Thursday, October 27, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
How are you feeling now?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Theories of Aging
- Programmed Theories assert that the human body is designed to age and there is a certain biological timeline that our bodies follow.
- Programmed Longevity: Aging is caused by certain genes switching on and off over time.
- Endocrine Theory: Changes in hormones control aging.
- Immunological Theory: The immune system is programmed to decline over time, leaving people more susceptible to diseases.
- Error Theories assert that aging is caused by environmental damage to our body's systems, which accumulates over time.
- Wear and Tear: Cells and tissues simply wear out.
- Rates of Living: The faster an organism uses oxygen, the shorter it lives.
- Cross-Linking: Cross-linked proteins accumulate and slow down body processes.
- Free Radicals: Free radicals cause damage to cells that eventually impairs function.
- Somatic DNA Damage: Genetic mutations cause cells to malfunction.
Genetics and Aging
- Longevity Genes: There are specific genes which help a person live longer.
- Cell Senescence: The process by which cells deteriorate over time.
- Telomeres: Structures on the end of DNA that eventually are depleted, resulting in cells ceasing to replicate.
- Stem Cells: These cells can become any type of cell in the body and hold promise to repair damage caused by aging.
- Free Radicals: Unstable oxygen molecules which can damage cells.
- Protein Cross-Linking: Excess sugars in the blood stream can cause protein molecules to literally stick together.
- DNA Repair: For an unknown reasons, the systems in the body to repair DNA seem to become less effective in older people.
- Heat Shock Proteins: These proteins help cells survive stress and are present in fewer numbers in older people.
- Hormones: The body's hormones change as we age, causing many shifts in organ systems and other functions.
- Heart Aging: The heart muscle thickens with age as a response to the thickening of the arteries. This thicker heart has a lower maximum pumping rate.
- Immune System Aging: T cells take longer to replenish in older people and their ability to function declines.
- Arteries and Aging: Arteries usually to stiffen with age, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood through them.
- Lung Aging: The maximum capacity of the lungs may decrease as much as 40 percent between ages 20 and 70.
- Brain Aging: As the brain ages, some of the connections between neurons seem to be reduced or less efficient. This is not yet well understood.
- Kidney Aging: The kidneys become less efficient at cleaning waste from the body.
- Bladder Aging: The total capacity of the bladder declines and tissues may atrophy, causing incontinence.
- Body Fat and Aging: Body fat increases until middle age and then weight typically begins to decrease. The body fat also moves deeper in the body as we age.
- Muscle Aging: Muscle tone declines about 22 percent by age 70, though exercise can slow this decline.
- Bone Aging: Starting at age 35, our bones begin to lose density. Walking, running and resistance training can slow this process.
- Sight and Aging: Starting in the 40s, difficulty seeing close detail may begin.
- Hearing and Aging: As people age, the ability to hear high frequencies declines.
- By eating foods loaded with antioxidants, you can minimize damage caused by free radicals.
- By exercising, you can limit bone and muscle loss.
- By keeping your cholesterol low, you can slow the hardening of your arteries and protect your heart.
- By practicing mental fitness, you can keep your brain sharp.
Aging Under the Microscope; National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging.
Monday, September 19, 2011
With increasing research into what causes wrinkles and the effects of photoaging, alpha hydroxy acids have increased greatly in popularity. Alpha hydroxy acids have been used for thousands of years as a skin rejuvenating product. Cleopatra is reported to have bathed in sour mild (lactic acid) to improve her complexion. Now hydroxy acids are a common additive to numerous skin care products including moisturizers, cleanser, toners, and masks.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids Defined
Alpha hydroxy acids are derived from fruit and milk sugars. The most commonly used alpha hydroxy acids are glycolic acid and lactic acid because they have a special ability to penetrate the skin. They also have the most scientific data on their effectiveness and side effects. The following are the 5 major types of alpha hydroxy acids found in skin-care products and their sources:
- glycolic acid - sugar cane (Vogue de Rose Rejuvenating Masque with Rose & Glycolic pictured)
- lactic acid - milk
- malic acid - apples and pears
- citric acid - oranges and lemons
- tartaric acid - grapes
How Alpha Hydroxy Acids Work
Alpha hydroxy acids work mainly as an exfoliant. They cause the cells of the epidermis to become "unglued" allowing the dead skin cells to slough off, making room for regrowth of new skin. Alpha hydroxy acids may even stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Alpha hydroxy acids are reported to improve wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin after months of daily application. Alpha hydroxy acids found in skin-care products work best in a concentration of 5% to 8% and at a pH of 3 to 4.
