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  • The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 2 – Replenishing the Barrier with Exotic Plant Oils

    Chia Seeds and Camellia JaponicaThe use of plant oils in skin care has been around for decades, however, in the past few years our understanding of how these phytochemicals (AKA plant chemicals) affect our skin has been enhanced by numerous research studies. As a scientist with a PhD in plant biochemistry and a passion for the skin care industry, I am forever searching the globe for new exciting plant actives that can be used to treat the skin.

    Now that we know the causes that can lead to loss of lipids from The Lowdown On Lipids: Part 1 – Why Does the Skin Need Them, we can address many of these signs with scientific expertise provided by nature in the form of phytochemicals. As you might expect, I have a few new favorite oils that we have been studying at The International Dermal Institute that have the ability to replenish the skin’s natural barrier lipids for optimized skin health.

    Let’s take a closer look at these oils and how they may be used to treat the skin.

    Camellia Japonica Oil

    Camellia japonica is often called the “Rose of Winter” and is a member of the tea family. It is a small flowering tree native to Korea and Japan. It is one of the native plants grown on Jeju Island famous for its unpolluted, clean environment. Closer examination of this oil reveals it is a rich source of critical membrane lipids or fatty acids including oleic, linoleic and palmitic acids. In laboratory studies it provided twice as much antioxidant protection than Vitamin E, Grapeseed Oil, and/or Rosehip Oil. Studies using human fibroblast cells demonstrated an increase in collagen synthesis when treated with a low concentration of the oil (0.001); as the concentration of oil applied increased (up to 0.1%) so did the stimulation to collagen synthesis. Most importantly, studies on human subjects using a 2% Camellia Japonica Oil topically applied to the face showed a reduction in wrinkles as measured by laboratory instruments and observations by trained clinical technicians and patients.2

    Camellia Japonica Oil also inhibited pro-inflammatory mediators3 and was more soothing than Bisabolol in erythema induced tests. Likewise, it provided lipid barrier properties that showed an inhibition in TEWL, helping to maintain skin hydration levels.

    Overall, this esthetically pleasing, lightweight plant oil soothes irritated/sensitized skin, maintains hydration levels by reducing trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) and helps stimulate collagen production to fight aging skin.1,2

    Chia Seed Oil

    In addition to Camellia Japonica Oil, the seed oil derived from the plant Salvia hispanica, otherwise known as Chia, has proven to be a new addition to the arsenal of active plant oils available to the cosmetic formulator. Chia Seed Oil is rich in antioxidants that help quench free radicals and omega-3-fatty acids that have been shown to help reduce inflammation.

    Salvia hispanica is a member of the mint family that is often used as a food supplement for energy—and was once known as the Mayan running food. It is grown primarily for its seeds that contain from 25% to 40% oil that are rich in omega-3 linolenic acid and omega-6 linoleic acids. Both essential fatty acids are required by the human body for good health, and cannot be artificially synthesized.

    Researchers in Korea reported that a topical application of a cream containing Chia Seed Oil for 8 weeks led to significant improvements in skin moisture, skin thickening and crusty lumps in patients with pruritis caused by end-stage kidney disease and also in healthy patients with xerotic pruritis.4 Pruritis is an unpleasant skin sensation that produces a strong urge to scratch, and it is a characteristic symptom of some systemic diseases such as advanced kidney disease. Xerotic pruritis is a form of the condition that includes redness, dry scaling and cracks in the skin.

    Tamanu Oil

    Lastly we have Tamanu Oil, extracted from Calophyllum inophyllum seeds from the Ati tree of the South Pacific. Traditionally Tamanu Oil has been used to combat a range of skin problems and is highly beneficial as an antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. The oil contains unique calophylloids that reduce stinging in skin and helps to control the growth of the acne causing bacterium, P. acnes.

    French researchers working with leprosy patients were the first to study the skin regenerating properties of Tamanu Oil. It has been used to heal stubborn and severe wounds with very good success. More specifically, scientists have identified the xanthone compounds in Tamanu Oil that have been credited for its anti-inflammatory activity and ability to reduce swelling and irritation with topical application.

