Hyaluronic Acid Drying Your Skin Out?

Every season or two we get a new “hero” ingredient.  It’s written about in magazines, touted by bloggers and influencers, and omnipresent in every new product released.  Remember when alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) were all the rage?   Lately, it’s the hyaluronic acid that has stolen the stage.  Although it sounds like a novel discovery, topical hyaluronic acid has been widely used in cosmetics for decades.  As the featured ingredient in face washes, serums, and various gels, hyaluronic acid is really having its day in the sun.   The good news:  it’s safe and generally affordable.  The not-so-good news: it may be drying your skin out. 

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Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it draws moisture form its surroundings.  A single molecule can hold as much as 1,000 times its weight in water.  Sounds great?  It is… it’s a quick and effective way to moisturize your skin if you live in a relatively humid climate.  Looking to dab some on in a dry climate like California or Arizona? Put the bottle down.  Hyaluronic acid pulls moisture from the environment and delivers it to the skin; in the absence of humidity, it will pull the moisture from your skin, leaving it feeling and looking parched.  Using hyaluronic acid when your skin needs it most (forced dry heat wreaking havoc on your skin in the winter months) is not the best idea. 

Seal in the moisture by applying ASL on top of the hyaluronic acid.  ASL’s organic collagen formula stands on its own, but it can also help activate and supercharge your hyaluronic acid routine.

Is It Spring Yet?

I can’t wait for the spring to be here.  I mean…we’ve had a few picturesque winter wonderland-type days, but the rest is getting old.  I am trying to will the reluctant spring into coming sooner by wearing weather inappropriate clothing - you know, like the pseudo coat that doesn’t zip or button, but is pink and super cute.  I also bought daffodils that weren’t even close to opening and hoped they’d blossom at home (most did). I’ve been ever so careful not to complain about the chilly weather and bare trees to my husband, lest he bring up moving to a warmer climate.  The truth is, I love New York!   I’ll just have to suck it up for a little while longer. The good news is that my skin doesn’t have to wait for warm weather to look alive.  I’ve kept up a religious regimen of ASL+sunscreen, and my skin has been on its best behavior this winter.

Here is one more attempt into luring the spring to the frigid northeast.  15% off all purchases of ASL through March 22.  Use the Code SPRING2019.

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Not By Bread Alone or "Humble Brag"

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Do you know what home baked bread has to do with Artisanal Science Labs face cream?  Almost nothing.  Almost…

I am super surprised that it came out – a baker I am not. My kids love baking with me and don’t care too much when it doesn’t look great at the end. What they care about is that we make it at home, with our own hands, with ingredients we know, together.

Whereas I secretly longed for lunchables at their age, my kids look forward to the chicken soup they bring to school in their thermoses. They don’t care about brands or fleeting fads; they truly prefer quality, one of a kind items. Rewind to my childhood and I would have gladly traded a hand-knitted sweater my mom made with love and great skill for some fast fashion sweatshirt.  I am so proud and happy that they have they are better than I was.

Though I was older, I learned that having my own opinions, based on experience and facts, and not on groupthink, is critical.  I understood that quality and craftsmanship are not inherent in well-packaged, broadly marketed products.  I realized the value of knowing where your items come from, who is behind the brand, and what their values are.  I learned that nothing great happens quickly or comes easily.  Better late than never, right?

These lessons are in each bottle of ASL.  We make our face cream in micro batches, with great care and attention to detail, effective ingredients, a proprietary formula, and a lot of love.  

"I Feel Bad About My Neck"

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In my 20s, one of my favorite things to do was go through library sales.  I love the smell of books, especially old books that somehow promise to transfer not just the wisdom of the writer but of all the readers who came across it.  One of my favorite finds was a light-hearted read about aging by Nora Ephron (you know, THE Nora Ephron, who wrote When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, etc.), with a rather whimsical name “I Feel Bad About My Neck.”  I’d like to share an excerpt from the first chapter:

“Every so often I read a book about age, and whoever’s writing it says it’s great to be old.  It’s great to be wise and sage and mellow; it’s great to be at the point where you understand just what matters in life.  I can’t stand people who say things like this.  What can they be thinking?  Don’t they have necks?  Aren’t they tired of compensatory dressing?  Don’t they mind that 90% of the clothes they might otherwise buy have to be eliminated simply because of the necklines?  Don’t they feel sad about having to buy chokers?  One of my biggest regrets – bigger than not buying the apartment on East Seventy-fifth Street, bigger even that my worst romantic catastrophe – is that I didn’t spend my youth staring lovingly at my neck.  It never crossed my mind to be grateful for it.  It never crossed my mind that I would be nostalgic about a part of my body that I took completely for granted. 

Of course it’s true that now that I’m older, I’m wise and sage and mellow.  And it’s also true that I honestly do understand just what matters in life.  But guess what?  It’s my neck.”

