Parabens are preservatives, a class of compounds that prevent the inevitable overgrowth of a wide spectrum of bacteria, fungus and yeast from contaminating a skincare product. Parabens are effective, very stable compounds and lack side effects. Parabens are derived from PHBA, para-hydroxybenzoic acid, which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables including carrots, onions, and blueberries. But they have a bad reputation.
In the 1990's, several studies suggested that parabens have very weak estrogenic activity. In 1998, a study concluded that the most potent paraben, butylparaben, had 10,000 to 100,000-fold less estrogenic activity than estradiol, a naturally occurring estrogen. In 2004, a British study found traces of parabens in breast cancer tissue but failed to look at the presence of parabens in the normal tissue. The study failed to show that the parabens caused the tumors or were harmful in any way. Regardless, the fear of parabens propagated rapidly and manufacturers were quick to appease consumers by offering "paraben-free" skincare products. To date, there is still no conclusive scientific data that proves deleterious effects of parabens. Nor is there epidemiological evidence linking parabens to breast cancer. Regulatory organizations in Japan, Europe, and the United States continue to support the use of parabens as a preservative.
BROAD SPECTRUM Explained
What does Broad Spectrum mean on a sunscreen label?
The sun emits two types of harmful rays: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA rays are the dominant tanning rays and are a major cause of skin aging and even skin cancer. UVB rays are predominantly the cause of sunburn and skin cancers, but can also contribute to the development of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles. UVA rays penetrate through glass windows, UVB rays do not.
Broad Spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Purchase sunscreen that says "broad spectrum" on the label!
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.
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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