In Part I of “Everything You Need to Know about Moisturizers,” we looked at what moisturizers are, how they work, their health benefits, how today’s moisturizers do more than just moisturize.
In this post, we’ll take a more in-depth look at moisturizers and talk a bit about which products you’ll want to avoid.
Applying Vitamins and Antioxidants
While evidence abounds that having a diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants confers health benefits and protects against a variety of illnesses and aliments, the same, unfortunately, cannot be said about taking vitamin and antioxidant supplements(1).
Given the lack of evidence for the health benefits of supplementing with vitamins and antioxidants, does it make sense to put vitamins and antioxidants in moisturizers for the benefit of the skin?
Surprisingly, it turns out that vitamins and antioxidants applied to the skin may indeed help heal and protect it.
For example, derivatives of vitamin A can help repair wrinkles, altered texture, discolored skin, mottled hyperpigmented skin, and epidermal thickness due to photodamage; in addition, these derivatives can increase collagen production improving both the skin’s elasticity and firmness.
Vitamin C and B (niacinamide) work similarly: vitamin C can help repair the skin’s elastic tissue by increasing collagen production, and vitamin B can help repair other damage done to the skin by the sun. Coenzyme Q, alpha lipoic acid, and copper also seem to help repair and protect against sun damage.
There is evidence that combining antioxidants may result in a synergistic effect. For example, research has shown that combining vitamins C, E and ferulic acid helps protect against both sun damage and skin cancer(2).
Other Ingredients that May Help Heal and Protect the Skin
Most moisturizing products have other vitamin and antioxidant substances with purported benefits – we say ‘purported,’ because to date, for most part, there’s scant evidence that these extra ingredients help heal and protect the skin.
- Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) – a compound purported to improve wrinkles. This claim is backed up by some research(3).
- Genistein – an antioxidant purported to protect skin against UVB damage. This claim is also backed up by at least one study, but only for skin cells in cell cultures(4).
- Green tea – another antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that may protect against UV damage and repair photoaging damage. A recent 2013 study(5) has found some evidence for this claim when green tea was combined with lotus extract.
- Growth factors – substances purported to assist in wound healing and to repair sun damaged skin.
- Kinetin – a specific plant growth factor and antioxidant purported to improve skin texture and wrinkles. Scant evidence exists for this claim(6).
- Peptides – an amino acid purported to increase production of collagen and elastin. A 2004 study using a synthetically developed peptide found it had a strong effect in reducing wrinkles(7).
Do You Need a Skin Toner?
Contrary to the name, skin toners will not improve the tone of your skin (for that, you’ll need to use a laser or IPL); instead, skin toners are designed to shrink the appearance of pores, and are meant to be used after cleansing.
So, do you need a skin toner? It depends on the type. For example, as we age, our skin often becomes dryer. In this case, you’ll want to avoid any skin-toning products that contain alcohol or acetone because while they will help firm the skin, they’ll also exacerbate any dryness. Further, some skin toners are also acidic, containing ingredients like citrus, camphor, or menthol. These acidic ingredients can irritate the skin, especially dry, older skin.
To avoid worsening dry skin and minimize irritation, use water and glycerin-based toners as they can help provide extra moisture to the skin.
Avoid Mineral Oil
You’ll want to avoid any moisturizers that contain mineral oil as researchers(8) have found some of those moisturizers have caused skin cancers in hairless mice to grow more rapidly than they otherwise might.
It is important to highlight that the moisturizers tested by these researchers did not cause skin cancer; rather they caused existing skin cancer in UVB irradiated mice to grow faster. This suggest that on non-sun or UVB damaged skin, such moisturizers may be safe to use.
Nevertheless, common sense dictates caution when using the type of moisturizers these researchers tested in their study.
To partially allay any fears that all moisturizers are potentially harmful, the researchers asked the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to make them a “custom blend” moisturizer without two ingredients previously linked to skin irritation (sodium lauryl sulfate) and tumor promotion (mineral oil). The custom blend (on which Rutgers University and Johnson & Johnson hold a patent) did not promote skin cancer.
- Harvard School of Public Health. Antioxidants: Beyond the Hype.
- L. How to Prevent Photoaging? Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2005), 125.
- Grossman R. The role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology, Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005; 6(1):39-47.
- Barbara L., Maria L., Franco G., Giuseppe M.,4 and Maria B. Synergic Effect of Genistein and Daidzein on UVB-Induced DNA Damage: An Effective Photoprotective Combination. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology Volume 2011 (2011).
- Mahmood T. and Akhtar N. Combined topical application of lotus and green tea improves facial skin surface parameters. Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Apr; 16(2):91-7.
- Jacquelyn L. and Saira M. How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Feb 2010; 3(2): 22–41.
- Bauza E., Oberto G., Berghi A., Dal C.F., Domloge N. Collagen-like peptide exhibits a remarkable antiwrinkle effect on the skin when topically applied: in vivo study. Int J Tissue React. 2004; 26(3-4):105-11.
