Common Beauty Product Ingredients ~ Part 4

common beauty product ingredients
In this 5 part series, I’m sharing what the common beauty product ingredients are and what effect they have on our bodies.

Bleaching Agents

Skin whitening is the practice of using substances, mixtures, or physical treatments to lighten skin color. Skin whitening treatments work by reducing the content of melanin of the skin. Many agents have been shown to be effective in skin whitening; some have beneficial side effects (e.g.: are antioxidants, nutrients, or decrease the risk of some types of cancer); some are a significant risk to health (for example, those containing mercury).
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Many factors, from the sun to just plain old genetics, can be our enemies when it comes to having smooth, even skin. You might not have control over these elements, but when it comes to correcting skin coloring, you want to make sure you’re using the right ingredients.


Hydroquinone is an effective skin lightening agent. It is no longer available in some parts of the world because of the damaging affects of longterm use. The recommended concentration over the counter is 2%, but up to 4% is available from a dermatologist in some countries. It should be used daily for no more than 6 months.

Its initial effect of inhibiting pigmentation is lost with prolonged application and sun stimulation.

Exogenous ochronosis is the main risk of continued use. This results in an irregular blue-black staining affecting sun-exposed skin and nails. It is due to deep deposition of the same pigment that occurs in alkaptonuria (endogenous ochronosis). Exogenous ochronosis may also occur from phenol, quinine or resorcinol.

Ochronosis may also result in loss of elasticity of the skin and impaired wound healing.

In some subjects, excessive use of hydroquinone in combination with certain foods in the diet (fish, eggs, offal, beans) can result in an unpleasant fish odour in the body secretions such as sweat and urine (trimethylaminuria).

Hydroquinone is sometimes given another name, such as:
* 1, 4-Benzenediol
* Quinol
* Benzene-1
* 4-Diol
* p-Diphenol
* p-Dihydroxyl benzene
* Hydrochinone
* p-Hydroxylphenol
* Hydrochinonium
* Hydroquinol
* Tequinol

Monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone is a strong derivative of hydroquinone that almost always causes nearly irreversible complete depigmentation of the skin (white patches).

Kojic Acid:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Kojic acid is a natural crystal like substance that is used is some skin whitening products. It is usually found in a cream form and mixed in at different percentages with the cream between 2 and 4%.

As far as commercial skin lightening products go it is one of the better substances to use to whiten your skin. So if you are wondering how to lighten scars or how to bleach skin on your face or other parts of your body than kojic acid may be a solution for you.

What about kojic acid skin lightener?

In light of the hydroquinone debate, manufacturers are finding safer ingredients to add into bleach for skin products. It is important to look for compounds that are made from natural sources instead of using those that are manufactured from unnatural products. Kojic acid skin lightener fits the bill of that description. Kojic acid can be found in several skin lightener products.

Where does kojic acid come from?

That is a good question. It originated in Japan and is a chelation agent that is produced by different species of fungi. In particular the Aspergillus oryzae, which is commonly called koji.

A chelating agent is a chemical compound made from organic materials that form complexes with substrates and metal ions. It can also be extracted as a byproduct of the process of fermentation when making Japanese rice wine and Sake. But in simpler terms, this type of acid is made from organic materials.

Side effects to kojic acid skin lightening cream?

As with most products, there can be some side effects that can occur with the use of kojic acid skin lightening cream. In some instances kojic skin lightening cream has been known to make a user’s complexion lighter than what they expected it to be.

Be careful in the sun when using this product as you will burn more easily. This is a general rule when using any skin whitening product.

Another side effect that users complain of is increased skin sensitivity after long term use. This can be a bit of a concern for those who are already susceptible to sensitivities. You might experience itchy skin, inflammation, or redness. One could liken the symptoms to being exposed to poison ivy.

For those that are experiencing these types of symptoms, you should consider switching to the lower concentration. If it continues to be a problem, natural skin lightening methods would be better.


A recent study in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology has revealed how common it is for mercury and other dangerous substances to be found in skin lightening products originating from countries around the world. One of the critical findings in the study was that of the skin lightening products found to contain mercury, none of them listed the toxin on the ingredient label. Therefore, even if a skin lightening product has an ingredient panel, it does not mean the manufacturer has revealed the presence of mercury.

One of the limitations of this study was that it did not include all internationally available skin lightening products. However, the findings serve as a warning that mercury and other dangerous substances are commonly found in these cosmetics and that the labels often do not reveal that information.

Many readers have posted questions here asking whether the skin lightening cream they are using contains mercury. Unfortunately, the lack of reliable information on these products has made it impossible for me to answer the questions with any certainty in most cases. Given that mercury is highly toxic, it’s better to stop using any product not verified to be mercury-free rather than risk your health. As an alternative, you can use natural means to lighten the skin, such as lemons, orange, yogurt, honey, gram flour, turmeric, and aloe vera gel.

Alpha-hydroxyl Acids (AHA):

What Are Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Alpha Hydroxy acids (AHA’s) are a class of chemical compounds that occur naturally in fruits, milk, and sugar cane. Although they are called acids they are not to be confused with strong industrial acids such as hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid. The AHAs most commonly used in cosmetic products are glycolic acid (which is derived from sugar cane) and lactic acid (the substance that gives you muscle burn when you exercise). Other AHAs used include citric acid (from oranges, lemons, etc.), 2-hydroxyoctanoic acid, and 2-hydroxydecanoic acid. The AHA’s may be obtained from their natural sources or may be made synthetically.

Why Are They Used In Cosmetics?
Products containing AHA ingredients may be for consumer use, salon use, or medical use, depending on the concentration and pH (acidity). Since 1992 there have been products marketed as cosmetics intended to exfoliate and cleanse the skin. These products most often contain glycolic and lactic acids. They help reduce the appearance of skin wrinkling, even skin tones and soften and smoothe the skin. AHAs as used in cosmetics may function as exfoliants. They act on the surface of the skin by removing dead surface cells, thereby improving the appearance of the skin. In addition, lactic acid functions as a humectant-skin conditioning agent. AHAs also function as pH adjusters. pH Adjusters are materials added to products to make sure they are not too acid or base (low pH and high pH) and are thus mild and non-irritating. Many AHAs are naturally occurring products. For example, Glycolic Acid, a constituent of sugar cane juice, and Lactic Acid, which occurs in sour milk, molasses, apples and other fruits, tomato juice, beer, and wines, are carboxylic acid that function as pH adjusters and mild exfoliants in various types of cosmetic formulations. In addition, Lactic Acid functions as a humectant-skin conditioning agent.

Why are sunscreens added to Alpha Hydroxy Acids?
As discussed above, sometimes small amounts of a sunscreen ingredient may be included in an AHA product to protect against any increased sensitivity to sunlight that might occur during use.

Does the use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids increase the incidence of skin cancer?
Studies have not found that AHA-containing products contribute to an increase in the incidence of skin cancer. The National Toxicology Program (NTP) conducted a study to determine if simulated sunlight increased cancer in mice whose skin was treated with Glycolic Acid. No increase in tumors over those mice exposed to simulated sunlight alone was observed.


A natural skin lightening/whitening agent. It works by slowly releasing hydroquinone through hydrolysis, which in turn blocks Tyrosinase activity and reduces the skin’s melanin (pigmentation) production. In cosmetics, this ingredient appears in two different forms: Alpha-Arbutin or Beta-Arbutin. Due to patenting concerns, most skin care products contain plant extracts that contain Arbutin (e.g. bearberry, pear, blueberry), rather than pure Arbutin. Used in a variety of cosmetics, particularly ones aimed at lightening the skin such as lotions, crèmes, serums, cleansers, and spot treatments.

While most research strongly supports the ingredient’s ability to fade/lighten age spots and hyper-pigmentation, it is still unclear as to how much Arbutin it takes to inhibit melanin production. Overall, the general consensus is that it works as a skin lightening agent and seems to be a promising alternative to pure Hydroquinone.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:
There are many questions surrounding the safety of this ingredient. This is mainly due to the fact that it is a form of hydroquinone-a skin bleaching ingredient that has indicated a potential for causing cancer, and consequently been banned in several countries. In addition, studies have shown high doses of hydroquinone to frequently cause ochronosis (a bluish black pigmentation of skin tissue), particularly in dark skinned people. Of course, more research on hydroquinone is needed to substantiate any claims, and it still remains to be the premiere skin bleaching ingredient to the dermatological community.

Arbutin appears to be less irritating than hydroquinone when used in similar concentrations. It also is reported to cause less sun sensitivity. This is most likely due to the gradual release of hydroquinone. All in all, it is regarded as a safer and gentler alternative to pure Hydroquinone.


Antioxidants play an important lifeline role in superior face and skin aging products. Antioxidants are natural substances made up of vitamins and minerals. They can counter “free radicals” that damage DNA, lipids and proteins. Damaged skin cells can speed up aging with wrinkles, dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, dull skin, decrease elasticity and pliability.


You can find previous post regarding preservatives below:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Soothing Agents


Allantoin is a white odorless powder. Other Allantoin containing compounds that may be used in cosmetics and personal care products, include the Allanotin salt of vitamin C, Allantoin Ascorbate, and the Allantoin salt of vitamin B7, Allantoin Biotin. Allantoin complexes that may be used in cosmetics and personal care products include Allantoin Galacturonic Acid, Allanotoin Polygalacturonic Acid, Allantoin Glycyrrhetinic Acid and Allantoin Panthenol. Among the Allantoin containing ingredients, Allantoin itself is most likely to be used in cosmetics and personal care products. It is used in the formulation of bath products, eye makeup, hair care products, oral hygiene products and skin care products.


Here are 8 benefits of using aloe vera gel:

1. It treats sunburn.
Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.

2. It acts as a moisturizer.
Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it`s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion. For women who use mineral-based make-up, aloe vera acts as a moisturizer and is great for the face prior to the application to prevents skin drying. For men: Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.

3. It treats acne.
Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.

Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.

4. It fights aging.
As we age, everyone begins to worry about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in their skin. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.

5. It lessens the visibility of stretch marks.
The skin is like one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss) the elasticity of the skin can be damaged. That’s what leaves those unsightly stretch marks. These marks appear due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching. Aloe vera gel can help hide these stretch marks by healing these wounds.

6. It’s nutrient rich for good health.
This solid material contains over 75 different nutrients including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, sugars, anthraquinones or phenolic compounds, lignin, saponins, sterols, amino acids and salicylic acid.

