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The face is a mirror of physical and emotional well-being. Skin tends to glow when a person is happy and healthy, or may look sallow and dull when sad or in poor health. The skin is the largest organ of the body and other than the brain, it is the most complex. Sensitive and durable, the skin requires special attention and care to maintain its health, elasticity, color and vibrancy. Inside and out, the skin works in many ways.
It performs six functions which include protection, absorption, secretion, excretion, regulation and sensation. The skin contains thousands of pores, which are tiny passageways which allow sweat and sebum (oil) to pass through the surface of the skin. Pores assist the skin in performing its six functions.
Can you have great skin? The answer is a big yes! The key is to find out what works and what doesn’t work. This will most likely be done through trial and error and with the help of your Esthetician and/or Dermatologist. Products should contain antioxidants (cancer fighters), anti-irritants, skin-identical ingredients and cell-communicating ingredients. There is a basic home-care regimen for every skin type, including those with sensitive skin, rosacea, acne, dry skin, sun damage, wrinkles, etc. Occasionally, a trip to your local skin care center or spa will be needed to help aid in the treatment and healing of these various conditions. For more chronic conditions, consult a dermatologist.
Avoiding irritation and inflammation is the key to having great skin. Irritation and inflammation, whether from unprotected sun exposure, free-radical damage from the very air we breathe, eating unhealthy foods, smoking or pollution is not good for the skin. By the same token, skin care products that contain irritating products and improper regimens that include using very hot water and over scrubbing can also irritate the skin causing it to become inflamed.
Our skin can hardly keep up with this kind of abuse and the results are an impaired immune and healing response system, a breakdown of collagen and elastin, and the skin being stripped of its outer protective barrier. The breaking down of this barrier can allow the introduction of bacteria. And last but not least, there are those carcinogenic yet silent UVA rays. You don’t feel the penetration of these rays, but they are taking a toll nonetheless.
To achieve good skin health a routine of good sun protection, regular facials, therapy treatments using cosmeceuticals as needed, proper exercise, stress management, adequate rest, a balanced diet and an effective home-care regimen using products that include nutrient-rich antioxidants, anti-irritants and vitamins must be used to keep the skin vibrant, functioning properly and youthful-looking.
RETINOIDS- WRINKLE PREVENTION
To prevent or minimize wrinkles, use retinol in the over-the-counter cosmetics or Retin-A in prescription formulations. They work the same way by increasing cell renewal and preventing the breakdown in collagen, which is a key contributor to skin aging.
On the one hand, most nonprescription and retinol-containing products are not sufficiently concentrated to completely address all sun spots or wrinkles. Retinol is very unstable. If in the manufacturing process it’s exposed to air or light, it will be ineffective. The packaging itself must keep the product from light, which is why aluminum tubes are frequently used. A retinol product offered in a clear jar or bottle is inactive. However, if this type of retinol product is not strong enough and the desired results are not reached, a prescription may be needed.
Many people with extremely dry skin cannot tolerate the dryness and flaking that result from the full-strength retinoids. But if introduced to the skin slowly and diluted with a moisturizer, this may prevent irritation.
Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost an electron, therefore have an odd number of electrons in interaction with other molecules. As a result, there molecules are extremely unstable. They like to have an even number so that they can “heal” themselves, so they “steal” electrons from healthy molecules creating more free radicals in the process. Losing the electron damages vital skin components, the DNA or cell membrane lipids, leading to skin cancers and aging.
Here is an example of how the aging actually takes place. Collagen, a protein, is one of the substances that gives our skin its youthful suppleness and tautness, and it is especially susceptible to damage from free radicals. Once the collagen molecules have been damaged, they become stiff and inflexible, and that condition tends to make the skin look “old”.
Although there are many causes of free-radical damage to the skin, one of the most menacing is sunlight.
Anti-irritants are another element vital for good skin-care formulations. Regardless of the source, irritation is a problem for all skin types, causing collagen breakdown, increasing oil production generating free-radical damage, hurting the skin’s immune response. Many elements are responsible for irritating the skin, including hot water, cold water and sun exposure, pollution, irritating skin-care ingredients, soaps, drying cleansers, and over scrubbing the skin. Even if your skin doesn’t feel or appear irritated after exposure to those things, it is still being irritated. Anti-irritants are incredibly helpful because they allow the skin extra healing time and can reduce problems caused by oxidative and other sources of external damage.
Another component to aging is lack of sufficient sun protection. No other aspect of skin care can prevent, reduce and potentially eliminate sun-induced and hormonal skin discolorations that the diligent use of a well-formulated sunscreen applied liberally.
Sunscreens are used in a variety of product types to block (UVB, which burns the skin) or absorb (UVA-which ages the skin) the ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun. The most commonly used UV absorbers (UVA) are Octyl methoxycinnamate, Octyl Dimethyl PABA, Octyl Salicylate, Oxybenzone,
Octocrylene and Parsol 1789. These ingredients chemically absorb the UV radiation striking the skin and break it up. UV blockers, the most common being Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) and Zinc Oxide (ZnO), work as physical blockers that reflect UV rays and prevent them from striking the skin’s surface.
