Live your best life & take care
Using the right amount of a skin care product is as important as picking the right product(s). If you don't apply enough of the product or for a too short duration, you will not get the optimal result. This is particularly crucial when using sunscreen to reach the sufficient SPF level and protection. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology by Andreas Storm MD et al. 95% of patients with a topical treatment under-dose, hence do not use enough cream.
If there is a specific user manual mentioning the dosage, or you got a prescription, follow their recommended instructions. If the product came without specific dosage instructions, there is a general rule of thumb. The recommended amount of product to apply varies, depending on the product type.
THE 2 FINGERS RULE FOR SUNSCREEN
For sunscreen you need 1/2 teaspoon for the face or enough to cover the bottom of a shot glass and a full shot glass for the body, which should add up to 2mg per cm2. Another method is using the "rule of nines, which is used for burns. The body areas are divided into 11 area's, each representing 9% of the total. Sunscreen can be applied to each of these areas at a dose of 2 mg/cm2 (regardless phototype) if two strips of sunscreen are squeezed out on to both the index and middle fingers from the palmar crease to the fingertips, thus 2 fingers. (1)
The body areas are:
1 Head, neck, and face
2 Left arm
3 Right arm
4 Upper back
5 Lower back
6 Upper front torso
7 Lower front torso
8 Left upper leg and thigh
9 Right upper leg and thigh
10 Left lower leg and foot
11 Right lower leg and foot
For the use of other topical products there is a guidance created called Finger Tip Units or FTU's by CC Long and AY Finlay. It is a way of measuring the amount of product squeezed out of a tube with a 5mm diameter nozzle and applied from the distal skin-crease (the crease closed to the fingertip) to the tip of the index finger.
The FTU concept has been used as a central part of an education programme for parents of children with atopic eczema, has been advocated to reduce the variation in usage of topical steroids and to encourage adherence to therapy. For a serum, you may need less as they are lightweight products which should be fully "absorbed" without residue. If the skin still feels sticky after 1 minute, you probably applied too much product. A guidance would be a pea size dot on forehead, right cheek, and left cheek, which is similar to the recommended amount of retinoids (Vitamin A). However, unlike Vitamin A, using too much serum usually isn't harmful for the skin, but increases the risk of "pilling".
The precise number of FTU's required:
One FTU covers 286 cm2, more specifically in males and 312 cm2 in females 257 cm2.
The quantity of cream in a fingertip unit varies:
Adult male: 1 fingertip unit provides 0.5 g
Adult female: 1 fingertip unit provides 0.4 g
Keep in mind this is a general guideline and the amount of product needed or results may vary also depending on skin type, concerns and the products particular attributes.
Take care (in the right amount and duration)
1. BMJ. 2002 Jun 22; 324(7352): 1526.Simple dosage guide for suncreams will help users Steve Taylor et al.
Illustration Tinea incognito with unjustified use of potent Topical Corticosteroids: a case series July 2017 International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 6(8):2087 Haiya Sheth et al.
Something I am asked quite regularly is if low humidity can dry out the skin. The answer is yes it can. However, it really depends on your skin. There are 4 skin types: normal, dry, combination and oily. According to the (AAD American Academy of Dermatology) sensitive skin is a skin type too, however some would say all skin is sensitive and I somewhat agree. Dehydrated skin is not a skin type, but a (temporary) condition. Your skin type is pretty much set for life and not changing with the seasons. There is an exception as normal, oily or combination skin may become dry(er) post-menopause. The environment, including temperatures and humidity impact our skin significantly.
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. If there is a lot of water vapor in the air, the humidity will be high. A relative humidity of 70 percent means the air is at 70 percent of its water-holding capacity for the present temperature. Cold air cannot hold as much water vapor as warm air. Thus, as temperature falls, with no change in the amount of water in the air, the relative humidity rises.
A study showed that in a dry environment the skin hydration decreases but the amount of sebum increases to compensate for skin dryness. (1)
High humidity can be beneficial if you have dry skin, however can cause problems if you have oily or combination skin. Low levels of humidity can negatively affect your skin, even when your skin is oily. In general high humidity levels has some benefits.
The increased levels of moisture in the air in high humidity decrease trans-epidermal-water loss of water evaporation from the skin. Hence, your skin is able to maintain it's hydration levels.
