Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Related Posts: 

Image from laserskinsolutions.com

 

What’s the NMF? April 26, 2012

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes someone else explains something so perfectly that I figure it is better for me just to pass along what they have to say instead of trying to paraphrase it.  Case in point, Dr. Leslie Baumann’s recent post on her website about the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF):

Natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is a blend of amino acids found naturally inside our skin cells that works to hold in moisture. Your skin’s NMF level is what determines whether your skin is “Dry” or “Oily,” but it can contribute to other skin concerns as well.

Dry skin has less NMF and environmental factors such as sun exposure and low-humidity air decrease levels of NMF in every type of skin. (If you’ve ever wondered why skin gets dry and peels after a sunburn, it’s because UV exposure lowers NMF levels.) Our skin compensates for arid air by producing more NMF, but it can take time (at least 3 days) for cells to ramp up and produce more. This is why skin often flakes and cracks after its first exposure to the winter elements.

When your skin is accustomed to a humid environment, the skin produces less NMF because it gets moisture from the air it’s exposed to every day. On the other hand, if you live in an arid locale such as Arizona, your skin will naturally produce more NMF.

Like we mentioned, you skin responds to dry conditions by producing more NMF, but it takes 3 days or so. But in the meantime, your skin will look and feel dry and tight. No moisturizer or oral supplement can provide the skin with NMF or prompt production, but extra hydration can ease the dehydration until your skin has a chance to catch up.

I found this skincare information particularly helpful in explaining how one’s skin reacts to environmental conditions such as weather and humidity.  Since I live in the Chicago area where we experience harsh winters (usually – this past winter was strangely mild) and humid summers I always try to stress to my clients how the weather impacts their skin and that you need to adjust your skincare products accordingly.  I also like the fact that the above information emphasizes the fact that our skin does repair itself and self-adjusts – it just takes time.  It is always important to remember that there are no overnight or miracle solutions for skin issues.  Patience is definitely needed if you want to see a real difference in how your skin looks and feels.

Image from askinyourface.com

 

Testing Beauty Products December 8, 2011

Recently I wrote a post all about peptides  in which I presented data both for and against the use of peptides in skincare products.  I wanted to present some information in this post that piggybacks onto that previous post.  In an article entitled Anti-Aging Products: Understand the Fine Print found in the Tips section of the Skin Type Solution website Dr. Leslie Baumann breaks down what the term “in-vitro testing” means when it comes to skincare products.  I felt it important to share this information in order to help my readers become savvy skincare product consumers.  Just because an ad for a skincare product says that it was “tested by dermatologists” or “has undergone testing” doesn’t really mean the skincare product or ingredient will actually be effective on the skin.  I’ll quote Dr. Baumann in order to explain:

“In vitro” is Latin for “in glass,” so when you see this referring to some sort of clinical testing, it means the results are based on lab testing – as opposed to testing on actual human skin.  “In-vitro” skincare ingredient testing involves skin cells in a petri dish, which means that the ingredients’ ability to penetrate to the deeper levels of the skin cannot be assessed.  This isn’t always a bad thing, but in most instances, these “in-vitro” results don’t translate to human skin – or treating the beauty concern or skin condition that the product is claiming to be effective for.  Thing of it this way … No matter how great an ingredient works on skin cells in a glass dish, it’s useless if ti cannot penetrate the upper stratum corneum layer of the skin and get to the deeper cells.

And now for Dr. Baumann’s example which ties into my previous post about peptides:

One example of an ingredient with great “in-vitro” results that does not translate to skin benefits is the family of peptides.  In the lab, peptides have been shown to boost collagen production, reverse skin damage, lighten discoloration and much more.  But while many skincare companies tout these “in-vitro” results, they fail to disclose that most peptide molecules are too large to penetrate the skin – which means they can’t possibly deliver their in-lab results in real life.  Peptides also have a short shelf life and often interfere with other ingredients found in anti-aging formulations, so there are many reasons that peptides in skincare products are not very efficacious.

Bottom Line:  If a company is promoting their breakthrough skincare product based solely on “in-vitro testing” think twice before buying it.

