This page is meant to provide our visitors and customers with information relating to skin components, function, skin care, our products and ingredients we use in our skin care products. Scroll down and click the plus symbol to display the content underneath a specific topic. Don’t forget to visit our blog for more information on skin care.
Skin is the largest organ in the human body. An average adult has a skin surface area of about 2.0 square meters (21.5 sq. ft.). Skin is the primary barrier between our bodies and the environment providing essential protection against infection and excessive water loss. Skin also provides other important functions including temperature regulation, insulation, touch sensation, Vitamin D synthesis, etc. Skin is comprised of 3 primary layers, Epidermis, Dermis and Hypodermis. The Epidermis is the outermost layer and is comprised of 5 sub-layers. New cells are generated in the lower layers then gradually move towards the outer layer called the Stratum Corneum(SC). As the cells move towards the surface they begin to die and become filled with keratin (a protein). The process is called keratinization and takes about 1 month to complete. The dead cells at the skin surface are constantly being sloughed off and replaced. The Dermis lies below the Epidermis and contains nerve endings, blood vessels, hair follicles, sweat glands and sebaceous glands. The Hypodermis, while not technically part of the skin, is the critical interface that attaches the skin to the underlying muscle and bone. It also supplies the blood vessels and nerves to the skin. Skin is a very important organ providing several critical functions. Proper care and nourishment are critical to appearance and overall good health.
Proper skin care begins with protection from damaging external elements such as ultraviolet radiation (from the sun), wind, dirt, microorganisms and chemicals. These elements can permanently damage skin and lead to more serious conditions such as skin cancer. Whenever possible, proper clothing and sunscreen should be used to cover exposed skin. Next, good hygiene is a critical component of skin care. Dead cells, constantly being sloughed off, combine with secretions from the sweat and sebaceous glands to form a mixture that promotes bacterial and fungal growth. If not regularly washed away this can disrupt some of the skin’s functions and lead to skin damage. Damaged skin is more prone to infection, premature aging and other undesirable cosmetic changes. Skin should be properly hydrated to help maintain good health and appearance. An effective moisturizing product should be used regularly on dry skin or when in dry conditions. Drying agents such as some soaps, chemical products and many emulsifier-based lotions and creams should be avoided, or their use followed by application of a good moisturizing agent. Lastly, skin requires nourishment. Vitamin A, also known as retinoids, help with the keratinization process, reduce sebum production, and help reverse photodamage. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps regulate collagen production, lipid processing , and provides photoprotection. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative damage and protection against harmful ultraviolet rays. These essential vitamins are supported by other antioxidants including carotenoids, CoQ10 and alpha lipoic acid (see the Vitamin Antioxidant Complex). Lastly the physiologically essential skin barrier lipids (fats) which include ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids (omega 3 and omega 6) must be replaced to restore barrier function and help heal damaged skin. This nourishment can be supplied through proper nutrition and topical application of appropriately formulated products. Skin is a critical organ whose proper care is essential for appearance and overall good health.
From a functional and cosmetic stand point, the Stratum Corneum (SC) is the most important layer of the skin. It is the outmost layer and is responsible for the critical skin barrier function. It is also what we see when looking at one’s skin allowing us to assess skin health and beauty. The SC is the skin layer targeted by most topical therapies. The SC is only 15 to 150 microns thick, about the thickness of paper. While the SC is very thin it is also very tough and essential to our health, and survival. The bulk of the SC is made up of a protein called keratin. Keratin is a tough fibrous protein that fills cells known as Keratinocytes. The Keratinocytes undergo cornification (a biochemical process which converts Keratinocytes into hardened squamous cells), at which time they are called Corneocytes. The Corneocytes are held together by special fats known as lipids. The Corneocytes are arranged in a pattern much like a brick wall. They are bound together by the lipids which act like mortar. The SC is constantly being sloughed off and replaced by new cells generated in the basal layer, or bottom layer of the epidermis.
