Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

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.


…  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:

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What Is Milia and How Do You Treat It? October 10, 2013

There are some skincare issues that, in my opinion, are more vexing than others.  To name a few –  hyperpigmentation, acne, and milia.  Just what is milia, how do you get it, and how do you treat it?

What is Milia and What Causes It?

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty (pages 201-206) milia and whiteheads are very similar:

… both are closed-over keratin plugs – but milia is not associated with acne.  They are caused by aging and slower cell turnover.  Milia are tiny white bumps formed by trapped keratin compacted in the pore, but there is no bacteria or oil involved.  …

Milia is a case of keratin-obstructed pores caused by skin that isn’t shedding normally.  It is not an acne issue and happens frequently as we age; it generally starts to show up in your thirties.  Milia can also be a side effect of laser resurfacing, because the skin is growing at an accelerated rate (as a wound-healing response) and can trap keratin inside the pores.

The website Dermadoctor expands further on the causes of milia in an article by Dr. Audrey Kunin :

Milia are deep seeded white bumps that form when skin cells become trapped rather than exfoliate naturally. The trapped cells become walled off into tiny cysts that appear like white beads below the surface of the skin. Milia can occur on the skin or even on mucous membranes such as the inner surface of the cheek or the vermillion border of the lips.

As the surface is worn away, the tiny cyst may resolve on its own. Far too often, though, intervention to remove the cyst may offer more rapid resolution.

Why Me?

Milia form for a variety of reasons. Some you can fix, others aren’t so easily dealt with. But you need to scrutinize your skin care routine whenever milia make their appearance. Although some people naturally make milia, and I certainly expect everyone to have an occasional bump at one time or another, milia are often the result of a problem that has affected the skin’s surface.

Are there any skincare habits that contribute to the formation of milia?  According to Dr. Kunin yes there are:

  • No doubt the most common reason milia form is from smothering your skin with heavy skin care products or hair care items. Comedogenic creams and lotions may prevent the sloughing of dead epidermal skin cells. Hidden problem products include make-up removers not labeled oil-free or non-comedogenic, hair spray, hair mousse and gel, heavy sunscreens and some moisturizers. The eyelids are very thin and more likely to experience problems with milia due to cosmetics. Re-evaluate your eye make-up and eyelid make-up remover if you are finding this to be a concern.Certain lipsticks, lip balms and products meant to help with chapped lips may be the cause of little white pearly milia developing around the lipstick edge (aka vermillion border) of the lips. Again, if you see these forming, take a good look at the ingredients on the label.
  • Prolonged History Of Sun Damage
    The formation of milia can also be due to cumulative sun exposure. Aging skin forms a thicker epidermis that may make it far more difficult for skin cells to find their way out of the glands. And thicker skin also makes for more road blocks in the pathway to exfoliation.
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
    Milia can also be associated with certain skin diseases, particularly blistering disorders such as Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. Fortunately, there are other symptoms associated with these blistering diseases. Blisters, for one and increased hair on the face and backs of hands and knuckles, for another. PCT is an unusual disorder. If you have milia, don’t initially jump to the conclusion you have a blistering condition.
  • Genetics
    Sometimes we just inherit certain undesirable skin tendencies.

What Can Be Done to Prevent and Treat Milia?

Both doctors I quoted above believe that regular exfoliation and retinols can help fight milia.  Dr. Kunin explains:

Exfoliation can go a long way in helping deal with milia prone non eyelid skin. By keeping the epidermis thin and smooth, you can cut down on their formation. By mentioning exfoliation, I’m not talking about scrubbing off the top layer of your skin!

Retinol is also very helpful for both fighting and preventing milia. Again, retinol should not be applied to the upper eyelids.

Sometimes milia won’t come out in spite of your best efforts. Then you may need the milia to be extracted by your dermatologist. In a physician’s office, milia are easily removed. The skin is cleansed with some rubbing alcohol or other antiseptic. The skin overlying the milia is gently opened with a sterile lancet or needle. Then pressure is applied with a comedone extractor, and the milia typically pop out. I find that one of the most difficult areas from which to remove milia is the upper eyelid. There simply isn’t a good way to press on the area and avoid the eyeball, so the lid has to be pulled either upwards or to the side, which is somewhat challenging.

