Is your sunscreen to blame for coral bleaching?

Corals are among the most amazing and beautiful and complex living beings. What we see is an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate that has been formed slowly by the whole colony, made of identical individual polyps. These polyps are marine invertebrates of the phylum Cnidaria; in this phylum, members of the class Anthozoa are the reef builders, but you may be more familiar with other members of the phylum that include the nasty, if beautiful, jellyfishes.

Corals are even more complicated than “just” the colony of tiny polyps making a beautiful exoskeleton that used to end up as beautiful earrings and necklaces (this practice is not heavily regulated).

How do these polyps feed themselves? They may use their tiny mouths to eat some passing plankton or even tinier fish, but their static position limits this source of food. The solution? They incorporate food producers into their own bodies: most of their energy and nutrients is derived from photosynthetic unicellular dinoflagellates that live within the polyps. These photosynthetic organisms are commonly known as zooxanthellae. Corals that depend on photosynthetic organisms for energy are limited to clear waters and water depths that allow enough light reaching the zooxanthellae.

What is coral bleaching?

In some stressful environmental conditions, the polyps in the coral can expel the zooxanthellae. This happens when the temperature increases (or decreases) beyond a certain limit, or there may be a change in nutrient availability of light. A change in temperature is the kind of stress that may make the symbiosis of coral and algae unsustainable. This does not mean that the coral is dead, the polyps are still viable, but will now depend on what food they can obtain from the environment. Also, they can be re-colonized by other zooxanthellae that may be better adapted to the new conditions, or the temperature change may be transitory.

There is no doubt that a gradual increase in sea temperature has first bleached and then killed many corals. Now, however, a new possible cause has been revealed. Not surprisingly, adding an unusual chemical to the environment can damage corals, and this has lead to a new law in Hawaii that bans the use of chemical sunscreens. In one paper, it was shown that adding sunscreen to a container where a piece of coral had been placed lead to bleaching (loss of the algae). This is a crude study, unlikely to represent anything remotely like real life because we don’t apply sunscreen to corals! What we do, if we care enough about our skin health, is apply sunscreen to our skin. If the sunscreen happens to have a chemical sunscreen (not a physical one like zinc oxide) it will be washed into the sea and within minutes it will be broken down by the sunlight. In fact, one of the problems with chemical sunscreens is that they are so unstable under sunlight.

Why do scientists do bad science (because this study of effect of sunscreen on corals is bad science)? Many reasons, and the main one is that scientists are human. One of humans’ bad traits is that we may wish to be famous for the 15 minutes allocated to scary scientific news. I am not going to give a list of these scary (bad science) scientific news because 1) it will lengthen the 15 minutes of fame allocated to the bad scientists and 2) this is the way that bad science is perpetuated. Apparently, we seem to remember false news even better than we remember the true ones.

Another reason may be that false news may help hide the real ones, like the fact that the warming up of the sea, caused by global warming, definitely causes coral bleaching.

And a third one: due to the crazy rules that dictate what is a “charitable” organization in the USA, anybody can start a “not for profit” company in a day or so, and start collecting donations via a website based on any dramatic piece of bad science, especially if the news touches of something as dear to humans like corals.

Here you have the triad: dramatic scientific news (bad science usually), a precious natural treasure like corals and the prospect of making fast money out of people (i.e. the marks).

What can you do about corals? First, don’t panic. We at Skin Actives have always been involved in doing good science, supporting sustainability, protecting the environment and participating in societies that support these aims. That’s what we do.

May Promo

May Promotion

Summer is here! Make sure you protect your skin from the summer sun. Start stocking up on all of your “Fun In The Sun” skin care essentials this weekend.
May 25th – 28th
Get Up To $80 off your order!
$20 off $100+ Order with coupon code MDAY20
$40 off $175+ Order with coupon code MDAY40
$80 off $300+ Order with coupon code MDAY80

Clearance Sale

Clearance Sale

It’s time again for Skin Actives to create a clean slate. Get some of your favorite products and packaging for 50% off WHILE SUPPLIES LAST! Whether the product clearance is due to a formulation change, an upcoming expiration date, or just an excess of inventory you will certainly be getting a great deal on the Skin Actives products you love.

The skin of men

Why do women spend so much money and time taking care of their skin and men don’t?

Is this because the skin of men and women are so different in anatomy and physiology and biochemistry? No. The difference is in the expectations we have: women rely on their appearance more, while men are judged by society by other parameters.

There are a few differences: men’s skin tends to be thicker. Another: if they wear a beard, it will cover more skin blemishes.
Because they don’t wear makeup, there will be less makeup caused damage to the skin (and eyebrows and eyelashes and hair).

Not all differences are advantages: acne tends to be more devastating for men, and the scars will be even deeper.

What does this all mean? That men should take care of their skin just as women do. They will live just as many years and will need their skin to be comfortable and protect them from changes in ambient temperature, from microbes and from the environment in general.

My suggestions:
1) For young men suffering from acne, gift them our acne kit.
2) Sunscreen! UV is the major cause of skin aging. And don’t forget hats.
3) To repair damage and help with scars: collagen serum
4) To help with dry skin: our ELS serum, with every lipid his skin needs to protect effectively
5) For aging skin: anti-age cream, UV repair cream.
6) To protect from pollution in cities: antioxidant serum. Free radicals, including those formed when UV radiation hits the skin, are a major cause of skin damage and aging.
7) To protect against hair loss: hair care serum. And if they don’t like gray hair, go for Skin Actives gray hair serum.

8) Beard! If he wants a beard, the very best beard care is at Skin Actives!

Skin Health Awareness Quiz

Here are the answers for the Skin Health Awareness Quiz for May 2018. Thank you to those who participated!

1.Which of these environmental factors damage the skin?

  • UV light
  • Pollution from car exhausts
  • Hydrogen & benzoyl peroxide in skin care products
  • Disinfection by-products (DBPs) in pools
  • All of the above

2. Which of these skin problems can be caused by sun damage?

  • Hyperpigmentation & hypopigmentation
  • Wrinkles and loss of elasticity
  • Gray hair
  • Skin cancer
  • All of the above

2. What is the best way to reduce the visible signs of damaged skin?

  • Pick at any blemishes
  • Use a magnifying mirror
  • Schedule expensive and damaging aesthetic procedures
  • Cover with layers of makeup
  • Use Skin Actives products, like Collagen Serum

4. Which of the following products will help protect skin and keep it looking healthy?

  • Antioxidant Serum
  • Advanced Protection SPF 30 Sunscreen
  • UV Repair Cream
  • Collagen Serum
  • All of the above

May is skin cancer awareness month.

What is cancer?

All the cells in our body, and in all multicellular organisms, are regulated in multiple ways to make it possible for the organism to function as a whole. Cell division is a very tightly regulated process, and many genes participate in its regulation.
As we age, our cells divide again and again and, despite all the corrective mechanisms that ensure that there are no major “typing errors” when DNA duplicates, errors occur. These are called mutations.

We can see that our skin cells have mutated in the sun spots that accumulate as we age. This means that the DNA mutations have affected, in one way or another, the complex process of synthesis of melanin and its transfer from melanocytes to skin cells. In itself, this is not a big deal, although some of these pesky sun spots can be ugly, at least for the person who see them in the mirror.

More importantly, these mutations may affect one or more of the genes that regulate very tightly skin division in the skin. Some of these changes may be benign and non invasive, like the ugly skin tags. Other may endanger our lives.

Why is skin cancer so common these days? It has to do with changes in the environment and in social habits. Some chemicals destroy the layer of ozone in the atmosphere (the infamous ozone holes) that prevent some UV from reaching us. Also, people of light skin that used to live far from the equator (that is how the light skin type evolved, so that people in that latitude could make vitamin D) decided to move near the equator and have beach vacations. We also live much longer lives thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture, so our bodies have more time to accumulate DNA mutations. These factors, plus others we may not know about, have increase the incidence of skin cancer. We have to deal with this unhappy situation and that means protecting ourselves better.

