Here at Penny Price Aromatherapy we believe in pure, natural, vegan skincare that works. This does not mean there is no science in it! Through this blog we will look at aging, products that are natural and vegan, and also plant actives (also vegan) that science tells us can help the skin to look its best.
Firstly though, we need to know a bit about the skin.
The skin is a vital organ essential to life and good health. Being the largest organ of the body with an extremely complex structure, many hundreds of skin conditions are not well understood. As an aromatherapist I need to take every care to ensure that any skin condition is being treated correctly. For example, eczema responds to tiny amounts of essential oils, but too much essential oil will exacerbate it and worsen the situation.
Skin Structure and essential oils
Essential oils can easily penetrate human skin. This is mainly due to their molecular structure, which is tiny (essential oil components have a molecular weight of 200-250). This, in addition to their fat solubility, means that the oils will dissolve in the sebum holding the skin cells together, and wend their way down through the layers of the skin until they reach the fatty layers and/or the blood stream.
Vegetable carrier oils do not penetrate the skin as the molecular weight of fixed oils is high and therefore they are too large to penetrate the skin. However, cold pressed and virgin oils can improve the outward appearance of the skin, and traces of vitamins and other elements that are fat soluble can access the skin from the oil. Mainly, carrier oils can help the surface layers of the skin by reducing inflammation.
Functions of the Skin
Skin renewal is constant, with the full cycle of a skin cell from the bottom layer of skin to the top taking 28 days. The cells start their journey as plump and water-rich, and end up on the surface of the skin hardened, flattened and dehydrated. This layer flakes away, making 98% of our household dust!
A good skin care routine is paramount and we will be discussing this later in the blog. But remember, moisturising is the most important factor in caring for your skin and looking after your skin also helps with stress levels and depression – it can impart a feel-good factor – look good feel good. But please choose your skin care routine wisely – a lengthy routine is unlikely to last
The Ageing of Skin
With the passage of years, the body begins to lose its ability to adapt to the ever-changing environment. The ability of the skin to carry out repair decreases as cell division and cell growth is impaired. There is a decrease in the water content. Skin circulation too retards, thereby affecting the nutrition of the skin and the removal of waste products. Cross-linkage, biochemical and enzyme changes bring about the onslaught which is so clearly seen visually.
Changes that can be noted in the aging skin are:
Scientists have advanced various theories of ageing. According to the cross-linkage theory, proteins, fats and nucleic acids – i.e. DNA and RNA – undergo an irreversible change and become immobilized as a result of cross-linkage agents. This creates a ‘pooling’ within the cells and as the pooling increases the cell becomes choked. According to the genetic hypothesis, genetic mutation and loss of biological information occurs, affecting the performance of all the body cells. Some scientists also say that as the thymus shrinks with age, this can also lead to an aging effect on the body and the skin.
The Free Radical Theory states that a result of the chemical reactions in the cells, high volatile by-products are formed. These are termed as free radicals. They have the ability to latch onto other molecules such as enzymes, nucleoproteins etc, and cause damage to the structures of the skin..
However, the greatest cause of skin aging is the damage to the skin caused by ultraviolet light, i.e. the damaging component of sunlight. This damage is generally cumulative and its effect is seen over the years. When ultraviolet light strikes the skin, it is mainly scattered or absorbed by the stratum Corneum of the epidermis and the adjacent dermis. As it strikes the basal layer, certain chemical changes occur and, within forty-eight hours, melanin is produced to provide protection against ultraviolet radiation.
Epidermal cells only live an average of 28 days before dying and being replaced by new cells, so the cells – and therefore the epidermis itself – can never really grow old. After the age of forty, however, the turnover of the cells is much slower, which means that the dead cells are not shed, as in younger skin, but stay around longer, causing cells to clump together.
