Fully Exposed


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!


Posted on: March 14, 2019

Hyaluronic acid is also known as hyaluronan. It is a carbohydrate, or more specifically a mucopolysaccharide found in abundance in almost every cell of the body. It is a very large molecule and can be several thousand sugar molecules long. 

Hyaluronic acid is a major component of connective tissue in the body and is also found in between cells. It is found in all bones and cartilage, a part of tendons and ligaments, in lips, and in greatest concentrations, in the skin. Almost half of the body's hyaluronic acid is found in skin. When not bound to other molecules, hyaluronic acid is bound to water. This large molecule has the ability to bind to a great deal of water! It is this property of hyaluronic acid that helps keep the skin healthy. As we age, the skin's ability to produce hyaluronic acid decreases.

Since hyaluronic acid is such a large molecule, it is unable to penetrate the 20 most superficial layers of the outer skin (stratum corneum), even in the presence of vitamin C, and pass into the deeper layers of either the epidermis (the top layer of skin) or into the dermis (the middle layer where wrinkling and fine lines are formed). Despite marketing claims by certain manufacturers that the formulation contains "low molecular weight" hyaluronic acid, reliable, reproducible science proving deep penetration of hyaluronic acid doesn't exist to support those claims.  However, the ability of this large molecule to bind water helps hydrate the outer layers of skin, thereby improving the skin's appearance. 

In skincare products, hyaluronic acid is used as a humectant, a substance that helps the skin hold onto water. In addition, it is used to help thicken the aqueous (water) portion of cosmetics and personal care products.

As for the claims that hyaluronic acid is the "key to the fountain of youth"....well, I'm sorry to say, marketing hype. Science has yet to find a single ingredient, molecule or product that can reverse or slow the aging process. 


Posted on: February 07, 2019

All cleansers, whether they are facial cleansers or body cleansers, are formulated with surface active agents (surfactants) that lower the surface tension on the skin.  These ingredients facilitate the removal of dirt, oils, skin cells and makeup, and allow the water to rinse away unwanted bacteria from the skin surface while causing minimal or no damage to the superficial layer of skin that is responsible for keeping the skin hydrated. 

True "soap" is a fatty acid alkali salt made by combining a fat with a very strong base (lye). True soap has a very high pH (9-10), has very strong detergent properties and can therefore, clean the skin very effectively. Unfortunately, it also removes the lipids and proteins needed to maintain healthy skin. As a result, true soap can be very drying and irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin or patients who suffer from certain skin conditions, like eczema or psoriasis. e.g. Ivory Soap 

Synthetic detergents, or syndet bars, are formulated with milder synthetic surfactants that remove unwanted dirt and skin debris without causing the dryness and irritation of true soap. Unfortunately, however, they do not clean as well. This type of cleanser contains less than 10% true soap and has a more skin favorable pH (5-7). e.g. Dove and Oil of Olay Beauty Bars

Combar cleansers combine true soap with syndets to create a more effective cleanser but ones that are less damaging to the skin than true soap. Many of these bars add fragrance. e.g. Dial and Irish Spring bars

Liquid free cleansers are formulated without fats. These types of cleansers are ideal for individuals with dry skin. Their ability to lift skin oils and dirt is less than the bar cleansers described above so are best used in areas that do not need excessive cleansing. e.g. Cetaphil liquid cleanser

Cleansing creams, like Pond's Cold Cream, is formulated with water, occlusives, like petrolatum and beeswax, or mineral oil. Cleansing creams have been used to remove makeup and dirt at the same time. 

Oil cleansers have become the latest craze. The thought that oil dissolves oil is the anecdotal premise behind this cleansing modality. In addition, oils lack the irritating surfactants found in cleansers. Many different types of oils have been used (Argan oil, Jojoba oil), each containing varying concentrations of fatty acids. Some individuals experience facial breakouts with the use of some of these oils. Acne sufferers beware!

"Micellar water" is a very clever marketing term for a water based non-soap cleanser. When oily dirt is mixed with a surfactant containing cleanser, the surfactant molecules arrange themselves into tiny clusters called micelles. All surfactants have a water-loving end and an oil-loving end. When oil and water mix, the water-loving ends of the surfactants face outwards towards the water and the oil-loving ends of the surfactants face inward towards the dirt or oil. The micelle is now water-soluble and can wash the dirt away. Micellar water is a soap free surfactant containing water-based cleanser!

So which cleanser is best? That clearly depends on the formulation of the cleanser and the goal of the consumer. The most important information on a skincare product, including cleansers, is the ingredient listing!

For your convenience select a quality cleanser using the Product Selector



Posted on: January 17, 2019

Lanolin is an ointment like material isolated from sheep wool. Actually, it is produced by the sebaceous gland of the sheep. Lanolin can be seperated into a liquid oil or a solid wax form. If heated, a mixture of organic lanolin acids and lanolin alcohols can be produced.

These lanolin derivatives are frequently found in skincare products as they impart a smooth soft feel to the skin and act as conditioning agents in hair products. They are lubricants. In addition, lanolin helps the water and oil phases of skincare products to blend. So they also act as emulsifiers.

Although testing shows lanolin and its derivatives to be safe, and sensitization to be low, allergic reactions to lanolin derivatives are still possible. Also, there is some evidence that lanolin derivatives, such as acetylated lanolin alcohols, may clog pores and may exacerbate acne-like conditions in people who are prediposed.


Posted on: December 21, 2018

The hottest trend in skincare today, stem cells! (By the way, there aren't really any live stem cells in skincare products because in the presence of preservatives and without appropriate growth medium live cells cannot survive in these emulsions.) Skincare company Research & Development departments are excited to jump on board as "Stem Cell Technology" has become a part of the beauty industry's pop-culture. Claims that stem cell creams can rejuvenate the skin are not hard to find and the marketing benefit of labeling a facial cream with the words "Stem Cell Cream" is astronomical.

Unlike most cells found in plants and animals, stem cells are unique in that they have no specialized purpose, like a muscle cell or nerve cell. In addition, stem cells have the ability to renew themselves for long periods of time. These two characteristics make stem cells great "factories" for producing plant compounds that have been shown to have potentially beneficial biological effects. (In the United States, cosmetic manufacturers only use stem cells derived from plants to produce desired ingredients. Human stem cells are not used.)

When applied to the skin surface, newly discovered naturally occuring plant compounds have recently been shown to provide low levels of sun protection of the most superficial layers of skin. Even though the protection is minimal and it is still necessary to apply daily sunscreen, applying topical plant extracts may be beneficial. This potential benefit combined with a large sector of the population that truly believes, despite any real scientific evidence, that plant derived, "natural" ingredients are better than synthetic ones, makes stem cell technology desirable.

The real benefit of stem cell technology, however, is the ability to produce pure and more consistent plant derived ingredients. By using plant stem cell cultures as the "factory" by which desired ingredients are produced, scientists can manufacture high quality, more concentrated plant extracts independent of environmental factors like weather, soil conditions or seasonal variation. These extracts are cleaner as they are made in more sterile conditions with less risk of contamination from organisms or pesticide exposure. Batches of plant stem cell extracts can be standardized with the hopes of manufacturing a more consistent product. Unfortunately, plant stem cell extract production is an expensive proposition.

And despite the uncommon allergic reaction or sun sensitivity caused by applying products containing plant extracts, for most, there is no evidence of harm. Mostly based on folklore, plant derived ingredients have been used for both cosmetic and medical treatments for millennia, and will likely continue to be popular.

Although stem cell technology may have its benefits, when it comes to efficacy of plant stem cell extracts, science is lacking and marketing is plentiful!


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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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