Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Taking Collagen?

I want my ☕ to make me look younger!

Don't we all? It's a delightful thought - being able to mix an odorless tasteless and easily dissolved powder into our coffee and have this result in a younger fresher face... But the truth about collagen in the skin is more complicated than the handy new wave of supplements would have us believe.

Collagen is a structural protein that makes up... well... a lot of things. In our bodies, it's particularly abundant in connective tissue, which is as good a reason as any to try to make sure we have enough of it - doesn't everyone also want sexy bouncy young tendons?

Sadly, neither the collagen in our youthful faces nor the collagen in our youthful joints will be directly augmented by ingesting more collagen. Structural proteins are big, huge molecules (another reason that collagen is kind of useless when applied topically, except insofar as it holds moisture against the skin nicely), and like any other finished protein, they're always going to be dismantled into smaller parts by helpful enzymes in our digestive systems once stomach acid has denatured them. Those smaller proteins and amino acids are sent wherever your body needs them, enabling a total rebuild of whatever protein you consume into more you (as long as what you eat contains enough of the essential amino acids it needs to fabricate structural proteins).

The compelling argument, therefore, for consuming collagen (whether in the form of a powdered collagen supplement or bone broth or just chowing down on gristle, I suppose) is not that it provides collagen that will go directly to the spots we're all hoping for it to go, but that it supplies amino acids in a ratio conducive to the construction of new collagen in areas that can produce new collagen.
This sounds pretty great, and it's your body so if you want to chew the bones, be my guest, but the notion misses two points. The first is that if you're getting sufficient protein in your diet, the ratios aren't hugely important because you'll wind up with plenty of all the amino acids anyway and it's not going to be a problem for your body to build those up into collagen where it's needed. The other is that collagen is really only synthesized in the skin as a result of events that trigger the fibroblasts - little collagen factories deep in the skin. It takes special triggering to engage these cells to do their job after, you know, childhood. A handful of in-office treatments are known to do this. These include, from less invasive to more invasive:

  • microdermabrasion
  • coral calcium peels
  • traditional chemical peels
  • microneedling
  • fibroblast plasma lifting 
To a lesser extent, any time you moderately exfoliate the skin - like at home with hydroxy acids or a retinoid serum - you'll also have a bit of activation, and that activation is cumulative if you keep it up. Sunscreen goes a looooong way to protecting the collagen you do have. Vitamin C is also crucial in collagen synthesis, so I would say, even though it's unglamorous, if you're going to explore supplementation for the benefit of your collagen, Vitamin C is the way to go (and topical is great too)!

Did that answer your qustion? Want to know more? Ready to get on the table? Visit SpaAeon.com for all this and more!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ultrasonic Cavitation

Ready to hear something neat?

If you come to Spa Aeon, we can use sound to scare the gunk out of your pores! And before you ask, no, there is no shouting involved.

Turns out there is an incredible process known as "cavitation" that involves the formation of bubbles or voids as a result of forces acting upon a substance. And it also turns out that certain very high pitched sounds are capable of causing these bubbles in water.

Or as Wikipedia describes it, "If the acoustic intensity is sufficiently high, the bubbles will first grow in size and then rapidly collapse" and in the skincare application of the technology, those collapsing bubbles can be used to dislodge stuck oil, oxidized debris, and dead skin cells that are stuck to your face.

So what does this mean for your skin?

1) Less time extracting
2) Less pressure and poking during extracting
3) Removal of even smaller clogs than can be seen and extracted manually

Another fascinating thing about this device is that younger people are more likely to hear it than older people, and I've noticed that musicians and sound engineers are particularly likely to hear the sound.  How's your hearing?  

Reserve the Infusion Facial (regular price $120; duration 75 blissful minutes) at SpaAeon.com/booking 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yes, eat coconut oil 🥥 No, don't moisturize with it.

Coconut oil is enjoying an unprecedented moment of glory in popular beauty culture, and like many beauty fiends, I love it too!

It's an awesome ingredient with a lot going for it, but it's still just that - an ingredient.

Coconut oil is made up of about 50% lauric acid.  A medium-chain fatty acid that functions as both an anti-inflammatory and an acne-fighter, this is definitely an ingredient I like seeing on those moisturizer labels.

But on its own, coconut oil, like any other oil, is only half the story.

A true moisturizer is made up of an emollient phase and an aqueous phase.  Oils, butters, and lubricants in the emollient phase repair the phospholipid bilayer of the skin cells, and form a barrier against outside invasion.  Some other great emollients are shea butter, jojoba oil, and squalene, found in a variety of home treatment products I offer at the Studio.  But many of the beneficial ingredients available for topical use - whether they are botanical extracts or synthesized nutrients - are water soluble, and must be found in the aqueous phase of a skincare product.

The most important example I can think of is humectants.  Humectants are the ingredients in skincare that bind water into the skin.  These include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and sodium PCA.  Ingredients like these must not only be dissolved in water, but must be present in a formulation with enough water to carry water across the barrier and plump skin, providing cell hydration and allowing cell organelles to function at their optimum health!  In fact, some professionals believe that these moisture-binding ingredients are what make a moisturizer a moisturizer.

Additional great nutrients like Vitamin C, green tea extract, honey, and hydroxy acids are also water soluble, and thus must be found in the aqueous phases of moisturizing lotions, creams, or serums.

For this reason, it really takes a great, well-rounded skincare formulation in which the emollient phase and aqueous phase are properly emulsified to offer you all the benefits of modern skincare.

