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!

Endor Milk Cleanser

Couple of weeks ago, I had written an article about Endor Technologies Skin Care line. My experience, unlike any other products so far, has me convinced that these creators (wicked awesome Endor scientists) are on to something big. While their star products, Anti-Aging facial serum, moisturizers and anti-cellulite body cream are beyond amazing, I feel as if the cleansers do not get nearly enough credit. As I mentioned in my other article, their line is not big, and my scientific side of the brain had a hard time coming to terms that one product can work for any skin type and condition. I need you to bear with me, it will all make sense, eventually.

Yes, the facial serum and the eye contour cream most definitely check all the boxes. Collagen rebuilding. Check. Fine lines gone, yep. Pigmentation improved, oh yeah. Redness calmed, most definitely! You get my point. They do offer two moisturizers, anti-aging cream takes care of younger, normal-combination, oily skins with first signs of aging and the anti-aging nutritive moisturizer tackles aging, mature, dry skins. My fears realized as I knew they would, getting sidetracked by their spectacular, and result oriented products. This blog is about their Milk Cleanser.

Quite a few weeks into using Endor milk cleanser, I kept using my Skinceuticals Age + Blemish toner after cleansing. Once I ran out of the toner, I did the unthinkable and didn’t replace it. (I know, crazy) It turned out much better than I anticipated. Before bed, I use the milk cleanser to remove my make-up and other accumulation of daily debris, mascara was always tough, regardless of the cleanser, so when this cleanser took it off, I was impressed. (Even more, when I woke up the next day without any mascara trace around my eyelids) My worry was that, cleaning without toning would leave my skin’s pH balance whacked out and over time my barrier function would decrease, much like it does with most cleansers on the market, and the reason why so many people struggle with skin issues and sensitivities, among other conditions. It’s imperative that you tone after cleansing, that is, unless you clean your face with Endor Milk cleanser. It was time to break down the ingredient list and figure out why it works so amazingly well. It has quite a few but this company is committed to medical innovation, and when you combine brains, science and highly potent botanicals, you get a winning combination of synergistic relationships between those ingredients. Water and liquid paraffin (this is the good stuff, very small molecule which allows it to be liquid and so safe, you can ingest it) form a beautiful base, where sweet almond oil is the principal of the dance, surrounded by a cornucopia of ballet stars, such as Bisabolol, Yarrow flower extract, Horse chestnut seed extract, Calendula, Chamomilla Recutita flower extract, Witch Hazel, Mallow flower extract and Peppermint Leaf extract. Of course, no serious company will allow all these stars to spoil, so preservation is key, in small amounts. They all need to mix and mingle, and yes, a small number of emulsifiers, surfactants, thickeners and the like are needed, to allow the product to look, feel and act appropriately for as long as possible.

Milk cleanser removes all my stubborn makeup, including my mascara. I will use a q-tip to gently wipe away all mascara traces before I wipe the cleanser off.

So then, let’s get back to our principal, Sweet Almond oil. It contains many skin benefiting components, vitamin E, vitamin A, protein, potassium and zinc. This is essential to our skin’s health by promoting cellular renewal, antioxidant to neutralize free radical damage, prevent trans epidermal water loss, strengthen the cell membranes and promote healing.

Bisabolol is an extract from a part of chamomile with excellent soothing abilities, particularly beneficial for irritated and sensitive skin.

5:30am, hot shower, morning routine. I apply my cleanser before getting under the hot stream of water, keep it on until I am ready to rinse the conditioner out of my hair. My pale white skin is protected, not dried out, not itchy, or red from the hot water (vasodilation is when blood flow is stimulated to expand your vessels, which can cause white skin to have diffuse redness)

Yarrow flower has incredible healing properties, it can help prevent wounds from bleeding and even help calm conditions such as eczema. Moreover, used in a cleanser, it can help maintain skin’s pH balance, acts much like an astringent and shrinks the follicles (pores) as well as helps to control sebum production.

Next, we move onto Horse Chestnut seed extract. This potent ingredient has been used and tested to showcase its abilities to strengthen capillaries (bye bye redness), it is an antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory. To help boost all these benefits, we can’t not mention Calendula, well known for its ability to treat sun burns, it helps heal redness, acts as an antiseptic, treats wounds and it can help heal acne.