Side Effects of Alpha Hydroxy Acids
The two major side effects of alpha hydroxy acids are irritation and sun sensitivity. Symptoms of irritation include redness, burning, itching, pain, and possibly scarring. People with darker colored skin are at a higher risk of scarring pigment changes with alpha hydroxy acids. The use of alpha hydroxy acids can increase sun sensitivity by 50% causing an interesting dilemma. It appears that alpha hydroxy acids may be able to reverse some of the damage caused by photoaging, but at the same time they make the skin more susceptible to photoaging. It is clear that anyone using alpha hydroxy acids must use a good sunscreen that contains UVA and UVB protection.
FDA Guidelines on Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Because of concerns over the side effects of alpha hydroxy acids, the FDA in 1997 announced that alpha hydroxy acids are safe for use by consumers with the following guidelines:
The Difference Between Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids
There is only one beta hydroxy acid - salicylic acid. The main difference between alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid is their lipid (oil) solubility. Alpha hydroxy acids are water soluble only, while beta hydroxy acid is lipid (oil) soluble. This means that beta hydroxy acid is able to penetrate into the pore which contains sebum and exfoliate the dead skin cells that are built up inside the pore. Because of this difference in properties, beta hydroxy acid is better used on oily skin with blackheads and whiteheads. Alpha hydroxy acids are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem.
Choosing an Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Alpha hydroxy acids are found in a variety of skin care products including moisturizers, cleansers, eye cream, sunscreen, and foundations. Here are some guidelines to use when trying to decide which alpha hydroxy acid formulation to use: It is best to pick one product that contains the proper formulation of alpha hydroxy acid to use as your exfoliant, and then choose other skin care products or cosmetics that don't contain alpha hydroxy acids to reduce the likelihood of skin irritation. Using an alpha hydroxy acid in a moisturizer base may be the best combination of products. Cleansers containing alpha hydroxy acids are not very effective because the alpha hydroxy acid must be absorbed in the skin to work. Cleansers are washed off before this absorption occurs. At this time there are no effective products that combine alpha hydroxy acid and sunscreen, because sunscreen is not stable at the pH required to make the alpha hydroxy acid effective. Sunscreen MUST be applied liberally when using an alpha hydroxy acid product. The sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 15 for UVB protection and contain avobenzone, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide for UVA protection. Alpha hydroxy acids work best in a concentration of 5% to 8% and at a pH of 3 to 4. Unfortunately, cosmetic manufacturers are not required to provide concentration information on the label. As a general rule of thumb, having the alpha hydroxy acid listed as the second or third ingredient on the list makes it more likely it contains the proper concentration.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Hydroquinone, in the past, was the standard ingredient for skin lightening treatments. Until recently, it was thought to be the safest and most effective treatment for hyperpigmentation, including age spots, melasma, sun damage and other discolorations. However, new research suggests that there may be serious side effects associated with long term use of synthetic hydroquinone. Just recently the FDA also announced its plans to possibly remove hydroquinone based products from store shelves and limit its use to only prescription based medications. Consequently, many manufacturers have begun to produce natural alternatives which mimic the skin lightening properties of hydroquinone. Ingredients such as kojic acid and licorice have become quite popular along with more advanced ingredients like Alpha-Arbutin. When combined, these ingredients can often produce results that even surpass hydroquinone but without the associated risks. Skin lighteners have come a long way in the past few years. With all the available information on the internet, consumers can now educate themselves about the skin bleaching products they buy. This page was designed to help the consumer learn about the many different skin lightening ingredients available on the market today and ultimately choose the best product for his/her skin.
The process of lightening the skin occurs in several stages. Most of the current skin lightening ingredients on the market work at different stages of the process and typically provide the best results when combined together into one product. Listed below are a few of the more popular ingredients used by manufacturers of skin whitening products.