 

The Peptide Puzzle: Hype or a Real Breakthrough? November 28, 2011

If you are someone who is interested in anti-aging advances you’ve probably been hearing about peptides for quite some time.  Since being added to skincare products peptides have been touted as a true anti-aging breakthrough and as an ingredient that will revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.  Yet the question remains – are peptides truly an anti-aging breakthrough or is this just a lot of marketing hype?

What Are Peptides and What Do They Claim To Do?

Simply put – a peptide is a chain of amino acids that form a protein.  Peptides have numerous applications when it comes to our health and wellbeing, but when it comes to skincare peptides are said to repair and regenerate the skin and to help rebuild collagen.  But before you go out and purchase a product with peptides in it (these products are usually very expensive) there are a few things to keep in mind:

Peptides are biologically active compounds that closely resemble proteins—both are chains of amino acids. The difference? Peptide chains include fewer amino acids. Generally, a chain with more than 50 amino acids is a protein while those with fewer is a peptide. However, there are exceptions. Peptides are classified according to their length. Therefore, you’ll often encounter terms such as dipeptides—two amino acids; tripeptides—three; tetrapeptides- four; pentapeptides—five; and so on. Although there are probably thousands of naturally occurring peptides, to date, only several hundred have been characterized.1

Peptides play an array of important roles in the body, depending on the type. They may reduce inflammation, enhance antioxidant defense mechanisms, regulate bodily functions and even offer analgesic properties. In cosmeceuticals, three types of peptides are used, including:

  • Signal peptides that encourage fibroblasts to increase production of collagen while decreasing the breakdown of existing collagen;
  • Neurotransmitter peptides that limit muscle contraction and, thus, are said to mimic the effects of botulinum toxin; and
  • Carrier peptides that stabilize and deliver trace elements necessary for wound-healing and enzymatic processes.

Given that signs of skin aging, including fine lines and wrinkles, are caused by a breakdown of collagen and elastin—the proteins that give skin strength and elasticity, as well as slow cellular turnover—the abilities of these peptides seem the perfect match for skin care formulations. However, not only are peptides expensive to utilize, in their natural state they also have shortcomings that significantly limit their potential in skin care applications. These shortcomings include the following.

  • Peptides have a large molecular size and are hydropholic (water-liking), so they are unable to penetrate the lipopholic (fat-liking) stratum corneum layer of the epidermis.2 Despite this, peptides are generally unstable in water-based formulations. The presence of water breaks down the peptide bond, rendering it inactive.3
  • Should peptides be absorbed, the abundant presence of enzymes found in the skin can also break down peptide bonds.4

Fortunately, peptides are easily modified to improve their characteristics relative to use in skin care formulations. Chemists have found creative ways to overcome their limitations, such as attaching a fatty acid component to improve absorption into the skin, specific activity and economic feasibility.

Source:Peptides: Ready for Primetime?  by Ahmed Abdullah, MD in SkinInc.

Do Peptides Really Work in Skincare Products?

Here are some more consumer tips to keep in mind before purchasing a product with peptides in it:

Although chemists have found ways to optimize peptides for use in topical skin care formulations, they still face hurdles before they can generate the results anticipated by the consumers who buy them. Assuming the peptide has been modified to improve its stability in skin care formulations, through chemistry, the use of appropriate product packaging and its ability to penetrate the skin, it’s still essential that the product feature an effective delivery system to reach the target area where collagen synthesis, wound-healing and other activities may occur. Only when the peptide is absorbed by the skin and delivered to the targeted area in a stable form will it stand the potential of generating results.1

Formulators are certainly rising to this challenge. Sophisticated new delivery systems are regularly being developed, and the onus is on skin care professionals to stay on top of these new developments to ensure the products they are recommending stand a strong chance of truly providing their marketed benefits.

Another challenge: To be effective, peptides must be utilized in appropriate concentrations. Unfortunately, ingredient concentrations within a formulation are rarely disclosed on the label. Given the generally high cost of peptides, some manufacturers use them in concentrations below those utilized in scientific research or recommended by the peptide manufacturer. This is a marketing trick that allows the company to tout the use of a certain peptide and charge a lower price for the product. However, the formulation is nearly certain to be ineffective. Because of this, it is important to request and obtain backup research for product claims from manufacturers.

