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Botanical Ingredients in Skin Care Products

13 Feb
Ingredient Known Benefit    
Aloe vera Soothing, regenerative, moisturizing
Arnica (Arnica montana) Regenerative, soothing, antiseptic, stimulating
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Regenerative, soothing, antiseptic
Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, cooling, sedative
Carrot (Daucus carota) Purifying, regenerative
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) Moisture-binding, soothing, softening, tightening, anti-inflammatory
Geranium (Pelargonium sp.) Strengthening (capillaries), smoothes, decongests
Hops (Humulus lupulus) Calming, restorative, estrogenic, antiseptic, emollient, astringent
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Anti-inflammatory, regenerative, strengthening, softening
Lemon (Citrus limonum) Antiseptic, purifying, lymphatic stimulant
Menthol (Mentha piperita) Antiseptic, analgesic, calming, cooling, circulation stimulant
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Antiseptic, cooling, analgesic, calming
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) Regenerative, astringent, calming
Sage (Salvia officinalis) Antispasmodic, astringent, antiseptic, cooling
Spearmint (Mentha viridis) Anti-septic, cooling, analgesic
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) Antiseptic, germicidal, wound-healing, anti-inflammatory
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Stimulating, regenerative, antiseptic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) Anti-inflammatory, wound-healing
Yucca (Yucca schidigera) Anti-inflammatory, soothing

I know there are some people out there who love anything that is “natural” (and they live in Cambridge) and love things such as “botanicals” (I don’t know why I put that in quotes… but it seems grammatically correct?).

Botanicals in Skin Care

Botanical extracts support the health, texture, and integrity of the skin, hair, and nails and are the largest category of pharmaceutical/cosmeceutical additives. (I guess people in Cambridge aren’t the only one’s who love natural products!)

All medicine (including the creams for your skin) come from either nature or are manmade in a lab (in Cambridge?). Penicillin comes from a mold derivative; Botox comes from a bacteria derivative, ect. Ect.

Nature provides us with plants that have very important functions in healthcare. Here’s a chart with some of those plants. (In other news… I found out I can type something in Microsoft and upload it directly to my blog! I’m so excited! My posts are about to be more visually pleasing!!! Charts and graphs and clip art and stuff!)

Evaluating Your Skin

23 Jan

Like your personality, everyone has different skin, and there are many extraneous factors that affect the physical condition of your skin.  Even though I know a lot about skin, I don’t pretend I know it all, and I often ask my aesthetician friends what they think about my skin’s appearance. Usually, when my skin deviates from the norm, it’s from something I did.  By looking at your skin, an aesthetician determines the classification (Skin Care Classification Systems.) but they should also ask you the following questions to evaluate the overall health of your skin. 

Skin Evaluation Questions 

(Marmur, Ellen, M.D., 2009, Simple Skin Beauty:
Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin, 20-21)

  • How does my skin usually behave?  Does it tend to be dry or oily?  Does it get irritated or red or hyperpigment easily (a sign of sensitivity).

My skin is normally a little oily, with rare break outs (because I regularly see an aesthetician and use products that are appropriate for me–but trust me–I’ve had my fair share of acne, hyperpigmentation, and dryness).  Because I take care of my skin, I no longer easily get irritated, red, pigmented, or break out.  But that’s MY skin). 

  • What is my lifestyle like?

I think there is not a woman alive that doesn’t have a high stress lifestyle.  But, when our stress levels get higher than normal, that’s when we can run into problems!  When I opened my first office, I’ve never had such HORRIBLE skin.  I was under so much stress!  I wasn’t eating, drinking, or sleeping (healthy right?).  I was broken out and my skin literally had a blue hue to it from not having enough oxygen and water.  It was NOT attractive.  Now I’m back to a regular level of high stress.

If you look at woman from other countries, you usually see they have nice skin.  Even though they smoke.  Well, the American life-style is high stress.  Women juggle families and careers and high levels of stress due to the pressure to achieve, and I think this is especially true of the Boston Woman.  Read more about  Skin Under Stress.

  •  Have I been doing anything differently in the last few weeks?

First Rule in Nursing:  have you done anything different?

Second Rule in Nursing:  stop whatever it is you did.

Did the symptoms stop too?  Cause and effect!  When it comes to skin reactions I like to ask if you have started using any different skin products, or have you changed your detergents?  (I personally am allergic to dryer sheets and I sleep with my face on a pillowcase… that would have touched a dryer sheet!)

  • What climate do I live in, or have I traveled somewhere recently?

Ugh, it is officially winter.  I know I have my heat on 80 right now and I am so thankful it is not forced hot air!  The type of heat you are using to heat your home will affect the air and your skin. (Check out Hydrating Ingredients in Skin Care Products.)  When the temps start warming up, of course we have the humidity… “it’s not the heat it’s the humidity!”  which can cause our skin to feel more greasy.

Changing climates from the dirty city are to the clean country air can affect your skin.  My skin likes the city 😉

  • What foods have I been eating recently?

Your diet DOES effect the appearance of your skin.  I’m not saying chocolate causes acne (don’t worry, there is zero truth to this one), but certain vitamins and minerals feed the skin.  Certain foods are healthier for your skin, just like certain foods promote a healthy liver (off the top of my head I can think of one food that is bad for your liver- alcohol)!  Avoid things high in sugar, they promote bacterial growth.  Look for foods high in vitamin A, C, and E.

  • What kinds of products do I use on my skin and how often?

I really hope by now you’ve gotten my point about over the counter products, and how they don’t do much but put a hole in your wallet.  But, pharmaceutical products aren’t always good to use everyday.  Case in point – Retin-A.  LOVE IT.  I really think Every Woman Should Own A Retinol Product.  But I don’t  think it’s for everyone EVERYDAY.  I recently upped my topical Retin-A usage to every other day.  My skin looks AMAZING, but if I use it everyday it gets red, dry, and flakey.  Ew.

**I would like to add that I also just read in a medical book that Retin-A and sunblock are the only PREVENTATIVE topicals when it comes to fine lines.

  • What kind of makeup do I wear?

I ask my clients this all the time.  Usually I ask it like this:  “Do you wear MAC make-up”  and they say “yes.”  NOOOO.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love MAC’s eye-shadows.  I love their fake eyelashes.  But their face make-up is “stage make-up” which is NOT for everyday use!  It clogs your pores and can make acne much worse.  PLEASE stop using this product everyday!  Start using good skin products, and throw out your make-up!  Be natural!  (Yes, the Botox Queen supports natural!).  When I do feel the need to wear a face make-up, I stick to mineral make-up.

***Also, did you know that if your skin tends to be greasy you should use powder based foundation, and if it tends to be dry you should use liquid based foundations?

  • How many showers a day do I take?

I know we love long, hot showers in the winter, but try to keep it quick.  Not only does it make you “green,” but long, hot showers dry out your skin.  Moisturize!

  • Do I have a stressful job?

Obviously!  I’m not even going to start on this one!

  • Do I smoke?

I hope the answer to this is no.  It’s funny.  We know how bad smoking is for your health, but for some reason people still do it.  Well, if the threat of cancer hasn’t stopped you, and the insane cost hasn’t stopped you, perhaps this will:  smoking is bad for your skin.  It prematurely ages you.  It thins your dermal layer, destroys your cell’s DNA, and gives a yellow hue (from toxins).  I pray that if you have stopped by medical reasons, perhaps vanity can play some roll in ditching the cancer stick.  I know it’s hard, but it is really, really bad for your skin (and health and wallet).

  • Do I take any medications regularly?

There are TONS of medications which can interfere with the health of your skin.  Read your bottles.  Do any say stay out of the sun?  I promise you, the bottle is not lying to you.  Hypersensitivity to sunlight is a common side affect with many medications.  Be extra careful to wear sunblock, even in the winter.  Please and thank you.