7. It soothes in periodontal disease.
According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, it’s extremely helpful in the treatment of gum diseases like gingivitis, periodontitis. It reduces bleeding, inflammation and swelling of the gums. It is a powerful antiseptic in pockets where normal cleaning is difficult, and its antifungal properties help greatly in the problem of denture stomatitis, apthous ulcers, cracked and split corners of the mouth.

8. It aids in digestion.
The internal benefits of aloe vera are supposed to be just as amazing. The plant is said to improve the digestion and to relieve ulcers. Some people consider it a laxative, while others attribute that effect to its digestive qualities (which normalize the system and induce regularity). The juice is also prescribed for arthritis and rheumatism. To test any of these claims, steep the cut foliage in water or chew pieces of the fresh leaf.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Camphor has been used medicinally for centuries to treat many skin conditions, such as itching, irritation and pain. It’s a stimulating product, and if you don’t use it according to the instructions, it can be poisonous. In skin care products, the U.S Food and Drug Administration does not approve of camphor if the concentration exceeds 11 percent.

Camphor is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for skin care use if the concentration is between 3 percent and 11 percent. You can use camphor to relieve skin itching or irritation or to control pain. Camphor is often found in rub-on products for cold sores, insect bites and stings, minor burns and hemorrhoids. You can use camphor as a rub to put directly onto your skin, or you can inhale it. To inhale camphor, add some camphor to a vaporizer and inhale the steam.

Side Effects
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say camphor can cause the following symptoms: irritation of the eyes, skin and mucous membranes; nausea; diarrhea; vomiting; headache; epileptiform convulsions and dizziness. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned products containing greater than 11 percent concentrations of camphor in 1983. Even small doses can be fatal for your child or infant.

When used properly, camphor provides a cooling sensation and relieves symptoms such as pain, irritation and cough. You can use camphor in soothing backaches and muscle pain. To soothe skin conditions such as eczema or acne, camphor is used due to its ability to reduce redness and irritation.


Traditionally, emollients are considered ingredients which have smoothing or softening properties. They are put into formulas to provide moisturizing benefits and support a variety of conditioning claims. There are a number of types which we’ll list below.

Hydrophilic Emollients
The term emollient is rather broad so things that are humectants can also be considered emollients. Water soluble ingredients like glycerin, sorbitol, and propylene glycol are all technically emollients. When you need conditioning, this are good ones for your water phase.

Lipophilic Emollients
These are ingredients that are not soluble in water and make up the bulk of the available varieties of emollients. The one that you use depends on properties such as polarity, emolliency scores, spreading behavior, compatability with other ingredients, rheological behavior, and hydrolytic stability. This group can further be broken down by grouping them by their polairity.

Non-polar: These are mostly derived from petroleum and include ingredients like mineral oil, Isoparaffin, and Isohexadecane.

Polar: This includes a range of ingredients including materials such as natural oils (Jojoba oil, Olive oil, coconut oil), esters (Octyl Palmitate, Isopropyl stearate, Isopropyl palmitate) and alcohols (Octyl dodecanol).

Silicone Fluid Emollients
The final group is silicone fluids. They provide incredible levels of slickness and also feel light compared to lipophilic emollients. The most common ones used include Cyclomethicone and dimethicone. There are a number of varieties to choose from and each have different characteristics when it comes to viscosity, volatility, and ease of formulation.

Cetyl alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Cetearyl Alcohol:

Isopropyl alcohol. SD alcohol. Cetyl alcohol. Cetearyl alcohol. And plain old alcohol.

They show up again and again on skin care products, from moisturizers to body washes to cleansers and toners.

The Fatty Alcohols
Called “wax” alcohols or “fatty” alcohols, this second group of alcohols in skin care that have completely different properties from those we mentioned above. These are typically derived from natural fats and oils, often from coconut and palm oil. They’re found in nature as waxes, so they’re rich in skin-healthy fatty acids. They can also be derived from petroleum sources, though, or made in the laboratory.

Some examples of these include:
Cetyl alcohol
Stearyl alcohol
Cetearyl alcohol

Manufacturers like to use these alcohols for the following reasons:
Emulsifiers: These alcohols work as “emulsifiers,” which help mix water with oils to create nice, smooth creams and lotions.
Emollients: Since these ingredients are naturally moisturizing, they’re included in many creams and lotions to hydrate the skin.
Thickeners: People like thick, rich creams. They just feel good when you put them on. Fatty alcohols can help thicken a formula to the right consistency.
These alcohols are usually portrayed in more positive light than the others, as they are not drying or damaging. On the contrary, they do help to moisturize skin because of the natural fatty acid content.

Isopropyl Isostearate, Isopropyl Palmitate, Isopropyl Myristate:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Isopropyl Myristate is a synthetic oil used as an emollient, thickening agent, or lubricant in beauty products. Composed of of Isopropyl Alcohol (a propane derivative) and Myristic Acid (a naturally-occurring fatty acid), Isopropyl Myristate is a popular cosmetic and pharmaceutical ingredient. It is most often used an an additive in aftershaves, shampoos, bath oils, antiperspirants, deodorants, oral hygiene products, and various creams and lotions.

Safety Measures/Side Effects:
According to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, there is strong evidence that products intended for use around the eyes or on the skin, as well as aerosolized products, containing Isopropyl Myristate have been associated with skin, lung, and eye irritation. The CIR has approved Isopropyl Myristate for use in cosmetics (Source), though its quantity should be limited. A study published in Contact Dermatitis in 2004 from two university hospitals in the UK found cases of allergic contact dermatitis in patients who were exposed to both Isohexadecane and Isopropyl Myristate at higher than normal levels of concentration.

Castor Oil:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Castor oil and derivatives are used in soaps, creams (tretinoin), shampoos, perfumes, lip gels, lipsticks, hair oils (increases hair luster), deodorants, lubricants, sunscreens, and many other personal hygiene and beauty products.

Castor oil has been used in skin care products for centuries, and continues to play an important part in the production of soaps and cosmetics. Cosmetic manufacturers use castor oil and its derivatives in formulating non-comedogenic cosmetics (cosmetics that don’t exacerbate or contribute to acne) and emollients.

Jojoba Oil:

A lot of moisturizers, sunscreens and lotions use jojoba in their formulas, due to the amazing skin protection and benefits jojoba oil provides. It creates an excellent barrier between your skin and the elements and has a natural SPF of 4 which basically acts as a sunscreen when used by itself. It is gentle and soothing on the skin and will not cause any allergies unless use in large, concentrated amounts. It does not lose its moisturizing effects upon application like other water based products tend to do, so mixing this oil with your moisturizer creates a powerful and long lasting moisturizer for your skin. You can physically feel the moisture on your skin throughout the whole day.
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Jojoba oil is commonly used and added into shampoos and conditioners to provide extra conditioning for hair, and is also being touted as a possible means for helping with hair loss, as it is said to get rid of sebum build up on the scalp. It is used in so many products, that it is no wonder it plays such a large role in the cosmetics industry. It’s also added to other conventional, over-the-counter products such as sunscreens, lipsticks and lip gloss.

From conditioning to healing the uses of jojoba oil are numerous and more and more people are discovering how beneficial such simple oil is to our skin and the impact it has made since the banning of whaling. It is also one of the most stable oils around and doesn’t go rancid like so many other oils do.

Avocado Oil:

Avocado fruit is extracted from avocado trees which were earlier found in the regions of Mexico and Central America and are now being cultivated in different parts of the world on a large scale basis, thanks to their growing popularity. The oil squeezed from avocado fruit is found to have very high nutritional value. They are considered to be as healthy as olive or almond oil, but they are on the expensive side when compared to other oils.
Common Beauty Product Ingredients
1. Smoothing of Skin
The benefits of cold pressed avocado oil depends a whole lot on the presence of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and Vitamin E. You can apply the oil directly to your skin or through consuming avocado oil rich foods. They are found to be effective in smoothening up the skin stature thereby maintaining a silky skin tone. It is the high level of Vitamin E that prevents the skin from inflammations and itchiness thereby helping skin to maintain its health and softness. The antioxidants present in the oil is also found to be capable of soothing even sunburned skin. Research works have proved that they are effective against skin related diseas
es like eczema.

2. As a Moisturizer
These days we have so many types of skin moisturizers to choose from, but many of them have chemical compounds in large number. When it comes to skin treatments, it is always safe to use natural products likewise natural moisturizers seem to show much better results with very little or no side effects. Avocado oil is capable of penetrating deep into the skin unlike other oils and this helps in achieving quicker results. This helps in making skin soft and hydrated. One of the amazing property of avocado oil is their humectancy, which prevents the skin from drying out that allows the skin to be on hydrated mode for longer period. Even though they works fine in almost all kind of skins, those with dry skin is likely to gain better results. Cold Pressed avocado oil with its pure nature is also capable of keeping the skin fresh and clean from contaminated particles.

3. For Acne Treatment
Acne is considered as one of the most disturbing skin conditions especially on teenagers, though not many treatment measures are found to be effective avocado oil seems to work well in preventing the effects of acne. Mainly there are 3 ways through which they can influence acne related issues.

Topical Treatment for Acne Problems
As Moisturizer
There massive penetrative power helps them to work the skin from deep thereby killing off dead cells. This helps in removing the oil content and unclogging the pores. Once the pores are removed, cold pressed avocado oil is found to limit the inflammations caused by sebaceous gland which produces sebum oil that causes itchy pimples. They are also capable of promoting skin tone and keep them fresh and clean.

4. Anti Aging Product
This is an amazing property of avocado that many of the people doesn’t know. But research works have proved that avocado oil has very high anti aging properties capable of providing protection against free radicals. They works penetrating deep into the skin cells and allowing them to function correctly even while they are getting attacked by free radicals.

Did you know? An Avocado has more Potassium than a Banana.
Mitochondria present in the cells produces most of the cells energy from nutrients. But at times they can lead to the formation of unstable chemicals which may affect the performance of both mitochondria and other cell components.

Avocado oil works its magic right here by reversing this process and thereby letting the mitochondria to produce energy even when they are being attacked by free radicals.

