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articles & helpful hints
Acne 18 Remedies for Smoother Skin
Let's Talk Cosmetics: Dr. Fulton
Year-Round Sun Protection
ABCDs of Melanoma Detection
By Kathryn Khadija Leverette, on January 30th, 2010
A Guide to Lifestyle Issues That Affect the Skin
Updated 2009 Version by Kathryn Khadija Leverette
Reduce your stress. Do whatever it takes. Stress, the Number One acne aggravator, is caused by the wear and tear of day-to-day living and changes that take place in your life, both good and bad. Moving is comparable to the death of a child in its ability to cause extreme stress.
Sleep seven uninterrupted hours per night on a consistent basis. Night shift jobs, broken sleep, late night time management issues, insomnia, hormonal changes in mid-life, long plane trips and crossing time zones can cause severe physical stress, making it difficult to clear acne and lighten dark circles.
Non-toxic laundry products are FREE of perfumes and dyes: Cheer Free & Gentle, All Free & Clear, Tide Free, Tide 2xUltra Free, Tide “He” Free, Arm & Hammer Free of Perfumes/Dyes, Purex Free & Clear, ShopRite Ultra Free & Clear, Rite Aid Free, Seventh Generation Free & Clear, Safeway Select Free and Costco Kirkland Free & Clear Ultra. Bleach: Clorox for Colors Free & Clear. Avoid fabric softeners, including unscented sheets, because they leave a waxy residue that can clog pores and irritate skin. Instead, try dryer balls, which are chemical-free. Use 25% less detergent, and wash 25% less clothes at a time. If possible, run an extra rinse cycle. Imported designer jeans and scarves are sprayed with toxic fungicides, pesticides and formaldehyde, and must be washed multiple times before wearing to avoid body acne, skin infections, rashes and discoloration. Victoria Secret bras, shown to contain the carcinogen formaldehyde, have been linked to toxic skin reactions, even after they’ve been washed.
Avoid dietary iodine: Dairy products, milk in coffee beverages, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, soft drinks, salty snacks, fast foods, canned and packaged soups, ramen noodles, processed foods, tomato juice, V-8, seasoned salt, iodized salt and salty condiments, Gatorade, Propel, PowerAde and other high-sodium sports drinks (Vitamin Water is OK), soy sauce (try low sodium soy sauce), seaweed, Chinese food, certain Mexican foods (cheese, sour cream, refried beans and tortilla chips), nuts, processed meats (lunch and deli meat, bacon, franks, sausage) and condiments containing kelp, MSG and/or salt.
Peanuts and peanut butter contain high levels of progesterone, the PMS hormone. You can still enjoy other nuts, as long as they’re unsalted. Try almond and cashew butter. Some cold and flu medications contain sodium and bromide (Alka-Seltzer® and Bromo-Seltzer®) and can aggravate acne. Avoid kelp, high levels of sodium, iodine, seaweed and spirulina, found in many multi-vitamin formulations, green detox programs and nutritional supplements. Try GNC iodine-free Women’s Formula Multi, zinc picolinate and vitamin C to help reduce inflammation and speed healing, and B-complex to help fight stress (take with food). Can’t sleep? Try SleepMD®. Hormonal issues? Try Estrovan PM® or Estrovan Maximum Strength®.
Skip the dairy, especially cheese, milk, ice cream, sour cream and dairy-rich coffee drinks. Dairy and especially cheese is linked to acne and cause water retention, high blood pressure and bloating. If you’re concerned about calcium intake, eat more dark green veggies and take supplements with calcium citrate, magnesium and vitamin D. For cereal, try ice-cold naturally good-tasting almond or rice milk, including Almond Breeze and Rice Dream. Soy milk is more heavily processed to taste better, contains more sugar and fat, and can be difficult to digest.
Caution: Fish and seafood from “questionable” inexpensive sources, seem to cause some persistent skin problems, including a rash-like acne. This doesn’t happen in better restaurants. If you experience a persistent treatment-resistant acne problem, try eliminating fish and seafood from your diet for a month or two.
Avoid seasoned salt, which contains iodine and MSG. Use iodine-free sea salt, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Get professional treatments including enzyme peels with steam, light chemical peels and tune-up peels formulated for acne, dark spots, scars, ingrowns and razor bumps. Professional treatments exfoliate the skin evenly and help home care products penetrate better. Power bleaching and other “boosters” will enhance the results dramatically.
Do not rub or scrub off dead skin. Do not use a washcloth or buffing pad. Do not rub your face with a towel. Mechanical over-exfoliation causes excessive irritation and causes more flaking and darkening. If peeling, use we have several products to dissolve those dead skin cells. Call or email the office for help.
Follow directions carefully. Don’t overuse your home care products. Ask for help if you need to.
