Healthy Skin Tips
Increasing numbers of men use cosmetic products and services. This “new” man who unashamedly takes care of his looks, is resurfacing in cities.
Caring for his skin is a priority, so he uses all kinds of creams and gels, wears makeup and colognes, exfoliates, shaves all over and sports a carefully cultivated five o’clock shadow.
Modern masculinity is embodied in the male who is in touch with his feminine side, yet still desires and is desired by women.
David Beckham, the British footballer and a man with an impeccable image, is considered to be the pioneer of this trend and its ultimate representative.
In an era in which a picture is worth a thousand words, men like Beckham reflect the post-industrial urban culture at its height.
These men enhance their eyes with mascara, use moisturizers and anti-ageing creams specially formulated for men’s skin, dye their hair, paint their nails and remove their body hair. Their thoroughness outdoes that of even the vainest of women. Why so much sacrifice?
Macho man to aesthetic man
Homo aestheticus has been around for some time. In the nineteenth century, manuals on etiquette and proper conduct described in exquisite detail how industrialists and aristocrats about town should comb their hair and groom their moustaches.
Dandies in those days probably felt under social pressure to take these requirements on board. But what are the motives underlying twenty-first-century man’s vanity?
Feeling good about oneself and attracting women – that is, simple vanity and, some say, a certain degree of narcissism.
This is a man who aspires to prototypical male beauty, and if he does transmit sexual ambiguity, it hardly matters: this is part of the challenge of taking the best possible care of his image.
“No, I’m not gay, I just want to look good”
And some, inordinately pleased, would add: “But thanks for the compliment.” Mark Simpson, a British writer and journalist, was the first to spot the trend.
In November 1994, he published in The Independent newspaper, an article in which he coined the term “metrosexual“ (from “metropolis” + “sexual”) to define a man concerned about his image, who took care of himself and who spends far more than average on cosmetics, beauty treatments and fashion.
In fact, in the 1990s, the birth of this prototype of young urban man coincided with a feminist debate about whether women could shave their underarms and still be called feminists. Since then, things seem to have changed. Metrosexuals are no longer the exception.
Overcoming traditional masculinity or pure consumerism?
In the last decade, young men taking care of their skin and appearance has become so normal that we no longer need labels: a study by the University of Cincinnati concluded that most young men think that metrosexual is now a stereotypical term.
The male cosmetics industry moves many millions of dollars – and the number grows annually – in sales ranging from traditional moisturizers to new male formulas that smooth the healthy skin’s texture.
Beauty salons have extended their opening times to meet the growing demand for men. The male beauty business is growing apace, as claimed by numerous studies.
The increased consumption of male cosmetic products is the result of the efforts of men to care for themselves better.
Nonetheless, the advertising and marketing sectors use particular strategies to attract male consumers, with words like “makeup” never used to sell such products to men. Male consumers are seduced, rather, by terms like “facial fuel” and “urban camouflage”. The strategy undoubtedly works.
Part of the fascination of tattoos is that they leave an indelible mark on the skin. Beyond any artistic or literary value, there is something profound about the fact that they are “forever”. But the reality is that a third of people eventually come to regret their tattoos.
This is the main conclusion of a study conducted in England and presented at the last meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. The study also reported that twice as many men as women regret their tattoos – three times as many if they were tattooed as boys (before the age of 16).
Interestingly, almost half the respondents (men and women both) had more than two tattoos and 31% had more than five. It all seems logical: in recent decades the fashion for tattooing has seen spectacular growth, with a mushrooming of tattoo parlours in the first world.
Many people get a tattoo simply because it is fashionable – and do not dwell too much on the long-term implications. And that they are long-term goes without saying …
The outcome is that there are growing numbers of people with an unwanted image or message that they no longer like or that they find bothersome or inconvenient. The solution is removal. Laser technology -much more effective than chemicals or surgery – has been available for some years.
Here are some important tips to bear in mind:
1. Think twice before getting a tattoo. Do not get one on an impulse or because it is fashionable. Tattooing harms the skin and health complications, even though rare, can be immediate (infections) or long term (scars).
2. Topical products (creams and similar) marketed to remove tattoos are not effective. Removing a tattoo is not a trivial matter.
3. The best currently available technique for removing tattoos is laser. However, laser technology has its risks, so be sure to go to a reputable medical centre with experience in this area that guarantees dermatological supervision.
4. Remember that deleting a tattoo requires several laser sessions and periods of rest between each session. Therefore, we are talking about treatment over the long term (maybe several months) that is not particularly inexpensive. Remember that total removal is difficult, even in the best conditions.
5. Tattoo inks are available that have been developed specifically so that they can more easily be removed by laser. Ask your tattoo expert for more information on these links. In a few years’ time, you may well be glad you had.
“We met and immediately there was ‘chemistry’ between us, bubbling just below the surface of our skin …”. This is the typical explanation for a sudden attraction between two people. If we are lucky, we have had the experience. Is it possible that our skin or chemistry can lead us straight to passion? Let’s see if there is any scientific explanation for love at first sight …
We take it for granted that humans are more rational and sophisticated than other beings, thanks to the rapid development of the human brain. Whereas animals, less advanced, relate exclusively according to basic primary and irrational mechanisms. This is not entirely correct, however, as we unconsciously react to many chemical stimuli secreted by others.
The pheromones we emit (but which we do not smell) trigger responses in others. For example, androsterone, a male pheromone secreted primarily through the skin, is perceived (unconsciously) by females and can trigger an immediate physical response.