    From a study conducted in 2002, participants applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement, so even older scars can benefit from Tamanu Oil regenerative properties.5

    Tamanu Oil is also excellent for individuals with acneic skin, as the mild antibacterial properties of the oil work consistently and without irritation to minimize growth of acne causing bacteria on the skin. The moderate antimicrobial activity of Tamanu Oil has been compared to antibiotics like amoxicillin. The actives, canophyllol and canophyllic acid, have been identified as the specific agents in the oil that provide the antibacterial activity.

    And finally, the xanthones and coumarins found in Tamanu Oil are potent antioxidants that inhibit the breakdown of cell membranes from free radicals. Consequently, this oil can help to counteract aging caused by UV-induced free radicals.

    Harnessing the power of phytoactive ingredients is one of the best ways to restore a compromised skin barrier to replace intercellular lipids that have been depleted from aging, environment, and the many other factors. And with the overwhelming amount of research on these oils and their phytochemical components they are prime candidates for incorporation into your favorite skin care products.

    Reference:

    1. Akihisa T, et al. Chem. And Pharm. Bull. Tokyo 45:1023-2016.

    2. E. Jung et al. Effect of Camellia japonica oil on human type I collagen production and skin barrier function. J. Ethnopharmacology 112 (2007) 127-131.

    3. S. Kim et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of Camellia japonica Oil. BMB Reports 2012: 177-182)

    4. Se Kyoo Jeong, et al. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Ann Dermatol. 2010 May; 22(2): 143–148.

    5. A. C. Dweck and T. Meadows. Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum) – the African, Asian, Polynesian and Pacific Panacea. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 341–348, December 2002

  • TLC for Sensitive Eyes

    Eyes Spring2The delicate eye area is taking quite a hammering at the moment not only from environmental challenges, which play havoc on our eyes. A common cause of redness and itchiness around the eyes is hay fever (allergic rhinitis), occurring mostly in spring and summer. Or it may be atopic dermatitis caused by the inhalation of allergens, such as pollen, dust or animal fur, which trigger inflammation.

    We’re also in the era of the ‘super lash’, just about every other person is wearing eye lash extensions or false lashes, or using eye growth serums—all of which can be quite irritating and sensitizing to the eyes.

    Here are some easy things that can be done to care for red, itchy eyes.

    1. Ensure makeup is removed thoroughly using a very gentle, fragrance and S.D. alcohol free eye makeup remover. It will need to be water soluble to ensure that all traces of the product and makeup is leaving no residue (perfect for the contact lens wearer). Choose one with the added benefit of built-in lash conditioners (Silk Amino Acids) that prevent lashes from becoming dry and brittle, as well as keeping the skin around the eye area soft, hydrated and smooth.

    2. To help alleviate dry eyes, place a few drops of artificial tear drop solution; or for red eyes, try some vasoconstrictive eye drops.

    3. When the eyes feel, red, puffy and irritated, place a cold compress or cooling eye packs over them for 5 to 10 minutes. A cooling, hydrating eye masque (kept cool in the fridge) can also be used around the eye area, underneath the compress.

    4. To alleviate the dry, itchy skin, apply a reparative and intensely nourishing protective eye cream (fragrance free) each evening. Key ingredients will include Vitamin A, C, E and Pro-Vitamin B5, as well as soothing botanicals such as Green Tea, Cucumber Arnica and Butcherbroom

    5. If the eye area is very dry and in need of a ‘super protector’, apply an anhydrous moisturizer that melts into the skin, repairs the natural barrier lipid layer and reduces irritation and dryness.

    6. Wear hypo allergenic makeup that has been screened of all known irritants.

    7. Lastly, we should all know the ultimate skin sin by now—never, ever go to bed with your makeup on!

    Ensure everything placed near or in the eyes is super clean. Makeup brushes need to be washed in an antibacterial cleanser monthly, contact lenses need to be changed regularly and always kept thoroughly clean.

    It’s also important to check eye makeup and eye care products; have they been shared with anyone who may have an eye infection? Could your products be rancid, or well past their use by date harboring fungi or bacteria? It’s not common knowledge among makeup users that mascara is only supposed to be used for two months before discarding, perhaps this is the cause of the eye sensitivity.

