Monday, June 30, 2008

Hydroquinone - Help, My Cream Turned Brown!

I bought a lightening cream that contains hydroquinone and it turned brown, which is kind of humorous since it is supposed to eliminate brown spots. Is it still OK to use?

Unfortunately, this is a very common problem with hydroquinone. It is an extremely unstable ingredient with the nasty tendency to turn brown when exposed to oxygen, metals, sunlight, or too much heat. A lightening cream containing hydroquinone must be packaged in airtight, non-transparent, non-metal containers. If your cream turned brown it is a definite sign the integrity of the product has been compromised and will no longer be effective. In that case, file it under "G" for garbage.

Friday, June 27, 2008

BIOELEMENTS Lightplex Scientific Pigment Balancer™

Bioelements Lightplex Scientific Pigment Balancer™ is a product that gives rapid visual results as it promotes the exfoliation of pigmented surface cells. This exfoliation also facilitates the absorption of the active ingredients that are focused on inhibiting melanin production, which will also serve to promote less pigment in the newer cells as they move to the skin's surface. The combination of these actions ensures a targeted lightening effect on hyperpigmentation.

This lightener contains several plant extracts that possess hydroquinone-like actions without the possible irritation or side effects of hydroquinone. These include arbutin, bearberry or uva ursi extracts, metacarpus scaber and waltheria indica extracts. Anti-oxidants are also incorporated into the formula to help minimize inflammation and boost the moisture levels of the skin making this product very pleasant to use. Dreamy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

COSMEDIX Lightening Fading Serum

Cosmedix Lightening Fading Serum is an "all natural" skin lightener that inhibits the pigmentation process and effectively normalizes over-functioning melanin production. Healthy exfoliation is accelerated by the use of an effective AHA (lactic acid). This serum is also loaded with multi-purpose anti-oxidants, such as green tea and Vitamin E.

It is a simple but powerful serum that keeps the skin soft and supple with the beta-carotene it contains. It is always recommended to have more than one component to interfere with the melaongenesis process, and this product does just that, while ensuring minimal irritation thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of licorice and alpha-bisabolol. Maximize the effects, minimize irritation and inflammation? Simple perfection.

Monday, June 23, 2008

emerginC Spot Lightening Gel

EmerginC Spot Lightening Gel is a nice light easy to apply lightening gel. This product has a nice mix of components that impede the production and distribution of melanin to the skin cells. Arbutin from the bearberry bush, vitamin C, kojic acid, all interrupt the action of tyrosinase, the enzyme needed to instigate production of melanin. They all function a little differently giving a broader affect on inhibiting the pigment production without the irritation and potential side effects of hydroquinone.

Over time kojic acid will also cause the transport system (dendrites) from the melanocyte to the skin cells to deteriorate, eliminating pigment distribution. Vitamin C is a great anti-oxidant, and as well as inhibiting tyrosinase, it will inhibit the reaction needed with copper, preventing melanogenesis. In short this lightening gel contains a nice mixture to battle hyper-pigmentation. This product also offers AHA’s to promote exfoliation and improve the absorption of the active ingredients along with some anti-inflammatory soothing ingredients to counter any irritation.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Skin Lightening 'Ingredient Hot Sheet'

New lightening products and their superstar ingredients . . .
• Agarum Extract ~ from sea colander algae
• Arbutin ~ found in cranberries, blueberries, the skin of most pears
• Azeleic acid ~ from the metabolism of a form of yeast (originally used for treating acne)
• Bearberry Extract (also referred to as Uva Ursi) ~ from the leaves of the Bearberry Shrub
• Chamomile Extract
• Dithiaoctanediol
• Glabridin ~ licorice extract (also has the added benefit of anti-inflammatory properties)
• Hydrogen Peroxide
• Kojic Acid ~ from fungal metabolism
• Lemon
• Mitracarpus Scaber ~ from the leaves of a tropical plant native to West Africa
• Mulberry Extract
• Niacinamide ~ commonly known as vitamin B3
• Polyphenols and proanthocyanidin oligomers ~ found in white tea extract
• Vitamin C

