Posts Tagged ‘glycolic acid’

I often get the sense  that  my friends have an almost mystical faith in moisturizers.  While they avoid taxis and  stagger home  from Costco  with 10  pounds of rice, they  have faith that a $300 moisturizer  is the key to beautiful  young skin.  If  only it  was that easy.

First, a little back story.   Water is essential  for healthy skin.  It promotes normal  metabolism   and keep skin cells organized and flexible.  The mission of a moisturizer is to simply help the skin maintain a healthy water balance. The  most basic   water and oil formulas act  like Saran Wrap to prevent  evaporation of water from the skin.   And the  simplest moisturizers will do  just that.  But there are three affordable and effective ingredients which  crank up   water attracting and holding powers in a moisturizer.  Hyaluronic acid, ceramides and dimethicone, either singly or in combination,  dramatically increase  the value of a moisturizer to the skin.  These cosmetic   workhorses may not be sexy, but they deliver results.

Flip throught he pages of a magazine and  you will find ads for super spendy moisturizers pumped up with  exotic/expensive ingredients like  arctic cloudberry, marula oil or  alpha lipoic acid.  Some  work some don’t, but  the bottom line is that they are not essential to beautiful skin.  On the No-Nonsense Budget Beauty program  your anti-aging and antitioxidant needs are met with  glycolic acid, vitamin C  and affordable  microdermabrasion kits. 

Here are four nighttime moisturizers that you should apply over the anti-aging  products.   For normal and oily skin, dot on a pea size blob on your cheeks, forhead, chin and neck and blend into the face.  If  your skin  is dry, use the double app technique.  Once the first application has benn absorbed, dot and blend a second coat

I’ve four favorite moisturizers all at less than $15:

1. CeraVe PM ( Coria Laboratories)

This baby hits all the right notes:  Fragrance-free and non comedogenic, its packed with ceramides, and hyaluronic acid.  FYI its one of the few affordable moisturizers to offer this powerful water attracting  ingredient.

2.  Active Naturals Daily ProtectionMoisturizing Lotion( Aveeno)

This light, fragrance-free cream has  colloidal oatmeal to soothe sensitive skin and dimethicone to hold moisture.

3. Sensitive Skin Remedy ( Curel)

This a new product to my tool box.  It offers ceramides, dimethicone, super soothing  allantoin and antioxidant rich citric acid.   All this and fragrance and dye free too.

4.  Aquaphor ( Beiersdorf)

The first three moisturizers  are lighter formulations.  This is what I need and I’m reluctant to recommend products I don’t  use.  But when the weather turns cold and windy, my skin  turns dry and flaky — and I reach for Aquaphor.  Its the moisturizer that doctors give their patients after lasers and peels.  If its good enough for them its good enough for me.

If you  your skin is uber dry, try the double app method with Aquaphor.   Before going to sleep apply generously to  your face.  Allow the first application to sink in, then reapply.

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Costs seem to explode when daily skin care meets anti-aging.    Brand name tretinoin ( eg Retin A) clocks in  at $300 for a tube that lasts  six months.   Generic Retin A drops to about $200.  Upscale anti-aging  brands with  effective levels of retinol are lower at about $100, but still a  significant bit of change.  And then there are the luxury department store brands  like La Mer and Perricone  that will cost more than $300 a  jar– and thats   just for one product in the recommended routinue.

There are  anti-aging products  that don’t   cost much, but they  don’t do much either.  The challenge is to find affordable   anti-aging  forumlations that  deliver  real results.   I believe that   when a  low cost  cream or mask  doesn’t  deliver,  you are still wasting your  money, albeit less of it.

Glycolic Acid– cheap and effective

The search for  acessible anti-aging skin care starts with  deciding what you want from them.  As the  years go by skin growth slows down, dark spots pop-up  and   our  healthy glow  is replaced with  a sallow, dull skin tone and textrue.  That’s the bad news.  The good news?  Glycolic acid and vitamin C, either singly or in combination  were born to deal with skin aging.  These  two super age busters  are also among the most inexpensive ingredients used in  skin care  products.

Glycolic acid will remove the top layer of dead skin cells and stale  oil and encourage  the growth of healthy hew collagen.   Within a  month of use,  pores will shrink and  rough dull  surface  will be replaced  with a fresh healthy glow.  Think of glycolic acid as “Retin A  light”.   It will  produce real results without irritation– and at about 80% lower cost. Two of my favorite glycolic acid rejuvenation  products are:

Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Lotion ( 10% glycolic) $12- for dry skin

It contains active levels of glycolic acid but forumlated for thin,  dry skin.  Available in pharmacy chains like Duane Reade and online.