- Yao-Ping Lu, You-Rong Lou, Jian-Guo Xie, Qingyun Peng, Weichung J Shih, Yong Lin and Allan H Conney. Tumorigenic Effect of Some Commonly Used Moisturizing Creams when Applied Topically to UVB-Pretreated High-Risk Mice. Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2009) 129, 468–475
Who Needs To Moisturize?
Basically anyone who has dry skin, and most often, that means older adults.
Moisturized skin feels better and looks better than dry skin because it is more smooth, flexible and pliable.
Health Benefits of Moisturized Skin
One of the main functions of the skin is to act as a barrier to protect against infection, dry skin, chemical exposure, and mechanical injury. Compromises in this barrier can lead to conditions like atopic dermatitis and other chronic skin diseases. Many skin conditions are preceded by prolonged dry skin.
How Do Moisturizers Work?
Moisturizers work in two ways: 1) first they improve skin hydration by increasing the amount of water in the skin and 2) they create a “protective” or occlusive barrier on the surface of the skin to prevent water evaporating from the epidermis layer.
The main ingredient for improving skin hydration is glycerin, a humectant type of compound that attracts and binds water in the upper layers of the epidermis and makes the stratum corneum (the visible surface of your skin) more flexible.
The main ingredients for keeping for skin hydrated are various types of lipids that create an occlusive barrier to keep water from evaporating from the skin. These ingredients include certain plant oils, petrolatum, and mineral oil.
Today’s Moisturizers do Way More than just Moisturize
Most moisturizers also contain ingredients that help improve the appearance of the skin in other ways. Perhaps the most important ingredients are the exfoliants alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).
These two exfoliants improve the appearance of the skin by removing dead surface skin cells. This makes more visible newer skin cells that make the skin appear clearer. In addition to giving the skin a newer, fresher look, AHAs can brighten the skin by evening out discoloration from too much sun exposure. Exfoliants can be particularly useful for aging skin that doesn’t replace dead surface skin cells with new cells as easily as younger skin does; exfoliants can help restore this natural skin rejuvenation process.
AHAs come from fruit (e.g., citrus) and are labeled as either glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, hydroxycaprylic acid, alphahydroxyoctanoic acid, triple fruit acid, or sugar cane extract.
While most moisturizers contain a safe amount of AHA, you should double check that you’re not getting an AHA concentration of more than 10%; additionally, it should have a pH of 3.5 or more. Finally, to protect the new skin cells, you’ll want to use sunscreen each day.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are salicylic acids, a close relative of aspirin. Salicylic acids work in the same way as AHAs, but they’re more effective than AHAs on oily skin.
Most moisturizers do not list the concentration of BHAs, so the FDA recommends that you first test an area of skin to make sure a particular product’s BHA concentration won’t irritate you. And, again, you’ll want to use a good sun screen in conjunction with BHA products.
In Part II of “Everything You Need to Know About Moisturizers,” well look at some of the more esoteric and controversial ingredients in some moisturizers, and we’ll tell you which products you’ll want to avoid.
An article about Shizuka and The Geisha Facial® appear in MSN Japan!
The article titled, Japanese originated ‘Nightingale Dropping ‘ Facial available at Hilton in England Now. Despite its scent writers praised its effect after giving it a try talks about The Geisha Facial’s “flight” overseas to spas in England and highlights the origin of The Geisha Facial®.
Even before “Bird Poop Facial” was introduced in England for the first time, Shizuka Bernstein, a Tokyo-born master aesthetician, has been offering The Geisha Facial® that includes a customized nightingale dropping exfoliate at her own spa in New York.
Her mother once told her that geishas would use the nightingale droppings to keep their skin clear and blemish-free, and that story inspired Shizuka to create this facial.
Out, damned spot! out, I say! ~ Lady McBeth
What are those Damned Brown Spots Anyway?
Brown spots are flat, oval areas of skin that are darker than the surrounding skin – hence called ‘spots’ – and they are typically tan, brown or black. While brown spots develop most often in people with light to fair complexions, those with darker skin can also experience small areas of increased pigmentation.
What Causes Brown Spots?
Prolonged and repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is the most frequent cause of brown spots in those that are genetically predisposed. UV light causes brown spots because the skin reacts by increasing melanin production in a localized area; increased melanin production is also how you get a tan to help protect deeper layers of skin from UV rays, but with a tan the distribution of pigment is even. Moreover, because it is UV light rather than the entire spectrum of sunlight that causes brown spots, commercial tanning lamps and tanning beds can also contribute to their development.
While UV light is the most common cause, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from skin injury, certain skin diseases, and certain medications that sensitize the skin to the sun can also cause brown spots.
The development of brown spots usually happens gradually over time. Because of their gradual development, they are sometimes called ‘age spots,’
Where do Brown Spots Occur?
In the case of UV exposure, brown spots usually occur on those parts of the skin that have had the most sun exposure, e.g., on the back of the hands, the top of the feet, on the face, or on the shoulders and upper back.
How Can I Get Rid of Brown Spots?