Once a year or so, I stumble upon this book on my shelf.  Then I head to the bathroom to stare lovingly at my neck and apply some ASL, so I can keep staring lovingly at it longer.  I advise you do the same.

Like Water and Oil

Everywhere you look, across generations and time zones, youth has been the most prized and the most fleeting possession.  As a young girl, I clearly recall thinking that the Russian expression “a woman of Balzac’s age” referred to an experienced, mature, older woman – someone past her prime… “A woman of Balzac’s age” is precisely that – an experienced, mature, older woman of 30!!!  That woman no more for quite some time now, I’d be disingenuous if I said I love everything about getting older.  

As I’ve become more discerning, so has my skin.  What may work for a nineteen year old girl (and what doesn’t work for a nineteen year old girl?) doesn’t necessarily move the needle ten years down the line.  We cannot rely on nature alone, and “nurture” requires some research and discipline.

I was not immune to jumping on the “all natural,” “organic” or “without xyz” train and filling my vanity with products that are touted as “safe” by celebrities.  Thankfully, I have my chemical engineer grandmother, who stops me from making unwise purchases by dispelling the myths so artfully crafted by the marketers.

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Let’s examine the hair color product category.  If you’ve ever colored your hair with an ammonia heavy product, you may be familiar with how destructive it is to your hair.  So are products without ammonia automatically superior to those containing ammonia?  The answer really depends on a few variables.  First, we have to understand that ammonia is the activator of the chemical process required to change your hair color; if ammonia is not present, the product must contain another activator or be activated by oxygen.  Make sure you know the alternative to ammonia used and its side effects before you get excited.  For instance, ethanolamine is a much gentler activator, but if you have gray hair, you may need to keep the product on for up to 50% longer than the recommended time – that is also far from ideal for your hair. 

Another commonly misrepresented category is emollients.  Water and oil don’t mix – they just don’t.  So if you’re looking at any product that contains both and doesn’t separate, it must contain an emulsifier.  If your shampoo, conditioner, face wash or cream doesn’t go bad after a week, it must contain preservatives.  Don’t fall for the “all natural” claims without taking a deeper dive. Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound, yet, I doubt you’d want to find it in the list of ingredients for any product you use.  Read the ingredients and understand the necessary processes that must take place for the products to work effectively.

I’d love to roll back the clock on my skin, slap on some olive oil, seal in that youthful glow and call it a day.  Alas, it’s not happening.  But our ASL face cream will get you close – with ingredients that are safe and effective. 

In Defense Of "Big Words"

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Do you remember the commercial where a kid is unsuccessfully trying to read the ingredients on a label of some food item, as the words are nearly unpronounceable?  We are then presented with an alternative product that contains just a few ingredients, which are both easy to pronounce and understand.  What a relief!  The complex and unknown is juxtaposed with simple and familiar, and simple and familiar wins. 

But why?  I think the answer is because many of us tend to be intellectually lazy and have been taught to fear the “big words,” that surely signify something inherently toxic and bad for us.  Before starting Artisanal Science Labs, I, too, was more likely to stay away from the ingredients I didn’t recognize. But what I realized is that while “getting back to basics” can be great for many things, it is not great for progress.  I am so thankful to all the scientists, who are not afraid of the unknown and who have enriched and simplified my life, increased my lifespan and diminished my wrinkles (thanks, grandma!).

So the next time you read a product label, don’t be intimidated by the terminology.  Take an extra minute to look up the ingredients and you may be surprised to learn that the Alpha-tocopherol is Vitamin E and stearic acid, which helps water and oil mix, is found in the fats and oils of plants and animals.  You should remain prudent about what you put in and on your body, but not on account of word complexity. 

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s making me think of turkey… turkey neck.  What a visual.  As young girls, we often take our necks for granted.  I was always aware of the length of one’s neck, but never paid much attention to the skin.  That is until my sophomore year, when a fellow student in a large, lecture-type class pointed out something about our professor.  She was the kind of woman you could mistake for a young girl from behind.  Fit and trim and well-dressed, one can only dream of looking that youthful at her age (she must have been sixty something). The guy next to me, no supermodel himself, made a remark about the professor that changed the way I looked at necks forever.  He turned to me and said “She may think she looks young and act young, but her neck gives it away.  Nothing she can do about that.”  He didn’t mean to be critical or to speak negatively of her; he just made an observation and stated a fact – a fact I found to be quite upsetting.  This woman clearly cared about her appearance and probably went to great lengths to look as good as she did.  All that was instantly demolished by some 20 year old shmuck in row 15.  I instantly hated him on behalf of all women, but I also knew that he was right. 

