Learn everything you need to know about astringents including the difference between astringents and toners, who should consider using astringents, the best products to use and the safety profile of this powerful ingredient.
If you’ve been interested in cosmetics then there’s little chance you have not heard about this special ingredient.
But what is an astringent?
Do you actually need it for your skin?
What benefits does it provide?
To put it simply an Astringent is actually a classification that defines properties that certain ingredients and chemicals have.
Any ingredient that is shown to shrink or constrict body tissues is classified as an “astringent”.
This effect is particularly useful for certain skin conditions such as advanced aging and even acne.
But how do these astringents compare to other cosmetic products such as toners?
It turns out that astringents, while very powerful, probably have a more limited use profile when compared to the more versatile toner.
Both have similar effects on your skin and body but they differ in their strength and sometimes ingredients.
With these concepts in mind let’s jump in to help you determine which you should be using…
We said above that astringents work by helping to shrink and constrict body tissues.
This effect extends to your skin as well!
This is one of the main reasons that astringents (and toners) are included in most skin care and beauty regimens.
Don’t you want your skin to be tighter and smoother?
The answer is of course, but astringents also work in other ways.
Another benefit to using astringents is that they can help to naturally balance the pH levels of your skin.
You have to remember that the pH of your skin is naturally slightly acidic which means that it has a pH lower than 7.0 (considered neutral).
But here’s the issue:
What happens when you put cosmetic products on your skin that are not the same pH as your skin?
What happens when you use skin care products that alter the acid mantle of your skin which is there to protect your skin?
Doing either of these things will result in changing the pH and making it more basic.
This is a problem especially when you consider that certain ingredients HAVE to be at a certain pH to work!
This is true of Vitamin C serum and it’s true of other ingredients as well.
And this is where Astringents step in.
They act to naturally restore pH balance to your skin.
But that’s not all they do.
In addition they also help to naturally fight off bacteria and even fungus.
Remember that your skin is the biggest organ on your body and on it lives a huge ecosystem of bacteria.
Some bacteria are good, and others are bad.
But it’s in your best interest to keep these bacterial species in harmony with one another.
An overgrowth of bad bacteria may lead to skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.
So using an astringent may naturally help maintain this harmony and keep your skin looking fresh and amazing.
And lastly, astringents may help to cool down inflammation, reduce the healing time of sores and reduce natural oils in the skin.
Much of these benefits occur through the astringent itself but also through tannins which exist in many naturally occurring astringents.
Tannins are naturally occurring products found most commonly in foods that provide many of the benefits listed here.
Is an astringent the same thing as a toner and will using a toner provide the same benefits as an astringent?
These are good questions and the answer is not super clear.
We often use the word toner and astringent synonymously or interchangeably but these two things are not the same.
While astringents typically do act as a toner for the skin, not all toners have astringents.
Confusing? Sort of.
Astringents are basically much more powerful formulations of toners which contain similar ingredients but at a fraction of the potency.
Consider the example of witch hazel.
Witch hazel is both an astringent and a toner, but the main difference has to do with how it is formulated and the concentration of tannins during this process.
Typical witch hazel toners often contain very little to no tannins due to the distillation process that occurs during formulation.
Compare this to non distilled witch hazel which contain up to 195% more tannins.
Because we know that tannins provide many of the benefits to astringents it’s easy to see why astringents are basically much more powerful versions of toners.
Does that mean one is better than the other?
Not necessarily, but you should definitely consider your situation before you jump out and purchase either.
Astringents tend to work better for those people who have tougher to treat skin conditions such as acne, persistent rashes, dermatitis and so on.
Whereas toners may be better for everyday topical application to help KEEP the skin looking good.
If you are having trouble understanding the difference think of it this way:
Astringents are very powerful and they should be used sparingly (overuse can dry out the skin).
Toners are not quite as powerful (but still great for the skin) and can be used topically every day (sometimes multiple times per day).
The type that you use depends on your skin, your sensitivity and what skin problems (if any) you are currently dealing with.
Astringents can also be a powerful tool in the treatment of acne.
But they can also be a double edged sword.
What do I mean?
The positive benefits of using astringents in acne include increased wound healing, bacteria fighting properties and pH balancing effects.
Astringents can also promote dry skin and trigger an increase in oil production and actually promote breakouts.
When it comes to acne the best approach is to tailor your treatment to your skin, and the same approach should be used when considering astringents.
You’ll find that almost every 3 step acne system contains a toner which usually contains witch hazel.
Toners are different from Astringents.
So the best approach to using astringents for acne may be to use astringents only IF you have VERY oily skin.
And even then make sure that you don’t overdo it with daily application.
In addition, if you notice a worsening in your breakouts it may be best to switch to a toner.
If you have “run of the mill” acne then using a daily toner as part of a 3 step system is probably your best bet.
Now that you have an idea of how astringents work we can talk about specific products.
The two most common astringents included in cosmetic beauty products include witch hazel and glycerin.
Some of the more “powerful” astringents often include alcohol, cider vinegar and high concentrations of witch hazel with tannins.
These can be very irritating and rough on the skin, so instead of shooting for these it may be a better option to go with the more gentle (but still powerful) toners.
These toners have similar properties as astringents but are much more gentle on the skin!
They have also been formulated in such a way to include other nourishing ingredients to help calm irritation and reduce pore size.
Witch hazel is probably the single most common astringent in beauty and cosmetic products.
Witch hazel is also included in the treatment of other skin diseases such as hemorrhoids and is very common in medical products.
Witch hazel has been shown to have natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may be the reason why it is included in so many products.
You can see an example of a high quality witch hazel based toner below:
Glycerin can often be added to other ingredients to help reduce irritation associated with astringents but still take the place of the “alcohol” component.
Glycerin has been shown to improve the “hydration status” of the skin, especially when applied topically.
Glycerin based products are often combined with other natural plants and substances such as lavender which act to nourish the skin.
If you’ve used witch hazel before and didn’t get the results you were looking for then you may want to try glycerin based products such as this one:
In most cases you will probably want to stick with a toner over an astringent simply due to how well toners are tolerated.
If you fall into any of the following categories, however, you can still consider using a powerful astringent:
If you don’t fall into any of these categories then you may want to stick to a high quality based toner which are well tolerated among all skin types.
The most common side effects of using an astringent too often is usually just dry skin.
But long term use of powerful astringents can also alter pH levels on the skin, increase your risk of developing breakouts and acne, and potentially alter bacterial concentrations on the skin’s surface.
You can prevent these negative side effects by reducing how often you use your astringent or simply switch to a toner (which is less powerful).
Before you look into using an astringent make sure you understand that these products are very powerful and typically best used for those who suffer from VERY oily skin or acneic complexions.
For most other individuals it may be best to stick to the less intense but still powerful version of astringents known as toners.
The best and most widely used astringent and toning compounds include witch hazel and glycerin.
Toners can be used daily and often provide superior results for many different skin types.
Now I want to hear from you:
Are you using an astringent?
Has it worked for you?
Or do you prefer toners instead?
Leave your comments below!
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the skin lightener Arbutin including how to determine if you should use it, which side effects to look out for, how to use it safely, which products are the best and more.
Let’s jump in:
So what exactly is Arbutin?
To put it simply it is a special ingredient which naturally helps to reduce and lighten the color of your skin.
With this special mechanism it is put into the class of products known as skin lighteners.
But why do people want to “lighten” their skin?
It turns out that as you age your skin starts to develop uneven skin color and uneven skin tone.
This largely has to do with the effect of aging on the skin, but the end result is that the face may look blotchy and discolored.
Skin lighteners provide a cosmetic way to naturally even out the skin tone and bring back youthful looking skin!
Because of this effect skin lighteners have become incredibly powerful.
Arbutin makes it into this class of products and may be one of the best and safest in this class (more on that below).
Arbutin works by inhibiting an enzyme found in melanocytes known as tyrosinase.
Melanocytes are the cells in your skin which confer pigment and coloring to your skin.
The interesting thing about melanocytes is that they work by increasing melanin production which provides tints or color gradients to the skin.
So if you can “turn down” the production of melanin in the melanocytes you can effectively lighten certain areas of the skin and reduce the overall pigment (even from what is normal for your body!).
Arbutin comes in two forms that you need to know about:
It’s important to understand the basics of cosmetic ingredients and how they work because it should influence which products you want to purchase and buy.
Often times you may see two different products that are considerably different in price and you may not understand why – much of this has to do with how the products are made and manufactured.
The more expensive products almost always work better because they contain the right formulations and right concentration of active ingredients.
This concept holds true for Arbutin!
Make sure that you purchase products that contain alpha arbutin instead of the other alternatives.
You’ve probably heard of the powerful skin lightener known as Hydroquinone.
But how does it differ from Arbutin and is one better than the other?
When we break down the difference between these skin lighteners we find that Arbutin is actually a derivative of Hydroquinone.
What this means is that Arbutin works through a similar mechanism as Hydroquinone but is not quite as powerful.