Increased cell regeneration
A moisture-rich climate can also promote skin cell turnover and desquamation (the shedding of dead skin cells). Skin’s regeneration process is increased when your skin is well hydrated. The shedding of dead skin cells is the last step in this cell-turnover or regeneration process and good desquamation leads to smoother texture and more radiant skin.
Fine lines and wrinkles are more noticeable if your skin lacks moisture and feels dry. Moreover, skin regeneration process declines as we age. Since high humidity positively contributes to hydration, lines and wrinkles are less pronounced and the regeneration process supported, therewith leading to more youthful looking skin.
Increased sebum production
If your skin is oily, high humidity (especially heat thus sweat) can increase sebum production. An overproduction of sebum, especially in combination or oily skin types can make your skin oily and greasy. Moreover, dirt and irritating particles may "stick" better to greasy skin.
Acne prone skin
Excess sebum and oil caused by high humidity (heat and sweat) increases the risk of clogged pores, break-outs and comedones (blackheads, and whiteheads).
Heat or sweat rash
Heat rash, or sometimes called prickly heat, sweat rash or miliaria, is a harmless but very itchy or prickling skin rash. It causes small red (raised) spots in places where sweat collects, such as the armpits, back, under the breasts, chest, groin, elbow creases and back of the knees, and the waist. Although uncomfortable, it is usually harmless and improves on its own after a few days.
Tips to take care of your skin in humid conditions
Low levels of humidity most commonly negatively affect your skin.
Decrease skin regeneration
When your skin is not well hydrated, the skin's regeneration process including shedding of dead skin cells is impaired. This can lead to a more dull, rough or even flaky skin.
Your skin can get dehydrated or deprived of moisture when exposed to low humidity levels and the skin looks less radiant or glowing.
Sings of ageing
When your skin lacks moisture, the skin is less plump and wrinkles, fine lines become more visible.
Worsening of skin conditions
If you have eczema or another problematic impaired barrier related skin condition, low humidity can cause flare-ups. It can also cause or worsen dry skin symptoms like redness, scaliness, rough texture, cracks, itchiness, stinging, burning and the skin might be more prone to irritation and infection.
Tips to care care of your skin in low humidity
It is widely known that skin´s own hyaluron is a precious molecule keeping our skin hydrated as it is a powerful humectant (attracting and binding water), hence giving the skin a natural plumpness and bounce. What many don´t know is that skin´s own hyaluronic acid content needs to be replenished continuously, as it´s half-life is only several hours up to one day 1. It´s degradation is fastened by 2 different pathways: an external influence via free radical activity or physical degradation and an internal pathway via enzymatic or biological degradation by a family of enzymes called hyaluronidase or abbreviated HYAL.
There are 6 different ones identified and HYAL 1 is the most active one. HYAL 1 “cuts” large size hyaluron molecules (the most capable of binding water) into smaller molecules, which are eliminated even faster. One of the strategies to maintain skin´s own hyaluron content is to inhibit the HYAL enzymes, especially HYAL1. Comparing photo-exposed skin to photoprotected skin showed significant increase in the expression of L-HA (low molecular weight HA) which are smaller or broken hyaluronic acid molecules. An increase of degradated hyaluron was associated with a significant expression of HYAL-1 (2)..UV, ROS or free radical activity leads to the activation of hyaluronidase (3,4).
You may now wonder how it is possible that hyaluron filler injections can have a lasting effect of several months or even longer than a year. This is because in those injectable gels the hyaluron molecules are stabilized to protect them from the impact of free radicals and HYAL enzymes. Often this is done with chemical crosslinks (BDDE). Manufacturers of those hyaluron injectable gels use different stabilizing or crosslink technologies and different number of crosslinks, which impacts the gels consistency and longevity. They aren´t completely resistant to hyaluronidase, as it can be used to dissolve injected hyaluron. As hyaluron is anyway depleted and replenished every day, this dissolving procedure hardly affects skin´s own hyaluronic acid content. This is a common misconception.
In skin care however, the use of crosslinked hyaluron (hence lasting for months or longer) does not make a lot of sense as we usually cleanse our skin twice daily and thus wash it away. It is too large to penetrate. There are some benefits for crosslinked hyaluron, but it does not impact the longevity of skin´s own hyaluronic acid content. One ingredient derived from the roots of Chinese Licorice plant called Enoxolone (also known as Glycyrrhetinic acid) however, has proven to decrease the HYAL1 activity by 54% (in vitro) (5.6). This is a novel and safe topical way to protect skin´s own hyaluronic acid content from fast degradation and elimination.
