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Meet the Skinpreneurs – Cosmetic Chemist

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

Our last guest for Meet the Skinpreneurs is Elham Eghbali from Skin Chakra in Germany. 

Meet the Cosmetic ChemistElham is a Cosmetic Chemist, Chief Saponification Officer and also Associate lecturer at Formula Botanica. Many of you will have come in 'contact' with a Cosmetic Chemist in the form of your skincare, body care, household cleaners, etc. They are the Scientists for cosmetics formulations. Let's take a closer look into the world of a Cosmetic Chemist.

Elham - Cosmetic Chemist

• • •

Elham, what is Cosmetic Chemistry in a nutshell and what is a typical day as a Cosmetic Chemist?

Cosmetic Chemistry is the chemistry related to cosmetic ingredients and manufacturing of cosmetics. This is a very broad definition.

Each day is a unique day on its own. It can start with making new formulations, tweaking some existing formulations. Checking the stability of prepared formulations, running measurements, observing samples under microscope, reading new articles, searching for some ingredients etc. There is no “routine” at least in my “formulation development” part of cosmetic chemistry.

What are your favourite ingredients and why do you like to work with them?

Except for avocado oil that I love and try to apply in most of my projects, I can not name a certain “favourite” ingredient. Each single project demands application of a series of ingredients.

Consumers shun the word ‘chemicals’ like plague. What is your opinion on chemophobia?

This is a very sad story and I believe the scientists are as responsible to promote or support “chemophobia” as those who earn their livings from it. Scientists are so busy in their labs and offices that most of them have lost contact to the public whereas “panic makers” are making a fortune by distributing silly and unrealistic stories about chemicals in our everyday life. I think we shall consider the good and evil in each ingredient, product or device we’re using and shall not discard the baby together with the bath water.

You are also a Chief Saponification Officer. What kinds of soaps do you enjoy making and could you tell us the benefits of using handmade soaps vs industrial soap/surfactant based products for cleansing?

I find each soap making session a unique experience. It is the alchemy of the soap that I find fascinating. In soap making we deal with real “chemical reactions” and it is different to all our other formulation experiences such as making an emulsion or a serum. I personally like cold process soap making.

The most significant advantage is their being natural or naturally derived, although there is a chemical reaction involved in saponification, you're still working with plant oils as they are pressed out of the nuts, fruits or kernels. There are now "naturally derived" surfactants available but even the mildest of them and those which are accepted to be used in "organic & natural" skin care have a light de-fatting effect over skin. With natural soaps (I mean those based on fatty acids and triglycerides) you have a re-fatting of skin and not stripping the skin from its own protective barrier. Another advantage is that by applying a "natural soap" you're not only using the triglyceride, you're applying all those amazing non-saponifiables accompanying the virgin oils. You can not find this quantity and quality of vitamins, phospholipids and antioxidants in any syndet based soap or cleanser.

We know how generous artisan soap makers are with applying macerated oils and herbal infusions. In mainstream products, these additives are applied (if at all) to the lowest possible concentration just to enable the manufacturer bringing the name on the label. The mainstream is still deeply convinced that paraffin and synthetic surfactants and ingredients work better than "natural" ingredients. They apply low concentrations of "natural ingredients" about whose function and efficacy they are not convinced at all just to fool the customer and to swim with the stream.

We have seen many skincare in the markets promoting no preservatives used. Could you share with us why such practices are happening and why do we need preservatives in skincare especially those containing water and those that will come into contact with it?

This goes back to your previous question about “chemophobia”. I’m not sure if the consumer, I mean the consumer without any background in chemistry is aware of the role and function of a preservative in a cosmetic product. They correlate “preservative” with something toxic, harmful, carcinogenic. Some “unnecessary evil” that the industry is adding to the consumer products just for fun. This is why I mentioned before that scientists have greatly failed to inform the consumer. I always repeat “Paracelsus” in this case : “Dosis facit venenum”: the dosis makes the gift.

