Undereye circles have been a common aesthetic problem that we face since we are teenagers. Most deal with problems such as dark colouring around the eyes, bags, wrinkles or swelling around the eyes. Often the undereye circles make us look more tired. Undereye circles can be of different origin and therefore all types cannot be treated in the same way.

The skin around the eyes is most susceptible to changes due to ageing

One of the first places where visible signs of ageing begin to appear is around the eyes. The delicate skin in this area is extremely thin and contains little subcutaneous adipose tissue. During ageing, skin cells divide more slowly and the inner layer, called the dermis, begins to thin. Elastic and collagen fibers are loosening. The skin loses elasticity, has less moisture retention capacity, sebaceous glands are less active, and skin lesions heal for a longer time. All of these causes cause wrinkles.

Undereye cirlces are a common aesthetic problem

Although eye circles are such a common aesthetic problem, there are still not many scientific explanations for their emergence and there is also no detailed classification to divide them by origin and by structural differences. We roughly distinguish the following types of undereye circles: dark staining and swelling.

Dark colors and puffiness around the eyes can have several causes. The following factors are responsible for the onset: allergies, photosensitivity, vascular fragility, poor circulation under the eyes, lymphatic congestion, or breakdown of fat pads.

In the next part of the post, we will take a closer look at the factors responsible for the formation of undereye circles and how to treat different types of undereye circles.

Dark circles under the eyes

Dark coloration under the eyes can be due to several causes, such as allergies, photodamage and poor circulation. We are not even favored by the fact that the skin around the eyes is very thin and even slightly transparent. We know that there is already a web of blood vessels under the skin, so transparent skin provides only a little camouflage for the visibility of the underlying soft tissue. This results in a darkened skin.

Dark coloration under the eyes as a result of a systemic cause

Dark coloration around the eyes can occur as a result of an internal cause, it can be allergies, atopy or flu. All these internal causes can cause the fluid to accumulate in the soft tissue area, contributing to a darkened appearance and swollen skin in the area around the eyes. If your dark circles are caused by a systemic cause, you need to look for an internal cause, as in this case, no eye care cosmetic product will help you reduce the color. In particular, treatment of the systemic cause with anti-allergy drugs and eye rinsing and nasal cleansing are needed.

Undereye circles as a result of poor circulation

Dark circles can also be caused by poor circulation around the eye area. Undereye circles that result in poor circulation are blue or purple in colour and are not accompanied by puffiness. Poor blood flow causes less oxygen in the blood that enters the eye area, causing a bluish appearance. The appearance of the dark circles caused by poor circulation can be alleviated by a gentle massage around the eyes that will stimulate circulation. Careful eye care products with caffeine added are also effective for this type of eye area. Caffeine exhibits antioxidant properties and promotes blood circulation.

Dark circles as a result of photodamage

Typically, individuals with darker skin tendencies, or IV-VI phototypes, tend to be predisposed to the dark circles because of photodamage. Individuals with lighter complexion can also get photodamage around their eyes. Namely, the breakdown products of hemoglobin contribute to visible changes in pigmentation in the skin. Dark circles due to photodamage are one of the easier to treat because you can greatly benefit from cosmetics that contain active lightening ingredients. Photodamage can be eliminated by the use of lightening agents such as retinoids, vitamin C, hydroquinone and regular use of sunscreen, which will prevent any new photodamage.

Undereye circles as a result of the fragility of the vascular wall

We have already mentioned that the skin around the eyes is extremely thin, so any changes can be seen very quickly. Another cause of dark colouration is the fragility of the vascular wall. If the blood vessels around the eyes become brittle, they can be easily damaged. The injury results in the leakage of hemoglobin into the surrounding skin. When hemoglobin degrades, pigmented degradation products form and accumulate in the dermis and epidermis. This can cause a dark discoloration around the eyes. Also, this type of dark circles can be relieved quite easily by the use of cosmetics. However, we must be careful that they contain ingredients that strengthen the vascular wall. The ingredients that strengthen the vascular wall are: diosmin, hesperedin, wild chestnut extract, common ivy extract, ginkgo biloba.

Swelling around the eyes

The swellings are usually not the cause of the formation of the dark circles themselves and only accompany the dark colouring. The swelling is mainly due to lymphatic retention or an allergic cause of fluid retention in the surrounding area of ​​the eye.

The tissues of the lower eyelids show an increased tendency to accumulate fluid due to local processes such as atopy. Edema on the eyelids as a manifestation of fluid accumulation often worsens after a salty meal or in the morning. This liquid often gets a purple colour. For the treatment of swelling resulting from lymphatic congestion, cosmetic products containing swelling-reducing and anti-fluid components in the intracellular space can be partially assisted. Lymphatic retention can be reduced by regular lymphatic drainage and by finding the cause of lymphatic congestion (usually allergy, atopy).

Fat pads or bags

Although the swelling around the eyes itself can act look like a bag, the main culprit for the formation of bags under the eye are fat pads.

