Aug 31, 2009

Ingredient Spotlight: Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, sometimes referred to as AHA, have been in use for centuries. The great Egyptian beauty, Cleopatra was thought to have taken milk baths. Lactic Acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid found in milk which has exfoliating abilities.

AHA are thought to stimulate the formation of collagen in the skin. They are also thought to help even out skin tone and lessen discoloration through exfoliation. Which is just one reason AHA products may be good for men prone to ingrown hairs. They are also thought to thicken the skin which may help lessen the appearance of wrinkles and make the skin look firmer and more youthful, much like peptides are said to. AHA products also help with skin moisturization which helps the appearance of skin tremendously, dry skin looks older. Products containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids must have a certain concentration of AHAs and a certain PH or they will not exfoliate. If you're unsure if the product you're using has the proper amount of AHA and the correct PH range, email the manufacturer and ask.

A word of warning and this is extremely important, you MUST use sunscreen every single day without fail when using any products containing AHA and for at least two weeks afterward as they make the skin more sensitive and more prone to burning and damage from the sun. Sunscreen use, everyday, is still being recommended. Wrinkles are thought to be caused from sun exposure more than they are caused by aging so sunscreen is thought to help prevent wrinkles.

Some people are unable to use scrubs to exfoliate as they are too rough on their delicate, sensitive skin. I cannot use scrubs, they cause me redness, soreness and irritation. Likewise, some people are unable to use products with AHAs as their skin is too sensitive. It is best to take it easy and see how your skin reacts to it before applying it all over and risking irritation or worse. Doing an allergy test prior to use will help you know whether your skin can tolerate the use of products containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

Looking at product labels you may see Alpha Hydroxy Acids listed as Lactic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Gluconic Acid, Citric Acid and Tartaric Acid. Additionally you may see Urea listed; it too has exfoliating and moisturizing properties. It is most recently being touted in Estee Lauder's Good Skin Lumecin Overnight Brightening Gluco-Protein Treatment. This product is sold exclusively at Kohl's and retails for $44.50.

One of my favorite products with AHA is Mastey de Paris Velvetant Skin Renewal Complex which can be used on the face and body. Mastey claims it renews the skin and lessens the appearance of wrinkles while increasing skin moisture. I have found it helpful with breakouts and evening out my skin tone. I generally use it during winter and only at night to help lessen the freckles from summer. Mastey de Paris Velvetant Skin Renewal Complex retails for $18.00 and is available in a 3.38 ounce tube available on their website and some finer salons and spas. This product contains mixed fruit acids as well as Urea. I use Mastey de Paris Moiste Facial Moisturizer during the day, every day, since it contains SPF. Mastey de Paris Moiste Facial Moisturizer comes packaged in a 3.38 ounce tube and retails for $28.00.

Used properly, and with a reasonable amount of care, Alpha Hydroxy Acids can be very useful in helping to revitalize and reduce the look of photoaged skin. As always, if pregnant or breastfeeding, ask your doctor before using any new products; our skin absorbs most of what we put on it. If you have any medical conditions, sensitive skin or other issues, talk to your doctor before using any skin care products. He or she can help you decide what is best for your skin.

Aug 24, 2009

Open Forum: Websites and Ingredients

When we go into a store to buy something we can read the ingredients list off the package and decide then if there is a particular ingredient we want to avoid. However, many times, when we shop online we do not have that option. Manufacturer's websites generally do not list the ingredients for the product and so we either must email them and ask, search online or in some cases call them. Why is it that all companies selling skin care products online are not required to give a complete list of ingredients for each product they sell?

The Estee Lauder company websites (Estee Lauder, Clinique, Prescriptives, Good Skin, American Beauty, Grassroots, La Mer, etc.) will highlight a particular ingredient but do not give a complete list. Lancome will only provide ingredient listings via snail mail yet their owner L'Oreal is now providing the ingredient listing for L'Oreal products on their website. Garnier, also owned by Lancome does not list ingredients on their website. Even Sephora, which list ingredients for most products does not provide them for Estee Lauder brands.

It would be really helpful to those of us with skin sensitivities if we could go to the website of the brand we want to buy something from and see what it contains so we don't have to return it or get stuck with something we can't use.

What do you think?

Aug 17, 2009

L'Occitane Ultra Matte Face Fluid

I used L'Occitane Ultra Matte Face Fluid yesterday to see how well it would work on my skin. For the most part my skin is normal/combo but the T-Zone is where I show shine; especially my nose. This product is designed to make the skin matte instantly and keep it matte for up to 8 hours.

This is a fluid, the texture being somewhere between a serum and lotion. It is light and delicate and spreads very easily. The scent is absolutely wonderful, fresh, clean and light.

However, it did not provide the matte effect I was expecting. It left my nose shiny and seemed to make fine lines appear far more prominent. It was as if it settled into the fine lines like a powder would. My skin felt extremely velvety soft and that is always a bonus. Perhaps this is more mattifying if used in conjunction with the cleanser and toner, but alone, I didn't find it made my skin truly matte.

In my opinion, skin that is matte often times looks older. A more dewy, glowy almost shiny finish seems to give skin the appearance of youth and actually seems to minimize the look of fine lines. Keeping skin hydrated makes it look plumper, less lined and more youthful.

