Madeleine - 111809

by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*


If you’ve read through a beauty magazine or visited any skincare websites, you’ve undoubtedly seen more than a few references to your skin’s barrier. There’s been a lot of talk about it lately, as well as an array of new products claiming to repair it. Why has it become such a big deal? Because it is a big deal. Your skin’s health depends on how your skin barrier functions.

What is the skin’s barrier?

Your skin barrier includes the outermost layers of skin – the surface, which when healthy looks and feels smooth, soft and plump – like a baby’s skin. On the other hand, the surface of damaged skin looks dry, rough, dull, and dehydrated.

Cracked-Skin-Profile for Dec 2015 Newsletter

How your barrier functions is essential. Why? Because if it’s damaged, repairing issues like wrinkles, post-acne red marks, dry skin, extra-sensitive skin, and breakouts will be virtually impossible.

Research reported by the National Rosacea Society suggests that an impaired barrier function could contribute to the acute sensitivity rosacea suffers experience when they’re exposed to irritants.   Therefore, demonstrating how important it is to have a barrier that’s healthy and functioning at its best.

What damages the skin’s barrier?

It’s always better to be pro-active rather than to be reactive. Being pro-active will help you maintain your skin’s barrier function. Preventing damage can go a long way to ensuring your barrier remains healthy. Here are some ways to do that:

•    Use warm water rather than water that is too hot or too cold since both are irritating to the skin.

•    While many of us love to soak in a luxurious bath, avoid soaking in water until skin “prunes” (pruning is a sign of barrier damage).

•    Stop using harsh scrubs or over-scrubbing, which can tear the skin’s surface.

•    Don’t use drying cleansers, including soap, which remove essential moisturizing substances from the skin.

•    Avoid skincare products that contain irritating ingredients.

•    Use products containing high amounts of bio-active ingredients like AHA, BHA, retinol, or anti-acne medications cautiously – even if this means you don’t use the product daily.

•    Always use sun protection – SPF 30 or greater. Unprotected sun exposure can cause a variety of skin damage, as well as immune system impairment.

How to repair a damaged barrier?

Dec 2015 Skin Barrier Face 2

To fix a skin barrier that is already damaged – or to prevent it from becoming that way – it’s critical to use skincare products that will give your skin the nutrients it needs to heal. To ensure that you’re using effective products read the labels and pay close attention to the ingredients in each product in your skincare routine. Healthy skin contains a variety of skin-identical or skin-repairing ingredients. A few ingredients to look for are essential fatty acids, cholesterol, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. Choose products that are pH-balanced – a pH that is too high (anything above 7) can dry out the skin. Do not use fragranced skincare, since fragrance is a problem for everyone’s skin.

Remember unprotected exposure to the sun is one of the leading causes of impaired barrier function. So, be safe – wear an anti-oxidant rich sunscreen rated at least SPF 30 or greater every day.

There’s no need to despair if dry skin is a problem.  Adding these steps to your skin care routine will help you can achieve smoother, softer, and even younger-looking skin.


* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade. Madeleine can be reached through her website – www.tscsource.com

Write to Madeleine at: madeleine@tscsource.com

Use the form below to send questions to Madeleine.





Madeleine - 111809

by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*

If you’ve read a fashion or beauty magazine, lately you’re probably aware of the astonishing claims quite a few companies have made about their products containing peptides. The claims range from lifting sagging skin, and plumping lips, to reducing dark circles and puffy eyes. Pretty terrific, right. Can peptides be the anti-aging answer we’ve been waiting for, or are they just another hype??

What are peptides?

Peptides are tiny pearls of proteins composed of long or short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Peptides may be natural or synthetic. Synthetic peptides are engineered in the lab and afford cosmetic chemists greater stability control and effectiveness in the skin care products they formulate.

The bottom line

There are compelling reasons to consider using peptides in skin care products. It’s important to keep in mind that the cosmetic industry perpetuates the idea that there is one miracle ingredient or group of ingredients that solves all anti-aging problems.  Regretfully, that’s not true. There’s no single solution for all the signs of aging. But wouldn’t it be great if there was one!