Alpha-Arbutin is a biosynthetic active ingredient that is pure, water-soluble and is manufactured in a powder form. As one of the most advanced skin lightening ingredients on the market, it has been shown to work effectively on all skin types. It is the epimer of arbutin, and research has proven that it has a stronger inhibitory action than that of (beta) arbutin. Though it is a very expensive ingredient to manufacture, even at very low concentrations, a-arbutin has shown to inhibit the activity of tyrosinase. Alpha Arbutin's inhibitory mechanism is different from that of arbutin and can be up to 10 times more effective. The a-glucosidic bond found in alpha Arbutin offers higher stability and efficancy than the B form found in the related Beta-Arbutin. This leads to a skin whitening active that acts faster and more efficiently than existing single components.
Beta-Arbutin (Bearberry Extract):
Beta-Arbutin is often referred to as just Arbutin. As a natural extract found in bearberry (Uva Ursi) plants, Arbutin also provides a skin lightening effect on the skin by inhibiting tyrosinase activity. Though arbutin is a natural derivative of hydroquinone, it does not possess the same risks or side effects. Arbutin has been shown to be a very safe ingredient and does not break down into hydroquionone very readily. Though it is cheaper to manufacture than Alpha-Arbutin, the skin lightening effect is much less than that of its counterpart. For this reason, many new skin whitening products now use Alpha Arbutin as opposed to only beta-Arbutin.
Kojic acid, often used as an ingredient in Asian diets, is a more recent discovery for the treatment of pigmentation problems and age spots. Discovered in 1989, kojic acid is now used extensively as a natural alternative to hydroquinone. Kojic acid is derived from a fungus, and studies have shown that it is effective as a lightening agent, inhibiting production of melanin (brown pigment). Kojic acid is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice for use in the manufacturing of sake, the Japanese rice wine. There is convincing research, both in vitro (in a test tube) and in vivo (on a live subject), showing kojic acid to be effective for inhibiting melanin production.
The licorice plant serves many purposes in skin care. The ingredient that is responsible for the skin whitening aspect of the plant is known as glabridin. Glabridin inhibits pigmentation by preventing tyrosinase activation. Studies have shown that it can provide a considerable skin brightening effect while remaining non-toxic to the melanin forming cells. Glabridin is found in very small traces and therefore it is important to ensure that the correct part of the licorice plant is used. Licorice's anti-inflammatory properties (due to ihibition of superoxide anion production and cyclooxygenase activity) also make it a very popular ingredient in the skin care industry.
Niacinamide is commonly known as Vitamin B3 and is an effective skin lightening compound that works by inhibiting melanosome transfer from
melanocytes to keratinocytes. Often this ingredient works best when combined with other skin lightening treatments. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is also known to be effective in reducing acne.
Paper Mulberry extract, is obtained from the root of Broussonetia kazinoki, Siebold. or B. papyrifera, Vent. Tabl. Regn. Veget. or hybrids of both, family Moraceae. Extracts of this root are potent inhibitors of Tyrosinase enzyme. The active constituents present in the extract are Prenylated, polyhydroxylated mono-and bis-phenylderivatives. A 0.4% concentration of paper mulberry extract inhibits tyrosinase by 50% compared to 5.5% for hydroquinone and 10.0% for kojic acid. At 1% paper mulberry extract is not a significant irritant.
Glycolic Acid is a AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) which promotes exfoliation and a natural brightening of the skin tone. By encouraging cell turnover, glycolic acid not only evens out skin discolorations, but also helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles. AHA's such as Glycolic Acid can assist other ingredients in skin lighteners by allowing them to penetrate farther into the skin.
Also an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), Lactic acid mimics the properties of Glycolic acid but is typically better suited for individuals with sensitive skin. AHA's such as Lacic Acid can assist other ingredients in skin lighteners by allowing them to penetrate farther into the skin.
Lemon Juice Extract:
Lemon juice is one of nature's most potent skin bleaching ingredients. Unfortunately it is also very irritating to the skin and should only be used at small concentrations in skin lighteners. Lemon juice is also known to be extremely drying to the skin if applied directly.
Emblica is a patented composition extracted from the plant Phyllanthus emblica. The extract uses a multilevel cascade of antioxidant compounds resulting in a long-lasting and stable antioxidant activity. Recent studies have shown that this natural antioxidant also provides significant skin lightening properties when used in moderate concentrations.
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that occurs in many different forms (some stable and others unstable) each with distinct properties. Several of these forms have been shown to reduce melanin formation and provide a skin whitening effect when applied topically. These include l-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. These forms when used individually or together can assist in slowing down hyperactive melanocytes and thus resulting in lighter skin.