This is a great product, and as with other L'Occitane products this one smells awesome. I tend to think it is better suited for someone who is only slightly oily and not someone who may have more dry, mature skin or excessively oily skin.

A 1 ounce bottle is $26.00 and available at the L'Occitane website and boutiques and Sephora.

Ingredients: Water**, Glycerin**, Dicaprylyl Carbonate**, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Cyclomethicone, Red Rice Vinegar*, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract*, Oryza Sativa (Rice)**, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Powder**, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil**, Butylene Glycol, Maltodextrin**, Cetearyl Alcohol**, Sorbitan Stearate**, Ethylhexylglycerin, Zinc Glycyrrhetinate, Spiraea Ulmaria Extract**, Cetearyl Glucoside**, Zinc Pca, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Hydroxyethylcellulose**, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Fragrance, Chlorphenesin, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60**, Laureth-7**, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Peg-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate**, Polyacrylamide, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Limonene**, Coumarin. *Ingredients issued from Organic Agriculture. **Natural origin ingredients.

Aug 10, 2009

La Mer The Lifting Face Serum

The La Mer Lifting Face Serum contains the gemstone Tourmaline and is an addition to the La Mer line, meant to be used with the coveted original Creme de La Mer, La Mer Gel Creme or La Mer Lotion.

I have been using this product on and off for about a week now and it is certainly a very nice, elegant product. The scent is barely noticeable and a bit difficult to describe, I almost think it smells a bit of citrus. It has a pretty thick texture that spreads well and absorbs fairly quickly. I feel that it helps to moisturize and possibly lessen the appearance of dry, fine lines. It reminds me a lot of the Good Skin All Firm Rebuilding Serum also manufactured by Estee Lauder and sold at Kohl's for $26.00.

La Mer is one of those product lines you either love or you don't. Because they are so expensive they are a bit out of reach for most of us. For example, I am a huge fan of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex which sells for $47.50 for a 1 ounce bottle and of course my very favorite moisturizer, Mastey de Paris Moiste Facial Moisturizer which sells for $28.00 for a 3.3 ounce tube, both of which I use daily.

La Mer, like most Estee Lauder owned product lines, seems to be well formulated. However, this is a very costly skin care product and is really supposed to be used with the Lifting Intensifier which is also quite expensive. For those who have the money to spend La Mer is one of the most famous skin care lines available. By now most people know the story of Creme de La Mer and how a NASA scientist, Max Huber, used it to heal his own skin by fermenting certain ingredients he called a broth. Celebrities use it and tout it as being the best there is. Only you can decide if it is worth the expense.

A 1 ounce dropper top bottle sells for $235.00 and is available at higher-end department stores and the La Mer website. There is also a 0.50 ounce Lifting Intensifier available for $150.00 to be used in conjunction with the serum or both are available as a set for $315.00.

Ingredients: Water, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Peg-75, Bis-peg-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Siegesbeckia Orientails Extract, Hydrolyzed Ulva Lactuca Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark Extract, Betula Alba (Birch) Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Scutellaria Baicalensis Extract, Morus Nigra (Mulberry) Root Extract, Yeast Extract (Faex), Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Flour Lipids, Enteromorpha Compressa Extract, Artemia Extract, Algae Extract, Sea Whip Extract, Coenzyme A, Sodium Rna, Acetyl Glucosamine, Tourmaline, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Caffeine, Glycosaminoglycans, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Linoleic Acid, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetraacetylphytosphingosine, Squalane, Micrococcus Lysate, Glycerin, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile), Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Glycine, Sucrose, Sorbitol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Oleth-10 Phosphate, Oleth-5, Choleth-24, Ceteth-24, Glycereth-26, Lecithin, Linalyl Acetate, Peg-8, Maltodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Carbomer, Disodium Edta, Bht, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Green 5.

Aug 1, 2009

L'Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Face Cream

L'Occitane is a French line of products that come from natural and/or organic sources. Many of their products are nearly completely all natural. They use mineral sunblocks in their products rather than chemical sunblocks which may be an issue for some people (I cannot use products with titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, mica, alumina or talc) but the vast majority of people will experience no such issues.

The first thing I noticed about the L'Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Face Cream was the wonderful, baby powder, scent. Very light and delicate. The cream is thick and dense but spreads easily and absorbs nearly instantly. It reminds me a lot of Darphin, Lancome and Yves Rocher products in texture. Lancome and Yves Rocher have French pedigrees as well. There is something about French skin care products that just shouts luxury.

This is a great product that seems to moisturize quite well. It may be better suited to really dry or sensitive skin needing some extra TLC. It contains 25% Shea Butter and feels very soothing and is said to increase moisturization for 24 hours.

Available from L'Occitane a 1.7 ounce jar retails for $38.00. Available at L'Occitane boutiques and website.

Ingredients: Water, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Corn Starch Modified, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitol, Sodium PCA, Peg-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Polyacrylamide, Phenoxyethanol, Ceteareth-33, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Methylparaben, Castanea Sativa (Chestnut) Extract, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Tocopherol, Tetrasodium Edta, Laureth-7, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Seed Extract, Xanthan Gum, Sorbic Acid, Cyclohexasiloxane, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Benzyl Alcohol, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Cyclopentasiloxane, Benzyl Benzoate, Citronellol, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Coumarin, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Linalool, Butylene Glycol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Alpha-Methyl Ionone, Limonene.