Should Niacinamide and Acidic Ingredients Be Used Together?

Can niacinamide cooperate with acids? I think not!

Can niacinamide cooperate with acids? Guess we’ll see!

***Note that niacinamide = nicotinamide; niacin = nicotinic acid.

In the Should Niacinamide and L-Ascorbic Acid Be Used Together post, it was shown that the two compounds don’t mesh well: a 1:1 complex would form in solution (aqueous), with a maximum complexation rate occurring at a pH of 3.8. Therefore, it was recommended that in order to achieve optimal results from both ingredients, the two should be used separately.

However, what was not discussed (except in the comments section) was whether or not niacinamide is similarly incompatible with other commonly used acidic compounds such as glycolic and salicylic acid.

Non-Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Niacinamide

Hydrolysis: breaking something apart by adding water.

Hydrolysis: breaking something apart by adding water.

Fortunately, there is no known complexation issue between niacinamide and the other commonly used topical ingredients that require relatively low pH environments to function. Regardless however, it’s still best to not use niacinamide with any acidic ingredient.

As the subtitle suggests, the non-enzymatic hydrolysis of niacinamide into free niacin will occur at appropriately low (and high) pH values. However, since an alkaline skin environment is highly undesirable and characterize several desquamatory diseases, this reaction will only be discussed in the context of acidic (rather than basic/alkaline) pH values.

***For those of you who are curious about why I inserted “non-enzymatic” into the description, the reason is because mammals (that’s us) don’t possess the enzyme class (nicotinamidases) that hydrolyzes niacinamide to niacin. We instead utilize nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase to convert niacinamide directly to nicotinamide mononucleotide, which is then used to salvage or replenish NAD+. Therefore, the discussed conversion process doesn’t actually involve the skin.  

When niacin is applied topically, even miniscule amounts will trigger a noticeable flushing of the skin. This flushing isn’t harmful to the skin; it’s just cosmetically inconvenient and possibly unsavory. I mean, who wants to walk around with a red face for a few hours or so? For more details on both niacinamide and niacin, please see the Spotlight on: Vitamin B3 post.

Relevance in Everyday Scenarios

But how often and likely is this interaction to occur?

Remember, a pH of 3.0 is 10x more acidic than a pH of 4.0.

Remember, a pH of 3.0 is 10x more acidic than a pH of 4.0.

Well, the first cited study above documented a MINUMUM hydrolysis reaction rate at pH values between 4.0 and 6.0, and most likely is subject to some specific type of hydrogen (ion) bond catalysis. (Keep in mind that minimum does not equal zero, though the amount is likely negligible). And when used in the unaltered and usual physiological environment of the skin, this “minimum reaction pH range” fittingly corresponds with the average pH of the skin. Therefore, it is likely that no relevant amounts of niacinamide will convert to niacin in these cases.

The majority of effective acidic products on the market (such as those involving hydroxy acids or L-ascorbic acid) however, utilize pH values of between 2.5 and 4.0. (Keep in mind that a pH of 3.0 is 10x more acidic than a pH of 4.0).Unfortunately, the abstract does not reveal how much higher the reaction rate is in the latter range as compared to the former; the same can be said for pH values above 6.0.

However, given that virtually no chemical exfoliant on the current market (with an appropriately low and effective pH value) includes niacinamide as an ingredient, it would appear that some conversion does occur. This is probably why most knowledgeable chemists (that these companies employ) don’t combine the two types of ingredients, as more and more of the niacinamide content would gradually convert to niacin.

Therefore, because even tiny amounts of niacin can trigger facial flushing, I reiterate that it’s best to not use niacinamide with any acidic ingredient.

Another interesting thing to note: This interaction may be why many people (and I’ve seen many personal reviews stating this) say that they are allergic to products containing niacinamide. Whether by a heightened lowering/increasing of the skin’s pH by another product, or innate physiology, this flushing of the skin caused by niacin, may have been mistaken as an allergic reaction.  

Facial Flushing by Niacin: Conclusion

Theoretically, the claim that “niacinamide will partially convert to niacin and cause facial flushing at low pH values,” is substantiated and proven. Practically however, the manifestations of this claim are more subjective and will vary among individuals. I mean, it really depends if the individual is OK with facial flushing, which again isn’t harmful in any way. For example, if someone is going to use a full-coverage foundation like the Kat Von D Tattoo Foundation  (which for some reason has gotten a lot of good reviews; but I hate it) or the Estee Lauder Double Wear after applying these products, then the flushing won’t really matter.

So, if you believe you are experiencing the effects of the aforementioned hydrolytic reaction, it’s best to approach it from both perspectives.

That's right, it's time to do your own tests, though they shouldn't be as hard as this!

That’s right, it’s time to do your own tests, though they shouldn’t be as hard as this!

Theoretically: Examine the ingredients of the products used in your routine. Does your application order involve a chemical exfoliant or otherwise acidic product (like an L-ascorbic acid moisturizer) being paired with a niacinamide one? To the best of your knowledge, what are the pH values of the products? What about the concentration of niacinamide? Consider things like that.