Copulin, a pheromone present in fertile women, automatically stimulates the production of testosterone in men. Under favourable circumstances (which are frequent), our brains begin producing phenylethylamine, a natural amphetamine that induces euphoria, joy and a small dose of anxiety (butterflies in the stomach). As a result we release dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin and, as it were, “chemistry” is unleashed.
But experts tell us that this initial chemistry wears off after about three years at most. Not to worry, though. A little effort in maintaining relationships through skin contact (frequent caresses and hugs) can indefinitely extend attraction and ensure sexual stimuli. Also, through mechanisms that are still poorly understood, oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins may help.
So it is true: attraction may be felt through healthy skin. Pheromones convert us into objects of desire, enhance our relations and induce feelings of trust and cordiality. But the great mystery of love continues to be in our mind.
Enzymology is a new research area in dermatology and cosmetics that tries to discover how enzymes can improve skin appearance and prevent skin problems. Pharmaceutical companies study enzymes associated with skin disorders, whereas the cosmetics sector is interested in enzymes that enhance the beauty of the skin.
However, including suitable enzymes in the diet is currently the most natural and efficient way to achieve a healthy and beautiful skin.
To have healthy skin the skin needs to be nourished with fats, proteins and carbohydrates. For these substances to act optimally on skin tissues, they need certain small molecules, called enzymes, to accelerate chemical reactions.
Enzymes help food pass from the blood to the skin, develop beneficial fats and repair collagen damaged by ultraviolet rays, just to name a few of their many functions. There are many kinds of enzymes. Those most frequently used in cosmetics, called proteolytic enzymes, break down proteins so that the skin can better absorb their components and so promote cell growth and renewal.
Enzymes for the skin from within
If you care about eating properly, you will have heard about digestive enzymes, which stimulate digestion; you will surely also know of foods that ensure a balanced diet and of the benefits of fruits like pineapple and papaya, two fruits that contain enzymes.
Pumpkin, figs and sour milk also contain enzymes that improve skin appearance and function. Regularly including such foods in the diet is the most natural way to maintain healthy skin.
Enzymes in cosmetic products
Cosmetics based on pineapple and papaya are available in the market as purifying masks, night creams, scrubs, etc. Enzymes derived from fruits or other nutrients first need to be fermented before they can become active ingredients in cosmetic products. This fermentation is the same process as occurs in the production of wine from grapes and of dough from yeast.
Going beyond the proteolytic enzymes, the cosmetics industry has expanded its range of enzyme-based beauty products to meet the needs of every healthy skin type, especially those that promote the formation of fats, antioxidants and collagen. These other enzymes are as follows:
DGAT-1, diacylglycerol acyltransferase: Boosts the action of retinoic acid, which accelerates epidermis and hair renewal.
SOD, superoxide dismutase: A star ingredient in anti-ageing formulas for its protective action against oxidative stress.
Lysyl and prolyl hydroxylases: Synthesize the collagen necessary to maintain the structure of the skin (they need vitamin C to function).
Some enzymes, such as the metalloproteases, are potentially toxic to the skin. Excessive exposure to sunlight causes them to multiply and to destroy collagen and elastin. These fibres, which maintain the structure of the skin tissue, are ultimately responsible for a smooth, elastic, and youthful skin.
Exfoliants: enzymes and vitamins
Certain types of enzymes are good chemical exfoliants, as they dissolve and remove dead cells from the surface of the skin, leaving it smooth, fresh and bright. To enhance the effectiveness of these enzymes it is recommended to combine them with other chemical peels, such as certain vitamins.
Oily skin prone to acne, for instance, benefits from a combination of salicylic acid (BHA) and enzymes, whereas sun-damaged and uneven toned skin responds well to the alpha hydroxy acids (e.g., retinoic acid) combined with enzymes.
Your work may represent a hazard to your skin. Contact with harmful substances and agents, the lack of humidity in enclosed spaces and high levels of stress may cause skin problems and disorders. What can be done to prevent this damage and keep the skin healthy?
It is popularly said that work is health. But sometimes work has a pernicious impact on the body, especially the skin. According to reliable reports for Spain, for instance, skin disorders are second in the ranking of occupational diseases.
The same is true for many other countries. Some skin problems cause chronic lesions that may incapacitate a person for life or oblige them to change jobs, yet these data receive little publicity.
The main workplace complications for the skin come from contact with chemicals (dyes, disinfectants, etc). The body responds by becoming hypersensitive and the result is irritation (contact dermatitis) and even severe allergies.
Such products mainly affect the hands and forearms, although the effects can spread to other parts of the body. Early symptoms include dryness, redness and itchiness. The skin may also swell, crack, flake, thicken or even develop blisters.
The occupational groups at risk include people who work in the metal, cosmetics, health, textiles, food, hygiene and paper manufacturing sectors, painters and hairdressing workers.
The skin condition usually improves when the affected person temporarily leaves the workplace. Contact with harmful substances can be minimized by wearing aprons, gloves and other protective clothing. It is also recommended to protect the skin with petroleum jelly or a similar lotion after handwashing.
Working in the sun
People working outdoors and constantly exposed to the sun will see how their skin prematurely ages, becomes more flaccid, dries up and starts to develop spots. In the worst cases, skin cancer may develop.
One example is construction, workers. Another is airline pilots, who have a high probability of developing skin cancer due to the effects of the sun shining on their faces through glass. In both cases, sunscreen should be applied several times a day and construction workers should also wear t-shirts with long sleeves.
It may seem that the skin of people who work in offices is in no danger, but this is not the case. Office workers may experience ‘sick building syndrome’ (SBS), with symptoms such as dehydration, itchiness and redness developing in sensitive skins; they may even develop lipoatrophy semicircular, a modern ailment caused by static electricity from fixtures and the dryness caused by air-conditioning systems.