Irritated? Constantly flaking? If so, you may be dehydrated from low water intake, gotten too much sun, over-scrubbed your skin, or applied your products too thick or too often.
Don’t slack up on prescribed home care. If we help you get clear, don’t think you’re so cute that you can quit using your products. You’ll stay clear for a short while, but skipping home care products will allow “microcomedones” (the microscopic beginnings of pimples) and new ingrown hairs to form deep in your pores, causing new breakouts or razor bumps, which will lead to new dark spots.
Get refills (and ask about product upgrades) before you run out, and always stock up before you go out of town. Don’t stop doing your regimen altogether, just because you run out of one or two products.
Minimize sun exposure and reapply a recommended oil-free UVA-blocking SPF 30+ sunscreen often when exposed to direct sunlight or overcast skies (and wear your sunglasses). Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer better protection than chemical-only products. Avoid direct sun whenever humanly possible to keep the existing dark spots, uneven skin tone, and dark circles from darkening even more.
Drink more water to maintain healthy skin, fight fatigue, plump up fine lines, reduce dark circles, brighten your skin tone, and keep your skin from getting dry and irritated from active products. Drink at least four mason jars (80 to 100 oz) or three 32 ounce jugs of water every day.
Stop picking, scratching and skin tampering! Ladies, get a full set of acrylic nails, file them blunt, and maintain them every two weeks. Leave “stop picking” notes to yourself on mirrors, day planners, briefcases, desk drawers, rear view mirrors and in lockers. Picking pushes bumps deeper into the follicle, slows down the healing process, invites secondary infection by introducing airborne bacteria, causes thickened, dark dead skin build-up and scarring, and turns small bumps into large, thick and dark black, brown, purple or red blemishes that take forever to heal and fade.
Changes in your health, medical history, medications, lifestyle, address, email or phone number? Tell us!
Rub ice cubes in a circular motion on red, inflamed pimples and hair bumps twice a day for 2 minutes to reduce inflammation and swelling. This really helps!
Do not apply scented or aromatherapy hair products, cologne or aftershaves to sun-exposed skin. Sunburn, rashes, acne, dark blemishes and/or dark “staining” of the skin can develop if you do.
Some medications cause severe “photo-sensitivity” which means darkening of the skin, unsightly brown patches, blotchiness, hyperpigmented acne lesions, darkening of existing scars, and uneven skin tone on the outer cheeks, neck, eye area and knuckles. These include all hormones (oral contraceptives, the patch, the Nuvaring®, DepoProvera®, hormone replacement, IUDs with hormones, etc), oral anti-diabetic drugs (metformin), blood pressure meds, diuretics (water pills), antihistamines, antibiotics, Accutane®, Retin-A®, Differin Gel®, Tazorac®, other retinoids and some anti-depressants.
Some medications cause acne including lithium, hormones (oral contraceptives, Provera®, Depo Provera®, PremPro®, progesterone, Lupron Depot®, Errin®, Ortho Mictronor®, Mirena®, Nuvaring ®), systemic steroids and anti-rejection meds (prednisone), testosterone and its precursors (androstendione, DHEA), human growth hormone (HGH), and anti-convulsives (Dilantin, Tegretol).
Medical conditions: Thyroid, liver and kidney disease, lupus, scleroderma, sarcoidosis, RA and other auto-immune diseases, diabetes, hemochromatosis (storing too much iron), obesity and rapid weight gain, menopause, peri-menopause, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances and changes, anemia and smoking can cause delayed healing and sun-sensitivity resulting in darkening of the entire face or outer cheeks, forehead, upper lip, neck and orbital eye area, and slow-to-heal skin lesions, including acne and dark blemishes.
Acne mechanica is caused by (a) friction, (rubbing), (b) pressure and (c) occlusion (restricted air flow), and can cause deep acne and ingrowns, scalp bumps and severe darkening. Avoid friction like leaning on your hand or phone, sleeping on your hand or arm, tight doo rags, wave caps and sleeping scarves, hats and caps (and moving them up and down on the forehead), visors, headbands, poor-fitting glasses, football helmets, tight bra straps and bands, leaning and putting more pressure on one side of your butt as you sit, heavy shoulder bags and backpacks, clothing with chemical additives, over-scrubbing and rubbing with a towel. These actions can cause deep acne, bumping, blemishes and severe darkening darkening. Get a Bluetooth® device, headset or ear bud and use it all the time.
Pore-clogging chemicals: Avoid products with the fatty acid IPM (isopropyl myristate) and its chemical cousins (isopropyl palmitate, myristal myristate, isopropyl isothermal, isostearyl neopentonate, decyl oleate, octyl stearate, octyl palmitate and isocetyl stearate and PPG myristyl propionate), sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), laureth-4, lanolin and acetylated lanolin, natural butters (cocoa and shea butter) and natural oils, except safflower, sunflower and mineral oil. Baby oil is mineral oil, except its heavily scented.