And, don't forget those amazing AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids), i.e. glycolic, lactic, citric, malic or tartaric, that are primarily found in lightening products because they promote exfoliation. This alone will lighten the depth of the hyperpigmentation. Once dead surface cells are removed there will be better penetration of other actives, enhancing their effects. Exfoliation promotes cell regeneration for a quicker movement of newer, less pigmented cells to the skin's surface. The results? Lightening strikes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Melanin - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Ah, brown spots, . . . some are beautiful, some are not. Some are inherited, like freckles, others are caused by irritation, friction or injury on the skin (this could be as simple as a pimple). Some are caused by hormonal, or drug, stimulation of the cells that make melanin, and some are pigmentation marks referred to as photo-aging, which are the tell-tale signs of sun exposure during a lifetime.

Hyperpigmentation is triggered by an enzyme that blocks the production of melanin causing an oxidation reaction much like the blackening of a potato, or avocado, when exposed to air.

No matter the cause, there are two approaches to lightening hyperpigmentation. Skin bleaching and skin lightening. The only skin bleaching agent the FDA acknowledges is hydroquinone which gives fairly rapid results, but unfortunately they are short lived. Darker pigmented cells will surface when the lightened ones shed.

Skin lightening products and light therapy can offer longer lasting improvements, although the results may take a little longer (approximately 28 days). They are more efficient and much easier on the skin. A good exfoliation routine will allow for better penetration of the ingredients being applied. No matter the type of pigmentation you want to treat, sun exposure is counterproductive, so make sure to wear sun protection and/or avoid UV exposure.

Coming up . . . reviews of skin lighteners.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hydroquinone - The Big Unknown

Hydroquinone is used in skin care to temporarily lighten pigmentations such as freckles, pregnancy mask and age spots by inhibiting the process that leads to discoloration. In the United States, the FDA estimates there are 65 companies selling more than 200 products containing hydroquinone in an array of over-the-counter products (up to 2% strength) and prescriptions (up to 4%). The most common preparation is a 3% topical solution that is generally applied twice a day on non irritated skin (eye and mouth areas must be avoided).

Hydroquinone has been shrouded in controversy since 2001 when it was banned in Europe following clinical tests showing it was the cause of leukemia in mice when used in large doses for a long period of time. Japan, Australia and Canada followed suit. The U.S. has proposed a ban, or at the very least, the FDA is pushing for stronger regulations and physician's prescriptions. Currently, there is a four month grace period while the new proposed regulations are being discussed. For now, if you live in the U.S., you have a choice as to whether to use it, or not. It is a time to do your homework and make a wise personal decision.

Cautionary Info:
Exposure to ultra violet rays will trigger repigmentation of the bleached areas. It is always recommended to avoid UV exposure and wear sun protection. It is not recommended if you have allergies to sulfites. There can be side effects, or allergic reactions, such as a rash, erythema (redness), swelling, blistering, drying of the skin, cracking or peeling of the skin, even shortness of breath. In rare cases Onchronosis can develop, which is a blue black darkening and thickening of the skin. There has also been some evidence of abnormal adrenal functioning and high mercury levels in individuals using topical hydroquinone as well as some research has shown it to be a carcinogen.

The good news? There are so many other options to lightening pigmentation that are effective without the side effects or aggression of this compound. Some may take a little longer to show results, but there is no question they are much safer.

Stay tuned . . .

Friday, June 13, 2008


One (1) Grand Prize: a 4 day/3 night stay for two (2) at Wentworth by the Sea, A Marriott Hotel and Spa in New Castle, New Hampshire consisting of double occupancy accommodations, three (3) meals per person per day at Wentworth by the Sea, and two (2) $250 gift certificates redeemable at the Spa at Wentworth. All expenses not included in the prize description above (including but not limited to transportation, additional meals, all alcoholic beverages, gratuities, insurance and personal and hotel incidentals) will be the sole responsibility of winner. Prize must be redeemed by June 15, 2009. Approximate retail value of the Grand Prize is $4999.00.

