Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cosmetics and Skin Care Products That Work as Advertised

Today's advice was requested by a woman from the U.K. who we'll refer to henceforth as C. C asks:

"I'm often in a boat where I need a cosmetic to live up to its advertising but find they rarely do. In example I have sensitive skin and find lotions and cleansers meant to combat redness don't necessarily do that. Lip balms meant to moisturize my lips usually make them drier. Am I just doing something wrong or are adverts misleading? Do any brands actually do what they are said to?"

This is actually a fabulous question, C. I too have sensitive skin and have searched far and wide over the years trying to find products that actually perform as advertised. Not just for sensative skin but a number of various things. Foundation that won't clog pores, setting powder that actually improves skin quality, moisturizers that don't feel oily on the skin, lip balms that actually function as a balm, eyeliner that won't smudge everywhere, and so on and so forth.

The only brand I always go back to is Neutrogena. Every Neutrogena product I have tried, from their skin care lines to their make-up has done exactly what it was supposed to do. I didn't need to do anything special to make it work. I use their skin care products as well as their cosmetics almost exclusively these days. I've found they not only out perform all other drug store brands, but all high end brands that cost upwards of $40 per bottle/tube/etc.

The quest for the perfect lip balm is ever ongoing but the closest I've come so far is Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula Lip Moisturizer. The runner up is Neutrogena's Revitalizing Lip Balm, which is tinted and considerably pigmented for a balm but does what it's meant to.

A side note about lips and lip balms though is that they can only do so much correction. When you are dehydrated (even just a little bit) the first thing to show that is your lips because they do not possess the protective layer the rest of your skin has; they begin to dry out and flake very quickly. So remember to drink enough water before judging a balm too harshly.

Neutrogena gets some ill press due to its parent company Johnson & Johnson testing on animals. J&J's personal care products are not ever tested on animals though. This means no lotions, cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, or make-up is ever tested on animals. The thing people forget is that J&J is also the parent company of things such as Tucks and Tylenol which are classified as drugs and are required by law to be tested on animals before human use. So yes, Johnson & Johnson tests on animals, but only on their medicinal products which they have no choice about.

When emailed about their cruelty-free status they respond:
"In 2009 we updated our Policy on the Humane Care & Use of Laboratory Research Animals to include additional requirements and guidance regarding animal welfare. It is the policy of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to minimize use of animals in laboratory research that assesses the safety and efficacy of our products. Animal use has decreased by 65 percent relative to R&D investment since 2000, and we remain committed to the three “R” principles—replacement, reduction and refinement—as they apply to animal testing.
We do not conduct animal testing for our personal care products. We don’t ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law or government authorities, and we comply globally with the requirements of the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics. We also engage internal and external experts to review the ethical aspects of all animal tests.

Except when required by law or government agencies would apply to products that contain drug class ingredients (i.e. Tucks) or products that are classified as drugs themselves (i.e. Tylenol). So you can feel free to wash your face guilt free.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Unsightly Armpits

Today's advice was requested by a woman from the U.S. who we'll refer to henceforth as L. L asks:

"So I see all these models and actresses posing with their arms up and they all have these flawless armpits. When I lift my arms mine are anything but! The skin under my arms is dark, sometimes yellowish, and whether I've shaved or not looks stubbly. Silly as it sounds how do I get model armpits?"

First of all most editorials are heavily Photoshopped these days, with the exception of make-up ads because they've recently passed a law forbidding the use of photoshop for cosmetics (it now falls under false advertising). No one has follicle-free porcelain white perfectly smooth pits. You can however considerably improve the look of your under arms. Now that we have realistic expectations, the solution is actually pretty simple!

There are two reasons for the appearance of your pits and they are actually extremely common. I'd say easily 3 of 5 women suffer from the same problem. The first is bacteria. The second is a build up of dead skin.

What's the ideal environment for bacteria? Dark, warm, moist places. What's life like under your arm? Dark, warm, and moist. To get things under control in there you need to reduce the bacteria population. When you shower (ideally at least once a day), use antibacterial soap under your arms, such as Dial. It's pretty unnecessary to use it anywhere else so one bar should last you quite a while. You don't need to go out and buy it in bulk or anything. Once you've tamed the bacteria you shouldn't need to use antibacterial soap anymore, but you may continue using it once or twice a week just to be sure if you want. Bacteria can not only discolor the skin, it can also cause bad odor and nobody wants that!

How long do you spend on your armpits in the shower? I'm betting you lather up head to toe and rinse off in under two minutes. Most people do. We've all got better things to do. I'm betting however aside from shaving, barely any of that attention is paid to your armpits. Next time you are in the shower, and every time thereafter, use a loofah or shower poof lathered with soap to scrub under your arms. Spend at least thirty seconds on each armpit. This exfoliates wonderfully, getting rid of the excess dead skin that is clogging your pores and making your pits unsightly. Dead skin builds up over time and can cause discoloration, dark follicles, and encourages bacterial overgrowth.

Overtime the combination of these two things will solve your less-than-ideal pits. How long? Depends on the severity of the issue. I'd say anywhere between 2-4 weeks. If the problem persists despite your efforts you may want to consult a dermatologist. I am almost certain these two simple additions to your shower routine will have you spaghetti strap ready in no time though.