Tutorial: Perfect Red Lips in Just 4 Steps!

Today I’ve got a little tutorial for you on how to get perfect red lips in 4 easy steps!


Step One is to exfoliate your lips.

Yes, I have very pale lips.

Step Two is to moisturize.

If it hasn’t fully sunk in by the time you’re ready for the next step (I usually put lip balm on before I start my eye makeup so it can sink in), you can blot off any excess.

Step Three line your lips with a red lip pencil. I used MAC Cherry, which I’ve had for years.


Step Four, apply your red lipstick of choice. I chose Too Faced La Creme Color Drenched Lip Cream in Stiletto Red, a classic shade. I recommend using a lip brush so that you apply a thin, even layer.

You’re done! Perfect red lips!

Optional Steps:
You can blot the lipstick with tissue.
You can apply a gloss. To really up the amp, I’d go with a bright red. However, gold or clear would look great, too.

Do you have any tips for perfect red lips?

Some products purchased by me. Some products sent for consideration. All opinions are my own.

Find more of my reviews and tips at Phyrra.net.

Product Review: Atopalm Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum

There are mixed reviews about whether or not you need a special eye cream. Some people claim you don’t because the ingredients lists can look near identical to face lotions, while others claim that eye creams are formulated to be more hydrating and gentle on the sensitive eye area. The eye area has fewer oil glands and subsequently is drier than the skin on the dace.

Many people — myself included — use eye creams. So I was excited to see what Atompalm Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum ($24.52, amazon.com) would do for my eyes when they sent a sample over.

[Read More: Do You Really Need an Eye Cream?]


This is a Sphingosine-kinase-activator, which in turn produces Sphingosin-1-phosphate (S1P). S1P regulates cell processes like survival, growth, differentiation, and signaling. In doing this, K6PC-5 regulates the proliferation of fibroblasts. Results on hairless mice suggest that because of these features, K6PC-5 appears to be a beneficial product in anti-aging (Journal of Dermatological Science).

The study found that after two weeks, a 1% solution including K6PC-5 increased the collagen production and dermal fibroblasts in aged mouse skin. This was the first in-vitro test done on the ingredient and we await more tests to understand how this helps in the aging process.

Butylene Gylcol

English: 1,2-Butylene glycol; alpha-Butylenegl...

Butylene glycol helps other ingredients penetrate the skin better than they would on their own. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This makes other ingredients in a formula penetrate the skin better and is used in transdermal drug delivery systems in addition to cosmetics (International Journal of Pharmaceutics).

For the last several years there has been a rumor about butylene glycol being dangerous because on the Material Safety Data Sheet, it’s listed as causing living and kidney damage and being a skin irritant — but that’s in a 100% concentration. In reality, the concentrations in which its used in products are effective — they can help deliver necessary drugs or help ingredients penetrate the skin (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

The U.S. Department of health and human services has also found it to be nontoxic in several studies.


This is a kind of silicone that can coat the skin and hold in moisture. Studies have shown that it also works to protect the skin from certain infectious bacteria (Journal of Parasitology).

While petroleum-based products have been found to provide better barrier function for the skin, dimethicone products — particularly those containing humectant moisturizers like butylene glycol — have been found to provide excellent moisturizing benefits to skin for several hours. Glycerin is better in that department, but this product contains more glycerin than dimethicone, which means it has excellent hydration properties (Ostomy Wound Management).

Personal Use and Opinion

I really liked how quickly Atopalm Moisturizing Eye Repair Serum absorbed into my skin — even when I put a pretty thick layer on. It tingled a bit for me — undoubtedly because of the butelyn glycol, which helps other ingredients penetrate the skin and can causes a bit of tingling. Within minutes of putting it on, my eyes looked a bit brighter and more awake.

I have to mention the packaging — I loved not only the opaque bottle that prevents the serum from degrading in light, but the swivel pump design. The top lays flat until you twist it and them a pump comes. It’s a great design that would make for easy travel.