The main skin changes associated with ageing naturally occur in the upper third of the dermis. If there has been a significant exposure to ultraviolet light, degenerative changes may be seen on a person’s skin from as early as the third decade of life; such changes should be described as physiological ageing rather than chronological ageing. However, the chemical changes which take place in the dermis as a result of ageing are various. The enzyme which digests the elastic fibres multiplies with age, the amount of insoluble collagen increases and there is a quantitive change in both the collagen and the ground substance. It may be possible that the decrease in the dermal hyaluronic acid, which occurs as the skin ages, is responsible for the dehydration and therefore for the progressive ageing changes which occur in older skin.
Changes in the skin over age appear in the whole body, but there are significant differences to be seen over skin which has been exposed to solar rays and the skin which has not. The exposed skin appears dry, wrinkled and has brown patchy pigmentation, together with dilated capillaries. The ageing process is perceptibly more marked.
All the above seem to point to the need for active ingredients in skincare. For example, vitamin C is helpful for stimulating the thymus, and adding hyaluronic acid to skincare can in fact, help to supplement the natural hyaluronic acids already present in the skin. This is why skincare formulation is really important – every level has to be thought through before creating the recipe for testing.
It is really important to realise that aging factors such as collagen collapse may not be reversible. Once elastic has lost its stretch it is really hard, if not impossible to get that back, so any skincare claims need to be read with a pinch of salt.
For skincare to work properly, it has to be light - the use of occlusive cosmetics prevents the skin from ‘breathing’. Oxygen is needed by the skin to create new cells and to maintain a fresh look. Water is also needed by the skin, so any good moisturiser needs to present water in a way that it is easily absorbed by the skin, and not in a heavy base that will prevent skin breathing. It is, in fact, a real science to make a decent moisturiser, and generally the more you pay for it, the better it is at delivering water to the deeper levels of skin.
Anatomy of Wrinkles
Wrinkles may be delivered in four types:
Orthostatic lines are formed over the areas where there is already an excess of skin for the purpose of movement – for instance, lines around the neck. Such lines may either be present at birth or will appear shortly afterwards.Gravitationallines are those lines formed by the force of gravity. An example is the vertical lines which appear on the cheeks in later years due to general sagging of the facial skin.Dynamic lines are formed by ‘dynasim’ – the repetitive pull of the muscles. Once developed, such lines tend to progress in depth until they become evident even in response. Among these lines are the horizontal wrinkles commonly seen on the forehead. Other examples of dynamic wrinkles are ‘frown’ lines. These vary in a number from one to three and are usually longitudinal and slightly curved, although they can form horizontally at the foot of the nose. There are also fine lines just above the mouth which do not usually become evident until the age of forty, and the lines near the mouth – ‘laughter’ lines – which can appear at a much younger age.
Around the eyes, an example of dynamic wrinkles are the ‘crows feet’ formed as a result of the contraction of the muscles around the eye. It is the amount of interplay between the fibres of the eye muscles that determines the depth of the lines, so that those people who use their eyes for expression are more likely to develop this type of wrinkle. Here again, the genes play an important role and ‘laughing with the eyes’ may be faintly trait.
Cosmetic counters are all full of products – from night creams, eye creams and neck creams to ampoules and masks for both men and women – which contain special ingredients claiming to help prevent and counteract wrinkling and other age-related changes in various ways. The best anti-ageing skin care products are based either on vitamin A, fatty acids and minerals such as vitamin E and biotin, analogues of natural metabolics found in the skin such as ATP (adenosine triphosphate which controls energy supply), hyaluronic acid and ceramides, or natural substances and compounds such as fruit acids and extracts ofGinkgo bilopaor other plants. Penny Price Aromatherapy produces a paraben free, natural skin care range for the care of older skin.
The ‘anti-wrinkle’ substances used in most products usually work in one of two ways. Either they aim to increase the skin’s water content – something which in itself has been shown measurably (although only temporarily) to decrease the depth of facial lines by ‘plumping’ up the epidermis – or, more important, they attempt - often surreptitiously – to stimulate skin tissue biologically. A good example of such biological stimulation (and an approach which a number of cosmetic manufacturers take in formulating their products) is the use of specific factors known to increase cell reproduction at the base of the epidermis. Another is to heighten circulation in the dermis, thereby bringing increased blood flow and nutrients to the skin’s cells, or to improve the cells’ use of oxygen and thereby stimulate skin metabolism. Essential oils stimulate the skin metabolism.