Evaluate all hair products if breakouts are concentrated on the hairline, temples, sides of the face, sideburns, scalp, neck or back. Whatever you put in your hair will migrate onto the skin when you toss and turn in your sleep, get stressed out, rush through your day, and exercise because you perspire during these times. The chemicals in synthetic hair (wigs and braids) can cause itching, rashes and acne. Hairspray should be unscented; cover your face with a cheap paper plate before you spray. This trick won’t work with oil sheen, braid spray, scented hairspray or products from companies listed below.
- pressing creams and oils,
- oil-sheen and braid spray,
- butters (cocoa and shea butter),
- locking waxes (except pure hard bees wax),
- curl activators,
- scalp grease,
- brown gel,
- oils (coconut oil, almond oil, carrot oil, baby oil, vitamin E oil, avocado oil, oil blends) and the following product lines: Abba, African Pride, Aussie, Aveda, Bed Head, Blue Magic, Bone Straight, Botanicals, Bumble & Bumble, Care Free products (except Care Free Lite), Carol’s Daughter, Carrot Oil, CitreShine, Crème of Nature, Dark & Lovely, Davines, Design Essentials, Doo Gro, Dr. Miracles, Dudley, Duke, Garnier Fructis, Glover’s, IC products, Isoplus, Joico, Kemi Oyl, Keracare, Kerapro, Let’s Jam, Mane and Tail, Matrix, Mixed Chicks, Murray’s, Motions, Nioxin Protectives, Optimum, Organic Root Stimulator, Pantene Pro V Relaxed & Natural, Paul Mitchell and its generics, Pink Oil, Proline, ProStyle (except Clear Ice), S Curl, Sensitive by Nature, Sportin’ Waves, Suave, Sulfur 8, TCB Hair Food. Warm Spirit, and products containing oils, butters, fatty acids, heavy perfumes, bergamot, aromatherapy and essential oils.
Safe hair products: Pantene Pro V “Smooth”, “Color Revival”, “Classic Care” and “Curls” shampoos and conditioners (not Relaxed & Natural), Afro Sheen, American Crew Firm Hold Gel, Care Free Lite Gel Activator, Clinical Formula Self-Emulsifying Oil, Correctives Laminate, Free & Clear products, Original Infusium 23 spray leave-in, L’Anza Leave In Conditioner, Nioxin Actives, ProStyl Clear Ice, Vaseline, sunflower oil and safflower oil.
Toothpaste can cause small breakouts and darkening around and below the corners of the mouth and chin, especially if it contains sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), tarter control ingredients, fluoride and aromatic flavors. Keep toothpaste in your mouth, where it belongs. If it gets on your skin, use cleanser to remove it. Try health store brands, and make sure they are SLS-free.
Wear cotton workout wear laundered in unscented detergent with no fabric softener. Shower immediately after perspiring with sulfur, AHA, BHA or BPO wash or soap.
Notify us if you have scaling, inflammation and/or itching in the scalp, hairline, ears, brows, or side of the nose, which can mean you have seborrhea or seborrheic dermatitis, an annoying genetic condition that is easy to treat once it’s identified. It is often part of the oily, acne prone, sensitive skin profile, which is worsened dramatically by cold weather and stress. Letting it go untreated can lead to unsightly scaling, reddening of the inner cheeks and hairline, a light-pigmented patchy rash, a severe dandruff-like scalp condition, sensitive skin (especially on the inner cheeks) and hair thinning and loss. Warning: Don’t use a brush, scratch (or let a hairdresser do so), pat or rub your scalp, especially if you experience thinning, itching, dead skin build-up, inflamed sores or bumps of any kind. These conditions will only get worse. Low thread count pillowcases can thin your hair on the side you sleep, so try satin, silk or high count cotton.
Avoid recreational drugs, especially marijuana, cocaine, X and speed, which can aggravate acne, especially if you’re a picker. Alcohol consumption doesn’t cause your acne to worsen unless you are too drunk to apply your home care products.
Avoid oily cosmetics and skin care products:
Red dyes in foundations, blushes, lipstick and powders, Mac foundations, mineral make-up, and powders, especially Studio Fix, Shiseido, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Chanel, Flori Roberts, Fashion Fair, Posner, Iman and other oily cosmetics. Re-evaluate your cosmetics and moisturizers if breakouts continue. Oil-free products may be free of natural oils, but contain “synthetic oils” (the FDA calls them fatty acids), so avoid products containing the fatty acid IPM and its chemical cousins. Avoid any make-up that sticks to the sink when you wash it off. Safe D&C red dye alternatives: Iron oxides and carmine. Safe make-up: Dermacolor Cover Cream by Kryolan, Bare Minerals, Jan Iredale and Glo Minerals, which provides better coverage than many other lines. Bare Escentuals stores have a wider variety of make-up shades for People of Color than what’s available on TV. Mineral make-up products differ widely, so check those ingredients.
