Spotlight on: Garnier Botanical Range

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Hello, happy New Year, and welcome back!

I interrupt the Science of Skincare (S.o.S) series to give you a sneak peak into the products which I personally have been loving recently. Being the product junkie I am, I’ve often found it difficult to track the products which truly make an impact in my skin care routine, simply because I am juggling at least a hundred products at once! So, late last year, I decided to discipline the child in me, and to focus on using a single product line at once. I decided to go with the Garnier Botanicals range: reasonable price point, and the claims were quite attractive. There are four ranges in the line: Aloe, Honey, Green Tea and Rose; each suited to the needs of different skin types. As far as I have seen, all lines except the Honey are currently available in South Africa. According to the packaging, none of the products contain parabens, silicons or artificial colourants- which is awesome, if you’re looking for clean and gentle skin care products.

I went for the Rose line, which is made for dry and sensitive skin. I have very dry skin (though people can never tell- I have worked SUPER hard at that); but its not sensitive per se- it is hardly irritated or inflamed. I love the hydrating qualities of rose water, so I thought why not?

  • Cleansing Milk: I initially used this as a face wash, however, it does not foam very well; and it does not give you that clean feeling. However, as many an English teacher have said, reading is a skill. I was not aware that the product description lists it as a makeup removing milk. I’ve since used it as a make up remover, and I have loved it. It is thick and creamy, and easily dissolves makeup, without leaving the skin feeling stripped and tight.
  • Soothing toner: This is my favourite product in the line, surprisingly. I have never been a fan of the toning step, because most toners which I’ve tried have either dehydrated my face further due to the heavy alcohol content; or have simply felt like water on the skin. This one, though, I have been reaching for at least twice a day. It acts as a moisture primer of sorts- a layer for your moisturiser to lock in. I will definitely be purchasing more, and back ups, and more back ups!
  • Botanical day cream: A pleasant surprise. I was reluctant to complete the collection by purchasing this cream, because in the past, most drug store creams have been inadequate in moisturising my skin. This cream however, leaves the skin adequately moisturised, and leaves a beautiful radiance.   Two draw backs: the size (its only 50ml) and the fact that it contains no SPF.

Because the Rose range has no face wash, I decided to reach for the Gel cleanser in the Green Tea range, just to keep it in the Garnier family. The line is formulated for combination to oily skin. It gives a good cleanse, especially after a hot summer’s day, when your skin feels sticky. However, it is a tad too harsh for dry and sensitive skins, and it would be a no-go in winter. I will continue using it until the colder weather sets it. If you have dry skin like I do, make sure to follow up with the toner, and a good dose of moisturiser.

I must say, I am proud of myself for having the discipline to stick to one product range for the last 2 months, and I can say that it has paid off.  Which product lines are you using and loving? Let me know here or under the Instagram post on the @dr_ezinhle page.

Until next time,

Peace & Lovely Things,

Ezinhle♥

The Cleanse: The what & how of skin cleansing

Hello again, lovelies.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, bear in mind that each and everything we do (or should be doing) for our skin is to maintain it’s barrier so it can perform its function. If you need a refresher on the structure and function of the skin, take a quick look at this earlier post.

Lets get into it. This is a overview of cleansing as a principle, with general tips. In future, I will spotlight different skin types and the optimal cleansing/moisturising regimen for that particular skin type.

There are two main reasons why we need to wash the skin:

  1. To remove any products that accumulate on the surface, which have the potential to clog the follicle [this includes makeup, sweat, environmental pollutants, dust].
  2. To prepare the skin for moisturising agents.

The first thing that probably springs to mind when one thinks of cleansing is SOAP. We all know, more or less, what this is. However, I’m going to break it down from a chemistry point of view. [That’s the point of my blog- taking science and bringing it to the masses in a SIMPLE way, so you can make more informed choices in health + skincare ;)].

Before we get into the definition, keep in mind pH- which is a scale that tells us how acidic or basic a substance is.

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For those of you who are repulsed by chemistry, please, indulge me for a second.

A soap is a combination of an alkaline substance with fats. The classic soap has a pH of 9-10. Now, this poses a major problem because it can leave the skin feeling extremely dry, and it creates an environment for bacteria to thrive.  Our natural skin pH is between 4.5-6.5, which is acidic. For the skin barrier to function as it should, we need to use products which are closer to it’s natural pH. Cosmetic manufacturers in recent years have woken up to this, which is why these days, we have milder cleansers which contain a lower ratio of pure soap combined with moisturising factors. These soaps also have a more neutral pH of between 5 and 7, which is more suited to the skin. These are what you may see labelled as “cleansing creams,”  “cleansing milks,” or “moisture bars.”

