Mar 30, 2009

Ingredient Spotlight: Mica

I went round to Kohl's yesterday to check out two of their new skin care products by Beauty Bank, a division of Estee Lauder.

I had read some post on them online and wanted to see what they were all about. One is a rather costly moisturizer by American Beauty that contains diamond particles, the other is a cream with Vitamin C and sunscreen by Grassroots. Both of which contain mica and titanium dioxide.

You may be reading this and think, so what?! However, as many of us have learned those of us with acne prone/sensitive skin tend to breakout if we use products that contain mica in them and titanium dioxide can also be problematic.

Mica, a mineral, is used in a product because it is light diffusing and can make lines appear somewhat smoother, it can also make dark circles under the eyes look lighter. Most mineral make ups contain mica. However, this is cosmetic effect and not because the mica reduces fine lines and wrinkles or lightens the under eye area. So, it is therefore used in many make up products for this very reason. However, using it in a skin care product, especially a moisturizer doesn't make much sense to me, especially if a company is trying to appeal to a broad group of consumers and here is why. If I buy a new product that promises me it does this and that but causes me to develop, painful, cyst like, breakouts, I will either return it for a refund or throw it out and likely not purchase anything else from the company.

I have learned over the years that if I use anything with mica and/or titanium dioxide that I will develop, painful and long lasting, breakouts. It doesn't matter how much I like the product or how well it works, I cannot risk causing myself breakouts and so must avoid those, and numerous other, ingredients. Two years ago, for several months, I dealt with painful cyst like pimples deep in my skin after using a product that contain titanium dioxide just once. Tin oxide is another ingredient that I try to avoid, it seems to be used mostly as a colorant.

Now, many people use mica containing products everyday with out even so much as a hint of breaking out, while people like me get zits if we use the product even once. It would be nice if companies would leave out the mica in their facial moisturizer and treatment products and save it for their make up products instead so that more of us can use their great products with out the fear we'll break out. Certain high end dermatologist tested, allergy free products contain mica which seems odd since mica is something that can clog pores.

I also wonder if, since so many products contain high levels of silicones, (silicones are a a relatively cheap cosmetic filler that makes the skin appear smoother than it is) and since silicone traps everything beneath it, if it might force the mica particles into the pores? I'm not a scientist so cannot say that with any authority, it's just something that sort of makes sense to me.

If you tend to break out and aren't sure why, you may want to read the ingredients on all the skin care and make up products you use and see if any of them contain mica. You can also research, online, what others say about it and their opinions on this particular ingredient.

Mar 23, 2009

Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner

After much research and debate about whether a toner/stringent is even necessary I decide to try Thayers Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. According to my Mother; my great-Grandmother used this or something similar and she always had the loveliest peaches and cream complexion.

Legend has it that Rose Thayer, niece of the founder, Dr. Henry Thayer, invented this formual over 120 years ago and because she used it always looked 10 years younger than she actually was. Thayer's Natural Remedies has been in business since 1847 and has a line of various Witch Hazel toners. Many of them are alcohol free which makes them less drying than those with alcohol.
Some people suggest that toner helps reduce pore size, removes the last traces of cleanser and preps the skin for what ever serum or moisturizer is applied next.
The problem is that many toners on the market, whether drug store brands or high-end department store brands contain high concentrations of alcohol which strips and dries the skin causing it to produce more oil. Using an alcohol free product, that adds moisture and soothes and tones, on the otherhand, may actually provide some benefit.

According to Thayer they use undistilled Witch Hazel which maintains a higher level of tannins. This product also contains Aloe Vera which is know for it's soothing and healing properties as well as Vitamin E and Rose Water. Roses are reportedly high in fatty acids which may help the skin.
The texture of this product is a clear, watery liquid. It is rose scented but the scent fades rather quickly and is therefore not overwhelming. My skin feels soft and supple after I use it and my Mastey de Paris Moiste Facial Moisturizer sinks in easily over top.
Do I think a toner is necessary, no, I don't. I feel if you wash your face thoroughly and rinse thoroughly you're good to go. However, I have decide to use this as my "serum" for a few weeks and see how my skin reacts to it. It is alcohol free, propylene-glycol free and paraben free. Because of the nourishing ingredients it contains and because it is so light it works well thus far using it under my moisturizer, twice daily.

A 12 ounce bottle of toner costs under $10 and is available at GNC, the Thayer's website and Whole Foods.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf (Certified Organic Filet Of Aloe Vera), Glycerin (Vegetable), Fragrance (Natural Rose) Hamamelis Virginiana (THAYERS® proprietary un-distilled Witch Hazel) Extract, Rosa Centifolia (Rose) Flower Water, Citric Acid, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate.