Hydroquinone is naturally found in several plants such as bearberry, blueberry, cranberry and pear trees.
Both Hydroquinone and Arbutin act by blocking tyrosinase activity which blocks the production of melanin (this is why they are both skin lighteners).
Remember if you block the production of melanin then your skin cells are not able produce pigment and their color will fade over time.
The main difference between hydroquinone and arbutin is that hydroquinone is slightly more powerful.
The downside to this is that hydroquinone will require a prescription and it may have more potent side effects.
Because of these variables many physicians and patients opt to use Arbutin over hydroquinone.
It may be a good idea to consider hydroquinone if you have a very stubborn hyperpigmentation issues or if you’ve failed other skin lightening treatments.
Otherwise it might be safer to jump in with Arbutin.
What about Kojic acid? How does Arbutin compare to this skin lightener?
Kojic acid is another skin lightener that is also available over the counter and is often found in many lightening formulas.
Kojic acid is created as a byproduct in the formation of fermented rice and then concentrated in high amounts and placed into cosmetic products.
Kojic acid works by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase much like Arbutin.
But are both products equal in terms of efficacy?
Some studies have pointed to the fact that kojic acid may be a slightly more powerful skin lightener than arbutin when they are compared head to head – especially for treating hyperpigmentation such as Melasma.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use kojic acid over Arbutin.
One of the downsides to using Kojic acid is that it is not quite as stable as Arbutin when it is put into cosmetics.
This means that kojic acid is more likely to break down and become less effective over time in certain cosmetic products.
There are two main types of kojic acid found in cosmetic products:
Kojic acid (this is the one that you want).
And Kojic acid dipalmitate (this is the version you don’t want).
Kojic acid dipalmitate is more stable than kojic acid but not nearly as powerful.
This has lead many manufacturers to include the more stable (and cheaper) version of kojic acid in their products.
But the problem is that it isn’t as effective as regular kojic acid!
So even though that Arbutin is not quite as powerful as Kojic acid it is much more stable in cosmetic products.
If you purchase a high quality kojic acid product this probably isn’t an issue, but if you are on a budget then it’s probably best to go with Arbutin over kojic acid for that stability.
So we know that Arbutin is definitely effective as a skin lightener but does that mean that you should jump in and start using it?
Before you do the next question you should be asking yourself is this: is it actually safe?
The answer is yes!
Arbutin is actually quite safe, especially when compared to other products such as hydroquinone.
One of the potential risks of using Arbutin is that it can actually become converted into Hydroquinone under certain alkaline circumstances.
Basically if the pH is high enough (meaning there is a basic environment) Arbutin may turn into Hydroquinone.
The good news is that the surface of your skin is not an alkaline or basic environment so the risk of this happening is quite low!
So yes, Arbutin is safe as long as it doesn’t turn into hydroquinone which shouldn’t be a problem.
There is a difference between Arbutin being safe and having side effects, however, which is what I want to touch on next.
The safety profile has more to do with the products ability to cause harm, while the side effect profile has more to do with how well the product is tolerated.
Just because Arbutin does not cause damage or harm to the skin doesn’t mean that it will necessarily work for your skin or that you won’t have any side effects.
The good news is that most people who use Arbutin will not experience any bad or negative side effects.
Most of the side effects that people experience while using Arbutin will be positive ones such as more radiant lighter skin.
But some people who use Arbutin may experience redness, irritation and even a rash.
These side effects are rare but you should still be aware of them.
Rarely some people will not experience any skin lightening effect and may actually experience some worsening of their hyperpigmentation.
This may have to do with a rebound reaction of melanin production that can sometimes occur with the use of hydroquinone.
This is a rare side effect but you should be aware of it before you use arbutin!
If it is going to work, how long should you expect to wait before you see results?
Arbutin (like other skin lighteners) tends to work quickly and you should expect to see some skin lightening within the first 4 weeks of use.
Further lightening may continue for up to several months.
Another point worth mentioning is that the skin lightening you experience with Arbutin is NOT permanent.
Once you stop using arbutin your skin may revert back to what it was previously.
For this reason it may be wise to continue application with high quality ingredients as long as you achieve your desired results.
With this in mind let’s talk about how you can use Arbutin and what kind of products are best.
Arbutin can be combined with several different types of cosmetic products but perhaps the two most efficient forms include arbutin cream and arbutin serum.
Arbutin cream is probably best for people who want to even out the entire skin tone of an entire body region.
If you have age spots, sun spots, photo-damage, freckles, etc. that are somewhat blotchy throughout your entire face then a cream may be best to reduce and even out the skin tone and complexion of that region.
For best results you’ll want to use an arbutin face cream in both the morning and the night for at least 4+ weeks.
I recommend using a product such as this if you need to target an entire area:
Another alternative to arbutin cream is arbutin serum.
While cream may be better for large surface area you can think of serum as being better for targeted treatment or more difficult to treat cases of hyperpigmentation.
Serum works best for those people who suffer from the deep purple hyperpigmentation associated with acne, for those suffering from melasma, or those who need a more targeted approach.
If you just have a few areas on your face that worry you then it’s best to use a higher potency arbutin and put the product only on the areas that need it.
So think about serum as a more targeted approach while the cream is more of a shot-gun approach.
If you decide to use a serum I recommend a high quality product like this one:
Arbutin is one of many natural and powerful ways that you can reduce and lighten your skin coloring.
When compared to other alternatives it may be one of the preferred methods for skin lightening even though it’s not quite as powerful as hydroquinone or kojic acid.
The reason for this has to do with how safe it is to use, how well tolerated it is and how stable arbutin is when formulated to certain products.
Remember that it may take up to 4 weeks for the lightening process to kick in so if you plan to use it make sure that you use it for long enough.
Also, if you decide to use it as part of a regiment to target hyperpigmentation such as melasma you may benefit more from the serum formulation over the cream formulation.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you used arbutin before?
Are you currently using it?
Has it worked well for you?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
Are your lips dry, dull or chapped?
Maybe they look fine and you want to naturally improve their size?
Either way this is the post for you…
This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about lip plumpers including how they work, how to use them properly, which ones work the best, what side effects to look out for and other tips and tricks to enhance your lip volume.
Let’s jump in:
I probably don’t need to tell you
Your lips are a central and very important cosmetic feature on your face because from a scientific standpoint they stand out due to the changes in skin texture and color of the surrounding skin.
Study after study has shown that the appearance of the lips is a very important factor for determining the aesthetic perception of the female face.
With this in mind it’s easy to understand why you would want to spend some time trying to improve the cosmetic value of your lips!
We also know that your lips tend to become more flat and more thin as you age (or as you damage your skin from photo-damage).
This has lead many people (and even scientists) to start developing products designed to enhance the size and appearance of the lips.
The end result is a product known as “lip plumpers”.
These products help to improve the size of the lips, the texture and the softness.
Basically they make your lips look bigger, more full, more plump and softer.
But how do these products actually work?
Because the skin of the lips is different from the surrounding tissues it is much more susceptible to damage – especially from the elements.
Your lips therefore tend to dry out, become chapped and even lose their color or luster faster than other areas of your face.
These small and subtle changes can actually be blunted or stopped by using certain ingredients or compounds.
These compounds help to restore moisture directly to your lips which in turns help them retain their plumpness and color.
Ingredients which have been shown in clinical studies to have this effect on your lips include niacin, emollients, hyaluronic acid, human growth factors, marine filling spheres and tripeptide growth factors.
Basically any product that contains any (or all) of those ingredients WILL help to improve your lip volume.
When we talk about lip plumpers there are basically two categories to discuss.
The first is the lip plumpers that are topical such as glosses, creams and gels (this article focuses mostly on these types).
The second type of lip plumpers include the injectables which often contain hyaluronic acid.
We won’t focus on the injectables much in this guide simply because they tend to be much more expensive than glosses and gels and they tend to carry with them risks that gels do not have.
The average cost for lip injections ranges from about $500 to $2,000 per injection and even these injections do not last forever (your body eventually “eats” up the hyaluronic acid).
In addition because they are injectables they carry with them a small risk of infection.
Injectables are very nice, however, for those people who aren’t concerned about money or for those who have a hard time remembering to apply gels/creams and glosses on a daily basis (in order for lip plumpers to work you must be consistent!).
Another added benefit to the injectables is that they provide almost IMMEDIATE results whereas the plumpers listed here may take several weeks to kick in completely.
Regardless of which route you choose just make sure that you pick the route that you are most comfortable with.
I’ve included a list of pros and cons of using lip plumpers and why they are my preferred route:
If you’re still ready to jump in then I’ve provided what I consider to be some of the best lip plumpers on the market based on their ingredient list and their reviews.
Each of the lip plumpers listed below also include scientifically studied results which have been shown to work in most people.
The key to choosing the right lip plumper is to find one that works for YOUR body and this may take some trial and error – so don’t be afraid to jump into one and give it a try for a few weeks.
If it doesn’t work then changes are high that one of the others will.
