Category: Face

Does Snail Slime Really Work for Your Skin?

People do some pretty crazy things in the name of skin care and putting snail secretion filtrate (a.k.a. snail slime) on their skin is definitely one of them. Snail slime has slithered onto the Korean beauty market and is slowly making its way into becoming a fad here in America as well. But it’s actually nothing new. Hippocrates recommended snail slime for use in ancient Greece to help calm inflammation while other scholars claimed it helped cure burns and warts. When escargot became popular amongst the rich in the mid-century, it was South American farmers handling the snails who realized that the slime might unlock hidden beauty because their hands looked younger and smoother. Fast forward to the early 2000s and you’ll find that escargot facials were popping up in high-end medspas and dermatology offices at about $300 a pop. But, are snails really doing something for your skin or is this all just hype? Read on to find out.

What Exactly Is In Snail Slime?

As it turns out, the mollusk mucus is comprised of hyaluronic acid, allantoin, collagen, elastin, glycolic acid, copper peptides, and other natural humectants. Lab studies have shown that these ingredients will stimulate the production of elastin and collagen, increase fibronectin protein production, and stimulate increased proliferation of fibroblasts. But the jury is still out on clinical trials. This is primarily because there isn’t a sure way to guarantee that each sample of snail slime can contain the correct and exact amounts of the ingredients to be effective. So this is possibly the one instance in which a laboratory-manufactured product—in this instance, snail slime—might be more beneficial for you than “organic”.

Why would I use Snail Slime?

Beauty enthusiasts with dry/dehydrated or sensitive skin love snail slime for its moisturizing/humectant properties. Those more prone to breakouts use snail slime as a spot treatment to minimize breakouts. It also has some anti-aging benefits too. Some studies have shown that use of snail slime can reverse sun damage and superficially improve skin texture. This means that it won’t do much for deep wrinkles but can have some positive effect on really fine lines. However, it is important to note that most products contain slime from actual snails (yes, from snail farms) and it is likely that you may develop an allergic reaction. Be sure to patch test products for at least 24 hours before applying over a large area of your skin. And, remember, clinical trials so far haven’t been unanimous so it’s very possible that this won’t work for your skin. But what would skin care be without trial and error?

If you’ve determined that you likely will not have a reaction to snail slime, I recommend trying it out in mask form first. It’s a cheap way to see if it works for you without having to commit to a daily regimen. So, what do you think? Have you tried snail slime cream before? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments below.

Mask Off: A DIY Showdown pt. 2

Now that we know what we can avoid in our DIY mask, which ingredients are safe for your face? You may be surprised (or relieved) to learn that a vast majority of cosmetic products used in spas contain many of the same derivatives from plants and fruits that may be in our kitchens. The main difference between what we buy in the grocery store and Sephora is the efficacy in the ingredients. With this in mind, know that your DIY facial mask can’t quite garner the exact same results even if you are using a lot of the same “base” ingredients. (But you can get some benefits that are perfect for when you’re in-between appointments with your esthetician.)

Food for your Face: Ingredients OK to Use

Raw honey is a natural humectant that is great for dull, dry skin and for those who are prone to breakouts. In addition to its moisturizing properties, raw honey is an antimicrobial that promotes wound healing. The enzymatic and antioxidant properties of honey also help reduce (and in some cases prevent) wrinkles.

When you’re not making toast or guacamole, Avocado is perfect for a DIY mask. Avocados are naturally high in Lutein, an anti-oxidant. Lutein is a carotenoid that protects skin and hair, keeping it healthy, youthful, and glowing. When you add avocado into your mask, you’re not only helping to stop free radicals but you’re helping block the effects of UV damage to the skin. Avocados are also naturally high in vitamins A, D, and E and also help in boosting collagen production.

Apple Cider Vinegar is an all-purpose ingredient that you can probably find hundreds of uses for outside of skin care. But for your face, specifically, ACV is used as an antiseptic and anti-fungal to help kill bacteria on the skin. In a facial mask, ACV helps to detoxify the skin and stop acne in its tracks. (You can also use Coconut Sap Vinegar, though finding it in stores is a lot harder)

For a moisturizing mask, try adding Ghee (clarified butter) into your DIY recipe. Most tubs of ghee you find in grocery stores contain about 6% lauric acid. Lauric acid is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) which helps to fight acne. Ghee is also rich in vitamins A, D, K, and E.

