Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Help for Hyperpigmentation February 11, 2010

Hyperpigmentation, dark spots, blotches, or areas on the skin, occurs when the body over produces pigment.  There are three main kinds of hyperpigmentation caused by three different factors .  No matter what type of hyperpigmentation you have there are many solutions to this skincare problem.

The three main types of hyperpigmentation are melasma, sun (sometimes called age) spots, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  Melasma is caused by hormonal changes in the body; pregnancy and birth control pills can cause melasma.  Sun spots or sun damage is, obviously, caused by sun exposure.  The last type of hyperpigmentation is post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  This discoloration of the skin occurs after injury or irritation to the skin or after an acne lesion (pimple) has healed.

As already mentioned there are a number of treatments for hyperpigmentation.  First and foremost you must use a sunscreen, spf 30 or higher, daily and be sure to reapply throughout the day.  Sun exposure will only make your hyperpigmentation worse (i.e. darker) so it is important to protect the skin on a daily basis.  Daily use of sunscreen will also prevent new sun spots from forming.

There is only one FDA approved agent to reduce hyperpigmentation and this is hydroquinone.  Only products with hydroquinone in them can be legally labeled “lightening” products.  All other products that claim to help lighten hyperpigmentation without hydroquinone are usually labeled “brightening”, “bleaching”, and even “illuminating”.  Please remember that there is no legal definition of or oversight over the words “brightening”, “bleaching”, or “illuminating” found on product labels.  Be sure to turn the product you are looking at around and read the ingredients list. 

 Hydroquinone is a chemical lightening agent that comes in strengths of 1 to 2% in OTC products and 3 to 4% in prescription products like TriLuma.  To use a hydroquinone product you apply the cream, gel, or solution just to your dark marks twice a day for no longer than six months.  Hydroquinone works by inhibiting the tyrosinase enzyme which forms pigment in the skin as well as disrupting the synthesis of the melanin protein in the skin.  Because of its impact on the melanocyte it is thought that hydroquinone disrupts basic cellular processes including DNA and RNA synthesis.  Though hydroquinone has shown to be effective in treating hyperpigmentation it is far from a perfect ingredient and is surrounded by controversy.  For example, its use has been banned in the European Union and in Japan, and as recently as 2006 the FDA reported its intention to ban the use of hydroquinone in non-prescription products.  As of April 9, 2009 the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board has listed hydroquinone under “ingredients found safe with qualifications” on its website and writes:  “≤1% in aqueous formulations; but only for brief discontinuous use followed by rinsing from skin and hair; and should not be used in any type of leave-on, non-drug cosmetic product”, but as of yet no ban on hydroquinone has gone into effect in the US.  The reason for all this concern about hydroquinone is that the ingredient has both potential mutagenic and cancer causing properties.  In addition to these upsetting issues some people are allergic to hydroquinone or develop contact dermatitis from using this ingredient.  All of these concerns and issues render hydroquinone an effective but unsatisfactory ingredient for some for treating hyperpigmentation.  Personally I feel that when hydroquinone is used for short periods of time, 3 to 6 months, there is no reason to be concerned over its use.  OTC products contain such a small percentage of hydroquinone, 1 to 2%, that I feel there is no need for alarm when you choose to use such a product.  (I have a list of links at the end of this post if you want to read more in-depth about hydroquinone.)

If you do not want to use hydroquinone, many alternatives exist.  Ingredients that are skin brighteners include: kojic acid, arbutin, licorice root, bearberry, soy, mulberry, vitamin C, niacinamide, and azaleic acid.  The current trend in products to treat hyperpigmentation is to combine several of the above mentioned ingredients in one product for better results.

Non-prescription products containing hydroquinone take a long time to work, as do the non-hydroquinone alternatives.  Prescription products usually work much faster.  The more superficial your hyperpigmentation is the easier it will be to remove.  Please also note that people with darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation, particularly post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.  If you have darker skin you need to be more gentle when treating your hyperpigmentation so that you do not cause more irritation and/or hyperpigmentation to your skin.