Dangerous skin cancers include melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma is a somewhat less dangerous type of skin cancer, but all types of skin cancer require treatment and that is when you really need a dermatologist. Dermatologists are experts at spotting skin irregularities that may be signs of trouble, and when in doubt they will do a biopsy. Amazing scientific advances mean that some types of cancer, including melanoma, that used to kill, can now be attacked with sophisticated molecular biological tools, but the sooner you see your MD, the better.

If you want to learn more about what cancer is, you can read “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Beautifully written and researched.

What can Skin Actives do for you

If you want to prevent skin cancer, there are things you can do. You cannot change your genetic makeup (although this may be possible in the future), the result of the lottery that we win and/or lose during conception. But sunscreen is a necessity, especially in some latitudes and some times of the year. Skin Actives also offers (besides sunscreen) antioxidant products that will help you prevent further mutations, so use them. Our UV repair cream can also help.

These days, there are many products that advertise their power to repair DNA. None of them has been proven, so think before you buy them. Using a bad product is not just a waste of money, it is a waste of an opportunity to use an effective one.

Excellence In Dermatology Research Career Development Award $20,000

Skin Actives Scientific LLC is accepting applications for research proposals targeting the amelioration of damage to hair, skin, lips, and nails from the treatment of diseases including, epidermal barrier dysfunction and repair, cutaneous side effects from systemic medications, and inflammatory dermatologic conditions associated with internal diseases.

Please see the PDF below for more information.

Grant Letter

What’s so special about Skin Actives products?

For other brands, the most relevant questions are “does it feel good, does it smell good”? But at Skin Actives Scientific we are looking for activity, not just for a pleasant feel that will appeal to your senses. For SAS products the main question is: “does it work?” So far, for every product we make, the answer has been “yes”. Our products are based on good science and we make them very well.

How long do they take to work? The time line is different for different products, because aside from products that aim at increasing skin moisture (like ELS, instant comfort), the others may only show benefits when the skin renews itself, or when hairs finally emerge. For example, the cycling of hair is faster on the scalp than in the eyebrows. Only a small percentage of hairs in the eyebrows are in the anagen stage, the time when a hair is being formed and grows. The rest are essentially “dead”, just hanging there until they fall out. Besides, there is the time that will take from when you apply the eyebrow serum on the area until the cells that make the hair “wake up” and get going and finally that the hair is outside the pore and showing. So don’t give up too soon, you you will be missing on something great!

Copper: both friend and foe

The evidence published in scientific journal shows that, as many other chemicals, vitamins, etc., copper (and copper complexed in a peptide) can be beneficial at very low concentrations and detrimental at higher concentrations. This makes sense: a significant portion of the toxicity of copper comes from its ability to accept and donate single electrons as it changes oxidation state, producing reactive free radical. This same property of copper is used by come enzymes that are crucial to cell metabolism, like superoxide dismutase, tyrosinase and more, and this is why copper is an essential micronutrient.

Enzymes use copper in a carefully orchestrated reaction, free copper is another matter.

With its capacity to generate free radicals, you can see how too much copper can wreck havoc on our body, including our skin. We know that oxidative stress is related to many unpleasant human illnesses, and also with aging. We accumulate copper as we age, and the copper that was badly needed when we were young, by the time we are in our forties it may be damaging our mitochondria, making us ill or at least making us age faster.

Before you buy a face cream that is blue with the pretty color of copper, please remember that copper is all around us, in water and food. Any extra copper may easily take you from “essential micronutrient” concentration to “way too much, this is toxic!”.

You may ask how copper became such ubiquitous ingredient is skin care. The answer is that results from in vitro experiments were extrapolated to real life which no in vivo, long term research to support it. Even worse, copper is marketed to women as an anti-aging active at an age when we already have enough copper accumulated to last for the rest of our lives.
Is there any benefit to copper in skin care? Yes, during healing. But that’s more or less it. It does not make sense to use antioxidants and at the same time supplement the copper we already have in our bodies plus what is ingested in water and food.

Bariatric surgery? Drastic diet? What about your skin?

You decide to go on a diet, trying to shed just a few pounds or a maybe large fraction of your weight. Why do this?
Our bodies evolved to face a natural world with food scarcity and occasional bounty. Our stomachs are large and our bodies can accumulate large amounts of fat that can support us during the lean times, and even to support the growth of a baby to term despite the scarcity of food.

However, if we live in the developed world in the XXI century, there are no times of scarcity. A visit to Costco can supply enough calories to support a small Iron Age village for a couple of months.
What is the result? Unless you have grown up with excellent eating habits and don’t like ice cream or pasta, you may have gained a large amount of fat stored in the body that you will never get to use. In a body that did not evolve to live with so much fat for so long, many health problems will arise: diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, acid reflux, heart disease and more. Moving around will become harder and the knees will hurt, arthritis may follow.

You and your doctor may decide that, if you want to live a few more years or just increase the quality of your life, you need to shed some or a lot of weight. If you are determined and disciplined, you may achieve enough weight loss to take you back to a healthier body just by eating less and exercising more. In the end, it is a matter of how many calories you ingest as compared to how many you use.

There are many reasons why diet may not be enough to lose the weight you need to lose. And, worse, you may have failed at diets many times, recovering lost weight and even getting some extra back. In the end, you may be one of the many Americans that decide to go for bariatric surgery. This is not an easy way out: it is expensive, recovery from surgery and the changes it produces takes time and in the end, you still have to eat much less. A surgically reduced stomach does not ensure weight loss, it only makes it somewhat easier to eat less calories, because your digestive system will tell you (clearly!) when you must stop eating.
Your skin on a “terribly strict” diet

Your skin is the last thing you will think of when you go for a diet that may cut your calorie intake from more than 2,000 Calories per day to 800 or even less. You will have other worries (“should I eat this or not?”).

Unfortunately, it is not just you who will forget about your skin. Your body will forget about your skin. With so few calories, and usually with low availability of vitamins, your skin will be forgotten in favor of heart, kidneys, etc.

Would you be interested to find out what will happen to your skin in the months that follow this huge change in diet? I think you should be interested, because it has long term implications for your skin, nails and hair.

In the best of times, our skin is not a priority in the distribution of nutrition and vitamins, and the time of scarcity, symptoms of deficiency will be felt. If you were not paying attention, your skin will start claiming attention.

You have to maintain a high level of protein intake during your diet, this is paramount to your overall health. Otherwise you may lose too much of your muscle mass, too much of your bone, etc. But of the protein you ingest, little if anything will reach your skin. What are the consequences? Here is the list: itchy and dry skin, aged appearance, reddish areas and hypopigmentation, follicular hyperkeratosis (excessive accumulation of keratin in hair follicles, resulting in rough and elevated papules), cracking of the corners of your mouth (angular chelitis) and more. Your will also notice brittle, slow growing nails. Your hair will become brittle, dull and thin. You may even notice graying, and your hair will grow very slowly.

What is going on? Your skin is starving. Starving of nutrients, vitamins and minerals; the nutrients missing are amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, essential and otherwise, vitamins, everything. Your skin does not get the wherewithal to do its job

What to do?
For your skin: dream cream, collagen serum. ELS (every lipid serum) is vital!
For your hair: Skin Actives hair serum
For your eyebrows and eyelashes: eye brows and eye lashes serum
For your nails: nails serum duo.

Introducing Six New Products!

New Products text

New Products

New Masks and Anti-Aging Vegan Line

Skin Actives is very excited to bring you three new masks! With these additions and our existing Pore Refreshing Mask for oily skin, there is a mask option for everyone. Hydrating Gel Mask will refresh combination skin, Overnight Replenishing Mask will hydrate dry/sensitive skin, and Restorative Cream Mask will revitalize aging skin. Now you can add the best mask treatment for your skin type to your healthy skin routine from Skin Actives.

Although we already have quite a few Vegan products in our Animal Free section, we felt there was a lack of anti-aging product options. To solve that concern we have created Vegan versionsof some of our most popular anti-aging products. Try our new Collagen Serum (Vegan)Every Lipid Serum (Vegan), and Hyaluronic Acid Serum (Vegan). See Dr. Sivak’s blog about the creation of the Vegan Collagen Serum HERE.