Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Wrinkles and Pimples At The Same Time: Solutions May 5, 2014

wrinklesorpimples (1)

 

This post was inspired by something I saw on Facebook.  The reality for many women is just as they start to see wrinkles on their skin (perhaps around the eyes or on the forehead for example) they still get an occasional pimple.  This can be both frustrating and confusing.  Yet it isn’t so difficult to find one solution for both skincare issues.

I would like to point out that the skincare phenomena I am writing about here is not adult acne.  While adult acne is definitely on the rise, I am referring here to people who are probably in their late 30s, early 40s and are starting to see the emergence of fine lines while still occasionally experiencing breakouts (for women perhaps around the time they get their period).  This is also different from women who are undergoing menopause and find that they are all of a sudden breaking out.  I’ve blogged about both adult acne and menopause’s effects on the skin in the past.  Those posts are listed below if you would like to look at them.

In my opinion what is happening here is simple: you are starting to see fine lines because sun damage from years before is now becoming visible, and you are still experiencing an occasional breakout because of your hormones (especially those related to your period) and/or stress.  Just as I see the cause of this skincare issue as fairly straightforward so is, in my opinion, the solution: add a retinol cream to your skincare regime at night, make sure you use sunscreen daily, and use an antioxidant serum every day.  Be sure not to go overboard in order to improve the appearance of your skin.  Do not start using anti-acne products meant for teenagers such as Stridex or Clean & Clear.  These products will be much too harsh for pretty much anyone who isn’t a teenager anymore.

Retinol is the ideal skincare ingredient for people experiencing both fine lines and an occasional breakout because it can treat both issues simultaneously.  I’ve written about retinol and Retin-A before in my blog (you can find the posts below), but I’ll explain again why this is a great skincare ingredient.  As Lab Muffin explains in the post Fact-Check Friday: What Does Retinol Do? :

Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Other forms of vitamin A in skincare that you may be familiar with include isotretinoin (better known as Accutane) and retinyl palmitate (another topical ingredient found in many creams).

Things retinol can help:

- fine lines and wrinkles
- skin roughness and dullness
- skin firmness
- pigmentation from age spots
- acne

Retinoids are skin cell normalizers so that means that they speed up skin cell turn-over which will help clear up breakouts, and retinoids help rebuild collagen so they will minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time. As such adding a retinol product to your skincare regime is the perfect solution for both fine lines and breakouts.

Just keep a few things in mind when using retinoids (I’m quoting Lab Muffin again):

Retinols can be irritating to the skin, and cause dehydration. To reduce the chances of this happening, you should introduce it into your routine slowly (don’t use it every day to begin with), and use extra hydrating moisturisers.

Retinol breaks down with exposure to light and air. Pick a retinol product in an airtight, opaque container to improve its shelf life.

Using retinol with other excellent skin treatments like AHAs and vitamin C can speed up the skin renewal process, fading hyperpigmentation and wrinkles faster. However, the activation of retinol by skin enzymes is optimal at a higher pH (5.5-6) than the pH for AHAs (3.5). While there isn’t much research on how quickly the pH of skin readjusts itself, waiting an hour or so in between applying the two is a safe bet, or even using one in the morning and one in the evening.

Retinol, much like AHAs, can make the skin more susceptible to sunburn. Wear extra sunscreen when you use retinol so you don’t completely reverse its beneficial effects!

Lastly, keep in mind that you cannot use Retin-A or retinols when pregnant or nursing.

 

So how would this anti-aging, anti-acne skincare regime look?  I suggest cleansing twice daily with a mild cleanser, applying an antioxidant serum in the morning (such as a Vitamin C serum in order to boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen, further prevent the signs of aging, protect your skin from inflammation), and then using a sunscreen with a spf between 30 to 50 (you can also use a separate moisturizer before your sunscreen if you feel your skin needs it).  In the evening after cleansing apply a retinol cream followed by a moisturizer.  Pretty simple, right?

