Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Q&A With Mother Dirt President Jasmina Aganovic March 31, 2017

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I recently wrote a post about Mother Dirt skincare products.  In addition to trying their products, I also had the opportunity to ask Mother Dirt president Jasmina Aganovic some questions about the company’s current and future products, their skincare philosophy, and why spraying bacteria isn’t actually gross at all.

Question:  In your opinion, why is this new approach to skincare necessary?

Answer:  In just one generation, the amount of products we use daily has grown exponentially. In the process, we’ve interfered with our skin’s own ability to take care of itself.  Modern hygiene practices have us using more products than ever before. And yet, despite being cleaner than ever, and having more options than ever, healthy skin seems elusive. The numbers are staggering; 80 million Americans suffer from acne, and 1 in 6 children has eczema. Over 50% of adults claim to have sensitive skin, and it’s the fastest growing category in skin care.

Question:  Who do you see as your core customer base?

Answer:  We’re really unique in that our customers are 50% men, 50% women. We find that people who embrace the less is more philosophy, and those who steer toward green chemistry and green beauty, as well as those who just like the idea of probiotics for the skin as a wellness concept.

Question:  What is your opinion of probiotics in skincare products?

Answer:  It’s definitely exciting to see the bacteria/probiotic movement in personal care growing. Although it can be tricky, too. Some products out there marketing themselves as probiotics are most likely not actually living. Unlike food and supplements with probiotics that are typically refrigerated, the need for a multi-year shelf life and the general supply chain requires the use of preservatives in skin care. At the end of the day, this means that the skincare industry does not easily allow for “living” products like the food industry does.

Question:  What other skincare applications does this bacteria have besides for the ones your products already treat?

Answer:  Our research partner, AOBiome, is currently working with the FDA on clinical trials using different formulations of Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria (AOB). You’re welcome to check out their site for more information.

Question:  Are there are other bacteria besides AOB that can help our skin?

Answer:  Most likely, yes. However, the field is young and our area of research remains specifically on AOB.

Question:  Only one of your products has AOB in it.  Are you creating other products that will contain AOB?  And if not – why?

Answer:  We never stop formulating and working on new products. Because of the novel and highly constrained nature of biome-friendly formulation, this is going to take a lot of time and work. We hope to one day have more products with AOB as well as others to supplement it.

Question:  Your products do not contain organic ingredients, why not?

Answer:  Our primary screening for formulations and ingredients is the impact on the skin’s ecosystem. Whether or not something is organic or non-organic, we have found no difference of impact on the skin microbiome.

Question:  If a customer uses just the products (shampoo, moisturizer) and not the AO+ spray will they still see positive skin changes or must you use the spray for best results?

Answer:  While the Mist is our hero product, there are definitely people who use only the Cleanser, Shampoo, or Moisturizer and have great results and see changes in their skin. Our studies show that there is benefit to be gained by using those products on their own, and even more benefit to be gained by incorporating the Mist as well.

Question:  The products have a very short shelf life – will this always be the case or are you working on a way to get around this issue?

Answer:  Our products will most likely always have a shelf life because not having preservatives is one of the traits that makes them biome-friendly. (Preservatives are anti-bacterials, and our goal is to keep the bacteria alive.) We are constantly working to do what we do better, and since we’ve launched our products, we’ve improved our shampoo and cleanser formulations to extend their shelf life from 4 weeks from first use, to 8 weeks from first use. It’s likely that packaging innovation will also play a role in extending shelf life.

Question:  Can someone undergoing chemotherapy or another cancer treatment safely use your products?

Answer:  Anyone who is immunocompromised should consult their physician before changing anything in their routine.

Question:  How can someone who lives outside the US purchase the products?

Answer:  We sell our products on our website, Amazon, and we ship internationally to a few countries. You can find out which regions we ship to on our site.

Question:  What’s next?  What new products are in the pipeline?

Answer:  We always have a lot of things in the works, but it takes a long time to work through the product development process. There are a few exciting launches coming later this year and we hope to share more soon.

Question:  What is the most gratifying experience to come out of creating these products?

Answer:  The positive feedback from our users is a really amazing thing to experience on an ongoing basis. We truly feel like we are creating a major shift in the world of public health and we have always approached it as a community-based mission.

Question:  What is the message you want to get out to potential customers who might find the concept of spraying bacteria on their faces gross?

