• Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Caffeine for the skin

    27 Nov Caffeine for the skin

    The beauty industry has appropriated the active ingredient of our most universal breakfast drink. Caffeine, the alkaloid that wakes us up by stimulating the nervous system, also has beneficial properties for the skin. It appears that it reduces cellulite, increases blood circulation in the small blood vessels that nourish the skin, prevents skin cancers and even promotes hair growth in men.

    Ai??

    Caffeine is being included in formulas for body creams, hair lotions and other cosmetic preparations. Most of these products contain just 3% of this substance. Its chemical characteristics (it dissolves in water but not in oil) make its application in cosmetics difficult, because, in its free form, it penetrates poorly to the interior of the epidermis. But thanks to modern emulsions and microspheres for delivering substances and facilitating penetration, caffeine is now used as a key skincare ingredient. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    Whatai??i??s melanin for?

    16 May  Whatai??i??s melanin for?

    When we refer to the sun and to tanning, we refer to melanin. Melanin is produced when the sun touches the skin, making us go brown. This pigment darkens the skin to protect it from the damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays. Our hair and the iris of the eye also contain melanin. But what exactly is melanin and what is it for?

    Ai??

    Melanin is not unique to humans, but is to be found in most living things. Thanks to melanin, some animals can change their colour as camouflage and plants have different colours. The melanin pigment is derived from tyrosine, an amino acid essential for our body to function properly. Melanin is made in the melanocytes (epidermal cells) and also in the hair follicles. Itai??i??s a bit like a coloured crayon, responsible for brownish and reddish tones in the skin and hair. But its main function is, in fact, to protect us against the damaging effects of UV radiation. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    A cosmeticai??i??s journey into the skin

    22 Apr A cosmeticai??i??s journey into the skin

    Manufacturers promise flawless skin if we use cosmetics that they claim penetrate the skin and improve cell functioning. And yes, of course they do penetrate ai??i?? but to what depth? The skinai??i??s outermost layer, specially designed to act as a barrier, is formed of nearly impermeable tissue. So, how can cosmetics penetrate the skin?

    Ai??

    No cosmetic active ingredient has yet been invented that crosses the epidermal barrier and penetrates deep into the skin. In fact, a substance that appears to penetrate the dermis and hypodermis is most likely absorbed by the blood vessels. In that case it would be a drug, not a cosmetic active ingredient, because it affects metabolism. With nicotine patches applied to the skin, for instance, tiny nicotine molecules travel via the skin layers until they reach blood vessels. Does nicotine act on the skin on its way to the blood? The answer is no. Read More

  • Núria Estapé, science journalist

    The skinai??i??s natural moisturizing factor

    31 Mar The skinai??i??s natural moisturizing factor

    Our skin is equipped with the perfect machinery whose function is to retain water and prevent dehydration. The skin, a vital organ in our body, has the crucial function of protecting all the other organs within it. And it does so through a complex network of molecules called the natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which ensures a delicately balanced epidermis, despite environmental variations in humidity and temperature.

    Ai??

    When we are born our skin is already equipped to stay hydrated and protected from UV rays. Time and environmental aggressions wear down the skinai??i??s mantle, with the result that we lose the water-retaining capacity in some of the beneficial substances in the skin, which should contain some 10% to 15% water. If the water level falls to under 10%, dry skin problems develop: the skin becomes brittle, rough and dull and is more prone to eczema and infections. How can we ensure that the skin retains a minimum of water? Read More

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