Fully Exposed

"Free-from" Skincare Products

Posted on: July 29, 2019

We've all seen ads proclaiming that a skincare product is "free-from" some particular ingredient: a brilliant scare tactic that implies that the product is now safer because it is "free-from" that particular ingredient. Let's take the commonly used, most studied class of preservatives called parabens, for example. 

To prevent contamination, all water-based products (which include the vast majority of facial and body moisturizers) require a preservative. Without one, mold and bacteria spoils the product in less than two weeks. 

Stories in the media accuse parabens of having negative health effects, of being harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals. Yes, parabens may have estrogenic activity. But their estrogenic activity is magnitudes weaker that the natural phytoestrogens found in soy products, flaxseed, and tomatoes - foods we consume every day. Fact is, parabens have not been proven to be toxic in human beings when used in approved doses of less than 1%. 

A poorly designed 2014 British study found parabens in breast tumor tissue samples. The author herself clarified that the study never concluded that the parabens caused the tumors. Media and consumer advocacy groups created a firestorm, perpetuating this erroneous conclusion. Fake news! A completely unnecessary consumer demand for paraben-free products was born. 

But the one important question remains, one that consumers are unlikely to even think to ask. What alternative preservative is being used in those skincare products that are "free-from" parabens? Has the paraben preservative been replaced with DMDM Hydantoin, a formaldehyde-releasing preservative (not terrible unless you have an allergy to it or are eczema-prone)? Or is phenoxyethanol or iodopropynl butylcarbamate being used? The safety of these chemicals is not as well documented at that of parabens as they are all less studied alternatives. 

A skincare product with "free-from" on the label may tell you what's NOT in the product, but it says nothing about the safety of the product. Don't be fooled!



Posted on: June 24, 2019

Poison Ivy, also known as rhus dermatitis, is caused from an allergic reaction to the oil resin, urushiol, found in the leaves, stems and roots of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. It is very common in the summer months. 

The classical rash is a red blistering eruption seen in straight lines due to the way the plant brushes against the skin. If contact to the resin is a result of touching a piece of clothing, or from touching a pet that has been romping through the woods, the rash may appear more spread out. Inhaling smoke from a burning poison ivy, sumac, or oak plant may even cause a dangerous irritation to the nasal passges and lungs.

Once the oil resin is on the skin, it can spread to other parts of the body by scratching. Rhus dermatitis is often a very itchy rash and if untreated may last for several weeks. The rash itself is NOT contagious.

If contact to any of these plants occurs, immediately rinse yourself off with lukewarm water. Use a cleanser to wash away any remnant oil resin from your skin. Oil from poison ivy can stick to many different surfaces. Wash the clothing that may have contacted the plant. Rinse off patio furniture, garden tools, golf clubs, and even the fur on a pet. 

A mild case of poison ivy may be treated at home with calamine lotion, over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream and oral antihistamines to control the itch. Do not open a blister as this may lead to infection. Cool compresses may help relieve the itch. If the rash is severe or widespread, affects the face or genitals, if blisters are oozing pus, or if a fever develops, seek medical attention immediately.


Posted on: June 02, 2019

Silk pillowcases are lovely. They feel soft and smooth on the skin. Advice from "skincare experts" regarding the benefits of silk pillowcases on social media, on-line blogs, and in health and beauty magazines is ubiquitous. Claims include they prevent acne and wrinkles. The use of a silk pillowcase supposedly prevents split ends on hair. They are reported to help the skin retain moisture and minimize chemical exposure (from what particular chemicals I do not know.) Most of these "experts" are well-intentioned but are simply misinformed. Others financially benefit from their claims by selling silk pillowcases although they may still believe such claims to be true. Let's be clear: There are no scientific studies that correlate the use of a silk pillowcase with improved skin or hair health. There is no evidence that sleeping on a silk pillowcase minimizes acne breakouts, minimizes the formation of facial wrinkles, prevents split ends or chemical exposure. So don't expect healthier skin or hair from making such a purchase.

However, silk pillowcases are beautiful. They are a true luxury!


Posted on: May 13, 2019

Other than sun avoidance, sunscreen application is the single most effective anti-aging preventative. Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause discoloration and wrinkling of the skin. Compare the skin on the face or chest with skin on unexposed areas of the body, like the breast or buttocks. Unexposed and exposed skin are the same age but unexposed skin always appears less wrinkled and more evenly pigmented, it has better tone and texture. Sunscreen prevents the skin discoloration and wrinkling and, as recent studies suggest, may even improve skin tone and texture. 

Skincare moisturizers that claim to be "anti-aging" or "age defying" fill drugstore shelves. They often contain "marketing tool" ingredients that have never proven to rid of wrinkles or fine lines, certainly not at the concentrations used in the over-the counter (OTC) formulations. The fact remains, science has yet to find a single ingredient or product that can reverse or slow the aging process. In addition, by law, any skincare product sold in the United States that claims to actually change the skin is classified as a drug and must get FDA pre-market approval. It cannot be sold as an OTC cosmetic. (Cosmetic vs. Drug) Terms like "anti-aging" and "age defying" seen on skincare product labels are brilliant marketing phrases. The true benefit of including these terms on facial moisturizer labels, increased sales!

(Sunscreen Selector)


Posted on: April 08, 2019

With so many over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products available, selecting a quality moisturizer, cleanser or sunscreen can be overwhelming. Our Product Selector simplifies the process for you. 

Consider these three FryFace rules:

1. There is no correlation between the cost of a skincare product and the efficacy of that product.

2. Science has shown that the regular use of moisturizer and sunscreen is beneficial to human health and well-being.

3. Science has yet to discover a single ingredient that can reverse or slow the aging process. Be cautious of "miracle" products. They don't exist!

OTC cosmetics, including "anti-aging" creams, "anti-wrinkle" creams, firming creams, toning creams, night creams and eye creams ARE moisturizers. Their ability to temporarily improve skin appearance is determined by the product's ability to increase the water content of skin. If these products could actually change the skin, by law, they would be considered drugs and require pre-market approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) 

Buy skincare products from nationally and internationally recognized brands. These companies have the resources to purchase quality ingredients and manufacture effective and affordable products that can be found in local drugstores and retail shops. Major manufacturers have the highest of safety standards and a reputation at stake!


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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 petroleum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More

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