Before using a laser or IPL to get rid of a brown spot, see your doctor first to make sure the spot is not pre-cancerous or cancerous.
You’ll especially want to see your doctor if you notice that a brown spot has any one or more of these characteristics:
- It is darkly pigmented
- It is rapidly increasing in size
- It is greater than 5mm
- It has an irregular border
- It has an unusual combination of colors
- It is accompanied by itching, redness, tenderness or bleeding
If your doctor tells you it is safe to remove a brown spot, if you only have 1-2 spots, liquid nitrogen is quite effective. Sometimes, however, more than one treatment may be needed to fully remove a spot and repeated treatment with liquid nitrogen can cause blotchy pigmentation over time.
IPL, on the other hand, is equally effective in removing many brown spots at once while also maintaining skin tone; in fact, the goal of IPL treatments is to make your skin more evenly colored by decreasing the irregular brownish and reddish areas that have developed as a result of aging and sun damage. In addition, IPL also brightens the skin and gives it a more youthful glow.
It should be noted, however, that the effectiveness of IPL in removing brown spots depends somewhat on your skin tone; while IPL can be adjusted to your skin tone, if your skin is too dark, your best bet is to use a Yag or Q-switched Yag laser.
Being a natural beauty means doing basic things like getting enough rest and eating nutritious foods. This can do wonders to enhance your overall mood and lead to a more rejuvenated appearance.
We came up some spa-related beauty tips that will let your natural beauty shine and help you feel better too!
Read on for 5 ways to easily enhance your natural beauty (and share it with the world)!
How to be a Natural Beauty
Facial massage: loosen up tight facial muscles every night before bed.
Most spa facials will incorporate a facial massage into its treatment. Why? Because the massage draws nutrients into the face to prevent signs of aging and gives your face a healthy vibrant tone. A facial massage further increases circulation, oxygenates, and detoxes the skin tissues.
It’s best to massage your face at night when applying moisturizer. Simply incorporate a light massage into your moisturizing routine. As an added bonus, the massage will help relax you before bedtime so you (and your smile muscles) will be rested and ready for the next day!
Loosen up tired “facial-expression” muscles that are hard at working during the day with this simple facial massage.
Open your eyes: open up the look of your eyes with a Japanese eyelash perm treatment or Eyelash Extensions. Both can open up and revive the look of your face anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks! The effect gradually lessens as your lashes naturally grow and fall out.
A Japanese eyelash perm is a temporary way to give your lashes a luscious curl sans an eyelash curler! The treatment is safe and painless and you leave the spa looking bright eyed!
You can choose the tightness of the curl (the tighter the curl the more “glamorous” it will appear).
Eyelash extensions work in much the same way but without the chemical treatment of an eyelash perm. Fake lashes are individually applied to each of your natural lashes to make your lashes look naturally longer, fuller, and darker. So say goodbye to mascara!
Keep lips hydrated and smooth for a youthful smile: exfoliate lips with a sugar scrub to get rid of dead skin on and around the lips. Then be sure to keep them moisturized to protect the new skin with a lip balm throughout the day.
Lips are an important feature of your face as it frames your smile. Exfoliation simply means removing the top layer of skin which is mostly consists of dead skin cells. When this top layer is removed a new layer that soft and even is revealed. Slough off dry skin with a gentle scrub, if the scrub is too harsh you could strip valuable natural oils from the skin causing more damage than good.
Sleep with a humidifier in your bedroom. This will keep your lips and skin hydrated throughout the night.
Get youthful looking lips by exfoliating them daily for a youthful smile.
Kiss those Lip Lines Goodbye!
Optimize your cleansing routine: Find a facial cleanser that works best for your skin type (normal, oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin).
Finding the right cleanser may take some trial and error but it’s just as important as washing your face. For example, if you have sensitive skin you’ll want to stick to a gentle cleanser with naturally moisturizing components like aloe vera, otherwise cleansers with certain chemicals will cause inflammation and strip skin of natural oils. It’s better to do a little research by asking your esthetician for advice or trying out samples. Choose the best cleanser that works with your skin’s chemistry and wash away dirt and debris without any unsightly side effects. And always remember to moisturize your face immediately after cleansing to rehydrate skin!
Stay hydrated: drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated and looking healthy throughout the day. If you’re not drinking enough water, your skin will start to look dry and flaky. Dry skin is less resilient and more prone to premature aging. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day will help flush toxins from your body and, overtime, will give you youthful glowing skin.
We all know that staying hydrated is important for overall good health, but for healthy skin it’s a must. Skin, like any other bodily organ, is made up of cells which are made up of water. Without this primary component, cells just wouldn’t be able to function optimally.
In addition to hydrating from the inside out, replenish lost moisture by applying a moisturizer within 2 minutes of showering or bathing. During this short window of time, the skin remains porous allowing for better absorption.
For optimal absorption, use a hydrating serum that contains hyalauronic acid before applying moisturizer. Hyalauronic acid attracts and holds water making your skin look plump and firm.
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