The science of skin care

Skin care
products are no longer just moisturizing creams in pretty packages. The search
for a cream that will prevent and even reverse ageing has become like a hunt for the Holy Grail by
cosmetic companies. Probably the biggest leap made in skin care is discovering
why skin ages — why elastin and collagen decrease as we get older, causing the
skin to sag and wrinkle.

There
are also factors that accelerate the process, such as the real big baddy, the
sun, followed closely by its toxic buddy, smoking. Now a lot of us know this,
but the damage is done, so we look for a cream that might pull us back into
place, or if you are a younger woman, you want to prevent all that sagging and
creasing, or at least hold it at bay.

For
the ordinary woman looking for a skin cream, things are more and more confusing
as scientists try and crack the wrinkle question. It seems that every other
month we are bombarded with hype about yet another new ingredient that will
keep us looking forever young. I have fallen victim to the hype more than a few
times and once bought a very famous cream at a stupidly exorbitant price which
apparently keeps many a famous Hollywood face young and supple but just brought
me out on spots.

To
add to the confusion, you get dermatologists who blithely announce that we may
as well be using sun cream and Vaseline.

To
get some clarification on these matters, I talked to someone who actually knows
about the magic ingredients and how they work.

Tammy
Sypniewski is owner of Chrysalis, which provides a range of skin care products
especially formulated for the DaVinci Centre. These products are all
tailor-made and unique to them; you will not find any of these products
anywhere else. In all, Tammy has formulated 28 products for DaVinci consisting
of cleansers, exfoliants, moisturizers and anti-ageing products.

Tammy
has been working in the cosmetology industry for many years and the first thing
she wants to stress is that these are no ordinary skin creams.

“Our
products are a blend of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.”

She
goes on to explain what that means: “The difference between a specialised
product such as ours, and a brand name that you buy off the shelf is in the
percentage of active ingredients. Most shop-bought creams will usually not have
a high enough percentage of ingredients to make a discernible difference, where
as ours do.”

Chrysalis
are able to do this because they are a small company producing on a small
scale, rather than mass producing, which allows 
them to use higher percentages of each active ingredient.

“We
will only produce about 100 gallons of a cream at a time,” Tammy explains.

The
reason larger companies use lower percentages than Chrysalis comes down to
money. The cost of looking young does not come cheaply, and some of the active
ingredients in creams are expensive to produce. For instance,  “Alpha Lipoic acid is a very expensive
ingredient,” Tammy says. “In our sunblock we put it in at 5 per cent, but
typically most companies would not put it in at such a high percentage.”

For
creams to be effective, they must not only have the right combination of
ingredients, but they must also contain a high percentage of antioxidants that
fight the free radicals that destroy collagen and elastin.

The
anti-oxidant infusion cream Tammy formulates for Da Vinci is a cocktail of
anti-ageing ingredients: Retinol, DMAE, copper, Alpha lipoic acid and algae
peptides. Algae peptides in particular are creating a lot of excitement because
of their ability to speed up the production of collagen.

“Algae
peptides contain an amino acid which is a 
building block of collagen and can help build collagen at a faster
rate,” she says.

The
other ingredients in the anti-oxidant infusion are alpa lipoic acid, an
anti-oxidant that protects against free radicals; retinol, known to promote
cell renewal; DMAE, which helps to reverse sagging; and copper, which is
thought to tighten skin.

Another
serum packing a lot of punch is Venom, a type of topical effect. Venom targets
the lines of expression and promises to reduce depth of lines by 50 per cent in
the first 15 days.

Venom
contains argireline and synake, two substances which act by inhibiting the
muscle cell contraction that forms lines. Synake is based on a synthetic
tripeptide that mimics the effect of a peptide found in the venom of the Temple
Viper, hence the name. Again, because of the percentages of the active
ingredients, Tammy says this is one of the top performing serums for lines of
expression you can find.

So
what about the old argument that you are just as well off using Vaseline, and
that nothing actually can penetrate the layers to where it matters? Tammy says
that might have been the case years ago, but skin care has come a long way in
the past few years, with the biggest breakthrough coming from nano-technology
that enables ingredients to penetrate the skin layers, be absorbed and vitally,
build up collagen and restore elastin.

Like
all people in the beauty industry, her first reference is to sun cream
protection, and there are four different types at the DaVinci Centre: one is
good for oily and acne-prone skin because a lot of ordinary sun creams can
exacerbate the problem; another  is
Moisture Complex SPF-45 with lipsomes, which includes antioxidants Alpha Lipoic
acid and green tea to prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin. Science
comes into play here, too, as the difference with this cream is about how it is
applied to the skin.

“We
have an ingredient in the sunblocks which I can only describe as being like a
ball bearing,” says Tammy. “This ingredient allows the cream to be applied just
thick enough and the exact amount to ensure coverage to the correct SPF.”

She
says they developed this method because studies in America showed that despite
the fact that people were applying sun protection cream, melonoma rates were
still going up because people were not applying it thickly enough or often
enough.

Tammy is
proud of the research and the ingredients that go into her creams and she
believes the range she has created for Da Vinci will beat any named product in
terms of the percentage of active ingredients and anti-oxidants they contain.

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