One (1) Grand Prize winner will win the following: (i) $10,000 cash for the winner only (awarded as a check); and (ii) a trip to Cabo, Mexico for Grand Prize winner and three (3) guests on dates to be determined by Sponsor [please confirm]. The trip shall consist of the following: (a) round trip coach class air transportation for four (4) people between the major U.S. commercial airport nearest Grand Prize winner's residence to Cabo, Mexico; (b) ground transportation between the airport and hotel accommodations; (c) hotel accommodations for four (4) days/three (3) nights (two (2) double occupancy rooms, room rate and tax only); (d) four (4) spa treatment vouchers at a spa to be determined by Sponsor; and (e) four (4) digital cameras (make and model to be determined by Sponsor). Total Approximate Retail Value of the Grand Prize: $23,000.

One (1) Grand Prize: 4 day/3 night package at Green Valley Spa & Resort. Accommodations in Four Diamond-rated luxury suites with complimentary high speed wireless internet and nightly turndown. Daily guided hikes in southern Utah's scenic backcountry. Delicious cuisine prepared by Green Valley Spa'0's chefs. Complete access to daily classes including yoga, Tai Chi, circuit training, BootCamp boxing, mat Pilates, and meditation. Daily Mind, Body, Spirit seminars. Cooking classes from Green Valley Spa'0's chefs. Use of resort amenities, LifeFitness equipment, relaxation rooms, tennis courts, racquetball courts, pools and jacuzzis. One (1) Spa Treatment per person per stay, Two (2) personal training sessions with Green Valley Spa'0's fitness instructors. The Approximate Retail Value of the Grand Prize is $2,830.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Skin Care Economy

A friend of mine buys her skin care at the local drug store and told me that I am wasting my money seeing an esthetician every month. I have to admit, money is tight these days and it started me thinking. I don't want to stop altogether because I can see a difference in my skin but wondered if I would I still get the same results if I cut my appointments back to once every two or three months?

There are a few things to be considered in order to answer your question. If you are having esthetic treatments to treat specific concerns then it is a good idea to maintain your regime for the best results. For example, if you have problem skin your esthetician will give you treatments to help detoxify your skin, rebalance sebum secretions, promote exfoliation, enhance product penetration, healing, regeneration and re-balancing. Your treatments and homecare products will be adjusted according to the changes in your skin. Professional products are more specific than those bought over-the-counter and will be chosen to meet your particular needs to ensure better results. On that note, professional products usually last longer making your dollar stretch a little more. Anti-age treatments, depending on the program your esthetician has designed for you, will also offer you better results if carried out on a regular basis. You could try to expand your homecare program by masking more often and adding an intensive serum to your regime which should give you a little leeway on extending the time between treatments.

In our opinion, over the counter products are not specific enough, nor are they recommended by a skin specialist who can actually look and feel your skin to prescribe the correct products. They may slow dehydration and provide basic care, but if you are seriously looking for results and age prevention keep going for esthetic care, even if you have to go less often. Discuss it with your esthetician and let her help determine what you can do at home in between visits to help your skin the most. The esthetician's goal is to give you results, not just retail a product.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spa Etiquette - Buff Naked

I would really like to go to a spa but am not big on the issue of nudity. Everyone I know drops their clothing for a massage in the buff and that is something I just can't do. Any suggestions?

Unfortunately, statistics still show a great number of people stay away from visiting a spa for two primary reasons, . . . the anxiety around nudity and the thought of being touched by someone they do not know.

What to wear, or not wear, and the issue around the level of intimacy of a treatment is often a great concern for many timid spa newbies. Some bashful souls break out into a full sweat the very moment they are handed a robe and escorted to a change room. The level of discomfort most certainly rises upon instructions to remove the robe and slide underneath a sheet on the massage table. Don't worry, your therapist will leave the room while you arrange yourself. She knows not everyone is a member of the 'touchy-feely' crowd or entirely comfortable about being touched by a stranger, particularly in a state of undress. Some may say, "well, then a spa is just not for you." Untrue! There are a few key things that can be done to remove the perceived discomfort.

If you are shy, request a therapist of the same gender when booking the appointment. It is entirely appropriate to wear your panties underneath the robe, a bathing suit in the whirlpool, and a towel wrap for the sauna or steam room. If you are booking a treatment for your husband, ask him whether he would like a female or male therapist. Surveys reveal that most men are more comfortable with a female therapist. They do not have to go full commando, either.

Don't drink too many fluids before your treatment and go the bathroom just before your treatment. An hour is a long time between bathroom breaks with a full bladder. If you are shy, you will not want to get up off the table to visit the loo. And finally, relax and enjoy the moment. Feeling anxious during a treatment that was created to offer comfort is entirely counterproductive. Have faith in the professionals who work in the spa. They are well trained and know how to take good care of you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

BIOELEMENTS Measured Micrograins

This exfoliant offers sensation-al benefits for those who like the feel of a granular scrub without the aggression that many granular exfoliants cause. The fine micro grains gently exfoliate as they are worked over the skin while the oat flour, centellas asiatica, ginseng, and chamomile keep the skin soothed and calm.

The algae and watercress boost the hydration ensuring the skin is gently exfoliated revealing a smooth hydrated glowing complexion. A nice product for those who like to focus on specific areas of concern, or for those who would rather apply the exfoliant, work it over the skin a little, and then leave it like a mask for ten minutes and rinse. One word of caution, if applying like a mask, do not let it dry on the skin as the kaolin and titanium dioxide will leech water out of the skin, . . . great product, but don’t let it dry. This product is not tested on animals.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MD SKINCARE Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel

The Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel is a two-step exfoliation system that is as easy as sweeping two moist, ready-to-use pads over your skin. That's it!

After swiping the first pad in circular motions over your face, wait for two minutes, then follow with the second one. The first pad contains alpha hydroxyl and beta hydroxyl acids, both working to exfoliate dead surface cells along with other great ingredients to ensure minimal irritation (if any). There are also anti-oxidants from green tea, soothing anti-inflammatory properties of chamomile and anti-aging benefits to boost collagen production. The second pad gives the skin a vitamin boost while providing a cocktail of anti-oxidants that enhance each other's capabilities, promote cell regeneration and offer other key components needed for the skin to synthesize collagen.

This two part product is an easy 'no-mess' exfoliating system, beneficial for any skin type, and completes the process with ingredients able to penetrate quickly on fresh, exfoliated skin. Great for the face, but also incredible for the backs of your hands. This two-step is not only easy, but ultra convenient for traveling. MD Skincare packaged these pads in individual packets so you can just throw a couple into your cosmetic bag and off you go. All the way around, this product is a winner.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Smooth Side of Exfoliation

• brightens the complexion
• refines texture, smoothes skin, minimizes pores and fine lines
• promotes circulation for better cellular nutrition and elimination of wastes
• can lighten pigmentation spots
• can prevent blemish formation due to blocked pores
• will enhance the benefits of light therapy
• allows for better penetration of products applied afterwards, enhances effect of products

FREQUENCY: (depends on the type of exfoliant)
• for thicker duller complexions, once a week,
• maintenance usually once every 2 weeks is sufficient
• if using serums or night creams with AHA's, use daily to give a gentle gradual exfoliation

• do not use exfoliants that have to be rubbed over the skin if you have blemishes or fragile capillaries
• do not be too aggressive or exfoliate too frequently as it will be counter productive and cause inflammation in the skin (free radical activity)
• choose the type of exfoliant that suits your skin type and needs
• don't forget about the rest of your body
• rinse well

Reviews to follow . . .