Speaking of research, although some third-party studies do exist that demonstrate positive outcomes from the use of peptides in skin care, there remains the issue of consumer expectations. For example, acetyl hexapeptide-8 is incapable of delivering results similar to that of botulinum toxin injections. Yet, this mantra is still promoted by many consumers and even individuals within the industry when referring to this compound. Because of this, consumer expectations are often out of line with the true capabilities of some peptide products. To be clear, if peptides were indeed able to produce results that matched much of the hype, they would be classified as drugs and require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use. To that point, it’s often necessary to downplay much of the hype surrounding the use of these ingredients until a stronger base of unbiased research exists.

Source:Peptides: Ready for Primetime?  by Ahmed Abdullah, MD in SkinInc.

There are even more issues with peptides to keep in mind.  Here is what Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty has to say about peptides (pages 288-289):

 Much like growth factors, peptides are a bioengineered version of a natural element in the body.  (Some natural moisturizers contain plant peptides, derived from wheat or rice.  Along the same lines as kinetin, which has a plant growth factor, these may work as well as biotech versions.  Considering that we don’t know what will penetrate the skin anyway, why not?)  The idea of adding peptides to the skin is theoretically like sending in a surge of troops to carry out repair and regeneration.  In vitro tests have found that pentapeptide-4 does prompt fibroblasts to product more collagen in cell cultures.  (As usual, there is a serious lack of truly objective data since the companies that manufacture the peptide ingredients have funded most of the studies.)  And remember, a cell culture is a dish of cells and is far cry from your skin.

My bottom line:  Can peptides penetrate to the dermis to stimulate collagen production?  Without scientific studies that biopsy the skin, it’s difficult to assess whether they can and if they really work.  The inspiration behind these ingredients makes sense, and time will tell if some may be effective antiagers.  Because peptides happen to be effective humectants, a product containing them will successfully hold moisture in the skin.

They’re worth a try, especially since you’re assured of getting an excellent humectant and most include antioxidant components too.

On the other hand, Dr. Leslie Baumann lists peptides as one of the “most misleading skin care claims of 2009“:

The theory is that topically applying peptides can trick our skin cells into producing even more collagen. In reality, peptides don’t penetrate the skin — if they did, other peptides such as insulin would already be supplied by creams rather than injections. Products like StriVectin may make the skin feel smooth but they have not been shown to have long-term clinically-significant benefits.

The Beauty Brains has even more damning things to say about peptides (though keep in mind that The Beauty Brains post I am quoting from is from 2008)

Peptides have no function in skin care products.  They do not increase collagen or prevent DNA damage.  They are story ingredients that make people feel better about the products they are using.  There’s nothing bad about them in your skin product.  They just don’t provide much benefit.

Should You Buy a Skincare Product with Peptides In It? 

So who do you believe when it comes to the benefits of peptides in skincare products?  I’m on the fence about this one – I do think that peptides in skincare products could be great, just make sure you get the right product.  Remember these products are pricey.  There are two good sources for specific product information – one is FutureDerm and another is Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia.  I would check both of these sources before making any purchases.

Further Reading:  Here are some more resources for peptide information – both for and against their use in skincare products

 

How Wrinkles Form September 12, 2011

Filed under: Aging — askanesthetician @ 5:39 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

We’re all going to get them eventually.  There’s no way to stop from getting a wrinkle though there are numerous ways to try to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and to stop them from getting deeper.

How exactly do wrinkles form in the first place?  Dr. Leslie Baumann explains the process very succinctly:

… all wrinkles are caused by the same chain of events within the skin.  Age causes uppermost epidermal cells to get thinner and less sticky, which allows moisture to seep out in turn making skin drier.  Oil glands also begin to slow down, which contributes to dryness as well.  A bit deeper in the skin, supportive scaffolding (i.e. collagen and elastin) breaks down, and skin loses its smoothness and tautness – leaving it on other choice than to wrinkle and sag.  In the skin’s lowest layer, the subcutaneous layer, fat cells begin to shrink, so they are less able to “fill in” or plump out damage in the skin’s other layers.