If you are exposed to the sun even for a few minutes every day and that includes walking to your car, walking to the bus, or sitting next to a window during the day, regardless of the season, that exposure adds up over the years and it will wrinkle the skin, cause discolorations and potentially result in skin cancer. If exposure that little can wrinlkle the skin, imagine how much worse the impact of being in the sun for a long period of time can be and how ultimately detrimental sunbathing can be. No skin-care product except a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater that includes the appropriate UVA-protecting ingredients of titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), Mexoryl SX (ecamsule), or Tinsorb can help prevent that excessive and relentless damage from taking place. At least one of these ingredients must be listed in the active ingredients list for effective protection.
Although you are less likely to get non-melanoma skin cancer than non-pigmented types, lighter skins are at greatest risk for developing melanoma skin cancers, which are curable when detected early. There following factors puts a person at greater risk: if you sunburn easily, have history of one or more severe sunburns, have many freckles, if you have red hair or if family members have a history of melanoma. The MC1R gene is involved in red hair, freckle, and melanoma formation, research reveals so freckles are not just a cosmetic concern. The may be early warning signs for future skin cancers. A landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that children who used sunscreen developed fewer freckles. Also, any mole grows suddenly; changes in shape, size, color; or bleeds should be seen by a dermatologist immediately. If you are at higher risk, get an annual skin cancer exam to look for melanoma lesions. In addition to checking your skin frequently, wear protective clothing as well as sunscreen when possible.
The lip area is prone to skin cancer because the lips do not secrete sebum, which contains high concentrations of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects against aging and cancer. Formulations of Chap Stick and lip balm contain vitamin E as a protectant. Health food stores also sell vitamin E oil, though too oily for most skin areas, can be used on the lips.
ANTIOXIDANTS / VITAMINS
In addition to using retinoids, and a sufficient sunscreen, antioxidants are another vital ingredient in your antiwrinkle campaign because they block the harmful effects of free radicals. Antioxidants to the rescue! Antioxidants (like vitamins C and E, as well as green tea) can both lessen inflammation leading to dark spots and stave off aging, while retinol has antiaging benefits and can also help to lighten dark spots. Antioxidants can impede and repair the damage to skin cells that comes from aging.
Antioxidants are an essential part of any state-of-the-art moisturizer and ignoring their benefit while shopping for any products with names like anti-aging or anti-wrinkle or treatment means you will be shortchanging your skin. The number of antioxidants the can show up in a skin-care product is limitless. In fact, many work well together and thus a cocktail approach to using antioxidants is preferred.
TOPICAL ANTIOXIDANTS/ ANTI-INFLAMMATORIES
Alpha lipoic acid, Beta-glucan, Coenzyme Q10, Grape seed extract, Green tea, Soybean sterols, Superoxide dismutase, Vitamin C (ascorbyl plamitate and magnesium ascorbyl palmitate), Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol, tocotrienols), Pomegranate, Curcurmin, Tumeric
SKIN-IDENTICAL INGREDIENTS OR INTERCELLULAR MATRIX SUBSTANCES
OR NATURAL MOISTURIZING FACTORS (NMF) OR WATER BINDING AGENTS
Ingredients that mimic skin structure. They improve the function of skin and provide the barrier protection that is critical to having and maintaining healthy skin. They are substances between skin cells that keep them connected and help maintain the skin’s fundamental external structure. The following list is what the structure needs to be kept intact: ceramides, lecithin, glycerin, polysaccharides, hylauronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, collagen, elastin, proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, sucrose, fructose, glycogen, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids, glycosaminoglycans and many more.
Humectants like glycerin, draw water to the skin and are one vital component of a moisturizer. But adding water is meaningless if the intercellular matrix is damaged.
Every cell has a vast series of receptors sites for different substances. These receptor sites are the cell’s communication hookup. When the right ingredient for a specific site shows up, it has the ability to attach itself to the cell and transmit information. In the case of skin, this means telling the cell to start doing the things that a healthy skin cell should be doing. If the cell accepts the message, it then shares the same healthy message with other nearby cells in a continuous process.
REST, EXERCISE, STRESS MANAGEMENT, NUTRITION FOR HEALTHY SKIN
Not only does the great skin need all of the things which were already mentioned above, it also needs adequate rest, proper nutrition, adequate and vigorous exercise to maintain a well-balanced condition of mind and body, which includes the skin.
A restful night’s sleep can actually prevent poor health and disease. The well-documented therapeutic effects of sleep include renewed vigor, reduced tension and time for the body to repair and regenerate. Most people need six to eight hours of sleep nightly or they suffer fatigue and cannot function properly. Research also shows that inadequate sleep slows reaction time, lowers IQ, disrupts normal body functions (hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure and weakens the immune system’s ability to protect the body from disease.
A regular exercise program will help you feel better, look better and work better. Exercise also helps stimulate the blood circulation and metabolism, allowing the body to function at optimal performance. A well-balanced exercise routine includes three disciplines: cardiorespiratory fitness, strength training flexibility. These activities strengthen the heart and lungs to improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure, build endurance, boost your immune system and reduce stress.