Just as the body needs a variety of healthy foods and supplements to achieve optimum health; the skin, the most complex organ of the body, needs a medley of effective ingredients to make your skin appear as young and healthy.

peeptiesCell-communicating ingredients

Peptides are tiny pearls of proteins, composed of either long or short chains of amino acids; that can also start or stop a process.  By interacting with target cells, peptides regulate many body activities.  Proteins are broken into peptides by enzymatic action so they can exert their influence on the body.  While some peptides are involved in hormonal activity, others are engaged in the immune system.  Other peptides are cell-communicating ingredients that instruct cells how to react and behave. In skin care formulations peptides function as function as “messengers”, and have cell-communicating ability. Products containing peptides must be packaged so that they are protected from degrading – no jars!

Be an educated consumer. Peptide products that claim to work like botox or dermal fillers to reduce wrinkles won’t deliver. Simply put peptides can’t topically duplicate the results of an injectable material.   The research substantiating these product claims usually comes from the company selling the peptide or peptide blend to the cosmetic company. More important, the level of the ingredient used in the company funded study is much greater than what is used in the actual skin care products, so the result cannot be achieved. Also, peptides  cannot plump lips (at least not to a noticeable extent) nor can they lift sagging skin, lighten dark circles, or eliminate puffy eyes. These claims and more appear on products with peptides, but they are not supported by published, peer-reviewed research.

* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade. Madeleine can be reached through her website – www.tscsource.com

Write to Madeleine at: Madeleine@tscsource.com

Use the form below to send questions to Madeleine.


Seriously, Can a “Face Lift” Really Be In a Jar?



by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*

There are many products on the market that claim to lift and firm the skin, even when it’s crepey. Claims such as, “face-lift in a jar”, are almost always misleading. While some of these firming creams do have value for skin, for the most part, their promises go beyond the scope of what’s possible from any skin-care product.

In reality, no firming or tightening products will give you results that are remotely similar to what you get from any medical procedures including fillers, lasers, or cosmetic surgery. It’s important to know the truth about firming creams. They’re expensive, the results are temporary; and who wants to waste money?

Skin Firming Facts

  1. Elastin is the fiber that allows the skin to “bounce” back into place. The skin begins to sag when the elastin fibers are damaged. Combine this sagging with sun damage and the skin becomes like crepe paper.
  2. Elastin production in the skin diminishes as we age. It produces less and less until it makes almost none at all.
  3. Sun damage and the natural aging process degrades elastin fibers. Even with medical procedures, it is almost impossible for adult skin to make more elastin.
  4. Most firming creams don’t contain ingredients that can firm or tighten (lift) skin.
  5. Skin-care products containing collagen or elastin cannot help rebuild or reinforce these structures in your skin. The molecular size of both collagen and elastin are too large to penetrate the skin’s surface. So the collagen and elastin in these products cannot fuse with the collagen and elastin in your skin.
  6. Some products on the market claim that the collagen and elastin they contain are “micronized”. That means that the molecules are small enough to be absorbed into the skin. However, even if they are nano-sized, these ingredients still will not merge with the collagen and elastin in your skin.
  7. For the most part, products claiming to tighten crepey skin contain ingredients called film-forming agents. These film forming ingredients actually form a film on the skin that can make the skin “feel” tighter. The effect is temporary. The sagging skin will not be noticeably lifted.
  8. hope_in_a_jar

Strategies to Firm and Tighten Skin

1. While collagen doesn’t help crepey skin bounce back, it does help support skin structure so that sagging is less apparent. The idea then is to build more collagen.  To do this, use skin care products that contain potent antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients.

2. Daily sun protection with an SPF 30 sun protection product is critical. Sun damage destroys elastin and collagen fibers. Remember your face doesn’t stop at your chin so apply sunscreen to your neck as well as to your face.

3. Exfoliating daily with either a salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA)  product has been proven to help improve skin texture. In addition to smoothing skin, research has also proven that these ingredients build more collagen and, may also help firm the skin. There’s no need to use both; one or the other is fine. However, alternating them also is an effective strategy.

