Tag Archives: skin care products

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!)

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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!

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.

Key Ingredients in Your Anti-Aging Products

20 Oct

What should you be looking for in your cosmeceutical/pharmaceutical products for anti-aging?  Here’s a list.

*Remember over the counter products (anything you don’t need a professional license to buy) cannot penetrate into the dermal layer, so even if they have these ingredients, they aren’t strong enough to work–i.e. they are a WASTE of MONEY*

Step 2: Spend wisely.

*Your skin may not require all of these ingredients.  So please use the following as an aide! Ask your aesthetician what she/he recommends!*

Step 1: See a Professional.

Ingredients to Check For

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.

Black Tea Kombuchka – Anti-oxidant, Kombuchka contains a fermented extract of a mushroom found in Eastern Europe and Russia.  Kombuchka’s effect on the skin has been scientifically studied. Studies are proving that it will become recognized as one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients.  Kombuchka, which decreases the greenish-gray tone that develops as the skin ages. Restores the skin’s healthy, rosy glow. It also smoothes and “plumps” the skin, reducing the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Crithmum Maritimum Extract – Coastal Marine FennelAnti-Oxidant Free Radical Scavenger Increases the production of ceramides barrier function and restoration, promotes cell respiration

Emblica – Provides natural antioxidant skin protection against free radicals and cell protection against harmful damage through UV-radiation.  Is also provides Ayurvedic natural care & protection.

Green Tea Extract – A powerful anti-oxidant due to its catechin content.  It is also know to be an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and a stimulant.  In clinical studies, green tea has demonstrated an ability to prevent or to at least postpone the onset of such illnesses as cancer and heart disease.  This is attributed to the catechin component’s ability to penetrate into a cell, thereby protecting the cell from free radicals and associated damage.  Because of its anti-oxidant properties, green tea is usually incorporated into anti-aging formulations.  When applied topically, it can also reduce skin swelling.  In addition, it can be found in sunscreens based on its ability to extend the products SPF.

Hyaluronic Acid – Holds 1000-times its weight in water, Hyaluronic Acid is a natural key component of the dermis. It effectively binds water to cells and is responsible for the elasticity and resiliency of the skin.  (It is also a dermal filler that I have in my lips!–learn this ingredient well– there will be more posts on it!)

Palmitoyl Olgopepide- MatrixylPalmitoyl Oligopeptides (also known as palmitoyl pentapeptide Matrixyl , amino-peptide (five amino acids linked together and attached to a fatty acid) Clinical research confirms that palmitolyl oligopeptides, when added to a culture of fibroblasts (key skin cells), stimulates collagen, elastin an glucosaminoglycans production.

Retinol – (SUPER IMPORTANT INGREDIENT!!!) A retinoid considered a skin revitalizer, retinol is reported to enhance skin radiance and treat conditions associated with chronological aging such as wrinkles and fine lines, as well as dermatological disorders including, acne, follicular and lesion papules, actinic keratosis, oily skin, and rosacea.  It is also considered necessary for normal epidermal cell growth and differentiation, for regulating collagen synthesis, and for maintaining a more youthful skin condition.  A weaker retinoid than retinoic acid, retinol converts into retinoic acid once in the skin.  When compared to retinoic acid, retinol has an increased penetration potential and is less irritating, making it an effective anti-aging ingredient.  The anti-aging benefits of topically treating skin with retinal are believed to be based on its penetration ability, which allows it to reach the sites in the skin requiring treatment.

**Personally, I use a Retinol product twice a week.  Retinol’s can be drying and cause redness, so go slow when adding this product to your skin regiment.  If you are over 30, and not on a retinol product, please see an aesthetician ASAP!

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 A – Can act as a keratinization regulator, helping to improve the skin’s texture, firmness and smoothness.  Vitamin A esters, once in the skin, convert to retinoic acid and provide anti-aging benefits.  Vitamin A is believed to be essential for the generation and function of skin cells.  Continued vitamin A deficiency shows a degeneration of dermal tissue, and the skin becomes thick and dry.  Surface application of vitamin A helps prevent skin dryness and flakiness, keeping skin healthy, clear, and infection resistant.  Its skin regeneration properties appear to be enhanced when combined with vitamin E.  Vitamin A is a major constituent of such oils as cod liver, and shark, and many fish and vegetable oils.

These definitions were given to me by an amazing aesthetician, Alexis Robertson, LME, of Image SkinCare.  I’ve been using this product line for 2 years and I love it!

If anyone wants to add to this list of ingredients, please add comments!

I will be posting ingredient lists for acne, hydration, and skin discoloration in future blogs!

Step 2: Spend wisely

13 Oct

If  you are going to take my advice to see an aesthetician, expect that you will leave with a few products as well.  But how will you know your making a good investment?

  • Expect to need 2 or 3 products.  No one needs 20 products in their medicine cabinet.  Learning how to use more than 2-3 products is overwhelming.  You should not feel this way!
  • The products should be either pharmaceutical or cosmeceutical grade (see definition below).
  • The product was explained to you.  The ingredients were explained to you.  Why you need it was explained to you.  (Can you tell I’m a fan of education yet?)
  • Although you might see change right away, it could take a few weeks to see the difference (skin cell turnover rate is about 3 weeks).
  • Skin care is a step program, and your products should treat the current state of your skin.

What’s wrong with your old products? 

Did you know anything you buy over the counter, whether it’s $7 at CVS or $350 at Chanel, is only FDA approved to work on the top layer of skin.  The top layer of skin is dead skin cells.  That’s why your moisturizer feels so good when you put it on, and 5 minutes later… meh

Math that Women Like:

Throw out the thousands of dollars of products that are just taking up cabinet space, and replace them with 3 or 4 that your aesthician recommends.

After about 2 weeks you can throw out another thousand dollars of make-up that doesn’t match your skin tone, gets cakey, and makes you look older.

True, a little pricey to start, but you just threw out $2,000 of products that are not doing anything for you.  It’s an investment, your face is worth it, and look how much money you’ll save on crap in the future!

Cosmeceuticals:  Definition: (noun) a hybrid word “Cosmetic” (smells pretty, feels nice) and “Pharmaceutical” (drug).  A group of skin care products that work in the dermal level of skin, where all the physiological processes take place.

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