Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

How to Read a Skincare Ingredient Label And Is That Information Enough In Order To Judge A Skincare Product? June 12, 2014

 

 

Understanding the ingredients listed in the ingredient list of a skincare product and figuring out if those ingredients are actually effective for your skin is an important skill for skincare consumers to have. But interpreting a skincare ingredient label is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.  You need to not only have some basic skincare product formulation knowledge but also be able to recognize different ingredients and their function in skincare products in order to understand what you are reading and if the product will be right for your skin and will do what it claims to do.  I’ve addressed this topic in the past here in my blog, but lately I’ve come across a few interesting articles on the subject and thought it was time to revisit this issue much more in-depth than I did before.

The Basics and Some Examples

So let’s start with some basics about skincare labels that everyone should know.  In his Skin Inc. article Ingredient Labels Explained Robert Manzo writes:

There are basic rules that product manufacturers must comply with in order to list ingredients on their products.

  • Standardized names. Ingredient names must comply with the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) format. The ingredient names are standardized in this format so that all products can be compared to each other easily and for safety reasons.
  • Descending order. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of concentration to 1%. Ingredients below 1% can be listed in any order

How does this come together for the consumer?  Lab Muffin recently published yet another excellent post called How to Read an Ingredients List: Face Moisturisers in which she takes actual moisturizer labels and explains the ingredients for her readers.  For instance:

When looking at most product ingredients lists, the ingredients will be in order from the highest concentration to the lowest. Typically, when deciding if a moisturiser will suit your skin type, you don’t need to look past the first 6 ingredients or so, since they make up the majority of the product, and will be responsible for the moisturising action. It’s a different story when you’re looking at more potent ingredients that target specific concerns (e.g. anti-aging, exfoliants, antibacterials, lightening), but those tend to be useful regardless of skin type.

With this in mind, I’ll be classifying the top 6 ingredients in each of these facial moisturisers, as well as commenting on some of the notable ingredients further down in the list. If there’s no comment next to the ingredient, I’ve probably explained it in a product further up.

To recap, the main categories of moisturiser are:

Occlusives - block water from evaporating from the skin, especially good for dry and dehydrated skin
Emollients - smooth skin and help repair
Humectants - draw moisture to the skin, effective even at lower percentages.

Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Soothing Moisturising Cream

Aqua (water) – The base for most face creams, and the definition of moisture.
Cetearyl alcohol (emollient) – A blend of cetyl and stearyl alcohols, two fatty alcohols that are nothing like drinking alcohol (that is, ethyl alcohol), but are great for smoothing skin down as well as making sure the oily and watery parts of the moisturiser don’t separate (it’s an emulsifier). It can be derived from coconut oil.
Rosa canina fruit oil (emollient) – This is the technical name for rose hip oil from a specific species of rose. It mainly contains oleic and linoleic acids, which are excellent for repairing skin, as well as antioxidants.
Safflower seed oil (emollient/occlusive) – This also contains many linoleic acids and antioxidants.
Caprylic/capric triglyceride (emollient/occlusive) – This also comes from coconut oil, and smooths skin as well as blocks evaporation.
Jojoba seed oil (emollient) – This stuff is a lot like natural sebum.

Glycerin and honey are a little further down in the list, and there’s aloe vera extract as well – these humectants together would probably add noticeable humectant action to the mix (glycerin is typically used in moisturisers at 2-7%, otherwise it feels sticky).

Overall: Lots of emollients, a small amount of occlusives and some humectants. It’s suitable for all skin due to all the skin-repairing emollients, but drier skins might need some more occlusives on top.

Or for example how to interpret a serum label:

Generally, serums are used to deliver active ingredients to skin in higher concentrations in order to generate a specific skin response. Typical serums address skin-specific issues, such as hyperpigmentation, lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, texture, tone, pore size, acne, redness and irritation.

Understanding ingredient listings in serums is often difficult. Active ingredient names can take the form of Latin names for botanically sourced compounds, and more generic INCI names may be used, such as yeast extract, which can mean a multitude of biologically active ingredients. Quite long chemical names are often found.

Understanding the dose of active ingredients is also difficult by trying to interpret ingredient listings. If a particularly active ingredient is very biologically active, it may be dosed in the formula in part-per-million levels and be very low in the ingredient listing, but still be quite effective. Examples of these are epigenetic factors, epidermal growth factors and vascular growth factors.

Serum realities

1. There are more than 16,000 listings in the INCI dictionary. No one can know all the cosmetic ingredients at any given time. If you are unsure what dose and what active ingredient is in particular serum, request that the manufacturer supply that detailed information.

