St. Ives scrub?

If I had been charging people, every time I got asked my opinion on St. Ives scrub, over the last decade alone, I would have made some serious buck. Clients and students always want my professional opinion when discussing products and my honesty doesn’t always align with what they want to hear, probably because over the counter, cheap product is easily accessible, and their ads are everywhere, eventually convincing you these scrubs are a must have. The truth started surfacing some time ago and there was even a lawsuit, which got dismissed by the judge due to plaintiff’s inability to directly prove cause. Facts still stand, St Ives scrub is without a doubt horrendous to your skin, put aside the fact that the class action lawsuit created their own case studies to exhibit the damage rather than use actual researched cases, which is why the judge tossed it in the first place, there are no proper studies to show the damage it causes. No double-blinded studies, as proper researchers would use anyway. No one has time for that! Instead it’s our job, as service providers to educate, then present you, the consumer with a better choice.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of using many scrubs, beautiful products that contain potent ingredients and more polished exfoliators. Regardless of which of these products you choose, you should never over-exfoliate. No more than twice a week for thick, textured and oily skins and once a week for drier, more mature types. During exfoliation you should pay close attention to not get overly aggressive in areas of chronic redness, (we all get it, particularly on the cheeks and nose) those with sensitive, easily irritated skin would benefit from using a gentle terrycloth facial towel to simply wipe off their cleanser, the terrycloth texture offers more than enough exfoliation. (just ensure you have a nice, clean towel for each wash)

Signs that you are over-exfoliating? Look for tight, shiny forehead, red and irritated patches of dry skin, acne like breakouts, dehydration and fine lines (think of the land in drought)

What is happening!? You see, on average, most healthy people in the teens, and 20 to 30’s will produce new skin cells at the basal layer and push it through the other four layers of the epidermis, to prepare for natural sloughing, every 28-30 days, approximately, add additional 10 days for each decade after 30 to accommodate for aging and slowdown of cellular turnover. We get great skin by helping speed up this natural process, but we are humans and over-abusers. In our brain, we get this idea that we are glowing, our products absorb better and work better so we figure, if once a week gives me radiance, then every day will be even better! FULL STOP! NO…

Simply put, over-exfoliating puts our skin into a frenzy. Not only is the environmental protection stripped but the sebaceous glands (those pesky white and black heads and oil on the skin) are sending a signal to the brain that there is no oil or stratum corneum left, so brain will respond by telling your glands to produce more, (oily skin needs a moisturizer too to help keep skin happy, but that’s a story for another time) and more oil, more new cells = more clogging, among other issues, such as sensitivities to your environment and other ingredients. (the number of clients that tell me they are allergic to skincare is alarming by the way!)

We need to get back to the purpose of this article, we know the skin is amazing and capable of many feats, protection, sensation, heat/cold regulation, excretion, secretion, absorption and my favourite, wound healing! In fact, many advanced treatments rely on this wound healing cascade, to signal a release of our own growth factors, to help produce new collagen, everyone’s favourite side effect of “hurting” the skin. That said, clinical studies, one after another all signal to same outcome, injury needs to be controlled, even and at a right angle (90°) into the skin in order to produce the best outcome post healing (Dr. L. Setterfield, 2013)

Sadly, for all those fans of St. Ives scrub, even at cosmetic level, it exfoliates your skin unevenly, it does cause uneven abrasions and has a potential to get caught and lodged in to the skin, which can lead to further inflammations, infections and worse breakouts.

I told myself, I would keep this one short, so to make good on my word, if you must use an exfoliant, use one that has biodegradable, spherical beads, no more than once a week. My current favourite is by Vivier, Vitamin C scrub, and as far as St. Ives scrub goes, I wouldn’t even use it on my feet!

Natural Products

The overwhelming desire to tear apart companies, who claim “natural”, “organic”, “free of…” (fill in the blanks) is high today, so instead I will write about ingredients/chemicals, without targeting specific companies or people. It’s only fair, because in the end, everyone is just trying to make a living, even if they use fear-mongering tactics to gear you, the consumer, towards their products.

I am always astounded, by marketing strategies some companies use to lure consumers to spend, that this excerpt from the world renowned scientist Doug Schoon, comes to mind:

“I don’t know of any artificial nail coating products that can justifiably claim to be “organic”… which incorrectly insinuates that the ingredients were grown by organic farming methods. Do you think some manufacturers just don’t realize they are being deceptive? Or, do you think they are trying to deceive you?” This quote can be applied to any product available for consumer purchase.

Aside from Doug’s brilliant mind, he is an internationally recognized scientist, an author and educator, with over 30 years of experience in the cosmetic and beauty industry. Any serious technician, skin expert, aesthetician and the like could benefit greatly from learning from him, either through his numerous educational textbooks or his face-to-face with Doug Schoon series. These are the kind of “tricks” that are widespread in the beauty industry. I’m saying, no one is safe from the attacks in order to steer you in any direction.

My focus with this article, are all too common terms we hear, such as “natural” and “organic” as if somehow chemicals are bad for you? To put this in simple form, everything we can touch is matter, a physical substance that (distinct from mind and spirit) occupies space and possesses mass. This includes you! You are made up of about 99% oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. We are a beautiful balance of chemicals, yeah, broken down to the bare atoms. Ultimately, everything you can touch is made up of interacting subatomic particles. Without going around the circles too much, that glass of water (H2O) is a CHEMICAL, yet we can’t live without it, even better, air we breathe, oxygen (O) is even a more essential chemical for our survival.

That out of the way, let’s quickly, establish a major drawback with naturals and organics. They have a self-regulating body (association).

Organic ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms or ionizing radiation. Organics are great if we are ingesting the products.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate the terms “organic” and “natural”, so whatever claim your “moisturizer jar” makes, you have to trust its accuracy, you have to trust the manufacturer. Without getting any deeper, all of the OTC (over-the-counter) products must be made safely. Meaning, they are designed to be rubbed, sprinkled, poured, or applied to the skin for the purpose of beautifying without the effect on the deeper skin structures. Next time, you grab a jar of moisturizer randomly, please remember, it will sit on the surface layer of your skin, and give the appearance of plumper or radiant skin, temporarily, much like your make-up. (This includes natural, organic, and OTC) Let’s not forget all those once upon a time, “professional” brands that sold out to high street retailers!

Companies and manufacturers rely on frightening the consumer with statements, such as: “If you can’t pronounce the ingredient…” In my humble opinion, if they spent half as much effort on their research and development, they might come up with a decent product, rather than scare you away from the competitor. This world would be a much better place, at least for those that have to deal with correcting the misinformation they spread.

Let’s take a random example of Raphanus sativus, a scientific term that describes a species of a common radish. Radishes have great many benefits for our health when ingested in their raw, whole form. Jam-packed with antioxidants that help our bodies fight free radical damage. Extracted components of a radish, (concentrated) can have major impact on the skin, not always pleasant.

I have had the opportunity to use a hydrating moisturizer (Natural Product, self-proclaimed) on many clients, and see first-hand the reactions it causes. 7 out of 10 clients had an allergic reaction to radish root in the product. It stimulates the skin, and the immune system kicks in producing hives, redness, swelling, heat and itch. These are a cause for concern and require plenty of water dilution to ease the discomfort. Natural ingredients are more likely to cause allergic reactions.

This was my experience with a natural product aimed at “erasing” my wrinkles. My face burned for two days afterwards.

In the end, please do your due diligence, make informed choices.  Yes, synthetic products can have negative effects as well, but due to strict control and regulations makes that less likely. Let’s face it, cow manure is organic too!