    As red, itchy eyes can also be a result of an eye infection, it’s important to seek medical advice from a doctor if symptoms do persist.

  • Bacteria and Breakouts: A Deeper Look into P. acnes

    We’ve all experienced some form of breakout and sometimes it seems to have appeared overnight. How did this happen?! As skin therapists we immediately do a mental checklist of possible triggers—was it stress, hormones, diet, product? We know that on a basic level, acne occurs within the sebaceous follicle by excessive skin cells, sebum, inflammation and presence of bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). However, we also know the process of acne is anything but basic. Let’s take a deeper look at the one element of this process that is always with us: bacteria.

    P. acnes is part of the natural skin flora and accounts for about 87% of the bacteria. It grows deep inside follicles, lives anaerobically and feeds on the sebum produced by the sebaceous glands. For the most part, this bacteria can be relatively harmless; however, if follicles become plugged, the low oxygen levels and accumulating sebum create a prime environment for the growth of P. acnes.

    Using sebum as an energy source, the bacteria produces lipase that converts triglycerides into glycerol and fatty acids, causing inflammation and irritation. The inflammation then triggers the innate immune response and white blood cells are activated. Next they release destructive enzymes and free radicals that causes extensive damage to the surrounding tissue. This damage often stimulates the production of more pro-inflammatory mediators, making it easier for the bacteria to multiply and continuing its vicious cycle. By understanding the behavior of P. acnes, we can get a better handle on how it can be managed for acneic clients.

    Porphyrins as seen through VISIA

    Porphyrins as seen through VISIA

     

    The Other P Word

    P. acnes produce porphyrins, which are groups of organic compounds that play major roles in processes like oxygen transportation and photosynthesis. When observing skin under a Wood’s lamp, you may even see them as fluorescent spots or dots. P. acnes synthesize and store large amounts of porphyrins that ultimately pays favor to LED treatments, such as using a Blue light to treat acne. The Blue light excites the Porphyrins that causes them to release free radicals into the bacteria therefore killing them from the inside out.

    A Sticky Situation

    The bacteria also produces a natural self-protection mechanism called biofilms. These are clusters of bacteria that are attached to a surface and are embedded in a sticky slime layer. The biofilm surrounds the microbes and helps it adhere to the follicle and can further promote hyperkeratinization. This same biological glue that allows the cohesion of the biofilm could also cause keratinocytes to stick together creating comedones.

    Research has also shown that the formation of biofilms seems to be a natural behavior for bacteria, but this formation has a consequence—it appears to be resistant to antibiotics, a common therapy for the treatment of acne including topical and oral medications. It is suspected that the antibiotics are not able to penetrate into the biofilm because the bacteria are tightly packed into a cluster.

    What’s in a Strain?

    P. acnes reside in the pilosebaceous unit, but its presence doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual is going to have acne. Several studies have indicated that specific strains of P. acnes bacteria are more commonly associated with acne prone skin versus normal skin, which may point to why some individuals are more predisposed to breakout while others are not.

    A UCLA study discovered that acne bacteria contain “bad” strains associated with pimples and “good” strains that may protect the skin. Through metagenomics, or the study of collection and analysis of bacteria in our environment, research has uncovered three specific strains of P. acnes in the skin’s microbiome; two that are found to be dominant in acneic skin and one strain in healthy skin.

    As scientists continue examining the relationship between our microbiome and acne, we can at least steer our clients to specific key ingredients to help contain acne formation and keep P. acnes at bay.

    Ingredients to target bacteria:

    Colloidal Silver

    Lactobacillus Ferment

    Benzoyl Peroxide

    Tea Tree Oil

    Cinnamon Bark

    Spirea Ulmaria

    Polygonum Cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) Root Extract

  • Using Skin Microbes to Lighten Pigmentation

    DH Diglucosyl Gallic Acid conversion

    Whether you like it or not, the human body is inundated with millions of microorganisms that live in a mutualistic relationship with us—in other words, each species benefits from the activity of the other. Many of the bacteria that cohabitate with us humans are not harmful and actually serve a purpose. Take for example the bacteria that live in our gut; these microbes help us digest and process our food. If something happens to our natural gut microflora, such as often occurs after a course of antibiotics that kill good and bad bacteria, our digestive system can be thrown off. We might supplement our diet with probiotics to help restore balance to our gut. Like our gut, our skin is also home to billions of microorganisms often referred to as the skin microbiota.

