Thursday, August 27, 2015

6 Things You Should Be Doing About Your Clogged Pores Or Adult Acne (But May Not Be)

Adult acne and clogged pores are a huge complaint for a lot of you out there. I know it seems unfair to battle both signs of aging AND breakouts at the same time. Believe it or not, for 70% of acne sufferers, the onset is in adulthood, so you're not alone. I've been lucky enough to take a number of classes this summer on adult acne and clogged skin with Dr. Mark Lees. I wanted to share 6 things you should be doing to get moving towards clear skin for the long term.

1. Check for comedogenic ingredients in both your skin care products, and cosmetics.
  • This is listed first for a reason. Great home care can be undone by one pore clogging step in your routine, and this includes your makeup. Use caution when purchasing "oil-free" products, they can substitute comedogenic ingredients to replace the oil. How can you know if something is comedogenic? Your skin therapist is a valuable resource here. I always request a full list or photos of products from all my clients who express problems with clogged pores or acne, and check the ingredients for them.
2. Treat the skin consistently, not just when a breakout or acne is visibly occurring.
  • We've all done this, right? Our skin breaks out, we use some products. Our skin clears up, we stop. (Insert buzzer noise here.) Big mistake. Your acne and skin congestion is starting at a level that is invisible to the naked eye. Even your skin therapist's magnifying lamp can't see it. It's important to get on a good program and be consistent, even when your skin looks clear.
3. Moisturize.
  • Many prone to breakouts skip this step fearing it will clog the skin. But with the right formula, the skin keeps its very important barrier intact, and can counteract surface dryness that can occur during the onset of some treatments. All skin needs hydration.
4. If you have to, choose products over a facial.
  • Wait, what? Yes, I just said that. Facials are a great for extractions and a clearing boost, but if you have budget constraints, always get your quality products first. You've heard this analogy from me before, but it's true: If you went to your dentist once or twice a year, but never brushed or flossed your teeth in between (gross), what would your teeth look like? The same applies to your skin, and especially in the case of clogged pores and acne. One facial can't do for acne what weeks of a morning and night routine can. Consistent home care is key.
5. Always wash your face last in the shower.
  • This is an easy one that people just don't think of. Some of the products we use in our hair, while fantastic for that purpose, contain ingredients that can cause congestion on our face. If you cleanse in the shower, be sure to do it last, and don't neglect the hairline, neck, and around the ears.
6. Treat both the outside, and the inside.
  • I'm a firm believer in the skin-gut connection and getting to the root of the problem. For chronic problems I believe in a 2-pronged approach and recommend my clients see a nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner. Quality advice on diet and supplementation can have a huge impact on the skin over the long term.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Oxybenzone (Just When I Thought.....Part 3)

Still with me? Part 3 of 3 today on the issues raised by the EWG's sunscreen guide. I swear I'll give you a break from posts about sunscreen after this (for real this time). Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3) is a UVA/UVB absorber and photo stabilizer used in sunscreens.

Claim: Oxybenzone in sunscreen acts as a hormone disruptor.

The guide itself does not provide any sources for this claim.
I did dig around the EWG's website and found a chart on sunscreens with listed references for their claims about oxybenzone:
Janjua 2004, Janjua 2008, Sarveiya 2004, Gonzalez 2006, Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012
(They were listed name and year only, with no links to the actual studies, but I have found them and included the links if you want to read for yourself. I'll refrain from comment on why they've made it so hard to get the information.)

After reading the studies and a variety of opinions, here are some of my takeaways:
  • Oxybenzone was found in a high percentage of the urine samples in 2 studies. However, this alone only shows that the body is metabolizing a substance, not accumulating it, or attributing a function to it.
  • There have been studies showing hormone changes in zebrafish embryos and rats, but these studies involved radically high doses. In the case of the rats it was given in their food. This can hardly be equated to a topical application. 
  • Again, the oxybenzone was fed/applied in isolation, not in a skin care product or formula. Worth noting, the 2001 study is not referenced on the website, although the findings are implied.
There just isn't any evidence to back up the claims of endocrine disruption in humans. I can't find any studies referencing actual symptoms in humans after exposure to oxybenzone. Contrary to some tricky language used in EWG's guide, oxybenzone is considered safe for use in the European Union. In fact, the EU allows for a higher concentration (10%) than the U.S. (6%).

Personally, I think further testing on potential environmental impact would be a good idea, considering some of the animal studies. In my opinion, if the amounts used in personal care products are found to impact lower life forms and/or the water supply, then it will be time to reconsider the use of oxybenzone.