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Truth About Cosmetics - Take Better Care Of Your Skin

Write By: Valentin Rosca on

 

TERMS RELATED TO COSMETICS

Cosmetics deals with those aspects of the skin related to beauty. This profession concentrates  on skin care, protecting the skin, and improving its appearance. The word “cosmetic” is derived  from the Greek kosmesis (adorning), from kosmeo (to order or arrange). A cosmetician is a person engaged in the field of cosmetics, whose work is directed towads the care, and protection of skin. Dermatology refers to the medical specialty of diagnosing and treating diseases of the skin, hair, and nails. A dermatologist is a physician who has specialised in skin. The term cosmetology is relatively vague and cannot always be found in dictionaries. It refers to the scientific and investigative basis of cosmetics, with its biological, chemical, and  medical ramifications.The term cosmetologist is derived from the term “cosmetology.” In its broad meaning, it refers to someone who specializes in the investigative aspects of cosmetics: he/she can be a  chemist, a biologist, or a physician. However, this definition varies from one country to another. In some countries, such as the United States, it is a formal title subjected to the regulations of  each individual state. To become a cosmetologist, one has to graduate from a school of cosmetics. In other countries, however, there is no recognized medical/professional specialty of cosmetology so, in practice, the title of “cosmetologist” may be used by anyone who decides to  call himself/herself as such.

 

DEFINITION OF A COSMETIC PRODUCT

The U.K. Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FDC) Act defines cosmetics as articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into, or  used for increasing attractiveness, or altering the look. There is a significant difference between cosmetic products and drugs (including drugs intended for application to the skin), which the you should be familiar with. Drugs are defined in the FDC Act as including: articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease  the  body of a man or woman. It follows from the above that a cosmetic product (not being a drug) is not meant to affect  the structure or function of the skin. However, nowadays this strict definition is becoming more  and more blurred.

 

THE GRAY AREA BETWEEN A DRUG AND A COSMETIC PRODUCT

red-lipstickSometimes the difference between a cosmetic product and a drug lies in the concentration  of the active ingredient in the product. For example, in low concentrations, hydroxyl acids function essentially as moisturizing agents; it is only in higher concentrations that they have any strong effect on the skin.  Not only the border between cosmetic products and drugs is hazy but there is also a grey area between cosmetic treatments and dermatology. A cosmetician’s treatment can alter the  structure and function of the skin—for example, in the treatment of acne, or in the application  of permanent makeup, etc. Therefore, some modern cosmetic products lie in an increasingly  grey area and can almost be defined as medications. This fact confers a serious responsibility on those involved in cosmetic treatment, requiring them to have a fairly deep knowledge  of the subject, and to exercise careful judgement when using the cosmetic products at their  disposal.

 

TYPES OF CREAM

There are many types of cream in cosmetics, each used for its specific purpose, and advertised  under different names. Here, let’s review the main groups of creams: vanishing creams, night creams, cleansing creams, moisturizing creams, foundation creams, cold creams, and eye creams



Vanishing Creams

These are creams with a relatively high water content. Because of their “watery” nature, they are easy to wash off. The water in the cream has a cooling effect. Since they do have some oil  content, vanishing creams nevertheless have some moisturizing effect on the skin. However,  they do not have a significant occlusive effect (compared to, for example, ointments, which have a much higher oil content). Since vanishing creams are easier to apply, and to wash and wipe off the skin, they are usually used as daytime creams. Usually other substances, such as sunscreens or various medications (e.g., antibiotics) or some other active ingredient (such as retinoic acid),  are added to these creams. The advantage of using a vanishing cream is that once it has been applied to the skin, it is almost transparent, and the thin film of cream on the skin surface is hardly noticeable.  Various medical and cosmetic preparations are promoted as vanishing creams to emphasize the fact that they are transparent, and invisible once they have been applied.


Night Creams

Night creams, because of their higher oil content, are greasier and more occlusive than vanishing  creams but less oily and less occlusive than ointments. They are, therefore, used as moisturizers  and are intended for use on dry skin. They have no cooling effect.

Night creams are also known as “nourishing” creams, since they are supposed to contain various substances that penetrate the skin. To enable these substances to penetrate better, the  cream should remain on the skin for several hours. Hence, “nourishing” creams are applied at night, before going to bed. Because they are greasy, they tend to stay on the skin longer. The  “nutritional” components of these creams comprise active ingredients that are supposed to have  a beneficial effect on the skin once they have penetrated into the deeper skin layers.