Practically: Perform informal split-faced tests where you apply either the acidic or niacinamide product in question (whichever one is lighter in texture) to your entire face, and then apply the other product to just one-half of your face. Observe and document any noticeable changes. Repeat this for several days to corroborate and normalize your results.

It may also be prudent to do the same split-faced tests to the other side of your face, just to further affirm your results.

Now, I know I’m going to be asked this: will waiting 30 or so minutes between applications eliminate this problem? As I have personally recommended this course of action in the past for similar issues such as if you feel compelled to use acidic product with retinol ones, my answer remains the same. You just have to try it for yourself.

Some niacinamide did convert to niacin (above), and made my face flush.

Some niacinamide did convert to niacin (above), and made my face flush.

I personally, have not done the 30 minutes or so test, just because my routine is better when these two types of ingredients aren’t paired together. So I don’t even have to worry about this issue. But because everyone’s routine is different, I will tell you that this interaction is very real and applicable to real-life scenarios. In the past, I used a toner with decent amount of niacinamide, and then proceeded to apply either a salicylic or glycolic acid exfoliant. There was a bit of redness to my skin. But I’ve always attributed this erythema to irritation from the hydroxy acids, as I am prone to slathering them onto the skin. The redness wasn’t anything intense; my face just looked slightly darker and redder than my neck for a few hours. My jawline was defined very well, though not in a desirable way. Haha!

But then a few months ago, I tried applying the exfoliant immediately after cleansing, with no toner in between. Lo and behold, there was no redness! My face was (almost) the same color as my neck, which of course is an enticing improvement.

While I didn’t like that I had to further complicate my routine, I did really like the aftermath of my little experiment.

So give these words some thought and let me know what you think! I hope this was an entertaining and eye-opening (or at least peeping)… post, and see you guys next week!

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Luminara Japonica and Safflower Extract Make Dermatouch Oxygen Night Protector Decent, But Unexciting

dermatouch

Dermatouch Natural Skin recently come out with it Oxygen Night Protector ($12.99, amazon.com), designed to an eco-friendly alternative to moisturize the skin, encourage natural oil-production, and increase skin firmness. The company prides itself on the use of natural ingredients and other eco-friendly materials, as well as their products’ ability to “penetrate the skin.” Though the title mentions “oxygen” and brings to mind images of breezy days and supple, exfoliated skin, I wasn’t able to find anything on the ingredients list which explicitly mentions “oxygen” as a major component.

In fact, Dermatouch’s product name is a bit misleading – oxygen cannot penetrate one’s pores,  and is instead more of a way to conjure ideas of open, exfoliated skin rather than a medical reality. I chose to investigate some of the more novel “natural “ ingredients in the Night Protector  – safflower seed oil, laminaria japonica extract, and soluble collagen and elastin.

[Read More: Future Derm – Interview with Dr. Leslie Baumann]

Soluble Collage + Elastin: Won’t Give You the Benefits You Think They Will

retinol_elastin_cream

Applying retinol and elastin topically won’t do anything for you, unfortunately.

Two of the most frequent players in the cosmetic arena, soluble collagen and elastin are popularly lauded for firming the skin, eliminating wrinkles, and returning a healthier, more natural look to one’s body. It’s true that collagen is responsible for the supple skin that we all covet, however, it is somewhat difficult to recover (but still possible!).

Collagen-containing creams and lotions are ineffective at plumping the skin because the collagen and elastin molecules are much larger than our skin pores, even after exfoliation and meticulous washing. Therefore, the collagen particles cannot penetrate one’s skin, leaving the cream as more of an external moisturizer (Dr. Ananya Mandal – Collagen Medical Uses).

Of course, you cannot forget the benefits that a healthier diet, non-smoking, and exercise will yield, as well as surgery/injections if you seriously desire more youthful skin. And, if you want more collagen, ingredients like retinol, which work to rejuvenate and maintain cell growth, can increase one’s collagen production ( University of Maryland Medical Center).

Laminaria Japonica Extract: Good for Scars and Bruises

Dried_Laminaria

Brown kelp might help stimulate collagen production, but not as much as other ingredients will.

Laminaria Japonica is a brown kelp found primarily in the Pacific Ocean, with a heavy distribution amongst Asian countries for both nutritional and cosmetic value. Eco-friendly enthusiasts most often praise the chemical Fucoidan (also found in other kelp species) for its anti-inflammatory and rejuvenative effects when applied topically, and nutritional value and potential to enhance one’s immune system.

A study by Fujimura found that applying a Fucoidan-based cream twice a day for five weeks resulted in not only thinner skin, but more elastic and supple skin. While reduced skin thickness sounds like a bad thing, it’s actually quite beneficial: by thinning the layers of skin, Fucoidan allows the skin to tighten and repair  its connective tissue (formally called dermal fibroblast proliferation), especially after injuries, bruises, scarring, etc (Macrolagal Fucoidan Extracts).