There are other ways to treat hyperpigmentation; regular exfoliation can help get rid of hyperpigmentation.  For example you could use products containing glycolic acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, which works by exfoliating the uppermost layers of the skin.  More superficial dark marks can be removed with this type of  exfoliation.  Glycolic acid can be found in face washes, creams, gels, lotions, and chemical peels.  The form and concentration of the glycolic acid you should use will be determined by the severity of your dark marks and your skin’s reaction to the acid since glycolic acid can cause irritation to some people. 

Another treatment for hyperpigmentation is a series of chemical peels that include ingredients such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, hydroquinone, kojic acid, licorice root, mulberry extract, bearberry extract, azelaic acid, and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).  The peels will use one or more of the above mentioned ingredients.  A series of chemicals peels can make quite a difference in the appearance of the skin and can definitely improve hyperpigmentation.  Side effects from chemical peels include redness and peeling for a few days after the peel.   To get the best results from your chemical peels it is a good idea to combine the esthetician or doctor administered peels with home products that treat hyperpigmentation.

Another great treatment option for hyperpigmentation are laser treatments.  Lasers such as the Ruby and Q-switched ND:YAG reach the dark spots deep in the skin, converting light to heat, and literally blow up dark spots which then flake off the skin.  Though the procedure only takes a few minutes redness and scabbing can occur; recovery time is about a week.  Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments can also help hyperpigmentation with no downtime.

Just as there are a number of causes and types of hyperpigmentation there are also many different treatments.  Do a little research and give some thought to how your skin reacts to different ingredients before deciding what treatment option is best for you.  Eventually you should have no problem finding the right solution for your hyperpigmentation.


Sources and Further Reading:


Book Review: Free Gift with Purchase by Jean Godfrey-June February 9, 2010

I love, love glossy magazines.  I particularly love glossy fashion magazines.  If I am reading a magazine I tune the rest of the world out; so please do not disturb me while I am holding a glossy fashion magazine.  I began reading Teen and Seventeen in junior high and by high school I was happily reading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. These days my two favorite glossy magazines are Allure and Lucky.  I like Allure because of the make-up tips and amke-up looks, the skincare articles, and the other articles they have about beauty (or really our perceptions about beauty).  I like Lucky for the clothes that are featured,  the way the clothes are styled, the fashion tips, the fashion website recommendations, and the fashion trends that are predicted.  The one thing I don’t care for in Lucky is the make-up and skincare advice.  I consider it uninteresting and pedestrian at its worst.  So it is interesting that I would chose to read and review the book featured here since it is by the Lucky beauty editor, the person who is responsible for those features that so annoy me in what is otherwise, in my opinion, a wonderful magazine.  But I have always been very curious about a few things – just how to magazine beauty editors choose the products that are featured in their magazines?  Do these women really know anything at all about skincare?  Why should I listen to their advice?  Once I became an esthetician I was pretty much no longer interested in skincare product advice from magazines.  Of course, I am still interested in articles about new ingredients, formulations, and skincare discoveries, but choosing products?  Thank you very much but I’ll do that on my own.  (I do have to admit that I am still a complete sucker when it comes to hair care products.  My shower currently has a product that Allure raved about a few issues ago.  I believed everything I read and went and bought the product.  Alas it does absolutely nothing for my hair.)  Yet I know many women who take the skincare advice of fashion magazines very, very seriously.  As such I actually see fashion magazines, at times, to be “working against” me.  Not so much that they give people advice that I would wish they would only hear from me but that they give out wrong advise on so many occasions.  For example, last year Jean Godfrey-June, the author of the book being reviewed here, wrote in her monthly Lucky column that she felt that too many women were doing too many unnecessary and harsh treatments to their skin (like chemical peels) and thus thinning their skin.  She then recommended a cream that would be a cure-all for those woes.  I disliked the tone of the piece and the message.  Yet now I have just read an entire book by the same author.