Bags occur due to many complex mechanisms, the most common anatomical reason being the breakdown of fat. As the tissues age around the eye, they gradually weaken and decay. Loss of elasticity of the skin allows the fat to fall into the area of ​​the lower eyelid, which makes it look puffy and swollen. However, fat pads may not necessarily be age related. Namely, our eyes are cushioned with fat and in some people these fat pads are naturally more seen, from a young age. Fat pads become visible when collagen and elastin begin to break down. Thus, there is no longer any elastic tissue that holds the fat in place, so it starts to sag and crack.

Undereye bags resulting from the breakdown of fat pads cannot be treated with cosmetics. This type of dark skin requires surgery or hyaluronic fillers.

Sources:

  1. Huang, Y.-L., Chang, S.-L., Ma, L., Lee, M.-C., & Hu, S. (2013). Clinical analysis and classification of dark eye circle. International Journal of Dermatology, 53(2), 164–170.
  2. Vrcek, I., Ozgur, O., & Nakra, T. (2016). Infraorbital Dark Circles: A Review of the Pathogenesis, Evaluation and Treatment. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery9(2), 65–72.
  3. Ahmadraji, F., & Shatalebi, M. A. (2015). Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and safety of an eye counter pad containing caffeine and vitamin K in emulsified Emu oil base. Advanced biomedical research4, 10.
  4. Freitag, F. M., & Cestari, T. F. (2007). What causes dark circles under the eyes? Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 6(3), 211–215.
  5. Sarkar, R., Ranjan, R., Garg, S., Garg, V. K., Sonthalia, S., & Bansal, S. (2016). Periorbital Hyperpigmentation: A Comprehensive Review. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology9(1), 49–55.
  6. Friedmann, D. P., & Goldman, M. P. (2015). Dark Circles. Clinics in Plastic Surgery, 42(1), 33–50.
  7. Goel, A., & Sethi, P. (2019). Concealing of under eye orbital fat pads with hyaluronic acid filler: A case report. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

With the entry into December, we can almost officially confirm the arrival of winter. Outside temperatures have dropped, cold winds are blowing all the time, and at home, we have radiators open to maximum. All these external factors can affect the condition, appearance and behaviour of our skin. The skin is much drier especially in the winter months, looks paler, can peel off and shows signs of hypersensitivity such as tightening, itching, redness. Many people wander in thedark because they do not know how to properly nourish the skin. Nourishing your skin in winter months may seem complicated, but it’s not.

The biggest enemy of our skin is central heating

Yes, it’s a hell, because we can’t just stop heating, but we have to solve the problem in a different way. Heating the rooms causes dehumidification of the air. In rooms where we heat, the air is quite dry. This causes water to evaporate from our skin into the surrounding area. Let’s refresh some high school knowledge of chemistry and biology and remember diffusion. Diffusion works by passing molecules from a higher concentration region to a lower concentration region. Water from our skin works similarly. When the humidity is high enough in the surroundings, the water flows into the skin. However, when the relative humidity of the environment is lower than that of the skin, we begin to lose water from the skin. The result is dehydrated skin that looks pale but may also show signs of hypersensitivity.

How to prevent skin dehydration?

First of all, care must be taken to bring some moisture into the environment in which we live. The easiest way to do this is to buy a diffuser or place water tanks on the radiators. It is very necessary to ensure a high enough fluid intake. If we don’t drink enough liquids, the skin cannot get new supplies of water out of nowhere. If we have ticked off enough fluid intake and moisturizing the rooms, we can go to proper facial care. Many people make a big mistake in the winter, applying only large amounts of oil to their face or body, while their skin remains dehydrated.

How should I properly nourish my skin during the winter months?

In the winter, we have to pay special attention to the ingredients in our cosmetics, as some of them can have a drying effect, which of course we do not want.

Also in winter the skin needs to be properly cleansed, and it is desirable to use very gentle cleansers. I highly recommend using cleansing gels as the foams can dry out the skin due to the addition of foaming agents. Cleansing gels should contain gentle surfactants. It is desirable to avoid all cleansing products containing soaps and alcohols. Soaps are formed by alkalizing the bases, usually using KOH, which has a very high pH. Prolonged use of soaps in face cleansing can lead to a rise in pH on the skin, resulting in impaired barrier function and increased loss of water from the skin. Alcohols should be avoided as they completely degrease the skin, making it even drier.

Perhaps a toner is not the best choice in winter skincare

The purpose of toners is to act astringently. Adstríngent (also adstríngens) or contractile is a substance that reduces the permeability of the mucosal or skin surface and capillaries. In simpler terms, it causes the pores to close after cleansing and restore the pH on the surface of the skin. In winter, however, the function of the sebaceous glands weakens. The sebaceous glands contract and consequently the pores shrink. For this reason, a small amount of sebum is excreted on the skin surface. Reduced amounts of sebum may be associated with the appearance of dry skin and impaired skin barrier function, because it is precisely the lipids in sebum that allow the skin not to lose excessive amounts of water. The use of toners in the winter can further reduce pores and thus reduce the excretion of sebum on the skin surface.

