Our Licensed Aestheticians work closely with both their patients and our staff in designing an individualized skin care program
Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
In the last 10 years, over-the-counter skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, tartaric and citric acids) have become increasingly popular.. Skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids help reduce fine lines, irregular pigmentation, age spots, and even enlarged pores. Side effects of alpha-hydroxy acids include mild irritation and sun sensitivity. Because of this, we advise using sunscreens every morning. To help avoid skin irritation with alpha-hydroxy acids, we suggest that you start with a product with concentrations of AHA in the 10 to 15 percent range and working up from there. Also, make sure you ease into it. You want to get your skin used to alpha-hydroxy acids, so you should only initially apply the skin care product every other day, gradually working up to daily application. AHAs are safe when used properly. The amount of AHA in the product and the pH are the determining factors of a product’s strength and irritation potential. These are “acids” and too much can cause a burn. Medical strength AHAs start at a concentration of 10%, where truly effective results will begin to be obvious. AHA-containing products purchased at the drug, grocery, or department store contain tiny amounts of these acids-usually in the 3% range-resulting in ineffective products. Products that are mass marketed like this can be generally tolerated by the masses, though their effects on the skin are minimal at best.
Beta-hydroxy Acid (Salicylic Acid)
Salicylic acid also exfoliates skin, and can improve the texture and color of the skin. It has been studied for many years for its effects on skin that has aged prematurely due to exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Salicylic acid penetrates oil-laden hair follicle openings and, as a result, also helps with acne. There are many skin care products available that contain salicylic acid. Some are available over-the-counter and others require a doctor's prescription. Studies have shown that salicylic acid is generally less irritating than skin care products containing alpha-hydroxy acids, while still providing improvement in skin texture and color.
Hydroquinone containing products are popularly referred to as bleaching creams, lightening agents or fading creams. These skin care products are used to reduce brown discoloration in the skin, such as age spots and dark spots related to pregnancy or hormone therapy (melasma or chloasma). Some over-the-counter skin care products contain hydroquinone, but your doctor can also prescribe a solution with a higher concentration of hydroquinone if your skin doesn't respond to over- the-counter treatments. If you are allergic to hydroquinones, you can use products containing kojic acid instead.
Pigment problems and age spots also respond to Kojic acid. This gentle and more recent remedy for hyperpigmentation was discovered in 1989, and has a similar effect as hydroquinone. Kojic acid is derived from a fungus, and studies have shown that it is effective as a lightening agent, inhibiting production of melanin brown pigment in a slower fashion when compared to hydroquinone.
This is a derivative of vitamin A, and you will see that a lot of skin care products contain retinol. Retinol's stronger counterpart is tretinoin, which is the active ingredient in Retin-A and Renova. If your skin is too sensitive to use Retin-A, retinol is an excellent alternative. Here's why skin responds to skin care products with retinol: vitamin A has a molecular structure that's tiny enough to get into the lower layers of skin, where it finds collagen and elastin. Retinol is proven to improve mottled pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, skin texture, skin tone and color, and your skin's hydration levels.You may also hear about retinyl palmitate. This falls into the same family as retinol, but if the skin care product you choose contains retinyl palmitate, you will need to use more of this product than one that contains retinol to get the same effect.
This is the only form of vitamin C that you should look for in your skin care products. There are many skin care products on the market today that boast vitamin C derivatives as an ingredient (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl palmitate, for example), but L-ascorbic acid is the only useful form of vitamin C in skin care products. Vitamin C is the only antioxidant that is proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen as well, which is essential since your body's natural collagen production decreases as you age. Sun exposure will also accelerate the decrease in collagen. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps to minimize fine lines, scars, and wrinkles.
Skin care products containing this substance are often used in conjunction with vitamin C products to assist in effective penetration. Hyaluronic acid (also known as a glycosaminoglycan) is often touted for its ability to "reverse" or stop aging. In news reports, you might have heard of hyaluronic acid as the "key to the fountain of youth." This is because the substance occurs naturally (and quite abundantly) in humans and animals, and is found in young skin, other tissues. and joint fluid. Hyaluronic acid is a component of the body's connective tissues, and is known to cushion and lubricate. As you age, however, the forces of nature destroy hyaluronic acid. Diet and smoking can also affect your body's level of hyaluronic acid over time. Skin care products with hyaluronic acid are most frequently used to treat wrinkled skin.
Copper peptide is often referred to as the most effective skin regeneration product, even though it's only been on the market since 1997. Here's why: Studies have shown that copper peptide promotes collagen and elastin production, and also acts as an antioxidant. It also promotes production of glycosaminoglycans (think hyaluronic acid, as an example). Studies have also shown that copper-dependent enzymes increase the benefits of the body's natural tissue building processes. The substance helps to firm, smooth, and soften skin, doing it in less time than most other anti-aging skin care products. Clinical studies have found that copper peptides also remove damaged collagen and elastin from the skin and scar tissue because they activate the skin's system responsible for those functions.