However, as mentioned before free radicals increase HYAL1 activity and as we age our skin becomes less resilient against accumulated oxidative stress. Therefore, the most optimal approach to inhibit increasing break down of hyaluronic acid is to combine HYAL1 inhibition with powerful anti-oxidants. In the illustration, which I created professionally, it is Saponin. Saponin is next to a powerful anti-oxidant, also a potent bio-stimulator of the fibroblast for hyaluron (+256%) and collagen (+49%) (6). Furthermore, Enoxolone stimulates melanin production, supports the skin's own repair mechanism against UV-induced DNA damage and inhibits enzymatic elastin degradation. What a power-couple to have in dermo-cosmetic products to manage the biological degenerative process of ageing skin.
1. HA: a key molecule in skin aging E. Papakonstantinou
2. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1; 4(3): 253–258. doi: 10.4161/derm.21923 Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging Eleni Papakonstantinou, 1 Michael Roth, 2 and George Karakiulakis 1
3. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine December 2013, 13:304| In vitro determination of the anti-aging potential of four southern African medicinal plants Authors Gugulethu NdlovuEmail, Gerda Fouche, Malefa Tselanyane, Werner Cordier, Vanessa Steenkamp
4. Bioorg Chem. 2018 Apr;77:159-167. doi: 10.1016/j.bioorg.2017.12.030. Epub 2018 Jan 4. In-vitro evaluation of antioxidant, anti-elastase, anti-collagenase, anti-hyaluronidase activities of safranal and determination of its sun protection factor in skin photoaging. Madan K1, Nanda S2.
5. EADV Poster 2021 A holistic hyaluron-centric anti-aging concept to improve static and dynamic wrinkles Geloven van A, Harbig S, Stuhr A, Dunckel J, Kuhn A, Dippe R, Warnke K, Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg, Germany
6. EADV Poster 2021 Multifaceted novel approach to increase skin’s own epidermal & dermal hyaluron content Bussmann T, Warnke K, Krüger A, Möller N, Harbig S, Stuhr A, Dunckel J, Geloven van A, Weise J, Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg, Germany
7. Hong et al. Glycyrrhetinic Acid: A Novel Modulator of Human Skin Pigmentation and DNA-Repair September 2009Journal of Investigative Dermatology Conference: 39th Annual European-Society-for-Dermatological-Research Volume: 129
Reading the instructions on cleansing and care products can be misleading. When do I pat my skin dry first or when do I apply the product on damp skin? Even many recommendations from skin care guru's or skinfluencers are not completely correct.
In general it is recommended to apply a serum, eye care or moisturising / hydrating care product on damp skin, or immediately after bathing for the following reasons:
The primary benefit of applying skin care products to damp skin is that the skin is more receptive to the ingredients. Water helps to increase the hydration levels of the skin cells, which then improves the absorption of the skincare products. When the skin is damp, the skin's surface is more permeable, allowing the ingredients in the skin care products to penetrate deeper into the skin, and work their magic. Absorbing the ingredients more effectively, this leads to better results.
The exception are products which require a very low pH level to penetrate, and be more effective, for example L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and chemical exfoliating "acids" like hydroxy acids. The reason is that water has a pH level of 7-8, acidic formulations will be "neutralised" on damp skin.
Applying skin care products to damp skin helps to lock in moisture, leaving your skin feeling soft, supple, and hydrated. Hydration is critical for the skin because it helps to maintain and restore the skin's barrier function. The skin barrier protects the skin from losing hydration and prevents irritants and bacteria from entering. Applying serums and moisturisers on damp skin, increases the hydration benefits from the products.
Another advantage of applying skincare on damp skin is that it helps to improve the spreadability of the product. When we apply products such as serum or moisturiser to dry skin, they tend to settle in one area and can be challenging to spread evenly. On the other hand, when applied to damp skin, the skin care products can spread easily and evenly across the skin surface, ensuring maximum coverage and benefit.
The exception are lipid rich products which are hydrophobe (water repelling), for example ointments, they might not spread evenly or easy on damp skin.
Applying skin care products to damp skin has been shown to improve their performance. This is because when products are applied to damp skin, they are less likely to evaporate, and the ingredients remain active for longer. This increased contact time with the skin leads to better, more effective results.