    The skin microbiota is continuously communicating with our epidermal cells, generating metabolites and stimulating physiological processes. Recent studies have demonstrated that the skin’s microbiota can activate specific cosmetic compounds converting them into biologically active molecules on the skin’s surface. Diglucosyl Gallic Acid, also known as Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid alpha-Glucoside (THBG) is an example of a patented molecule that when topically applied to the skin is partially converted into another form, Trihydroxy Benzoic Acid (THBA) by the skin’s microflora. THBG and THBA work together to lighten skin pigmentation and even out skin tone. Together, these two molecules not only inhibit free radical formation, which could result in hyperpigmentation, but more importantly they help stop melanogenesis. Both THBA and THBG molecules are effective at reducing pigmentation spots, as well as helping to control formation of new spots.

    As scientists continue to study the skin’s natural microbiota, it is quite apparent that studies will no longer just focus on the relationship of microbes to skin disorders and disease but will now venture into a new realm; we have just scratched the surface of understanding how our skin’s natural microbial populations can be used in conjunction with topically applied molecules to address specific skin conditions.

  • Join the Multi-Masking Movement

    Charmaine CooperThere are many trends that have helped to shape the canvas of the skin care and cosmetics industry; many of which reflect the way consumers have evolved over the generations in their perception of skin care. But no one can argue that the generation of consumers today depict the most education-hungry and -accessible consumers of our time.

    One trend that we find taking quite a lead among consumers now is “multi-masking”. But is this really a trend or more of a movement? In the past, the landscape of skin care masques have always been mysterious to consumers. Until now. Consumers have moved from the lack of comprehension of masks to a clearer understanding.

    multi mask imageThis could not have been achieved without the support of professional skin therapists worldwide. For years, skin therapists have understood that one size never fits all! In fact, there are no two skins alike. Skin conditions constantly change. And with these constant changes that the average person goes through, as a result of the weather, diet, hormones, lifestyle choices and stress, multi-masking just makes sense. Masking still is, today, the quickest way to achieve visible results in the skin’s tone, oil presence, hydration/radiance levels and inflammatory levels.

    Often at times, all of these concerns can show up at once! And if one size does not fit all, multi-masking can support in a brilliant way. Any of these concerns can be addressed in just 7-10 minutes with masks – day or night, just a few times a week. The key to making the most of multi-masking is to not combine the ingredients in one area or zone – but to multi-mask the face zone by zone as the conditions dictate.

    Here are some recommendations you can give to your clients:

    For oily skin, recommend a clay based mask to absorb excess oil. This is a concern, commonly found in the T-zone of the face. Oil balancing ingredients include Activated Charcoal, as well as Bentonite and Kaolin clays.

    For dehydrated, dull or sensitive skin, a hydrating and calming mask will calm and lock in moisture levels. These concerns can be prevalent in the cheek areas, and may sometimes involve the neck and chest. Look for ingredients such as Cross-linked Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Chamomile and Avena Sativa (Oat) that are extremely beneficial for optimal moisturization and turn down redness levels.

    For lackluster, hyperpigmented or dull skin, vitamins are a must. This is a common concern in the chest, possibly cheeks and forehead area. Vitamin A, C and E along with key amino acids help to recover the skin’s health and vitality, revealing a brighter and more radiant skin.

    Having a comprehensive understanding of these common issues and simple approach with multi-masking will position you as the go-to skin therapist to remedy many concerns at once. Because great skin always begins with great education.

    So, go ahead and tell your clients to join the multi-masking movement. It’s well overdue!