Mar 16, 2009

Ingredient Spotlight: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

I was just recently given skin care samples of a very well known French skin care line and was surprised to read that it contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. If it were a body wash or shampoo, even a facial cleanser, it would be more understandable but in a moisturizer?!

I've done some reading online that seems to indicate Sodium Lauryl Sulfate can cause pimples and may be drying. There are also the websites saying that Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a dangerous ingredient for various reasons. However, what I don't understand is why a moisturizer would contain a relatively harsh cleanser when it is meant to moisturize and protect the skin.

To me, it is like a moisturizer contain a large amount of drying alcohol. Alcohol is drying to the skin, simple as that. Yet, I have read articles saying that cosmetic grade alcohol evaporates quickly and thus is not drying. Having used such products I can say that they do indeed dry my skin and because they are so drying cause my skin to produce more oil and thus increase the likelihood of breakouts.

Personally, I try to avoid both Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Alcohol because they do not agree with my skin. With so many new ingredients and with so much research being done in the skin care field it amazes me that companies continue to use ingredients that may not be best for our skin.

Mar 9, 2009

L'Oreal Excellence Creme Haircolor

After using Wella products for many years and not being satisfied with the resulting color I decided to try L'Oreal Excellence Creme haircolor.

My natural haircolor is what is called "Dirty Dishwater Blonde," sort of a drab medium to dark blonde. I have been blonde for many years and have tried numerous products in the past to accomplish this. I've used everything from Sun In to drugstore haircolor.

For the past several years I have been buying my haircoloring supplies from Sally Beauty. They have a large selection of products with color swatches so you get an idea of what color you're buying. The haircoloring products sold at Sally Beauty are meant for professional use only. Caution must be taken when coloring your hair as it can result in hair breakage/damage and chemical burns, among other things.

The Wella Color Charm products I was using did not allow my hair to be as light as I wanted and tended to dry my hair out. I also tried Clairol and Ion haircolor, also available at Sally Beauty, but again I didn't acheive the color I wanted and those products tended to dry out my hair, especially the ends.

After choosing a color and using L'Oreal Excellence Creme haircolor, I was amazed at how good my hair felt afterward and for weeks after. The hair color must be mixed with the L'Oreal developer and nothing over 30 volume can be used. The no drip formula makes it easy to apply; however, it does drip some so use caution. The product scent is strong and lingers for days. I use only Mastey de Paris Traite Sulfate-Free Shampoo, which I feel, helps to preserve my color. All in all, I am pleased with the performance of L'Oreal Excellence Creme haircolor. It is for professional use only, as the packaging indicates.

Available for $5.99, $4.99 with a Sally Beauty Club Card, this product is sold in a 1.74 ounce metallic tube and comes in a large variety of colors including high lift blondes.

Ingredients: Vary by product.

Mar 6, 2009

Good Skin Pharmacy Sculptinex Instant ReSculpting Face Treatment

I was recently given a sample tube of Good Skin Pharmacy's newest product Sculptinex Instant ReSculpting Face Treatment by a sales associate at Kohl's. While the sample was in a tube, the full size product comes in a tube with a roller ball for application.

The Good Skin website indicates this product contains Tensine and Resveratrol. It furthur states: "Instant sculpting meets long term firming in one innovative product. From the scientists at GS Labs, this technologically advanced system instantly resculpts skin while noticeably lifting and firming when used over time."

After reading about it on the Good Skin website I was eager to try it and see what sort of results I would get. My first impression was how thick the product was and how much the scent resembles products from Clinique, another Estee Lauder company. This product was difficult to spread and rather than absorb it sat on my skin leaving a white film on my face. It balled up if I applied a moisturizer over it. This product may be better for more mature skin.

Maybe this product would work better for me if applied with the roller ball applicatior but I found it difficult to use and did not experience any drastic improvment in my skin. I developed some small breakouts in the area where I applied it.

Available exclusively at Kohl's a full size tube, with roller ball applicator, sells for $44.50.

Ingredients: Unavailable.

Mar 2, 2009

Product Launch: Youth Surge SPF 15 Age Decelerating Moisturizer

Clinique is launching a new skin care moisturizer intended to be used after their 3 Step routine. It is available in three different formulas, Very Dry, Dry/Combination and Oily/Combination.

According to Clinique: "Leveraging Sirtuin technology, Clinique science uses youth-extending agents to create a daily moisturizer quite like a fountain of youth. Lines and wrinkles seem to evaporate, replaced by plump, vibrant skin alive with collagen and elastin. Skin gains strength over environmental agers. Looks younger, longer."

This sounds like an interesting product and similar to Estee Lauder's recent Time Zone as well as their more costly Re Nutriv Ultimate Youth cream. After I give it a try I will update this post.

A 1.7 ounce screw top jar retails for $48.50 and is available online or at the Clinique counter.