The exception are products containing vitamin A, retinoids, tretinoin, retinal, retinol, retinaldehyde as damp skin increases the risk of irritation.
Sensitive and hyper-sensitive skin
Usually people with sensitive and hyper-sensitive skin have an impaired skin barrier function, hence ingredients will penetrate better in comparison to a resilient and well-functioning skin barrier. Applying products on (hyper)sensitive skin will therefore increase the risk of irritations. Be mindful which ingredients you use and use a pH rebalancing toner after cleansing and prior to any serum or care product you use. A toner is anyway an affordable product, which I highly recommend to use in every skin care routine. Read more.
Study results on patients with dry skin and healthy volunteers
In healthy subjects, compared to at control sites, the Stratum Corneum Water Content (SCW) was significantly higher at sites treated with the moisturizer immediately after bathing, with 1.0 and 2.0 mg/cm2 of the moisturizer, and with once- and twice-daily applications.
In patients with dry skin, the SCW was significantly higher compared to control sites after 8 weeks when the moisturizer was applied twice daily. Read more.
Skip-care is a skincare trend that has taken the beauty world by storm for a while now. It is a Korean beauty inspired technique that focuses on simplifying your skin care routine by skipping steps and using multi-purpose products. This skin minimalistic approach will save time, money and reduces the risk of skin irritation caused by the overuse of certain products or combinations.
Skip-care is rooted in the Korean beauty philosophy of ‘less is more’. The skincare industry in South Korea is one of the most innovative and advanced in the world, and they have been leading the way when it comes to skincare trends. The Korean beauty industry is famous for their 10-step skincare routine, which is aimed at improving overall skin health and beauty. However, this long and high-maintenance routine is not for everyone, and this is where skip-care comes in as an alternative approach. It aims to simplify the routine and accessible to people who do not have the time or resources to devote to a lengthy skincare routine.
If you want to go very minimal, you could combine cleanse and tone by using an all-in-one toning cleanser, skip the "treat" step and your skip-care routine is reduced to 2 steps only.
A benefit on top of saving time, money and reducing the risk of irritation is that by simplifying and streamlining your routine, you probably increase compliance. The best skin care routine is still the one you actually adhere to.
It was always believed that the moment we are born, is the moment we are exposed to environmental influences. The truth is that there is ample evidence that already during pregnancy the mothers behaviour: smoking or food has a significant impact on how well we age. We know that all skin needs to be protected against UV and HEVIS by using sunscreen, especially in sun exposed areas from birth onwards.
Although you can not start too early taking care of your skin, the right age to start with a well-ageing skin care routine is actually just post-adolescence for 3 reasons.
1. During adolescence most start with their first cleansing and care routines to remove access of sebum, debris and reduce plus prevent break-outs or comedones. Boys may already shave facial hair. So teenagers or young adults are used to a morning- and evening skin care routine which benefits the overall sense of well-being.
2. Most commonly growth stops when puberty ends and this is the moment the degenerative biological process starts, even though there are no visible signs yet.
3. Prevention of pre-mature ageing skin is the most effective and efficient strategy.
SKIN NEEDS CARE
There is a movement stating that normal unproblematic skin doesn't need care. I strongly disagree. The choice of products at this age depends of course on the skin type, skin condition, skin health, and environment (like weather conditions, pollution), however the morning care should always focus on protecting every skin type, using suncreen (UV + HEVIS protection) and ideally complimented by anti-oxidants to reduce damaging free radical activity, while the evening routine should at least include proper cleansing (to remove dirt and pollutants), which may be followed by product catering to specific needs, like for example sebum regulating, barrier repairing or hydrating ingredients. I would not make a differentiation between darker or lighter skin in terms of photoprotection, as dark skin only has a natural SPF of 13.3 and light skin of 3.4, hence both not enough to prevent sun damage. However, dark skin has a lower amount of ceramides in the statum corneum and is therefore more prone to trans-epidermal water loss.
If you are afraid of spoiling your skin and making it "lazy" using skin care for a long time, know that all effects from a dermo-cosmetic product are 100% reversible, thus temporary. This is regulated by law and to enjoy the benefits from skin care, you need to keep using the products. When you stop, your skin will bounce back to it's original state at least after a full regeneration cycle of about 28 days. A few things to avoid are: sun-damage, especially burns, over-exfoliation (damaged skin barrier) and slugging of oily or acne-prone skin (breakouts).
