I have to say, it’s pretty special to find a moisturizer that leaves your skin feeling refreshed without the oily residue, and that reduces skin discoloring to boot. Neova’s Antioxidant Cleansing Milk removes and protects against bacteria and returns moisture to the skin, using a unique combination of licorice, panthenol, green tea and red algae.
Though it has been a popular medicinal agent for hundreds of years, there is not much contemporary research about using licorice for treatments, especially for your skin. A recent study with 30 test subjects found that a cream with 2% licorice concentration helped reduce the appearance of eczema (NYU Langone Medical Center), meaning it may be helpful in reducing rashes and mild skin irritation.
Licorice also contains the chemical Licocachone A, which is believed to be an anti-inflammatory agent and to inhibit bacteria growth in foods. However, researchers haven’t been able to confirm its effects on humans (Tsukiyama, Katsura, Tokuriki, Kobayashi).
Studies have indicated that Panthenol is good for speedy wound recovery, though there is not enough substantial evidence to prove this (University of Maryland Medical Center). A separate study with 100 oily-skinned males found that after two to three days of applying a panthenol-containing cream four to six times daily many of the test subjects had noticeably less oily skin. After two weeks pores shrank noticeably, acne began to heal and newer acne came about less frequently. By week eight, many of the acne scars had faded and acne emergence was significantly controlled.
Panthenol is a special kind of moisturizer, called a humectant. What separates humectants from your every-day moisturizer is that it puts a protective film on your skin (or hair) while pulling in moisture from your surroundings and depositing it in layers of skin. For the best results, find a creram with 1-5% panthenol. Plus, panthenol is a great hair and nail-strengthening agent (Panthenol – The Beautifier).
Researchers also found that animal scarring was noticeably reduced, and scar tissue tightened, when participants received oral and topical supplements. (Gregory S Kelly, ND). A study by Jerajangi et al. found that panthenol was also key in reducing skin dispigmentation (from scarring, pimples, etc) and reds (Indian Journal of Dermatology).
Green Tea Extract
If you have so much as browsed through the beauty aisle at your local supermarket, you will have noticed that green tea is one of the most popular ingredients in a nearly every time of cosmetic. Of particular interest are green tea’s anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties. It contains polyphenols, specifically EGCG, that are great for combatting inflammation and cancer cell formation/proliferation (JAMA Dermatology). But just how powerful is this polyphenol? In mice, applying EGCG after UV exposure reduced benign tumors by 55 percent and malignant tumors by 66 percent after an 18-week trial (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology)
When applied before sun exposure, the green tea polyphenol GTPP can quickly combine with reactive oxygen species (the opposite of anti-oxidants) to protect against ensuing damage in mice (there are few human studies). Green tea is also shown to reduce the number of sunburned cells one can receive and reduce DNA alteration from excessive sun damage, which can lead to cancer and tumors.
But green tea’s anti-inflammatory properties don’t just affect cancer and tumor growth — they also prevent signs of aging. UV overexposure can lead to photo damage that induces harmful free radicals, but also manipulates skin’s natural collagen matrices that lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and a rough, uneven texture. It also inhibits the enzyme lipid peroxidase that disintegrates skin’s lipid deposits, which are partially responsible for leaving skin looking plump and soft. Here, green tea can often repair damaged proteins and collagen fibres in the skin, renewing skin to its former firmness and fullness (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology).
Even better, green tea can regulate sebum production in acne-sufferers and prevent 5 alpha-reductase enzyme, which can throw hormones off of balance and give you acne (Journal of Drugs in Dermatology). Since it’s an antioxidant, green tea should be able to tidy up some dead skin and bacteria within our pimples and significantly reduce the appearance of scarring within two months. If you tend to pick at your pimples or have open wounds on your face (or anywhere on the body), green tea can come to the rescue by activating skin cells and halting cell death (apoptosis), thereby speeding up the wound healing process.
When we think of the orange and red pigments, called carotenoids, that give vegetables their color, we wouldn’t think to find those things in sea algae, much less think of it as something that gives us color. However, Christaki, Bonos, Giannenas and Florou-Paneri note that algae is quickly becoming a major cosmetic component because it contains the very carotenoids — such as astaxanthin — that will give our skin healthy, vibrant hues with just a touch of natural color. Astaxanthin also has been found to protect against UV damage and skin inflammation from burns, bacteria, etc.
Aside from coloring the skin and cosmetics, astaxanthin and other carotenoids are antioxidants (germ fighters) that are stronger than the more common Vitamins C and E. Antioxidants work to fight free radicals — caused by sun damage, harmful cells, bacteria, dirt — that deteriorate the skin, so that skin cells can reproduce normally. Additionally, there is some evidence that red algae, and carotenoids in general, will help to prevent skin cancer; though much more evidence is still needed.
Tominaga et al. found that in a group 30 female test subjects, many reported significantly reduced wrinkles, faded age spots, and smoother skin, though there was minimal improvement for skin moisture.
I loved using Neova Antioxidant Cleansing Milk. The cream is very light and absorbs quickly. It has only a very light, clean scent, which is good if you wear perfume or any scented cosmetics. After using the cleansing milk for just three days, I found that the pimples near my temples also had faded and shrunk, and my pores seemed tighter and smoother. Plus, unlike other cleansers that give you lotion only for a few hours, my skin felt supply and smooth over 12 hours later. I felt that for the best results, you should leave it on for about a minute before rinsing — the bottle recommends rinsing immediately after applying. My only complaint is that the milk is a bit watery, so you have to shake it up before using it (the bottle doesn’t mention that you have to shake it up).
Personally, Neova’s Antioxidant Cleansing Milk was a great product, probably one of my favorite facial cleansers to date. The cream is very light and scentless, and comes off easily in the shower (some creams tend to get stuck in your hair or eyebrows despite rough scrubbing). Not only does it gently cleanse and exfoliate your skin, but it reduces discoloring, whether from pimples or age spots on parts of the body (my mom helped me with this one). It keeps you moisturized hours after using it, so you need far fewer products. Overall, Neova’s Cleansing Milk gets a 10/10.
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