2. Watch out for serum claims and their target biology. For example, if you have a serum that claims it can improve collagen and elastin by stimulating skin, the ingredient would need to penetrate to the dermal tissue. If you need to lighten skin, ingredients must penetrate no more than to the epidermal-dermal junction, where color-producing cells exist. If you want to exfoliate, the serum should not penetrate far below the stratum corneum.

(From Ingredient Labels Explained)

 Putting It Together

Now that you have some basic knowledge about how skincare labels work is this really enough information in order to know if a product is right for your skin or not?  Sorry to complicate things for you, but even the most savvy consumer can get tripped up by a skincare ingredient label.  Renee Rouleau gives a great example in her blog post Can You Judge a Skin Care Product by an Ingredient Label?:

With so much awareness on skin care ingredients (the good, the bad and the ugly), consumers now more than ever are getting educated on what’s used in formulas, so they can make the best choices for their skin when it comes to choosing products to apply to their face. But by looking at an ingredient list on the back of a bottle or jar, can you really determine if it will deliver good results or not on your skin?

The answer is no. You might look at the ingredient list and form assumptions about the ingredients you may have read about or heard of. For example, if you’re prone to breakouts you might see shea butter or sunflower oil listed, and assume it will be greasy and pore clogging. These assumptions can be invalid, because the results a product delivers are based on the percentages of the ingredient used in a product—and this, you’ll never know from looking at the list on the back of a bottle.

Here’s another example of a time when one of my products, Daily Protection SPF 30, was reviewed by a fairly well-known ingredient expert who has written many books on helping you choose the best products when you go to the cosmetics counter. She had requested the ingredient list of my sunscreen to review, yet didn’t request the actual product. When the review was published, she gave it a really good review however, she said based on the moisturizing agents used in the formula, it was best suited for dry and very dry skin types. Really? Our Daily Protection SPF 30 is recommended for oily, acne-prone skin, because it is so light, and dries to a matte finish on the skin. As a matter of fact, when we get a customer return for this product, it’s usually a dry skin client saying it was too drying on their skin. Our oily skin clients absolutely love it because it disappears completely and leaves no residue. This is definitely not a sunscreen moisturizer for dry and very dry skin types, yet an ingredient label reviewed by an ingredient expert couldn’t tell this. (No disrespect to the expert, this is simply my experience.)

(Obviously Rouleau is writing about Paula Begoun here)

So Where Does That Leave You?

It is important to learn about ingredients and how skincare products are formulated in order to be an educated skincare consumer.  The more you know the better choices you can make for your skin, and you can save yourself time and money from buying the wrong products.  Part of that education is learning to read a skincare label instead of just blindly believing the manufacturers’ hype and marketing campaign.  But don’t let the skincare label be your be all or end all in order to know if a skincare product is right for you.  Try products first before rebuffing them.  Ask for samples and find online reviews from people who have actually tried the product before rejecting a product based just on reading the ingredient list or taking advice from someone who reviews products only according to their ingredient list.  Two websites that I like for product reviews combine both information about the products’ ingredients and actually try the products themselves before writing a review.  Those websites are FutureDerm and Lab Muffin.

One last thing – ever wondered what all those symbols (letters, numbers, and pictures) are on your beauty product container?  Into the Gloss has a guide that explains them all.

Image from http://www.rainshadowlabs.com

 

All the Rage: Konjac Sponges February 26, 2014

konjac-sponge-opener

Chances are you’ve probably already heard of or even tried a konjac sponge.  I’m a little late to the game in explaining and reviewing these cleansing sponges.  But better late than never, correct?

What Is A Konjac Sponge and How Do You Use It?

Dr. Jessica Wu explains what a konjac sponge is and how to use it:

What is a konjac sponge? A konjac sponge is made of plant starch that’s extracted from a type of potato plant. The sponge absorb a lot of water, so it has a unique texture, kind of like a thick piece of squishy felt. It’s more nubby than a dish sponge, but softer than a loofah and has a finer texture than a washcloth so it’s safe to use on your face. Because of its bouncy, rubbery texture, it makes a rich lather and requires less cleanser that you would normally need. It dries quickly, so it’s more hygienic than a washcloth. Plus they are affordable (I get mine for less than $2 each), so you can change them frequently without having to worry about ruining your washcloths with makeup.