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I researched ways to keep your neck and jaw line youthful – did you know that you can actually exercise your neck (just look at the hundreds of tutorials on Youtube)? Seems like overkill, but I bet it makes a difference.  There are also some simple lifestyle changes you can make to combat those neck rings that seem to appear overnight:  stop looking down at your phone all the time.  Tilting your head down for hours will certainly leave a lasting mark.  Use sunscreen. And don’t forget to moisturize and take care of it as often and as much as you take care of your face.  Make applying ASL on your neck part of your nightly skincare routine.  You can use ASL as face, neck and eye cream.  As Maddie would say, “easy peasy lemon squeezie” - skincare doesn’t get easier that. And for that, I am thankful

Winter Wonderland

Here in New York we’ve had to take out our winter coats and accept that the cold is here to stay for a good 4-5 months.  Winters here are mostly cold, gray and windy with an occasional winter wonderland day.  I am already anticipating the 4 AM calls from the school superintendent notifying us of school closures for … what reason?  Once I peek outside and see not even an inch of snow and do a mental conversion of Fahrenheit to Celsius (over 23 years and Celsius is still more familiar), I usually curse the school district and scramble to find a sitter.  “Can you believe this?” I’ll say to my husband for the umpteenth time, “It’s not even that cold and they are closing the schools.  When I was little, they wouldn’t close the schools unless it was -25 (-25 Celsius is -13 Fahrenheit) and there was a meter (3 feet) of snow on the ground.”  My poor mom used to take me to school in the sled.

I was wearing all kinds of wool and fur garb that weighed more than I did.  Getting frost bite was a real possibility on my 20 minute walk to school.  So my mom would dress me in layers upon layers.  The last step of getting ready for braving the outdoors was putting the cream on my face.  And though I had no wrinkles and lacked no collagen, ASL protected my skin from the cold. 

Every time I catch the faint scent of ASL mixed with the distinct smell of a wool scarf in the frigid air, I am reminded of being little, being taken care of, and of my mom.  Scent is a powerful trigger for memories and many of mine are surfaced by ASL. 

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The One

I usually don't make resolutions, at least not officially. But this year, I've been diligently working on scaling back on the amount of things cluttering my house and my mind.  

Going through my drawers and tossing everything that I don't use is therapeutic.  What I realized is that I use little else other than ASL in my skincare routine:

Make-up remover - check!

Moisturizer - check!

Eye cream - yes!

Packing for a trip is much easier.  Instead of bringing an entire bag of products, I get away with a one ounce (TSA friendly) bottle.  I think even Mari Kondo would be proud.  

 

The Skin You're In

Sometimes it takes a little person coming into your life to see yourself from a different perspective.  Growing up, I hated my freckles and found nothing cute about them.  I was actually pleased as they became less pronounced with age.  But then I had Maddie, who, I kid you not, is the cutest little girl (I am objective, of course); and though she looks like her dad, the freckles are all mine.

Now I see that yes, my mom was right, they are cute and youthful, and there is something mischievous about them.  So when I tell Maddie her freckles are adorable, I mean it. And I no longer hate mine.  There is nothing like being comfortable in the skin you’re in.  Take care of it.

Which brings me to a question I get a lot – what about sun screen?  ASL does not contain sun protection, so you’ll need to use your favorite sun screen AFTER ASL has been absorbed. 

I hope you embrace your idiosyncrasies or your own "little Maddie" can make you see yourself in a different light. 

French Girl Beauty

It seems the French girl beauty routine is all the rage. In lifestyle blogs and fashion magazines, this beauty routine is touted like a Nobel prize-worthy discovery. So what makes their beauty regimen so French? It's not the expensive make up, it's not hours spent contouring like a warrior, it's the emphasis on skin. Clear, well hydrated, supple skin is simultaneously the star of the show and the je ne sais quoi. 

I have never seen foundation in my mother's or grandmother's make up stashes. In fact, it wasn't until I moved to the States in middle school that I discovered that you were supposed to plaster it on until you looked 10 years older. I did just that against my mom's persistent advice to let my young skin breath and well... be young. Eventually, I came to my senses and quit foundation for good. 

And so began my quest to make sure my skin was at its best. I started using ASL at night and in the morning, at first just on my face, but eventually on my neck and décolletage too. It's a simple and quick routine and I never have to worry about the unsightly foundation lines separating my face and neck as if my head is on loan from another body. 

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When you're in your 20s and the world is your oyster, having a disciplined skincare routine seems unnecessary. Thankfully, I quickly learned that the results of caring for or neglecting your skin are cumulative. The 3 minutes (literally!) you take to nourish your skin today will make your look younger years from now. 

I've tried being a product junkie (more on that later) and searched for the perfect cocktail in department and specialty stores, filling my drawers with jars and tubes that made a dent in my wallet and no difference in my skin. But, like a prodigal daughter, I returned to our family formula. It worked for my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother. And it's working for me.