  • Black Magic: The Key Benefit of Activated Charcoal

    Dr. Diana HowardOver the past few years numerous products have been introduced into both the skin care and health care markets that feature activated charcoal as a main ingredient. As the Vice President of Research and Development at The International Dermal Institute I am often asked, is this just a fad or is there any real science behind this trend? In order to answer this question I need to explain exactly what activated charcoal is and how it works in these types of products.

    Let’s start with the obvious question…What is charcoal? Charcoal may be derived from peat, coal, wood, coconut shells, or petroleum that is burned to form a lightweight mass of carbonaceous charcoal. When we refer to “activated” charcoal it means the charcoal has been reheated, often to extremely high temperatures, which creates thousands of micropores that increase the surface area of the charcoal.

    Adsorption Power

    The activated charcoal, with its increased surface area, can readily adsorb substances onto its surface. This differs from absorption where one substance is incorporated into another; think about a sponge absorbing water—the sponge becomes saturated with the water through and through. In adsorption, molecules adhere just to the surface of the activated charcoal. Suppliers of activated charcoal use special manufacturing techniques that yield highly porous activated charcoals with varying surface areas; it is not uncommon to find that one teaspoon of activated charcoal can have a surface area of as much as 10,000 square feet. That’s a lot of adsorption power!

    While the skin care industry has just seen the merits of activated charcoal, the medical community has known about the adsorption power of charcoal for years. Entire books have been written on the subject of the medical uses of activated charcoal to adsorb toxins or poisons in humans and animals. As a matter of fact, even the Red Colobus monkeys of Zanzibar have learned about the health benefits of using activated charcoal.

    I learned firsthand about the power of charcoal when one of my dogs ate something poisonous and the vet pumped her stomach with activated charcoal to adsorb the toxins; fortunately the activated charcoal along with the adsorbed toxins are readily eliminated through the dogs digestive system. In a similar fashion activated charcoal filters are used to adsorb odorous or colored substances from gases or liquids; a common household example is charcoal water filter often found in refrigerators and freezer ice makers. Bear in mind that once all of the sites on the activated charcoal are filled it’s time to replace your filter.

    Activated Charcoal in Skin Care

    In the skin care industry, cosmetic chemists have found that activated charcoal can readily adsorb oils, toxins and impurities from the skins surface. One of the most effective forms of activated charcoal is Binchotan charcoal derived from Ubame Oak trees from the Kishu region of Japan. Binchotan charcoal is activated by burning oak branches at extremely high temperatures for several days and then rapidly cooling them. It is known as the highest quality activated charcoal and is often used to purify drinking water. Because it is such a clean, odorless charcoal it is also used in high end Japanese restaurants that use charcoal fires in tableside dining.

    In skin care formulations, activated Binchotan charcoal adsorbs oils as well as pollutants and other superficial toxins from the skin’s surface. We know that masques can deliver dramatic benefits to the skin and charcoal masques have gained popularity among consumers, especially those with oily and breakout-prone skin. Combined with other actives, such as keratolytic sulfur, mineral rich volcanic ash, and exfoliating AHAs, one can optimize the results of using a charcoal masque for a wide range of skin care conditions. Rinsing this charcoal formulation from the skin readily removes the adsorbed substances from the skin to help purify, brighten and revitalize any skin condition.

  • Pregnancy Skin Care Dos and Don’ts

    Pregnant

    The body goes through many changes during pregnancy and the skin is no exception. Skin changes occur in about 90% of pregnant women in one form or another; and Mom-to-be’s will have some pressing skin care questions on ingredients and treatments.

    There are many opinions between doctors and different studies with varying information, so it’s imperative that your clients consult with their physician prior to the use of skin care products and receiving treatments.

    Here are three of the most commonly asked questions by professional skin therapists when it comes to treating pregnant clients.

    1.  Can I use Salicylic Acid?

    This Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is an excellent exfoliant and can be used to treat acne. In high concentrations it is considered a risk during pregnancy and should be avoided, especially in professional resurfacing. Small percentages used in skin care (for example less than 2% in a wash off) are considered safe.

