Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Taking On Too Much Work Will Lead To Burn Out

Have you every felt over worked?  Have you exhausted yourself by committing yourself to too many activities in a given period?  This semester has been a semester in which the answers to the prior two questions is an overwhelming YES.  Additionally, having the ability to say "yes" or "no" to over committing the available time each of us have in a given day is critical to a person's health and that of the health of those around them.  The following post will highlight the need to learn how to say "yes" and "no" to various commitments in life on a daily, monthly, yearly basis.

This semester has been one hell of a deal for our household.  Kayla took on a tremendous task which involved cooking for 24 students twice a week.  In addition, she was teaching a couple of classes at Pasadena City College two nights a week.  What a hectic schedule?  In the 10 years of our marriage, I have thought that I had seen her wear herself out.  This semester was the semester to kick her rear end.  How do I know – she asked one day over lunch?  There were subtle signs.

For instance, on the weekends, she usually is up early making coffee and ready to achieve around 20 tasks throughout the day.  On more than one occasion, I noticed her sleeping past 10 am which is highly unusual for her.  Secondly, she had to remain on task to a large degree which meant that we as a couple had to minimize what extracurricular activities that we could commit to in the future following each week.  I had a challenging semester without constantly being around Kayla.  If you recall, both Kayla and I work at California State University at Northridge (CSUN) in the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department.  I am an instrument manager while Kayla teaches general chemistry along with upper division lab classes.

Working Two Jobs at Two Different Schools?

This semester Kayla asked me how I felt if she worked at two different schools – Pasadena City College and CSUN.  The reason why she even asked was to be considerate as a partner sharing a household.  Which was super thoughtful of her.  I always want to support her career advancement opportunities.  The only question that I had was the following: Are you going to burn yourself out with so many classes?  Not to mention the extra task of cooking for 24 students twice a week – which I will explain shortly.  I am just trying to look out for her health.  Sometimes a person gets very ambitious in their career goals that the possibility of ‘running themselves (health wise) is clouded by success.’  She agreed to dial back on commitments if they were too much at any time.  I knew that the comment was genuine but not going to happen.   Therefore, I decided to let her work herself into the ground and then she will eventually learn to pace herself.  I was not looking forward to watching her do that, but these are lessons which each of us have to learn at one point in our lives.

With this in mind, I was able to have a large amount of “me time” this semester.  Part of the alone time was with her cooking away in the kitchen while I read in another room.  I will explain why I did not participate shortly.  While the other part of the alone time was when she was physically at the College Teaching on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Part of the loneliness was stressful, since I knew that when she arrived home each Tuesday and Thursday, I would be in bed already.  Going to bed with your spouse already in bed is difficult at times.  The same occurs when one spouse has work early in the morning and leave a spouse is sleeping.  Which has occurred over the years to each of us at times.

The point I am trying to convey to a large extent was that having time to myself was not necessarily ‘leisurely’.  I chose to read as much as I could which was a great improvement for me.  I have probably read more books this year than total in my life before 20 years old.  I used to be confined mainly to the great outdoors since we had wonderful weather and my parents agreed that no child should sit idle in front of the television and waste time.  Go outdoors release endorphins by physical activity.  Look and absorb nature and get some vitamin D while you are at it.  That was my impression of childhood in Southern California.

Learning to be comfortable with being alone is both interesting and challenging at times.  How many times have you caught yourself wondering or thinking the following thought during challenging times at work… “If I only had some free time, I would totally spend or accomplish___?”  Yep, we are all victims of that thought at one time or another.  Yet, when the time comes to “pamper” or have alone time, we choose to spend the time thinking of the other person or future goals – to name a few.  My thoughts and reasons are not necessarily bad.  I just believe that I have overcome anxiety of accomplishing goals by actually setting out and achieving my hobbies during any alone time.  This was a success for me.  Typically, I am a ‘people pleaser’ and have a difficult time having time to myself.  Not that I did not struggle a bit this semester.  I just made more progress than last semester.  I needed the time alone to realize or ask myself – do I really want to have this hobby or read that book?  Yes, and I did.

Cooking for 24 Students Twice A Week:

As I mentioned above, earlier in the semester, Kayla took on a monumental task of cooking for each of her students twice a week.  What did this entail?  She had a class of 24 students.  On the first day, she decided to give them an assignment (homework) to go and write down their favorite meal – the recipe.  When the students returned to class the next meeting, she informed them that she would cook a meal for each class.  What?  Yep, you read correctly.  The intention was to expand her cooking abilities, but more importantly, connect with the students on a more personal level.  By sharing a meal, humans form a special bond.  Kayla decided that no meal (holiday meal or not) was too challenging for her to prepare.

