Live your best life & take care
We all learned that sleeping in make-up is the ultimate skincare sin. What is bad about it is when you go 24 hours without washing your face and end up going to bed leaving your day-time make-up on. Over the course of the day, our skin accumulates pollutants, dirt and dead skin-cells.
If dirt and pollutants are left on the skin, they may cause micro-inflammation and contribute to premature ageing skin via a process called inflamm-aging and free-radical damage which is a major contributor to skin-ageing. The combination of both micro-inflammation and free-radical damage is called ox-inflammation. We should aim to reduce or preferably avoid it. Pollution, dirt and sebum (oils) can impact the skin's healthy pH balance and thus lead to a weakening of the skin barrier function, more sensitive skin, dehydration, slowed down skin-cell renewal process and thus ageing. Not removing dead skin cells together with dirt increases the risk of clogged pores.
Make-up itself usually doesn’t contain harming ingredients. Coloured micro-pigments actually provide additional sun-protection. Make-up or foundation itself is thus not the problem, however the fact that we don’t cleanse our skin after a busy day and/or evening is what could make us age faster. Not doing your PM cleanse and care routine is anyway a missed opportunity to support your skin’s night-time recovery with beneficial active ingredients.
If you go out in the evening, take the opportunity to cleanse before getting ready and get rid of debris which was accumulated during day-time.
Don’t worry about falling asleep in your make-up once or twice. Just don’t make it a habit. I would always aim to remove eye make-up. Sleeping in full eye make-up (mascara, liner, eyeshadow) increases the risk of an eye-inflammation, redness and corneal abrasions. Waking up with “panda-eyes” filled with black rheum or goop isn’t pretty either.
Skincare peri and post menopause
Our life expectance is increasing and the average age when menopause occurs didn't change much in the last decade. This is why more women will have to care for post menopause skin for a longer time. During and after menopause our skin will go through some changes and might even become problematic. In this blog post I will have a closer look into these changes.
During the start of menopause, also called peri-menopause, women will notice some changes to their skin. This is because estrogen levels start to decline (-35% between age 35-50) and as estrogen level decline, androgen level proportionately become more dominant. As a result, the majority of women experience drier skin. Or when the hormone levels are differently balanced they may get a more oily skin or develop acne tarda (adult acne), because the oil gland activity is increased. Another problem is that the skin's pH level will increase, which will impact skin health, barrier and microflora or microbiome. A higher pH value may result in problematic skin.
Loss of biological activity
Around this period the metabolic biological activity in the skin will decrease faster than in our 20s or 30s. The production of important components like hyaluronic acid (filling + hydration), collagen (strength + structure) and elastin (flexibility + stretch) by fibroblasts (a very important skin cell) isn't sufficient, while the speed of their degradation is inclining because the skin's natural resilience against damaging free radical activity is reduced and the activity of degradation enzymes, like hyaluronidase, collagenase and elastase is elevated. Therewith the presence of those important skin components is declining 30% in the first years. This leads to more advanced signs of ageing skin and an overall loss of skin quality: skin firmness, skin surface eveness, skin tone eveness and glow (Goldie, Clin Cosmet Invest Dermatol, 2021).
Skin ageing is a multifaceted continuous biological degenerative process, with an impact on overall skin quality, self perceived attractiveness, confidence and comfort (Quality of Life). The optimal solution should improve all 4 emergent perceptual categories or EPG's of skin quality (an important component of human attractiveness) as mentioned above. This can be achieved by supporting skin's own resilience against the inclined loss by degradation (reduce free radical and enzymatic activity) and increase skin's own biological activity, hence skin's own production of hyaluron, collagen and elastin with bio-active ingredients or bio-stimulators and inhibit human tyrosinase activity (reduce age spots). I will explain the 4 key actions below:
Some evidence based bio-actives we can find in skincare are:
2. Enzyme inhibitors
Some ingredients in skincare which inhibit enzymatic degradation are:
Damaging free radical activity is increased in mature skin and ROS (Radical Oxidative Species) increase degradation of all components, enzymatic degradation and human tyrosinase activity, a powerful cocktail of anti-oxidants is a "must-have". The combination of fresh activated L-Ascorbic-Acid (primary defence with instant neutralisation of extra-cellular free radicals) and Licochalcone A (secondary defence with long-lasting intracellular stress protection is a valuable addition in any day or nighttime skincare regimen. Licochalcone A is moreover one of the most powerful anti-oxidants (if not the most powerful one) proven to reduce (deep) oxidative stress from High Energy Visible Light or HEVIS. As we know, free radicals from HEVIS damage the important skin-cell called the fibroblast and increase the risk of age spots. A product which development was initiated, supported and clinically tested by me is Eucerin's Hyaluron-Filler Vitamin C Booster. I highly recommend this product, especially after a collagen-stimulating in-office procedure.
