SkinCeuticals is a premier skincare product company that was co-founded in 1997 by Sheldon Pinnell, MD.
Dr. Pinnell completed his medical school training at Yale University Medical School and his residency in dermatology at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital.
He then served as the chief of the department of dermatology at Duke University Medical School for 15 years and developed what has become known as the Duke Antioxidant Patent, which is a product formulation for the effective delivery of Vitamin C to the skin.
When I first heard about facial oil, that is, oil that you literally apply to your face, I was shocked.
Do I actually need to put oil on my face? What if my face already has too much oil as it is?
Facial oils are typically used as emollients to soften the skin; however, these oils generally only coat the surface of the skin without forming an effective barrier.
In order to be an effective moisturizer, a substance needs to form an occlusive or semi-occlusive barrier on the skin to prevent trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), which is water lost from the skin by evaporation into the surrounding environment.
Although facial oils may not be effective moisturizers when used alone, some of them can help to restore the skin barrier integrity and function, as well as possessing antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Structure and Function of the Skin Barrier
In order to understand the potentially beneficial applications of facial oils, we must first understand what is meant by the “skin barrier”.
The skin barrier (SB) is composed of corneocytes (keratinized skin cells) and the intercellular lamellar compartment (lipids/oils).
In the “brick wall” analogy, the corneocytes are the “bricks” that are surrounded by and held together by the intercellular lipid lamallae “mortar” to maintain the stratum corneum’s (outermost layer of the skin) integrity and its functional permeability barrier.
The stratum corneum (SC) acts as both a permeability barrier and an antimicrobial barrier of the skin.
What’s Facial Oil?
So, what exactly is facial oil–what’s in it, and should I be using it?
For the purposes of this discussion, facial oils are naturally-derived plant oils; ideally, these plant oils are extracted by cold-pressing so that their bioactive components are not exposed to heat or caustic chemicals, which could alter their composition.
Plant oils can be classified as either fixed oils or essential oils; fixed plant oils are not volatile at room temperature.
Skin lipids consist of multiple compounds, including free fatty acids (FFAs), ceramide precursors, sterols, phenols, tocopherols, and triterpenes.
Lineoleic acid is the most abundant polyunsaturated fatty acid in the skin and has a direct role in maintaining its integrity and permeability, while monounsaturated FFAs, such as oleic acid, are detrimental to the structure and function of the SB.
Phenolic compounds are antioxidants that are important for the oxidative stability of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Triterpenes can enhance tissue repair by inducing cell proliferation and collagen deposition.
When the term “exfoliation” is used in the context of skin care, it refers to the removal of a superficial layer of dead skin cells, which are sloughed off routinely every month when we are young.
As we age, natural exfoliation of skin cells can take twice as long, resulting in the accumulation of a layer of dead skin cells.
This thicker layer of dead skin can cause the complexion to appear dull, discolored, and broken out (resulting from clogged pores).
Exfoliation, achieved by either mechanical or by chemical means, can make your skin look brighter, smoother, and more even; however, if done too aggressively, it can cause micro-tears that compromise the protective skin barrier.
Benefits of Exfoliation
Removal of layers of dead skin cells can help to brighten your complexion, reduce redness, smooth rough patches, fade acne scars and dark spots, and stimulate collagen production.
Exfoliation helps to unclog pores, which prevents breakouts and increases the effectiveness of other skincare products by allowing them to penetrate more deeply into the skin. It also helps to loosen ingrown hairs when done prior to shaving.
Types of Exfoliation
Mechanical (physical) exfoliation requires physical force to remove dead skin cells; it can be achieved by using a sponge, a brush, or mild abrasive particles to smooth and refine the skin.
Chemical exfoliation is usually more gentle on the skin than mechanical exfoliation; it utilizes acids or enzymes to loosen desmosomes that hold the dead skin cells together, facilitating their removal.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are water-soluble and exfoliate the surface of the skin. They draw in moisture to help keep the face hydrated. Types of AHAs include lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid, and tarteric acid.
Lactic acid is the most gentle of the AHAs, which makes it an excellent choice for sensitive skin.
AHAs should be applied every three nights on clean, dry skin when you are beginning to use them.
AHAs should be allowed to penetrate the skin for about 10 minutes before application of subsequent skincare products.
Glycolic acid is stronger and quicker-acting than lactic acid; it is appropriate for normal or oily skin.
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are oil-soluble and re-open oil-clogged pores to treat blackheads and comedones. They have anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce some of their irritating effects.
Salicylic acid is a common type of BHA.
BHAs can be irritating and drying if high concentrations are applied to the entire face.
BHAs should be used every third night on clean, dry skin.
The contemporary skin care market boasts thousands of products, each containing hundreds of active ingredients, offering a vast array of benefits.
Acne control, radiant skin, and less visible signs of aging are among some of the more popular claims made by modern products, and creams and serums containing retinoids are certainly no stranger to the spotlight.
Very few compounds have the ablility to reliably deliver the benefits of retinoids, yet even making a decision on what type of retinoid to use can be a daunting task in itself.
Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are derived from vitamin A; there are seemenly endless types and formulations designed for various purposes.
Retinoids bind to receptors within the cell that affect DNA regulation, and they are intimately involved in the mediation of cell proliferation and differentiation.
Retinoids are common active ingredients in both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription creams that bind to nucleic acid (DNA) receptors in the skin cells to:
Stimulate cellular turnover in the epidermis.
Thin the top layer of skin.
Promote collagen production/repair.
Prevent collagen damage/breakdown.
Decrease sebum (oil) production.
Help to clear debris and dead skin cells from pores.
Play a role in the prevention of skin cancers.
Classes of Retinoids
Some types of retinoids (i.e., retinol derivatives) must be converted (oxidized) to retinoic acid (the biologically active form) after they are applied to the skin in order to be effective.
Recalling one of my favorite college classes, organic chemistry (I know–I know…but it really was interesting…LOL), alcohols (e.g. retinol) are oxidized to form aldehydes (e.g. retinaldehyde), which are subsequently oxidized to form a carboxylic acid (retinoic acid).
Free radicals damage cellular tissue by “stealing” electrons from the tissues in order form stable compounds.
Retinoids are effective antioxidants, which donate electrons (become oxidized) to free radicals, which accept the electrons (become reduced) and form nonreactive compounds that are more stable and do not damage cellular tissue.