I wanted to read Free Gift with Purchase: My Improbably Career in Magazines and Makeup in order to both confirm my suspicions that beauty editors - a. really know nothing about skincare and b. to find what working at a magazine is really like (and yes, of course I have read The Devil Wears Prada).  I did get lots of inside information about magazines and plenty of gossip as well (if you are a fan of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City” you will want to read the parts about Kelly Bensimon).  Of course, I wish that all the people mentioned in the book were named instead of just hinted at.  I want to know which famous actress lives with Godfrey-June in the suburbs of Manhattan.  I want to know which famous European fashion designer has a strange and disgusting obsession.  But nevertheless the book did satisfy on that end.  I do wonder why Godfrey-June felt the need to devote an entire chapter to describing the suburb she lives in and how she is different, yet the same, as everyone there.  And if I hear one more time that nursing makes you super skinny after pregnancy I will scream (page 196). 

This book to me was a quick and easy and enjoyable read, but it was also chockfull of what I consider inane and unhelpful “advice”.  For example please turn to page 53 to learn that you need to take all formal wedding photos the day BEFORE your actual wedding.  Pray tell – how are you logistically supposed to pull that tip off?  And what kind of tip is that anyway?  Or see page 163 in the book to learn that you should only use Creme de la Mar (an extraordinarily expensive face cream) on your radiation burns while undergoing cancer treatments.  Or to buy nail polishes, lipsticks, lotions, and perfumes to hand out to hospital and nursing home staff in order to bribe them into giving you (or your loved one) better care – see page 35 for that tip.  But for all of those ridiculous tips Godfrey-June does make a number of important points in the book:  nothing gets rid of cellulite (page 86), her list of skincare ingredients that actually work is very up to date (pages 228-229), and finally her advice that the best present you could ever give a new mother would be to hold her baby so she can sleep is very, very true (page 196). 

I appreciated Godfrey-June’s honesty in describing her awkward physical stages, her failed beauty experiments, and embarrassing moments while doing her job, but really I read this book to have my curiosity satisfied about how exactly beauty editors go about their jobs.  And indeed my curiosity was satisfied.  According to the book beauty editors receive an enormous amount of free make-up and skincare products (Godfrey-June estimates that she receives between 50 to 200 free products a day), are wined and dined all the time by make-up and skincare companies, and receive on top of all the free products numerous free gifts from these companies.  Doesn’t sound like a bad job, right?   At least Godfrey-June recognizes that she has a job many, many people see as either  frivolous and silly or enviable (it all depends on how you feel about beauty products).  So does Godfrey-June really know all that much about skincare?  Not really – she is a journalist who has always written about the beauty industry so yes, she definitely knows more than your average joe about make-up and face creams but her advice, or that of any other beauty editor, should not be substituted for the knowledge of a trained individual (such as an esthetician or a doctor).  Godfrey-June says that the products that make it into fashion magazines are the best products, as decided by the beauty editor, and no amount of free gifts or meals will bribe them into endorsing something they do not love.  She does point out though that instead of sending beauty editors lots of free gifts if you will really want to get their attention buy lots of ad space in their magazines. 

On a personal note I had to cringe when I read three times in this book variations on the theme that facials are unnecessary, estheticians only try to sell you products, and facials just stress Godfrey-June out (pages 227, 203, and 202 respectively).  Though Godfrey-June does point out that a good esthetician can make a world of difference for a person’s skin (pages 226-227) I was upset, once again, to see my profession derided in print.  I am not the type of person to tell you that every esthetician is a miracle worker, but I can tell you that the vast majority of us take our profession very seriously and are knowledgable and capable people who can greatly help our clients improve the look and health of their skin.  And we certainly don’t receive the freebies that Godfrey-June does in order to recommend products.

Bottom Line: If you are a glossy fashion magazine devotee or simply love creams and make-up you’ll enjoy this book.  If you watch any sort of reality show on Bravo you’ll definitely enjoy this inside look into the world of celebrity make-up artists and hair stylists.