There are quite a few factors that contribute negatively to this skin chain of events:

  • Sun exposure:  UV rays breakdown our collagen and elastin.  One of the easiest ways to prevent wrinkles and skin laxity is to be a vigilant sunscreen user – every day (no matter the weather) and to reapply throughout the day if you are outside or by a window.  Yes, aging UV rays can pass through glass.
  • Repeated facial expressions:  Areas of the face, like by the eyes or the forehead, wrinkle because of repeated use of that area.  Just as lines become a permanent part of a piece of paper that has been folded and refolded facial lines become etched in your skin.
  • Genetics:  How your parents aged can work both for and against you.  Some people win in the skin lottery – their DNA actually protects them from aging.  On the other hand, other people lose out when it comes to aging.  Think about how your parents looked in their 60s in order to determine how you may look at that age as well.
  • Skin color:  The lighter your skin tone is the less natural sun protection you have (that doesn’t mean that someone with darker skin can forgo daily sun protection – everyone needs sunscreen).  Darker skin tones show wrinkles later than those with light skin.
  • Your health:  poor health can adversely affect your skin.  The medications you are prescribed can also have a negative effect on your skin.
  • Your diet:  Though there continues to be quite a bit of debate over how our diet affects our skin a few things are clear – it is always best for your overall health and your skin’s health to eat a diet low in processed foods and full of multi-colored fruits and vegetables.  Omega-3 rich foods (fish, walnuts, and almonds for example) are anti-inflammatory which protects the skin from aging.  (Many experts believe that skin inflammation is at the root of skin aging).
  • Lack of sleep and stress:  Both of these factors can cause your body and your skin to age faster than it would normally.  See my previous posts for more information on both of these topics:  No Lie – Why You Really Do Need Your Beauty Sleep and Stress and Your Skin.
  • Smoking:  Cigarettes are a killer.  They kill your body and your looks.  See my previous post for more details:  How Smoking Ruins Your Skin.

I want to end this post on a positive note so let me once again quote Dr. Baumann for some easy advice on preventing and correcting facial wrinkles:

So now you’re probably wondering what you can do about wrinkles?  If you haven’t already started preventing signs of aging by wearing sunscreen every day, it’s not too late.  To repair wrinkles, retinoids are the most effective skincare ingredient available today because they address these aging changes within the skin.  These vitamin A derivatives boost your skin’s collagen production and help thicken the uppermost layer of the skin.  Together, these actions smooth the appearance of wrinkles and keep skin looking its best.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

Younger Looking Hands August 15, 2011

If you really want to tell someone’s age don’t look at their face – look at their hands.  So often people forget to care for their hands and simply concentrate all their anti-aging efforts on their faces.

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post called Give Your Hands Some TLC, but I thought I would revisit the subject of caring for your hands with a few new tips and product recommendations.

Just as there is a solution for every skin issue that you have with your facial skin there is also a solution for the skin issues on your hands as well.  First off, you can use the anti-aging products you use on your face on your hands too.  Retinols, either prescription or OTC, will help smooth your hands and stimulate collagen production so that your hands will eventually look younger.

If you spend a lot of time outside either working, playing sports, or driving consider wearing gloves.  During the summer you can wear fingerless gloves like these gloves from Coolibar.

If your hands have lost a lot of their volume consider injections like Radiesse or Restylane to restore volume and help build collagen.  This procedure can also help hide prominent veins.  Or consider laser treatments which can get rid of sun damage, age spots, crepiness, and help build collagen as well.  Just as you can have a chemical peel performed on your face in order to treat hyperpigmentation and fine lines the same thing can be done on your hands.  As always with chemical peels – a series of peels usually yields the best results.

If you aren’t ready for treatments that only a doctor can provide like the injections or the laser treatments be sure to keep your hands well moisturized and to use spf on your hands.  Moisturizer temporarily plumps the skin leading to a smoother appearance.  You could even apply a moisturizing hand mask like this mask from OPI.  Using spf daily, and reapplying before you go outside, helps prevent sun spots and collagen loss over time.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

 

What is Sebum? It’s More Interesting Than You Think April 21, 2011

If you suffer from oily skin, shiny skin, or acne you’ve probably given the amount of oil or sebum your body produces some thought.  Probably that thought is: “Why does my body produce so much oil and how can I stop it?”.  Well before you try to entirely rid your skin of oil keep a few things in mind. 

According to the Skin Type Solutions  blog:

In simplest terms, sebum is just oil secreted by your skin’s sebaceous glands. Sebum is actually Latin for “fat,” which makes sense, and every square inch of your skin—with the exception of the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet—has it.

