Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me and skin care not-so-tip

So I checked out the 7th edition of Paula Begoun's book, Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. It's an interesting read, but needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, I think. She does list a lot of valid research, but she also considers a lot of things commonly used in skin care an irritant. This is probably true... But as she implicitly states several times, too much of anything is a bad thing where skin's concerned. It's all about balance. Very zen.

My issue with a lot of her "there are no scientific studies to back this up" claims is that... Well. Let's be honest. There are some things that women have used on their skin for centuries: rosewater, witch hazel, lemon... If they irritated everybody, would people still be using them even today? I mean, it's true that people can be easily taken in, especially where things like beauty are concerned, but it seems ludicrous that entire generations can be fooled one after the other. Also, it's kind of counterproductive to say that everyone's skin is different and then list things are irritants for all skin types when they clearly... aren't.

Anyway, problems with Begoun's explanations aside...

Naturally, some of the first things I looked up in her book are things that I currently own and use. One item would be Neutrogena's Oil-Free Acne Stress Control Power-Cream Wash. She doesn't review this—I'm not sure why, since she reviews pretty much everything else in the same line, and I don't think it's that new—but since all of the reviews are pretty much the same, I figured it'd go for this one, too:

contains menthol, which makes it too irritating for all skin types. The 2% salicylic acid isn't going to benefit blemish-prone skin when used in a topical scrub because it is basically rinsed down the drain right after it's applied and doesn't have time to absorb into the skin.

Essentially, then, besides the problem of menthol (which is sixth from last in the ingredient list, by the way), she cites the main problem as the wash's inability to work in such a short time period.

Well, okay... But if we're talking about application time, isn't this easily fixed on the user's part? If we leave it on longer, wouldn't that make the product effective? Or at least more effective?

Here's how I reason it: Salicylic acid is an exfoliant and anti-irritant. In a scrub or cream wash like a lot of the drugstore ones on the market, the directions usually tell you to put the product on and then wash it off again. But does that make any kind of sense? When you have a cut, for example, and you put rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on it, you don't immediately wipe it away. You put it on and leave it so that it can do its job. If you sprain an ankle, you put ice on it to relieve the pain. You don't just dip it in iced water once and take it out. Why should face wash be any different? An exfoliant needs time to loosen up the dead skin cells, and an anti-irritant needs time to work on the inflammation. If it's going to penetrate the skin and clean out the pores, it'll probably need a couple of minutes to work.

As a matter of fact, that's what I started doing last semester. When I used my cream cleanser, I began leaving it on my face for about three to five minutes. I'd massage it in, leave it on while I brushed my teeth, then rinse everything away together afterward. It started working much better.

I'm not sure about the consistency of the scrub, so I don't know if it'll work for that one, and of course, I can't guarantee that it'll work for everyone. But if your cleanser isn't doing what it's supposed to do, try leaving it on longer before washing it off again and see if it gets better? I can't promise that this is valid advice, since I'm not a scientist or a skin care expert or anyone who knows anything about the technical stuff behind all of this (if I were, I wouldn't have to read Paula B.'s book... XD), but hopefully, it'll help! :D

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