Further Reading:


Amped Up Cleansers: Worth the Price? Do They Work? February 7, 2010


Until recently I had always figured that buying a cleanser with strong added ingredients, such as salicylic acid or glycolic acid, was a waste of money.  Didn’t all those ingredients just get washed down the drain?  Weren’t you wasting your money?  It seemed better to buy a lotion, moisturizer, or serum with those potent ingredients than a cleanser.

It turns out I was wrong with all of my assumptions.  I did a little research and discovered some interesting facts about cleansers with added ingredients.   First I’ll discuss what some of most popular added ingredients do for your skin.  Salicylic acid, a beta hydroxyl acid, is a mild exfoliant and helps to loosen and expel comedones, or blackheads, from the skin.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help with the redness of inflamed lesions.  Additionally, the combination of exfoliation and anti-inflammatory properties helps the skin heal, prevents scarring, and helps to decrease the chance of future breakouts.  Salicylic acid, which is oil soluble, is able to penetrate deeply into the pore helping to keep sebaceous follicles clear of cellular buildup and can help minimize the formation of new comedones.  On the other hand, benzoyl peroxide destroys the acne causing bacteria in the follicles.  Benzoyl peroxide can penetrate into the hair follicle to reach the acne causing bacteria while not causing too much irritation to your skin at the same time.  Glycolic acid is a alpha hydroxy acid with very small particles that penetrate deeply into the skin.  As such glycolic acid is a great exfoliator; it can also reduce fine lines over time and even help the skin stay hydrated.

According to Dr. Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty the acids in a cleanser, such as glycolic or salicylic, will begin to work the minute it touches your skin.  And if you use a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide in it that ingredient will actually remain on your skin after you have washed off your cleanser and thus will have the desired effect on your skin.  One thing to remember – cleanser that contain these added ingredients use a strong surfactant, or oil  and debris emulsifying ingredient, to work so they can dry your skin out. 

Dr. Fredric Brandt points out in his book Age-less that cleansers with AHA or BHA help prep the skin to receive their next treatment – whether that is a lotion, serum, or moisturizer.  He also points out that your cleanser doesn’t necessarily need to contain a strong added ingredient.  For instance you could use a cleanser with green tea in it in order to soothe irritated skin.  Dr. Murad in his book The Murad Method seconds a few of the points already brought up here.  He explains that if the cleanser you use is properly formulated than the added ingredients will penetrate the top layers of the skin as you cleanse.  Cleansers with AHA and BHA, according to Dr. Murad, both exfoliate and enhance hydration during use.  But Dr. Murad does point out that if you want to use a cleanser with AHA and BHA in it you should make sure it also has anti-irritant ingredients like allantoin and B vitamin panthenol so that it doesn’t irritate your skin in the process.  Like Dr. Brandt, Dr. Murad likes cleansers with added ingredients that soothe the skin – such as licorice extract, chamomile, and vitamin E.  If your skin is dry Dr. Murad suggests looking for a cleanser with added hydrators such as sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid.

In an article in Allure magazine called “Power Wash” from 2009 the experts interviewed for the article agree that glycolic acid in cleansers is indeed effective but Vitamin C, retinol, and antioxidants are not.  The article does point out that cleanser with spf in them actually do leave sunscreen behind on your skin.  I find cleansers with spf in them to be very intriguing (the article highlights two cleansers – one from St. Ives and one from Freeze 24-7) since so many people refuse or forget to use sunscreen on a daily basis.  It is very important to point out that while these cleansers really do seem to do what they claim, leave a residue of sunscreen behind on the skin, the amount of protection you get isn’t enough.  It is always important to use a moisturizer with sunscreen or just a separate sunscreen as well.

As already noted these cleansers with added ingredients can be harsh on the skin.  Though using one might be a great idea for you be sure to watch out for any irritation once you start using one.  If you do see any new redness, flaking, or irritation on your skin after starting to use such a cleanser back off and use the cleanser less (or even stop entirely).  Though these cleansers might be a great thing for some people, other people may find that getting the benefits of those added ingredients works best for them in the form of a lotion, serum, or moisturizer.  All of us are different so you might need to experiment to find what is best for you.


