Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Vitamin C Breakdown February 27, 2012

Maybe you already know the Vitamin C basics – that when applied topically this skincare ingredient is an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a collagen simulator.  I’ve blogged in the past (see my post Great Skincare Ingredient: Vitamin C) about how much I love Vitamin C as part of a daily skincare routine.  Yet finding the right Vitamin C product for your skin can be confusing because of the numerous products on the market and different formulations of Vitamin C out there.  I hope this post will help clear up any confusion my readers may have about this subject.

Vitamin C Basics

As already mentioned above Vitamin C can have numerous benefits for the skin.  Not only does Vitamin C protect the skin since it is an antioxidant it can also control oily skin, hydrate, and help your sunscreen work better by shielding the skin from UV rays that your sunscreen misses.  But if you get a product that is too strong you can end up irritating your skin instead of helping it.  Or you could invest in a product whose formulation just isn’t effective and/or unstable.

There are numerous versions of Vitamin C formulations in skincare products.  Irregardless if the Vitamin C is from a natural or synthetic source all Vitamin C needs to be processed to some degree before it can be used in skincare products.  Synthetic Vitamin C ingredients are more readily available, are less expensive, can be more sustainable, and break down at a slower rate than natural forms of Vitamin C.  These facts can factor into a company’s decision about which form of Vitamin C to use in formulating their product.

In my research I’ve come across quite a few different forms of Vitamin C found in skincare products.  In this post I’ll discuss the following versions:  L-Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP), and Ascorbyl Palmitate.  Though you will come across other versions of Vitamin C in skincare products these three are widely used in skincare products.  Let’s look at each of these forms of Vitamin C up close.

L-Ascorbic Acid

L-Ascorbic Acid in skincare products is the closest form of Vitamin C to that found in our diets.  But before you think that this version of Vitamin C comes from an orange be aware that companies use a version that is synthesized in a manufacturing plant.  The upside to this version of Vitamin C is that it is an effective anti-aging ingredient that promotes collagen synthesis since it is the most potent form of Vitamin C used in skincare products.  Some studies have found that this version of Vitamin C prevents trans epidermal water loss (which is important in maintaining healthy skin).  The downside to this version of Vitamin C is that it can be unstable because of its low pH and can oxidize when exposed to air so you need to store it in a dark place.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)

This version of Vitamin C is the most stable version of Vitamin C used in skincare products.  It equals L-ascorbic acid’s ability to synthesize collagen, and it can also brighten the skin (aka even out skin tone) and fight free radical damage.  Some experts believe that MAP is not as powerful as L-ascorbic acid in protecting the skin though it does increase collagen synthesis.

Ascorbyl Palmitate

Ascorbyl palmitate is a mixture of L-ascorbic acid and palm oil.  Because of this combination of ingredients this creates a stable, non-acidic, fat-soluble form of Vitamin C.  There are varying opinions about how effective this form of Vitamin C is.  In the winter/spring, 2012 issue of New Beauty magazine Dr. Nicholas Perricone says that this “vitamin C molecule is highly effective, stable in the jar and doesn’t oxidize like the acidic form.  It penetrates better and more rapidly, which causes stimulation of the fibroblasts, in turn creating new collagen and inhibiting wrinkle formation.”  (page 44)   But on the flip side Dr. Carl Thornfeldt, in his book New Ideal of Skin Health, has this to say about ascorbyl palmitate (page 165):

The most common of all analogs is the vitamin C ester known as ascorbyl 6-palmitate (AP).  This ester allegedly is released from the lipid palmitic acid by esterases in the stratum corneum.  However, a 10% concentration failed to increase the skin levels of LAA (L-ascorbic acid).  It is alleged to have antioxidant effect and it supposedly reduces UVB induced erythema by 50% when a 15% concentration of ascorbyl palmitate (Apal) is used.  However, … it suffers with a safety problem.  When applied to human skin it strongly promoted lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity, which could be cancer causing.  Safety studies are still pending even though this data was published in 2006, and yet many products continue to use AP as an active ingredient.

In my opinion, if there is that much discrepancy in opinions about this form of Vitamin C I would err on the side of caution and avoid it.

Conclusion 

Before you run out to buy the first Vitamin C product you can find keep a few things in mind.  Once again I’ll quote from Dr. Thornfeldt’s book (page 165):

Vitamin C products, probably more than any other cosmeceutical, must have stability data and clinical trials using the final product to prove efficacy and safety.  Because of the highly effective reactive nature of LAA, product should begin being used as soon as possible after manufacture.  It is important to ask the distributor for the manufacture date of that lot.  Unfortunately because no federal control is mandates, many companies today in the cosmeceutical arena ask you to believe that somehow their product defies the laws of biochemistry and remains stable long after it was manufactured, when in reality oxidation begins immediately.