4. Human tyrosinase inhibition
A relatively new, effective and safe ingredient in skincare which was tested on inhibiting human tyrosinase is Thiamidol. Other ingredients in skincare were tested on mushrooms (Hornyak, Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2018 & Mann et al. 2018) and are not potent in reducing human tyrosinase activity. It took 10 years of pioneering research (dr Ludger Kolbe) and comparing 50.000 actives to patent and market it. In the mean time Thiamidol is loved and recommended globally by many dermatologists and evidence based with 35+ studies including >2000 participants with all Fitzpatrick phototypes.
Every AM routine should at least have a skincare product with SPF of 15 or higher.
An improvement of skin quality leads to an improvement of quality of life (van Geloven et al. EADV 2022).
Hope this was helpful.
One of the frequently asked questions is, if it's necessary or if there is a benefit using a special eye care or cleansing products. Yes, there is!
As I mention in many of my previous posts, the right pH-level is very important for healthy skin. Skin usually prefers a pH of around 5. However there are some area's where the skin's natural pH balance is a little bit different. One of those area's is the area around the eyes. The preferred pH-level there is around 7, thus less acidic and more alkalic in comparison to your regular cleansing or care product for face or body.
This is one of the most important reasons why I would recommend to use a special eye make-up remover and eye care product, as they are adjusted to the pH level most suitable for use in the eye area. Furthermore, special eye products are tested and proven to be safe when used around the eyes, while it isn't always recommended or proven for a regular face product.
Some care products have a tendency to "travel" or migrate into the eye area. Even when not directly applied around the eyes, they might end up there. A special eye care product can form a "barrier" and thus help to prevent that unwanted products move to the eye area and cause irritation. I would particularly recommend the use of an eye cream when using other products containing gold standard anti-ageing active ingredients like Vitamin A, C (or derivatives of both), Hydroxy Acids (Alpha, Beta or Poly), when you have experienced some sensitivity of the eyes or eye area in the past or have a more problematic skin type.
Eye care products preferably should not contain Vitamin C (L-Asorbic Acid or related) as it requires a low pH value of <4 to be active and do it's job properly. Eye care products with Vitamin C therewith are either too acidic to be used in the eye area or alternatively too alkalic for the Vitamin C to be effective. Safe to use in the eye area are products containing Hyaluronic Acid. Although "Acid" is in the name, Hyaluronic Acid isn't acidic. One of it's key functions is attract and bind water, which usually has a pH of ~7.
Chemical or mechanical exfoliation
We can support's skin natural exfoliation process in various ways, for example with mechanical or chemical exfoliation.
Desquamation (shedding of skin cells thus exfoliation) is an important part of the skin's natural regeneration or renewal process.
Already in our twenties, this process slightly, however increasingly starts to slow down (Kligman 1983). As a result, the cells on the surface of our skin (corneocytes) become bigger (Kligman 1989) and a little disorganised. This leads to a duller appearance (loss of radiance) and a more rough texture of our skin.
A very comprehensive comparison of both methods:
The word "acid" unfortunately sounds very harsh and skin-unfriendly. Many acids are actually skin's own, like for example lactic acid is a skin's own natural moisturising factor (NMF) and so is hyaluronic acid. The level of NMF's decrease as we age and our skin my lose the ability to maintain well hydrated. Many years ago the benefits of lactic acid were capitalised by using baths filled with donkey milk. Citric acid is commonly used in skin care products and toners to balance skin's pH. Gluconolactone is only gradually penetrates skin and is very gentle.
It's unfortunate that "acids" have such a negative connotation, as our skin (healthy and problematic) can benefit if we use them regularly. Moreover, I prefer this method over mechanical exfoliation for all skin types, however particularly if you have dry skin, acne- or redness prone skin, sensitive skin or mature skin.
The risk of exfoliation is over-exfoliation. Over-exfoliation is damage of our skin barrier and the symptoms are very comparable to dry or (hyper) sensitive skin symptoms, which are: redness, irritation, tightness, excessive dryness, dry patches, flaking skin, uncomfortable stinging, or even burning sensation. Whenever you experience one or more symptoms of over-exfoliation, it's recommended to reduce the number of times you exfoliate and support the skin barrier repair with a moisturiser.