How do konjac sponges help your skin? They dislodge dirt, oil, makeup, and impurities to deep clean your skin, so they’re helpful for those with acne and large pores. They can help slough off dead, dry skin flakes that are a sign of sun damage. They can also help remove stubborn, water resistant sunscreen.

How do you use a konjac sponge? First, soak your sponge in warm water for at least five minutes to soften the fibers and avoid injuring your skin. Splash your face with warm water and squeeze a few drops of cleanser onto the sponge. Massage in a circular motion, concentrating on trouble areas and avoiding areas with healing pimples, infections, or abrasions. Rinse face with warm water and pat dry. Thoroughly rinse the sponge with warm water, squeeze out excess, and let air dry.

Personal Experience

First off, what Dr. Wu writes above about the sponge only costing about $2 is completely correct.  Buy your konjac sponge on eBay; most sellers also offer free shipping.  I bought a regular konjac sponge via eBay though the next time I buy one I’ll be trying a charcoal one since charcoal has acne fighting properties.  I did not find that I had to soak my sponge in warm water for five minutes in order to soften it; it took me about a minute to soften the sponge in the shower.  It is definitely true that you need less cleanser when using a konjac sponge; a little bit of your cleanser will foam up brilliantly on the sponge.  For me the most interesting thing about the konjac sponge was how much the texture changed once it was wet.  Dry the sponge is rough and hard, but once you’ve soaked it the sponge becomes incredibly soft.  I liked using the sponge and the price can’t be beat, but I didn’t see a difference in the appearance of my skin when using the sponge.  I think for someone like me who has tough, acne prone skin konjac sponges are a lovely addition to my skincare routine but not a necessity.  I do think that a konjac sponge can be an excellent way for someone with sensitive skin to exfoliate their skin without any irritation.  Plus, these sponges are just fun (and cheap).  I will definitely be buying another one and recommending them to clients with sensitive skin or to clients who are exfoliation phobic (unfortunately I meet a lot of those) since by using a konjac sponge you can definitely gently exfoliate while you cleanse.

Sources and Further Reading:

Photo from Refinery29

 

Korean Skincare Products: Tested December 12, 2013

[SKIN&LAB] Dr.Vita Clinic : Fre-C Sun Protector

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows that I am fascinated by skincare products and routines from around the world, and in particular I’ve developed a real obsession (not a scary, stalker one – I swear) with all things related to South Korean skincare and beauty.  Over a year ago I wrote a post called Beauty in South Korea in which I discussed how South Korea (and other Asian countries such as Japan) are world leaders in skincare innovations and trends.  (Don’t forget that the BB craze first caught on in South Korea)

After writing the post mentioned above I spent a lot of time online looking at various Korean skincare products and wondering just how well they worked.  Finally I took the plunge and ordered products from two different websites: Wishtrend and I Buy Beauti.  First a few words about these sites.  Each site has completely different brands, giving the consumer a wide variety of products to choose from.  Though both sites carry mostly skincare products they also have make-up (including lots of BB and CC creams).  Products are presented with lots of information, many times that includes instructional videos (sometimes in Korean, sometimes in English).  The English language is used very creatively on the sites which I found quite entertaining.  Prices are reasonable, and the sites always seem to be having specials as well.  Both sites ship worldwide (Wishtrend ships for a very reasonable fee, I Buy Beauti ships for free :)).  My items were packed very safely (ie lots of bubble wrap) and compactly.  It took about three weeks from the time of my order until I received my products here in Israel; I paid via PayPal each time.  You receive lots of free samples with your order, and I Buy Beauti even included a thank you postcard which I found to be a lovely touch.

I did wonder if the products on these websites were the Korean equivalent of drugstore products like Neutrogena or Garnier or more upscale like those skincare products sold at Sephora.  My attempts at researching this question failed so if anyone knows the answer I would appreciate hearing from you.  Also if anyone knows a good website to purchase Japanese skincare products from, that doesn’t have crazy international shipping costs, I would love to hear from you as well.

With so many products to choose from I had a lot of trouble deciding what to try.  Since at the time of my order I needed moisturizer and sunscreen I concentrated my purchases on those items.  Now that I am finally getting around to reviewing my purchases I’ve noticed that some of the items are no longer available online, but I’ll still review them here anyhow.