The Stratum Corneum (SC) is comprised of keratin filled Corneocytes that are held together by fats known as lipids. The lipids are primarily comprised of common triglycerides (12%-25%), fatty acids (12%-20%) and waxes (6%). The remainder (14% to 25%) is made up of essential barrier lipids which include ceramides, cholesterol and essential free fatty acids (at least 50% of which must be linoleic acid (i.e., omega 6) in an equal 1:1:1 ratio. It is these last three physiologically essential lipids that research has shown are critical for skin repair and skin health. These lipids are available through dietary sources, as well as through topically applied products. It is very important that therapeutic skin products target the support and replacement of these essential barrier lipids. Clinical research has shown that providing these essential lipids, in the proper ratio, can significantly accelerate barrier regeneration while dramatically aiding in the repair of skin damage.
Proper moisture balance is essential for maintaining healthy vibrant skin. Moisturizers are applied to the skin to help balance moisture content. When skin is properly moisturized it appears more youthful and vibrant while feeling smoother and softer. Moisturizers also function to sooth irritated or dry skin. Many skin care products on the market advertise that they are “moisturizers”. Moisturizer is somewhat of a misnomer as they do not work by adding moisture, instead they should help to reduce a process called Trans Epidermal Water Loss or TEWL, a technical term for evaporation of water through the skin. By reducing TEWL the skin is naturally re-hydrated from within through the body’s own water. Substances that reduce TEWL are generally occlusive, forming a thin layer on the skin surface slowing evaporation. They include many botanical oils, waxes, fatty alcohols, esters, silicones, etc. Often a second substance called a humectant may be added to assist the hydration process. Humectants work by attracting water from the air and include glycerin, sorbitol, proplylene glycol, hyaluronic acid, etc. Unfortunately, many products calling themselves moisturizers contain significant amounts of water, as well as ingredients called emulsifiers. The water in these products acts as an inexpensive solvent and bulking agent. The water evaporates quickly following application actually drying the skin without enhancing skin hydration. This seems counter-intuitive, but research has clearly shown that high water content products do not effectively hydrate, and end up drying the skin. They may feel good after application, but frequent use can be detrimental to skin health. Water based products also require emulsifiers so the oil ingredients can combine with the water. Since oil and water don’t mix the emulsifiers are used to assist the oil and water to form an emulsion. Often multiple emulsifiers and co-emulsifiers are used to create more stable emulsions. This is how most creams and lotions are made. Unfortunately, many emulsifiers also interact with skin lipids and can disrupt the skins critical barrier function. Research has shown that frequent application of high water content “moisturizers” can actually damage skin through the repeated wetting and drying of the skin surface, and the damaging effects of emulsifiers. Therefore, it is best to avoid high water content products when choosing a moisturizer. Ingredients are listed in order of concentration. So, if water (or aqua) is first it is the main ingredient. When properly formulated, anhydrous (no water) products are typically more effective moisturizers, and will not damage skins barrier function.
Skin aging is a process which affects everyone at some point resulting in wrinkles, sagging, fine lines, spots, redness and thinning of the skin. Skin ages in two ways intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging is due to genetics i.e., what we inherit from our parents and family. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about intrinsic aging. Everyone is pre-programmed to age at a certain rate. Intrinsic aging accounts for about 15% of how skin ages. Extrinsic aging is due to environmental factors that prematurely age our skin. These factors include exposure to sunlight (UV), smoking, chemicals (including many “skin care” ingredients), stress, poor diet. Extrinsic aging is responsible for about 85% of skin aging. Of these environmental factors photo-damage from the sun is number one. Fortunately, the factors that contribute to extrinsic aging can be controlled, and in some cases even reversed. The first line of defense is to avoid conditions that promote skin aging. Daily sun protection is the most important as almost 85% of extrinsic aging is the result of UV radiation from the sun. Wear protective clothing when outdoors and always apply sunscreen to exposed skin. It is also important to frequently apply an effective after sun product containing anti-oxidants, moisturizers and skin barrier repair agents. In addition to sun protection, regular application of quality skin care products, skin hygiene, maintaining a healthy life style, good nutrition and proper skin hydration can all help to reduce the signs of aging.