Furthermore, since extensive sun exposure can cause milia be sure to be vigilant, if you weren’t already, with using a sunscreen that won’t clog pores.  And if you’ve tried everything to get rid of your milia and it isn’t working please see a professional.  Don’t go stabbing your face with a needle on your own.

Further Reading:

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Do Your Skincare Products Get Absorbed Into Your Bloodstream? March 19, 2013

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 7:30 am
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There is a persistent beauty myth circulating that the products you place on your skin penetrate into your bloodstream (see this article I found online as a perfect example of the perpetuation of this myth).  Sometimes beauty myths like this are promoted by the natural and organic beauty industry in order to sell their products, but, frankly in my opinion, this is a scare tactic and it irks me greatly.  (And please don’t get me started on the EWG and their Skin Deep website.  I am not the only one who is annoyed by the EWG.  See this post from The Beauty Brains for their perspective and an excellent, in my opinion again, explanation on how the EWG uses a little data in order to reach scary conclusions and create hysteria among consumers).

So just what are the facts about skincare product absorption into our bloodstream? This post will rely heavily on information from The Beauty Brains website since they have addressed this issue numerous times in varying permutations.  In the post Natural Bias on the Beauty Brains they explain:

… it is not true that whatever you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. Skin is designed to keep things out of your body. It is an excellent barrier to almost all chemicals. This is why doctors still have to give you shots or you have to take pills for most medicines. Some drugs, like those delivered through nicotine patches really work, but overall very few chemicals can penetrate your skin and get into your system!

And again in the post How Can You Stop Chemicals From Penetrating the Skin?:

Raylene really needs to know…I don’t like the idea of chemicals in cosmetics getting into my body. Is there anyway to block this? 

The Beauty Brains respond:

Since most ingredients don’t penetrate skin this isn’t really an issue. That’s because most chemicals are too large to diffuse through the skin. (Read this post on how much chemical exposure do you really get from cosmetics.)  In fact, you need special dermal patches, formulated with penetration enhancers, to get things like nicotine and sea sickness drugs through your skin and into your blood.

In the post The Impermeable Facts of Skin Penetration and Absorption from the website Personal Care Nathan Rivas does a great job breaking down the intricacies of this issue.  It turns out that this site does not allow other bloggers to copy and paste information from their articles free of charge.  The article offers an excellent explanation on this issue, so much so that the part I wanted to share here would have cost me $212 to do so.  Instead I urge you to click the above link to the article and read it since I do not have $212 to spend in order to share the information here :).

But just how much chemical exposure do we get each year from our beauty products?  The Beauty Brains explains in the post How Much Chemical Exposure Do You Really Get From Cosmetics?:

A few months ago we examined the question of whether your cosmetics were poisoning you. In this article we de-bunked the claim that you absorbed 5 pounds of damaging chemicals a year. This is just nonsense and not supported by science.

However, we recently found some published research about how much chemical exposure the average person gets each day from common products. Remember, this is how much you’re EXPOSED which is different than how much your body absorbs. How do you compare to the average person?

Chemical exposure per day from cosmetics

1. Lipstick: 0.024 g
2. Spray perfume: 0.53 g
3. Liquid foundation: 0.67 g
4. Solid antiperspirant: 0.79
5. Face cream: 2.05 g
6. Hairspray: 3.57 g
7. Skin lotion: 8.70 g
8. Shampoo: 12.8 g
9. Body wash: 14.5 g

Cosmetic chemical absorption

So, if you use all of these products every single day for a year, you are exposed to over 35 pounds of chemicals. Of course, many of these products are mainly water so if you subtract out the water, your non-water chemical exposure is about 5 pounds in a year.

That would mean if it were true that you absorbed 5 pounds of chemicals from cosmetics each year, your body would be absorbing everything put on your body. We know this isn’t true since we see bubbles washed down the drain and we have to remove make-up every night

Bottom Line:  The next time someone or a company tells you that the chemicals in the skincare product you are using are being absorbed into your bloodstream you will now know that this is just a persistent beauty myth.  Our skin functions as a protective barrier that keeps out chemicals instead of letting them in.  Very few chemicals penetrate our skin let alone get absorbed into our bloodstream.

Further Related Reading:

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

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 6:39 am
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Recently I wrote a post about skin pH which explained what affects our skin’s pH, how our skin’s pH can be compromised, and how to fix your skin if its pH  has been compromised.   After publishing my post Traci posted the following question:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Skin Sins to Avoid September 22, 2011

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:50 am
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There are many things that we can do on a daily basis to help our skin look its best, and there are just as many things that we can do on a daily basis that damage our skin.  These “skin sins”, as I like to call them, are totally controllable and preventable.  So what are some “skin sins”, and what can you do about them?