 

Recommended Products:

  • While I am not familiar with all the recommended products in this article I like the approach of this skincare regime since the recommended products are not too harsh.  Remember there is no need to buy just anti-acne products if you only experience an occasional breakout.
  • Cleanser:  I suggest using a mild cleanser such as CeraVe or even Cetaphil.  You don’t need to use an anti-acne cleanser.  That would be overkill for most people.
  • Antioxidant serum:  See my previous posts below for more information about why you want to use an antioxidant serum and in particular a Vitamin C serum.  There are quite a few good (and even great) Vitamin C serums out there, but at the moment my recommendation is to buy one from South Korea.  OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum is excellent and super affordable (even when you factor in the shipping costs). I am using it now and love it.
  • Moisturizers and Sunscreens:  Choose your products according to your skincare needs and the weather in the area you live in.  Some people may need a richer moisturizer and others not so much especially if you live in a humid climate.  Now that Target is selling some of my favorite skincare lines making them accessible to all I would recommend Laneige Water Sleeping Mask as a moisturizer (don’t be put off by the name; it’s a moisturizer), particularly as a nighttime one, and any La Roche-Posay sunscreen, particularly Anthelios Ultra Light spf 60.
  • Retinol Creams or Serums:  There are also numerous retinol products on the market including ones from Roc and Neutrogena, but for my money I would try either La Roche-Posay Effaclar K Daily Renovating Acne Treatment (if you have blackheads and more than just the occasional breakout) or La Roche-Posay Redermic R (if you only have an occasional breakout).

Further Reading:

 

Wrinkles: What They Are Exactly and What Causes Them March 27, 2014

Filed under: Aging,beauty — askanesthetician @ 12:35 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In anticipation of moving very soon I’ve been trying to go through different parts of my home and get rid of everything I don’t need.  I am a hoarder.  No, not the kind that you see on one of those reality shows that can’t walk through their home because of the vast accumulation of things, but the more subtle kind that saves articles, refuses to donate clothes she hasn’t worn in years, and somehow has collected seven blank, decorative notebooks over the years (in my defense all those blank notebooks were gifts).  It is really time that I move without taking things with me that I will never look at or use again.  So this week I went through all the esthetics related materials that I had at home and discovered articles that I had saved from years ago.  I looked things over, I evaluated if I really needed to save the information, and some of the articles I actually found online so I pinned them onto my skincare board on Pinterest.  Though Pinterest has indeed revolutionized the way I save information for future reference (and no I don’t think using the word revolutionized is too dramatic) not all the esthetics related material I read online can be pinned.  So sad.  So I still have a binder with articles, but at least the binder is now very organized.

One article that I saved was from Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Solutions website entitled The Anatomy of a Wrinkle.  The article succinctly explains how wrinkles form and what factors contribute to the formation of wrinkles:

… all wrinkles are caused by the same chain of events within the skin.  Age causes uppermost epidermal cells to get thinner and less sticky, which allows moisture to seep out in turn making skin drier.  Oil glands begin to slow down, which contributes to dryness as well.  A bit deeper in the skin, supportive scaffolding (i.e. collagen and elastin) breaks down, and skin loses its smoothness and tautness – leaving it no other choice than to wrinkle and sag.  In the skin’s lowest layer, the subcutaneous layer, fat cells begin to shrink, so they are less able to “fill in” or plump out damage in the skin’s other layers.

And what factors can contribute to the formation of wrinkles?  Dr. Baumann explains:

Sun exposure:  The damage caused by UV rays does a number on our skin’s supportive matrix, mainly collagen and elastin.  Think about it … wrinkles appear on the face, neck, chest, backs of the hands and forearms – all places that are most frequently exposed to the sun.

Facial expressions: You know what happens when you fold a piece of paper too many times?  A line becomes etched and it’s impossible to smooth out.  That’s exactly what happens in areas of the face that are responsible for facial expressions.  This is why the areas around the eyes and lips and on the forehead are often the first to show wrinkles.

Skin color:  Pigment plays a protective role, so those with lighter skin have less natural defense against damaging UV light.  Conversely, darker skins usually show wrinkling much later in life, and they have their melanin to thank for that.

