News & Media: Blog
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Some Truth About Preservatives in Cosmetics

One controversial topic is the use of preservatives in cosmetics. The primary role of anti-microbial preservatives is to destroy bacteria and prevent contamination. With this in mind, surprisingly, animals that are fed large amounts of preservatives typically do not enjoy a long life. Animal testing is performed through ingestion of the product to determine carcinogenicity and safety. But as we do not drink cosmetics, the risk of ingesting preservatives is not really an issue. Rather, the risk of transferring infection from cosmetics contamination (ie. transferring an eye infection from one eye to the other via mascara or sticking dirty fingers into a jar) is much greater than the risk of applying minute amounts of preservative to the skin.

Lately there have been a lot of efforts to eliminate preservatives from cosmetics, but there really is no such thing as a commercially-made, preservative-free cosmetic. First and foremost, most cosmetic products do not get bought and used until at least 3 to 6 months after leaving the manufacturer necessitating the use of preservatives. Additionally, many products that are labeled as preservative free actually contain preservatives; the catch is that the ingredient may fall under a different category (ie. there are fragrances which also happen to be preservatives). There has also been a trend towards special packaging that permits a lower concentration of preservatives used.

But the truth is, preservatives are very important for ensuring product longevity and stability until the very last drop is used. As it is, among ingredients in a cosmetic product, preservatives happen to be one of the lowest in terms of concentration. Labels list ingredients in order of descending concentration and preservatives are usually listed towards the end. Restricting the use of preservatives in cosmetics for their preservation may not be the best thing in the end. 


Do Over-The-Counter Laser Devices Really Work?

I must admit that the idea of any laser in untrained hands concerns me. That being said, there are a handful of promising new devices available. Let’s take a look at what is out there:

1. TRIA HAIR REMOVAL LASER is a device for laser hair removal. The dark pigment in hair absorbs the beams of laser energy, converting them to heat which basically disables hair follicles, preventing the growth of new hair. The good news is that it is user-friendly and involves minimal discomfort. The bad news is that it has a small head which could make treatments long and difficult. Laser hair removal requires at least 6 treatments done 4 to 6 weeks apart so as to attack the hairs in various stages of their growth cycles. While not practical for multiple large areas, it may be an inexpensive alternative for small areas on people with fair skin and dark hair. The device costs $395;

2. LIGHTSTIM LED LIGHT THERAPY is a handheld light-emitting diode (LED) device designed to stimulate collagen production and lessen wrinkles. It is supposed to be used on the areas for three minutes, five times a week. The good news is that it may give the skin a fresh glow and temporarily lessen fine lines (mostly due to temporary heat and swelling). The bad news is it takes at least 2 months to see results and the results are questionable. Continued use is also necessary. The device costs $299; There is also an acne light and rosacea light as well!

3. PALOVIA SKIN RENEWING LASER is an OTC version of professional fractionated light devices (ie. Fraxel). It claims to reduce wrinkles around the eyes. The good news is it is user-friendly and involves minimal discomfort. It may even help build collagen to work on those wrinkles. The bad news it requires a major commitment – five minutes a day for at least one month to even see results, but longer for a more enhanced outcome. The device costs $499;

4. WRINKLEMD utilizes anatomically shaped patches that fit around the eye ere where smile and squint lines develop. A mild electrical pulse delivers hyaluronic acid into the skin with the goal of reducing fine lines and wrinkles. The good news is that there is a temporary (possibly up to 24 hours) reduction in fine lines. The bad news is that there is an associated pricking sensation and a bit of a time commitment. The device is meant to be used twice a week for 40 minutes for the first two weeks and then weekly thereafter. The device costs $129;


Best Anti-Aging Regimen: Moisturizer and Sunscreen

Skin and Allergy News' Blog discusses the best anti-aging products. Click on the link below.


Dr. Barnett's Tips for Maintaining Great Skin in 2012

Check out Dr. Channing Barnett's skin care tips for 2012 by clicking on the link.


The Truth About Nails

Nails undergo a significant number of changes as we get older, including discoloration, increased curvature, and a reduction in the growth rate. The nails also become very brittle, lose their flexibility and start to split, peel, crack and/or become ridged. 

Keep in mind the dryness is made worse with exposure to chemicals, with excessive hand washing, and if undergoing manicures too frequently. 

Interestingly, nail polish can be beneficial to the nails as it slows the loss of moisture. However, if you have your nails done too often, the acetone and acetone-free products used to remove the polish are also very drying. 

What about the new gel manicure? A gel polish has to be heat ultraviolet-cured between each layer of polish. The advantage is that some gel manicures last 2 weeks or longer. The disadvantages are that there may be increased nail thickening and dryness from the UV light and the gel nails require being soaked in acetone for removal. It is possible that long-term use of gel nails may make the nails thinner and weaker.

Some good tips to avoid drying out the nails:
1. Start by moisturizing your nails, just like you moisturize your skin. Take the same moisturizer you use on your hands and rub it on your nails as well.
2. Wear gloves while washing the dishes.
3. Stick with formaldehyde-free nail polish and acetone-free nail polish remover.
4. Avoid getting manicures too frequently and take breaks from gel nail manicures every few months.


Just How Beneficial Are Today’s Hottest Skincare Product Ingredients?

The buzzword of the moment is “antioxidant.” Whether it be applying vitamin C serums at night or drinking green tea during the day, antioxidants are the rage. But is there any evidence to support their role in skincare?

Antioxidants are substances that contain a free electron that can be donated to another substance. For example, ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is a common antioxidant added to skincare products to donate an electron to reactive oxygen species that degrade the lipids in the moisturizer.

Every single part of every living plant must contain antioxidants to allow for continued viability outdoors. This accounts for the large number of foods containing antioxidants and for the large number of antioxidant-containing compounds available for use in skin products.

Measuring the effectiveness of topical and oral antioxidants is very difficult. Even though antioxidants are commonly orally consumed in the form of vitamins C and E, it is difficult to know if the antioxidant ability of the body is improved by increased consumption. It is unknown how much of an antioxidant like vitamin C should be consumed to optimally maintain skin antioxidant stores.

So whether patients using topical antioxidants or consuming oral antioxidant supplements are benefiting in terms of sun protection and anti-aging is yet to be determined. Antioxidants value remains controversial. 


Topical Acne Treatments During Pregnancy: Are There Any Risks?

What are topical acne treatments?
Medications applied directly to the skin that are used in the treatment of acne. Common ingredients of topical acne treatments include salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, Retin-A® (tretinoin), clindamycin, azelaic acid, and glycolic acid.
Are topical acne treatments generally safe to use during pregnancy?
Over-the-counter skin products have not been associated with an increased risk when used during pregnancy. Studies have demonstrated that in most cases only 2% to 10% of the active ingredients are absorbed through the skin into your system. With so little passing into the body, the amount that reaches the developing baby, if any, is likely too low to cause birth defects.
Prescriptions topical treatments typically have higher amounts of the active ingredients than the over-the-counter products. Therefore, the amount of medications absorbed into the body may be higher.
Can I use topical salicylic acid?
There may be a concern when a pregnant woman takes a certain dose of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), a related medication which is taken by mouth. When applied on the skin, the amount of salicylic acid that enters the body is very small. As a result, it is unlikely that topical salicylic acid would pose any risk to a developing fetus.
Can I use topical benzoyl peroxide?
Although no substantial controlled studies have been conducted on pregnant women using benzoyl peroxide, it is considered to be relatively safe to use, as only about 2% of benzoyl peroxide is absorbed into the system, which is not enough to cause any fetal harm.
However, benzoyl peroxide is also classified as a category C drug, which is an index of drugs and medications that have not been tested on humans or animals. Experts have not yet determined whether benzoyl peroxide can pass into breast milk. If you are considering using acne products with this active ingredient, consult your obstetrician before beginning any course of treatment.
Can I use glycolic acid or azelaic acid?
Glycolic acid and azelaic acid have not been studied in pregnancy. These medications are absorbed into the skin in small amounts, making it unlikely that topical forms would pose any risk to a developing fetus.
Can I use topical antibiotics such as clindamycin?
Topical clindamycin has been assigned to pregnancy category B by the FDA. Animal studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate or well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Considered to be safe by most dermatologists, topical clindamycin is only recommended for use during pregnancy when there are no over-the-counter alternatives.
Can I use tretinoin (Retin-A® )?
Studies attempting to find out the effects of tretinoin on pregnancy have not found that babies whose mothers used tretinoin during pregnancy are any more likely to have birth defects than babies whose mothers did not use tretinoin. However, there have been a few reports of babies born with birth defects after their mothers used tretinoin during pregnancy. Typically, a few reports do not cause health professionals to be concerned, but the birth defects reported in those cases are like the defects seen in babies whose mothers took isotretinoin (Accutane®, an oral retinoid) during pregnancy. Therefore, it is generally recommended to avoid use of tretinoin in pregnancy due to the possible risks.

If you are pregnant and considering the use of acne products during the pregnancy, make sure to consult your dermatologist and obstetrician before beginning any course of treatment. 

A great resource for learning more about pregnancy and safety:


Dr. Barnett's Back-To-School Skin Care Tips

Check out Dr. Channing Barnett's back-to-school skin care tips by clicking on the link:

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