Surprisingly no matter what the varied body parts concern of different individuals may be, an even skin tones seems to be everyone’s concern.
A question that is asked more and more in conversation is -“what cream do you use? I’ve got to do something about my skin…..”
It seems that these days I spend a lot of time explaining why their question/approach is all wrong. There are so many factors that regulate what skin is going to look like at a given age for a given person.
From age related skin changes, genetics, and medical history, to seasonal changes and different lifestyles, there are a variety of factors that govern the way the skin will look and what it will require at a particular stage in anyone’s life.
The regimen that is optimal for me may well not be for you and definitely not for a fresh faced carefree young adult or a middle aged smoker or that stressed out mother of three.
Although the retort to those new patients may be a light hearted “Hmmm have you got time – I feel a lecture coming on”, – the fact remains that there is a serious misunderstanding amongst old and young alike. This may well be the result of a very massive and profitable over the counter skin care market that as often as not, presents itself as a cookie cutter solution to every ones skin care needs.
Even though in recent years cosmetic companies have been focusing more and more on communicating/ marketing the science of skin damage in their anti-aging formulations, in reality it matters little which celebrity is the spokesperson for “the latest what” – be it in a glossy magazine, tell all insider ‘inforticle’ or a television ‘infomercial’. The fact is that – an admired celebrity’s even toned skin is not a duplicate of everyone else’s skin and there is no such thing as a wonder cure-all cream on the market that will suffice for everyone’s skin.
Spectroscopic quantitative measurements of changes in skin (e.g. hyperpigmentation, vascularity) due to natural aging processes and UV radiation have already been studied extensively (ref. 1). However, according to a HBES Scientific Study (ref. 2), apart from lines, furrows, and wrinkles, the other most important indicator of health, attractiveness, and youth, seems to be an even toned skin. This study looked at chromophore distributions as perceived by the human eye. Chromophores are light reflecting molecules found in melanin, collagen, and hemoglobin and determine luminosity and even tone of the skin.
Result: Irrespective of age, the study showed that the more luminous and even tone the skin, the greater the perception of attractiveness and youthfulness. Furthermore, with the help of the ‘SIA scope’, originally developed to detect skin cancers, these researchers are endeavoring to figure out what the most optimal distribution of light reflection or ‘attractiveness’ is as far as human eye perceptions is concerned. (ref.2)
There are many technologies/ingredients that have a proven track record and in the market place, numerous options are available for improvement of a particular skin concern. Most consumers, however, even if they know which active they are looking for in a formulation, have little knowledge of the variables involved for different derivatives of the same active.
As time passes, more and more derivatives of that same active are appearing – all marketed as superior to others. Putting aside user compliance and the factors that have been mentioned above, for any formulation, a sufficient concentration of that active is required for a substantive and perceptible difference. These concentrations are not available to the over the counter consumer, but have rightly to be acquired through supervised prescriptive formulations from a physician.
Even then, results vary and sometimes can be so subtle they are hardly discernible to the user, so that absolute promises, even in a credentialed medical facility, should never be made and assurances of improvements should always be conveyed with caution.
Smita M Patel Skin Clinic Director
Published SPSSCS Newsletter 2014
Ref 1: -Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2001) 117, 1452–1457; doi:10.1046/j.0022-202x.2001.01577.x
Ref 2:- Human Behavior and Evolution Society Meeting, June 7-11 2006: study by Drs. K. Grammer, B Fink