I should back up a bit and tell you about a time when Kayla reached the end of her cooking spree – early on in our marriage.  We were in graduate school together when we met.  We dated for around a year before we got married.  Anyways, we lived together early on and would have friends over to eat.  We would laugh and eat a meal which took hours to prepare for a few graduate students (5-10 students).  Over time, we realized that two rules needed to made and followed in the years to come:

1) Don’t complain about dishes in the sink, if you are not willing to clean them yourself.
2) Don’t agree to have a meal with guests if you are not willing to participate in the cooking.
3) Don’t agree to host a meal without consulting your partner first.

Over the years, these three rules have been enforced to minimize any argument or resentments which might arise.  Plus, when each person agrees to a task, the task is more enjoyable to carry out.  Right about now, you may be wondering what the relevance the three rules are to the current semester. Well, let me explain.

Kayla came home from the first class with her 24 students and announced her brilliant assignment to me.  I asked her why she decided to take on this monumental task.  She stated the intentions of ‘connecting with the students through food’ as mentioned above.  Additionally, she said learning all of the meals would be great for us.  I reminded her of the 3 rules which we had agreed upon above regarding promising meals to guests.  She said that she would cook all of the meals by herself.  Fine, lets see that happen – was my initial thought.  This led to another achievement on my part – or personal growth.  My control issues.

The first meal took around 6 hours to cook.  From around 5 pm til 11 pm.  I was trying to read in the living room to practice “disconnecting” or not controlling the situation.  Over the course of the semester, I had achieved a milestone in my life – which was to let her do her thing.  Let her do the work.  I know that might sound selfish at first.  But remember, as a “people pleaser” I am constantly trying to help others and have no time for myself.  On top of no time for myself, I tend to get in the way of progress by trying help.  I decided that this time, I was going to let go and try to read and not bother her while she was cooking.  This I must admit was difficult in the beginning – but became increasingly easier as I made small achievements over time.  To be honest, had she asked me to help, I might have helped – just kidding, I would have.  While reminding her of the 3 rules – what a husband I am – LOL.  By the way, all of the recipes are available on our Tumblr website – here.  Enjoy!!


The process of change takes time.  Just like the idea of ‘control’ manifests itself in many forms.  When Kayla was teaching at night I would wonder how her class was going.  A form of control – really?  The act of “letting go” and achieving your own goals is difficult.  Although, as I learned over the course of this semester, each week is a new opportunity to work on achieving goals not yet accomplished.  Furthermore, the students at CSUN had a few wonderful meals throughout the semester.  Kayla was able to challenge herself in terms of career advancement and on a personal level by learning new recipes.  She does genuinely love to cook.  I like to cook the same thing – Macaroni and Cheese.  That gets old each night.  Therefore, I am in training learning to expand my horizons in the kitchen.  I admit that I am a huge work in progress.  The semester has been difficult.  But who ever said that personal growth would occur without effort.

Luckily, we are headed for the holidays.  Which means that work will come to a temporary halt for vacation.  Thank goodness for the time off.  We will use the time to ‘recharge our batteries’.  I hope that each of you have a safe set of holidays and I look forward to returning to blogging about cosmetic products and my mental growth in 2018.  Happy Holidays!
Until next time, have a great day!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

#DefineYourself! -- Define Your Unique Self Or Else Others Will Define You...

In today's fast paced and ever changing world, the concept of "defining oneself" is more critical than ever. That is why I came up with the hashtag of #DefineYourself! It is a clarification and a celebration of what a person stands for. Let me explain further briefly below.

Each of us would like you think that we are extremely unique in this world.  WRONG.  We are more similar in our desires and needs than we would like to think. That is not to say that each of us are not unique. 

The hashtag #DefineYourself! is a designation (a marker if you will) to tell the world how you are unique relative to the rest of us.  If you type in the hashtag #DefineYourself into either 'Twitter' of 'Instagram' the results will be mainly about your physical appearance -- which is critical toward defining oneself.  Although, I would add that there exists many other 'dimensions' in which a person can define themselves which have nothing to do with appearance and are just as important -- if not more so.

In adding these multiple dimensions of 'uniqueness' -- the addition of the exclamation point "!" to the hashtag #DefineYourself.  Why you might ask?  If you type into 'Wikipedia' the phrase "exclamation mark" -- the following result is shown below in the introduction:

The exclamation mark (British English and Commonwealth English) or exclamation point (American English) is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), shows emphasis and often marks the end of a sentence. Example: "Watch out!" Similarly, a bare exclamation mark (with nothing before or after) is often used in warning signs.

