Your skin and cosmetics
our skin is the largest organ in your body and it is often the first thing that people see when they look at you. But the skin is a lot more than just appearances; it protects you from environmental factors like radiation, irritants, and organisms, and helps regulate your body function by preventing dehydration and regulating temperature. This is why taking care of your skin and maintaining healthy skincare practices can improve both the way you look and the way you feel. I hope that the issues that we discuss in this blog can provide you with useful evidence based information that can help you find effective ways in caring for your skin.
What is the skin?
The skin is a complex organ made of a combination of various structures. Basically, it is composed of:
Epidermis and dermis – The superficial and deep layers of the skin.
Blood vessels – These are in the dermis only. That is why products that ‘exfoliate’ your skin or chemical peels can cause skin shedding without causing scarring or bleeding.
Hair follicles – These are where hairs grow from. With only a few exceptions, these can be found almost all over your entire body.
Oil glands – These help lubricate the skin and make it waterproof. Unfortunately these also are where the bacteria that cause acne grow.
Sweat glands – These help regulate your body temperature. Anti-perspirants typically target these.
What types of skin are there?
Skin can be categorized into different types based on several criteria. For example, skin color, which varies depending on your lineage, can be divided into 6 major types (Fitzpatrick skin types). Other than color, the skin can also vary in oiliness and the propensity to scar. The way each of these skin types react to environmental chemicals, the sun, and cosmetic products can be different so it is really important to know your own skin!
The market has an endless list of skincare products, each promising to have some kind of benefit for the skin. Depending on the active ingredient, these can including exfoliation, moisturization, rejuvenation, sun-protection, cleansing, repairing, brightening, concealing, anti-aging, anti-acne, anti-wrinkles, anti-pollution, and so on and so on. The seemingly boundless list of different products and effects can be confusing even to the experienced eye. And honestly, who can blame them? New advances and technologies are made on a daily basis and these lead to the perpetual expansion of our already vast arsenal of creams, lotions, and whatnots, each promising to be better than their predecessors.
As consumers, if all we have at our disposal are the product advertisements, it can be very challenging to decipher the differences between these products and figuring out which one is truly suitable. However, there are ways of assessing products objectively and we hope to show you how to do this throughout our blog entries. The first thing to know though, is that the numerous ingredients in skincare products can be loosely categorized into these categories:
Active ingredient – These are the agents that generate the primary desired effect, such as exfoliation.
Vehicle – These are what carry the active ingredients and what make products into gels, lotions, creams, or ointments.
Texturizing agent – These generate specific textures for the product, such as foaming.
Scent – These are perfumes that are added purely for the smell.
Preservatives – These prevent the product from going bad.
Throughout our entries, we will be referring to these terms when we discuss and critique various skincare products.
Let's sum it up!
We know we listed a lot of terms, but by having a basic understanding of what each of these mean, you can become more informed and critical of what products actually are and which ones are most suitable for you. By writing in this blog, we hope to be able to do 2 things:
Address frequently asked questions regarding skin care, beauty, controversies, and myths.
Review Asian cosmetic products and make comparisons to those available in North America.
We hope you find this first introduction entry informative and we look forward to tackling more interesting and thought provoking topics in the near future.
That's all we have to say today folks! See you next time!