Answer:  Ha! While some people still have the “ick” factor around spraying bacteria on their skin, the idea makes sense to most people. We have gut bacteria to thank for that! Once people make the connection between how you need good bacteria to keep your gut healthy and balanced, they can understand how the same applies to your skin. Our AOB used to be a naturally occurring bacteria on our skin up until about 100 years ago, but harsh chemicals and less time spent outdoors wiped it away. We’re just helping you put back what was once already there, and still exists everywhere in nature where living things thrive. You come in contact with AOB when you’re digging through rich soil, or swimming in a lake. Of course, there are still hurdles to overcome, but people have certainly been much more receptive than we expected.

 

I Tried It: Micellar Water January 5, 2017

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Micellar waters are not a new skincare product.  They have been used in Europe, from what I can gather mainly in France, for quite some time.  In the last two years or so they became a hit States side, and more and more companies (both large and small) have come out with their version of this cleansing product.  When I first heard about micellar waters I was very intrigued, and when I saw this Garnier one on sale at my local drugstore I had to buy it.

Micellar water is said to gently cleanse the skin and has the added bonus of not having to rinse it off after using (more on that later in this post).  If you are one who likes to go camping (not me!) or spends days at outdoor festivals (once again not me!) having micellar water on hand means you can cleanse your face without having indoor plumbing nearby. It is also a good solution for making yourself presentable after a long flight when you are stuck freshing up in a cramped airplane bathroom.

The use of micellar waters as a skincare cure-all has been catching on recently.  You can find quite a few articles in the mainstream beauty world toting micellar water as the next great thing for your skin for all sorts of reasons such as the hard water you use to rinse your face after washing it destroys your skin so using a micellar water, which you don’t rinse off, is better for your skin.  Or that it must be great if the French love it.

For more information about how hard water affects our skin please see my post Hard Water and Your Skin.

The Science Behind Micellar Water

When I finally learned the in-depth science about micellar water via The Beauty Brains I realized that micellar waters were just mild cleansers.  There isn’t really anything special about them except perhaps for the fact that you do not need to rinse them off after use (once again more on that in a bit).  I suggest listening or reading to The Beauty Brains entire explanation about micellar waters, but I’ll share a few highlights here:

Micelles are structures that are formed when surfactant are dissolved in water. Remember that surfactants, short for surface active agents, are used in beauty products as cleansers and emulsifiers that help mix oil and water soluble ingredients.

If you look at the chemical structure of surfactants they typically have a long oil soluble tail and water soluble polar head group.  When surfactants are present in water at a certain concentration, they begin to assemble into larger structures based on the water soluble/oil soluble parts of the molecule. The oil soluble tails try to group together to get away from the water. The lowest energy state for them is to have all the tails together so they are shielded from water by the polar head groups – which again, water soluble. Think of it as a ball or sphere of surfactant molecules with head on outside, tails facing inside.

These spheres of surfactants are called micelles and the concentration of surfactant required to form them is called the Critical Micelle Concentration or CMC. …

Yeah, if you look at the ingredient list for products that claim to be micellar waters they tend NOT to use traditional, high foaming surfactants. Instead they use a combination of nonionic surfactants, which tend to be milder on skin. One of most common nonionic surfactant used in micellar waters is Poloxamer 184.  …

So overall, yes, these MW products are likely to be milder than many other cleansers. And, unlike traditional foaming cleanser’s they don’t necessarily have to be rinsed. They may even provide more of pleasant after feel than other cleansing products.

I have to say that companies have done a great job marketing these products. Somehow, these seem so special that they should be really expensive.

As you can see from The Beauty Brains explanation marketing hype plays a big part in the popularity of micellar waters.  Yes, someone with sensitive, easily irritated skin could find them to be helpful for their skin, but there are many more mild cleansers on the market that will probably be just as good, if not better, for their skin.

You can also get a great explanation (with helpful pictures) by reading Lab Muffin’s post about micellar water.   This post brings up a good point at the end – do you need to rinse off the micellar water even though it says you do not?  The rinse may be needed because of the surfactants that can potentially be irritating if left on the skin.  My skin never feels great after using micellar water; instead it feels like there is a layer of, well, something still on my skin after using the product, but I only use it as the first step in a double cleanse so I do rinse my skin after using a micellar water.  You need to play it by ear, but if you are using micellar water at home and as your only facial cleanser definitely consider rinsing your face after using it so that the surfactants do not stay on your skin.