So how do you choose the best Vitamin C product?  Future Derm recently wrote a great post about Vitamin C products, including recommendations.

Sources and Further Reading:

 

Treat Your Skin By Zones February 23, 2012

The idea I’m proposing in this post isn’t new at all, but hopefully it will help people who have wondered how to  treat multiple skin issues simultaneously.

So how do you take care of skin that has breakouts on the chin, sun damage on the cheeks, and dry patches by the nose?  It’s simple – divide your skin into zones and treat accordingly.  (Dermalogica has based their entire skin analysis process on this idea.)

Celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville explains the concept well in her book Complexion Perfection! (page 68):

I frequently tell my clients that our skin isn’t always one way, all the time; rather, it has different “ecosystems.”  To illustrate what I mean, think about Maui.  This small island has several distinct ecosystems all characterized by different weather patterns: it’s cool and dry in the upper elevations; there are warm to hot interior areas; the windward areas are wet; there are even wetter low areas below the mountains; and there’s the coastal, salt-spray zone.

Similarly, the face can be just as varied.  While a lucky few of us have very balanced and temperate “climate conditions” on our faces, most of us don’t.  It can be calm and clear on the forehead, dry and patchy on the cheeks, and broken out on the chin.

Here’s an example:

You have breakouts on your chin, sun damage on your cheeks, and fine lines around your eyes.

Here’s how to treat your skin by zones:

  • use an anti-acne lotion just on your chin
  • use a brightening serum just on your cheeks
  • use a treatment for fine lines and wrinkles just around your eye area

Another product that may be used only in some areas is  moisturizer since you might find that you don’t really need a moisturizer all over your face but just in some areas.  Apply your moisturizer where you feel that you need it most.

The one product you do need to use all over your face, every morning, is sunscreen.  (Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog knew that advice was bound to come at some point)

Image from skincarelogic.com

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Probiotics February 20, 2012

You’ve probably heard of probiotic supplements and probiotics in yogurt, i.e. good bacteria, that help your digestive system work at its best.  But do you know that probiotics are routinely used in skincare as well?

So how do probiotics take the leap from helping your body maintain a balance of good bacteria in your digestive track to helping your skin look its best?  According to a post from Daily Beauty (the beauty blog from New Beauty magazine) probiotics can benefit the skin in numerous ways:

Probiotics are bacterial microorganisms that are well-known for their ability to alleviate certain internal issues, such as diarrhea, IBS and lactose intolerance. However, dermatologists and other skin experts have found that their benefits go beyond digestive health.

Since acne is partially caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, ingested probiotics help to treat blemish-prone skin by rebalancing bacteria in the stomach to create an overload of good bacteria. Topically, they provide protection against harmful bacteria, restore balance, and build up skin’s protective barrier and normal bacterial flora to help eliminate breakouts.

Eczema is believed to be caused by a skin imbalance that causes barrier dysfunction. Some dermatologists have found that probiotics improve eczema by aiding good bacteria and allowing them to continue releasing oxygen so skin breathes better, blood flows, and balance is restored.

Probiotics may even help fight the external aggressors that speed up aging. Destruction of skin’s barrier due to factors like the sun, smoke and pollution leads to greater dispersion of harmful bacteria, which can cause inflammation, loss of elasticity, and ultimately, wrinkles. But probiotics can help improve moisturization, stimulate cell functions, and regenerate mature skin so it becomes softer and smoother.

According to the article “In the Genes” from Allure back in April, 2011 (I was unable to find the article online):

Probiotics are associated with anti-inflammation and – here’s where we’ll get your attention – promoting glowing skin.  That’s why they’ve been used in skin care for decades.  The probiotic du jour is called Bio-Lysat: Present in both L’Oreal Paris Youth Code and Lancome Genifique products, it’s a lactobacillus – a form of “healthy” bacteria generally found in the gastrointestinal tract and vagina.  …   [Jeannette] Graf [assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center] explains it, “The fermentation of bifidus bacteria triggers keratin B6 gene expression, which is involved with cell renewal and moisture-barrier repair.”  Translation:  This probiotic supports your body’s own ongoing healthy-cell-turnover and moisture retaining capacities.

But what do dermatologists have to say about the use of probiotics in skincare lines?  There are many differing views:

… research published in the British Journal of Dermatology suggested that eczema and the associated itching improved after patients were treated with a probiotic cream.