A cosmetic product containing water (and specially “natural” cosmetics with all those plant oils and extracts) are susceptible to contamination. A contaminated product causes more damage and harm than the most notorious “preservative”. We know by experience that a major part of “natural” cosmetics consumer are people with a compromised immune system. These consumers are extremely susceptible to contamination. There are several cases of dangerous outbreaks of infection and even death because of applying a contaminated product. These cases are unfortunately only being published in scientific journals. It seems that the scientists are communicating among each other and totally neglect the “real” world outside. Anyway, making the long story short: a contaminated product is more dangerous and harmful than the applied preservatives which serve to protect both the product and the consumer from dangerous contaminations and their consequences.

Thank you Elham for sharing with us and you can find her at Skin Chakra. We hope you have enjoyed our Meet the Skinpreneurs series!

 

 

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Meet the Skinpreneurs – Herbalist

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

Our next guest for Meet the Skinpreneurs is Natalie Wilson of Nature's Comfort Soap Company in the US.

Natalie is a Herbalist who formulates herbal skincare, body care and also offer consultations on holistic health care. Herbalism ("herbology" or "herbal medicine") is the use of plants for medicinal purposes, and the study of such use. Plants have been the basis for medical treatments through much of human history, and such traditional medicine is still widely practiced today. (source: wikipedia) Herbalist may be a new term in our society as we are more familiar with the Asian counterparts, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Aryuveda and Jamu.

• • • 

Herbalism is very new to us in Singapore. Could you give us an introduction to Herbalism and what does a Herbalist do?
 
Herbalism is the study and practice of using herbs for their medicinal or beautifying values. All plants contain certain unique properties, or chemicals, that offer a huge variety of benefits to our health, our beauty, and to our overall well being. A herbalist utilises the plants, according to their needs and extracts and uses these properties in medicines, supplements, beauty products, and more. Herbalism is a great field to explore for anyone interested in learning about skin care. So many herbs offer amazing benefits to our skin, hair, nails, and of course, internal health. Without good health, beauty fades, so a herbalist values these connections, and uses the full body and all of its systems when choosing which herbs to always use.
 
Is Herbalism similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Aryuveda and Indonesian Jamu?
 
Yes, it is very similar. Many ideas and medicines cross and are shared between many different cultures and heritages. From American Indians, to the Chinese, herbs have been shared and passed down across the entire world and sometimes you’ll see them intertwined. I believe different cultures all had the same concept of using healing plants, the differences in use and variety existed mostly out of which plants were available according to where people lived, their own customs, and also their religious beliefs. Ayurveda believes that all things in life are connected and that there is a certain knowledge about life that is shared between all living things. …If we focus on that thought, we realise traditional herbalism does the same. We know that the earth holds all living things within it, and therefore provides everything for the life it holds. Plants are incredibly important to life on earth, they provide everything from food, to shelter, to energy, to medicines. All we need is the knowledge on how to use it. All of these practices have stemmed from early healers, prophets and writers.  


Natalie explaining about herbs to the little ones and their mummies during her workshop.

What kind of herbal remedies do you prepare regularly for example, for oral and topical skincare products?
 
I prepare several types of remedies, beauty products, and even perfumes from herbs. For instance, I love the beauty power of roses. They have the amazing ability to balance oils in our skin, among an array of other qualities. I prepare them by making extractions, distilling them, or infusing them into oils and other menstruums. I take these preparations and make everything from soaps, to skin creams, perfumes, shampoos, and salves.

For internal health, I have a large collection of herbal infusions called tinctures. These are alcohol extracted herbs that are taken internally as a remedy or as a health supplement. One example would be a tincture of valerian root, used to help someone sleep better at night, or to calm stressed nerves. Another would be Licorice Root to help soothe bad digestion or used on the scalp to treat dandruff.
As you spend more time learning about the herbs, what they are, and what they do, you’ll gain more and more experience learning about what they do, and how they can help improve your life and the lives of those you love.

What are your favourite ingredients and why do you like working with them?
 