Plus, fucoidans allows for a more enhanced and evenly distributed collagen absorption, which is responsible for skin’s firmness and flexibility during youth (we gradually lose skin collagen as we age, which is what causes wrinkles).  Research is still being conducted as to whether Fucoidan works as a topical and ingestible anti-inflammatory agent, nor is there any definitive research that Fucoidan can penetrate the skin (Macrolagal Fucoidan Extracts).

Safflower Seed Oil: Medicinal Gold

Safflower

Safflower seed oil may help reduce scars.

You would never think to look at it, but the small orange safflower plant is a medicinal pot of gold. Research has demonstrated myopia-reduction in children with safflower oil eye drops. It has been shown to dilate arteries, reduce hypertension and promote blood flow and is hence popular with cardiovascular treatments. Sunflower oil and dragon blood (a plant resin) compresses have soothed cartilage stress and degeneration.

Dermatologically speaking, safflower seed oil has cleared vitiligo (skin pigment discoloring) , mild rashes, acne rosacea, and high rates of alopecia recovering when coupled with hair-restoring mixtures (International Plant Genetic Resources Group 25-30).  Yasukawa et al. found that tumor formation was greatly reduced in mice, while Solanki et al. noticed that babies who were rubbed four times a day for five days with the safflower oil had increases in essential fatty acid levels, especially linolenic and arachidonic acids (Leslie S Bauman – “Safflower Seed Oil”).

Personal Use and Opinion

When I used the Dermatouch Oxygen Night Protector, I did find it really helpful in moisturizing my skin and the cream had a very light but pleasant spring-breeze fragrance, though I can’t say that it made my skin feel any more moisturized or smooth than other lotions. Plus, the cream wasn’t too heavy and didn’t leave residue on my pillow (as some other night cream do) despite liberal application. The one downside: it causes some trouble washing off of your hands, so when I went to use my computer after applying it (and washing my hands), there were some oil spots on my keyboard.

Bottom Line

If you have scarring or bruises, or are looking for some at-home treatments for ailments like vitiligo, you may want to give the Oxygen Night Protector a try and see if its safflower oil lives up to its renown. But, then again, there are products that will serve you better in all of those pursuits. And if you are looking to return some of the elasticity and youth to your skin, look elsewhere – this isn’t going to boost collagen or collagen production. At the end of the day, Dermatouch’s Oxygen Night Protector is a very good moisturizer, and since it contains healing agents like fucoidans and safflower seed oil, it may even be good at clearing acne, mild rashes, and scarring.

Post by Taylor Barbieri

Should You Scratch that Itch? Maybe Not

itchy_SkinSome of the most thoughtless habits we have can be the most destructive to our skin. Take, for example, scratching. It’s one of those actions you barely consider as you’re doing it. You skin itches; you scratch it. You could do it without even realizing it’s happened.

There are numerous reasons for itching, including dermatitis, bug bites, dry skin, liver disease, and many, many others. Itching could also be innocuous, caused by a tag on your shirt irritating your skin. Regardless, it’s a fascinating phenomenon that you might not have considered, and it’s certainly something that has an effect on your skin — especially if you do too much scratching.

What Is Itching and Why Does Scratching Make It Better?

Scatching_feet

The feeling of itching and relief of scratching has a lot to do with your brain.

Scientists once thought that itching was just a mild form of pain and worked its way through the same pathways as something that hurts. That was busted in 1987 when H.O. Handwerker, a German scientist, did a test where they used histamine — which causes itches — to make participants feel itchier and itchier until they hit as itchy as they felt they could take. But, curiously, the participants did not feel pain, meaning that the itching was taking a different pathway than pain (New Yorker).

Because itching and scratching, like yawning, are contagious (admit it, you’ve probably been scratching since the second sentence), it’s evidence that they’re likely very tied to the brain and nerve pathways (New York Times).

When scientists used histamine in monkeys’ skin, neurons in the spinal cord that register itching began firing. When researchers scratched near the stop they’d injected histamine, the neurons immediately stopped firing. Another study that looked at humans’ brains using MRIs found that scratching actually lessened activity in the parts of the brain that recall unpleasant memories or negative emotions and stimulated the part of the brain dealing with pain.

Both these studies demonstrate how profoundly connected the brain is in terms of itching (Science Daily).

Why Do We Itch So Much?

mosquito_itchy

Itchy skin is like an alarm system that lets you know when there might be trouble.

But why we itch is just as important a question as what causes itching. That’s a bit more difficult. Scientists think that perhaps it’s one of those evolutionary adaptations that explain so many of our quirks.

Itching is likely so sensitive because it’s intended to quickly alert people of potential dangers that could come from plants that cause irritation or, possibly life threatening, the presence of certain insects. Mosquitoes, for example, which carry several different diseases that can be fatal, have the kind of feather-light touch that can cause itching. Think of itching as a sort of evolutionary alarm system that tells the body to address something on the skin (St. Louis Magazine).