Skin Sin #1 – Tanning outside, using a tanning bed, or spending time in the sun without sunscreen on.

Simply put – tanning beds are cancer beds.  Furthermore, there is no such thing as a safe tan.  A tan is a sign of damage to your skin, and sun exposure always leads to wrinkles and hyperpigmentation eventually.  Your time on the beach without sunscreen will catch-up with you in the end.  The daily application of sunscreen will not only protect your skin from skin cancer but also from wrinkles and sun spots.  There is simply no reason not to apply sunscreen in the morning and reapply as needed throughout the day.  And be sure to use enough sunscreen, a pea size drop of sunscreen for your face and neck is not enough use a teaspoon size instead, and don’t forget the backs of your hands, your ears, and your jaw and hairline.  Once again, use a teaspoon size blob of sunscreen on your face and another teaspoon size blob for your neck and chest.

Skin Sin #2 – Smoking

There is nothing good about smoking – not for your health and not for your skin.  Let me break it down for you how smoking ruins your skin:  smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict which means your skin literally starts to asphyxiate – you’re starving your skin cells of oxygen.  Since oxygen isn’t getting to your cells in order to help them rebuild they don’t regenerate as quickly as normal and your skin cell turnover slows down.  As you continue to smoke you’ll get fine lines around your lips, and your skin will be rougher and thicker not to mention dull in color.  The carcinogens in the tobacco smoke degrades collagen and elastin, just as sunlight does, so your skin becomes less elastic and more wrinkled over time.  As you smoke you overuse certain muscles in the face leaving you not only with the wrinkles around the mouth, as already mentioned, but with lines between your eyes and crow’s-feet from squinting all the time (see the photo below as an illustration of what this looks like).  Additionally, smoking can make undereye circles worse.  And if all those bad things that can happen to your skin from smoking aren’t enough to convince you to quit smoking also know that smoking is associated with the development of skin cancer because of the build-up of toxins around your face and mouth and the damage caused to the DNA in the skin tissue from the smoke.

Skin Sin #3 –  Over Doing It

It’s important to exfoliate but washing your face with a glycolic wash, then using an exfoliating scrub, and putting Retin-A on top of that is just too much for your skin in the end.  When used correctly alpha hydroxy acids, retinols, and other exfoliants help keep your skin soft, smooth, and youthful, but when you over do it with those ingredients you just end up with raw, thin, and irritated skin.  Instead of helping your skin you end up hurting it by breaking down the protective barrier on the very top of your skin that all of us need in order help maintain healthy skin.  Your skin needs balance so don’t go crazy with the skincare products with the strongest ingredients in them.  Finding the right combination of products – a mix of gentle and stronger products – is your best bet for great looking skin.

Skin Sin #4 – You Never Change Your Skincare Products OR You Change Them Too Often

I addressed part of this issue already in my blog is the post entitled How Often Do You Need To Change Your Skincare Products? and in another post called Are You A Skincare Product Hoarder I wrote about why it is bad to run after the newest and seemingly best skincare products instead of sticking with tried and true products.  Make sure your skincare products address the state that your skin is in currently – not how your skin was when you were a teenager and you broke out all the time.  As the seasons change you will find that you need to change or switch out your skincare products.  It is a good idea to reevaluate your skincare regime every few months or at least each time you finish using a certain product.  When you run out of a product – ask yourself “do I need more of this or do I need something else instead?”.  If you change skincare products too often you’ll never get the full results of the products you are using.  Be sure to try a skincare product for about three months before deciding if it indeed is doing what it claims to do.  Skincare products that really change how your skin looks and behaves need time to work.  Unfortunately there are no overnight cures for real skincare issues.

Skin Sin #5 – Picking at Your Skin or Rubbing Your Face All the Time

I know how tempting it is pick or pop your pimples but if you do you are just making matters worse for your skin.  Picking and popping pimples will make the breakouts take longer to heal and could potentially push bacteria deeper into your skin ensuring that your future breakouts are worse.  If you constantly touch and rub your face you are simply passing bacteria from area of your body to another and irritating your skin.  There is no need for that.  Find a way to stop yourself from rubbing your face and popping your pimples.