My Experience

I use micellar water on a regular basis as the first step in a nightly double cleanse.  As I wrote above when I don’t rinse it off I do not like how the micellar water feels on my skin. I think micellar water is a great way to remove make-up, if you are washing your face with another cleanser afterwards.  I do find using a new cotton pad each night environmentally wasteful; I haven’t found a way around this issue yet.  Micellar water does not do a particularly good job at removing my eye make-up, but in my experience after trying a great number of make-up removers, nothing does.

Bottom Line: micellar waters can be a gentle way to cleanse your face, but they are not a miracle cleanser no matter what some people may claim.  Instead they are simply another mild cleanser.  Marketing hype can definitely blow things out of proportion.

Image from Cosmopolitan

 

Korean Skincare Products: Tested December 12, 2013

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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 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 hermo

 

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

 

What’s A Serum? July 17, 2013

Filed under: Skincare products — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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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.

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Why It Is Important to Use Moisturizer During the Summer June 26, 2013

When advising clients about a home skincare regime I tell those who have combination or oily skin that moisturizer isn’t a must for them.  They should go by how their skin feels before applying a moisturizer.  Of course, if you have oily skin and are using stronger anti-acne or anti-oil products such as Retin-A or products with salicylic acid you may always need a moisturizer, twice a day, in order to bring balance back to your skin.  I also let clients know that during the summer a separate moisturizer and sunscreen may be unnecessary for them since their sunscreen might be moisturizing enough when the weather is hot (and depending on where you live humid too).  I actually like to recommend the use of a moisturizing toner during the summer for those with oily skin (see my post Let’s Talk About Toners – Again for more information).

Recently I read an article in the June, 2013 edition of Le Nouvelles Esthetiques and Spa that made me rethink the importance of moisturizer even during the summer.  The article Multiple Ways to Hydrate the Skin by Dr. Jennifer Linder (from PCA Skin) explains:

Proper hydration of the skin is often a conversation reserved for the cold and dry months of winter. Attention to skin moisture levels, however, is an essential topic of discussion year-round when seeking to achieve clear, glowing skin. For many reasons, hydrating the skin properly is equally important during the summer. By understanding the elements that influence hydration, as well as the interplay between water and oils, it is possible to maintain balanced, hydrated skin regardless of the season.

Elements that reduce hydration levels

In the intense heat of the summer, moisture is released from the skin at a high rate in order to cool the body internally. This moisture loss becomes even more pronounced if one regularly engages in sports or high impact exercise. Additionally, there is a tendency to shower more frequently and wash the face more often to remove sweat and oil buildup. If the moisture is not replaced (both internally and externally), the skin may appear dull over time, become susceptible to impaired barrier function or get stuck in a cycle of oil overproduction, leading to breakouts.
During the summer months, increased UV exposure can also lead to a reduction in skin hydration. Dry heat (evaporation) and humidity (increased sweating) deplete cutaneous moisture. While ultraviolet B (UVB) rays are at their strongest during the summer, ultraviolet A (UVA) rays remain constant throughout the year, making sun avoidance and protection a must during every season. During the summer months, people are typically outside more often for extended periods of time, therefore increasing direct and prolonged exposure to UV radiation that can set in motion a number of reactions that are harmful to the skin. The higher output of UVB rays increases free radical production that damages the cellular proteins and fats that make up and support the layers of the skin. Overexposure to UV rays can result in burning, cracking and peeling, which destabilizes the skin’s delicate moisture retention mechanisms, often causing permanent damage to the affected areas. To combat this, it is important to practice sun avoidance between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., wear wide-brimmed hats and protective clothing, and use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, making sure to reapply it every two hours.

Water versus oil hydration

Many believe that moisturizing the skin becomes less important during the hotter and typically more humid months of the summer. This is not the case, however; regardless of the season, all skin types need moisture. Both oil and water serve important roles in cellular regeneration and moisture retention, and maintaining a balance between the two—as well as understanding the differences between them—is necessary to achieve clear, hydrated and healthy skin.

