Ep 12: Harnessing Thermal Energies For the Skin & Hair
Hi guys and welcome to this week’s dermatology flash briefing. We’re going to talk about how thermal energies can be harnessed for both skin and the hair in this episode, for example Cryotherapy facial tools.
Thermal energies for the skin and hair
The concept of harnessing thermal energies to manipulate its effects on the skin and the hair isn’t new. Except that there has been a little bit of misunderstanding amongst lay people about the indications for each. At extremes of temperature, damage occurs to both the skin and the hair, and that should be avoided. However, when you are able to set the temperatures to optimal ranges either at the cold or the hot end of the spectrum, you may be able to enhance physiological functions and also improve absorption. For example, Cryotherapy facial tools can have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.
The dangers of face steaming
One of the most widely practiced and yet ill informed practices is that of facial steaming. That itself perhaps has certain relaxing benefits. But from a dermatologist point of view, that is something that doesn’t confer benefits for skin. Heat itself can worsen symptoms of skin dryness in individuals with sensitivity. The increase in blood flow brought on by heat is something known as vasodilation. Principally, vasodilation is a function of the body to release excess heat to prevent overheating due to the exposure to the stream. It is a physiological response that can trigger rosacea.
Rosacea is a condition whereby one’s blood vessels are already hyperactive. If you have eczema, for example, bathing in warm or hot water will worsen inflammation. So we always recommend bathing with cool or lukewarm water, and the same goes for cleansing the face. Furthermore, many people think that facial steaming helps to open up pores and release toxins. But there are no sound bases in releasing toxins when you steam your face.
Cold therapy for the skin
On the contrary, Cryotherapy Facial Tools, or cold therapy has been proven in its dermatological functions in terms of reducing inflammation. We often tell patients to put their skincare products in the refrigerator or beauty fridge, especially if they have eczema. Because, the cold first of all, distracts the skin receptors from the sensation of itch. This is the same thing patting your skin does as opposed to trying to alleviate the itch by scratching.
The effects of excessive heat on the skin
There are real problems with exposure of the skin to abnormally high temperatures. A condition known to dermatologists known as erythema ab igne, also known as hot water bottle rash. It is essentially a skin condition that is caused by chronic long term exposure to infrared radiation. Sometimes women who have menstrual cramps use a hot water bottle as a way to alleviate the cramps and the pain sensations, but something that also occurs in individuals who do that, is a rash that develops as a result of this exposure to prolonged thermal exposure. Essentially this rash develops in the form of what we call a lacy reticulated pattern of redness around the area which can subsequently turn into hyperpigmentation and broken blood vessels. The bottom line is heat is not good for skin.
Heat therapy for hair
On the other hand of the spectrum, heat therapy clearly has its well established benefits of bodily relaxation in massage and soothing of tired muscles. But what’s relevant is its ability to increase absorption of cosmeceuticals but applied on areas such as the scalp as opposed to the skin. By virtue of its location and also that it’s a hair-bearing area, which is much thicker and less sensitive to these thermal side effects. It’s an optimal way to harness the benefits of increasing absorption.
Essentially when the blood vessels in the hair bearing area are exposed to higher temperatures, they react by expanding themselves (vasodilation). This brings more blood and increases absorption to the localized area. Salons have for the longest time, used heat therapy to break the chemical bonds of the hair for women with curly hair who want to straighten their hair – this is using extremes of temperature. The hair shaft itself is actually dead. So there really isn’t much of an issue in using heat.
Salon heat hair treatments
Other than the fact that constant inappropriate styling methods involving high heat can essentially destroy the structure and health of the hair shaft, that’s something to consider. But in terms of hair treatments, what’s been done in salons and a lot of work by cosmetic research companies on hair conditioners, essentially are also harnessing the emollient properties and detangling properties of certain ingredients to help the hair shaft to become more manageable.
Maintaining health of the hair shaft
We know that grooming is an essential part of hair care and hair health, and it definitely affects one’s self esteem. Using slightly elevated levels of temperature in hair treatments – but not to the extent that it breaks the structure of the hair bonds. This is a valid way of increasing the absorption of the hair cosmeceuticals into the hair shaft. It occurs via a physical chemical effect. Studies have shown that the use of certain plant oils can strengthen the hair shaft and improve certain markers of hair health which are desirable. So things like reducing the porosity of hair, increasing hair elasticity, these are all beneficial in terms of improving the overall appearances – the shine and health of the hair shaft.
That’s it for this week’s dermatology flash briefing. I’m Dr. Teo Wan Lin, and you can follow me on my instagram @drteowanlin. Check out the latest offerings by Dr. TWL Pharmacy which features the 360 degree Conscious Mask Bar that harnesses this concept of thermal energies for both the skin and the hair.
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