CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion as Hair Conditioner

December 17th, 2009

Recently when I was reading the ingredient list of CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, I found that this lotion could also be used to moisturize hair. I have heard that some stylists use hand cream for the hair. I did not pay attention at the time. Now I found it a great idea. Leave-in hair products sometimes cause skin pimples or might make the hair heavy. These would not be the problems of CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion because it can be used on the face in the first place.

See what CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion has: glycerin, cholesterol, ceramide, hyaluronic Acid, etc. These not only benefit the skin but also show in hair-conditioning products. So you can consider trying a different hair conditioner now if you don’t like your current one.

I usually rub a minimal amount of this lotion on my hands first and then pass it onto my hair. It works great for me. Don’t put a lot directly on the hair. That way, anything could make the hair greasy.

Happy good hair day!

Ingredients to Avoid if You Have Acne

April 28th, 2010

Acetylated lanolin alcohol
Avocado oil: less comedogenic if refined.
Butyl stearate
Cetearyl alcohol + ceteareth 20: each of them is less comedogenic than combined.
Cetyl acetate
Decyl oleate
Cocoa butter
Coconut butter/oil (cocos nucifera)
Corn oil
Cotton seed oil
(D & C) red #3, #4, #6, #7, #9, #17, #19, #21, #27, #30, #33, #36, #40: more or less comedogenic, among which, #3, #17, #30 and #36 are more comedogenic. These pigments are more comedogenic in mineral oil. To play it safe and make it simple, acne-prone skin should avoid cream blush or stick blush.
Decyl oleate
Dioctyl malate
Dioctyl succinate
Ethylhexyl palmitate
Evening primrose oil
Glyceryl stearate SE
Hydrogenated vegetable oil
Isocetyl alcohol
Isocetyl stearate
Isodecyl oleate
Isopropyl isostearate
Isopropyl linolate
Isopropyl myristate
Isopropyl palmitate
Isostearyl isostearate
Isostearyl neopentanoate
Lauric acid
Mink oil: less comedogenic if refined.
Myristic acid
Myristyl lactate
Myristyl myristate
Octyl palmitate
Octyl stearate
Oleyl alcohol
PPG 10 cetyl ether
PPG 2 myristyl propionate
PEG 200 dilaurate
PPG 5 Ceteth 10 phosphate
PEG 8 stearate
Sesame oil: less comedogenic if refined.
Shark liver oil
Sorbitan oleate
Soybean oil
Stearic acid
Stearyl heptanoate
TEA: Stearic acid + triethanolamine, not tea.
Water-soluble sulfur
Wheat germ glyceride

[1] James E. Fulton, Jr., Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skin care products. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem., 40, 321-333 (November/December 1989).
[2] Leslie Baumann, Skin Type Solution, 2006.

A Natural Mask for Oily Skin

December 15th, 2009

Oily skin is not a brick wall but skin care products for oily skin tend to be quite harsh making the problem even worse. So instead of buying clay masks that your skin might not tolerate, why not try this new mask for oily skin – Milk of Magnesia. It is generally used to relieve occasional constipation. Since magnesia absorbs oil and does not irritate the skin, you can try it if you have oily skin.

Also, you can also use the milk of magnesia as a primer. Put only a little on the oily areas of the face before makeup. Your skin will look nice all day.

Avobenzone – 4 Tips on Stable and Less Irritating Sunscreen

May 14th, 2010

Avobenzone is an effective UVA filter. Avobenzone is also known as Parsol 1789, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, 4-tert-butyl-4′-methoxydibenzoylmethane, and Eusolex 9020. The maximum concentration of avobenzone allowed in US is 3%.

Issues about avobenzone have been skin irritation and photostability. Some people that have used avobenzone sunscreen think that their skin and eyes do not tolerate avobenzone, and they have to switch to mineral sunscreen products. But if you know about the formulation of avobenzone sunscreen, you will find that avobenzone can be a good sunscreen ingredient that your skin will tolerate.

Tips on avobenzone sunscreen products

  1. Avobenzone sunscreen products should include octocrylene (inside US) or at least one of the photostabilizers listed at the end of this post.
  2. Avobenzone should not be formulated with octinoxate unless there are special technologies to stabilize them.
  3. Avoid oxybenzone and PABA.
  4. Avoid alcohol-based sunscreen products.

Irritation and skin absorption

So far, the commonly agreed sunscreen ingredients that cause photoallergic reactions are PABA and oxybenzone. Avobenzone is one of those sunscreen ingredients that cause less adverse reactions. In the 15-year research on 2715 patients in St John’s Institute of Dermatology, researchers observed 4 photoallergic reactions and 3 contact allergic reactions caused by avobenzone, compared with 14 photoallergic reactions and 8 allergic contact reactions caused by oxybenzone. In addition, unlike oxybenzone or PABA, avobenzone does not show significant transdermal penetration [1][2][3].

If you are worried about skin absorption of sunscreens, please be informed that alcohol-based formulations tend to increase sunscreen absorption.

The reason why everyday sunscreen users tend to find avobenzone sunscreen irritating is that most (probably more than 90%) of sunscreen products with avobenzone have oxybenzone at the same time. The culprit of stinging and irritation is most likely oxybenzone instead of avobenzone.

Personally, I tested some products with avobenzone but without oxybenzone or ecamsule. I did not experience any irritation like the one I had with products containing oxybenzone. And my eyes did not feel uncomfortable.


The drawback of avobenzone is photoinstability. According to Clinical Guide to Sunscreens and Photoprotection, only 23% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure. Outside US, avobenzone can be well stablized by Tinosorb S, which is not approved inside US yet. Inside US, the stabilibty of avobenzone is usually improved by octocrylene. In addition, avobenzone should not be formulated together with octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) because of their interactions [4].

There are some patented technologies on stabilized avobenzone sunscreen, such as AvoTriplex by Banana Boat, Helioplex by Neutrogena, and SunSure by Hawaiian Tropic. I do not recommend any of these three complexes to everyday sunscreen users because all of them include oxybenzone, on which you can find more information in Oxybenzone – Bad Sunscreen Ingredient.

In US, the most effective ingredient to reduce the degradation of avobenzone, right now, is octocrylene (mixing with 3.6% octocrylene, 90% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure). Optimizing the emulsions can also help but it has not reached a clear conclusion yet. So please choose avobenzone sunscreen products that include octocrylene or at least one of the following photostabilizers:

  • Tinosorb S (Bemotrizinol, Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine): Mixing with 5% Tinosorb S, 81% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure. Available outside US.
  • Tinosorb M (Bisoctrizole, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol): Available outside US.
  • Butyloctyl Salicylate (Tradename HallBrite BHB): Mixing with 5% Butyloctyl Salicylate, 50% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure [5].
  • Mexoryl SX (Ecamsule, Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid): can cause eye uncomfortableness when it gets into eyes.
  • Corapan TQ (Diethylhexyl-2,6-Naphthalate): Mixing with 5% Corapan TQ, 47% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure.
  • Parsol SLX (Polysilicone-15): Mixing with 4% Parsol SLX, 53% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure. Available outside US.
  • Oxynex ST (Diethylhexyl Syringylidene Malonate): Mixing with 0.8% Oxynex ST 73% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure.
  • SolaStay® S1 (Ethylhexyl Methoxycrylene): US Patents Pending.
  • Tris(tetramethylhydroxypiperidinol)citrate: Mixing with 2% tris(tetramethylhydroxypiperidinol)citrate, 53% of the original amount of avobenzone remains after 25 MEDs of UV exposure.

There are other stabilizers but the above ones are safer.

Which Antioxidants In Sunscreen Add Extra Sun Protection?

February 26th, 2014

Having antioxidants in sunscreen is appealing, but how much do these antioxidants contribute to extra sun protection? A recent study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology shows that 10 out of 12 sunscreen products claiming benefits from antioxidants have 0 additional protection from antioxidants. Instead, the majority sun protection is still from their sunscreen ingredients.

A further look at this result shows that these 10 products only have vitamin E as their antioxidant content. The two products that do provide additional protection from antioxidants both have stable vitamin C together with vitamin E.

This is not surprising because vitamin E is notoriously known for its synergistic effects together with other antioxidants, especially with vitamin C. So when you want to get antioxidant protection from a sunscreen product, please also look for other antioxidants. The antioxidants with scientific evidence showing their effectiveness against UV radiation include:

  1. Ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C)
    Products: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30 and SPF 45, and Peter Thomas Roth Uber-Dry Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 and Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Sunblock SPF 30. All of them have oxybenzone and thus should not be used everyday in the long run.
  2. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C)
    Products: Banana Boat Kids Tear-Free SPF 30 Continuous Lotion Spray.
  3. Ascorbyl teraisopalmitate (vitmin C)
    Products: Products that contain ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (super vitamin C)
  4. Tea extract rich in polyphenols
    Products: SkinMedica Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 30+, Paula’s Choice Pure Mineral Sunscreen SPF 15, for Normal to Very Dry Skin, SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense SPF 30.

It is likely that other antioxidants can also add extra protection to you skin but the research is limited.

7 Less Known but Top Notch Beauty Products

October 17th, 2017

Note: hydrating products are not the best during harsh winters, but they are must-haves during other seasons.

1. Cosmetic Solutions Hydra B5 Masque

It is not the hydrating effect that makes Cosmetic Solutions Hydra B5 Masque stand out. Cosmetic Solutions Hydra B5 Masque is effective for face tightening and lifting.

Update: I no longer recommend Cosmetic Solutions Hydra B5 Masque. The one I purchased recently was much more watery. The masque no longer has the texture and effect it had before. July 8, 2018.

2. Arcona Hydrating Serum

Use this before sunscreen in the morning. Your face will instantly look less puffy and stay dewy.

3. Kirkland Body Lotion (to use on the face)

It is called body lotion, but the ingredient list shows that it is better than most of the expensive face creams (for example, you can compare the ingredients of Kirkland Body Lotion with the ingredients of L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Cream). Too many face creams cause acne to me. Kirkland body lotion is one of the few that never cause acne, and it helps improve my skin.

4. Yes To Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser

Apply Yes to Cucumbers Gentle Mild Cleanser on dry skin either with a cotton round or your fingertips. Then, rinse it off. There is not much cucumber extract to sooth the skin. Instead, the product never dries the skin because of its gentle cleaning agents.

5. Dr. Bronner’s Naked Organic Lip Balm

I have super dry lips. Very few lip balms work. Dr. Bronner’s Naked Organic Lip Balm is effective and has only safe ingredients in case they get swallowed.

6. Mill Creek Botanicals Henna Conditioner

Henna makes hair smooth and shining, but it is a mess and tints the hair. Mill Creek Botanicals Henna Conditioner provides the benefit without the shortcomings. Because it is silicone free, you can use it alone without using shampoo.

7. Out of Africa 100% Pure Shea Butter Bar Soap – Unscented

Washing hands keeps us healthy, but it dries our skin (a place that tells a woman’s age). Out of Africa 100% Pure Shea Butter Bar Soap does not dry out the skin even in harsh winters. The ingredients are also simple and safe.

Cosmetic Solutions Hydra B5 Masque ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Trethanolamine, Hyaluronic acid, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B-5), D-Panthenol, Tretrasodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-10.

Arcona Hydrating Serum ingredients: Aqua (Water), Glycerin*, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Honey (Mel), Phospholipids, Sphingolipids, Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Allantoin, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Alcohol Denat., Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol. *Denotes Organically Sourced.

Kirkland Body Lotion ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid, Sorbitan Stearate, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Ceteth-20, Cetyl Palmitate, Polysorbate 20, DMDM Hydantoin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Distarch Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Parfum, Tetrasodium EDTA, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Iron Ferment, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment, Saccharomyces/Silicone Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Squalane, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Benzoate, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Benzyl Salicylate, Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal.

Yes To Cucumbers Gentle Milk Cleanser ingredients: Water (Aqua), Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Isostearyl Palmitate, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract*, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Sucrose Cocoate, Sorbitol, Citric Acid, Potassium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum). *Certified Organic Ingredient

Dr. Bronner’s Naked Organic Lip Balm ingredients: Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Organic Beeswax, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Organic Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Tocopherol. *CERTIFIED FAIR TRADE INGREDIENT.

Mill Creek Botanicals Henna Conditioner ingredients: Deionized water, organic barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice*, lawsonia inermis (henna) extract, panthenol (provitamin B5), hydrolyzed keratin, stearalkonium chloride (fiber based content), biotin, argania spinosa (argan) oil, glycerin, organic prunus serotina (wild cherry) bark extract*, organic chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract*, organic hamaelis virginiana (witch hazel) leaf extract*, organic hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) extract*, organic calendula officinalis flower extract*, organic humulus lupulus (hops) extract, equisetum arvense (field horsetail) extract*, polysorbate-60, ceteryl alcohol, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, natural fragrance. *Certified Organic by USDA or QAI.

Out of Africa 100% Pure Shea Butter Bar Soap – Unscented ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Pure Unrefined Shea Butter), Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Sea Salt, Aqua (Purified Water).

A Cheaper Alternative To La Mer

February 24th, 2014

la mer

Crème de la Mer has been criticized by some for its somewhat mundane ingredients, and at the same time, has been considered indispensable by others. Although Crème de la Mer does not have any special anti-aging effects, anybody that endures a long international flight, or goes through a dry and cold winter knows how much needed something like Crème de la Mer is at the time.

The past winter has been particularly harsh. While I was traveling, and crying for a heavy-duty moisturizing cream, I tried Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream. I feel that it can very much achieve what you are looking for in Crème de la Mer, and it may be better. I am saying this because Crème de la Mer may give me acne when my skin is not super dry. But Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream is completely noncomedogenic to me, and I am very acne prone. Another thing is that, although la Mer is a great savior, it cannot be used as a daily moisturizer for me. It turns my skin worse. But Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream seems fine.

Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream in a tube actually feels more like la Mer the Moisturizing Soft Cream. Yves Rocher does have a cream that feels more like Crème de la Mer Ultrarich Cream. It is Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Face & Body Comfort Cream in a jar. I do not use the jar version on my face because, just like Crème de la Mer Ultrarich Cream, it can cause a little acne when my skin is not super dry. Both versions are slightly softer than their la Mer counterparts. Of course, they are not meant to be la Mer dupes. The French company Yves Rocher probably had the formula before la Mer came out.

Yves Rocher Pure Calmille Moisturizing Cream (tube) ingredients: Water/eau, glycerin, propylene glycol, octyldodecanol, ehylhexyl cocoate, clycopentasiloxane, talc, methylpropanediol, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, stearyl alcohol, stearic acid, hydrogenated palm kernel oil, peg-qoo stearate, cyclohexasilozane, silica, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate, cetereth-2 phosphate, parfum/fragrance, methylparaben, carbomer, tocopheryl acetate, retinyl palmitate, ethylparaben, allantoin, dimethiconol, propylparaben, sodium hydroxide, tetrasodium edta, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower extract.

La Mer the Moisturizing Soft Cream ingredients: Algae (Seaweed) Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Petrolatum, Glyceryl Distearate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Cholesterol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Steareth-10, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Polysilicone-11, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Meal, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Sodium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Powder, Water, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Plankton Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Glycerin, Caffeine, Sea Salt, Micrococcus Lysate, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Adenosine Phosphate, Creatine, Hydrolyzed Algin, Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Sucrose, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Glucose Oxidase, Polyacrylamide, Acetyl Carnitine HCL, Glucose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopheryl Acetate Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium PCA, Glycosaminoglycans, Urea, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-7, Lecithin, Trehalose, Polyquaternium-51, Lactoperoxidase, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Cyanocobalamin, Pentylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Disodium EDTA, BHT, Citronellol, Hydroxycitronellal, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol.

Is Hydrogenated Oil In Skin-Care Products Bad For Your Skin?

