DRY WINTER SKIN
The dry winter days are here. There are beautiful snowflakes. And with them come lots of skin flakes as well. Your skin is dry, scaly and may even show signs of cracking.
Moisturizers come as creams, lotions and ointments. Petroleum based ointments tend to be more occlusive, limiting the evaporation of water from the skin. During the cold winter months, oil based moisturizers may be more effective. For very dry skin and for problem areas such as the elbows and knees, moisturizers containing urea and/or lactic acid may be beneficial as these ingredients draw moisturize into the skin. One caution when using these types of moisturizers: they may cause the skin to sting or burn when applied to irritated, cracked, or inflamed skin.
Try these steps to alleviate dry winter skin:
- Moisturize more frequently (3 - 5 applications/day) to help keep the skin hydrated. Always apply moisturizer after a shower or bath.
- Take brief, 5 to 10 minute, showers with lukewarm water. Long showers and hot showers may strip the skin of its natural lipids and proteins that help maintain adequate hydration.
- Use a mild soap free cleanser to minimize the loss of the skin's own moisturizing proteins and lipids.
- Apply petroleum or wax based lip balm to help keep the lips smooth and prevent chapping.
- Apply moisturizers to your hands regularly.
- Cover up when exposed to dry cold winter air. Wear hats, gloves and scarves to help prevent dry skin and chapped lips.
- To increase moisturize levels in the home, consider using a humidifier. Humidity levels between 30% - 50% may prevent the skin from drying out.
- If dry skin is severe or if it persists, see a dermatologist to rule out any underlying medical cause of dry skin like eczema, psoriasis or other inflammatory process. Prescription products may be necessary.
You can select effective soap-free cleansers, moisturizers, hand creams and lip balms with the Product Selector tool.
EXPENSIVE SKINCARE, DON'T BOTHER
After 30 years of practicing dermatology, reading the medical literature and testing skincare product formulations it is clear to me that:
- There is no correlation between the cost of an over-the-counter (OTC) skincare cosmetic, including "anti-aging", "anti-wrinkle", firming, toning, and night creams, to name a few, and its efficacy. The ability of an OTC product to temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines depends on its ability to increase the water content of skin, to moisturize. And,
- There is no OTC skincare product that can reverse the aging process. As a matter of fact, science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can do that. Simply stated, there is no "Fountain of Youth" in a bottle, jar, tube or pump.
Too many of my patients spend an astronomical amount of money on OTC skincare products with the hopes of looking many years younger. $50, $80, $100 per ounce. Up to $4800 per pound. Absurd! Save your money. Aging is inevitable. Embrace it. Don't let marketing and media hype convince you that you are somehow physically inadequate. You're NOT.
Optimize your skin health and appearance by living a healthy lifestyle. Magic potions do not exist. Apply a well-formulated moisturizer that you can purchase at your local pharmacy. Apply sunscreen daily. And remind yourself often, you're already awesome!
HOW DO MOISTURIZERS WORK?
Koala bears aren't really bears. Jellyfish aren't really fish. And moisturizers don't really add water to the skin. And it's a good thing the skin doesn't absorb water or we'd swell up like a sponge when we swam in the ocean. And we don't.
Built like a brick wall, the outermost layer of skin is an incredible barrier. It protects us from outside elements including bacteria, fungus, mold, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This barrier makes us virtually waterproof. One of the most important functions of skin is to prevent the body from losing water. Water is constantly evaporating from the skin into the environment. On cold winter days our skin feels drier as we lose more water into the air, on humid days we lose less.
Effective moisturizers do not add water to the sin. They create an environment where water loss from the skin is minimized. By decreasing the amount of water loss, skin water content can rise. Well formulated "moisturizers" contain occlusives, ingredients that prevent water evaporation by forming a film on the skin surface. Petroleum jelly is the gold standard occlusive decreasing water loss from the skin by 98%. Although it is extremely effective as an occlusive, it can feel greasy on the skin, not always cosmetically elegant for the user. Silicone derivatives like dimethicone are often used in lieu of petroleum jelly or in addition to it to improve the elegance of the product. These synthetic silicone derivatives, however, are not as effective in preventing water loss from the skin. Effective moisturizers contain other ingredients called humectants that help the skin hold onto water. Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are common humectants.
So the next time you use your favorite moisturizer, do know that the product will not add water to your skin. If it is an effective product, however, it will prevent water loss from your skin and create an environment where your skin can hold onto it's own water. Moisturizers don't really moisturize. The skin does that on its own.