  • Am I pregnant?  Have I recently had a baby?

I can safely say no to these questions, but, as I’m sure you all know, pregnancy comes with MANY hormonal changes.  And do not sound fun (I recently learned from patrons at a Botox Party the most important word to know during pregnancy- Epidural).

  • Have I had surgery or any health problems in the last year?

When your immune system is down, or your body is in a state of repair, the essential vitamins and nutrients your skin requires may be diverted to other organ systems that need them more.

  • Do I wear sunscreen?

EVERYDAY.  Even in the winter.  Like I said earlier, sun damage is the number one cause of fine lines.  Do you know how men can tell your age?  By looking at your hands, because they are always exposed to sunlight.  Ok, it’s winter, we go from home to car to job to home (at which point the sun is already probably gone).  So many of us think we don’t need sunblock.  WRONG.  You are exposed to UV rays in the car.  When looked at under a skin lamp, the drivers side of a face displays 90% more sun damage.

Check out There’s a fine line between tan and looking like you rolled in a bag of doritos.  (It is one of my most highly viewed posts!)

  • Do I pick at my face nervously?

I do.  It’s so bad.  I was actually put on Celexa at one point for this nervous habit.  I’m so glad I was too, because it worked!

  • How many products do I use on my skin and hair everyday?

You don’t need to be using a crazy amount of products, and you don’t necessarily need to be using everything, everyday.  We have this notion that if a little is good, a lot is better.  Not true.  Follow the directions for usage from your aesthetician, or at least the instructions on the products you are using (that are pharmaceutical grade).  As you can see from the picture, I have a lot of products–but I don’t use every one everyday.

  • Do I touch my face a lot?

As a nurse, I can tell you, nails are DIRTY.  Hospitals have banned acrylic nails for nurses in hospitals because of the germs they carry.  By touching your face, you are introducing those germs and bacteria to your skin.  One of the biological roles of skin is to protect the internal organs from infection.  If you are picking at your skin you are essentially breaking the barrier, and allowing an area of access for bacteria.

The skin is a protective barrier against dirt and bacteria.

Bacteria is under your nails.

Picking at your skin with your nails tears the skin.

THEREFORE:

Picking breaks the protective barrier and at the same time introduces bacteria and dirt from your nails.  BAD.

  • Do I use hair gel or pomades?

I don’t know what a pomade is….. I guess that is for short hair! I do know this… I often break out on my hair line when I am on day 3 of not washing my hair (you shouldn’t wash your hair everyday).  Hair products can contains skin clogging ingredients, or might contain ingredients that your skin is sensitive to.

**I’m not sure if I took this picture crooked, or hung the shelf crooked?            ———————–>

  • Is there a specific area on my face that is constantly a problem?

Like perhaps you break out where your cell phone constantly touches?  Swab down your phone with an alcohol pad, daily!

Skin Care Classification Systems

3 Jan
Dry/Oily/Combination is not a skin type classification system!
Sorry Obaji and Proactive.  But you suck.

Skin Type classification is important to evaluate in order to form a cosmetic plan.  In order to identify optimal outcomes for any skin treatment the following are crucial to identify: 

  • Hyper/hypo-pigmentation risk
  • Scarring risk
  • Skin Phenotoype
  • Photo-age

Skin Typing is important for an aesthetician/doctor/nurse to perform before undergoing any medical aesthetic procedure including:

  • chemical peels
  • laser hair removal
  • laser skin resurfacing
  • IPL (intense pulse light)

Fitzpatrick Type Scale

The Fitzpatrick Type Scale is the gold standard of skin typing.  It is described below as it is a part of the Roberts Skin Type Classification System. Used by Aestheticians prior to chemical peels, laser treatments, and IPL.