February 27th, 2014

Image courtesy of bantransfats.com

While hydrogenated oil is increasingly included in skin care products, there is no conclusion about its effects on human skin. My knowledge about hydrogenated oil applied to skin is also limited, but I hope that the following analysis is helpful for you to decide whether you would like to put hydrogenated oil on your skin.

People try to avoid hydrogenated oil primarily because partial hydrogenation generates trans fats, and trans fats have a series of negative health implications. In fact, the hydrogenated oil we encounter is almost always partially hydrogenated, so pretty much all hydrogenated oils have trans fats. Even products marketed as “zero grams trans fats per serving” can have trans fats as long as the trans fat content is up to 7% by weight. And that is already after the hydrogenated oil is mixed with other types of fat. Therefore, unless the hydrogenated oil is labeled as “completely hydrogenated”, which makes all fats saturated, it has trans fats. But when trans fats are applied to skin, it is different from when it is ingested. Then could it possibly cause some undesired effects?

Unfortunately, it takes a long time to demonstrate the long-term effects of an ingredient. We cannot draw a conclusion yet. Theoretically, trans fats affect lipids. And lipids in the skin are essential to skin health. So the possibility of interactions cannot be denied. For example, the skin has a cascade of desaturation processes, namely, converting saturated fats to unsaturated, and converting unsaturated fats to highly unsaturated. If we apply unsaturated oils, such as safflower oil and sunflower oil, we constrain the process of converting saturated fat to unsaturated. This makes sense in a way that we have supplemented the unsaturated oil to our skin. But if we put on trans fats, the process of converting unsaturated fat to highly unsaturated fat will be inhibited. This can be a concern because it alters the process without supplementing the substance that is expected as the result of this process. This is much more irregular compared with that of natural fats although we do not know whether this causes problems.

The connection between trans fats and cancer risks is still in debate. Some European studies, however, have demonstrated positive associations between trans fats and breast cancer. With more fat tissue to deposit undesired substances, breasts are subject to cancer. As I have pointed out, skin also has fat, so there is a possibility that trans fats can increase skin cancer risks. We are waiting for such tests.

Another consideration of using hydrogenated oil in skin care products is that common production of hydrogenated oil requires metal catalysts. There can be metal residues in hydrogenated oil. Of course, skin care products containing other industrially produced ingredients can also have tons of bad residues. But hydrogenated oil is commonly used in natural and high-end skin care products. So if you are using natural skin care products, you may not be far away from bad residues if the product contains hydrogenated oil.

After all, no product is pristine. The decision is ultimately yours. I would say that hydrogenated oil risks are comparable to parabens. Whether you are going to use skin care products with hydrogenated oil depends on how much you want to shun away from unnatural and risky ingredients.

Selective effects of isomeric cis and trans fatty acids on fatty acyl delta 9 and delta 6 desaturation by human skin fibroblasts.
Adipose tissue trans fatty acids and breast cancer in the European Community Multicenter Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Breast Cancer.
Association between serum trans-monounsaturated fatty acids and breast cancer risk in the E3N-EPIC Study.

Massage for Puffy Eyes – Inward or Outward?

February 25th, 2014

Some eye moisturizers are made in the form of eye rollers so that it is easier for us to massage puffy eyes. The instructions of these eye roller massage are not the same. Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage and Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ask to roll under the eye from inner corner to outer corner while Olay Regenerist Eye Derma-Pod (not a roller but requires massage) is opposite. So which is more helpful for puffy eyes?

According to Dr. Baumann’s article, Say Goodbye to Puffy Eyes, you should start from the outer corner of the lower lid and massage toward your nose because it follows the direction of the lymph vessels. It is hard to know whether this is true because very few of us know the direction of the lymph vessels. So in this post, I am going to show you some images about how eyelid lacrimal and lymphatic systems look like. After knowing them, you will have a better idea on what might work for puffy eyes and how to apply your eye cream.

Puffy or baggy eyes have different causes. Massage, no matter to which direction, cannot help every situation. Here, I am going to talk about three common causes and what kind of massage might help.

  1. If the baggy eyes are caused by aging, massage does not help. With aging, the tissues around eyes weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then migrate into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear baggy. Cold compresses can make baggy eyelids appear temporarily better but will not make any essential changes. Skin care products cannot do much either, but anti-aging products (mainly the ones with retinoids) and products with anti-inflammatory ingredients can somewhat improve the under-eye skin.
  2. If your eyelids are not that aged and the lower eyelids seem to provide sufficient support, then massaging lymphatic pathways can improve puffy eyes. The lymph flow will help transport fats and fluids. The following image describes how lymphatic vessels are distributed around eyes.

    The lymphatic drainage of most of the upper lid and the lateral half of the lower lid is following the red path to nodes at number 1 (preauricular lymph nodes). The medial half of the lower lid drains into nodes at number 2 (submandibular nodes) following the green path. Massaging these paths can help lymph flow. One massage that works for me is the following:(Before doing the massage, please make sure that both your hands and face are clean.)

    • Place your index fingers on the spots indicated in the picture below. Gently press and circularly massage these spots about 30 to 40 times slowly. This step helps with the green path in the image above.
      (puffy eye massage img)
    • Place your thumbs on your temples. The other four fingers bend. Use the sides of your index fingers to massage from the inner corners toward the outer corners along your upper eye bones, then from the inner corners toward the outer corners along your lower eye bones. Do this slowly about 15 to 20 times. Use some lotion to make sure you do not pull your skin or else it can cause crow’s feet. This step helps with the red path.
      (puffy eye massage img)

    Please keep your expectation realistic. As I said, massaging the lymphatic pathways can improve puffy eyes but the effects vary among individuals.

  3. The third case is temporary puffiness. After crying, eating salty food or poor sleep, all the eyelids look like having a lot of water retention. It can go away in several days. If you want to massage to let the liquid move, you should follow the canaliculi of tears. The spots marked red in the image below (the original image is here) are where your tears are drained into the duct on your nose side. So in this case, you should massage both your upper eyelids and lower eyelids toward your nose. I find it hard to do so without pulling the skin though. Another way to move the water retention is to cover the eyelids with slightly warm clean pads.
    (puffy eye img)

Finally, no matter what massage you do around your eyes, please be extra gentle. If the under-eye skin is injured, even sightly, the tissues are going to weaken faster and baggy eyes will become permanent.

Wish you all have beautiful eyes!

Super Night Recharge with Red Algae Review

August 12th, 2011


A night treatment that brightens, smooths, and renews.

Ingredient Screening

Water, Isododecane, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Hexyl Laurate, Phosphatidylcholine, Thioctic Acid (Alpha-Lipoic Acid), Docosahexaenoic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Dimethyl MEA (DMAE), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Pyridoxine HCl, Pantethine, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Disodium EDTA, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocotrienols, Sorbic Acid, Tocopherol, Astaxanthin, Copper Gluconate, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil.

Beneficial ingredients:

  1. Thioctic Acid (Alpha-Lipoic Acid): enzyme that is a very good antioxidant.
  2. Dimethyl MEA (DMAE): anti-wrinkle.
  3. Retinol: anti-acne and anti-aging.
  4. Zinc Gluconate: anti-inflammatory.
  5. Tocotrienols: Potent forms of vitamins E that are considered stable and powerful antioxidants.
  6. Tocopherol: vitamin E.
  7. Astaxanthin: a potent antioxidant found in plants, algae, and fish.
  8. Copper Gluconate: related to synthesis of collagen and elastin.

Suspicious ingredients: not found.

Fragrance: Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, which is lemongrass fruit oil, functions as natural fragrance.

Safe to try? Yes.

My experience

Where did I get it: free sample from Sephora.

How long did I use it: one week.

How do I apply it: at night, after washing my face with Olay Sensitive Foaming Face Wash, I apply Super Night Recharge with Red Algae only (OK, I know my steps are too simple for a woman but I don’t like to put much on my skin).

Results: first, I notice the product is quite fragrant but the smell is completely gone after about two minutes. After each use, I immediately feel my skin is soothed. The second morning, my skin is brightener, younger, less red, more even, and my pores look smaller. The product is probably suitable for all skin types because, after applying it, I feel nothing on my skin, not very moisturizing. But the second day, my skin looks very hydrated but not oily.

My complaint: Hi, Dr. Perricone, the astaxanthin you have particularly highlighted is at the bottom of the ingredient list. I hope it is not as little as how much those caviar skin care products actually have caviar. 🙂

Bottom line: recommended.

Products with similar beneficial ingredients

  1. Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Mattifying Concentrate Serum, for Normal to Very Oily Skin
  2. Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, for Normal to Very Dry Skin
  3. Perricone MD Advanced Eye Area Therapy

I have used the second and third, which are very good. I personally see more positive results from Super Night Recharge with Red Algae.

By the way, I am adopting this new style of reviewing. Please let me know how I can improve.

Do You Use Sunscreen Correctly?

May 12th, 2009

Using sunscreen correctly is very important to your skin. If you choose good sunscreen products and use them correctly, your skin can get more protection and thus looks younger with time.

  1. Apply sunscreen during the day all year round. The UV radiation you get through the window, during a short walk outside, and when you are driving can add up day by day. For your lifetime, they can be more than what you get on the beach. While sun-protection clothes, hats and umbrellas are helpful, they don’t block 100% UV radiation. Do remember that UVA can pass through windows and clouds.
  2. Choose a sunscreen with UVA protection. Commonly used sunscreens block UVB but are virtually transparent to UVA, which makes up to 90 to 95% of ultraviolet energy in the solar spectrum. By blocking UVB, sunscreens reduce tanning and prevent sunburn. On one hand, tanning and sunburn are skin damage of certain levels. On the other hand, they are, to some extent, skin’s natural accommodation to sunlight. Sunscreens that block UVB prevent this process and thus may permit excessive exposure of the skin to UVA. And then the damage resulting from UVA is greater. This makes some people believe that the incidence rate of the skin cancer has risen with the use of sunscreens, which is not true. So make sure your sunscreen has at least one of these as its active ingredients: Avobenzone (also called butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, or Mexoryl SX (also called ecamsule). Outside US, Tinosorb S (also called bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenyl triazine) and Tinorsorb M (also called methylene bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol) are also approved.
  3. Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or above, preferably SPF 30. A sunscreen of SPF less than 15 is not sufficient. Technically, the higher the SPF is , the longer the protection lasts. But sunscreens with overly high SPF sometimes irritate the skin or look too noticeable. So generally, SPF 30 to 45 is optimal.
  4. Apply sunscreen liberally. The dose used in FDA sunscreen testing is 2 mg/cm2 of exposed skin. This translates to approximately 1/3 of a teaspoon for the average adult face. Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin, not just the face.
  5. Reapply your sunscreen within two hours if you are under sunshine. If you don’t reapply, using sunscreen might cause more damage than not using it. If you have makeup and don’t want to mess it up with reapplication of sunscreen, I suggest you should at least reapply some powder with sunscreen. Keep in mind even sunscreens with the highest SPF don’t provide all-day protection. So you still need to reapply when you are outside for a long period.
  6. Avoid intensive or direct sunshine as much as you can. No Sunscreen blocks 100% of UV.

Two Skin-Brightening Newcomers

February 2nd, 2014

For the past year, there have been some newly developed skin-brightening formulas. SkinMedica adopted 4-ethoxybenzaldehyde into its new skin-brightening product, which helps to reduce redness. According to SkinMedica’s test, this product is more effective than 4% hydroquinone. There is also a new form of vitamin C, 3-O-ethyl ascorbyl ether. Ethyl ascorbyl ether is a more stable and effective form of vitamin C, which was demonstrated in several exhibitions and conferences last year. Cellbone IllumaWhite Antiaging Skin Whitening Cream is the first product I have found to include Ethyl ascorbyl ether.

SkinMedica LYTERA Skin Brightening Complex includes an impressive range of skin-brightening ingredients. The major active ingredients are niacinamide, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (a non-irritating form of vitamin C), licorice extract, and ethyl linoleate. They directly or indirectly inhibit melanin, the skin pigment. In addition, SkinMedica LYTERA Skin Brightening Complex has a redness reducer, 4-ethoxybenzalde, which seems to be solely used by SkinMedica. 4-ethoxybenzalde achieves anti-inflammatory effects by suppressing prostaglandins, the lipid compounds that play a key role in inflammation responses. Together with retinol, micro-algae extract, vitamin E, and squalane, this is probably the most effective skin-brightening product you can get over the counter. Just keep in mind that, to lower the chance of irritation, please only use it at night.

Cellbone seems to be the only one that has started to use the new form of vitamin C, ethyl ascobyl ether. The advantages of ethyl ascorbyl ether are its stability and higher penetration properties. Cellbone IllumaWhite Antiaging Skin Whitening Cream also has skin-brighteners arbutin and licorice extract, combined with other plant extracts. In terms of anti-aging, Cellbone emphasizes on peptides. It has the patented SYN-COLL®. SYN-COLL® is palmitoyl tripeptide-5, a bio-active peptide that can deeply penetrate skin and stimulate collagen production.

SkinMedica LYTERA Skin Brightening Complex ingredients:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Niacinamide, Butylene Glycol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Polyacrylate-13, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Tetrapeptide-30, Hexylresorcinol, 4-Ethoxybenzaldehyde, Retinol, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ethyl Linoleate, Dunaliella Salina Extract, Tocopherol, Squalane, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Phytic Acid, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol.

Cellbone IllumaWhite Antiaging Skin Whitening Cream ingredients:
Water, Cyclomethicone, Glycerin, SYN-COLL®, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Shea Butter, Alpha Arbutin, Glyceryl Stearate, Daisy Flower Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Licorice Root Extract, Green Tea Extract, Mango Seed Butter, Dimethicone, Ethyl Ascorbyl Ether, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Soybean Oil, Lecithin, Oligopeptide-34, Pentapeptide-13, Human Oligopeptide-4.

New Ingredient for Building Collagens And Elastin – Neodermyl

January 23rd, 2014


Collagens and elastin are important proteins that provide skin its firmness and elasticity. Skin care products have incorporated ingredients that indirectly help maintain and generate skin collagens and elastin for the past years. The new trend, on the other hand, is to dig into the cellular level metabolic mechanism of senescent fibroblasts directly. Last year, Induchem companies produced a new complex named Neodermyl, which could provide what skin cells needed to build collagens and elastin.

Neodermyl is Methyl Glucoside Phosphate Proline Lysine Copper Complex. The long name indicates what active ingredients Neodermyl contains. They are three groups of ingredients, each of which is necessary to feed and regulate cellular collagen and elastin synthesis. First, Neodermyl provides MG6P (Methyl-Glucoside-6-Phosphate). MG6P is pre-activated glucose that can feed skin cells with energy without causing harmful glycation. Then, proline and lysine in Neodermyl are amino acids. How proline and lysine affect skin is less researched, but induchem companies believe that they play a major role in the production of collagens and elastin. Finally, copper interacts with the enzyme involved in the regulation of collagens and elastin. In summary, Neodermyl gathers all the essential elements on the metabolic pathway of skin cells.

Since Neodermyl complex is new, independent research is lacking. The company’s own test shows that, within 2 weeks of applying Neodermyl cream, skin’s collagen density increased by about 6%, elasticity increased by about 11%, and wrinkles depth reduced by about 15%.

There are two products so far that have included such complex. One is Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream. The other is Version EE Cream Face. To add more choices, AmorePacific Moisture Bound products also have similar formulas, which include glucose, proline, lysine, and copper complex.

Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Cream ingredients:
Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Glycerin, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Pentylene Glycol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Vegetable Collagen, Ceramide 3, Cynara Scolymus (Artichoke) Leaf Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Astragalus Membranaceous Root Extract, Atractyloides Macrocephala Root Extract, Iris Florentina Root Extract, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Methyl Glucoside Phosphate Proline Lysine Copper Complex, Stearalkonium Bentonite, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Carbonate, Phenoxyethanol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance (Parfum), Coumarin.