Chamomile has many parts that can be extracted and Chamomilla Recutita flower extract adds to the calming of inflammation and sensitive skin.

Witch Hazel is extremely multitasking. It is proven to relieve inflammation, reduce irritation, fight acne, protect against skin damage, controls spread of infection and, balances the pH of skin. It is usually a main component in any toner and can be found in first aid aisles of any market.

Mallow flower extract is a nice addition in helping heal wounds and Peppermint Leaf extract for soothing and cooling benefits.

You might be thinking, by this point (if you got this far) “Oh, I can just get any of these, anywhere and in lots of other products! What makes Endor Milk cleanser so special?”

Well, you see, Endor is a pharmaceutical company that has access to the cleanest most potent extracts, or synthetically derived ingredients to ensure the batch is consistently the same from one bottle to the next. The process of extraction and manufacturing is important to ensure safety, efficacy and consistent long-term effects. Medical skin care has drug like potency, designed to affect the skin structure and cause biochemical changes. It is the reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to just pick it up off a shelf, but instead see a skin specialist to determine your needs. Probably the reason why most consumers jump from one bottle to the next, continually looking for the next product that promises results, in vain. I can tell you, as a consumer myself, without the education on the histology and physiology of the skin, and basic ingredients chemistry, you are not qualified to diagnose your skin properly. Instead, we get bombarded with media telling us what we need. Do you really think Hollywood stars or social media influencers get results from the products they promote? Do you really think they even use those products? So, why do you continue to support and buy things that aren’t designed to affect the skin to change how it functions? Advertising dollars work well.

Now, I’m not naive to the fact that our industry is lacking expert skin therapists. I apologize on behalf of all those therapists that work hard and get the education to become the best in their field, because there is probably 8 out of 10 that don’t, and those are the ones that disappoint and fail you, by allowing you to walk out of your treatment without educating you. You have one skin, and your skin deserves only the best ingredients. It is your skin that entices me to keep up my own education, and my passion for educating others extends to all my students.

I will compile a list of locations that retail Endor Technologies and other amazing cosmeceuticals and update this blog when I have a complete list.

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!

Endor – How it changed my skin

Sometime in 2018, end of July, I had the pleasure of meeting a rep from Arylide Life Sciences when she came in to my classroom to present a workshop for my class. It only took moments to realize she had a genuine passion for the product that she uses and represents, it was refreshing and welcoming, but more than anything helpful in a room full of students just entering the field of Clinical Esthetics.

Her extensive knowledge on the products, their ingredients and functions within the skin’s structures was what had me wanting to get my hands on the products as soon as possible. The entire line, which isn’t very big (and what makes it attractive, if you are not a fan of multiple items in your routine) focuses on gold thioethylamino hyaluronic acid (a new ingredient, developed with spherical nanoparticles linked to hundreds of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid oligomers).

To help you understand the implications of this, in the terms of skin benefits, I should explain what nanotechnology is. In short terms, science can manipulate matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Size of matter then becomes between 1 – 100 nanometers. To put this into perspective, the size of human hair strand is about 70 000 nanometers. So, this amazing new ingredient of gold and hyaluronic acid particle technology is between 20-22 nanometers. (Very, very tiny) What that means for our skin is, it will penetrate, and it will reach the depths of our skin more than any product available, let’s say, over the counter. (OTC products are an article for another timeJ)

It can help to deliver ingredients that target specific receptors and thus trigger a specific response within the body. (Think about each individual skin cell, and what that means) It triggers production of your own growth factors to stimulate hyaluronic acid, collagen & elastin, which allows for more balance in the skin. Around 30 years of age, our body stops producing collagen (lame I know), combine that with UV rays, pollution, lifestyle, and other free radical causing yuckies, and the end result is glycation (fancy term to describe aging). What we are left with is the 3 D’s of aging. Our skin will Deteriorate, causing the volume to Deflate and gravity will cause it to Descend.

In their very impressive clinical studies, they have demonstrated the efficacy of their product, with no side effects, unless plump skin is a side effect? In which case, take my money! All joking aside though, I started my journey using their Anti-Aging Facial Serum. I already knew that the key to hydration is hyaluronic acid (capable of holding 1000 times its weight in moisture) so, I had that covered. Next step is to see how it changes the structure of my skin to help me build my own collagen, and improve elastin for elasticity. (This is the part where I vibrate with excitement, you would need to be in the room to know what I’m talking about)

In order to reverse the signs of aging, we must activate those three components, hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin.  To do that, our product needs to be capable of reaching deep dermal layers and activating the cell (CD44 receptors) in order to activate the multiple CD44 receptors our ingredient has to reach the target all at the same time. Therefore, tiny particles of our powerful ingredient will get deep enough where they will, like a swarm of bees activate those receptors into stimulating the growth of our own collagen and elastin. Long gone are the days of bulky molecules sitting on the surface of our skin doing absolutely nothing! (I’m looking at you OTC products)

After some two weeks of using the facial serum, I couldn’t get over the hydration levels, and how comfortable I was in my skin. I needed to expand my range, next I introduced their Milk Cleanser. The sweet almond in it is dreamy, the consistency and texture is like putting silk on your skin. It doesn’t dry out my own barrier, yet it efficiently removed my stubborn make up. I like the option of not needing to rinse it off, particularly before bedtime when I am prone to be startled out of my after dinner slumber by water splashing. The gentle blends of surfactants (cleansing agents that help dissolve yuckies) along with witch hazel proves that maybe toner isn’t needed. I am pro toner, let’s just put that out there. It’s meant to adjust the pH balance on your skin after cleansing to keep your barrier intact (trust me, you need a healthy barrier for protection against the environment) but after a few weeks, I let go of the toner, as it turned out, I just needed to trust the science behind their cleanser. At this point, my skin was hooked, I needed to introduce more of their products. I got my hands on the Eye Contour cream (It won Editor’s Choice 2019 btw) and lastly, the Anti-Aging Nutritive Cream. All their power house products are based on the same science and same main ingredient composition.

As a skin expert, and years of practice in the field, I am well versed in all things ingredients and chemical composition, and how they influence the skin. I readily promote high potency ingredients to target skin conditions, unrelated to a specific brand because most all professional grade, cosmeceutical companies have amazing line up of products and I don’t care which brand it is, because I can trust their ingredients will have drug like effect, that can affect the structures of the skin, and not just alter the appearance until it is washed off. I have been testing hundreds of products over the years, and I will continue to do so, every time something new and exciting catches my attention. That said, if I can’t test the said product within the Endor line, then that’s just it. I will never replace what I have currently. And the accompanying pictures tell why.

Here we have my hormonal acne, that ravaged my poor face, post hysterectomy almost two years ago. I have tried everything, please keep in mind, I have access to an overabundance of great products to choose from, as well as almost any professional treatment I could want. I have tried many. They helped slightly, but the acne just kept coming back. Endor Technologies skin care line wasn’t created to target acne, and I am not recommending it for acne, but I am simply sharing my experience. I have a theory as to why, the gold particles in the product shed from the skin, allowing my skin to continually regenerate, thus push the dead keratin out of my follicles, (which is one of the reasons why P. Acne bacteria would multiply, this bacteria is anaerobic, meaning it cannot live in the presence of oxygen, so if the skin can “push” it all out, it makes sense that oxygen too would be able to now get inside the follicle) It’s just something my brain is putting into a theory.There’s a lot more that I could go into, but seriously, that is not my area of expertise to figure out. It works, and that is all I care about.

Here is a picture of my acne healing (I am not kidding, it resolved my acne within weeks) I was left with post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, as is often the case after acne breakout dries up and the scab flakes off. Make-up did a good job covering up the discolorations, but I didn’t notice the amount of collagen and elasticity my skin had formed until I put these side by side. I was so focused on the discoloration, I wasn’t paying attention. The picture on the right has NO makeup, NO filters. (I never use my selfie side of the camera because they give the pictures a more polished look, even when you turn off the “perfector”, and there is more than enough lies on the internet, I don’t need to be contributing to it) The deeper lines in my nasolabial folds and even my early marionette lines softened up and filled out drastically. My crow’s feet are much softer and even the tiny scar in the center of my neck has almost disappeared! Yes, my own collagen and elastin has grown just like the rep promised it would.

Lastly, this is where I see the kind of damage it has fixed. The texture, the discoloration from sun damage and the plumping. There is nothing temporary about these results. I haven’t had a single acne breakout in months!

I am 38, I haven’t had botox (since I was 27) or any fillers for that matter. I can’t have injectables or aggressive/advanced treatments because of trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis.

p.s. This is not a paid endorsement