The example in the excerpt is "Watch Out!" -- which is appropriate to emphasize the use of the exclamation mark.  Similarly, instead of restricting a definition of oneself to a single dimension -- i.e. physical appearance -- which is now commonly used on social media, the exclamation mark in the hashtag #DefineYourself! is a cry out to use a more 'complete' definition including the many other definitions of 'uniqueness' that each person holds in the world.

At this point, you may be wondering what type of 'uniqueness' can each of us highlight in our lives.  An example of this might be highlighting the 'unique' components of a cosmetic formulation as highlighted in the series Anti-Aging Skin Series (which I write) on this blog site.  On a more personal level, a person could write about their Mental Awareness Journey through life -- with updates and learning experiences in real time.  Another example might be a 'dimensional analysis' blog post written about the total number of Turkey's sold in the United States on Thanksgiving Holiday -- highlighting the excess of food of the meal.  Other example might be a short 'Tweet' on 'Twitter' (or other social media outlets) highlighting your unique qualities or outlook on life. The point is that the hashtag is meant to highlight your uniqueness in the world today.

With this in mind, use the hashtag and tell the world about yourself. Otherwise ... others will try to define you in their terms. Have a great day.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 13: Meet Mandy from XOM3 Botanical Solutions!

Have you noticed that more time has past in between posts on 'Anti-Aging Skin Series' lately?  I have let too much time in between blog posts past!  Yes, but for good reason.  I have been determining the path ahead for the series.  Remember that I started out with an extremely long blog post regarding the question: Can Science Really Reverse Aging Skin?  Out of this grew the need by suggestion from my wife to clarify through many small blog posts -- exactly what I am trying to convey.

From there, an exploration was launched into the basics of the physiology of skin - with the purpose of formulating or deconstructing a skin care formulation.  Why is a given ingredient incorporated into a formulation by a manufacturer?  Answering that question over the last few posts has been comprised of listing the ingredients in a given skin care product and giving the specific function of the ingredient known in the industry.

Of course, the question as to the intent of incorporating a given ingredient could have been resolved quite easily had I been given access to the formulator.  If I could have asked the inventor, why did you put this ingredient into that lotion -- this would have made life much easier.  Instead, up until now, I have used the information available online to show you (the reader) how to decode or deconstruct the ingredient list on any skin care formulation.

Meet Mandy...

About a month ago, I had a chance to attend (with my wife) an event at a local garden which is kept up by the public.  The event was hosted by the organization SLOLA -- Seed Library Of Los Angeles.  The seed library is composed of the seeds collected by the members of the organization.  SLOLA hosts all types of events centered around cultivating seeds and sharing tips on growing a variety of plants in a variety of environments.  The group is a wonderful resource for anyone experiencing difficulty growing a plant in your garden.  I was glad to be able to listen to a talk on 'herbal medicine' that particular Friday.  Out of that talk came an interest in exploring the 'herbal chemistry' of the components in a given skin care solution.

Remember the last skin care solution which was deconstructed on this site -- Lush.  There were a whole host of natural ingredients which (could potentially) have 'herbal qualities' to them.  Additionally, that might have been the dominant reason for incorporating them into the formulation.  Anyways, at the talk which I attended I was honored to meet another herbalist -- Mandy.  Mandy is a super cool lady who is deeply interested in understanding the chemistry of skin care ingredients from a herbal medicine perspective.  She makes her own products which can be viewed and purchased at the website:  Check them out.

As I mentioned above, I have been taking a little time to write and think in between the last two posts.  This is due to my interaction with Mandy.  Mandy and I met and started brainstorming on learning more about the chemistry in a given product.  She is aware of the reason why she incorporates a given ingredient into her product.  And that seem to hit home in my mind.  I told her about this blog series.  She was interested in explaining the back of her ingredient list.  Yes.

Now, we can explore a skin care product and hear from the formulator why a given ingredient is incorporated into the formulation.  Additionally, this will set the stage to continue to deconstruct other skin care products aside from Mandy's and have an idea as to the reason for the ingredient on the back of the product.  That is the plan.


I will choose a product off of her site and write about the ingredient list soon.   I will ask her questions in the form of an interview and write about the answers.  Stay tuned and get ready to get the "low down" on the wonderful products at XOM3.  Have a great day!!!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 12: What is in "Natural Facial Moisturizer"?

