Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

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

 

2 Book Reviews November 12, 2013

Filed under: Book Reviews — askanesthetician @ 8:24 am
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Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm?  by thebeautybrains.com

and

 Age-less by Fredric Brandt, MD

Chances are if you follow skincare and beauty news you’ve heard of Dr. Fredric Brandt.  He is quoted extensively in glossy fashion magazines, and his name pops up all over The New York Times (such as here or here  or here and here to name just a few articles).   A celebrity cosmetic dermatologist who works in both NYC and Miami, Dr. Brandt was one of the first doctors in the US to use Botox and fillers.  He has helped shape the face (pun intended) of today’s cosmetic dermatology and thriving Botox and filler culture.  Of course he also has his own successful line of skincare products.  His book that I am reviewing here; Age-Less, isn’t new at all; it was published in 2002, making parts of it already obsolete, particularly the sections about collagen fillers.  But there is enough well-thought out skincare advice here that I wanted to share my thoughts about the book with my readers.

This book is short and to the point; it was very readable and relatable.  I think that when a doctor is writing a book for the general public the readability factor is a utmost importance so that anyone can clearly understand the points they are trying to make instead of getting bogged down in scientific information.  The subtitle to this book is: The definitive guide to Botox, collagen, lasers, peels, and other solutions for flawless skin, but what I found most topical about the book was the straight-up skincare advice.  As with all books by dermatologists this book begins with a section about how the skin functions and continues with clear-cut information about what ages our skin.  Much to my liking Dr. Brandt takes the time to discuss the importance of protecting one’s skin from the sun and explains what an SPF rating means (though some of this information is outdated since the FDA finally changed their SPF requirements).  For instance he writes on page 16:

This next piece of advice is almost simplistic, but since I am constantly given a multitude of excuses for being sunburned, I think it bears repeating.  First, everyone needs to consider sunblock as vital as toothpaste and as indispensable as those pricey antiaging creams.  No sunblock will offer you complete protection from the sun – you’d need to go outside covered with a metal cage to accomplish that – but the options today are so wonderfully diverse that it’s truly inexcusable not to use one.

The home care advice that Dr. Brandt dispenses is succinct and very helpful.  He also goes over prominent skincare ingredients and how they help the skin.  The skincare ingredient information you can find in a multitude of sources, but if you are confused about how to care for your skin at home this book can help you get started with a simple and effective home care regime.  I did like the fact that Dr. Brandt explains how regular facials can help your skin (page 38):

Unlike our European counterparts, we are not a nation that values pampering rituals like facials.  Usually, as the aesthetician is busy slathering our faces with multiple potions and lotions, we’re busy thinking there must be something more productive that we should be doing instead.  The many new day spas that opened in the mid-1990s increased interest in facials, adding a sense of urgency and obligation to facials as a crucial step in a skin care routine.  There are many benefits to having regular facials.  The pores get professionally cleansed, the facial massage stimulates the skin’s microcirculation, and the concentrated percentages of active ingredients that are applied are a rare treat.  And, of course, anything that makes you feel this relaxed is going to have a positive effect on your skin.

If facials make you feel great, then by all means indulge.  Just remember that a facial is a supplementary treatment, not a replacement for a consistent home care routine.  Your facialist may truly be amazing, but the benefits received from one treatment will not carry you until your next appointment unless you do your share at home.

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

A large section of the book deals with the benefits of Botox and of fillers.  While the information about Botox is still topical there have been so many advances in the world of fillers that most of the information in the book is already outdated.

My favorite part of the book is at the end – befores and afters.  I am a sucker for a good makeover.  Here Dr. Brandt takes four different women and shows how injections of Botox and filler can rejuvenate one’s appearance. What is nice about this chapter of the book is that not only does Dr. Brandt explain why and how he chose to do what he did for these patients, but each patient also explains what she thought about the process and results.  If you are considering non-surgical facial rejuvenation (which I fully endorse when done by the right physician) the stories in this book, and most importantly the photos, will be helpful for you in making your decision.

Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm?

If you are interested in skincare and science, figuring out the truth behind beauty companies’ claims, and making sure that you buy the most effective beauty products you need to be following the blog The Beauty Brains.  I’ve promoted this blog before in my blog for the simple reason that it is one of the best sources on the web for truthful information about the beauty industry.  The creators of the blog are cosmetic chemists so they really know what they are writing about.  There is definitely not an ounce of beauty bs on this site which I love.