Genetics:  As with many other beauty and health concerns, your DNA dictates how wrinkly your skin will get.  If your mom looked great well into her 60s, it’s possible you will, too, as long as you’re not baking in the sun every chance you get.

Now what is the best way to prevent wrinkles and/or treat them?  Dr. Baumann recommends the daily use of sunscreen to prevent wrinkles and retinoids if you already have wrinkles.  To those recommendations I would recommend following anti-inflammation diet and incorporating antioxidant serum, such as a Vitamin C serum, into your daily skincare routine.

One more thing – another thing about looking through things you’ve saved is discovering that you have already used the above mentioned article in a post.  I briefly toyed with the idea of just updating the old post (it is almost three years old), but in the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new” I wrote this new post instead.

My Related Posts: 

Image from laserskinsolutions.com

 

Is Your Pillow, Pillowcase, Or Sleeping Position Giving You Wrinkles? September 3, 2013

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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If we don’t already have enough to worry about when it comes to skin aging it turns out that perhaps how we sleep or on what we rest our head can hurt our skin.  As with most skincare subjects this topic is highly debatable so let us check things out more closely.

It’s hard to sleep on your back but should you do so in order to prevent wrinkles?  It turns out that a lot of experts actually say “yes, you should sleep on your back”.  Take for instance this exchange from The Huffington Post:

…  we’re pulling apart the thinking that the way you sleep can exacerbate wrinkles. New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, author of “Skin Rules,” breaks it down for us.

This all started a few months back when I was getting a facial. I asked the aesthetician why the fine lines around my eyes seemed to be more noticeable on the right side of my face. “Do you sleep on your side?” she asked. “Yes,” I responded. I’ve been faithfully sleeping on my right side my entire life. “Well, that’s why,” she pointed out. Dr. Jaliman concurs: “The way you sleep does affect wrinkles — that’s why some lines are called sleep lines. If you crunch your face against a pillow you can get them.”

“It’s best to sleep on your back, although most people find this difficult,” says Jaliman. Indeed. Every attempt I’ve made to become a back-sleeper usually ends back at square one, i.e., comfortably on my right side. “One way to do this is to put a U-shaped bucky pillow around your neck and to prop yourself with other pillows all around you so you don’t turn in your sleep,” advises Jaliman.

(From Does Sleeping on Your Side Cause Wrinkles?  Beauty Myth or Not?)

WebMD actually refers to the American Academy of Dermatology when telling readers to sleep on their back.  I had to find the original reference from the AAD and here it is:

  1. Try to sleep on your back. Do you wake up with sleep lines on your face? Sleeping on your side or your face causes these lines. In time, these lines turn into permanent wrinkles.

(From What Causes Our Skin to Age)

There are even pillows that help achieve wrinkle free sleep.  Allure explains:

Do you have fine lines, wrinkles, or crow’s-feet? Well, maybe it’s because you’re not sleeping on a pillow shaped like Transformers. At least according to the plastic surgeon who designed the JuveRest, a pillow that supposedly reduces the wrinkles acquired by smooshing our faces into our pillows while we snooze.

“My patients are often surprised to learn there are two types of wrinkles on their faces: those caused by expression and those caused by facial distortion from pillow contact during sleep,” says Goesel Anson, the inventor of the pillow. Side and stomach sleepers are the most vulnerable since they spend a third of their lives pressing their delicate visages into heretofore thought totally innocuous bags of goose down.

The Sleep Wrinkle Pillow’s totally un-pillowlike shape minimizes contact between the fabric and your face, thus reducing wrinkles … .

(From Sleep Wrinkles?  The Lego Pillow Might Be For You)

Don’t want to invest in a special pillow?  Can’t sleep on your back?  Maybe all you need to do is use a satin pillowcase.  Again I’ll refer to The Huffington Post article:
If sleeping on your back is absolutely impossible, don’t worry, all is not lost. “A few tricks to avoid sleep lines is to get satin pillowcases as opposed to the usual cotton pillowcases. The face slides against the satin pillowcase so that it doesn’t crunch against it, and no sleep lines are formed. Beauty sleep pillows are also an option, they are made with a special foam and have a unique shape which helps alleviate pressure on the face.”