Since our ancestors couldn’t necessarily escape these stimuli, it was advantageous to draw attention to and get rid of them in another way: scratching. You can get rid of whatever it is cause the itch before it can do damage.

Why You Need to Be Careful: The Itch-Scratch Cycle

Scratching skin can relieve an itch, but it can also cause one as well. This is referred to as the itch-scratch cycle. When you scratch your skin too much, you can destabilize mast cells, a kind of immune cell. These release histamine, which, in turn, can cause you to feel itchy. So, while scratching can help stop an itch, too much scratching can actually worsen it (Trends in Neuroscience).

[Read More: The Five Bad Habits that Ruin Your Skin]

Scratching continuously can cause the tearing of skin that can lead to infection if it’s done to an extreme degree. Over a long time, it can also lead to the skin thickening and darkening. As you can see, this cycle can be detrimental and it’s best to avoid having to scratch the itch altogether. Fortunately there are some things that can be done (Medline Plus). First and foremost, if your itching is particularly bad or seems to be happening without reasons, see your doctor. It could be the sign of an underlying condition.

cerave_moisturizer

Be sure to keep skin moisturized, particularly in the winter, with something like CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($14.97, amazon.com).

Aveeno_bath_treatment

If you do feel itchy, bathe in lukewarm water and consider using a product like Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment ($6.96, amazon.com).

cortizone_10

Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, such as Cortizone 10 ($11.66, amazon.com) to stop itching.

benadryl

Or take an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl ($8.88 for two, amazon.com) to subdue the histamine reaction.

Try a cool compress on the affected area. Wear loose fitting clothing. Distract yourself from the itch so that you aren’t tempted to keep scratching.

 

Bottom Line

Itching and scratching appears to have evolutionary roots and while we don’t understand everything about it, we do know that it has more to do with your brain than anything else. Over the years, science has uncovered that itching is not related to pain and that it has it’s own pathways in the body. Science has also discovered that scratching relieves itching by essentially quieting the neurons that fire and cause feelings of itchiness.

Scratching only relieves itching when it’s done in moderation, and it definitely won’t help certain conditions, as it can exacerbate them by causing the release of histamine, worsening the itch. It’s best to find another solution instead of scratching your skin until you get trapped in a terrible cycle!

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When Do Women Look Their Worst? Find Out When It Is and How to Stop It

women_worst_time_of_day

You’re just a few hours from looking the worst you’ll look all week. Or so says one study that claims women look their oldest at approximately 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

If you’re like many women, then today is your most stressful day of the week. One study, discussed in The Telegraph and sponsored by skin care companies, found that one in ten women think Wednesday is the most stressful day of the week and another 25% couldn’t pick a day if they tried, because they think there are several stressful days in a week (The Telegraph, MSN).

But that’s not the only reason women apparently look their oldest. It’s the combination of factors: the booze from the weekend (the body can take 72 hours to show the signs), the lack of sleep (many women say Monday is their worst night of sleep, paired with not getting enough in general), and the midday slump that causes women to feel (and look) older.

So here are a few tips for beating the Wednesday lull that might have you feeling less-than-your-best…

The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Get Enough Sleep!

sleeping_energy

There’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep!

It’s the most obvious of all tips we could give. If you get enough sleep regularly, you won’t be so tired all the time. It’s kind of a given, right? But if you’re anything like me, you tell yourself that you can compensate with caffeine. That doesn’t work. What does is getting somewhere between the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

The first thing lack of sleep does in making you feel bad is causing a downshift in your sense of well-being. One study found that participants who were sleep-deprived had more difficult maintaining a happy mood, and had poorer cognitive function during stress tests than their well-rested counterparts (International Journal of Psychophysiology).

[Read More: Is It Really Beauty Sleep?: How Sleep Affects Your Skin]

The second thing it does is actually make you look worse. Sleep is when your body going in reparative mode, and that includes your skin, and in the long-term this can do damage. But, it’s the stress that your body is less able to handle when tired that does you in short-term (Medical Hypotheses). Stress can affect the immune system and constrict blood flow, resulting in tired skin (The New Science of Perfect Skin).

Get Up, Get Moving!

Working_out

Working out can give you more energy in the short term and keep your energy up in the long term.

Exercise has some phenomenal skin benefits. But even just taking a brisk walk in the afternoon can be helpful in reducing the stress and fatigue that can often hit midday. I can’t be the only one who occasionally has to fabricate an errand just to get outside and moving!

Exercise reducing the amount of stress hormones in your skin; it also increases blood flow. These benefits combined can help to stave off the tired appearance that plagues many women mid-afternoon. And long-term, exercise can help skin ailments exacerbated by stress, such as acne (Women’s Health Magazine).

[Read More: Quick Awesome Fun Fact: Exercise Can Help Eliminate Acne]

Working out — whether it’s running or lifting — has been shown to lessen symptoms of depression and improve mood (Clinics). Regular exercise has alone been shown to boost energy overall (Science Daily). Less stress means better skin!

