Archive for March 2011


Free radicals are well-known enemies of our body’s immune system and the health of our skin. One of many originators of these free radicals comes from undergoing conventional cancer treatments (breast cancer and others). During treatments, a patient’s body is bombarded with free radicals (inclusive of the skin) stemming not only from radiation exposure, but also the drugs involved and surgery, which attack the immune system. In order to heal from this onslaught, antioxidants need to be replenished then built up in a patient’s skin and body.

The wound-healing ability of a quality Vitamin C serum is related to its positive effect on collagen production and its antioxidant effect. Collagen requires Vitamin C for hydroxylation, which is a process that allows the collagen molecule to form a stronger molecular configuration. This stronger collagen molecule is needed to give support to the body and skin to enhance wound healing and maintain healthy blood vessels. In other words, Vitamin C protects all blood vessels and has a profound effect on neutralizing the free radicals generated by a wound.

Research has shown that Vitamin C can:

  • Help build strong collagen molecules
  • Stimulate collagen synthesis
  • Lighten and brighten skin tone
  • Accelerate healing by reducing inflammation and discoloration
  • Protect skin from sun
  • Prevent further skin damage because of its antioxidant properties that reduce free radicals

Buyer beware, however, when it comes to finding products that are stable vehicles for delivering Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) to your skin. When repeatedly exposed to light and air, Vitamin C quickly becomes ineffective at best and can be detrimental to your skin care/healing regimen at the worst. When it is compromised, Vitamin C serums will turn a brownish color. Knowing the tremendous benefits of Vitamin C, yet understanding the challenge of making a stable version available, RX System pF came up with a unique packaging for its Age Defense Antioxidant Serum C, giving it the best possible protection from light and air. This serum is packaged in individual packets in a light-controlled environment, removing as much free oxygen as possible before they’re sealed. It has a 20% free acid concentration and a pH of 2.6. This packaging and delivery system is nearly without worry as to whether it has been rendered ineffective from exposure to light and/or air when you open a packet to apply it.

The fact that using Vitamin C is more than a preventive measure for your skin’s health can be great news for those dealing with already damaged skin as a result of radiation burns, scarring from surgery or immune system damage from chemicals. Finding a quality, stable version will get you well on your way in the healing process and to less visible skin damage.

Acne Attacks

Desquamation…sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But actually, desquamation is a very healthy process…the process by which your skin cells are shed and then replenished. The process is supposed to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. Unfortunately, when parts of the process go awry, it gives acne an opportunity to attack your skin on top of, and sometimes below, the skin’s surface.

It all begins many layers beneath the surface of your skin (the stratum corneum). There are five layers (or stratums) in all that your skin cells move through, the deepest of which is the stratum germinativum. This is where the cells begin and multiply, as they then make their way through three more layers (mucosum, spinosum, and granulosum) before reaching the surface. By the time your skin cells reach the “top”, they are, for all intents and purposes, dead cells and need to be removed to make way for the next batch that is on its way.

This whole process takes about 28 days; and in that time the dead skin cells that are awaiting exfoliation can become a part of mild to severe acne attacks or breakouts. It’s the combination of these dead skin cells, along with sebum and bacteria, that clogs the pores of your skin, creating blemishes.

These blemishes come in many shapes and sizes, from bumps to whiteheads and blackheads to papules and pustules, nodules and cysts. But the source goes back to your sebaceous gland, hair follicles, pores, dead skin cells and excess sebum.

In order to help battle acne and wage a serious war on its army of blemishes, it’s extremely important to try and keep dead skin cells from collecting on your skin where they can clog your pores. It’s also tactically important to fight to control excessive oiliness.

One of the weapons that should be in your arsenal to help with exfoliating those dead skin cells is salicylic acid. A cleanser containing salicylic acid will prepare the battlefield, so to speak, clearing away the dead skin cells and excess sebum on your skin’s surface so that your army can move in and address the actual acne blemishes and lesions.

A second weapon to look for when battling acne breakouts is azelaic acid. When pores get overridden and clogged with excess sebum and dead skin cells, the skin’s environment becomes a place where Propionibacteria can thrive, causing inflammation. Azelaic acid fights to reduce the amounts of this acne-causing bacteria in your skin’s pores, thus reducing serious flare-ups. Topical products containing azelaic acid can help win the war against acne breakouts.

Finally, a ‘secret weapon’ to help you win the war is micronized, elemental sulfur for spot treating blemishes. This weapon has antibacterial properties. The concentration of the elemental sulfur intensifies its antibacterial effect and its ability to eliminate active acne lesions.

There is nothing easy about dealing with acne, but with the right army of acne-fighting products and ingredients, you have a much better chance of eventually winning the war!

The Importance of pH to Your Skin

In the past several years, a lot has been written and discussed regarding the pH in our bodies and the role acid and alkaline levels play in our health. Keeping pH levels in balance internally is vitally important to the functioning of your cells, but in order to give your internal system a fighting chance against disease and aging, your first line of defense begins with your skin.