It’s hard to find a DIY mask recipe online that doesn’t mention Turmeric. This spice has been touted as a skin care staple for ages and for good reason. This anti-oxidant fights off free radicals like nobody’s business. But it’s also anti-inflammatory (for those who are sensitive and prone to breakouts) and an antibacterial. Adding turmeric to your mask is a quick way to give your skin the ultimate glow. Dermatologists suggest that turmeric can help prevent UV damage and dark spots. Be careful though, leaving turmeric on your skin for too long can definitely stain your skin an orange-yellowy hue.

Okay, so you might have a box of Gelatin lying around but, you may want to give this a try. Adding a pack of unflavored gelatin to your face mask helps to shrink and clean out pores. This will give you a tightening effect on the skin.

There are quite a few ingredients you’d typically find in DIY mask recipes that are missing from this post. Well, we covered most of them in part one, but the ones below are ingredients we’re still not exactly sure about.

  • Oatmeal: the oatmeal we eat every morning and the oatmeal that helps soothe and heal our skin are two, completely different oatmeals. Sorta. In the treatment room, we use colloidal oatmeal or medical grade oatmeal. The difference is that colloidal/medical grade oatmeals are finely ground and are better suited for absorption into the skin.
  • Mayonnaise: while we couldn’t find any evidence that it hurts your skin, it doesn’t ever seem like a good idea to put condiments on your face.
  • Milk: can be used as a face cleanser but doesn’t really have any effects on the skin when used in a mask. Milk byproducts like Ghee perform better.

And there you have it. Feel free to share your favorite DIY facial mask ingredients in the comments below.

Image Credit: Alice Ma as featured in Chloe Magazine via Powder Room

Mask Off: A DIY Mask Showdown pt. 1

When it comes to the facial mask, many of us are comfortable doing these ourselves at home. There are hundreds of DIY recipes for face masks across the internet which makes the process easy.  But just because we can find these DIY face mask ingredients in our refrigerators and cupboards, it doesn’t necessarily mean it belongs on our faces. Skin care masks are generally formulated in such a way to address issues without compromising our pH or destroying our protective barrier. The food around our house… not so much.

Ingredients You Definitely Don’t Want On Your Face

Please, keep the following in your refrigerators/cupboards: lemon, baking soda, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and toothpaste.

Lemon is the culprit that upsets me the most. Many amateur beauty bloggers tout the benefits of lemon as a “natural” means of skin lightening to correct scars. However, lemon is too acidic to be placed on our skin. The moment you add that into your DIY mask mix is the moment you start stripping away your acid mantle. Plus, too much time in the sun and your DIY lemon mask/salve/tonic will literally burn your skin. Drinking lemon water? A perfectly fine way to detoxify the skin. Putting lemon juice on your face (or under your arms, or anywhere else on your body)? Pump your brakes. And stay away from limes, too (for the same reasons).

Baking soda is the opposite. With a pH of 9, it’s too alkaline for our skin and can actually lead to more breakouts. In DIY recipes, baking soda gets your skin so smooth because it is quite literally stripping your skin (or, the protective barrier of your skin) away. Basically, baking soda is the premier DIY ingredient for premature aging.

Okay, so you’ve found a DIY mask recipe that doesn’t mention lemon or baking soda. You think you’re in the clear. But then you see the recipe calls for something in your spice cabinet. What’s that? They want you to put cayenne pepper on your skin? It calls for just a tiny amount so you figure it can’t hurt but you’ll soon find out they were wrong about that. Most DIY recipes that call for cayenne pepper tout it’s ability to “increase blood flow”. In reality, cayenne prevents blood clots and even then it must be ingested to take effect. So really you’re just giving yourself a mild first-degree burn. Cayenne peppers contain capsaicin—a highly alkaline irritant to all mammals—which causes that immediate burning sensation. You’ll find some studies that show the benefits of cayenne (or rather, capsaicin) for treating psoriasis but even that holds some debate in medical circles. Cayenne is great in your diet but on your skin? No thanks.

Cinnamon is one of those ingredients I sometimes see in mask recipes that makes me think the author slid in for fragrance only. The cinnamon we have at home generally is not enough to be used for an effective skin care treatment. In order for it to be effective, you would need an extremely high concentration of cinnamon (think cinnamon extract)… and a professional. While the spice smells delightful to some, it is absolutely irritating on the skin and can result in dermatitis.

Toothpaste is for your teeth. It’s in the name. And it actually isn’t as effective at zapping zits as you may think. You are much better off dabbing tea tree oil or benzoyl peroxide on them instead.

These are some ingredients that you could use in a very light moderation (like every 1-3 months):

  • Sugar—this is totally okay to use in a DIY scrub on your lips, hands, and feet. While our lips seem delicate and soft (or, at least, we want them to be) they actually are quite resilient. And a nice sugar scrub on calloused hands and feet can’t hurt.
  • Egg whites—these are actually a lot more safer to put on your face than a lot of these other ingredients BUT they have to be fresh eggs. Otherwise you’d just be giving yourself a salmonella mask instead.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide—keep this on hand for cuts, not for your face mask (and not for your toner either). Prolonged use of hydrogen peroxide can break down the protective barrier of your skin, cause sensitivities/irritation or all three.

So, before you run to the kitchen to test out the latest Pinterest or Instagram face mask recipe, make sure you really understand how those ingredients really affect your skin. Or just book an appointment with your favorite esthetician and save yourself the drama. Got any questions about DIY ingredients? Leave them in the comments below and check back next week for part 2!

Image credit: Instagram user @easyb via Black Boys Rock on Tumblr

So Fresh, So Clean: A Guide to Face Cleansers

No matter what your skin care goals are, everyone has to start with a clean slate–er–face. At this point in your life washing your face is probably the most optimized part of your daily routine. You may wash your face in the shower and it may take you less than 30 seconds to do it. Or you may have an elaborate routine that involves a cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizers. Washing your face everyday is essential to getting that glow on the regular but many of us are going about it the wrong way. And what’s do we get wrong the most? Choosing the right face cleansers.

You might be surprised to learn that you probably shouldn’t be washing your face with the same soap you use all over the rest of your body (*gasp*), using an exfoliant everyday is also a no-no (*clutches pearls*), and using the wrong moisturizer for your skin type can actually have the opposite effect (*drops jaw*). The products we use in our daily skin care routine should be less about marketing departments dictating the latest beauty trends and all about our skin type. Face cleansers not only keep our faces clean but also help prevent us from troublesome skin issues and keep our skin balanced. The normal pH of our skin is typically between 4.5-5.5 and a good, general rule of thumb is to use a cleanser that is as close to that range as possible. Face cleanser and your typical bar soap are not the same. Most bar soaps have an average pH between 8.5-10, which can be too harsh for our skin. Read below to find the right type of face cleanser for your skin type.

If your skin is dry or sensitive…

Use a cream cleanser. Cream cleansers are gentle enough for most sensitive skin types and help dry skin types with much needed moisture retention. Some people are skeptical of cream cleanser because they don’t “feel” like they’re working but they do. The best way to use a cream cleanser is to apply it dry first (massaging it into your skin) then wet your fingers and repeat your motions until you have an emulsified effect. Use a facial wipe to remove the cleanser then rinse your face with water. With cream cleansers, you always want to follow up with a toner to ensure you don’t leave any residue behind.

If your skin is oily…

Use a gel cleanser or foaming cleanser. Back in the day, gel cleansers were very drying and high in alcohol content. These days, they’re a lot more gentle and water-based. Gel cleansers, once mixed with water and applied to your face, trap dirt and oil as it foams up. If your face is excessively oily, I’d suggest using a face cloth to gently remove the cleanser. This provides a light, non-abrasive exfoliation in the process. Otherwise, you can simply rinse the cleanser away. Gel and foaming cleansers tend to be a bit more aggressive than cream cleansers because they usually have active ingredients in them like glycolic acid to help address oiliness. It’s really important to survey the ingredients within these cleansers and be sure you’re not allergic to anything.

If your skin is normal…

Use a toner. It sounds crazy but, if you are not the makeup wearing type, toner is all you need. Using a toner like Micellar water (which is actually a water-based cleanser) or witch hazel (which typically falls under the astringent category) is great for removing everyday debris without over-drying your skin or being too aggressive. Simply dab a cotton pad with the toner of your choice, wipe across your face and voila! You’re clean. You’ll almost always want to finish up with a good moisturizer though. Pro-tip: the ten second toner cleanse works best immediately after a shower as the steam has helped open your pores up. And remember, this quick cleanse won’t be sufficient for removing makeup after a long day.

If you have acne…

Use a gel/foam cleanser with active ingredients like salicylic acid that help keep acne under control. Or use a clay cleanser with active ingredients that help to dry active acne breakouts and calm your skin. There are so many options for those with acne prone skin so which should you use? Well, if you have the occasional breakout, or if you used to have really active acne and now you’re just looking to keep things under control, go the gel/foam route and be sure to cleanse twice daily. If you have active acne with pustules and papules, go the clay route. To use a clay cleanser, mix with water and apply to your face. Massage the cleanser on the face for 1-2 minutes before gently removing with a face cloth.

Photo Credit: Model Reece King via Pinterest.