Moisture, moisture, moisture

Space heating causes water to be lost from the skin. The lost water must be replaced somehow and you will not do it by drowning in oil. You can only immerse yourself in the oil after applying a moisturizer. The skin is most easily moisturized using water-based serums. Moisturizing serums should contain good moisturizers such as urea, amino acids, glycerol or hyaluronic acid. Of all the moisturizers in the winter, I recommend glycerol the most, for one reason. Most humidifiers, at low relative humidity, bind moisture from the skin and release it to the environment instead of binding moisture to themselves and giving it to the skin. Glycerol is a golden exception that, even at very low relative humidity, binds moisture from the environment and gives it to the skin.

Winter time means actives time

It is only after moisturizing the skin that the following nourishing products are applied, but it is necessary to apply the products as soon as possible to lock the moisture into the skin. Namely, as water evaporates from our skin, so do the moisturizers applied to the surface of our water. If they evaporate, it means that they have virtually no effect.

Even in the winter months, it is necessary to protect the skin with antioxidant active ingredients, as cold and wind can also cause the formation of radicals in the skin. The activity of the radicals is neutralized by the use of vitamins C, E, blueberry/acai berry extracts. Due to the lower UV index, stronger active ingredients such as retinoids or hydroxy acids can be used during the winter months. Apply these ingredients after moisturizing the skin, then continue applying the cream.

Only after moisturizing apply the oils

Most people tend to reach for heavier creams in the winter because they feel like each product is ” not enough ”. This feeling is often attributed only to lack of moisture, so before reaching for heavier cream than usual, first check if you moisturize the skin properly. During the winter months, I am especially careful that my cream contains ingredients that are needed to restore the barrier, as less sebum is excreted on the surface of the skin, which implies a lower barrier protection. Skin lipids can also be damaged due to low temperatures.

The ingredients I want in my cream include ceramides, phospholipids, cholesterol, squalane. If your current cream is ”not enough” for your winter care, you can elegantly handle this by adding oil. Usually, a drop or two of oil in the cream meets our skin’s lipid needs. Especially for winter care, rosehip oil, jojoba oil, borage oil and evening primerose oil are suitable because they have the correct fatty acid ratios and thus provide the skin with support and protection.

Today, most people struggle with the appearance of hyperpigmentation on their face. Hyperpigmentation can occur either in the form of freckles, sun-induced freckles or in more severe forms such as melasma or lentiges. For the most part, hyperpigmentation is not a health risk, but it is an aesthetic problem. Why does our skin even have the color that it has? How does hyperpigmentation occur and what types of hyperpigmentation do we know?

Skin color depends on several factors

Pigmentation or skin colour is one of the most variable and most noticeable changes in humans. What colour our skin will look like depends on genetics, but it also depends a lot on where we live. General skin pigmentation patterns show a strong correlation with the location of stay and the intensity of ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

What determines the colour of our skin?

The skin colour is determined by several molecules, namely melanin, hemoglobin and carotenoids. But let’s just focus on melanin as it will almost be the main star of this post. Now things will get a little complicated, but only for a short time. All this complication will help you understand how certain active skin lightening ingredients work in the next post. Let’s start. Melanin in the epidermis is produced by highly specialized cells called melanocytes. Within melanocytes, melanin is synthesized in specific organelles called melanosomes.

The main enzyme involved in melanin synthesis is called tyrosinase. This enzyme is responsible for converting an amino acid called tyrosine to a molecule called DOPA. DOPA is later converted to DOPAquinone and this is how melanin matures. So now we have melanin, melanocytes and melanosomes, what can be even more complicated?

Did you know that there is not only one type of melanin in our skin?

Melanocytes produce two different types of melanin: brown-black eumelanin and yellow-red pheomelanin. The amount of both depends on the color of our skin. The brown-black eumelanin works photoprotective, preventing the penetration of UV rays into the deeper layers of the skin.

Now let’s take a look at what hyperpigmentation is

Hyperpigmentation occurs when more melanin is produced at one area in the skin than usual. This may make the resulting stains darker than the surrounding areas. Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that can affect people of all ages and skin types. Some forms of hyperpigmentation (sunspots, melasma) are more likely to affect areas of the skin exposed to the sun, including the face, arms and legs.

Hyperpigmentation can occur for one of the following reasons, depending on what type of hyperpigmentation occurs:

  1. More melanin is produced (freckles, melasma, melanosis)
  2. The number of cells that produce melanin is increased (lentigo, melanomas)

The most common hyperpigmentations

There are therefore several types of hyperpigmentation, the most common being melasma, sunspots and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

  • Melasma – although it can affect both men and women, melasma most commonly occurs in women and is said to be triggered by changes in hormone levels. Melasma occurs in 10–15 percent of pregnant women and 10–25 percent of women who take oral contraceptives. Areas of melasma can occur on any part of the body, but most commonly occur on the abdomen and face.
  • Sunspots – are associated with overexposure to the sun and appear as spots in the areas most commonly exposed to the sun (face, hands). They usually look like small, darkened islets on the skin that are light brown to black.
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – occurs as a result of injury or inflammation of the skin (acne, exfoliation)

Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation can be exacerbated by additional sun exposure

Freckles, age spots and other types of hyperpigmentation can become darker when the skin is exposed to the sun. This is because melanin absorbs the energy of ultraviolet rays to protect the skin from overexposure. The usual result of this procedure is the browning of the skin. The skin is already browned in areas that are hyperpigmented, thus exacerbating the appearance of hyperpigmentation. For this reason, it is essential that you apply sunscreen daily. Wearing Sunscreen should be “broad spectrum” (i.e. blocking both UVA and UVB). A single day of excess sun can invalidate months of treatment.