Time has past since my last post on the "Anti-Aging Skin Series" -- too much time -- you might say.  What have I been up to?  During that time, I have been thinking about "natural ingredients" which are used in skin care products.  What are their true function?  Are they legitimate?  Specifically, I have been thinking about the last skin care product which I deconstructed in post #11 - which can be found here.  The front and rear of the package are shown below:

... And the backside with the ingredient list:

In this product, there are a whole assortment of "natural" ingredients.  The manufacturer went to great length to include even their 'latin' name to specify plant species.  Before I move onto another "natural" product from this manufacturer -- "Lush" -- I thought that a closer examination of the ingredients might be of use.  In the last post, I show an ingredient list.  Some of the ingredients have little to none information regarding the function (of the ingredient relative to the skin care product) which causes skepticism in my mind.

After all, a manufacturer should be able to list an ingredient with a proven or known function. Otherwise, the ingredient could be included just for show or to indicate that a number of "natural" ingredients make up the facial moisturizer.  As I mentioned, the major driving force behind the sales and success of any cosmetic product is the customer's opinion/experience.  Meaning, regardless of what sound science can be illustrated about the skin care product, the driving force behind sales/use is the customer experience.  Unfortunately, as a result, the customer is given a tremendous amount of misinformation about a product which results in money spent and improving the corporate 'bottom line' - i.e. company sales.

Not all manufacturers aim at sales with this intent.  There are legitimate skin care product companies which aim to give the customer a scientifically sound experience along with moist - soft - skin.  An example of this is my colleague and friend's company 'C&T Organics'.  I am not just saying this because she is a friend.  I scrutinize her products just as much as any other.  I ask the reasons (with a scientific basis) for adding various ingredients.  She has produced scientific journal articles with data as a result of our discussions.  Why do I bring her up at this time?

Minimum Number Of Ingredients?

The minimum number of ingredients needed to make a "natural moisturizer" are: emulsifier, water, oil, and a preservative.  This makes sense from the standpoint of the fact that in order to keep good and healthy skin - a protective layer (i.e. oil) is needed along with the hydration layer (water).  The preservative is needed or the product will deteriorate after a short amount of time...why?  Because, natural pathogens and dirt will accumulate inside of the product and cause degradation.  Either by the accumulation of dirt or the growth of a microbial community.

Now that the minimum number of ingredients are known to be around 4, we can revisit the number of ingredients listed on the backside of the "Lush" facial moisturizer cream.  According to the last post which listed the functions of each ingredient in the product, there were 24 different ingredients.  To start with, lets list the four ingredients that are the minimum in the paragraph above as categories: water, oil, emulsifier, and preservative.

Since, water is only a single molecule, water will not have any other molecules listed underneath it.


Next are the preservatives that are included in moisturizers.  The purpose of which is to preserve the formulation from attack by foreign entities (microbes) or degradation by impurities.  The preservatives that are contained in the formulation are listed below:

1) Methyl Paraben

2) Methyl Paraben

3) Benzyl Benzoate

Some of the ingredients above have a variety of uses.  Providing stability in the form of preserving the initial formulation is extremely important.  Although, if you cannot provide long term preservation, the next step is to add a perfume to mask the growth of microbes or the impurities which will inevitably collect inside of the formulation.


An easy category which is not necessarily required but added to mask the onset of degradation early in use of the product is 'fragrance' or 'perfume'.  The following ingredients are molecules that serve as perfume molecules in the formulation:

1) Farnesol

2) Linalool

3) Geraniol

4) Triethanolamine

5) Vanilla

6) Cocoa butter


In an earlier post, I introduced the "hydrophobic" concept for molecules which are 'non-polar' and incorporated into skin care formulations.  Feel free to go back and read before proceeding.  Here is a list of the oils contained in the facial moisturizer explored in this blog post:

1) Almond Oil

2) Wheat Oil

3) Coconut Oil

4) Jajoba Oil

5) Cocoa Butter

Common Ingredients

Ingredients which are used commonly across formulations usually are synthetic.  They are not naturally made, but synthesized and have been found to have the necessary functions needed to incorporate into a skin care formulation.  Of course, the list is constantly changing (or being updated).  Here is a list of the 'common ingredients' of products deconstructed in the series:

1) Glycerin

2) Cetearyl Alcohol

3) Stearic Acid


How do you get two distinct phases of chemicals (oils and water) to merge into a single layer?  The answer is to use an 'emulsifying agent' -- a molecule which is composed of both properties.  If we think of detergents used to wash clothes, emulsifiers are built into the molecular structure in order to attach water to fatty molecules.  Hydrophobic molecules can be removed with the Hydrophobic portion of the emulsifier -- while water (which is hydrophilic) will attach to the corresponding hydrophilic end of the detergent molecule.  Chemistry is amazing.  Here is a list of the ingredients that emulsify the two separate phases -- hydrophobic and hydrophilic:

1) Cocoa Butter

2) Bladderwrack Seaweed (Alginates)

These are the ingredients (all 24 of them) which are contained in the "Lush" 'natural facial moisturizer'.  As you can see, certain molecules (ingredients) have multiple functions in the formulation.  Upon inspection, there will be certain ingredients which might be perceived as "extra" or "non-essential".  In the section below, I examine the "extra" ingredients in a little more detail.