Most of us tend to focus on the negative side of sebum, such as its ability to make your face look shiny, and its connection with acne. But the presence of sebum is actually good for your skin since it protects the skin from losing moisture. Yet another good thing about sebum is that it contains a lot of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects the skin from aging as well as cancer. (The skin on the lips does not make sebum, which is why this area is more prone to skin cancer.)

Dermatologists are intrigued by the components of sebum, which seems to be determined by your individual genetic makeup. Upon taking a closer look, researchers have found sebum contains triglycerides, diglycerides, fatty acids, wax esters, squalane and cholesterol—why is why cosmetic chemists incorporate some of these ingredients in anti-aging creams. It was once believed that squalane levels in the sebum contributed to acne, but again, no definitive link has been made. Squalane is often added to skin creams so those with oily and acne-prone skins should avoid this ingredient to be on the safe side.

 

If you have acne then you have to deal with the excessive production of sebum by your body which contributes to breakouts.   According to the book Breaking Out (page 20):

People who are prone to acne tend to produce higher-than-average amounts of sebum.  This gives them oily skin – seborrhea, as it is called.  Seborrhea has no direct link with what you eat; the fats and oil in your diet are broken down by the digestive system, and there is no pathway from there to the skin.

Nor is sebum production influenced by anything you apply to your skin.  No matter how dry or tight they may make your face feel, astringent soaps, lotions, or cosmetics that mop up oil on the skin’s surface cannot retard sebum output.  Nor, contrary to popular belief, do they stimulate the sebaceous glands to overcompensate by stepping up oil production to lubricate the dried-out surface.  Sebum output is strictly under the domination of hormones that are indifferent to cleansers, toners, and other topical oil-control treatments.

The connection between hormones and sebum does not necessarily mean that if you have excess oil on your face, your body is producing an overabundance of testosterone, or that your skin boasts an excess follicle-stimulating DHT.  It is instead, typically, a sign that your sebaceous follicles are super-sensitive to these hormones and that they overreact to them, sending out the gush of shine-creating oil that is the most common feature of acne-prone skin.

 

So perhaps the next time you look at your oily face try to turn a negative into a positive and remember that the sebum in your skin can be beneficial.  But if your shiny face is bothering you, and I sympathize greatly since my face can look like an oil slick by the afternoon, follow my tips in my post Shine Free: How to Deal with Excessively Oily or Shiny Skin  for solutions.

 

Book Review: The Skin Type Solution by Leslie Baumann, MD July 23, 2010

I’ve already mentioned Dr. Leslie Baumann a few times in my blog mostly in connection to her blog on The Skin Guru on Yahoo! Health.  While for the most part I enjoy reading her blog I never liked the fact that Dr. Baumann continually disparages estheticians’ knowledge and expertise instead of realizing that doctors and estheticians can work well together and that their skills can complement one another.

If you read Allure magazine you are already familiar with Dr. Baumann’s name since she is quoted in that magazine almost monthly.  They even named her one of their top “influencers” in the field of fashion and beauty this past year.  Certainly when it comes to sharing her expert opinion on all matters connected to skincare Dr. Baumann is no stranger to fashion magazines.  Her enthusiasm for sharing her opinion about products has even gotten her in trouble with the FDA.

Besides for her constant media and print appearances Dr. Baumann is well-known for her book The Skin Type Solution which promises to save you both time and money in choosing your skincare products.  Since Dr. Baumann is both a practicing physician and a researcher (more on that later) she claims to have a unique perspective into knowing what products work well and which are a waste of money.  Furthermore, one Dr. Baumann’s contributions to the field of skincare is her expansion of the whole idea of skin types upping that number from five (dry, oily, combination, sensitive and normal) to sixteen. 

In order to figure out where you land on Dr. Baumann’s skin type assessment you need to fill out the questionnaire that is found at the beginning of her book.  The questionnaire measures four different factors in the skin: oiliness vs. dryness, resistance vs. sensitivity, pigmentation vs. non-pigmentation, and tightness vs. wrinkles.  For instance once I filled out the questionnaire and tallied my results I found that according to Dr. Baumann’s criteria my skin type was: OSPT or oily, sensitive, pigmented, and tight (though for the part when it came to tight vs. wrinkled I was really borderline).  I thought that was a good assessment about my skin.  Once you finish the questionnaire and determine your skin type you flip to the section of the book that corresponds to your skin type in order to learn more about your skin including numerous product recommendations.