Bottom Line

My eye

Atopalm Moisutirzing Eye Repair Serum has excellent hydrating ingredients that are great for the delicate skin around the eyes. It also has a potentially powerful anti-aging ingredient: K6PC-5, which preliminary tests show to be effective in studies on mouse skin. The product has excellent packaging and goes on smoothly, absorbing quickly. Some people might find the skin around their eyes tingles from the butylene glycol, but that should subside quickly.

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Why Alcohol in Skin Care is Safe, Despite What Paula Begoun Says

Many beauty products contain alcohols – including Paula’s Choice.

I’ll admit it:  I’m not good at conflict.  My boyfriend can tell you this – I get emotional, I get flustered, sometimes I even cry.  So you can imagine I was not sure what to say when yesterday, we got quite a startle from Paula Begoun.  The consumer advocate, most known for her best-selling Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me series, countered that we are wrong about alcohols, and her writing shows alcohol “isn’t beneficial in the least, not now or ever.”  [Read more:  Paula's scathing post about us]

Yet I’m not alone in believing that alcohol in skin care products can be beneficial.  According to well-renowned DERMADoctor dermatologist Dr. Audrey Kunin, M.D.:  “If I had to pick a single ingredient as the most misunderstood, it would be alcohol.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘I can’t use that product, it contains alcohol and will dry, irritate my skin.’  Is this true?  Probably not.”  (source)  Alcohol can be drying – yes, this is true.  But in a properly-formulated skin care product, it can help increase penetration of key ingredients.  Some alcohols also act as slip agents, emollients, and/or hydrators.

Once I managed to get myself together – Paula has been a role model of mine since I got my first copy of Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me in middle school – I decided to take a closer look at her counterargument.  And here is what my team and I found:

1.)  Topically-Applied Alcohol Does NOT Cause the Release of Free Radicals.

Topical application and oral consumption are not the same. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume they are: Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to be beneficial.

The “Wu” review does not say topically-applied alcohol causes release of free radicals.  This review came to the conclusion that “ROS and other reactive molecules are indeed formed in human alcoholics.”  It also concluded that many of the negative effects from consuming alcohol could be “prevent[ed] or ameliorat[ed] by antioxidants, agents that reduce the levels of free iron, or agents that replenish glutathione levels.”

What does this have to do with skin care?!  Ingesting alcohol and topically applying alcohol to the skin are two completely different things.  If you don’t believe me, think about the different effects drinking water and bathing in it has on your body!  (One makes you pee, the other makes your skin all crinkly!)  :-)  But, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that they are the same thing.  Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have cardioprotective effects through mild vasodilation (relaxation) of blood vessels, increased levels of good HDL cholesterol, decreased levels of LDL cholesterol, prevention of clot formation, reduction in platelet aggregation, and lowering of plasma apolipoprotein(a) concentration (Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 2009; Alcohol and Alcoholism, 2002).  Moderate alcohol consumption has also been associated with lower risk of osteoporosis, as published in BMJ and mentioned on ABC News earlier this year.

So, let’s suppose Paula has concluded that ingesting and topically applying alcohol are the same thing.  I don’t understand why she doesn’t present both sides of the argument.   After all, if any alcohol from skin care products is absorbed into the body, it would certainly be more “moderate” dose than “alcoholic” consumption, wouldn’t it?

2.)  Cell culture is not equal to topical application to a living, breathing organism.

If what Paula said in her post about us was true, rubbing alcohol would “destroy” beneficial aspects of the skin.

The Neuman study initially triggers a “What?!” reaction:  It is titled, “Ethanol signals for apoptosis in cultured skin cells.”  Given that apoptosis is programmable cell death, this sounds like ethanol is like putting the Grim Reaper in a Bottle on your face.  Terrible!

But further analysis reveals this is not the case at all.  First of all, “Ethanol signals for apoptosis in cultured skin cells.”  I worked in biomedical laboratories for seven years, and I am proud to say that I did cell culture for a number of those years.  A cell culture (in vitro) is drastically different from a systemic application or test (in vivo).