Need a quick fix this afternoon? A brief walk will help to improve mood, increase energy, and reduce stress (APA).

Stay Away from the Sugar!

Skip the sugar. If you want more energy, go for protein.

Skip the sugar. If you want more energy, go for protein.

When you’re sleep-deprived you’re probably more likely to crave sugar than any other time. Resist the urge; you’ll thank yourself later. That’s because sugar can actually make you more tired.

That’s because what you eat is strongly connected to a neuropeptide, Orexin, that makes you feel awake or tired depending on its levels in your system. Studies on mice have shown that injecting them with Orexin increases metabolism by increasing their energy expenditure (Wired). This is one of the puzzle pieces many researchers are looking at in understanding weight gain. When we have more Orexin in our system, we’ve also got more energy and a faster metabolism.

So what foods help increase Orexin?

In a series of experiments, from in vitro to in vivo, researchers found that meals rich in protein increased the activity of Orexin neurons and sugar decreased the activity of Orexin (Neuron).

That’s why so many people out there tell you to reach for almonds or another protein-rich snack when you feel low-energy, because these really will help to boost your energy. A protein-rich meal or a meal that balances carbohydrates and proteins will help you stay awake way better than a carbohydrate rich meal (Physiology and Behavior).

Think Happy Thoughts!

happy_thoughts

Positive thinking is a powerful mood booster.

Yeah, this one’s another given; but it’s important. Your mindset can definitely affect your work and keep you from feeling energetic. Having something to look forw

ard to — whether that be a date with your sweetie or a new class you’re taking can make you feel more positive throughout the day.

A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that positive thinking people tend to be healthier and have fewer symptoms overall when they’re sick (Psychosomatic Medicine). Overall, optimistic people tend to have better health and live longer (Huffington Post).

And short-term, your attitude can reduce the amount of stress you have, making you feel more energetic and helping you look better (CNN). So whether you’re thinking right now, or long into the future, it’s a good thing to keep a positive attitude.

Bottom Line

Just because one research study found that Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. is, on average, the least attractive moment in most women’s week doesn’t mean yours has to be. In the long-term, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and thinking positive thoughts can help you feel less stressed and more energetic. But if you’re looking for something to help you out today, don’t fret! Taking a quick, brisk walk, eating protein-rich snacks, and thinking positively about something coming up in the future can all help you battle that deadly combination of the midday, mid-week slump.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

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Will Vaseline Make Eyelashes Grow?

long_eyelashes_vaseline

Will Vaseline lengthen your lashes? Probably not, but it might make them seem longer.

Will Vaseline lengthen your lashes? Probably not, but it might make them seem longer.

Whenever I hear a particularly interesting beauty claim on the Internet, I can’t help but look into why people believe it to be true. Often times, these home remedies really do give people beneficial results to some extent. But oftentimes they are deceiving. For example, toothpaste was once used for pimples because it contained zinc, which helped with acne. But nowadays, you’re more likely to end up with contact dermatitis.

[Read More: Is It OK to Use Toothpaste on Skin?]

So, when I read about Vaseline ($5.16, amazon.com) or petroleum jelly serving as a drugstore-bought way to growth eyelashes, I had to investigate. Because it’s one of those answers that’s almost too easy, like those ads that say you can have perfect skin with this one cheap ingredient a mom from Oregon found.

Why Vaseline Likely Won’t Actually Lengthen Lashes

Vaseline can't compete with the lash-lengthening ingredients in products like Jan Marini's serum.

Vaseline can’t compete with the lash-lengthening ingredients in products like Jan Marini’s serum.

While it may be more appealing to buy a tub of petroleum jelly for just a few bucks than to shell out somewhere between $73 to 84 for eyelash growth serum like Latisse, you likely won’t get the same results (New York Times). A study on 140 volunteers found that, on average, eyelashes treated with Latisse grew 25% longer, 106% thicker, and 18% darker than those in the control group.

The main ingredient, bimatoprost, is a molecule that helps to prolong the hair growth cycle, resulting in lashes that don’t fall out as quickly and, subsequently, can become longer and thicker (New York Times). While the serum may cause irises, particularly lightly colored ones, to change colors, the known side effects are relatively minimal. There is a slightly increased risk of glaucoma, but the FDA said that it’s safe and unlikely to cause glaucoma (Expert Opinion on Drug Safety).

[Read More: What is the Best Eyelash Growth Serum?]

Vaseline does not contain any of the active ingredients used in lash-lengthening serums, so it won’t do the same kind of work. If you want something to lengthen eyelashes without getting a prescription, there are plenty of comparable over-the-counter options, such as Jan Marini Eye Lash Conditioner ($97.20, amazon.com).

Why Vaseline Seems to Work to Lengthen Lashes

Vaseline moisturizes lashes, which stops them from breaking. A product meant for the eyes might be a better choice.