Wishtrend Products

When I was making my purchases the weather in Israel was turning hot and humid so I wanted to get a light, daytime moisturizer.  For reasons that I can no longer remember (it might have just come down to choosing according to price since there were so many interesting products to choose from) I bought Klair’s AC Control Lotion with aloe and snail  (I can no longer find the product on the website).  Yes, I chose a moisturizer with snail slime which is a very trendy ingredient in Asian skincare at the moment. As I already indicated when the product arrived I couldn’t figure out why I had decided to buy this moisturizer over another one particularly since I really don’t believe the hype about snail slime and I’m a lifelong vegetarian (yes, I know I was going to be putting it on my face and not eating the slime but I do prefer to avoid products with obvious animal ingredients though I am not a vegan).  But I have to admit that I didn’t have the patience to mail the product back and wait for another (even after the spring on the pump broke and I could no longer get the product out as intended I still didn’t send the product back) so I just decided to use it.  The entire label is in Korean though there is a nice snail smiling at me from the front of the container and that picture can be universally understood.  Apparently the snail is happy to share his slime with me.  Anyhow, the moisturizer itself is very light and just fine.  After using it for months there really isn’t anything else to say about it.  It absorbs quickly into the skin, you don’t need all that much in order to cover your whole face, and it smells ok.  I wasn’t blown away by this product and even if I could I wouldn’t purchase it again.

Another item I purchased was Skin&Lab Dr. Vita Clinic fre-C Sun Protector which is SPF 50 and has Vitamins C and E in the formulation.  This product promised all the things I look for in a sunscreen for summer – a high SPF, contains antioxidants, chemical and physical sunscreen ingredients, and was supposed to be non-sticky, lightweight, and non-whiting on the skin.  The label for this product is in both English and Korean.  In the end I was disappointed by this sunscreen as a summer sunscreen because I found it too heavy on the skin for use in hot and humid weather.  I recommend it for winter use since it actually is quite moisturizing.  As a sunscreen I have no complaints, but the feel on skin was not as light as I expected.  I constantly hear clients complain how sunscreen feels too heavy on their skin, and the feel of this product would certainly cause a lot of whining.

I also purchased a sheet Vitamin C mask which I can no longer find on the website.  This product was a lot of fun.  The product is packaged in a two pouch flat package that is sealed in the middle separating the sheet mask from the Vitamin C serum.  All the words on the label were in Korea, but luckily there are pictures on the package so you can easily figure out how to use the product.  You need to roll the package so that the seal breaks and you mix the mask with the serum.  Then you remove the mask and place it on your face for about 15 to 20 minutes.  No need to rinse your face afterwards; if any serum remains on your face just gently rub in into the skin.  I tried the mask before bedtime and found that my skin felt very soft the next morning.

Additonally,  I received a bunch of samples from Wishtrend that I had a lot of fun trying.  First off I tried Elisha Coy’s Always Nuddy BB 24 which I liked a lot.  It gave very natural, light coverag; I would definitely consider purchasing a regular size of this product in the future.  I also received a sample of Elisha Coy’s Skin Repairing Snail Cream (yes more snail slime) which was fine, but I would not purchase a regular size of this product.

I was also sent a lot of Skin&Lab samples which were lots of fun to play with.  The samples were moisturizers and essences which are labeled by the letter of a vitamin such as C Plus Brightening or A Plus Lifting or E Plus Moisturizing or ACE Triple Action Essence.  I mixed and matched the samples.  In the morning I might have used the moisturizer with Vitamin C and then in the evening the moisturizer with Vitamin A. Essences are an Asian skincare innovation that have a gel-like consistency.  After toning, but before moisturizing, you apply an essence to treat skin issues.  The moisturizers were nice, but I really loved the essences and would definitely consider purchasing one again in the future.

The last sample I received was two anti-blackhead, anti-acne mask both from Caolion: Blackhead Steam Pore Pack and Pore Minimizing Pack.  I actually haven’t tried these products yet so I can’t comment on them.

I Buy Beauti Products

I made just three purchases through this website and two were from the same brand – tn (teen’s nature).  I was looking for a nighttime moisturizer and was sucked in by the video that I found on the page for the moisturizer Moisture Cocktail Cream.  Yes, I fell for the advertising, something I always tell my readers to resist.  Anyhow, this moisturizer is very light with a gel-like consistency.  It is easily absorbed into the skin, has a light refreshing scent, and nice packaging (what can I say – I’m a sucker for good packaging).  I was surprised by the feel of the moisturizer since, as mentioned above, it is a gel not a cream or liquid, but I actually like it a lot.  If you live in a colder climate this is definitely not a winter moisturizer option for you, but it works well in warmer climates or in summer.  It’s also a good choice for oily skin.