Version EE Cream Face ingredients:
Aqua, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Butylene Glycol, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Ethyl Linoleate, Glyceryl Stearate, Beta Vulgaris (Beet) Root Extract, PEG-100 Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Panthenyl Triacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Methyl Glucoside Phosphate Proline Lysine Copper Complex, Haberlea Rhodopensis Leaf Extract, Faex (Yeast) Extract, Urea, Saccharide Hydrolysate, Magnesium Aspartate, Glycine, Alanine, Creatine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Xanthan Gum, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Hydroxide, Parfum, CI 14700, CI 28440.

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Vitalizing Complex ingredients:
Phyllostachys Bambusoides Juice, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Betaine, Beta-Glucan, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Hydrogenated Lecithin, Hydrogenated Isocetyl Olivate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Dioscorea Villosa (Wild Yam) Root Extract, Tricholoma Matsutake Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Sorbitol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Kaempferol, Serine, Hydrolyzed Ginseng Saponins, Magnesium Aspartate, Zinc Gluconate, Glycine, Glutamic Acid, Alanine, Arginine, Lysine, Threonine, Calcium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Proline, Stearic Acid, Decyl Cocoate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Glyceryl Linoleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Oil, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Trehalose, Hydroxypropyl Bispalmitamide MEA, Cholesterol, Glyceryl Linolenate, Glyceryl Arachidonate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Natto Gum, Triethanolamine, PEG-15 Pentaerythrityl Tetra (Laureth-6 Carboxylate), Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium PCA, Propylene Glycol, BHT, Disodium Edta, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Fragrance.

A Complete List of Skin Irritants and Allergens

June 30th, 2009

Skin care products can bring skin problems rather than solve them. Though it is not easy to choose the right products because each individual responds differently to each skin care product, it is wise to avoid skin irritants and allergens as much as possible. I summarized the following list for your reference. In skin care, nothing is absolute. Some of the ingredients listed here are actually double–edged swords. They benefit skin in a sense but pose risks at the same time. In any case, I hope this list is helpful. At least, when some skin care product causes problems, you know which ingredient is likely the culprit so that you can avoid it in the future.

Please note that some of these ingredients pose irritation when they reach certain percentages. For those ingredients, I have put the maximum concentration a skin care product can have. You can consider a product if the concentration of this kind of ingredient is way below the limit.

Some natural plants are used in skin care products as fragrance but they are usually listed as natural ingredients instead of fragrance. Please be aware that natural forms of fragrance can cause as much reactions as synthesized ones if not more.

Certain alcohols:

  • Avoid ethanol, denatured alcohol (aka alcohol denat. or SD alcohol followed by a number), ethyl alcohol, and methanol.
  • Benzyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol are antibacterial but can be irritating, especially in high concentrations. If they are at the bottom of the ingredient list, they are preservatives and you can consider the product. Otherwise, avoid them.
  • Behenyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol 40, stearyl alcohol, cetostearyl alcohol are emulsifiers and thickeners. They are not drying.

Balsam Peru: has high incidence of causing reactions.

Benzalkonium chloride: skin irritant at concentrations greater than 0.1%. It is, however, used in some cosmetic products at up to 5%.

Benzyl salicylate: generally used as fragrance, is more likely to cause allergy among Asian people.

Black pepper: surprised? It does appear in cosmetic products.

Borates: still being used in spite of repeated warnings by medical scientists.

Borax: has high pH.

Bromelain: found in pineapple and causes sloughing of the skin.

Camphor: causes contact dermatitis. There are reports of poisonings through skin absorption and accidental ingestion.

Cananga: used as fragrance (usually not marked as fragrance in skin care product) and may cause allergic reactions.

Caprylic acid: irritant.

Capsaicin: component of capsicum.

capsicum: a chili plant.

Capsicum oleoresin: the fatty resin derived from capsicum.

Cedar: photosensitizer used as fragrance.

Cedarwood: photosensitizer used as fragrance.

Cedrus atlantica: photosensitizer used as fragrance.

Ceteareth-20: irritant.

Chlorhexidine: May cause contact dermatitis. Strongly alkaline. Safe for use in cosmetic products at concentration of up to 0.14%.


Cinnamic alcohol

Cinnamic aldehydeor

Citrullus colocynthis: bitter apple.

Citrus aurantium(-amara): bitter orange.

Clary: fragrance.

Clove oil: strongly irritating.

Coleus barbatus: member of the mint family and may be irritating.

Comfrey: carcinogenic. Can only be used short term for medicinal purpose.

Coriander: fragrance.

Cyclamen: fragrance.

Cyclamen aldehyde: fragrance.

Elecampane: do not use or even handle it.

Ecalyptus: causes allergic reaction.

Essential oils: if the name “essential oils” is listed directly without clarifying the specific type, they are used as fragrance.

Fennel: may cause allergic reaction.

Feverfew: parthenolide contained in feverfew is sensitizing. But parthenolide-depleted extract of feverfew may be beneficial.

Fir needle oil: fragrance.

Fragrance: top one skin allergen. It is hard to find products that are completely fragrance free but try to avoid it as much as you can. There are many other ways to enjoy fragrance other than putting it directly on your skin.

Fumaric acid: may cause skin irritation.

Galbanum: fragrance.

Geranium oil: can be a skin sensitizer or irritant. Taking less than an ounce may kill an adult.

Grapefruit peel oil: one or more animal studies show skin irritation at moderate doses. No research found any irritation caused by grapefruit oil or grapefruit seed oil though.

Guaiacwood oil: fragrance.

Hyssop: fragrance.

Isopropyl myristate: irritant and very comedogenic.

Isostearyl neopentanoate: moderately irritant and comedogenic.

Jasmine: fragrance.

Jonquil extract: fragrance.

Laureth-4: irritant and very comedogenic.

Lavandin oil: Essential oil of the hybrid lavender plant Lavandula hybrida.

Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula officinalis, Lavender extract or oil: can cause allergic reaction. Please get their antidepressive and relaxing benefits in other ways but don’t let them touch your skin.

Lemon oil: should not exceed 2%.

Lime: can cause an adverse reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight.

Lime oil: can cause an adverse reaction when skin is exposed to sunlight. Shouldn’t exceed 0.7%.

Linalool: fragrant component of lavender and coriander.

Linalyl acetate: fragrant component of lavender, is known to cause contact dermatitis.

Marjoram: can irritate the skin and may cause allergy. it is believed to penetrate the skin easily and produce systemic effects.

Menthol: gives that cool feeling to the skin. In concentrations of 3% or more it exerts an irritant action.

Menthyl lactate: used as a cooling agent and fragrance.

Methylchloroisothiazolinone: sensitizer. Shouldn’t be used in leave-on products. In Canada, it is permitted up to a maximum of 0.0015% in rinse-off products and 0.000075% in leave-on products.

Methylisothiazolinone: sensitizer. Shouldn’t be used in leave-on products. In Canada, it is permitted up to a maximum of 0.0015% in rinse-off products and 0.000075% in leave-on products.

Narcissus oil: fragrant oil that is likely to cause allergy especially when it is mixed with other fragrance.

Neroli: fragrant plant oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree.

Oak bark extract: contains tannic acid and is exceedingly astringent.

Orange oil: fragrance.

PABA: see Para-aminobenzoic acid.

Papain: contained in papaya and classified as an irritant.

Papaya: papain contained in papaya is classified as an irritant.

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA): sunscreen rarely used any more. It can cause allergic eczema and a sensitivity to light.

Patchouli: fragrance.

PEG 16 lanolin (Solulan 16): Not all lanolins are irritating but this one is irritating and comedogenic.

Peppermint: can cause allergic reactions.

Pine oil: is an irritant in concentrated form.

PG laurate: irritant.

Quince seed: may cause allergic reaction.


Sandalwood oil: fragrance.

Santalum album: fragrance.

Silver: used as a coloring agent and can be irritating to the skin.

Sodium carbonate

Sodium hydroxide: skin irritant at high concentrations. Low concentrations are acceptable because sodium hydroxide is often used to adjust pH.

Sodium lauryl sulfate: a skin irritant but not related to cancer.

Sodium silicate: strongly alkaline.

Sodium sulfite: known to cause skin rash.

Spearmint: can cause allergic reactions.

St. John’s wort: contains several components that are toxic on the skin in the presence of sunlight.

Steareth-10: irritant and comedogenic.

Sulfur: antibacterial but strongly irritating. There are better antibacterial agents now so sulfur is not recommended for the skin any more.

Tangerine oil

Tannin: not for regular use.

Thyme: fragrance.

Tormentil: powerful astringent.

Tridectyl neopentanoate: irritant, seen in eye shadows, foundations and other products.

Wintergreen oil: strong irritant.

Witch Hazel: widely used in alcohol-free toners. It is anti-inflammatory and helps remove skin oil. Short-term use can be beneficial. Long-term use is controversial.

Xylene: aromatic liquid that is rarely seen in skin care products today. It is irritant and comedogenic.

Yarrow: may cause a sensitivity to sunlight and artificial light, in which the skin breaks out and swells.

Ylang-ylang: fragrance.

Zinc sulfate: astringent.

[1] Ruth Winter. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients 6 Edition, 1999.
[2] Katharine Martin, Runa Sur, Frank Liebel, Neena Tierney, Peter Lyte, Michelle Garay, Thierry Oddos, Mike Anthonavage, Stan Shapiro and Michael Southall. Parthenolide-depleted Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) protects skin from UV irradiation and external aggression. Archives of Dermatological Research 2007; vol. 300 num. 2: 69 – 80.
[3] James E. Fulton, Jr., Comedogenicity and irritancy of commonly used ingredients in skin care products. J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem., 40, 321-333 (November/December 1989).
[4] A. Prashar, I. C. Locke and C. S. Evans, Cytotoxicity of lavender oil and its major components to human skin cells. Cell Proliferation Volume 37 Issue 3, Pages 221 – 229.

14 Best PHA Products For Less Irritating Exfoliation

May 30th, 2010

In previous posts Aged Skin Is Less Acidic – Hydroxyacids Can Help and Exfoliation – PHA, I talked about some benefits of PHAs. You might be wondering which products have effective PHAs. So in this post, I would like to list some good PHA products. They contain one or combination of gluconolactone, glucoheptonolactone, lactobionic acid, and maltobionic acid. They all provide antioxidant and hydrating benefits. If they are formulated at certain pH, they can also exfoliate skin. Lactobionic acid and maltobionic acid are more hydrating and suitable for dry skin. Lactobionic acid can form a gel on skin so a product containing lactobionic acid may feel sticky.

NeoStrata and Exuviance often have similar products. The only difference is that the NeoStrata version is usually fragrance free, which is better for skin.

PHA exfoliants and treatments

BeautiControl 30s, Acne-prone and Sensitive Skin – Regeneration Gold® Rejuvenating Face and Neck Lotion has glucanolactone for exfoliation. There are not many noticeable skin-beneficial ingredients in this lotion but it is a choice for the skin that does not tolerate AHAs. The lotion is for normal to dry skin. It has some ingredients that are not suitable for acne-prone skin and contains fragrance that is not good for sensitive skin. So the name of this product is not that appropriate. Beauticontrol also has a gel version of this product. The gel version contains lactobionic acid in stead of glucanolactone. The gel version omits the comedogenic ingredients and fragrance.

BeautiControl 50+ Skin – Regeneration® Platinum Plus Face Serum has a combination of glucanolactone and lactobionic acid. This serum has the most skin-beneficial ingredients among all three BeautiControl products mentioned here. I think that there is no problem for this to be used for younger people as well. Just keep in mind that it is really designed for dry skin. It contains several proteins, antioxidants (including white tea), vitamins (including retinyl palmitate and niacinamide) and anti-inflammatory ingredients. This serum is fragrance free.

The above BeautiControl Products are at pH 3.5 to 4.0.

Exuviance Evening Restorative Complex is a night moisturizer for dry skin that can also exfoliate. It contains 8% PHA, combination of gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. Lactobionic acid might make it a little bit sticky. Other than PHA, it contains a lot of skin-beneficial ingredients, including vitamin E, vitamin C, retinyl palmitate, licorice extract, chamomile extract, algea extract, calendula extract (anti-inflammatory), coneflower extract (soothing), beta-glucan (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) and lecithin — a long list. Among them, licorice extract is one of the most gentle skin lightening ingredients. Exuviance Evening Restorative Complex is not suitable for acne-prone skin because it contains some comedogenic ingredients. Exuviance Evening Restorative Complex does have fragrance.

Please take note that this moisturizer has calendula, which is anti-inflammatory to skin. But unfortunately, a few people are allergic to calendula. So if your skin happens to flare up, don’t continue with it thinking that it is caused by PHA. PHA usually does not cause such reactions. It might be an allergic reaction and you need to stop using the product.

Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex has 12% gluconolactone and is effective to exfoliate. The formulation is suitable for dry skin. Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex also has retinyl (vitamin A) acetate but I do not consider it to be a retinoid product because I don’t think this will convert to enough retinoid with direct effects on the skin. Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex does contain fragrance.

Exuviance Ultra Restorative Creme has 12% PHA. It contains more lactobionic acid than Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex so it is more hydrating. It has less antioxidants than Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex but includes more ingredients that help moisturize dry skin. It does contain fragrance.

NeoStrata Bionic Face Cream is the same as Exuviance Ultra Restorative Creme, except that NeoStrata Bionic Face Cream omits fragrance and coloring agents.

NeoStrata Bionic Lotion has 12% gluconolactone and 3% lactobionic acid in addition to multiple skin conditioners and vitamin E. Fragrance free. For dry skin.

NeoStrata Bio-Hydrating Cream is formulated with 15% PHA (gluconolactone) for individuals who are unable to use glycolic acid but desire the benefits of a high strength AHA cream. Fragrance free.

Exuviance Matte Perfection is a PHA exfoliation product for oily skin, which is rare. It not only includes PHA in the form of gluconolactone but also has mandelic acid, which is a less-researched form of AHA that can absorb into oil glands. The formulation is fragrance-free and does not have a big variety of skin-beneficial ingredients. The simple formula is actually pleasant on oily skin. Nothing is very effective to control oil but Exuviance Matte Perfection is at least a gentle and effective exfoliant for oily skin.

NeoStrata Renewal Cream, PHA 12 is identical to Exuviance Rejuvenating Complex.

NeoStrata Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream has 10% gluconolactone. It is moisturizing and suitable for normal to dry skin. It also has evening primrose oil (anti-inflammatory) and vitamin E (in the form of tocopheryl acetate). NeoStrata Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream is fragrance free.

NeoStrata Bionic Face Serum has 10% lactobionic acid. The gel formed by lactobionic acid can feel sticky, a texture loved by some while hated by others. It is not a strong exfoliant but it is a good serum combining lactobionic acid with vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C. NeoStrata Bionic Face Serum is fragrance free.


Concealer with PHA

CoverBlend by Exuviance Multi-Function Concealer SPF 15 has an impressive picture, on its package, about how it can fully cover dark circles. I do not have dark circles. From what I can tell, this is the best concealer to cover and treat blemishes. This concealer has PHA and mineral sunscreens. After a day of use, the spot with acne will turn much better. The PHA can treat the skin and the sunscreens provide protection. After the acne heals, there is no noticeable scar. The first time I used this concealer, I was not impressed because it did not look natural upon application. But the difference between this concealer and other concealers is that this concealer looks more and more natural throughout the day while other concealers look more and more unnatural.

Foundation with PHA

Exuviance Skin Caring Foundation SPF 15 is not the best foundation. But if every foundation breaks you out, then this is probably the last foundation you can use. The PHA it includes really helps. It is for all skin types except dry skin. It does have fragrance.

Lancôme Génifique vs. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair

August 25th, 2010

Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate has been around for quite some time. I did not review it because I was not impressed by its formula. Then I keep seeing ads about Lancôme Génifique and start to be attracted by their claims about genes.

