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The Changing Face of Skincare: Cosmeceuticals
Written by Amy Chalmers   

cosmeceuticalsSkincare is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. With more than a million choices on the shelves of spas, clinics, and drug stores, consumers and practitioners alike are often overwhelmed and confused. Some are searching for natural, organic products, while others are simply looking for results, unencumbered by worries of what their products may contain.

Recently, there have been some exciting developments in the world of skincare – more specifically, the cosmeceuticals industry. The result has been the introduction of cosmeceutical products that are both safe to use and results driven. Research shows that chemicals are working against our skin. Products with ingredients like parabens are suppressing the immune function of the skin, resulting in toxic buildup. The days of inducing trauma and inflammation are coming to an end. The new age of skincare will see a host of products designed to build a partnership with the skin; working with it, not against it.

Why Cosmeceuticals?

Much like our bodies, our skin needs to be fed and nourished in order to maintain optimal health. Dermatological science has revealed the power of vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients when applied to the skin in their proper form. It is, however, the search for natural and nourishing products that has led to some confusion within the world of cosmeceuticals. Consumers looking for natural products tend to scoff when they see the word "synthetic." The reality is that not all things synthetic are bad. In fact, some of the most important skincare ingredients must be in their synthetic form to create positive change in the skin. Many ingredients simply cannot be formulated into skincare in their natural state, but must be chemically altered to create the desired skin change. Commonly referred to as "enhanced natural ingredients," the result is a more stable product with the ability to penetrate the skin, creating longer-lasting results.

Cosmeceuticals are non-prescription, highly active skincare products that have been thoroughly researched and tested and contain ingredients that influence the biological function of the skin and result in a noticeable difference. It is important to understand that many products claim to be a cosmeceutical but do not fit the criteria; the proof is in the science and research. A common misconception is that the price of a product determines its effectiveness. As a consumer, it can be difficult to determine whether a product is beauty grade or a proven cosmeceutical. Even more challenging is determining if the active ingredients contained in a product are able to address your specific skin concerns.

The task of picking the perfect skincare product is both crucial and daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the necessary tools so you are able to find a safe, effective skincare product for your specific skincare needs.

Find a Qualified Practitioner

When looking to start using cosmeceuticals, it is important to investigate your skin practitioner's qualifications and experience. A qualified skin practitioner will always provide a comprehensive consultation that allows them to assess your specific skin concerns and tailor a customized treatment approach. Everyone has different skin concerns and conditions that need to be addressed on an individual basis; there is no "one-size-fits-all" option in skincare. Your skin treatment and product recommendations need to be customized.

Product Penetration

Does your product contain a delivery system? Most skincare lines have an ingredient penetration rate of two percent. You can have a list of amazing ingredients, but if there is no delivery system, they are not going to be effective. About 98 percent of ingredients are wasted without an effective absorption strategy. One of the most effective delivery systems is phosphatidylcholine liposomes, which increase penetration up to 1,000 percent. When a product contains such an effective delivery system, you want to ensure that the ingredient profile is safe. Phosphatidylcholine restores essential lipids to your skin barrier, regulates oil production, clears acne and protects against sun damage while providing moisture to the skin. Just as we feed our bodies, we need to feed our skin because it suffers from starvation when it is not provided with the proper nutrients.

Topical Vitamins

Are your vitamins the proper form and strength? Two commonly used vitamins that are clinically proven effective skincare ingredients are vitamins A and C. These vitamins are essential to skin health, but if they are not in the proper form and strength they can be ineffective, irritating and even harmful to the skin. Although there are many different forms and strengths of vitamin A used in skincare, not all deliver the same result. For example, the most potent and non-irritating form of vitamin A is retinaldehyde. While prescription Retin A can be as effective, it can be irritating to the skin. Vitamin A improves the texture of photo-damaged skin, reduces fine wrinkling and improves mottled hyperpigmentation. Retinaldehyde remodels scar tissue, promotes collagen regeneration, increases skin's firmness and elasticity, and is an excellent ingredient in the treatment and prevention of acne.

Vitamin C is the most unstable of all vitamins. In its stable form vitamin C has two major benefits for the skin: synthesis of collagen, a key structural protein of the skin, and antioxidants that can help reduce skin damage caused by free radicals. Unstable, oxidized vitamin C is not only incapable of boosting collagen synthesis or scavenging free radicals, but may actually promote free radical formation, causing damage to DNA.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants should be among your product profile because we are constantly undergoing free radical damage. Think of your antioxidants as an orchestra; you want a variety of them to work together synergistically. Some of the most potent antioxidants are super oxide dismutase, glutathione, CoQ10 and, of course, vitamin C. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is one of the strongest antioxidants as a first responder that protects us from the dangerous superoxide radical. Superoxide is the most common free radical in the body. SOD is found in both the dermis and the epidermis, and is key to the production of healthy fibroblasts (skin-building cells). Another very important antioxidant and a first responder in wound healing, glutathione provides powerful free radical protection, especially when wrapped in a delivery system like phosphatidylcholine.

As we move into our 30s, our CoQ10 falls below the necessary levels, resulting in a decreased ability to produce collagen, elastin and other important skin molecules. When our levels of CoQ10 are depleted, we are more prone to free radical damage. CoQ10 increases your skin repairing capabilities.

A skincare program should be developed according to your skin type, age, and specific skin concerns. If you are seeing the visible signs of aging, acne, rosacea or melasma or are just looking to prevent premature aging, a customized program can be created for you.

Amy Chalmers -

Amy Chalmers is an internationally qualified cosmetic dermal therapist and the founder of Natural Skin Solutions in downtown Vancouver. She specializes in offering powerful and effective alternatives to ablative cosmetic procedures. Amy spent several years as an international trainer for industry professionals and an advisor on cosmeceuticals, comprehensive consultations and advanced skin care techniques. She provides complimentary skin health assessments and develops comprehensive skin health programs. To learn more, visit her website at www.naturalskinsolutions.ca. For bookings contact 604-630-3808.

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