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The Courtin Concept
Six Keys to Great Skin at Any Age
By Olivier Courtin-Clarins, Jack Kusler
Addicus Books, Inc.Copyright © 2007 Olivier Courtin-Clarins, M.D.
All rights reserved.
Evolution of the Courtin Concept
* * *
ONE OF MY EARLIEST, MOST AND VIVID MEMORIES is of myself as a child — locking myself in my bedroom and setting off on a marvelous scientific adventure. There, all alone with a wondrous collection of mysterious creams arrayed before me, I would slowly open several of the many jars, carefully scoop out handfuls of their cool, smooth, fragrant potions, and meticulously drop the glorious globs into a large mixing bowl.
Open. Scoop. Drop. Mix.
No two combinations were ever quite the same. A little "mad chemist" was being born. The concoctions fascinated me. I diligently compared their fragrances, textures, odors, and colors with the results of previous secret sessions, making mental notes, quickly designating my favorites and those I liked least. Time and again my parents would bang on the door, demand admittance, and scold me for wasting the valuable products. But I always returned to my experiments. Until well into my adolescent years, I rarely missed an opportunity to sneak back into that captivating world of sweet, soft, beautiful blends.
Far from wasting anything, I was setting the stage for a lifelong passion, a mission of helping women and men look and feel their best. And I would carry on the family tradition. My father was the founder of Clarins, the French cosmetics firm that started as the germ of an idea in an industrious young man's mind and in fifty years has grown into a renowned international group. The creams I so loved as a boy were his creations, which he lovingly called "my babies."
All the while feigning disapproval at my seemingly playful use of those precious concoctions, my parents realized I was onto something, and finally followed my lead. They drafted the whole household into service. Soon everyone was testing my father's products for real. They applied and evaluated them. Most of all, they enjoyed them, although, I am sure, never as much as did I!
Today, thanks to those countless engrossing hours in my bedroom "laboratory," all I need do is touch a skin cream to know if it will do a good job. Far from diminishing over time, my zeal for the contents of those wondrous jars — and their modern-day versions — has never ceased to grow. But my path on the quest for splendid skin took an interesting detour: by way of brittle bones.
World War II put an end to my father's medical studies. After the war, he remained in the sphere of caregiving, launching France's first postsurgical massage-therapy center, where he gradually introduced patients to soothing, healthful creams he made from plant extracts in collaboration with chemical engineers. But he regretted not having returned to school, and pinned his hopes on me: He convinced me to become a doctor.
On Becoming a Physician
Surprisingly, I did not choose to specialize in dermatology. I wanted to make a difference in my patients' health and lives, and, at the time, dermatology offered too few concrete cures. I turned instead to orthopedic surgery, with an emphasis on sports injuries. (While I treated both men and women of all ages, I will focus here on my female patients, as it is for women that I have initially developed my line of customized skin-care products.)
During my years of medical practice, I was struck by the fact that no two patients' needs were identical. Each injury was unique. Each body reacted differently to trauma, treatment, and therapy. Care, therefore, needed to be individualized accordingly. Although some of their injuries were the results of everyday accidents, such as slipping on a staircase or sidewalk, or falling off a step stool, the majority of my patients were either semiprofessional athletes or very avid amateur sportswomen, and had hurt themselves working out or competing. In my practice, many sports and physical activities were represented: aerobics, bicycling, classical and modern dance, fitness training, iceskating, running, skiing, swimming, tennis, and others.
While treating these women, I could not help noticing that, as much as they went all out for their sport — with no demand being too great as long as it would help them accomplish their athletic or exercise goals — they often either neglected their skin or actually caused it harm. Some had been too busy focusing on workouts and competitions (and, once they had injured themselves, on their resultant pain and subsequent treatment and recovery) to spend time and energy on cleansers, toners, creams, masks, sun protection, and other elements of even the most basic skin-care regimen.
My Early Focus on Skin-Care
Many were involved in outdoor sports, which put them on the front lines for overexposure to sun, extreme cold, pollution, and sometimes even hard, gritty sand. The swimmers were poisoning their skin with chlorine while the skiers were whipping their skin with excessive wind. Others were eating exceedingly unbalanced diets — heavy on pasta, for instance (carbohydrates for the energy to make it to the marathon finish line), but light on or totally lacking in fruits and vegetables. It's these fruits and vegetables that combat free radicals — the atoms responsible for cell damage that results in premature aging.
All of this was complicated by the cycle of skin-related changes through which every woman passes within her lifetime, including those due to the natural aging process.