Supposedly, Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate can boot genes’ activity according to the in-vitro test on genes. This claim does not mean much to me because I am still wondering whether this concentrate can reach and affect genes when it is applied to a live person. Even if it could affect genes’ activity, changed genes would not necessarily produce “youth proteins” considering the complexity of the translation process. Moreover, if some chemical could truly change your genes, would you dare to use it?

Unconvincing claims aside, the research behind Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate is on a new ingredient, bifida ferment lysate. There is no independent research on bifida ferment lysate yet. An article by L’Oréal Research (Lancôme is under the the L’Oréal Group) has recently been accepted by the journal Experimental Dermatology to publish. In this article, L’Oréal Research suggests that bifida ferment lysate is “a new ingredient for reactive skin” and does not mention that bifida ferment lysate can modulate genes. The study demonstrates that bifida ferment lysate reduces skin sensitivity and may help with the skin barrier function.

I am glad that a new ingredient is researched for skincare products but so far, the benefits of bifida ferment lysate can be easily achieved by other cheaper ingredients. So I am not excited about bifida ferment lysate and want to wait for more research about it.

Interestingly, the formula of Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate reminds me of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex. The “groundbreaking” ingredient in Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex is also bifida ferment lysate. Compared with Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex has several advantages:
(img:lancome genifique)(img:estee lauder advanced night repair)

Products Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex
Beneficial ingredients other than bifida ferment lysate Only moisturing ingredients A wide range of skin-beneficial ingredients
Alcohol content Alcohol Denat. can cause drying with long-term use Only a tiny amount of benzyl alcohol for preservation; won’t cause drying
Fragrance Contains fragrance Fragrance-free
Price $78.00 / oz $47.50 / oz

It is a no-brainer to choose Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex.

Lancôme Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate ingredients:
Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Limonene, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Octyldodecanol, Citric Acid, Citronellol, Parfum/Fragrance.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex ingredients:
Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Methylgluceth-20, Peg-75, Butylene Glycol, Bis-Peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Arabidopsis Thaliana Extract, Tripeptide-32, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Cola Acuminata Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Pantethine, Caffeine, Glycereth-26, Sodium rna, Squalane, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Oleth-3, Oleth-5, Bisabolol, Choleth-24, Ceteth-24, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Anthemis Nobilis, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Tea-Carbomer, Trisodium Edta, Bht, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Benzyl Alcohol, Green 5, Yellow 5, Red 4.

Clinique De-Puffing Eye Massage vs. Garnier Anti-Puff Eye Roller

June 7th, 2010

Since I tend to pull my skin when I massage my eye area, I am trying some eye roller massage products. In this post, I am going to review Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage and Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller. They are both well formulated and can sooth the skin around eyes.

The formulations of these two eye roller products are very similar. The top 5 major ingredients of both products are exactly the same. The ingredient that performs the de-puffing function is mainly caffeine. As is explained in Effects of Caffeine on Fat Tissue, caffeine can temporally reduce the size and number of fat cells. So caffeine is a promising de-puffing ingredient. In addition, both Clinique and Garnier include some hydrating ingredients. Neither of these two serums feels heavy.

Clinique adds more botanical extracts, including Japanese knotweed root extract (polygonum cuspidatum root extract — little research on its skin benefits), grape seed extract (antioxidant), spike moss extract (less researched), rosemary extract, hops extract (less researched), pomegranate juice extract (antioxidant), and tangerine peel extract. Rosemary is actually a folk remedy to reduce eye puffiness. The effect of rosemary is probably due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities. Tangerine peel oil is irritating but Clinique has tangerine peel extract instead, which is not irritating. The advertisement of Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage has cucumber pieces but I did not find any cucumber extract in this product. Please don’t be misled.

Clinique makes a better applicator (the roller) than Garnier. When I use Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller, the plastic that holds the roller keeps touching my skin. It feels scratching. I wish the roller could stand out more so that only the roller touches the skin. Clinique solves exactly that problem. The texture of the Clinique eye serum also feels slightly smoother.

The results? Ur… The de-puffing effects are minimal. I saw only a little change although both of them felt great. So far the most effective product for my under-eye puffiness is BeautiControl Regeneration® Overnight Retinol Recovery Serum and the only effective product for my upper eyelid drooping is Aveeno Ageless Vitality Revitalizing Eye Treatment (has minimal effects for under-eye problems though). Not that I have serious problems with my eyelids but these two products do make my eyes look younger and brighter.

Bottom line: Not considering the price of Clinique is higher than that of Garnier, I prefer Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage. The applicator, texture and ingredients are all slightly better than Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller. But you absolutely do not miss much by using Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller. Garnier has all the most promising ingredients there to de-puff and sooth your eyes. And you cannot expect either of them to significantly change under-eye puffiness anyway.

Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage ingredients:
Water/Aqua/Eau, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Caffeine, Panthenol, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Selaginella Tamariscina (Spike Moss) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Juice Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Yeast Extract/Faex/Extrait de Levure, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Linolenic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-7, Linoleic Acid, Glycine, Carbomer, Cyclodextrin, Hydroxyproline, Acrylates Copolymer, c13-14 Isoparaffin, Polyacrylamide, Caprylyl Glycol, Proline, Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Managanese Chloride, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Mica (ILN36146).

Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller ingredients:
Aqua/Water/Eau, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Caffeine, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Escin, Guanosine, Hydroxyproline, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Aluminum Hydroxide, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Disodium EDTA, Laureth 7, Mica, Polyacrylamide, Caprylyl Glycol, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, F.I.L. B29143/1.

Probiotic Skin Care – Is It A Hype?

October 26th, 2010

We know that probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are healthy for the intestine, but can probiotics also benefit skin? Is the new Clinique product, Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup SPF15 with Probiotic Technology, a hype?

On Journal of Dermatological Science, I saw an invited article Pre- and probiotics for human skin by Jean Krutmann, a professor of Dermatology and Environmental Medicine in Germany. This article explains that skin bacteria, skin barrier function and the skin immune system are closely linked and may form a complex network that controls a variety of skin functions. So it is tempting to speculate that probiotics may improve skin barriers and functions by affecting skin bacteria colonies. Unfortunately, this is a speculation only, which means that it might be a new exciting technology but we do not know whether it will work or not. Clinique (a brand of Estee Lauder Companies) may have done tests regarding probiotics in cosmetics. But companies do not publish new research results before they get patents.

At this point, the best is to wait. If you do want to give it a try, I suggest that you stay with brands under Estee Lauder Companies because such companies do serious research on new technologies.

By the way, I tried Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup SPF15 with Probiotic Technology. As a foundation, it is a winner, with right amounts of sunscreens and a base formula that creates smooth application and natural finish. Finally a makeup that is safe for sensitive skin. Probably its only con is limited shade selections.

Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup SPF15 Ingredients
Active ingredients: octinoxate 5.90%, zinc oxide 3.70%, titanium dioxide 2.90%. Other ingredients: water\aqua\eau, methyl trimethicone, phenyl trimethicone, dimethicone, triethylhexanoin, butylene glycol, trimethylsiloxysilicate, peg-10 dimethicone, lauryl peg-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, c12-15 alkyl benzoate, lactobacillus ferment, citrus grandis (grapefruit) peel extract, magnolia grandiflora bark extract, poria cocos sclerotium extract, astrocaryum murumuru seed butter, glycerin, caffeine, sodium myristoyl sarcosinate, caprylyl methicone, methicone, polyglyceryl-6 polyricinoleate, disteardimonium hectorite, isopropyl titanium triisostearate, dimethicone crosspolymer-3, lecithin, tocopheryl acetate, laureth-7, dimethicone/peg-10/15 crosspolymer, sodium chloride, dipropylene glycol, disodium edta, aluminum hydroxide, polyaminopropyl biguanide, phenoxyethanol, May contain: mica, titanium dioxide (ci 77891), iron oxides (ci 77491, ci 77492, ci 77499).

Oxybenzone Safety

April 20th, 2010

Technically, all sunscreen active ingredients allowed by FDA should be safe but a lot of new research has found potential health risks of several of these sunscreen active ingredients. Since sunscreen is used everyday and some of the sunscreen ingredients themselves are irritants, it is good to know better about each of the sunscreen active ingredients. First, let’s look at oxybenzone, also called benzophenone-3, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567.

Oxybenzone absorbs UVB and short-wave (NOT all) UVA rays. The maximum concentration of oxybenzone allowed in US is 6%.

Oxybenzone is one of the sunscreen active ingredients that sting the eyes. Other than this, there are two concerns about oxybenzon.

  1. Health risks: A 2008 study found oxybenzone present in 96.8% of 2,517 urine samples collected as part of the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This indicates that certain percentage of oxybenzone is absorbed into the body with daily application. All common sunscreens penetrate into the stratum corneum but only oxybenzone is proved to present appreciable amounts in deeper tissue and the system. Although there is no evidence that this is related to toxic consequences, the fact of deeper absorption, itself, has already concerned me. Oxybenzone has also been detected in human breast milk following topical application. Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding, in particular, should be cautious and avoid sunscreen products containing oxybenzone.
  2. Photoallergic reactions: A 2001 study in UK shows that, although photoallergic reactions to UV filters are generally rare, oxybenzone has much higher rate of reactions compared with other commonly used UV filters. Since the UV filters causing most of the photoallergic reactions, such as PABA, amyl dimethyl PABA and benzophenone-10, are now rarely used in sunscreen manufacture, oxybenzone is currently the commonest contact photoallergen still in widespread use. It is worth mentioning that, in this study, octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) has extremely low incidence of reactions. I have recommended sunscreen products with octinoxate and zinc oxide in Best Sunscreen Products for Sensitive Skin.

In European Union, products intended for skin protection with 0.5% or more oxybenzone must be labeled “Contains Oxybenzone”.

I used to consider a sunscreen product with oxybenzone but from now on I will not list sunscreen products with oxybenzone on the best product list any more. When I recommend skin care products, I want to stay on the safe side.

Exfoliation – AHA and BHA

June 23rd, 2009

Exfoliation is perhaps the only skin care process that can improve your skin’s appearance instantly. If you choose AHA or BHA, instead of scrubs, this exfoliation process can also bring you long-term benefits. This post discusses why you need exfoliation, what are AHA and BHA, how to use AHA and BHA, side effects of AHA and BHA and what AHA and BHA exfoliation products are best for your skin type.

Why do you need exfoliation?

The skin forms and sheds a top dead layer by itself. This turn-over process happens often enough for children. As we age, the rate of skin cell renewal drops. This makes the skin look dull, rough, discolored, and more lined. The exfoliation removes the top dead layer of the skin cells and uncovers the younger-looking layer hiding beneath. If you choose well-formulated AHA or BHA exfoliants, you can also gain long-term benefits, such as skin structure improvement, skin barrier repair, and collagen stimulation.

For those who suffer from acne, exfoliation can unclog pores by keeping dead skin cells from blocking the pore opening so the oil can flow more normally, which helps reduce blemishes and blackheads.

What are AHA and BHA?

AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid and BHA, beta hydroxy acid. In skin care products, the well researched AHA for regular use are glycolic acid and lactic acid. The BHA ingredients are salicylic acid and its lipophilic derivatives (still listed as some kind of salicylic acid).

The exfoliation benefits of AHA are highly dependent on concentrations and pH. The most effective pH range at different AHA concentrations is sorted in the table below.

Group A: effective but more acid than most retail.
Group B: good evidence efficacy.

AHA Concentrations
10% 8% 4%
Group A 3.5-3.9 3.5-3.6 none
Group B 4.0-4.4 3.7-4.2 2.0-4.0

The exfoliation benefits of BHA do not seem to be as dependent on the concentrations and pH. Because of its potential for irritation at higher concentrations, salicylic acid is mostly used at concentrations of 1.5% or less in over-the-counter products. The recommended pH is around 3. But it is also reported that even neutralized salicylic acid has certain exfoliation benefits[1] although it is less effective than the low pH products. Nevertheless, this information will benefit those that feel too irritated by the regular low pH AHA or BHA products.

Generally, at the concentrations and pH of over-the-count products, AHA exfoliation products increase the skin renewal rate more than BHA exfoliation products. Also, BHA tends to be less irritating. From my own experience, over-the-count BHA is not effective enough as an exfoliant. That is why some of the consumers need products with both AHA and BHA as listed at the end of this post.

How to use AHA and BHA?

The frequency of exfoliation varies among different people. It can be once or twice a day, every other day, or twice a week. I wish there were a clear rule for this but, in fact, you have to find the most suitable frequency yourself. You can start from twice a week and finally you want to find a frequency that will maintain a smooth looking of your skin but doesn’t turn your skin red.

You can use both AHA and BHA but I suggest you not to use one on top of the other at the same time. Using two exfoliants together can alter the concentration and pH of each product. So if you do decide to try both, you can either use products formulated to have both (products of this type are recommended at the end of this post) or use AHA and BHA alternatively.

You can either use AHA or BHA for night time or day time as long as you protect yourself with sufficient sunscreen during the day.

It is extremely important to use sunscreens with both UVA and UVB protection (as discussed in Do You Use Sunscreen Correctly?). Exfoliation makes your skin more similar to children skin, which is more vulnerable to sun light.

Side effects of AHA and BHA

AHA and BHA can slightly increase the sun sensitivity of the skin. This can be compensated by the use of a well formulated sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protections.

AHA and BHA only exfoliate away dead or damaged layer of the skin so they pose minimal risk of hurting the healthy skin cells. From my experience, however, over exfoliation can still occur with AHA or BHA. Just watch your skin. If it turns red and hurts, then you have over exfoliated.

When you just start using AHA or BHA, your skin might experience some level of tingling or stinging sensation. This is normal. Generally, tingling from AHA or BHA is sensory irritation. It is believed that there are no clinical signs of irritation at the level of the concentrations and pH of over-the-counter AHA or BHA products[2].

Of course, if you keep having symptoms such as redness, flaking, or patches of dermatitis, reduce the frequency of exfoliation immediately. If it continues for more than two weeks, stop using it.

If you really cannot tolerate AHA

Switch to PHA (polyhydroxy acids or polyhyroxy bionic acids) products. Most people can tolerate PHA. Find more information about PHA in Exfoliation – PHA.

What AHA and BHA products are best for your skin type?

I picked the following AHA and BHA products because they do not only have the correct concentrations and pH but they also contain no or minimal irritating ingredients. Some of them also have other beneficial ingredients. I mention other beneficial ingredients only if their concentrations are enough to make a difference.

Please note that the skin types I marked are not absolute. For example, you have dry skin and have established your skin care regimen. Now you want to use an AHA exfoliation product under your favorite moisturizer. Then you might want a lightweight AHA exfoliation product because you don’t want to put one emollient product on top of the other.

Generally, an exfoliant is “stronger” when the concentration of AHA or BHA is higher and/or the pH is lower, and “milder” otherwise. So make a choice based on your need.

[1] Merinville, E., Laloeuf, A., Moran, G., Jalby, O., Rawlings, A. V. Exfoliation for sensitive skin with neutralized salicylic acid? International Journal of Cosmetic Science; Jun2009, Vol. 31 Issue 3, p243-244, 2p.
[2] Skin Moisturization.

Cosmetic Skin Solutions vs. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

November 19th, 2010

I know there are some confusions and doubts about the serums from Cosmetic Skin Solutions versus SkinCeuticals. As you can see at the end of this post, the ingredient lists of C E Ferulic Serums from these two brands look the same, both claiming that they have 15% of stabilized Vitamin C, 1% Vitamin E, and 0.5% ferulic acid.

At the request of my readers, I tested the pH of Cosmetic Skin Solutions C E Ferulic Serum. It is about 3. So there is no difference in pH between these two products either.

I used both and I could not tell the difference in terms of effects on my skin. Cosmetic Skin Solutions C E Ferulic is colorless and odorless while SkinCeutical C E Ferulic is not. And that is the only difference I can tell.

I will update if I can get more information about this cheaper version of SkinCeuticals.