Examine the link between hormones and breakouts and/or pigmentation problems. Problems include low estrogen birth control pills, Norplant®, IUDs with hormones, Provera, Depo Provera®, Lupron Depot® (testosterone), progesterone-only pills (Errin®, Ortho Mictronor®), hormone replacement (Premarin®, PremPro®), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), temporary or permanent hormonal changes and imbalances, irregular periods, PMS/PMDD and obesity (fat cells can boost the body’s estrogen production). OrthoTricyclan®, Yaz® and Yasmin®, advertised to help clear acne, don’t necessarily live up to the claims, and can actually cause breakouts. HMOs routinely make contraceptive substitutions that are cheaper, but not true generics.
Pregnancy, post-partum and the menstrual cycle can all cause flare-ups due to hormonal changes. Chart these days on a calendar. Practice diligent skin care, suncare and sun avoidance to counteract problems during these times. Protect your neck (which can get 100% darker) and face (watch for dark patches called melasma). Pregnant and lactating women should discuss all supplements with their physician, should discontinue products containing vitamin A and hydroquinone, but should continue using cleanser, tonic, mask, benzoyl peroxide (BPO), HQ-free brighteners and especially sunblock. If you are currently taking, or have recently taken Accutane® and become pregnant, you are at risk for serious birth defects, so contact your physician without delay.
©2007, 2008, 2009 Kathryn Khadija Leverette, Urban Skin Solutions, Inc. urbanskin.com January 30th, 2010 | Category: acne
18 Remedies for Smoother Skin
As you wipe the steam off your bathroom mirror, you find yourself face-to-face with a huge pink dot on the end of your nose. This is not a good way to begin the week.
You give the mirror another wipe with your hand, then get up on your toes and lean over the sink to get a better look. It's there all right. But what's this? When you move your chin up to get a better view, you happen to glimpse a couple of whiteheads sprouting under your bottom lip.
You don't like this at all. You place one knee up on the sink and press your face close to the mirror, and there, in the gully between your nose and cheek, you find a lone blackhead staring back at you.
Stunned, you stumble back from the mirror. Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, you place your newly blemished face in your hands. Your thoughts drift back eons to a time of pimples and proms. Rocking back and forth, you wonder: What's going on here?
The answer is simple enough: You have acne. Acne may be the scourge of the adolescent years, but it can follow some people into middle age and beyond. "Women can have flare-ups at 25 or 35 years old and even older. In fact, my mother was still breaking out when she was 62," says dermatologist James E. Fulton, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., founder of the Acne Research Institute in Newport Beach, California.
Acne is really a catchall term for a variety of symptoms such as pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, says Peter E. Pochi, M.D., professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine. "It's a condition where the pores of the skin become clogged and the person gets inflamed and noninflamed lesions."
So what's the cause of all the clogging?
"Chocolate doesn't cause acne," says Dr. Fulton. "Dirty hair or skin doesn't cause it. Sex, either too much of it or a lack of it, doesn't cause it either."
So what does? Heredity—at least for the most part.
"Acne is genetic; it tends to run in families," says Dr. Fulton. "It is an inherited defect of your pores."
If both of your parents had acne, three out of four of your brothers and sisters will get it, too. But if your sister is pimple-free while your face is a war zone, be aware that other factors can aggravate an acne outbreak. "Stress, sun exposure, seasonal changes, and climate can precipitate an acne attack," says Dr. Fulton. Certain types of makeup and taking birth control pills can also cause a breakout.
"Working women are especially vulnerable," adds Dr. Fulton. "They're prone to lots of stress, plus they tend to wear makeup a lot."
So here's some blemish-free advice, keeping in mind those who need it the most.
Change your makeup. In adult women, makeup is the major factor in acne outbreaks. "Oil-based makeup is the problem," says Dr. Fulton. "The pigments in foundation makeups, rouges, cleansing creams, or night moisturizers aren't the problem, and neither is the water in the products. It's just the oil. The oil is usually a derivative of fatty acids that are more potent than your own fatty acids. Use a non-oil-based makeup if you are prone to acne."
Read the labels. Cosmetic products that contain lanolins, isopropyl myristate, sodium lauryl sulfate, laureth-4, and D & C red dyes should also be avoided. Like oil, these ingredients are too rich for the skin.
Rinse that rouge. "Wash your makeup off thoroughly every night," says Dr. Fulton. "Use a mild soap twice a day and make sure you rinse the soap entirely off your face. Rinsing six or seven times with fresh water should do it."
Go for the natural look. "Whatever makeup you use, the less you use of it, the better," says Dr. Fulton.