Water

The most important tasks of water in relation to skin hydration occur internally. The skin is the body’s largest organ, which requires adequate water intake to not only maintain moisture and elasticity, but to flush out harmful elements, regenerate and expel dead skin cells as well. The uppermost layer of the skin is known as the stratum corneum (SC). This protective layer is made up in part of dead skin cells, which act as a barrier to the elements while keeping the much needed moisture inside. Lack of proper hydration reduces the ability of the SC to turn over new cells, allowing old, lifeless skin cells to become mixed with perspiration and bacteria; the result in most cases is cellular inflammation, acne and dull skin.
Additionally, although the skin may appear to be hydrated and moist in the summer due to the production of sweat, it can actually be dehydrated from excessive water loss caused by perspiration. If water consumption is inadequate, the skin is the first organ water is taken from to increase the supply to critical organs and bodily systems. Also, the increased amounts of salt and uric acid deposited on the skin from sweat can be damaging if it is not gently and consistently removed. Insufficient water moisture in the skin also leads to an unwelcome increase in sebum production. This, in combination with increased sweat, is a recipe for breakouts. To maintain sufficient moisture, it is critical to increase water intake during the summer, as well as maintain regular moisturizer use. For those who are prone to oily skin, choose a product that primarily focuses on increasing water moisture without heavy oils.

Oil

We have largely been trained to shy away from using oil on the skin for fear of clogged pores and acne. Oil, however, is an essential component of healthy skin, and using the right oils—even during the summer—can help maintain homeostasis and flexibility within the skin.
It is crucial to ensure that patients understand the importance of maintaining cutaneous oil balance. In most cases, the oil glands naturally produce enough oil to lubricate the skin without causing breakouts; however, this process is easily disturbed. Scrubbing the face excessively or using harsh cleansers and exfoliators will strip the skin below its necessary oil threshold. In response to this imbalance, the skin will actually produce more oil to compensate for the loss. However, the patient often views this as an “oily skin problem,” and perpetually seeks to strip the oil away. Thus, the production of oils is continuously increased, and the skin seems to be unmanageable. Interestingly, studies have indicated that acneic skin is deficient in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which is partly responsible for the overproduction of sebum. By supplementing acneic skin with beneficial oils that are high in EFAs, sebum production can be kept in balance.

Humectants and occlusives

A humectant is a substance that attracts water, and can often hold many times its own weight in moisture within the skin. A humectant can pull water from the air, but in topical skin care the humectants are typically drawing moisture up from the dermis into the epidermis.
Common humectants include glycerin and honey, in addition to higher attraction humectants such as sorbitol, lactic acid, sodium PCA and urea. Hyaluronic acid is a particularly powerful humectant, in that it can attract and hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. The strategic use of humectants can have profound effects on the condition of your patients’ skin.
Oil is classified as an “occlusive,” meaning that it acts to lock moisture into the skin. Oils that are beneficial to the skin may be used after bathing to lock in the moisture from the water while the pores are still open. Additionally, moisturizing products that contain light oils, such as sweet almond oil or jojoba oil (with compositions very similar to human sebum), are a good choice during the summer months, as they hold moisture within the skin without creating a greasy feel or clogging pores.
Ideally, a moisturizer should contain both humectants to draw moisture into the skin and occlusive ingredients that seal the necessary moisture within the skin. These principles apply to products designed for oily and breakout-prone skin, as well as those with dry skin. It is typically the occlusive agent that varies. For dry skin, a product might use shea butter to occlude, while a product for breakout-prone skin may instead employ niacinamide or jojoba oil to perform the same function, but without the emollience.

Since reading this article I’ve made sure to keep up with the moisturizing step in my home skincare regime.  I found the article persausive enough to remember the importance of moisturizer throughout the year, no matter the weather.  This is information that I will be sharing with my clients as well.

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Let’s Talk About Toners – Again June 12, 2013

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Sometimes it is necessary to revisit subjects I’ve already blogged about in the past once I come upon new and/or relevant information about the subject.  So today we’ll be revisiting the subject of toners (see the links below for my previous posts on the subject).

In my first post about toners I explained (back in February, 2010 but the information still holds true):

When you don’t need a toner:    I don’t think that you need a toner every night in order to make sure that you have removed all your make-up or cleanser.  Using  a good make-up remover and the proper cleanser is definitely more than enough in order to make sure that your make-up is all off (the only place you might feel the need to go over again would be the eye area since waterproof eye make-up can be hard to remove).  If after washing your face you feel that you still have cleanser on your face than switch your cleanser.  A properly formulated facial cleanser will certainly wash off your face easily without leaving residue behind.