Each different skin type has its own section that includes lots of information as it relates to that skin type exactly.  The information in each section is then subdivided into categories such as:  “about your skin”, “a close-up look at your skin”, “everyday care for your skin”, “daily skin care”, recommended products, “shopping for products”, “procedures for your skin”, and ongoing care for your skin”.  All good things especially the daily skin care regimes which really explain how and when to use your products; I think is always valuable.  You get a lot of information about your skin – a lot.  What can be confusing is all the asides or ifs and differences.  For example (page 69, paragraph two):

The OSPT Skin Type is quite common among people with medium and darker skin color, like Caribbean-Americans, Latin-Americans, Asians, and Mediterraneans.  Lighter-skinned people from other ethnic backgrounds, like the Irish or English, can be OSPTs, as can a redhead with freckles, which are a form of pigmentation. If the questionnaire revealed that you’re an OSPT, but you don’t experience all the symptoms I’ll cover, your rest result isn’t wrong.  OSPTs share many common problems, but there are some differences, so throughout this chapter, I’ll discuss the various symptoms, tendencies, and treatment options typical for dark, medium, and light-toned OSPTs.

Interspersed amongst the chapters are information about eczema, rosacea, acne, skin dehydration, sensitive skin, skin cancer, etc.  If your specific chapter doesn’t contain information about something you are interested in learning more about you can always use the index in the back of the book to locate the chapter that does.  Because of organization issues like that I found the book a bit choppy.  Of course I read the book straight through and didn’t just read the chapter for my skin type maybe if I had done that I wouldn’t have felt that the book was so choppy.

 

Things That Made Me Say “huh?”

 

There were a number of things that Dr. Baumann wrote in her book that made me raise my eyebrows.  For instance in the chapter for my skin type – oily, sensitive, pigmented, and tight – under the category “skin care ingredients to avoid if acne prone” jojoba oil is one of those ingredients.  I was very, very surprised to see that there since I feel (and I am not the only one) that jojoba oil is actually a great skincare ingredient for acne prone skin needing moisture.  [See my earlier post Ingredient Spotlight: Jojoba Oil for more information]  No explanation is given for including this ingredient in the list of ingredients to avoid.  In addition, Dr. Baumann continually recommends copper peptides as  great anti-aging ingredient.  I found that really interesting in light of the fact that few other experts agree with her.  Take for example what Dr. Ellen Marmur (also a dermatologist) writes about copper peptides in her excellent book Simple Skin Beauty:

Because copper is vital to enzyme function in the body, it follows that it’s also important to the synthesis of extracellular matrix in the skin.  I sound like a broken record, but although the notion of applying copper cutaneously to assist skin function is interesting in theory, it many be ineffectual in practice.  Is there enough concentrated copper peptide in an over-the-counter product, and is it stable?  Can it actually penetrate the skin to have an effect on the enzymatic workings of the body?  Personally, I would rather eat foods containing copper (such as sesame, sunflower sees, and cashews) to be sure the element is getting into my body to do its amazing job.  I’m doubtful [about copper peptides] until stronger scientific data proves the claims.

Lastly, Dr. Baumann recommends using eye creams with Vitamin K in them to help undereye circles.  Though many skincare companies have jumped on the Vitamin K bandwagon there is little proof that it actually does help undereye circles.

Issues like that made me wonder if I should believe everything written in this book.  It made me want to take Dr. Baumann’s advice with a grain of salt.

 

But My Real Issue?  The Product Recommendations

 

Dr. Baumann’s bio at the back of her book describes her thusly:

Leslie Baumann, M.D., is professor and director of Cosmetic Dermatology at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and founder of the university’s internationally recognized Cosmetic Center.  She is on the advisory boards or does research for many companies, including Johnson and Johnson (Aveeno, Neutrogena), Avon, Allergan, and others.