Mood-boosting skin care can be defined as a skin care routine that includes products and/or tools and techniques which (may be specifically designed) enhance our mood and mental well-being in addition to improving the overall health and appearance of the skin.
Research has shown that skin care is becoming more than just a physical experience, but also a therapeutic and emotional one. The role of mood-boosting skin care in providing self-care and supporting mental well-being has become increasingly important and has profound benefits.
These mood boosting routines typically incorporate products that have essential oils that help to relax, uplift, and calm the mind, which in turn, affects an individual's mood positively. However, I am not a big fan of incorporating essential oils in a skin care routine as they can be irritating, cause skin sensitivity, redness and breakouts. Irritation and redness can be signs of sub-clinical inflammation and speed up the biological degenerative process called skin ageing or skin inflammageing. It is not a surprise that dermatologists warn against the use of most essential oils on the skin. When it comes to essential oils, it is best to use them in a diffuser and not skin care. Facial oils can be beneficial however in a skin care routine. Click here to read more about the use of facial oils.
A SPA "ME" MOMENT
The ancient Greeks were the first to suggest that spas and bathing could be used for therapeutic purposes and not just for hygiene and cleanliness (which are basic requirements for good skin health). A warm relaxing bath isn't always good for skin health however (1). On the other side a 20-30 second cold shower after a workout or sauna encourages the release of cold shock proteins. Cold shock proteins may help you maintain your muscle mass when you're too busy to make it to the gym or when you're taking some planned time off your training routine. Some cold shock proteins are known to decrease inflammation and support faster wound healing. Cold water immersion also activates brown fat, tissue that helps keep the body warm and helps it control blood sugar and insulin levels. It helps the body to burn calories, hence to lose weight. Click here to read more.
A SPA BONDING MOMENT
As time is precious, meaningful time together with friends, your partner or your kids, can boost your sense of satisfaction and strengthen bonds. Funny anecdote was that I was "masking" with my son, who was at the time 12 years old. While relaxing he asked me what his mask was actually doing and I told him that it makes you look younger. He immediately asked me to remove it, scared he would look afterwards like 7 years old.
JADE ROLLERS & GUA SHA
I love using (refrigerated) jade rollers and gua sha, especially in the under eye area in the morning to reduce puffiness, increase the circulation and lymph drainage. It is important that the tools glide over the skin, don't tug and thus I apply a nourishing care product first. Moreover, applying skin care products using mindful techniques such as massaging in gentle circular motions can be therapeutic, providing a sense of calm and relaxation.
SKIN CARE ROUTINES
Mindful evening skin care routines have been shown to be particularly beneficial in unwinding after an overwhelming day, helping to reduce stress and induce better sleep. As it turns out, consistent routines provide more stability in your day, which is beneficial for your mental health and stress level regulation. Therewith every morning- and evening skin care routine is mood-boosting.
DO GOOD, FEEL BETTER
If you treat your self and your skin good, it will make your skin look better and even improve your quality of life. Self-care enhances feelings of self-worth, boost self-esteem and can even give a sense of accomplishment, is thus mood boosting, even without the use of aroma therapy or essential oils.
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.
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.
Vitamin C is a "must have" skin care ingredient our skin needs at any age.
One of the best researched skin care ingredients and proven to be very beneficial for skin is Vitamin C. Our skin uses Vitamin C as an anti-oxidant and the dermal fibroblasts need Vitamin C for the production of collagen. Two very good reasons to add this ingredients into your daily skincare routine whether you are twenty or eighty. Moreover, our skin depends on us for the needed supply, as our skin is not able to produce Vitamin C itself.
We can either include enough Vitamin C in our diet or apply Vitamin C topically there where we need it the most. Usually this is the skin which is exposed to (sunlight) as this increases damaging free radical activity in our skin. An active form of vitamin C can reduce the free radical activity, which we call anti-oxidative effect.
There are 4 things to consider when buying a skincare product containing Vitamin C:
Day or night?
Some recommend to use Vitamin C during the night, as the active form of Vitamin C will oxidize in daylight. Hence, your skin can benefit from the Vitamin C longer during the night. I would recommend Vitamin C to be used during daytime (thus added to your morning routine), as we need protection from damaging free radicals the most during daytime and the oxidization of Vitamin C is actually a sign that the ingredient is doing it’s job! It’s even better to add Vitamin C both to your day & night time skincare routine.