For make-up removal I purchased Etude House Eraser Show Cleansing Serum which is a cream version of make-up removal products like Dermalogica’s PreCleanse or DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil.  Apply to dry skin, gently rub into your skin, rinse, and then cleanse with your favorite facial cleanser.  I thought this product did a pretty good job removing my make-up (I have never found a product that removes all my eyeliner and waterproof mascara), and it certainly left my skin feeling soft.  Another plus – though the package is on the small size (75 ml or 2.53 fluid ounces) I have found that a little bit goes a long way, and it has lasted me months. This is a product I would definitely consider repurchasing; it is also very reasonably priced.

I am consistently on the look-out for a sunscreen that I can carry with me in order to reapply, over make-up, during the day.  I gave up on brush-on sunscreens about a year ago because they were constantly exploding all over my purse, but, more importantly, I realized that though they might not mess up my make-up they weren’t really giving me any sun protection.  I tried stick sunscreens and was disappointed.  So when I came across this sunscreen balm (tn Sun Balm SPF 50) that was packaged like a make-up compact I had to try it.  I love this!  All I can say is whomever invented this product is a genius.  The mirrored compact contains a sponge for easy application, and the product itself goes on smoothly and invisibly.  I have definitely found my solution for how to reapply sunscreen during the day.  It’s not messy and won’t explode in your bag like brush-on sunscreen, you definitely can control where you put it on your face and know how much you’ve applied, and it leaves a matte and silky finish on your skin.  Yes, my sponge quickly turned brown since some of my morning make-up was removed when I applied this product, but I never noticed that my complexion looked worse.  I highly, highly recommend this product!

Lastly, with my purchase I received samples of tn Facial Foam Cleanser and Moisture Lotion neither of which I can find on the website (though maybe I’m not looking for the right product; I can’t tell).  Both were fine though nothing to write home about.

Bottom Line:  Overall I was pretty happy with my Korean skincare product purchases.  I will definitely be trying other products in the future.  Both websites mentioned here are well worth exploring and buying from.

** Have you tried any Korean skincare or make-up products?  If yes, please share your experiences below.  Be sure to mention where you bought the products.  **

Image from wishtrend.com

 

Products Worth Trying? October 22, 2012

Recently I came across quite a few intriguing skincare and make-up products I thought I would share with my readers.  I haven’t tried any of these products so if you have please comment below.

I’m a big fan of using a lactic acid exfoliating product during facials (I used to use GloLactic with much success during facials as long as the client wasn’t using Retin-A.  If the client used Retin-A and you put this product on their face they generally could not handle it) so my ears perked up when I heard of a whole product line based on milk (lactic acid comes from milk).  The product line is called Dairy Faceand the website explains why they use milk in their products:

Milk has been prized as a beauty care ingredient since cows roamed the Roman Empire. It’s rich in unsaturated fatty acids, lecithin, vitamins A, D, E, C and B12, and offers amazing nutritional benefits for the skin.

Almost all facial creams include fats and oils to help keep skin healthy. Well, milk is an utterly nourishing source of natural fat. One drop of milk contains over one million superfine, easily-absorbed, nutrient-rich balls of fat that quench your skin’s moisture-thirsty cells.

Your skin will also love the lactic acid found in this dairylicious ingredient – which helps to break down and remove dead skin cells and helps to stimulate collagen production.

Milk has other naturally occurring nutrients – peptides and protein. Dairyface is the first yogurt specifically formulated to contain pre- and pro-biotics for topical use on your skin!

Another interesting thing about this line is that it needs to be refrigerated.  Once again according to the products website:

Cold is the next hot thing in skincare.

The solution is as simple and everyday as refrigeration.  It’s fresh, natural dairy, after all. Keeping Dairyface products cold means there’s no need to add synthetic or other harmful preservatives. Dairyface works with local dairies to source live milk cultures, then combines them with other beneficial fruits, vegetables and herbs, to bring a powerful and gentle skin care from nature to you.

I have no idea if the products in this line work as described, but I do find the concept and main ingredient appealing.

Further Reading:

A good primer can make a lot of difference with how your make-up goes on and how your skin looks.  After reading a positive review of Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer  on Future Derm I would like to give this product a try in the future.  In the meantime I try to keep excess shine away by mixing a little Smashbox Anti-Shine with my sunscreen each morning.