1. Fitzpatrick skin type I –extremely fair skin (less melanin at basal layer under the epidermis), Skin always burns (note: melanin acts to block UV rays and its potential damage). Skin never tans with ease.
2. Fitzpatrick skin type II –Fair skin (a bit more melanin at basal layer compare to type I) Skin always burns, sometimes tans).
3. Fitzpatrick skin type III –medium skin color, sometimes burns, always tans.
4. Fitzpatrick skin type IV –Olive skin, rarely burns, always tans (since it rarely burns we could conclude that has lots more melanin at basal layer than types I, II, III and that during aggressive inflammation either by acne or a skin stimulating treatments the excess release of melanin pigments could cause skin discoloration, darkening or brown spots into the surrounding tissues.
5. Fitzpatrick skin type V – moderately pigmented skin, never burns, always tans.
6. Fitzpatrick skin type VI – markedly pigmented black skin, never burns, always tans.

Glogau Scale

The Glogau Scale is also described below as it is part of the Roberts Skin Type Classification System.  Used by Aestheticians to determine Skin Care Product need. If your a stage 4, you might want to consider  A Wrinkle In Time–My Botox Lines or  That’s NOT Botox..

You can be a pup and still be a Glogau 4. Stay away from Tanning! See link below.

Glogau 1– No Wrinkles, early photoaging
Glogau 2– Wrinkles in motion, early to moderate photoaging
Glogau 3– Wrinkles at rest, advanced photoaging
Glogau 4– Only wrinkles, severe photoaging

There’s a fine line between tan and looking like you rolled in a bag of doritos..

Acne Rating

1. Grade 1– has open comedones (black heads); mild red spots and is easiest to treat. May be labeled acne cosmetica if due from make-up use or poor home care of skin.
2. Grade II-has closed comedones with no inflammation.
3. Grade III-has papules, pustules, inflammation, open and closed comedones
4. Grade IV-Is the most severe with a combination of all of the above, however with lots more large closed comedones and bumps of many sizes. Grade IV will most often be referred to a dermatologist. These clients respond well to Jessner peel solutions since they have a soothing effect on the skin from the anti-inflammatory ingredients salicylic acid.

The Roberts Skin Type Classification System

This system predicts the skin response to injury and insult from cosmetic procedures and identify the propensity of sequelae from inflammatory skin disorders. It is used by more advanced medical personal and includes 4 elements:

1.  Fitzpatrick Scale: to measure skin phototyping

1. Fitzpatrick skin type I –extremely fair skin (less melanin at basal layer under the epidermis), Skin always burns (note: melanin acts to block UV rays and its potential damage). Skin never tans with ease.
2. Fitzpatrick skin type II –Fair skin (a bit more melanin at basal layer compare to type I) Skin always burns, sometimes tans).
3. Fitzpatrick skin type III –medium skin color, sometimes burns, always tans.
4. Fitzpatrick skin type IV –Olive skin, rarely burns, always tans (since it rarely burns we could conclude that has lots more melanin at basal layer than types I, II, III and that during aggressive inflammation either by acne or a skin stimulating treatments the excess release of melanin pigments could cause skin discoloration, darkening or brown spots into the surrounding tissues.
5. Fitzpatrick skin type V – moderately pigmented skin, never burns, always tans.
6. Fitzpatrick skin type VI – markedly pigmented black skin, never burns, always tans.

2.  Glogau Scale: describes photo-aging

Glogau 1– No Wrinkles, early photoaging
Glogau 2– Wrinkles in motion, early to moderate photoaging
Glogau 3– Wrinkles at rest, advanced photoaging
Glogau 4– Only wrinkles, severe photoaging

3.  Roberts Scarring Scale: describes scar morphology.  Helps to determine short and long term affects of treatments and procedures.

None

Atrophy 

Nodule

I couldn’t find any pics of Roberts 3 and 4. So here’s some more cute puppies. They’re kissing. Awwwww

Macule
Plaque within scar boundaries
Keloid
Keloidal nodule

4.  Roberts Hyper-pigmentation Scale:  Propensity for hyper-pigmentation based on the natural history of post-inflammatory pigmentation in an individual.  This value is based on past medical history, clinical exam, and ancestral background.

