Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oxygenating Skin Creams - Do They Really Work?

Oh my...where do I begin. I find it very difficult to write this article and keep a straight face...laughter is overrunning my emotions mixed with undying skepticism and disdain.

I just watched the other night with my husband, the HSN channel and they were featuring a skin care line with the featured product of the night called Signature Club A by Adrienne (Arpel) Inflatable Wrinkle Penetrating A + Oxygen Foam Fill Moisturizer. The floating tapestry that was being woven out of hype and claims during this hour of entertainment television had my husband and I rolling in our seats with laughter one moment, followed by us shouting at the TV with rebuttal the next, not that they could hear us, but it made us feel better nonetheless.

Description From The HSN Website For This Potion

Face the world beautifully each and every day with help from the Signature Club A Inflatable Wrinkle Penetrating A + Oxygen Foam Fill Moisturizer. This lightweight foam shoots potent wrinkle-smoothing ingredients through multiples layers of your skin, helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and boosting moisture. You receive a 1.8 oz. aerosol can.

Signature Club A Inflatable Wrinkle Penetrating A + Oxygen Foam Fill Moisturizer Features:

  • Formula gives skin a notable, rapid increase in volume.
  • Visibly smoothes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Formulated with retinol, a pure form of Vitamin A.
  • Contains ingredients that oxygenate the skin's surface.
  • Helps give skin a brighter, more youthful appearance.
  • With continued use, you can maintain maximum beauty benefits and help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, laugh and frown lines, expression lines, uneven skin tone, increase skin brightness.
  • Made in USA.
About The New Hyaluronic Filling Technology:
  • Comes in the form of dehydrated sponge-like hyaluronic acid flakes.
  • The dehydrating process causes them to collapse, making them completely flat. When they come in contact with moisture, they begin to swell, plumping up and filling in the appearance of wrinkles and helping skin retain moisture, even in dry climates.
  • These spheres can swell up to 30 times larger than the dehydrated size.
Much of what you read here is only in part what and how this skincare product was outlandishly demonstrated. Adrienne would put the solution on her hand and indeed it would begin to fizzle and bubble away....truly spectacular. Then she applied it to the skin on the model and it did the same exact thing....imagine that!

She also demonstrated repeatedly how this process works by inserting a dry sponge into a bowl of water and we were then all mesmerized and breathless I am sure, observing the miraculous swelling of the sponge as sponges do, as it soaked up the water while she continued to equate this with....paraphrasing here, "this is what is happening to your skin when you use this moisturizer. It will plump up like a sponge as the oxygen infused cream goes deep into the skin cells through this incredible oxygenating process. See how the sponge is swelling and lifting out of the solution? Look at this....this is fantastic...This is your skin performing in the same way.... It penetrates deeply, smoothing out all of those fine lines and wrinkles." (inject rolling laughter here)

She then moves back to the model and demonstrates once again with the magical potion on her face as she continues to describe how the bubbles lift the surface of the skin...."see all this bubbling, that is how it plumps your gets in there and lifts and fills in those lines," she exclaimed. (giggle)

We were very thoroughly entertained at this ingenious marketing strategy and though we could see through the smoke and mirrors of this demonstration...We gave her props for truly bringing laughter into our household and giving a shot to the old immune system through that laughter.

Again, just another skin care product backed by celebrity recognition.

These ingredients are truly unremarkable!

Inflatable Wrinkle Penetrating A + Oxygen Foam Fill Moisturizer Ingredients: Water, Butane, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth-20, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Propylene Glycol, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Propane, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate, Dimethicone, Gynostemma Pentaphyllum Extract, Panax Ginseng Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Fragrance, Sodium Hyaluronate, Phospholipids, Retinol and Stearyl Alcohol.

Some of the reviews for this product on HSN website were less than favorable and many complained of severe burning and this is no laughing matter and one that I feel is important to address. Others seem to like the product, however, no one reported it doing anything really for the wrinkles. You can take a peek at some of these reviews at the link I posted above at the HSN website headliner.

Let's Examine The Facts Shall We....

The Foaming Component: This product is not oxygenating the skin at all, let alone shooting anything into the skin (sounds painful).....what is occurring is the reaction of 3 ingredients in this formula being forced out under pressure with the Butane and Propane which is key in producing foaming skin care products. Without a product being dispensed under pressure, foaming would not occur.

Three Components Also Known As Surfactants (foaming agent)

Cetearyl Alcohol
Hydroxypropyl Starch Phosphate

Other Ingredients: All basic and many I have written about in the past, provide slip and humectant properties like Olive Oil, silicones, propylene glycol, and glycerin, but one key ingredient I want to notate especially is Pentylene Glycol. This ingredient has been linked to contact dermatitis and being a skin irritant.

One woman on HSN review page claimed it must have been the Retinol that caused the burning of her face, but this is doubtful based on its' location on the ingredient list. It is probably less than .05% of total emulsion. Her reaction along with others is more than likely related to the use of the butane and propane since they are reported as in liquid state or the cold vapor from them can cause a frost bite effect or burning sensation when brought in contact with skin.

If the product expelled non-vaporized liquid propellant mixed with the emulsion or the propellant was not allowed to completely vaporize before applying, the reaction would be critical to skin reacting so badly. However, complete vaporization of the butane and propane then defeats the purpose of getting that foam on your face before it stops reacting to the atmospheric pressure for the so-called plumping effect, because then you would basically wind up with a runny liquid in your hands.

I am simply amazed at how many of us today are still drawn in by a remedy that pretends to perform magic on national television!

The Foam System At Work

Foam Aerosols which often are classified separately, consists of three phase systems in which the liquid propellant which normally does not exceed 10-15% by weight is emulsified with other ingredients. When the valve is depressed, the emulsion is forced through the nozzle and in the presence of warm air and atmospheric pressure, the entrapped liquid propellant reverts to a vapor and whips the emulsion into a frothy foam. *Ref 1*

As the foam sits on the hand the atmospheric pressure begins to collapse the foam, and this is why you see bubbling of the product, not oxygenation. Propellants are used in skin care, shave creams, hair care, whipped creams, and some require shaking before use to begin the foaming process by keeping a correct balance between the ingredients and the propellant for proper dispersion. Some systems lose their foaming quality as the gas may leak from the canister or an imbalance of propellant to emulsion has occurred with consecutive use....This was a complaint of another user on the review board.

I could go on as to the science and technology of different types of foam systems, but I won't bother you further with the boring details. Let's just say there are other dispensing mechanisms, such as pumps that are safer and less lethal to use than propane and butane. As delicate as skin tissue is, I don't understand creating a product which uses two ingredients that are considered highly flammable especially since the foaming action is a total gimmick. Think Hairspray + Match = blowtorch.

Dissecting The Sponge Demonstration

Now do I really need to state our skin is not a sponge?
So why do they demonstrate on a sponge?

To tantalize.... No amount of foaming ingredient is going to go from underneath and push our skin up and smooth it to perfection! Plus our skin cells don't plump like sponge cells since sponges are designed to grab and hold moisture and our skin retains moisture through naturally occurring sebum and moisturizers containing humectants which attract moisture to the skins' surface. Loss of collagen is what draws our faces in and creates saggy areas on the face, not loss of moisture. Dry skin simply enhances the appearance of these flaws and moisturizers work to reduce this along with some prevention for further damage.

Moisturizing is key to keeping our fine lines smoothed and softened and to help further prevent deeper creases on our skin from getting worse. Certain skin care ingredients are reputed for their holistic and healing properties and are how they provide improvement simply by keeping dry skin at bay through infusion of additional hydrating emollients, perform collagen stimulation, and fighting sun damage and free radicals found in our environment. Plus a moisturized skin naturally looks plumper due to fine lines being softened.

Water will do the same thing....just spend an hour in the tub and then look at the wrinkly skin...It certainly isn't plumped is it? I mean think about this for a minute, if our skin could absorb water like a sponge, we would have the weight of a water soaked sponge until we were wrung out. We could never take a bath, shower or get caught out in the rain. Our skin is designed to shed water and create a barrier to protect our bodies.

Moisturizers also provide a protective barrier so they are essential to help sustain moisture in the skin and then soothing the skins' surface with other key ingredients for healing and repair. Skin creams are always best used on freshly washed, moist skin for optimum results.

During the HSN demonstration we are actually witnessing the foam destabilizing due to contact with the atmosphere, not a plumping or foaming bubble that goes deep into our tissues to swell or lift the skins' surface. This is equivalent to those cream manufacturers who tout that they can replace our collagen with synthetic collagen spheres infused into our skin....uh sorry but that isn't going to happen either...for one thing they are too large to penetrate the dermis layer.

Natural collagen can only be stimulated, not replaced since our body can absorb and breaks down some ingredients we apply and those we consume over time. Yet the majority of skincare ingredients remain unchanged, and on the skins' surface. The delivery process of many ingredients cannot go much beyond surface treatment for a younger looking skin.

Vitamin C....Niacinimide....Alpha Lipoic Acid....DMAE....CoEnzyme Q10....Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A)....Sodium Hyaluronate.

These are all great ingredients to help stimulate collagen, assist with skin cell renewal and help attract and retain moisture to the skin, whereby promoting a firmer skin tone...none of which were in this formula except for the two which are noted after fragrance.... Just some nice skin softeners...pretty basic.

A great article I located written by a Dermatologist Dr. Benabio is one for a great read and for debunking further oxygenating claims on skin care products. His style of writing was also enjoyable to read since he injected humor to this beauty industry tale. You gotta love it!
Oxygen Facials: A Lot Of Hot Air!

The Hyaluronic Filling System

This process is derived from Sodium Hyaluronate (don't see Flakes on list) which is clear down at the bottom of the ingredient list along with Retinol and will be in such insignificant amounts, they will do nothing for the skin.

What is actually occurring here is the use of Dimethicone from the silicone family, as a temporary line filler found in many cosmetic products. Provides silken texture and wonderful slip. This is another reason we use Methicone in our mineral makeup formulas aside from reducing skin irritation with Mica, but to give soft focus and to provide smoothness and reduce visible signs of aging on the skin temporarily by filling in the lines on our faces. Mineral makeup also keeps it on the skin topically and not absorbed so it does not become occlusive like silicone oils in liquid makeup and skin creams.

Another reviewer, age 65, stated that she recognized that it worked well at reducing her lines on her face until she washed it off. An example of no lasting effect, but felt nice on the skin.

Rule Of Thumb: Anything pretty much past Fragrance on the label is for purely marketing aesthetics only.

Last But Not Least...Oxygen For The Skin

Now let's look at this from a standpoint of this statement being a contradiction in terms.

Number one: our skin is not aerobic, bacteria in acne is anaerobic......this is why we get pimples. Oxygenation of the skin only occurs in its real form through the use of peroxides.

For instance;

When you apply 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to a cut or open pimple, you will note foaming occurs. Apply it to unbroken skin and nothing is like applying water to the face.

What causes the foaming action to occur is Catalase, which is a common enzyme found in nearly all living organisms which are exposed to oxygen, where it functions to catalyze the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. Catalase has one of the highest turnover numbers of all enzymes; one molecule of catalase can convert millions of molecules of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen per second. *Ref 2*

Whereby Hydrogen Peroxide creates pressure within the pimple through oxygenation, killing the acne causing bacteria which cannot survive in oxygen. In fact some state that this is such a powerful oxidizer it is considered a highly reactive oxygen species. This is why some have a concern for the release of free radicals when oxygen is created in or under the skin.

Personally I love to use Hydrogen Peroxide for that tiny zit coming through, but I never use it as an everyday antiseptic or astringent on my face. And at 3% solution to water, there is little concern for long lasting effects taking place since decomposition is immediate, no systemic effect. I also find this far safer than benzoyl peroxide solutions.

However, this does bring me to my next point about Free Radicals released through oxygen.

Free Radical Damage and Oxygen

Since science dictates, and there has been plenty written on this subject about what occurs to our skin when we are exposed to pollutants and the suns' harmful rays in our atmosphere on a daily basis.....and the ongoing release of free radical damage within our bodies and on our skin...wouldn't it stand to reason that if this product were really providing oxygenation to our faces then we are actually accelerating the aging process?

If you think about this marketing claim it really is contradictory. Many vitamin supplement and skin care companies including mine, have painstakingly formulated emulsions and vitamin packs loaded with antioxidants (emphasis on "anti") to fight oxygen based free radical damage caused by the daily stresses our skin and bodies are exposed to, which is the air we breathe.

Our cells are constantly rebuilding and restoring themselves and through the help of antioxidants we are hopefully staving off cancer, disease, infection and aging of our tissues.

It is personally more important to me to have my skin care products be as clean and natural as I can formulate them keeping skin both healthy and young looking.

Oxygenation of creams....well I think you get the gist...BOGUS and HYPE!

Enjoy your weekend...and remember, we are all matter the remember to....

Celebrate Your Natural Beauty!

*Ref 1; Remington: The science and practice of Pharmacy 21st Edition. Great Reference source and one I have in my library.
*Ref 2; Wikipedia Catalase and Hydrogen Peroxide

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