4. Topically applied Vitamin A, also called retinol, can help improve the shape of the elastin. Research has shown that it builds more collagen, and may also help build elastin. Applying prescription retinoids such as Renova, or a retinol product every night can help a lot.

5. Medical interventions such as lasers and other light therapies such as Fraxel or Ulthera have demonstrated remarkable skin-firming results. They have also improved crepey skin.

6.    It’s time to consider cosmetic surgery when you’ve tried everything, and you’re not getting the results you want. There is a variety of face-lift procedures that can make a dramatic difference without making you looked “pulled too tight.”  It’s essential to combine these procedures with an effective skin-care routine to maximize your end results.

Be cautious of “miracle” products. Skin care products that seem “too good to be true” probably are. Research products before you buy them. Before making a skin care product purchase, research the product and its ingredients.  If there are ingredients that are unfamiliar, look them up to find out how they work.

Sources: Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, September 2012, pages 1036–1040; Birth Defects Research, September 2012, pages 248–257; International Journal of Cosmetic Science, April 2012, pages 132–139, and February 2011, pages 62–69; Biomacromolecules, February 2012, pages 379–386; Journal of Cosmetic Science, March 2010, pages 125–132; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2009, pages 56–62; Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, volume 20, 2006, page 980; and Experimental Dermatology, volume 11, 2002, page 398.

* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade. Madeleine can be reached through her website – www.tscsource.com


Use the form below to send questions to Madeleine.



Can authenticity and cosmetic surgery co-exist? Jane Fonda renews this conversation.

As a woman ages, “authentic” can mean several different things. To the feminist, the truly authentic woman is the one who just lets physical aging happen without a backward glance in the mirror. Others see “authentic” as being true to oneself, even in the face of negative societal judgments.

Most of us want to look our best and are willing to spend money to enhance our appearance. For some, this might mean coloring away gray hair, investing in porcelain veneers, getting facial treatments to beautify our skin. For others, cosmetic surgery answers the call. No matter the choice, many of us feel the conflict. We are torn between “Authenticity” and “Beauty”. It is not always easy to be true to oneself.

Why such inner conflict? I question how much women support one another as we each draw our own personal line between authenticity and beauty? To me, it means not being judgmental or telling this woman how you think she should have made that call. It means supporting her desire to look as good as she feels and appreciating her resolve to invest in herself. But I do believe there’s another side to authenticity – being true to oneself and avoiding glaringly inconsistent messages. To me this means taking ownership of your choice – not necessarily broadcasting it far and wide, but not being deceitful about it either. When Jane Fonda went on her recent book tour encouraging women to embrace their aging selves while admitting on prime time TV that she has undergone extensive work to defy the effects of her personal aging clock, many criticized that duality of perspective. But I didn’t see it that way.

Although I suspect the debate surrounding the co-existance of authenticity and cosmetic surgery is likely to continue to rage, I would like to shift gears to what I consider a more productive focus – a discussion on what it means to live one’s life being true to oneself.

Beauty Within

         Beauty Without . . .

                        What’s Your Passion?

Click to Explore the Many Dimensions of Beauty


Buy here.

Kale For Health and Beauty by Judith Dorian

KaleWearing a shirt with the word kale sprawled across it may not be your idea of high fashion, but consider eating the green veggie as part of your beauty regimen. By now, you may be familiar with its health benefits—high in vitamin K and calcium, it helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, bone fragility, as well as arterial and kidney calcification.  It lowers cholesterol, especially when cooked. It’s a great source of lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help to filter high-energy light, shielding eyes from damage and reducing the risk of cataracts.  Kale provides B vitamins, notably pantothenic acid, that supports your body in converting carbs to glucose and as a fuel for energy. The list goes on: kale is rich in fiber, antioxidants,  magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, sulforaphane, omega 3 fatty acids, and glucosinolates.

A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2011 linked a higher intake of kale and other members of the Brassica family (think  mustard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, arugula, watercress and cabbage) with a decreased risk of colon cancer.