And, just this month, the Journal of Dermatological Science devoted coverage to a small study that seemed to show that, using probiotics, it is possible to reduce the levels of acne-causing bacteria without harming the good bacteria.

All this is great news if you suffer from eczema or acne, but is it really beneficial for the rest of us to buy into probiotic skincare?  …

Dr Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Association of Dermatologists, cautions against getting carried away with the promise of such products.

‘I’m just not convinced about some of the claims that are being made with regard to anti-ageing,’ he says. ‘Until more microbiological studies can prove it, I’ll continue eating my yoghurt rather than smearing it on my face.

(Source:  Probiotic beauty: They’re the bugs that boost digestion – but can they also clean up your skin?  The Daily Mail)

In his book The New Ideal of Skin Health dermatologist Carl Thornfeldt gives probiotics in skincare products a very cautious, yet somewhat positive review (pages 385-387):

As we all know, certain pathogenic bacteria induce infection, and aggravate or activate acne, rosacea, dermatitis and psoriasis.  These harmful microbes also cause damage to the skin barrier, and activate inflammation and stress, which may lead to fine lines and furrows.  Probiotics applied directly onto the skin surface are thought to provide competitive inhibition of this pathogenic bacteria.  Additionally, nutritional deficiencies and immune imbalance hinder barrier repair and magnify destructive chronic inflammation.  Thus, oral probiotics are often recommended as nutritional supplements for certain skin diseases.

The interest in probiotics has resulted in at least one marketed skin care line that has also added a variety of nutrients and pre-biotics to the formulation, upon which the probiotic bacteria are supposed to act.  (I think Dr. Thornfeldt is referring to Nude Skincare here)  This line does not claim to have tested their products in double-blind prospective, placebo or approved prescription, controlled human clinical trials, nor has quoted any data.

Yet according to research published in Experimental Dermatology in 2010 the probiotic lysate, Bifidobacterium longum may definitely benefit reactive skin:

The effect of BL were evaluated first on two different models. Using ex vivo human skin explant model we found a statistically significant improvement versus placebo in various parameters associated with inflammation such as a decrease in vasodilation, oedema, mast cell degranulation and TNF-alpha release. Moreover, using nerve cell cultures in vitro, we showed that after 6 h of incubation in culture medium (0.3–1%), the probiotic lysate significantly inhibited capsaicin-induced CGRP release by neurones. Then, a topical cream containing the active extract was tested in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Sixty-six female volunteers with reactive skin were randomly given either the cream with the bacterial extract at 10% (n = 33) or the control cream (n = 33). The volunteers applied the cream to the face, arms and legs twice a day for two months. Skin sensitivity was assessed by stinging test (lactic acid) and skin barrier recovery was evaluated by measuring trans-epidermal water loss following barrier disruption induced by repeated tape-stripping at D1, D29 and D57. The results demonstrated that the volunteers who applied the cream with bacterial extract had a significant decrease in skin sensitivity at the end of the treatment. Moreover, the treatment led to increase skin resistance against physical and chemical aggression compared to the group of volunteers who applied the control cream. Notably, the number of strippings required to disrupt skin barrier function was significantly increased for volunteers treated with the active cream. Clinical and self-assessment scores revealed a significant decrease in skin dryness after 29 days for volunteers treated with the cream containing the 10% bacterial extract. Since in vitro studies demonstrated that, on one hand, isolate sensitive neurones release less CGRP under capsaicin stimulation in the presence of the bacterial extract and, on the other hand, increased skin resistance in volunteers applying the test cream, we speculate that this new ingredient may decrease skin sensitivity by reducing neurone reactivity and neurone accessibility. The results of this studies demonstrate that this specific bacterial extract has a beneficial effect on reactive skin. These findings suggest that new approaches, based on a bacteria lysate, could be developed for the treatment and/or prevention of symptoms related to reactive skin.

Bottom line:  It seems that probiotics could be a great skincare ingredient once more research is done on its benefits when applied topically.

Skincare products with probiotics in them:

 

Further reading:

 

 

Image from bonappetit.com

 

Great Post Worth Reading from Future Derm February 16, 2012

Though I highlight great posts from other blogs in my blog I can’t remember the last time I devoted an entire post in this blog to a post from another beauty blog.  I just finished reading the following post from Future Derm, one of my favorite beauty blogs, entitled: How Do You Estimate the Amount of an Ingredient in a Skin Care or Beauty Product? and realized the post was just too good not to share with my readers.

I’ve already blogged about how to read a skincare label, but this post takes the subject a whole step further by actually explaining how to you may be able to figure out the percentages of ingredients in skincare products from the ingredient list and has in-depth information about ins and outs of reading a skincare label including what “active ingredients” means on a product label.  The post also explains how companies are able to misrepresent the percentage of ingredients in their products for their own benefit.