For both conditions the advice is to eat a balanced diet (that includes fruit and vegetables) and to apply moisturizer twice a day, especially in the most exposed areas (face, neck, chest and limbs). People with sensitive skin should use cosmetics with soothing properties and to avoid those that promote cell renewal. Recommended for dry skin are products without alcohol or propylene glycol and, for oily skin, oil-free products.
Resort and Spa workers deserve special mention, as continuous exposure to moisture can lead to various syndromes developing on the nails.
The stress caused by heavy workloads is also hazardous for the skin.
Doctors, nurses and business executives, for example, experience a high level of stress that can be manifested in the skin as cellulite, acne, eczema, dehydration, premature ageing, rosacea or small raised lesions that cause itchiness and other symptoms.
Many cosmetic products reinforce the protective barrier of the skin and so help prevent these symptoms. It is also recommended to eat suitable healthy foods (rice, cereal, eggs, bananas, etc.) and to do physical exercise.
Since the skin is a part of the body potentially affected by work, it is important to adopt good maintenance and hygiene practices and habits.
Perspiration is essential
Our healthy skin regulates body temperature by sweating. Although we are not aware of it, this sophisticated natural mechanism keeps us alive, because the body requires a constant internal temperature. But some people do not sweat enough, and, in some cases, this disorder has serious repercussions.
This blog has already included a post on the bothersome problem of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) and its treatments.
But sweating too little (hypohidrosis) or not sweating at all (anhidrosis) are much more dangerous to health, because the body fails to maintain its proper temperature. The pores of a healthy skin, usually easily seen under a magnifying glass, are virtually invisible in people with these problems.
The causes, whether genetic, endocrinological (diabetes, hypothyroidism) or neurological, affect the nerves involved in sweating. Symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea, trembling, fever and tachycardia. These syndromes have no cure or medication but, fortunately, affect few people. The only solution is to hydrate properly and avoid heat stroke by staying in the shade.
Mineral oils have been used in cosmetics for the last hundred years. In recent decades, they are among the components that most confuse consumers. The myths and misconceptions are many. How do mineral oils affect the health of the skin? Are they carcinogenic? Do they cause acne? Are they “natural”? Are vegetable oils safer?
1. Which cosmetics contain mineral oils? We can answer this question more quickly by formulating the question in reverse, as these oils are the most common components in cosmetics.
Paraffin oil, petroleum oil, liquid paraffin, white liquid petrolatum, white oil, petrolatum (Vaseline), mineral oil, silicone quaternion, methyl silanol, microcrystalline wax – they go by many names.
2. Why are mineral oils used so much in cosmetics? Mineral oils are colourless, odourless and inexpensive, they do not oxidize, remain in good condition and the irritant and toxicity risks are low.
For these reasons, mineral oils are widely used in the cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries, among others. They work well in cosmetics as carriers or excipients for active agents, enabling these to function in ideal conditions.
In dermatology they are considered safe and hygienic, given the low level of skin penetration; therefore, depending on the disorder and the type of skin, they may be more or less acceptable but are never prejudicial.
3. What exactly are mineral oils? Mineral oils are complex mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained from the distillation of crude oil. Like the petroleum we use as fuel oil, mineral oils undergo a refining process to obtain highly purified materials. In fact, mineral oil is considered to be the purest and finest byproduct of petroleum.
4. What are the benefits of mineral oils? Mineral oils themselves have no healing properties for the skin as they remain on the surface and cannot penetrate to the blood.
Their effects are more physical than biological: they form a relatively impermeable barrier between the skin and air and act as an occlusive agent that retains moisture, protects and softens the skin and prevents irritation by the environment.
These physical qualities have biological consequences in that the oil repairs damage, moisturizes, soothes and keeps skin healthy.
Mineral oils are very effective in keeping the skin hydrated, which is why they are used so much in all kinds of products: creams, gels, eye shadows lipsticks, treatment masks, etc.
5. What are the negative effects of mineral oils? Excessive use of mineral oils can, in the long run, lead to overhydrated skin.
This may be counterproductive as the skin becomes accustomed to being oiled and a vicious cycle is launched in which the skin is no longer able to hydrate and protect itself. People with dry skin should try to avoid overusing products with a high concentration of mineral oils.
Mineral oils are not recommended for people who perspire heavily because the oil’s occlusive capacity may hinder the release of sweat and cause dermatitis.
6. Are mineral oils natural? The petroleum from which mineral oils are extracted is formed from plant and animal organisms buried millions of years ago.
The chemical refining process means that they do not meet requirements for “natural” cosmetics; however, since they are inert materials the chemical process is very safe, which is why they are used in pharmaceuticals and food.
Bear in mind that vegetable oils considered to be “natural” are also pre-treated to remove toxic substances. So, as always, remember that a product is not necessarily safer just because it is natural.
7. Are mineral oils comedogenic? One of the adverse effects commonly attributed to mineral oils is that they are comedogenic; in other words, because they are occlusive, they may block the skin’s pores and facilitate the development of comedones and pimples.
In 2005, a major study published in the prestigious Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology concluded that mineral oils are not comedogenic.
If your skin is prone to acne, you should choose products labelled “non-comedogenic”. A label indicating that a product is “without mineral oils” is no guarantee of anything.
8. Are mineral oils carcinogenic? Another myth attributed to mineral oils is that they contain carcinogens.
While it is true that certain petroleum byproducts – like some of the polycyclic aromatic compounds – may contain carcinogens, the byproducts used in cosmetics are highly refined and free of such compounds.