Ok but does anyone disagree with the above advice?  The Beauty Brains certainly do.  Take for instance what they wrote in the post Does Sleeping on Your Face Give You Wrinkles?:

Long time readers of the Beauty Brains may recall the debate that raged over our post on “Are silk pillowcases good for your skin.” At the time, we took the position that there is no data showing that contact between your face and the pillow case causes wrinkles. A new study published in the June 2013 of Dermatologic Surgery seems to support our position.

The study, conducted by Dr. Brett Kotlus, evaluated whether or not sleeping on one side of your face causes an increase in wrinkles. Here’s a link to the study Effect of Sleep Position on Perceived Facial Aging however you have to be a member to download the entire article. So to make it easy for you, Dr. Klotus has provided a few key take away points:

  • The study shows no association between sleep side and wrinkles
  • Overall, more wrinkles were seen on the left side of the face (not related to sleep position) but instead attributed to to sun exposure while driving. Other studies have found more skin cancer on the left side of the face for the same reason.
  • The study also calls into question if anti-wrinkle sleep pillows are worthwhile.

In conclusion Dr. Klotus says “I do think that sleep lines come from pillow pressure, but other environmental factors such as sun are more important contributors to wrinkles than sleep position.”

And what about silk pillowcases?  Above I mentioned  the recommendation to use a satin pillowcase, but let us throw silk pillowcases into the mix too.  Plus The Beauty Brains post, Are Silk Pillowcases Good for Your Skin?, is too good not to share:

Stephanie says: Is it true that it is better for your skin to sleep on silk pillow cases?

The Left Brain believes:
There is some evidence, like this Pubmed article, that indicates special silk clothing can reduce atopic dermatitis in children who are prone to that condition. However, I have can’t find any evidence that sleeping on silk pillowcases is really better for your skin. Nonetheless, one brand, Silkskin Antiwrinkle Pillowcases, says they actually fight the signs of aging. Here are a few claims from their website followed by my comments:

1. Gives your skin the chance to breathe naturally

While your skin does perspire and while certain chemicals can clog your pores and cause acne, skin does not really “breathe” so silk doesn’t really make a difference in this regard.

2. Because moisture levels are being maintained throughout the night, deeper lines and wrinkles are not forming.

Moisture loss causes dry scaly skin, not wrinkles. A pillow case can not stop wrinkles from forming.

3. Different from run of the mill silk pillow case as it is made from organic silk which contains amino acids, the building blocks of your skin.

ALL silk is made of amino acids, so the fact that this silk is organic is completely irrelevant. And the amino acid profile of silk is different than keratin protein, which is what skin is made of. And, even if it were the same, it’s not like the amino acids leap off the pillowcase and attach to your skin.

4. Organic silk also has the same pH balance of your skin.

Measuring pH really only makes sense when you’re talking about a water solution. Yes, skin has a optimal pH balance, but the pH of fabric you’re sleeping on is really irrelevant.

5. When sleeping on this pillowcase, your night cream is fully absorbed by the skin and won’t rub off like it usually does, therefore allowing the cream to work to maximum effect.

I’m curious if Silkskin has any actual data to back up this claim. I suppose it’s possible that silk is less absorbent than cotton, which means it could absorb less oils and moisture from the surface of your skin. But even if silk is less absorbent, just the friction of your skin against the fabric as you move around in your sleep is still enough to wipe some of the lotion off your face. Without some kind of test data to show Silkskin has a beneficial effect, I’m skeptical on this claim.

6. Silk stops you getting the dreaded ‘bedhead’ as your hair will simply glide over the pillowcase.

Bed head isn’t just caused by rubbing your hair across the fabric of the pillow. It’s also caused by the warmth and moisture of your perspiring scalp saturating your hair and reforming the hydrogen bonds (also known as salt bonds) in your hair, which results in the bizarre hair configuration you wake up with. Since silk doesn’t stop you from perspiring, it probably has little effect on bed head. But once again, if there’s test data to the contrary I’ll gladly reconsider my position.