I’m much more of a lip gloss girl than a lipstick person, but the problem with glosses is that you have to keep reapplying them throughout the day.  Enter Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar which promises the following:

OCC Lip Tar combines the longevity of a lipstick, with the ease of application of a gloss. Goes on slick and moist, and dries down to a satin finish. Ultra-saturated in color, Lip Tar contains an unprecedented amount of pigment – a little goes a very, very long way! An intense yet featherweight layer of color that never looks or feels heavy. Meant to be mixed, Lip Tar comes in concise array of colors for a limitless selection of shades made by you! A simple, elegant formula that contains Hemp Oil, Peppermint Oil and Vitamin E, OCC Lip Tar feels as good on the lips as it looks!

This product is 100% vegan and cruelty-free (cruelty free is a must for me) and according to Allure it really does last all day long.  Furthermore, once again from Allure:

A few months ago I came across a little tube of brightly colored pigment fromObsessive Compulsive Cosmetics called Lip Tar. It was unlike anything I had seen before: It had the opacity of a matte lipstick, the consistency of a gloss, and a satin finish. “I think the best way to describe it is concentrated lipstick,” said the creator of the brand, makeup artist David Klasfeld. “It’s lipstick in its most basic form—just pigment and a natural oil base.” Since then, I’ve seen more and more of these lipsticks popping up: Stila Stay All Day Liquid LipstickYves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stains, and there’s more to come. In August, Guerlain will debut Rouge G L’Extrait, and Hourglass Cosmetics is coming out with a full-coverage liquid lipstick called Opaque Rouge.

The only downside to these concentrated lipsticks is that you have to move quickly and be extra precise because they dry so quickly. I like to put them on starting in the center of my bottom lip, dotting on just a little bit and then smoothing the color out to either side, bringing it closer to the lip line with the tip of the sponge applicator. If you can’t get the hang of the applicator, though, you can also dip a tiny lip brush in the tube, which makes it easier to follow the curve of your cupid’s bow. And while they’re intensely pigmented, they aren’t at all heavy or gross, so they’re actually perfect for summer—I promise they will not budge in the heat.

(New-Product Alert: Lipstick Concentrate)

And lastly, thinking about doing a cleanse?  (I have but I know I would break after a few hours and stuff french fries and chocolate into my mouth)  Now there are skincare products to use in conjunction with your cleanse since it is a well known fact that cleanses can cause temporary skin issues (breakouts, dryness) as your body detoxifies.

Once again – if you’ve tried any of these products please share your thoughts below.

 

Image from paleoplan.com

 

Beauty Briefs: BB Creams Are Over, Here Come CC Creams September 10, 2012

I toyed with the idea a while ago about writing about BB creams but decided against it when I realized that I had nothing new to add to the discussion.  In case you need a recap, BB creams were first developed in Germany but caught on in popularity in South Korea.  These creams only started recently appearing in the US market, but it is easy to find one in all price ranges since they’ve become popular very quickly.

In theory I like the idea of BB creams since they are really souped up tinted moisturizers.  Not only are they meant to hydrate and provide some coverage (like a light foundation), but they also include added ingredients that can act as a make-up primer and are anti-aging or anti-acne.  They also include sun protection though my great fear remains that people think they are getting enough sun protection from a product like this.  Always use a separate stand alone sunscreen.  Please!

Though it is not labeled a BB cream the one I’ve tried is called Miracle Skin Transformer.  I consider it a BB cream since it is a multi-tasker – it is tinted, hydrates, has spf, and contains antioxidants as well.  I first discovered it when I received a free sample with a Sephora purchase, and I thought that it made my skin look amazing.  A few months later I bought a travel size at Sephora.  Interestingly enough now that I have the product at home I don’t quite like it as much as I did when I had the sample.  I can’t figure out what would have changed about the product and how it looks on my face, but something did change.  Not that it looks bad, simply my skin doesn’t look as fresh or dewy as it did when I applied the product from the sample.  Nonetheless I still think it is a good product.

Just as US consumers were getting used to the idea of BB creams, it turns out that they are on their way out.  Here come the CC creams.  Allure explains:

Still trying to wrap your head around BB creams? (Pssst, we’ll help you out. They’re souped-up moisturizers that cover like a sheer foundation and treat various skin-care concerns such as acne or wrinkles.) Well now there’s a whole new category of multitasking formulas: CC creams. Short for “color and care” or “color and correct”, CC creams are essentially BB creams on steroids.

They’re designed to offer more coverage than BB creams but still go on sheer, they moisturize better, and they contain hard-core anti-aging ingredients. Look out for the first CC cream to hit the U.S. this October: Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting Moisturizer.