Their purity is regulated by various international organizations. Also, no dermatological or medical studies exist that warn of a link between mineral oils and any kind of cancer.
9. How do mineral oils differ from vegetable oils? According to an important study published in 2012, the differences between vegetable and mineral oils are minor, mainly related to their occlusive capacity.
Mineral oils are more effective in moisturizing and protecting the skin, whereas vegetable oils are biologically more efficient for other uses, such as skin whitening or itch relief. Thus, vegetable or mineral oils are more or less useful depending on the effect sought and the skin’s characteristics.
10. Should mineral oils be avoided? Unless you have dry skin problems or other complications for which your dermatologist has issued specific instructions, avoid products with high concentrations of mineral oil.
At low doses, they simply help active agents function better and contribute to hydrating the skin. Remember that it is best only to use the cosmetics that your skin needs to be healthy, no more and no less.
American Academy of Dermatology
Their skin is immature and more susceptible to aggression from the world around them, which makes it easier for them to get scratches, rashes and infections. They run, jump, play and sometimes get hurt. Their skin breaks out, they scratch it and don’t want to apply the cream. But it seems they get eventually goes away and they go back to normal. But children’s skin also needs basic care.
Once they get past the nappy rashes and unexplained red patches of their baby years that finally disappear with patience and the application of moisturizer and repair cream, it seems like the only thing to worry about to keep a child’s skin healthy is daily hygiene and sunscreen.
You might also remember to cut out the labels from their clothing since they are usually made of scratchy, synthetic material.
In general, everything will go smoothly if you’re careful about using a mild shower gel and shampoo with a neutral pH that meets European Union safety criteria, as well as a body milk with simple active ingredients such as urea, glycerol and lactic acid.
No matter how neutral your soap is, it will tend to dry out the skin, so it’s essential to moisturize the skin after cleaning.
Applying cologne as a final touch is not necessary, but if you do, it should always be applied to clothing and not on the skin or hair. On the other hand, sunscreen should never be forgotten when children go outdoors because the skin has a memory of adverse sun exposure events. Once again, it’s best to buy specialized products for children that don’t contain irritating agents.
Despite all the basic precautions, it’s still inevitable at one time or another for children to get rashes and red patches, with or without bumps and blisters, and for them to become infected if scratched, which is also nearly inevitable because they itch so much! Relief can come from emollient products that repair the skin’s barrier function. In some cases, these sores can reappear at times of stress, at extreme temperatures or when associated with bacterial infections.
Now it’s time to talk about atopic dermatitis, a disorder with a hereditary component that can last into the teens and even adulthood. It’s the paediatrician’s job to determine the appropriate treatment in each case. Some professionals prescribe antihistamines, steroid creams, antibiotics and topical immunomodulators (TIMs).
Meanwhile, mothers keep applying the moisturizer they’ve always used, based on the recommendation of other mothers. Dermatitis is incredibly annoying, but it gets better with age. In fact, only 20% of children over age 7 continue to show symptoms.
Wash your hands
However, it’s still important to check on the development of this disorder because children with dermatitis can also develop impetigo, an extremely contagious infection that causes blisters to form around the nose and mouth and requires treatment with local antibiotics or topical antiseptics and proper hygiene standards.
In other words, it’s important for children to get used to washing their hands before eating, when they come in from outdoors and before going to bed, and to keep their fingernails short and clean.
Another typical skin infection in infants is Molluscum contagiosum, a virus that causes small wart-like bumps to appear on different parts of the body. These bumps don’t hurt and aren’t important.
In fact, in most cases, the sores go away naturally after six or seven months. But other treatment options are available that can speed up the cure, such as applying topical drugs and surgically removing the sores.
Much has been written about the physical and psychological benefits of newborn contact with the mother, a fact which has been confirmed in numerous scientific papers. In the first moments of life the skin plays a crucial role. A new study of premature babies confirms this.
Ruth Feldman, a professor at Bar-Ilan University (Israel) and her collaborators spent ten years analysing the long-term effects of different levels of physical contact with pre-term babies.
The researchers compared premature babies cared for only in incubators with other premature babies who had one hour of skin-to-skin contact daily with the mother. Studies were conducted seven times in the first ten years of the life of the children.
The results for children who had contact with their mothers indicate better cognitive and executive functioning, enhanced neuroendocrine response to stress, a more mature autonomic nervous system and better cognitive control. These scientists suggest that physicians should incorporate this technique in routines for managing newborns.
Matrixyl is the registered trademark of an anti-wrinkle ingredient that many rejuvenating cosmetic manufacturers include in their formulations. This is a surprisingly efficient and reasonably priced ingredient, yet we still pay fortunes for anti-wrinkle creams. What is this component and how does it work?
The press published the news last year. Compared to invasive anti-wrinkle techniques such as collagen injections or more sophisticated techniques such as fibroblast cultures, cosmetic products based on Matrixyl double the amount of collagen in the skin, reversing ageing effects dramatically.
The fact is, this ingredient seems to deliver what it promises: rejuvenation of the skin. As happens with clones, Matrixyl contains certain synthetic elements that are almost identical to natural matrices, which are peptides responsible for preserving and repairing skin tissue. In fact, even before matrikines were used as anti-wrinkle agents it was already known that they impede the proliferation of skin tumours and accelerate the healing of skin wounds.
Origins in France
A French company, Sederma, has manufactured Matrixyl since 2000 and currently owns the patent. Meanwhile, brands like Dior, Olay and Ponds buy and use this ingredient; in fact, even before Sederma obtained the industrial patent cosmetics manufacturers were already including the agent in their wrinkle cream formulations.
