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Skin Care

Little known facts about skin care

1.) Never wear perfume while sunbathing. It can cause a photosensitive reaction: dark spots or an itchy rash (Beautiful Skin, 2000).

2.) Never use retinoids and benzoyl peroxide together. Benzoyl peroxide will denature retinoids (British Journal of Dermatology, 1998).

3.) Never apply a self-tanner before going out in the sun. For one, self-tanner’s active ingredient, DHA, causes 180% more free radicals to be produced than with bare skin when you go out in the sun (Spectrochemica Acta Part A, 2008). For another, there is no such thing as a “base tan,” and even if there was, self-tanners don’t cause melanin production. Rather, they essentially temporarily “stain” the skin through a chemical reaction.

4.) Never apply milk of magnesia to your skin or baking soda to your hair, despite what you have read on the internet elsewhere. Their basic pH is a proven mess, leading to acne, contact dermatitis, and decreased barrier function (Dermatologic Therapy, 2004) of the skin, and causes porous and fragile hair. (The DermaDoctor SkinStruction Manual, 2005)

5.) Never use pore strips. These tricky little strips stick to the material within your pores, but when you rip them off, it stretches the pores open. With regular, repeated use, this leads to enlarged pores, leaving you with a nose filled with blackheads. Ew.

6.) Never apply vitamin E to a scar. There is no benefit, and at least one study shows that applying vitamin E may be detrimental to a scar’s appearance (Dermatologic Surgery, 1998). By thinning the blood, vitamin E may be taking away some of the healing factors crucial to an ideal result.

The “Useless-s”

7.) Collagen doesn’t work in skin care as anything more than a hydrator. Collagen is too large to fit through the outermost layer of the skin. Only molecules 5000 Daltons or less can penetrate the skin, and collagen is three to four times this size (Cosmetic Dermatology). So in a cream, collagen just binds to water, acting as a hydrator. (Read:

8.) Same thing with sodium hyaluronate/hyaluronic acid. Still a potent hydrator, but don’t expect it to have the same effect as when it’s injected.

9.) Gold in skin care also doesn’t work. The idea is that the luxurious ingredient inhibits enzymes that degrade collagen (Semin Arthritis Rheum, 1987), but gold in skin care products is in such low concentrations it doesn’t do much. It does glisten and catch the light, but for $500 and up, please – just buy a bronzer!

10.) Probiotics are only proven to have an effect if you have reactive skin (Experimental Dermatology, 2009). That is, skin that is sensitive to physical (heat, cold, wind) or chemical changes. So unless you have particularly sensitive skin, save the probiotics for your intestines.

The “Interestings”

11.) Oil of Olay is not the same now as it was in the 1940’s. Back then, the South African chemist Graham Gordon Wulff developed it during World War II to aid British Royal Air Force pilots’ burn wounds. Since the early 2000’s, its strength has been niacinamide, shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmented spots, red blotchiness, and skin sallowness (yellowing), and increase skin elasticity (Dermatologic Surgery, 2006).

12.) Nearly all beauty companies are owned by one of the big eight: Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Coty, Shiseido, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, LVMH, or Procter & Gamble. For instance, MAC is owned by Estée Lauder; Kiehl’s is owned by L’Oréal; Coty owns Philosophy; and Johnson & Johnson owns Neutrogena.

13.) Drinking water doesn’t hydrate your skin. “Humans aren’t like plants. Our skin doesn’t perk up when we consume water,” says dermatologist Dr. Katie Rodan, of Rodan+Fields fame. Instead, flaxseed and borage seed have been found to help dry skin, as well as applying emollient-rich moisturizers.

14.) We eat ten times more parabens, on average, than we apply through skin care and cosmetics (Journal of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 1998). Since study after study shows that skin care and cosmetics with parabens are safe, this makes sense to me.

The Internet Myths – Reversed!

15.) With that said, the idea that parabens in skin care products are bad for you is a MYTH. I think Dr. Kathy Fields, M.D., said it best to me in an exclusive interview: “There is so much misinformation and hype everywhere out there. No one wants cancer from a cosmetic, like in the case of the rumors about parabens. By the way, you see parabens all over the place. Did you know you just ate a spoonful of parabens?” Parabens are amongst the most cost-effective antibacterial agents out there. So long as you are not allergic (and very few of the population is), you’ll be fine.

16.) Natural or home remedies are somehow better – MYTH. As we pointed out in this post, limonene, citrus oil, lavender, nut oils, and menthol all have irritant potential. Keep in mind – poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are each “all-natural,” but I wouldn’t put them on after a shower!

17.) Where you get your natural ingredients from matters: FACT. For instance, different sources of shea butter will produce different concentrations of each fatty acid, and hence varied vitamin E content (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2004).

18.) Propylene glycol is harmful in skin care and cosmetics: MYTH. Propylene glycol is a known irritant in 100% concentration, but in 1% or less (where it’s in cosmetics and skin care), it’s actually pretty great – delivering key ingredients deeper into your skin. (This is why it’s a key ingredient in many transdermal patches!)

19.) Alcohol causes free radical release in the skin: MYTH. This rumor was caused because ingesting alcohol causes free radical production. But when you mix alcohols with a bunch of other skin care ingredients, alcohol thins the solution, allowing it to be more readily absorbed in the skin. Some alcohols are also hydrating, including stearyl, cetearyl, and lanolin.

20.) Cetaphil is the gold standard of cleansing : MYTH. Dermatologists used to recommend Cetaphil all the time, probably because it has a pH between 4 and 5, the ideal slightly-acidic level for cleansing (Dermatologic Therapy, 2004). But it also contains sulfates, which are drying. So I prefer the Aveeno Moisturizing Bar (pH also acidic, at 4.9; this is my favorite!), or the Dove Moisturizing Bar (pH neutral, at 7.3).

Skin Care : The Optimals

21.) Applying vitamins C and E under sunscreen doubles photoprotection (Journal of Investigative Dermatology). Of course, applying this alone does not have an effect. So be sure to apply only under sunscreen!

22.) Pomegranate extract supplements also increases photoprotection (Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 2006). But, again, be sure to wear sunscreen as well!

23.) Get rid of any monitors that are large-box CRTs, which emit low levels of UV light. Instead, switch to all flat-panel monitors.

24.) Retin-A Micro is microencapsulated gel retinoid (tretinoin), whereas Retin-A is in a cream form. The difference? Retin-A runs less risk of irritation, is fine for oily skin as well as other types, and can be applied immediately after cleansing.

25.) FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol was designed to be like the over-the-counter Retin-A Micro: microencapsulated 0.5% retinol in a lightweight gel. Lower risk of irritation, great for all skin types, and can be applied immediately after cleansing. What’s not to love about that?

Got a fun skin care tip to share? Let us know!

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