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
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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

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What’s the NMF? April 26, 2012

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

 

 
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