Thursday, July 6, 2017

Where Do I Find Previous Anti-Aging Skin Series Blog Posts?

I had a realization the other day while writing the next blog post for the ongoing "Anti-Aging Skin Series".  While making a reference to a previous blog post in the series, I tried to look for that blog post.  When a user to our site clicks on the button on the "right hand side" of the web page titled "Anti-Aging Skin Series" the result is a list of all of the previous blog posts.   I will update the list as a new blog post is written.

Note: The blog posts are from most recent to oldest.

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 10: What Is The Difference Between Products? Continued

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 9: What Is The Difference Between Products?

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 8: Suave Skin Solutions

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 7: Part 3 -- Toxicity Analysis Of Jergen's Skin Lotion

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 7: Part 2 -- Ingredient Analysis Of Jergen's Skin Firming Lotion

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 6: Short Glossary Of Functions For Skin Care Ingredients

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 5: Part 1 - Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizer Lotion

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 4: What Is A Cosmetic Product?

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 3: Skin -- Function - part 2

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 2: Skin -- Function - part 1

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 1: Skin -- Structure

Can You Please Break Down Into Bits Your Anti-aging Article?

Can Science Really Reverse Aging Skin?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 10: What Is The Difference Between Products? Continued

What happened to the "Anti-Aging Skin Series"?  Is that what you have been thinking over the last month?  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I have had some writer's block.  Although, on a positive note, I have had the chance to review a 'Masters thesis' for a friend in cosmetic chemistry.  Which as a result has broadened my understanding of 'anti-aging' skin care formulations.  I will talk more about this in the future.

With this in mind, we are continuing on with the last post.  For those who have not read that post, there were two products (anti-aging skin creams) that were compared.  One product was Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizing lotion.  The second was Suave Skin Moisturizing lotion.  Here are the two products shown below:

And ....

If you click on the name below the image, you will be directed to the original blog post which was written earlier on each product.  Note that next to each picture of each product, there are bullet points which highlight the individual claims that are unique to each product.  Additionally, you will remember that in the previous blog I highlighted the common ingredients (in list form) along with a list of the unique ingredients to each product.

The importance of these lists was to highlight the "common ingredients" along with the "unique" ingredients.  In this blog post, I would like to discuss (somewhat briefly) the different ingredients and match them up to the individual claims.

Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizing Lotion:

To start with, take the first product Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizing Lotion.  The ingredients which are unique to this product are shown below:

If we inspect the list above, the ingredients will support the claims of the product: 1) "tones and tightens skin" 2) "increases elasticity for visibly firmer skin" and 3) "with an illuminating Hydralucence blend and collagen and elastin".

The chemical acrylates copolymer will form a semi-solid film by combining with dimethicone.  This could work as a "skin firming" agent to make the skin appear "tighter and firmer".  Add to this mix the ingredients "hydrolyzed elastin" and "hydrolyzed collagen" to make up a layer with body.  By "body" I mean that adding "hydrolyzed collagen" and holding the chemicals underneath the skin, there is a sense of "collagen restoration" to the skin -- making the skin appear to have more "body."

Remember that there are plenty of theories that collagen restoration is possible with various chemicals.  Each pathway and process needs to be studied in more detail.  Although, early suggestions is that chemicals such as 'vitamin D' is effective at restoration.  The exact mechanism is not known.  To substitute for the inability to generate 'collagen' which supports the skin's 'body' and "strength" -- different polymers and collagen are added with various chemicals.  Wash the lotion off and return to your skin.

Now I should make a note: The polymer blend which provides a "skin" or "barrier" which makes the skin appear to be "firmer" also acts as a trap.  "Hydrolyzed elastin" acts as a "humectant" which is retain water.  In the process of absorbing water and trapping is underneath the "polymer film" the corneum layer is being hydrated and protected against damage.

As far as "anti-aging" properties, the moisturizing ability of this system is accomplished by the mechanism just discussed.  Providing a barrier between your younger skin and the environment.