Future Derm isn’t so excited about either BB or CC creams.  The post How is a CC Cream Different From a BB Cream? explains and highlights a few important points:

A CC cream is a color correcting cream, meaning that it is a brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

On the other hand, a BB cream is a non-brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

BB creams are typically laden with hydrators to create a dewy finish, which are not so great for acne-prone or oily skin.

CC creams, on the other hand, are typically oil-free.  …

Delivery systems matter.  Ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and other alcohols, as well as advanced delivery systems like liposomes, are commonly used to increase the skin’s absorption of ingredients.

Unfortunately, BB and CC creams typically are designed to be make-up products.  Yes, you will get benefits.  But I’d take 10% vitamin C in a serum over 10% vitamin C in a BB or CC cream any day!

I love the idea of multi-tasking skincare and make-up products that help cut down on the amount of time you spend prepping in the morning.  I just think you have to very careful before you buy something.  Remember my warning about not relying on a BB cream, a CC cream, or your make-up for your sun protection.  Additionally, keep in mind what the Future Derm post said about delivery systems in products.  Just because a product includes fabulous sounding ingredients doesn’t mean that they are actually getting into your skin and providing you with any benefit.  If you have a BB cream that you like I see no reason to stop using it and I see no reason not to try a CC cream, but don’t expect miracles.  Sometimes the newest thing on the market just makes a scene only to disappear.  Tried and true products are always around.

Further Reading:

Image from glamour.com

 

Cosmetic Botox Turns 10 September 3, 2012

 

In April, 2012 Botox turned 10 years old.  That is it has been 10 years since the FDA gave Allergan approval to sell Botox Cosmetic as a solution for moderate to severe frown lines between the eyebrows and not just for medical purposes (As many readers may know Botox has numerous medical applications as well).  Now that Botox is so widely used (and even abused some would say) this is a good opportunity to look back over the last decade to see what people had to say about Botox then and the reality of its use today.

Take for instance Dr. Richard Friedman’s piece Cases: A Peril of the Veil of Botox in The New York Times from August, 2002 just after Botox was approved for cosmetic use:

Unlike a face-lift, where the skin is stretched taut like a drum but facial expression is unaffected, Botox paralyzes the underlying muscles that control facial movement and produce wrinkles. Botox, or botulinum toxin, is the neurotoxin derived from the bacteria Clostridia botulinum, the cause of botulism.

Botulinum toxin is the most poisonous substance known and is a potentially potent bioweapon. A single gram of the purified toxin, widely dispersed and inhaled, could kill a million people.

Ingested systemically, botulinum toxin kills by paralyzing the diaphragm, the muscle used in breathing. The toxin prevents neurons from releasing acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. But injected locally, it paralyzes just a small area of skeletal muscle. The effect is temporary, lasting three to four months.

Little is known about the long-term cosmetic effects of Botox. But there is evidence that prolonged use can cause some people to produce neutralizing antibodies against Botox, which diminish or block its effect over time.

Botox had wiped the wrinkles from the woman’s brow but had also robbed her face of some human expressiveness. It made her appear not so much youthful as lifelike — a frozen imitation of youth.

Unlike this woman, many Botox users receive extensive injections above the nose, around the eyes and across the forehead, which deeply alter their expressions.

It made me wonder: Should we become a Botox nation? What are the implications for human relationships? I’m not too worried about the adults; they can figure out that their friends and loved ones are poker faced not because of lovelessness but thanks to Botox. But what about infants and children?

Now some of the above concerns have come true.  There are people who have developed a tolerance for Botox rendering it less effective or completely ineffective for them.  Additionally some people have gone overboard with their Botox injections causing their foreheads to become motionless and their expressions frozen, but keep in mind if Botox is used judiciously this should not happen.  Certainly the popularity of Botox among Hollywood celebrities has greatly contributed to its use amongst the general popular.  While celebrities are at the forefront of the use of new cosmetic products and procedures they can also clearly show the pitfalls of these procedures as well.  (For a good illustration of how this pertains to Botox see Shape magazine’s article Botox: Hollywood’s Most Frozen Faces)

The key to a positive Botox experience and a great result?  Finding an injector, either a doctor or a nurse (In the US any doctor, not just a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon can inject Botox, and any registered nurse can inject Botox.  I would love to know from my readers in other parts of the world about how popular Botox is in their country and who can inject it), who knows their stuff.  If you place yourself in the hands of a skilled injector your face looks refreshed, not overdone.  Your forehead will still move while you look alert and your wrinkles are smoothed.  There has been a great improvement in how Botox is injected since it was approved for cosmetic use in 2002 so the concerns from then as mentioned above, while not to be taken lightly, are not as much of a problem today.