Cosmetic Skin Solutions C E Ferulic Ingredients:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol (solvent), L-Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C), Propylene Glycol (humidifying and delivery ingredient), Glycerin (humidifying and skin-identical ingredient), Laureth 23 (emulsifier), Alpha Tocopherol (vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol (solvent and preservative), Triethanolamine (pH balancer), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant that also enhances the stability of vitamins), Panthenol (moisturizer – alcohol form of vitamin B), Sodium Hyaluronate (moisturizing skin-identical ingredient).

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Ingredients:
Water, Ethoxydiglycol (solvent), L-Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C), Propylene Glycol (humidifying and delivery ingredient), Glycerin (humidifying and skin-identical ingredient), Laureth 23 (emulsifier), Alpha Tocopherol (vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol (solvent and preservative), Triethanolamine (pH balancer), Ferulic Acid (antioxidant that also enhances the stability of vitamins), Panthenol (moisturizer – alcohol form of vitamin B), Sodium Hyaluronate (moisturizing skin-identical ingredient).

5 Best Salicylic Acid Exfoliation Products

December 10th, 2009

Please read Exfoliation – AHA and BHA first if you just start to use salicylic acid exfoliation products.

(img:DHC Salicylic Face Milk)DHC Salicylic Face Milk contains 2% salicylic acid with pH 3.8. For any skin type but the sensitive skin because it contains rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil.

(img:Jan Marini mask)Jan Marini Therapeutic Factor-A Plus Mask contains 2% salicylic acid with pH 3.2. It also has kojic acid dipalmitate (helps lightening the skin), Japanese green tea extract, algae extract, and other skin beneficial ingredients. Fragrance free. For any skin types.

(img:Neutrogena)Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control, 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment contains 2% salicylic acid with pH 3.4. It also has antioxidants and anti-irritants. It does contain fragrance and coloring agents. For normal to dry skin.

(img:Olay)Olay Age Defying Daily Renewal Cream, Beta Hydroxy Complex contains less than 2% salicylic acid with pH 2.3. It does have fragrance. For normal to dry skin.

(img:Olay)Olay Age Defying Intensive Nourishing Night Cream is fairly similar to Olay Age Defying Daily Renewal Cream, Beta Hydroxy Complex. It also contains less than 2% salicylic acid with pH 2.3. It does have fragrance. For normal to dry skin.

Skin Corrector Rush

August 16th, 2011

Correcting skin discoloration has been an all-time focus in the Asian cosmetic market, but now it seems there is a skin corrector rush in US – all major beauty brands are promoting their skin corrector products. Below are 5 skin correctors that are relatively new to the market.

PREVAGE® Clarity Targeted Skin Tone Corrector

PREVAGE® Clarity Targeted Skin Tone Corrector

Claims: See dark spots begin to fade in just 14 days.

Key ingredients: Idebenone and Soy-Ferulate-C (Feruloyl Soy Glycerides and Ascorbyl Glucoside).


Clarins Vital Light Serum

Claims: Dark spot correcting, age repairing.

Key ingredients:

  • Hexylresorcinol and spergularia extract: anti-dark spot action, evens skin tone.
  • Cochlearia and waltheria extracts: firming and anti-wrinkle action, help to restore complexion luminosity.
  • Hyaluronic acid: hydrating action.

Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator

Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator

Claims: The first fast-acting Serum from Estée Lauder Research proven to dramatically reduce the look of uneven skintone: redness, acne marks, dark spots, sun spots, discolorations.

Key ingredients:

  • Triple-Optic Technology provides skin with a brighter, more luminous look from the very first application.
  • CorrectTone Technology visibly reduces uneven skintone in 2 weeks, while anti-oxidants help prevent its re-appearance.

My comments: Triple-Optic Technology gives you a subtle glow just by adding some shimmer in the product, which is nothing but a cosmetic effect. The ingredients that can possibly reduce discoloration are: several plant extracts, salicylic acid, a form of stabilized vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside), acetyl glucosamine (has inhibitory effect on melanin production) and yeast extract. Estée Lauder has added pretty much all non-hydroquinone ingredients that have research showing their effects on skin discoloration.

Lancôme Bright Expert Dark Spot Corrector

Lancôme Bright Expert Dark Spot Corrector & Radiance Activator

Claims: Faster dark spot reduction in just 4 weeks. Clinically-proven against the leading prescription ingredient.

Key ingredients: hydrolyzed soy flour, yeast extract and salicylic acid.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector

Claims: in clinical trials our serum was comparable to a leading prescription ingredient in creating a more even skin tone-a verified 53% improvement.

Key ingredients: the same as Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator except that this one does not have the cosmetic shimmer.

PREVAGE® Clarity Targeted Skin Tone Corrector ingredients
Water, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Methicone, Feruloyl Soy Glycerides, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylene Diamine, Cyclohexasiloxane, Hydroxydecyl Ubiquinone, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Petasites Japonicus Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lactic Acid, Cetyl Palmitate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glyceryl Stearate, Isohexadecane, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Propylene Glycol, Sodium PCA, Trehalose, Urea, Octadecenedioic Acid, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Polyquaternium-51, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Mica, Cyclopentasiloxane, Parfum/Fragrance, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Linalool, Benzoic Acid, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Propylparaben, Sorbic Acid, Chlorphenesin, Iron Oxides, Red 4, Titanium Dioxide.

Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator ingredients
Water, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysilicone-11, Butylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Morus Bombycis (Mulberry) Root Extract, Trametes Versicolor Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Salicylic Acid, Caffeine, Cholesterol, Acetyl Glucosamine, Squalane, Yeast Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Isohexadecane, PEG-6, Dimethoxytolyl Propylresorcinol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Polysorbate 20, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Fragrance, Tromethamine, Tin Oxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Limonene, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Bismuth Oxychloride, Carmine.

Clarins Vital Light Serum ingredients
Water, Glycerin, Methyl Gluceth-20, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Phenoxyethanol, Hexyresorcinol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Fragrance, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Atractylodes Lancea Root Extract, Citric Acid, Cochlearia Officinalis Flower/Leaf/Stalk Extract, Spergularia Rubra Extract, Cedrelopsis Grevei Bark Extract, Tiliroside, Sodium Benzoate, Palmitoyl Dipeptide-5 Diaminohydroxybutyrade, Ascorbic Acid, Red 4.

Lancôme Bright Expert Dark Spot Corrector & Radiance Activator ingredients
Aqua/Water/Eau, Propylene Glycol, Glycerin, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Methyl Gluceth-20, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopherol, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydrolyzed Soy Flour, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Stearic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Faex Extract/Yeast Extract/Extrait De Levure, PEG-100 Stearate, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Ethylparaben, Ellagic Acid, Palmitic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Salicylic Acid, Helianthus Annuus Seed Extract/Sunflower Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Benzyl Salicylate, Ginkgo Biloba Extract/Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Linalool, Mentha Piperita Extract/Peppermint Leaf Extract, Benzyl Alcohol, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Rosa Centifolia Extract/Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Cetyl Alcohol, Methylparaben, Tetrasodium EDTA, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Laureth-7, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Extract/Licorice Root Extract, Parfum/Fragrance.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector ingredients
Water, Dimethicone, Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Polysilicone-11, Butylene Glycol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Turmeric Root Extract, Rice Bran Extract, Grapefruit Peel Extract, Barley Extract, Wheat Germ Extract, Birch Bark Extract, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Dimethoxytolyl Propylresorcinol, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Mulberry Root Extract, Trametes Versicolor Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Yeast Extract, Peg-6, Tromethamine, Salicylic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Cholesterol, Isohexadecane, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Sunflower Seedcake, Caffeine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Acetyl Glucosamine, Simethicone, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Hyaluronate, Di-C12-18 Alkyl Dimonium Chloride, Sodium Rna, Squalane, Sodium Sulfite, Sodium Metabisulfite, Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Vp/Copolymer, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Yellow 6, Yellow 5.

Eye Serum For Dags Under Eyes

February 19th, 2014


People have all sorts of expectations for eye cream – moisturizing, de-puffing, reducing dark circles, unwrinkling, anti-aging, etc. But anyone who knows skin care products well understands how tough it is to reduce bags under eyes. Unlike temporary puffiness, fat bags under eyes usually have to go under the knife to be removed.

Since I do not want a surgery, I have been seeking for an effective topical treatment. It helps to use a caffeine serum without too much hydration. Eye cream with too much hydration cannot directly be used on bags under eyes because it makes eyes baggier. Another thing that worked for me was the Aveeno, Neutrogena, or RoC zinc-copper bi-metal treatments, which Johnson and Johnson got into market in 2010, and then stopped. If they had stayed in the market longer, and removed the heavy dimethicone, these products would have been successful. Unfortunately they removed the whole line.

Anyway, after researching and trying a lot of products, what works best to eliminate my under-eye bags is Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum. It is a very simple formula with only what works for baggy eyes. It has both caffeine, and zinc-copper malonate. We already know that caffeine reduces the size and the number of fat cells. The reason why zinc-copper bi-metal complex works is that it enhances the elastin biosynthesis in the skin. This means that it improves the loose and sagging skin that is responsible for bags under eyes. After using Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum for a couple of weeks, I can already have some “no bags” days, which I am quite satisfied with.

Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum was developed to reduce wrinkles, and the company associated test showed that 8-week treatment twice daily resulted fewer wrinkles. But I have to say that I do not see any changes for my crow’s feet lines. So I do not think that this is the best wrinkle treatment. For products used around eyes, you have to know what you want. A product with the best hydration, moisturizing, or unwrinkling effects are definitely not good to be used on bags under eyes, for example.

There are several eye products for eye puffiness, but few products dare to claim that they can fix under-eye bags. I know that another product, Isomers R Pur for Eyes, particularly claims that it not just works for the temporary puffiness, but it helps with the chronic fat pad shift under eyes. I did give it a try. It gives an overall lift and a slight tightening effect, but for bags under eyes, it does not work as well as Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum. You can use it as a lifting serum though.

Finally, please keep in mind that Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum is not that moisturizing, and cannot be used on upper eye lids. It is not an all-in-one eye cream, but it is probably the best treatment for bags under eyes. And remember to follow the directions.

Obagi ELASIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum ingredients: Water (Aqua), Dipropylene Glycol, Ethoxydiglycol, Caffeine, Malonic Acid, Zinc Carbonate, Arginine, Laureth-9, Copper Carbonate Hydroxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

5 Effective Ways To Make Your Hair Naturally Beautiful

January 26th, 2014


hair img

I have summarized the 5 most effective ways to improve hair, starting from the most effective. These methods make a visible difference on your hair. Please comment with your own hair-improving tips.

Replace synthetic shampoos with natural shampoos

Most shampoos today have sulfates and silicones. Sulfates make hair dull and frizzy because of harsh cleaning. Silicones, such as dimethicone, make hair dull and flat by coating and building up. Carefully choose natural shampoos sold in natural/organic groceries, such as Whole Foods. Read the ingredient list, and pick shampoos and conditioners with gentle cleaning ingredients and natural oils. My current favorites are Desert Essence Coconut Shampoo and Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner.

Install a water filter on your shower head

A good water filter reduces not only the notorious chlorine, but also heavy metals, which can build up, and make hair coarse.  By removing chlorine and excess minerals from your shower water, your hair will be shinier and lighter.

Blow dry instead of air dry

Imagine keeping your fur coat in water. The same goes for the hair, which could become more brittle if covered by water for long. More important, leaving the hair wet for some time makes the scalp cold, which slows down healthy scalp circulation, and may cause other problems, such as fatigue.

Apply coconut oil hair mask

Remember to replenish your hair with coconut oil as a hair mask once a week. I find that coconut oil feels less greasy than olive oil. Of course, coconut oil is a better hair mask when it is liquid. In winter, you might have to use olive oil instead.

Take fish oil supplement

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help maintain healthy hair follicles, and give hair shine and suppleness.


6 Best Sunscreen Products for Sensitive Skin

November 5th, 2011

(img:SkinMedica Sunscreen)SkinMedica Environmental Defense Sunscreen SPF 30+

  • Sunscreen ingredients: 5.5% Octinoxate and 8% Zinc Oxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: Oat Kernel Extract, Caffeine, Ceramide, Soybean Seed Extract, Green Tea Extract, and Hyaluronic Acid.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: No.

(img:Eucerin SPF 30)Eucerin Everyday Protection Face Lotion SPF 30

  • Sunscreen ingredients: Octinoxate, Zinc Oxide, Octisalate, Ensulizole, Titanium Dioxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: Lactic Acid.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: Yes.

(img:Vanicream Sunscreen)Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 60

  • Sunscreen ingredients: 7.5% Titanium Dioxide and 7.5% Zinc Oxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: Vitamin C.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: Yes.

(img:Neutrogena Sunscreen)Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 50 with PureScreen

  • Sunscreen ingredients: 5% Titanium Dioxide, 3% Zinc Oxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: anti-irritant bisabolol.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: Yes.

(img:SkinCeuticals Sunscreen)Skin Ceuticals Ultimate UV Defense SPF 30

  • Sunscreen ingredients: 7.5% Octinoxate and 7% Zinc Oxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: none.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: No.

(img:ARCONA Reozone)ARCONA Reozone 40

  • Sunscreen ingredients: 9.0% Zinc Oxide, 6.0% Titanium Dioxide.
  • Beneficial ingredients: none.
  • Fragrance Free: Yes.
  • Paraben Free: Yes.

Acne Prevention – 5 Things You Must Know

October 28th, 2010
  1. Even low concentrations of comedogenic ingredients can cause acne. This is different from skin irritants and allergens, some of which do not cause problems at very low percentages.
  2. The belief that mineral oil causes acne is both right and wrong. Just give you an example, mineral oil from good sources is less likely to cause acne than olive oil. So why does mineral oil SEEM to cause acne? First, sources of mineral oil do make a difference. Some are acceptable while others are more comedogenic. Second, some other ingredients (e.g. certain pigments) are more likely to cause acne in mineral oil. For example, I tend to have acne if I use a blush containing mineral oil.
  3. There are several forms of vitamin E. A skin care product must tell you which form is used. It is believed that tocopherol is more easily to be absorbed and more bioactive. This does not mean that tocopherol is good for everyone because tocopherol is more likely to cause acne than another commonly used form tocopheryl acetate. So if you have acne, it is best for you to choose products having tocopheryl acetate instead of tocopherol.
  4. Wax, surprisingly, does not cause acne because it does not penetrate into the follicle easily. Preparations of wax is important because some preparations may contain more contaminants or irritants.
  5. The combination of ingredients can sometimes cause acne even if each of them does not. So it is better for a product to be tested before you test it on your own face.

Are Micronized Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide Safe?

October 13th, 2010

Micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are widely used in sunscreens because of their invisibility advantage. The public is hence worried about the safety of micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. The concerns are twofold: (1) skin penetration; (2) sufficiency for UV protection.

Skin penetration

Intuitively, when the particle sizes of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are smaller, it is more likely for the particles to penetrate into the skin. The current scientific research, however, has shown the safety of micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in this regard. TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing) conducted a review of the scientific literature and concluded that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles remain on the surface of the skin and in the outer layer of the skin, and thus do not cause adverse effects.

UV protection

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide attenuate UV and visible light by scattering and absorption. Particle sizes do affect this attenuation. At regular particle size, titanium dioxide protects skin as well as or even better than zinc oxide but titanium dioxide is more opaque and noticeable. In the micronized form, zinc oxide performs better than titanium dioxide in the UVA range. This is why some people believe that zinc oxide is a better sunscreen ingredient than titanium dioxide. To make titanium dioxide reasonably invisible for everyday use, you have to make its particle size so small that you almost lose all its protection in the UVA range.