 Some Key Tips:

  • One of the biggest myths is that a skin wash must make you feel “squeaky clean.” Pay attention to how your skin feels after you have used your cleanser: it should not feel stripped, tight or irritated- even if you have dry skin. If so, you need to switch up your cleanser.
  • Avoid using water that is too hot to cleanse. Rather, opt for a lukewarm temperature. Hot water strips the thin fatty surface film, and it can irritate sensitive skins.
  • If you prefer using electric cleansing brushes, opt for silicone bristles. Silicone is  softer and less abrasive. Remember- you want to gently wash the skin- not to strip it.
  • Whatever you use to dry the skin, gently pat it over your skin. No scrubbing and scraping- leave that for your bathroom floor.

The key concept to remember when looking for a skin wash is BALANCE. That thin film on our skin surface, called sebum, may trap unwanted dirt- which leads to problems. However, we still need to maintain that film because it is protective.

If this post seems vague and a tad surface level, worry not friends. There is so much unpacking to be done, based of course, on individual skin types and preferences. For now, lets work on getting the foundations right; lets keep it basic.

Until next time,

Peace & Lovely Things,

Ezinhle♥

 

 

 

 

 

S.o.S 1: What’s Your Type?

First up in the Science of Skincare series- skin types. I’ve decided to start here because as we do in medicine, you cannot treat that which you haven’t diagnosed. It is super important to understand how your skin behaves, because that informs which products and practices are for you.

The common way that people describe skin type is dry vs. oily vs. combination vs. sensitive. This classification system is from way back in the 1900s, where it was coined by Helena Rubinstein- cosmetics innovator and entrepreneur. This way of typing skin is a great first step, but unfortunately, it is way too simplistic and it does not address all of the common skin problems experienced universally.

Enter the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BTSI) pioneered by Leslie Baumann, an American dermatologist. This is a 64 question tool that will ultimately classify your skin into one of 16 (yes, SIXTEEN), skin types. Before you stop reading, no, I will not put you through that sort of torture. Instead, I’ll use the four basic parameters used by the BTSI to guide the rest of this blog post.

So according to the questionnaire, a skin is a combination of four main parameters:

Oily vs Dry

Sensitive vs. Resistant

Pigmented vs . Non-Pigmented

Wrinkle-Prone vs. Tight

Based off what I know about my own skin, I would be dry, resistant, pigmented and tight. If you have the time, energy and curiosity, you can take the questionnaire for yourself.

  • Oily vs. Dry: this one is pretty self-explanatory. The main factor here is how much sebum do you produce, and how tight is the fat layer overlying your skin?
  • Sensitive vs. Resistant: The main event for those with sensitive skin is inflammation, and this can manifest itself in four ways-
    • Acne
    • Rosacea (redness of the skin)
    • Burning/stinging/tingling
    • Allergic reactions
  • Pigmented vs. Non-pigmented: Hyper-pigmentation or uneven skin-tone.
  • Wrinkle-prone vs Tight: This is related to how elastic your skin is. Naturally, the skin gradually loses elasticity with age. However, you are at risk for wrinkled skin if you have excessive sun exposure or if you smoke.

Depending on whatever combination your skin turns out to be, your skin care routine needs to try and target all four parameters. Now, before you reach for a myriad of products, remember that the way that your skin behaves is influenced by a number of factors: the climate of where you live, hormonal imbalances and changes, stress, as well as one’s overall health. Just like happiness, skin health is often an inside job.

Having said that, next up on the series is Step 1: Cleansing: why, how and with what. Stay tuned!

Peace & Lovely Things,

Ezinhle♥

 

 

 

The Building Blocks of Every Skin Routine

 

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When I was planning to write this post, I pretty much knew what I would include: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturise. Simple enough, right? Besides, thats pretty much what we’ve all done, in one way or the other, since forever. It was shaping up to be a straight-forward post, until the scientist in me paused to ask: why?

Why do we do the things we do?

Why do we use the products we use?

What is the evidence for why and how we take care of our skin?

Trying to navigate the world or skin care, or “cosmeceuticals,” is like wading through an ever deepening pond, with very little hope of reaching the bottom- walk through any cosmetics isle, and you will understand what I mean. There is a wealth of information online, from lay people, social media, and so on, regarding which products to use and why. One can end up either:

a. disillusioned by advice coming from ten thousand different directions

b. being a product junkie and using an arsenal of products (zero judgement- I have been there!)

All that said, I went on a quest to find out how much of our skin care practices are validated and evidence-based. In contrast to the overwhelming trial-and-error advice which is so easily available, there is a relative scarcity of studies looking specifically at common skin practices; as well as the validated building blocks of a skin care routine.

So after browsing through a few articles and books in the fields of cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery, I managed to sum up the whats and the whys of a generic, basic skin care routine. Now bear in mind- there is no “generic” skin, because everybody has a different skin type, and some have medical dermatological conditions- all of which require individualised attention. Nevertheless, here we go!