Cleansing Creams

Cleansing creams are basically mixtures composed of oil, water, and certain substances intended  to cleanse the face.

Moisturizing Creams

These creams, designed to increase the skin moisture content, are based on occlusive, which  produce an impermeable barrier on the skin surface, and on humectants, which absorb water.

Foundation Creams

Foundation creams are basically moisturizing creams. They usually contain colouring agents as  well. Many of them also contain a sunscreen. As well as keeping the skin moist and protecting  it from the sun, foundation creams provide a smooth, even colour to the face and are used to  conceal skin blemishes. These creams are available in a range of shades, so that every woman  can find the appropriate colour for her skin.

Cold Creams

moisturizing-skin-creamCold creams have a cooling effect. The cooling occurs because these creams are “pseudo” emulsions, rather than true emulsions. A cold cream is a simple mixture of oil and water. It does  not contain an emulsifier, and so is not a stable product. Hence, when applied to the skin, the  water separates from the oily component, and quickly evaporates from the skin, thus creating a  cooling effect (hence the name “cold cream”). Cold cream was developed about 2000 years ago. In its original form, it contained olive oil, water, beeswax, and rose petals, creating its characteristic aroma. The oily component provides a cleansing effect if the cream is wiped off the skin, since the  oil removes the natural oily layer of the skin surface, in which the grime particles are embedded.  Cold cream can serve as a moisturizer as well because of its oily component. Over the years, many variations on the cold cream have been developed, but the original basic composition of oil, water, and wax still exists. Cosmetics companies still produce cold  creams, some of which are marketed as moisturizing preparations, and some as cleansers. Preparations that are meant to be applied to the delicate skin around the eyes are mainly hypoallergenic preparations. This means that they do not contain components such as certain perfumes  and/or certain preservatives that are known from past experience to have a higher-than-average  risk of causing skin irritation and allergies. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that even eye creams  may result in allergic reactions in some people, albeit very rarely.

 

COMBINING A POWDER WITH WATER: SUSPENSIONS

Salt and sugar dissolve in water. The salt or sugar molecules are disseminated uniformly throughout the water, and the end product is called a solution—characterized by its clear, uniform appearance.  The substance in which the solid is dissolved, i.e., the solvent, is usually water, but other  substances can also function as solvents, for example, alcohol (as already mentioned, a solution  in alcohol is called a tincture). Not all substances are soluble in water. The particles in talc,  for example, are too large to dissolve in water. When mixed with water, the resulting fluid is turbid. By combining an insoluble powder with water, you can obtain a suspension. A suspension has a cooling effect on the skin, because of the evaporation of the water. Once the water has evaporated, a layer of powder remains on the skin. It is important to shake a suspension well  before applying it to the skin, so as to spread the particles of powder evenly throughout the  liquid.

 

COMBINING A POWDER WITH A FATTY BASE: PASTES

A paste is the result of combining a powder with a fatty base. The fatty base is usually petrolatum  (petroleum jelly). The powder usually comprises 20% to 50% of the preparation. A paste is less  greasy than regular ointment, but it still has occlusive and protective properties because of its fatty content. Because a paste contains powder, it has the ability, as opposed to an ointment, to absorb liquids to a certain extent. This gives pastes certain advantages over ointments: the main use  of pastes is for protecting babies’ skin from urine and stool in the diaper area. It is the contact  between the infant’s excretions and the skin that causes the inflammation known as diaper rash. A paste may be “hard” or “soft.” Soft paste has more fatty component and less powder, rendering it with skin-protective qualities. Hard paste, on the other hand, has more powder and  less fatty component, rendering it with absorbent qualities. In general, pastes are not used for  cosmetic purposes, but rather for dermatological uses. As stated above, the combination of their  protective function together with their absorbent properties makes pastes eminently suitable for treating diaper rash in babies. There are preparations for the treatment of diaper rash that are not pastes. Some are fatty preparations that contain substances such as allantoin or Peru balsam, which are reputed to  have a “soothing” effect. It is important to emphasize that preparations designed for use for diaper rash are only meant for simple, mild skin inflammation. If the inflammation is severe, or if there is no improvement within a reasonable time, there may be an associated bacterial or fungal infection, and in  this case, the infant should be examined by a physician.

OTHER COMBINATIONS

Lotions

lotions

While the commonly understood meaning of the term “lotion” covers all the liquid preparations—solutions, suspensions and emulsions—in dermatology, a lotion is sometimes  regarded as a unique combination of a powder and a solution, with glycerine (glycerol) added  to obtain the desired texture. A typical and well-known example of a lotion is calamine lotion, widely used to treat  itching. It is mainly made up of calamine (zinc oxide with a small amount of iron oxide), together with a little glycerine. As mentioned above, the glycerine contributes to an appropriate texture  and prevents the lotion from feeling too chalky on the skin.

Powder, Water, and Oil

Certain liquid preparations may contain not only powder and water but oil as well. Adding oil  to the preparation helps to prevent dryness of the skin. By the same token, there are pastes that,  in addition to the fatty and powder components, also contain water. The above definitions are the accepted medical/scientific ones. However, certain cosmetic  preparations do not adhere strictly to those definitions. For example, certain products may be marketed as emulsions, or “facial cleansing emulsions,” when, in fact, in terms of their composition, they are actually lotions or solutions.


GELS

Similar to the bases discussed earlier, a gel may also function as a base for various cosmetic and  medical skin preparations. A gel is a semisolid, non greasy, colourless, transparent substance that  tends to evaporate when in contact with warm skin.


Water content of the skin

The water content of the keratinous layer allows for a certain amount of suppleness. The skin  is slightly filled out with water, which tends to smoothen the fine wrinkles. In normal skin, there is a continuous movement of water from the deep layers to the  superficial layers. Eventually, the water evaporates from the surface.

 

WHAT CAUSES DRY SKIN?

Dry skin is relatively common: most people experience skin dryness, to some extent, from time  to time. Dry skin can result either from external causes or from the skin’s inability to retain its moisture.


External Causes

The major external causes of dry skin are exposure to dry environments and wind. Artificial  indoor heating lowers the relative humidity, which dries out the skin even further. Therefore,  the skin tends to be dryer in the winter. Air-conditioning, with cold, dry air being blown into  the room, can cause the skin to become dry as well. Other external factors that influence the . moisture level of the skin are: washing and exposure to certain substances.


Washing

Frequent washing repeatedly removes the oily layer that protects the skin and actually serves to hold in the moisture. Certain types of soaps have a particularly drying effect.


Exposure to Certain Substances

Various occupations are characterized by exposure to substances that remove the natural oily  layer from the skin surface, such as those occupations involving frequent exposure to detergents  or solvents. Similarly, certain medical treatments (such as some for acne) cause dryness of the  skin.

 

The Skin’s Ability to Retain Moisture

cream-moisture

Aging is associated with physiological processes whereby the skin loses its ability to retain  moisture. Furthermore, there are diseases in which the skin fails to retain body water normally,  and significant amounts of water are lost. This occurs, for example, in atopic dermatitis, and in  certain skin disorders resulting from dietary deficiencies.

 

CHARACTERISTICS OF DRY SKIN

Skin with a low water content appears dry, fissured, and rough. It has a delicate layer of scales  on its surface. Fine lines are more apparent. The individual perceives a feeling of dryness, which  may be accompanied by itching. Dry skin is more prone to skin infections, both bacterial, and fungal. The common dermatological term for extremely dry skin is xerosis.

 

NATURAL FACTORS THAT PREVENT SKIN DRYNESS

The skin is protected naturally from dryness by an oily layer and a natural moisturizing factor: an oily layer on the skin, natural moisturizing factor, the lipid film. The lipid film decreases water evaporation. It serves as a relatively occlusive layer above the  keratinous layer. This layer is a combination of oily products on the skin surface, and includes mainly the sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands, and various lipid degradation products that are formed during the process of skin maturation. As the epidermal cells traverse upward, chemical changes occur in them. Eventually, cell death occurs, and various degradation products,  partly lipid, are formed.

 

Natural Moisturizing Factor

The “natural moisturizing factor” is the name given to a combination of several compounds created in the skin, comprising approximately 20% to 25% of the keratinous layer. These compounds  serve to retain the water content of the keratinous layer.

 

HOW TO SELECT A MOISTURIZER

Hundreds of moisturizers are available. They may contain substances previously mentioned. They may contain occlusive products, water-absorbing products, or a combination of these. The water content and lipid components differ in each formula type. Products rich in  water are cool to the touch, and appear matte; products with a higher oil content cause a warm sensation, and the skin appears smooth and glossy. How does one determine the preferred moisturizer?