An informed consumer is the best consumer so taking a few minutes to read this post will truly help you expand your skincare product knowledge.  You’ll feel better prepared the next time you are faced with making a skincare product decision.

And for further information on the same subject see the following post from The Beauty BrainsHow Can I Tell the Percentage of Ingredients in Cosmetics?

My Related Posts:

Image from sodahead.com

 

Ingredient Spotlight: Meadowfoam February 13, 2012

Recently I kept noticing the ingredient meadowfoam popping up in different skincare and beauty products such as GloTherapeutics The Cherry Balm and as a key ingredient in the Epionce skincare line.  When I see or hear about the same ingredient or product in a short period of time I figure it should be worth investigating.

What Is Meadowfoam?

 

Meadowfoam is a plant in the Limnanthacae floral family that grows in the moist coastal areas of northern California and British Columbia.  It was developed as an agricultural crop in the 1950s.  The seeds and seed oil of meadowfoam are used in beauty products such as shampoos, soaps, lipsticks, lip balms, suntan lotions, make-up, creams, hand lotions, and other lubricants.  The seeds are 20 to 30% oil and rich in fatty acids.  Meadowfoam oil is also one of the most stable vegetable oils since it is primarily composed of long chains of fatty acids. 

 

How Meadowfoam Helps The Skin

 

Meadowfoam is both an emollient and a conditioning agent in skincare and beauty products.  For example in shampoos meadowfoam can add shine and moisture to hair.  When added to lipsticks and lip balms it moisturizes.  Additionally, meadowfoam is anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.  Lastly, meadowfoam can help slow down the aging process and bring back skin elasticity.

 

Bottom Line:  Meadowfoam is a great ingredient to seek out in order to both moisturize and protect your skin, hair, and lips.

 

Sources:

  

 

Thanks The Beauty Brains! Or Skin and pH – Part II February 9, 2012

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 6:39 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Recently I wrote a post about skin pH which explained what affects our skin’s pH, how our skin’s pH can be compromised, and how to fix your skin if its pH  has been compromised.   After publishing my post Traci posted the following question:

Can you explain how a toner/tonic can help PH? Do you think one is necessary? Thanks!

I answered Traci by saying that I didn’t believe that you needed a toner after cleansing – basically that the idea that one had to use a toner after cleansing was out dated.

Shortly thereafter one of my all time favorite beauty blogs – The Beauty Brains – asked their readers who were beauty bloggers to submit questions to be featured on their blog and in the process get exposure for their blog.  Prompted by my post about skin and pH levels and Traci’s question to me I decided to ask the following question:

I was wondering what The Beauty Brains thought about the idea that you need to use toner after cleansing in order to restore the skin to its proper pH. I’ve come around to thinking that this is an outdated beauty idea, but I would love to hear your take on it.

 Very happily The Beauty Brains decided to answer my question and in the process feature this blog!  Thanks The Beauty Brains!  You can see The Beauty Brains’ answer to my question here.

(And thank you to Traci too for her question as well)

 

Dermaplaning Explained February 6, 2012

If you have a lot of fine facial hair perhaps you have wondered what the best way was to get rid of it?  Or have you ever considered why you shave your legs but don’t use a razor on your face?  Have you heard of dermaplaning and always thought “what the heck is that?”.  I hope this post will clear up all that confusion.

What Is Dermaplaning?

LNE & Spa magazine, which I read exclusively online, had an article back in November, 2011 all about dermaplaning, called, appropriately enough – Dermaplaning.  In the article the author Tina Zillman talks both about the technique of dermaplaning and what it does for the skin:

Within the medical community (particularly plastic surgeons), dermaplaning is viewed as a noninvasive surgical procedure that can essentially strip away dead skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne scars.  The technique may be used synonymously with dermabrasion (not to be mistaken for microdermabrasion) on many medical websites and patents – hence the name “derma,” relating to the dermis, and “planing” from the word plane that refers to a tool used to smooth a surface.  The most commonly used tool is a type of scalpel, a surgeon’s tool that can cause irreversible damage if used improperly. …

From an esthetic perspective, dermaplaning has been performed with a scalpel or a disposable safety razor.  Some practices may advertise dermaplaning as an exfoliation treatment, while others use the procedure for hair removal.

