Category Archives: zinc oxide

Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

Exploring French Luxury Beauty Products

This past May, I had the chance to visit Paris in full spring bloom.  I have very fond memories from my days studying at Sciences Po but my visit this time round had a different bent.  CyberDERM, in it’s earliest days, took a lot of inspiration from the big medical based brands like La Roche-Posay, Avène, Vichy and more.  They were the brands of the 90’s that had a lot of credibility and were favoured by dermatologists.  We have different formulating philosophies now though since many of these larger French luxury beauty brands have been slower to listen to consumer requests for controversy free ingredients.  I was interested to see on this trip what did French offerings look like today.  What were French consumers wanting and how were brands delivering?  I was asking these questions with the purpose of seeing whether CyberDERM would ever fit.  Would it be possible for the cultural beauty exchange to go the other way with a Canadian import into a French market?  There does seem to be a whisper of an opportunity, one we will continue to explore.  In the meantime, here are the highlights from my trip.

french beauty brands, Hermes

French Aesthetics but chock full of No-No ingredients

The Pharmacy Culture:

All of the French brands I mentioned took root through the French Pharmacy/Parfumerie system.  I capitalize it because if you have ever visited France, you’ll know theirs is a system that has its own unique flavour.  I know North American devotees who flock to the French pharmacies whenever they visit in search for those elusive beauty brands they cannot find anywhere else.  I feel they differ from our North American versions in being more curated.  Space is always a premium in the EU I get the sense that customers feel the brands from these beauty emporiums are also effective.  They also normally have the ineffable french quality of a certain understated classicism.  I always find it a treat to shop the sunscreens since the EU has access to filters that we do not have like the Tinosorb M and S and ethylhexyl triazone (all of which might pair beautifully with zinc oxide for incredible protection).  I also picked up a sunscreen in oil format*, which I think is very interesting.  I’m up for any format of sunscreen that increases people’s compliance in actually applying it everyday. I am not a fan of aerosol sunscreens since the alcohol used as a solvent is really hard on skin (and once stripped paint off of my purse)

CyberDERM, sunscreen, french brands

The French Pharmacy System

but a nourishing oil might be of interest. Again, we might start playing around to see if zinc oxide could be used in a similar format. *These are sunscreens with actual substantial filters in them, not tanning accelerators with a token SPF.

The status of sunscreens in the Gallic nation:

Being “the sunscreen company”, I was also of course interested to see what sunscreen use was like here.  Isn’t this where sunscreen use was born? Ok, perhaps not but I’ve always considered French women especially to be early adopters of the skincare regimen that included regular sunscreen use.  Certainly, there are a multitude of options in the above mentioned pharmacies.  Zinc is not popular here though- I didn’t  see any options other than Skinceuticals (which is an American import now owned by L’Oreal).  I thought for the real scoop I should go to the best beauty experts in the ‘biz’.  I stopped by Birchbox France to have a chat with two lovely BF editors.  I was surprised to learn from them that they felt women of their generation still relegated sunscreen use to their beach bag.  Also while there was a growing concern about ingredients in personal care products, this didn’t necessarily translate into an awareness of the controversies over certain sunscreen actives. We all agreed though that aesthetics are supremely important.  No amount of fact filled education would change

Birchbox May, France

The May Box from Birchbox co-opted by Fiance for bedside table

consumer behaviour if not accompanied with a proverbial spoonful of sugar (i.e. a pleasant user experience). Could our Every Morning Sun Whip SPF 25 be just the ticket?  It was a question that we all promised to consider and I continue to be a huge fan of the Birchbox FR team and concept.  I even got a treat in getting their gorgeous May box.

And finally THE FACIAL:

Here is one slightly dirty little secret, in all my years in the industry and being a daughter of a dermatologist- I’ve never had a facial. I’ve had fotofacials.  I’ve had medi-facials and peels.  I’ve just never understood the concept of a facial.  How effective can the layering of products be in one session?  Is it meant to be relaxing and effective?  Is this something I really need?  I know facial devotees would say I am missing the point.  I may not need one but most want them.  I still think I would rather have a fotofacial from a qualified professional at least once a year.  However, I knew I couldn’t speak with authority without trying one.  I therefore went to the one of the Top Rated Spa’s (in the world), the Clarins Spa My Blend in the Raffles Hotel Le Royal Monceau.  First, I will say that no one can beat a french spa for atmosphere. I’m sorry to say that I was too shy to take pictures- that would have felt rude and intrusive so you will have to rely on my description. The hotel is a beautiful concoction of panelled wood and elegant drapery.  You descend to the basement and the spa beckons like a movie’s vision of heaven.  It’s all white and backlit with long corridors. All of which puts you in a very calm and relaxed state of mind.  I sipped fresh pressed juice and munched on a selection of nuts and fruit while waiting. I poured over Dr. Clarins musings on skincare and women’s needs.  I was greeted by a sweet and down to earth facialist, who paid me the immense quality of thinking I was twenty and not

Clarins Spa, Raffles Hotel, facial review

The beautiful Lobby of the Royal Monceau

in need of an ‘anti-aging’ component to my treatment just yet.  The facial itself was like being wrapped in warm, white cocoon.  There were no extractions (yeah!), just repeated layerings of some of Clarins Professional products.  I loved the idea that part of the facial was tailored to my needs on the spot with specialized additives through the stages of exfoliation, gommage, hydration and calming.  All in all- an exceptional experience (with macarons served at the end)- I took lots of notes and inspiration in case we open another retail/spa space in the future.

 

Girl-Reading-Book

The Skinny on Sunscreens, Part Deux

Here is another post from May 2009- it’s a good little lexicon to help you understand sunscreen ingredients and everything below is still true today.  You can always bring it to the drugstore if you need a primer or you can just remember that all you need is a high concentration of zinc oxide for a great sunscreen.


In an effort to make reading your sunscreen label really easy, I thought I would do a simple alphabetical lexicon of popular sunscreen ingredients, include ideal concentrations you should be looking for, state whether they are a UVB, UVA protector, and any other relevant things you should know. Here we go:

Avobenzone (Parsol 1789): 3% concentration. Long Wave UVA protector. Is not a stable ingredient and will break down when exposed to sunlight. Should not be used in formulas with Octinoxate. Can in theory be stabilized if combined with Oxybenzone and Octocrylene. Should be used in combination with another UVA protector as it offers marginal protection and does not span the full UVA spectrum.

Drometrizole Trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL): 3-4%. Short Wave UVA protector. A patented ingredient by L’Oreal. Has a synergistic effect when used with Mexoryl SX. Anthelios XL line in highest SPF’s offer the ideal combination of both.

Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX): 3-4% concentration. Short Wave UVA protector. A patented ingredient by L’Oreal. Offers medium protection but is better if combined with a 3-4% concentration of Mexoryl XL.

Homosalate: 5-15%. UVB protector. Provides margninal UVB protection, even in highest concentrations and should be used with other UVB protectors to provide an adequate SPF.

Octinoxate: 7.5%. UVB protector. A good UVB protector. Can be mildly irritating if not in an encapsulated version (unfortunately labels cannot distinguish between encapsulated and non-encapsualted).

Octisalate: 2-10%. UVB protector. Should be used in conjunction with other UVB protectors to get an adequate SPF.

Octocrylene: 2-10%. Primarily UVB, some UVA if in 10% concentration. Should be used in combination with other UVB protectors to get an adequate SPF. Is reported to stabilize avobenzone when used together.

Oxybenzone: 6%. Primarily UVB, some short wave UVA. Oxybenzone is a photo-allergen and many especially those with sensitive skin may find it to be irritating. Is reported to stabilize Avobenzone and makes up one third of Neutrogena’s patented Helioplex ingredient.

Tinosorb S/M: 5-10%. Both UVA and UVB. Not approved for us in the US. A good UVA protector (*to be noted: I have never used any products with Tinosorb and cannot speak to consistency/ texture issues).