Is L-Ascorbid Acid enough?
Vitamin C is counteracting free radicals from UV light. However, UV is not the only damaging light form as there is also High Energy Visible Light or abbreviated HEVIS. This penetrates even deeper into the skin where also the dermal fibroblasts reside. The dermal fibroblasts are our collagen and hyaluronic acid producing cells and a key target in an effective anti-ageing skincare strategy. Lichochalcone A (Licorice-root extract) has proven to be the most potent anti-oxidant to protect the dermal fibroblasts and neutralize free radicals from HEVIS. Moreover, Lichocalcone A increases Glutathione, which is a skin’s own anti-oxidant. Licorice-root extract is an anti-ageing hero.
The combination of Vitamin C and Lichocalcone A will protect our skin and dermal fibroblasts from free radical damage by UV and HEVIS and will provide superior biological cell protection in comparison to Vitamin C only. For me this is a good reason to use a product containing both ingredients as a first step after my cleansing routine in the morning. If you have sensitive eyes, I recommend to use an eye care prior, which will form a barrier to help to prevent the low pH Vitamin C product to migrate into the eye area. Afterwards you can use the other products of your skincare routine. I would like to put emphasis on using a SPF of 30 or higher during the day. This will not only help to protect your skin, but also support he anti-oxidative benefits and make them last longer.
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.
Safe use of cosmetics and care products is particularly important for the sensitive eye area. If you've ever or never had a problem, here is how you can avoid them..
If any eye cosmetic or care product causes irritation, stop using it immediately. If irritation persists, see a health care provider.
Avoid using eye cosmetics if you have an eye infection or the skin around the eye is inflamed. Wait until the area is healed. Discard any eye cosmetics you were using when you got the infection. Be aware that there are bacteria on your hands that, if placed in the eye, could cause infections.
Wash your hands before applying eye cosmetics. Make sure that any instrument you place in the eye area is clean. Don't share your cosmetics. Another person's microflora may be hazardous for you.
Don't allow cosmetics to become covered with dust or contaminated with dirt or soil. Keep containers and nozzles clean. Don't use old containers or eye cosmetics and don't re-use containers. Never trust a product that smells funky, looks dirty, or past the open-jar time.
Discard dried-up mascara. Don't add saliva or water to moisten it. The bacteria from your mouth may grow in the mascara and cause infection. Adding water may introduce bacteria and will dilute the preservative that is intended to protect against microbial growth. Manufacturers usually recommend discarding mascara two to four months after purchase.
Don't store cosmetics at temperatures above 85 degrees F or 30 degrees Celsius. Cosmetics held for long periods in hot cars, for example, are more susceptible to deterioration and bacteria. Some products are best stored in the refrigerator. Read the leaflet or follow the instructions how to best store the product.
When applying or removing eye cosmetics, be careful not to scratch the eyeball or other sensitive area. Never apply or remove eye cosmetics in a moving vehicle. Don't use any cosmetics near your eyes unless they are intended specifically for that use. For instance, don't use a lip liner as an eye liner. You may be exposing your eyes to contamination from your mouth, or to color additives that are not approved for use in the area of the eye. Avoid color additives that are not approved for use in the area of the eye, such as "permanent" eyelash tints and kohl.
If you use make-up brushes or sponges, clean them every week with a special product or soap. Give them additionally from time to time an extra spritz with a disinfectant.
Don't mix it up
Sometimes you might feel to mix several products or add something to the product. Problems can arise if you challenge a product’s preservative capability, which is optimal and tested only with the original formula and packaging.
Check ingredient list
As with any cosmetic product sold to consumers, eye cosmetics are required to have an ingredient declaration on the label. Check if there is anything listed you don't tolerate or like. If the product doesn't have the ingredients listed, the product may be considered misbranded and illegal. Do the same for adhesives used for lash extensions or false lashes.
Be aware of testers
Keep in mind when you come across “testers” at retail stores that they might be contaminated. If you do sample cosmetics at a store, be sure to use single-use applicators, such as clean cotton swabs. Check how the store maintains their testers. If possible, ask for a sample, especially for care products. Using a few applications gives you a better idea about the compatibility (how well your skin tolerates the product), if you like the texture and enjoy the product.
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.
