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Anti-Aging Skincare

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  • New Sunscreen Ingredients on the Horizon

    Posted on Monday, October 20, 2014

    Thanks to the US Senate recently passing the Sunscreen Innovation Bill in September, we are one step closer to seeing new and more effective sunscreen ingredients on the shelves at our local store. In in the sunscreen world, that's big news.   If enacted into law, this would push the FDA to review and determine the safety and efficacy of new sunscreen filters in less than one year.  Considering the fact that the last time a new sun filter was approved by the FDA was in 2006 and that another eight have long been awaiting approval (some since 2002), a one year time limit is a considerable improvement.

    Unfortunately, the number of cases of skin cancer has been increasing steadily during that same period of time.  Melanoma , the deadliest form, will claim over 9700 lives in the United States in 2014 alone.   It is no wonder, then, that the need for additional, possibly more effective UVA and UVB filters is so desperately needed.  When skin cancer accounts for nearly half the cases of cancer in the US, it is clear that more preventive measures are paramount.

    So why the delay?  The FDA considers sun-filtering compounds as drugs, which must undergo a long process requiring specific safety requirements and documentation.  Much of the safety information required for use in the United States is simply not available due to the different approval process in other parts of the world.  For instance, Mexoryl XL, an effective sun filter against both UVA and UVB rays, has been available in Canada and Europe for well over five years and is found in top selling Anthelios XL SPF 60 Melt in Cream .  Mexoryl XL has been awaiting US FDA approval since 2009.

    Having access to good sunscreens is only half the solution.  The other half is convincing people to wear it on a daily basis.  Although the task may seem daunting in light of such grim skin cancer statistics, we only have to look to Australia where, for the first time, non-melanoma skin cancer rates have fallen over the past decade for those under age 45.  Australia's sun-smart campaign of "Slip, Slop, Slap", must take some credit.  For the past 30 years, Australians have been encouraged to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. The proof that the campaign works is just coming to light and that's encouraging news.

    At PharmacyMix, we're slightly fanatical when it comes to sunscreens and sun protection. We'll be watching closely to see where the Sunscreen Innovation Bill takes us, and you can be certain that we'll  pass on the news.

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


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  • Neostrata Glycolic Renewal – New!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    For those with sensitive skin or who are new to alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), Neostrata has introduced a new line of glycolic acid treatments – Glycolic Renewal.  These exfoliating products even out the skin's complexion by removing the build-up of dead cells on the surface leading to radiant, younger-looking skin in just 10 days. These products are beneficial for consumers of all skin types and ages who are concerned with uneven and dull skin.

    Neostrata's Glycolic Renewal line contains encapsulated glycolic acid which leads to a gradual release of the active ingredient. This slow release minimizes the potential for side effects and makes it ideal for those who have been hesitant to try glycolic acid and suitable for even sensitive skin. Glycolic acid also has a small molecular size which allows it to penetrate effectively and remove the build-up of dead cells on the skin's surface. You get all the benefits of an AHA with no irritation or stinging.

    No matter what your skin type, you'll find a Neostrata Glycolic Renewal formula to suit:

    Normal to Dry Skin: Neostrata 5% Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream contains 15% moisturizing shea butter
    Oily to Combination Skin: Neostrata 5% Glycolic Renewal Smoothing Lotion. This oil free moisturizer contains 1% Xymelis 45 to matify the skin.
    Once skin is conditioned, use once or twice a day as needed, gradually moving to 10% Gycolic Renewal Smoothing Cream or Smoothing Lotion. As with any AHA product, use a broad spectrum sunscreen  prior to sun exposure.

    Neostrata Glycolic Renewal formulations are non-comedogenic and contain 0.4% allantoin for its soothing and anti-irritating benefits.

    Apply.  Repeat.  Then get ready for the compliments.

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


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  • Hyaluronic Acid in the Spotlight

    Posted on Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Like the stereotypical wallflower in a movie, hyaluronic acid has been quietly but effectively working its magic in the background, but as new anti-aging treatments come out featuring hyaluronic acid as the star ingredient, it's time for this super-hydrator to step into the spotlight.

    Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance widely distributed throughout our bodies.  It acts as a lubricant between our joints, as an important component of cartilage and is found in the spaces between the skin's collagen and elastin, which form part of the skin's supporting network.  As we age, the amount of hyaluronic acid found in the skin decreases dramatically (surprise, surprise), resulting in dehydrated skin, roughness, flaking, fine lines, wrinkles and sagging.

    The good news? Topical treatments are available which can help to replenish hyaluronic acid (and sodium hyaluronate, its smaller salt molecule) in the skin. Where it really shines is in moisturizers like Hydraphase UV and serums like
    Apothekari Undercover Agent .  Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water, helping to draw moisture into the skin to plump and hydrate.  I like to think of it as a supersponge of hydration for the skin.

    Consider the benefits of well-hydrated skin:

    •Fine lines and wrinkles are less noticeable
    •Tightness of dry skin is alleviated
    •Skin barrier function is reinforced to keep out external irritants, bacteria and environmental assaults
    •Other treatments and active ingredients penetrate the skin more easily and are absorbed more effectively
    •A healthy environment is maintained for skin cell turnover
    Transepidermal water loss is minimized  

    Lab synthesized to mimic the substance naturally found in our bodies, hyaluronic acid in skin care is one ingredient that works for all ages and skin types.  It may not dazzle us with bells and whistles, but hyaluronic acid is tried and true, does its job exceptionally well and doesn't disappoint.  Rather like a good husband, or so my mother tells me.

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


    0 Replies
  • Lustra AF: The Gold Standard for Hyperpigmentation

    Posted on Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    If you get to a certain age, you may develop hyperpigmentation – areas of darker skin -  age spots, scars or melasma. Hyperpigmentation may be caused by inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, acne or hormones. Sun exposure also plays a large role in its development. Individuals with medium to dark brown skin tones are at greater risk of developing hyperpigmentation, most likely as a result of more melanin (skin pigment). Although generally not cause for medical concern, the condition can have an emotional impact if you are affected by it.

    How To Treat

    The first line in treating hyperpigmentation is a broad spectrum sunscreen. Blocking UV rays will help to prevent a deterioration in the condition. Sunscreen is combined often with hydroquinone, an agent that works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase responsible in the production of melanin. Hydroquinone has been the gold standard for treatment of hyperpigmentation for over 50 years. It can be compounded into 5%-10% concentrations, but at these strengths, may be irritating and unstable. While available as a 2% concentration, the 4% formulation as found in Lustra AF is far more effective.

    Exfoliating agents such as salicylic acid and glycolic acid may be added to remove melanin in the epidermis. This exfoliating effect helps to increase the penetration of other ingredients. Vitamin A derivatives (retinoids like retinal, retinoic acid and retinol), which have a mild peeling effect, act in a similar manner. They may also inhibit tyrosinase. Lastly, vitamin C, at sufficient concentrations (Apothekari Super C Serum ) may be used to help lighten the skin and enhance the efficacy of hydroquinone.

    Hyperpigmentation disorders are difficult to treat, particularly in dark-skinned individuals. The goal is to reduce the hyperpigmentation without causing undesirable hypopigmentation (loss of skin color) or irritation in the surrounding normally pigmented skin. Although treatment can take a long time, combining therapies can help to increase the efficacy of agents.

    Is Hydroquinone Safe?

    Despite the fact that hydroquinone is the treatment most widely recommended by skin care professionals, many individuals are concerned about its safety. The most common concern is exogenous ochronosis, which is a bluish/black discoloration of the skin. This is a rare side effect reported amongst women in South Africa who were using very high concentrations over large surface areas. Although hydroquinone is used extensively in North America, there have only been 30 reported cases of exogenous ochronosis in North America.

    Other side effects may include skin irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, and nail discoloration. Practical experience shows that skin irritation is likely the largest safety risk associated with hydroquinone.

    Hydroquinone 4% is available at PharmacyMix and  may be found in Lustra AF and Ultraquin Gel .

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


    0 Replies
  • Synthetic Vs Natural for Skin Care: Which One is Best?

    Posted on Thursday, October 2, 2014

    The debate on whether synthetic or natural ingredients are best for skin care is age-old and doesn't appear to be nearing a final conclusion any time soon.  While the demand for more natural ingredients has certainly grown, the choice between the two is not easy or crystal clear.