Cleansing

Your skin is on the frontline. It is exposed to environmental pollutants; in addition, you sweat,  and some of us apply makeup on a regular basis. The persistence of debri on your skin can allow bacteria to grow and cause infection and inflammation on the skin surface. So, cleansing removes all of the above, and allows an ideal surface for whatever additional products will be applied thereafter.

Exfoliation

Your skin is constantly regenerating, and as this happens, the skin cells on the uppermost layer are shed onto the skin surface. Exfoliation removes this layer, so that whatever you’re applying on your skin, is actually able to penetrate to the deeper skin layer.

Moisturising

The point of adding moisture to your skin is to make sure that it remains a tight barrier, and to reduce the amount of water which is lost through the skin, scientifically known as trans-epidermal water loss.

UV Protection

Unbeknownst to many, sun protection is a major part of maintaining a healthy skin. Contrary to popular belief, sun screen is not just for beach days or lazy days in the sun- whether you are fair or dark skinned. This is because sun-damage, caused by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays- happens slowly over time, from day-today exposure. How does UV damage the skin? Well, my friends, this is a topic for a soon-coming day. For now, suffice it to say that sunscreen should be an integral part of everybody’s skin routine.

You’ll notice that the use of toners and masks is not included in today’s post. This is because these are, for want of a better word, controversial in the world of dermatology. Controversial or not, they are part of many of our skin care routines, so best believe we will chat about them in future posts.

I will leave it here for now. Now behind each of the above steps, lies a wealth of information. Being the nerd that I am, I have researched every step in detail so that I can bring you a Science Of Skincare (SOS) series. Yep, we are in for an amazing ride in the following few weeks. I will be putting up individual posts about cleansing, exfoliation, moisturising and sun protection- the why, as well as which products to use (including herbal remedies).

In the mean time, I would love to hear about the different skin regimens out there. Comment and let me know: why do you do what you do?

Peace and Lovely Things,

Ezinhle♥

 

PS: I don’t want to burden this page by including all my references which I consult. Feel free to contact me should you want to know which references I use.

 

 

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The Skin: Why should you care?

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For many, the skin is simply your outer body covering-nothing more, nothing less. Wrong.

For those with a medical background, this will be a throwback to first/second year anatomy and physiology. For those without, this will be a free, simplified lesson about the skin- the what and hows.  Before we get into a few interesting facts, what is skin?

Simply put, your skin is a layer of cells, under which is connective tissue and fat. It is associated with other structures like hair, sweat glands, blood vessels and nerves.The skin is the largest organ in the body (or ON the body, if you wanna be technical). In an adult, the skin can cover up to 2 squared metres in surface area.

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  1. Protection: your skin is the first line your body has against the elements and micro-organisms which can cause infection
  2. Barrier: prevents and regulates water loss
  3. Temperature regulation: depending on what your body needs, the skin can cool you down via more sweat production; or keep you warm via constriction of your superficial blood vessels
  4. Metabolism: your skin is involved in the production of an important vitamin, vitamin D. This vitamin is needed for calcium absorption in the gut, which, as is well known, is integral to bone health, amongst others
  5. 50 Shades of Brown: Melanocytes, pigment containing cells, determine your skin colour , and more importantly, protect your skin from UV light rays from the sun.
  6. In Your Feels: because  it contains extensive nerve fibres, the skin is an important means of detecting touch, pressure, pain and temperature.

Now, a-lot can be said about each of the points above, but suffice it to say that the skin is way more than a simple overcoat. It is a source of extensive information about one’s overall health and wellbeing- also, another story for another day.

In the next post, I’ll discuss the basics of any skin care regimen. In the mean time, chew on the facts above, and take care always.

Peace & Lovely Things,

Ezinhle♥

References

  1. Book
    MARTINI, F., NATH, J. L., BARTHOLOMEW, E. F., OBER, W. C., OBER, C. E. AND HUTCHINGS, R. T.
    Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology
  2. Illustration courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Welcome.

 

 

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My name is Ziph’ezinhle Moyo. I am a 23 year old South African who hails from the city of gold, Johannesburg, but is currently based in Cape Town. I am a final year medical student at the University of Cape Town.

Skin Deep(er) is born from my childhood dream of becoming a Dermatologist. Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to become a skin doctor. In my head, dermatology was all beauty and glamour, until I came to medical school and found out that it was quite the opposite- except maybe the dreamy working hours (lol). Nevertheless, it is a dream I harbour still.

It has been a long time coming. This is my space to talk about the things I love the most- skincare, beauty and overall health-inside and out. A space to wear my heart on my proverbial sleeve.  This is also a space for me to express my political views. Although many shy away from this, for fear of “controversy,” I believe that the personal is political, and the political is personal. I am deeply passionate about societal justice, and I believe this blog is a way for me to brighten my corner of the world by shining a light on those dark cervices  that society would rather ignore or keep hidden.

So again, welcome. Come with me and lets wade through the murky waters of this thing called life.

Ezinhle♥