Just how did the FDA approval of Botox for cosmetic use change the anti-aging game?  The impact of Botox should not be underestimated.  According to a Skin Inc. article about the 10th anniversary of Botox being approved for cosmetic use:

“When approved by the FDA in 2002, Botox Cosmetic changed the way that physicians could treat patients who were interested in improving the appearance of their vertical frown lines between the brows,” says David E.I. Pyott, chairman of the board, president and CEO, Allergan, Inc. “Botox Cosmetic has become the No. 1 neuromodulator in the United States and the number of patients considering talking to their doctor about treatment has more than quadrupled to 5.8 million since 2002.”

Botox secured its first FDA approval more than 22 years ago as a treatment for two rare eye muscle disorders, making it the first product of its kind approved in the world. In 2002, the same formulation with dosing specific to frown lines was approved under the name Botox Cosmetic.

“The FDA approval of Botox Cosmetic enhanced the practice of plastic surgery by providing plastic surgeons with a new treatment option for patients seeking to reduce the appearance of vertical frown lines between the eyebrows,” says Malcolm Z. Roth, MD, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

In the decade since Botox Cosmetic was approved, aesthetic specialty physicians–which include dermatologists, oculoplastic surgeons and facial plastic surgeons–have developed extensive experience in the art and science of administering Botox Cosmetic to yield predictable results for their patients. These physicians have performed approximately 11 million treatment sessions since 2002 and have also contributed to the extensive clinical database demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the drug.

“The approval of Botox Cosmetic in 2002 dramatically changed our ability to treat our patients by giving them an effective option to treat the appearance of moderate to severe vertical frown lines with a minimally invasive procedure,” says Susan Weinkle, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. “Botox Cosmetic has become more accepted by the public, and this treatment has brought more patients into aesthetic practices to learn about other treatments available.”

Though I have yet to try Botox (or Dysport or Xeomin which do the same thing as Botox yet are newer to the market) I am certainly not opposed to trying it in the future.

Have you tried Botox?  Are you open to trying it?  Share your thoughts below.

Further Reading:

There is, of course, endless amounts of information available about Botox online.  Here are some good sources for more information about this product.

Image from allure.com

 

The Beauty Product I Can’t Live Without July 16, 2012

My family and I are in the midst of getting ready for a big move next month so we have started going through our apartment, where we have lived for the last five years, to see what we can donate, recycle, throw-out, and sell before the move.  At the moment I live in chaos while I wait for the movers to arrive in less than ten days to pack our things and load them onto a container.  Instead of feeling like I have less things I feel like our stuff is multiplying and taking over the apartment.  No matter how much I try to part with things there only seems to be more and more things around.

In the past I’ve shared with my readers how I am a beauty product hoarder.  (See my post Are You a Skincare Product Hoarder?)  When we move next month I am planning on bringing with me an entire, large bag just for all my make-up and skincare products. The bag is actually the one I used to use when I was an esthetics student, and I am sure that I will fill the entire thing up with my products.  (a picture of the bag is below)

Going through our home has made me wonder the following things repeatedly:  why do I need all these things?  And can’t I just live with less?  If you think the number of beauty products I have is bad, you should realize that I also hoard clothes and shoes, especially shoes.  I have always had a thing for shoes.  But I digress.  So I got to thinking: if I could only choose one beauty product to have around what would it be?  I realized that I would actually have to have two: sunscreen and tweezers.  I simply cannot live without my tweezers!  Twice a day, at least, I have to pluck stray hairs from my face, chin (always my chin), and my brows.  I’ve been attached to my tweezers for longer than I can remember; without them I feel lost.  I can’t stand feeling or seeing coarse, usually black hairs, on my face.  I have a pathological need to get rid of the hairs as quickly as I can.  I guess if I really had to I could let go of all my other skincare products (my cleansers, my exfoliating lotions, my retin-a, my antioxidant serums, etc.) but never my tweezers.  As for the sunscreen, I think my need for it is pretty self-explanatory.

There is a quote that keeps making the rounds on Pinterest*:

Someone else is happy with less than what you have

At this point in my life this quote resonates strongly with me; I know that this is something I should aspire to – living with less and being happy.

If you could only have one or two beauty products what would they be?  Please share below.  I love comments!

Further Reading:

 

 

Image of tweezers from hairbumpsrelief.com

Image of bag from overstock.com

*Not on Pinterest yet?  I suggest joining.  It is so much fun!

 

 
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