– Hypo-pigmentation
– Minimal and Transient Hyper-pigmentation
– Minimal and permanent Hyper-pigmentation
– Moderate and transient Hyper-pigmentation
– Moderate and permanent  Hyper-pigmentation
– Severe and permanent Hyper-pigmentation

**My good friend John Fournier, MD, a prestigious Derm in Miami is going to help me out with this post, so it will be revised in time!  Sorry!  He’s just really busy being awesome.

Also, my next post will be a glossary.  I think it’s time for one of those!

Anatomy of a Facial

3 Dec

A facial is a procedure involving a variety of skin treatments, including: steam, exfoliation, extraction, creams, lotions, facial masks, peels, and massage.  Facials can last anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour and range in price depending on the types of products used for the treatments.  They are professionally recommended every 4 weeks for maximum results. Step 1: See a Professional.

All facials follow the same basic structure and order. They will begin with makeup removal and cleansing.  Then comes some method of exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and smooth the surface of the skin. A massage is then performed that can include all or some of the scalp, face, neck, shoulders, back and even the hands or feet.

Facials are then classified in two ways:  hands on treatment or electrotherapy.

“Hands-on” Treatment

The aesthetician will use her hands to perform the facial treatment. Sometimes, a steam machine is incorporated in these facials during or after cleansing, to open up the pores and allow a deeper cleansing action.

A facial mask is a creamy paste (or gel) that often contains minerals, vitamins, essential oils, and fruit extracts is the main step in the hands on treatment.  There are different kinds of masks for different purposes: deep-cleansing, by penetrating the pores; healing acne scars or hyper-pigmentation; brightening, for a gradual illumination of the skin tone.

Gels are mostly used for oily and acne prone skins and oils or moisturizing creams are used for dry to normal and matured skin types.  A clay or mud based face pack is used after the cleansing process and steam process (optional) is over to close the open pores and to provide nutrition to the skin.

Masks are removed by either rinsing the face with water, wiping if off with a damp cloth, or peeling off of the face by hand.  Duration for wearing a mask varies.  The perceived effects of a facial mask treatment include revitalizing, healing, or refreshing; and, may yield temporary or long-term benefits.

Electorotherapy Facials

Use machines as part of the treatment; there are several different types, which are suited to different skin types. Some of the most popular variations of this type of facial are:

  • Galvanic treatments: metal rollers or applicators are used to either produce a deep cleansing effect.  Depending on the active product being used, this will help reduce spots and blemishes (making this a good facial for an oily skin type), or to help infuse active ingredients deeper in to the skin (for a variety of skin types).
  • High frequency treatments: uses a glass electrode passed over gauze placed on the skin. This helps dry out spots and has an antibacterial effect, so is good for oilier skins or those with a few specific blemishes.  An indirect high frequency facial uses a saturator held by the client to draw a moisturizing massage medium deeper in to the skin, and so is best suited for more mature or dry skin types.
  • Microcurrent treatments: also known as non-surgical face lift, this type of facial uses a current to lift and tone the facial muscles and also to improve the colour and texture of the skin and soften lines.

During most of the electrotherapy treatments you may experience a slight tingling effect on the skin, but this is quite normal.

Facials are key to having nice skin!  They need to be maintained with a home care regiment that is not OTC!

Check out these posts as well:

Evaluating Your Skin.

 

Step 2: Spend wisely.

Skin Under Stress

29 Nov

“50% of my patients are presenting with stress-related skin problems”

– Leslie Baumann, director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute.

I was given an interesting article from Allure magazine about skin issues and stress (which is a huge problem many of us have, including myself).  Eighty seven percent of respondents in the allure.com poll said they “notice a difference in their skin when they’re stressed out.”

When under stress, our bodies release adrenaline that elevates the level of a hormone called cortisol in the blood.  High cortisol levels also cause the skin to produce inflammatory agents, causing redness.  This hormone also tells fat cells to release sugar into the bloodstream for energy.  Stress cause our sebaceous glands to produce more oil that bacteria thrive on, leading to clogging and inflammation of a follicle.  If only we could stop stress!