High-Tech Skincare Help February 5, 2010

Back in November The New York Times reported that the Dutch company Philips, who are known for their electronics, appliances, lighting, and healthcare products, introduced a machine that could analyze a person’s skin almost instantly.  Called Crystalize the machine uses high-tech video cameras to take extreme close-up photos of a person’s skin.  Then the machine’s software analyzes the photos while looking for the following skincare issues:  skin type, redness, sun damage, and smoothness.  Once the analysis is complete you are given a list of recommended products for your skin type, in a variety of price ranges.  The service costs $90, and according to The New York Times article it is currently only available at Studio BeautyMix which is located in the Fred Segal department store in Santa Monica, CA.  I looked at the Studio BeautyMix website but didn’t see any mention of the service on there.  Philips  will not be selling skincare products or be receiving money from companies whose products are sold in the same location as Crystalize.  After getting your skin analyzed you can go online and share your thoughts and feelings about skincare and your skin on the Crystalize website.

Of course I went and looked up the Crystalize website which I must say I found confusing.  The website certainly tries to sell you on the machine but doesn’t mention where you can find it.  There are testimonials from people who have used Crystalize, but it isn’t clear to me how wide spread the use of the product is.  It did intrigue me to see that Dr. Doris Day is featured on the website, giving her expert endorsement of the product.  Dr. Day is a prominent New York City dermatologist who is widely quoted in the media.  I’ve read one of her books and found it interesting and informative (though I hated the format of the book).  Dr. Day has one blog entry on the Crystalize website but nothing else.  All in all the website seems very under developed.  I even tried to leave a comment and couldn’t find how to do it.  Do you have to be invited in order to leave comments?  It was really confusing and I am usually not this confounded by websites.

Crystalize is definitely an intriguing product.  If it works as it says it does then it really could eliminate a lot of confusion for consumers.  Plus it would take away the problem of wondering if the person at the skincare product counter really knows what they are talking about or is simply trying to sell you something in order to make their commission.  I just wish the Crystalize website was more complete and provided a lot more useful information like where to find it for starters!  Isn’t that a marketing 101 issue – tell people where they can find your product?

Sources and More Information


Sensitive Skin – Causes and Treatments February 4, 2010

It isn’t uncommon for people to describe their skin as “sensitive” and “easily irritated”.  Actually all skin can become sensitive and irritated.  Perhaps our skin should come with a warning label:  “handle with care – easily damaged”.

Doctors believe that only about 2% of women have skin that can be diagnosed as “sensitive”.  Anyone else who believes they have a sensitive skin type is simply misdiagnosing themselves.  (Perhaps some people who claim to have sensitive skin think that by saying so they are bestowing a unique or special status on their skin as a way to make themselves feel different and special)   Further adding to the confusion over the term “sensitive skin” and what that truly means is the fact that products can be labeled “for sensitive skin” and “hypoallergenic” when there is absolutely no regulation over these terms.  As the FDA points out on its website:

There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.” The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Manufacturers of cosmetics labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenicity claims to FDA.

The term “hypoallergenic” may have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers on a retail basis, but dermatologists say it has very little meaning.

Most people who define their skin as sensitive probably do so because once (or even twice) they had an allergic reaction to a topical skincare product; their skin to become red, irritated, and even itchy.  But for skin to truly be labeled sensitive it has to show an inability to tolerate most cosmetic, while otherwise being healthy.   If one truly has sensitive skin the use of cosmetics, or the wrong skincare products, will cause the skin to itch, burn, sting, and feel tight as opposed to causing redness and breakouts.  And once again this is very rare.

