COSMETIC VS. DRUG
A skincare product is considered a cosmetic or a drug, depending on its intended use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines cosmetics as "articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance." By law, cosmetics cannot claim to alter the structure or function of the skin.
Moisturizing is a cosmetic claim. A moisturizer that claims to decrease the "appearance" of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the water content of skin is considered a cosmetic. Although skincare product manufacturers must follow the laws and regulations that apply to cosmetics, cosmetics do NOT require FDA approval before going to market. Skincare products must not be misbranded or adulterated but they do not need to PROVE efficacy or safety. They are recognized by the FDA as having no medical value.
Examples of cosmetics are as follows: facial and body moisturizers, including "eye" creams, "night" creams, "firming" creams, "toning" creams, "anti-aging" creams, and "anti-wrinkle" creams; lipsticks, fingernail polishes, and eye & facial makeup preparations.
Products that intend to change the structure or function of skin are considered drugs. The FDA defines drugs as "articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" and "articles...intended to affect the structure or function of..." skin. If a product claims to alter the skin's structure or function, for example, by actually "removing" wrinkles or increasing the skin's production of collagen, it is considered a drug. As a drug, the product must get FDA approval before going to market. In addition, the manufacturer must prove the product's safety and efficacy.
Manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) skincare moisturizers, including "eye" creams, "night" creams, "firming" creams, "toning" creams, "anti-aging" creams, "anti-wrinkle" creams, or rejuvenating serums, cannot claim that their product will change the structure of the skin itself. The product may claim to change the "appearance" of fine lines and wrinkles (by increasing the water content of the skin), but, by law, cannot claim to change the actual structure or function of the skin.
MOISTURIZERS: BEST EXFOLIANTS
In healthy skin, there is a normal physiological balance between the production of new cells and the shedding of the old ones. The outmost layer of skin, the stratum corneum, is approximately 20 layers of non-living, yet functional, cells called corneocytes. They are held together by protein bridges called desmosomes. Desquamation is the process by which these protein bridges are enzymatically dissolved allowing the shedding of the most superficial cells. The enzymes responsible for dissolving these bridges can only function in a well hydrated environment. When the water content in the outer layer of skin decreases, these enzymes become ineffective and can not dissolve the desmosomes. The retention of these most superficial cells makes the skin look dry and scaly.
Quality moisturizers help increase the water content of the outer layer of skin increasing the activity of the enzymes that break the protein bridge connections between corneocytes. This allows for appropriate shedding of old superficial skin cells resulting in soft smooth hydrated skin.
THE DREADED CELLULITE
Cellulite is not a medical condition. It describes that lumpy dimpled flesh usually found on the upper thighs and buttocks that often make people feel self-conscious about wearing shorts or a bathing suit. Cellulite is a result of fat pushing against connective tissue causing the surface of the skin to pucker.
Cellulite is more common in women than men and it is not an indication of being overweight, however, losing weight may reduce the appearance of cellulite. Cellulite is less noticeable in darker skin so applying a self-tanner may make the dimples on the thighs less evident. The presence of cellulite tends to run in families. Inactivity and weight gain may make cellulite more noticeable.
There are many products and treatments that promise to rid of those lumps and bumps on the thighs but there is very little scientific evidence that prove any of them are very effective. Creams containing aminophylline and caffeine are often touted as effective treatments, but to date, no double-blinded control studies prove their efficacy.
Liposuction is effective in removing deeper fat but is not effective in removing cellulite and has even been shown to worsen the appearance of cellulite possibly by creating more depressions in the skin. Massage treatments may remove tissue fluid giving a temporary improvement in the appearance of cellulite.
The most promising treatment for cellulite, although still far from perfect, is a system that uses lasers and radiofrequency systems. Combinations of tissue massage with diode laser therapy or tissue massage with infrared light and radiofrequency may offer improvemnets to cellulite after a series of treatments. Results may last 6 months to a year.
SHAVING MAKES HAIR GROW BACK THICKER
Hair does not grow any faster and does not get any thicker if you shave. As hair grows out, however, the blunt tip of the hair may cause the area to feel coarse or "stubbly" for a short period of time. A hair fiber is made of a protein called keratin. The visible portion of the hair that is cut by shaving has no biological activity. Since this "dead" hair shaft cannot send information about being cut to the hair follicle (the site of hair growth), growth continues as usual. Similarly, clipping a fingernail, also made of keratin, does not cause the fingernail to grow any slower or faster because it was trimmed.
Early research done in 1928 by forensic anthropologist Mildred Trotter, published in the journal, Anatomical Record, found that shaving had no effect on hair color, texture or growth rate. More recently, a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology also concluded, "No significant differences in total weight of hair produced in a measured area, or in width or rate of growth of individual hairs, could be ascribed to shaving."
False: Shaving does NOT cause hair to grow back thicker.
WHY FINGERTIPS WRINKLE
Did you ever wonder why the tips of the fingers wrinkle like a prune when exposed to water for a long period of time? People often think that osmosis causes water to enter the outer layer of skin making the fingertips swell. But since the 1930's, scientists have known that fingertips don't swell or wrinkle when there is nerve damage to the fingers, even with prolonged submersion in water.
So if it's not osmosis, what causes this phenomenon? A recent study may give us an answer. Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist at 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, and his colleagues, propose that wrinkling of the fingertips has an evolutionary function. That our nervous system, by causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels below the skin, is responsible for this involuntary reaction that offers an advantage in gripping wet objects.
The study demonstrated that wrinkled fingertips make it easier to grasp objects underwater. Participants in the study had to move dry and wet objects with both dry fingertips, and again, with wrinkled fingertips. The results showed that participants were able to move wet objects 12% faster with wrinkled fingertips than with dry ones. But wrinkled fingertips made no difference when it came to moving dry objects. Basically, when the pads of the fingers are wrinkled, they provide a better grip in wet conditions, like treads on a car tire that increase the surface area of tire on the road.
So why do our fingertips wrinkle when in water? Our brain causes this evolutionary trait to enhance the gripping ability of the fingers underwater! Perhaps this was beneficial to our ancestors who might have had to gather food from wetlands and streams.
And if it happens to you, don't worry, it goes away all on its own. Skin is truly an amazing organ!
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Hello, and welcome to FryFace!
I've been a New York based dermatologist for over 25 years. I love music. I love triathlons. I love chemistry. (I love Petrolatum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More