Don’t Pick!

Finger nails are dirty, and long nails tear the skin, allowing more bacteria in.  Although it feels like such a stress relief to squeeze and pop pimples, it makes acne harder to treat, and increases the chances you will wind up with red or brown marks.

Stick a Post-it note on your mirror, keep your hands busy with a stress ball, and STAY OUT of the magnifying mirror (in fact, throw that thing out!).  Being around aesthetician’s all the time has helped me stop touching.  They are constantly asking me:  are you touching your face?  Have a friend ask you.

This time of year is exceptionally stressful.  So find something that relaxes you!  Yoga, tea, music, reading my blog 🙂 … anything.  Enjoy your busy December everyone!

Microdermabrasion

7 Nov
We all know I love chemical peels, (‘Tis the Season for Chemical Peels!) but my second must do treatment for every woman: Microdermabrasion!!!!
What does it do?
It mechanically exfoliates the top layer of skin, removing  dead skin and debris (that both greatly contribute to aging/skin cancer). Microderm also: Helps to soften fine lines and scarring, breakup acne and hyperpigmentation, it brightens the skin, and creates an epidermis (outer layer of skin) that allows for better penetration of products during a facial, and also at home.  You will leave with glowing skin!
How it works:  The abrasion tool uses aluminum oxide microcrystals in combination with a vacuum attachment.  This process removes the top layer of the epidermis, which is primarily dead skin cells. This layer is responsible for keeping the moisture barrier of the skin active,  and also keeping things like bacteria out of our body. It is also responsible for those fine lines and blemishes we love so much!
The vacuum manipulation, stimulates the fibroblasts (cells that produce collagen) and the skin becomes red (Erythema-produces collagen as a result).  This process also increases the presence of collagen and elastin in the dermis.  The idea is if you break up the top layer of dead cells, the body will respond by healing itself with new cells. This is the perfect time to start using good at home products! Step 2: Spend wisely.
 
Does it hurt: No, only the top layer of skin (which is dead) receives the treatment.  Treatments  (if done by the right professional) should be predictable and virtually painless.  
Who should be doing it? Your certified Aesthetician. You really don’t want to be using at home products to do this yourself. You can tear or irritate your skin, making it a prime target for infection.

Is there down time?  There is no downtime, progressive, gentle treatments will provide optimum results.  There may be a little or redness or irritation, which your Aesthetician will discuss with you.

Hydrating Ingredients in Skin Care Products

30 Oct

It’s getting cold out and like I said ‘Tis the Season for Chemical Peels!  Both of these things necessitate hydrating products for your skin.  Here’s a list of ingredients your cosmeceutical/pharmaceutical skin care products should have in them!

Alpha Lipoic Acid – a powerful antioxidant that destroys free-radicals before they can destroy cells.  Alpha Lipoic Acid also enhances the potency of Vitamin C and E.  It occurs naturally in green, leafy vegetables.

Lactic Acid – A multi-purpose ingredient used as a preservative, exfoliant, and moisturizer, and to provide acidity to a formulation.  In the body, lactic acid is found in the blood and muscle tissue as a product of the metabolism of glucose and glycogen.  It is also a component of the skin’s natural moisturizing factor.  Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid occurring in sour milk and other lesser known sources such as beer, pickles , and other foods made through a process of bacterial fermentation.  Lactic acid has better water intake than glycerin.  Studies indicate an ability to increase the water-holding capacity of the corneum layer is closely related to the absorption of lactic acid; that is, the greater the amount of absorbed lactic acid the more pliable the corneum layer.  However, other research has shown that lactic acid can indeed inhibit melanin production separate from its action as an exfoliant on skin.

Superoxide Dismutase – Used in cosmetic preparations to prevent drying and aging of the skin without causing irritation.

Ubiquinone (Idebenone) – Potent antioxidant with effective anti-aging & anti-wrinkle properties, reinforces collagen & elastin production of connective tissue, potent moisturizer (liposomes penetrate into skin preventing water-loss).

