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Still confused about how to apply sunscreen? We’ll pass on these sunscreen application tips from the American Academy of Dermatologists 64 - Skin Treatments - From Silly to Sublime 3 simple steps to safer sun protection
1. Put on plenty: An ounce or so (the article says a shot glass full, hence today’s picture) should about do it for the average person.
2. Soak it up: For maximum protection, wait for it to soak in before (15 to 30 minutes) before frolicking in the sun.
3. Frequent reapplication: Reapply often, at least every two hours.
Why is this last item so important? First, because the UV absorbing molecules can wear out over time so your protection level drops off. Second, because sweating, swimming, and towel drying can remove sunscreen from your skin’s surface. Do you really have to put more on after only 2 hours?
Apparently yes. Studies have shown that people who wait 2 and a half hours instead of 2, have a 5 times greater chance of burning.
Yes, this means you might go through an entire bottle of sunscreen during a day at the beach. But that’s still cheaper than a visit to your friendly neighborhood dermatologist to have a spot of melanoma removed!
Catherine’s Concerned About Sunscreen Efficacy: I’ve heard that when sunscreen/sunblock separates, it’s no longer good. That shaking it up to remix it is basically wasted effort and applying it will do no good at all. Is this true?
Can sunscreen go bad?
The Left Brain Concurs:
Sunscreen formulations are very sensitive creatures. Most UV absorbers are oil soluble, which means they have to be carefully emulsified to form stable mixtures with water. If the oil and water in the formula are not properly coupled together, the whole formula can go to hell pretty quickly. Here are 3 warning
signs that your sunscreen has gone sour:
1. Weird consistency The consistency of the product has changed over time and now it’s too thick or too thin to spread properly. The spreadability of sunscreens is crucial to proper application and coverage. If it doesn’t spread right, it won’t work right.
2. Crystalization The active ingredient has crystallized out, making the lotion feel gritty. When this happens the product is completely worthless. You can’t fix that by shaking.
3. Separation The product has separated into two different layers. Also not good. At worst, the active ingredient will partition into the oil phase and shaking it may or may not re-suspend it properly. At best, the water-resistance of the product may be compromised and it will wash off too easily. Either way, it’s really not worth using. Go buy a fresh bottle.
The Beauty Brains bottom line Given the importance of good UV protection, don’t take chances with a bottle of sunscreen that you think may be bad. Most manufacturers of sunscreen products like Coppertone, Himaya, Ocean Potion, and even Jack Black, should gladly refund your money or offer you a replacement if you have a problem.
66 - Skin Treatments - From Silly to Sublime Chapter 5 Beauty Biology Four Types Of Wrinkles And How to Get Rid Of Them
Cosmetics companies don’t usually do a good job of explaining the problems they claim to solve. Take anti-wrinkle creams for example. Can someone just please tell me what causes wrinkles in the first place?
The Left Brain Educates:
Since the goal of the Beauty Brains is to educate our community, we thought we’d share the results of a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2006, 28 389-395). Researchers at the University Hospital of Liege, Belgium determined that there actually four distinctly different types of wrinkles that you’ll (eventually) have to face.
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1. Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids What they are?
Fine lines on the face that are almost parallel to each other.
Where they occur?
They show up in different areas of the face and body but they tend to disappear when skin is stretched transversally. (that means they shift when your body posture changes.) These wrinkles are associated with loss of elasticity.
What you can do?
Since these wrinkles are due to underlying loss of collagen, you need to protect your skin using sun protectants. You can also use moisturizers to temporarily plump the skin and diminish the appearance of these fine lines.
2. Permanent Elastic Creases What they are?
These are crease lines in the skin that become increasingly permanent over time, especially with sun exposure.
Where they occur?
They show up most frequently on on the cheek, the upper lip, and the base of the neck.
What you can do?
Sun exposure makes this type of wrinkle worse. So unless you’re blessed with naturally dark skin, you should avoid sun exposure or use a sunscreen on these areas to prevent this kind of wrinkling.
3. Dynamic Expression Lines What they are?
Wrinkles that are caused by facial muscle movement.
Where they occur?
Frown lines and crows feet.
What you can do?
These wrinkles respond to Botox or similar treatments.
68 - Beauty Biology
4. Gravitational Folds What they are?
As the name implies, these lines are from the effects of gravity and they become increasingly obvious as skin begins to fold and sag. As we noted in a recent post, skin research on the International Space Station might shed some light on the mechanisms of gravity-induced wrinkles.
Where they occur?
The location of these wrinkles is related to the thickness of skin. While we would have thought this means that thicker skin shows more folds, surprisingly the researchers said that a fat face may show fewer gravity folds than a lean face.
What you can do?
Skin-lifting procedures are effective at removing these kinds of wrinkles.
Unfortunately, wrinkles are a reality of life. Gravity, natural UV radiation and genetics all conspire against us to create them. There is only so much you can do with cosmetics to remove them which is why so many people turn to surgery when they are really desperate. Perhaps the best thing you can do is learn to accept how your body looks. At least until scientists can figure out better solutions.
Jess Just Wants To Know:
I have had large pores for as long as I remember. What products really work to shrink facial pores?
The Right Brain’s Reply:
Unfortunately, none. At first glance, you may think that pore control products offer to make your pores smaller, but if you read the label carefully you’ll see that in most cases they just claim to reduce the appearance of large pores.
That may sound like a subtle distinction but it’s really not. There’s not much you can do to physically make your pores smaller but you can avoid making them look larger. Instead of looking for “shrinking” products, try avoiding these
factors that can make pores look plump:
5 Ways to Reduce Enlarged Pores
1. Skin debris like dead skin cells can collect in pores making them appear bigger. Good facial cleansing is key to staying debris-free.
2. Excessive oiliness can keep pores filled with a layer of oil that accentuates their appearance. Consider using oil-absorbing makeup or more frequent cleansing or blotting.
3. Bacterial growth contribute to blackheads and make pores appear freakishly huge. Exfolliation can help.
4. Sun exposure can thicken the skin cells around the edge of pores making them appear larger. Using a sunscreen or limiting your sun exposure is a good idea.
5. Genetics determines your skin type and if you’re unlucky enough to be born with oily, thicker skin your pores will probably be more noticeable.
Changing your parents could help this but is probably not a very practical solution.
70 - Beauty Biology What Causes Acne?
Lora Longs To Learn About Skintactix and Acne:
As a biophysicist working on her PhD, and as a female, I absolutely LOVE your site. It`s such a great way for women to cut through the hype and get some real answers, especially about the products that seem too good to be true.
I have a question about a website I found: www.skintactix.com. This site claims to have a very interesting combination of cleansers in their acne treatment products, and go on to talk very scientifically about how each works to not only kill the bacteria causing acne, but also to stop the process of inflammation at a molecular level. As someone who has struggled with acne since I was a teen, and also someone who is a bit of a dork, the thought intrigued me. Do you think that these ingredients can really stop inflammation, and if so, why don’t dermatologists use it?
The Left Brain Talks Types Of Acne:
Lora, thanks for your kind words about The Beauty Brains. Our mission is to educate women about beauty products and we`re thrilled that you we can
be of help. Now on to your question:
First, you have to realize that there are two kinds of acne: noninflammatory and inflammatory. Second, you have to realize that for acne to occur, 3
conditions must be met:
1. Oil glands gone wild Your sebaceous glands begin to produce an excessive amount of oil. This increase in oil production is typically, but not always, associated with a change in hormones. That’s why teenagers get so many zits, but it can strike adults as well. Either way, the result is that the ducts in your dermis are filled with more oily sebum than usual.
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2. Chunky skin is gunky Your skin cells don’t shed properly. Normally your skin cells flake off in very tiny pieces that don’t cause any problems. But sometimes they go haywire and start to grow to quickly so they don’t flake off properly. When that happens those chunks of cells can mechanically block the outward flow of sebum.
3. Bad bacterial blockage This is caused the organism Propionibacterium acnes (aka P. acnes) which thrives in the lipid-rich sebum in your oil glands. This bacteria feeds off the oil and grows and grows and grows… When the first two conditions are met the excess sebum and the dead keratin cells clog your oil duct by forming a follicular plug called a microcomedo.
(That’s where the term comedogenic comes from, get it?) This tiny plug is the first sign of acne. As more and more gunk fills up the duct, the walls of the hair follicle become swollen and distended. What was a micro comedo now becomes a larger comedo, also known as a whitehead. As the plug continues to grow it starts to poke through the opening of the oil duct and becomes visible as a blackhead. (BTW, Blackheads look black because they contain melanin, the same pigment in your skin that`s responsible for your suntan.) Whiteheads and blackheads are technically known as noninflammatory acne.
In inflammatory acne the comedo becomes inflamed and turns into a raised, reddened pus engorged bump. What, you ask, makes the noninflammatory type turn inflammatory? The culprit is lipase, a chemical produced by excessive growth of the P. acnes bacteria. The lipase breaks down the oily triglycerides in your skin, releasing fatty acids. These acids irritate the skin and cause inflammation. (That process has to do with the release of hydrolytic enzymes that break down the follicular wall. But we’ll save that story for another post.) Suffice it to say that these acids can turn a simple blackhead into an oozing pus-filled volcano.
72 - Beauty Biology So, now that you understand the types of acne and what causes them, we’re ready to answer your question about Skintactix. Unfortunately, we’re out of time for today so you’ll have to return tomorrow to read Part Two. (Aww, I’m such a tease!) Do Skintactix Ingredients Battle Acne Inflammation Yesterday we discussed how the bacteria responsible for acne create fatty acids that attack and inflame blackheads. Today we’ll finish the discussion and answer Lora’s question about dermatologists using ant-inflammatory agents like those in Skintactix.
What’s in Skintactix?
This Skintactix line consists primarily of surfactant-based cleansers and exofolliants that use Salicylic Acid as their active ingredient. They also contain a several plant extracts like cinnamon, sage, and thyme. Their website is not exactly clear about the precise purpose of these ingredients, but the implication is that they are anti-inflammatory agents.
Do Skintactix products really work?
Well, Sal acid is an approved anti-acne agent, so I’d expect these products would work as well as similar products on the market. But we can’t find any clinical data that suggest the plant extracts they mention have been proven efficacious against acne inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory acne fighters What about dermatologists? You asked why they don’t use anti-inflammatory agents. Well, in reality, they do. The most popularly prescribed anti-acne antibiotics (Tetracycline, Meclocycline, Erythromycin, Clindamycin, Tretinoin) do have anti-inflammatory properties. So when your doctor prescribes this kind of medicine for your zits you’re really getting a two-for-one effect: antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. So, if you have a ton of inflamed blackheads, The Beauty Brains think you may need to see your doctor.
Beauty Biology - 73 How To Pop A Pimple
The Right Brain’s reply:
Our suggestion is to play the Lotto. When you win, you’ll be able to hire pimple poppers like the rest of us. In fact, the Left Brain and I use hired help to pop pimples, file warts and, on occasion, lance boils. That’s just our way of contributing to the capitalistic culture of cosmetics.
But seriously, by squeezing your own zits you might make them worse.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, you should NOT pick, scratch, pop, or squeeze pimples yourself because you`ll get more redness, swelling, inflammation, and possible scarring. (If you want to learn more about the causes and effects of acne, read our previous posts.) But, if you INSIST on throwing caution to the winds and picking those pus
pockets yourself, here are some tips: