In the post “How do I know if my skin barrier is damaged” we looked at how the skin barrier looks, how it works and what it means to have a barrier damaged. We also mentioned that the skin itself can repair moderate damage on its own. This time we will look at what repair mechanisms our skin uses, how to repair a damaged skin barrier, what ingredients are most effective and how to use them for optimal effect.

What repair mechanisms does our skin use?

As transepidermal water loss increases, several self-repair mechanisms get triggered within the stratum corneum. The repair mechanisms used by our skin:

  • Immediate release of lipid precursors (lipid preform) into the stratum corneum, which are immediately converted to physiological lipids (such as ceramides), providing approximately 20% restoration of total barrier function.
  • Increasing the synthesis of lipid precursors and converting them into suitable lipids. Lipids are mortar that fill the empty spaces through which water is lost.
  • Increased degradation of filaggrin protein into natural humidifying factor (NMF) components. NMF components, mainly amino acids, maintain a normal level of skin moisture and reduce transepidermal water loss.
  • Increased water loss triggers an inflammatory process in the skin. The inflammatory process promotes increased keratinocyte production. Keratinocyte production increases the thickness of the epidermis and consequently reduces water loss.

So how do you heal a damaged skin barrier?

When restoring the skin barrier, one has to look at one’s own repair mechanisms of the skin, as in this way we get information on what the skin actually needs to recover.

Proper cleansing is the first step in restoring the barrier function

First, it is necessary to properly cleanse the skin with cleansing agents that are adapted for sensitive skin. Cleansing agents should not contain aggressive surfactants such as sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate. Cleansing agents should have their pH adjusted to the skin’s natural pH (between 4.5-6). The skin should not be cleaned too often, as this can further damage the barrier. If you do not use heavy sun creams, double cleansing is not necessary as it can irritate the skin even more.

Increasing skin’s moisture

It is also recommended to use a tonic as it restores the skin’s pH after washing the face with water, while contributing to additional skin moisturizing.

Care must be taken to compensate for the moisture lost through excessive transepidermal water loss. We can look closely at the skin, which itself degrades certain proteins for the production of natural moisturizing factors (NMF). So can we apply serums containing NMF components. However, to know which product to choose, we first need to look at the composition of the NMF.

NMF consists primarily of amino acids, which make up as much as 40% of the total NMF. This is followed by lactate, pyrrolidone acid, sugars, peptides, urea and so on. Glycerol and hyaluronic acid account for the smallest proportion, ie about 0.5%. Therefore, the claim that moisturizing with hyaluronic acid is most effective is not completely true. The best way to increase moisture is to use serums that contain amino acids.

Soothing inflammation

Barrier damage is usually also accompanied by an inflammatory process. Inflammation in the skin can also lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin. During a damaged barrier, it is necessary to soothe inflammation in the skin with anti-inflammatory agents. You mustn’t use any cosmetically active ingredients at the time when the barrier is damaged as these can further stimulate inflammation.

The only active substance you can use is niacinamide or vitamin B3. Niacinamide has been shown to increase the synthesis of ceramide precursors and free fatty acids in vitro. Topical administration of niacinamide in subjects with xerotic skin (excessively dry skin) has shown an increase in ceramides, which is directly related to a decrease in transepidermal water loss. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Use of emollients / occlusives

Even though you are adding moisture in the form of moisturizing serums, the loss of water is still high. You have to take care and lock the moisture into the skin by using emollients or occlusions. Often mineral oils or petroleum jelly are recommended for sensitive skin, as they are completely non-allergenic and effectively prevent water loss by locking it in the skin. However, except for non-allergenicity, they do not show drastic effects and also do not help to restore the barrier.

Just as the skin tends to produce more ceramides in the event of injury, people with a damaged barrier should also seek to use ceramides. Ceramides are substances that are a natural lipid component of the skin barrier and represent up to 40% of all lipids in the skin. Namely, they represent a mortar that maintains a healthy barrier function and therefore the replacement of ceramide components is essential for barrier restoration.

Plant oils for skin barrier restoration?

A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2017 looked at various plant oils and their anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial activity and effect on skin barrier restoration.

Plant oil can act as an occlusive by forming a protective layer on the skin. The formation of a protective layer allows the skin to retain moisture, reducing transepidermal water loss. The study found that sunflower, coconut, argan, soy, borage, jojoba, and oat oil could help to restore barrier skin function.

Sunflower oil: Linolenic acid in sunflower oil triggers a biological response at the alpha receptor, which increases lipid synthesis. This, in turn, increases the restoration of the barrier function.

Argan oil: It has also been shown that the daily topical use of argan oil improves skin elasticity and hydration by restoring barrier function and maintaining the ability to retain water.

Soybean oil: Topical use of soybean oil extracts has been shown to reduce transepidermal water loss. This property is related to the presence of phytosterols, which have shown a positive effect on the skin barrier restoration.

Borage oil: Linoleic acid in borage oil contributes to its therapeutic effect in patients with atopic dermatitis. Topically applied borage oil has been shown to normalize the function of skin barrier function in infants and children with seborrheic dermatitis or atopic dermatitis.

Protection against UV radiation

When the barrier function of the skin is weakened, the skin’s ability to protect us from the harmful effects of UV light is also impaired. Although our skin has its antioxidant mechanisms, it does not mean it works properly when the barrier is damaged. It is important to protect ourselves with sunscreen daily and to use products containing added antioxidants. The antioxidants protect the skin from the harmful effects of reactive oxygen radicals and counteract their negative effects (eg inflammation). The negative effects of radicals are present in the skin for at least 8 hours after the last exposure to UV radiation, so it is desirable that night creams also have added antioxidants.

Sources:

  • Rosso, J. D., Zeichner, J., Alexis, A., Cohen, D., & Berson, D. (2016). Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 9(4 Suppl 1), S2–S8.
  • Lin, T. K., Zhong, L., & Santiago, J. L. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(1), 70.
  • Elias P. M. (2008). Skin barrier function. Current allergy and asthma reports, 8(4), 299–305.
  • Denda, M. (2002). New strategies to improve skin barrier homeostasis. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 54, S123–S130.

Our skin, regardless of all external factors it conveys, is very sensitive and needs to be handled with care. Improper cleaning or overuse of the active ingredients can damage the skin and thus impair its barrier function. Damaged skin barrier can cause a whole bunch of problems.

Cheat sheet about skin structure

The skin is the largest organ in the body and covers the entire outer surface of the body. The skin is made up of three layers, namely the epidermis, dermis and subcutis, which differ greatly in their anatomy and function. The skin structure consists of a complex web that provides the body with a primary line of defense against pathogens, UV light and chemicals and mechanical damage. It also regulates the temperature and the amount of water released into the environment.

What is a skin barrier and how does it work?

The stratum corneum structure is like a brick wall in which corneocytes or ‘bricks’ are surrounded by intercellular lipids that act as a ‘mortar’ to maintain the barrier function of the skin. As long as the bricks and mortar are held together, the integrity of the skin is normal. The passage of water into and out of the skin is controlled in such a way that it retains about 13% humidity in the top layer of the skin, pathogens from the environment cannot pass into the skin, the skin has its own protective mechanisms against UV light.

Antimicrobial protection is associated with slightly acidic pH and antimicrobial peptides. Skin hydration is also crucial for maintaining the homeostasis of the skin barrier.

Source: Rosso, James Del et al. “Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner: Proceedings of an Expert Panel Roundtable Meeting.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 9,4 Suppl 1 (2016): S2-S8.

What is a damaged skin barrier?

Barrier damage is a phenomenon where our bricks and mortar no longer hold together so tightly. As the the bricks and the mortar move apart, the places between them remain empty. This phenomenon is usually due to external factors such as improper skin care, skin cleansing with inadequate cleansers, exposure to various irritants, overuse of cosmetically active ingredients or low humidity.

External factors are those that can alter the barrier function of the skin and thus increase transepidermal water loss, cause protein and lipid changes in the stratum corneum, which may gradually lead to the formation of sensitive skin.

If the barrier integrity of the skin cannot be restored by its own repair mechanisms, the whole situation on skin becomes very tense. So you are constantly losing moisture from the skin, the lipid composition changes completely or becomes smaller over time, and the skin loses its elasticity due to lack of moisture. So, first, the barrier is damaged, causing the skin to become irritated, but if we do not act for a long time, the skin generally becomes more sensitive.

Source: Lee, Seung Hun et al. “An update of the defensive barrier function of skin.” Yonsei medical journal vol. 47,3 (2006): 293-306.

Why does pH affect the integrity of the skin barrier?

The most common cause of a damaged barrier is the use of cosmetics with inadequate pH. Skin pH is an essential regulator of the skin barrier. Skin pH varies between 4.5 and 6 for people with normal barrier function. Frequent and prolonged pH increases will cause the mortar and bricks to no longer stick together, causing the skin problems listed above.

How do I determine if my skin barrier is damaged?

  • The skin is dry – the skin is dry when it lacks lipids, which is seen primarily as flaking and redness, and is the result of a changed composition or lack of lipids.
  • Skin is dehydrated – skin is dehydrated when moisture content drops below 13%. Due to lack of moisture, the skin tightens, looks more lean, itchy. Dehydrated skin is the result of increased transepidermal water loss.
  • Skin is peeling – I mentioned it as a consequence of dry skin, but the appearance of skin peeling is associated with a change in pH. In our skin, there are enzymes involved in skin regeneration that work at a specific pH. A change in pH can lead to abnormal peeling of the skin and the formation of scaly skin.
  • Pimples or acne breakouts can occur – the acidic pH of our skin limits colonization of pathogenic bacteria and promotes the existence of normal microflora. In the event of pH lifting, colonization of bacteria that “sleep” at normal skin pH and can create a mess in the form of acne formation.

Can a damaged barrier be cured?

Of course, we just have to choose the right products and give ourselves time. The skin barrier will not recover immediately. Barrier recovery time depends on the extent of the injury and on the persistence of the correct products.

Because the skin is exposed to a number of external factors that can lead to impaired barrier function, the stratum corneum is constantly active in maintaining normal physiological state using various self-repair mechanisms. Based on the mechanisms used by the skin to restore the barrier, we also see when the skin’s own mechanism fails and the barrier needs to be cured with topical agents.

Summer finally turned into autumn. Finally? Tajka are you normal? Who doesn’t like summer? Well, weather cooling down is a good fit for me, although I am the more frozen type, summer is not my favorite part of the year. However, the skin is not too keen on the transition to the colder months, so let’s see how we make it easier for our skin to transition to the new season by tweaking our skincare a little.

How does our skin behave in the summer?

Most face more oily skin in the summer, which is seen primarily as glowing parts of the face. High temperatures stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. When the skin is oily, the pores on the face look larger and, at the same time, they become clogged earlier, as excess sebum and dead cells on the skin surface fill the pores faster. Due to the heat, more bacteria are also present on the face, helping to make the excess sebum and dead cells infect the bacteria with pores to form pimples.

It is true, however, that most pimples are caused by inadequate skin cleansing in the summer. Silicone-based sunscreens are not so easy to remove, so proper cleansed skin requires a double cleansing technique. If the sunscreen is not completely removed, it settles into the pores as impurity and further clogs them.

For this reason, skin care is greatly simplified during the summer months. Mostly moisturizing serums and moisturizing creams are applied to the skin.

Why does the skin behave differently in the fall / winter?

After the summer heat subsides, our sebaceous glands return to normal state. However, even cold weather does not have a particularly good effect on our skin. The combination of wind and increased use of central heating dries the skin. For people with dry skin, the change can often be large enough to cause an increase in the appearance of very dry areas, cracks in the skin, flaking.

The cold air tightens the pores. This reduces the excretion of sebum onto the surface of the skin, which acts as a protective layer, providing lipid protection while preventing water from evaporating from the skin. Usually, in the colder months, the relative humidity of the air is lower than in our skin and water actually evaporates from the skin, causing the skin to dry out. This can exacerbate existing conditions that make the skin prone to cracking and flaking.

So what changes do I need to make in the transition from summer care to fall / winter?

Above we have highlighted two problems, too little moisture and too little lipid. So this together leads to dehydrated and dry skin. However, with the proper adaptation of your care products you will not face such problems.

Increase in skin moisture

I have been using the skin moisturizing serums myself in the summer, as simply excess moisture can’t hurt me. In the transition to fall / winter care, use a serum that contains humectants that increase the level of moisture in the skin, if they contain any other ingredient that soothes the skin even better. However, remember that moisture must be locked into the skin with the help of emollients or occlusives.

Use of richer cream or oils

The use of richer nourishing creams is essential especially for people who cope with dry skin in winter. The nourishing cream will lock the moisture of a moisturizing serum in the skin, while also adding lipids to the skin, whichwe have too little in the winter due to less sebum secretion. Lipid deficient skin can be identified by peeling off.

For oily skin types, this period is quite complicated as the skin is still oily, but even oily skin may lack adequate lipids in winter. The biggest problem is when you use the wrong products, because you lose moisture from your skin and thus produce dried epidermis, even though the skin is still oily. For those with oily skin, it is advisable to resort to oils that are suitable for the care of oily skin, such as black cumin, jojoba oil, squalane, and thus lock in moisture in the skin. Use the oils for the evening because you can go to bed looking like a disco ball, right? During the day you can choose a cream with added ceramides, which will nevertheless properly nourish your skin.

Now is the perfect time to start with active ingredients and make various cosmetic treatments

Autumn and winter are great for introducing cosmetically active ingredients such as retinoids and hydroxy acids. Namely, these active ingredients increase the photosensitivity of the skin and in the autumn / winter the cloudy weather does us a bit of a favor, so the UV index is not so high and consequently it is more difficult to produce photo-damage. However, having more cloudy days doesn’t mean you can escape the sunscreen now!

This period is also great if you opt for cosmetic treatments such as lasers, microneedling, acid scrubs, because as with the above mentioned assets, these treatments increase the photosensitivity of the skin as they remove a large part of the epidermis and thus our natural protective layer.

Sunscreen is a must in winter too!

Whether you use active ingredients or not, you also have to protect yourself during this time of year. Being cloudy does not mean that there is no UV rays. As much as 80% of the UV rays can pass through the clouds. When it snows, as much as 90% of all UVB rays are reflected from the snow, which means that both the sun and the rays that bounce off the snow can burn us.

Ever since my hair had been dyed, I have been paying much more attention to what products I will apply to them. Butters will impress even the most demanding user. In this post in Slovenian Cosmetics, I will introduce two new Butters products, namely Natural Hair Intensive Care Mask and Leave-in Hair Mask.

Why use a hair mask at all?

First, it is necessary to distinguish between conditioner and hair masks. Namely, almost all female users use the conditioners, but the use of the mask is not so common. Hair conditioners are almost essential for hair care as they restore the structure of the hair and affect its appearance. In particular, conditioners make combing easier, reduce hair electricity and repair hair structure.

However, if you want really soft and shiny hair, your friend will also be a hair mask. The use of hair masks is primarily recommended for people with dry, split and dyed hair. Unlike conditioners, hair masks are prepared with oils, butters and other nourishing ingredients. Masks are usually left on the hair longer than balms, giving better effects after one use.

Butters masks are formulated with specially nourishing ingredients

Both Intensive Care Mask and Leave-in Hair Mask contain shea butter, CBD extract, hydrolysed wheat proteins, Vitamin B5 (panthenol). The Leave-in mask also contains hydrolyzed keratin.

Shea Butter

Shea Butter is great for hair care as it revitalizes dry and light hair. Shea butter is it’s own source of moisture and vitamins. It can be used on both hair and scalp. It moisturizes dry, scaly scalp and damaged hair from root to tip, leading to faster hair growth.

CBD Extract

Both CBD and hemp oil are able to control excess sebum production and reduce inflammation. They also show antibacterial benefits to the scalp. CBD extract is rich in vitamins, which is great for the care of dry and brittle hair.

Hydrolyzed proteins

Why not just use ordinary proteins? Proteins are huge molecules that, because of their size, cannot penetrate the inside of hair, but can only remain on their surface. The process called hydrolysis transforms the protein molecules to become smaller. Smaller protein molecules can pass into the hair structure where they bind to cracks in the hair structure. Cracks in the hair structure usually result from chemical or thermal treatment of the hair. Hydrolyzed proteins bind to cracks to temporarily repair hair structure.