There are some commercialized brands of micronized zinc oxide, with Z-Cote being the best known. According to some researchers in Duke University Medical Center, Z-Cote is photostable, attenuates both UVA and UVB, and works well with octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate), a “chemical” sunscreen that attenuates mainly UVB and is generally well tolerated by skin. These researchers are consultants for the company that makes Z-Cote. But their research is rigorous and published on Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Based on current research, micronized zinc oxide is still an effective UVA and UVB filter while micronized titanium dioxide is almost a mere UVB filter especially when its particle size goes very small.

14 Dermal Fillers and Their Side Effects

October 30th, 2011

Bovine collagen

  • Brands: Zyderm I (for superficial wrinkles), Zyderm II (for moderate to deep wrinkles), and Zyplast (for deeper lines, deep acne scars, and lip augmentation). Zyplast lasts longer than Zyderm I and Zyderm II. Avoid Zyplast injection at vascular areas such as between the eye brows.
  • Approximate longevity: 6 months.
  • Description and use: bovine collagen has been used for injectable filler for about 30 years. Originally, bovine collagen was used to correct acne scars, pockmarks, and lipoatrophy. Later bovine collagen was for wrinkle correction and lip enhancement.
  • Side effects: mainly allergic reactions. So skin tests are required. About 3% to 4% of people should not receive the injection because of allergic reactions. If the patient is not allergic to bovine collagen, other side effects are rare. Possible side effects include over-correction, inflammation, bruising, infection, and necrosis. So far two irreversible vision losses are reported.
  • Requirements: skin tests are required before injection. About 3% to 4% of people develop erythema and swelling after the skin test. Because the reactions often do not show immediately after the first test, it is safer to have a second skin test 2 or 4 weeks after the first skin test even if there is no reaction after the first skin test.

Human-derived collagen

  • Brands: Autologen, Cosmoderm, Cosmoplast, and Cymetra. Autologen is generally obtained and processed from the patient’s own skin. Cosmoderm I, Cosmoderm II and Cosmoplast are counterparts of Zyderm I, Zyderm II and Zyplast. Cymetra is micronized cadaveric-derived collagen.
  • Approximate longevity: 4 to 7 months.
  • Description and use: Human-derived collagen is produced in recent years to avoid the side effects that can be caused by bovine collagen.
  • Side effects: even less than bovine collagen. Possible reactions include bruising, erythema and swelling.

Hyaluronic acid

  • Brands: Hylaform, Restylane, Juvederm, Perlane, and Macrolane. Hylaform is produced from rooster combs. The other four are of nonanimal origin, produced from bacterial fermentation.
  • Approximate longevity: 6 months.
  • Description and use: hyaluronic acid is one of the components of the normal skin. It is able to capture large amount of water and acts as a free radical scavenger. The hyaluronic acid filler is used for filling wrinkles, soft tissue augmentation, correcting scars and facial lipoatrophy.
  • Side effects: in theory there is no risk of an allergic reaction compared with collagen fillers but it may cause more swelling and bruising. These side effects, however, disappear in a few days and usually do not need any treatment.

Hyaluronic acid plus dextranomer microparticles

  • Brands: Matridex and Reviderm intra.
  • Approximate longevity: at least a year.
  • Description and use: Hyaluronic acid plus dextranomer microparticles lasts longer than Hyaluronic acid. It has been used for wrinkle treatment and lip augmentation.
  • Side effects: one case of red nodules growing on the treated skin 4 weeks after the injection of Matridex is reported.

Poly-L-lactic acid

  • Brands: Sculptra and New-Fill.
  • Approximate longevity: at least a year. After poly-L-lactic acid is degraded, the effect often lasts two years because poly-L-lactic acid also stimulates collagen production.
  • Description and use: poly-L-lactic acid is generally used for correcting lipoatrophy and facial cosmetic augmentation.
  • Side effects: about 30% to 40% patients develop nodules, which can last months or years without treatments. These nodules are often palpable but not visible. Short-term symptoms that last a few days include erythema, bruising, swelling, pain, inflammation, and itchiness, and these reactions happen frequently.

Calcium hydroxylapatite

  • Brands: Radiance and Radiesse.
  • Approximate longevity: at least a year.
  • Description and use: calcium hydroxylapatite has a similar function to poly-L-lactic acid but causes almost no reaction. Calcium hydroxylapatite also stimulates collagen production and its texture resembles native soft tissue. The calcium hydroxylapatite filler is used for correction of lipoatrophy and smoothing moderate wrinkles.
  • Side effects: almost none. If calcium hydroxylapatite is injected into lips, however, there is a high chance of developing nodules.


  • Description: paraffin is no longer used as a filler because of its high incidence of side effects but some patients are still suffering from paraffin injections they got many years ago because paraffin injection is permanent.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.


  • Brands: brands of silicone oil are Silikon 1000 and Silskin; brands of silicone gel are MDX 4-4011 and Silastic.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: silicone is the most studied filler, which can be used for correction of small wrinkles or scars and soft tissue augmentations, such as breast implants. More recently, it has also been used for facial lipoatrophy.
  • Side effects: with time, silicone gel can move to a spot that is quite distant from where it was injected. At the sites of injections, patients might experience pain, erythema, bruise, different skin color, tissue hardening, inflammation, nodules and scars.

Polyvinylpyrrolidone-silicone suspension

  • Brands: Bioplastique.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: Polyvinylpyrrolidone-silicone suspension usually remains at the injected site and thus solves the migrating problem of silicone gel. It has been mostly used for the correction of facial wrinkles and lip augmentation.
  • Side effects: the main reason why this filler is less likely to migrate is that the silicone particles in this suspension is larger. But because of that, it is more likely to give rise to serious foreign body reactions.

Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)microspheres in bovine collagen

  • Brands: Artecoll, Arteplast, and Artefill.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: bovine collagen is only used as a carrier. 80% of bovine collagen is gone in 1 to 3 months whereas PMMA microspheres can persist for at least several years. This filler has been used for the correction of facial wrinkles and furrows, perioral lines, lip and philtrum augmentation and scar revision.
  • Side effects: a foreign body reaction, such as granulomas, generally appears from 6 to 24 months after the treatment, affecting about 0.6% of the patients. It can also emerge several years after the injection. To get the desired results, it is important for the doctor to make sure that the injection is neither too deep nor too superficial. One case of disfiguring facial swelling is reported after the use of Artecoll.
  • Requirements: intradermal tests are required before the first use of this filler because bovine collagen induces allergy to about 3% to 4% of the population.

Ethylmethacrylate (EMA) and hydroxyethylmethacrylate (HEMA) particles in hyaluronic acid gel

  • Brands: Dermalive and Dermadeep.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: Hyaluronic acid is used as a carrier, which disappears in about 3 months, whereas EMA and HEMA particles persist for at least years. Dermalive has similar uses to Artecoll while Dermadeep is used to correct larger defects because it contains larger particles.
  • Side effects: since the components are not from animals, allergy reactions are less probable than with Artecoll. Similar to Artecoll , it is important for the doctor to to make sure that the injection is neither too deep nor too superficial. Short-term side effects include redness, pain and swelling. Long-term side effects include tissue hardening, swelling, and nodules, which appear months after injection.

Polyacrylamide hydrogel

  • Brands: Aquamid, Interfall, OutLine, Royamid, Formacryl, Argiform, Amazingel, Bio-Formacryl, and Kosmogel.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: Polyacrylamide hydrogel has been used mostly in China, Ukraine, and the former Soviet Union for breast, buttock, and calf augmentation. More recently, it has been used in European countries for the treatment of facial lipoatrophy.
  • Side effects: nodules, infection, and skin pigmentation. Extremely rare cases include bone erosion and facial ulceration. And it may delay the detection of breast cancer if used for breast augmentation.

Polyalkylimide gel

  • Brands: Bio-Alcamid.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: Polyalkylimide gel has been used for buttock augmentation, and the correction of lipoatrophy, irregularities after liposculpture, scar depressions, posttraumatic atrophy, pectus excavatum or other malformations of the skeleton.
  • Side effects: swelling, bruising, nodules, and, in particular, infections, but no granulomas.

Polyvinylhydroxide microsphere in polyacrylamide gel

  • Brands: Evolution.
  • Approximate longevity: permanent.
  • Description and use: Evolution is mostly used for lip augmentation.
  • Side effects: none has been reported.


Side effects from a degradable impermanent dermal filler can go away with time but adverse results from permanent dermal fillers generally require surgery to remove. Not all side effects are caused by the filler materials. Quality products and correct procedures from a qualified doctor are extremely important to minimize any unwanted results. For pain reduction, seek for dermal fillers mixed with anesthetic solution, such as lidocaine.

Reference: “Adverse reactions to injectable soft tissue fillers”.

Sunscreen In A Pill – Polypodium Leucotomos (Heliocare)

October 15th, 2011

Almost nothing blocks 100% of UV unless you always stay in dark. So multiple sun protections are necessary if you really want to avoid photoaging as much as possible. Clothing and sunscreen can block some UV radiation, and topical antioxidant treatments can strengthen skin’s natural capability to fight UV damage. Surprisingly, some dietary supplements build your skin’s natural strength against UV insult as well.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE) provides wonderful photoprotective effect if taken orally. PLE has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and photoprotective properties. These properties help prevent sunburn and erythema. In addition, PLE inhibits reactive oxygen species (ROS), and reduces UVA-induced phototoxicity and skin photoaging. For people with skin photosensitization problems, PLE is almost a life saver.

Unlike other potential dietary supplements for sun protection, such as ß-carotene, PLE does not have reported adverse effects. This can be true or partially due to limited research. Finally, PLE is an extract of a fern species so, if you are allergic to ferns, please do not take it.

More about PLE:
Click the “review” tab to see others’ experience with polypodium leucotomos (Heliocare) at drugstore.com

Lavender Oil – Watch Out!

October 7th, 2011

Lavender oil is an effective essential oil to provide relaxation. Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief that lavender oil is safe and beneficial to your skin, researchers have found that lavender oil is toxic to skin cells at a concentration of 0.25% and above. At the same time, lavender oil shows no scientific evidence to accelerate wound healing or benefit skin.

Although such research was published years ago, more and more women have started to use products with lavender directly on their skin. According to the research conducted in the University of Westminster, London, the major components of lavender oil, linalyl acetate and linalool, pose toxic effects to human cells. It is likely that lavender oil gives rise to membrane damage. Unlike Eucalyptus oil, Balsam of Peru, Spearmint oil, Jasmine oil, and Ylang-ylang oil, which tend to cause an immediate reaction, lavender oil might seem to be a safe oil at the beginning. But because of the damage it causes, it is likely that the skin only starts to show contact dermatitis or sensitivity after some time. And at that point, you might think that it is some other product that is causing the problem.

Generally, certain natural skin care products tend to have lavender, which you can easily tell from their names or ingredient lists. Regarding the two major components of lavender oil, linalyl acetate is not widely used while linalool appears in a wide range of skin care brands, especially the high-end ones.

Which Antioxidants Treat Wrinkles?

October 3rd, 2011

Q: Which antioxidants treat wrinkles?

A: The efficacy of antioxidants currently lacks controlled clinical studies in humans. Most antioxidants are scavengers of oxidative stress, which means they prevent wrinkles but not treat wrinkles. This include the most potent antioxidants, such as idebenone, CoffeeBerry® and resveratrol. Often, the ability of most skin care products to improve wrinkles is due to swelling caused by irritation or hydrating effects.

The ingredients that are proved to actually treat wrinkles are retinoids and vitamin C but the mechanism for them to treat wrinkles are not through antioxidation. Retinoids regulate cell proliferation and differentiation. Vitamin C increases collagen production. Sometimes, a product highlights some exotic ingredients while including retinol or vitamin C to provide the real results.

Niacinamide, often included in Olay products, is another antioxidant that is reported to improve the texture and tone of the skin, and reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. But it seems the studies are only reported by P & G, which owns Olay.

In conclusion, antioxidants are aimed for prevention. The most important elements in anti-aging are: prevention, prevention, prevention.

A Common Mistake by Contact Lenses Beginners

October 1st, 2011

A friend of mine complained that it was hard to put on contact lenses and with time, it could cause droopy eyelids, wrinkles and saggy skin because she had to keep pulling her skin every time she put on contact lenses. Then I found she was not doing it right. Since some contact lenses starters might make the same mistake, I would like to do a post on this seemingly simple subject.

(img:wear contact lenses)(img:wear contact lenses)

The arrows in the above pictures are the positions of your fingers. The right way is to put your fingers below your upper eyelashes and above your lower eyelashes. It is not an effective way if you put your fingers on your eyelids because you would have to fight your eyelashes to put in your contact lenses. If you do it as I suggest, you almost do not pull your delicate skin; your fingers are only used to push away your eyelashes. Try it; it is going to be easy to put on contact lenses. 🙂

Preview Before Plastic Surgeries

August 6th, 2011

Now patients can preview different possible outcomes through different plastic surgery procedures using a new system – VECTRA M3. VECTRA M3 instantly captures detailed 3D images of face, neck and decolletage, and with these images, doctors can show patients how they will look afterwards before they actually do it. This will enhance the communication and planning before a plastic surgery. The video below demonstrates a virtual nose job process.


Hydroquinone – Final Amended Safety Assessment

March 2nd, 2011

Hydroquinone has been causing a lot of debate regarding its use in skin bleaching products. Its use is banned in the European Union. But in the United States, we still see hydroquinone products around, including some well-known and effective skin lightening products such as DDF Fade Gel 4, Murad Environmental Shield Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Gel, and Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener.

Some authorities say that we have not reached a conclusion about the safety of hydroquinone. But considering that hydroquinone has a percutaneous absorption rate of 45% for a 24-hour application (Handbook of Cosmetic Science and Technology), it is definitely worrisome.

At the end of last year, there was finally the Final Amended Safety Assessment of Hydroquinone as Used in Cosmetics published on International Journal of Toxicology. The Conclusion is

“Hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of less than or equal to 1% in hair dyes and is safe for use in nail adhesives. Hydroquinone should not be used in other leave-on cosmetics.”

With this assessment at hand, even the prescribed hydroquinone skin lightening treatment is challenged. A hydroquinone-free yet effective skin lightening technology should be a breakthrough in cosmetic industry in the next few years.

Skin Redness Treatment

February 3rd, 2011

Cold whether and cosmetic irritation can cause skin redness and slight pain. Here are some simple steps to treat the symptom.

Calm down
You can calm down your skin temporarily just by using a cold compress. This is simple yet effective. Soak a washcloth in ice water or milk, or wrap some ice in a washcloth, and leave it on your skin for several minutes. Do not put ice cubes directly on skin. That is too irritating.

Back to the basics
When your skin is not in good condition, you should limit the use of cosmetics. Use products with real simple formula, such as Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Capsules or Egyptian Magic Cream. They do not have preservatives or fragrance, containing only ingredients that help recover your skin.

Protect yourself
During the day, remember to protect yourself with mineral sunscreens (see 10 Best Sunscreen Products for Sensitive Skin).

In cold and windy whether, protect yourself with a mask.

If the symptom still does not go away, you can either use an over-the-counter cortisone cream, such as Cortaid, or go to your dermatologist. Just remember to stop cortisone use right after you recover because long-term use of cortisone can cause skin aging.

Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral – Nordstrom Exclusive

July 14th, 2011

Nordstrom anniversary sale starts this Friday. It is a good time to buy next season’s styles, of course. But don’t forget your skin. Nordstrom carries some skin care products that are not available elsewhere. One of these exclusives is the Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ line, known for its pomegranate content.

Pomegranate is one of the most potent antioxidants that can be used both orally and topically. In terms of antioxidant power, idebenone and CoffeeBerry® are generally stronger than pomegranate, but pomegranate is still worth considering: it is less likely to cause skin irritation than idebenone, and is cheaper than CoffeeBerry® (CoffeeBerry® is proprietary). Pomegranate is shown to restore certain enzyme activities in skin, in addition to its antioxidation capability. So, by using various beneficial ingredients, you get multiple benefits.

The Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ line include:

  • Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Moisture Gel,
  • Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Infusing Eye Gel,
  • Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Purifying 2-in-1 Foam Cleanser,
  • Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Moisture Lotion,
  • Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Radiance Serum.

The moisture gel and infusing eye gel are in jars; the antioxidants will not last long after you start using them. A cleanser is not a good way at all to make use of antioxidants. So I only recommend the moisture lotion and the radiance serum. As always, Estée Lauder has added quite some other antioxidants in these two products as well.

Notice that the lotion and serum have both pomegranate fruit juice and pomegranate seed oil. This is a good formulation because studies have shown that pomegranate fruit juice (especially if it is from pomegranate peel) promotes regeneration of dermis whereas pomegranate seed oil promotes regeneration of epidermis.

Finally, are the ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral lotion and serum better than other Estée Lauder serums, such as Estée Lauder ‘Advanced Night Repair’? Hard to say. The Estée Lauder serums have different cocktails of antioxidants, which all benefit skin in different ways. Most of them are only preventive. They generally do not remove wrinkles or show instant results. Nevertheless, the ‘Nutritious’ line provides a good pomegranate formulation. The downside is that, unlike most of Estée Lauder serums, the ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Moisture Lotion and Radiance Serum do contain fragrance.

Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Moisture Lotion Ingredients:
Water, Triethylhexanoin, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Batyl Alcohol, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Cucumis Melo (Melon) Fruit Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Caffeine, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Juice, Creatine, Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Cholesterol/Potassium Sulfate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Lactobacillus Ferment, Sodium Hyaluronate, Garcinia Indica (Kokum) Seed Butter, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Lecithin, Trehalose, Phytantriol, Propylene Glycol Dicaprylate, Peg-100 Stearate, Butylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Dimethicone, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Fragrance, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Dehydroacetate.

Estée Lauder ‘Nutritious’ Vita-Mineral Radiance Serum Ingredients:
Water, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Peg-75, Glycereth-26, Peg-8 Dimethicone, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment Extract, Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein, Passiflora Alata (Passionfruit) Fruit Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul’s Wort) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Saccharomyces/Magnesium Ferment Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Juice, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Sodium Hyaluronate, Centella Asiatica (Hydrocotyl) Extract, Saccharomyces/Calcium Ferment Extract, Creatine, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Dimethicone, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Calluna Vulgaris (Heather) Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Oleth-3, Ethylhexylglycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Oleth-5, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sucrose, Caffeine, Polysilicone-11, Glycerin, Pantethine, Acetyl Carnitine Hcl, Acetyl Glucosamine, Phytantriol, Ppg-6 Decyltetradeceth-30, Fragrance, Peg/Ppg-20/20 Dimethicone, Adenosine Phosphate, Cyclodextrin, Potassium Carbomer, Carbomer, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Bht, Disodium Edta, Phenoxyethanol, Red 33, Yellow 5.

Beauty From Food

November 8th, 2010

We all know that applying antioxidants and other skin-beneficial ingredients is good for skin but absorption of these ingredients in skincare products is limited because of skin barriers. So another way to improve your skin is to eat skin nutrients. In general, these nutrients are not only good for skin but also great for overall health.

Vitamin C

(img:vitamin C)
Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis and associated with better skin appearance. Intake and topical application of vitamin C and vitamin E can both reduce sunburn reaction to UVB. Foods rich in vitamin C include (concentrations from high to low) red peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, papaya, strawberries, oranges, kale, lemons, cantaloupes, and cauliflower. Cooking can reduce the vitamin C content of vegetables by around 60%. Longer cooking times add to this effect even more. Since vitamin C dissolves into the cooking water, it is recommended to consume the cooking water instead of pouring it away.

Vitamin E

(img:vitamin E)
Vitamin E protects against free radical damage. Supplemental vitamin E reduces oxidative stress in the skin upon exposure to UV rays. Food resources of vitamin E include kiwifruit, avocado, egg, milk, nuts (such as almonds or hazelnuts), seeds, green leafy vegetables, and wholegrain foods.


Beta-carotene is important for skin maintenance and repair. Food resources include (concentrations from high to low) sweet potato, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, and collards. Unlike what is commonly believed, spinach limits absorption of calcium and iron and thus excessive intake of spinach is not recommended. Beta-carotene is a precursor (inactive form) to vitamin A. Too much vitamin A in retinoid form can be harmful or fatal while high levels of carotene are not toxic. The livers of certain animals, especially those adapted to polar environments, often contain amounts of vitamin A that would be toxic to humans.


Biotin is also called vitamin H (the H represents “Haar und Haut”, German words for “hair and skin”) or vitamin B7. Even a mild Biotin deficiency can cause itchy or scaly skin, or even hair loss. Biotin is consumed from a wide range of food sources in the diet although there are few particularly rich sources. Food sources (from the richest to the least rich) include Swiss chard, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, carrots, almonds, egg yolk, onions, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, milk, rasberries, strawberries, halibut, oats and walnuts.


Lycopene provides protection against erythema formation following UV irradiation. You can get lycopene from tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit, among which watermelon has high glycemic index and thus is not a good source. Unlike vitamin C, which is diminished upon cooking, lycopene is more bioavailable after tomatoes are cooked. Serving in oil-rich dishes also helps with lycopene absorption.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

(img:lutein and zeaxanthin)
Lutein and zeaxanthin can decrease UV damage and increase skin hydration and elasticity. Food resources include kale, spinach, garden peas, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, Pistachio nuts, broccoli, corn, kiwifruit, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, collard greens, Swiss chard and egg.


Astaxanthin improves skin elasticity and moisture content, and reduces finelines. You can get astaxanthin from cold-water shrimps, salmon, trout, and crawfish (shrimps are generally high in cholesterol).


CoQ10 is necessary for metabolism, improves skin properties and reduces wrinkle grade. CoQ10 is naturally present in small amounts in a variety of foods but is particularly high in organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney, as well as sardines, mackerel, soy oil, beef, and peanuts.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

(img:omega 3)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids reduce skin inflammation. Fish sources (concentrations from high to low) are salmon, swordfish, tilefish, shark, halibut, flounder and pollock. Common botanical sources are flaxseeds and walnuts. Flaxseed oil is six times richer than most fish oils in omega-3 fatty acids. The catch is that its omega-3 fatty acids are not the ones directly used by the human body and require some sort of conversion. The conversion rate is about 5%. To avoid possible risks, do not consume more than 3 grams omega-3 fatty acids per day.

Green Tea Polyphenols

(img:green tea)
Polyphenols protect against free radical damage. Green tea high in polyphenols can prevent finelines, telangiectasias and solar damage.


Resveratrol provides solar protection and skin hydration. Sources are red wine, red grape juice, red grapes, and cocoa. Red wine does not have a lot of sugar like red grapes and it has been shown that moderate consumption of alcohol is good for health.


Zinc is associated with many important enzymes for skin healing. In the U.S., the Recommended Dietary Allowance is 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men. Food sources are oysters (and other shellfish such as clams and mussels), wheat germ, veal liver, sesame, beef, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, cocoa, lamb, and peanuts (liver is high in cholesterol).


Copper is important for elastin, the support structure for skin. Liver, oysters (and other shellfish such as clams and mussels), sesame, cocoa, nuts, squid, lobster, sunflower seeds, sun dried tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds are rich in copper.


Selenium is a component of an antioxidant enzyme and has significant protection against UV-induced cell damage. Foods rich in selenium are Brazil nuts (caution: high in saturated fat), shellfish (such as oysters, mussels and whelk), liver, fish (such as orange roughy, swordfish, herring, and tilefish), sunflower seeds, bran, caviar (high in cholesterol), pork, lobster, crab and shrimp.

Generally, toxic levels of vitamins or minerals are achieved through high supplement intake or large intake of highly fortified foods. Dietary sources are unlikely to cause overdose.

Zoe Diana Draelos, Cosmetic Dermatology: Products and Procedures.
Photo Credits

MyHabit: Private Fashion Sale Site By Amazon

June 23rd, 2011

MyHabit, a private fashion sale site, was launched by Amazon last month. I am generally a Gilt person. There are so many private fashion sale sites today but I am still loyal to Gilt because of their aesthetic taste. MyHabit, on the other hand, was launched by Amazon! Who can neglect Amazon‘s power? So I tried MyHabit using my Amazon login credentials. It is not bad. The pictures are not as fancy as the ones from Gilt but very clean. They provide videos and zoom-in as well. Plus shipping and returns are free. I have not purchased anything from MyHabit yet but I decide to follow it for a while. If their inventory and price are competitive, MyHabit is going to become my new daily habit.
(img:MyHabit private fashion sale)

10 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

February 28th, 2011

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Charming Tails My Daughter, My Love Mother-Daughter Figurine by The Hamilton Collection acclaims artist Dean Griffs’ Charming Tails mouse and ladybug characters in a celebration of the special bond between mothers and daughters.

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Diabetic Mother’s Day Gift Basket Giving Mom a gift basket is never a mistake while replacing it with a gift basket filled with healthy foods is better!

(img:Philosophy Grace)Philosophy Amazing Grace Gift Set is a nice gift for moms that love perfumed bath products. Don’t get this for your mom if she goes fragrance free.

(img:Olay ProX)Olay Professional Pro-X Anti-Aging Starter Kit Olay anti-aging products are loved by most women of an older age. This starter kit has 1oz Pro-X Age Repair Lotion with SPF 30, 1oz Pro-X Wrinkle Smoothing Cream, and .3oz Pro-X Eye Restoration Complex.

(img:Trainermat)Trainermat Women’s Yoga Mat has 28 physician certified yoga poses printed right on the mat. The mat is eco-friendly with a light weight thick cushion design. The gym I go to has some and I enjoy them a lot!

(img:robotic vacuums)A Robotic Vacuum is a useful gift to help with housework for your mom. How thoughtful!

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Two’s Company Bee Happy Dancing Solar Flower uses solar power from light to cause the flower and its leaves to move. Extremely cute! And no pollen :).

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Blank Journals with Gorgeous Covers Give your mom a blank journal with an artist-created cover. She can write anything in it.

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Bonsai Boy’s Juniper Bonsai Tree Who does not like bonsai?

(img:Mother's Day Gifts)Jewelry It is always nice for a woman to have one more piece of jewelry.

New Proactiv Acne System Review

June 10th, 2010

I have received a lot of requests about New Proactiv 3-Step System. It is not surprising because you probably see the advertisements for New Proactiv everywhere. So I am going to review the New Proactiv 3-Step System.
<img alt=”(img:New Proactiv)” style=”width:100px;” src=”http://www.proactiv.com/img/order/select3G/pa3step.png”/>

The #1 question about New Proactiv is how it is different from Original Proactiv. In fact, New Proactiv and Original Proactiv have the same formula. The only difference is that New Proactiv has smaller benzoyl peroxide beads. That is why Proactiv claims that New Proactiv is faster and gentler. Proactiv Revitalizing Toner is unchanged.

Is New Proacitiv better? Yes. Intuitively smaller benzoyl peroxide beads are gentler and penetrate better but Proactiv does not show any experimental proofs.

Is Proactiv 3-Step System overall a good formula? Yes. The essence of Proactiv is the use of benzoyl peroxide, which is commonly agreed to treat acne most effectively. The good thing about Proactiv is that it omits irritants that often show up in acne treatments. In addition, Proactiv Revitalizing Toner is an AHA (glycolic acid) toner, which helps exfoliate and normalize the skin. But Proactiv is not unique, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid treatments are widely available nowadays. Proactiv claims that Proactiv benzoyl peroxide is prescription grade. As far as I know, the only difference between prescribed benzoyl peroxide treatments and over-the-counter ones is the percentage of benzoyl peroxide allowed. All the Proactiv 3-Step System products include fragrance. I know that these products would smell bad without fragrance. But skin with acne is sensitive and it will be even better if they can omit the fragrance.

Finally, it is extremely important to use sunscreen when you use Proactiv 3-Step System. Preferably, you should use “mineral” sunscreen with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide, or sunscreens formulated for sensitive skin.

Proactiv 3-Step System ingredients:

Active Ingredient: Benzoyl Peroxide, 2.5%
Inactive Ingredients: water (aqua), magnesium aluminum silicate, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, sorbitol, dimethyl isosorbide, disodium PEG-12 dimethicone sulfosuccinate, tridecyl stearate, neopentyl glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate, polyethylene, cetyl esters, anthemis nobilis flower extract, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, xanthan gum, tridecyl trimellitate, propylene glycol, Imidazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance (parfum)

Ingredients: water (aqua), glycolic acid, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) extract, anthemis nobilis flower extract, rosa canina fruit extract, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, sodium PCA, panthenol, glycerin, propylene glycol, allantoin, polysorbate 20, hydroxyethylcellulose, sodium hydroxide, benzophenone-4, tetrasodium EDTA, imidazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance (parfum), blue 1 (CI 42090), yellow 5 (CI 19140)

Active Ingredients: Benzoyl Peroxide, 2.5%
Inactive Ingredients: water (aqua), ethoxydiglycol, cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cetearyl alcohol, propylene glycol, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, panthenol, allantoin, xanthan gum, ceteareth-20, carbomer, triethanolamine, diazolidinyl urea, methylparaben, propylparaben, fragrance (parfum)

10 Best AHA Exfoliation Products (2009)

December 8th, 2009

Please read Exfoliation – AHA and BHA for information on why you need exfoliation, what are AHA and BHA, how to use AHA and BHA, side effects of AHA and BHA, and what to do if you cannot tolerate AHA. You can also find the effective pH range at different AHA concentrations in Most Effective AHA Concentrations and pH.

(img: Alpha Hydrox)Alpha Hydrox has several affordable and good AHA exfoliation products.

(img: DDF)DDF Glycolic 10% Exfoliating Moisturizer contains 10% glycolic acid with pH 3.6. Fragrance free. For normal to dry skin.

(img: DHC)DHC Renewing AHA Cream contains 10% lactic acid with pH 3.8. It also contains olive oil. Fragrance free. For normal to dry skin.

(img: Murad)Murad APS Night Reform Treatment contains 10% glycolic acid with pH 3.5. It also has several antioxidants and anti-irritants. Fragrance free. For all skin types.

(img: Murad)Murad Intensive Wrinkle Reducer For Eyes contains about 5% glycolic acid with pH 4. Generally, I do not recommend AHA products with this low percentage of glycolic acid with such a high pH but this milder version is more suitable for delicate eye areas. It also has several antioxidants and is fragrance free.

(img: Obagi)OBAGI NU-DERM Exfoderm Forte, AM is a simple AHA exfoliation product containing 6% glycolic acid and 4% lactic acid with pH about 3.2 – 3.5. Fragrance free. For normal to dry skin not prone to blemishes.

(img: Peter Thomas Roth)Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Hydrating Gel contains 10% glycolic acid with pH 3.6. It also has aloe, vitamin E, retinyl palmitate, and vitamin C. Fragrance free. For all skin types.

(img: Peter Thomas Roth)Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% Moisturizer contains 10% glycolic acid with pH 3.8. It also has aloe, vitamin E, and retinyl palmitate. Fragrance free. For normal to dry skin.

(img: Philosophy)Philosophy the Afterglow Oil-Free Smoothing Gel has a very simple formula with pH 3.5. The percentage of lactic acid is unknown but I still recommend it because lactic acid is right after water on the ingredient list. Fragrance free. For all skin types.

3 Best Products with both AHA and BHA

December 10th, 2009

Please read Exfoliation – AHA and BHA for information on why you need exfoliation, what are AHA and BHA, how to use AHA and BHA, side effects of AHA and BHA, and what to do if you cannot tolerate AHA. You can also find the effective pH range at different AHA concentrations in Most Effective AHA Concentrations and pH.

(img: Dermalogica)Dermalogica Skin Renewal Booster contains 10% lactic acid and 0.5% salicylic acid with pH 3.6. It is worth of mentioning that its base is aloe instead of water. It also contains retinol. For all skin types but very oily. It contains a tiny amount of extracts of lemon and bitter orange flower so be very careful if you have overly sensitive skin.

