Sunday, January 8, 2012

Skin Care - the good, the bad, and the ridiculous.

Yes, there is actually a face cream with a $10,00 price tag.  Is it the best thing you could possibly use on your face?  It's highly unlikely that ANYONE can pack enough actives into a 1oz jar that would justify that amount of money.  If the container was a jewel encrusted platinum vessel or each purchase included a specially trained monkey that applies the concoction for you, there may be cause to consider this option.  Alas, all you get is a jar of cream.

So how do you sift through the BS and get good stuff for a reasonable price?  That's the easy part.  Shop for your face products like you shop for your groceries - READ THE LABELS!  Sounds like a breeze but, you need to know what you are looking for - the good and the bad.  Cosmetic companies don't make it easy and loose government regulations for cosmetics give companys license to be shady.  Case in point - Parabens.  They have become the big, bad, boogieman of ingredients.  Most of this is based on a study were some scientist fed lab rats 5lbs of parabens over 2 years and they ended up getting cancer.  Conclusion - use parabens, get cancer.  What they don't tell you is 1) Domesticated rats live for about 2-3 years max and almost always die of tumors/cancer  2) Parabens are used as a preservative.  If you don't put a preservative in face creams, you would have little nasty things growing in there that are way more dangerous than parabens.  Even with all this swirl going on, major cosmeceutical lines still use them so.....are they really that scary or is it marketing mumbo jumbo?  Below is a list of THE GOOD (what you want to see on the label) and THE BAD (what you don't want to see).  Keep in mind, the placement on the ingredient list is important - the closer to the top, the higher the concentration.  This plays a role in pricing and efficacy.

hyaluronic    quite simply one of the best ingredients you can use on your skin.  Also known as sodium hyaluronate, this little wonder helps restore skin water levels (dehydrated skin lacks water - even oily skin can be dehydrated), heals and maintains the health of skin, and naturally plumps due to the fact is can hold 1,000 times its weight in water.  

vitamin c    plain old vitamin c, better known as L-ascorbic acid.  It helps with fine lines, discoloration, acne, and prevents free radical damage.  There are many types of Vitamin C....L-ascorbic is the one you want to use for the best results.

squalane    derived from olives and highly refined, this oil is almost identical to the sebum (oil) your skin produces.  It has anti-bacterial properties, is noncomedogenic (won't give you pimples), helps retain moisture (great for those long, cold winter months).  It can be used alone for those who want a 100% preservative free moisturizer.

So, there you have it.  3 ingredients you shouldn't be without.  Of course, there are others that help and enhance a product.  These are ACTIVES and they make a serum or cream do its "job".  Below is a list of performance ingredients that you may also want to look for and why.
      • salicylic - if you have oily skin and acne
      • argireline - (acetyl hexapeptide-3)  anti-wrinkle
      • arbutin - suppresses areas of discoloration
      • glycolic - refines skin surface for anti-aging
There are so many more and I could never list them all.  Do your research, pick the ones that are time tested, and once you find something you like/that works, STICK WITH IT.  Trust me when I tell you, until someone invents a radical new delivery system, topically applied skin care can only do so much. 
The bad is really bad.  There are ingredients that are useless but, harmless.  Thisis not what I am referring to.  There are ingredients used in cosmetics that are actually harmful to your skin.  Now, some of these are obvious like mercury, formaldehyde, and lead.  You would never think of buying a product with mercury on the label, right?  Well, that doesn't mean it's not in there.  Be wary of products manufactured in China and India.  If an ingredient is less than 1%, it doesn't HAVE to be listed in the ingredients as per the FDA guidelines.  Yes, I said 1%.  To be honest, you will never really know exactly whats in your bottle unless you send it out for advance micro testing. 

The ingredients that WILL show and you want to avoid are: hydroquinone (carcinogen), formaldeyhde (carcinogen), DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (these last 4 release formaldeyde in the body). 

You can look on the internet and find tons more but, just like the parabens - it's best to not take things on face value.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is on the no-no list however, there are varying grades and the lower the grade, the more irritating to the skin.  Do your homework! 

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