Vitamin C – A well-known anti-oxidant.  Synthetic analogues such as magnesium ascorbic phosphate are among those considered more effective as they tend to be more stable.  When evaluating its ability to fight free-radical damage in light of its synergistic effect with vitamin E, vitamin C shines.  As vitamin E reacts with a free radical, it, in turn, is damaged by the free radical it is fighting.  Vitamin C comes in to repair the free radical damage to vitamin E, allowing E to continue with its free radical scavenging duties.  Past research has indicated that high concentrations of topically applied vitamin C are photo protective, and apparently the vitamin preparation used in these studies resisted soap and water, washing, or rubbing for three days.  More current research has indicated that vitamin C does add protection against UVB damage when combined with UVB sunscreens.  This would lead one to conclude that in combinations with conventional sunscreen chemicals, vitamin C may allow for longer-lasting, broader sun protection.  Again, the synergism between vitamins C and E can yield even better results, as apparently a combination of both provided very good protection from UVB damage.  However, vitamin C appears to be significantly better than E at protecting against UVA damage.  A further conclusion to draw is that the combination of vitamins C, E, and sunscreen offers greater protection than the sum of the protection offered by any of the three ingredients acting alone.  Vitamin C also acts as a collagen biosynthesis regulator.  It is known to control intercellular colloidal substances such as collagen, and when formulated into the proper vehicles, can have a skin-lightening effect.  It is said to be able to help the body to fortify against infectious conditions by strengthening the immune system.

Vitamin E – Considered the most important oil-soluble antioxidant and free radical scavengers.  Studies indicate that vitamin E performs these functions when applied topically.  It is also a photo-protectant, and it helps to protect the cellular membrane from free radical damage.  In addition, vitamin E serves a preservative function due to its ability to protect against oxidation.  This benefits not only the skin, but also the product in terms of longevity.  As a moisturizer, vitamin E is well-absorbed through the skin, demonstrating a strong affinity with small blood vessels.  It is also considered to improve the skin’s water-binding ability.  In addition, vitamin E emulsions have been found to reduce trans-epidermal water loss, thereby improving the appearance of rough, dry, and damaged skin.  This vitamin is also believed to help maintain the connective tissue.  There is also evidence that vitamin E is effective in preventing irritation due to sun exposure.  Many studies show that vitamin E topically applied prior to UV irradiation is protective against epidermal cell damage caused by inflammation.  This indicates possible anti-inflammatory properties.  Lipid per oxidation in tissues may be on cause of skin aging.  Vitamin E, however, appears to counteract decreased functioning of the sebaceous glands and reduces excessive skin pigmentation with is found to increase linearly with age.

Vitis Vinifera – Grape Seed ExtractAnti-Oxidant – Moisturizing, nourishing properties due to high levels of linoleic acid.

‘Tis the Season for Chemical Peels!

25 Oct

When the summer is over, and you will not be out in the sun anymore (which you shouldn’t be doing ANYWAYS) it’s time to have a good chemical peel with your aesthetician.  The reason you don’t want to do this in the summer is that depending on the strength of the peel, the top layer of skin will flake off and left your epidermis unprotected from the sun.

Chemical peels come in different strengths.  You might not necessarily peel, or you might peel–a lot.  Make sure you tell your aesthetician your desired level of peeling.  I wish I had pictures of the peels I’ve had.  I’ve had a few where I didn’t flake at all, and then I’ve had a few where the skin was like peeling dried glue off your fingers.  It only lasts a few days, and personally, I can deal with the look of a bad sunburn and flaking skin.  I get to tell people why I look like a shedding snake, and I LOVE the way my skin looks afterwards.  If you think you can deal with a little peeling, I suggest doing it on a Friday, and you’ll be good for Monday!