Vaseline moisturizes lashes, which stops them from breaking. A product meant for the eyes might be a better choice.

Much like your hair and skin, your eyelashes benefit from conditioning. Keeping your eyelashes moisturized will stop them from breaking so easily and allow them to appear to grow longer, though they won’t grow as long as they would with a product like Latisse.

Petroleum jelly will certainly work to hold in moisture. As an occlusive moisturizer, it helps to seal in water and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL) (Cosmetic Dermatology). It forms a protective barrier that will help stop your eyelashes from drying out, and depending on the other additives, like, vitamin E in your petroleum jelly, might do a little extra conditioning (Dermatological Surgery).

In fact, it might be beneficial to find products that are even more moisturizing — though they might be a little pricier. It’s best to use products intended for use around the eye, as they’ll be less likely to irritate. Something like L’Oreal Lash Boosting Serum ($9.45, amazon.com) can condition lashes and may offer a slightly longer and thicker lash.

Bottom Line

Oftentimes, home remedies that seem too good to be true probably are — at least if you’re comparing them to the higher-priced beauty treatments out there. However, that doesn’t mean they have absolutely no effect. Usually, they don’t do exactly what people espousing them on the web say they will — in this case, Vaseline won’t make your eyelashes grow longer than they would normally. But that doesn’t mean they don’t work at all. Vaseline will help to moisturize and maybe even condition your eyelashes, making them less likely to break and allowing them to become longer.

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Natural Hair Care with Nubian Heritage Includes Ingredients You Might Find on Your Plate

nubian_heritage

I have always been attracted to natural hair products. I’ve been a mixtress since early high school and would often combine products in an attempt to make something superior for my highly textured hair. Marketed natural hair products have a similar appeal. There is something homey about being able to pronounce all the ingredients in my conditioner and possibly make my own version if I ever were to run out. These products always made me feel more comfortable and confident in my hair care.

Nubian Heritage definitely has the natural consumer in mind. Each product label includes a short historical anecdote on the highlighted ingredients noting the qualities that make them perfect for healthy hair care. This gives a more personal touch to the products.

Both the Repair & Extend Shine Gel ($19.49, amazon.com) and the Grown and Strengthen Treatment Masque ($28, amazon.com) include ingredients more likely to make it to you plate than your hair strands with ingredients like quinoa and fennel.

Quinoa: A Superfood for Super Hair?

Quinoa is a superfood, in part because it's a cereal grain that serves as a surprisingly good source of protein.

Quinoa is a superfood, in part because it’s a cereal grain that serves as a surprisingly good source of protein.

Quinoa is a known superfood. It is a complete protein, easy to prepare and is high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium and Vitamin E (Food Reviews International). Because it is so high in nutrients it provides the necessary building blocks of a diet for healthy hair. Quinoa can gently nourish the hair.

The amino acids present in quinoa have believed to help repair damage to the hair shaft while its proteins coat, strengthen and protect the hair. In fact, studies have shown that the animo acids contained in products can be absorbed into the hair shaft and actually strengthen hair (Journal of Cosmetic Science).

Garlic: Will It’s Effects in the Body Occur in Hair?

Garlic has been used for many medicinal purposes, but one you might not have heard about? Hair growth.

Garlic has been used for many medicinal purposes, but one you might not have heard about? Hair growth.

Garlic is a highlighted ingredient in the Grow and Strengthen Treatment Masque. Garlic is knows for its many medicinal properties (Credo Reference). Since ancient times it has been used to treat disease, season food and ward against unwanted pest but how does it benefit our hair? (Better Nutrition) Garlic is known to contain sulfur. A lack of sulfur has been seen in patients with a disease called TTD.

One of the symptoms of the disease is short, brittle, dry hair. A connection between the sulfur deficiency and the condition of the hair has been shown (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology). And topically applied garlic gel has been shown in studies on those with alopecia areata to help promote hair growth (Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences).

Personal Use and Opinion

Nubian Heritage's Masque made my hair feel extra soft when I used it.

Nubian Heritage’s Masque made my hair feel extra soft when I used it.

The Grow and Strengthen Treatment Masque was the first product I used. I washed and sectioned my hair as usual, then applied the conditioner. After 45 minutes I rinsed my hair to reveal soft, detangled curls and coils. A few days later I used it as a leave in conditioner and found my hair to be soft and easy to manage.

The Repair and Extend Shine gel was the next on my list to try. The product claims to impart strength moisture and medium hold to your tresses. The product directions say to apply to damp naked hair. These instructions made me very nervous, as I am not conditioning my curls without immediately applying a leave in conditioner but I will do anything for a good review.

I applied the product to my damp hair and began to style it in an intricate bun. My hair felt soft and slightly sticky while raking the product in. When I was finished with my hair it was neatly styled but not as slick as it usually is. The product did not give me much hold ( though in reality it never claimed to). I think this product would give suitable hold for someone who has looser textured hair. For me I would use this product to style a twist or braid out.