    Opting for something labelled "natural" is unfortunately no guarantee of its suitability or its effectiveness.  While the word "natural" implies botanical or chemical-free to many of us, the fact remains that the labelling of a product as "natural" is not currently regulated by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration), making it nearly impossible to be certain of what you're getting. Since many natural ingredients require a significant amount of processing and preservatives in order to maintain efficacy and freshness, you may be loading up on unnecessary ingredients.

    In the same way that "natural" does not always equal good, not all synthetic ingredients are bad. In fact, many key skin care ingredients are more effective in their synthetic form and are actually made from a combination of natural ingredients.  In addition, the synthetic form may be more stable, may penetrate the skin more easily and create longer lasting results than the natural form.  Vitamin C is a perfect example.  Straight from nature, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is highly unstable. As Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (found in Apothekari Super C serum) or L-Ascorbic Acid (found in Apothekari Undercover Agent Serum ), these stable and free radical-fighting derivatives of vitamin C are the darlings of the skin care world.

    When it comes to specific skin care treatments, I clearly have one foot on each side of the fence:

    Sunscreens:  Although texture, finish and feel are all personal preferences, I like a combination of both natural sun filters (zinc oxide and titanium oxide) and chemical filters (Mexoryl SX and XL and Tinosorb S) to protect me from as much of the UV light spectrum as possible.  No secret, then, that Anthelios is my favorite brand.
    Anti-aging: Along with synthetic but stable vitamin C derivatives in antioxidant serums, nothing beats retinoids. In the form of retinol and retinaldehyde, retinoids are natural derivatives of vitamin A. If any one ingredient deserves to be called a skin care miracle, this one is it.
    Skin lightening: Although synthetic hydroquinone is the gold standard for skin lightening, there are also many botanical-based skin lightening options available as well. Bearberry, arbutin and kojic acid all have brightening properties and can be used to get past that skin lightening plateau.
    Moisturizers: Nothing feels as nourishing or luxurious on the body as natural shea butter, but my go-to moisturizing ingredients for the face are both natural and synthetic. To hydrate the skin and keep it looking plump and healthy, I count on squalane, a naturally-occurring emollient derived from olives, which enhances the skin's natural barrier function, warding off external damage, and hyaluronic acid, a lab synthesized version of a naturally occurring polysaccharide in the human body. Hyaluronic acid has the enviable ability to pull moisture out of the air and deposit it into the skin's depleted store.
    Which one is best, synthetic or natural?  Perhaps the answer is a balance between the two with the aim of using ingredients that are safe, effective and backed by science.  In that case, everyone wins.

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


    0 Replies
  • Botox: Can it Affect Your Emotional Growth?

    Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Typically used for smoothing wrinkles and fine lines, we think of Botox mainly as a cosmetic treatment to deal with aging skin.  What was once the domain of celebrities and actors desperately trying to hold back the hands of time, Botox is now widely available from your local family practitioner to even your family dentist.  As the number of Botox users steadily rises, the average age of those going in for treatment seems to be steadily decreasing.  Surprisingly, some reports suggest that those in their mid- to late twenties make up 30% of all Botox patients.

    Even more astonishing than the idea of Botox being used as no more than a pampering spa treatment by those who typically have no visible wrinkles, doctors in the UK are now warning that Botox use by young people could possibly stunt their emotional and social development.  New research recently published in the Journal of Aesthetic Nursing surmises that the frozen face effect of Botox may not allow young people to fully express their emotions.  Taking that idea one step further, being unable to express emotion on the face could give the impression that one is less empathetic, less emotionally involved or accessible, ultimately preventing  young people from developing deep, meaningful relationships.

    The notion that Botox might result in a generation of people unable to connect emotionally with one another may seem far-fetched, but the theory of facial movement influencing emotions goes back as early as Charles Darwin's facial feedback hypothesis.  Simply put, the mere act of smiling sends a message to the part of the brain that regulates emotion, boosting our mood and making us happier.

    So which would you rather have: an ageless face or meaningful relationships?  Thankfully, we're not at that point just yet.

    Sharmani Pillay is a Registered Pharmacist who specializes in anti-aging skin care and women's wellness. She owns and operates an online skin care store at PharmacyMix.com .
    For a limited time, Fabulously 40 members save 5% off all purchases. Code fab40 at checkout.


    0 Replies