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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Means War: Antioxidants vs Free Radicals

I'm sure everyone has heard the terms "free radical" and "antioxidant" before. You generally know, one is bad and the other is good, but do you really know what they are and why they are? Marketing of cosmetics depends on the consumer being a little naive and the marketer sensationalizing the truth. Armed with the facts and a sense of understanding, you can start to chop through some of the claims out there and get to the meat of what the product(s) are all about.

So what is a free radical?

The body, like all matter, is made up of countless molecules. Sometimes oxygen comes along and reacts with molecules that it should not react with, leaving the molecule "undone" and looking for a partner. I like to think of free radicals as renegade puzzle pieces. I know that sounds crazy, but follow me on this one. So these renegade puzzle pieces are on the hunt for a piece that fits, whether it belongs to that puzzle or not. Imagine how crazy the finished puzzle will look if it has pieces that don't even belong. That sort of chaos is the effect that free radicals have on our bodies. In essence, free radicals attack good cells rendering them damaged or destroyed. This process is disastrous to our skin, causing us to age beyond our years, though we're all on a quest to look younger than our years. #conundrum

So how do we fight free radicals?

With antioxidants, of course! Antioxidants (in this sense) do exactly what the name implies, combat oxygen. *side note-- My fellow chemists know this is not the whole truth, but it explains antioxidants' role in this topic.* The antioxidant's job is to keep oxygen from reacting with molecules that it shouldn't, thus preventing the creation of free radicals. Hopefully, this explanation gives you a little more insight as to why cosmetic companies love to claim antioxidants. In a nutshell, they are key ingredients for any anti-aging product.

What should you look for?

The next time you're on the hunt for a great product that will improve the health of your skin and is also anti-aging, look for the antioxidants. The most common antioxidants in a cosmetic product are: tocopherol (Vitamin E), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), beta-carotene or retinol (think Vitamin A), and green and white teas. Remember, antioxidants are a great addition to your product regimen, but they also work wonders when you add them to your diet. Eat plenty of berries, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, etc for your fill of antioxidant goodness.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking a Lesson From Generic

This past Saturday, I sent the kids to hang out with their dad so I could have a little quiet time. While they were gone, I did a little work and indulged in a nice long shower complete with a wash and style :-) Doing my hair is what inspired this post. Generic Value Products is a hair care brand that has capitalized on their right to "reformulate" name brand products that are already a success.

A few years ago, my best friend (who is also my cosmetologist) started using Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Serum when drying my hair. The product claims to smoothe, soften, condition, seal and reduce drying time. Let me be the first to tell you that it does all of the above. I have thick, long hair that usually takes a half hour to 45 minutes to dry, so this product is a god-send to me. The trouble is, Paul Mitchell products are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. For someone like me that washes their hair once a week, I need more bang for my buck. Enter Generic with their Smoothing Serum labeled "Compare to: Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum" Ding, ding, ding!!!! We've got a winner here!

Allow me to explain a bit. Most personal care products are not protected from being reformulated. Of course some carry patents, but cosmetic chemists have plenty of legal tricks to get around a patent and deliver a comparable product. A lot of people are hung up on brands, especially when it comes to beauty products. A quick comparison of ingredients lists will show you that most store brands are exactly the same as the name brands. In some instances, the name brand products are private labeled to smaller companies and chain stores.

My point is:
1. Don't be afraid to try the store brands. They are often of equal quality and will save you some money.
2. There is a fortune to be made by small businesses in reformulating already successful products. Pick a niche, develop a unique branding strategy and call a chemist (that's me!) to work on the project.

Pretty and Rich?! That's the Glam Life!
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tough Skin

I spent a few days in New Jersey last week for Fabulous Smells and Cocktails (Review and Pics coming soon) and my friend's launch party. While I was there, I decided to treat myself to a manicure because my hands were in bad shape. Honestly, I was slightly embarrassed at the condition of my paws at my own event, but what can you do? At any rate, while I was in the local nail salon, I watched someone get a pedicure. Yes, I watched! I couldn't help myself. I was appalled because the technician was using a Credo blade on her client's feet. I sat there watching thick layers of skin fall from this poor lady's feet and I cringed every time. If you recall, I did a post on pedicures this past summer in which I was clear on my position. Those things are the devil!

If you have tough/rough skin, it's there for a reason. It's your body's natural defense- it's way of protecting you from harm. That's not to say you have to live with crusty feet. Just be careful how you treat the problem. Credo blades remove far too many layers of skin. You may leave the nail salon with feet smooth as a baby's bottom, but when the skin begins to heal duh-duh-duh-dummmmmm! That skin will grow back thicker and tougher because your body needs to repair the damage and try to keep it from happening again.

Now, my experience at that little nail salon in South Amboy, NJ inspired me to write this post, which is not really about Credo blades. I wanted to explain some of the other options out there for treating those unfortunate calluses. Callus treatments are becoming more and more popular. Most contain a collection of moisturizers, humectants and anti-microbial ingredients. Plus a host of vitamins. The most common ingredient in Callus Removers is dihydroxy propylene which acts as a surfactant, humectant and anti-microbial. Callus Remover treatments are concentrated formulas that quickly soften the skin and allow for easy removal with a pumice stone/pad or foot rasp. With proper upkeep, one Callus treatment should be enough to last the whole summer.

Interesting fact: Callus Removers and Cuticle Removers are usually the same product in different packaging. Read the labels, you'll see ;-)

Callus remover treatments are not your only option. A simple soak once a week and frequent moisturization should keep your skin in decent condition. I also recommend keeping some sort of foot file in the shower. You can upgrade your soak with loose tea (green or white), oatmeal, a drop of tea tree oil, and a few drops of a jojoba oil.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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