7. Dust mites cannot live on silk so the pillowcase is excellent for allergy sufferers.

This is the most intriguing of all Silkskin’s claims. While I found references to very tightly woven pillowcases being used to prevent dust mites from penetrating into pillows, I could not find any legitimate scientific source that answered this question one way or the other.

The Beauty Brains bottom line:

There may be some legitimate benefits to sleeping on silk, but Silkskin makes a number of definitive claims without providing much information to back them up. Maybe it’s true that dust mites can’t live on silk, but I’d rather not take the word of the company trying to sell me the product as proof. A little independent confirmation would go a long way toward making me feel better about buying this product.

Bottom Line:   I have to say that I still debating this topic for myself.  Though I think The Beauty Brains, as usual, make a strong argument against back sleeping and special pillowcases and pillows I still wonder if making some small changes could result in fewer wrinkles down the line.

Further Reading:

 

Image from zuzafun.com

 

Skincare Terms Explained: Glycation May 13, 2013

In July, 2012 I wrote a post all about how terrible sugar is for the skin.  This post is going to expand on the term “glycation” and explain what exactly that process is and how it relates to the skin.  But basically, it all comes back to the same thing again – sugar ruins our skin (and our health).

In her book Heal Your Skin Dr. Ava Shamban explains just what glycation is (page 22 in the paperback edition):

As delicious as sugar may seem to your taste buds, it can be extremely destructive to your skin.  A spike in your blood sugar levels – which can come from eating processed foods or foods with too much refined sugar – can leave too much sugar circulating in your body.  A process called glycation and the formation of advanced glycation end products are the results.

Glycation is a process whereby a sugar molecule, such as glucose or fructose, is added to collagen and elastin fibers, proteins found in the extracellular matrix, which surrounds skin cells.  This makes the collagen stiff, as it is now cross linked in an abnormal way.  In addition, the enzymes that normally remodel collagen no longer have access to the protein, and it can no longer be remodeled in a normal continual fashion.  When the process occurs, the skin appears prematurely aged.

Glycation damages collagen in other organs in the body, too, including the blood vessel walls.  When this occurs, the skin doesn’t remodel in the same way as before, prematurely aging the tissue.

Dr. Peter Pugliese discusses the subject of glycation extensively in his book Physiology of the Skin, 3rd edition (written with Dr. Draelos) in chapters 30 and 31.  A lot of the information from the book was also published in two articles in Skin Inc.: Physiology of the Skin: The Impact of Glycation on the Skin, Part I and Part II.  I urge you to read both articles if you want a very in-depth and scientific description of the glycation process (there are also lots of pictures and chemical equations).  Suffice it to say though Dr. Pugliese’s explanations are welcome they can be a bit overwhelming for those of us who still have upsetting flashbacks to high school chemistry (I still cringe when I think about the periodic table; I was a poor chemistry student to say the least) so I’ll just quote the summary here:

Glycation is the non-enzymatic joining of a sugar and a protein, or a lipid. It is a process that occurs naturally in foods, especially when cooked. The Maillard reaction is one of these processes that starts by forming a Shiff base and proceeds to forming multiple chemicals called advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, that have adverse effects on a person’s biological processes. AGEs can link up with many proteins and denature them or alter them to be nonfunctional, cross-linked collagens, which is an AGE protein complex responsible for stiffness of the skin.
Skin collagen has a long half-life; these cross-linked forms do not go away and are not fully reversible at present. Elastin is another long-lived protein that is easily glycated and lasts a long time. Denatured elastin is associated with slackened skin. AGEs have cellular receptors known as RAGEs that initiate inflammatory reactions when activated by an AGE complex. These reactions tend to be chronic and are associated with arterial diseases, metabolic disorders and rheumatoid arthritis. Once they are started, the AGE-RAGE system will accelerate and perpetuate itself.
In the skin, glycation accounts for accelerated aging, yellowing and stiffness of the skin, and decreased circulation. Skin cannot look young and healthy with glycation products. Treatment is best started with prevention by diet control, reducing total calories, avoiding high sugar foods and not cooking at high temperatures. Supplements such as aminoguanidine, pyridoxamine, carnosine and benfotiamine are excellent glycation preventors. A new class of drugs called glycation breakers is being developed to correct the existing glycation protein complexes associated with many chronic diseases. They will truly be the youth drugs of the future.