This post may have been more complicated than the rest, but I promise that I have explained things so expertly for one reason only, that in the sequel to this post it will be easier for you to understand how active skin lightening ingredients work. Namely, the skin lightening ingredients block various steps in melanin synthesis.

Sources:

  • Nieuweboer-Krobotova, L. (2012). Hyperpigmentation: types, diagnostics and targeted treatment options. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 27, 2–4.
  • Vashi, N. A., & Kundu, R. V. (2013). Facial hyperpigmentation: causes and treatment. British Journal of Dermatology, 169, 41–56.
  • Bastonini, E., Kovacs, D., & Picardo, M. (2016). Skin Pigmentation and Pigmentary Disorders: Focus on Epidermal/Dermal Cross-Talk. Annals of dermatology28(3), 279–289.
  • A. Walters, M. S. Roberts,. Dermatologic, Cosmeceutic, and Cosmetic Development: Therapeutic and Novel Approaches.
  • Del Bino, S., Duval, C., & Bernerd, F. (2018). Clinical and Biological Characterization of Skin Pigmentation Diversity and Its Consequences on UV Impact. International journal of molecular sciences19(9), 2668.
  • Yamaguchi, Y., Brenner, M., & Hearing, V. J. (2007). The Regulation of Skin Pigmentation. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 282(38), 27557–27561.

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.

The only light spectrum we talk about is UV light spectrum. However, the light spectrum also contains visible light and IR radiation. What are the effects of visible light on the skin and should we be protected from visible light as well?

Firstly, let’s get it clear. What is visible light?

Visible or blue light is an electromagnetic wavelength between 400 and 700 nm. This spectrum is able to be seen by a naked eye, well to most of the population. Some people aren’t able to see the full spectrum and somebody can see beyond the spectrum.

When a beam of visible light reaches to a body, the photons can be reflected or absorbed on the surface of this body. They can penetrate the body or be absorbed or dispersed into components. The last option for photons is to continue their path undisturbed.

Why is the sky more blue on days with no clouds and at sunset yellow or red?

The sky is blue because the blue photons are better scattered by the air molecules and are directed to our eyes. At sunset, we can see the sky red, because blue photons are scattered away so we can’t see them and on the , there are only red or yellow photons, which can be detected by a naked eye. At sunset, the journey of the light through the atmosphere to our eyes is longer than it is at midday.

Why do we see blood red?

Blood is red because it absorbs blue and green wavelength and red is being reflected. The grass is green because it absorbs red and blue wavelengths and the green is being reflected.

Energy dynamics

Why are we explaining all this? Molecules are able to form new chemical structures with other molecules being particular states. They can also transfer an electron to other molecules to create reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are able to destroy our DNA. Studies have shown that visible light doesn’t only affect the ROS but also matrix metalloproteases.

Visible light and skin

Melanin is responsible for skin color and can be found in the epidermis. Melanin partially absorbs visible light, which can cause hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. The dermis contains blood vessels that are capable of absorbing blue and green light. Other photons, which are scattered around can penetrate into adipocytes in subcutis. Fat cells are capable of partial absorption of red photons.

A candlelight dinner is therefore good for people with mature skin. The blood vessels in mature skin are closer to the surface and can absorb more blue and green light and the wrinkles are more visible on daylight. When we are next to candles this doesn’t happen, because candles absorb only red and yellow photons, which aren’t absorbed by blood and vessels are less visible (consequently are also wrinkles less visible).

Per unit of energy, visible light is 20 to 30 times less effect than UV, but there is 10 to 15 times more visible light in the solar spectrum than UV, so visible light cannot be neglected.

Good and bad qualities of visible light

Visible light helps to promote photoageing. It’s able to promote inflammation and consequently, inflammation phenomenon accelerates ageing. All that affects our DNA.

Those were bad news, but there are also good ones.

The use of foundation (powders) and other decorative cosmetics prevents visible light from harming us. Decorative cosmetics in fact protect us from the negative effects of visible light. Moreover, visible light even shows therapeutic effects (treatment of psoriasis, eczema, acne).

Acne

Porphyrins in Cutibacterium acnes (before Propionibacterium acnes) are particularly sensitive to visible light. When the skin is exposed to visible light, endogenous toxins are formed. They kill the microorganisms which are responsible for acne formation. Visible light alleviates inflammation, redness and aesthetic discomfort.

Bilirubin

Another positive effect is seen in premature babies. Their system isn’t capable of removing bilirubin. The accumulation of bilirubin increases the risk of jaundice which can harm brains and liver. Premature babies are irradiated with visible light because it’s able to reduce bilirubin to normal levels.

So how safe is the visible light?

If the blue light is used only for a short time, it doesn’t show negative effects and should be safe (skin testing in vivo). However, we don’t know what it would be like to be exposed to the visible light for a long time.

What seems curious is that while studying visible light, the radiation in the spectrum between 410 and 420 nm showed cytotoxicity to human fibroblasts. But wavelengths between 453 and 480 nm didn’t. This is pretty logical since the first two wavelengths are closer to UV radiation and exhibit similar effects as UV light, while the other two are longer wavelengths and they don’t show these effects. Therefore, it is believed that sunscreens should have UV protection above 400 nm as well.

Where can a blue light be found?

The most common source of blue light is electronic devices such as screens, tablets, smartphones, and LEDs. Studies suggest that blue light is also expected to have negative effects on our eyes.

What substances can protect us from the negative effects?

So far, has shown activity in the visible spectrum only: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, bis-benzotriazolyl tetramethylbutylphenol (MBBT), but their protection is low. They tested 3 % titanium dioxide and 4 % MBBT, which were expected to block 50 % of blue light between 400 and 500 nm.

The microalgae extract Scenedesmus rubescens reduces the negative effects of blue light, also vitamins B3 and B6 have been tested on preventing blue light negative effects (table in “Into the blue”). Vitamin E also provides good protection against visible light.

Tested ingredients (vitamin B3, B6 and algae extract) inhibit the formation of ROS caused by blue light (source: Mendrok-Edinger C., Campiche R., Gadsinski K., Schuetz R. Into The Blue. Cosmetics and Toiletries 2018)

Also, carotenoids, which act as antioxidants, are able to protect the skin from the negative effects of blue light. In addition, their maximum activity is precisely in the visible light spectrum, so they may represent potential biological protection against blue light.

Mosquitoes are one of theworst ”pains in the neck” in the summer. The most disturbing noise is surely their “bzzzz” at night. In this blog, we’ll explain why the mosquito bites, why the bites itch and what we should use to get rid of the annoying and itchy mosquito bites.

Firstly something about mosquitoes!

There are nearly 3,500 different types of mosquitoes. When we say that we have been bitten by a mosquito, in most cases it’s by a female. Females are usually the ones that suck the blood of mammals. Women are drama queens, again :). Males are mostly fed with nectar only. The mosquitoes feed themselves from early dusk until the sunset.

Mosquitoes can be carriers of various diseases, most known to everyone is certainly malaria. The mosquitoes also carry dengue fever and yellow fever. Mosquitoes manage to transmit a disease to more than 700 million inhabitants per year. Only malaria kills 3 million people a year. It is true that tropical and subtropical areas are more exposed and the possibility of disease is greater, but this does not mean that Europeans are immune.

Tiger mosquitoes

They are a new species in Europe that originally came from Southeast Asia. It was first detected in Europe in 2006. It is mostly found near water and is really problematic.

Why are mosquito bites itchy?

We don’t notice the mosquito bite immediately, but only after a few minutes/hours. So, it’s not the mosquito bite that itches, but the immune reaction that follows the bite. Before the mosquito gets to the blood, it releases its saliva into the body. Substances in saliva prevent blood clotting during the sucking (anticoagulants), making their work much easier. Saliva also contains substances that are very immunogenic. Our body responds to these substances by making antibodies.

There are various types of immune responses. The reaction is carried out in a way that nothing happens at the first contact with the matter (first mosquito bite). At the first bite, the body is sensitized and memory cells are formed. But when have we ever gotten away with a single bite? When a mosquito bites us the next time, our body has already prepared memorial cells that then migrate to the point of the sting. At each subsequent sting, the immune response is faster.

Myth: ”Mosquitoes bite me because I have sweet blood”

The mosquitoes are said to more often sting younger people with hot skin and a strong body smell (not necessarily odor). They’ll love you even more due to the increased CO2 concentrations or in case you are wearing dark clothes or glitters.

How do get rid of mosquitoes with synthetic repellents?

DEET

N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide is a commercial ingredient used in repellents and it’s very effective. It is used for repellent activity against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other insects. According to studies, it irritates the skin.

How does it work?

There are 3 hypothesis, but in every case, it masks the scent and, consequently, the insects do not detect a person. DEET can only mask the smell that mosquitoes does not recognize or it changes to confuse the mosquito, and consequently, the mosquito does not recognize us as a host and will not sting.

Some repellents up for sale also contain up to 45 % DEET, which is an enormous amount and that can irritate the skin a lot.

A well-known synthetic repellent is also icardin, which also works against many types of insects. They are said to be less aggressive. Icardin is used in repellents up to 20 %.

Natural ingredients with repellent activity

Since the synthetic ingredients in repellents are unfriendly both for the ecosystem and for us, they have been looking for alternatives for repellent action in nature.

Essential oils of the camphor tree

The essential oil of camphor tree has proven to have a repellent effect. It also acts insecticidal, antifungal, antibacterial and as an antioxidant. Terpenoids and phenylpropanoids, found in leaves and bark, additionally contribute to the bioactivity of the camphor tree.

Curcumin

Is considered to be a cheap, non-toxic and easily accessible substance. You probably are much more familiar with the use of it in the kitchen. It is also a yellow dye that acts repellently and is used in cosmetics. It has positive effects on certain diseases, abnormalities, and syndromes.

Lemon eucalyptus

It produces citriodiol, which is an active ingredient in repellents. It irritates the skin minimally and works for 2-3 hours (maximum 6 hours). In repellents, it appears in concentrations up to 55 %.

Lavender

In a study, they tested 5 %, 10 % and 20 % concentration of essential oil. Essential lavender oil at a concentration of 5 % was sufficient for 40 minutes of protection against insects. While higher concentrations of essential oil were sufficient for 120 minutes of protection.

Peppermint

As a mosquito repellent a 1.5 % peppermint oil can be used, even in topical repellents. Peppermint essential oil also works against other insects. It works antifungal and antibacterial.

Other oils to repel insects within a natural way

Among them are citronella, eucalyptus, cinnamon, cloves, geranium, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, bergamot, red thyme, marjoram, spearmint and creeping (breckland) thyme.

Clove oil, creeping thyme oil and red thyme oil are the most effective repellents if used in the form of 3% essential oil. Polish thyme oil combined with citronella oil is an effective repellent combination that protects against insect bites up to 91 %.

Synergistic action

Oxford University tested basil and lantana extracts as repellents and found that they exhibit synergistic activity. In combination, they are longer effective against peak mosquitoes than individually. At the same time, the use of both together allows us to use lower concentrations of the extracts. They protect us from bites up to 120 or 150 minutes.

Safety warning for using synthetic repellents

In the study they used 20 % concentration of active ingredients, such as DEET and essential oils, in order to detect skin irritation and penetration. Pro-insect protection lasted up to a maximum of 8 hours. Repellents may contain substances that greatly irritate the eyes, so contact with eyes must be avoided. Some repellents can penetrate the skin. One of these is DEET, which can penetrate the skin up to 14 %. While essential oils can penetrate into the skin only up to 3 %. Essential oils also minimize skin irritation compared to DEET, which moderately irritates the skin.

Repellents should only be used on the exterior parts of the body.

  1. Don’t apply it to children under the age of 2 years.
  2. Never apply repellents on hands of children, because they are frequently in the contact with their mouth / eyes.
  3. Do not put in on your clothes.
  4. When we no longer need the repellent, we recommend showering with soap to remove the repellent from the skin as soon as possible, in order to avoid unwanted effects.
  5. If irritation occurs, the area must be rinsed with water and soap.
  6. The instructions must be followed closely.

If you can, avoid the hours when mosquitoes are active in order to prevent contact with them. If you want to go for a walk it is better to use repellents with essential oils, since they don’t irritate the skin so much and they also smell really nice.

You must have heard that hemp in cosmetics has positive effects on the skin. It is an increasingly popular ingredient for the treatment of skin diseases and the care of sensitive skin. Which parts of hemp are at all allowed for use in cosmetic products, what is CBD and what are cannabinoids, what effects does hemp in cosmetic products have on the skin?

Cannabidiol or CBD

First, we explain the basic terms. Cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid that exhibits biological effects and acts against anxiety and nausea, and also has antitumour effects. Cannabidiol has no psychoactive effects. It has many positive effects on the skin, such as the ability to inhibit the formation of sebum and anti-inflammatory activity, as it inhibits immune responses to inflammation.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids were also proven to have anti-inflammatory and sebostatic (ability to inhibit the formation of sebum) properties. Cannabinoids are capable of inhibiting the maturation of keratinocytes, which is highly desirable in skin diseases, where the maturation of keratinocytes is abnormal, as in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

Endocannobinoids have psychotropic effects. THC is the only cannabinoid that is psychoactive, and there are still about 60 (according to some data, even 113) cannabinoids that do not show such effects.

Hemp seeds

In Chinese medicine and nutrition, hemp seeds have been used for more than 3000 years. Seeds are rich in vitamins A, C and E, and β-carotene, proteins (all essential amino acids), carbohydrates, fibers and minerals. The oil is obtained from seeds by cold pressing or by solvent extraction.

The seed also contain terpenoids and cannabidiol, which exhibit anti-inflammatory properties. The oil does not contain THC, unless it is present as an impurity. Concentration of THC in the oil depends on the cultivation itself and on the cleaning process. According to European legislation, the concentration of THC in oil must be less than 0,2%.

Fun Fact # 1: According to some data, Budha only ate cannabis seeds for 6 years. Seeds have an extremely nutritional value, thanks to proteins and unsaturated fatty acids.

Extract from cannabis seed

In the study on men,there was a cream containing 3% extract from hemp seed tested. After application of the cream with this extract, the secretion of sebum was significantly reduced. In men who had erythema, the redness decreased significantly.

What is hemp oil?

Marketing term for cannabis oil is the term “hempseed oil” so that it can be separated from cannabis used as a drug. Hemp oil is not obtained from leaves, but from cannabis seeds. This, of course, leads to the conclusion that hemp oil will not exhibit relaxation effects, as the seeds do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), except as mentioned above, as an impurity. THC is present only in cannabis leaves.

Fun Fact # 2: Cannabis with low THC value is estimated at $ 100-2000 million per year. What in the euro would mean about 90 – 1800 million euros. Crazy number, huh?

Composition of hemp oil

We have repeatedly mentioned the importance of oil composition. Hemp oil consists of all three of the most important fatty acids that act regenerative and / or antimicrobial. These fatty acids are very unstable because they contain double bonds that are highly reactive.

Linoleic acid – 57% (omega-6) is regenerative and anti-inflammatory

α-linolenic acid – 16% (omega-3) acts regeneratively

γ-linolenic acid – 3% (omega-6) acts anti-inflammatory

The ratio between linoleic and linolenic acid is 3: 1, which is the ideal ratio for dietary and cosmetic products. This oil can also serve as a natural source of antioxidants (vitamin E).

Atopic dermatitis and hemp?

Atopic skin has one disadvantage, namely, there is a defective action of δ-6-desaturase. It is responsible for the enzymatic conversion of linoleic acid into γ-linolenic. So, if desaturase does not work properly, we have an elevated level of linoleic acid, and the level of γ-linolenic acid is reduced. It is therefore desirable to use oils for the care of atopic skin, which also contain γ-linolenic acid, and thus add it itself because the skin itself does not produce it.

One of these oils is a hemp oil containing γ-linolenic acid. Due to the fatty acid composition, it helps to improve all skin diseases in which the skin barrier is weakened.

Studies also show the positive effects of cannabis on the skin

In Finland, a study was carried out in patients with atopic dermatitis, in which the test subjects orally used cold pressed hemp oil (30ml). They found that cold pressed hemp oil in an 8-week study, improved dryness of the skin and itching. The use of hemp oil reduced the use of topical medicines among test subjects. Olive oil was used as a control in which no such skin improvements were detected.

The endocannabinoid system in our skin

It is a biological system consisting of endocannabinoids. These are nonspecific lipid-binding carriers that bind to cannabinoid receptors and cannabinoid receptor proteins that are expressed in the central nervous system (including the brain) and peripheral nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is involved in the regulation of various physiological and other processes, including fertility, pregnancy, appetite, feeling of pain, mood and memory.

The effect on the endocannabinoid system would help to improve skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, skin fibrosis, skin cancer, and itching.

What about hemp in cosmetic products?

In cosmetic products, oil from cannabis and hemp seed is allowed. Any extracts, tinctures and oils from flowers or fruits are prohibited. On the basis of the Regulation on cosmetic products no. 1223/2009 leaves and trunks are also prohibited. They belong to Annex II on cosmetic products where substances are prohibited in cosmetic products. On the list “Narcotics, natural and synthetic” we find cannabis resin, extracts and cannabis tinctures, which are also prohibited.

Sources:

Río, C. del, Millán, E., García, V., Appendino, G., DeMesa, J., & Muñoz, E. The endocannabinoid system of the skin. A potential approach for the treatment of skin disorders. Biochemical Pharmacology 2018. 

Singh, D., Fisher, J., Shagalov, D., Varma, A., & Siegel, D. M. Dangerous plants in dermatology: Legal and controlled. Clinics in Dermatology 2018; 36(3): 399–419.

Dhadwal, G., & Kirchhof, M. G. The Risks and Benefits of Cannabis in the Dermatology Clinic. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 2017; 22(2): 194–199.

Pacher P, Bátkai S, Kunos G. The endocannabinoid system as an emerging target of pharmacotherapy. Pharmacol Rev. 2006; 58(3): 389–462.

Montserrat-de la Paz, S., Marín-Aguilar, F., García-Giménez, M. D., & Fernández-Arche, M. A. Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) Seed Oil: Analytical and Phytochemical Characterization of the Unsaponifiable Fraction. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2014; 62(5): 1105–1110.

Alcohols are on a bad voice, just like silicones and parabens. When we see an ingredient with an alcohol ending on the product, we automatically categorize it as bad. But can all products containing any kind of alcohol be declared as bad or are we just being too general?

What are alcohols and what is their function?

Alcohols are compounds having an -OH (hydroxyl) group attached to a carbon atom in the alkyl group. The group may be attached to a primary, secondary or tertiary C atom, so we separate primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols.

Primary alcohols include methanol, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and others. Secondary alcohols include 1-propanol and 2-propanol and others. There are also alcohols with two, three or more -OH groups, which we call diols, triols, etc. Among the most famous poliols are glycerol, ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, erythriol, and others.

Alcohols have several functions in cosmetic products. They are mostly used as solvents or co-solvents, and in high concentrations they posess antimicrobial properties, and therefore products do not need a preservative.

“No alcohol” doesn’t mean no alcohol

For many years cosmetic manufacturers have marketed certain cosmetic products that do not contain ethyl alcohol (also known as ethanol, or grain alcohol) as “alcohol free”. However, “alcohols” are a large and diverse family of chemicals, with different names and a variety of effects on the skin. This can lead to some confusion among consumers when they check the ingredient listings on cosmetic labels to determine alcohol content.

In cosmetic labeling, the term “alcohol,” used by itself, refers to ethyl alcohol. Cosmetic products, including those labeled “alcohol free,” may contain other alcohols, such as cetyl, stearyl, cetearyl, or lanolin alcohol. These are known as fatty alcohols, and their effects on the skin are quite different from those of ethyl alcohol.

Should any alcohol be avoided?

When we think about “bad” alcohols, alcohol denat, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and SD Alcohol (which means “specifically denatured alcohol”) are the first we think of. These alcohols are commonly used as solvents for cosmetically active ingredients that are insoluble in water. The use of these compounds in cosmetics leaves a cool feeling on the skin, as the alcohol evaporates faster than water, while giving the products a “light-weight” texture. They also help with the penetration of cosmetically active compounds into the skin. Everything okay until now, right? But these alcohols are reputable to irritate the skin and dry it.

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol

Ethanol is widely used in all types of products to which our skin is directly exposed. Scientific literature contains contradictory evidence of the safety of such topical alcohol applications.

Ethanol is known to improve the penetration of other substances and can be used in transdermal delivery systems. In his study, Bommannan found that ethanol enters the skin in vivo and removes measurable amounts of lipids from the surface of the skin. Removing the lipid layer can reduce the function of the skin barrier, which makes the skin more permeable. Because the skin is more permeable, a larger transepidermal loss of water and less hydration of the epidermis results in further skin dryness. Longer use can cause dry, leaking skin due to a reduced amount of lipids and moisture and also causes local inflammation.

Alcohol denat

Alcohol denat is an abbreviation for denatured alcohol, which is used in cosmetics and personal care products. Denatured alcohol is a denaturant containing ethanol. The usual denaturants in cosmetic products and personal care products are: denatonium benzoate, t-butyl alcohol, diethyl phthalate and methyl alcohol. The method of denaturing alcohol does not chemically change the ethanol molecule.

Denatured alcohol is generally noted as alcohol Denat or SD (especially denatured) alcohol.

It acts as anti-foaming agent, adstringent, antimicrobial agent and solvent. One of the main reasons for the use of denatured alcohol is its adstringent action. Adstringent is a substance that reduces the permeability of the mucous membrane or skin and capillaries, thereby reducing the inflammatory response and sensitivity to external influences. Adstringent interacts with certain functional groups, in particular sulfhydryl, on the surface of the proteins, and thus causes their precipitation. Adstringents cool the skin and cause temporary toning effect.

Use of denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is commonly used in acne treatment. The product containing denatured alcohol dries faster, which gives it a cooling effect and immediately degreases the skin. However alcohol-based products can actually encourage sebaceous glands to produce more oils, which causes the skin to become even oilier than before. Excessive sebum production combined with irritation that may be caused by denatured alcohol can lead to increased acne production.

In case of long-term use of skin care products containing high concentrations of denatured alcohol, dryness and irritation may occur. Denatured alcohol can also cause erosion of the surface layer of the skin, leading to a weakened skin barrier.

Denatured alcohol is common in post-shave products, where the skin needs an adstringent effect. Often it is also found in sunscreens because it is a good solvent for UV filters in plays a role in their distribution over the skin.

Isopropyl alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol or 2-propanol is a flammable liquid that is obtained from propylene. It is a solvent that acts as a anti-foaming agent, an adstrigent and a viscosity reduction agent.

A spray with an isopropyl alcohol concentration of 80.74% did not show any possibility of dermal sensitization in 9 human participants. In one of the studies, it has been shown that isopropyl alcohol strongly irritates the eyes of rabbits, at a concentration of 70% of the solution in water.

Isopropyl alcohol, which some consumers consider that dries skin, is rarely used in cosmetics.

Let’s not throw everyone in the same basket, not all alcohols are bad!

So, many products on the market are labeled ” free of alcohol ” and then a look at the INCI list reveals compounds that end with the name alcohol. Is this a trap? Should we throw a bad light on such products? No. Not all alcohols are bad. Many cosmetic alcohols, such as cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, behenyl alcohol and lanolinic alcohol, are also used in cosmetics.

These are long-chain aliphatic alcohols (usually between 12 and 18 carbon atoms), which are often used in lotions and creams. They serve as emollients, plasticisers, emulsion stabilizers, foam stabilizers and viscosity control agents.

Cetyl alcohol is used primarily as a softener to prevent drying and cracking of the skin due to its water binding ability.

What do you think about alcohols in cosmetics?

Sources: Lachenmeier DW. Safety evaluation of topical applications of ethanol on the skin and inside the oral cavity. J Occup Med Toxicol., Final Report of the Safety Assessment of Alcohol Denat.,
Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Cetearyl Alcohol , Cetyl Alcohol , lsostearyl Alcohol , Myristyl Alcohol , and Behenyl Alcohol, FDA