5. As a Sunscreen
When it comes to maintaining skin color nobody will be ready to take any chances. This is exactly why sunscreen lotions and creams get good business compared to other cosmetic oils. Some natural oils are found to act as effective sunscreens and avocado oil is one among them. They are much better compared to artificial products. It is assumed that natural oils are rich in sun protection factor that prevents the skin from darkening. They have a very high proportion of good mono-saturated fats and it is them that forms a protective layer all over the skin to protect them from getting exposed to sun.
Wikipedia – Skin whitening
Skintrium – The Most Common Ingredients in Skin Bleaching Products
Dermnet New Zealand – Bleaching creams
Skin Whitening Forever Secrets – Kojic Acid for Skin Whitening is it Safe?
GMA Network – FDA warns against mercury content of 15 skin-whitening products
Emax Health – Is There Mercury In Your Skin Lightening Cream?
Cosmetics Info – Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Truth in Aging – Arbutin
Happi – The Role of Antioxidants In Dermtological & Cosmetic Formulas
cosmetics Info – Preservative Information
Costmetics Info – Allantoin
MindBodyGreen – The Benefits Of Using Aloe Vera For Skin Care And More
Livestrong – Camphor & Its Use in Skin Care
AnnMarie Gianni – Why You Don’t Want Alcohols in Your Skin Care
Truth in Aging – Isopropyl Myristate
Castor Oil – Castor Oil for Cosmetics
The Jojoba Oil – The Role of Jojoba Oil in the Cosmetics Industry
Good Health Academy – 5 Proven Benefits of Cold Pressed Avocado Oil for Skin

Mental Health Monday ~ Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain and behavior disorder characterized by severe shifts in a person’s mood and energy, making it difficult for the person to function. More than 5.7 million American adults or 2.6 percent of the population age 18 or older in any given year have bipolar disorder. The condition typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can show up in children and in older adults. People often live with the disorder without having it properly diagnosed and treated.

Brain & Behavior

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme shifts in mood ranging from a manic to a depressive state. Bipolar disorder is also called bipolar disease or manic depression.

A person with mania will feel excited, impulsive, euphoric, and full of energy. He or she might engage in risky or unhealthy behavior. Drug use, spending sprees, and impulsive or unprotected sex are common during manic episodes.

The depressive episodes might bring on deep sadness and hopelessness. Depression causes a loss of energy and interest in activities the patient once enjoyed. This phase can include periods of too little or too much sleep. Also, suicidal thoughts or attempts may come with deep depression.

Sometimes the shifts in mood can be severe. At other times one might experience a normal mood between episodes of depression and mania. People with bipolar disorder often have trouble managing everyday life. They may perform poorly at school or work. They may also have trouble maintaining personal relationships.


What are the different types of Bipolar Disorder?

There are several types of bipolar disorder; all involve episodes of depression and mania to a degree. They include bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymic disorder, mixed bipolar, and rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I
A person affected by bipolar I disorder has had at least one manic episode in his or her life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated mood, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life.

Bipolar II
Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between high and low over time. However, in bipolar II disorder, the “up” moods never reach full-on mania.

Rapid Cycling
In rapid cycling, a person with bipolar disorder experiences four or more episodes of mania or depression in one year. About 10% to 20% of people with bipolar disorder have rapid cycling.

Mixed Bipolar
In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. But with mixed bipolar disorder, a person experiences both mania and depression simultaneously or in rapid sequence.

Cyclothymia (cyclothymic disorder) is a relatively mild mood disorder. People with cyclothymic disorder have milder symptoms than in full-blown bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Spectrum
Learn about the bipolar spectrum, what it means, and how bipolar is categorized.

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. For each type, the exact symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person. Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders also have additional specific features that can be added to the diagnosis based on your particular signs and symptoms.

Criteria for bipolar disorder

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists criteria for diagnosing bipolar and related disorders. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Diagnostic criteria for bipolar and related disorders are based on the specific type of disorder:

Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode. The manic episode may be preceded by or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. Mania symptoms cause significant impairment in your life and may require hospitalization or trigger a break from reality (psychosis).

Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one major depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days, but you’ve never had a manic episode. Major depressive episodes or the unpredictable changes in mood and behavior can cause distress or difficulty in areas of your life.

Cyclothymic disorder. You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of numerous periods of hypomania symptoms (less severe than a hypomanic episode) and periods of depressive symptoms (less severe than a major depressive episode). During that time, symptoms occur at least half the time and never go away for more than two months. Symptoms cause significant distress in important areas of your life.

Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke. Another type is called substance and medication-induced bipolar and related disorder.

Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.

Criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode

The DSM-5 has specific criteria for the diagnosis of manic and hypomanic episodes:

A manic episode is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least one week (or less than a week if hospitalization is necessary). The episode includes persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy.

A hypomanic episode is a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least four consecutive days.

For both a manic and a hypomanic episode, during the period of disturbed mood and increased energy, three or more of the following symptoms (four if the mood is only irritable) must be present and represent a noticeable change from your usual behavior:

Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
Decreased need for sleep (for example, you feel rested after only three hours of sleep)
Unusual talkativeness
Racing thoughts
Increased goal-directed activity (either socially, at work or school, or sexually) or agitation
Doing things that are unusual and that have a high potential for painful consequences — for example, unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions or foolish business investments

To be considered a manic episode:

The mood disturbance must be severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships; or to require hospitalization to prevent harm to yourself or others; or to trigger a break from reality (psychosis).

Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.
To be considered a hypomanic episode:

The episode is a distinct change in mood and functioning that is not characteristic of you when the symptoms are not present, and enough of a change that other people notice.

The episode isn’t severe enough to cause significant difficulty at work, at school or in social activities or relationships, and it doesn’t require hospitalization or trigger a break from reality.

Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use; a medication; or a medical condition.
Criteria for a major depressive episode

The DSM-5 also lists criteria for diagnosis of a major depressive episode:

Five or more of the symptoms below over a two-week period that represent a change from previous mood and functioning. At least one of the symptoms is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

Symptoms can be based on your own feelings or on the observations of someone else.

Signs and symptoms include:

Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)

Markedly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities most of the day, nearly every day
Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
Either insomnia or sleeping excessively nearly every day
Either restlessness or slowed behavior that can be observed by others
Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, such as believing things that are not true, nearly every day
Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide planning or attempt
To be considered a major depressive episode:

Symptoms must be severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships
Symptoms are not due to the direct effects of something else, such as alcohol or drug use, a medication or a medical condition
Symptoms are not caused by grieving, such as after the loss of a loved one
Other signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders may include additional features.

Anxious distress — having anxiety, such as feeling keyed up, tense or restless, having trouble concentrating because of worry, fearing something awful may happen, or feeling you may not be able to control yourself
Mixed features — meeting the criteria for a manic or hypomanic episode, but also having some or all symptoms of major depressive episode at the same time
Melancholic features — having a loss of pleasure in all or most activities and not feeling significantly better, even when something good happens
Atypical features — experiencing symptoms that are not typical of a major depressive episode, such as having a significantly improved mood when something good happens
Catatonia — not reacting to your environment, holding your body in an unusual position, not speaking, or mimicking another person’s speech or movement
Peripartum onset — bipolar disorder symptoms that occur during pregnancy or in the four weeks after delivery
Seasonal pattern — a lifetime pattern of manic, hypomanic or major depressive episodes that change with the seasons
Rapid cycling — having four or more mood swing episodes within a single year, with full or partial remission of symptoms in between manic, hypomanic or major depressive episodes
Psychosis — severe episode of either mania or depression (but not hypomania) that results in a detachment from reality and includes symptoms of false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
Symptoms in children and teens

The same DSM-5 criteria used to diagnose bipolar disorder in adults are used to diagnose children and teenagers. Children and teens may have distinct major depressive, manic or hypomanic episodes, between which they return to their usual behavior, but that’s not always the case. And moods can rapidly shift during acute episodes.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to identify in children and teens. It’s often hard to tell whether these are normal ups and downs, the results of stress or trauma, or signs of a mental health problem other than bipolar disorder. And children who have bipolar disorder are frequently also diagnosed with other mental health conditions.

The most prominent signs of bipolar disorder in children and teenagers may include severe mood swings that are different from their usual mood swings.

Mayo Clinic

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

The National Institutes of Mental Health3 says most experts agree that bipolar disorder has no single cause. It is more likely the result of many factors acting together.

Genetics – some small twin studies have indicated that there is a “substantial genetic contribution” to bipolar disorder risk. People with a blood relative who has bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing it themselves. Currently, scientists are trying to identify which genes are involved.

A study by an international team of scientists reported in the journal Neuron that rare copy number variants, abnormal sequences of DNA, seem to play a major role in the risk of early onset bipolar disorder.

Biological traits – experts say that patients with bipolar disorder often have physical changes that occurred in their brains. Nobody is sure why the changes can lead to the disorder.

Brain-chemical imbalance – neurotransmitter imbalances play a key role in many mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, as well as depression and other mental illnesses. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that facilitate the communication between neurons (brain cells). Examples of neurotransmitters are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Hormonal problems – hormonal imbalances are thought to possibly trigger or cause bipolar disorder.

Environmental factors – abuse, mental stress, a “significant loss”, or some other traumatic event may contribute towards bipolar disorder risk. Traumatic events may include the death of a loved one, losing your job, the birth of a child, or moving house. Experts say many things, if the variables are right, can trigger bipolar disorder in some people. They add that we all react differently to environmental factors. However, once bipolar disorder is triggered and starts to progress, it appears to take on a life and force of its own.

Medical News Today

How is Bipolar Disorder treated?

Treatment for bipolar disorder aims to reduce the severity and number of episodes of depression and mania to allow as normal a life as possible.

If a person isn’t treated, episodes of bipolar-related mania can last for between three and six months. Episodes of depression tend to last longer, for between six and 12 months.

However, with effective treatment, episodes usually improve within about three months.

Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments. These can include one or more of the following:
* medication to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania (less severe mania) and depression – these are known as mood stabilisers and are taken every day on a long-term basis
* medication to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur
* learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
* psychological treatment – such as talking therapies, which help you deal with depression and provide advice on how to improve relationships
* lifestyle advice – such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, and advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep

Most people with bipolar disorder can receive most of their treatment without having to stay in hospital.

However, hospital treatment may be needed if your symptoms are severe, or if you’re being treated under the Mental Health Act, as there’s a danger you may self-harm or hurt others.

In some circumstances, you could have treatment in a day hospital and return home at night.

Several medications are available to help stabilise mood swings. These are commonly referred to as mood stabilisers and include:
* lithium carbonate
* anticonvulsant medicines
* antipsychotic medicines

If you’re already taking medication for bipolar disorder and you develop depression, your GP will check you’re taking the correct dose. If you aren’t, they’ll change it.

