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Published Articles - The Back of the Bottle #2

The Back of the Bottle (column #2)

Billions of dollars are spent on skin care products every year, much due more to the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns than of the products themselves. With so many grandiose claims being made about so many products, many of them being vastly over-blown if not blatantly untrue, it is important that estheticians have the knowledge to see through the slick marketing and ascertain whether a product can deliver what its makers claim it can.

In this new column, which will appear in every issue of this publication, I will address the questions and concerns of readers' vis-à-vis what the products that they are using really can and can't do, as well as update the readers on the latest ingredients and treatments available to today's estheticians.

For this, the inaugural The Back of the Bottle column, I asked the staff of my clinic as well as estheticians to whom our company distributes products to submit some questions, but, for the future, I would like to address questions from the general readership, so I would like to invite you to submit your questions to me.

Q: Why is pH important in skin care products?

A: The skin's acid mantle has a pH of between 4 and 5.5. Traditionally, for maximum penetration AHA's and other skin care products have had to have a lower pH of approximately 3 in order to penetrate the acid mantle. Unfortunately, this lower pH also serves to damage the acid mantle, which can cause the very aging that we are trying to avoid. In order to provide optimal effects, look for products that protect the acid mantle and preferably have a pH no lower than 3.8 to 4.2.

Q: What is the difference between lactic and glycolic acid?

A: While both Lactic and Glycolic acid are AHA's, when used in skin care preparations, while they may produce similar results, they act very differently:

  • With better water retention properties than glycerin, Lactic acid acts as both a moisturizer as well as an exfoliant. With the ability to increase the stratum corneum's water-holding capacity, when in concentrations of between 5 and 12%, Lactic acid is able enhance the stratum corneum's pliability while improving fine wrinkles and providing softer, smoother skin.
  • The simplest AHA, due to its small molecular size Glycolic acid is extremely effective at penetrating the skin. By dissolving the internal cellular "cement", it acts as a powerful exfoliant, reducing the excessive buildup of dead skin cells that is associated with many common skin problems. Further, by activating the skin's own hyaluronic acid, Glycolic acid enhances the skin's moisture-retaining ability.


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