The forces behind The Beauty Brains have written a few books; the one I am reviewing here – Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm? - which was published in 2011.  The book is divided into sections: hair, skin, make-up, the beauty industry, and cosmetic concerns and perilous products.  At the very back of the book they even explain how to read a beauty product label which is of utmost importance if you want to be a savvy beauty consumer and not be duped by the beauty industry.  Each section of the book contains questions sent in by blog readers followed by a short, but very much effective, answer.  The questions really run the gamut from: Do pore strips really work? to Is it safe to use lipstick on your cheeks? or How to pop a pimple and top five causes of darkened armpits.  The problems and issues covered in the book are real life dilemmas and not at all esoteric.

While I liked the skincare section a lot (truth be told I wasn’t as interested in the hair or fragrance sections) I thought questions and answers in the beauty industry and perilous products sections were the most topical since those sections very clearly teach readers what to believe and what not to believe when it comes to the beauty industry.  On top of that these sections of the book really cut through all the noise and nonsense that surrounds the beauty industry and confuses consumers.  As I already mentioned above, reading this book (or the blog) makes you a much more savvy beauty consumer which in the end saves you lots of money and time.  The advice here is down-to-earth and clearly understandable.  The book is also a malleable read since you can skip around just reading the questions and answers that interest you the most or you can take the time to go through the whole book word by word.  Either way, the book won’t take you a long time to get through.  It is also a good reference book to have at home so you can look up common beauty questions without having to surf the web to find answers.

Bottom Line:  I enjoyed reading both of these books and am happy to have them as part of home beauty library for future reference.

Images from bookdepository.co.uk and http://www.ebay.com

 

Oxygen in Skincare Products and Treatments – Update October 17, 2013

I’ve discussed the subject of oxygen in skincare products and treatments before (please see my previous posts Does Your Skin Need to Detoxify/Breathe? and Oxygenation Treatments: The Case For and Against), but since the subject continues to be addressed in other places I thought I would share some new information that I came across.

Before I share some new information I learned I should mention that the argument about oxygen in beauty products usually, though not always, boils down to a product manufacturer saying that oxygen in a product or a treatment is great for the skin and a doctor saying just the opposite.  For example in the The New York Times article Oxygen Bubbles Into Facial Care Products Robin White from the skincare company Philosophy states:

“Oxygen is known to give skin brightness and clarity. It works on clogged pores and dullness, and brings back radiance and freshness.”

Or check out these other two examples from the same article:

“As we age, the oxygen in our body is depleted, which results in lifeless skin,” said Michael Ann Guthrie, vice president for retail for Natura Bissé. “Our oxygen products are based on stabilized hydrogen peroxide, which delivers molecules directly into the skin. This active ingredient breaks down into water and oxygen, and then supplies the skin with oxygen, which enables it to breathe.”  …

Bliss has also created a number of oxygen-infused products. In 2010 and 2011, they introduced the Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Mask ($54), Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Cleansing Foam ($28), and Instant Energizing Eye Mask ($50). In the spring of this year, two new items will be added to the line, including a rich oxygenating cream. The company’s spas also offer two oxygen facials, a 75-minute treatment and a 30-minute one. Both promise luminosity, include an oxygen spray, and are among the spa’s most popular, said Susan Grey, regional vice president of spa operations for New York Bliss Spas. “Oxygen increases circulation, which increases the delivery of nutrition to the skin, and gives your skin energy,” she said. “It also kills bacteria which keeps post-facial breakouts away.” And, she said that as oxygen travels through the body, the skin is the last to receive it. “By time it gets there,” she added, “it’s a little tired.”

And for the dissenting opinions:

… “There’s no scientific evidence that oxygen can penetrate the skin or that it can stay in the product,” said Dr. Bruce Katz, a clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the director of the Juva Skin and Laser Center in New York. He added that very few products can penetrate the stratum corneum, the outer layer of the skin.

Celeste Hilling, the chief executive of Skin Authority, a skin-care company in San Diego, is one cosmetics-industry professional who needs convincing; she believes better results can be achieved with other elements, like vitamin D or peptides.

“Oxygen is an inert ingredient, meaning it’s nonactive,” Ms. Hilling said. “We need it in the bloodstream to breathe and to live, but oxygen is what’s aging our skin. It’s oxidizing it. Plus, skin can’t absorb it.”