In my previous post about the subject of sugar and how it negatively impacts the skin I shared with my readers how hard I have found it to cutback on sugar in my diet.  I also started noticing how sugar lurks in all sorts of foods; I try to read food labels more carefully now.  But after researching this post I realize that I also have to be careful about the method of how I cook my food since foods cooked at high temperatures (broiled, barbecued) can negatively impact your health and skin as well.  I wish I had the will power (and the time) to become a raw food vegan, but in the meantime I’ll still keep working on cutting down on how much sugar I consume.

Further Reading:

Image from rokderm.com

 

May Is Skin Cancer Awareness Month May 7, 2013

Sunbathing by the Sea

The number of times I have written a post in this blog about sun safety, skin cancer, or sunscreen could, at this point, fill a book.  Well maybe not a book but at least a thick pamphlet.  But since it is once again Skin Cancer Awareness Month I thought it important to revisit these topics yet again.  It is always good to be reminded about proper sun safety.  Skin cancer is an almost entirely preventable cancer so keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the sun is of utmost importance.  Yes, proper sun protection takes some extra time and thought, but preventing skin cancer shouldn’t be an afterthought.  And I haven’t even mentioned the wrinkles and pigmentation issues that come from daily sun exposure.  So if skin cancer doesn’t concern you particularly at least protect your skin from the sun in order to keep it looking young and fresh.

The Skin Cancer Foundation provides the following sun safety tips:

Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however.

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
    Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam

Allure adds even more tips:

As much as we know about skin cancer, though, only about 20 percent of us wear sunscreen daily. (Which is crazy, considering in a poll we did onAllure’s Facebook page, 68 percent of our fans said they either have had skin cancer or know someone who has.) But here’s the thing: It’s never too late to start taking care of your skin. Here, a few sun-protection tricks to keep in mind as the temperatures start to rise:

• If you’re the outdoorsy type, you may want to take a summer vacation from retinols: They thin the top layer of skin and can make you vulnerable to redness and brown spots, says dermatologist Fredric Brandt.

• One bottle of sunscreen is not going to last. “One ounce is the right goal for each application, as well as for each reapplication, so a 12-ounce bottle is 12 servings—and that’s not a lot,” says Patricia Wexler, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Set an alarm on your phone to ring every two hours to remind you to reapply.

• If you’re outside for 30 minutes or more, wear a chemical sunscreen (like one with Mexoryl SX or Parsol) topped by a physical one (with Z-Cote or titanium dioxide). “Neither type is 100 percent perfect, and whatever rays get through the first layer are caught by the second one,” says Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann.

• Think twice before you use sunscreen wipes: The FDA is reviewing their effectiveness, along with powders and shampoos containing SPF. (No decisions have been made yet.)

So whatever your daily beauty routine is make sure that it includes an SPF of at 15 but SPF 30 is better.  Apply 365 days a year, rain or shine.  And be sure that everyone you love and care about is protected from the sun as well.

My Related Posts:

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post I’ve written so much about the topic of this post that I decided to choose some of my related posts to share here.  If you type “sun” into the search line on the home page of this blog you’ll find even more related posts.

Image from askdegas.com: Sunbathing by the Sea.  And yes, I do think everyone should go to the beach fully dressed :)

 

What Are Free Radicals? April 23, 2013

I’ve written about the importance of incorporating a cream or serum with antioxidants into your daily skincare routine in this blog before (see the list below of my related posts), but when I came across the following information about free radicals I thought I should address the subject of antioxidants from a different angle.  That angle, of course, would be to address the issue of free radicals more in-depth.

In their book Physiology of the Skin Drs. Draelos and Pugliese devote an entire chapter (chapter 8) to the subject of free radicals and the skin (those words also happen to be the title of the chapter).  I want to highlight some of the more accessible parts of the chapter (page 163):

A free radical is any atom or molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons and is capable of independent existence.  Oxygen, then, is a free radical.  In fact, oxygen is a diradical, which means it has two unpaired electrons.