Episodes of depression are treated slightly differently in bipolar disorder, as the use of antidepressants alone may lead to a hypomanic relapse.

Most guidelines suggest depression in bipolar disorder can be treated with just a mood stabiliser. However, antidepressants are commonly used alongside a mood stabiliser or antipsychotic.

If your GP or psychiatrist recommends you stop taking medication for bipolar disorder, the dose should be gradually reduced over at least four weeks, and up to three months if you are taking an antipsychotic or lithium.

If you have to stop taking lithium for any reason, see your GP about taking an antipsychotic or valproate instead.

Lithium carbonate
In the UK, lithium carbonate (often referred to as just lithium) is the medication most commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.

Lithium is a long-term method of treatment for episodes of mania, hypomania and depression. It’s usually prescribed for at least six months.

If you’re prescribed lithium, stick to the prescribed dose and don’t stop taking it suddenly (unless told to by your doctor).

For lithium to be effective, the dosage must be correct. If it’s incorrect, you may get side effects such as diarrhoea and vomiting. However, tell your doctor immediately if you have side effects while taking lithium.

You’ll need regular blood tests at least every three months while taking lithium. This is to make sure your lithium levels aren’t too high or too low.

Your kidney and thyroid function will also need to be checked every two to three months if the dose of lithium is being adjusted, and every 12 months in all other cases.

While you’re taking lithium, avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, unless they’re prescribed by your GP.

In the UK, lithium and the antipsychotic medicine aripiprazole are currently the only medications licensed for use in adolescents with bipolar disorder who are aged 13 or over.

However, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health states that unlicensed medicines may be prescribed for children if there are no suitable alternatives and their use can be justified by expert agreement.

Anticonvulsant medicines
Anticonvulsant medicines include:
* valproate
* carbamazepine
* lamotrigine

These medicines are sometimes used to treat episodes of mania. They’re also long-term mood stabilisers.

Anticonvulsant medicines are often used to treat epilepsy, but they’re also effective in treating bipolar disorder.

A single anticonvulsant medicine may be used, or they may be used in combination with lithium when the condition doesn’t respond to lithium on its own.

Valproate isn’t usually prescribed for women of childbearing age because there’s a risk of physical defects to babies such as spina bifida, heart abnormalities and cleft lip. There may also be an increased risk of developmental problems such as lower intellectual abilities, poor speaking and understanding, memory problems, autistic spectrum disorders and delayed walking and talking.

In women, your GP may decide to use valporate if there’s no alternative or if you’ve been assessed and it’s unlikely you’ll respond to other treatments, although they’ll need to check you’re using a reliable contraception and advise you on the risks of taking the medicine during pregnancy.

If you’re prescribed valproate, you’ll need to visit your GP to have a blood count when you begin the medication, and then again six months later.

Carbamazepine is usually only prescribed on the advice of an expert in bipolar disorder. To begin with, the dose will be low and then gradually increased.

Your progress will be carefully monitored if you’re taking other medication, including the contraceptive pill.

Blood tests to check your liver and kidney function will be carried out when you start taking carbamazepine, and again after six months.

You’ll also need to have a blood count at the start and after six months, and you may also have your weight and height monitored.

If you’re prescribed lamotrigine, you’ll usually be started on a low dose, which will be increased gradually.

See your GP immediately if you’re taking lamotrigine and develop a rash. You’ll need to have an annual health check, but other tests aren’t usually needed.

Women who are taking the contraceptive pill should talk to their GP about taking a different method of contraception.

Antipsychotic medicines
Antipsychotic medicines are sometimes prescribed to treat episodes of mania or hypomania. Antipsychotic medicines include:
* aripiprazole
* olanzapine
* quetiapine
* risperidone

They may also be used as a long-term mood stabiliser. Quetiapine may also be used for long-term bipolar depression.

Antipsychotic medicines can be particularly useful if symptoms are severe or behaviour is disturbed. As antipsychotics can cause side effects – such as blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation and weight gain – the initial dose will usually be low.

If you’re prescribed an antipsychotic medicine, you’ll need to have regular health checks at least every three months, but possibly more often, particularly if you have diabetes. If your symptoms don’t improve, you may be offered lithium and valproate as well.

Aripiprazole is also recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as an option for treating moderate to severe manic episodes in adolescents with bipolar disorder.

Rapid cycling
You may be prescribed a combination of lithium and valproate if you experience rapid cycling (where you quickly change from highs to lows without a “normal” period in between).

If this doesn’t help, you may be offered lithium on its own or a combination of lithium, valproate and lamotrigine.

However, you won’t usually be prescribed an antidepressant unless an expert in bipolar disorder has recommended it.

Learning to recognise triggers
If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.

A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.

This won’t prevent the episode occurring, but it will allow you to get help in time.

This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking. Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.

Psychological treatment
Some people find psychological treatment helpful when used alongside medication in between episodes of mania or depression. This may include:
* psychoeducation – to find out more about bipolar disorder
* cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – this is most useful when treating depression
* family therapy – a type of psychotherapy that focuses on family relationships (such as marriage) and encourages everyone within the family or relationship to work together to improve mental health

Psychological treatment usually consists of around 16 sessions. Each session lasts an hour and takes place over a period of six to nine months.


If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, or any other mental health issues, and needs help, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. On this website you will find comprehensive mental health information and resources to help you, a family member or loved one.

Should you wish to share your story, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the green email icon on the top right side of the blog.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor.

Common Beauty Product Ingredients ~ Part 3

common beauty product ingredients


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
There are numerous forms of silicones used in cosmetic products, particularly leave-on skincare products and all manner of hair-care products. Common forms of silicone are cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane; other forms include various types of dimethicone and phenyl trimethicone.

Claims that silicones in any form cause or worsen skin concerns have not been substantiated in published research, nor have reports that silicones are sensitizing to or “suffocate” skin. Almost all of these claims are either myths or based on anecdotal evidence, which isn’t the best way to determine the safety or efficacy of any cosmetic ingredient. How do we know that silicones don’t suffocate skin? Because of their molecular properties they are at the same time porous and resistant to air. Think of silicones in a skincare formula like the covering of a tea bag. When you steep the tea bag in water the tea and all of its antioxidant properties are released.

Silicones remain on the surface of your skin and the other ingredients it’s mixed with “steep” through. All ingredients must be suspended in some base formula; some of the ingredients remain on the surface, some are absorbed. The intent is for the “actives” to get through.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
What is Dimethicone?

Dimethicone is what the chemists like to call a silicon-based polymer—”polymer” meaning it’s a large molecule made up of several smaller units bonded together. Simply put, it’s a silicon oil, man-made in the laboratory and used in personal care products as an anti-foaming agent, skin protectant, and skin and hair conditioner.

Manufacturers like it because it makes products easily spreadable, so you get that feeling of the lotion or cream gliding over your skin. Dimethicone also helps form a protective barrier on the skin, and can fill in the fine lines and wrinkles on the face, which is why it’s often used in makeup primers.

Is Dimethicone Safe?

The FDA has approved the use of dimethicone as a skin protectant ingredient in over-the-counter products, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) panel has assessed it as safe to use in personal care products. Some studies have found it to soothe and help improve chronic hand dermatitis, and to help reduce inflammation and irritation. The Skin Deep Database also lists it has have a low hazard risk.

For me, though, this is not a good ingredient to be using in your daily skin care. Like petroleum products, silicone oils can actually make dry skin worse over time. Instead of sinking into your skin and nourishing it from the inside out, like healthy ingredients do, it forms a sort of plastic-like barrier on the outside of skin.

Why Dimethicone is Bad for Your Skin

That artificial coating on the outside of skin causes several issues:

It traps everything under it—including bacteria, sebum, and impurities—which could lead to increased breakouts and blackheads
The coating action actually prevents the skin from performing its normal activities—like sweating, temperature regulating, sloughing off dead skin cells, etc.
Prolonged exposure to dimethicone can actually increase skin irritation, due to the coating property and because dimethicone is listed as a possible skin and eye irritant
Those with sensitive or reactive skin are at risk of an allergic reaction to dimethicone
On top of all this, dimethicone is a non-biodegradable chemical—bad for the environment

I also believe that using these types of ingredients on your skin can actually exacerbate skin aging. Why?

You’re inhibiting skin’s natural processes
You’re creating a dependency on the coating product, disrupting the skin’s own hydrating processes, which in the end increases dryness, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable
The coating properties may increase breakouts, particularly if you’re susceptible to acne, which will lead to scars and older-looking skin
You’re doing nothing to boost the health and vitality of the skin, thus letting aging take its toll
Much better to use nourishing ingredients that help keep your skin hydrated naturally! (Speaking of, check out my new skin care line here!)

To avoid this ingredient, stay away from all dimethicone and similar ingredients like cyclomethicone, dimethiconol, and phenyl trimethicone.

Sunscreen Agents

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Based on their mechanism of action, topical sunscreens can be broadly classified into two groups, chemical absorbers and physical blockers. Chemical absorbers work by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation and can be further differentiated by the type of radiation they absorb, UVA or UVB, or both UVA and UVB. Physical blockers work by reflecting or scattering the UV radiation.

Sunscreen agents are used to prevent sunburn. Limiting your exposure to the sun and using sunscreen agents when in the sun may help prevent early wrinkling of the skin and skin cancer. There are two kinds of sunscreen agents: chemical and physical. Chemical sunscreen agents protect you from the sun by absorbing the ultraviolet (UV) and visible sun rays, while physical sunscreen agents reflect, scatter, absorb, or block these rays.

Sunscreen agents often contain more than one ingredient. For example, products may contain one ingredient that provides protection against the ultraviolet A (UVA) sun rays and another ingredient that protects you from the ultraviolet B (UVB) sun rays, which are more likely to cause sunburn than the UVA sun rays. Ideally, coverage should include protection against both UVA and UVB sun rays.

The sun protection factor (SPF) that you find on the label of these products tells you the minimum amount of UVB sunlight that is needed with that product to produce redness on sunscreen-protected skin as compared with unprotected skin. Sunscreen products with high SPFs will provide more protection against the sun.

Sunscreen products are available with and without your doctor’s prescription. If you are using this medicine without a prescription, carefully read and follow any precautions on the label.

This product is available in the following dosage forms:


Studies have shown that UVA impairs the antigen presenting cell (APC) activity of the epidermal cells and thereby causes immune suppression, thus contributing to the growth of skin cancer. Sunscreening agents have shown to provide significant protection against epidermal APC activity induced by high UVA dose.6 Mutation occurring in human melanocyte due to damage caused to DNA by UVA radiation is one of the proposed reasons.7 In summary, UVA radiation can cause nuclear and mitochondrial DNA damage, gene mutations and skin cancer, dysregulation of enzymatic chain reactions, immune suppression, lipid peroxidation (membrane damage), and photoallergic and phototoxic effects.

To find a list of what chemicals are used in sunscreen agents, please click HERE.

Avobenzone, Mexoryl, Oxybenzone, Benzophenone:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Sunscreens commonly include ingredients that act as “penetration enhancers” and help the product adhere to skin. As a result, many sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the body and can be measured in blood, breast milk and urine samples.

The most common sunscreens on the market contain chemical filters. These products typically include a combination of two to six of these active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected oxybenzone in more than 96 percent of the American population, based on a representative sampling of children and adults (Calafat 2008). Participants who reported using sunscreen have higher oxybenzone exposures (Zamoiski 2015). Oxybenzone can cause allergic skin reactions and may disrupt hormones (Rodriguez 2006, Krause 2012).

Titanium Dioxide:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined from the earth then further processed and purified for use in consumer products. Also known as titanium (IV) oxide or titania, it is the naturally occurring compound comprised of the metal titanium and oxygen. Titanium dioxide is safely used in many products from paint and food to drugs and cosmetics. It also plays a critical role in some sunscreen products as a way to protect skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Titanium dioxide is an important active ingredient used in some sunscreen products. Sunscreens are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. As such, they must be shown to be safe and effective and must comply with all other requirements listed in the FDA’s OTC sunscreen monograph. Individual sunscreen active ingredients are reviewed by FDA and only those that are on FDA’s monograph approved list may be used in sunscreen products marketed in the U.S.

Health Concerns:
Cancer (Inhalation Exposure Only)
The International Agency for Research on Cancer designates titanium dioxide as a carcinogen, largely due to studies in animals that have found increased lung cancers due to inhalation exposure. Evidence to date does not demonstrate increased cancers when exposures occur through the skin or swallowed. Human studies, mostly occupational studies TiO2 inhalation, have demonstrated mixed findings.

Nano Titanium Dioxide
The prevailing data indicate that nanoized TiO2 does not pose hazards that are unique from those of larger particle TiO2. One concern about nanomaterials is possible skin penetration. The literature investigating this suggests that because nanoized TiO2 forms clusters, it does not penetrate the skin, particularly to the deeper (dermal) layers of skin. In response to concerns that nano TiO2 might more readily penetrate damaged skin, researchers applied nano-based sunsreens to pigs ears that had been sunburnt. TiO2 did not reach the deeper levels of the skin in the sunburnt tissue. Nevertheless, toxicological testing of nanomaterials needs to take into account the effects on particle size on the ways that dose is estimated because smaller particles will have greater surface area by volume.

Inhalation of nano Titanium dioxide is of concern, given the cancer concerns for TiO2 of any size. One study assessed the likely inhalation exposure of TiO2 from cosmetic powders and found that most nano particles of TiO2 were inhaled either as clusters of nanoparticles (agglomerates) or attached to larger TiO2 particles. This meant the particles were inhaled into the upper parts of the lungs but did not reach the alveoli (the part of the lungs where oxygen is exchanged). Many toxicological studies of nanoized Titanium Dioxide inhalation assume alveoli exposure, so studies should explore effects on the upper parts of the lungs.

Paula’s Choice – Silicone
Dr Frank Lipman – The Truth Behind The Common Cosmetics Ingredient, Dimethicone
DermNet New Zealand – Classification of sunscreens
Mayo Clinic – Sunscreen Agent (Topical Application Route)
NCBI – Sunscreening Agents
Just About Skin – List of Sunscreen Agents (UV Filters) in the U.S.
EWG – The Trouble With Oxybenzone and Other Sunscreen Chemicals
Cosmetics Info – Titanium Dioxide
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – Titanium Dioxide

Mental Health Monday ~ Postnatal Depression/Postpartum Depression

postnatal depression
After Noo was born and ended up in the NICU for 4 weeks after birth with Hirschsprung’s Disease, I really struggled with Postnatal Depression. Support from family, friends and our medical doctor, I was able to work through those issues. I also struggled with PND after the birth’s of the younger three children, but, because I was already on antidepressants and The Hubby took 2 weeks off work after each birth, I didn’t feel as helpless as I had after the birth of my first child.
Postnatal Depression
Many people call postnatal, or postpartum depression, the Baby Blues, but it can be more than a surge a hormones that can have lasting and occasionally, devastating affects on the mother and her family.

What is Postnatal Depression?

Postnatal depression is a type of depression that many parents experience after having a baby.
It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners, although this is less common.

It’s important to seek help as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed, as your symptoms could last months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby and your family.

With the right support, which can include self-help strategies and therapy, most women make a full recovery.


Postnatal Depression

What are the signs and symptoms of Postnatal Depression?

The signs and symptoms of PND are different for every mother. Your friends or family may spot the signs before you do, but you may feel:
* sad or low
* unable to enjoy anything
* extremely tired, with no energy
* hopeless
* a sense of guilt
* lacking in appetite
* miserable
* tearful
* anxious

Most mothers have at least one of these feelings, some of the time. It’s normal to have good days and bad days. But if you’re feeling these symptoms on most days, or much of the time, and they don’t get better, you could have PND.


Postnatal Depression

What treatments are available for Postnatal Depression?

All women with PND need emotional support from family and friends. Some women find psychological treatments helpful, especially if they have experienced traumatic events in their childhood or more recently.

Antidepressant medication is a successful treatment for many women with PND. It’s worth remembering that women can’t ‘snap out of’ depression, any more than they could ‘snap out of’ diabetes, and there are many misconceptions about antidepressants, how they work and what harm they might cause.

Rather than ‘changing your personality’, this type of medication aims to correct chemical imbalances in the brain thought to be responsible for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Antidepressants are not addictive. Some can be safely taken while breastfeeding and pregnant.

You can seek objective help and advice from your doctor, a pharmacist or a drug information line. Our parenting helplines article has drug information contact numbers.


Living with a woman suffering PND is difficult. Partners too need a lot of support. They often feel confused, lost and helpless. It’s important that partners be included by the health professionals treating women with PND. Partners are much more supportive if they understand what the problem is and what they can do to help.

PND: where to go for help

If a woman doesn’t feel the way she expected to feel after having a baby, it’s very important that she talk to her GP or child and family health nurse.

It could simply be that she’s having trouble adjusting to the changes in lifestyle that occur when a baby is born and to the demands that a new baby makes. But if she’s suffering PND, it’s important that she receive appropriate help as soon as possible.


What causes Postnatal Depression?

The exact cause is not clear. It does not seem to be due to hormone changes after you give birth. Any mother could develop PND, but women are more prone to develop it just after childbirth. The main cause seems to be stressful events after childbirth such as feelings of isolation, worry, and responsibility about the new baby, etc.

You may also be at greater risk of developing postnatal depression if:

* You have had mental health problems in the past (including depression, previous postnatal depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia).
* You have had previous treatment by a psychiatrist or mental health team.
* You have had depression during your pregnancy.
* Your family tends to suffer from PND.
* You have had marital or relationship problems.
* You have no close friends or family around you.
* You have money troubles.
* You have had physical health problems during pregnancy or following the birth, or if the birth was very difficult.
* Your partner is depressed.
* You have had a major life event recently (such as somebody in your family dying, or moving house).
* You did not plan to become pregnant in the first place.
* You were trying for a long time before you became pregnant.

However, in many cases, there is no apparent cause.


Postnatal Depression

Can postnatal depression be prevented?

We don’t know enough about PND to prevent it in the first place. The following suggestions seem sensible and may help to keep you well.

* Don’t try to be ‘superwoman’. Try to do less and make sure that you don’t get over-tired.
* Do make friends with other women who are pregnant or have just had a baby. It may be more difficult to make new friends if you get PND.
* Do find someone you can talk to. If you don’t have a close friend you can turn to, try the National Childbirth Trust or The Pandas Foundation. Their local groups are very supportive both before and after childbirth.
* Do go to antenatal classes. If you have a partner, take them with you. If not take a friend or relative.
* Don’t stop antidepressant medication during pregnancy without advice. Around 7 in 10 women who stop antidepressants in pregnancy relapse if they stop the medication. You need to discuss the risks and benefits of continuing treatment in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
* Do keep in touch with your GP and your health visitor if you have had depression before. Any signs of depression in pregnancy or PND can be recognised early.
* Do make sure that you have treatment for depression in pregnancy. This may be a talking therapy or medication.
* Do accept offers of help from friends and family.


Postnatal Depression

Myths about postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is often misunderstood and there are many myths surrounding it. These include:
* Postnatal depression is less severe than other types of depression. In fact, it’s as serious as other types of depression.
* Postnatal depression is entirely caused by hormonal changes. It’s actually caused by many different factors.
* Postnatal depression will soon pass. Unlike the “baby blues”, postnatal depression can persist for months if left untreated. In a minority of cases, it can become a long-term problem.
* Postnatal depression only affects women. Research has actually found that up to 1 in 25 new fathers become depressed after having a baby.


If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, or any other mental health issues, and needs help, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. On this website you will find comprehensive mental health information and resources to help you, a family member or loved one.

Should you wish to share your story, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the green email icon on the top right side of the blog.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor.

Common Beauty Product Ingredients ~ Part 2

common beauty product ingredients
In this 5 part series, I’m sharing what the common beauty product ingredients are and what effect they have on our bodies.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Top 5 Benefits of Alpha-Hydroxy Acid:
1. Improvement in skin pigmentation.
2. Decreased appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Dry-skin exfoliation.
4. Increased sunscreen absorption.
5. Improved appearance of sun-damaged skin.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids Side Effects & Safety
Alpha hydroxy acids at a concentration of 10% or less as a lotion or cream are LIKELY SAFE for most people when applied to the skin appropriately and as directed. In some people, alpha hydroxy acids can make the skin extra sensitive to sunlight. Be sure to use a sunscreen while using alpha hydroxy acid products.

Alpha hydroxy acids can also cause mild skin irritation, redness, swelling, itching, and skin discoloration.