Small amounts of alcohol on these skin cells in a petri dish was found to decrease their antioxidant capacity – but antioxidants in small amounts of alcohol applied to a living person’s skin allows for these beneficial ingredients to penetrate the skin better (Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, 2003; Cosmetics and Toiletries, 2005).  And penetration is not by, as Paula says, “destroying important protective aspects of skin” – rather, it is by creating temporary microscopic openings in the lipid bilayer that later close (Cosmetics and Toiletries, 2005), leaving skin intact and healthy.

Think about this logically:  If alcohol really went on a blazing path of destruction and “destroyed important protective aspects of skin,” why on earth do medical professionals use rubbing alcohol to clean a wound?  If Paula was right, all of your “antioxidants, good emollients, and barrier repair ingredients” would be destroyed and every pediatrician in America would have a malpractice suit.

3.)  The Warner Study:  This is About Sulfates, Not Alcohol

We never dispute the fact that alcohol can be drying.  We don’t like hand sanitizers or any other products with the vast majority of alcohol either.  But when it is a part of a well-formulated skin care product, it can be a benefit, thinning out the solution, increasing its penetration into the skin, and ultimately, its efficacy.

Paula uses the Warner study to conclude that alcohols are drying.  But the Warner study says, “The kinetics of damage and its repair, and epidemiological evidence suggest that modern synthetic detergents as used in foaming liquid cleansers are the major offender.”  It concludes that agents like sulfates are damaging to the skin.  But modern synthetic detergents are soap molecules, with a hydrophillic head and a hydrophobic tail, attached to a sulfate.  And we completely agree that sulfates are harsh to the skin. Maybe Paula and I should do a joint post on that (I do mean that earnestly, not sarcastically).

4.)  Why Do Paula’s Products Contain Alcohols?

Though she tears me up for saying that “fatty alcohols” are hydrating (and they are), her products are loaded with alcohols of all kinds.  She also uses a fatty alcohol (cetearyl alcohol) in her Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Oil-Reducing Cleanser.  Quick lesson: In chemistry, the suffix “-ol” is an indication a substance is an alcohol.  There are a few exceptions, like panthenol, but “-ol” on the end is the general rule from IUPAC.   Curiously enough, Paula puts a big smiley faces on her site next to “butylene glycol” and “phenoxyethanol” and the other alcohols in her products. Check out all the alcohols in her Paula’s Skin Balancing Pore Toner:

Water, Glycerin (skin-repairing ingredient), Butylene Glycol (slip agent), Niacinamide (vitamin B3/cell-communicating ingredient), Adenosine Triphosphate (cell-communicating ingredient/skin conditioning agent), Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Extract (anti-irritant), Arctium Lappa (Burdock) Root Extract (antioxidant), Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (skin conditioning agents), Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Sodium Hyaluronate (skin-repairing ingredients), Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate (skin conditioning agent), Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol (lipid-based skin-repairing ingredients), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (vitamin C/antioxidant), Oleth-10, DEA-Oleth-10 Phosphate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (emulsifiers), Polysorbate-20 (skin conditioning agent), Caprylyl Glycol, Hexylene Glycol (preservatives), Sodium Citrate (pH adjuster), Xanthan Gum (thickener), Trisodium EDTA (chelating agent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

Butylene glycol is a well-known penetration enhancer (International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 1999), particularly in such high concentration as in this product.  However, it is listed in her dictionary and ingredients list as merely a “slip agent.”  The penetration it induces is safe and I approve of it – but I’m surprised she omits this part of its definition altogether.  Based upon her thinking, I guess stating the alcohol butylene glycol helps ingredients penetrate faster into skin would negate her claim that alcohols increase penetration by “destroy[ing] important protective aspects of skin (think fighting dryness and free radical damage)” (source).