Function of Natural Ingredients

As I stated above, I usually wonder why a given ingredient is added to a product formulation.  Why add unnecessary ingredients?  Does the addition of 'natural' sounding names signify that the product is better than one formulated with synthetic names?  Not necessarily.  In some cases, adding 'natural' components together can make a formulation more toxic.  Why?  Because each ingredient might be tested individually, although, when combined with other natural ingredients, the intended action might not occur.  In any instance, customer feedback will eventually shed light on these product formulations.

My job is to lay out for the reader the supposed health benefits with references or links to references for the ultimate decision on whether to continue or begin use with any given product.  The decision is yours.  Below is a list of ingredients with various links to search for more information regarding possible health benefits:

1) Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil: According to '', wheat germ oil contains small amounts of 'vitamin E' -- which can act as an 'anti-oxidant'.  Of course, in order to act as an 'anti-oxidant' in the body, the vitamin E must get into the body.  This means that in the current formulation, the vitamin E must diffuse through the various layers of skin into the body.

2) Viola Oderata: According to 'Wikipedia', there are supposed health benefits -- including sleep and breathing benefits from viola.  There are skeptics, although a post on 'webmd' confirms health benefits.

3) Bladderwrack Seaweed (Alginates): The health benefits listed on WebMD is that Alginates lower the cholesterol entering the body.  Whether the alginates actually enter the body through the skin is the question that resides in my mind.  Although, Jojoba oil is known to diffuse deep into the skin and could carry chemicals with it into contact where absorption occurs.  Which means that the stated health benefits might be useful.  The main purpose behind alginates is that the main benefit within a skin cream is the action as an 'emulsifier' between hydrophillic and hydrophobic phases.

4) Primrose Oil: According to a few sources listed below, primrose oil seems to have a few benefits, including reducing pain with arthritis and the skin condition - eczema.

5) Beeswax (cera alba): WebMD states that the benefits of Bees Wax is "anti-inflammatory".

6) Aloe Vera: There are many benefits stated on WebMD for Aloe Vera.  Check them out.


The "Lush" formulation seems to have a large amount of ingredients listed on the backside.  Although, when the latin name is removed or the excessive naming (redundant), there appears to be 24 ingredients.  As I mentioned above, 4 essential ingredients are required to make up a skin care moisturizer.  The remaining should be accounted for.  I have supplied the links and sources for you to run with and decide for yourself whether or not they should be incorporated into the formulation. There is one ingredient which is not natural which was incorporated into the product that must be mentioned -- shown below:

Benzyl Salicylate: One purpose of adding this ingredient is mainly to act as a UV Absorber -- to absorb various wavelengths in the Ultraviolet region.  Although, certain cosmetic formulators warn that rashes might arise when exposed to sunlight -- which is counter intuitive to the first sentence.  A fragrant smell is associated with this molecule and is oily which might help in stabilizing the product.

The products listed must be inspected by each consumer.  Especially, when dealing with natural products.  Just because the product is composed of natural ingredients does not mean that your body will not have an adverse reaction to the formulation.  Check with your dermatologist if you have any questions before use or after a rash appears.  Chemical safety is the utmost importance for chemists.  Each consumer should strive to learn more about each product to ensure their own safety.

Last but not least, to access the previous blog posts in the "Anti-Aging Skin Series" - click here - to see a full list.

Until next time, have a great weekend.


1) WebMD -- online medical resources

2) Wikipedia

3) Cosmetics

4) Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients


Friday, September 8, 2017

Why Do I Feel Overwhelmed and Anxious With Change?

Have you ever felt overwhelmed with all the responsibilities on your plate?  If not, you are a super hero or have complete control over your life.  If so, then you can join the rest of us and feel right at home.  Lately, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with all of the responsibilities on my plate.  Why?  I have been putting too much pressure on myself to actually write and learn about such a wide range of topics.  This blog post can serve to update the readers who follow my mental health journey -- Mike's Mental Awareness Journey.  Let me explain a little below.

Change Is Great!!!

Thinking back over the last few years, I have changed many of my behaviors to a large extent.  First and foremost, I stopped drinking alcohol -- which made available a large amount of time previously devoted to drinking.  What do I do with that new time?  This has been a big question lingering in my mind with all sorts of possible solutions.  One might call this 'lingering in my mind' the process of optimization.  Initially, I was determined to do activities and hobbies which prior to my drinking career I had not the time to do.  Activities like: more exercising and reading along with writing.  I have been exploring these activities which has been wonderful.