Here, simplified, is the secret of the free radical – one or more unpaired electrons in a molecule or atom that can exist independently, and can react actively with other nearby molecules to alter or destroy them.  An example will make this concept more graphic and easier to remember.

Water contains hydrogen and oxygen.  It is a very simple molecule, and is written in chemical notation as either H2O or HOH.  The hydrogen atoms exactly balance the electronic charges in the oxygen atom to give us one molecule of water.  If only one molecule of hydrogen would react with the oxygen molecule, a free radical would exist, the deadly hydroxyl radical ·OH.  The little dot to the left of the “OH” formula means it is a free radical.  This ·OH is called the hydroxyl radical and is a very nasty free radical because it reacts immediately with any molecule adjacent to it to alter or destroy it.  It is a blessing that oxygen does not react with hydrogen in this manner to form hydroxyl radicals because life would be impossible if it did.

The chapter goes into great detail about oxygen – its chemistry, the molecule itself, the process and repercussions of oxidation, and oxidative stress.  On page 171 there is a graph that clearly shows how free radicals affect cells by damaging DNA, nerves, and all body tissues.  According to the book “it is the oxygen that you breathe which ultimately destroys your body”.

At the end of chapter eight in their book the doctors discuss a few specific ways free radicals specifically impact the skin and how to combat these subsequent skin problems.  The skin issues discussed are: skin inflammation, photo-damaged skin (sun damage), and aging skin.  For example when it comes to skin inflammation the doctors explain (page 177):

Any inflammatory response will involve free radical formation – no ifs, ands or buts.  If you see a red area that is tender and hot, it is inflamed and seething with free radical activity.  Superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radical will be there.  Iron will react with the superoxide and peroxide to form hydroxyl radicals, and produce great tissue destruction.

In her book Simple Skin Beauty Dr. Ellen Marmur explains, in easier to understand terms, how the sun damages our DNA and how the sun produces free radicals (page 138 in the hardcover copy):

Free radicals may sound like some kind of rock band, but they are toxic by-products in the body.  To make a very long and complex scientific phenomenon short, this is how they are produced through UV damage to cell’s DNA.

A photon (the sun’s laser beam) zaps through the cell membrane and cytoplasm, through the nuclear membrane (the safe, womb-like center of the cell), and hits the DNA.  Imagine DNA as being like two pieces of spaghetti laid parallel, with crosshatches all the way along like a ladder, then rolled up and twisted like an intricately knotted cuff link.  When a photon burns a hole into the DNA knot, it starts to unravel and the two sides of the ladder begin opening up.  The immune system immediately sends out enzymes to fix the problem.  (Enzymes are proteins that act as workers in the body, fixing damage by causing chemical reactions.)  One enzyme comes in and gobbles up the damaged portion; then it creates a new DNA rung to fix that ladder.  Another enzyme double-checks it, another seals it together, and another wraps it up into a nice, perfect knot again.  All these chemical reactions done to reconstruct damaged DNA give off toxic oxygen by-products, or free radicals.  Oxygen can be stable, with two electrons in its orbit, or, if it has only one electron (as free radicals do), it’s on fire – trying to steal an electron from another molecule in order to become stable.  An unstable oxygen molecule races around like a toddler with a pair of scissors or a Tasmanian devil, causing destruction to anything it its path until it runs out of energy.  Antioxidants quench and destroy that toxic free radical.

Suggestions for combating these free radical induced skin problems include the use of sunscreens with antioxidants in them, taking multiple vitamins daily, using Retin-A, getting regular exercise, and avoiding stress.  Of course all those tips not only will help your skin stay healthy but your body as well.  Just keep the following in mind when it comes to skincare products, antioxidants, and combating free radical damage:

Any client with aging skin should be approached with the fact that treatment is a lifelong reality.  There are no easy fixes and no miracle products.  It takes time to age, and time to restore the skin to normal.  Good and effective anti-aging products address the free radical problem by containing antioxidants at levels that prove they work.  Do not buy a product that has not been tested for antioxidant activity.  Beware of products that have antioxidants listed at the end of the ingredients; they are low in concentration and are useless.  …

In addition, do not smoke cigarettes; they produce an alarming amount of free oxygen radicals that damage both the lungs and the skin.  Avoid sun exposure as much as is practical.  Use sunscreens that provide both UVA and UVB photoprotection whether working indoors or outdoors.  Increase dietary intake of fruits and vegetables at each meal, remembering to eat them freshly picked and raw to optimize nutritional content.  Unripened and preserved fruits and vegetables do not have the antioxidant levels found in fresh vine ripened varieties.