As I mentioned already, my favorite is the rose, because it can be used for so many things, both internally and externally. Roses have been adored in herbalism for thousands of years. Queen Cleopatra was known for her continued use of rose water for her beauty, and its use in perfumery can’t be beat. It is by far, my favorite herb. I enjoy working with aromatic flowers, like lavender, jasmine, and tuberose. I also love rosemary, as it is another wonderful aromatic with a large variety of benefits, such as bringing shine to hair. Calendula, patchouli, comfrey, stinging nettles, arnica, witch hazel, slippery elm, just to name a few, are some of my favorite herbs. They offer a variety of uses that I never seem to run out of ideas for. Even delicate baby skin can benefit from a light oil that has been infused with lavender or calendula, and old skin will love the uplifting feel of roses or jasmine. There is truly something for everyone.

What is the one oral herbal remedy that you recommend to everyone for boosting of immunity and also one topical herbal remedy for daily maintenance of good skincare?
 
The one oral herbal remedy I recommend to everyone for boosting immunity is elderberry, because it is safe for just about anyone to use without the worry of a contraindication (a reaction to a medication or a disease) and also it is not hot or spicy and even children love the taste of it. It is often made into a very good tasting syrup and can also be added to tea.
 
A good topical remedy for daily skincare maintenance, I usually say that this determines on one’s skin type. But if there is something that just about anyone could use for a good daily skincare routine, I would say it would be rosewater. Rosewater is made from distilled roses. It smells wonderful and has a low PH, helping to protect the skin’s acid mantle. Roses, as mentioned before, help to balance the skin’s oils and can be used by both young and old. Rosewater can also be used to create a huge variety of products from skin cream, to shampoo and conditioner, to perfume. Rosewater also offers a great deal of medicinal value and the combination of rosewater and glycerin used to be a staple in most physician’s bags as well as first aid kits.

Thank you Natalie for sharing Herbalism with us. You can find her at Nature's Soap Company and she has a wonderful blog at http://gardenspot-natalie.blogspot.com/.

Stay tuned for our next guest post on Meet the Skinpreneurs – Cosmetic Chemist.

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Milky Tomato cleansing lotion

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

Fancy a Milky Tomato cleansing lotion on your face? You should try it if you have oily and combination skin and the ingredients are easily available. My entire face is covered with it as I am writing this blog post.

Tomatoes are a rich source of vitamins A, B and C, potassium and magnesium and the antioxidant lycopene which gives the tomatoes the colour. It is high in fruit acid (AHA) which offers gentle exfoliation on your skin. Milk (diary) has lactic acid which also gives you a mild peeling action and offers skin softening properties.

Ingredients:
• 1 medium very ripe tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
• 1-3 tablespoons of fresh full cream-milk or almond/rice milk (for vegetarians & vegans)
• Green Tea infusion to be used as toner (green tea infusion is great for oily and combination skin because of the tannins in the tea has astringent and pore tightening properties)

Method:
1. Blend the tomatoes in a food processor or blender. Strain the pulp and retain the juice.
2. Add equal amount of milk to the juice and blend well.
3. Apply the cleansing lotion with a cotton pad to your face and neck and leave on for 10 mins.
4. You may use it once or twice a day.
5. Remove the cleansing lotion with the green tea infusion and pat dry.
6. Moisturise as usual.

Store the remaining cleansing lotion in a clean and dry covered container. Use it up within a day. This recipe is not suitable for sensitive skin due to the acidic nature of the ingredients.

I hope you will enjoy using this Milky Tomato cleansing lotion. 

Additional reading:
• B-carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23053552
• Epidermal and dermal effects of topical lactic acid: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8784274 
• Herbal treatment for Dermatologic Disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/

For educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 

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Meet the Skinpreneurs – Esthetician

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

This October we are kickstarting the month with a series of Meet the Skinpreneurs in the skincare industry. Starting with the first is Meet the Esthetician. This is a fairly new term as most of us are more familiar with beauticians. Meet Aleksandra Andrade from Masla Skincare as she introduced us to her world of Esthetics.

Aleksandra is a licensed Esthetician and an Organic Skincare Formulator with a passion for natural skincare. She founded Masla Sensible Skincare to formulate high-performance skincare addressing various skin concerns by focusing on using high quality botanical ingredients as an alternative to harsh traditional skincare and practices. We are honoured to have her as our first guest for this series of Meet the Skinpreneurs.

• • •

Aleksandra, can you tell us what does an Esthetician do? Is there any difference between an Esthetician, facialist and a beautician?

Esthetician (sometimes referred to as Facialist) is a skin care professional who has undergone a professional training and is able to perform in-depth skin analysis, various skin treatments and recommend proper products for home care. Treatments performed by estheticians typically include facials, body treatments and hair removal services as well as other treatments such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion. There are many aspects of esthetics that a therapist can specialise in such as acne treatments, oncology esthetics, laser hair removal, lash and brow extensions and even make up application.

The requirements to becoming an esthetician vary from country to country and even from state to state here in the USA. To become an Esthetician in the US one must receive training in a special institution and pass state board examinations to receive license that would allow them to practice skin care in the state the license has been issued. Many states require Esthetician to complete continuing education classes to be able to renew the license. Some states have a two tier licensure that includes professional esthetics and master esthetics. Master estheticians are required to complete more hours of education and are trained to perform more invasive services such as LED, laser treatments, chemical peels and microdermabrasion. These are the specialists you may often see working with a doctor in dermatology clinics.

Beautician is a Cosmetologist. Cosmetologists are trained to perform hair treatments, as well as manicures and pedicures and some skin related treatments. People usually obtain Cosmetologist license when they intend on becoming a hair stylist.

What are the services that you specialise in?

My passion has always been in holistic skincare approach and organic skin care. I must admit though that since I’ve started my skin care company I have been taking a break from practical esthetics and shifted my focus onto formulating and establishing online presence. Back when I had my private practice however I did specialise on facial treatments especially tailored for sensitive, stressed, rosacea-prone skin, as this is exactly what I am suffering from myself. That is also how my own product line was born. I do not believe in one-size-fits-all type of treatments, and think that each client has to be approached differently. So an in-depth skin analysis and consultation has always been a big must in my practice. As a matter of fact I plan on offering virtual services through my online page very soon. I think in the age of internet and digital media everyone should be able to have an excess to professional skin care services, at least by means of a professional consultation.

Is there a correct method to applying skincare products like toner after facial cleansing, etc?

It depends on the toner that you use. If your toner is a hydrating mist composed of hydrosols for instance, you may spay it directly on face and pat it in. If let’s say your toner contains AHA’s or Salicylic Acid then I would recommend pouring some on the cotton ball and applying it to the face with swiping motions. This is usually the way estheticians apply toners during facial treatments. Applying toner with a cotton pad after cleansing or exfoliating would ensure that no rinse-off product is left on the skin, restore skin’s pH and prepare skin for the next step.

You are also an organic skincare formulator. What are your favourite products and why everyone should have it in their beauty cabinet?

Yes, that’s right Teresa. I have become a full-time formulator now that I run my company. Practical esthetics is only a very part time activity for me. Being able to experience the world of skin care from different angles has helped me to “open my eyes” and really see things from different perspectives: as a therapist, as a formulator, as skin care business owner and of course as customer. Things that I have considered essential in the early esthetician days, don’t seem to be that important anymore. Being so fascinated and curios about skin care I like to try new products all the time. The skin care I use is not always of my own creation, I like to try other brands too. There is so much out there in the world of skin care.

Despite of me having a ton of things in my cabinet, I really think I am a low-maintenance person when it comes to cosmetics. I don’t use 55 different potions in my daily routine. I am a momterpreneur and due to lack of time and energy I like to keep things simple. So my #1 essential is a cleanser. I have recently made a switch from an Aloe facial cleanser by a well-known cosmeceutical line to an accidental creation of mine - Rose & Jasmine cleansing balm. My #2 essential is a face oil. I have a rosacea-prone oily skin and ever since I’ve switched to using oil, my skin has improved in so many ways.

I don’t stick to the same one as my skin may feel very different depending on the weather or even the food I ate the day or 2 before. So I daily pick one of 3 of my oil serums, depending on the condition of my skin and even my mood. If I had to pick just one it would probably be the Radiant Night Treatment Serum that would make a perfect aroma couple with my Jasmine & Rose Cleansing Balm.

What advice would you offer to everyone regarding looking after our skin?

The main advice I would like to give is “Don’t neglect your skin!” As tired as you might be in the evening (I am a mom of 2 young busy boys so trust me I know the struggle), do not skip on properly cleansing your face. Cleanse + feed your skin at night. And my second most important advice would be “Stop picking on your face!” Seriously, this bad habit is so addictive and very dangerous. It can lead to inflammation, more pimples and even a chance of contracting infection. Constantly messing with your face may also lead to enlarged pores and scarring. Instead of torturing yourself make an appointment with an esthetician for a deep pore treatment.

Thank you Aleksandra for sharing with us and for friends in the US, hop over to Masla Skincare and her Facebook and connect with Aleksandra.

Stay tuned for our next guest post on Meet the Skinpreneurs – Herbalist

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Is oil bad for your skin?

Posted by Teresa Foo seet Wei on

Have you tried using oils on your face? Yuck! No! Never! No way! It will cause my face to break out with pimples! It will make more oily skin more greasy! Not in this hot tropical weather!

I hear you. And I have some very good information why oils, particularly plant oils which are not only BENEFICIAL for the health of your skin and are ESSENTIAL in maintaining the hydration levels. I use a blend of facial oils as a moisturiser and for facial massage too. I literally coat my body with body oils every morning and night. I swear by oils as a body moisturiser for my children too especially after their swimming lessons, you know how dry our skin gets after a swim in the heavily chlorinated pools!

The usage of oils (plant or animal) have long existed in ancient times. Oils were used for religious and beauty purposes. Olive oils are the most commonly used plant oils in ancient times and records included the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, used the oils for cleansing and as an emollient to protect their skin from the harsh weather. Cleopatra loved coating herself with olive oils which she also used as hair removal with an ancient blade-like tool. Herbal oils are a big part of Indian Aryuvedic, Indonesian Jamu, Thai Herbalism holistic healing and the list goes on. 

Plant oils provide us with Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) and these are building blocks for our immune health. We can get EFA through our food and also by applying topically on our skin to replenish our deficiencies in the fatty acids. Here is a simple breakdown of the essential fatty acids for optimum skin health:

Oleic acid (Omega 9) is a monounsaturated fatty acid. It is commonly found in Sweet Almond oil, Camellia oil, Argan oil, Acai, Buriti to name a few. Oleic acid helps to maintain the skin's suppleness. It offers anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties.

Linoleic acid (also known as Omega 6) is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. Safflower oil, Evening Primrose oil, Passion fruit oil are some oils that contain Linoleic acid. It helps to nourish the skin with it's quick absorption into the epidermis.

Alpha-Linolenic acid (Omega 3) is a super-unsaturated fatty acid. We can find them in Chia seed oil, Flax seed oil, Perilla seed oil, Walnut oil, etc. The alpha-linolenic acid with it's anti-inflammatory function helps to relieve itchiness, redness and also irritation on the skin. It is a protective and nourishing EFA.

Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA) is an Omega 6 fatty acid. Borage oils, Evening Primrose oil and Black Current seed oil are some oils high in GLA. This fatty acid is highly prized for it's regenerative properties and offer much relief to problematic skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.

How do you use the oils on your skin? You can use it as a facial moisturiser, cleansing oil, body oil and massage oil. A few drops will do the trick to hydrate your skin and maintain optimum skin health on a daily basis. Once you have discovered the beauty of using oils on your skin, you will never leave home without them!

[ Our Super Fruit Defense Oil Serum has a good balance of Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, Alpha-Linolenic acid for promotion of well-hydrated and healthy skin barrier. ]

Extra reading:
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrients-health/skin-health/nutrient-index/essential-fatty-acids

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7373078

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21088453

 

For educational purposes only. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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