Bottom Line

I strongly dislike arguing and even debating – I’m a pretty emotional person.  I’m actually exhausted from writing this post.  I’m hoping after this, Paula Begoun and I will be able to peacefully exist within the same space – kind-of like how Fox News and CNN cover the same events, but from different angles.  It might actually be a huge benefit to our readers to hear two different interpretations of scientific literature!  Nonetheless, no matter what this well-meaning, well-written consumer advocate says in return, I’m not going to mention her directly or indirectly again, and I hope that she does me the same courtesy.

However, what we say on the FutureDerm blog about alcohols, we stand behind firmly.  Alcohol in skin care products is safe.  It can be somewhat drying for those with dry skin, but alcohol-containing skin care products do not cause the death of skin cells, the destruction of important aspects of skin, or the widespread systemic induction of free radicals (unless you eat them).  I hope I have convincingly convinced you of so.  To discuss further, please note we will not tolerate negative comments posted from either side; we want to keep the Comments of our website clean, and I hope that you understand and respect that.  If you would like to discuss with me further, please use the Contact page, and I or a member of our team would be more than happy to discuss.  Thank you!

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Five Products to Get a Natural Look for Fall

beautiful faces

As fall starts, it’s a great time to buy new make-up to give you a great natural look. (Photo credit: tommerton2010)

As summer ends, so too ends long days and warm nights in favor of something a little cooler and darker. While that may be a downer in many ways — it will be more difficult to wake up while it’s still dark — it’s also an excuse to come up with a new make-up routine.

Now that the sweltering heat won’t be melting off that perfectly made-up face of yours, you can go a little heavier and have some fun with your face. These tips are great for everyone, but especially those who are looking for a natural look.

These five products will help you look fresh faced and ready for what the year will bring.

1) Concealer

When you’re sleeping, your body is busy repairing itself — that includes regenerating skin. Your brain sends out the signals for a necessary hormone to improve skin elasticity. Nighttime is also when your skin is best at absorbing necessary nutrients (Better Nutrition).

So why talk about sleep so much? Because it’s likely there have been and will be days when you’re not getting enough sleep —  which is perpetuated by the cold and dark, as well as the stress from holidays and back-to-school season these months bring.

So concealer is, quite frankly, a must. Concealer is you answer to even-toned, natural looking skin.

You can get away with not using foundation unless you really need it, but concealer covers a multitude of things, including blemishes, redness, or dullness. The right concealer does it all: conceals, perfects, and brightens.

I’m a fan of RMS “Un” Cover Up ($36, amazon.com). It has a natural, non-cakey finish and beneficial ingredients such as coconut oil, which is moisturizing and anti-bacterial, and castor oil (Dermatitis).

[Read More: Spotlight On: Coconut]

2) Blush

Having pale — ahem, I mean porcelain — skin means that my complexions quite a boost, especially come the cold months. Blushing is a sign of health, so having a bit of rosiness makes you seem more attractive — and it definitely helps for flirting (PLOS).

[Read More: Does Blushing Make You More Attractive?]

I’m really starting to like the Per-fekt brand. A lot. Their Per-fekt Cheek Perfection Gel Duo ($42.50, amazon.com). Right now I used their cheek perfection gel in bronze (it also comes in a blush hue) to give me the color I need. My light skin has made bronzer a bit difficult to master but Per-fekt’s Cheek Perfection Gel makes it easy to get a natural glow.

One tip: Don’t be alarmed by the shocking color that emerges from the pump. The color will fade in and blend into your skin tone. The company says that their Smart Color Technology™ assures a perfect match for every skin tone.

With niacin (vitamin B3) to increase circulation, along with antioxidants caffeine and Vitamins A and E to protect from free radical damage, it’s not just good for your color, it’s good for your skin.

3) Lips

Remember when I said I was really falling for this brand? I wasn’t kidding.

I’m a firm believer that a sheer gloss or lip tint can add that little extra oomph to magically make your look complete and polished. Voila! And much like blush, it makes you appear healthier and more attractive, so a little swipe of gloss or tint can go a long way (PubMed).