(Physiology of the Skin, pages 178 – 179)

My Related Posts:

I haven’t read this book yet, but it turns out that there is a whole book devoted to the subject of antioxidants and skin aptly titled Antioxidants and the Skin.

Image from docstoc.com

 

My Beauty Regrets February 12, 2013

This post was inspired by two separate posts I read online.  The first was Beauty Regrets I Wish I Knew In My 20s from My Beauty Bunny and the other was ATB Learning Curve: 10 Beauty Lessons I Learnt in My 20s from Addicted to Blush.  (Full disclosure – I found the second post since my blog is mentioned in the post.  Before then I did not know of this blog, but I am finding it quite fun to read a beauty blog from India)  Though I am well past my 20s, and nearing 40 more and more with each passing day, I did find parallels in my beauty regime to what the ladies mentioned in their posts.

Overall I try not to have regrets when it comes to anything or everything in my life.  But try as I might, of course, I do still have regrets.  Mine mostly revolve around something I should have said to someone or something I shouldn’t have said to someone.  I’m a work in progress but aren’t we all?

So without any further delays my beauty regrets are as follows:

  • Not taking sun protection more seriously sooner.  I started using a moisturizer with SPF in it back in high school (or at least I think I did, maybe it was college), but now I know I didn’t use enough and I never reapplied.  I have the sun damage to prove it.  In the last few years I’ve become a sunscreen fanatic, and I am never without a sunscreen at all times so that I can reapply.  Many people think I am insane because of my sunscreen fanaticism, but I don’t care :).
  • I wish I had learned about skincare ingredients sooner.  Until I started studying esthetics about five years ago I got all my beauty information from glossy fashion magazines.  Not that those magazines cannot provide helpful information for the consumer, but they are certainly just one perspective on a complicated and far-reaching subject.  Once I started my esthetic training I discovered a wealth of publications for estheticians that I currently read and blogs that help me sort through all the beauty mumble jumble out there (for a list look at the right hand side of my home page under “links I love”).  I also started reading lots of books by dermatologists which I have found very informative (look under “book reviews” for my reviews).  Better informed you are the better choices you make when it comes to taking care of your skin.  Lastly, always remember to keep an open mind.  I am constantly learning new things from my fellow estheticians, the reading I do, and from taking care of different client’s skin.
  • I wish I had understood the link between skin health, particularly acne, and food earlier.  Last year I read quite a few books about skin health/beauty and food.  What I found most fascinating was the information about an alkaline diet and skin health.  (You can find more information about this in my two earlier posts Is An Alkaline Diet Good for Your Skin? and Book Review: Stop Aging, Start Living)  I also wish I had realized sooner how awful sugar is for your skin and health.  I am still trying to break my sugar addiction.  (For more information on how terrible sugar is for your skin see this post of mine)
  • I regret not doing chemical peels sooner.  Chemical peels are a great way to treat a myriad of skincare conditions including, though not limited to, hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines.  (For more information about chemical peels see my post 13 Reasons You Should Get a Chemical Peel from an Esthetician)
  • I wish I had learned to apply make-up earlier.  I’ve reached the point in my life were I really look better with some make-up on instead of none.  It took me years and years and years to get over being intimidated by make-up, any make-up.  I can’t say that I am great at applying make-up, but I do have simple routine down pat.  Make-up is also a great way to be creative without having regrets since you can simply wash your face and be done.  (I recently discovered Lisa Eldridge’s make-up tutorials.  Check them out!)

So what are your beauty regrets?  Share below!

Image from http://www.underconsideration.com

 

 
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