Bottom Line

Overall I liked both products. The conditioner did make my hair feel stronger and softer. I cannot say much about the claims that it stops breakage, as I didn’t have any breakage to begin with. The gel really moisturized my hair, which I did not expect, but the hold was very light. I don’t know if this product has a place in my usual regimen. I would repurchase the conditioner if I could not get my holy grail protein conditioner. I probably would not repurchase the gel. Not because I did not like it but because it does not meet my styling needs.

Post by Dyanna Person 

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Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum Review

dennis-gross-eye-treatmentWhile browsing through the online Sephora catalog (something that I do quite often; as somewhat of a skin care pundit, I have to keep up with new releases), I happened upon this eye serum. Usually, I ignore anything labeled as an “eye” product. However, I have to admit that the ferulic  acid in the title caught my attention just long enough for me to scan through the ingredients. And while I agree that by no means is ferulic acid one of the heavy-hitters, it does possess several of the same key characteristics found in the “best” antioxidants such as vitamins C, green tea, and pomegranate.

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But anyways, after doing my little optical audit, I found myself rather impressed with the Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Triple Correction Eye Serum ($46.50, amazon.com). So without further ado, let’s examine the ingredients.

Something Old…

Retinol

Chubby retinol. :)

Chubby retinol. :)

The cardinal strength of this product stems from the inclusion of multiple documented ingredients. Chief among them is, of course, retinol. While the retinol concentration is not listed, it’s most likely present between 0.25-0.50%, which is well above the demonstrated bottom threshold of efficacy. Bottom line: retinol has been and is still quite revolutionary.

[Read More: Spotlight On: Tretinoin]

Ferulic Acid

The next featured ingredient is ferulic acid (FA), which, similar to retinol, has been shown in vivo to inhibit both UVA- and UVB-induced expression of various matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which degrade structures such as collagen. FA does this via the proteasome pathway, which in-turn, will degrade the various MMPs before they do significant damage. To further protect the skin, FA has been shown to upregulate the expression of various antioxidant compounds such as glutathione, and its peroxidase and catalase relatives (Photochemistry and PhotobiologyJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry).

Licorice Root Extract

Glabridin.

Glabridin.

The next important ingredient, which is present in even higher amounts than the two discussed above, is licorice root extract. A 1% and 2% licorice gel demonstrated a statistically significant reduction of swelling, itchiness, and redness (think anti-inflammatory) of those with atopic dermatitis (Journal of Dermatological Treatment). The main component of licorice root extract (glabridin) is most likely responsible for this attribute, as it also demonstrates skin-lightening properties similar to hydroquinone (HQ) by interfering with tyrosinase activity. Unlike HQ however, glabridin does this without the mediation of DNA synthesis (Pigment Cell Research).

Botanical and Vitamin-Based Cocktails

In addition, this product contains an aptly-named cocktail of botanical ingredients that are present in moderate to low concentrations. They include the skin-lightening ingredients arbutin (glucosylated HQ) and mulberry; calming willow bark and caffeine; as well as the quercetin antioxidant.

Finally, there are also low amounts of the antioxidants ubiquinone (CoQ10) and vitamin E (as a novel and unproven organophosphate salt). Rounding out this second “cocktail” are the hydrating panthenol (vitamin B5) and sodium hyaluronate water-binding agents.

Something Blu… New

As with most skin care releases, there’s always a few new(er) ingredients included in a formulation to boost interest and press. Fortunately, the marketing team behind this brand chose wisely to not focus on them. Another wise decision: to include new ingredients that actually have potential.

Centella Extract

As the non-vehicular ingredient that’s present in the highest amount, this extract does have some limited evidentiary support in terms of efficacy. When applied (in vitro) to human dermal fibroblasts, it was shown to reduce the hydrogen peroxide-induced repression of DNA replication (Experiemtnal Dermatology). This would have a theoretical positive effect in terms of reducing the effects of stress-induced premature senescence. Of course, none of this has been demonstrated in a statistically significant way in any clinical study. But hey, it’s better than nothing right?

Azelaic Amino Acid

Azelaic Acid.

Azelaic Acid.

Like with the licorice root extract, while the azelaic amino acid content is present in lower concentrations than the Centella extract, its inclusion makes this product much more promising. Azelaic amino acid is obviously a derivative of the prescription-only drug azelaic acid, which is an excellent tool for those dealing with acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. So if we can get some of the benefits of it in an OTC product, that’s pretty exciting. What’s even more exciting is that there’s actually been a study done on the efficacy of this particular derivative. At 5%, this ingredient (along with 1% of a water-binding agent) was shown to exhibit statistically significant improvements in rosacea sufferers in terms of redness and skin hydration (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology). And while there’s nowhere near 5% of azelaic amino acid (potassium azeloyl diglycinate), its high placement on the ingredients list suggests that at least decent amounts are present (hopefully).

