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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Friday, November 20, 2009

Update: Parabens

This past February, I did a post discussing parabens-- what they are, what the rumors are and whether or not the rumors were true. You can find that post here: Parabens

New research has been released that shows parabens don't cause any hormonal activity in the body. Florian Schellauf of Colipa (The European Cosmetics Association) recently presented research regarding propyl- and butylparabens that were introduced both orally and topically in laboratory rats. The study showed that the parabens are significantly absorbed orally, but only partially through the skin. Although there is some absorption through the skin, the research shows that the parabens are fully metabolized BEFORE they reach the blood stream. As proof of this finding, blood plasma tests were conducted that showed only the presence of the paraben metabolite p-hydroxybenzoic acid (pHBA) not the parabens themselves. These findings held true whether the parabens were introduced orally, dermally or subcutaneously (by injection just beneath the skin's surface). Thus far, pHBA is not known to have any estrogenic effects and can be found in our food and plant life naturally. That means, you are already ingesting the paraben metabolite more than likely on a daily basis. IF pHBA is causing trouble via your cosmetics, then it would be causing problems via the food you eat too. Think about it...

So the final word on this research study as put forth by Colipa is:

“The study confirms the results of a number of research studies, which concluded from their work that parabens are metabolised rapidly and to a large extent in living organisms and therefore cannot exhibit any adverse effects,” --Colipa.

Based on the science, I still see no harm in the use of parabens-- especially in the extremely low concentrations that are used in cosmetic preparations. We shall continue to see how the story unfolds. For now, if you are a consumer that has chosen to steer clear of parabens, there's no harm in caution. Just know, the science is on their side.

For more information on this study, view the original article here: New data on parabens
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a standard ingredient in many skin care applications including lotions, baby care products and cold creams. The verdict is still out on whether or not mineral oil is a natural ingredient. Mineral oil is the by-product of petroleum distillation for the process of making gasoline. Vaseline is also a by-product of this process. In skin care, mineral oil is said to work as a thin coating on the skin to help trap moisture. It does NOT draw moisture to the skin from the atmosphere. Mineral oil is not easily absorbed by the skin and thus is possibly comedogenic meaning it can clog the pores. Clogged pores slow the skin's ability to eliminate toxins which is never a good thing.

Aside from the cosmetic problems mineral oil can cause, there are some more serious implications. Once mineral oil is absorbed by the skin, it is metabolized and travels through the intestinal tract. Mineral oil will absorb fat soluble vitamins from the body and carries them out with it in bodily waste. Essentially, mineral oil has the potential to steal vital nutrients from our bodies. There have actually been some cases of [lipoid] pneumonia that were found to be caused by mineral oil.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Unscented vs Fragrance Free

With so many allergies, sensitive skin problems and the growing desire to "go green", consumers are opting for products that don't contain any added fragrance-- or so they think. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of ambiguity on the part of the FDA regarding appropriate wording for products that contain no added fragrance.

My twitter friend, Krissy90220, noticed that one of her personal care products was labeled "unscented" but had "fragrance" listed in the ingredients. Krissy, like most consumers felt that the label was misleading and illegal even... but, according to the FDA, this is quite alright.

There is no documented FDA definition for "unscented" or "fragrance free" which means the terms can be used freely on product labels. The FDA does, however, require that if fragrance is used in a product it be listed in the ingredients. Generally speaking, unscented is used when a product contains fragrance only to mask the chemical smell of other ingredients in the formula. Fragrance free is most often used when no fragrance exists in the formula at all. It's not likely that leading brands will have truly fragrance free products due to the number of synthetic ingredients that are typically used. Small handmade product lines that are labeled unscented or fragrance free are more likely to be authentic. If you find a product that is labeled unscented or fragrance free, does not list fragrance in the list, but still smells scented, it is probably misbranded. Misbranding is subject to penalty by the FDA and should be reported due to the possible implications.

If you have sensitivities to fragrant chemicals and seek a product that undoubtedly contains no fragrance, the front label will not give you all the assurances you need. Always read the ingredients list on the back label of a product to be sure that what you perceive is what you will receive.

Until next time... Here's to the glam life!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hope for the Dry Skin Woes

I rarely toot my own horn on my blog. I like to take a different approach to advertising. But, the last blog I posted happens to be the perfect set up for me to rave about Envie (on-vee-ay).

Two key points I touched on in the "Dry, Itchy, Flaky Skin" post were:

1. Dry skin needs to be slathered in a very thick moisturizer while the skin is still moist to improve the performance of the moisturizer and to help the skin retain as much moisture as possible.

2. Dry skin is better served if it is massaged rather than scrubbed. Abrasive bath accessories and scrubbing action damage the very fragile, dry skin.