Slough it off
Gentle exfoliation of the skin – the removal of the very top layers of the epidermis, either by chemical or physical means –can help refine ageing skin and smooth it out. It can also make your skin more receptive to whatever treatment products you use afterwards – moisturisers, anti-oxidant creams and lotions. But it needs to be only a gentle sloughing, otherwise you risk irritation and damage.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) or ‘fruit’ acids are currently being used for this purpose although they offer bonuses in other ways too. The four most common are glycolic acid, derived from sugar cane; malic acid from apples; lactic acid from milk; and pyruvic acid from papya. They come in different strengths and help dissolve the intercellular ‘glue’ that makes old skin cells on the surface stick together. Then they are cleared away the skin looks finer and brighter since it refracts light better. AHAs are also believed to increase the level of hyaluronic acid and enhance the making of collagen which makes up the skin’s supporting connective tissue.
The water margin
Youthful skin holds an amazing 14 pints of water on which its good looks largely depend. Most of its water is found in the deeper layers – the dermis and hypodermis – where, bound within the cells and in the interstitial network, the water forms a semi-fluid gel with glucosamino glycans (GAG) or mucoplysaccharides and polysaccharides which together with healthy collagen give your skin its healthy and youthful look and feel. So long as the water balance of your body is good, the water content of these deeper layers will be right too.
Good skin care routine
This is paramount to good, healthy looking skin. To help to prevent the onset of ageing, the skin should be cleansed, toned, fed and moisturised regularly. However, Penny Price Aromatherapy recommend that your routine is easy and quick so that it can be maintained without becoming a chore.
Here is an example of an easy routine:
Moisturise with day cream
Once a week use a face oil under your moisturiser for added benefit
Moisturise with night cream
Twice a week use a face mask
At least twice a week use a serum or face oil under the night cream moisturiser
When using make up, always apply a primer. This forms a light barrier between the heavier make-up and your skin, helps the make-up apply more evenly and also keeps it in place for longer.
Penny Price Aromatherapy Skincare
A light, creamy lotion that purifies and cleanses the skin deeply yet gently, removing any traces of makeup and impurities. With geranium and lavender to cleanse and soothe
Method of use: Use 2 or 3 pumps of product into the hands, and apply over face, neck and around eyes, massaging into the skin. Rinse with water or a damp flannel/facial sponge to purify skin.
A rich cleansing cream that gently removes all traces of make-up, lifts impurities and leaves the skin feeling soft and clean without dryness. With geranium to cleanse and balance the skin
Method of use: Apply about half a teaspoonful into the palms of the hands, rub together and spread over face, neck and around eyes, massaging into the skin. Rinse with water or a damp flannel/facial sponge to purify skin.
For best results use every evening before sleeping to wake up to an illuminous day.
Fresh Eau de Rose is infused with sweet Neroli Flower Oil to refine and minimalize pores. Skin will feel hydrated, soothed and fresh. Suitable for all skin types
Method of use: Use 2 pumps of Refresh and Revive toner on damp cotton wool, and gently wipe upwards and outwards over the entire face and neck areas for an illuminous glow
Deep Moisture Replenishing Mask delivers intense moisturisation to help soften signs of aging. With exotic oils of ylang ylang flower and vetiver root combined with pure honey, skin will plump and hydrate, feeling soft and smooth.
Method of use: Smooth a small amount gently over the cleansed face and neck. Leave the mask to replenish and moisturise for 3-5 minutes, then rinse, tone and moisturise for illuminous skin
The perfect balance of lupin seed, Aloe Vera and tightening plant cell structures, deliver a beautiful toning effect for youthful, firm skin
Method of use: Smooth a small amount gently over cleansed face and neck. Leave the mask to tighten and tone for up to 10 minutes, then rinse, tone and moisturise for illuminous skin
Radiance-boosting rose water, Golden Kelp and Vitamin E come together to impart even skin tone, radiance and intense moisturisation
Method of use: Pump twice into the palms of the hands and rub together. Apply with palms to the face and neck after completing a cleanse and tone. Leave to fully absorb for several minutes before applying make-up to Bright and Radiant Illuminous skin.
