Tag Archives: ingredient education

How Does Hyaluronic Acid Work?

30 Jun

Hyaluronic Acid is an ingredient of many uses and is increasingly showing up in a growing number of beauty, skin care, medical and supplemental products. The very word “Acid” conjures thoughts of harsh chemical burns or reactions, and visions of a bubbly chemical break down upon contact, but the ingredient behaves very differently. Hyaluronic Acid is naturally occurring in the human body. Though it exists throughout the body, high concentrations exist in our joints, cartilage, bones and eyes for purposes of lubrication, fluid, and for supporting body structure. By far, the largest concentration of Hyaluronic Acid is found in the dermis or second layer of our skin. It truly is a molecule that is widely used by our bodies and has many purposes however, from a skin care perspective Hyaluronic Acid is simply fascinating.

There are a few schools of thought on the how Hyaluronic Acid works and it benefits as a topical skin care product. The most commonly accepted and widely believed thought is that when applied topically the ingredient penetrates the skin and provides very hydrating results that reduce wrinkles. It does this by binding with water or moisture and it holding on to it, it is in fact a humectant. It can hold many hundreds times its weight in moisture due to its molecular structure. The result is smoother, younger looking skin, wrinkles appear to be smoothed out.

Another school of thought and less commonly accepted one, is that when applied topically the Hyaluronic Acid molecule is too large to penetrate the skin, thus it sits on top of the skin and actually pulls moisture out of the skin thereby causing dryness to occur from within. Though some believe this will happen regardless of environmental factors, others reason that climate is a contributor to this moisture pull from the skin. They believe that this will happen if Hyaluronic Acid is used in a dry climate because it will attempt to bind with and draw moisture from the skin verses from the air.

When I think about how folks reason out the benefits or drawback of the ingredient, I think about the size of the Hyaluronic Acid molecule, it’s very large. I fall into the school of thought that unless its molecular weight is greatly modified, the molecule cannot penetrate the surface of the skin much less the dermis layer which is where it naturally occurs and is most beneficial for hydrated healthy looking skin. Getting the Hyaluronic Acid into the skin directly is facilitated through the use of Restylane injections performed by a qualified dermatologist. Restylane is simply the commercial name for Hyaluronic Acid. The Restylane treatment is effective in reducing the appearance of wrinkles for several months. Once injected into the skin, the Hyaluronic Acid retains and binds with moisture and partners with your collagen to improve firmness and plumping of the skin. I don’t endorse it, but people do it to obtain the greatest benefit from Hyaluronic Acid.

All of this said, I’m a believer in topical Hyaluronic Acid as a valuable plumping and moisturizing ingredient when properly used in conjunction with a good skin care regimen. Since it is a humectant, it does hold moisture and is a great filler, thus it will increase the efficacy of a good moisturizer. It will temporarily hold moisture to the skin and generate a fuller and smoother appearance.

This video gives a great explanation! Feel free to view and/or share your thoughts on this cosmetic ingredient.


Organic Personal Care Products – Are They Really Safe?

24 Jun

In a recent press release the Center for Environmental Health identified 26 companies that are engaged in the business of selling personal care products that are mislabeled as “Organic”. Sadly, this is not the first time that the personal care industry has been called out on ingredients contained in their products and labeling on their packaging.  At the center of the lawsuit is The California Organic Products Act of 2003, specifically section 110838.(a) of the Health and Safety codes that quote “Cosmetic products sold, labeled, or represented as organic or made with organic ingredients shall contain, at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients.” (Organic Products Act of 2003).

As I researched the 2003 act I found that the California Organic Program is the agency that is responsible for upholding the enforcement of the California Organic Products Act of 2003 as well as the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. This agency works in conjunction with many other agencies and organizations that help coordinate and facilitate enforcement actions necessary for regulation of organic foods and product. One very notable agency is our very own USDA!  So you may be getting the idea right about now that this is not just a California issue, this is a big deal and it could have a significant impact on the labeling of skin care and cosmetics industry wide, in my opinion this is not necessarily a bad thing. Considering the far reaching impact of this lawsuit, many major retailers are carrying these alleged mislabeled products and that are being distributed in mass quantities to consumers who may not be ingredient savvy. If there are truly toxic ingredients contained in the product being distributed by the companies mentioned in the lawsuit, the labels should provide clear warning to the consumer for the purpose of making an educated choice about what they are putting on themselves or their children. While reading the press release, the example of toxic ingredients reported on was a children’s hair care product that reportedly contains ingredients that are known to cause cancer. The article went on to provide examples of the warning labels stating blindness and serious injury if the product(s) was not properly used.

What do you think? Is this all hype? Or do you feel this is a serious matter? Should consumers be concerned about companies that are intentionally or otherwise mislabeling their goods?  Please post a comment and share your thoughts.

Sources/Information: Center for Environmental Health (CEH), View the full list of personal care products companies at CEH, The California Organic Program, Organic Products Act of 2003, News Coverage

What are Cosmeceuticals?

22 Jun

When I tell people that I work with cosmeceuticals the first question that I get asked is “What are cosmeceuticals?”, my typical response is “Great question!”. I then describe the following:

Cosmeceuticals are topical skincare or cosmetic products that contain ingredients which combine pharmaceutical and cosmetic qualities. This definition means that in most cases portions of the product ingredients have been scientifically formulated to include bioactive ingredients that claim to provide benefits beyond your standard drug store moisturizer.

Though this definition is technically correct, there are many things that one should consider when choosing products that are considered to be cosmeceutical in nature. The term cosmeceutical is not a legally recognized term as defined by FDA regulations, thus the term “pharmaceutical” can be misleading as it implies that the products are tested and regulated much like any controlled pharmaceutical, drug, or medical product, which is simply not the case. If a product has a drug or any ingredient that must be prescribed by a doctor or otherwise makes claims associated with a treatment or cure, only a doctor of qualified professional may distribute or use it, thus you generally can not or should not purchase such an item over the counter or on the internet. There are also some professional grade products that Estheticians may use that are stronger than OTC (regulations and services provided can vary by state)  In addition, if a product contains a actual “drug” it must also be approved by the FDA before it can be made available for distribution and it must comply with FDA regulations on active ingredient, safety regulations, labeling and distribution requirements. Most people heavily immersed in the beauty and skin care industry know that the FDA does not regulate the cosmetic and skin care industry with the exception of tightly regulated ingredients. The cosmetic and skin care industry regulates itself and simply complies with marketing requirements as it relates to labeling or product and benefit claims. Outside of that, there is a great deal of wiggle room for skin care industry, and ther are lot’s of reasons to take caution with what you use on your body. I always think of the example of a highly popular eyelash enhancer and its use of a drug that was developed as a treatment for glaucoma, the attractive side effect of the drug was eyelash growth though there were alleged negative side effects as well including temporary to permement eye discoloration. 

My recommendation to anyone concerned about what they are putting on their skin is to become an informed consumer, check your labels and make an attempt to gain an educated understanding of ingredients from reputable resources. Since “organic” and “natural” ingredients are readily available and typically fall outside FDA regulations, when selecting natural products it is particularly important that you know your stuff.

Some helpful resources are linked below, but honorable and respectful mention goes out to Paula’s Choice by Cosmetic Cop, it’s a great starting point for research. I will caution to never just take one resource and run with the information, always validate your findings with at least two-three credible resources. Seek out information from sites that are focused on education, and sites where the motivation for providing such information is not just to get into your wallet.

You can find Paula’s Choice here.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmeceutical, http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/ucm074162.htm

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