Blame it on the Pill. Research conducted by Dr. Fulton indicates that certain birth control pills such as Ovral, Loestrin, Norlestrin, and Norinyl can aggravate acne. If you're on the Pill and have acne problem, discuss it with your doctor. He may be able to switch you to another pill or prescribe another birth control method.
Leave well enough alone. "You shouldn't squeeze pimples or whiteheads," says Dr. Pochi. "A pimple is an inflammation, and you could add to the inflammation by squeezing it. You may cause an infection." You can't do anything to a pimple to make it go away faster, he notes. "Normally a pimple will last from one to four weeks, but it will always go away."
A whitehead is a noninflamed plugged pore, notes Dr. Pochi. "The core of a whitehead is much smaller than the core of a blackhead. When you squeeze the whitehead, the wall of the pore could break and the contents could leak out into the skin and cause a pimple. A pimple naturally forms from the rupture of a whitehead pore wall."
Know when to squeeze. Although most pimples are best left alone, there is one kind that you can squeeze to help get rid of it. "Sometimes a pimple will have a little central yellow pus head in it," explains Dr. Pochi. "Gentle squeezing usually pops these open very nicely. Once the pus is out, the pimple will heal more quickly."
Attack blackheads. You can also get rid of a blackhead by squeezing it. "A blackhead is a very blocked pore. The material inside the blocked pore is solid, and the surface of the pore is widened," explains Dr. Pochi. The black part of a blackhead is not dirt. In fact, dermatologists aren't really sure what it is, but whatever it is, it will not result in a pimple.
Use OTCs to KO acne. You can fight back an acne attack with over-the-counter products. "Use OTCs with benzoyl peroxide in them," says Dr. Fulton. "The benzoyl part pulls the peroxide into the pore and releases oxygen that kills the bacteria that aggravates acne. It's like two drugs in one. The benzoyl also suppresses the fatty acid cells that irritate the pores."
OTC acne products come in various forms, such as gels, liquids, lotions, or creams. Dr. Fulton suggests using a water-based gel. It is the least likely to irritate the skin.
He also suggests using it for an hour or so in the evening, then washing it off very thoroughly at bedtime, especially in the areas around the eyes and neck.
Don't be fooled by the numbers. Acne medications contain concentrations of benzoyl peroxide ranging from 2.5 percent to around 10 percent. The percentage, however, has little to do with the product's effectiveness. "In most tests that have been conducted, the lower-strength products were as effective as the upper-strength ones," says Thomas Gossel, Ph.D., R.Ph., a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Ohio Northern University. "Five percent works as well as 10 percent."
Give dry skin extra care. Dry skin can be sensitive to benzoyl peroxide, so Dr. Gossel recommends you start with a lower-strength product first, then increase the concentration slowly. "You're going to get reddening of the skin when you put it on, but that is a normal reaction," he says.
Stay out of the sun. Acne medications may cause adverse reactions to the sun. "Minimize exposure to sunlight, infrared heat lamps, and sunscreens until you know how you will react," cautions Dr. Gossel, who advises a patch test for sunscreen sensitivity.
Scrub that skin. "Cleanse your skin thoroughly every time before applying any over-the-counter acne medication," says Dr. Gossel. A clean face is a happy face.
Use one treatment at a time. Don't mix treatments. If you are using an OTC acne product, you should stop using it if you are given prescription medication for your acne. "Benzoyl peroxide is a close cousin to Retin-A and other products containing vitamin A derivatives, such as Accutane," says Dr. Gossel. A person shouldn't use both of them together.
Stop the spread of acne. Apply acne medication about a half inch around the affected area, says Dr. Fulton, to help keep the acne from spreading. "The medication really doesn't fight the pimple you already have," he explains. "It acts more like a pimple preventive." Acne moves across the face from the nose out to the ear. You need to treat beyond the red inflammatory area. "When you buy an OTC product, it says to apply it to the affected area. To most people the affected area is where they see the pimples. But that's not the case at all.
James E. Fulton, Jr., M.D., Ph.D.
"Make up became a cover up for me both physically and psychologically. I began using such heavy make up that part of my acne problem was acne cosmetica. As they say, 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' The 'before' picture was taken on my first visit to Dr. Fulton's office. The 'after' picture was taken on a visit to the Mexican Riviera on The Love Boat.
The war on the beauty and health of the human skin
The biggest campaigns ever waged
The beauty and health of the human skin is being undermined by one of the biggest campaigns ever waged in the history of merchandising. Every day on television, radio, magazine and newspapers, we are encouraged to put aside basic skin care ingredients like soap and water in favor of such complexion "aids" as cleansing creams, night creams, daytime moisturizers, face foundations and rouges.