In order for your skin cells to function properly, its pH levels need to remain at 4.5+/-1.0. Each day your skin wages a battle against forces that can, potentially, throw levels out of whack:

  • The environment and injuries it causes
  • Foods and liquids ingested
  • Waste products produced by the cells

The body’s natural defense mechanisms routinely work to maintain the pH levels through:

  • Neutralizing systems in the cells
  • Elimination of carbon dioxide by the lungs
  • Excretion of blood toxins by the kidneys

The skin’s ability to keep pH levels in line is aided by the mixture of sebum (oily fats) and sweat that coats the skin, creating an acidic barrier that fights bacteria and helps in the healing process should injuries occur.

As you age, however, the pH level of your skin becomes less acidic and more neutral, leaving it more susceptible to bacteria and infection. While this is happening, there are also biochemical changes taking place below the skin in the collagen and elastin that provide firmness and elasticity. As these changes progress, your skin becomes drier, less elastic, less supple and wrinkled. It also can be injured more easily and heals more slowly.

The skin’s pH levels affect acne, as well. With pH levels more on the alkaline side, bacteria on the skin have a chance to grow and thrive. While “normal” skin bacteria helps maintain the acidic pH of your skin, washing your face with ordinary soap not only makes your skin more alkaline (in essence removing its protective acid cover), but it also kills the “normal” bacteria that helps keep it acidic.

These are reasons why using a skin care regimen that helps adjust the pH levels on your skin is so important. As I noted in my article for Beauty Link last year, normal skin pH is essential for epidermal cell function, normal skin flora, molecular integrity…and normal skin hydration. It is critical to maintain and restore skin pH for normal skin function and collagen synthesis. Your skin is on the front line when it comes to defending against aging. Using skin care products based on pH and free acid concentration of active ingredients in the products is key to a successful outcome.


Laughing, smiling, fun days in the sun having drinks with friends…smoking, eating too much fast food, lack of sleep…typical activities for many of us; and the typical result of these activities on the thinnest skin on your body…the skin around your dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles. Of course, your gene pool does have some affect on how your skin ages, as well; but lifestyle choices can make a world of difference.

As we age, one of the first evident signs creeps in around our eyes. Those darn crows feet and other tiny lines start to give away the fact that we’re getting older when other parts of our skin still manage to remain somewhat youthful. It’s no wonder, then, that one of the cosmetic products that is highest on our ‘beautifying’ list is eye cream. But before we touch on the importance of eye creams in your skin care regimen, let’s not ignore other preventive maintenance that can be exercised that addresses the items mentioned in the beginning of this blog.

  • Cigarette smoking – don’t do it! Nicotene and other properties in smoke dry out skin, while you squint as the smoke wafts by your eyes…not to mention the actual pursing of your lips that causes early wrinkles on that part of your face, as well.

  • Sleeplessness – the excessive production of cortisol in your body can wear down your skin cells. Not getting enough sleep is one cause of this cortisol production.

  • Alcohol – drying to your skin

  • Diet – What you eat is a huge factor in the appearance of your skin. Omega-3s and antioxidants are very good for your skin. It isn’t any secret that eating a healthy diet of fruits and veggies (antioxidants), coupled with fish (Omega 3) is much better for you (and your skin) than fast foods. Another favorite…cocoa…contains flavanols, a phytochemical that can help to improve circulation to your skin cells, improve its hydration and protect your skin from sun damage. Along with flavanols, carotenoids can also boost your skin’s ability to fight off wrinkles around the eyes. Foods that contain carotenoids are carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach, just to name a few.

  • Genetics – well, although genetics can affect how your skin ages and the presence of dark circles, as they say…we can’t choose our relatives!

The dark circles, which plague many of us, can be a by-product of stored toxins, allergies, and lack of water in our systems. Increasing water intake and addressing allergies can possibly help reduce the intensity of these circles.

Now a word about the topical eye creams that can help with wrinkles, fine lines and dark circles. The older we get, the less our body manufactures collagen and elastin (in addition to hyaluronic acid), three important ingredients for that youthful glow we’re after. Without these proteins, our skin loses its elasticity and its firmness, causing the skin around our eyes to age quicker, evidenced by the increased wrinkles and sagging.

When searching for eye creams that will address the lack of collagen and elastin, ingredients that are proven to help are those containing peptides and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and A. It’s also important to use creams specifically formulated for the eye area, since creams and lotions used on the rest of your face are generally heavier creams, which can even have a “side effect” called milia (small whiteheads), that can form on skin around your eyes.

While those of us who do moisturize our skin are prone to do it at the beginning of the day, it’s also important to moisturize your skin around your eyes at bedtime. The hours your body gets to sleep are the hours it uses to regenerate itself, so providing your skin with the nutrients it needs to help improve its firmness and elasticity at bedtime should become routine.

Naturally, you can always resort to more expensive and invasive methods to gain more youthful-looking eyes…botox, laser resurfacing or eyelifts…but following suggestions talked about above can make these options a last resort that won’t be needed for many years.