While coconut oil has a delightful texture and can be enjoyed as a massage oil or hair conditioner with few risks to the skin (it does still contain myristic acid, so not every acne-prone individual will be able to use it), it's not actually a moisturizer on its own.  For topical use, find it in high quality professional moisturizers from your local esthetician.

Schedule with us at SpaAeon.com/booking

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Eat to Heal: Sun Damage Edition

tropical sunset
Sunburn, sun poisoning, sun allergy.  Now your skin is paying, but fortunately there's a way to stop the damage (or at least speed up your skin's recovery system) if you're willing to listen to your body.  Here's the scoop!

Glycation is the name given to a chemical reaction that combines fats and proteins with sugars like glucose and fructose in the presence of heat.  The process of glycation leads to Advanced Glycation Endproducts--the stiffened proteins that have reacted to sugar under heat.  Cells whose proteins have been stiffened this way do not function as they should, and are commonly associated with chronic aging conditions.  In skin, the presence of AGE's presents with a yellowish color, less firmness and bounce (glycated proteins in collagen and elastin cells), and wrinkles.  Cells affected by these pathogenic glycated proteins in the skin are also less likely to heal and replicate properly, meaning that skin will appear damaged for longer after any instance of inflammation.

grilling meat
Three ways to overload your skin with these harmful compounds are by eating smoked, broiled, and barbecued foods, exposing your skin to smoke (whether it comes from cigarettes, bonfires, or the barbecue itself), and of course by experiencing sun damage.  Remember that "sun damage" is a catchall phrase that refers to any and of the effects of the sun on skin, from tanning all the way to severe photodermatitis (sun poisoning).
So to recap: grilling, sun, and smoke...  Sound like a familiar trio this time of year?

As an added bonus, a lifetime of eating sugar promotes the formation of these glycated proteins from the inside out.

Any time the skin's barrier function is compromised (whether caused by the contribution of exogenous glycated proteins, topical irritants, any sort of pathogen, or the endogenous presence of damaged cells that exit as a natural but undesirable part of the aging process), the inflammatory cascade is activated in order to return this vital organ to homeostasis.  When this happens, your capillaries dilate to increase blood flow to the area (which is why skin typically turns pink or even purple where it's wounded), physiological changes occur in the vascular structures and plasma begins to leave the bloodstream and enter tissues at the site of the damage.

So obviously your next step is not going to be to chow down on a burger and ice cream, but are there particular foods you can eat to help undo some of this damage?  Yep!  According to the National Institutes of Health, eating more fruits and vegetables, certain low-fat dairy products, less animal protein, and exposing our foods (especially fats and proteins) to acids such as vinegar and lemon juice are all great ways to slow and reverse the glycation process.  Cooking with liquids (for example, steaming or poaching) also inhibits the "sticking" that occurs between proteins, fats, and sugars during the glycation process.  Consuming AND applying antioxidants like Vitamin C and green tea reverse damage too, so load up this season while the sun's high!

Of course, where would we be if I didn't point out how important it is to wear a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 every day to save your skin :)

Happy Summer!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Light Therapies for Skin

The secret code is 648

You see, 648 (nanometers, to be specific) is the numeric representation of a wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum that corresponds to a pretty, visible red color.

Skincare blogger Nicki Zevola wrote a little something about this wavelength, and the possibility of using it in a cream version over at her blog FutureDerm, and I've been meaning to respond for quite some time!

I am of course totally intrigued by the potential for encapsulating light filters into skincare for targeted results (duh!), and while the technology isn't there yet, I did still want to clarify a few things to make it easier for readers interested in having light treatments, whether at Spa Aeon or a dermatology office.

Nicki explains that the polyphenol responsible for converting UV light to beneficial 648nm focused light is expected to work "because encapsulating the polyphenol with an inert tricalcium phosphate particle makes the product proven to transmit visible red light into the skin."

Presumably this encapsulation is something similar to liposome technology, although this was not revealed in the article.  Here's a picture of a liposome!

Nicki goes on to say that unfortunately, "There is a lot less red LED light exposure from it than a targeted IPL treatment, which has 800 (or more) focused diodes," however I would like to clarify one point for the non-skin professional readers, which is that IPL treatments and LED treatments are very different, and IPL treatments don't even use diodes (they use bulbs!).

Both of these treatments are also very different than laser treatments, despite the terms being used interchangeably here and on other blogs.

You can see the individual diodes
LED treatments are the most gentle light-based version of phototherapy for the skin. The lights (Light Emitting Diodes – juiced up versions of the indicator lights on common electronics, which are used in those applications precisely because they generate very little heat) are warm but not hot, and presuming adequate eye protection, these treatments are virtually zero-risk and can be performed on any skin tone.

IPL treatments are the next step up in terms of results, but also in terms of risks. Individuals with the darkest skin tones must not be treated with these devices. Those with medium skin tones may experience unwanted pigmentation or burns if treatments are not performed correctly. There is moderate discomfort.

Laser treatments differ primarily from LED and IPL treatments in that laser light is collimated, meaning the rays are very nearly parallel – the light sticks together in a precise beam rather than spreading and diffusing across the treatment area. As a result, laser treatments are much more focused and with greater light energy per unit area, these treatments promise some of the most significant results, but come at the greatest expense and with the highest risk and downtime.

It is so exciting to hear that advances in skincare may mean extending the incredible benefits of light treatments into daily life! I can’t wait to hear how the trials on these ingredients turn out.  Stay tuned, and in the mean time visit us at SpaAeon.com for a variety of light-based modality facial treatments!