There are more organisms in a handful of soil than humans who have ever lived, and they all help to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and trap it in the ground. By reducing their diversity, we risk losing this benefit.

Large-scale commercial farming is characterised by large monocrop fields, over-tilling, and the use of pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilisers. These efforts deplete the soil, resulting in eroded land, a significantly depleted planet biome, and reduced quality of output. This has a severe environmental impact on a broad scale.

In fact, a report by the Rodale Institute, an organic agriculture research non-profit, suggests that if all our land capable of being farmed or ranched was managed with soil health in mind, it could trap all the annual CO2 emissions produced by humans and then some. The situation becomes more dire when you consider the research on the opposite end of the spectrum; previous studies have found that if we don’t make this transition, most of the world’s topsoil will be depleted within the next 60 years.

Although current organic certification doesn’t cover every aspect of regenerative farming, it is still a real improvement on commercial farming, which is why at Evolve Organic Beauty we choose to purchase organic ingredients wherever possible, and we have certified our products to the COSMOS organic standard. Research shows that greenhouse gases could be reduced by 40-50% by 2050 by following organic principles, and organic soil is 25% more effective at storing carbon long term than non-organic.

Although it is currently hard to track and measure the true extent of how regenerative ingredients are, at Evolve we are committed to purchasing as many regenerative and organic ingredients as we can find, and also to tracking and measuring how regenerative our current ingredients portfolio is and improving it year on year.

Laura Rudoe is the founder and chief executive of ethical skincare brand Evolve Organic Beauty.


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This article appears in November 2022

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This article appears in...
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