(img: Jan Marini)Jan Marini Bioglycolic Bioclear Lotion contains 2% salicylic acid, and about 8% glycolic acid with pH 3. Fragrance free and paraben free. For all skin types. This concentration and pH makes it a very effective exfoliant so start from low frequency.

(img: M.D. Formulations)MD Formulations Vit-A-Plus Night Recovery contains 8% glycolic compound (ammunium glycolate and glycolic acid) and 2% salicylic acid with pH 4. In addition, it has 1% vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Fragrance free. For all skin types.

At Home Hair Treatment Products That Will Change Your Hair

February 6th, 2011

You know you do not have to go to a salon to get an intensive hair treatment and spend more than 100 dollars. These at home hair treatment products will make you feel like you are just walking out of the salon.

(img:ApHOGEE)ApHOGEE Two-step Treatment Protein for Damaged Hair rebuilds hair structure for 6 Weeks with its hydrolyzed protein and some magnesium compounds. Protein is a key factor for the health of your hair. So in stead of using silicones to detangle your hair like most other hair conditioning products nowadays, this product really tries to rebuild your hair. It does not smell good but who cares – you only need it every 4-6 weeks. Use ApHOGEE Balancing Moisturizer to restore hair suppleness after each treatment.

(img:Nexxus)Nexxus Emergencee Strengthening Polymeric Reconstructor reinforces hair for 2 weeks. It has amino acids and hydrolyzed elastin, both of which are good for your hair in the long run.

There are a lot of other good and effective hair treatments that I am not mentioning here because they are more or less the same. Their major ingredients to smooth and protect your hair are usually different types of silicones. And other exotic and “nice” ingredients are often in lesser amounts, playing “supportive roles”. Unlike what some people believe, silicones do not hurt your hair so those products are OK to use. But I think the above two products are even better.

NOW Foods – Pure Natural Oils

February 5th, 2011

You guys probably know this brand – NOW Foods. But I actually discovered their pure natural oils and butter only recently because I am generally not a big fan of natural products. There are too many so-called natural skin care products with formulations that are not good for your skin.

These NOW Foods products, on the other hand, are pure natural oils and butter so you choose what you want to use. They have 100 percent pure grape seed oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, glycerin, and so on. Except that the cocoa butter is super hard at room temperature (you need to warm it up), other oils and butter can be readily used on skin or hair.

(img:NOW Foods)

As I said before, chemicals such as parabens are safe to use in the amounts shown in cosmetics but the potential problem lies in the fact that women tend to apply several layers of cosmetic products on their skin every day. Given that truth, it is not a bad idea to reduce these chemicals somewhat and use some pure oils and butter from NOW®.

3 Best Eye Creams with SPF

November 29th, 2010

There are not many eye creams with SPF. Eye creams with SPF tend to irritate the eyes. The following ones won’t. These eye creams will protect and benefit your delicate eye areas. Of course, using eye creams is not a must so you can simply use sunscreens for sensitive skin if you prefer. From my experience, those are actually less likely to crease.

(img: Clarins Sun Eye Contour Care Ultra Protection SPF 30)Clarins Sun Eye Contour Care Ultra Protection SPF 30, Wrinkle Control has titanium dioxide as its only sunscreen ingredient, which does not irritate the eyes. Clarins skin-care products are known to have a lot of fragrance, as is expected from a French line :). But surprisingly this eye cream is fragrance free, which is just right for the skin around the eyes. Clarins claims that this eye cream contains Phyto-Sunactyl 2 Complex (extracts of Senna, Olive, Pea, Plane Tree and Baobab). The amounts of these extracts are not impressive. Nevertheless, the sun protection this eye cream provides is beneficial.

(img: Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28)Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28 has about 7.5% octinoxate and about 5% titanium dioxide as its sunscreen ingredients. Octinoxate is not a “mineral” sunscreen but it does not string eyes. Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28 includes some silicones, which help the sunscreens spread. It contains small amounts of good-for-skin ingredients such as black currant seed oil, vitamin E and caffeine. It also has compounds of magnesium, zinc and copper, which may be anti-inflammatory and help build collagen, but the concentrations are very low. This eye cream sunscreen is fragrance free. Please find the full ingredient list and explanations of Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28 at the end of this post.

(img: Zia Men's DualProtection Eye Crème SPF 15)Zia Men’s DualProtection Eye Crème SPF 15 has 5% octinoxate (the name Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate is used on the package) and 4.7% zinc oxide. It is fragrance and paraben free. It contains some soothing extracts and smaller amount of vitamin E and peptides. The formula is suitable for women too although the bottle looks manly. The only consideration for women is that women’s eye cream is usually designed to work well with eye makeup while men’s eye cream does not have to. So I would recommend this to anyone (men or women) with minimal makeup.

Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Eye SPF 28 Ingredients: Active ingredients: Octinoxate (about 7.5%), Titanium Dioxide (about 5%); Other ingredients: Water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate (emollient often used in sunscreens), Isononyl Isononanoate (skin-conditioning ester), Nylon-12 (absorbent), Cyclopentasiloxane (silicone), Glycerin (moisturizer), Propylene Glycol (humidifying solvent), Methylsilanol/silicate crosspolymer (emulsifier), Polymethylsilsesquioxane (polymer formed from silicone, which can function as a slip agent), Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone (silicone), PEG-30 dipolyhydroxystearate (emulsifier), Synthetic wax (emollient), Polyglyceryl-4 isostearate (emulsifier), Dimethicone (silicone), Caprylic/capric triglyceride (extract derived from coconut, emollient), Sodium chloride (binding agent), Ribes nigrum (black currant) seed oil (may promote healthy skin growth), Mica (pigment), Tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), Stearalkonium hectorite (suspending agent), Caffeine (antioxidant), Magnesium sulfate (emulsifier), Magnesium aspartate (generally in supplement, no special effects found on skin), Polyhydroxystearic acid (suspending agent), Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil (emollient oil), Polycaprolactone (emollient), Dimethiconol (silicone), Panthenol (moisturizer), Zinc gluconate (anti-inflammatory), Propylene carbonate (solvent), Copper gluconate (may help skin build collagen), Moringa pterygosperma seed extract (emollient), Disodium EDTA (preservative), Castanea sativa (chestnut) seed extract (astringent and drying), Rosa canina fruit oil (rose hip oil, emollient oil that has antioxidant properties), Cetearyl Alcohol (emollient, emulsifier and thickener, can be comedogenic), Potassium cetyl phosphate (surfactant), Aluminum tristearate (thickener and stabilizer), Alumina (thickener and absorbent), Diazolidinyl urea (preservative), Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Ethylparaben (preservative), Methylparaben (preservative).

Cheaper Alternatives of the Star Products I – SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0

April 17th, 2010

Some skin care products are very good but their prices prevent consumers from using them every day. If this problem ever comes to you, you might find it helpful to know some cheaper alternatives of the star products. Not all of these cheaper skin care products perform exactly the same as their counterparts. Some of them might work less well for you while others might work even better. In any case, they are cheaper and the choice is always yours.

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 is a retinol product. Its price is $58 for 30 ml (about 1 oz).

Cheaper alternative: Cellbone Retinol 1.0 anti-wrinkle moisturizer is $68 for 2 oz. Right now, it is half price, which is $34 for 2 oz ($17 for 1 oz).

Comparison: They both have 1% retinol, the highest concentration available for over-the-counter skin care products. There are plenty of researches that demonstrate the effectiveness of retinol to improve photoaged skin, as I described in Retinoids: True Anti-Aging Skin Care.

Other than retinol, SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 contains ceramides and cholesterol, which mimic skin’s natural lipid structure. Ceramides and cholesterol are relatively well researched. They help restore the skin’s barrier system. Cellbone Retinol 1.0 anti-wrinkle moisturizer, on the other hand, has some very promising but less researched ingredients, such as tripeptide and Inca Inchi oil. Their functions on skin are not well demonstrated. Tripeptide (SYN® – AKE) contained in Cellbone Retinol 1.0 anti-wrinkle moisturizer is generally marketed for its ability to reduce wrinkles by inhibiting muscle contractions. Discussed in Bioactive peptides: signaling the future, Tripeptide (SYN® – AKE) inhibits muscle contractions by acting against certain receptor. You can find more discussion about Tripeptide (SYN® – AKE) on EDS Skin Care Forum. Inca Inchi oil has high percentage of unsaturated oils and is rich in amino acids. Unsaturated oils moisturize the skin. The amino acids can help collagen production.

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 is suitable for all skin types except very oily. Cellbone Retinol 1.0 anti-wrinkle moisturizer is good for normal to dry skin and even very dry skin. SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 has Hypericum perforatum extract, aka St John’s wort, anti-inflammatory to skin. Topical application of St John’s wort does increase photosensitivity of the skin. But since people use retinol products only at night, it is generally not a problem.

Note: Since some of the Cellbone skin care products have high concentrations of vitamin C, retinol, AHA or BHA, be prepared for the irritation. Start with a small amount and low frequency. And don’t forget your gentle sunscreen during the day.

Cheaper Alternatives of the Star Products II – SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic

April 19th, 2010

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic is a vitamin C + E skin care product that is proved to provide antioxidant protection. I highly recommend this product. Its price is $142.00 for 30 ml (about 1 oz).

Cheaper alternative: Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum is an antioxidant treatment with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), 0.5% Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E), and 0.5% Idebenone (a synthetic analog of Coenzyme Q10, which is a potent antioxidant). The price of this product is $68 for 1 oz.

Comparison: First, I like both of the companies. They both post concrete information about their products on their websites — absolutely no Mumble Jumble descriptions. Second, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic has a slight advantage over Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum in terms of stability and synergistic enhancement of vitamins C and E. Third, Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum has one more potent antioxidant added.

These two products both have 15% L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), which prevents photo damage, increases collagen production, and reduces pigmentation. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic contains 1% Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E) while Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum contains 0.5% Alpha Tocopherol (Vitamin E). This difference means that SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic provides more benefits from the synergistic effects of vitamins C and E because these two vitamins work better together. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic also has Ferulic Acid, which stablizes vitamins C and E and enhances their conjunct benefits. Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum does not have Ferulic Acid but it has a potent antioxidant Idebenone, which is proved to have higher antioxidant protection than common antioxidants, such as certain forms of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and Coenzyme Q10.

All the Cellbone vitamin C products have Menthol to cool down the skin since Vitamin C tends to sting the skin for a while after you apply it. Menthol is not beneficial to skin. As I said in A Complete List of Skin Irritants and Allergens, menthol exerts an irritant action to the skin in concentrations of 3% or more. Cellbone vitamin C products contain 0.05% of menthol so you don’t have to worry about menthol in these products.

You need to store both products in a cool, dark place because of the high concentrations of antioxidants these products contain. This is especially true for Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum since it is generally considered less stable than SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. You can find more discussion about the comparison of SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic and Cellbone C15ie Advanced C-Serum on FurtureDerm.com and EDS Skin Care Forum.

Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+ Review

May 12th, 2010

This must be a “Shake-Shake” summer for the L’Oréal Group. Another “shake then apply” sunscreen product, Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+, is promoted by Kiehl’s — right after SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense Spf 50. SkinCeuticals and Kiehl’s are both brands of the L’Oréal Group. My opinion on Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+ is “Not recommended for daily use”.

What is good about Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+? It is light, sheer, oil-free and fragrance-free. The photo-instable avobenzone is stabilized and provides UVA protection. But these virtues do not qualify this sunscreen for daily use, sensitive skin or the price ($32 / 1.7 fl.Oz).

First, the active ingredients of this sunscreen include oxybenzone. I know that oxybenzone is still widely used in sunscreen products, but as I explained in Oxybenzone – Bad Sunscreen Ingredient, I would not recommend sunscreen products containing oxybenzone any more. Oxybenzone is most known for its ability to permeate into the body and its photoallergic reactions. If you use sunscreen products containing oxybenzone only occasionally, you probably will not experience any uncomfortableness. But if you use sunscreen products 365 days per year and year after year, then you will feel that oxybenzone is more and more intolerable. If you do not care whether a sunscreen product has oxybenzone or not, you can simply buy sunscreens from Neutrogena, Banana Boat, or Hawaiian Tropic for a fraction of the price of Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+.

Second, the inactive ingredients of this sunscreen include alcohol denat., which is not suitable for long-term use either. On the package of Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+, there is “Dermatologist-Tested for Sensitive Skin” but I have to say that this sunscreen is particularly NOT for sensitive skin. According to an FDA report, consumers should be aware of such terms as “hypoallergic”, “dermatologist-tested”, “sensitivity tested”, “allergy tested” or “nonirritating” because they are NOT regulated and carry NO guarantee.

Third, Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+ does not include any antioxidants or other skin beneficial ingredients. Inclusion of these ingredients is not necessary for sunscreen products but a plus. For this price, a customer deserves a better product.

Kiehl’s Dermatologist Solutions Super Fluid UV Defense Spf 50+ ingredients:

Active ingredients:
Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 15%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 5%, Oxybenzone 6%.

Inactive ingredients:
Water, cyclopentasiloxane, alcohol denat., silica, dicaprylylether, styrene/acrylates copolamer, PEG-30 dipolyhydroxystearate, dimethicone, cyclohexasloxane, polymethylsilsesquioxane, nylon-12, dicaprylyl carbonate, phenoxyethanol, lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 methicone, sodium chloride, caprylyl glycol, methylparaben, poly c 10-30 akylacrylate, disteardmonium hectorite, disodium EDTA, dodecene, poloxamer 407.

Johnson and Johnson New Skin Care Products 2010

April 26th, 2010

Johnson & Johnson launched new products based on completely new technologies 2010 for three of their brands. They are Aveeno Active Naturals Ageless Vitality Elasticity Recharging System, Neutrogena Clinical, and RoC Brilliance. The technology behind these new products is a two-part system containing ion-mineral conductors that, when activated by the companion moisturizer, create a positive electric micro-current on the skin, which, supposedly, promotes collagen and elastin levels.

It is quite complicated to present the whole idea behind this new technology. In short, (1) this concept is biologically plausible; (2) there is no independent research supporting it; (3) company sponsored researches have been presented in annual meetings of the American Academy of Dermatology, which showed impressive results demonstrating its effectiveness.

I, myself, saw these new products in a drug store some time ago. As usual, I looked at the ingredients directly. I did not find anything special so my arrogance carried me away and I concluded these products were just new hypes. Later on, I read that there was actually a whole new technology behind these products. This time, I did not dare to ignore them and spent the past weekend doing my homework about this new concept.

Human body is a bio-electrical system, including the skin. The concept of “skin battery” has been dated back to the 1980s [1][2]. Since then, there have been a lot of researches on electrical stimulation, mainly for the treatment of skin wounds. In 2007 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, a research sponsored by Obagi demonstrated the effectiveness of a bi-mineral complex in improving photo-aged skin. They believe that some coordination minerals, such as copper and zinc, can thicken skin, improve elasticity, and increase the subcutaneous fat layer. I am surprised that Obagi did not patent this big finding (they did have some products called ELASTIderm containing Zinc Carbonate). The health products giant, Johnson & Johnson, instead, has worked over 2.5 years, evaluating this technology on more than 1,000 individuals/subjects in clinical and safety studies. And now they hold 10 U.S. patents active until 2023 and has multiple U.S. and international applications pending!

In 2010 annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Johnson & Johnson presented the effectiveness of their bi-mineral complex in anti-inflammatory activity, extracellular matrix production in human skin explants, improvement of pigmentation, photo-aging and improvement of skin laxity. They got so much attention! Apparently, products based on this new technology have a strength in terms of skin tolerance. This means that it can be used for eyelids and skin around the eye area. Considering retinoids and AHA products often have a label “Avoid Eye Area”, these new products are very promising. The following links are what other people have commented on them: