Do anti-aging patches really work? Episode 135

Do anti-aging patches really work?

Julia asks…Can micro needle patches really work to deliver anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid?patch-147001_960_720

Coincidentally I just read a study about a new technology for lightening age spots that involves, get this, Dissolving Micro Needles. This research was published by a Korean team in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology and here’s what they did…

They developed a patch containing 4-n-butylresorcinol an active ingredient which is able to prevent melanocytes from producing melanin (the pigment in hair and skin.) They had 45 panelists use the patch for 8 weeks and then they measured the amount of melanin in skin.

Best of all, this study was done the right way… a double blind, placebo controlled trial. That means the active ingredient was tested against a control and neither the subjects nor the researchers knew who was receiving which treatment.  The results showed that the patch with 4-n-butylresorcinol was twice as effective as the control. (I wonder why the control was effective at all?)

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of DMN – we talked about a similar technology made of collagen needles in a previous show. But this is the first study I’m aware of that shows these needles really can boost efficacy. If this technology is compatible with other anti-aging ingredients it could open up a range of possibilities for enhanced product performance.

Julia asked specifically about HA I haven’t seen any data that these needles will work with that ingredient. It certainly won’t deliver it to the same degree that an injection would but it might deliver enough to boost moisturization.

Does Crepe Erase skin cream really work?

Chloe asks…What do you think of “Crepe Erase” cream. I was hoping to get your opinion on the ingredient list. Do you think it could really diminish crepey skin?

Crepey skin gets its name because it looks like tissue paper or crepe paper – the skin is loose and saggy and may have little bumps or ridges. It’s thought to be caused by a reduction in the collagen bundles that exist in dermis. Collagen loss occurs through the natural aging process but crepey skin can also be caused by massive weight loss or topical steroid use which thins the skin. There is no topical cure for this condition although if you can boost collagen production it could certainly help.

If you review the copy on their website you’ll see the typical “weasel wording” that companies use to avoid making direct claims. For example…

“Crepe Erase™ is designed to improve the look of dry, wrinkly, crepey skin”
“it’s proven to reveal visibly firmer, younger-looking skin.”

What is visibly firmer skin? It’s not the same as saying it makes the skin firmer.

They include before and after pictures that look impressive but I see they include the disclaimer “Results will vary” which gives them a lot of wiggle room.

How does this stuff work? They tell us it’s “powered by a triple complex of skin-restoring plant extracts.” Based on the ingredient list, it primarily consists of moisturizing agents like shea butter and coconut oil. The only potentially “active” ingredients that I see are the humid acids and ursolic acid. Humic acids are similar to coal tar derivatives that can treat dandruff and related conditions but I’m not aware of any evidence showing they can boost collagen production.

Ursolic acid comes from natural waxy coating we find on fruit. It SUPPOSEDLY boosts collagen production but the only evidence I could find was from so called “natural remedy” websites and from the supplier. I couldn’t find any peer reviewed scientific literature that says this stuff really works. (Ref: Ursolic acid  Humid acids)

The process of ordering this stuff seems to be a bit sketchy – here’s what the website says:

“Approximately 12 weeks after your first order is shipped, and then approximately every 12 weeks thereafter, you will be sent a new full size supply… Each shipment will be charged to the card you provide today, in three installments, approximately every 4 weeks at the guaranteed low price of $59.95 per installment, unless you call to cancel.”

So it looks like you’re on the hook for about $60 every month unless you remember to call them.

This may be a perfectly fine product but it makes me nervous because it has all the danger signs of a potential rip off:

  • The products are only sold on the internet.
  • It doesn’t contain any ingredients that are proven to provide any special benefit.
  • And, you have to sign up for “pay every month” program that could really screw you over if you forget to cancel it.

Crepe Erase ingredients
Water (Aqua), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG-6, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Beeswax (Cera Alba), Butylene Glycol, Polysorbate 60, Tocopheryl Acetate, BHT, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Extract, Peucedanum Graveolens (Dill) Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Maltooligosyl Glucoside, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Humic Acids, Ursolic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Ceteareth-20, Hydroxypropyl Guar, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance (Parfum), *Citral, *Geraniol, *Hexyl Cinnamal, *Limonene, *Linalool.

Can I really scrape conditioner residue off my hair?

Sherry says…I have a very dear friend who’s a stylist. She showed me the leavings on the knife from scraping Pantene buildup off some hair. I have used Pantene for years and I love it. Yes I scraped my hair and got the same white flakey substance…so then I thought wait a minute…I will check my husbands hair. He does not use any conditioner at all…ever…and I got the same white flakey residue when I scraped his freshly washed and dried hair with a knife. I don’t know what the white flakey residue is from scraping hair…maybe it is the outer part of the hair shaft. Just in case of further damage, I won’t be scraping my hair anymore!

Well done Sherry! You’ve stumbled across the truth behind an old stylist trick. When I started in this industry lo those many years ago, I remember that one of my bosses who had developed products for salon brands, explained to me how stylists can demonstrate “build up” by scraping hair with a knife. In case you’ve never seen this it’s just as Sherry describes – it’s a white residue that certainly looks like it could be left over conditioner that didn’t rinse off of the hair.

But, as you point out, you can generate the same white flakey stuff on hair that’s never been treated with conditioner. So what’s going on? A clue is that you get a LOT of this residue when you scape the hair backwards from tip to root. That’s important because the cuticle of hair (the outer layer that looks like over lapping shingles) grow such that the edges of the scales point to the tip end of the hair. So when you’re “back combing hair like that you’re essentially prying up the cuticles and scraping them off. AND, in case you didn’t know, the cuticles are clear. When you scrape them off this way they look white. (All the color is on the inside of the hair shaft.)

I say this is a stylist’s “trick” but I don’t know how many stylists are aware of what’s going on and they’re being deceptive or how many have been told this myth and truly believe it. In any case this is NOT an indication of conditioner buildup and it IS a practice that can damage your hair.

Will coconut oil catch fire in my microwave?

Lindsay Girl asks…I have used extra virgin coconut oil in my hair as a deep conditioning treatment once a week for several years now. I melt the oil in the microwave. This morning I was reading in an article on the website that the author of the article “heard” that you shouldn’t warm coconut oil in the microwave because that will “alter the bonds” in the oil. What say the Brains? Can I safely put the coconut oil in the microwave to melt it? Or is there a better way?

Remember that coconut oil penetrates hair because of its size and the configuration of its carbon chain. But some grades of coconut oil are solids at room temperature so you need to heat them up before using them. Unless you’re heating it above the point where it will decompose, microwaving coconut oil should cause no problems. In other words, “melting” it is just fine. BUT you need to be very careful when using this approach. Here’s why:
Microwave ovens work by exciting the bonds between atoms, causing them to vibrate. The motion of the molecules vibrating and bouncing around generates heat. Different substances will absorb microwave radiation differently depending on a property called the “dielectric constant”. Water molecules have a high dielectical constant; they are very mobile and will bounce around a lot. Oil molecules are larger and more fixed. Their dielectric constant is smaller so and they will take longer to heat up. HOWEVER, the specific heat capacity of oil is less than water which means that oil will hold about twice as much heat as water will. And that means that it’s easy to over heat oil to the point where it could burn you.

(If you really want to geek out on dielectrical constants and specific heat capacity we’ll put a link in the show notes to an article about microwave absorption by oil in the Physics Forum.)

So the bottom line is that melting coconut oil in the microwave is unlikely to hurt the oil but you could accidentally over heat it and give yourself a nasty burn. To be safe you might want to melt the oil in a bowl of hot water instead.

Scary skin stuff

Link 1 Link 2

Let’s take a moment to talk about skin allergies and infections. I have not one but two stories that kind of scared the crap out of me. The first one involves a woman in Florida who is allergic to her own sweat.

It’s a condition known as cholinergic urticaria that causes her to break out in hives in response to her own sweat. I don’t know if this is over her entire body or just where you would have a lot of sweat like your armpits. I had never heard of this and given how incredible this sounds I assumed it was quite rare. But, research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (“Prevalence of cholinergic urticaria in young adults”) said it’s as high as 20% of the population depending on age group. That just blew my mind. Most people who experience this have very mild symptoms and don’t need to seek medical attention. But for the Florida woman it’s a VERY serious problem.

The second story about skin irritation is even scarier because it could happen to any of us. An Australian woman was paralyzed in fact she was nearly killed just because she used her friends make up brush. Unfortunately her friend had a staph infection on her face and that was transferred through the make up brush so the woman contracted a drug-resistant strain of staph called MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The infection damaged her spine and she may never walk again. She’s lucky she’s not dead. So when we say be careful about sharing cosmetics we are not kidding around. Now back to you Perry for some lighter news.

Beer makes you beautiful


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