Sun damage, often referred to as “photo-damage”, is due to ultra violet radiation(UV). UV radiation is broken down into three categories based on wavelength, UVA (320-400 nm), UVB (290-320 nm) and UVC 200-290 nm). UVC is filtered out by the ozone layer in the atmosphere so very little reaches the ground and is therefore not a major factor in skin damage. UVB penetrates the epidermis and is responsible for most epidermal cellular damage. It is the portion of UV radiation that causes erythema (redness) and sun burn. It is also called the “tanning ray” because it initiates melanogenesis (melanin production) or tanning. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB and is the primary cause of skin aging due to its ability to damage the proteins collagen and elastin. UV damage occurs primarily at the cellular level through processes know as “oxidative stress” and “lipid peroxidation”. Briefly, UV radiation creates chemically reactive molecules called “free radicals”. If the free radicals are not neutralized within a cell they initiate the process of oxidation which in turn can damage DNA, cell structures, proteins, enzymes and even kill the cell. DNA damage from free radicals is the primary cause of skin cancer. As well, it is the primary cause of photo aging of the skin. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the effects of oxidative stress. As the name implies, antioxidants are primarily responsible for reducing oxidative stress and eliminating reactive free radicals. Antioxidants accomplish this by chemically neutralizing the free radicals thus preventing them from damaging cellular components. The most important antioxidants within skin cells include vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid along with omega 3 and 6 free fatty acids often referred to as “vitamin F”. These and other compounds work together to neutralize the damaging free radicals while helping to restore each other to their active form (see Vitamin Antioxidant Complex). Sun protection is critical to the health and aging of skin. Good sun protection products must provide the following:
Broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB through use of effective sunscreens.
Replace essential Vitamins A, C, and E and provide antioxidants capable of penetrating into cells to combat free radicals.
Provide lipid soluble antioxidants capable of penetrating into cells.
Support and repair skin barrier function with essential lipids and good moisture balance.
Support for the skins own internal protection systems.
SPF is short for Sun Protection Factor. It was devised to help consumers evaluate the effectiveness of the products they are purchasing. In simple terms each SPF number is supposed to represent the amount of sun protection compared to using no sunscreen. For example, SPF 7 should provide 7 times more protection than no sunscreen, SPF 15 represents 15 times, etc. In theory, using an SPF 15 product should allow 15 times more sun exposure before experiencing skin damage expected when not using any sunscreen. Unfortunately, it is not this simple. There are a number of factors that can be misleading, or affect overall sun protection, not the least of which being the SPF scale is not linear, as well SPF only measure UVB protection and not UVA. An SPF of 15 filters 93.3% of UV radiation, SPF 30 filters 96.7% and SPF 45 filters 97.8%. So, higher SPF rating do not necessarily provide significantly more protection. There is also an issue with what UV wavelengths the product filters. Some sunscreens are only effective in screening UVA radiation while others are more effective in screening UVB radiation (the only wavelengths addressed by the SPF rating). A good broad spectrum sunscreen should effectively screen both UVA and UVB. The result of this, at times confusing, complexity is that consumers can be easily misled when purchasing sunscreens. The FDA is working to make sunscreen labeling easier to understand and more user friendly. The FDA has recently issued a new set of regulations that help address some of these issues.
Sunscreens fall into two general categories, physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. Physical sunscreens work by reflecting, scattering and absorbing UV radiation, while chemical sunscreens generally work by absorbing UV before it can enter the skin. Physical sunscreens are represented by zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They offer safe and very effective broad spectrum protection, and are the ones most recommended by Dermatologists. There are about 20 FDA approved chemical sunscreens. They offer varying degrees of effectiveness, and most are only effective in either the UVA or UVB range. Therefore, most products require the combination of more than one chemical sunscreen to achieve broad spectrum effectiveness. The most important things to remember when using sunscreen are to purchase quality products, apply before sun exposure, apply a sufficient amount (most people apply less than half the amount needed), apply to all exposed skin and reapply often.