Titanium Dioxide: 2-15%. If micronzied both some short wave UVA and UVB, if not micronized mostly UVB. Titanium Dioxide is considered a physical sun blocker. Should be used with Zinc Oxide or some other UVA protector. Excellent in mineral based make-up but can look pasty in some sunscreens if used in too high a concentration.


Every Morning Sun Whip, Simply Zinc Sun Whip
Learning About What Best Protects Us

Zinc Oxide: 10+-25%: The only single ingredient that provides full spectrum protection (short wave and long wave UVA and UVB). High percentages of Zinc Oxide make for an excellent, truly broad spectrum sunscreen. Micronized versions can look white if used in a percentage higher than 7%.  Also provides a nice anti-inflammatory (zinc used in diaper rash creams).

I’ve only included the most popular ingredients but feel free to write in with any that you may have found that are not on the list. I’ve also tried to list them by their most common names but some ingredients actually are known by several different ones.

Basically, when reviewing your bottle, check to make sure that 1. You do have some UVA protector included (most brands will load up on the UVB protectors). 2. Make sure that if you have Avobenzone on your label, you do not have Octinoxate. 3. If you do have Avobenzone, look for another UVA protector to get optimal UVA protection. 4. If your brand includes Oxybenzone, skip it
.

We formulated our sunscreen with Invisible Zinc Oxide and Encapsulated Octinoxate because we think they work the best but now you have some tools to decide for yourself!

All the Beauty Best!
Sara A. Dudley

UV-penetration

The contributors to pre-mature aging

  1. PHOTOAGING
What is photoaging
Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (uv), primarily from the sun, but also from artificial UV sources. Photoaging is different from chronologic aging, as the damaging effects of UV rays from the sun (or UV lamps), alter the normal structures of the skin.
How much is skin aging due to photoaging versus normal aging
On sun exposed skin, up to 90% of aging is due to the negative effects of the sun. The natural aging process is dependent on time and genetics. However, photoaging can be reduced with sun avoidance. A truly broad spectrum sunscreen blocks 90% of the UVA rays that penetrate to the deepest layers of skin. Many high SPF sunscreens do not block enough UVA, and do not adequately prevent photoaging. The best UVA protection comes from zinc oxide, also used in soothing calamine lotion and diaper creams.

Dr. Laughlin, our Medical Consultant and Medical Director of Laserderm, generally categorizes photoaging into the three “D” components: Deterioration, Deflation, and Descent. The best way to avoid photoaging is to have a good sun protection regimen such as CyberDERM Every Morning Sun Whip with 15% invisible zinc oxide, providing a full spectrum of UV protection and your daily moisturizer all in one. Its invisible zinc ingredient meets the Australian and European standards for a complete broad spectrum UVB/UVA protection.

If only I knew this vital information 15 years ago! but since sun damage is cumulative, it is never too late to start! Now I am sunsunscreen smart and think back to centuries ago when woman had radiant porcelain skin, which was the standard beauty mark. The measure of beauty was flawless skin, also considered as a sign of social status. Current fashion embraces porcelain skin once again, where the “tanned look” is out! Since all I ever accomplished from my efforts to desperately achieve any color was an aggregation of freckles left behind, I am in with the out! Unfortunately, these days we also have a competitor to UV rays that also contributes to aging, and that is….

2. ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS AND POLLUTANTS

It’s distressing that everyday particles from places such as industrial areas, busy highways, and farms are released into the atmosphere, and carried into the air which we live in and breathe. It is estimated that every day on our planet more than 80,000 tons of particles become airborne, contributing to the pollutants and toxins we breathe. Ontario is the province with the highest levels of pollutants in Canada. Your skin is continuously being exposed to free radical damage, destructive environmental toxins, pollutants, allergens and solar damage, all are significant contributors to the aging process. In skin cells chronological aging accelerates due to the sun and air pollutants that produce free radicals, the accumulation of which become toxic.

The body’s largest organ -the skin- pays a price for protecting us from all of the environmental damages. Everything you do now to prevent damage will reduce your signs of aging.