 

 

SKIN CLEANSING

skin-cleansing

Skin cleansing is a basic to maintaining its health and contributing to its aesthetic appearance. What makes that dirt on your skin?  The dirt on your skin consists of: particles from air, germs (from the air), secretions from the gland, remains of sebum, remains of products used before, and other substances carried in the air which vary depending on the geographical location and immediate environment. All these substances stick to the thin, oily layer on the skin’s surface. Since the dirt is embedded in the oily layer, washing with water is not effective enough to cleanse the skin. Oil repels water, and for that reason water can’t get rid of layers that are made of oil from the skin surface  containing the dirt particles. Anyone who has ever tried to wash oil or fat off one’s hands will  know that water alone cannot remove it. Thus, to effectively remove the dirt embedded in the  fine oily layer on the skin’s surface, one has to use soap.

 

SOAP AND ITS MODE OF ACTION

The active ingredients in soaps consist of salts of various fatty acids. In terms of its basic chemical composition, regular, classic soap, known as hard soap or  toilet soap, comprises the sodium salts of fatty acids. These fatty acids are derived from either animal or vegetable sources.  Because of soap’s particular molecular structure, the soap particles “coat” the fat droplets in which the dirt is embedded, and allow them to be washed off the skin with water. These soap . structures, called micelles, coat the fat (and dirt) particles, allowing them to be removed from  the skin. The soap molecules arrange themselves in the form of micelles because of the electric  charge they carry. The soap micelles surround the fat droplet, and thus enable its removal from the skin.

POSSIBLE DISADVANTAGES OF REGULAR SOAP

General water coming from your tap has calcium in it. When you use normal soap with the water from your bath, fatty acids which contains magnesium are formed. These are very unpleasant and dirty  salts. The salts remain on the skin surface and may lead to skin irritation.

Another reason regular soap may cause skin irritation is that it has a high pH. The pH  of regular soap lies between 9 and 10 (and sometimes higher than 10)—much higher than the  normal skin pH (which is between 4 and 6.5). Consequently, it raises the skin’s pH (see below  for an explanation of the concept of pH). However, healthy skin has mechanisms for adjusting  its pH, so that shortly after it has been exposed to regular soap, its level of acidity returns to  normal. (The pH returns to normal any time from half an hour to two hours after soap has been  used.) Nevertheless, in some people, abrupt changes in pH can cause significant skin irritation. Therefore, the current trend in the cosmetics industry is to adapt the pH of cleansing agents and  other cosmetic preparations to that of normal skin.

 

CREAMS AND LIQUID EMULSIONS FOR FACIAL CLEANSING VS. SOAP

Cosmetic products that has fatty ingredients and oils, are removed from the skin more easily using cleansing creams or emulsions, which have a relatively high fat content compared  with normal soap. Cleansing creams and emulsions dissolve the fatty substances (which contain  the makeup pigments), making removal of makeup easier. These substances are more effective at removing sebum from the skin than soap and water.

Since cleansing creams and emulsions contain oils, a thin layer of oil may still remain on  the skin after rinsing them off. For this reason, these preparations are generally more effective for people with dry skin and are not usually recommended for people with oily skin or acne. Nevertheless, many cleansing creams and preparations are manufactured in a range of variations, as subgroups of the original product, designated specifically for use with dry, normal, or oily skin—depending on the customer’s requirements. Cleansing creams and emulsions are usually made of relatively delicate cleansing agents (compared with the wide variety of soaps and “soapless” soaps). If they are rinsed off with water after use (not just wiped off), their cleansing effect is gentler and usually does not cause  skin irritation.

 

ABRASIVE CLEANSERS

Abrasive cleansers are creams or emulsions designed for cleaning the face. In addition to the  standard ingredients described above, the “abrasive effect” is achieved by the presence of tiny,  fine granules—some natural and some made of synthetic compounds. These preparations are  supposed to remove the keratin layer of the skin that normally peels off. This is achieved by  mechanical means, by the abrasive effect of the granules on the skin. Removing the outermost  layers of keratin may help produce a uniform, smooth surface on the skin and improve its

Appearance. Even though these preparations are effective in removing the peeling skin layers, there is no proof that they offer any additional benefit in cleaning the skin, or caring for it, than soaps  or other facial cleansing creams or emulsions. In general, healthy, normal skin does not require  such treatment. The outermost layers of skin are normally constantly peeling off and do not need any assistance in doing so! Furthermore, several dermatologists have pointed out the possibility  of damage to the epidermis if this abrasive cleaning is carried out too vigorously and roughly. For those who nevertheless decide to use these preparations, this type of cleansing should  not be carried out more than once weekly, since the defensive properties of the skin may be affected if the outer layers are removed. Massaging and rubbing these preparations onto the skin must be done with the utmost care and gentleness, and in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

 

Facial Cleansing Masks

facial-cream

Facial masks represent a unique approach to cleaning the face and skin care: the preparation  is applied to the skin as a relatively thick layer and then wait for about thirty minutes to remove. Note that it doesn’t mean that facial mask is any essential technique of skin care. The effects achieved by facial masks can all be achieved by simpler means, such as washing the face with  soap and water, applying moisturizing creams or using astringent preparations. Nevertheless, facial masks have certain advantages.