Mineral is a general term that usually refers to salts of Calcium, Sodium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, etc. Several key minerals play an important role in skin health. They act as enzyme and vitamin cofactors, are a part of essential proteins, help regulate transport across cell membranes and are involved in many more physiologic functions. Minerals that are most important to skin health include Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Sodium, Strontium, Selenium and Iron. Most minerals are supplied through dietary intake, but it is not uncommon for individuals to be deficient in one or more key minerals. This has been found to be particularly true in aging skin. Research has shown that topical application of essential minerals can help replenish those needed for skin health.
Functional Ingredients in skin care products refer to the components that provide therapeutic benefit. It is important to keep in mind that functional ingredients need to be in a form that can penetrate the skins protective barrier in sufficient quantities to provide a beneficial therapeutic effect. Unfortunately, many products on the market are not formulated to effectively penetrate into the skin, have functional ingredients in a form that skin cells cannot utilize, or are present in such small amounts that they offer little or no benefit. This is often the case with less expensive products, and with products that are mass marketed. It is important to read labels, but also be aware that just because an ingredient is listed it does not always mean it is present in a sufficient amount, or in a form, that is effective. It is important to carefully research skin care products before you make a purchase to help ensure they will provide the benefits you are seeking.
The chemical interactions within the Vitamin Antioxidant Complex provide a critical protective mechanism for skin. The primary function of the Vitamin Antioxidant Complex is to eliminate or “quench” free radicals. Free radicals are reactive molecules formed when the epidermis is subjected to environmental stress. The stress is the result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (from sunlight), chemicals, cigarette smoke and other environmental factors. Once the free radicals are formed they initiate a chemical process called oxidation which exposes cells to “oxidative stress”. Oxidative stress causes the deterioration of phospholipids that make up 45% of the cell membrane, as well as damaging proteins, enzymes and DNA. If allowed to proceed unchecked, oxidative stress becomes a vicious cycle that leads to severe cellular damage. Free radicals are so destructive they are the primary reason behind premature skin aging, as well as several serious skin diseases including cancer. The Vitamin Antioxidant Complex is comprised of Vitamins A, C and E working in synergy with antioxidants (AO’s). Through a series of chemical reactions the vitamins and antioxidants support, protect and re-activate each other so they can continue to neutralize free radicals.
If any of the Vitamin Antioxidant Complex components are in limited supply the process of neutralizing free radicals can slow or work less efficiently. Most of the essential vitamins and antioxidants are replenished through internal nutritional and metabolic sources. However, these are not always sufficient to meet the protective needs of skin, this is particularly true following sun exposure. Supplementing the replacement of these essential compounds through topical application has been clinically shown to increase their levels within the epidermis. Kaiderma Skin Care™ products are specifically formulated to provide these important vitamins and antioxidants in fat-soluble forms which are readily absorbed into the skin. As well, they are provided in forms that are stable and more bioavailable. Topical replenishment of the Vitamin Antioxidant Complex can be an important strategy to help protect skin cells against oxidative stress and resulting premature aging.
Wrinkles are a major concern for individuals hoping to maintain a more youthful appearance. Wrinkles are a part of the aging process and are therefore associated with age. The process that leads to wrinkles is complex. For wrinkles to form there first must be loose skin. Loose skin results from the loss of supporting structures under the skin (subcutaneous fat, bone, etc.), cellular damage, thinning of the skin due to loss of collagen, and reduced elasticity due to the loss of the protein elastin. As loose skin sags it forms wrinkles. The process is primarily the result of environmental factors. The number one culprit is sun damage followed by smoking, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and excessive use of soaps and other drying agents. The first line of defense is to protect skin from sun exposure followed by a good skin health regimen. The regimen should include maintaining skin barrier function, proper skin hydration, replenishment of essential skin nutrients, antioxidants and lipids. This can be accomplished through the use of quality therapeutic skin care products on a daily basis. This should also be accompanied by good nutrition, stress reduction and a healthy life style. If skin health is properly managed wrinkle formation can be effectively minimized leading to a more youthful vibrant appearance.