THE “YES” LIST
There are many forms of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for topical use that have antioxidant benefits. When properly formulated, ascorbic acid helps the skin defend itself from external stressors (such as radiation, sunlight, cancer-causing free radicals, and smoke) slowing the breakdown of collagen and formation of brown spots.
For oily or normal skin, L-ascorbic acid is the most potent form of vitamin C but can be irritating. Therefore people with dry and sensitive skin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a water-soluble form of vitamin C, is a less irritating option. Many vitamin C serums contain dye, fragrance, or silicones that can be problematic for acne-prone or sensitive skin so please look at ingredients carefully.
Once you find the right form, vitamin C is a very good thing for all skin types at any age but it doesn’t always play nice with all of the ingredients in your skincare regimen. I recommend applying an antioxidant serum with vitamin C every morning and actives like retinol, glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid at night. Every morning I start by cleansing my face with RESTORE® Face Wash, drying my face, and applying two pumps of a Vitamin C Serum to face, neck, and chest (I prefer SkinBetter Alto Defense Serum, great for sensitive skin) followed by RESTORE Face Lotion. I then apply a zinc-based sunscreen before some light makeup.
Niacinamide (4%) is also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid. It is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient shown to improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness, redness, irritation, and skin barrier function. It also serves as a moisturizer. Niacinamide is found in natural green vegetables, cereals, sesame seeds, yeast, or rice bran.
If you are struggling with dry skin and rosacea, topical application of niacinamide has been shown to boost the hydrating ability of moisturizers. Niacinamide works brilliantly with common moisturizer ingredients like glycerin and these two workhorse ingredients can be found in Doctor Rogers RESTORE products. We use 4% Niacinamide in our products which is the percentage needed to be helpful with low risk of irritation. Remember, the higher the percentage the greater the risk of irritation.
Squalane is the stabilized version of squalene, a natural skin hydrator produced by our skin. As we age, our production of squalene decreases, which is why squalane is such a fantastic ingredient - it beautifully mimics our skin’s natural hydration and is capable of locking in moisture and replenishing fatty acids and antioxidants. I picked this powerhouse to be the second ingredient, only to water, in our Face Lotion and Face Cream because of how effective it is at hydrating and protecting our skin. When examining ingredients, always search to learn the origin of a product's ingredients. Our squalane is sourced from fermented sugar plants, EcoCert-approved, USDA certified, 100% bio-based, and readily biodegradable. Other forms can be animal-based, with a common source being deep-sea sharks that are targeted for the high concentration of squalene found in their livers.
Castor oil comes from castor beans (the seeds) of the Ricinus communis plant. This oil has been used for thousands of years as a laxative (well established) and to induce labor (not so well established) when taken by mouth. It has also been credited with many healing qualities when used on the skin such as decreasing inflammation and pain and to have antimicrobial properties.
The unique chemical structure of castor oil causes it to be both hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (fat loving) allowing much better penetration into the skin than other vegetable oils. This translates to benefits for the skin. Studies show castor oil is a powerful emollient (moisturizer) and protectant. It is able to prevent water loss and promotes the healing process in the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to settle redness and swelling after injury in the skin and antifungal properties (it inhibits the growth of yeast).
For your skin, lips and cuticles, look for castor oil as an ingredient in products made to hydrate and soothe. Because of the many wonderful qualities of this vegetable oil, I decided to use it as the main ingredient in my Healing Balm. However, I balance it with plant derived glycerin and castor wax. The end result is amazing and what many dermatologists use in their offices to aid in skin healing.
Zinc is an essential mineral that aids growth, DNA synthesis, and immune function among many other things when taken orally. In skin care, it is used as a thickening and protective ingredient in diaper creams and burn creams. But its greatest claim to fame is as my favorite sunscreen ingredient that has no risk of skin sensitization, calms inflammation, and provides the best broad coverage protection of all sunscreen ingredients. Always look for sunscreens with at least 10% zinc oxide. It is also used to provide better coverage in foundations and powder-based makeup. In the past decade, nano-sized zinc oxide has been included in sunscreen formulations to make them more cosmetically elegant and improve SPF. Human studies have confirmed that nano-sized zinc oxide does not penetrate the skin and is not a safety concern despite the confusing press on the subject.
THE “NO” LIST
Parabens are chemical preservatives first introduced in the 1950s that have been widely used in trace amounts (0.01 to 03%) to prevent and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, increasing the shelf life of cosmetic products. They are found in a wide variety of products including shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, cleansers, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpaste, and makeup. The allergy rate is low at these levels and they are considered safe by the FDA.
However, the picture is more complicated. With decades of widespread use, parabens are accumulating in us and our world, in particular in women and babies. Parabens are weak estrogen mimics capable of changing cell growth in culture and, with greater exposure, may disrupt normal hormone function and development in animals and humans. While the FDA has not banned parabens in the US, the EU does not allow parabens in cosmetics and I will not use parabens in my products.
Lanolin is a popular additive used in many health and beauty products on the market today. It is a greasy yellow substance made from secretions (sebum) from the skin glands of sheep, to condition their wool. Because of its high-fat content, lanolin is occlusive, meaning it prevents the evaporation of water from the skin (transepidermal water loss) much like petroleum. Lanolin is generally considered safe for intact skin, however, most ointments and occlusive products are designed to be used on healing skin to prevent the skin from drying out as it heals.
This is the trouble with lanolin. Despite being a common ingredient in a number of products marketed to help heal eczema, burns, scrapes, raw nipples and post-procedure skin, the incidence of lanolin allergy is rapidly increasing. In fact, a recent study* showed children with eczema had an allergy rate of 66%!
Unwanted irritating ingredients like lanolin drove me to create Doctor Rogers RESTORE Healing Balm. I needed a balm to aid healing skin that was effective, hypoallergenic and plant-based. Doctor Rogers RESTORE Healing Balm is the perfect replacement for ointments containing animal-derived or fossil-fuel ingredients that may irritate the skin.
*Source: Lubbes S, Rustemeyer T, Sillevis Smitt JH et et al. Allergic Contact Dermatitis in Dutch children and adolescents with and without atopic dermatitis – a retrospective analysis. Contact Dermatitis. 2017 Mar;76(3):151-9.)
Petroleum jelly provides an occlusive layer over the skin, preventing transepidermal water loss, which has been shown to be helpful for healing skin. Although allergy to petroleum jelly is quite rare we certainly know that petroleum jelly is not renewable, and the concept of covering your skin with a fossil fuel extract is kind of gross. This picture becomes further complicated by other ingredients added to the petroleum jelly. Products like Aquaphor, Bag Balm, Neosporin, Polysporin, Skinceuticals Hydrabalm, Elta MD Laser Balm and many others use a petroleum base mixed with ingredients that are now known to be common allergens like lanolin, neomycin and Vitamin E. These ingredients can irritate the skin and slow the healing process.
It was seeing the reaction to these products that pushed me to create Doctor Rogers RESTORE Healing Balm. This ointment only has three carefully selected, hypoallergenic, plant-based, proven ingredients.
Meet the author: Board-certified and practicing dermatologist, Dr. Heather D. Rogers, MD, is the founder of Doctor Rogers Skin Care and Modern Dermatology in Seattle, Washington. She studied at Stanford, University of Washington School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. She lectures nationally, is well published, and an active member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Highly respected among the skin care community, Dr. Rogers has been annually named “Top 1% of Most Honored Doctors in the US” by Castle Connolly.