However, Matrixyl’s rejuvenating effects on the skin initially went unnoticed, because some of these companies are evasive about what they use in their formulas. Naturally, nobody likes to explain their secret ingredients.
They preferred to justify the cost of their products on the basis of incorporating fatty acids, such as ceramides, and other more sophisticated components used in anti-wrinkle creams. But the truth is that Matrixyl is efficient and Sederma is the sole manufacturer and supplier.
How does skin recycling work?
The matrikines are peptides, small molecules formed by a handful of amino acids. In skin tissue, they surround fibroblasts, the cells that manufacture collagen and elastin. Matrikines are comparable to waste byproducts, in that broken collagen and elastin are converted into matrikines.
Collagen fibres are damaged and continually break, among other reasons, from exposure to sunlight. The peculiar thing is that these peptides, which are merely broken collagen remains, send chemical messages to fibroblasts to manufacture collagen again. Thus collagen is continually being topped up. Think of it like an army of messenger molecules – the matrikines – running a huge recycling plant.
Matrixyl’s anti-wrinkle power
Using collagen, Matrixyl’s manufacturer has artificially created replicas of the skin’s matrikines in the laboratory.
By combining three kinds of amino acids and fatty acids (such as palmitoyl pentapeptide-4) it produces three propietary cosmetic ingredients based on designer matrikines.
Each of these ingredients acts differently on the skin and are used to treat various manifestations of skin ageing ranging from crow’s feet to sagging skin.
Some in vivo studies (with people) conducted in 2011 showed Matrixyl’s anti-wrinkle efficacy: compared to non-using volunteers, volunteers who used Matrixyl for a month found visible skin rejuvenation effects equivalent to nearly two years.
But even more interesting was the fact that volunteers that continued using the product for two further months found their skin to be almost six years younger, especially around the eyes, where the wrinkle-occupied area decreased by 68%.
The scientific explanation
But how does Matrixyl work once applied consistently to the skin? Last year, researchers at the University of Reading (UK) published a definitive explanation in Molecular Pharmaceutics of how matrikines act.
When fibroblasts – which form the tissue in the outermost layer of the dermis – are bathed in Matrixyl, collagen proteins begin to proliferate and to arrange themselves as fibres and form a structure. The more firm and compact this structure, the more youthful the appearance of the skin.
The home, a threat to the skin of the hands
How many times a day do homemakers risk their skin? Dozens of times. Direct and repeated contact with detergents, soaps and other cleaning products, time spent cooking and exposure to high temperatures all mean that homemakers experience frequent problems, especially with their hands and arms. What can be done to alleviate these problems?
Homemakers have a significant role to play, but at a very high price for their skin. Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, soaps, washing-up liquids, bleaches, disinfectants, solvents, etc: daily exposure to these chemicals means that home upkeep and care implies ongoing risk, especially for the hands. Most household products contain substances that irritate the tissues, strip oil from the skin and damage its protective barrier.
The most common skin condition is contact dermatitis. This type of inflammation is so common among people – mostly women – who work at home that it is often called “housekeeper’s dermatitis”.
The most common symptoms are itching, swelling and redness. The skin may also become dry, scaly, rough, coarse and prone to developing cracks that result in tightness and discomfort.
Extra care with clothes whiteners
More sensitive skins should be careful with detergents that “wash whiter” because they contain optical brighteners.
These agents possess fluorescent synthetic additives that absorb ultraviolet radiation and create an optical effect that makes clothes seem whiter and brighter (we actually see them as bluer). These additives may produce allergies and eruptions from the residual product left on clothes after laundering.
Beware of burns!
Proximity to heat sources during the preparation of meals or ironing clothes can dry out the skin or – even worse – cause burns, which are quite common, whether caused by steam, oils, cooking liquids, hot foods or cookware.
Bleach and hydrochloric acid, as potent chemicals, can also cause burns. If a domestic accident of this nature occurs, it is recommended to immediately apply plenty of cold water or a clean, cold compress to the affected area.
This action removes the remains of the agent and reduces inflammation, alleviates pain and minimizes damage to the skin and underlying tissue. If the injury is mild, sometime after the accident, apply antiseptic and gauze to reduce the risk of infections.
Care for the hands
To prevent irritation, avoid direct contact with soaps, detergents and other household products (for hands already damaged, also avoid squeezing or peeling citrus fruits).
Get used to wearing gloves when cooking, washing dishes or cleaning. Preferably use cotton gloves because these absorb perspiration, prevent excessive sweating and are non-irritant.
As a precaution, use a cream that protects and moisturizes the hands. When hands are going to get wet (when washing dishes or cleaning windows, for example) wear rubber or plastic gloves over the cotton gloves.
A good time to repair hands is when you sleep. Coat the hands, especially nails and possible cuts, with a cream containing ingredients that block skin moisture, for instance, glycerin or shea butter. This layer of cream will help repair the skin’s protective barrier and protect the skin from dryness, irritants and allergens.
Alternatively use petroleum jelly or natural olive oil. Wear thin cotton gloves while you sleep. The next morning you will see a remarkable improvement. Apply the cream over several nights if your hands require more healing time.
To keep hands hydrated, wash them with warm (not hot) water – but never with harsh soaps that can strip the natural oils from the skin. It is also beneficial to apply moisturizers every time you wash your hands.
If symptoms or discomfort become apparent it is very important to immediately seek medical advice, as substances exist which, without you realising it, can cause severe allergies that may result difficult to cure.
How are hair dye ingredients controlled?