Alpha hydroxy acid peels

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are naturally occurring organic carboxylic acids such as glycolic acid, a natural constituent of sugar cane juice and lactic acid, found in sour milk and tomato juice. This is the mildest of the peel formulas and produces light peels for treatment of fine wrinkles, areas of dryness, uneven pigmentation and acne. Alpha hydroxy acids can also be mixed with a facial wash or cream in lesser concentrations as part of a daily skin-care regimen to improve the skin’s texture.

AHA peels are used to:

  • reduce fine wrinkling
  • treat areas of dryness
  • reduce uneven pigmentation
  • aid in the control of acne
  • smooth rough dry skin
  • improve the texture of sun-damaged skin

AHA peels may:

  • cause stinging
  • cause skin redness
  • cause mild skin irritation
  • cause dryness
  • take multiple treatments for desired results

Beta hydroxy acid peels

It is becoming common for the use of beta hydroxy acid (BHA)/salicylic acid peels to be used instead of the stronger Alpha Hyroxy (AHA) peels due to BHA’s ability to get deeper into the pore than AHA. Studies show that BHA peels control oil, acne as well as remove dead skin cells to a certain extent better than AHA’s due to AHA’s only working on the surface of the skin.

Skin Care Product Ingredients for Hyper-Pigmentation

22 Oct

Arbutin – L-Arbutin is a naturally occurring form of hydroquinone that inhibits melanin synthesis by inhibiting tyrosinase activity.  Arbutin has also been clinically proven to lighten existing pigment.

Dipotassium Glycyrrhizinate (Licorice)** – Natural plant lightening agent, tyrosinase inhibitor, more effective than kojic acid and 75 times more effective than ascorbic acid as a lightening agent.

Hydroquinone – A pigment-lightening agent used in bleaching creams.  The FDA allows a maximum of 2 percent concentration in a cosmetic formulation.  Although it occurs naturally, the synthetic version is the one most commonly used in cosmetics.

*Hydroquinone is a very controversial ingredient.  It may be taken off the market due to its “boomerang effect”- when you stop using it, your hyper-pigmentation comes back-with a vengeance*

Kojic Acid – A skin-lightening agent of widespread use in Japan.  Studies are finding it to be a tyrosinase inhibitor, though not as effective as licorice extract.  When combined with allantoin and other proper ingredients in sunscreen preparations, the mixture can inhibit UV-caused erythematic and accelerate wound healing.

Matsuke Singer Enzyme Mushroom Extract – Highly potent mushroom extract from Japan. Studies are showing to be the most potent skin whitening agent.

Rumex – Alpha Arbutin’s manufacturers proclaim that the active, pure substance works on removing “liver spots”, brightening skin color, and inhibiting tanning (even after UV sun exposure) and darkening of the skin BETTER than d-kojic acid and hydroquinone — the medicine dermatologists prescribe and the de facto OTC go-to for ridding of age spots.

Alpha Arbutin as the ALPHA (a-glucosidic ) inhibits the activity of tyrosinase MUCH more effectively than its beta version. The alpha form offers higher stability and efficacy, leading to a skin lightening active that acts faster and more efficiently leading to much more pronounced diminishing of liver spots (age spots), and an obvious reduction in the degree of skin tanning after UV exposure.

The most special version of Alpha Arbutin is perhaps that made by Tyrostat. Tyrostat claims its skin-lightening ingredients, in particular its version of Alpha Arbutin, is derived from plants that are native to the northern Canadian prairie region. The most significant “plant” out of these is the Rumex. Traditionally the plant is used more to stop the sting in nettles (it’s a proven folk remedy for nettle stings and rashes), or as an astringent. However, Tyrostat apparently found a new use, bringing Rumex extract’s high concentration of Alpha Arbutin to the table and promoting its capability in inhibiting the production of the enzyme tyrosinase, leading to clearer complexion and a reduction in skin pigmentation, by limiting both melanin production (tan) and skin reddening (erythema).

***This list was emailed to me from Alexis Robertson, L.M.E., of Image Skin Care, a cosmeceutical line that I use and love.  Check it out at ImageSkinCare.com

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