If you have ever experienced a reaction to a cosmetic or skincare product that caused you to breakout or turn red than you probably experienced a temporary allergic reaction to an ingredient in the product, perhaps the fragrance. In addition, skin can become temporarily sensitive or sensitized from a long list of things that include:

  • over cleaning and over scrubbing
  • using skincare products that are too strong or harsh
  • over exfoliating
  • receiving treatments that are too harsh treatments for your skin (such as a chemical peel)
  • irritating skincare ingredients in products
  • environmental pollutants or irritants
  • hot water
  • sun exposure 

When you overload your skin with products you break down the stratum corneum, the very top layer of the epidermis that acts as a protective covering for the skin, to the point of causing irritation.  This triggers the body’s immune response in order to heal the damage and inflammation will follow.  For example perhaps you use a glycolic cleanser and then a moisturizer with AHA every night.  All those acids are meant to remove dead skin cells from the stratum corneum so in essence you end up giving yourself a chemical peel every night.  If you skin is prone to irritation the continued combination of those products will remove too much of the barrier you need on the top of your skin.  Once too much of that protective cover is removed environmental irritants will start to further breakdown your stratum corneum, and the result is dry, red, flaky skin.  If the irritation continues over time the skin’s immune and healing response will be impaired.  Lastly, if you are prone to acne you can cause more breakouts if your skin becomes sensitized since more bacteria can cross the skin’s protective barrier once it is compromised.

Once you find that your skin has become sensitized it is important to figure out what triggered the irritation.  Sometimes this is very easy.  You started using a new product and almost immediately your skin became irritated, red, and itched and so it obvious what caused the irritation.  But other times it is much harder to figure out what caused the irritation.  In that case perhaps a more drastic course of action is needed.  In her book Simple Skin Beauty dermatologist Ellen Marmur suggests putting your skin on a “detox” plan in order to figure out what caused the irritation or allergic reaction in the first place.  She suggests stopping to use all products, all at once.  On the plan you are allowed to use sunscreen, a gentle cleanser, and a moisturizer that contains no acids, antioxidants, or retinoids for an entire month.  This allows your skin to regain its natural balance as it goes through a complete growth cycle (which takes 28 days).  After the month is over you can start adding back one product at a time, one per week,  into your routine so that if your skin reacts you will know what caused it.

If your skin has shown sensitivity in the past you might want to avoid heavily fragranced products and harsh exfoliants (like scrubs).  Look at the ingredients in your products in order to assess the amount of acids (AHA) and retinoids in them.  Don’t just trust labels on products.  As I already mentioned above the terms “for sensitive skin” and “hypoallergenic” that you see on cosmetic labels and skincare products are meaningless.  Perhaps you will want to limit yourself to one lotion, serum, or moisturizer with those added ingredients.  In order to boost your skin’s protective barrier it is important to use a good moisturizer and sunscreen.  For immediate relief from irritation you can temporarily use a OTC cortisone cream like Cortaid.

Lastly, it is important for everyone, even if you have never had an adverse reaction from cosmetics or skincare products, to excerise some caution when it comes to your skin.  All skin needs some TLC in order to look its best so remember to treat it gently.

Sources and Further Reading:



Recommended Reading for Information About Acne February 2, 2010

I wanted to recommend a few great resources for information about acne.  I’ve read the books that I am recommending here, and I have explored the websites I am recommending.  Acne is a chronic disease of the sebaceous glands and has a multitude of causes.  Treating acne can often be very difficult, and each person who suffers from acne has to find the right products and techniques that work for them.  For those reasons I am recommending both books and websites here since they explore all the different facets of acne – from causes to the many treatment options.


I found AcneNet through the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.  The AcneNet website is easy to navigate and covers every aspect of acne from causes, to treatments, and even the social impact of acne (a very important topic in my opinion).  The “articles” section of the website has articles about specific issues as they relate to acne – like pregnancy and acne – and is a great resource. was started by a guy who suffered from acne for years.  After much experimentation he decided to share what he had learned about clearing up his own acne.  Not only is this website a great place to learn all about acne, acne treatments, and acne products, but it is also a thriving online community for people to share their thoughts and feelings about acne and acne treatments.  This website is a great resource for people seeking information about acne.


