The Acid Chronicles: Lactic Acid!

 

Lactic Acid 1

Happy Tuesday readers!  Hoping your weekend was great!

Awhile ago, I posted on alpha hydroxy acids, otherwise known as AHAs and why they are important in skincare. (In case you missed it or need a refresher, click here)  Lactic acid was one of the AHAs mentioned and here’s why this ingredient is great.

Who: Lactic acid

What skin conditions can it help: Aging and hyperpigmentation

Where it comes from: Derived from milk/sugar

Why it’s important: Lactic acid functions as a humectant, which attracts water and hydrates the skin.   It breaks down the bonds between cells that allow for easier exfoliation of the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.   It also reduces hyperpigmentation due to its ability to suppress the formation of tyrosinase ( the enzyme involved in melanin production).  Because its molecular structure is bigger than glycolic acid, it’s an ideal ingredient to use for those who have sensitive skin because it permeates into the skin slowly, reducing the chances of irritation and inflammation.

How it’s used: Lactic acid can be found in skincare products (i.e. cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums) and also in professional treatments like chemical peels.  *Like any other exfoliating agent, limit use to a few times per week, wear sunscreen and use caution when using ingredients containing retinol as this can irritate skin.

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll recognize the picture below when I took the Cosmetic Chemistry course at UCLA.  The vial on the right-hand side is what natural lactic acid looks like.

Lactic Acid

I recently joined Twitter (@stephieestie) so feel free to follow me on there too! I’m still learning how to use it, FYI, but I’m sure I’ll get it in no time. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie

 

Reader Question: Treatments for Hyperpigmentation!

 

question mark

Hi readers!  Anyone else excited that it is Thursday? 🙂

Someone recently asked me about what they can do regarding sun spots.  What is commonly referred to as sun spots or age spots is hyperpigmentation. Simplified, hyperpigmentation is caused by an overproduction of melanin (brown pigment that gives skin color) that causes the darkening of the skin.  Below are causes of hyperpigmentation along with possible treatments.

Causes of Hyperpigmentation

  • Overexposure to sun, tanning beds, fluorescent and ambient lighting
  • Hormones/ Pregnancy
  • Medications- birthcontrol, thyroid, hormone replacement therapy (*Note: Never discontinue medication without the approval of your physician)
  • Stress
  • Inflammation/trauma caused by heat, acne, wounds, burns, eczema, etc
  • Age

Treatment Options

  • Exfoliation/chemical peels such as TCA, Jessner’s peels or lactic acid peels
  • Increased cell turnover with retinol/retinoids (Retin-A)
  • IPL/Laser
  • LED Light Therapy
  • Skincare products that contain arbutin, kojic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), lactic acid, azelaic acid, phytic acid, and licorice extract.  Hydroquinone is another option available but it is a controversial ingredient that has a high risk of creating skin sensitivity.  Hydroquinone also must be used in 3/6 month cycles meaning you can only use it for a few months at a time and then cycle off.
  • Sunscreen!  Important no matter what!  None of the above treatments will be effective if you don’t protect your skin from sun damage-you’ll end up right back where you started and can even cause more pigmentation problems.

Remember that these are guidelines and the treatment option that will work best for you depends on a consultation with a skincare professional/dermatologist.

I hope this was helpful. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Stephanie  

Needles For Aging Skin?

microneedle

One of my readers asked me about micro needling so here’s the breakdown on this popular anti-aging process.

About Skin Needling

Skin needling, also referred to as microneedling or collagen induction therapy, is the use of multiple needles at one time on a set gauge or length that is either rolled or stamped onto the skin.  Originally recognized as a method to repair scars in 1995 by Norman Orentreich, MD, and David S. Orentreich, MD, it was Des Fernandes, MD, who introduced skin needling as a skin rejuvenation method.

Different needle lengths will yield different results.  For example, shorter needles will increase product penetration and stimulate collagen production while longer needles may be used to treat deeper wrinkles and scarring.

How it Works

Skin needling is based on the premise of a controlled wound response than in turn stimulates collagen production.   Basically, anytime your skin is injured, it begins a process of wound healing that is followed by the production of new collagen and elastin.  In skin needling, the needles create tiny ‘injuries’ that prompt this wound healing process.

Skin needling treatments will also be followed by applications of, but not limited to vitamin C, retinoids, peptides and/or hydroxy based exfoliants.  Whereas microdermabrasion or chemical peels drive ingredients further into the skin by removing a layer(s) of skin, skin needling does the same without removing the top layer of skin.

Who’s A Good Candidate?

Most skin types and conditions can benefit from this treatment but may not be suited for skin that is sensitive or inflamed.  Skin needling is used for fine lines, wrinkles, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and stretch marks.  Treatments can be tailored according to skin types and conditions by changing the device, needle depth and frequency of treatments.

 Things to Consider

A series of treatments are needed to achieve optimum results.

Treatments can range from $200-$500 per treatment.

The longer the needle is, this risk for infection increases; therefore follow your physicians instructions.

Procedures like these are usually performed in a medical office or medical spa- make sure the person performing the treatment is qualified and that he/she wears gloves at all times.

Although a topical numbing cream will be used prior to treatment, expect some discomfort.

Bottom Line: Skin needling is just one of many anti-aging options available that can generate great results. However, always do your research and consult with a professional to determine what works best for you.

I hope this article is helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

*Note: Although I love DIY treatments, this treatment is best left to professionals.  Doing this yourself can cause damage and lead to severe infections.