First on the list of high quality lip plumpers is the Just Kissed lip plumper by Jane Iredale.
One of the reasons that this plumper is so effective is because it uses a lot of essential oils and natural products found primarily in plants.
It also contains natural vitamins which help to naturally hydrate and give volume to the lips.
This lip plumper works great with an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars.
This will work in about 70-80% of people.
The benefit to using this lip plumper is that it does NOT contain as many chemical compounds and inactive ingredients as other lip plumpers.
It’s also a more natural approach to plumping the lips with many botanical (plant) based ingredients.
Grande lips works through a different mechanism when compared to other products because it contains a special ingredient known as sodium hyaluronate.
Sodium hyaluronate is a form of hyaluronic acid which is used primarily to help hold moisture and bring hydration back to the skin.
The sodium hyaluronate form is a special form which is much smaller and is better absorbed into the skin when compared to hyaluronic acid which means that it brings even more moisture to the area.
In addition this product contains both caffeine and Niacin which help to bring in blood flow and provide a plumpness to the skin.
You probably know about Niacin because if you take too much of it by mouth you may end up getting an extreme “flush”.
So imagine this happening to your lips but in a much smaller scale!
You’ve probably also experienced the rush you can get when consuming caffeine (both mentally and physically) so you can imagine this benefit on your lips as well.
The combination of hydration, moisture and blood flow all work together to plump your lips when using this combination.
Grande Lips has an average rating of 3.0 out of 5 stars.
This doesn’t mean it doesn’t work or that it’s a bad product, instead it means that it is less likely to work for all people.
It still works and works well (I’ve used it and it works for me!) but it seems that not everyone gets the same benefit.
It may take some trial and error to determine which lip plumper works well for you.
The good news is that lip plumpers (especially when compared to other cosmetic products) tend to be relatively cheap.
So it may take an investment of $40-50 total to figure out which one works for you.
One disadvantage to this lip plumper is that it does contain more chemical ingredients when compared to other products.
If you tend to be very sensitive to chemical ingredients then it may be a better option to start with a more natural product like the one listed above.
Jouer essential lip enhancer is kind of a hybrid between the other two lip plumpers already listed here.
This product helps to promote lip plumpness with hydrating and natural ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, shea butter and jojoba seed oil but it also contains a special ingredient known as Maxi-lip.
Maxi-lip is designed to help promote the natural synthesis and creation of GAG’s or glycosaminoglycans.
These are special compounds which help absorb and hold water.
So the idea here is that these ingredients help your lips naturally retain water like the other products but in a slightly different way.
Essential lip enhancer helps your body naturally produce its own Hylauronic acid as opposed to directly providing it.
Jouer essential lip enhancer has an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5.0.
Like the other products listed here it tends to work well, but it really depends on the person.
One thing worth pointing out is that this is more of a cream/conditioner than a lip gloss when compared to the other products.
It also may need to be used 3x per day compared to twice per day with the other products.
When it comes to plumping up your lips you HAVE to be consistent with the application of whichever product you decide to use.
Should you be concerned about using lip plumpers?
Does improving the size and look of your lips come at a cost?
It may surprise you to know that these products are surprisingly well tolerated!
That means that most people who use them do not experience any negative side effects.
But, like anything, it really depends on the person.
There have been some reports in scientific studies of patients presenting with what is known as contact urticaria when using these products.
Urticaria is a hives like reaction that occurs when the body comes into contact with certain chemicals or ingredients.
The good news is that this reaction is not very common and the treatment is to stop using the product which will cure the problem rapidly.
The only other negative side effect that you may experience is that you may not see your desired results!
This has less to do with the product and more to do with how you react to it.
Just realize that as long as you aren’t putting anything INSIDE of your lips or your skin the risk of any negative side effect is very low.
What about lip plumping devices? How do these compare to lip plumping products?
Lip plumping devices work by applying a suction cup like effect with a sustained pressure (and sometimes a vibratory component) which act to bring blood flow up to the surface of your lips and into the capillaries.
Your capillaries represent the endpoint between your arteries and veins and that is where your body exchanges oxygen.
The goal with these devices is to create a “swollen” or “plump” look in your lips that mimics what would occur if you had a bruise (without the discoloration!).
The idea is that you can control the amount of stimulation to the area without causing any negative reaction or bruising discoloration.
Most of the time they do work, but the benefits are VERY short lived.
If you choose this route be prepared to use your lip plumping device somewhat frequently because the results only last a few hours to days.
These devices may be good to use if you have a special event because they tend to work more quickly than topical products.
It’s also worth pointing out that topical products do not last forever either, they typically last weeks to months and in order to maintain your results you must continue with the product.
Is there anything else you can do to plump up your lips?
There are some other tips that you can take advantage of that may help you to improve your results.
Note though, that these things don’t necessarily plump your lips up by themselves but they can and should be done in addition to using a lip plumper!
The first thing you should do is HYDRATE.
By hydration I mean drinking plenty and plenty of water.
The “chapped” look that some lips get may be due to dehydration and poor nutrition status!
You can fight this appearance by drinking plenty of water.
Not only is water healthy for your body it is also amazing for your skin.
Sometimes just drinking 8 glasses of water each day is enough to clear up the skin and plump it up.
The second thing you should do is moisturize your lips with something like Vitamin E Oil.
You’ll notice that some of the lip plumping products above (at least 2 of them) ALSO contain Vitamin E.
But you can take it one step further by adding in high potency Vitamin E oil that you apply directly to your lips.
High concentrations of Vitamin E can help to moisturize the skin, reduce inflammation and may protect the skin from aging.
Using a Vitamin E oil like this one should do the trick.
The last thing you’ll want to do is avoid damaging your lips Avoid excessive sunlight!
Excessive sunlight can damage the skin on your lips and may also create the chapped appearance that everyone wants to avoid.
If you go out in the sun make sure to use a high quality sun block and make sure to use protection like a large brimmed hat!
Lip plumper products are an easy and effective way to give you plump and soft lips.
They can be used in combination with other facial products and they are VERY well tolerated.
These products usually provide results in as little as a few weeks and most people who use them have at least some improvement (up to 80% of people).
If you aren’t sure where to start then I usually recommend using a more natural and plant based formula which has fewer chemical ingredients.
But now I want to hear from you:
What is your lip regimen?
Have you tried any of the plumpers on this list?
What has your experience been?
Leave a comment below!
Are you suffering from dark spots or uneven skin tone and color?
If so then kojic acid may be the solution to your problem.
Kojic acid is a special ingredient that helps lighten the skin and reduce dark spots (including age spots).
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about Kojic acid including the benefits, side effects, how to use it and which products are ideal based on your circumstances.
Let’s jump in:
So what exactly is Kojic acid and is it even good for your skin?
Kojic acid is a chemical that is made during the natural fermentation process of rice when making Japanese rice wine.
This byproduct has some very potent (and beneficial) effects on your skin – namely it helps to reduce the pigment and can actually LIGHTEN the skin.
This may not sound like a big deal until you realize that one of the #1 complaints among aging women (and men) is the changes to skin color and texture as they age.
Science and the cosmetic industry actually has pretty good ways to treat wrinkles.
Therapies such as Vitamin C serum, topical tretinoin, anti-aging serums, botox, dermal fillers and so on can actually help reduce wrinkles.
But what about evening out the skin tone?
This is actually a big complaint and one of the reasons for the rising popularity among skin lighteners is because they can even out skin tone and reduce hyper-pigmentation.
So what do I mean when I say hyper-pigmentation?
This is a general word that is meant to describe basically any uneven skin discoloration.
It could be from inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, it could be from acne, it could be from age spots and so on.
Basically anything that causes damage, or is completely natural, and results in an uneven color on your skin can be classified as hyper-pigmentation.
And this is exactly what Kojic acid is supposed to treat and “even” out.
But does it work?
Actually, yes, it works quite well for most people especially when compared to other skin lighteners (but more on that below).
One of the major benefits of Kojic acid is that it is easy to purchase (you can get it over the counter) and is relatively SAFE especially when compared to other skin lighteners such as hydroquinone.
In addition, kojic acid has been shown to be almost as effective as hydroquinone and other skin lighteners but it has the added advantage of not carrying with it the side effects on the skin such as redness or irritation.
So how does Kojic acid work?
In order to understand how it works you need to understand some basics of how your body creates pigment in the skin.
Pigment is produced through cells known as melanocytes which sit at the bottom of the upper layer of your skin known as the epidermis.
When melanocytes get “triggered” they produce melanin which then creates a darkening of your skin.
When you get a tan your body reacts to protect the skin by producing more melanin and it is this melanin which gives your skin the darker color!
So it follows that the way to reduce skin color and tone is by targeting these melanocytes and that’s exactly what kojic acid does.
Kojic acid inhibits an enzyme known as tyrosinase which is necessary for the production of melanin in melanocytes.
By inhibiting this enzyme your skin will naturally lighten over time as your body and cells create less melanin!
