Facial Moisturizing Basics

Why is a facial moisturizer important?  The outermost layer of skin (the Stratum Corneum) is a barrier that helps protect everything underneath from the outside world.  It is made up of 30% water and lipids.  If this layer gets dried out and loses this water it stops being effective and can become brittle or even crack.  In this state your skin loses its shield and the skin underneath is exposed to the elements.  The skin then loses more moisture and can even get infected as bacteria have an easy time making their way through the cracked outer barrier.  This shows how important it is to use a face moisturizer.

Choosing a Facial Moisturizer

Know your skin type.  If you have oily skin a lighter product with natural oils is preferred while drier skin needs a little more oil or other barrier ingredients.  Either way natural oils are key because these oils won’t leave that slick or sticky feeling and also won’t clog your pores.  Some natural oils include almond and avocado oil.  Petroleum derivatives feel like they are smoothing to the skin but actually can leave a residue and clog pores.  Other compounds such humectants help attract moisture. One of the main humectants available is hyaluronic acid which is naturally a part of your skin.

In the Short Term...

 In the short term a Face Moisturizer will start to make the skin look healthier.  Using the ingredients above, a good strategy is to include both the natural oils and the humectants.  In a sense with both of those types of ingredients face moisturizers are adding water to the skin and then keeping it there. 

In the Long Term...

Keeping your skin moist allows your skin to operate at the peak level of performance.  Skin cells are more effective at repairing themselves and the surrounding tissue.  This includes making or repairing collagen, elastin, and many more proteins that keep the skin looking fresh and young.  The immune system is also able to function properly to help defend your skin from infections.

Vitamins for Skin:  Benefits and Effects

Vitamins are vital nutrients for our bodies and can act as hormones, regulate cell growth, or even help our proteins function properly.  They are not made by our body in large quantities so we need to get our vitamins through our diet or through supplements.  Deficiencies of vitamins can lead to serious effects in the skin.  Vitamins can affect all areas of our bodies including the skin.  So when you look around for supplements don’t forget that you can use Vitamins for skin health too. 

Vitamins for Skin:  Vitamins C, E, and Selenium

Vitamins C, E, and Selenium can help protect your skin from sun damage and skin cancer.  They also have been known to reverse discolorations and wrinkles associated with aging.  They function by enhancing the natural repair mechanisms of the skin and as antioxidants they inhibiting further damage from happening in skin.  Vitamin C can also help increase collagen in the skin because it plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen.  Vitamin E can also help decrease skin inflammation.

Vitamins for Skin:  Vitamins D

Vitamin D is best known for bone health, but it has also been found to help treat psoriasis by reducing inflammation and irritation in patients.  Normally our skin can produce enough vitamin D by being exposed to the sun for 10-15 minutes a day.  When sun exposure isn’t possible vitamin D supplements may help get your levels back up to normal. 

Vitamins for Skin:  B Vitamins

B Vitamins are essential for all cells in the body including skin cells. They are associated with many function but a couple in particular help the skin.  Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) has been shown to promote healthy skin and can reduce the signs of aging such as redness and skin spots.  Vitamin B7 (Biotin) is also associated with healthy skin.  A deficiency in Biotin can lead to rashes, acne, itchiness, psoriasis…

If you suspect a deficiency in a vitamin talk to your dermatologist so that they can determine your situation. 


For more information see:  http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=50505


The Menopause Effect on the Skin

Menopause basics

As we all know menopause is a normal part of life and leads to changing hormone levels.   These changes usually begin in the perimenopause phase which can occur several years before menopause.  Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone can lead to symptoms during perimenopause and in time when the ovaries produce less estrogen menopause symptoms can start.  The average age of menopause is 51 but can be significantly earlier or later. 

Menopause Symptoms and Effects

Menopause can have lots of symptoms including the well-known hot flashes and night sweats.  In addition to these two symptoms menopause can change the physiology of the skin in new and different ways and accelerate the aging in your skin.  Estrogen stimulates the production of proteins inlcuding collagen and elastin (that helps the skin look smooth and tight) and oils (that help moisturize the skin).  As estrogen decreases during perimenopause and menopause collagen and oil decrease in the skin and this can result in dry and itchy skin that is less able to retain moisture.  This happens all over the body and not in specific areas.  A loss of estrogen levels can also decrease blood flow to the skin which can thin the outer layer of the skin (epidermis).  A thin outer layer of the skin also contributes to a loss of moisture in the skin. Estrogen also helps to keep fat deposits under the skin which helps the skin to look smooth and firm.  As estrogen decreases the fat under the skin decreases making the skin sag more.

Skin Treatments for Menopause

Fortunately there are several things you can do to keep your skin soft and smooth during menopause!  Eating the right foods full of essential fatty acids can help your skins oil barrier to keep the skin hydrated.  Some of these foods include salmon, walnuts, flax, safflower oil, and fortified eggs.  A broad spectrum sunblock will also keep your skin from getting damaged by the sun, which can dry and wrinkle the skin even more.  Cooler showers with gentle soap will also help keep the shower experience from stripping the essential oils off of your body.  Finally moisturize your skin after showers and whenever it feels dry.

Botox Does More for Your Skin Than Just Paralyze

Botox is usually just thought to paralyze the muscles where it is injected but, new research is showing that it is doing much more than that.  Dr. James Bonaparte, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada recently found that people who use botox have an increase in the elasticity of their skin.  This elasticity seems to be coming from an increase in elastin and collagen, which are normal parts of the skin. Collagen and elastin are important components of our skin that keep our skin strong and give it elasticity.


Normally when we age, the production of collagen and elastin tends to decrease and repeated facial expressions can cause wrinkles.  While botox has been known to smooth out wrinkles for some, time this recent finding that botox increases elasticity was unexpected.  The increase in elasticity was discovered in a study involving 48 women with an average age of 55 years old.  These women received botox between the eyebrows and around the eyes and were followed for 4 months.  Dr. Bonaparte found that the stretchiness and elastic recoil was increased by the botox and that the women’s faces mimicked more youthful skin.  He also found that the increase in elasticity was not a byproduct of inflammation or swelling caused by the botox shots which was previously thought to be the cause. 


Unfortunately the effect is temporary and lasts as long as the effectiveness of the botox which is about 3-4 months.   While the way this works is unknown, Dr. Bonaparte believes that the cells that create elastin and collagen might have a receptor for botox.  If this is true it means that there might be a potential for a future drug that can help the elasticity of skin as we age.  Some other theories are that botox might be an antioxidant which could help neutralize the waste products of the muscles and allows the skin to heal or that inactivity of the muscles caused by botox allows collagen and elastin to be repaired.


The next steps of this research will be to see if repeated use of botox can have long-term benefits on the collagen and elastin in the face.  Prior studies have shown that long time users of botox need less botox and this might be explained by a prolonged increase in collagen and elastin.


For more information see:  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_152673.html