By the way, fireflies aren't really flies. And strawberries aren't really berries.
DO I NEED TO SKIN DETOX ?
The word detox, used to describe a multitude of creams, lotions, serums, and masks, is often advertised boldly on product labels. There are expensive boutique "detox" potions and less costly drugstore products readily available today. These products purport to remove dreadful toxins that accumulate in your skin. What toxins?
As a graduate of an Ivy League medical school who had the honor of being taught by some of the greatest medical minds on the planet, I'm wondering why I can't name a single toxin known to accumulate in the skin. And exactly what is the end result of a "skin detox' and how do you confirm that these poisonous toxins are eradicated?
The word detox (short for detoxification) means to remove unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or addictive substances like opiates and barbiturates, from the body. It's a common expression used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers all over the world. However, during my four years at medical school, one-year internship and three years of dermatology residency, including a year as Chief Resident, I never once heard the word "detox" used in connection with the skin. So, let's be clear, from a medical perspective, skin "detox" isn't a thing.
The human body is amazing. Your skin is a barrier, and a very good one. It is very difficult for toxins to pass through healthy skin. There are no studies that show perspiration, or sweat, removes toxins from the body. The liver and kidneys have the primary responsibility for detoxifying the body. The bowel and urinary systems remove the waste. If toxins were to build up in your body, you'd likely feel quite ill.
The word "detox" on skincare products is used as marketing jargon, hijacked with the sole purpose of increasing sales. If the word "detox" is being used as a replacement for the word "cleanse" I recommend you simply use a cleanser, such as a bar of soap. Cleansing the skin also removes the most superficial layers of skin cells. If, on occasion, you'd like to use a scrub or exfoliant because you like the way it feels, do so. Just know that none of these treatments can be considered a "detox."
If you want healthy skin, live a healthy lifestyle.
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get adequate sleep.
- Keep the skin hydrated by moisturizing when necessary.
- Protect yourself from the sun and wear sunscreen 365 days/year.
And one last recommendation...laugh lots. Especially when you see the word "detox" on a skincare product label.
DOES THE FDA REGULATE COSMETICS?
I hear time and time again..."The FDA doesn't regulate cosmetics."
"Beware! Beauty products are unsafe and unregulated."
False and false.
In the U.S.., to ensure the safety of cosmetic products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the cosmetics industry. Using science-based information, the FDA has broad regulatory authority under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) passed by Congress in 1938 and amended many times since.
Here is where the confusion occurs. Unlike drugs, the FDA does NOT approve cosmetics (see Cosmetic vs. Drug). It is the legal obligation and responsibility of the manufacturer to assure that their cosmetic product is safe when used under customary conditions and that the product is appropriately labeled. The law states that it is illegal to sell adulterated or misbranded cosmetics.
What is an adulterated cosmetic?
An adulterated cosmetic is one that...
- contains any poisonous or harmful ingredient, which may be harmful when the product is used as described on the label.
- contains any filthy, putrid, or decomposed substance.
- is packaged, prepared or manufactured in unsanitary conditions where it may be contaminated with microbial organisms or any substance that renders the product harmful to the consumer.
- is packaged in a container that is composed of poisonous or harmful substances that renders the product harmful to the user.
- is not a hair dye but contains an unsafe color additive as determined by the FD&C Act.
What is a misbranded product?
The FD&C Act defines a misbranded product as ont that...
- contains misleading or false information on the label.
- does not contain the name and place of the business of the manufacturer, packer or distributor on the label, the quantity of contents in terms of weight or measure.
- does not contain any prominently displayed required information in an easy to read and understood fashion by an ordinary individual under customary condition of use.
- is packaged in a misleading container.
- is a color additive and does not fulfill the packaging and labeling requirements of such color additives.
- has packaging and labeling in violation of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970.
The FDA has the right to enforce any of these regulations. FDA inspectors can inspect any cosmetic manufacturing plant or office at any time without notice. The FDA has the authority to:
- Restrict or ban cosmetic ingredient usage for safety reasons.
- Mandate warning labels on cosmetic products.
- Issue warning letters to manufacturers, packagers or distributors.
- Seize illegal products.
- Stop unlawful activities.
- Prosecute violators of these laws.
- Collaborate with companies to implement product recalls.
Although the FDA doe not "approve" cosmetics, the FDA absolutely regulates the industry. Enjoy your cosmetics!
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Welcome to Fully Exposed
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 petroleum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More