Vitamin B5 – panthenol

Panthenol is not only a moisturizer, it is also a great emollient. It is evenly distributed over the surface of the hair, where it forms a smooth film. This film makes the hair shinier while also allowing excellent gliding between the hair, making it easier to comb. Panthenol can also penetrate the inside of the hair, where it helps retain moisture and provides volume.

Is the mask suitable for all hair types?

Most of all, people who deal with oily scalp have a probles with hair masks. For people with drier hair, a mask is a great choice to add the missing lipids into the scalp and repair the hair structure. People with oily scalp have the problem of excreting large amounts of sebum on the scalp, which makes the hair look oily and hair washing is more frequent on a schedule. Rarely does anyone have the problem of having their hair greasy over its entire length.

Since I also have oily scalp I have good advice for you so you can still use a hair mask. It is easy, just try to avoid applying the mask to the scalp, distributing it only at the tips of the hair. When washing, avoid contact with the scalp and rinse your hair with lukewarm water. Why lukewarm water? Hot water stimulates the sebaceous glands and more sebum will be released into the scalp!

Butters Intensive Hair Mask

Texture

The mask comes in a 250 ml crucible in which you reach for the product by hand. So, the classic and also the most convenient mask container since it makes dosing easy. The mask is very rich and, as a result, very dense, but fluffy. It’s as fluffy as whipped eggs and butter (if you bake you know what I’m talking about!). You need very little product because of it’s richness.

Applying and mask miracles

It is easy to apply to the entire length of your hair. I only apply it to the tips, since my oily scalp would have complained sooner if I had hoped for more than the tips. I leave it between 3 to 5min to do its magic. I have had quite a few hair masks already, but the effect this mask has cannot be compared to any other. Even when you wash mask off your hair, they are silky soft and easy to comb.

Effect and smell

Why did I combine the two? Usually, hair products have a smell, but when you wash it out of your hair, it will get lost. However, this is not the case with this mask. The smell, according to my personal interpretation, is oatmeal with honey. It smells divine to me and the scent persists after washing.

The effect of this mask is immediate. As I mentioned above, masks are here for immediate effect. However, in addition to its immediate effect, long-term use is the one that will make your hair softer, healthier and shinier. After using the Butters mask, the hair is soft, easily combed, is shiny, and the tips look less split.

Butters Leave-in hair mask

This mask is intended to be applied after washing your hair as it does not need to be rinsed off. It can be applied immediately after washing as extra care or between two hair washes to improve the appearance and structure of your hair. The mask can be used to quickly refresh and enhance the shine of your hair.

The mask comes in 50 ml packs with a pump, which makes it easy to dispense, but at the same time, due to its size, it is also suitable for a bag. You know, just when you need a nice haircut, one hair goes on it’s own. Well, with this mask you will no longer have these problems, as it will smooth out your hair.

Does it grease your hair?

It simply spreads over the surface of the hair and makes it more radiant. However, it is very important that it does not weigh the hair and give them a greasy appearance. Because I have a very oily scalp myself, I was scared that this would grease my hair even more, but if you apply the product only to the tips it will not happen. My time between washes still remains the same. The smell is the same as the rinse mask.

The effect

The purpose of this product is to nourish and smooth the hair during the washes, when the hair is already tired from external factors.

The publication was created in collaboration with company Kinezika. Natural Hair Intensive Care Mask and Leave-in Hair Mask are available at Butters.si.

Don’t forget to check out my Instagram account for a discount code!

In Getting to Know Retinoids Part One, we learned about retinoids, which species we know and what effects it has on the skin. For beginners introducing actives, there is always fear, as they do not know which form to choose, what concentration of active ingredient to choose for the first attempt, what amount of product to apply, and whether the active ingredient included in their routine can also be combined with other pre-existing products in their routine. All of these questions are answered in this post.

Which form of retinoid should I choose?

In the post Getting to Know Retinoids Part 1, we looked at possible forms of retinoids available in the market. But what form to choose? Namely, we all want maximum effects, but a beginner certainly cannot start with tretinoin (biologically active form – the golden standard). For beginners, it is advisable to choose the least “strong” form of retinoid (retinol or Granactive Retinoid) to avoid side effects. After the skin becomes accustomed to a certain form of retinoid and concentration, you can reach for a stronger form.

At the same time, you should be aware that there are cosmetics and medicines with vitamin A derivatives. If you are experiencing serious acne or melasma, it is best to consult a dermatologist about the use of vitamin A derivatives, who will prescribe the correct topical or systemic forms.

Which retinoid concentration to choose?

The second biggest problem for beginners is which retinoid concentration to choose and when to increase the concentration. The easiest tip is to stick to forms of retinoids that are not available in many concentrations. Start with the lowest concentration. Retinol, available in concentrations of 0.1-1%, is the most begrudging form for beginners, while retinaldehyde and Granactive retinoid come in only two or three different concentrations. So after you choose the right form, choose the lowest possible concentration at the beginning.

When to Increase Retinoid Strength and Move to Higher Concentration?

It takes our skin about 6 weeks to fully recover and at that time we can evaluate or need higher concentrations to maximize the effects of the asset. If the skin has become completely accustomed to the daily use of retinoid, you can increase the concentration of the selected retinoid after about 2 months. When you reach the maximum concentration of the selected retinoid available in the market, you can introduce a stronger form of retinoids.

Can I use retinoids every night from the beginning?

When you start using retinoids, remind yourself that this is not a sprint, but long distance running. So, start slow – do not start using retinoids daily. Many dermatologists recommend that you initially use retinoids every second or third evening, starting with smaller amounts (pea size or half a pad).

If, after about two weeks, you find that your use of retinoids is appropriate, you can increase the number of evenings you use (eg every night). At the same time, you can also increase the amount of retinoid you use (whole pad).

How Do I Apply Retinoid Properly?

Before using retinoids, make sure you have a good serum (with ceramides, niacinamide) to apply in the evening before using retinoids. By using this kind of product before applying the retinoid, we increase the skin’s tolerance while preventing the retinoid from lingering and irritating in areas where the skin is already dry. Before applying the retinoids apply the serum and wait at least 10 minutes for it to absorb into the skin.

Give particular attention to the thinner parts of the skin, especially around the eyes and lips, before applying the retinoid. Apply a lip balm to the lips before applying the retinoids.

When applying the selected retinoid, be sure to rub the product into the skin to ensure that the effect is where we want it to be. Take special care where you have wrinkles, as the product may linger there and potentially irritate the skin.

How is it when using other actives at the time of retinoid introduction?

At the time you start using retinoids, stop using all other assets such as acids and various vitamins. Not because they would fight with each other, but to reduce the possibility of side effects (dryness, irritation, redness. Because each skin has individual needs, it is possible that you can quickly re-integrate all other assets into your routine, but not necessary. In the beginning, focus only on the use of retinoids.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

Use the right amount of sunscreen every day (2mg / cm2)! Retinoids increase the photosensitivity of the skin and make it more sensitive to UV radiation. Despite the fact that the use of retinoids in the long run increases the thickness of the dermis and increases the synthesis of collagen and elastin, inappropriate protection against UV radiation can cause the opposite, namely the collapse of collagen.

Myths about retinoids

Retinoids should not be used in combination with acids

There is no research anywhere to prove or conclude that AHA or BHA deactivate or make retinol less effective when used in the same skin care routine. The misconception about using retinol with AHA or BHA is related to the pH value of acid peels that lower the skin’s pH. This is thought to interfere with the ability of retinol to convert to the active form, which has not, of course, been proven.

Retinoids should not be used in combination with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another ingredient that is claimed not to be used in combination with retinol. Like the myth of AHA and BHA, this one is based on the pH / acidity issue. Vitamin C requires a low pH in order to remain stable. We know that retinol works in an acidic environment and that the pH of the skin is naturally acidic, so what research has shown us is a clear example where combining vitamin C + retinol makes sense.

Retinoids are one of the most popular cosmetically active ingredients. However, this reputation is not in vain. They have many positive effects on the skin when used properly. In the first part of our post about retinoids, we’ll look at the types of retinoids and how different retinoids work on our skin.

What are retinoids?

The term retinoids is used to refer to all naturally occurring vitamin A forms, carotenoids and synthesis analogues that have no vitamin activity. Retinoids are classified into three generations based on their molecular structure. Inside the body, retinoids bind to several classes of proteins, including binding proteins and retinoid nuclear receptors. Then a small portion of Vitamin A is converted into a biologically active form – all trans retinoic acid.

The active form of all-trans retinoic acid binds to a DNA molecule via retinoid receptors. This triggers the action of genes that affect the synthesis of collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and other proteins.

What kinds of retinoids do we know?

The gold standard of retinoid activity is all trans retinoic acid (tretinoin). The effects of all other retinoids are compared to the gold standard. Tretinoin is banned for use in cosmetic products in Europe, which is why you find other forms of Vitamin A. In addition to tretinoin, the retinoid family also includes vitamin A (retinol) and its natural derivatives such as retinaldehyde, retinyl palmitate and other forms.

We have enzymes in our skin that convert other forms of retinoids into active forms. The form that is stored in our skin is retinyl palmitate. This is converted to retinol (vitamin A) by enzymes. Retinol is enzymatically converted to retinaldehyde, and the last step is the conversion to the active form – retinoic acid. So the further you go with the retinoid form away from the active form, the less effective it will be. The lower efficiency can be attributed to the conversion.

Why is the use of retinoids so popular?

Vitamin A is found in products for the care of mature or acne skin.

Retinoids are known to influence various cellular processes, such as cell growth and differentiation. Retinoid use normalizes keratinization. Retinoids are very popular because of the effects they exert on the skin. They are often included in cosmetics as they have a rejuvenating effect. Namely, the use of retinoids reduces the appearance of wrinkles, cleanses pores, brightens pigment spots, uniforms skin complexion and improves skin texture. The skin is cleaner and more radiant when using retinoids.

The gold standard of retinoid activity

Retinoic acid was first used for the care of acne skin, in which it showed significant improvement. Then, in his studies, Klingman examined the effect of retinoic acid on photostated skin. He found that reticulin fibers were recovered in photoaged skin subjects using tretinoin, and a greater amount of collagen (type I and III) was synthesized in the dermis. Retinoic acid also has an indirect effect by inhibiting enzymes called metalloproteinases that break down extracellular matrix components (collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid), so many say it also acts as an antioxidant.

Which Retinoid To Choose For Skin Care?

Retinyl palmitate is not an effective form, as it takes several steps to convert to the active form, which results in reduced efficacy. At the same time, this form is not well absorbed into the skin and applied topically to the skin has virtually no effect.

Another possible form is retinol, which is probably known to anyone not living in the Stone Age. Retinol is very unstable in light, so it is important that it is packaged and stored properly. Retinol is a derivative of choice in cosmetics. It is found in concentrations of 0.1% – 1.0%.

Retinaldehyde is one step closer to retinoic acid, but is still 20 times less effective than tretinoin. It is gentle and is a good choice for beginners.

A very known complex is called Granactive retinoid. This form is the cosmetic ester of retinoic acid. The interesting thing about this form is that it does not have to convert in the skin like other forms of retinoids, but it has an immediate effect as it acts directly on the retinoid receptors. It is a fairly new form that has not been extensively researched.

We live in an age where the cosmetics industry is evolving at lightening speed. Almost no longer is a person using only face cream. Most of us use at least 3 products or more at a time. This is called cosmetic layering. The layering method has many advocates, but more and more opponents are also found.

Layering is a skin care technique that comes from Asia. This technique consists of applying various cosmetic products to the face in a certain order. We often think that this technique is popular only among Asians. Layering is a technique that is used by more and more people who dedicate more to their skin than just face cream.

How bad is layering cosmetic products really?

So, the opponents of layering accuse this method of applying amount of preservatives that exceeds the maximum concentration on the skin. Manufacturers rarely use the maximum amount of preservatives allowed. Maximum allowable concentrations are set so that even the most sensitive skin does not develop a reaction. Another thing to know here is that concentrations do NOT add up! Just as SPF does not add up, so do concentrations.

If you have 100 ml of tonic containing 0.1% phenoxyethanol and 250 ml serum containing 0.15% phenoxyethanol this is not 0.35% phenoxyethanol. Unfortunately, the calculation is not so easy. While you need to know that you cannot calculate the concentration of two different preservatives. The calculation is only possible for the same ingredient.

The calculation shows that the total concentration is 0.13%, which means that the concentration increase is minimal. Such deviations would only cause problems for people with really sensitive skin. So if you want, you still use face tonic as these preservatives will not “eat away” your face because of one coat anymore.

About the layering of several different preservatives, have you ever wondered that even in many cosmetics, many different preservatives are used to maximize product protection? If there is no scare on that product, then we don’t need to scold it here either.

How to layer Cosmetic Products Properly?

In the case of layering, there is one simple rule: always apply the least viscous product first. Then we continue with more viscous products. The skin care process is always started with water-based products, ie tonic, moisturizing serum, serum with active ingredients based on water. Water-based products make it easier to cross the skin and therefore need to be applied first.

Why would water-based products cross your skin?

We should think of the skin as a structure containing large molecules such as squalene, fatty acids, waxes, esters and triglycerides. These molecules are huge compared to water, but they are not clustered together like bricks, but there is some space between them. Because of this space between the larger molecules, water can flow from the skin (transepidermal water loss) and into the skin!

The most viscous products such as creams, oils or butter should be applied at the end. For the most part, these ingredients act emolliently and occlusively. Occlusive action means that these products form a water-tight film on the surface of the skin. So it is a good idea to apply a water-based serum before the cream or oil, as moisture will lock into the skin. Namely, the problems with applying oil first and then water-based serum are more problematic.

• The active ingredient in the serum would not reach the skin – water and oil were repelled, so the water-based serum would remain on the surface of the oil

• A drop of serum that would be on the surface of the oil would evaporate over time

So it’s a shame to throw serum away. However, we should be aware that no product forms an occlusive layer on the skin for a very long time. Also, occlusive creams that are designed to prevent moisture loss and other substances from penetrating the skin are not exactly flowering in the performance of their function.

Particular attention should be paid to the active ingredients

Some cosmetically active ingredients are very effective, but they are known to have poor skin penetration. An example of such an active ingredient is vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which crosses the skin barrier very poorly. Therefore, such ingredients should be used in the first stages of care so that they are as close as possible to the skin and thus have a greater chance of reaching the desired site.

What is the correct order of product layering?

We first start with a tonic to restore the skin’s natural pH. We continue with a water-based serum designed to moisturize the skin (hyaluronic acid, glycerol, ..) or a serum containing active ingredients (acids, vitamin C, vitamin B, peptides). The last step, as mentioned above, is to apply a cream or oil that locks all previously applied ingredients into the skin. During the day, make sure to apply sun cream!

Excessive use of the active ingredients can irritate the skin!

There is nothing wrong with layering cosmetics. As long as you layer products that mostly provide moisture, there are few things that could go wrong. However, the same does not apply to active ingredients. Using too many active ingredients increases the potential for them to “fight” with each other. This can cause skin irritation or incomplete passage into the skin. Incomplete passage causes the ingredient to remain on the skin, which can clog pores and subsequently cause pimples.

Because ingredients are more active and effective than ever before, they can also irritate the skin if you overdo them or use them in combinations that are not suitable for your skin type. One of the common mistakes with which we overload the skin is to combine products containing glycolic or salicylic acid with retinoids at the same time – so that we use both in the evening.

The stronger the product, the more conservative we are about the amount of application and the frequency of use.

What is your opinion on the layering of cosmetics?

We regularly protect our body with sunscreen, as today’s society is becoming more aware of the harmful effects of UV radiation. The only area on the body that we do not protect is hair. However, UV radiation can also affect the properties and appearance of hair. What happens to hair when the unprotected are exposed to the sun and what products can protect them?

Like other tissues, hair is made up mostly of proteins. Hair consists of 85% keratin, 1-3% lipids, trace metal ions (aluminum, chromium, calcium, magnesium), water and pigments. UV rays have a high protein breakdown ability, so it’s no surprise that summer can be a difficult period for the hair.

UV hair protection is important

Many people are unaware that their hair is also affected by UV radiation. In the scientific literature, hair damage from UV radiation is associated with dryness, increased breakage and split tips, lower shine, and increased roughness of the hair surface. Not all of these changes occur immediately or all in the same place.

UVB radiation affects the hair approximately 5 μm below the surface. For healthy hair, it is primarily the outer layer. In the case of hair that has already been severely damaged by intensive bleaching and heat treatments, the outer layer may be absent. In this case, UVB radiation is exposed to the cortex of the hair. UVA radiation is less intense, but it can penetrate deeper and may affect the entire cortex.

All The Ordinary and NIOD products can be purchased at Beautyology.eu.

To some extent, hair can protect itself

Melanin is a pigment that is responsible for skin and hair color and protection against the harmful effects of sunlight. An interesting fact is that blacks are rarely burned by the sun, as their melanin is significantly more active than ours and therefore protects them from burns. The same goes for hair. Eumelanin, which is present in individuals with darker shades of hair, is more photostable than pheomelanin, which is predominant in redheads and those with lighter hair. Therefore, darker hair is more protected than lighter hair.

Melanin works by disabling the free radicals that form when exposed to UV radiation. This prevents free radicals from affecting keratin, the main protein in the hair. In the process, damage to the melanin molecule occurs, which turns light. This is the reason we have lighter hair at sea than we usually do.

Why does hair get grey and why isn’t it protected?

Hair turns gray when pigmentation stops. Pigments are secreted by stem cells that begin to die off. The stem cells in the upper layer of the skin develop into melanin-producing cells. Melanin-producing cells are called melanocytes. Melanocytes transfer the pigment to growing hair, making the hair a distinctive color. As we age, the stem cells start to die off and no longer develop into melanocytes, so the hair becomes gray.

When the hair ages, there are no more melanin-forming cells. So when melanin is gone, we no longer have a molecule to protect our hair from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Exposure to the sun can do more damage to such hair, as they are less resilient. A group of people with such hair needs the highest UV protection.

In what ways can the sun affect the properties of your hair?

  • Formation of free radical substances (ROS)
  • Discoloration
  • Disruption of disulfide bridges
  • Changes to the cuticle
  • Some amino acids absorb UV light and form free radicals that break the disulfide bonds.
  • In darker hair, melanin can be photooxidized, while in lighter hair, some amino acids are destroyed, causing discoloration.
  • Keratins in the hair are interconnected by disulfide bonds – bridges. Light breaks them down to form cysteic acid, which in turn makes hair less resilient and less elastic.
  • Melanin is found in the inner layer of the hair, but not in the outer layer, so it is not protected. After that, it is most exposed to UV radiation. The “roofers” that make up the cuticle are more open and lose weight.

Are UV protection products the hair solution?

For the protection of hair we use various products to which manufacturers add UVA and UVB filters as classic sunscreens that we use to protect the skin. The main problem with these products is that they cannot be applied evenly over the entire surface of the hair, which means that some parts of the hair are not protected. Another challenge is to create a sun protection formulation that will adhere to the hair shaft. In addition, it is almost impossible to apply a uniform thickness of sunscreen to all your hair without looking greasy.

How do UV hair protection products work?

Some shampoos for colored hair contain UV filters, as this should prolong the color lifespan (prevent fading). However, the problem again arises with shampoos as these products need to be completely rinsed off the surface of the hair and thus some UV filters can also be flushed. As a result, the ability to protect hair is limited.

A better approach to UV hair protection is to use balms that form a film on the surface of the hair that is not rinsed between 15-30 minutes. As a result, UV filters can adhere better to hair and offer more effective protection.

Hair styling products are probably the most effective in providing photoprotection. These products include non-rinse balms, gels and hair sprays.

If you massage balms that do not need to be rinsed, they will act as a heat protection agent and UV protection just before drying, as they remain on the hair.

The most effective products that protect against UV radiation are hair dyes

Non-pigmented hair (white, gray) is more prone to UV damage than pigmented hair. This means that molecules of hair dye trapped inside the hair provide some protection against UV damage. Although hair dyes damage the hair tissue, this way the hair is protected from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Hair coloring causes damage to the hair fibers, but when the hair is exposed to prolonged periods of UV radiation, the antioxidant effect of the dye that binds inside the hair outweighs the initial detrimental effect of dyeing. Hair dyes act as antioxidants that prevent the disulfide bonds in keratin from breaking.

What do UV hair protection products contain?

First of all, it should be emphasized that the regulations in the field of hair protection are not as strict as in the field of skin protection. We cannot determine the exact SPF protection factor for hair products. However, there is a Hair Protection Factor (HPF) based on the change in mechanical properties between protected and unprotected hair. There is also a Radical Hair Protection Factor (RHF) that differentiates products based on their ability to prevent ROS from UV radiation.

The products contain UV filters, silicones that form a hair film and antioxidants. In addition, hair protection products also contain moisturizers, emollients, antistatic agents as well as thermal hair protection substances. Natural extracts that protect the hair include walnut, beech, aloe vera, green tea, chamomile, lotus and oils such as monoi.

All The Ordinary products have been donated to create this post by Beautyology.eu.

Since the use of sunscreens has been on the rise, they have gained many advocates as well as many opponents. Opponents of sunscreens claim that they block the synthesis of vitamin D, which is essential for our health. There are also extreme opponents who claim that using sunscreens is more harmful than unprotected sun exposure. However, is it true that sunscreens block vitamin D synthesis?

Basic information on vitamin D

Vitamin D acts as a hormone in the body and is synthetized by UV light. Vitamin D comes in two forms (D₂, D₃). Vitamin D₂ is obtained from plant nutrition and oral supplements. Vitamin D₃ is mainly obtained by exposing the skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation in sunlight and consuming foods such as oily fish. Vitamin D₂ and D₃ are metabolised in the liver and kidney to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D or calcitriol, which is a biologically active form. Calcitriol plays an important role in regulating the metabolism of calcium, phosphate for maintaining metabolic functions and for skeletal health.

How can one get vitamin D?

Vitamin D is also found in mushrooms, wheat germ oil, egg yolk, liver and fish oil. Vitamin D content in most foods ranges from 50 to 200 units per serving. Therefore, food cannot provide enough vitamin D, which is why most people synthetize it after sun exposure. Sun-induced vitamin D synthesis is strongly influenced by season, time of day, latitude, altitude, air pollution, skin pigmentation, use of sunscreens, passage through glass and plastic, and age.

Interesting fact: Even when older people are regularly exposed to sunlight, they produce 75% less vitamin D3 than young people.

Inadequate vitamin D intake can lead to postmenopausal osteoporosis and reduced bone density. Low vitamin D intake is also associated with heart and vascular diseases, depression, dementia and other conditions.

How is vitamin D synthesized after sun exposure?

Vitamin D3 can be produced in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet radiation B (UVB), so it is possible to increase vitamin D3 levels by exposure to UVB rays. During exposure to sunlight, radiation with a wavelength of 290–315 nm penetrates the skin. Most of this UVB radiation is absorbed in the epidermis, so when exposed to sunlight, most of the vitamin D3 is produced in the skin, in the living cells of the epidermis.

A quick recap on UV radiation

As we already know, exposure to UV radiation is not safe. Namely, we divide the UV spectrum into ozone-retained UVC rays, UVB rays that cause sunburns, UVA rays that cause photoaging. Unnecessarily prolonged exposure to UV light without protection can lead to skin cancer. For a reason, sunscreens have been developed to protect us from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Sun creams are designed to absorb and partially repel UVB radiation.

All The Ordinary and NIOD products can be purchased at Beautyology.eu, where you can use code COSMEDOC10.

If sunscreen blocks UVB rays does it block vitamin D synthesis as well?

Well, here we are. Where scientists from different disciplines are arguing with each other. Last time, I heard from a colleague that one dermatologist claimed that reduced vitamin D synthesis from sunscreens is more harmful than unprotected sun exposure. To put it mildly, I was almost hit by a stroke, but let’s go down the line. Sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 absorbs approximately 96% of UVB radiation. So, by adding 2 + 2, topical application of sunscreen with SPF 30 reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D3 by the same amount, ie 96%.

In principle, we calculated that only 4% of UVB radiation can access our skin with SPF 30, which is a very low chance for vitamin D synthesis, right? But this is where  you need to ask yourself how much sunscreen you really apply to your skin. In order to achieve the protection stated on the packaging – so in our case SPF 30 we need to apply 2mg / cm2 of skin. For the whole face, this means two full fingers of the cream.

A short calculation to back up my claims

The average surface area of ​​all skin in an adult is 1.5-2.0 m². So if we need to apply 2mg / cm² the calculation is as follows.

The result is 32 g per coat. Therefore, 1/3 of the entire 100 ml tube of sunscreen should be used to properly protect the entire body. Of course, we did not take into account that the sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours.

Let’s be real, we apply such a small amount of sunscreen to the body that the question is if we have an SPF protection factor of 5. So with SPF 5, we are about 70% protected against UVB radiation. This may sound like a lot, but this time it can pass as much as 30% of UVB radiation to the skin! Not to mention some body parts that are not usually protected at all. Or maybe we are in the shade and don’t put sunscreen on because the UVB rays can’t reach us. All of these unprotected parts allow 100% passage of UVB radiation and thus synthesis of Vitamin D, but also increased chances of skin cancer.

UVA protection is beneficial for Vitamin D

A number of studies investigating the influence of sunscreen on vitamin D synthesis have found that the use of sunscreen is likely to have minimal impact on vitamin D. UVA rays have no effect on vitamin D synthesis, although one in vitro study showed that UVA2 (315–340 nm) can cause vitamin D to break down, in which case protection against UVA may be beneficial for vitamin D production.

Controlled field studies with true sun exposure are the best way to determine the effect of sunscreen on vitamin D synthesis. The results of such studies report that no change in serum 25 (OH) D3 vitamin concentration occurs despite the use of sunscreen.

In fact, most studies published to date have shown no association between the use of sunscreens and vitamin D deficiency, nor with regular use of SPF> 15. In general, other protective methods (eg, shading, wearing protective clothing and long sleeves) ) affect vitamin D status more than using sunscreens.

UV radiation is more dangerous than sunscreens

Daily skin protection is recommended for all skin phototypes. This includes staying in the shade, wearing headgear and clothing, wearing sunglasses, and applying broad-spectrum sunscreen. These strategies will help prevent sunburn and skin cancer. The use of sunscreen for daily sun protection does not compromise the synthesis of skin vitamin D synthesis, even when the sunscreen is used in the predicted amounts (2mg / cm2). Increasing UVA-PF in sunscreens, however, even improves vitamin D3 production.

In case of reduced vitamin D level, this should be replaced. Oral supplementation is easy and does not pose significant risks. The risk-benefit calculation shows that, instead of sunbathing, it is better to take nutritional supplements with this vitamin to increase vitamin D3 levels.

Skinfairytale sent two new products to the market before the summer and these are the natural body makeup Chocotan and the natural Aftersun lotion. Why is natural Chocotan a better choice than classic self-tanning product and what kind of wonders does the Aftersun lotion do?