Beauty 101

Four totally unrelated (and surprising facts) about the skin
Four totally unrelated (and surprising facts) about the skin

(1) The skin surface is not flat. It contains about 5 million apertures such as hair follicles and sweat and sebaceous glands (also known as skin appendages). Why is this important? Well, these structures cr...

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Slugging
Slugging

Do I slug? Yes! I had done it and I loved it, but before you jump into this, there are a couple of things to consider about your own skin and environment. Let’s start with definitions: What is slugging or slug life? It is a fancy new name for something that our grandmothers and women before them had done for many years: slathering their faces at night with a heavy occlusive moisturizer. You have probably seen this in old movies as they show women going to bed wearing hair rollers, white faces (slugging) and two cucumber slices over their eyes (talking about a good night of sleep with all that parafernalia on!).

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Vitamin D deficiency and hair loss
Vitamin D deficiency and hair loss

Around 70% of the world population is deficient in vitamin D and guess what: low levels of vitamin D are linked to hair loss.  Vitamin D 101: Vitamin D is fat soluble and it is produced by keratinocytes (KC) in a UVB-light dependent manner. It also comes from our diet. Vitamin D acts as anti-inflammatory and maintains serum calcium and phosphorus levels. Vitamin D modulates the immune response. There are approximately 2,000 genes under the control of vitamin D (5% of our genome). Vitamin D and hair growth, what do we know?

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Bakuchiol:  As good as retinol?
Bakuchiol: As good as retinol?

BAKUCHIOL also known as (1E,3S)-3-ethenyl-3,7-dimethyl-1,6-octadien-1-yl]phenol) is a meroterpene phenol derived from Psoralea corylifolia. Bakuchiol is not a retinoid (vitamin A derivative), but due to some similar gene expression patterns (similar not identical), bakuchiol has been wrongly named the “plant derived (or vegan) retinol”. There is no evidence that bakuchiol interacts with retinoic acid receptors, which are responsible for the anti-aging benefits of vitamin A.

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7 Reasons why I do not like fragrances in skincare
7 Reasons why I do not like fragrances in skincare

Personally I do not use skincare products that contain fragrances neither I incorporate fragrances in the products I design. I am totally fine with products smelling like the raw ingredients (even when these do not smell like roses). These are my 7 reasons why I do not like fragrances in skincare:

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Does the pH of our skincare products matter?
Does the pH of our skincare products matter?

In 1928 Schade and Marchionini first coined the term Säuremantel or acid mantle, which described the inherent acidic nature of the stratum corneum (pH 4.3-5.3). SC pH is critical to preserve barrier function determining cohesion/ integrity and preserving the microbiota. It is logical to assume that skincare formulations should be acidic. Skin friendly pH formulations are especially important for subjects affected by skin diseases or for older individuals, as the skin surface pH becomes alkaline under these circumstances.

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Arbutin:  Which is natural, which is better? alpha, beta or deoxy?
Arbutin: Which is natural, which is better? alpha, beta or deoxy?

Arbutins are depigmenting molecules. Chemically, these molecules are glycosylated forms of hydroquinone (HQ). What does this mean? It means that arbutin is a HQ molecule with a sugar attached to a functional group. This group can be in alpha or beta position (chemistry 101) and therefore we have alpha and beta-arbutin. The naturally occurring arbutin or beta-arbutin is found on bearberry, mulberry, blueberry, cranberry, wheat, and some types of pears. Alpha-arbutin (AA) is a biosynthetic water soluble ingredient more stable and 10-20 times more powerful than beta-arbutin. Due to these characteristics (more stable and efficacious) AA has widely replaced beta-arbutin as the selected skin-lightening molecule in topical formulations. The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) suggested that AA in skincare products should be at a maximum concentration of 2% and 0.5% for face and body lotions, respectively. In the case of beta-arbutin the maximum suggested concentration for facial creams is about 7%.

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Olive oil and skincare:  Did we find he fountain of youth?
Olive oil and skincare: Did we find he fountain of youth?

Olive oil: better than botox? Is this extract from the fruits (olives) of Olea europaea trees the antiaging answer we have been looking for? Well let’s take a look at its composition, potential benefits and the difficulties of formulating with a natural plant derived oil.

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Tobacco Smoking:  An Unglamorous Way to Premature Aging
Tobacco Smoking: An Unglamorous Way to Premature Aging

In my book there are only two things that are bad for you no matter what: sun tanning and smoking. All the rest is about moderation and balance. Tobacco smoking is well known to be a factor for morbidity (basically is bad for you) and can take a huge toll on skin health.

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Outsmarting skin winter blues:
Outsmarting skin winter blues:

Skin Winter Blues are the result of three factors that are closely related to each other: cold weather and winds, dried air and external heaters. Let me explain a little bit further the mechanisms behind Skin Winter Blues. Cold weather activates our body survival response which is characterized by peripheral blood vessel constriction.

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Fingerprinting skincare ingredients
Fingerprinting skincare ingredients

Factors such as age, ethnicity, skin concerns (wrinkles, pigmentation, redness, dryness to mention some), level of skin damage (old skin vs. young skin, solar exposed skin vs. solar protected), dietary restrictions, lifestyle (outdoorsy or city living, active social life, etc.), environmental conditions (pollution, humid or dry weather) and overall health would determine if our skin can tolerate specific skincare ingredients. Tolerability (absence of skin discomfort and irritation) drives compliance and sets our skincare for success … after all there is beauty in repetition. Similarly, an irritation-causing skincare routine is a personal beauty saboteur. Chronic inflammation created by a mismatched skincare routine will continuously produce tissue destruction and cell damage preventing skin repair -- exactly the opposite of our aim!

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Thermal Aging
Thermal Aging

Melanocytes (melanin producing cells) become activated in response to skin injury. Persistent increases in temperature are major skin insults strongly stimulating uneven production of melanin or heat-induced melasma. Melanocyte activation also results in increase basal heat sensitivity as these cells form tight contact with cutaneous nerves. In addition, thermal stress activates epidermal TRPV1 receptors, triggering neuro-inflammation characterized by erythema, swelling, further temperature increase, tenderness, and pain.

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