Dermaplaning is an ideal treatment for women with fine (otherwise known as vellus) hair all over their faces.  The growth of this type of hair, which can appear like a light fuzz on the face, can make the application of make-up difficult and occurs for many women as they undergo menopause and experience hormonal changes.  Removing this hair with laser or IPL treatments is not a viable option for many since the hair can be white or blonde and the light then cannot capture it for effective hair removal.   Once again, according to the LNE & Spa article:

Hormonal changes in women affect the skin and body, and esthetic dermaplaning essentially shaves vellus hair from the face.  Aside from the loss of elasticity, skin thinning and dryness, vellus hair on the face becomes a visible problem on middle-aged women.   …  Facial waxing is still a common practice for the removal of this hair, but the procedure is prone to many problems.  The hair is so fine that gentle facial waxes may not pick it all up, and a mature women’s skin may be susceptible to burning and tearing.  Combine these variables with exfoliation treatments, cosmeceutical skin care product use at home, and/or use of certain prescription drugs-and the risk of damaging the skin and causing discomfort is even greater.

 

From a medical standpoint dermaplaning is considered a treatment for acne scars. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (and please notice the differences here between dermaplaning and dermabrasion):

Dermabrasion and dermaplaning help to “refinish” the skin’s top layers through a method of controlled surgical scraping. The treatments soften the sharp edges of surface irregularities, giving the skin a smoother appearance.

Dermabrasion is most often used to improve the look of facial skin left scarred by accidents or previous surgery, or to smooth out fine facial wrinkles. It’s also sometimes used to remove the pre-cancerous growths called keratoses. Dermaplaning is also commonly used to treat deep acne scars.

Both dermabrasion and dermaplaning can be performed on small areas of skin or on the entire face. They can be used alone, or in conjunction with other procedures such as facelift, scar removal or revision, or chemical peel.

Well Isn’t It Just Shaving?

In American society it is considered odd for women to shave their faces so dermaplaning is a variation on that procedure that is socially acceptable.  Rumors persist that many celebrities actually shaved their faces in order to maintain their beautiful skin.  According to an article on style.com celebrity esthetician Kate Somerville recommends that women shave their faces:

When it comes to the removal of unwanted hair, women have myriad options. There’s waxing, tweezing, threading, sugaring—all manner of materials and mechanisms to get to the root, as it were, of the problem. Shaving, the most primitive of depilatory forms, has gotten a bad rap in the face of all of these new-fangled approaches. Taking razor to legs still happens with presumed regularity, but gliding these handheld tools against the grain of face fuzz is totally taboo, thanks to the warning that’s been passed from generation to generation: If you shave extraneous hairs, they will come in darker and thicker. Or will they? “It’s a total myth,” aesthetician to the stars Kate Somerville maintains, an opinion she shared with us just a few hours ago in an intimate setting to discuss a bevy of new product launches and her own maintenance must-haves. On good authority (that being Elizabeth Taylor’s personal cosmetic dermatologist, whom Somerville used to assist), the greats (those being Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe) shaved their faces for completely bare skin and an added dose of exfoliation.  Somerville herself is a firm believer in the power of the razor—one in particular: Gillette’s Mach 3. Believe it—and ask your S.O. to buy a two-pack next time he’s in need.

I keep reading that Japanese women regularly shave their faces, though I can’t find real proof for this statement, so why are American women so reluctant to shave their faces?  Maybe that will change in the future.  Weigh in with your opinion on this issue in a poll on the Huffington Post website.

So if you still can’t bring yourself to shave your face in order to remove excess vellus facial hair keep the following in mind (once again I’m quoting from the LNE&Spa article):

Determining whether or not a woman shaving her face is socially acceptable may not have a solid answer today.  Some women only shave when their significant other is not looking, some shave next to their significant other, and some will not even entertain the thought-even though they may have had dermaplaning performed by their skin care provider.  The status quo has not settled on whether or not it is acceptable, but that may change in the future.  Most public information about female shaving focuses on the exfoliation aspects, and how it gives the skin a refined appearance and healthy glow; the hair removal is just another perk that comes with the process.  In the meantime, dermaplaning with a disposable, single-use safety razor or eyebrow razor in the treatment room is the safer alternative to facial waxing or light-based hair removal.

Though I work for a plastic surgeon I do not perform dermaplaning.  Once I saw a demo of dermaplaning done on a young woman who had fine, very blonde hair all over her face.  The procedure did an excellent job of removing all that hair.  Then I was given a scalpel to practice on a fake head, but I have to say that it was very intimidating to think that I could on day use a scalpel on a real, live person.  If you are interested in this procedure be sure to go to someone who has been properly trained in order to avoid any unexpected injuries.

If you shave your face or know someone who does please comment below.  Or if you are an esthetician you performs dermaplaning please comment below.

Image from http://www.drinstruments.com

 

 
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