While some people have skin capable of withstanding the damaging effects of cosmetics, an estimated 30% of all cosmetic users have skin which is acne prone. Women and men alike, in their teens, twenties and even early thirties, are potential candidates for cosmetic acne. The condition is characterized by many elevated small whiteheads appearing over the cheeks and chin and sometimes the forehead. While cosmetic acne seldom leaves scars, it can be unsightly, persistent and troublesome.
The skin's pores have a tough time dealing with the skin's own oil sebum, so rubbing in more irritating oils is one of the worst things you can do. Even people who are not acne sufferers can actually develop acne through the use of their cosmetics. Since cosmetic acne usually appears subtly after several months of repeated use of a comedogenic (acne producing) product, many women do not connect their outbreaks with the given product. The woman with cosmetic acne is in a vicious cycle; the more she breaks out, the more make up she uses to cover it up, which only leads to more blemishes.
How advertising confuses the issue
"Oil Free" the Darling of Madison Avenue
"Oil free" is fast becoming a favorite term of the cosmetic industry. Many cosmetic manufacturers are substituting chemicals which, legally speaking, are not considered oil free simply because they come from synthetic sources rather than from natural sources, i.e., animal, vegetable or mineral. These synthetic oils, however, are often more acne producing than a natural oil such as mineral oil. Advertising claims for many cosmetic terms such as "oil free," "dermatologist tested" and "hypoallergenic" can be very misleading. Hypo allergenic may mean the product is perfume free, yet it could still contain ingredients harmful to acne prone individuals. "Dermatologist tested" may be accurate but not entirely helpful. The product may have been tested for skin allergy or skin irritancy and it's effects on skin pores may have been missed.
The Oil Migration Test
Not all "oil free" moisturizers for cosmetics are oil free; some contain oil like synthetics that can provoke acne prone skin. How to tell? Dab moisturizer (foundation or sunscreen) on good quality stationery (imprinted 25% cotton fiber). Twenty four hours later, hold the paper up to daylight and check for oil rings. The extent of migration will correspond to the percent of oil in the cosmetic.The oil migration test is useful to deduct certain oils in cosmetics, but it is more important to learn to read the labels and avoid troublesome ingredients.
What ingredients in cosmetics cause acne?
After the frustration of watching cosmetics precipitate acne in many acne patients, chemists at the Acne Research Institute began testing the basic ingredients of more than 200 cosmetics to determine their effects on skin pores.
A word about sebum
Before we discuss cosmetic ingredients, we should consider the skin's own surface oil, sebum. Assuming that sebum is beneficial to the skin, cosmetic chemists duplicated this substance. Unfortunately, we know of no benefits to be derived from sebum. This oil is simply a vestige whose function has been lost in the process of evolution. The last known use of sebum was as a territorial maker for male gerbils and hamsters.
The claim that sebum is necessary for moisturizing the skin is a little bit absurd when you consider that the finest skin is found in eight year old boys and eunuchs, neither of whom have any sebum.
Sebum does not even prevent wrinkles. Wrinkling, or aging of the skin, is a reflection of accumulated sun damage, and no moisturizer in the world is capable of reversing this exhaustion of tissue. Although functionless, sebum is complex, composed of six or seven principle ingredients, including triglycerides and squalene, a precursor of cholesterol.
The triglycerides are broken down on the surface of the skin by bacteria to free fatty acids, which cause acne impaction's in genetically predisposed families.
As we shall see, many cosmetics also contain these acids (stearic acid is a favorite); but worse, cosmetics contain esters of fatty acids such as isopropyl mystrate or butyl stearate which are more potent even than our own fatty acids in the production of some acne lesions.
Three main categories of offending ingredients
In testing cosmetic ingredients, lanolin was our first consideration as it is, perhaps, the most common ingredient in cosmetics. Lanolin is no esoteric or magic ingredient; it is simply sheep skin oil extracted from wool.
The fatty acids in lanolin, like fatty acids in our own oil, tend to aggravate some acne in the skin of individuals with genetic tendency toward the disease. Many lanolin derivatives currently being used in cosmetics are harmful to acne prone individuals, i.e., etoxylated lanolins and acetylated lanolins. The partially synthetic lanolins are able to penetrate skin pores even better than natural lanolin. Lanolin oil, itself, is acceptable.
2) Isopropyl Myristate and its Chemical Cousins
One of the worse offenders is a penetrating oil called isopropyl myristate, the major ingredient in a can of penetrating rust remover, Liquid Wrench. Isopropyl myristate helps cosmetics apply more smoothly and gives them a slicker, sheer feel. This particular penetrating oil is so aggressive that if left over night in a beaker will actually migrate over the top, down the sides and onto the table top. There are many chemicals similar to isopropyl myristate in cosmetics.
The most common are: isopropyl palmitate, isopropyl isothermal, putty stearate, isostearyl neopentonate, myristyl myristate, decyl oleate, octyl sterate, octyl palmitate and isocetyl stearate and PPG myristyl propionate. All must be avoided, as must other surfactants such as laureth 4.