Sources and Further Reading:


Are You a Skincare Product Hoarder? August 25, 2011

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:54 am
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I have a confession to make – I have too many skincare products.  As a matter of fact my issue goes beyond having too many skincare products.  I’ll admit it – I’m a skincare product hoarder.  Not only do I always want to try something new, I am willing to try almost any skincare product that someone gives me.

At the moment my small bathroom holds the following products:  two full size bottles of two different skincare cleansers (daytime and nighttime cleansers), a salicylic acid toner, two different body moisturizers (one with spf, one without spf), a benzoyl peroxide lotion, three different antioxidant serums, two different facial sunscreens (a lotion and a powder),  an exfoliating foot lotion, two different facial moisturizers, one eye cream, jojoba oil to remove eye make-up and another eye make-up remover, a skin cleansing oil to remove make-up, and six or seven different sample sizes of skincare products including facial cleansers, facial scrubs, sunscreens, and a facial lotion.

I bet what I have just admitted to having in my bathroom sounds familiar to many of my readers.  It is quite normal for me to have clients who tell me that they change their skincare products as often as they change their clothes.  As an esthetician I do get offered samples of skincare lines, and since I’ll try pretty much try anything once on my face I take them home and try them.

But is it right to have so many products?  Or is it overkill?  In my case I am willing to admit that it is a bit of an overkill to have as many products as I have.  In my defense, I have duplicates of a lot of products (like my two facial moisturizers) because I was able to get a really good price on them and didn’t want to miss the discount.  I know that any unopened product I have will be fine for a year or more as long as I keep the product sealed.  A lot of the samples I receive I don’t use in the end.  I guess sometimes it is just best to give samples away to someone who will actually use them.  And in my quest to find the best exfoliating product I’ve waylaid a product that cost me plenty of money and now should be thrown out (I noticed that it had changed colors).  That was simply money down the drain.

There are some risks involved with changing your skincare products frequently.  First, one of the biggest risk is actually to your wallet since you might end up discarding a product after only a few uses.  If you switch products a lot you are spending a lot of money without probably getting real results.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try new skincare products if you feel like it, but I suggest researching and taking time to really consider before you purchase the newest skincare product on the market.  Newest doesn’t mean best.  The gold standard for topical anti-aging products is Retin-A and that has been for about 30 years.  No one has yet to find an anti-aging product that works as effectively as Retin-A so why chase after every new product that claims to work as well as Retin-A?  It would take years of research and trials to really see if any new product works as well as Retin-A.  So if a skincare product claims to do what Retin-A does I would definitely say to stay clear and save your money.  See what the feedback on the product is a year after it comes on the market.  Look for feedback both from consumers (on websites like Sephora and Allure) and from doctors or other informed individuals as well (Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Solutions website has a ton of information on it or look it up on Beautypedia).

So let’s say money is no object and you can afford to try (and have the space to store) every skincare product your heart desires be sure to err on the side of caution nonetheless.  If you pile on your skincare products or combine them recklessly you can irritate your skin and cause yourself more harm than good.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t or can’t change your skincare products but be sure to look at your entire skincare routine before adding new products.  Just because a celebrity recommended skincare product doesn’t mean that the product is right for you.  A little bit of self-control and research can help you find the right products for you in the end.

Lastly, please remember that using a new skincare product for a week and expecting great changes and results in how your skin looks is futile.  You need to give a new skincare regime or product approximately three months of daily use before you can determine if the products work as they claim to.  If you constantly run after the newest products and switch products repeatedly you will never see a real difference in how your skin looks.

Now having said all of the above about skincare products I have to admit that I am also a make-up product hoarder.  The number of eye shadows that I own is simply ridiculous.  But unlike with skincare products I absolutely encourage experimentation when it comes to make-up products.  Whenever I want to try a new lip gloss or eye shadow color I head over to my neighborhood Target or Ulta and buy the color I want to try from one of the cheap make-up lines (for example NYX, NYC, or E.l.f.).  That way I fulfill my desire to try something new or to see how the trendiest colors look on me with minimal investment.  This is how I found out, for example, that I should never, ever wear deep purple eyeshadow (I looked like someone punched me) but that lilac eye shadow looks nice on me.

So I guess the moral of this post is as follows:  think before you leap.  Before you invest your money in skincare products invest some thought as well, and once you invest in new products give them time to work before moving on to the next big thing.


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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