Because hair dyes do indeed include components that can cause allergies or irritate the scalp, many brands are developing versions of their products that are less aggressive with the hair’s structure and the skin. But European legislation regulates hair dyes and is a guarantee for users. What does it say?
The EU’s Regulation on Cosmetic Products, which has been in force since 11 July 2013, oversees the composition and labelling of hair dyes, evaluates their safety and prohibits their testing on animals.
The standard certifies that hair dyes – used by 70% of Europeans – are safe, thus refuting the numerous articles published online that insist they are hazardous for pregnant women.
Hair dyes include ingredients such as ammonia, resorcinol, parabens and paraphenylenediamine (PPD); it is the colour from PPD which is, in fact, primarily responsible for possible allergic reactions, so this component is banned in Germany, France and Sweden.
However, European legislation establishes a maximum PPD concentration of 6%. Furthermore, product labels are obliged to carry a warning that PPD can cause allergic reactions such as irritation of the eyes, throat and nose, itching, redness and lesions on the scalp.
It is imperative to follow manufacturers’ instructions and also to purchase only approved, unexpired products that have not been tampered with.
Is your beauty biodynamic?
Cosmetics made with ingredients grown in sustainable production systems and in harmony with the cycles of nature are acquiring new devotees. And not only among pregnant women and new mothers seeking products without preservatives, colourants or other allergens. Natural cosmetics are beginning to prevail. With quality certification.
Around 7,000 different substances are used in the preparation of cosmetic and personal care products. Many of these ingredients have received bad press, as they can trigger allergic reactions, are irritants or may be carcinogenic.
Therefore, growing numbers of consumers are seeking more environmentally friendly and skin-friendly alternatives. However, a natural cosmetic is not necessarily safe. This is why the market is demanding certain guarantees, like that offered by the International Demeter quality seal, known to be difficult to obtain.
This certificate guarantees that all components of products claimed to be biodynamic have followed standard procedures for biodynamic agriculture (use of compost, prohibition of genetically modified plants, prohibition of pesticides, etc) and meet European regulations regarding organic products.
Cosmetic products packaging and advertising can sometimes promise the moon. After watching certain TV commercials, you get the impression some creams will work wonders on your skin: wrinkles will disappear and the skin will become soft and silky, just like the model in the ad. But is it true? How do they check the real effects of cosmetics?
Legislation on cosmetic products requires that proof be provided for each claim made. For this reason, before a new formula is launched on the market, the manufacturing company’s R&D department performs different tests, depending on the product properties they want to focus on.
The “claims” that appear on the label and in ads must be backed by scientific studies. These tests are done in vitro (in an artificial or natural laboratory environment), in vivo (on people, never on animals) or using both methods. Finally, the results are always checked by applying the product on volunteers.
Let’s take a look at some of these common tests, which are always done in specialized laboratories.
1. Protective efficacy of sunscreen products
To comply with European regulations on the efficacy of sunscreen products and ads for these products, the following tests are done:
A. Protection against ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation.
These in vivo tests are done on volunteers. The process involves comparing the effect of the new product being tested with that of a known standard product. Both products are applied to the volunteers’ backs, the area is exposed to radiation in the UVB and UVA ranges using a solar simulator and the skin’s response is assessed after exposure.
B. Critical wavelength test.
This in vitro laboratory test is used to check if a product has the right balance of UVB and UVA protection factors, as stipulated by regulations.
C. Water resistance test.
This test is done on volunteers. After the product is applied to their backs, it is allowed to dry for at least 15 minutes. The volunteers then go into the water for 20 minutes, come out and dry off (without a towel) for 15 minutes, and then go into the water again for another 20 minutes.
Finally, their backs are exposed to radiation and the efficacy is checked.
The following efficacy tests are done on volunteers. Besides instrumental studies, surveys are also used to obtain a subjective assessment from volunteers of the effects produced by the cosmetic after application. Good results in instrumental tests are worth little if users do not perceive the effect.
2. Moisturizing power
Instrumental assessment is done using a corneometer, a device capable of detecting very low-level electrical currents. Moisturized skin transmits a weak electrical current better than dry skin. The skin’s hydration level is measured after one application (immediate efficacy) or several (accumulative efficacy).
3. Elasticity and firmness
The device used in this case is the cutometer, which creates a suction effect at a defined strength for a specific length of time.
After the suction effect is applied to treated and untreated skin, the level of elasticity can be determined and the skin’s mechanical properties can be assessed after it recovers from the suction force.
This test is used by manufacturers to back up claims that their product provides a tensing effect, reaffirming efficacy, increased skin elasticity and so on. The test usually takes at least four weeks after application.
4. Effect on skin relief
This efficacy test is done by analysing high-resolution images of treated and untreated areas of the skin to check for improvements in relief, i.e. skin smoothness. Skin replicas are also used to provide 3D imaging of the topography of the skin.
5. Reduction of cellulite
A specialist makes the evaluation. The anti-cellulite effect is measured based on body weight, radial measurement of the treated area (e.g. thighs) and the skin’s appearance. Study subjects must also follow a diet and do certain physical exercises during the efficacy test.
6. Effects on skin pigmentation
These tests measure the efficacy of bleaching agents, fake tanning products and products that enhance or prolong a suntan.
They are based on photometric analysis before and after treatment and precisely measure the melanin index and colour differences in the skin.
7. Regenerative effect
This test involves staining the skin and then using optical instruments to check the speed at which the colour disappears in the treated and untreated areas. The faster the colour disappears, the more the skin is being regenerated.
8. Sebum regulation effect
An optical instrument measures sebum levels in the treated and untreated skin areas. Two measurements are taken: a baseline measurement before cosmetic treatment begins and a measurement after either short-term or long-term treatment.
9. Sniff test
This test is done by trained evaluators who score underarm odours after a single application of the product and after a certain length of time. Logically, depending on the effects being claimed and advertised by the manufacturer, most sniff test measurements are done at different times in the experiment.
Health Tip: Enjoy a Safe Manicure and Pedicure
If you want to treat yourself to manicure and pedicure, taking a few precautions can help keep nails healthy and prevent infection.
The American Dermatology Association offers these manicure/pedicure safety tips:
- Make sure the salon is licensed and clean.
- Never have cuticles cut or pushed back with force.
- Don’t shave your legs before a pedicure.
- Don’t cover up nail problems with artificial nails.
- Apply a rich moisturizing cream to the nails, particularly after removing nail polish.
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Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease of the skin that is estimated to affect about 2.2% of the adult population. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to psoriasis. The genes affected seem to be involved with control of the immune system.
Psoriasis appears as red scaling, slightly raised areas (papules) that combine to form plaques. Psoriasis classically appears on the elbows and knees, but it can affect any part of the skin.
The scalp is also characteristically affected in many people with psoriasis. Like psoriasis anywhere, scalp plaques produce excess scale and can itch. Severe disease can cause a loss of scalp hair, which usually will return if the disease can be controlled.
It is generally accepted that scalp psoriasis, like all psoriasis, is related to genetic defects that affect certain parts of the immune system. There are undoubtedly environmental factors that trigger its initial development in genetically predisposed individuals.
The belief that “emotional stress” plays a causal role or at least exacerbates psoriasis has been difficult to prove. There is no question, however, that psoriasis of the scalp can be an extremely stressful experience.
As mentioned above, psoriasis appears as a small bump, a papule, surmounted by scale. When these papules combine, a plaque is formed that is covered by excessive layers of horny skin that is perceived as a silvery scale.
This scale is shed and appears as dandruff. The scale and its shedding can be quite profuse and unsightly. Scratching these plaques, either because of itching or because of the impulse to remove it, is a very poor idea because of what is called the Koebner phenomenon (also known as the Koebner response or isomorphic response).
This is a peculiar predisposition of psoriasis to develop in areas of trauma. Scratching off the scale will only make things worse. Occasionally, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp can be confused with psoriasis since both can produce excess scale and can itch.
Psoriasis PUVA Treatment Can Increase Melanoma Risk
The treatment of psoriasis depends on its severity and location. Treatments range from local (cortisone cream application, emollients, coal tar, anthralin preparations, and sun exposure) to systemic (internal medications, including methotrexateand cyclosporine).
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I hate bugs, especially the ones that “bite.” For me, I lump all stinging and biting creatures into this bug category, so I choose to use the general definition of “bugs” to include all insects and insect-like invertebrates that bite or sting. Some people are more susceptible to bug bites than others. I am one of those unlucky people that mosquito populations must have a personal vendetta against. Consequently, I have had some experience with bug bites.
In general, most bug bites are simply an annoyance. Typical symptoms of benign bug bites include:
- mild burning,
- localized and minor swelling or pain, and
Most bug bite symptoms last for about a day or so, and then slowly resolve.
Bites from the more benign category include:
Bites or stings from bees, hornets, fire ants, wasps, yellow jackets , some spiders (brown recluse and black widow, most notably) and scorpions produce symptoms that can range from mild to severe.
With some “bugs” (for example, mosquitos, ticks, flies, and “kissing bugs”) the bites themselves are not the problem, but the infectious agents that are transmitted by the bite (for example, bacteria, viruses, and parasites) that cause diseases are the real problem.
There are specific articles on these diseases and infectious agents; however, in this article, I will briefly discuss the treatment of common “bug bites,” and what to be aware of in case the bite or sting causes more than the typical irritating symptoms listed above. Because of their smaller body mass and developing immune system, children may have more intense reactions to bug bites than adults.
The best way to “treat” bug bites is to avoid being bitten. The CDC has published guidelines on how to avoid bug bites and stings.
Essentially, the CDC recommends that individuals dress in long pants and wear shirts with sleeves, use insect repellent appropriately, and avoid areas where “bugs” live (for example, high grass, old wood piles, dark and damp areas).
The reality is that during the spring and summer months, most people will not follow these guidelines, and even if they do, some people (like me) will still get bites or stings.
If you (or a child) has been bitten or stung, the first line of treatment is to:
- quickly check to see what caused the sting or bite such as a mosquito, ant, or bee; and
- get away from the situation to avoid further bites or stings.
Next steps include
- If a stinger is lodged in the skin, remove it by pulling, brushing or scraping it out of the skin. Tweezers, credit cards, tape, and fine brushes can be used because the stingers are usually not embedded deep in the skin.
- Wash the sting or bite area with mild soap and water.
- If possible, without endangering anyone, capturing and/or killing the “bug” may be useful in identifying the “bug”.
Reducing swelling and pain
I have used the following methods to treat myself and others, including children, with success.
- Immediate treatment that may reduce swelling and pain consists of ice packs wrapped in a towel applied to the site of the bite or sting (frozen peas or corn can be used instead of ice as it will conform to the injured area).
- Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen containing over-the-counter medications to reduce the pain. Avoid aspirin use in children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
- A paste or watery mixture of baking soda applied topically may help reduce itching; calamine lotion or creams containing hydrocortisone or agents like lidocaine will also reduce itching and pain.
- Over-the-counter medication containing diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can be taken orally to reduce itching.
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The skin’s job is to protect the inside of the body from the outside world. It acts as a preventive barrier against intruders that cause infection, chemicals, or ultraviolet light from invading or damaging the body.
It also plays a significant role in the body’s temperature control. One way that the body cools itself is by sweating, and allowing that sweat or perspiration to evaporate. Sweat is manufactured in sweat glands that line the entire body (except for a few small spots like fingernails, toenails, and the ear canal).
Sweat glands are located in the dermis or deep layer of the skin and are regulated by the temperature control centers in the brain. Sweat from the gland gets to the surface of the skin by a duct.
A heat rash occurs when sweat ducts become clogged and the sweat can’t get to the surface of the skin. Instead, it becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface causing a mild inflammation or rash.
Heat rash is also called prickly heat or miliaria.
Heat-Related Illness Signs and Symptoms
How to Recognize a Heat-Related Illness
The following checklist can help you recognize the symptoms of heat-related illnesses:
1. Heat cramps: A person who has been exercising or participating in other types of strenuous activity in the heat may develop painful muscle spasms in the arms, legs, or abdomen referred to as heat cramps. The body temperature is usually normal, and the skin will feel moist and cool, but sweaty.
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Sun protection is simply guarding a body from the adverse effects of sunlight. Aside from the hazards of heat, the sun poses the danger of sunburn, which can permanently damage the skin and cause skin cancer, precancerous changes in the skin, as well as premature wrinkling and signs of aging.
Exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun is a known risk factor for the development of both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Sunscreen is any substance or material that protects the skin from UV radiation. Sunscreens are available in the forms of topical lotion, cream, ointment, gel, or spray that can be applied to the skin; a salve or stick that can be applied to the lips, nose, and eyelids; a moistener in towelettes that can be rubbed against the skin; sunglasses that protect the eyes; certain types of sun-protection clothing; and film screen that can be affixed to the windows of a car, room, or office. Many facial moisturizers and cosmetics products also offer some degree of sun protection.
Health Tip: Stay Cool to Prevent Heat Rash
The American Osteopathic Association suggests how to help prevent heat rash:
- Wear lightweight, loose clothing that helps draw moisture away from skin.
- When taking a bath or shower, use cool water and soap that doesn’t contain dyes or fragrance.
- During hot weather, stay in the shade or in an air- conditioned place.
- Make sure your bedroom is well-ventilated and cool.
- Don’t use skin products that contain petroleum or mineral oil, which can block pores.
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Health Tip: Choosing a Moisturizer
The American Academy of Dermatology offers these suggestions:
- Look for a cream or ointment versus a lotion for more moisturizing power. The former are less irritating.
- Choose ointments or creams that contain oils such as jojoba or olive oil.
- Look for other beneficial ingredients including mineral oil, glycerin, lanolin, dimethicone, lactic acid, urea or hyaluronic acid.
- If you have sensitive skin, avoid products with deodorant, fragrance or alcohol.
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Tips for a Healthy and Glowing Skin – Poklat.com
A healthy and glowing skin is so feasible. How? Read this short article to learn more.
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When we’re on the grind, it’s easy to forget to treat our most valuable asset with care. Last week, I had the chance to hear dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale reveal her secrets.
WebMD shares some tips for getting that glowing, clear skin you’ve been dreaming about.
The 7 Absolute Tips To Have A Healthy, Vibrant, Firm And Smooth.
More links from around the web on healthy skin
Program looks at foods and healthy skin | The News Desk
Crystal Wellman, the skin care expert behind Ladybug in downtown Fredericksburg, is teaming up with the local nonprofit Doctor Yum Project to educate teenagers and adults about what foods create healthy skin. The class …
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Having clear, healthy skin is an automatic self-esteem booster! Unfortunately, maintaining clear skin can be a challenge. It’s almost impossible to keep zits off our faces!! Luckily, there are things you can do in your everyday life …
Top 10 Foods for Healthy Skin. By abbybwhite on August 10, 2014. Good Afternoon and Happy Sunday! As Summer is starting to wind down the reality of spending lots of time in the SUN may be coming to a head. The sun’s rays make us feel …
raw green smoothie for healthy skin | lululemon athletica
There is nothing more beautiful than health, vitality and a zest for life. Through high quality, nutrient dense and colourful foods, we can provide our body and skin with the building blocks for repair, growth and glowing beauty.
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How a fat-free diet is ruining your health, gut and skin.
Putting your best face forward starts with making healthy skin start from the inside out. “Unless your skin is getting the nutrients from food that it needs, it just won’t look its best,” says WH advisor Lisa Drayer, R.D., author of The Beauty Diet.
by Renee LeMasney Proper care of the skin-the largest organ in the body-is vital to overall health. One of the fastest growing trends in skin care at the moment is the expansion of personal care products formulated …
3 Essential tips for Healthy Skin – bushealth.com
Bushealth- In women believe, a healthy skin should pay money a lot, it is wrong. Here the tips get healthy skin and beautiful:
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July 9, 2014. Eating the right foods can banish breakouts, prevent fine lines, and give you a radiant glow! Outlined below is your very own science based, healthy skin diet… AVOCADOS – The super hydrating and soothing omega fatty acids in …
Allergens in cosmetic products – The Healthy Skin Blog
Health authorities have published numerous lists of ingredients whose allergenic potential is known. But as well as considering an ingredient’s facility for eliciting an immune reaction, we also need to consider its frequency of …
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Ingredient Spotlight: Aloe Vera For Healthy Skin | Content …
Great as an after-sun skin soother or for calming irritations, Aloe Vera is one of our favourite Summer skincare ingredients. This week our resident cosmetologist, pharmacist and botany expert Pedro Catala from Twelve Beauty …
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