3) D & C Pigments
Perhaps one our most troublesome recent findings is the acne producing potential in the red tints used in blushes. Some of the D & C (Drug & Cosmetic) red dyes are comedogenic, which is not surprising considering they are coal tar derivatives. Ever since doctors noticed that acne was an occupational hazard of chimney sweeps, coal tar has been known for it's acne causing properties. An acceptable substitute for red color is carmine, a dye derived from insect wings and discovered by the Aztecs.
Currently acceptable cosmetics, moisturizers and hair pomades
- Almay - Fresh Look Oil Free
- Clinique - Pore Minimizer
- Elizabeth Arden - Oil Free Make up
- Flori Roberts - Dermablend
- Lancome - Maqui Controle
- glō™minerals - non-comedogenic makeup
- Alboline Lotion
- Shepard' s Cream
- Lubriderm Lotion
- Mineral and Petroleum Oil
- Safflower and Sunflower Oil
- Vivant Moisturizers
- Hair Pomades
- Mineral Oil and Petrolatum
These are samples of currently acceptable cosmetics for use on acne prone skin. Although they may contain minute amounts of troublesome ingredients, they are small quantities as these products produce acceptable results when applied to the skin.
Problems with Cosmetics and Moisturizers
Results may even vary within a product line. For example, one patient was using Elizabeth Arden's Illusion Foundation, Arden's Velva Cream Mask and Arden's Moisture Oil. The predominant problem was the Arden's Moisture Oil. This could be eliminated from the daily routine without any loss of cosmetic elegance. Many of the popular moisturizers are also acne producing. This is probably due to their content of stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, acetylated lanolin and other acne causing ingredients. According to dermatologic research, the best moisturizing ingredients are petrolatum and mineral oil. We recommend these.
Even acne preparations are suspect
Our tests have turned up many problem ingredients not only in certain cosmetics but also in a number of preparations especially formulated to control acne. For example, ingredients in Retin-A® Cream, Hytone®, Desquam X® and Xerac® are known to be comedogenic. Avoid all products that contain ingredients such as laureth 4, isopropyl myristate or acetylated lanolin. The best medications currently available to beat acne utilize benzoyl peroxide in a pure water based gel lotion such as Vivant's BP 5% for mild acne and 10% for more severe acne of the face, back and chest.
Obviously, the best way to protect your skin from acne is by avoiding cosmetics completely. This, however, is an unattractive, if not impossible, solution for many. We suggest, therefore, a simple liquid make up of pigments, water, glycerin and/or propylene glycol or loose powders. As a rule, the simpler the cosmetic, the better it is for you.
Avoid cosmetics and treatments that contain deviates of lanolin, analogs of isopropyl myristate, laureth 4 and D&C red dyes. Read labels carefully as cosmetic manufacturers change their formulas frequently.
Reference to Chart Below
Comedogenicity or ability of test substance to product follicular hyperkeratosis. Irritancy or ability to test substance to produce surface epithelial irritation.
SCALE OF COMEDOGENIC & IRRITANT POTENTIAL OF COSMETIC INGREDIENTS GRADED 0 (LEAST) TO 5 (MOST) AVOID THE INGREDIENTS WITH THE HIGHER LEVEL.
* Results depend on source of raw material.
© Copyright 2002-2007 Reviewed 1996. This information was prepared by James E. Fulton, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., research scientist. No part of this content may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher except by reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review.
The summer is not the only time you are at risk for damage from the sun. Find out how to protect yourself no matter what the season.
You are probably in the habit of packing sunscreen for a day at the beach or pool. But the sun is up there 365 days a year, and you need protection much of that time to reduce your lifetime sun-exposure total. Everyday exposure counts; you do not have to be actively sunbathing to get a damaging dose of the sun. Practice these sun-protection basics all year round to give your skin the best chance of long-term health:
Use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher whenever you spend time outdoors.
- This applies to all outdoor activities: athletics, shopping, picnicking, walking or jogging, gardening, even waiting for a bus.
- Choose a sunscreen with ingredients that block both UVB and UVA rays.
- Apply liberally and evenly to all exposed skin. The average adult in a bathing suit should use approximately one ounce of sunscreen per application. Not using enough will effectively reduce the product's SPF and the protection you get.
- Be sure to cover often-missed spots: lips, ears, around eyes, neck, scalp if hair is thinning, hands, and feet.
- Reapply at least every 2 hours, more often if some of the product may have been removed while swimming, sweating, or towel-drying.
- Choose a product that suits your skin and your activity. Sunscreens are available in lotion, gel, spray, cream, and stick forms. Some are labeled as water resistant, sweatproof, or especially for sports; as fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, or especially for sensitive skin or children.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Tightly woven fabrics and dark colors, such as deep blue and black, or bright colors, such as orange and red, offer more protection. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Water makes fabrics more translucent, so do not rely on a wet T-shirt.