Facial peels, lotions, and creams with a concentration greater than 10% should only be used under the supervision of a dermatologist. Facial peels can cause moderate to severe skin irritation, redness, and burning. Facial peels left on the skin for periods longer than recommended can cause severe burns to the skin.

When taken by mouth, the alpha hydroxy acid called malic acid is POSSIBLY SAFE when used short-term. Some people can have side effects including diarrhea, nausea, and general stomach discomfort.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Alpha hydroxy creams at a concentration of 10% or less are LIKELY SAFE when applied to the skin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. But don’t take malic acid (the form of alpha hydroxy acids that is generally taken by mouth). Not enough is known about the safety of malic acid during pregnancy and breast-feeding.

Sensitive skin: Alpha hydroxy acids can worsen skin conditions by causing skin irritation and removal of the top layer of skin cells.

Because of concerns over the side effects of alpha hydroxy acids, the FDA in 1997 announced that alpha hydroxy acids are safe for use by consumers with the following guidelines:

* The AHA concentration is 10 percent or less
* The final product has a pH of 3.5 or higher
* The final product must have an effective sunscreen in the formulation or warn people to use sunscreen products

Salicylic Acid

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
There are many brands and forms of salicylic acid available. Salicylic acid is a keratolytic (peeling agent) and causes shedding of the outer layer of skin. Salicylic acid topical (for the skin) is used in the treatment of acne, dandruff, seborrhea, or psoriasis, and to remove corns, calluses, and warts.

Topical salicylic acid may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if either of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
* skin irritation
* stinging in the area where you applied topical salicylic acid

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms call your doctor immediately:
* confusion
* dizziness
* extreme tiredness or weakness
* headache
* fast breathing
* ringing or buzzing in the ears
* hearing loss
* nausea
* vomiting
* diarrhea

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using salicylic acid and call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical help:
* hives
* itching
* throat tightness
* difficulty breathing
* feeling faint
* swelling of the eyes, face, lips, or tongue

Topical salicylic acid may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Humectants (or moisturizers) are important cosmetic ingredients allowing to prevent loss of moisture thereby retaining the skin’s natural moisture. Some compounds also have the ability to actively attract moisture. Humectants are key ingredients in most skin care products but are also often used in hair care products to volumize the hair by attracting moisture which expands the hair shaft. There is a large variety of very different compounds providing moisturzing effects including proteins, acids, polysaccharides, and various small molecules.

3 Common Humectants are listed below.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Glycerine is a clear, viscous liquid, which dissolves completely in water. It occurs widely in nature, and was traditionally obtained from animal fat or tallow as a by-product of soap making. Finding a non-tallow source of glycerine has been a challenge. The glycerine found in our products is made with entirely vegetable-based.

When a caustic, or highly alkaline, material is added to animal fats or vegetable oils (such as olive, coconut or palm) glycerine is formed along with a fatty fraction, which is actually soap.

Glycerine is a traditional cosmetic material and has been used for many years because it is so safe and effective. It is also used in foods and pharmaceuticals.

Glycerine is a humectant, absorbing water-based materials into its structure. In a cosmetic product, glycerine will carry effective ingredients, such as aloe gel or fruit juices, into the skin where their beneficial effects can be utilized. It is very mild and will not irritate in any way.

Hyaluronic Acid:

common beauty product ingredients
Trendy ingredients in the world of skincare come and go and many should have never showed up in the first place. Hyaluronic acid is one of those ingredients that is neither trendy nor undeserved. It is one whose fame is well-earned. It offers multiple benefits for any skin type and comes packed with anti-aging, youth-enhancing properties.

So just how does this superstar ingredient do its work to deliver supple, healthy-looking skin? The answer is really remarkable.

How Does Hyaluronic Acid Benefit Skin?

Hyaluronic acid is a natural element of skin, present throughout the human body. The magic of this ingredient lies in its ability to retain moisture, a lot of moisture—in fact, one gram (.03 ounces) of hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to six liters (1 quart) of water![1] Now that really is mind-blowing.

This attribute of hyaluronic acid is stunningly important with regard to skin aging because one of the qualities of youthful skin is its ability to hold water and retain a balanced amount of moisture. We can’t stress enough how important this is because as we age, our skin doesn’t maintain moisture as well as it once did, resulting in a loss of firmness, pliancy, and suppleness.

Hyaluronic acid can help enhance moisture content beyond compare and at the same time revitalize skin’s outer layer to look and feel softer, smoother, and especially appear plumper!

But, hyaluronic acid is not a one note song, there are many additional benefits beyond just a more youthful hydrated appearance (though from our perspective, that would be plenty but we love the fact there’s even more benefits).

Everything from unprotected sun exposure (daily SPF is a must!) to harsh skincare ingredients and environmental assault can weaken the surface of skin. Hyaluronic acid’s replenishing properties go a long way toward minimizing those issues.


common beauty product ingredients
Lecithin, originally isolated by Theodore Nicolas Gobley from egg yolk, is a term now frequently used to describe any of a number of fatty substances with health benefits that occur naturally in a number of plants and animals.

Hydrogenated Lecithin

* An emulsifying agent that penetrates the skin


Lecithin is a natural emulsifying agent and one of the most important components of cells. It is a naturally occuring mixture of the diglycerides of stearic, palmitic and oleic acids, linked to the choline ester of phosphoric acid and plays an important role in a cell’s metabolism, especially regarding membrane penetration and has been used as a surfactant in cosmetics. Lecithin’s use in cosmetics was previously limited because of its oxidation and instability against heat, however, Hydrogenated Lecithin (Lecithin with the addition of hydrogen) has all the good qualities of natural lecithin, yet its stability is greatly improved. Lecithin improves the homeostatasis of the skin (

Safety Measures/Side Effects:

Although Hydrogenated Lecithin has been given the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) rating by the FDA, there are some concerns over its carcinogenic properties and its ability to penetrate the skin. Although this ability allows it to be an effective product ingredient, it needs to be used with caution concerning the other ingredients in the product. It has the ability to deposit harmful chemicals below the skin if used in high concentrations. Therefore, Hydrogenated Lecithin is considered safe in concentrations up to 15% (National Institutes of Health).

Recommended Products w/ Hydrogenated Lecithin:

Kronos Phyx Overnight Repair Masque, Shiseido Bio Performance Super Restoring Cream, Artistry Time Defiance Day Protect Crème with SPF 15, Vinita Rejuvenating Elixir with Bhasma of Gold, Diamond and Pearl, Azures Hydropeptide Cellular Transformation Growth Serum

Overstock – Top 5 Benefits of Alpha-Hydroxy Acid
WebMD – Alpha Hydroxy Acids Side Effects & Safety
verywell – FDA Guidelines on Alpha Hydroxy Acids – What is salicylic acid topical?
MedlinePlus – Precautions
Making Cosmetics – Humectants
Lush USA – Glycerine
Paula’s Choice – Hyaluronic Acid
Herb Wisdom – Lecithin
Truth in Aging – Hydrogenated Lecithin

Mental Health Monday ~ Insomnia Disorder

insomnia disorder
Both Pixie and I suffer from Insomnia Disorder. Pixie was diagnosed with chronic insomnia when she was 2 years old. She has never slept more than 4 hours at a stretch, unmedicated, and some days she goes without more than 2 hours sleep and appears fine. My insomnia is acute and I go through phases when I can’t sleep. If I am going through a particularly bad patch, I’ll take a sedative to help me fall asleep, however, I don’t like the way it makes me feel, so I don’t use these regularly.
Insomnia Disorder

What is Insomnia Disorder?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that is characterized by difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. People with insomnia have one or more of the following symptoms:
* Difficulty falling asleep
* Waking up often during the night and having trouble going back to sleep
* Waking up too early in the morning
* Feeling tired upon waking
* Types of Insomnia

There are two types of insomnia: primary insomnia and secondary insomnia.

Primary insomnia: Primary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems that are not directly associated with any other health condition or problem.
Secondary insomnia: Secondary insomnia means that a person is having sleep problems because of something else, such as a health condition (like asthma, depression, arthritis, cancer, or heartburn); pain; medication they are taking; or a substance they are using (like alcohol).


What causes Insomnia Disorder?

Insomnia is most often associated with another problem. Insomnia that is not caused or worsened by other factors is rare. These factors may include:


This varies from relatively minor things like work or personal stress, to more severe changes such as death, divorce or job loss.

Other sleep disorders

Some sleep disorders can cause insomnia or make it worse. For instance, people with restless legs syndrome may have a hard time falling asleep.

Medical conditions

Many physical illnesses can cause insomnia. People who experience pain, discomfort or limited mobility from medical problems may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia due to medical conditions is most common in older adults because people tend to have more chronic health problems as they age. Conditions such as pregnancy, particularly the third trimester, and menopause can cause sleep problems. The severity and duration of insomnia often varies with the related health condition.

Mental disorders

The relationship between sleep and mental health is complex. Insomnia is sometimes caused by a mental health disorder. Often a mental health disorder will be found after a complaint of insomnia. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States and a frequent cause of insomnia. People with depression often have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Difficulty falling asleep is also common in people with anxiety disorders. Other mood disorders such as bipolar disorder may also cause sleep problems.

Medication or substance use or abuse

Insomnia can be an unwanted side effect of many prescription or over-the-counter medications. Common cold and allergy medicines contain pseudoephedrine and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Antidepressants and medications to treat ADHD, high blood pressure or Parkinson’s disease can also cause insomnia.

Drinking alcohol before bedtime can cause frequent awakenings during the night. Insomnia also can occur if you suddenly stop using a sleeping pill.

Caffeine and other stimulants can prevent you from falling asleep. Stimulants also cause frequent awakenings during the night.

Some people are sensitive to certain foods and may be allergic to them. This can result in insomnia and disrupted sleep.

Environmental factors

The environment where you sleep can cause insomnia. Disruptive factors such as noise, light or extreme temperatures can interfere with sleep. Sleeping with a bed partner who snores also can cause sleep disruption. Extended exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals may prevent you from being able to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Habits or lifestyles

Irregular sleep schedules (see shift work disorder) can cause insomnia in workers who try to sleep during the day.


Insomnia Disorder

What are the Risk Factors?

Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night. But your risk of insomnia is greater if:

You’re a woman. Women are much more likely to experience insomnia. Hormonal shifts during the menstrual cycle and in menopause may play a role. During menopause, night sweats and hot flashes often disturb sleep. Insomnia is also common with pregnancy.