So the main benefit to using kojic acid is to reduce the natural pigment in your skin and lighten your skin.
Because kojic acid is an ACID it also has some potential benefits when fighting off certain bacterial strains and fungal strains that can take up residence on your skin.
For this reason kojic acid is sometimes included in products that are designed to treat fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot and other yeast infections.
The anti-bacterial benefit is also why kojic acid is often included in acne creams/gels.
This effect occurs pretty much wherever you have hyper-pigmentation which has lead people to use Kojic acid all over their body and is one of the reasons that kojic acid has been included in many different types of products.
Kojic acid is often included in various types of products ranging from soaps to serums to gels and creams.
The main goal when using kojic acid is to find the right type of product based on the results that you want.
For more isolated and deeper pigments you will want to focus on gels and serums which tend to be more powerful.
If you are looking to “lighten” up large areas of your body then soap is probably best.
If you are looking to treat acne then a kojic acid cleansing complex will do better.
With that in mind let’s talk about the various types of kojic acid products:
Kojic acid soap is often less powerful than other versions of kojic acid products but it tends to work well to gently lighten larger areas of the skin.
Many people who have naturally darker colors (Fitzpatrick skin types IV through VI) may find some benefit to using kojic acid to lighten large areas of their skin including more intimate parts of their body.
Other people find success using kojic acid soap in lightening their underarms and other creases in their body in which they may be self conscious about the coloring.
Because this soap is less powerful than other versions this may work out well for many people.
I recommend using a well tested and high quality product such as this if you opt to use the soap form:
Kojic acid cleansers are best used for those who suffer from acne and need the added benefit that kojic acid provides to reducing both pimples AND the post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation that may follow with this problem.
Cleansers tend to be less potent than gels and serums but they are also less expensive and work well to even out skin tone, color and complexion.
Kojic acid gels and serums tend to be better for age spots, melasma and other difficult to treat pigmentation diseases because they are more powerful.
Because they are more powerful they are often more expensive and the bottles tend to have less when compared to kojic acid cleansers.
People who do best on kojic acid gel/serums include those who are more interesting in anti-aging, those with age spots or those with melasma.
You can see my recommended product below:
One major concern of many people who try out skin care products is the safety profile of the ingredient.
And you should be concerned!
You don’t want to put anything on your skin which hasn’t been tested or proven to be effective.
When it comes to kojic acid this particular ingredient is usually VERY well tolerated.
That means that most people use it without experiencing any serious or negative side effects.
The most common side effect when using kojic acid is what is known as contact dermatitis.
You can think of contact dermatitis as basically a rash in which your body reacts with redness and irritation to certain chemicals or ingredients.
The treatment for this issue is to discontinue whatever agent is causing the problem and it will fade naturally over time.
As long as you use kojic acid 1% (and no greater) then you shouldn’t run into many issues.
Another potential issue worth considering is that the blocking of melanin may actually make your skin more susceptible to sun damage.
Remember that melanin is created to PROTECT and ABSORB ultraviolet light from the sun!
If you block the production of melanin you are in effect making your skin more sensitive to the sun and even tanning beds.
So while using Kojic acid make sure you don’t exposure your face (or whatever body part you are using it on) to excessive sunlight.
This probably isn’t an issue though, because if you are using kojic acid to lighten your skin you are probably naturally avoiding the sun already.
Can Kojic acid be used to treat acne?
The answer is yes, but probably not how you realize.
It doesn’t actually treat the acne (pustules and pimples) but it DOES help to reduce what is known as post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation that can occur in those people who struggle with acne.
You’ll know what I am talking about if you have acne because even after a pimple is gone you may see a purple or red mark where the pimple was and this mark can stay for MONTHS.
This is known as post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation and THIS is the part of acne that kojic acid can help treat.
Remember that hyper-pigmentation is the result of overproduction of melanin and in the case of acne this can be triggered from the acne itself.
The use of topical kojic acid can help calm down the skin and even out skin tone and color.
This is one of the reasons that many acne products do contain some kojic acid.
But note that this is NOT a replacement for a standard 3 step skin care regimen if you have acne.
You should still continue with regular use a cleanser, toner and moisturizer if you have acne but you can always add a kojic acid cream at the end of this regimen to help with the hyper-pigmentation if you wish as well.
Kojic acid is NOT the only skin lightener in town!
In fact the “standard” skin lightener used among physicians and cosmetic dermatologists is a prescription known as hydroquinone.
It turns out that hydroquinone works in a similar way to Kojic acid (it blocks the production of melanin) but it also takes it one step further by potentially destroying some of your melanocytes.
This added effect makes hydroquinone a more powerful skin lightener when compared to kojic acid (but probably only slightly).
More powerful is not necessarily a good thing, though!
One of the main issues with hydroquinone is that, even though it works, the benefits of hydroquinone tend to fade once you stop using it.
So even if you start to notice a reduction in hyper-pigmentation when using hydroquinone you will have to continue using it indefinitely for the results to stay.
It’s worth pointing out that kojic acid is NOT a permanent lightener either – but it definitely has a better safety profile when compared to hydroquinone and long term use of kojic acid is less worrisome than long term use of hydroquinone.
Another potential downside is sometimes discontinuing hydroquinone can cause a rebound hyper-pigmentation and make pigmentation conditions even worse for a short period of time.
Because of these issues many patients (and doctors) tend to prefer safer over the counter alternatives to hydroquinone.
Arbutin is another (perhaps less well known) skin lightener that would fall into the “natural” category.
But is Arbutin better than Kojic acid?
In terms of how effective they both are they are probably equal in that category, but what about stability?
Arbutin basically comes in two forms:
Kojic acid comes in two forms as well:
Is one necessarily better than the other?
As long as you are purchasing high quality products then it really shouldn’t be an issue.
But it may be worth considering arbutin if you are worried about stability because it tends to be more stable and less “fragile” to the environment than kojic acid.
Some arbutin products, while more stable, may be more expensive as well which is another factor to consider.
But you really can’t go wrong in choosing either if your goal is skin lightening because they both are effective.
Kojic acid is one of many great and natural skin lighteners which can be used directly on the skin with impressive results.
The type of kojic acid product that you use depends largely on what your main goal is.
Those who are seeking to treat difficult hyper-pigmentation diseases will probably do better with more powerful and targeted kojic acid such as serums and gels.
Kojic acid is generally well tolerated and most people who use it experience positive benefits without any negative side effects.
If you decide to use kojic acid be prepared to use it for several weeks before you start noticing results!
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you used kojic acid before?
Did it work to help lighten your skin?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
Copper for your skin?
How would using a metal or element help your skin?
It sounds crazy but it actually works, and it works well.
Learn more about how using copper peptides can beneficially impact your skin and reverse the aging process in this post, including which products to use.
Copper makes the list of very important trace elements (or trace metals) that your body needs to survive and thrive.
You can consider copper in the same category in terms of its importance to your body and skin.
It is well known that zinc deficiency can cause skin disorders, thyroid dysfunction and so on.
What is less well known is the importance of copper in certain functions in your body.
This probably has to do with the fact that most of us are NOT copper deficient (compared to zinc where many people are).
But like other ingredients and products we can take advantage of the beneficial effects of copper by creating special products, serums and creams which penetrate into the skin and provide certain benefits.
There is a big difference between using products orally (by mouth) and transdermally (through the skin).
You can think back to the case of Vitamin C.
Even though we know that vitamin C is very important for your skin, it doesn’t matter how much vitamin C you take by mouth – none of it actually makes it to the skin.
For this reason Vitamin C serums are amazing for your skin!
Because you can bypass the oral route and skip straight to the source.
This analogy is helpful when we consider using copper, because the same logic applies.
So how does copper help?
As far as your skin is concerned copper is critical to the production of a special ingredient known as collagen.
You know… that stuff that helps your skin look younger, feel firmer and reduces wrinkles?
The very same stuff that declines with age.
So how does it work?
Without getting too technical you can think about it like this:
Copper is part of a larger molecule which is known as an enzyme.
These enzymes initiate and start important reactions in your body, such as the production of collagen/elastin, melanin formation and so on.
The problem is that these enzymes only work if copper is attached to them.
So if you have low copper concentrations then the enzymes don’t work as well.
If the enzymes don’t work as well then elastin and collagen synthesis will be decreased.
So with this logic we can apply copper directly to the skin to enhance the function of these critical enzymes!
So now that we know how copper works in the skin we can start to talk about the benefits you might get while using it.
It turns out that because copper is so important that it influences MANY systems in the body.
We will limit our discussion to the benefits of your skin (but just realize that copper is also important for regulating inflammation and so on).
The benefits of copper peptides on your skin include:
Because of these beneficial effects copper has been added to multiple medical devices and even used in post surgical healing!
Relevant to this article is the fact that copper peptides have a beneficial effect on the AGING PROCESS.
This means that copper can (and should) be used as part of a multiple step skin care regimen designed to target and reverse the aging process.