I have enjoyed learning and writing about topics lately.  Over the last year, I have written more and read more than in other parts of my life.  That produces a "high" in productivity.  Although, no fast paced life can proceed without a cost.  The cost has come in the form of 'pressure' which I exert on myself.  Sometimes that 'pressure' is good and at other times that 'pressure' is bad.  How does a person distinguish between each type of 'pressure'?  Personally, the distinguishing factor is based on my anxiety at various times throughout the day, week, or month.

Anxiety can be used to motivate or stagnate a person's progress on a variety of levels.  I just finished a wonderful book on reducing the anxiety in life titled "From Panic to Power" by Lucinda Bassett.  In the beginning of her book, she describes the onset and origins of each person's anxiety.  Which I found extremely helpful in my daily life.  Identifying the origins and onset can help a person change immediately before the anxiety sets in.

Below are a couple excerpts from the ending of her book on dealing with anxiety.  After taking the steps to identify the triggers of anxiety, each of us naturally start to change toward becoming a new person who is less anxious.  Although, beware, becoming a new person can bring changes too as noted in the excerpt below:

It's time to get familiar with the new "you" who is confident, positive, and an inspiration to yourself and everybody around you.

People are not aware of the "new person" they become after a large transition -- whether that be a lifestyle change, or image change, etc.  Those changes take time to become comfortable with.  Even if you are not the person who has changed.  Making changes in your life might even put pressure on others around you -- which in turn can take time to adjust toward.

When change is on the horizon, there is a certain amount of anxiety associated with the change.  Here is an excerpt regarding anxiety and recognizing the origin:

We can only imagine a stress-free existence; stress is a necessary part of life.  The only way to live without it is not to be alive at all.  The dictionary defines stress as: "a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation," or "a state of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existing equilibrium."
Stress results from negative experiences such as arguments, scary thoughts, depression, exhaustion, divorce, and death.  It also can be the by-product of positive experiences such as the birth of a child, going back to school, getting married, or receiving a long-awaited job promotion.  Winning the lottery, as magical as it might be, also can cause a certain type of stress.  So can environmental factors such as extreme weather conditions, toxic air pollution, and the people around you.
It is important to recognize the stressful contributors to your life.  Only then can you eliminate some, minimize others, and change your reaction response to whatever cannot be changed.  If you tend to react to anxiety with heart palpitations, dizziness, perspiring, or nervous and spacey feelings, your symptoms of stress will most likely be similar.  What you do with the stress in your life will determine whether or not it will turn into anxiety.

That excerpt is extremely powerful and has spoken to me over the last couple of weeks.  The beginning of the academic semester is underway with the ending of summer.  Naturally, each of us had "so much to do over the summer" which we were unable to accomplish.  This is an enormous source of anxiety -- if I let the anxiety build with the line of thought.  Instead, I can just let go of all of the planned activities for the summer (which is in the past) and start planning for the future.

I Am A New Person?

As stated in the excerpt above, with every lifestyle change, there could be a certain amount of anxiety that comes with that new change.  Although, after reading the book by Lucinda Bassett, I feel that my tool box for dealing with anxiety has been updated and is now equipped to deal with even more situations (and more effectively) than before.  I highly recommend reading her book.  The book is less than 300 pages in length and is filled with numerous tips on how to spot and deal with anxiety and stress.

With the knowledge gained from the book, I have stepped back from overwhelming myself with "self-imposed deadlines" for pumping out blogs on both "Kaiserwellnesscenter.blogspot" and "jmkthought.blogspot".  This time has allowed me to evaluate a pace (if that is possible) for writing that is healthy.  Prior to reading Lucinda's book, I was placing the same time restriction on each blogpost.  This is unreal?  Why?  Because the blog posts are on separate subjects and require different amounts of content.

Writing a blog post on current events requires getting the content from the news source and adding commentary (a relatively easy task).  Whereas, writing a blog post with dimensional analysis (math) inside requires more time to generate figures (illustrations) and equations.  Furthermore, writing a blog post regarding chemicals inside of skin care products takes even longer.  There is a certain amount of research that is entailed which takes time for me (for anyone for that matter).  The learning curve is different for each.  I am not trying to make excuses for irregular schedule of blogs.  I am offering an explanation though.

I am learning to take these hobbies down to a normal pace and not incur too much stress writing about subjects that I love to learn about.  Speaking of which, I am looking forward to returning to the last post on natural skin care products with quite a range of 'herbal' ingredients.  I am researching more into their origin and use for the incorporation into skin care products.  Why would the manufacturer include them in the formulation?  Sometimes the answer is not easily discernible.