Hope you enjoy healthy skin & take care.
Relation skin pH and ageing process
A high pH value contributes to premature ageing skin!
A study published in British Journal of Dermatology showed that women with an alkaline stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin) developed more fine lines and crow's-feet (wrinkles at the outside corner of the eyes) than those with acidic skin over an eight-year period.
This might be in part because an alkaline epidermis (top layer of the skin) tends to be drier and more fragile than an acidic one. Irritants can enter the skin and water can evaporate more easily. People with hydrated skin showed a 50% lower rate of wrinkling than those with dry skin. If the acid mantle is not intact, it can make skin more susceptible to inflammation (inflammaging) and lowered enzymatic activity, which again increases the risk of development of signs of ageing. Last but not least, alkaline skin is more prone to sun damage thus photo-aging, because its protective barrier has been weakened.
pH balance is fragile. I just mentioned that alkaline skin tends to be drier, however it’s also known that the oils secreted by our skin impact skin’s pH by increasing it. This is one of the reasons that oily skin types can be more prone to acne, as the skin’s pH influences it's microflora. That's a topic for another blog post.
You’ve maybe seen some of my previous posts on skin’s pH and it’s actually one of my major topics. This is because healthy skin starts with an optimal pH balance. Click below in the featured categories on “Skin pH” if you like to learn more about pH. If there is a specific topic you are interested in missing, please place a comment below and I will see to it that I address it.
Facial toners redundant?
Recently I've read an article in which facial toners were called a redundant step in the cleansing routine. They would not serve any purpose anymore and would be “old-fashioned". I disagree, and will explain why.
Particularly when you prefer wet facial cleansing (water has a pH of 7-8), your skin’s pH goes up and you may consider using a toner to bring it back to normal (~5) before using a moisturizer or serum. This also applies if you use an alkaline cleanser or micellar water. It is common that products which are suitable to be used around the eyes, like micellar water, are adapted to a more “eye-friendly” and less “skin friendly” pH of ~7. Skin prefers a pH of ~5.
In my humble opinion, toners are a very important step in every a.m. and p.m. skin care regimen for both healthy and particularly problematic skin types. They refresh, remove left-over debris and make-up and moreover instantly rebalance skin’s pH value. A balanced pH value is the cornerstone for healthy skin. An optimal pH supports skin's microbiome (microflora or "ecosystem") and barrier function. Furthermore, the use of a toner usually helps the penetration and thus efficacy of your care product!
Alternatively, you can use “chemical” exfoliating lotions or pads which contain AHA (glycol, citric and lactic acid), BHA (salicylic acid), PHA (gluconotactone), etcetera. Just be careful using them around the eyes or even avoid this area.
Hope you enjoy healthy skin & take care.
Wellness not skin friendly?
Long showers and bathing, though considered wellness or “home spa” experience, may actually cause a major disruption to our skin’s pH and skin barrier. The same goes for swimming (in salty sea or pool with chlorine).
These activities increase the risk of skin sensitivity and dryness. Water has a pH of 7-8 while our skin’s optimal pH balance requires a pH ~5. To make long showers and bathing a more a skin friendly experience, it is highly recommended to use non-alkaline or slightly acidic gentle cleansers (preferably with a pH ~5). If you have time, apply afterwards a pH rebalancing body lotion or butter. Your skin will surely appreciate it.
I would personally never even consider applying an alkaline body product, as it might take the skin several hours to rebalance it’s pH on a large surface. Instead of hydrating your skin, you may in fact increase the risk of water loss; which is a waste of precious time and (expensive) product.
Surely, I don't want to discourage anybody from enjoying swimming, relaxing long showers and baths! Just give your skin a "little love" afterwards.
Although I am writing this blog post as a private person, the skin care company I am working for as a senior global medical manager was one of the first, if not the first to understand the importance of optimal pH balance of the skin, the cornerstone for healthy skin of face and body. Every day, we expose our skin to pH disruptors, like water (usually a pH of 7-8), alkaline soap, sun, pollution and many more. Even though our skin is resilient and eventually will go back to it’s optimal pH (»5), it is common sense and beneficial for our skin’s health to support our skin with a suitable skin care regimen, reducing disruption and promoting pH-balance.
WHAT IS pH?
pH literally means the power (or concentration) of hydrogen atoms in a substance. Substances with a higher concentration of Hydrogen atoms than Hydroxide molecules have a greater acidic 'power' (acids), while those with lower H+ (Hydrogen) and higher OH- (Hydroxide) concentrations have less acidic power (bases). The pH scale runs from 0 to 14: 7 is a neutral pH, values below 7 (6-0) are increasingly acidic while values above 7 (8-14) are increasingly basic. There is a 10-fold difference in concentration between these values, meaning that pH 0 is 10 times stronger than pH 1, 100 times stronger than pH 2, and 10,000,000 times stronger than pH 7. With other words; a slight increase in pH, can make a big difference for your skin.
SOME PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONS OF SKIN pH
pH plays a fundamental role in the skin's barrier, acid mantle or buffer, which is formed by secretions from sweat and sebaceous glands as well as the breakdown of fatty acids by beneficial micro-flora. The barrier functions like an invisible protective veil (hydrolipid film) that protects skin’s lipids, moisture loss and unwanted allergens, pollution and bacteria. The acid mantle is at its strongest and most optimal balanced when the skin is slightly acidic, with an average pH of about 5.5 (ranging anywhere from 4.5 to 6.2). However, different areas of the body have slightly different requirements and different optimal pH ranges. The skin of women is slightly more acidic than skin of men.
Skin surface pH decreases during normal working hours with maximum values in the afternoon and minimum values during night time. You’ve probably heard that our skin regeneration is most optimal during night time? Indeed, our skin’s pH plays a key role in this too.
In separate posts I will address various specific skin pH related topics, as I could go on forever about pH. There is so much to share on this topic (and still to discover) and balanced pH is essential for healthy skin, from cradle to grave, for all skin types & all phototypes. Please check out my other posts, if you are interested.
Hope you enjoy healthy skin & take care.
There is data suggesting that skin is more prone to sun damage when skin has higher pH levels (>6). The daily use of sunscreen defends the acid mantle by protecting skin cells from sun damage and increasing the skin's ability to protect itself.
Some active ingredients used in sunscreen can increase skin´s optimal pH and are less effective at lowered pH. Ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide (mineral or physical sunscreens) have an optimal “pH window” in which they are more effective. If the pH of zinc oxide or titanium oxide is too low, the oxides will actually dissolve and thus lose efficacy.
I understand that some of you might be in favor of only using mineral or physical sunscreen, however with chemical filters or a mix, you most probably maintain a more optimal pH-balance.
This is particularly something to consider if you have acne-prone skin, problematic skin, or a sensitive or (very) dry skin type as your skin barrier might already be compromised.
Hope you will enjoy the sun well-protected, while maintaining healthy skin.
Ever wondered why armpits are smelly, even when using a luxurious and fabulous fragranced deodorant?
The answer might be in your skin’s pH value. Sweat secreted by the glands under our armpits increases local skin’s pH value. This negatively influences it’s microflora, also called skin’s microbiome. A high and unhealthy pH value encourages certain odor-producing bacteria to flourish. Hence, a more alkaline (high) pH value due to (excessive) sweat, does cause smelly armpits or other malodour in other body areas. No fragrance can mask or does counteract this process effectively. That's why we can still suffer from smells armpits while using deodorant.
What you can do to balance pH and keep armpits dry
Opt for a skin pH friendly deodorant (~5) which reduces perspiration. With less sweat and by maintaining skin’s optimal pH balance, you will automatically reduce nasty bacterial activity.
Keep armpits clean
Regularly wash away the alkalising sweat and bad bacteria with their smelly by-products.
Some skin experts recommend using antibacterial soap. It will reduce all bacterial activity, good and bad. I would rather target only the unwanted bacterial activity with a more skin-flora friendly approach by using gentle cleansing products with a pH value ~ 5. This keeps good bacteria on the skin (we need them for balance) and discourages growth of overly active odor producing bacteria. Make sure that your armpits dry down properly before and after applying a thin layer of deodorant.
Reserve shaving armpits or the use of other hair removal devices for night-time. Gently cleanse and dry your skin prior. Removing hair in the evening and postpone using a deodorant till the next morning will allow your skin to recover a few hours. Mild abrasive hair removal methods can cause micro-injuries to the skin barrier which makes our skin more prone to irritation. Anyway, most of us are less bothered by odor, or at least less aware while sleeping, and we depend more on our pH friendly deodorant to do a good job during day time.
Use all skin care products with modesty, except sunscreen!
Hope you will enjoy a great summer without malodorous armpits.
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