    2.  What about the use of aromatherapy?

    It’s recommended to avoid using essential oils during the first trimester. This topic is controversial between practitioners and there are varying opinions to safety, however, it depends on the type of oil and dilution. Usually approved non-toxic blends around 1-2% dilution are considered safe for body massage and skin products. Hydro-essentials, which are water-soluble fractions of the essential oil, are safe as they do not penetrate the blood stream. Your client should consult her doctor before any essential oil use.

    3.  Can I use technology in my treatment room?

    The use of electrical modalities is not recommended, which includes Galvanic, High Frequency, Microcurrent, Ultrasonic and Laser. Microdermabrasion has mixed expert reviews, with most stating to use with caution. We would not use microdermabrasion over aggravated acne or dilated capillaries. Be mindful when using it on hyperpigmented skin as causing more inflammation can make this condition worse.

    This handy ingredient checklist (below) can help you decipher the dos and don’ts when treating pregnant clients. When in doubt, have your client discuss their skin care options with their OBGYN and/or general physician if they are currently pregnant, nursing or considering pregnancy in the near future. Always work with caution if the client is in her first trimester and/or has had complications with her pregnancy or previous pregnancies. If she opts to avoid certain ingredients and/or products, the best course of action is to honor her choice. What is most important is that we help the new mother achieve her skin care goals safely and effectively.

    Pregnancy Yes and Nos

  • It’s Ok for Dad to Grow His Mo!

    Even Dads need to be picture perfect for Father’s Day. The question is: Are they “selfie” ready or not? No doubt, Father’s Day is a day where many kids will be posting selfie shots with their fathers, and fathers with their kids; after all, social media rules our world! And fathers of all ages will want to put their best faces forward (like mothers on Mother’s Day) for the digital world to see.

    Dad’s grooming habits have shifted from the back burner and are now commanding a greater deal of focus. Statistics estimate that the size of the global male grooming market will be worth about $21.4 billion in 2016! This, no doubt, includes skin care, hair care and of course, the now trending Beard care. So the next question is: to “grow the Mo” or no?

    For many men, growing a beard is a rite of passage. It should be understood that there is more to growing a beard than putting down the razor. But one, need not shriek back at the thought of Dad growing his beard. With a simple but proper grooming routine, common concerns can be avoided. Here are some basic tips that can help make everyone else, along with Dad, love his Mo.

    1. Itchy skin. An itchy face is often attributed to the growth of the facial hair. Normally, this subsides after about two weeks. If itchiness persists longer than two weeks, it is likely that the skin is tight and dehydrated. Using stripping soaps will dry out the skin and deplete natural oils, leaving it itchy and tight.

    Tip: Use a non-stripping cleansing bar that contains Allantoin to help soothe, Oatmeal to stop itch and Tea Tree to purify both the hair and skin. Wash with cool water – this helps to not only close and constrict the follicles of the hair, but also to calm the skin.

    2. Knots and tangles in the beard. It’s not just the hair on the head that needs attention. When growing a beard, tangles and knots can become quite common. With regular grooming, this can be easily controlled.

    Tip: While the hair is still wet, use a good wide-toothed comb to comb through the hair for less tangles. This also helps to remove any excessive hairs that may be damaged and are at the end of their lifecycle. Do this daily, or as often as you cleanse the beard.

    3. Dry brittle beard. Whatever you rub on the beard, gets onto the skin. As stated earlier, soaps strip the skin, but they also dry out the hair, causing them to become coarse and wiry.

    Tip: Use non-comedogenic products on the hair to condition and soften the hair. For sparser beards, use a lightweight moisturizer that contains Wheat Germ, Vitamin E and Grape Seed.  This will condition and protect the skin. Use a moisturizer with a minimum of SPF15 for protection from UV rays.

    For fuller beards, use a small amount of beard oil. This can also double up as a great shave oil (when ready to shave). Search for products with Soybean and Silicones (Dimethicone) to soften and condition the hair and use it with a brush to help distribute throughout the beard.

    Whether it’s at the beginning growth stages or a full grown beard, these simple grooming practices can help Dads capture the perfect moment this Father’s Day!

  • Get Soy Smart!

    In recent years, Soy has been marketed for it’s nutritional benefits, but did you know that topical application of Soy can also contribute to healthy skin? Here’s 5 questions and answers to get you Soy-smart.