I find that my lips get chapped easily so lipstick is too drying, but I find gloss too sticky. Luckily, I’ve found the perfect (no pun intended) hybrid. Per-fekt’s Lip Perfection Gel ($24, amazon.com) leaves a beautifully subtle glossy finish, emphasizing your pout while indulging it in a generous dose of hydration.

[Read More: 6 Ways to Get Rid of Chapped Lips]

With six shades with Smart Color Technology™ to choose from, including clear, you can’t go wrong with this moisturizing lip perfector. With peptides that stimulate collagen, hyaluronic microspheres that hydrate and improve elasticity, and antioxidants to protect against free radicals — this has a lot of keep your lips in tip-top shape.

4) Mascara

To top off the look, a few coats of mascara will really make eyes pop.

I absolutely love Sunday Riley’s The Influencer Extra Volume Glossy Mascara ($30, amazon.com). Apply two or three coats to lashes to make your eyes stand out in a natural looking way — no need to make it obvious that you’re wearing mascara. These look like your lashes, only more pronounced.

With a novel castor oil plant brush that the company claims grips better than traditional brushes and ingredients like water-resistant carnauba wax and moisturizing hydrolized silks, it’s an excellent mascara (Flaunt Magazine, Cosmetics, Franjac).

[Read More: Product Review: Sunday Riley The Influencer Extra Volume Glossy Mascara]

5) Moisturize/Take It Off

Argan oil (Watt’s Beauty Argan Gold, $8.94, amazon.com) is not only a great skin skin moisturizer, mixed along with water it practically melts make-up off your face. It’s also great to give your locks an extra shine and conditioning boost, since it’s likely they winter will be killer on those tresses.

Argan oil is abundant in linoleic and oleic acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation and moisturize the skin.  It’s ultra-hydrating with polyphenols and antioxidants. It’s also been shown to help reduce inflammation (Wall Street Journal).

Just a quick tip: Make sure to get argan oil that’s 100% argan oil, not Moroccan oil, which is blended and is often heavier than straight argan oil.

[Read more: Spolight On: Argan Oil]

Bottom Line

The upcoming months don’t have to be totally dark and dreary. You can still have a natural, radiant look — even in the dead of winter — if you’re using the right products that give you that extra something.

Now you’re ready to face the new school year with an easy makeup routine that makes you look naturally lovely.

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Are Inorganic Sunscreens Better Than Organic Ones? Part IV: Level of Protection, and Practicality

Slap on that sunscreen!

Since our post on toxicity last week was so tedious, I’ve decided to keep this one relatively short and sweet. Okay, it’s more that there aren’t too many conclusive articles specifically pertaining to these characteristics!

***In this series, I will refer to inorganic sunscreens as iOSs (not Apple, mind you) and organic sunscreens as OSs. While there are many individual compounds in each group—particularly OSs, for the purposes of this post, I will only refer to individual iOSs and OSs as parts of their respective groups. Complete and comparative ingredient profiles will not be seen in this series. Furthermore, I will attempt to discuss technologies that are more relevant and reflect the sunscreen technologies and tendencies of the current market. For example, while para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) has many documented negativities, it will be ignored in our discussion, due to the fact that it is hardly used nowadays in sunscreen formulations.

Level of Protection

Sun protection comes in many forms!

These days, because adequate protection against UVB rays is virtually guaranteed, I’ll mostly be focusing on protection against UVA rays.

For OSs, the two readily available ingredients (in the US) are oxybenzone and avobenzone, with the former protecting against UVA2 rays, and the latter protecting against UVA1 rays. Both, when properly formulated and stabilized, provide excellent protection.

On to the iOSs: the biggest “controversy” or question that I get asked is whether or not zinc oxide is better at absorbing UVA1 rays (>340 nm) than titanium dioxide. So that will be the primary focus of this section. To start off, the answer is a resounding YES!


Zinc oxide is the winner! Usually. This is the wurtzite crystallization structure.