There are so many books about acne so I thought I would highlight just two that I think are excellent.

Healing Adult Acne: Your Guide to Clear Skin And Self-Confidence is by Richard G. Fried who is both a dermatologist and a psychologist.  Why did I like this book so much?  I loved the fact that Dr. Fried combined both scientific facts about acne with a psychological discourse in this book.  I found the chapter about finding your acne triggers to be wonderful.  Dr. Fried includes charts and quizes in the chapter that help the reader really think about what could be causing their acne.  If you can figure out what triggers your acne – stress, medication, food, etc. – than you can do a much better job at clearing up your skin.  I like the fact that this book was aimed at adults whose acne is caused by different issues than the acne teenagers suffers from.  The book is quite comprehensive in exploring treatments, but also really talks about the emotional impact of acne on one’s life and how you can have a happy life even with acne.  Many books and articles about acne fail to really address the psychological side of acne and this book certainly makes up for that oversight.

Breaking Out: A Woman’s Guide to Coping with Acne at Any Age by Lydia Preston.  I am not sure why this book is specifically aimed at women since it is a great guide to the causes of acne and to all the different treatment options that are available.  Preston is a journalist whose research skills really shine through in this work.  I would say that this book is a great read for someone who wants a comprehensive background about acne.  Since the book came out in 2004 there have been some new advances in acne treatments, but nevertheless the book gives you plenty of information and will teach you a lot too.  The book is clearly written and very useful.

If you have a favorite resource for information about acne please feel free to share it!


Can You Drink Your Way To Firmer Skin? February 1, 2010

Now before you get too excited that drinking beer and wine can improve your skin tone the product that I am referring to here is actually instant coffee with added collagen.  Swiss based company Nestlé developed a coffee drink containing skimmed milk and 200mg collagen that claims to improve the look of your skin.  As far as I can tell the product is now only available in Singapore, where it is extremely popular.  It turns out that in Japan collagen is already added to many food products with the promise of youthful skin if you ingest it.  This fact was addressed on an episode of the Oprah Show back in November, 2008.  Since I don’t watch Oprah I didn’t know about any of this until I saw an article in The New York Times at the beginning of January about the above mentioned coffee.

Nescafe’s collagen coffee is part of a growing trend of nutraceuticals that promise health from within.  According to Wikipedia: “Nutraceuticals can refer to foods, dietary supplements, medical foods, and functional foods that may provide prevention and treatment of illness or disease. Nutraceutical foods are not subject to the same testing and regulations as pharmaceutical drugs.”  There is increasing market demand, in particular, for anti-aging drinks.

It would be great to think that by simply drinking your morning coffee you are strengthening your skin and looking younger with each sip.  Our skin is comprised of two layers – the top layer called the epidermis and the lower layer (or “live layer”) called the dermis.  While the epidermis is primarily made of soft keratin, collagen makes up 70% of the dermis.  The dermis also contains elastin and hyaluronic acid.  As we age collagen and elastin break down and weaken and wrinkles and lines appear.*  As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts the best way to protect your skin, and even slow down this collagen and elastin break down from happening, is to use sunscreen.  Yet wouldn’t it be nice that if all you had to do to repair the damage to the collagen and elastin in your skin would be to drink some coffee with collagen?

Before you get excited and start to wonder when this coffee will be available in the US please realize that it simply doesn’t work.  If collagen is ingested via the mouth it is simply broken down in the stomach and then excreted.  The collagen never gets to your skin. 

Too bad that coffee with collagen does nothing for your skin.  I just wonder – how does it taste?

* Source for information about the layers of the skin – Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians

Further reading -

Nescafe Adds Collagen-infused Coffee to Its Product Line  Skin Inc.

This article, The Truth About Beauty Beverages -  from WebMD isn’t about collagen in coffee but about the whole idea of drinking supplements for better skin health.  I am including it here since it does tie in to the topic of ths post, at least nominally.  After I do some more research I plan to address the issue of supplements for skin health in more detail in a future post.



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