Yet I was convinced that if my patients' skin looked better, they would feel better — which might hasten their recovery. So once again I plunged into study. Through research, interviews with patients and colleagues, seminars, and extensive reading, it became clear to me that skin changes radically according to a person's age; hormonal state; degree of emotional well-being and stress; nutrition; exercise and sleep habits; level of health or illness and accompanying medications/treatments; and lifestyle in general. I confirmed that skin is affected as well by environmental factors including pollution, type and intensity of sunlight, and weather conditions such as extreme cold and wind.
I also spent a considerable amount of time studying plants, their extracts, and their curative effects on skin. The more I studied, the more I realized that, despite literally millennia of knowledge about and use of plants, they still hold resources and benefits we have yet to discover!
Given my enduring interest in skin and skin care because of my family's business, and now my increasingly deepening knowledge about the science of skin, I began using part of my sessions with patients to focus on their skin. I advised them to "nourish their skin from within" through proper nutrition. I told them about the toxic effects on skin of smoking, substance abuse, insufficient sleep, stress, pollution, and overexposure to sun and winter climate. I continuously reminded them that a positive attitude is the first place to start in treating any part of their body.
My patients knew that their bodies — and minds — needed every available resource and reinforcement to prepare for, undergo, and recover from surgery, and to face what would often be a protracted rehabilitation process. To their great delight, they learned that heeding my suggestions would yield a double payoff. As I always say, "What is good for your skin is usually good for all of your body's parts and systems."
As my attention to my patients' skin grew, however, so did my frustration. I wanted to supplement this "lifestyle advice" with skin-care products, but despite the vast choice of excellent creams for sale, none seemed adaptable to each individual's constantly shifting derma-tological needs.
Realizing the Importance of Individualized Skin-Care
The solution, of course, was to custom-make my own product for each patient. Starting with appropriate high-quality creams already on the market, chosen according to each woman's skin type (dry, oily, or combination), I prescribed specific supplements. These consisted of plant extracts, blended in by pharmacists and selected for the properties that would give each woman what her skin uniquely required. Some plant extracts were aimed directly at the skin: to moisturize, tone, or firm, for example; some — by fighting free radicals, reducing inflammation, stimulating and protecting the immune system, providing vitamins and minerals — were intended to help a woman's skin by fortifying her entire system.
In the weeks and sometimes months before their surgery, I asked my patients to apply their personalized creams not only to their faces but also to the areas of their bodies on which I would be operating — their knees or shoulders, for instance — in order to prepare their skin for optimal healing once it had been cut during surgery. During each appointment I would reassess their skin-care needs and I would modify their custom-made creams accordingly.
But I did not stop there. During their surgical operations, and with their prior consent, I took small samples of their skin, one from the area treated with the custom-made creams, and one from an untreated area. I examined the samples in a laboratory. What I saw was notable: With the use of their individualized creams, my patients' skin-cell structure significantly improved. But I did not have to look through the lens of a microscope to notice the improvement — all I needed to do was see the women themselves.
Their skin looked younger, less dry, more radiant. The wrinkles, creases, lines, and grooves caused by ill-aligned cell layers had begun to smooth out as cells realigned. And their incisions healed quickly and well.
More than ever, I was persuaded that product customization would be of great help for the skin-care needs of women — of all ages, under all environmental conditions, in all life stages and circumstances. This became my dream, my focus, and my goal. But I would have to wait more than a decade for the dream to become reality.
Refining My Skin-Care Beliefs
In 1984, my father asked if I would join in managing the family business. Although I loved practicing medicine, the "little boy in the bedroom laboratory" could not resist the call to work with and among his treasured creams. I started at the company part time, went back to school for an MBA, and in 1995 became executive director of Clarins, the Paris-based cosmetics company. In conjunction with our research and development director Lionel de Benetti, my initial major act was establishing a global network of private and public researchers who would provide the steady stream of active ingredients — including plant extracts — that we required.
The first Clarins product I created was Eclat du Jour — Energizing Morning Cream. Until the launch of the Clarins MEN line in 2002, Eclat du Jour was my favorite product. A throwback to my medical days, it provides all the vitamins the skin needs, and can be of great help to a wide range of women.
Quite ironically, it was this very concept — a treatment formula that performs excellently for nearly everyone — that provided added inspiration toward my dream of another approach to skin care: customization.
As I contemplated what the optimal skin-care treatment might be, my thoughts always returned to the same notions: combining, mixing, harmonizing; combining biotechnology's modern marvels and nature's bounteous riches; mixing the most effective parts of each plant — roots, seeds, stems, leaves, flowers; harmonizing what you inherit from nature with how you enhance it through nurture. A personalized line would need to be built upon the rock-solid basis of what I had learned by living and working with Clarins products: "nourish" a woman's skin by blending vitamins and minerals directly into a cream and be aware that the most efficient products are those that directly meet a clearly defined skin-care need.
The Courtin Concept
The concept that has taken decades for me to refine can now be articulated: For good skin care at any age you must look at your whole body and take care of yourself inside and out, being aware of all influences that could damage your skin and health. As a woman, your skin-care needs are constantly changing, based on many factors. Consequently, your skin-care regimen must be individualized and customized to meet these changes.
Now, isn't it time to listen to your skin and give it personalized attention and care?CHAPTER 2
To Every Woman There Is a Season: Good Skin Care at Every Age
* * *
CAN YOU GUESS HOW LONG your skin cells last? The answer: twenty-five days. What happens after each cell expires? It renews itself, of course. But, as you age, your cells do not regenerate as quickly as they used to, and the new cells are of increasingly diminished quality.
It is important to keep in mind that the skin is not simply the material in which your organs, tissues, and systems are wrapped. The skin is itself an elaborate organ. It's also the body's largest organ. If the skin of an adult were stretched out, it would cover almost two square yards and weigh eight or nine pounds.
Your skin is also part defense system, protecting your network of muscles, bones, nerves, and blood vessels from injury and invasion. It is also part waterproofer — it prevents extreme increases or decreases in body moisture. Your skin is also a sunshade that shields you from dangerous ultraviolet rays. The skin's intricate network of small blood vessels cools you when you overheat, its fat cells insulate you against the cold, and its sweat glands help eliminate waste products and regulate body temperature. The skin even acts as its own doctor, with amazing self-healing capacities rushing to the rescue when you're wounded.
Your skin is part factory, producing substances such as collagen and elastin, both connective tissues, which help hold skin structures in place. The word "collagen" comes from the Greek and means "glue-producing." A structural protein that makes up 75 percent of your skin, collagen is the body's connective tissue, scaffolding, and blueprint all rolled into one. Like glue, it holds your body together. It also controls cell differentiation and shape. It makes wounds heal and mends broken bones. Elastin, the connective tissue that gives your skin its elasticity, works along with collagen to keep tissues firm and healthy. As the body's supply of collagen and elastin diminish, wrinkles develop.
You don't have to be a scientist, dermatologist, or cosmetician to know that the skin of a twenty-year-old woman does not look or feel like that of her grandmother, her mother, and, often, even her older sister. There's no mistaking the disparities in smoothness, firmness, elasticity, radiance, and uniformity of hue. But do you know why these changes happen as you pass through life's different phases? And do you know that, your skin being an extremely complex organ, these are metamorphoses due to psychological and behavioral as well as physical factors? Most importantly, do you know that far from staying on the sidelines as a helpless bystander, observing and lamenting your own aging process, in most cases you can counteract each specific, unique, life-stage-related skin-care challenge?
Three major factors determine your skin's physical appearance: your genes, your lifestyle, and your skin-care regimen. Of course you cannot alter your genetic composition. But it is within your power as to how you take care of yourself in general and your skin in particular. Throughout these pages you will find a detailed presentation of just how you can do this by harnessing the forces of positive attitude, stress management, good nutrition, proper exercise, sun protection, and personalized products — for an all-time, all-out defense against the natural and environmental assaults on your skin.
For now, join me on a quick trip through the three main phases of every woman's life, with a look at how each impacts your skin's needs — whatever your skin type. We'll also examine tips for actively keeping your skin healthy and beautiful all along the way.
Phases of a Woman's Life
Phase 1: Ages Twenty to Thirty
What's Happening Physically?
Young skin possesses a seemingly miraculous ability to quickly repair, renew, and revitalize itself by continually replacing damaged, worn-out tissue. When your skin cells are harmed, an "emergency squad" is set in motion, with neighboring cells dividing more quickly to restore overall cell density and health to normal levels.
Excerpted from The Courtin Concept by Olivier Courtin-Clarins, Jack Kusler. Copyright © 2007 Olivier Courtin-Clarins, M.D.. Excerpted by permission of Addicus Books, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
PART I Nature Meets Nurture: Partners in Beauty,
Chapter 1 Evolution of the Courtin Concept,
Chapter 2 To Every Woman There Is a Season: Good Skin Care at Every Age,
PART II Six Keys to Beautiful Skin,
Chapter 3 Key One: Think Yourself Beautiful,
Chapter 4 Key Two: Beware of Your Skin's Enemies: Pollution and Stress,
Chapter 5 Key Three: Eat, Drink, and Be Beautiful,
Chapter 6 Key Four: Be Sun-Smart,
Chapter 7 Key Five: Recognize the Benefits of Exercise,
Chapter 8 Key Six: Get Your Skin a Personal Trainer!,
About the Author,