“One more face lift and you’ll be able to blink your lips”
Morris – First Wives Club
Another in our “Sister from Another Mister” Series, we discussed writing about the differences between normal cosmetic skincare and cosmeceutical skincare. I have already touched on this a little but I thought what might be even more useful is to tell you guys a little about the way skincare products work on your skin cells which leads into why and how cosmeceuticals are much more effective in improving your skin condition. (A somewhat serious but interesting report today!)
I would like to preface this post with a little shout out to all my beauty therapist buddies around the world who often cop a lot of slack from people for choosing a “dumb” career, or an “easy career”. I have been criticised myself countless times for wasting my UAI and my education, for doing something “fluffy” – but the truth is, and I don’t know about all schools, but I went to TAFE in Sydney to do my Beauty Therapy qualification and the amount of biology, chemistry, and anatomy that we had to study was mind-boggling. So a quick mention to all those girls who cop it regularly but are so much more intelligent than many give them credit for – you are altering skin, moving muscles, sometimes using high frequency electronic equipment, muscle stimulants, chemical peels, etc. and I am proud of you.
Back to the point, let’s have a quick squiz at the layers of the skin and whereabouts topical skincare gets down to. There are three main layers of the skin: the Epidermis on top, the Dermis in the middle, and the Hypodermis at the bottom. The main layer skincare is interested in is the Epidermis, as the lower two layers house nerve endings, hair follicles, blood vessels, fat and connective tissue. To access these lower layers, often a much more serious delivery system is required like injections to reach them and make changes to underlying topography of the skin (aka deep wrinkles, fat deposits, and sagging). Deep down is where skin cells are regenerated and then slowly move up through the layers where they will eventually shed.
The Epidermis itself is made up of 5 layers, and this is where the action happens when we apply skincare.
The Stratum Corneum: The top layer of flattened dead skin cells made up of the protein keratin. This layer protects the lower skin layers, is antibacterial, and is where most common cosmetic skincare products start and end their journey as they can’t penetrate any deeper through those sticky, flat cells. As long as the skincare is on there, it can appear more hydrated, lighter, smoother, and plumped, which explains most regular skincare claims. However you have probably noticed that as soon as the product has absorbed/evaporated, your skin pretty much looks the same as it did before, and you don’t have many long-term benefits of using it every day for months on end. Exfoliation removes dry and damaged outer skin cells to allow newer cells to be visible and helps cosmeceutical skincare penetrate the top Stratum Corneum layer. Peels available in salons usually target this layer of the skin by removing part of the Stratum Corneum to speed up the cell renewal process and achieve fresher, brighter, renewed skin.
The Stratum Lucidium is a clear layer that is made up of smoother, dead skin cells, which can sometimes crack if overly dry, and only occurs on your palms and heels of the feet.
The Stratum Granulosum holds a lot of moisture and is a smooth, protective barrier to the lower layers
The Stratum Spinosum Looks after anti-inflammatory activity, anti-oxidants, calming, and the temperature of the skin.
The Stratum Basale is where new cells are produced and this is where brightening and pigmentation of the skin occurs. For these cells to reproduce healthily and regularly, nutrients must be delivered to these cells from the surface.
So how do we do this, and how do Cosmeceutical products make a difference?
It’s all about creating a stimulating, nourishing routine for your skin to feed the cell reproduction, and doing this consistently, and long-term. Maximising penetration of skincare products is also important and there are a number of ways to do this: through pressure, amount and frequency, and temperature. Saunas, or steam, increase pressure and temperature of the skin to absorb products at higher humidity. Applying products at night is also beneficial for the same reason as the base temperature of the body is higher and helps to absorb your creams and serums. Then simply applying more of the product, and increasing the frequency of the application improves the chances and duration of the product being drawn into the skin to feed those cells.
The size and shape of the molecule being delivered to the skin is one of the key differences in cosmeceutical skincare. Chiral (molecular separation or purification) and encapsulation technology allow ingredients like Vitamin C, Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Retinoids, and Vitamin E to be properly absorbed into the cells, to improve overall function and nutrition and create structural changes that improve acne, ageing, and hyper-pigmentation. This is very different to cosmetic skincare that due to the size and shape of the molecule, contains undesirable elements that stop the ingredient from proper absorption and use.
The overall lesson in this is that before you try any serious cosmetic procedure including laser, skin needling, botox, or cosmetic surgery, you must first and foremost treat and improve the normal functioning of your skin cells to ensure they are properly fed, hydrated, and reproducing. It is recognised that without these little factories chugging away beautifully, more serious procedures are not only less effective, but can often result in undesirable or short-term results.
My advice to you in a time when skincare is developed at a molecular level in a lab – try out cosmeceutical products at your salon (or at Morgan & Elwood!!) to treat your skin concerns before you spend a small fortune on more aggressive and invasive procedures which may even be completely unnecessary! Imagine if a monthly facial and a good skincare routine with great products saved you from having to get your face injected! I know what I would choose.
Now that I’ve put you all to sleep (and proven that I’m not just a pretty face..) go home today and feed and nourish that skin, and ask yourself if what you’re using is as effective as it could be.
All my love,