     

    1. What are some of the benefits of using Soy in skincare products?

    Soy and its derivatives have shown to reduce free radical damage (ROS) and reduce inflammation. It also hydrates the skin by stimulating the production of Hyaluronic Acid and stimulates production of collagen and increases skin thickness, which may be beneficial for postmenopausal women who develop a thinner dermis and decreased collagen. Soy isoflavonoids act as anti-glycation agents (AGEs) to fight collagen cross-linking and inhibits collagen degrading enzymes (matrix-metalloproteinase enzymes also referred to as MMPs). Soy ingredients can also produce a brightening effect for hyperpigmentation.

    2. Are there different types of Soy that are used in skincare products? 

    Yes, Soy has different derivatives that are used in various skincare products.  Soybeans are a rich source of flavonoids called isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens or plant compounds that have a weak estrogenic effect. The most commonly used Soy isoflavonoids is Glycine Soja (Soybean) Protein, Oil or Seed Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Lecithin that are rich in amino acids that help to smooth, aid in wound healing, and stimulate elastin and collagen synthesis.

    3. What type of skin treatment is Soy a good ingredient for?

    Soy is primarily used in aging skin treatments that are geared towards stimulating elastin and collagen synthesis, reducing fine lines, wrinkles and UV induced photo-damage. Soy isoflavones have also been used in treatment for hyperpigmentation disorders as they prevent melanin from adhering to skin cells, therefore helping with blotchiness and discoloration.

    However, Soy, which is a phytoestrogen, is NOT recommended for melasma treatment since melasma is somewhat estrogen mediated.

    4. Is there any danger in applying Soy-based products topically on the skin? For example on a client with Soy allergies, hormonal imbalances, etc.

    Most concerns or negative effects associated with soy are consumption based, however, Soy may act as a food allergen (similar to milk, eggs or peanuts). If the client has a Soy allergy, then it’s recommended to avoid products that contain Soy. There has been some consumer concerns between Soy and breast cancer. Studies are still on-going to determine whether these isoflavones spur tumor growth. Ensure client’s check with their physician before proceeding to use or prescribe any Soy-based products.

    5. What other key ingredients work with Soy?

    Soy itself has been suggested to have a variety of effects when used in in skin care products. For maximum results, look for products that have an additional complex of age-fighting ingredients that work synergistically with Soy, such as peptides, White Tea and Licorice.

  • Crazy for Cranberries

    Cranberries

    With the holiday season upon us I seem to have cranberries on the brain, so it should come as no surprise that one of my all-time favorite ingredients happens to be Cranberry Seed Oil. Why am I so enamored with the oil from this super fruit? When the fruit is cold pressed the resulting oil is rich in tocopherols, tocotrienols (Vitamin E) and phytosterols (plant sterols). Vitamin E is really a family of eight different isomers consisting of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. The Vitamin E constituents found in Cranberry Seed Oils contain significant levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols and alpha and gamma tocotrienols. All of these isomers of Vitamin E provide excellent antioxidant protection and help to reinforce the barrier lipid properties of the skin.

    In addition, Cranberry Seed Oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids; including those that are essential to your health, such as the Omega-3 fatty acid also called alpha-linolenic acid. The 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 essential fatty acids gives Cranberry Seed Oil its excellent antioxidant activity and skin nurturing benefits, but also explains why this oil absorbs very nicely into the skin and helps it hold onto moisture by contributing to the skin’s structure and barrier formation. This moisturizing power of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it perfect for aging, rough, dry, and scaly skin.

    We all know that free radical damage and inflammation are two potent drivers of skin aging, so being able to address these two issues with a topical antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent goes a long way in preventing premature aging of the skin and repairing some of the existing damage. The high antioxidant potential of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it an excellent addition to any nighttime treatment product where it can help scavenge free radicals while promoting skin repair – as well as in daytime sun protection products to provide antioxidant benefits along with sunscreens for photoprotection of the skin.

    It’s no wonder cranberries are considered a super fruit! Not only do they provide topical benefits for the skin but they taste delicious, and provide similar benefits when consumed in our diet.