Copper is also valuable for those people who may not be able to tolerate high concentration vitamin C serum or don’t have tretinoin available.
Studies have shown that copper peptides, when applied to the skin, show a boost to collagen types I, III and V:
This may be the reason that copper as an anti-aging effect.
Furthermore copper is also beneficial because it actually helps to balance out the bacterial/fungal concentrations on your skin and it is considered “biocidal”.
You know if you’ve suffered from acne before that an imbalance in bacteria on your face can lead to hyperpigmentation, cysts and acne.
Copper may help to regulate a normal bacterial concentration on the skin.
With all of these benefits does using copper peptides come at a cost?
Copper peptides are generally very well tolerated which means that they have few side effects.
Some people have reported the following symptoms when using copper, however:
These side effects tend to disappear once you discontinue copper and they tend to be rare.
In most cases these side effects occur when copper is combined with other powerful ingredients such as Vitamin C serum and Tretinoin.
Because copper peptides are relatively new to the cosmetic world they are not necessarily easy to get.
Really only high quality products will contain enough copper to promote a difference.
It’s also important to make sure that if you decide to use copper peptides that you get your copper in the right formulation.
Copper can exist in both the metallic and ionic form and most people are used to thinking about copper in the metallic form.
But when we are talking about the skin you want your copper to be in the ionic form because if it isn’t then it can’t bind to enzymes and promote the functions we want.
Ionic formulations of copper do NOT look like the “standard metallic copper” that you are used to and they do not have the classic copper appearance.
This means when you open your copper containing product you shouldn’t expect it to look copper!
So where can you get the right type of copper peptides in the ionic form?
I’ve provided a list below!
The Clue copper contains copper bound to a 5 chain pentad peptide.
This formulation also contains other anti-oxidants such as Vitamin A and B complex vitamins.
Combination copper tri-peptide growth factors with 15% L-ascorbic acid.
Super serum advance + is a great product because it combines vitamin C serum with copper for an even greater effect.
Watch out for side effects when using this product, however, because Vitamin C and copper make a potent combination.
As long as you have normal skin (and not sensitive skin) you should be fine, but be weary if you have super sensitive or light skin.
The Neova creme contains a copper peptide complex formulated in a moisturizer.
Make sure to use this at the end of your skin care regimen and after you cleanse/tone your skin.
So should you jump into using copper peptides?
Maybe! But it’s not for everyone.
The people who stand to benefit the most from using copper peptides usually fall into one or more of the following categories:
These general guidelines may help to determine if copper will work for your skin type!
Copper is another great potential anti-aging tool that can be used to fight the aging process.
I find the most success when recommending the use of copper peptides in combination with Vitamin C and/or Tretinoin.
Be careful when using this combination, though, because it can be tough for your skin to handle if you have sensitive skin!
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you tried using Copper peptides before?
Did they help your skin?
Did you tolerate them okay?
Leave your comments below!
Have you heard about the Obagi skin care line?
Do you want to know more about the products?
This guide will teach you basic information about all Obagi products including who should use which products, which products to avoid and which products are considered the best.
Let’s dive in:
Quick NavigationThe Best Obagi ProductsPROSCONS#1. Obagi Retinol#2. Obagi Nu Derm System (6 Product Line)#3. Obagi Hydroquinone#4. Obagi 360 System (3 Product Line)#5. Obagi Eye Cream (ELASTIderm Eye Products)#6. Obagi Vitamin C Serums#7. Obagi CLENZIderm SystemObagi Buying Guide – Where can you get these Products?
If you’ve spent any time researching high quality skin care then I’m sure you’ve at least heard of the Obagi skin care line.
If not let me fill you in on the basics:
Obagi is a medical grade skin care line that was developed by a physician (Dr. Obagi to be exact) and it was designed to include high quality ingredients designed for medical spa’s and cosmetic physicians.
Because it is a medical grade skin line, and it was intended to be prescribed by Doctors, some of their products actually contain pharmaceutical grade ingredients.
This only includes a small part of all Obagi products, as you might imagine, so not all are this way.
But the fact that some products require a Doctors prescription is a testament to the efficacy and strength of some products.
Really the only two ingredients that require a prescription include Tretinoin and Hydroquinone.
Tretinoin being a Vitamin A derivative and Hydroquinone being a powerful skin lightener.
Obagi also has other product lines available which include a “watered-down” version of some of these prescription products with more natural products designed to do the same thing.
The idea with these products is to allow everyone to be able to use Obagi products and not just those who visit their Doctor!
Obagi has been around since 1988 and is mostly found in Medical Spa’s, Plastic Surgeon offices and Cosmetic Dermatology offices.
There are ways to get legitimate Obagi products through the internet (which we will discuss below) but up until recently it was hard to get them outside of these sources.
With that background under your belt let’s talk about the specific of each product.
Before we jump in let’s talk about the Pros and Cons of Obagi products in general.
While Obagi does have some great products they certainly don’t have the “best in class” products in every single category.
When it comes to cosmetic products there are pretty much basic categories and all major companies have their version in each category.
These categories include:
Almost every brand has some product that fits into these categories.
The difference among the brands is the ingredients that they use (natural vs synthetic), the quality of the ingredients, the source of the ingredients and so on.
You can expect that because of these variations certain brands are better at some things and worse at others.
Obagi is no different!
It’s great in some ways and not so good in others.
If you were interested in anti-aging, reducing wrinkles and lightening your skin – then Obagi is the brand for you!
If you are interested in clearing up your skin from acne – then you may find better success with other products.
With that in mind we can break down some basic PRO’s and CON’s of using Obagi products:
Now that you have an idea of what Obagi is good for, let’s discuss the individual product lines.
Retinol, along with Vitamin C serum, may be one of the best ingredients that you can put on your skin.
Retinol is basically a derivative of Vitamin A that is designed to be used on your skin.
Many clinical studies have shown that the application of Retinol (and tretinoin) reduce wrinkles, reduce fine lines and make the face look younger.
Much of this effect seems to be mediated by the effect that Vitamin A has on skin cell turnover.
Under normal circumstances it takes around 50-60 days for your skin to “turn over” and replace itself.
When using Vitamin A (like retinol) this process is heavily accelerated and may go down to 21-28 days!
Basically your skin is turning over twice as fast and this effect seems to make the skin look and feel younger.
In a nut shell that’s how it works, so how does Obagi retinol fit in here?
It turns out that not all Retinol products are created equal.
In order to get the results that I just spoke about you need to make sure that you are using a product which has a HIGH enough concentration of Retinol in it.
Unfortunately the guidelines for skin care are such that producers do NOT have to tell you how much of an ingredient is in their product.
This means that hundreds of products may claim to contain retinol, but very few have enough of it in their formula to actually make a difference.
Obagi is one of the few brands that actually does have enough which is why it can be very effective.
One potential downside to using high quality ingredients (especially in this case) is that retinol containing products may actually cause irritation, erythema and dermatitis.
This is a testament to the fact that they work, but it’s worth noting.
Sometimes when using Retinol products you may need to “ease” into the dosing and application to prevent the redness that may come.
If this does happen it’s a sign that you are getting enough product and that it will work.
But for sensitive people it may be a good idea to start out on a low dose (something like 0.5%).
If you know you’ve used it before and haven’t had any problems then you should be fine using the 1.0%.
Obagi Retinol is a high quality product and it tends to work for most people.
One study (industry funded) showed that up to 90% of people who used Obagi retinol had some noticeable improvement in their skin and said they would continue to use the product.
My experience suggests that it’s probably closer to 70-80%, but this is still a very high number!
The Obagi Nu derm system is a 6 step (well actually 7 but the last product is optional) complete system designed for patients to help reduce the aging process.
The product set includes a cleanser, a toner, a deep moisturizer, a skin lightener, a light weight lotion and exfoliator and sun block to top it off.
The product set is designed to be prescribed by physicians and does include some products which require a physicians prescription.
Recently some of the ingredients (in the hydroquinone product) have been changed to allow people to use them over the counter.
The Obagi Clear was changed to include Arbutin vs Hydroquinone.
Arbutin is a more natural skin lightener compared to hydroquinone which is a prescription strength skin lightener.
The Obagi Nu derm system works great but the best part about the system is that it can be mixed and matched with other products.
This means you don’t have to use all 6 steps in the system!
If you already have a cleanser and a toner then you can bypass those parts of the product line and just get the skin lightener and exfoliator.
The power in this system is the fact that it covers all aspects of skin care.
The biggest downside is that it requires a lot of up keep which means that you will be applying a lot of different creams, lotions and cleansers throughout the day.
It absolutely works, though, if you can stick with it.
You can read more about the individual products in this system and how to use them appropriately here.
The Obagi Nu-Derm product line is an effective 6 step skin care system but the problem is the cost.
This product is obviously designed for all products to be used with one another, but it is still possible to cherry pick certain products and mix and match their skin care line with other products from other brands.
This is generally how I recommend that you use the Nu Derm system.