So what does kale have to do with beauty—makes it such a star? Credited for keeping us youthful? Plenty, it seems.  Skin— our largest organ—requires high quality food, rich in vitamins and minerals for optimal function. Kale is loaded with vitamins A and collagen-producing vitamin C. Retinol, derived from vitamin A, diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Abundant in fiber, and therefore improved digestion, kale helps skin to glow. It also contains chlorophyll, a detoxifying antioxidant which reigns supreme in the anti-aging department by combating the free-radical damage that causes visible (and hidden) signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, dullness, and discoloration. Antioxidants increase the effectiveness of sunscreens in preventing sun damage; they promote cellular repair and healing.

Aside from its benefits for the skin, consuming kale is valued for beautifying hair. Do you have a show stopping mane of hair?  Or is it thinning? Bald patches? Hair reflects the state of your overall health.  Strong hair relies on the capability of your body to create a proper hair shaft as well as on healthy skin and follicles. If you experience hair breakage, try drinking kale juice or smoothies to increase your hair’s elasticity and strength. Moreover, your hair will grow at a faster rate. But it may require time and patience to repair the damage.

Your age, ethnicity, and genetics all play their part. Kale is not the only food that can restore the luxuriant head of hair that you may recall having as a child. But kale is in the forefront, providing the above mentioned folate, iron, and vitamin C (to assure that there’s enough iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to hair follicles. Vitamin C also forms collagen, a structural fiber that helps our body to hold everything together. Hair follicles, blood vessels, and skin all require collagen to stay healthy for optimal growth. On the head, even minor vitamin C deficiencies can lead to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily.

Dr. Jessica Wu, a dermatologist and creator of Dr. Jessica Wu Skincare, wrote in Feed Your Face, her guide to eating for beauty:

“I tell my patients that what they put in their mouths is as important as the products they apply on their skin. Foods get digested and broken down into vitamins, minerals and amino acids that your body can use to build healthy skin. If you crash diet or eat highly processed foods, your skin won’t be as strong and supple as it could be.”

Cautionary: if you have a thyroid problem, it’s advisable not to overdue consumption of kale which is a goitrogen and cook it briefly rather than eating it raw. Too much kale can prevent proper absorption of calcium and iodine. So moderation is advisable. And if you’re doing a juice cleanse, be sure to supplement with calcium and iodine-rich foods simultaneously.

If you haven’t yet tried eating kale—most commonly seen are the curly or lacing (Dinosaur) in the supermarket, although there are several other varieties—it can be steamed, sauteed, roasted, eaten raw or turned into a smoothie which can be made from any combination of fruits and vegetables.

Summertime & the Living is Easy, but . . . by Madeleine Arena



by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*

Summertime & the living is easy, but what you don’t know CAN hurt you!

A sun-kissed bronze tan looks great, but it results in skin damage: wrinkles, brown skin discolorations, dull-looking skin, and potentially even skin cancer.

If you want healthy, younger-looking skin, and who doesn’t, you must practice good sun sense; because without it no other skin care product will matter.

The Sun Sense Essentials

      There is no such thing as a safe tan. Whether it is from the sun or a tanning bed the

result is still damaging.

*        UVB rays from the sun cause sunburn.

*        The primary cause of skin cancer is UVA rays from the sun. They also cause wrinkles and a weakened immune system. Because you don’t feel them they are called the “silent killers.”  UVA rays even penetrate through clear glass windows that do not have a UV coating.

*        Your skin is in jeopardy of being damaged even on a cloudy or hazy day since all the sun’s rays are present.

*       Sitting in the shade or wearing a hat only protects against a portion of the sun’s rays.

*        Your skin gets a double dose of exposure from surrounding surfaces such as water, sand, cement, and grass because they reflect the rays from the ground to your skin.

*        Altitude is a sun enhancer:  For every 1,000-foot increase in altitude, the sun’s potency increases by 4%.

*       A product’s SPF (Sun Protection Factor) number is a basic indicator of how long you can stay in the sun before getting burned.

*        While SPF is important, it’s only a measurement of sunburn (UVB) protection. You also need to protect your skin from the sun’s UVA rays as well.  Make sure your sunscreen contains the active ingredients that provide the necessary UVA protection. The active ingredients to look for are either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide,
avobenzone (may also be listed as butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane), Mexoryl SX (ecamsule), or Tinosorb.

*        Even if you’re using a sunscreen with an SPF 50 or greater, it still has limitations and can let approximately 3% of UV rays penetrate your skin.

*       No sunscreen provides 100% protection. So sitting directly in the sun, even with sunscreen on, is unwise.

*       For best results, apply sunscreen at least 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure.

*       Apply sunscreen generously.

*        Re-apply after swimming.

*        Layering sunscreen products is beneficial. While the two sunscreens do not add up to one SPF number, you are getting more protection than just using one product.

*       Sunscreens that only use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the active ingredient are completely non-irritating and are best for sensitive skin, those with rosacea, or for use on babies and children.

*       Any part of your body exposed to the sun, such as your hands, neck, ears, and chest, must be protected. Aging skin on your body is no different than your face. The best way to prevent sun damage is the daily use of sunscreen.

It’s up to you to protect your youthful good looks, so learn more about what the sun is doing to your skin and how you can prevent it.

Madeleine Arena



Madeleine is the author of the chapter on skin care which appears in the book,

Tick Tock, Stop the Clock ~ Getting Pretty on Your Lunch Hour



VITAMIN C – The Big Gun in Any Anti-Aging Arsenal



by Madeleine Arena, B.S., M.B.A.*

The bad news is that free-radical damage from the environment is inescapable. This daily assault on our skin can cause premature aging. The good news is research has shown that topical vitamin C can help fortify the skin against this onslaught. How? By providing powerful antioxidant protection, Vitamin C shields the skin from free radical damage.

(Dermatological Surgery, 2008 & Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012)

Adding a well-formulated vitamin C product to your daily skincare regime, can afford you a variety of benefits that can help keep your skin looking younger, longer.

Vitamin C, whether blended with other beneficial ingredients or in a concentrated treatment, can treat multiple skincare concerns.


Vitamin C can:

  • Reduce the appearance of brown spots.
  • Firm the skin by stimulating collagen production.
  • Reduce inflammation and irritation, both of which can trigger additional skin damage.
  • Improve the skin’s natural healing response, which helps fade post-breakout red marks.
  • Increase the effectiveness of your sunscreen and boost your skins defense against UV exposure.

(Dermatological Surgery 2008, & Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2012 & The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2010)

The most commonly used form of vitamin C in skin care products is Ascorbic acid—also known as L-ascorbic acid. It has the most research of any form of vitamin C when it comes to benefits for skin. It is equally powerful when mixed with other antioxidants, or when used alone in higher concentrations. Ascorbic acid concentrations of 15%, 20% or greater can be used for treating extra-stubborn problems. (Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2008 & Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 2012).

It’s important for you to know that there isn’t just one “best” form of vitamin C. There are, however a few derivitives that research has demonstrated are the most stable and effective. Other effective forms include sodium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. While there is less supporting research on these derivatives than ascorbic acid the research that does exist is positive.

The range of benefits for these forms of vitamin C includes repair and protection from free- radical damage, skin firming, and the improvement of skin tone. When added to a blend of other proven antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients these vitamin C derivatives enhance the formulation. Look for products that include these with ingredients such as green tea, grape seed extract, Resveratrol, peptides, and niacinamide.

All antioxidants, including vitamin C, are susceptible to destabilizing when exposed to air and light (Skin Research and Technology, 2008). To maximize the benefits of your vitamin and anti-oxidant treatments, as well as protecting your investment in those products, choose only those products packaged so that their ingredients maintain their stability. Look for opaque bottles or tubes, air-restrictive bottles, and pumps.

There’s no doubt; vitamin C is a powerful tool in your anti-aging arsenal. However, research is clear that using a range of beneficial ingredients is always best for keeping skin at its healthiest. Make vitamin C a part of a regimen that includes a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen SFP 30, an exfoliant, and a non-irritating products that contain a blend of antioxidants, skin-repairing agents, and cell-communicating ingredients.

* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade. Madeleine can be reached through her website – www.tscsource.com