Facial oils are a trending skin care product at the moment, loved and recommended by many "beauty guru's" and skin care experts. This is why I found it very interesting to read a comment written by a well respected dermatologist claiming that face oils would stifle skin renewal and exfoliation and would make skin dull over time. She must have a reason why she is saying this, and that's why I looked into this a little bit deeper.
To start with, I've done own research (not just me) with a facial oil, included many testers and found many benefits and no draw backs during the duration of the study. Moreover, I jumped out of my chair (literally) when I saw the visible results from the clinical photography, no joke! We've found that the oil (a combination of Argan oil and Lady's Thistle oil) improves moisture, elasticity and firmness, supports skin resilience, making the skin feel smooth and look more radiant. There was even a reduction of comedones detected. The results were published in a poster, accepted by the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2016.
If you are an impatient person, and demand a fast answer, I can spill the tea right now: I've found no data to support that facial oils would stifle skin renewal and exfoliation, but the opposite.
Moisturisers absolutely influence the skin barrier function and TEWL (transepidermal water loss - which is used to measure the skin barrier function). A good barrier function (confirmed by low TEWL), positively contributes to the skin cell renewal process, which includes skin exfoliation process. Very dry skin has an increased TEWL, and so does very well hydrated skin. There is simply more water on the skin surface to evaporate. A high TEWL with very well hydrated skin can therefore give the impression of an impaired barrier function and thus give a "false positive". This phenomenon is nicely explained in a publication by Marie Loden "Effect of moisturizers on epidermal barrier function".
Looking at non fragrance plant oils also called fixed oils, there are many and they are all different, so it's impossible to generalise. Many plant oils, like almond, jojoba, soybean and avocado oils mostly remain on the skin surface. Even without penetrating deeper into the outer layer of the skin (called epidermis), the occlusive effect of plant oils will reduce water evaporation from the skin and help the growth of the cells of the top layer called keratinocytes. They actually support the skin barrier and therewith skin cell renewal. Part of the skin cell renewal is a process called desquamation, which is skin's natural exfoliation of dead skin cells. Helping this process will make skin appear more radiant and smooth, not duller.
The benefits of plant oils are supported in many publications, one of which is found in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences anti inflammatory skin barrier repair effects by Tzu-Kai Lin 2017.
One of the most popular and well researched fixed oils is organ oil. It contains oleic and linoleic fatty acids. Both are part of our skin's natural intercellular lipid-enriched matrix or skin barrier. Linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) is in fact the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid. Our skin barrier is protecting our skin from water loss and penetration of external agressors. Thus the skin barrier keeps the good stuff in and bad stuff out.
Linoleic acid plays a direct role in maintaining the integrity of this skin barrier. Some research shows that oleic acid may indeed disrupt the skin barrier and act as an permeability enhancer, helping other ingredients to penetrate deeper. When oleic acid is continuously applied, it could lead to barrier problems. Another ingredient in argan oil is tocopherol or vitamin E. Tocopherol is well known for it's antioxidative effect (neutralising damaging free radicals from pollution or sun which cause premature ageing) and lesser known for supporting the skin barrier. Daily topical application of argan oil (the finished product which contains multiple ingredients) has shown to improve skin elasticity (firmness), improve the skin hydration by restoring the barrier function and maintaining water-holding capacity. Furthermore it has a softening and relaxing effect on skin.
Lady's Thistle oil
The oil of the Milk Thistle plant (also known as Silybum Marianium) is a common ingredient in anti-aging skincare. It contains skin barrier supporting Linoleic acid and is known to nourish skin and improve radiance.
Facial oils are certainly not for everybody, but in general skin will benefit from a cold pressed fixed plant oil or a mixture. Don't smother skin with oils, just apply a few drops by itself on the skin prior or after your moisturiser, or mix a few drops with your moisturiser of foundation.
Hope you enjoy radiant skin & take care.
Anything you don't enjoy using or doesn't cater to your needs, is not worth buying.
Skin care is personal and there is a good product for all wallet sizes. However, is a luxury product better than a more affordable one? Is expensive the best?
There are actually many factors influencing the prize of a product, other than the prestigious brand-name and advertising costs.
Note: This content will mainly apply to skin care catering to the need of healthy, thus not problematic skin types. Problematic (or diseased) skin needs special care which usually is not found in the prestige or luxury skin care segment.
