Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's in your cabinet? Part One

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Hi ladies! I've been swamped with things to do. Everything has to be done including unpacking (ugh!). I think I dislike unpacking more than packing, but such is life. Some of the things I brought, I wonder why I brought them. You know the clothing items that are not worn as much as they used to be, or that moisturizer you didn't quite like, but thought you'd use once you ran out of the good stuff. Now the choice comes: throw them out, or keep them for the same reason. Well, you want your new place to be as pristine as possible, so you have to throw them out. Now you have attained freedom from mediocrity!

So now let's see what ingredients make the good stuff great and the bad stuff, well, just ok--or worse.


They are derivatives of Vitamin A, which exfoliates skin and stimulates collagen production. This leads to plumper, firmer skin. They also reduce sun spots and the appearance of wrinkles. Renova and Retinol are two examples of retinoids.

When choosing a retinol-based products, choose one that is packaged in an aluminum tube because these ingredients break down in sunlight. They also thin the skin, which also makes the it sensitive to sunlight, so use these at night. Complement them with antioxidants or fruit acids and sunblock for daytime.

Look for formulations that contain soothing ingredients such as Vitamin E and provitamin B5 (panthenol), which reduce drying and irritation. Because Vitamin A can inhibit the skin's healing abilities, avoid waxing, microdermabrasion and laser resurfacing while using it.

All sources of Vitamin A can provide retinol and retinoids are found naturally in some foods of animal origin: cod liver oil, eggs, carrots, oranges and pumpkin seed oil. Look for these in your cabinet.

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

These increase skin cell turnover by dissolving the protein bonds between cells. Dead skin falls off, as a result, revealing new skin cells underneath. This has the effect of making skin look soft and fresh. They also even out skin tone, which makes them ideal for women with skin discolourations (can we say "hyperpigmentation"?). On the other hand, acids only penetrate the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, so they don't prevent the formation of wrinkles (this takes place in the dermis, or the second layer).

Don't overdo it, these acids can be irritating. Use only one AHA once per day and always wear sunscreen, since AHAs thin out the skin and make it more vulnerable to UV exposure.

Papaya, citric acid (from citrus fruits), glycolic acid (from sugar cane), malic acid (from apples, tartaric acid (from grapes and wine) and lactic acid (derived from tomatoes and sour milk) are all natural AHAs.

FYI: When applied to hair, citric acid opens up the outer layer, also known as the cuticle. While the cuticle is open, it allows for a deeper penetration into the hair shaft.

Beta-Hydroxy Acids (BHAs)

These are gentler than AHAs, which means they can be applied twice per day. In addition to exfoliating the top layer of skin, they brighten dull skin and clean out clogged pores by permeating the oil glands and breaking down accumulated skin cells. As a result, they have the ability to target blackheads and pimples. This makes BHAs perfect for women with acne or oily skin.

An example of a BHA is salicylic acid.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion with skin care ingredients. Whenever I hear an Oil of Olay commercial that gives you a laundry list of its active ingredients, I always wonder if they are targeting their products to dermatologists or lay people who have no idea what they are talking about. Maybe they feel that if they throw in some big words it would make their products seem like legitimate cures to ageing.


Great info on exfoliators! I started on Retin A a while back and so far so good. Though they were a pain to get here in NL.

I'm glad I helped in the decision with the hairdryer. I know that the overnight dryer isn't as powerful than the regular size but I like its portability.

take care,

I just love your posts :-)