Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Skin Care 101

 Making the right selection of skincare products can be like navigating a country you've never visited without speaking the language: tricky at best.  Just like diets, there always seems to be a new trend, must-have ingredient, and the most ludicrous treatments.  You could easily spend a few house payments worth of money on the latest lotions, potions, serums, and devices.  Here are a few ingredients, with a description of what they do and why they're beneficial.  This list is by no means exclusive to any one particular brand.  Furthermore, I've left out many other powerful, positive ingredients in the industry to keep from sounding boring or long winded.  They're absence is by no means a reflection of their importance or benefits. 

  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids, commonly derived from citrus and tropical fruits, aide in exfoliating the skin by helping remove dead skin cells from the surface. Using products with Alpha Hydroxy fruit acids helps give skin a brighter, younger appearance.
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a powerful antioxidant that minimizes skin's surface imperfections such as fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores, while encouraging healthy cellular function and increasing radiance.
  • Apricot / Apricot Oil - naturally nourishing, protecting, and soothing because of their strong presence of essential fatty acids like Oleic and Linoleic, coupled with natural vitamins and minerals, like A and E.  Ground apricot seeds make a wonderful physical exfoliant, as well.  Papaya extracts and seeds provide similar benefits. 
  • Avobenzone (trade names Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020, Escalol 517) - is a chemically derived ingredient that absorbs the full spectrum of UVA rays. (remember, UVA stands for Ulta Violet AGING, and UVB stands for Ulta Violet BURNING - both of which are never en vogue!)
  • Camphor is prized for its cooling, soothing properties, especially good for irritated and/or sensitive skins.  Contains a natural antiseptic, which makes for incredibly pure, flawless looking skin.  Just as camphor calms, so too does the cool cucumber, with the added benefit of reducing puffiness.  Also delivers a small amount of natural acids, leaving skin looking fresh, renewed, and youthful.  
  • Coffee doesn't just fuel your morning routine - it also jump starts your skin, leaving a more youthful radiance.  Natural antioxidants arm the skin against natural aggressors and stressors, from fog and smog to pollution and dehydration.
  •  Glucosamine - According to the American Academy of Dermatology, a recent study shows that glucosamine could prove to be an effective topical treatment to reverse the effects of skin cells damaged by UV exposure. Additionally, glucosamine acts as an agent in skincare that basically unlocks the glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface of our skin. 
  • I absolutely love how Jojoba Oil smells - so calming and relaxing.  This oil is naturally nourishing, providing the perfect amount of moisture for all skin types.  An added benefit - Jojoba oil won't clog your pores, leaving skin to breathe a sigh of moisturizing relief!  
  • lavender - calms and purifies the skin. 
  • menthol and spearmint - both stimulate the skin and awaken your senses.
  • mica - reflects light and gives a "shimmer" effect  
  • Mimosa (the evergreen tree bark, not the drink!) is prized for aiding in the production of collagen, known for reducing the breakdown and deterioration of existing collagen, and ultimately producing a more youthful, healthier skin.  
  • Olive, whether from the fruit or the leaf, brings loads of antioxidants that deeply nourish all skin types.  Also known for delivering anti-aging properties that you'll actually see. One additional plug for olive - it's good for all skin types, including sensitive skin or recovering from burns or procedures.  
  • orange, lemon, grapefruit, or any other citrus - naturally acidic, these essential oils will provide a gentle, chemical exfoliation to the skin, leaving brighter, more radiant looking skin.  The fragrance is naturally uplifting, prized for aromatherapy and increased positivism. 
  • sea harricots, oceanic flora, Rose of Jericho, Trehalose - powerful, natural ingredients that support, encourage, and sustain skin hydration on a cellular level.   The Rose of Jericho is known as the "resurrection plant", as it can magically "come back to life" after years of dormancy and neglect with just a drop of water, light, and attention. 
  • shea butter - from the shea tree's nuts, this is an ingredient prized for it's hydration and anti-aging properties. Naturally water resistant, products with shea butter are known to be deeply moisturizing and long-lasting. I look for any treatments designed for the hands to contain shea butter, especially good if you frequently wash your hands. A similar ingredient is the Hawaiian native kukui butter. 
  • sea salts - purify the skin and make for a wonderful physical exfoliant.  
  • silver tip white tea - nearly 15 years ago, I worked for a wonderful skincare company that released a product range centered around this INCREDIBLE ingredient.  I don't mean to sound pitchy or like I'm trying to sell something to you, so I won't mention who the company was.  I think after 15 years of using a product, I'm able to give an unbiased review - and I've seen such positive, undeniable results.  All the rage was for "green tea" - but silver tip white tea blows it out of the water.  Jam packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it naturally prevents dehydration, deterioration, and oxidation, leaving skin fresh, and forever young.  It literally stops the clock on aging.  Free radicals are prevented from doing damage. 
  • sugars - soften the skin and also slough away dead skin cells.  
  • Titanium Dioxide - a key ingredient in sun protection, it's one of the only natural sun blocks, actually causing the sun's harmful rays to literally bounce off your skin. Because of this, it is a major component of sun blocks and sun screens, because it deters the absorption of ultraviolet or UV rays. The concentration of titanium dioxide determines the product’s Sun Protection Factor, or SPF.
  • Vitamin C is ideal for repairing the effects of sun damage, and will naturally restore smoothness, brightness and luminosity, while visibly firming skin. 

We're taught to read food labels, but often overlook labels on our skincare and cosmetics. Navigating the label and product packing can be tricky, to say the least. Follow these steps to learn exactly what you're putting onto your skin.

1. PRODUCT IDENTITY: statement of what the product is.

2. NET CONTENTS: the amount of product in the package. The “” following the volume declaration is a guarantee that the product has been filled in accordance with the average system of measures used in the European Union (EU).

3. PRODUCT INGREDIENTS: lists all ingredients used in the formula in descending order of concentration. This is especially important for those people who are seeking a specific ingredient or want to avoid one. In addition, the ingredient listing now includes the various components of a fragrance ingredient previously not listed and therefore may be longer. This is important information for that small percentage of the population who may be sensitive to certain components of fragrances.

4. DIRECTIONS FOR USE: informs you of how, when and where to use the product.

5. NAME/LOCATION OF MANUFACTURER OR DISTRIBUTOR: informs you who made the product and where the manufacturer or distributor is located. The London address and Post Code is underlined to indicate the main contact office in the EU. Product inquiries can be sent to this address.

6. COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: the country that manufactures or produces the product.
7. tells you the recommended number of months within which the product should be used after you have first opened and used it, provided the product has been stored under normal conditions and not exposed to extreme temperatures. For example (24M) means that you should replace this product within (24 months) after first opening. The “Period After Opening” number will vary based upon the type of cosmetic product.

8. denotes that the company contributes to European programs for the proper disposal and recycling of all packing components.

9. WARNINGS/CAUTIONS: informs you what to do and not do with the product.

10. tells you to look elsewhere in the packaging for additional information, for example in a leaflet, card or tag.

When you know what you're looking for, you can make informed decisions with ease.  Don't be afraid to ask for samples and professional opinions.  Just remember, associates in a commission based environment may sell you items you don't necessarily need.  When in doubt, consult your dermatologist.  What skincare products, tips, tools, and tricks are you loving?

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