The apothecary giant Kiehl’s is another dissenter. “Oxygen is a gas and cannot be incorporated as a stand-alone ingredient,” said Chris Salgardo, the company’s president. “Products on the market that speak to ‘oxygenating’ usually use hydrogen peroxide, or other ingredients that will generate oxygen as the product is applied to skin.” To obtain the benefits oxygenating products are typically used for, like dark spots, wrinkles, pore size and elasticity, Kiehl’s uses other ingredients like vitamin C and calcium.

But products promising oxygen continue to make appearances. According to the NPD Group, a market research company, total oxygen-infused facial skin care products generated $4.1 million in department store sales from January through October 2012 in the United States, an increase of 54 percent, compared with the same time in 2011.

“Oxygen is appealing in concept because everyone knows it’s very good for you,” said Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, a facial plastic surgeon and the director of advanced facial aesthetics in Chestnut Hill, Mass. “But it’s not clear that adding oxygen to the skin is going to improve someone’s appearance. We also get enough oxygen to our skin by having healthy lungs and not smoking.”

So who is right?  Does our skin even need oxygen to be healthy?  According to Drs. Draelos and Pugliese in their book Physiology of the Skin, third edition (pages 249-253):

The skin uses very little oxygen.  In fact, it uses only 12.8 milliliters per minute, just a tad over two teaspoons of oxygen, which is only 4.8% of the oxygen taken into the lungs each minute.  Every 100 grams of skin uses only 0.3 mL/min.  One hundred grams of skin is a lot if you consider only the epidermis, because the dermis uses almost no oxygen.  …

Such a small amount of oxygen does not require the blood supply found in the skin.  This tells us that the skin is not an oxygen-using tissue.  In fact, it prefers to metabolize without oxygen.  …

Oxygen Therapy

Peroxides.  There are two forms of oxygen therapy used by estheticians.  One form is peroxides of some type – hydrogen peroxide, zinc peroxide or other basic elements such as calcium.  All of these compounds decompose to release oxygen and the hydroxide of the base element.  In the case of hydrogen peroxide, the most commonly found oxygen source in cosmetics, water and oxygen are produced.  As the oxygen is released, it reacts on the skin surface with anything that it can oxidize.  It becomes an effective bleaching agent and a weak germicide on the surface of the skin.  But that is all.  It cannot penetrate the skin.

Oxygen is a gas, and gas will diffuse into other gases before it will dissolve in anything else.  You can’t affect anything other than the outer stratum corneum with these topical products.  Any claim that oxygen penetrates the epidermis, or goes to the deeper layers of the epidermis, must be highly suspect.  All other benefits from so-called oxygen generating products are not based on true science.

Oxygen as a gas

This form of oxygen therapy is a waste of time and money.  Here is why.  One molecule weight of oxygen will fill 22.4 liters of atmospheric pressure.  No matter how much pressure is in the tank, that comes out will be at atmospheric pressure when it hits the air.

If you spray this oxygen over a face that is dry, what will happen?  Nothing.  It immediately will go into the air, as oxygen does not diffuse into dry protein.  OK, so wet the face.  How much will dissolve in the water, or whatever fluid used?  Under atmospheric pressure, or 152 mm Hg, 5 micro liters of oxygen will dissolve per milliliter of water, written as 5 µL/mL of water.  Think about that for a minute; the water you are using consists of 1,000 mL of oxygen in the air or 1 million micro liters of oxygen.  How much water can you get on the face at one time?  Maybe an ounce, or even two ounces if a cotton cloth was used.  Now you have 60 mL of water in which 3 X 60 or 180 µL of oxygen at a maximum can be dissolved.

Of the one liter of oxygen that you have used, you have, at the very best, an opportunity to have 0.180 mL dissolve in the solution on the face.  You have wasted 500 times more oxygen.  Now here is the sad part.  None of the oxygen gets into the skin to do any good.  Even if it did, by some unknown law, it still would be of no benefit to the skin because of the skin’s physiological makeup.  Increased skin oxygen is only beneficial if the skin has an insufficient oxygen supply.  It is not possible to aid skin oxygenation of the skin already has as much as it needs.

Summary

…  The skin uses very little oxygen since 90% of the metabolic process in the skin is anaerobic, or does not require oxygen.  Oxygen does not penetrate the skin at atmospheric pressure or in a solution.  The action of oxygen is mainly a surface action; as an oxidant it is an effective bleaching agent and a weak germicide.  Gaseous oxygen has no basis of use in topical system since it does not penetrate dry skin and has very limited solubility on wet skin.  The medical application of gaseous oxygen is limited and difficult to use.  No data exists to support the use of topical oxygen for any non-medical application, but it may be of value to persons with wounds that are receiving insufficient oxygen.

New developments in skin oxygenation include the use of oxygen-releasing foams and oxygen-releasing skin care products.  The problem with evaluating this type of technology is that the oxygen is always used with a moisturizer.  Separating the effect of the moisturizer on the skin versus the oxygen is almost impossible.  It is for this reason that the value of topical oxygen has never been proven.

Now that you’ve read both sides of argument what do you think?  Yay or nay on oxygenation treatments or products with oxygen?

Further Reading:

Image from openwalls.com

 

Meditation and Your Skin September 18, 2013

Filed under: beauty,Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 1:00 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In the quest for beautiful skin have we missed out on a technique that can both quiet our mind, improve our health, and help our skin?  Can you meditate your way to perfect skin?

While the health benefits of meditation are well known – reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, strengthening immunity, and inducing calm – what about the skin benefits?

Celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville writes about the connection between meditation and appearance:

I became convinced about the power of meditation after I witnessed significant changes in the skin of several of my clients who practice it.  It really made me aware that I may be able to help someone topically or assist her in altering her diet, but if I can’t help her find a way to stop her brain craziness, she’s simply not going to look her best.

Meditation is a state of deep physical relaxation combined with acute mental alertness, and there are many ways to achieve this state.  Almost every religion incorporates meditative practices such as praying and chanting, and you might be able to find one in your belief system.  Other purely physiological techniques involve sitting and focusing on something that will hold your attention: a word, an image, your breath, or a visual cue.

(From Complexion Perfection! pages 36-37)

According to the online article Meditating for Better Skin as you practice meditation you reduce your stress levels and help your skin:

Meditation is practiced worldwide as an excellent way to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Did you know, however, that meditation can also help improve your appearance?
When practiced properly and consistently, meditation is one of the few natural ways to improve the quality and tone of your skin, and even combat any number of skin ailments, ranging from acne to rosacea to premature wrinkling.
How stress affects your skin
The body responds to duress by releasing cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol, while necessary in small quantities to help you deal with “fight or flight” situations, is not meant to be sustained at high levels for prolonged periods of time. Continued production of cortisol can result in a variety of negative health issues including fat gain around the visceral organs, blood sugar imbalance, decreased bone density, higher blood pressure and of course, skin problems.
Cortisol can result in an increase in oil production, which can lead to acne and acne-related problems.
Additionally, when cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in our bloodstream go up. Increased blood sugar promotes glycation in our skin, which damages collagen. Damage to collagen can lead to more lines and wrinkles.
As soon as cortisol is released by the body, sugar levels in the blood increase. We know that sugar spikes are especially bad for diabetics, but increased blood sugar also promotes a process called glycation in our skin which damages the collagen. Collagen is what makes your skin both firm and pliable. The breakdown of collagen leads to fine lines and eventually wrinkles.
Cortisol acts to dehydrate the skin by decreasing your skin’s production of hyaluronic acid, a natural moisturizer for the skin. And it compromises the skin’s barrier, which allows hydration to evaporate instead of staying in the skin.
Another byproduct of stress that works negatively on the skin is adrenaline, which decreases blood flow to your skin and leads to a pale, wan complexion.
Better skin through meditationResearch has shown that meditation is a powerful stress-reliever. When you meditate, you slow your heart rate and produce less cortisol even as your immune functions improve. While difficult to adjust to initially, a consistent practitioner of meditation reaps myriad mental and physical benefits, including reduced stress responses and improved immunity to stress.

Reduction in stress naturally leads to reduction of stress hormones like cortisol, which allows your skin to continue to regenerate normally .

People have found that after consistent meditation, they see fewer lines and wrinkles, improvement in acne, fewer dark circles or bags under the eyes (due in part to improved quality of sleep that comes with meditation), and a healthy glow.

Note: For maximum benefits to your skin, do not shower immediately after meditation. Some studies have suggested that chemicals produced during meditation can be beneficial to the skin. Showering would not only wash off those beneficial chemicals, but also produce a shock to the nervous system, increasing the stress response which is the opposite of the intended goal. If you must shower post-meditation, try to wait at least half an hour to an hour. Ideally, avoid any kind of water exposure or submersion post-meditation.

There are many, many different ways to meditate.  Personally I suggest starting off slow – trying to sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes each day if possible.  I’ve found that guided meditations work best for me; I’ve even found some excellent free phone apps such as Take a Break and Omvana that make meditating anywhere easier.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Image from http://www.healingwithhope.com

 

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

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

 

What’s A Serum? July 17, 2013

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
Tags: , , , ,

The number of facial skincare products available can be mind-boggling and downright confusing.  I think that one of the most perplexing skincare products for people to understand its use is a serum.

On her Daily Glow blog Dr. Jessica Wu explains:

Serums are thinner and lighter than lotions and creams, and they tend to have a higher concentration of active ingredients. They’re often meant to target a specific problem, like fine lines, dark spots, or undereye puffiness, so you can use them to spot-treat a particular area. Since they’re often water-based, some water-soluble ingredients like alpha-hydroxy (glycolic) acids are easier to formulate into a serum than a cream. However, serums are not necessarily more effective than creams; what’s important are the actual ingredients and their concentrations.

As explained above serums can be a great way to treat stubborn skincare issues like hyperpigmentation or acne, giving your skincare routine that extra push that it needs in order to be more effective.  Serums can contain ingredients such as:

ANTIOXIDANTS
Because of their efficient delivery system, serums can infuse the skin with antioxidants. Coenzyme Q10 is one that works very well in serums, for example.

VITAMINS
Vitamins A, C and E show up in many serums, mainly for their antioxidant properties. Look for them in formulas targeting aging.

SKIN BRIGHTENERS
You can expect to find natural skin brighteners like willow bark and rose extracts in serums that address dull-looking skin.

HYALURONIC ACID
In addition to hydrating, hyaluronic acid allows serums to penetrate deeper and stimulate new cell growth.

PEPTIDES AND GROWTH FACTORS
Since both are water-soluble and revered for their ability to ward off signs of aging, they can be delivered more potently and effectively in liquid form.

EXFOLIATORS
AHAs like lactic and glycolic acid remove dead skin. (Keep in mind, however, that even in serums, acids can irritate the skin.)

(What to Expect From SerumsNew Beauty)

Since the consistency of a serum is lighter and thinner than that of a cream you use it directly on your skin after cleansing.  Wait between 5 to 15 minutes in order to allow for penetration before you put on your moisturizer or sunscreen.  Generally a little bit of a serum goes a long way since the products are formulated to be concentrated and effective.

But before you run out to buy a serum (which can be very expensive) I want to quote Dr. Ellen Marmur’s take on serums.  This is from her excellent book (see my review here) Simple Skin Beauty – pages 297-298 (hardcover):

Skin Lie:  Serums penetrate the skin better than creams or lotions do.

Skin Truth:  Marketing departments are always devising sensible reasons for us to buy something new and unnecessary.  According to magazine articles and cosmetic advertisements, a serum should be layered underneath a moisturizer since it has a more concentrated composition of ingredients.  Okay.  But the fact is that a serum is not necessarily stronger than a lotion or cream delivery system.  And since the label doesn’t tell us the concentration of ingredients, we can’t be sure if it is more potent.  Some serums are oil-based, some are water-based, some might allow the ingredients to remain more stable, and some may be more compatible with the skin.  Serums (like every other product on the shelves) are not created equal, but it’s difficult to gauge any of this because cosmeceutical labels don’t provide enough information.  Perhaps an unstable ingredient (such as Vitamin C) may remain stable in a serum formulation containing fewer inactive ingredients.  If so, layering it underneath a sunscreen might make sense.  In general, I think a serum is just another layer, another product to purchase, and more time you have to spend on your face.

Personally I love to use a Vitamin C in the morning underneath my moisturizer and sunscreen.  I definitely believe that the best way to get Vitamin C into the skin is through a serum.  I also believe that exfoliating serums are a great alternative to harsh scrubs and an easy way to renew the skin since once you put the serum on there is no need to wash it off.  Exfoliation made easy.

Do you use a serum?  Have a favorite?  Please share below.

My Related Posts:

Further Reading:

Image from hellomagazine.com

 

So Just What Is Dry Brushing? July 11, 2013

Ever heard of dry brushing?  Never heard of dry brushing?  Ever wondered what dry brushing is?  Here are all the answers.

Dry brushing is a relatively simple process that uses, you guessed it, a dry brush on dry skin.

First lets begin with the benefits of dry brushing.  If you dry brush you’ll have:

  • Skin that is healthier and smoother: removing dead skin cells and opening pores to allow them to “breath” and absorb nutrients.
  • Stimulated lymphatic and circulatory systems: boosting your immune system and increasing circulation to help detoxify.
  • Stress relief: increasing your blood flow reduces stressed areas of the body and stimulates nerve endings in your skin which in turn rejuvenates your nervous system.
  • Reduced cellulite: increasing blood circulation to the skin helps break down and releases toxins that cause cellulite in legs and hips.

(From drybrushing.net)

I must address the issue of cellulite and dry brushing since almost any time you read about dry brushing you’ll find that supposedly dry brushing reduces cellulite.  Please don’t rush out to buy a brush and start dry brushing like mad in order to reduce your cellulite because, sorry to say, I really don’t think that dry brushing will reduce cellulite.  If your skin is smoother from dry brushing than the appearance of your cellulite might be reduced but nothing more.  Most people have some cellulite and there is no cure* for it so dry brush in order to exfoliate but not to reduce cellulite.  (For more information about cellulite see my previous post Can You Get Rid of Cellulite?)

I am not the only one who thinks that the claim that dry brushing will eliminate cellulite is incorrect.  Dr. Weil, guru of integrative medicine, debunks some myths about dry brushing:

The notion that dry brushing can reduce or eliminate cellulite make no sense. Fat is arranged in large chambers separated from each other by columns of connective tissue. If fat overflows these chambers as a result of being overweight, or if the connective tissue slackens with age (as it invariably does), the result is the classic pitting and bulging we have come to know as cellulite. I have never seen any treatment that can effectively eliminate it. An improvement in the “appearance” of cellulite may be in the eye of the beholder, but I doubt that any objective change takes place with dry brushing.

The idea that the method can eliminate “up to a pound of toxins a day,” as some proponents claim, is ridiculous. First of all, the body does a pretty good job of cleansing and purifying itself. If you feel the need, you can help speed the removal of unwanted materials by drinking more water to increase urinary output, taking steam baths or saunas to promote sweating, adjusting diet and fiber intake to ensure regular eliminations, and getting enough aerobic activity to stimulate breathing. In addition, taking the herbal remedymilk thistle supports normal, healthy liver metabolism, aiding its important role in detoxification.

I would take the health claims for dry brushing with a big grain of salt. If you enjoy it and believe it benefits you, there’s no reason not to do it. But if you find that it irritates or inflames your skin, you might want to opt for a less abrasive spa treatment.

Just how often should you dry brush and how do you do it?:

How often: Dry skin brushing effectively opens up the pores on your skin. This is something you can — and should — be doing daily, even twice a day. Your skin should be dry, so the ideal time is in the shower before you turn on the water. Just a reminder, don’t get the brush wet.

Direction: You should only brush towards the heart. Making long sweeps, avoid back and forth, scrubbing and circular motions. Start at your feet, moving up the legs on both sides, then work from the arms toward your chest. On your stomach, direct the brush counterclockwise. And, don’t brush too hard: Skin should be stimulated and invigorated but not irritated or red.

Type of brush: The bristles should be natural, not synthetic, and preferably vegetable-derived. The bristles themselves should be somewhat stiff, though not too hard. Look for one that has an attachable handle for hard-to-reach spots, if necessary.

(From Dry Brushing Benefits: Banish Cellulite, Improve Skin Tone and MoreHuffington Post)

If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, have inflamed skin, or sunburned skin stay away from dry brushing.  I would also advise against dry brushing your face.  There are many more effective ways to exfoliate the face.

Personal Experience

I started dry brushing a few weeks ago before my evening shower.  I have to admit that I do forget to dry brush before some showers, but I have been pretty consistent over all.  I find the process quick and invigorating; it definitely wakes you up.  The one benefit I’ve noticed since beginning dry brushing is that my skin is super soft.  Yes, I moisturize after the shower but this is a level of softness that I can’t remember ever experiencing.  Otherwise, I have to admit, I haven’t seen any other benefits from dry brushing just yet.

Bottom Line:  I would definitely recommend dry brushing as an effective way to exfoliate the skin on your body.  Forget the claims about reducing cellulite and detoxifying the body.  Just dry brush away if it feels good!

*Though there is no cure for cellulite there is a promising new treatment for reducing the appearance of cellulite.  It is called Cellulaze.

Further Reading:

Image from healinglifestyles.com

 

 

 
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