 

MASKS THAT RINSE OFF AND MASKS THAT PEEL OF

Masks That Are Rinsed off

Masks that rinse off are removed from the skin by lukewarm or warm water. They consist of  absorbent masks, which are based on insoluble powders, natural clay and mud, or gel masks,  which contain ingredients such as tragacanth. In addition, some of the masks that are rinsed  off are not actually masks, but rather a mixture of moisturizing agents or cleansing agents (or a  combination of both) that are marketed, for commercial reasons, as facial masks.


Masks That Are Peeled off

Masks that are peeled off are made of rubbery substances, such as polyvinyl alcohol or rubber- based substances such as latex or other natural rubber compounds. As these masks dry on the  skin, they harden and form a thin, flexible, usually transparent sheet on the skin. In this case,  the mask is not removed by rinsing with water but is peeled off the face.

With both masks that are rinsed off and those that are peeled off, it is important that the time for which they remain on the face is in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  The mask is usually removed 15 to 30 minutes after application. In spite of the division into masks that are rinsed off and those that are peeled off, this distinction is not necessarily clear-cut. Masks can be made that contain a mixture of ingredients,  such as clay (used in masks that are rinsed off) with rubber components (used in masks that  are peeled off). Hydrocolloid substances (such as carboxymethyl cellulose) may be added to  any type of mask. The final composition of the mask determines whether it can be rinsed off or  peeled off.

ABSORBENT” MASKS THAT RINSE OFF

The basic ingredient of rinse-off masks is powder, which is made up of inorganic substances such  as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, kaolin, calamine, and others. Other masks in this group are based  on processed clay and natural mud. Before the mask is applied to the face, the powder is mixed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, with water, milk, various fruit or vegetable . juices, other extracts, or any liquid specified in the instructions. These masks are also available in  the form of a paste, in which the powder has already been mixed by the manufacturer. Usually,  some liquid such as propylene glycol, with a small amount of soap, has to be added, to make it  easier to remove the mask from the face. These masks usually absorb fats from the skin and are  recommended for people with oily skin.

The material is gently applied to the face and left in place in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, for some 15 to 30 minutes. It is then rinsed off with soap and water.

MASKS THAT PEEL OFF

These masks do not absorb fats from the skin, as do powder- or clay-based masks. The major  effect of these masks is to prevent the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface. As a result,  the amount of moisture in the skin increases, as long as the mask is on the face. These masks are recommended for women with relatively dry facial skin.

When these masks are used in a cosmetics salon, a thin layer of gauze can be placed under  the mask. This allows the ingredients of the mask to coat the client’s skin (since they pass through  the gaps in the gauze material), while at the same time allowing the mask to be removed quickly and efficiently.

 

EXOTIC FACIAL MASKS

exotic-facial-mask

In addition to the types of masks already discussed, other sorts of masks are used in various  health resorts and cosmetic clinics, each place having its own “speciality.” The masks used are,  for example, mud masks (depending on the soil composition of the region) and masks containing  beeswax, seaweed extracts, or extracts of a wide variety of plants. In general, a wide range of cosmetic ingredients can be added to any type of mask. There is no scientific proof that any of  the components of these “exotic” masks have any advantage in terms of skin care. Furthermore,  facial masks may not be very useful in helping cosmetic or other ingredients penetrate into the  skin, since they are only on the skin for a relatively short time.

 

POSSIBLE UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS FROM FACIAL CLEANSING MASKS

Facial cleansing masks may cause: skin irritation and skin infection.  These complications are more likely to occur from the use of masks of dubious origin. The risks of such problems are much fewer when using masks from a reputable cosmetics  manufacturer. In general, before using any mask, one should establish that the client is not  allergic to any of its ingredients.

Following the use of a mask, and after it has been rinsed off, moisturizing cream should be applied to the face. This is because a facial mask tends to cause slight superficial peeling of the  outermost layers of the skin. Hence, it is important to avoid exposure to wind, sun, or polluted  air after removing a facial cleansing mask.


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