You’re older than age 60. Because of changes in sleep patterns and health, insomnia increases with age.

You have a mental health disorder. Many disorders — including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder — disrupt sleep. Early-morning awakening is a classic symptom of depression.

You’re under a lot of stress. Stressful events can cause temporary insomnia. And major or long-lasting stress, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce, can lead to chronic insomnia. Being poor or unemployed also increases the risk.

You work night or changing shifts. Working at night or frequently changing shifts increases your risk of insomnia.

You travel long distances. Jet lag from traveling across multiple time zones can cause insomnia.


Insomnia Disorder

How is Insomnia Disorder diagnosed?

A sleep specialist usually will begin a diagnostic session by asking a battery of questions about your medical history and sleep patterns. A physical exam may be conducted to look for conditions that may be causing insomnia. Similarly, physicians may screen for psychiatric disorders and drug and alcohol use.


If you’ve tried the insomnia self-help strategies and are still having trouble getting the sleep you need, a doctor or sleep disorder specialist may be able to help. Seek professional help for insomnia if:

* Your insomnia doesn’t respond to self-help
* Your insomnia is causing major problems at home, work, or school
* You’re experiencing scary symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath
* Your insomnia occurs almost every night and is getting worse


How is Insomnia Disorder treated?

Some habits are so ingrained that you may overlook them as a possible contributor to your insomnia. Maybe your Starbucks habit affects your sleep more than you realize. Or maybe you’ve never made the connection between your late-night TV viewing or Internet surfing and your sleep difficulties. Keeping a sleep diary is a helpful way to pinpoint habits and behaviors contributing to your insomnia.

Adopting new habits to help you sleep

* Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.

* Avoid naps. Napping during the day can make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel like you have to take a nap, limit it to 30 minutes before 3 p.m.

* Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least eight hours before bed. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it interferes with the quality of your sleep, and nicotine is a stimulant.

* Avoid late meals. Try to avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Fatty foods can take a lot of work for your stomach to digest and spicy or acidic foods can cause heartburn.

* Get regular exercise. Regular exercise can improve the symptoms of insomnia, but it’s not a quick fix. It takes several months to feel the full effects. Aim for 30 minutes or more of activity on most days—but not too close to bedtime.

Develop a better bedtime routine

It’s not just what you do during the day that affects the quality of your sleep, but also those things you do to prepare your mind and body for sleep.

* Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool. Noise, light, and heat can interfere with sleep. Try using a sound machine or earplugs to hide outside noise, an open window or fan to keep the room cool, and blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light.

* Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situations before bedtime. This includes vigorous exercise, big discussions or arguments, or catching up on work. Instead, focus on quiet, soothing activities, such as reading, knitting, or listening to soft music, while keeping lights low.

* Turn off screens one hour before bedtime. The light emitted from TV, tablets, smartphones, and computers suppresses your body’s production of melatonin and can severely disrupt your sleep. Instead of emailing, texting, watching TV, or playing video games, try listening to a book on tape, a podcast, or reading by a soft light.


If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, or any other mental health issues, and needs help, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. On this website you will find comprehensive mental health information and resources to help you, a family member or loved one.

Should you wish to share your story, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the green email icon on the top right side of the blog.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor.

Common Beauty Product Ingredients ~ Part 1

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
In this 5 part series, I’ll be sharing what the common beauty product ingredients are and what effect they have on our bodies.

Vitamin A:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in our liver. It contributes to normal growth and development while keeping our eyes, skin and immune system healthy. Vitamin A plays a key role in maintaining health.
Retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) is the normal form used for application on the skin and has great anti-ageing, superb anti-oxidant and moisturizing capabilities.

It accelerates cell renewal and stimulates the fibroblast and collagen in the skin, thereby reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Due to its anti-oxidant properties, it is also a great anti-aging ingredient, and helps promote a softer smoother skin.

The topical application of vitamin A on the skin, when formulated into creams and lotions has a host of positive effects on the skin, which includes:
* Increases the activity of enzymes found in the skin.
* Stimulates the mitotic activity in the epidermis and thereby helps with the process of cell division.
* Stimulates cell proliferation in the epidermis and thereby stimulates growth.
* Helps to thicken the epidermis, which becomes thinner in aging.
* Improves the elasticity of the skin.
* Helps to normalize photo (sun) damaged skin.
* Helps in wound healing.
* Stimulates collagen formation in the skin.
* Reduces UV-induced wrinkle formation.
* Regulates keratin formation.
* It is an anti oxidant.

The inclusion of vitamin A in cosmetics have been proven and internationally accepted as being safe – but it must be noted that this refers to Retinol and Retinyl palmitate.

The skin also readily absorbs topically applied vitamin A and this has been proven in various experiments.

Exposure to sunlight – which includes both UVA and UVB radiation, reduce the amount of vitamin A not only in the skin, but also the blood.

Vitamin C:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Vitamin C for Anti-Aging & Brighter, Healthier Skin
In any form (and we’ll get to which types work best), vitamin C provides potent antioxidant protection, shielding skin from damaging free radicals—those pesky rogue molecules that promote premature aging. The most abundant forms of free-radical damage are environmental factors we can’t escape—think sun damage, pollution and oxygen—that assault skin on a daily basis, but that’s where topical vitamin C can help (Dermatological Surgery, 2008 & Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012)!

When incorporated into your daily skincare lineup, well-formulated products containing vitamin C can provide a range of benefits that keep your skin younger-looking, longer! See what C can do:
* Reduce the appearance of brown spots and other types of sun damage
* Helps boost healthy collagen production (hello, firmer skin!)
* Reduce inflammation and irritation, both of which cause a cascade of damage
* Fade post-breakout red marks by improving skin’s natural healing response
* Increase the effectiveness of your sunscreens and boosts your skins defense against UV exposure.

Vitamin E:

Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Vitamin E (d-α-tocopherol) is equipped with a terpene side chain that is bound to a chromane ring and belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins just as the vitamins A, D and K. As a natural antioxidant, vitamin E occurs in all unsaturated vegetable oils. Wheat germ oil is on top position in this regard. Outstanding physiological function of this vitamin is the protection of oxygen sensitive cellular components such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In the cosmetic field, the free vitamin and its derivatives are used. The derivatives are the esters of organic acids. As the esterification occurs on the phenolic hydroxyl group, they lack the antioxidative effects. Hence they do not have antioxidative functions in the products but are stable active agents that are hydrolyzed by esterases after having passed the skin barrier. The ester hydrolysis activates the antioxidative features. The following vitamin E derivatives are of significance:
* Tocopheryl Acetate is the ester of acetic acid.
* Tocopheryl Palmitate is the ester of palmitic acid.
* Tocopheryl Linoleate (ester of linoleic acid) shows a combination of antioxidative effects with the effects of an essential omega-6 acid.
* Tocopheryl Nicotinate (ester with nicotinic acid) is a combination of vitamin E with vitamin B3. The ester supports the microcirculation in the skin without the features that are typical for short-chained nicotinic acid esters such as generating heat or erythema.

A whole series of vitamin E features are used in the cosmetic field:
* Antioxidative effects and radical scavenger features – in this context it is important to select the appropriate concentration as high concentrations will trigger the pro-oxidative features of vitamin E.
* Protection of vitamin A and derivatives in combination with vitamin C.
* The radical scavenger features also naturally involve a reduction of the stress caused by UV radiation. The same applies to inflammatory processes.
* Stimulation of cell formation (epithelisation)
* The moisture retention capacity of the skin is improved.


Common Beauty Product Ingredients
Panthenol is a common ingredient used in skin care products, including cosmetics, hair sprays, shampoos and conditioners. This natural ingredient can be found in plants and is a form of vitamin B5, also referred to as pantothenic acid.

Panthenol is derived from vitamin B-5 and is what’s called a chiral molecule. This means that the molecular structure contains two different sides that are mirror images of each other instead of exact duplicates (kind of like your left and right hands). Panthenol’s two sides have different chemical and biological properties that are either magnified or minimized depending on the type of panthenol-containing product chemists plan to make.

Panthenol’s Properties: Panthenol is mostly used as a humectant, a substance that helps retain moisture, and is primarily used in skin and hair products. Panthenol’s molecular structure allows it to attract moisture from the atmosphere and bind to water molecules. The result? Panthenol helps moisturize hair and skin and stops both from getting dehydrated. In addition, because panthenol also spreads evenly on the surface of the hair strand, it forms a smooth film over hair cuticles that enhances light reflection and makes tresses look shinier and glossier. What’s more, the smooth film also gives hair strands “slip” to discourage nasty knots or tangles. (One big drawback, though, is ingredients that penetrate the hair shaft can sometimes make strands swell and frizz.)

Panthenol Rumors: You may have heard that panthenol creates a waxy buildup on hair that requires multiple washes to dislodge. But no evidence supports this hearsay. Panthenol doesn’t have the same structure as waxy materials and doesn’t have a structure that would make it bind to hair strands. Also, it’s extremely water and alcohol soluble, which makes it super easy to wash out.

Beauty – The Most Common Ingredients Found In Makeup, Cosmetics, Skincare, Shampoos, Hair Conditioners And Other Beauty Products: Dictionary
Seacret – Vitamin A – Retinyl Palmitate/ Retinol
Paula’s Choice – How Does Vitamin C Help Skin?
Pubmed – Topical vitamin C: a useful agent for treating photoaging and other dermatologic conditions.
Pubmed – The role of antioxidants in photoprotection: a critical review.
PMC -Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Real Health – Panthenol: The Truth About This Common Hair and Skin Care Ingredient

Mental Health Monday ~ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

obsessive compulsive disorder
I often hear people comment that they are “so OCD” and I often wonder if they know what they are actually speaking about. I suffer from a mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it’s no less difficult to deal with than those who have it more severe. OCD is not something to joke about. Its a real disorder that affects a person’s standard of living and when it’s an extreme case, it can even be life threatening.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Facts

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
* OCD can begin early, starting between ages seven and 12. In fact, up to half of all adults with OCD say their symptoms started when they were children

* OCD is more common in boys than girls in childhood, but into adulthood, women are affected at a slightly higher rate than men

* OCD symptoms can change over time. For example, when OCD first appears your child might begin with excessive washing compulsions, but over time this can shift to excessive checking compulsions while compulsive washing disappears

* OCD occurs in 2-3% of children and adults during their lifetime
Seeking reassurance from others that things will be okay or a ritual was completed “correctly” is common in children and teens with OCD. This can include asking parents and siblings to do rituals as well


What are the signs and symptoms?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life and relationships. For example, you may check the stove 20 times to make sure it’s really turned off, or wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw.