If you don’t want to deal with that, or if you have enough money, then you can simply purchase the 6 step system.
If you want to mix and match then I recommend starting with the Blender and the Clear Fx products which tend to be the “best” compared to other products in the line.
Hydroquinone is a prescription strength formulation designed to help lighten the skin.
It’s useful to counter such pigmentation issues like age spots, sun damage, freckles and melasma.
And it turns out that this is exactly what most women want as they age.
Instead of focusing on wrinkles, people tend to be more concerned with the overall TEXTURE and LOOK of their skin.
As we age the texture becomes rough and spots start to speckle the face, hands and neck area.
In many cases women can look much younger by focusing less on the wrinkles and more on the quality and color of their skin.
That’s exactly what hydroquinone does.
Hydroquinone is not available over the counter, though, but because Obagi products include prescription strength products it can be purchased through the Obagi-C Rx system.
The downside to this option is that you will need to get this set (if you want a hydroquinone product) from a cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
If you don’t need the hydroquinone then you can try the non prescription option which is the Obagi Clear Fx product.
This product contains Arbutin which is a plant based hydroquinone product that is not quite as strong but still may be effective for many people.
Hydroquinone is a prescription strength medication and it absolutely does work.
The key to success is using a high enough strength – in this case you will want 4%.
Using hydroquinone should be used with physician guidance, however, as you may need to cycle on and off of this product.
The reason for this is that occasionally, if used incorrectly, your hyperpigmentation can come back.
The Obagi 360 system is a smaller system designed specifically for younger adults (aged 20-40 years old).
It’s like the Nu Derm system but smaller and more manageable for people who don’t quite need all of the bells and whistles of the Nu derm system.
The 360 system contains an exfoliating cleanser, a retinol (0.5%) and sun block.
While pretty much everyone needs a cleanser (regardless of age) and pretty much anyone can benefit from retinol (at any age) it seems like a decent 3 step system.
Unfortunately it’s kind of pricey for what it includes, and the best product in this system is no doubt the Retinol product.
The 360 system may be good for younger patients, but it might just be better to individually purchase the Retinol and use another Cleanser/Toner combination from a different product set.
The idea is great, but the 3 step system probably would have been better as a cleanser, toner and retinol combination.
Some people have success with this system while many prefer to mix and match other products.
This package deal may be good for those people who have normal skin (oily or dry skin will probably have a problem with this combination) and just want an easy solution to take care of their skin.
But if you are more cosmetically minded and you want to take much better care of your skin then an easy 4 step system would be a cleanser, toner, vitamin C serum and Retinol combo.
If you want to try this system out then you might consider just using the Retinol product first and mixing it with your current cleanser.
This Obagi eye cream is pretty straightforward:
It contains a combination of Malonic acid and B vitamins which help nourish and firm up the skin.
The result is fewer wrinkles and firmer skin.
Malonic acid has been shown to help promote the growth of fibroblasts in the skin.
We know that the decline in fibroblast activity may be involved with the decline in collagen which results in wrinkles and the changes in our skin we associate with aging.
If we can improve fibroblast activity then maybe we can slow down the aging process.
That is the idea behind Obagi eye cream.
The B Vitamins are designed to help nourish the skin and we know that a deficiency in B vitamins often present with skin conditions such as erythema and rashes.
Obagi ELASTiderm may work for many people but you have to consider your options and how much improvement you are looking for.
Using facial creams and serums may only improve or reduce your wrinkles by up to 30% or so, compared to injectables and fillers which may reduce it up to 70-80%.
Just make sure you have an idea of what your goals are before you purchase any product designed to help with your skin.
Along with Obagi Retinol, the Vitamin C serum may be one of Obagi’s best products.
Vitamin C serum is another highly effective skin care product that should be a part of almost every skin care regimen.
Vitamin C has been clinically proven to help reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture and naturally lighten and brighten the skin.
The trick to getting all of these benefits has to do with how the Vitamin C serum is formulated.
In order to get these benefits your vitamin C serum must meet the following criteria: Be in the ascorbic acid form, have a pH of around 3.5, have a concentration of up to 20% and be contained in container which blocks sunlight.
As you might have guessed many products claim to be effective but they don’t meet the following criteria.
This is one of the reasons for the price discrepancy among Vitamin C serums.
If you decide to use Vitamin C serum (which is a great idea!) make sure you use the right kind.
Obagi’s Professional C serums fit the bill and they are highly effective.
Another benefit to using these serums is that they come in different concentrations, ranging from 10% to 20%.
This is helpful because some people may need to titrate up their dose over time to prevent irritation of the skin.
Yes, Obagi professional C serum will work just as well (if not better) than other industry leading vitamin C serums.
This isn’t true of all Obagi products, but it is true of the professional C serum.
When using Vitamin C serum make sure that you start out on a low strength (10% in this case) and then slowly increase each time you run out of the bottle with a goal to get to 20% vitamin C concentration.
If you find that you react with redness, dry skin or irritation then reduce your application down to every other day or go back down in concentration.
The Obagi Clenziderm 3 step system is specifically designed to fight acne in young teens and 20-30 year old adults.
You can essentially compare this 3 step system by Obagi to the 3 step system by Proactiv (except this system is much better in my opinion).
The system contains a cleanser, an exfoliator and a moisturizer.
The trick here is that instead of using heavy moisturizers (which can actually promote acne) it uses a lightweight lotion that contains Benzoyl Peroxide which helps fight bacteria on the skin.
The initial cleanser, as well as the exfoliator, both contain salicylic acid which also helps fight acne.
The 3 step system is definitely worth considering if you are a young adult or teen that is suffering from acne and looking for a high quality substitute to the potentially damaging systems such as Proactiv.
Like any acne product it may not cure YOUR acne.
This system is effective against acne which is the result of an imbalance of bacteria on the skin but will most likely not help with hormonal acne.
Most people, around 70% of those people who try it, see improvement within several weeks when using this system.
The key to success is to use it as indicated and to not miss a day in the regimen.
Normally Obagi products were only available through authorizer retailers who have contracted with Obagi.
And because Obagi was not only difficult to get, but very effective, many knock-off and counterfeit products started to pop up on places like Amazon and Ebay.
This made purchasing Obagi products online difficult to say the least.
More recently, however, Amazon has partnered with certain brands (Obagi included) and now certain buyers on Amazon are considered authorized retailers which do indeed sell the legitimate products from Obagi.
These people can be identified by looking for the “Professional Beauty” or the “Luxury Beauty” tag under the Price area.
If you see that sign then you know the product is legitimate!
If you prefer, though, you can still go into your local Medical Spa, Cosmetic Dermatology office or Plastic Surgeon to get these products.
Either way I hope you are able to find these awesome products and get the results you have been looking for!
Are Obagi products the best around?
Not necessarily, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t have some great products.
When it comes to your skin there is no substitute for simple tried and true trial and error.
If you are serious about improving the quality of your skin then please make sure that you don’t take my word, but that you start practicing with various products.
This will help you find exactly what YOU need.
I know from my experience that I’ve found a regimen that works for me – but I’m always trying new things as well.
But now I want to hear from you:
Have you used Obagi products before?
Did they work for you?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
Are you interested in lightening your skin or reducing the appearance of age?
If so then the Obagi Clear product may be what you are looking for.
Learn more about using Obagi clear including who should use it, how it works, why it works and the side effects associated with this facial cream:
Obagi clear is the name of one of the products in the 6 step Obagi Nu Derm system.
If you haven’t read about that system I would recommend you take a look at it here.
The obagi nu derm system is a 6 step system designed to target all aspects of the aging process and really helps to promote healthy vibrant skin.
Obagi clear is the third step in this system and its job is to help skin tone.
It does this by helping to lighten the skin through some very special ingredients.
But before we talk about the Obagi Clear we should take a few minutes to talk about what Obagi is in general.
If you’ve ever been to a medical spa or dermatology office then no doubt you’ve heard or have seen Obagi products.
Obagi is a set of cosmetic and dermatologic products created by medical professionals which contain scientifically backed ingredients that have been rigorously tested for efficacy.
What does that mean for you?
Basically it means that Obagi products have the scientifically tested ingredients and they have been shown to be effective.
Does that mean they will work for everyone?
Well, not necessarily – but it means that there is a HIGH chance that they will!
So with that in mind let’s talk about the specific of Obagi clear.
As I mentioned previously the goal of using Obagi Clear is to help lighten the skin.
But why is this even a concern?
It may surprise you to know that the #1 concern for aging women is NOT wrinkles.
It’s actually the change in skin texture and the addition of age spots.
Now this makes sense if you think about it.
There is a huge focus on the use of cosmetic dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle products such as Botox or Juvederm.
Even if you didn’t want to use those you could still consider the use of laser therapy or over the counter hydration wrinkle filler serums that actually do improve wrinkles.
So from that perspective it seems like the wrinkle issue has been covered really well.
But what about skin texture and color?
That one is a little more obscure and even though many women want a change they may not even be sure how to get it.