And now for the pitch:

The Envie Bath and Body Conditioning Body Butter Creme is a super thick moisturizer packed with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It certainly passes the thick moisturizer test-- Put some in the palm of your hand then turn it upside down... this thick creme won't budge! Heavy duty moisturizing ingredients include shea butter, avocado oil, marajuca oil and pumpkin seed oil. It is highly emollient, yet non-greasy which means you can apply it right before you get dressed in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. The Envie Conditioning Body Butter Creme gets my seal of approval, but of course I'm biased. ;-) Visit our website to purchase a jar for yourself and a friend. http://envielabs.com

Massaging the skin helps to improve circulation and cell regeneration. Ultimately, it is a very gentle way to exfoliate and you already know how much I heart exfoliation. Envie will be selling handmade chenille bath mitts to add another touch of luxury to your bathing experience. The chenille fabric is soft, plush and luxurious and is perfect to buff your skin to perfection. These bath mitts will be available in limited quantities, so be on the lookout-- you don't want to miss this treat!

Thanks to the dry skin post, I have a few grand ideas for new products. I LOVE what I do! Here's to the glam life!
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dry, Itchy, Flaky Skin

So... I realized today that I hadn't posted a blog in almost two months. That is totally unacceptable! I'm back with a vengeance. I thought it was an appropriate time to tackle the problem of dry skin. During the fall and winter months more people begin to experience the discomforts of dry skin. I'd like to discuss a few of the causes of dry skin and also some treatments. Let me warn you, some are unconventional and they go against a lot of what I've been doing to treat me own dry skin all these years, but they are all certainly worth a shot. After all, dry skin really sucks!

Unfortunately, some of us have a genetic predisposition for dry skin also known as xerosis. Others of us have dry skin as the result of external factors. Ideally, our skin is coated with a thin layer of natural lipids and fatty substances which are meant to help us retain moisture. Dry skin occurs when the sebaceous glands don't produce enough oil to protect our skin or when the oils are stripped from our skin by external factors. Those external factors could be dry air, harsh winds, abrasive bathing accessories like bath poofs and loofa sponges, harsh soaps and hot water. Regardless of the cause, the treatment options are generally the same. The following are tips to help soothe and eliminate your dry skin.

1. Avoid hot water and long showers or baths. Hot water strips the natural oils from the skin. It is better to shower in lukewarm water and keep it short. Shower for just 3 minutes to prevent loss of moisture. If you can't keep it short, make it long. After about 15 minutes your skin starts to retain moisture from the shower. You can tell your skin is absorbing the water by the appearance of your fingertips. If they are wrinkly, the water has made its way in.

2. Many of us really give ourselves a good scrub in the shower. I know I'm guilty of keeping a trusty bath poof hanging in the shower. I think they are great for exfoliation, but they may be causing more harm than good. Dry skin is much more sensitive than normal skin. A good comparison would be the difference between leaves in the spring and leaves in the fall. Spring leaves are smooth, pliable, flexible, not easily broken. Fall leaves, however, are brittle, dry, fragile and crumble easily. Dry skin is like fall leaves. So instead of scrubbing your dry skin, use a plush washcloth or another soft, luxurious bath accessory to massage your body. The soap does the cleaning, the massage will stimulate blood flow and oil production.

3. Avoid harsh soaps. We LOVE to see a good lather from our soap, body wash, or shower gel. Unfortunately, all those bubbles rinse away and take those precious natural oils with them. So, don't overdo it with the soap products. Whether you see a good lather or not, the soap will do its job. Unsavory, but true: Soap is really only a daily necessity for the "hot spots". The arms, legs and abdomen can really be well served by a good rinse daily--lather maybe once or twice a week. Have I done this? Yes and no. My son suffers from severe eczema. I use soap on him once a week. Every other day, he gets a quick soak in the tub. I think his skin thanks me for that. :-)

4. Immediately following the shower PAT dry. DO NOT RUB YOUR SKIN DRY. You want to leave your skin hydrated to improve the performance of the moisturizer you choose. For dry skin, the thicker the moisturizer the better. You want to use a heavy, highly emollient moisturizer to replenish the skin and have long term effects. Bonus tip: Use a "barrier" to lock in moisture. Good barriers are oil based products that may also be considered ointments. A popular and effective barrier product is Aquafor. A less common, yet more effective barrier product is Crisco Vegetable Shortening. Yes, I am recommending cooking oil for your skin! That's just another trick I picked up caring for my son's skin. It does an excellent job of keeping the skin moisturized, soft and supple.

5. In the cold winter months, a little extra coverage could go a long way in protecting your skin from the elements. Of course you want to wear coats, hats, scarves, gloves etc. But, your legs could benefit from a little extra coverage too. Opt for those unsightly tall tube socks that men wear. They will keep your legs protected from the cold air which can creep up your pants legs. I personally love the tall socks. True, they're ugly, but they are warm and they keep your legs from sweating in your knee boots. ;-)

6. Changes in your diet could also have a positive impact on the condition of your skin. Drink plenty of water. Half your body weight in ounces is the recommended daily amount. So if you're 100 lbs, you need to drink atleast 50 oz of water a day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which cause the body to eliminate water. Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids. That means plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables and fatty fish like salmon. Flax seed oil is also a great source of essential fatty acids.

Dry, flaky skin is not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination. Take care of your skin, it will thank you for it.
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