Various studies have indicated that ZnO is better than TiO2 at protecting against UVA1 rays. For example, this study (1) demonstrated that both (3%) avobenzone and (5%) ZnO increased PFA values by nearly 3-fold when added to 6% oxybenzone; 18.2 and 16.0 respectively. Titanium dioxide at various concentrations (2.4%-9.1%) and with or without oxybenzone, only increased PFA values marginally (8.4-10.5). This is further supported by the fact that in the past, both the FDA and the Skin Cancer Foundation have not recognized TiO2 to provide adequate protection against UVA1 rays. In fact, the latter doesn’t even consider TiO2 to block UVA1 rays (3). However, it is known that TiO2 does provide some protection in the UVA1 range; it does well against UV rays that are < 350 nm.

Keep in mind that the PFA values were determined via the delayed erythema method, which may be used interchangeably with the persistent pigment darkening (PPD) method. The results from both of these methods are considered comparable (2).

However, some have claimed that when formulated properly, TiO2 will provide adequate UVA1 protection and specifically, will satisfy the critical wavelength test of providing protection against UV rays that are >370 nm. This qualification is one of the rules that the FDA plans to implement and enforce beginning December, 2012.

FDA = the BIG tamale.

While the FDA is very rigorous when testing the safety and toxicology profile of a UV filter, it’s not so stringent when it comes to HOW MUCH protection is seen. Yes, TiO2 does provide some protection beyond the critical wavelength of 370 nm, but it doesn’t provide nearly as well as ZnO in that range. However, if you still insist on using just TiO2 to provide full UVB, UVA2, and UVA1 protection, then that is your choice. But as study (2) suggests, the difference in protection is not as small as previously thought. Study (4) further substantiates this claim, in addition to acknowledging that ZnO is less “white” than TiO2 due to the former (2.0) having a lower refractive index than the latter (2.6).

However, in terms of UVB protection, TiO2 is significantly better than ZnO! This study (5) suggests that ZnO can’t achieve an SPF of higher than 10, while TiO2 reached an SPF of 38. While these numbers aren’t absolute, they do support the above mentioned claim.

Like I said, there are pros and cons to ZnO and TiO2.

Overall and for the first time ever, I’m going to award both sides a point each, just because exact levels of protection will vary based on a variety of factors; many of which were discussed in parts II, and III. But relatively speaking, both iOSs and Oss can provide excellent levels of protection.

iOSs = 6; OSs = 2


Please reapply sunscreen when necessary!

This will be about the need of reapplication and how practical that application is in terms of iOSs and OSs.

Reapplication is deemed necessary for two reasons: one, because UV filters degrade upon irradiation; and two, the sunscreens might be wiped off, sweated off, and/or otherwise removed.

In terms of photostability, as we noted in part II, iOSs are more stable than OSs. However, at a nano-scale level, it was also noted that iOSs begin to act as semi-conductors and absorb as well as scatter UV light. Therefore, they aren’t completely stable and reapplication is necessary… in certain situations. If you’re going to a place where you expect to constantly be direct sunlight, then reapplication every two hours is necessary, and more frequently if you’re swimming. However, on a day-to-day day basis, if you’re wearing sunscreen under makeup and aren’t outdoors for a long period of time, it isn’t practical to take off your entire face and reapply everything. So in this sense, because iOSs are more stable than OSs, the former group is more “practical;” because iOSs need to be less frequently reapplied, if at all, on a day-to-day basis.

What about the sunscreen being removed factor? Well, that doesn’t really depend on the UV filters themselves. Rather it’s mostly the vehicle that determines how transfer-, water-, and/or sebum-resistant a sunscreen is. While OSs can help make a product more water-resistant due to their lipophilic nature, there are other ingredients that can be incorporated into a iOS to function in a similar fashion. Therefore, in terms of this, I’d say both groups are tied.