Formulated to combat the effects of aging, this beautifully intense day cream gives skin a smooth and nourished appearance. With precious oils of regenerating lavender flower and anti-aging palmarosa to promote healthy, radiant skin.
Method of use: Apply a small amount to your face and neck after completing your cleanse and tone, to hydrate your skin for an Illuminous day
Formulated with precious oils of lavender, bergamot, juniper and chamomile, Super Soothing Moisture Cream is especially for sensitive, flaky, red or itchy skin. It glides on easily, soothing and calming your skin. Good for eczema-type skin
Method of use: Apply a small amount to your face and neck after completing your cleanse and tone. Leave to fully absorb for several minutes before applying make-up to your calmed and soothed Illuminous skin.
With pure Shea Butter and Hazelnut Oil infused with Juniper Needle oil, this is the perfect moisturiser for combination skin. With active ingredients to complement your skin for a naturally balanced look. Helps to give an even skin tone and to minimise fine lines and wrinkles
Method of use: Apply about half a teaspoonful to the face and neck after completing a cleanse and tone. Leave to fully absorb for several minutes before applying make-up to your harmoniously balanced skin.
This rich and buttery night cream works while you sleep to deliver deep moisturisation and diminish fine lines. With Camellia Oil, Konjac Root, Vitamin E and Carrot Seed Oil, to help renew and rejuvenate your skin.
Method of use: Apply to your face and neck after completing your cleanse and tone, preparing your skin to wake up to an Illuminous morning.
Herbal extracts of Eyebright, Yarrow and Mallow combine with precious oils of Rose Flower and Neroli Flower to give an instant tightening and brightening effect, smoothing out fine lines to give a perfect base for flawless make-up and a Picture-Perfect look.
Method of use – After thorough cleansing and toning, massage a small amount to your face and neck until gently absorbed. Leave for several minutes before applying make-up to your perfectly primed Illuminous skin.
A lightweight formula, rich in moisturisers, peptides and natural essential oils of Fennel Seed, Geranium and Patchouli to help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness around the eyes.
Methods of use - Apply a small amount to your eyelids and around your eyes after completing your cleanse and tone. Leave to fully absorb for several minutes to enrich the delicate eye tissues before applying moisturiser to your Illuminous skin.
Antioxidant and cell-renewing, this light formula keeps skin looking dewy and bright. With precious oils of Passion Flower, Rosehip combined with Vitamin C and Aloe Vera for repair while you sleep.
Methods of use - Apply a small amount to your face and neck after completing cleansing and toning, preparing your skin for an Illuminous morning. Overlay with Night to Light Renewal Night Cream for an even more intense effect.
The exotic blend of Rose Flower Oil with Rosehip Oil, Wheat Germ Oil and Mexican Poppy extract brings deep moisturisation and radiance, while being antioxidant and protective for dry skin
Methods of use - Apply onto a cleansed, dry face and neck for an illuminous boost to your skin. Overlay with Super Hydrating Day Cream for all-day intense protection.
Orange Blossom Flower oil combined with Sea Plant extracts and Avocado Nut Oil plumps and hydrates your skin during the day for the perfect fresh, dewy look
Methods of use - Apply to a cleansed, dry face and neck for illuminous skin throughout the day. Overlay with Super Hydrating Day Cream for all-day intense moisturisation.
Exotic Jasmine Flower oil combined with Lupin Seed extract, Evening Primrose oil and Sunflower Seed oil is protective and nourishing, working while you sleep to deliver a moist, fresh morning face
Methods of Use - Apply to a cleansed, dry face and neck for illuminous skin when you wake. Overlay with Night to Light Renewal Night Cream to enhance the effects.