Alpha Hydrox AHA wipes ( 14%) $17 for  normal and oily skin

 These wipes are super easy to use  and can be added to  almost any cleansing routinue.   They will  help control breakouts  while stimulating  healthy skin formation. 

Vitamin C– an oldie but goodie

Vitamin C  is  one of the most studied AND effective anti-aging ingredients– and available for literally pennies a day.   Vitamin C  works in three ways– it is essential for  the growth and repair of  healthy collagen, can lighten  dark spots and splotches AND is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from UV rays.  But  vitamin A is uber  fragile and takes  careful hadling to avoid oxidation.  When this happens, the vitamin C loses much of its power and potency. 

There are a few  wonderful commercial vitamin C  products  ( eg Cellex C and Ski Ceuticals)  that will deliver  full strength benefits.  But they are expensive and if  you want to stretch your beauty dollar, you can make a  truely effective vitamin C serum without  special ingredients or equipment.

DIY Vitamin C Seum

I tried  six different formulas before  adopting  this  one from Gorgeously Green by  Sophie Uliano.  I could find all the ingredients at a local health food store and  had all the tools I needed in my kitchen.  While DIY  products are so tempting, some formulas  can involve ordering special chemicals and tools, eg scales and thermometers.  These add up and the bottom line here is to save money.

Budget Busting Vitamin C Serum

Ingredients:  2 teaspoons, water (  boiled and cooled), 2 teaspooons vitamin C powder in the form of L-ascorbic acid ( $10 for 4 oz.)  , 2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin ( $10 for 4 oz.), dark brown bottle with eye dropper.  These ingredients  will last three months at the cost of  $1.60 a week.  Seriously.

Directions:  In a little bowl, mix the water and vitamin C until the powder is dissolved. Mix in the glycerin.  Using the eye dropper, transfer  the mixture  to the dark brown bottle. It will stay active for a week.  If you have any leftover, discard it and  mix up a fresh batch.

To  use, shake the bottle well and  put two  drops on fingertips.  Rub in a bit on the  hands then apply to the face.  Repeat  for neck and chest.  And that’s it.  You might feel a  sight tingling that will fade in a moment.  Unlike glycolic acid which  show almost  immediate results, vitamin C takes  time to see benefits.  The changes are  internal but in a few months  you should notice  fewer dark patches and  a radiance that only comes from treating your skin correctly.

In the summer I like to use vitamin C serum under my mineral sunscreen.  In other seasons, I alternate glycolic acid wipes with vitamin C serum  as my bedtime routinue.   Let me know  how you  like to use this home made age buster.

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Last month I was dealing with a hair trigger skin  that seemd to develop red splotches at the slightest  provocation.  It went on for weeks until I tried Metrogel and the problems ended  overnight.  This was obviously great news but  it set me thinking– “how long should it take  to get results from a skin care treatment?”

The answer  obviously depends on the problem and the cure:

1.  Tretinoin ( aka Retin A) — Tretinoin is approved for both acne and anti-aging, but the time frame is significantly different.  Its no secret  that I am a big fan of tretinoin and  I feel that its the foundation of an anti-aging plan.  It clarifies  the surface, fades dark spots, encourages collagen growth and stimulates circulation.  Used 4-7x/  week, you may start seeing benefits after  3 weeks.  By six weeks, most women should see  a pinker, softer skin.  It will take  two months  to start seeing a change in hyperpigmentation and three  to six months to notice a lessening of fine lines.Current guidelines recommend using tretinoin nightly for 48 weeks, then 2-3X/week for maintenance  to preserve gains.

For acne management, Retin A  is a very different timetable.  At first,  many people report that acne worsens for at least the first month.  But  by three months, if this is the right treatment for you, the acne should be under control.  It may  take  another 3-4 months for acne discolorations  to fade.

Skin Lighteners–  Ingredients like  hydroquinone, Kojic acid, snd Lumixyl are all proven to lighten skin discoloration, but they are not quick.  They act by either blocking melanin production or by slowly breaking down existing melanin deposits.  Its necessary to wait until the melanin-rich skin cells grow old and drop-off, to see a lighteing hyperpigmentation — and  the skin growth cycle is 6-8 weeks.  To deliver results, the skin needs to be treated  nightly with skin lighteners and protected each day with a 50SPF sunscreen.