Overall Rating: 85%

While the new ingredients are a welcome relief and may actually provide some benefit to the skin, the strengths of this product are still attributed to the inclusion of many well-documented ingredients, primarily retinol.

This product is fantastic for those with very sensitive skin (like rosacea), who want to try retinol.

This product is fantastic for those with very sensitive skin (i.e. rosacea or dermatitis-prone), who want to try retinol.

But what separates this from the other well-formulated and recommended retinol products available on the market? It’s the inclusion of such (relatively) high amounts of the licorice root extract. As shown above, licorice root extract is a very good anti-inflammatory ingredient. Combined with the potential ramifications of azelaic amino acid, this retinol product may allow people with traditionally-retinol-incompatible skin types, such as those with rosacea, to tolerate and receive the impressive benefits of retinol!

Furthermore, the inclusion of other anti-inflammatories and skin-lightening ingredients makes this an even more compelling product choice for those with more sensitive skin types, as they are more prone to postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

So is this the “best” retinol product? Well, I wouldn’t say best is a good way to evaluate this product. Instead, I would say this is a more specialized, unique, or niche take on the traditional retinol product. I have yet to see a similar retinol product. But like I said, for those with more sensitive skin types (especially those with rosacea), this product may be a game-changer!

 

*Note that while this product does contain low amounts of the salicylic, glycolic, and mandelic acids, the relatively high pH of around 4.7 will not allow them to exfoliate. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the low pH potentially reducing the efficacy of retinol. And while I wish the pH was slightly higher, the less-than-optimal pH (for retinol) was most likely chosen to help preserve the ferulic acid content, whose stability is dependent upon pH.

Ingredients:

Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Propylene Glycol, Centella Asiatica Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi Leaf Extract, Arbutin, Morus Alba Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Quercetin, Caffeine, Ubiquinone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Panthenol, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates, Phospholipids, Tetrapeptide-21, Acrylates/Carbamate Copolymer, Disodium EDTA, PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Urea, Polysorbate 20, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

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Why Anastasia Clear Waterproof Topcoat Can Make Your Mascara Better

anastasia_lash_genius

It never occurred to me that I might want topcoat for mascara. Like many makeup problems, I considered that flaking mascara to be the kind of chronic issue with no solution. Or, rather, I’d gotten so used to it that it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have to live this way.

Then Anastasia Beverly Hills sent their Clear Waterproof Topcoat ($8.99, amazon.com). It’s intended to waterproof mascara and refresh old mascara. And while it’s not exactly perfect, it’s definitely the kind of niche product that you might consider

Why it Works: Anastasia Beverly Hills

anastasia_topcoatAnastasia Beverly Hills really does create a nice seal over lashes. After rubbing my eyelashes (not the skin around my eyes, because the skin around them is extra thin!) I didn’t see any of the flecks of mascara that I’d usually get.

What makes this so good for coating? There are several ingredients including isododecane, polyethylene, and trimethylsiloxysilicate. This trio, along with several others in the formulation, such as synthetic wax, work to provide a phenomenal seal over eyelashes.

The first ingredient, isododecane is an emollient used for its smoothness and for being silky without being greasy (Cosmetics and Toiletries, Dermal Institute). It’s good for repelling water (Belsil).

The real superstar ingredient is polyethylene, which is actually a type of polymer or plastic that became popular during World War II when it was used for coating underwater cables (Science Daily, Plastics Industry Trade Association). That’s why it’s the most widely used plastic today in everything from cosmetics to grocery bags. In cosmetics it’s used for many things, including as a stabilizer and viscosity-increasing ingredient. It has not been found to be absorbed in to the skin or toxic and the Cosmetics Ingredient Review has found the incidence of impurities to be quite low (International Journal of Toxicology).

It’s third ingredient, trimethylsiloxysilicate is a silicone derivative and emollient that’s good for forming films and repelling water (Cosmetics and Toiletries). It’s also known for it’s long-lasting effects.

The Upside of the Mascara Topcoat

The ingredients have, appreciably, been formulated so that they are both sealing, water resistant, and non-drying. They aren’t necessarily moisturizing, and they don’t have a greasy feel, but because the formulation involves quite a few emollients, the topcoat doesn’t dry out.

This works for a few reasons. One is that the makeup won’t simple rub off, or come off when your eyes water. The second reason is that your makeup won’t become so dry that it flakes off.

The Downside of the Mascara Topcoat

For what it does, Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Waterproof Topcoat is fantastic, but it’s not perfect. The formula does a fair job of not clumping eyelashes and the brush has a harder bristle, almost certainly for that purpose, but it can still clump lashes a little bit. That’s the main issue and it is, generally speaking, not particularly problematic.

Bottom Line

Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Waterproof Topcoat ($8.99, amazon.com) can be a total lifesaver when it comes to mascara. It’s got the right ingredients to make any mascara long-wear and waterproof without doing too much clumping. It’s a great product to keep on-hand, just in case, particularly if you’re going to an event or have a day when you need your makeup to look pristine.

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