You may have heard of alpha-lipoic acid as "the miracle in a jar" for its anti-aging effects. It's a newer, ultra-potent antioxidant that helps fight future skin damage and helps repair past damage. Alpha-lipoic acid has been referred to as a "universal antioxidant" because it's soluble in both water and oil, which permits its entrance to all parts of the cell. Due to this quality, it is believed that alpha-lipoic acid can provide the greatest protection against damaging free radicals when compared with other antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid diminishes fine lines, gives skin a healthy glow and boosts levels of other antioxidants, such as vitamin C.
If you've heard of fish referred to as brain food, you can thank DMAE. This substance is naturally produced in the brain, but DMAE is also present in anchovies, salmon and sardines, boasting the production of acetylcholine, which is important for proper mental functions. DMAE in skin care products shows remarkable effects when applied topically to skin, resulting in the reduction of fine lines and wrinkles.
UV or UVR stands for Ultraviolet Radiation. UV cannot be seen or felt directly. It does not produce heat but instead its effects are felt over time by the damaging effects it has on skin cells. UV can penetrate many types of clothing, home and automobile windows. There are three types of UV: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVC is the most dangerous, but it is mostly stopped by the ozone layer. UVA rays are longer than UVB rays and penetrate more deeply into the skin. UVA causes premature aging, leathering of the skin, skin cancers, brown age spots and mottled pigmentation of the skin. UVB rays are more potent than UVA rays and cause sunburn. UVB is considered the type of UV most linked to the development of skin cancers.
SPF is a term usually associated with sunscreens and stands for Sun Protection Factor. SPF only rates the ability of a sunscreen to filter out UVB rays. SPF measures both the length and time of protection against sunburn from UVB compared to unprotected skin. An SPF 30 means that you may stay out under UVB light 30 times longer than you would without sunscreen. Thus, if you normally start to burn 10 minutes after exposure, you may stay out 30 times longer, or 300 minutes (5 hours). (This is an oversimplification as the SPF rating has nothing to do with the UVA rays. Sun exposure will expose you to both UVA and UVB, thus UVA damage may still occurs despite a high SPF number associated with good UVB protection). Thus, the highest SPF does not automatically insure the best UV protection, as there is no UVA rating score in practical use today.
An SPF of 30 is usually adequate protection for most individuals. However, SPF only measures UVB protection. Sunscreens providing UVA coverage contain titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, octocrylene, avobenzone, oxybenzophenone or Parsol 1789. It is important to always wear sunscreens as the damaging effects of the sun are cumulative and can cause problems such as skin cancers and wrinkling many years down the road. Reapplication of sunscreens every two hours is important as sunscreens both seep down and are lost between skin cells and are also chemically degraded with use. There is no such thing as waterproof sunscreens. All sunscreens will wear off faster in the water and will need to be reapplied.
Application of AHAs
Many people believe redness and flakiness is needed for these products to work properly. In fact, over irritation can be harmful to your skin. With the advent of buffered glycolic acid products, results can be achieved without side effects. Buffering takes the acid and increases the pH without changing the percent concentration. This can result in a strong buffered glycolic acid being less irritating than the grocery store 3%. Exfoliation takes place in a less visible manner. Further, our center often combines buffered glycolic acids with Retin-A products to help boost a rejuvenation regimen without side effects. The combination reduces the redness and flaking often seen with aggressive use of the Retin-A-type products. There has been a trend for some companies or physicians to offer extremely high concentrations of glycolic acid, such as 40 percent and up. Often this is promoted on the internet with the purchase of home peel kits. Our center often receives phone calls from frantic patients who have overused such products with resulting side effects. Many such products can have significant side effects such as burning, temporary or permanent skin discoloration and even scarring. For more moisture, one can try a heavier cream-based AHA that binds water to the skin while still promoting the rejuvenating effects of the AHAs. If you feel that your skin is looking dull, lifeless or uneven, using an AHA product may benefit you. As the skin ages, it can lose its lustrous, youthful glow and AHAs may restore a fresh, healthy appearance. Rosacea patients need to be more selective in finding a non-irritating AHA product, however many rosacea patients actually have oily, tougher skin that can tolerate the use of these products. AHA products are also great for softening rough elbows, knees, hands and feet. Lastly, AHAs can boost the effectiveness of both fading creams as well as acne medications.
There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Any little bit of sun exposure is damaging to the skin, and the effects continue to build until problems develop years from now. Problems include premature aging, discoloration of the skin, wrinkles and of most concern, the development of skin cancers.
80% of one’s lifetime sun exposure usually occurs prior to the age of 18.