The claim that toners will close your pores is a silly claim.  First of all, there is no need to seal your pores shut.  Toners will give you a temporary tightening effect but why do you need that anyhow?

The issue of your skin’s pH level being disrupted because of cleansing is really only a problem if you use soap, which is very alkaline, to wash your face.  If you use a facial wash or cleanser you won’t have to deal with the issue of your skin’s pH being disrupted.

When you could consider using a toner:  There are lots of toners available that can actually hydrate the skin and even leave behind a number of beneficial antioxidants.  These types of toner are good for use during the summer when your skin feels more oily and you don’t feel that you need to moisturize (your skin isn’t actually producing more oil during the summer; it just feels that way because of the increased humidity in the air).   In addition, there are some people who don’t feel the need to use a lot of moisturizer ever so using a toner could be a great way to add some moisture to the skin and get some antioxidant benefits as well.

If you have combination skin (oily T-zone, normal skin everywhere else) you might consider using a toner with witch hazel extract, lactic acid, or salicylic acid just on your T-zone.  But don’t go overboard since too much toner with the above mentioned ingredients can be drying.  Use them on as needed basis and no more than once a day.

Some toners have ingredients that can actually soothe the skin and reduce inflammation so using a product like that if you have sensitive skin might be a good option.

Recently I came across two articles to expand on what I had written above.   The New York Times article Toner, Often Met With A Shrug, Is Having Its Moment explains:

As temperatures climb, our thoughts turn to toner: that post-cleansing, pre-moisturizing, cooling concoction treasured in adolescence (Sea Breeze, Bonne Bell Ten O Six) for its ability to remove facial grime onto a cotton ball. Some insist that even in adulthood, their beauty routine would be incomplete without it. Others think it’s an unnecessary step, scoffing that toner, while often refreshing, doesn’t offer any real benefits to the complexion.

“Before cleansers became so effective, people needed to do what cleansers could not, which is why people gravitated towards toners,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of the cosmetic and clinical research department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical. “But formulation and technology has helped the cleanser evolve to the point that they’re so good, you don’t need the toner.”  …

They may not be the BB cream of tomorrow, but “toners have a bad rap,” said Dr. Paul Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of the Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery and Laser Center. “They used to be associated with pimply skin and were alcohol-based or made to control the production of oil while rebalancing the skin’s pH levels,” he said. “Like anything else, they’ve dramatically changed. They’re now used as a second stage of cleansing, and treat a variety of issues. They can exfoliate, reduce redness, fight aging and brighten the skin.”

Besides preparing the skin to receive the benefits of products applied after, he said, they can soften and smooth the skin, and serve as a delivery system for antioxidants, vitamin B derivatives, retinoid and even glycolic acid.

And Allure explains just how to use a toner properly in Do You Really Need A Toner?:

When should we use them? “As the weather warms up, even combination skin tends to break out, so toners with salicylic acid can be really helpful for gently unclogging your pores and preventing summer breakouts. They are even great in the winter, when the ambient air is dry,” says [Erin] Gilbert [a New York City dermatologist]. “I like to recommend toning while traveling,” says Harper. “The air in-flight is so drying, and a toner will cleanse, hydrate, and leave you feeling refreshed.”

Can a toner be hydrating enough to replace your daily moisturizer? “They are not exactly a replacement,” says Harper. “I tell my patients with extremely oily skin that they can sometimes get away with skipping a moisturizer in the summertime if they use a toner instead,” adds Gilbert. “A toner can be hydrating enough, but don’t forget sunscreen.”

Recently I rediscovered my toner since my skin was feeling very dehydrated.  Now after cleansing I apply Epionce Balancing Toner to my face with a cotton pad (I hate spritzing my face with toner though that is an option.  I always seem to get toner in my eyes and mouth when I spritz – yuck).  In the morning I apply my Vitamin C serum (currently I am using Tecniche SupremeC Serum) afterwards and in the evening I apply my exfoliating serum after the toner while my skin is still a little damp.  I definitely feel that my skin is better hydrated since I added that step to my skincare routine.

Do you use a toner?  Is this a must step in your skincare routine?  Share your thoughts below!

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