January 17, 2013

What is NMF and why is it important for good skin health?

NMF (natural moisturising factor) is part of the natural chemistry of the skin. The skin cells synthesize certain substances to keep them nice and plump, hydrated and healthy. These substances are found within the cells and the cells also excrete these hydrating substances into the surrounding tissue area to coat and protect the skin cells from drying out.

NMF is made up of ingredients such as amino acids, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The NMF binds with the natural skin lipids the skin cells synthesize to create a kind of natural moisturizer for the skin. This natural moisturizer sits in-between the cells, hold the skin together and prevent excess moisture loss from the skin and the body as a whole. We call this the barrier function, and it is the body's first line of defence against moisture loss and infection.

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When this natural moisturizer is either missing or not complete, meaning the skin is not producing enough of these substances to keep the skin soft and supple, people can experience a number of symptoms from mild dehydration, tightness, dryness, to conditions such as skin sensitivities, flaking, irritations, and itching. Untreated skin can result in premature aging, lines and wrinkles, heightened sensitivities and predisposition to allergies, eczema and dermatitis.

Interestingly, advances in cosmetic formulation allow us now to create treatment creams and serums that naturally MIMIC the skins natural moisturizer. These kind of formulas are called BIOMIMETIC. Most of the same substances found naturally in the skin can be found in the botanical kingdom and high quality treatment creams today mimic precisely the skins natural chemistry.

Cheaper moisturisers or older-style formulas sit on the top of the surface, whereas biomimetic treatment creams sit WITHIN the skin. This means high quality and well formulated treatment creams do a lot more than moisturize. They help aid and improve the barrier as well as act as an excellent delivery system. The skin cells recognizes the NMF and readily accept it, along with any antioxidant, vitamins, peptides and other skin beneficial ingredients. 

this link has an excellent image to explain NMF


this link has great info for further reading on NMF


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January 3, 2013

How far do skin care ingredients go?

Beauty tip Protect your skin from the sun with a good SPF sunscreenMy oldest daughter is learning horse riding, and one weekend she forgot to apply sunscreen. At the end of the day she came home with severe sunburn. Her back and shoulders were sunburned with inflammation, swelling, stinging and burning, the type of sunburn that would definitely blister. 
Beauty tip Aloe Vear gel for sun burnI went out to my garden, got some Aloe Vera plant, cut the juicy leaf in half length-ways and scooped out the gel. I applied it to my daughter’s skin and she told me it immediately relieved her pain and stinging. I kept re-applying the aloe vera gel and a cool compresses all through the night, which provided enormous relief so that she could sleep in comfort. By morning, the inflammation and pain subsided and within a few days the sunburn cleared up, with no blistering.

In the beauty business, there are some powerful ingredients we work with that have an effect on the skin from the surface. Some of these are vitamins, anti-oxidants, plant extracts, essential oils, plant oils, alpha and beta hydroxyl acids and marine extracts.

cross section of the skinI am no chemist, but my passion is learning about cosmetic ingredients. My understanding is that, most of the cosmetic ingredients we use sit on the surface and some are able to work their way in deeper and work within the epidermis (the surface layer of the skin). A good delivery system in the skin care formulation allow ingredients to travel past the epidermal lipid barrier to the deeper epidermal layers and improve the way the surface cells communicate with the cells deep down. That is how we can calm the Langerhans cells in irritated skin, reduce melanin production in pigmentation, and boost hyaluronic & collagen production in aging skin.

Using quality cosmeceutical ingredients, in an effective delivery system to keep cell communication at its optimum so that the skin cells are receiving the right signals and passing the message along to the deeper cells is very important in skin care. My belief is that results are based on how the cells 'speak' to each other, and what signals they are sending to the cells deep down.

skin cells epidermis cell communication
Some ingredients such as Aloe Vera sit on the surface to be effective, others such as Vitamin C or Niacinamide require effective delivery systems to get the ingredient past the epidermal barrier, otherwise these ingredients are unable to communicate with cell deep down effectively.

In many instances when aestheticians talk about delivery systems taking ingredients deep down, it may be confusing because the implication is that the ingredients penetrate to the dermis or the deeper, live skin. With the exception of some essential oils, no cosmetic ingredients can claim they can penetrate past the epidermis into the dermal layers, only certain drugs and medicines can, such as the drugs in nicotine patches. Cosmetics that can penetrate past the skin into the blood stream could potentially be dangerous, and should only ever be handled by medical practitioners. Toxicity is of particular concern, as well as drug interactions, and potentially dangerous side effects.

skin care cosmetic ingredientsIn beauty, we do use ingredients that affect the deeper layers of the skin safely and effectively without introducing dangerous chemicals (natural or synthetic) into the body. The only way we can affect the dermis is with cell communicating ingredients such as peptides, Retinol (vitamin A) and Niacinamide (vitamin B3)which 'pass the message on' from the surface to the cells in the dermis, such as the fibroblasts which are responsible for collagen and elastin production.

The other way we can affect the dermis of course is with other modalities such as micro needling and LED. These modalities work by improving cell communication and sending the desired messages to the cells to encourage a healthy and youthful skin.

Do you have any comments you would like to add to this article? Feel free to post your comments below.

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Have a beautiful day!

online skin consultationJana x P.S. Do you need beauty skin care advice?You can book a one-one-one online beauty skin care consultation with me.  Click on the link to find out more.

Does your neck show your real age?

jana elston beauty blog beautiful facials
When I do facials, I often see a clear line around the jawline where people stop when they apply moisturizer, and especially where they apply their sunscreen. The skin on the face looks protected, but the neck and décolletage is all weathered and looks years older than the skin on the face.

Your neck and décolletage are some of the first areas to show aging, brown spots, sagging and creypiness. To look after this delicate thin skin, make sure you extend your moisturizers and serums right down to your neck and décolletage. The same ingredients that are great for your face, that firm your skin, for example, vitamin C & peptides, and antioxidants that protect your skin from environmental damage, are also great for the neck area.

jana elston beauty blog youthful neck decolletage
Because the skin on the neck and décolletage is thinner, it is more prone to UV damage, which breaks down the supporting network of collagen & elastin in your skin, causing the skin to lose its elasticity and firmness. The UV also causes pigmentation which not only adds years to the skin, but can potentially be problematic down the track turning to more serious problems. I often see solar keratosis (dry flaky patches that just won’t go away) in mature sun damaged skin, which have to be referred to a doctor for monitoring as these could be precursors to skin cancer. 
jana elston beauty blog summer sun protectionYou will also notice this area is very prone to showing “broken capillaries”. These are tiny capillaries in the skin, no longer able to contract to their regular size due to the breakdown of collagen and elastin in the capillary wall. As the skin is also getting thinner from the sun damage, the capillaries are more visible from the surface, causing unsightly permanent blushing/redness.  
To avoid these problems, protect your skin from the damaging UV rays by covering up, apply a broad spectrum SPF 30+ or higher every day, and use a vitamin C serum every day under the sunscreen for added protection.
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Have a beautiful day!
Jana x