Traditionally lightining and brightening the skin was the job of high quality Vitamin C serum or other plant based products such as Kojic Acid – but these may not be effective for everyone.
This is where Obagi clear steps in:
Obagi clear contains an ingredient known as Arbutin.
Arbutin acts directly on the melanocytes in your skin and PREVENTS the formation of new melanin or new pigment by blocking the tyrosinase enzyme.
If you don’t care about the science so much let me break it down:
Basically your body creates melanin which you can consider the pigment of your skin when it is exposed to certain conditions – sunlight, UV light, age, etc.
Tyrosinase is a critical enzyme in this process and if you can block this enzyme then you can REDUCE the amount of pigment being created.
So that’s exactly what Arbutin does.
The awesome part about arbutin is that it is a naturally occuring plant based substance which comes from the bearberry plant.
This is beneficial because most plant based products tend to be much less irritating!
If you’ve spent any time researching your skin you are probably aware of another skin lightener known as Hydroquinone.
You can think of hydroquinone as a much stronger version of arbutin but one that requires a prescription from your Doctor and one that may cause irritation in certain patients.
Hydroquinone is definitely worth knowing about, though, because it may be effective in many people.
One of the potential downsides of using hydroquinone is that once you stop using it your pigmentation issues may return which means you need to cycle on and off this product.
But does that mean you shouldn’t use it?
Not necessarily, like anything you want to make sure that you find what works best for YOUR body and it may take a little bit of trial and error.
So going back to Arbutin for a minute, what conditions will it help and who should use it?
I’ve provided a list of potential people and conditions that may benefit from the use of Arbutin found in Obagi clear:
This is another frequent question that I hear.
And it makes perfect sense.
If Obagi Clear is part of a 6 step system then can it be used by itself?
And the answer is a resounding yes.
Almost all of the Obagi products in the Nu Derm system can be used and mixed and matched with other products outside of Obagi and they still work quite well.
In fact that is generally what I recommend to people who are just starting out.
Because it would be silly to assume that only one company has the BEST product in every category!
That’s not true by a long shot.
And this problem is further complicated by the fact that each person is unique and different.
So the bottom line is you may want to try just 1 or 2 of the Obagi Nu derm system before you fully commit to it.
Active ingredients (these are the ingredients that make Obagi clear work):
Inactive ingredients (these ingredients help create the texture, smell and help stabilize the active ingredients):
Obagi products do tend to be quite effective but it is worth noting that they do contain many chemical ingredients.
If you are more naturally inclined and like to stick to organic or plant based facial products then this may not be the product for you!
This is also true if you have HIGHLY sensitive skin – you may want to skin to plant based serums and creams.
In general Obagi clear is very well tolerated and has few side effects.
Very rarely some people may actually notice an increase in pigmentation (this is a very rare side effect).
Other individuals with very sensitive skin may break out with rashes or bumps on their face.
These side effects are rare but do happen and they can be completely eliminated when you stop using the cream.
Traditionally Obagi products were only available through a medical provider.
As a company Obagi does their best to prevent counterfeit products and limits selling the product to certain third parties.
In the past that meant that if you wanted to purchase Obagi you needed to go to your local Med Spa to get it.
That isn’t the case anymore.
Now there are verified and legitimate third party distributors on Amazon that sell the real product.
You can identify these legitimate third parties by looking for the “professional beauty” tag underneath the price tag.
I’ve provided a direct link to make it easier for you or you can search for it by yourself if you prefer!
Does Obagi clear work?
The answer is yes and it’s most likely due to the combination of arbutin and Vitamin C which both promote the same thing – skin lightening.
While it is a very effective serum to help with hyperpigmentation syndromes it is not the only product with arbutin in it.
Make sure that you spend time evaluating your skin and finding the best product for your face!
This may take some trial and error but you will get there over time.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you used Obagi clear before?
Did it work for you to lighten your skin?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
This post will go over all of the pros and cons of using the iS Clinical Cleansing Complex including why it’s great for those with gentle skin, who should consider using it and the complete list of both inactive and active ingredients.
If you’ve been considering purchasing or using this cleansing complex then read this review before you buy!
The iS Clinical cleansing complex is simply a gentle cleanser, but it has some interesting qualities and ingredients that make it particularly useful for certain people.
A cleanser is a word used to describe a type of face wash that is commonly used in a multiple step skin regimen to help men and women get superior results for their skin.
The first step in any skin care regimen is to help “cleanse” the skin, but it does much more than that.
Most of the time our skin doesn’t actually get that dirty, unless we put something like make-up on it.
Instead cleansers are used to help “slough” off the the dead skin cells and help prevent the “gluing” of dead skin cells to the oil on your skin and onto your face.
This combination is really what is felt to be at the cause of most cases of acne (although this isn’t entirely true either!).
And while cleansers aren’t necessarily a cure-all treatment for acne they are still very useful because they can help reduce the chance that you will break out.
One of the big problems with cleansers is that they aren’t well tolerated by people, especially those with sensitive skin.
Face washes and cleansers often have very powerful alpha hydroxy acids and other ingredients that are meant to cleanse the skin and exfoliate dead skin.
The problem is that these added ingredients often cause reactions, irritation, red skin and can even lead to more acne!
So what’s the solution?
The solution is to create a skin care product that can help slough off dead skin cells but that does so without actually irritating the skin.
And that’s exactly what the iS clinical cleansing complex is supposed to do.
This is a tougher question to answer because each person has such a unique need for skin care products.
Your skin is going to be different than my skin which is different from your neighbors and so on.
This is why finding the right type of face wash that fits your complexion and oil production is so important!
In my experience, and as someone who has struggled with adult acne and who has probably spent thousands of dollars on skin care products over the years, I can say that this is definitely one of the better cleansers out there right now.
It’s gentle but still leaves your face feeling clean and refreshed.
It’s also not nearly as harsh as some other more powerful products such as those found in Obagi or PCA skin care lines.
Active ingredients (these are the ingredients that actually make the product effective) include:
Inactive ingredients (these ingredients help stabilize the active ingredients)
In general you want to have as few inactive ingredients as possible because these inactive ingredients often cause irritation and redness.
Believe it or not (despite this long list) this is actually a relatively small amount of inactive ingredients compared to many other products!
iS Clinical products are generally only available from certain retailers which can make it difficult to find for some people.
That generally means you need to head into a local medical spa or dermatologist office to find it.
Luckily there are legitimate retailers who are “approved” by iS Clinical to sell on Amazon (just make sure you are purchasing from the RIGHT buyer).
This cleansing complex is a great starting complex especially for those people who have irritable skin and for those adults who still suffer from occasional acne.
It will be gentle on your skin but strong enough to fight off oil production and help exfoliate!
But now I want to hear from you:
Have you tried this product before?
Did it work for you?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
Active serum is the flag ship and one of the most popular products of the iS clinical line of skin care products.
Active serum is a special plant based serum designed to help reduce fine lines, reduce wrinkles, improve the quality and texture of your skin and reduce the frequency of blemishes or acne.
Overall it’s supposed to help increase the quality of your skin and act as a supplement to an existing skin care product line.
But does it actually work?
Let’s dive into this product a little deeper to figure out if it’s worth the money…
VERY high quality product (especially compared to most serums on the market)
Price is moderate to high, but worth the spend if you can justify it
Can be added to existing products and skin care lines to enhance results (I use this almost daily)
What makes active serum so special?
When it comes to facial products the best facial products often are plant based as opposed to synthetic based and that’s exactly what active serum is.
It’s really a combination of special plant based products that naturally help improve the quality of your skin.
These plant based products are effective at brightening the skin and complexion as well as controlling acne.
Most people will see a significant difference in using this product in as little time as 4 weeks (of daily use).
Active serum is best classified as an “anti-aging” product because, while it helps several areas, its main focus is to improve the general quality of the skin.
In addition to improving the skin you may also notice (this varies from person to person) an improvement in your complexion, a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, a reduction in break outs, and a fading of age or dark spots on your face.
These benefits are produced in large part due to 4 main botanical ingredients:
You will notice that some products contain the synthetic version of Glycolic acid or salicylic acid and these synthetic version can have more dramatic and harsh effects on the skin (depending on the concentration).
The advantage to using botanical version is that they tend to be less irritating to the skin but still provide much of the same benefit.
Does active serum have any negative side effects?
It is true that most people will not experience any issues using this serum some people may have irritation, redness or dryness with daily use.
This is not a reason to necessarily stop using the product!
Instead you may just need to drop back down to every other day use until your body becomes “accustomed” to the serum.
Some people may also experience slight tingling with daily application and this is completely normal!
Again, this is not an indication to stop using the serum.
Because it contains plant based formulas of products it tends to be well tolerated.
If you are interested in purchasing iS clinical active serum please see all of the information below:
No! Active serum is a paraben-free product.
No! Active serum doe snot contain retinol.
This means it can be used in conjunction with retinol containing products (both over the counter and prescription retinol products).