Suave - Skin Solutions:

Understanding how Jergens works will help us in understanding how the next product Suave Skin Solution lotion works too.  The ingredients unique to this blend are shown below:

Remember the claims made by the product manufacturer: 1) "Revitalizing with vitamin E"  2) "Age defying moisture" and 3) "....Amazing grace firming body emulsion".  The third claim is made by the composition of polymers added to the formulation.

"Carbomer" is a polymer which will form a layer or film with dimethicone and glyceryl stearate.  Other ingredients such as glycol stearate and cetyl alcohol will act as a "stabilizer" or an "emulsifier" to the polymers which are present.  Cetyl Alcohol is a waxy crystalline substance which will help provide "body" to the formulation.

The first claim that involves the chemical 'vitamin E' is supported by removing 'free radicals'.  Free radicals are formed when damage occurs to molecules making up your skin.  The result is an unstable 'radical molecule' which will react readily with other molecules like DNA or skin molecules.  During the interaction, the original molecules are altered and therefore cannot function regularly.  Which is to say, the skin molecules are damaged and will be rendered useless -- hence part of the process of 'aging'.

The ingredient which is truly unique to this product and acts like an "anti-aging" component is the "Retinyl Palmitate".  Here is the profile from the "Environmental Working Group" shown below:

Retinyl Palmitiate is dangerous for a few reasons.  Notice that ratings on the scale above in the upper left hand corner.  On the right hand corner, the scale is from 0-10, with retinyl palmitate coming in at 9 -- not great.

The main danger is that the ingredient promotes 'cell division' which results in accelerated 'aging'.  In the short term, the 'accelerated aging' appears to be restoring "younger skin" to the surface.  Although, if you were to think of the skin cells making up skin as having 'a finite' number of 'cell divisions' over the course of your lifetime, you would realize the danger.  If you keep regenerating skin to look healthy, eventually, you will have no defense system against UV radiation and other environmental damage that is done to the outer layer of your skin.

The last claim that I would like to discuss is the "age defying moisturizer" which is accomplished through 'trapping' moisture inside of the skin.   This is accomplished with the chemicals which act like a "humectant" and "emollient" along with the polymers which form the film on the layer of your skin.


In closing, this has been a short comparison of the unique chemicals to each formulation.  Over time with other products added to the blog post, the ingredients will become more apparent.  At this stage, the most important realization is that skin is best protected by reducing the environmental exposure during the day.  Reduce the amount of sun exposure.  Reduce the amount of 'dry weather' that your skin is exposed to.  Hydrate your skin by applying a "moisturizer" to your skin.  Protect your skin.  That is the best 'anti-aging' treatment that you can provide at this moment.

Until next time, have a great day.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Work?

Alcoholics Anonymous is probably most famously known through the lens of hollywood films.  A majority of newcomers have great misconceptions about the program.  Today represents my fourth year of Sobriety -- in effect -- Happy 4th Birthday Mike!  Right about now, you may be wondering the following question:

Why is he revealing his sobriety and the program of A.A.?

Simple, the reason that I am able to write this blog post is due to the last four years of working on sobriety.  I just wanted to touch on a few aspects about the program without revealing the program in its entirety or discussing other members of the program.  Anonymity is the key to the program.  Why?  Because having the label of an 'alcoholic' can be stigmatizing to say the least.  And when some people find out that you are in the program, adverse effects can happen due to their insecurity or misunderstanding of the program.

I am blessed to be able to tell you about my sobriety.  I feel much different (in a good way) than I did 4 years ago.  My story is not very much different than others inside the program.  The underlying theme is that alcohol became the focal point or central part of our lives.  Think about the analogous situation of being an 'over eater'.  Eating becomes the central point of your life.  Live for eating.  Not eating to live.

The most vital point of A.A. is to understand that you have let some 'vice' take over your life.  Entering the program can be equivalent to a 'reset' on your life.  To bring you back to equilibrium.  The program is centered around 12 steps -- which according to my interpretation are a way back toward living like a 'normal' member of society.  Coming from a place where a 'vice' dictated your life, this understanding is crucial.

