I’ll admit it, I still geek out whenever I check our Google Analytics and see that I’ve gotten referral traffic from Reddit. Redditors tend to be nerdy, quirky, inquisitive, introverted yet outspoken in print, and the types of people walk that delicate line between critical and discerning — in other words, totally my “tribe.”
That said, I haven’t contributed much to skin care talk on Reddit. I feel like it’s best for me to keep to the medium that is working for me (namely, this blog). But I’m always willing to answer their questions and/or join in their discussion with my own thoughts and opinions.
With that said, when Refinery29 recently did a story on the most popular Reddit skin care acronyms, I couldn’t help but chime in with my own two cents. Here are they are:
1.) Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)
Of all of the home remedies out there, OCM is one of my personal favorites. It works because castor oil is 90% ricinoleic acid, which has skin smoothing and moisturizing properties. It is also treat rough skin and mild to moderate acne, according to a 2002 study in Phytotherapy Research. Further, olive oil is a known antioxidant; protects against UV damage (Toxicology, 2003); defends against tumor formation in mice (The Lancet, 2000); and even contains that other trendy antioxidant, resveratrol(Nature, 2003).
If you use the right combinations of castor and olive oil with the OCM, you get results. For the record, those are:
- Oily skin — 60-75% castor oil to 25-40% extra virgin olive oil.
- Very dry skin — 25-40% castor oil to 60-75% extra virgin olive oil
You can read my entire post on the OCM here.
2.) Sebaceous Filaments (SF)
Sebaceous filaments are hair follicles found in the T-zone (forehead, nose, inner cheeks) that tend to resemble blackheads (Klog). “Oil within the follicles dilates the pores, making them look prominent,” according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner (source). “The natural oil within the pores are known as sebaceous filaments.”
A lot of people think that you can use pore strips or alcohol-based products to get rid of sebaceous filaments. That’s because pore strips temporarily remove the grey-colored oil, and alcohol causes the skin cells surrounding the pore to swell up, making the sebaceous filaments themselves appear to be smaller. However, both of these are temporary and futile solutions: Pore strips may loosen the skin with regular use over time, allowing even more oil and debris to collect in the pore. And alcohol may be drying for those with oily to very oily skin types, resulting in reflexively more oil production.
If you want to get rid of sebaceous filaments, I’ve found that the best way is to use oil-based cleansers (because like dissolves like), and to regularly use salicylic acid (to deeply cleanse) and AHAs or retinoids (to stimulate collagen production and keep the skin tight around the pores).
3.) Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, also known as PIH, is one of three major types of hyperpigmentation. (The other two, sun damage and melasma, can be read about in this FutureDerm article here.)
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation looks like brown or darkened spots, but rather than being caused by the sun or hormonal changes, it is a result of an injury to the skin, and usually from various conditions (acne, eczema, laser treatments, too-strong chemical peels, etc.). It can affect people of all skin tones, but has a greater propensity towards darker skinned individuals. For instance, a study in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine revealed that PIH resulted more commonly in Asians than Caucasians after laser treatments.
While retinoids, glycolic acid and other AHAs, and hydroquinone are all considered first-line treatments for hyperpigmentation caused by UV damage or melasma, you need to take a gentler approach when treating PIH.
I recommend (in decreasing order) licorice extract, brightening peptides, arbutin, mulberry extract, bearberry extract, and soy. Even vitamin C, which I consider to be a gold standard of skin care when used in high concentrations, may not be as highly-recommended when used to treat PIH. (I personally keep it to 10% or less when PIH is involved.)
If you have both PIH and another form of hyperpigmentation (UV damage and/or melasma), you want to treat the PIH first, and then work up to stronger treatments. Otherwise, you may keep aggravating the condition with too-aggressive treatments.
Full article here.
4.) Post-Inflammatory Erythema (PIE)
PIE is on the redder side — it’s damage done to the blood vessels, closer to the surface of the skin. It’s often mistaken for rosacea, when in reality, your skin is just sensitive to whatever ingredients you’ve applied to it recently. (Or to the climate, or to something you ate, etc.)
I talk mostly about PIE when it comes to skin that is sensitized after using skin care that is too strong. For this reason, if you tend to get PIE, I recommend starting with use of a new concentrated skin care product once or twice a week, then working up to every other day, and then getting up to daily or twice-daily use. I’ve done this with retinoids for years (including in the undereye region), and it works.
5.) Keratosis Pilaris (KP)
There are five simple questions to figure out if the bumps on your skin are KP or something else:
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.) Are the bumps itchy or sore? If no, then it may be KP. KP is seldom itchy or sore.
2.) Do the bumps feel like sandpaper when you touch them? If yes, then it may be KP. KP results in small bumps on the skin that are about the size of a grain of sand, and which also feel like sandpaper.
3.) Are the bumps slightly pink, or are they colorless? If slightly pink, then it may be KP.
4.) Do the bumps become more pronounced when exposed to a cold or dry environment? If yes, then it may be KP.
5.) Does it look like the picture on this page? If yes, then it may be KP. If not, it may be acne, eczema, or another condition.
The best treatments for KP are those that are designed to exfoliate the skin deeply. The ultimate treatment, believe it or not, is actually laser hair removal (eMedicine, 2014), which will remove the hair as well as the keratin “plug” that encapsulates it, as well as exfoliate the skin. It’s actually quite a beautiful one-two punch.
However, to care for KP at home, there are some very basic treatments you can use to unplug the follicle and increase cellular turnover, restoring your skin to normal. Keep in mind that this requires twice-daily care for 4-6 weeks with AHA or salicylic acid-rich treatments. (And watch out for PIE, see above!)
6.) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
I once got a death threat for my opinions on apple cider vinegar. (God, I wish I was kidding, literally, but I’m not).
I don’t like it. I don’t believe in it. I think it’s a chemical (acetic acid) with a really low pH that can be damaging and drying to the skin. And I think it destroys your hair with regular use over time. (Full post with my arguments here).
Honestly, the only way I support the use of ACV is if you ingest it daily to help regulate blood sugar and to reduce the appetite. That I believe in (and, as a woman who’s lost 23 pounds of pregnancy weight in six weeks, I think I can say that I support it for that use).
But you can threaten me all you want — I’m not supporting ACV for use on the skin or the hair. Period.
7.) Essential Oils (EO)
I’m not going to make any friends with the following paragraph, but I’m not going to sugarcoat this, either: EOs may be hydrating, anti-bacterial, and deliver other ingredients deep within the skin. However, EOs can also contain volatile compounds, increase free radical production, and be irritating – in the amounts they are found in beauty products.
If your EOs are marked as cosmetic-grade or purified, then they should be fine. But I steer clear in general. (Full review).
8.) Salicylic Acid (SA)
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that is used to cleanse and exfoliate the skin. According to Dr. Heather Brannon, M.D., a family-practice physician with a specialty in Dermatology, salicyclic acid is also reported to improve signs of aging including wrinkling, roughness, and mottled pigmentation of photodamaged skin with at least 6 months of daily application.
According to DermNetNZ, salicylic acid works by softening keratin, a protein that forms part of the skin structure. This helps to loosen dry scaly skin, increasing cell turnover and effectively renewing the skin. It is often used in acne treatments to cleanse and to prevent clogging of the pores.
When salicylic acid is used in combination with other treatments, it is often to allow the other formulation’s ingredients to penetrate the skin more effectively.
In essence, it’s a terrific ingredient for normal to oily skin types, and it is available in up to 10% concentrations over the counter. Superb.
9.) Benzoyl Peroxide (BP)
ONLY USE BP AS AN ON-THE-SPOT TREATMENT.
I repeat, ONLY USE BP AS AN ON-THE-SPOT TREATMENT.
Benzoyl peroxide may work in part by causing oxidation within the follicle — which is exactly what antioxidants try to combat. Given that I’m on a quest to age as gracefully as possible, I’m not a big fan of BP.
10.) Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)
Personally, I think YMMV applies to the following ingredients:
- Plant stem cells
- Growth factors (human or otherwise)
- Most (but not all) of the natural ingredients out there
I’ve seen tremendous results and some promising studies for the ingredients listed above, but not enough research has been done for me to echo their effects to everyone. Again, YMMV. At least, at this point.
11.) Hyaluronic Acid (HA)
Hyaluronic acid is a natural moisturizing factor (NMF). It is naturally found in the skin. But hyaluronic acid is naturally produced and found in the uppermost layer of the skin, so when you topically apply hyaluronic acid, it has similar effects to when it’s naturally produced. This is different from, say, collagen, which is produced and found predominantly in the deeper layers of the skin, so when you topically apply collagen, it has very little effect other than hydration and temporary skin plumping.
When you apply hyaluronic acid to the skin, it draws water into the skin, reducing trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). It helps to temporarily stabilize and maintain the complex intercellular-skin matrix, which is the “glue” that holds the skin together. Hyaluronic acid also creates a slight swelling of the skin that temporarily reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
When it comes to the top skincare ingredients, hyaluronic acid rarely makes it, because it creates mainly hydration and temporary cosmetic effects. However, according to Dr. Howard Murad, hydration of the skin with hyaluronic acid allows the skin to operate at optimum capacity, and provides a better defense against environmental assaults.
12.) Drugstore (DS)
DS products gained a lot of steam decades ago when cosmetic expert Paula Begoun was the first to point out that drugstore products tend to have millions of dollars more in research behind them, and tend to have similar ingredients to many high-end brands, but cost effectively less to the consumer.
Today that is sometimes the case — but not always. DS products have gotten more trendy in the past ten years, with many succumbing to things like East Asian influences (such as “pearlized” skin or micellar water) or natural and organic ingredients. Meanwhile, innovative additions like the 4% niacinamide that made Olay an affordable, effective product are getting lost in the wayside. (I still like Olay Regenerist, by the way).
DS needs to step it up, in the way of scientifically-proven ingredients that compete with my HG ingredients (see #14, below) but the best products there in skin care are still Olay Regenerist, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Cream, and Boots No 7 Protect and Perfect Advanced Anti-Aging Serum.
13.) High-End (HE)
HE products do not always live up to the hype — or the sometimes quadruple-digit price tag. For instance, I’m not a fan of Creme de la Mer (see review here).
That said, HE product lines I do love fully are Skinceuticals and MDSUN. Both have ingredients that are scientifically-proven, in concentrations that will actually make a difference in the appearance of your skin. Beautiful.
14.) Holy Grail (HG)
I look for three things in my skin care:
- Ingredients with ample scientific research backing, in studies that make sense (i.e., I do not consider studies that are conducted on, like, 10 people, or which use an ingredient in 10,000x concentration of the typical dose — believe it or not, those are everywhere nowadays);
- Proven concentrations of those ingredients;
- Excellent delivery systems.
With that said, HG products for me right now include Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, my own FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol and FutureDerm Customizable Moisturizer (I have our chemists throw every peptide in the world in mine!), MDSUN Super Intensive Moisturizer, and IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50.