For this somewhat subjectively evaluated characteristic, I’d give the point to iOSs because, while stabilized OSs can work just as well as iOSs, many products on the market are not stable. And the ability to stay on the skin or to not be removed, depends more on the vehicle rather than the specific UV filters, which is independent of sunscreen type. Therefore, iOSs have a slight edge over OSs.

iOSs = 7; OSs = 2

We’re done! Finally!


This concludes the (mostly) evidence-based interpretation of why I think iOSs are better than OSs. For the final part next week, I will summarize all the major points of each post written thus far, and make product recommendation based on elements such as skin type, level of protection, and many other aspects! So keep checking back!

While you’re waiting, join in the lively discussion on my blog asking, “What type of product do you think is still missing on the current market?” And of course, you can let me know what you think of this post, too!


  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20806994
  2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/576849_sidebar2
  3. http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/the-skin-cancer-foundations-guide-to-sunscreens
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10759815
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18271305

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Spotlight On: Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol — or Psoralea corylifolia— comes from the bakuchi seed and it comparable to resveratrol. Traditional medicine practioners in India and China have utilized the plants for centuries. It’s listed as a Category I ingredient, which means it’s generally considered safe (Cosmetics and Toiletries).

[Read More: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Resveratrol and Anti-Aging]

However, recently, it’s been getting attention for its potential benefits in the treatment of acne. But I first read about Bakuchiol in regards to anti-aging and was curious about whether it had been studied for those potential benefits.


Acne Treatment



Acne vulgaris

Bakuchiol has been shown to help improve acne vulgaris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a dusty of 13 people from 12 to 30 years old, doctors found that topical application over a 16-week period showed great potential for treating acne. Fifty-fours percent of patients saw a greater than 35% reduction of inflammatory acne lesions and five percent had a greater than 35% reduction in non-inflammatory lesions (Skin and Allergy News).

Forty-two percent of the patients were found to have clear or nearly clear skin after the study. Only one patient suffered the adverse effects of mild dryness and peeling.

This is largely because its antibacterial properties, which have been shown to work not just against the bacteria associated with acne, but also against bacteria like Streptococcus (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy).

Does it Work as an Antioxidant?


English: Chemical structure of bakuchiol

Bakuchiol has mitochondrial protective properties. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Bakuchiol has been found to have mitochondrial protective properties. It protects the mitochondrial lipid form peroxidation, protecting the mitochondria from oxidative stress (Planta Medica). Studies have found that it works as an antioxidant protecting lipids and proteins by free-radial scavenging (Chemical Research in Toxicology, Radiation Chemistry).

In studies comparing it to other known antioxidants, it was shown to have more antioxidant power than BHT (Cancer Research).

[Read More: Spotlight On: BHT]

Does it Work for Anti-Aging?


Head of an old Roman, ca. 60 BC. The realistic...

Though it might be good for acne, there isn’t enough research to show Bakuchiol is good for anti-aging. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Bakuchiol is included in anti-aging formulas because it’s been shown in studies to have anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and skin whitening properties (Chaudhuri). It’s also been found to be a cytotoxic agent that’s similar to resveratol, though it’s been shown to cause more apoptosis in cells than resveratol (Chinese Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Science Alerts).

There are a number of studies that suggest that Bakuchiol has components that make it a positive addition to anti-aging skin care, but there isn’t any data on exact how effective topical application is.

Bottom Line

Bakuchiol shows promise as a skin care ingredient, particularly as an acne fighter, because it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that have demonstrated its effectiveness. It’s also a solid antioxidant that works through free radical scavenging. While there’s promise that it could be used for anti-aging products in the future, there aren’t enough studies to determine its effectiveness in that department. Overall, though, it’s considered safe and likely won’t cause harm by being included in products.



We’re more sold on Bakuchiol as an acne medication for now, in products like this: Bremenn Research Labs Emergency Zit Stick Acne Treatment  ($7.50, amazon.com) with salicyclic acid that’ works to clean pores and Bakuchiol, this should help zap those zits.

Acnutrol ($34, amazon.com) contains Bakuchiol, as well as silver, which have both been shown to have antibacterial properties.

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