Dr. Oz’s beauty blog has some very good advice on which anti-aging products don’t give you much bang for your buck. Last week’s post, Three Anti-Aging Products You Don’t Need points out it can be difficult to sort out the hype from the facts, especially when it comes to anti-aging products. Many of the ingredients being touted as providing the fountain of youth are actually still in the experimental stage.
Not mentioned are the “hidden costs” of some products or some of the solutions offered as alternatives. Some of these products may contain ingredients that increase your body’s chemical burden, and given the level of exposure we already face we don’t want to add to it by slathering potentially toxic materials onto our skin, especially when safe, easy and effective alternatives are readily available.
1. What you want in a cleanser
Cleansing: A cleanser is designed to clean your skin. Period. Because you put it on, then wash it off, you don’t need or want anything fancy. For daily cleansing, try tepid water only in the morning and a gentle cleanser at night when you need to remove make-up and accumulated grime. Dry sensitive skins like non-sudsing gels, but if you are partial to that super-clean feeling use a cleansing gel that contains a sugar-derived surfactant.
2. What to do for chapped lips
It’s a struggle to keep lips from chapping, especially in cold weather, but many people are hesitant, and for good reason, to use the one thing that REALLY seems to work, namely, petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is an excellent occlusive that holds in moisture splendidly, but putting a by-product of petroleum processing on your lips means you will almost certainly ingest some of the contaminants it is likely laced with. Here are some alternatives that I find work well.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat, meaning it is solid at room temperature and thus quite thick. It is safe to use on the lips whenever desired, because in addition to its excellent moisturizing properties it is also a healthy food.
Shea butter, cocoa butter and mango butter are good occlusives, but are very hard at room temperatures. There are various chapsticks and so on that contain shea butter, and these are quite safe and pleasant to use.
Exfoliating lips with macademia nut butter is very effective. This butter is quite granular, so you get mechanical scrubbing action combined with great emolliency after the butter dissolves.
3. Keep retinols and AHAs separate
The problem: Ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and retinols occupy important places in the anti-aging war chest: alpha-hydroxy acids like lactic acid exfoliate by dissolving the glue that holds dead skin cells together, leaving skin smoother and with more even skin tones, while retinols increase both cell turn-over rate and collagen production. However, each of these ingredients when used in excess has a tendency to irritate skin. Combining the two together in one product can also irritate skin, and the reason this doesn’t happen more often with dual combination products is due to pH incompatibility. AHAs are acids, that is they do their work at low pH, while retinols work at a higher pH.
The upshot is that in most combo products only one ingredient will be working, though you are paying for both. On the other hand, if you are “lucky” enough to have found a high tech product where one of the ingredient is encapsulated, allowing both to act at the same time, you might be getting what you paid for but more than you bargained for—if your skin becomes irritated it could be the product is doing its job too well! Either way the price is too high, especially when a simpler and much safer approach exists that lets you control the level of exfoliation so it is always appropriate for your skin type.
Using AHA’s and retinols effectively
AHA’s: When you are ready for an exfoliation try an AHA/BHA/enzyme peel, but no more than once a week. AHAs and BHAs can also be a part of your daily cleanser, but AHAs in a night time lotion are overkill. AHAs like glycolic acid should also never appear in your day serum, and especially never in a sunscreen.
Retinols: Use your retinol/Retin-A product at night according to your doctor’s recommendation, and feel free to use an oil blend or a night time moisturizer over it if your skin feels dry and irritated. Make sure the moisturizer does not contain an AHA.
Sunscreen: Your skin is thinner and more susceptible to UV exposure when using an exfoliating product (this includes retinols) so wearing sunscreen every day, rain or shine is a crucial anti-aging step. NEVER use a sunscreen containing either an AHA or a retinol.
Image source: Technorati
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Marie Veronique Nadeau founded Marie Veronique Organics over 10 years ago and is a nationally recognized formulator and beauty expert. She collaborates with her daughter, Jay Nadeau, physicist and bio-medical engineer, to carefully choose each ingredient in her products to address the causes of aging at the source. Marie holds a BS in Math and Chemistry as well as an esthetics license from Paris Beauty College. She is a mother of 2 and a grandmother of one. When she is not developing cutting edge anti-aging products, she can be found reading at her local library or foraging for mushrooms with her granddaughter.
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