Glycolic Acid-  Found in sugar cane, glycolic acid has both  short term and long term benefits for the skin.  An  office based 50-70% glycolic peel dissolves  and removes the dead dry skin cells and stale oil that coat the skin.  Five to ten minutes  on the skin, followed by a neutralizer and rinsed off, the skin feels soft and feels fresh.  For about 24 hours, you’ll look  amazing making glycolic peels a great tool for  special events.  ( ie a reunion where you’re likely to see your ex who is coming with his new girlfriend).  A series of five peels provides a big long lasting change, but it can be pricey.

Moisturizers, pads and home peels with 10% glycolic acid can provide lasting benefits that include  skin lightening, younger firmer collagen and thicker skin.  You” start to see freshening within two weeks– and a maximum of benefits within three months.

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Question: I feel like I try a new serum or moisturizer  and get great early results but when I remain faithful, overtime I feel nothing more changes.  Is it me?  Should I rotate products to get better results?

Answer:  This is one  of my favorite topics!  We ( consumers) have all  experienced this.  We fall in love with a new skin care  product only to see the once wonderful benefits seem to twindle away.  Doctors and other skin experts have a boatload of different reasons as to the cause:

1. When  we first use a product it provides fresh new benefits, as it supplies what the skin needs.  Over time, other problems and isssues develop and the once new serum or lotion  cannot  meet the new needs.

2. Some dermatologists believe that the products still continue to work , but we’ve forgotten  how bad   our skin looked before.  In other words the original improvements are still there, but now we want more.

3.  Then there  is the phenomenon of “New User Benefits’.  For  example, if you’ve never used  an exfoliating scrub, the first time results are remarkable.  You have just taken off  layers of dead dry skin and your skin just glows.  Regular exfoliation will continue  to clarify your skin but the shock and awe of the first time will not be repeated.

4. If  you’ve purchased a second bottle of  a favorite  product only to be disappointed at the results, its possible that there’s been a “Change in Formula”.   One  or more of the key ingredients  had become too expensive, was in short supply  or even deemed unsafe.  Different ingredients, different results.

All of these are pretty subjective reasons for a products decline, but  in at least one case clinical studies have shown that skin cells do become resistant to an ingredient.  Researchers have found that after about six months skin cells no longer respond as enthusiastically to alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid.   The benefits  continue, but not as dramatically  as  when they were first introduced to the  skin. 

To bottom line it, there are numerous reasons that products seem to become less effective over time.  The question is what to do about it.  People report that rotating products seem to slow the loss of power, but jumping around too frequently will not allow the skin to get full benefits from a forumla.   Try using each  product for two- three weeks at a time to allow the skin cells  go  through  a full growth cycle before switching to another option.

Have you found that skin or hair care  product seem to deliver less and and less benefits?  How did you handle it?

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I got a great  email from a 16 year old  who  is using Retin A micro  for acne control.  Like most of us, she got the prescription with little or no advice about   how to use it.  She wanted to know what  scrubbing grains, toners and moisturizer I would recommend.  She was concerned about the redness and peeling and wanted to avoid these problems with additional  skin  care products

Retin A  was actually originally  developed and approved for acne  management.  This vitamin A derivative helps the skin to empty  pores clogged with debris, shuts down overactive oil glands and helps skin turnover to reduce discolorations from old acne eruptions.   This process includes flaking off old dry keratin that is contributing to blocked pores and breakouts. Some peeling and flaking is necessary and actually good.  However   you need to keep it under control to avoid too much redness and irritation.

The  solution  is to allow  Retin A to do what it does best. Twice a day use an extremely gentle  oil-free cleanser such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser and apply with damp cotton pads. Rinse off with handfuls of lukewarm water. Even a washcloth can be too rough in the first months of Retin A treatment   Start by using Retin A every other night and gradually, over three weeks, work up to an every night routinue.  

 In the early months of using Retin A  its very import ant to avoid additional irritants such as scrubbing grains or pads, toners and even alpha hydroxy acids ingredients  such as glycolic acid.  It certainly takes  a leap of faith to abandon these tried and true acne aids and simply   trust Retin A to clear your skin– but  that’s the best way to succeed.  These products and ingredients  are  simply too irritating to be used at the beginning of Retin A therapy and can make the skin so red and sore that  people abandon Retin A treatment. 

Using a moisturizer  to control the peeling  can actually  lead to additional breakouts.  If your skin becomes too irritated and flaky,  use a tiny dab of oil-free moisturizer and take a two day Retin A holiday.  In the morning make sure  to use an light fragrance-free oil  sunscreen such as  Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 30.  Retin A  increases sensitivity to sun damage and its ESSENTIAL to use a sunscreen each and every day– even when its cloudy.    

After six months, you skin will  become comfortable, even bored with Retin A.   At this point you can amp  up the impact by adding exfoliators such as 3M Buf Puf Pads or  my beloved Clarisonic cleanser.  Toners and peels with glycolic acid can   provide additional  benefits  for acne-prone skin.   But if irritation and flaking  reappear,  cut back on the extras and focus on Retin A.

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True story.  I was at  a blogger meetup at the HBA, a huge beauty expo, when I was introduced to a very pretty young woman with  a popular  blog called Aging Backwards.  I was a bit put off. What  would this young woman know about aging?  When she told me her age I was shocked– and impressed.  I decided that  if she could look like that at her age she certainly   knew her stuff. Her blog is now part of the Fashion Flash group and Jackie  also  co-hosts the  The Ageless Sisters, a well-known radio show with Cynthia Rowland —  and this week I was   delighted to be a guest.  The Ageless Sisters  asked such  great  questions that I   uploaded  the full interview to share it with you.  From Invisalign to the new BB creams to the No-Nonsense  beauty diet,  The Ageless Sisters steered   the conversation into  useful  fact-  filled areas. 

  In a short interview  I had to boil down my  beauty philosophy to four key points. Since   I can spend  an hour  discussing the differences between  AHA’s like glycolic acid and Retin A, time limitations made me focus on what is really important.  Compressing  a file of info into  the top four tips is a great way of getting to the most critical facts for  just about any subject.  From buying a car to writing a resume to choosing the name of a baby,  selecting the four  top  ideas is a relevant way  to cope  in a busy world with a short attention span.    Let me know what  you think.

The Ageless Sisters also presented at Beauty Bash last October, demonstrating Facial Magic, their exercise routinue  to firm up the skin.   It was  amazing to see the entire audience  trying out the exercises  that Cynthia and Jackie  were showing on the stage.   I could genuinely feel  the  muscles  under my jaw working to build up contours. And FYI,  without Botox or fillers their skin is smooth, taut and free of lines and wrinkles. 

Click here to hear the Ageless Sisters Radio Extravaganza

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I’m always looking for the ideal facial.  Not infrequently, I leave the facial looking a bit splotchy and/or greasy  And the next moring  I wake up with… breakouts. But I still kept looking.  I wanted something that would  make my skin  look fresh, poreless with a  pink, not red glow.  And this summer I found it at the office of Park Avenue cosmetic surgeon, Dr Paul Lorenc. Famous for inventing the endoscopic browlift, Dr Lorenc is a  physician who believes in combining non-invasive anti-aging  tools like the Hydrafacial with surgical options.

 The Hydrafacial is considered the third generation of  microdermabrasion.   It  has about seven steps, each  one offering different but related benefits.  The Hydrafacial combines  a unique type of   tip with an array of products.  The spiral tip ( see pix) rotates on the skin as the suction  pulls up dead skin and  empties the pores.  After the skin  with wiped with a gentle cleanser, the first pass  uses  lactic acid to loosen  the top dead layer  of skin.  Next pass gets serious with a  15% glycolic acid combined with  2% salicylic acid to stimulate better skin growth and reduce brown spots. 

Then came the part of  facial we love to hate–extraction.   I tend to  get clogged pores on my  nose, and what the Hydrafacial is missed  was  now  eliminated by Carissa, Dr Lorenc’s beautiful  technician.    And then the Hydrafacial continued with  more exfoliation with a diamond tip for additional  cleansing and smoothing.   

Now that the skin  is cleansed of the top layer of dead cells and the pores emptied of old oil and dirt, the Hydrafacial applies  a peptide complex that has been shown to improve skin elasticity and reduce lines. This is followed by a serum of  antioxidants and  the super moisturizer hyaluronic acid.  Because the skin and pores have been cleared of debris, these anti-agers can be better absorbed by the skin.    

Carissa offered me an additional moisturizer ( which I passed on) and a zinc based sunscreen which I applied  happily.  Microdermabrasion, because it exposes fresh new skin,  is especially vulnerable to sun damage right after treatment. The whole procedure took about 45 minutes.  My skin looked beautiful– poreless, radiant, and  wrinkle free.  No splotches, no breakouts, just gorgeous.  On my  way home, I could not help catching glances of myself in store widows and mirrors. 

The Hydrafacial costs between $150 -275, depending on the number of steps.  Doctors recommend a series of 4-6 treatments, but with a single treatment I saw great results that persisted for weeks.  This is the “big night”  facial that I was looking for when my daughters got married.  Its also the facial of choice for those high school reunions type of situations when you want to rock the room.


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