Stress is the tense, “tied-up-in-knots” feeling we get when life’s circumstances become challenging. Believe it or not, there is both good and bad stress. A positive influence, the feeling of stress can compel us to action or result in new awareness that helps us solve a difficult problem, like when you are “pumped up” or “psyched” for a competition. As a negative influence, stress results in feelings of frustration, anger, helplessness and even depression. Anger and depression harmfully affect and weaken body functions, especially the heart, arteries and glands. Worry and fear are two other emotions that can be detrimental to mental health if left unchecked.
The bad stress can take a toll on your mind and body. The full-speed-ahead nature of society can certainly intensify stress, depending on the ability to deflect or manage the stressors that one may encounter. Managing stress means learning to bring moderation to all that you do. Slow down. Simplify life to minimize disturbing influences.
As the saying goes, “You are what you eat.” In other words, nutritional habits greatly influence health and well-being. Nutrition is the process of converting raw materials in the form of carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy.
In addition to appropriate nutrient intakes, other essential nutrients that the body needs include water, vitamins and minerals. The body is 2/3 water. The body’s need for water is second only to its need for oxygen. It helps regulate body temperature, transports nutrients and hormones throughout the system and flushed out toxins via the kidneys. Lack of sufficient water can cause a decrease in mental performance, aches and pains, dry, sallow skin, irritability and fatigue.
SKIN CARE INGREDIENTS TO USE
To lessen acne:
Benzoyl peroxide, Retinol, Salicylic acid (beta hydroxy acid or BHA), Tea tree oil (can cause allergy in some people, Zinc, Azelaic acid, Resorcinol (dark, oily, pigmented skin should use with caution)
To reduce inflammation:
Aloe vera, Arnica, Calendula, Chamomile, Colloidal oatmeal, Cucumber, Dexpanthenol (provitamin b5), Epilobium, Feverfew, Green tea, Licochalone, Perilla leaf extract, Pycnogenol (a pine bark extract), Red algae, Thyme angustifolium (willow herb), Evening primrose oil, Trifolium pretense (red clover), Zinc, Mallow, Niacinamide, Arctium lappa (burdock root), Boswellia serrata, Rose water, Silymarin, Sulfur, Sulfacetamide
To prevent dark spots:
Azelaic acid, Resorcinol, Bearberry extract, Cucumber, Mulberry extract, Niacinamide, Epilobium angustifolium (willow herb), Pycnogenol (a pine bark extract), Saxifraga sarmentosa extract (strawberry begonia), Cocos nucifera (coconut extract), DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol)
To improve dark spots:
Arbutin,Cucumber extract, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice extract), Hydroquinone, Tyrostat, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, Kojic acid
To prevent wrinkles:
Alpha lipoic acid, Basil, Caffeine, Carrot extract, Copper peptide, Coenzyme Q10, Cucumber, Curcumin (tetrahydracurcumin or turmeric), Ferulic acid, Feverfew, Ginger, Ginseng, Grape seed extract, Camilla sinensis (green tea, white tea), Idebenone, Lutein, Lycopene, Pomegranate, Pycnogenol (a pine break extract), Rosemary, Silymarin, Trifolium pretense, fabaceae (red clover), Yucca, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), Vitamin E
To improve the appearance of wrinkles:
Alpha hydroxyl acids (glycolic, lactic acid), DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), Retinol, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Aloe vera, Borage seed oil, Ceramide, Cholesterol, Cocoa butter, Colloidal oatmeal, Dexpanthenol (provitamin b5), Dimethicone, Evening primrose oil, Glycerin, Glycolic acid, Jojoba oil, Lactic acid, Linoleic acid, Niacinamide, Olive oil, Safflower oil, Shea butter
SKIN CARE INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Detergents that foam vigorously and alcohol (Not every kind of alcohol is a problem. The alcohols to avoid are ethanol, denatured alcohol, ethyl alcohol, methanol, benzyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and SD alcohol, GOOD, NON-IRRITATING ALCOHOLS- Cetyl alcohol and Stearyl alcohol)
If you are acne prone:
Cinnamon oil, Cocoa butter, Cocos nucifera (coconut oil), Isopropyl isostearate, Isopropyl myristae, Peppermint oil, Sodium laurel sulfate, Butyl stearate, Decyl oleate, Isocetyl stearate, Isopropyl isostearate, Isopropyl myristae, Isopropyl palmitate, Isostearyl isostearate, Isostearyl neopentanoate, Jojoba oil, Myristyl myristate, Myristyl stearate
If you have skin allergies or rashes:
Benzoyl peroxide, Fragrances, Lanolinm Parabens, Propylene glycol-2 (PPG-2)
Irritants to avoid if at the beginning of an ingredient list:
Camphor, Citrus juices and oils, Eucalyptus, Excessive fragrance, menthol, Menthyl lactate, Menthoxypropanediol, Mint, Peppermint, Sodium lauryl sulfate, Arnica, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Clove, Eugenol, Grapefruit, Lavender, Linalool, Wintergreen, Witch hazel, Ylang-ylang
Stacey Marotta Esthetics