If you are disappointed by the results your skin care products, you might not have bought the right product for you. Make sure that your understand your skin type. There is also a change that you might have too high expectations of what skin care can actually do for you. Your skin will definitely benefit from a good skin care regimen with the right product(s). However, don't expect a metamorphosis, especially not from one day to the next. There are limitations to what skin care can do for your skin and actually what skin care is allowed to do. These rules apply for all skin care products.
Some very excellent skin care ingredients are expensive, however there are many very good ingredients which are affordable. Expensive ingredients can be useless "actives" in skin care, and "sound" appealing. Usually "rare" ingredients are expensive, but not all rare ingredients are "the best" actives. The majority of active ingredients only give visible or noticeable results in optimal concentrations. Many skin care products in the prestige or luxury skin care category have long INCI lists (ingredient lists). This will increase the price of the product, but does not necessarily mean that this is the right skin care for you. Furthermore, there is more to a formula than an ingredient list! If the end products texture (also called galenics) is too greasy or too light for your liking, you might not enjoy using the product, and it is not worth the splurge. Luxury brands invest in pleasurable textures of the formula to ensure a positive user experience and high repurchasing rate. A nice texture, doesn't necessarily ensure high performance of a product. Actually the more occlusive products (sometimes regarded as greasy or heavy), are commonly well performing in preventing transepidermal water loss, thus hydration.
Note: especially with very long ingredient lists it is highly recommended to try the product before you buy, particularly if you have sensitive skin, as the risk of a skin reaction is increased when the number of ingredients is high. Check also if the product was tested and proven suitable for sensitive skin in this case.
Innovation & technology
New active ingredients may be exclusively developed by a company and it took them a lot of time, effort and money to collect enough data and proof that this particular active ingredient is effective and safe to use. Products containing such a (probably patented) ingredient can be more expensive than products with more generic frequently used ingredients. Sometimes expensive technology is especially developed or used to improve the formula, texture or container.
Formula's may need a special container or dispenser to be stored appropriately. This is more expensive than a simple standard packaging. Some containers are only luxury and aim to look amazing in your bathroom or on your dresser. Others might be very "inviting", quick and easy to use. If this is what you prefer and enjoy, it might be worth the splurge.
Evidence is in my opinion compulsory, however not always scientific. Real proof and particularly scientific proof or clinical proof is expensive and time consuming. The best proof is a combination of scientific publications (in peer reviewed journals) and "product-in-use" tests (most similar to daily use) with large representative groups. A claim xx% of testers agree with a panel of 6 or 25 testers, is not enough to be significant. If you want certainty about the benefits of a product, a formula which has proven to be very effective and well tolerated might be worth the splurge.
Usually (not always) brands that are recommended by or sold through dermatologists, aesthetic doctors or health care providers have conducted more rigorous research to provide the doctors with evidence, so they feel confident in recommending the product.
Some brands have a great story, background, founder and thus a high likeability or appeal. Some huge companies producing large quantities may have lower production costs per product than small companies producing a limited number of products at an external supplier. Some brands "harvest" their own ingredients, have an intense auditing procedure for suppliers or special requirements for the ingredients they use. These factors influence the price of the product. It's certainly not worth the splurge, if you don't like the brand or the company behind the brand. If you have special wishes or requirements, you might be willing to pay for those.
If you love special skin care, indulging "me-moments" and therewith skin care is high on your priority list, you will look at a pricy skin care purchase very differently from someone who just wants an effective moisturiser. If the product or the purchase makes you more happy and you it's use, it might be very well worth the splurge.
Last but not least, any purchase you make only makes sense if the product fits your needs (skin type and concerns) and your skin care regimen.
Try before you buy
Some expensive high end products may be worth the splurge, if you enjoy them too. However, there are good affordable alternatives available. The most expensive isn't per se the best or the best for you. Do some research on the product and check reviews from customers. I would recommend to ask a sample and try every product before you buy it and preferably apply it first on the area where you want to use it. For example: applying a product on your hand in the store is not the same as trying it on your face, neck or décolletage!
I apologise for the length of this blog post, but the answer is not so easy. Any purchase you make depends on what your are looking for, are willing and able to spend. Invest in proper cleansing before applying any serum or care. If the skin care product is so expensive that you are hesitant to actually use it and you know that it will sit in your bathroom untouched, it's not worth to buy it. If you already own such a product, rather use it and keep the empty container on display.
Hope you enjoy and use your skin care.
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.
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