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have both obsessions and compulsions, but some people experience just one or the other.

Obsessive thoughts

Common obsessive thoughts in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) include:

Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others
Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas
Fear of losing or not having things you might need
Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”
Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

Compulsive behaviors

Common compulsive behaviors in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) include:

Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches
Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
Ordering or arranging things “just so”
Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers


What’s the difference between Obsessions and Compulsions?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” In the context of OCD, obsessions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values. This last part is extremely important to keep in mind as it, in part, determines whether someone has OCD — a psychological disorder — rather than an obsessive personality trait.

Compulsions are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder. These are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also include avoiding situations that trigger obsessions. Compulsions are time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values.


Who is at risk of suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Factors that may increase the risk of developing or triggering obsessive-compulsive disorder include:

Family history. Having parents or other family members with the disorder can increase your risk of developing OCD.

Stressful life events. If you’ve experienced traumatic or stressful events or you tend to react strongly to stress, your risk may increase. This reaction may, for some reason, trigger the intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress characteristic of OCD.


What treatments are available?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD will not go away by itself, so it is important to seek treatment. The most effective approach to treating OCD combines medications with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy : The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach people with OCD to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without performing the ritual behaviors (called exposure therapy or exposure and response prevention therapy). Therapy also focuses on reducing the exaggerated or catastrophic thinking that often occurs in people with OCD.

Medication therapy : Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) like Luvox, Prozac, and Zoloft, may be helpful in treating OCD. Older drugs — tricyclic antidepressants like Anafranil — might also be used. Some atypical antipsychotics, such as Risperdal or Abilify, also have been shown to have value for OCD either when used alone or in combination with an SSRI.

In severe cases of OCD and in people who do not respond to medical and behavioral therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or psychosurgery may be used to treat the disorder. During ECT, a small current is passed through electrodes placed on the scalp while the patient is asleep under general anesthesia This causes a brief seizure. Repeated ECT treatments have been found to help improve OCD symptoms in some cases. A newer, surgical form of brain stimulation called deep brain stimulation (DBS) involves implanting small electrodes into brain areas that are a part of the brain circuitry associated with OCD symptoms.


What are the Common Situations or Affected Areas?

* School or athletic performance
* Grades
* Recreational attendance and participation
* Punctuality
* Organization and focus
* Friendships
* Meal times
* Bedtime
* Personal hygiene


If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, or any other mental health issues, and needs help, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. On this website you will find comprehensive mental health information and resources to help you, a family member or loved one.

Should you wish to share your story, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the green email icon on the top right side of the blog.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor.

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl Peroxide
As a teen I never battled with Acne, however as a mom to a teen who is going through the Acne stage, I have bought him a Benzoyl Peroxide gel to wash his face. It’s effective (when he remembers to use it) and has worked well for him. During my research on Parabens and other chemicals used in body and beauty products, I looked up Benzoyl peroxide to see what I’m exposing my child to.

What is Benzoyl Peroxide?

Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide gel is a keratolytic agent with antibacterial actions. The effectiveness of Benzoyl Peroxide appears to be due to its antibacterial, peeling (keratolytic), and drying actions.

How to use Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide
Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about Benzoyl Peroxide and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using it.

It is recommended that you use Benzoyl Peroxide once or twice each day. When you first start using it, you will be recommended to use a 4% or 5% strength preparation. This will help keep any skin irritation to a minimum. If you find it does irritate then try the 2.5% strength once the irritation has settled. These strength preparations often work as well as the higher 10% strength preparations and cause less skin irritation. If necessary, you can increase the strength of the preparation as you go on, but do this gradually. A general point is that you should apply Benzoyl Peroxide to all of the area where your spots occur and not just to each spot.

Creams and gels should be applied about 15 minutes or so after washing the area with soap and water and gently drying with a towel. At first you may want to wash the preparation off after a few hours, but gradually try to increase the length of time you leave it on the skin. When your skin is used to the preparation, aim to put it on twice a day and leave it on.

If you are using a ‘wash’, wet your skin and then pour some of the liquid wash on to your hands and use it to wash the affected areas. Leave it on for a minute or so before you rinse it off. Then dry the area gently with a towel.

As you apply Benzoyl Peroxide, try to avoid getting it on the sensitive areas of your skin in or around your nostrils, your eyes and your mouth. Do not apply it to any areas of skin which are irritated or sore.

General information

Benzoyl Peroxide
* If you have any questions about Benzoyl Peroxide gel, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
* Benzoyl Peroxide gel is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
* If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
* Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Benzoyl Peroxide gel or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Benzoyl Peroxide gel. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Benzoyl Peroxide gel. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Benzoyl Peroxide gel.

Side Effects

Skin reactions such as peeling, itching, irritation, and reddened skin may occur, especially at the start of treatment. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. You may need to apply smaller amounts of the drug or use it less often. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

*Disclaimer: I AM NOT a medical doctor. Please speak to your medical practitioner before using any medicinal products.*

Mental Health Monday ~ Anxiety Disorders

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
Being easily fatigued
Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
Muscle tension
Difficulty controlling the worry
Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)

Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate; sweating; trembling or shaking; sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking; and feeling of impending doom.

Panic disorder symptoms include:

Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past

Social Anxiety Disorder

People with social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”) have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.

Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:

Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
Being very afraid that other people will judge them
Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
Staying away from places where there are other people
Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around



How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:

Medication: Drugs used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include many antidepressants, certain anticonvulsant medicines and low-dose antipsychotics, and other anxiety-reducing drugs.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This is a particular type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
Dietary and lifestyle changes
Relaxation therapy



The Do’s and Don’ts of Anxiety

With that in mind, it’s time to go over some tips for how to help a friend with anxiety. Note that every person is different, and each person has different needs. There are some people that want to talk about their anxieties, for example, and there are others that prefer never to mention it. So even with these do’s and don’ts, it’s hard to know exactly what you should do.

Let’s begin:

DO let this person know that they can talk to you about it openly, without any fear of judgment. It’s very important that they know that you’re there to lend them an ear, and that you aren’t going to judge them or change the way you think/feel about them based on anything they say – even if they say the same fear over and over and over and over again (because for many, the fears and thoughts are nearly exactly the same each time).

DON’T get frustrated. Remember, anxiety disorders are not just thought related – they’re chemical as well. Those with anxiety really do know that their fears shouldn’t bother them, but as hard as they try they can’t stop, and expecting them to use logic to control their anxiety is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

DO spend time with them as much as possible. You being around them is a bigger help than you realize. In fact, they may not realize it either. But time spend with others is time that makes it harder to think about their anxieties, and that time really does make a difference.

DON’T bring up the anxiety often. This is a tricky one – while you want to be there to talk about it, there are some anxieties, like panic attacks, that can be triggered by thinking about it. In other words, if you ask someone “how are your panic attacks?” you may accidentally be causing them to think about their panic attacks when they hadn’t been previously, which could actually trigger an attack. Let them bring it up to you.

DO tell them to call you anytime, anywhere. Talking on the phone and knowing someone is there to pick up can actually be incredibly comforting to someone that is trying to control their anxiety. Anxiety can make people feel lost and alone. Knowing that someone is a phone call away reduces that feeling.

DON’T let anxiety affect you as well. Make sure that you are working on your own stress and anxiety, because the way you feel can have an effect on the way others feel, especially as you spend more and more time again. If you’re dealing with anxiety yourself, the other person is going to deal with more anxiety as well. Take my anxiety test to find out more.

DO be forgiving. We keep emphasizing that anxiety can change neurochemistry for a reason. Anxiety can make people more quick to irritation. It’s not in the control of the person with anxiety. Ideally, try your best to be forgiving. Let them know that you understand, and that even if it’s not fair you’re not going to quit the friendship because of it.

DON’T expect massive, immediate turnarounds. Unfortunately, controlling anxiety does take time. Those that try to cure it too fast often find they have setbacks that are sometimes worse than the initial anxiety. It’s very important that you understand that curing anxiety can take a lot of time, and even on the way there, there are going to be issues that come up and fears that they’re going to have. It’s natural.

DO exciting activities. Try to be outdoors. Find things to do that don’t involve alcohol (since alcohol can cause setbacks in anxiety treatments). Stay active. Exercise itself is a known remedy for anxiety, and creating new memories can help people cope with some of the stresses of life. So try your best to get out and do things together.

DON’T guilt trip. It can be hard, but you have to remember that those with anxiety often struggle to get out of their own head. They want to relate to you, talk to you, and be friendly, but they have an incredibly hard time dealing with the thoughts they can’t control. They take over their mind and their memories. If you guilt trip to try to get more attention or get them out of their bubble, they may withdraw further.

DO be proud of them when they improve. They’ll be able to see it on your face. Remember that anxiety changes thought patterns and can make people think and feel much more negative, which unfortunately means that many of them are going to interpret your facial expressions negatively, assuming you’re annoyed with them or ashamed of them. Thus making sure to highlight your positive emotions and your pride – and actually being happy when you see recovery while avoiding feeling frustrated during setbacks – can be very valuable.

DON’T give up hope. Anxiety is a treatable condition. The person in your life isn’t going to always feel or believe it’s treatable, and there are going to be times when even you think it might keep going forever, but the reality is that anxiety is perhaps one of the most treatable conditions available today.

DO be yourself. You don’t need to change who you are, and the person with anxiety doesn’t want you to change either. You are close for a reason. Be yourself. The fact that you’re looking for what you can do to help this person with anxiety proves that you’re a good influence in their life. Be positive, have fun, and be the person that your friends or family member loves.

Dealing with anxiety is an uphill battle, and it does take a toll on others around them. Anxiety can strain relationships, and may even cause significant stress on a loved one. Some people find that they actually start developing anxieties of their own.

But a supportive friend is an extremely effective way to treat your own anxiety. Learn from the above tips to better understand how to help your friend, family member, boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner, and you’ll give them the best opportunity to overcome their anxiety and grow closer to you as a result.


If you, or someone you know, suffers from depression, or any other mental health issues, and needs help, please contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. SADAG is Africa’s largest mental health support and advocacy group. On this website you will find comprehensive mental health information and resources to help you, a family member or loved one.

Should you wish to share your story, please feel free to contact me by clicking on the green email icon on the top right side of the blog.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor.