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Common Skincare Questions: Fact or Fiction?

Myths, misconceptions, misinformation - there's a lot of it out there in the world of skincare, partially because our knowledge of the body's largest organ is always changing. Today we're addressing a few common questions we're asked. . .

Do Self-Tanners Provide Sun Protection?

The short answer is no. Spray tans and other sunless tanners do not protect you from getting a sunburn.

Sunless tanning products are designed to darken your skin without the use of ultraviolet light, so you don’t need to spend time in the sun to get a tan.

However, sunless tanners are not designed to protect your skin from getting a sunburn. Most do not contain a sun protection factor, or SPF, and are not specifically designed to be used as a sunscreen. Self-tanners that do have an SPF rating often have a low one, and sunblock is still not their main purpose.

The active ingredient in most self-tanners is a type of sugar called dihydroxyacetone, or DHA. DHA produces pigments during a reaction with the protein keratin on the surface of the skin, giving it a temporary tan appearance that usually lasts for a few days. DHA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in externally applied cosmetics, which include sunless tanners.

Are Toners Essential in the Skincare Routine?

Yes and no. Toners were used to correct skin pH originally when the majority of people were using soap-based cleansers. Soap is very alkaline which affects the health of the skin’s acid mantle, making toner more necessary in the past than now. Most facial cleansers are pH balanced, eliminating the need for correction after washing. Nowadays they are more a matter of preference. If your skin is clear, non-problematic (blemish prone) or oily, you probably don’t need a toner. . That said, using a toner can be useful if you’re trying to introduce an active ingredient to the skin. AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) like glycolic and salicylic acids can be irritating to the skin. Starting with a lower concentration of these exfoliants in toner form is a good way to test skin tolerance. Sensitive skin types should avoid AHA/BHA toners. Dry or dehydrated skin should avoid toners containing with hazel and all skin types should avoid toners containing alcohol (ethyl alcohol) as these can strip the skin. Regardless of skin type, you should test out your toner to see how it reacts with your skin. And there are other options – like hydrating mists or essences which are applied after cleansing and help the skin receive the serum and moisturizers.

Are Separate Day and Night-time products really necessary?

Yes. The day and night skincare routine serve different functions. Think day = protection and preservation. Night = treatment and repair. During the day you are protecting your skin from sun damage and environmental stressors (dirt, pollution, bacteria, etc.). At night when you are at rest, you are giving the skin a chance to regenerate and heal, so you want to give it what it needs to recover while you sleep. Use a gentle cleanser at night (but be sure it removes all traces of makeup and dirt) and apply a nourishing serum, restorative eye treatment and a deeply hydrating moisturizer. For your a.m. routine, cleanse, moisturize, and use an SPF of at least 30. That’s the minimum, for added benefit apply serum and eye treatment.

Are “natural and/or organic” products better for your skin?

Many people strongly believe that a natural, organic ingredient-based skincare product is better for the skin. There is no scientific evidence for this, however. There are many “natural” ingredients that are really bad for your skin! (how about poison ivy?) On the flip side, a synthetic product doesn’t mean it is “bad” for your skin. There are good and not so good ingredients on both sides. The key is learning which ingredients are beneficial and which can be harmful.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors stated that "consumers should not necessarily assume that an 'organic' or 'natural' ingredient or product would possess greater inherent safety than another chemically identical version of the same ingredient. In fact, 'natural' ingredients may be harder to preserve against… contamination and growth than synthetic versions."

And – “these terms are not carefully regulated and don’t have strict definitions. When they are used in marketing skin care products, there is no generally agreed upon standard that they must meet. The terms are just words that appeal to consumers”. Any ingredient or product can cause sensitivity or reaction – including natural ones. Many people are sensitive to citrus oils, nuts or nut oils, lavender, mint and witch hazel.

When it comes to the term “organic”, don’t interpret the USDA Organic seal or any organic seal of approval on cosmetics as proof of efficacy or benefit. The National Organic Program is a marketing program, not a safety program.

When using natural or organic ingredients, its super important to note that packaging is a big deal – it matters! The wrong type of packaging will cause natural ingredients to break down, due to repeated exposure to light, air and contamination from using your fingers to take out the product (always use a utensil either disposable or sanitized). Oxidation leads to instability of the product, discoloration, and will affect the active ingredients in the product. Look for airless containers or any “non-jar” type packaging whenever possible. Do your research and you’ll get great benefits from natural skincare.


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