You can read more about retinol here.
You can get active serum in 0.5 ounce and 1.0 ounce bottles.
It’s a better deal to get the 1.0 ounce bottle so I would recommend that.
If you aren’t sure if active serum will work for you then you can purchase your first bottle at 0.5 ounce and then buy the 1.0 ounce bottle for future purchases if it works for you.
You only need to use 1-3 drops per day (depending on the surface area of your face) because of this the bottle will last 2-4 months.
You can also make the bottle last longer by applying the serum to the places that you have issues with.
If you have age spots on your cheeks, then you can only apply 1 drop to this area (which will make the bottle last up to 6 months or more).
It is recommended that you use this product every day if you tolerate it (preferably after cleansing the face).
Yes! Active serum is produced in California.
Yes! Some tingling is normal and is caused by the concoction of botanical ingredients in the product.
The tingling may fade over time.
The color of the serum may change due to the harvesting of the plants and the time of the year that they are harvested.
A slight change in the color is not an indication that you have purchased a poor quality product and may simply be caused by the different dates in which the botanical ingredients were harvested.
This is normal and the product will still work.
Active serum can be used by itself or in conjunction with other products.
It’s really meant to be used as an addition to a 3 step skin care combination: cleanser, toner and moisturizer.
If you already have a skin care line in place then you can simply add it to your existing regimen.
If you aren’t familiar with basic cleansers or toners you can read more here.
Both products can be used for anti-aging purposes but the pro-heal contains different ingredients as well as 15% Vitamin C serum.
Vitamin C serum has many benefits for the skin and can be added as part of a regimen and even used in conjunction with active serum.
If you are interested in learning more about vitamin C serum I recommend you read this post.
From the manufacturer:
Is Clinical Active serum is a great addition to an existing skin care regimen or if used by itself.
Active serum works so well because of its botanical and plant based ingredients and naturally concurring sources of powerful skin care ingredients.
If you decide to use active serum make sure you purchase it from a reliable source!
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you used active serum before?
Did it work for you?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!
Using facial cleansers is important for women, but especially for men.
Men can benefit from the exfoliative power of certain facial cleansers which can help reduce skin aging, promote youthful skin and halt the aging process.
Learn how to use the best face cleansers in men for various issues that men face in this post:
I will answer that with a resounding yes!
Many people think that men do not need to use facial products because their skin is tougher or because they are already shaving.
What they don’t realize is that men need to treat their skin with care to prevent the aging process and help them look younger!
Using regular body soaps on the face can cause damage by stripping away the natural oils on the face.
Stripping away these oils may leave the skin dry and damaged and promote irritation, dryness and sometimes premature aging.
In addition, some men suffer from occasional pimples or acne which can also cause inflammation at the level of the skin and lead to skin damage long term if they aren’t dealt with.
Using high quality facial products can leave your skin feeling refreshed while encouraging healthy pH levels and both collagen and elastin production.
So what are men supposed to do?
The single best thing they can do to prevent skin damage is to find a facial cleanser that is targeted to their skin type!
This means focusing on 3 major areas which we will discuss below:
If you suffer from sensitive skin it is very important to find a gentle cleanser to help accommodate your complexion.
Harsh cleansers, even cleansers that contain all natural but powerful ingredients, may cause damage to your skin if you are sensitive which may lead to premature signs of aging.
Because of this it’s important to find a balance of high quality ingredients but at a dose that isn’t too powerful.
How do you know if you have sensitive skin?
Men with sensitive skin often experience irritation, redness or dry skin after using various facial products.
Men with this type of skin may have lighter colored hair, may have issues tanning, or may have some redness in their hair color.
The best cleanser to use with sensitive skin is the iS CLINICAL Cleansing Complex.
This cleansing complex combines effective and gentle components that leave your skin healthy and purified.
It has White willow bark extract (source of Salicylic acid) and Glycolic acid that gently exfoliates and removes dead skin cells and helps to unclog pores and prevent breakouts.
In addition, this complex comes in a gel form which is naturally hydrating and does not strip the skin of its natural oils.
The cleanser contains chamomile extract, with this soothing and calming extract it will not make skin red, itchy or tight.
Another great ingredient is the Centell Asiatica, this is a powerful antioxidant with healing properties that help diminish the appearance of premature aging.
It also is paraben-free, which is a plus and makes it great to use with shaving.
Learn more about using iS clinical cleansing complex here.
For best results you will want to use this cleanser both morning and night. You also don’t need to use a toner with this product (another bonus!) because it contains pH balancing ingredients.
Men who have oily skin or acne-prone skin with larger than normal pore size tend to do best with a cleanser that reduces sebum production, treats active break outs and prevents future break outs.
Cleaners with higher concentrations of Salicylic acid tend to be the most beneficial for this condition.
Men naturally produce more sebum (or natural facial oils) than women due to higher concentrations of testosterone.
Some men tend to be more sensitive to the testosterone in their body and may therefore present with symptoms of oily skin.
Managing oil production is very important because chronic inflammation from recurrent pimples can damage the skin and cause premature aging.
Also, it may lead to very large pore size later in life.
So which cleanser should you use?
The best cleanser for acneic skin is the Obagi Clenziderm foaming cleanser.
This cleanser contains 2% Salicylic acid which is designed to be gentle yet effective at removing dead skin cells, dirty and oil.
The 2% Salicylic acid helps by dissolving the type of skin debris that clogs pores and help promote a cleaner and more balanced complexion.
Salicylic acid will help reduce the number of blackheads and whiteheads on your skin and may even treat cystic acne (which is a deeper acne).
This lightweight cleanser will also NOT dry your skin out!
This cleanser also comes equipped with menthol which will help soothe and cool irritated skin and existing acne blemishes.
Even better is that this cleanser will keep your pH balanced and you should see results (and notice fewer breakouts) within 1-2 weeks.
This product is also paraben-free.
You can learn more about using Obagi CLENZIderm foaming cleanser here.
For best results you will want to use this cleanser up to twice per day (in the morning and night).
Nowadays many men are interested in maintaining the youthful appearance of their skin!
What is more interesting is that you can prevent or slow down the aging process by putting the right ingredients on your skin and in your body.
As we age our natural cellular turnover slows down, the elastin and collagen begins to break down and this all causes fine lines and wrinkles in the skin.
This process also results in characteristic “age spots” as well.
To prevent this process it is essential to provide the skin with the proper professional grade skin care products to protect it from the process of aging.
One of the best cleansers for anti-aging is the Anthony Glycolic Facial cleanser.
It has 4.9% glycolic acid which exfoliates away dead skin cells, and increases cellular turnover to reveal healthy skin.
This cleanser also has Vitamin C and E, these are powerful antioxidants that help with skin repair.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, slows the rate of free radical damage to collagen that can contribute to dry skin, fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin E helps protect and repair your skin and help prevent premature aging while Vitamin A works to prevent wrinkles.
It is also a great exfoliator which helps to remove dead skin cells that could clog pores.
It also speeds up cellular turnover while boosting collagen and elastins.
For best results you will want to use this cleanser at least every night (but every morning as well if possible).
The key to getting anti-aging results is consistency! So keep at it.
You can learn more about the Anthony Glycolic Cleanse here.
Beyond using a cleanser you will also want to use these tips to help keep your skin young, healthy and clean!
The most important aspect of keeping your skin healthy is to remain consistent.
Some men tend to focus only on their skin whenever it is a problem (and this is a mistake).
Instead make sure you invest in your skin and make it a habit of using your cleanser each and every day.
One way to remember to use your cleanser is to put it in the shower.
Using your cleanser in the shower helps you not only remember but can make the cleansing process even easier.
For best results you will need to have damp skin, so if you don’t use it in the shower make sure to get your face wet before application.
For those who suffer from acne or acneic skin it’s important to replace your pillowcase frequently.
Your pillow can attract dust, dead skin cells and oil from the night before.
Each night as you sleep you may roll your face around in old oils which can adhere to your face and lead to further acne.
Halt this process with frequent pillow changing.
If your main focus is on anti-aging then one of the most important things you can do is to start at an early age.
Prevention is ALWAYS easier than a cure (in fact there is no cure for wrinkles and aged skin but you can slow it down).
Slowing down the aging process is much easier than trying to reverse it – and much less expensive.
The products listed in this review are all high quality and I have been using them on my male clients for a while.
If you are using a face wash make sure to spend a little bit extra to get the right high quality ingredients.
Low quality ingredients can actually damage the skin.
Likewise it’s also very important to use the right type of ingredients.
Do your best to target your facial products to your skin type and skin quality.
Use products designed to treat acne if you have acne, use products designed to reverse aging if you want anti-aging, etc.
All men should spend some time finding the best face cleanser for their body!
Using the right high quality product will help to slow down the aging process and keep the skin looking young and healthy.
Stick to high quality products with high quality ingredients whenever possible.
Now I want to hear from you:
Have you been using a facial product?
Has it worked well for you?
Why or why not?
Leave your comments below!