- A broad-brimmed hat goes a long way toward preventing skin cancer in often-exposed areas like the neck, ears, scalp, and face. Opt for a 3-4 inch brim that extends all around the hat. Baseball caps and visors shade the face but leave neck, lower face, and ears exposed.
- UV-blocking sunglasses with wraparound or large frames protect your eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes, common sites for skin cancer and sun-induced aging. Sunglasses also help reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.
Seek the shade.
- Be aware, however, that sunlight bouncing off reflective surfaces can reach you even beneath an umbrella or a tree.
Never seek a tan.
- There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is the skin's response to the sun's damaging rays.
Stay away from tanning parlors and artificial tanning devices.
- The UV radiation emitted by indoor tanning lamps is many times more intense than natural sunlight. Dangers include burns, premature aging of the skin, and the increased risk of skin cancer.
Protect your children and teach them sun safety at an early age.
- Healthy habits are best learned young. Because skin damage occurs with each unprotected exposure and accumulates over the course of a lifetime, sun safety for children should be a priority.
©2010 The Skin Cancer Foundation
149 Madison Avenue Suite 901 New York, New York 10016
The ABCDs of melanoma are used by the Skin Cancer Foundation, the American Academy of Dermatology, the National Cancer Foundation and most other institutions and individuals concerned with early detection.
Consult your dermatologist immediately if any of your moles or pigmented spots exhibit:
A Asymmetry--one half unlike the other half.
B Border --irregular, scalloped or poorly circumscribed border.
C Color -- varied from one area to another; shades of tan and brown, black; sometimes white, red or blue.
D Diameter -- while melanomas are usually greater than 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser) when diagnosed, they can be smaller. If you notice a mole different from others, or which changes, itches, or bleeds (even if it is small) you should see a dermatologist.
A: P.M.E. stands for Paramedical Esthetician, a state board certified practitioner of the skin specializing in the treatment of acne, scarring, hyper-pigmentation, the effects of aging and the environment of the skin.
Q: WHY ARE YOUR FACIALS CALLED "TREATMENTS"?
A: Corrective treatments are somewhat different than those provided at beauty salons or day spas. Our treatments are not designed to be relaxing or pampering. In order to cut down costs and use time effectively for therapeutic procedures, we do not provide facial massage, hand treatments or have you change into a gown. A personalized treatment will be designed according to your specific condition. As with any therapy, there are no guarantees as to the outcome. Positive results depend on home care and regularity of treatments.
Q: HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE RESULTS?
A: Diligence to your specific home care routine and the frequency of clinic treatments enables results to be seen faster. Dedicated clients will generally begin to see results within the first week after the initial treatment. Modifications and adjustments of topical medications MUST be administered OFTEN. Communication is extremely important for maximum benefits.
Q: WHAT IF MY ACNE DOESN'T CLEAR?
A: If it seems that your regimen is not working for you, it may simply call for adjustments to your medicating routine; not complete abandonment of therapy. In order for the skin to clear, it is important that you understand that the skin needs to be dry. Any peeling or dryness indicates penetration of medication. Consider that your treatment schedule may need modification or that a product may need to be substituted for another. Since all regimens are individualized, it is important that you call us as soon as you have any questions.
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Q: HOW DO YOU "CORRECT" SUN, AGE OR ENVIRONMENTALLY DAMAGED SKIN?
A: Similar to the treatment of acne, the safest method is to remove the damaged layers and stimulate new skin cell growth. In order to clear hyper-pigmentation / melasma, results are seen rapidly with the use of Hydroquinnone (a bleaching solution) in conjunction with chemical peeling. It is extremely important to use sun protection to prevent any future damage.
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Q: WHAT IS THE COST OF A TREATMENT & NECESSARY PRODUCTS?
A: Treatment prices start at $35. Topical medication prices range from $6 to $45 per item. Treatments & home routines for the medications applicable to your needs will be fully described and explained during your first appointment.
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Q: IS INSURANCE ACCEPTED?
A: Unfortunately most insurance companies do not cover therapy for acne or problem skin treated by a Paramedical Esthetician.
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Q: WHAT TYPES OF PAYMENT DO YOU ACCEPT?
A: We accept cash, Visa, Master Card, American Express and checks imprinted with your current information. Returned checks are subject to a $20 service fee. Payments are due upon services rendered.
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Q: WHAT IF I NEED TO CANCEL AN APPOINTMENT?
A: Due to the high demand of appointments, we ask that you please give us 24 hour notice so that we may fill the vacancy with a client on our waiting list. There is a $20 NO SHOW FEE for clients who fail to call or show up for a scheduled appointment.