face mask

Highlights from the Midwest Face and Body Show

By Kim Kawa and Paige Leyden

Delighted to attend the Midwest Face & Body Show for the first time, we found ourselves privy to a variety of noteworthy ingredients and massage techniques geared primarily toward spa professionals. As researchers, we were eager to learn the recommendations of spa professionals and how they might inform shopper decisions for home care. We narrowed in on ingredient solutions promoted to combat both skin aging caused by environmental pollution and hormone-linked skin stressors.


In September of 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) released statistics estimating that 92% of the world population is breathing polluted air and lives in places where outdoor air quality fails to meet safety standards.1 Cigarettes, exhaust fumes, ground ozone, industrial smoke, and UV rays are significant culprits affecting environmental air quality. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and daily exposure to poor quality air can take its toll. So what do spa professionals recommend, and what can consumers learn from the professionals to improve their at-home skin care regimens?

Hydration is essential.

If skin becomes dehydrated, its potential for irritation increases. Its permeability also decreases, impairing the skin’s ability to absorb what we apply to it.

The right ingredients can protect against pollution.

Professionals at the show recommended applying a barrier over the skin made from ingredients that can help neutralize pollutants.  Free radical quenching agents and skin strengtheners were at the forefront of the conversation. Some ingredients highlighted at the show were activated coconut charcoal, sea algae, sea salt, and semi-precious stone extracts including malachite.

Hormones and healthy skin

Per spa experts, air pollution can affect our hormone levels, which also play a role in the health of our skin. Per leading skin care professionals, balanced levels of estrogen and progesterone lead to clear skin, while elevated testosterone lowers estrogen and progesterone levels and can contribute to breakouts. (Note that genetics and hygiene also factor in.) The show’s experts cited this as a reason to invest in organic body care products in order to avoid certain ingredients (such as parabens and phthalates) which can often be found in conventional lines and which some studies have examined for endocrine disrupting effects.2

According to SPINS data in Body Care categories, 100% NOP Certified Organic products are up by 21% over the prior year’s sales. Additionally, body care products bearing a Paraben Free label claim are up by 18%.3

Treatment trends

Some spa specialists can identify which glands are causing skin breakouts with a technique known as Chinese face mapping. Treatment options can range from facial massage (to stimulate lymphatic drainage, increase blood flow and collagen production), to applying topical botanicals and vitamins to resolve the inflammatory process and replenish the protective dermal layers. Ingredients in focus at the show included chaste berry, flax oil, hops, lavender, magnolia bark, paprika, red clover, red currant, rosehips, tea tree, Vitamin C, and yucca. Additional anti-aging ingredients that stood out at the show were bamboo, chicory, coconut water, plant stem cells, stonecrop, and topical probiotics.


After attending the educational sessions and traversing the expo floor, we both agreed that we’ve been sold on getting monthly spa treatments and need to work them into our budgets! We look forward to attending the Midwest Face and Body Show next year to learn new insights from professional body care lines and share them with you here!

  1. WHO releases country estimates on air pollution exposure and health impact. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2016/air-pollution-estimates/en/
  2. Cosmetics chemicals of concern. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.ewg.org/research/teen-girls-body-burden-hormone-altering-cosmetics-chemicals/cosmetics-chemicals-concern
  3. SPINS Data: cross channel aggregate of SPINSscan Natural, SPINSscan Specialty Gourmet, SPINSscan Conventional (MULO) for 52 weeks ending 12-25-16