For me, living by the 12 steps is equivalent to living life like an ordinary citizen.  Which is to say, pay taxes, take responsibility for your wrong doings, and admit when you are wrong.  Additionally, be of service to another person either entering the program or suffering with living according to the 12 steps.  If I take a step back from the veil of A.A. on the title of the program, I tend to ask myself the following question:

Why would every person not want to live by the 12 steps?

The world might be a better place if so.  Why?  Because, admitting that each of us have the tendency to take a 'vice' (eating, drinking, smoking, etc.) to the limits of where the addiction dictates our life is a serious issue.  I believe that each of us could do great with a small amount of daily 'introspection' in our lives.

Having the ability to look inward and admit your own faults is critical to living a healthy life.  Blaming others for mistakes only takes the person back in time.  Which means that progress forward is now going to be much more difficult.  Let me tell you about the last four years (briefly) and you can judge for yourself.

Upon entering the program (A.A.), my wife and I were "partiers" - who loved to socialize and drink to extreme.  I have discussed our ability to live life to the extreme in other blog posts before.  This is nothing new.  We placed partying above other activities.

We were in debt (with taxes, credit card debt, etc.) to say the least.  The first couple of years were spent on pulling ourselves back together financially while educating ourselves about the role of a 'vice' can play in our lives.  Any 'vice' or addiction can be taken to the extreme.  As soon as each of us realize this, then action can be taken to restore us to sanity sooner.  But know this, work is involved on everyones part.

Today, our life is 180 degrees different (better) than four years ago.  Education is a critical component toward success.  You might say..."Mike, you are educated with a Ph.D.?" The education which I am talking about cannot be taught in school.  This education requires each person to look within themselves and inspect for 'deficiencies' -- which is extremely unsatisfying during the initial process.  Although, after a while the process gets much easier and better.

Where are we now?

As I just mentioned, daily work is required to maintain a good standing in society.  I used to suffer from bad anxiety.  Today, my anxiety is a small percentage of what it used to be.  Furthermore, my wife and I rarely argue due to the absence of alcohol in our lives.

The overarching guiding principle for us was to understand the following:

Alcohol did not relieve us of our issues (problems).  Alcohol enhanced and amplified our problems.  Furthermore, alcohol prevented us from finding solutions to problems.  Today, problems are met with solutions much easier than 4 years ago.

In closing, I would like to welcome you to the program if you have gone to a meeting recently.  Do not worry about the process of 'identifying' as an alcoholic' at first.  The more important realization is the following:

You do not have to take another drink again!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 9, 2017

T.G.I.F., Anti-Aging Skin Care, Bicycle Riding, and more.

This morning I realized while riding to school on my bicycle that regardless of how tired I am, there is so much to be thankful for in life.  Why now?  Why not everyday?  Well, as I was cruising across campus on my bicycle with the breeze running across my face staring at the horizon where the sun was making an appearance, I suddenly had this feeling of gratitude rush over me.  Of course, the fact that today is Friday and the weekend is upon us helps tremendously....T.G.I.F.

Boosting your energy level with a short bicycle ride or walk instead of driving can bring a sense of accomplishment before the work day happens.  I am reminded of Admiral William H. McRaven's commencement speech at University of Texas in 2014.  His speech is filled with wonderful suggestions for success in life.  One of which is to 'make your bed each day'.  This is important because if you accomplish nothing else that day, at least you have accomplished one task -- made your bed.  This thought has stuck with me for a while now.  Additionally, this can be applied to walking or bicycling to work.  Each day provides an opportunity to experience these little accomplishments.   Plus, this one task leads us to want to accomplish another task.  Think about it.

Lately, I have had a small amount of 'writers block' with regard to the series which I started last year on deconstructing products in 'anti-aging skin care' products.  I wrote about the last few weeks in a previous blog post - here.  I decided to just keep getting back to writing the series.  Unbeknownst to me, another person would be contacting me to review a 'Master's Thesis' on 'Anti-Aging' skin care creams.  Last week, I started reviewing a friend's thesis on peptides in skin care cosmetics.  The hope was to incorporate peptides into the cream in order to stimulate the production of 'collagen' in skin which is a 'holy grail' of the anti-aging industry.  I will write more about this thesis when I am done reviewing and revising the document for my friend.

On top of all of this stagnation and writer's block came the 'norovirus'.  My wife and I contracted the virus which is 48 hours of sitting near a toilet sick as all get out.  This was depressing to say the least.  Not being able to read, write, or go anywhere.  Although, during these times, there is time to reflect and think about the wonderful aspects of life.  Today, was a celebration of re-entering life -- getting over being sick.  Hooray!!!!!!!

I look forward to return to writing on the skincare series that I have started.  I hope that each of you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mike's Mental Awareness Journey: Changing Your Environment!

Here is a simple question for you to ask yourself:

Are you content with your life? 

If the answer is no, then ask yourself what part of your environment needs to change.  I recently had the experience of changing environments and realized the great difference that such a change can provide.  If you want to understand why the recent blog posts in the series "Anti-Aging Skin Series" then read this short post.  Of course, to read my new entry into Mike's Mental Awareness Journey, you will have to click on the following link -- click here.

If you are looking to change your environment and need to see if the time is correct, then read what happened to me.  Remember to have an open mind and be willing to change to accommodate a new environment.  Push forward and the future will be better if the change is correct for you.  I look forward to continuing the "anti-aging skin series" very soon.  Stay tuned.

Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 9: What Is The Difference Between Products?

Up to the present blog post, we have really covered quite a bit -- even if that does not seem to be the case.  The original article (blog post) was filled with a couple of solutions toward aging which have since come into question.  I say question since the information in the last 8 blog posts is comprehensive in resources and broad in questions regarding cosmetic chemistry.  You can access the feed of previous posts by clicking here.  Included in those posts are two products -- skin care products -- which were deconstructed as far as ingredients.  In the present post, I would like to "roughly" compare the two products.

At this point, you might be thinking the following: Mike, you are comparing two different manufacturers 'skincare' solutions (i.e., Moisturizing, skin tightening, hydration, etc.).  That is analogous to comparing 'apples to oranges.'  Typically, a comparison might involve two different products made by the same manufacturer.  One would be an advancement in front of the other -- or an evolution from an earlier product.  In the present blog post, I am choosing to look at the ingredient profile of two different products.  After reading this post, you should be able to look at a couple of different skin lotions and identify some common ingredients.  With that in mind, lets dive into looking at two products that were deconstructed in the following posts: 5, 6, 7, and 8.

Skin Moisturizing

The first product to be deconstructed was "Jergens Skin Firming Moisturizing Lotion" in the picture shown below:

The ingredients were deconstructed over the next four posts: (1) Post #5 (ingredient list), (2) Post #6 (Glossary of functions), and (3) Post #7 (ingredient analysis) and (4) Post #7-part#3 (toxicological introduction).  Additionally, I used this product to discuss the toxicology resources available on the internet in post #8.  After deconstructing Jergens, I thought the next product which would be relevant would be from a different manufacturer but with the same intention.  I chose a product called "Suave Skin Solutions - Lotion" which is shown in the picture below:

The post was relatively straight forward in that the ingredients were listed along with the functions of the ingredients.  I left the classifications of 'non-polar', 'polar', and emulsifier up to the reader to compare.  Once we get through a few different lotions, you should be able to look at the back of any product and have an initial idea as to the function of the ingredient.  This is a start.

If we take both products and show their ingredient list side by side, we could then get a better understanding of the similarities and differences in each.  Both products should deviate to an extent since their claims will be slightly different along with the obvious observation that their manufacturers are different.  Here is a picture of the ingredient lists side by side shown below:

When comparing ingredient lists, naturally, one immediately looks for similarities in the ingredients used in each product.  A list is shown below of the "common ingredients" from each product:

And the leftover ingredients from each define the distinct differences to each products -- not including the product claims -- which we will get to in the next post.  The remaining ingredients for the Jergens lotion are shown below:

The remaining ingredients for the Suave skin care lotion are shown below:

As you can see, there are more in the Jergens lotion -- which should not mean anything in particular.  In order to define the fine differences between the two products, we must look to the claims on the front and back as shown below:

And for Suave:

As you can see, there are a few different chemicals (ingredients) which are unique to each brand.  In order to differentiate between the two, a closer inspection into the ingredients along with the claims made by each brand needs to be performed.

In the next post, I will discuss "claims" which are written in the images (or photos) on each brand and their relevance to the overall differences between the two products.  Both products aim to provide smooth, soft, and young looking skin.  By breaking down the differences in each ingredients along with the claims, the purpose of adding each ingredients will become better known.  Alternately, by inspecting the different ingredients, we will learn more about each ingredient and how it can be used in other skin care products.

Until next time, have a great day!

Friday, April 28, 2017


Adapting to the drought was difficult, since I have a desire to grow edible fruits and vegetables in my (front and) backyard.  I picked up mainly succlents and cacti in 2016.  But then we got to the start of 2017, which turned out to be the sixteenth wettest stretch in Southern California since World War II.

Take for example, this container I planted several years in a row with California and New Mexico native wildflowers.  This year, a spray of Lasthenia californica (common name: goldfields) & Eschscholzia californica (common name: golden poppy) appeared.  The photo above was taken on March 31, two weeks after settling in our new location in Northridge, CA.

The container garden made the move with us, and all the plants have survived relocation.  Many of my succulents are flowering, Graptopetalum paraguayense (common name: Ghost plant) has pretty grey leaves with a pinkish cast and a delicate little flowers on an extended stem.  You can see a bit of Senecio mandraliscae (common name: Blue chalk sticks) below.

I love the chocolatey color of Echeveria compressicaulis leaves and it looks like it's putting out an impressive raceme.  I can't wait to see how the flowers look when they open. It is framed in this photo by Crassula tetragona (left), Crassula argentea (right), Sedum pachyphyllum (upper right), and Portulacaria afra (above).

I love how this photo makes it look like the perimeter of each leaf is hand-stitched.  This is Crassula pellucida subsp. marginalis 'Variegata' (nickname: Calico Kitten).  If that's not one of the sweetest things you've ever seen, I don't know what's wrong with you.  You get just a glimpse of Graptopetalum paraguayense to the left.

The beauty above started flowering before we moved.  Sedum clavatum is comprised of frosty blue-green rosettes named for 'clava' meaning "club" for the baseball shape of the sepals.  The complexity of these tiny flowers is mesmerizing. A compact inflorescence of many white star-shaped flowers appears in spring to early summer that take a pink hue with age.

I always know the end of the school year is near when I see my Echinopsis chamaecereus (common name: peanut cactus) flowering (see prev. post). You can also see a handy pollinator. I've already had good luck with harvesting seeds, so I know the winged creatures are doing good work. We've also seen many of the crane fly this season, but they are not attributed with much pollination work.

I love the more squat Rebutia krainziana and its bold orange flower.  I've been reading about the sacral chakra and the mantras associated with it: I am inspired.I am creative.I am joyful.I am in control.I am unique.I am special.I Feel. RIP to my Opuntia basilaris and Gymnocalycium mihanovichii. One got too much water and I'm not sure what happened to the other, but they're both shriveled up and dead now.

Last but not least, I will leave you with a flower of Capsicum annuum. Three out of the seven pepper plants I had last year survived the winter.  However, I won't really know which is which until they produce fruit!  The tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) 'Cosmic Eclipse' is still producing as well.  I don't know how they'll fare in the heat of the summer, but I'll enjoy them for as long as they live.