The past couple of months have been quite eye opening for me.  I look forward to continuing my writing on both blog posts.  If you have any suggestions on blog content, please feel free to e-mail me:  Until next time, have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 11: "Natural Facial Moisturizer"

What is next on the "Anti-Aging Skin Series"?  Has that question been on your mind lately?  If so, I am here to give you some insight into the next few posts.  Over the last few months, three skin moisturizers have been broken down by ingredient list.  Additionally, certain insight was given in some cases to the reason why each ingredient is in each product.  I have experimented with writing different ways to blog about a given product.  I have yet to find a method that works for me.

In light of that, I will continue down the current path of introducing a skin care product with an ingredient list in an introductory post. Next, I will follow up with insight into the ingredients and briefly compare to previous blog posts.  If you have any suggestions contact us through twitter or Facebook.  And after the current product is analyzed, I will break the series with a brief discussion regarding science research that sheds light on using DNA as a sunscreen.  Yes, I mean DNA - Deoxyribonucleic Acid -- the genetic code of life.  First, lets move onto another skin care product which has claims which differ from the previous products discussed in the series so far.

Without further ado, I chose to sway off of the previous path of analyzing "mainstream" products made by large corporations and chose to try to go small.  The product I chose to look at in this post is made by "Lush Cosmetics" which claims to be all "hand made cosmetics".  Specifically, a facial moisturizer called "Shangri LA".  You might be wondering how I chose this product.  I was walking in the mall and spotted the store (in the Galleria in Glendale, CA, USA) - and could not help but stop by to check out the products and their claims.  In this first post, I will list the ingredients with their function in the product.  The definitions and functions are taken from the Environmental Working Group's "Skin Deep Data Base".  I use this data base to illustrate the fact that you can use the same data base to get answers regarding other products which I might be looking at presently.

Here is the front of the 'Facial Moisturizer' shown below:

And here is the backside of the moisturizer with the ingredient list shown below:

Below is the ingredient list of functions:

1) Sweet Almond Oil:

About PRUNUS AMYGDALUS DULCIS (SWEET ALMOND) OIL: Almond oil is extracted from the seed kernels of the sweet almond plant, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive

2) Cold Pressed Jojoba Oil:

About SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) SEED OIL: Jojoba oil is extracted from seeds of the desert shrub, Simmondsia chinensis, native to California, Arizona and Mexico.

Function(s): Hair Conditioning Agent; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; EMOLLIENT; SKIN CONDITIONING; VISCOSITY CONTROLLING

3) Triticum Vulgare (wheat) Germ:

About TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT) GERM: Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ is a natural product obtained from the embryo of the wheatkernel separated in milling.

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous; BLEACHING; SKIN CONDITIONING; SKIN PROTECTING

4) Bladderwrack Seaweed (Alginates):

About Alginates: used as an emulsifier, thickening agent, or smoothing agent in facial creams.

5) Organic Aloe Vera Gel (aloe barbadensis):

Other LOW concerns: Data gaps
About ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE VERA): Aloe vera is extracted from the succulent leaves of the aloe plant, Aloe barbadensis

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; MASKING


6) Glycerin:

About GLYCERIN: Glycerin (also called glycerol) is a naturally occurring alcohol compound and a component of many lipids. Glycerin may be of animal or vegetable origin. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring ... read more

Function(s): Denaturant; Fragrance Ingredient; Hair Conditioning Agent; Humectant; Oral Care Agent;Oral Health Care Drug; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Humectant; Skin Protectant; Viscosity Decreasing Agent; PERFUMING; SOLVENT

7) Stearic Acid:

About STEARIC ACID: Stearic acid is a naturally occurring fatty acid. It is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as a substance of animal origin, since stearic acid is primarily derived from rendered fat of farm.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Surfactant - Cleansing Agent; Surfactant - Emulsifying AgentSurfactant-Cleansing Agent is included as a function for the soap form of Stearic Acid.; EMULSION STABILISING; MASKING; REFATTING

8) Cocoa Butter:

About THEOBROMA CACAO (CACAO) SEED BUTTER: Cocoa Butter is extracted from the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao, a tree native to the Americas.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; Skin Protectant; EMOLLIENT; MASKING; SKIN CONDITIONING; SKIN PROTECTING

9) Cetearyl Alcohol:

About CETEARYL ALCOHOL: Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of cetyl and stearyl alcohols that can come from vegetable or synthetic sources.

Function(s): Emulsion Stabilizer; Opacifying Agent; Surfactant - Foam Booster; Viscosity IncreasingAgent - Aqueous; Viscosity Increasing Agent - Nonaqueous; EMOLLIENT; EMULSIFYING; EMULSION STABILISING; FOAM BOOSTING; VISCOSITY CONTROLLING

10) Primrose Oil:

About OENOTHERA BIENNIS (EVENING PRIMROSE) OIL: Evening Primrose oil is extracted from Oenothera biennis, a plant native to North America.

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous; EMOLLIENT

11) Coconut Oil:

About COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT) OIL: Coconut oil is extracted from the kernels of the seeds of coconot palm, Cocos nucifera.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Hair Conditioning Agent; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous;Skin-Conditioning Agent - Occlusive; EMOLLIENT; MASKING; SKIN CONDITIONING; SOLVENT

12) Wheat Germ Oil:

About TRITICUM VULGARE (WHEAT) GERM: Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ is a natural product obtained from the embryo of the wheatkernel separated in milling.

Function(s): Skin-Conditioning Agent - Miscellaneous; BLEACHING; SKIN CONDITIONING; SKIN PROTECTING

13) Lanolin Oil:

About LANOLIN: Lanolin is a refined derivative of the fat-like sebaceous secretion of sheep. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as an animal-sourced product.

Function(s): Emulsion Stabilizer; Hair Conditioning Agent; Skin-Conditioning Agent - Emollient; SkinProtectant; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; ANTISTATIC; SKIN CONDITIONING

14) Triethanolamine:

About TRIETHANOLAMINE: Triethanolamine is a strongly alkaline substance used as surfactant and pH adjusting chemical.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; pH Adjuster; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; BUFFERING; MASKING

15) Beeswax (cera alba):

About BEESWAX: Beeswax is the purified wax from the honeycomb of the bee, Apis mellifera. This ingredient is listed in the PETA's Caring Consumer guide as a substance of animal origin.

Function(s): Binder; Emulsion Stabilizer; Epilating Agent; Fragrance Ingredient; Skin-Conditioning Agent -Miscellaneous; Surfactant - Emulsifying Agent; Viscosity Increasing Agent - Nonaqueous; EMOLLIENT; FILM FORMING; PERFUMING

16) Vanilla Planifolia:

*limited data: perfume, flavoring

17) violet oderata:

*limited data - n/a

18) Benzyl Salicylate:

Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption
About BENZYL SALICYLATE: Benzyl Salicylate is an ester of benzyl alcohol and salicylic acid; this ingredient has been associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Ultraviolet Light Absorber; MASKING; UV ABSORBER

19) Geraniol:

Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology
About GERANIOL: Geraniol is a naturally occurring scent ingredient found in various essential oils such as rose oil and citronella oil.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; MASKING; TONIC

20) Benzyl Benzoate:

Other HIGH concerns: Occupational hazards; Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption
About BENZYL BENZOATE: Benzyl benzoate is used as solvent and preservative; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Solvent; ANTIMICROBIAL; MASKING

21) Farnesol:

About FARNESOL: Farnesol is a flavor and perfume ingredient found in nature and also manufactured synthetically; associated with allergies and contact dermatitis.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; DEODORANT; MASKING; SOLVENT; SOOTHING

22) Linalool:

About LINALOOL: Linalool is a terpene.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; DEODORANT; MASKING

23) Methylparaben:

Other HIGH concerns: Endocrine disruption; Other MODERATE concerns: Biochemical or cellular level changes; Other LOW concerns: Data gaps

About METHYLPARABEN: Methylparaben is in the paraben family of preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Preservative

24) Propylparaben:

Other HIGH concerns: Endocrine disruption; Other LOW concerns: Data gaps, Ecotoxicology

About PROPYLPARABEN: Propylparaben is in the paraben family of preservatives used by the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care product industries. Parabens mimic estrogen and can act as potential hormone (endocrine) system disruptors.

Function(s): Fragrance Ingredient; Preservative; PERFUMING


The ingredient list is full of interesting names which inspires curiosity as to their 'healing' efficacy.  I thought that the ingredient list was cleverly written.  I was exhausted in reading the list. Which caused me suspicion of the manner in which the ingredients were listed.  In the next post, I will dive in further into the list and compare to the claims of the product manufacturer.  Your assignment (yes, the reader - you) is to review the list of the other three products and find differences.  This will help you understand the importance of each ingredient in the Shangri LA above.

Until next time, have a great weekend.

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 13: Meet Mandy from XOM3 Botanical Solutions!

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 12: What is in "Natural Facial Moisturizer"?

Anti-Aging Skin Series Post 11: "Natural Facial Moisturizer"

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.