 

So guess how often Johnson and Johnson products (Aveeno, Neutrogena, and Clean & Clear) are recommended in this book?  A lot.  So I found it hard to believe when I read the following (page 9):

Instead of letting you waste your valuable time and money tracking down products that wind up in the trash, I will direct you to ones that will really help.  I’ve reviewed the clinical trial date for the products, when available, to offer those proven effective.  Finally, since my patients have used my recommendations, I’ve listened to their feedback and tracked their treatment results to guarantee the efficacy of the treatment approach and product selection for each Skin Type.  All you have to do is take the test, determine your Skin Type, and choose from products in your chapter.  And at least when you splurge on products and procedures, you’ll know you are getting your money’s worth.

The recommendations are independent of any relationships that I have with the companies that manufacture them.  Of course, when I with a company, I know more about its products.  However, I work with over thirty-seven companies and have approached many others for information while writing this book. 

 

I don’t know – I guess I’m not buying her complete impartiality.

I was happy to see that Skinceuticals and Topix products were recommended since they are both great product lines.

 

Skin Type Solutions Website

 

Throughout the book Dr. Baumann continually reminds her reader that they can log on to her website Skin Type Solutions for more product recommendations, to share their thoughts about their skin type and skincare products, and to get more skincare information in general.  The site even has its own version of her skin type questionnaire.  So that made me wonder – why do I need the book at all if everything is online?  Of course, someone had thought of that as well.  While the online quiz will tell you what your skin type is according to Dr. Baumann’s criteria (it took me about 5 minutes to complete the online quiz) it will only give you the briefest of summarizes afterwards about your skin type – no recommended skincare regimes, no product information, and no in-depth information at all.  You’ll need the book for that.

 

Buy It?

 

I would actually recommend NOT buying this book simply because most of the information in the book isn’t going to be relevant for you.  That isn’t to say that I didn’t learn some new things from the book because I did.  There is valuable information in the book, and taking an in-depth questionnaire that forces you to think about your skin is actually great.  Having lots of detailed advice about your skin type is also extremely valuable in my opinion even if I don’t agree with lots of Dr. Baumann’s product recommendations.  So I would recommend that you check the book out of your local library or take an hour to sit in the library, take the skin type quiz, read the section of the book that is relevant to your skin type, and photocopy just that section.  I just don’t see a reason to keep a copy of this book at home.  If you want to have a skincare book at home I will once again recommend the following books (see my reviews):

 

Microcurrent/Bioelectricity Skincare – Worth Trying? May 2, 2010

You may have noticed that Neutrogena, Aveeno, and RoC are promoting products that claim to build collagen, repair damage, and restore elasticity to the skin using an electric charge that is created when you apply their products to your skin.  Using electricity to stimulate collagen production and restore the skin’s youthful appearance isn’t a new concept in the skincare world.  What is new are the home care products that claim to do the same thing as a microcurrent facial.  These home care products play off of the use of bioelectricity as it is already used in the medical industry to heal wounds and even promote bone growth.

 

Microcurrent Facial Treatments

  

In her new book Complexion Perfection! esthetician to the stars Kate Somerville explains that a microcurrent skincare treatment involves the use of  two sets of prongs which are applied to the face and emit very small electrical impulses that mimic the naturally occurring electrical impulses in the body.  This triggers a chemical reaction that then encourages the body to product more collagen and elastin.

Additionally, Somerville writes that the microcurrent brings oxygen to the skin cells, increases circulation in the skin, and lifts facial muscles back into place.  Somerville says that the results of such treatments are immediate and cumulative.  Eventually, she claims, if you get enough of these treatments you will have toned and elastic skin.

Not everyone agrees with these assessments.  In a February, 2010 Elle magazine article entitled Fight Aging by Healing Damaged Skin dermatologist Dr.  Alexa Kimball says that Somerville’s claims that microcurrent treatments help create collagen and enhance circulation are very hard to evaluate.  Furthermore, Dr. Kimball says that the idea that muscle contractions are helpful in restoring the skin’s youthful appearance is also likely incorrect since, for example, an anti-aging treatment like Botox works by stopping muscle contractions. 

If anyone has tried professional microcurrent treatments please feel free to comment below about your experience.

 

Microcurrent or Bioelectricity Home Skincare Products

  

So how do the new home care products work that claim to use electricity to stimulate collagen and elastin production and help slow down the aging process?

Dr. Leslie Baumann explains in her Yahoo! Health blog The Skin Guru that:

Collagen and elastin are proteins in skin that diminish as we get older. Collagen is like scaffolding that gives skin its structure and keeps wrinkles from forming, while elastin is more like a spring-without it, skin loses its ability to bounce back and starts to sag.

For quite some time, dermatologists have known that collagen production can be stimulated topically with glycolic acid, vitamin C and retinoids, but there have been very few products proven to promote production of elastin. Electric stimulation may be the answer.

The concept doesn’t involve any batteries or machinery; instead, electric stimulation is delivered by topical creams that contain energized zinc and copper. Application of the grayish zinc and copper cream is followed by use of a moisturizer, which causes the two elements to exchange an electron and purportedly generates a 10 micro amp charge. Though the charge is quite weak-you can’t actually feel anything-manufacturers claim it nonetheless triggers the skin to synthesize both collagen and the more elusive elastin.

In the Elle article already mentioned above the science behind the new Neutrogena Clinical products is explained:

… Neutrogena is the first brand to go deep on bioelectricity; in particular, they’re tapping into biomimetics—the science of using technology to copy biological systems. The new Neutrogena Clinical collection contains zinc particles that are coated in copper. Though you can’t feel them, the company claims these microbatteries— each roughly the size of a skin cell—create a current that revs up cells’ abilities to communicate with one another, just as they would in normal wound healing (telling one another, for example: Make collagen!). Duracell-inspired skin care certainly sounds like science fiction, but [Dr. Gordana]Vunjak-Novakovic [professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University] seems remarkably optimistic that it might actually work: “The idea is to wake up the native mechanism that the body already knows but, over decades, has forgotten.”

Obviously this is all very intriguing stuff.  But so far there have been no independent evaluations of these home care products effectiveness.  Once again – if anyone has tried these products please comment and let us know if they worked as promised.

By the way, this only seems to be the beginning of such home care products.  The FDA is currently reviewing a palm-size home use microcurrent device called the DermaLucent Handheld that combines LED light therapy with microcurrent light therapy.  The NuFace microcurrent device is already being sold for home use.  I would expect to see more products like the Neutrogena, Aveeno, and RoC products if those are a success with consumers.

 

Sources and Further Reading

 

 

Ridiculous iPhone Apps? Part 2 March 30, 2010

Filed under: Acne — askanesthetician @ 7:50 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I had written earlier in this blog about iPhone apps that claim to help treat acne.  See my post Ridiculous iPhone App?  for more details.  In my previous post I pointed out that claiming an iPhone app can help clear acne with the use of light therapy was silly and down right misleading.

Much to my great surprise I came across the following blog post from Dr. Leslie Baumann (The Skin Guru on Yahoo! Health, whose blog I have mentioned already numerous times in my blog) actually telling her readers that such apps are worth a try???!!!  I found this advice quite amazing in light of all the advice from other physicians that such apps do not work, provide acne sufferers with false hope, and can even be harmful. 

Here is Dr. Baumann’s post:

Wouldn’t it be great if you could erase acne and wrinkles while chatting on the phone? Well, two new iPhone apps promise to do just that!AcneApp and Atomic Red both harness the iPhone’s light emitting diode (LED) screen to emit wavelengths that can benefit skin. The principle is the same as that behind the red and blue light therapy offered in your dermatologist’s office–albeit on a much less powerful scale–which has been shown to kill acne-causing bacteria, reduce inflammation, and treat wrinkles by boosting collagen production.

AcneApp uses alternating pulses of blue and red light and is purported to have anti-aging in addition to pimple-fighting properties, while Atomic Red promises to ease muscle and joint pain as well as firm sagging skin (a third app, Atomic Blue, is intended to treat seasonal affective disorder).

While I think this is a genius idea, I doubt the iPhone is powerful enough to have much efficacy. But for $1.99 per app, it sure is worth a try!

These could be fun and perhaps slightly effective self-treatments for periods between in-office light treatments from a board certified dermatologist. Such treatments cost around $75 per visit, are painless, and require no downtime; in my experience, they are more effective as an acne treatment than for anti-aging (there are other lasers, such as the Pearl and Fraxel, that work far better on wrinkles and sagging skin). The number of treatments required will vary depending on severity of your acne.

 

Once again, I am extremely surprised that a dermatologist would actually semi endorse such an iPhone app and even encourage her readers to give it a try.  Please read my earlier post to understand why most doctors disagree with the use of such iPhone apps.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: