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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sorbitol Shows Its True Colors as a Healthful Natural Moisturizer

Sorbitol is a wholesome green skincare ingredient with an image problem. Given its familiar reputation as low-calorie sugar substitute, you might be surprised to see sorbitol turning up on the labels of premium natural skincare products. But don’t be misled by names and superficial impressions. A closer look at both its origins and underlying chemistry, as well as the methods used to extract it for green product developers, reveals this up-and-coming skincare ingredient’s true nature.

A Clean Bill of Health
Known in scientific circles as a sugar alcohol, sorbitol falls into a category that sounds like the height of dietary indulgence. In fact, sugar alcohols like sorbitol are neither sugars nor alcohols, but polyols, a special class of carbohydrates found in plants.

Unlike refined sugar or synthetic sweeteners, authentically green sorbitol is derived from sugarcane, sugar beets, fruits, berries, or other plants and purified without industrial-strength solvents. Simple eco-friendly processing methods, such as boiling, and meticulous attention to exacting green manufacturing standards ensure the resulting product is free of naturally occurring and synthetic contaminants and residues.

Pure Green Goodness for Ailing Complexions
In addition to meeting the highest standards of purity and safety, green sorbitol has what it takes to revitalize dry, dull, sun-damaged complexions:

  • Superior water-binding capacity This powerful natural humectant attracts moisture from the air, binds it to skin cells, and slows its evaporation. Sorbitol not only keeps your complexion looking firm, fresh, and vibrant by plumping up surface cells, but also promotes healthy cell renewal by ensuring the underlying dermis remains fully hydrated.
  • Low-weight organic molecules Sorbitol’s moisture-binding molecules are quickly and easily absorbed into the skin’s deeper layers. As result of chemical similarities between plant-derived sugar alcohols and substances produced by our own bodies, sorbitol is less likely to prove irritating or damaging to sensitive complexions.
  • Non-oily lubrication This beautifully balanced emollient leaves skin silky smooth without depositing a greasy film or clogging pores.

A Sweet Alternative to Harsh Synthetics
 Natural sorbitol is a safe, effective alternative to propylene/ethylene glycol, silicone-based ingredients, PEG compounds, and other widely used synthetic humectants and emollients. But make sure your sorbitol-enhanced beauty products live up to their claims. A thorough background check of popular “natural” skincare lines too often reveals evidence of chemical irritants, manufacturing residues, toxic contaminants, and other potentially harmful substances.

Get an Expert Opinion on the Quality of Your Skin Care
Always choose brands with a proven commitment to product quality, sustainable manufacturing practices, and consumer safety and well-being. Certification by a respected green standards organization, such as the Natural Product Association, officially guarantees that the skincare line you’ve chosen meets the most exacting product requirements in the natural skincare industry.

Image: Suat Eman /

Image: Tom Curtis /

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Promises, Promises Part 1: The Eye Cream Reality Check

1. True or false?

Today’s scientifically advanced eye creams can banish bags and dark circles instantly—without surgery or Botox.

False: Product claims like these rake in millions from hopeful skincare consumers. And you don’t have to be naïve to fall for the lure of a new scientific discovery (or ancient beauty secret) that promises to change the face of anti-aging skincare forever. After all, a product breakthrough like that could happen. And maybe someday it will. But at this point, the secret formula that magically erases dark circles, crows-feet, and droopy skin is still just a hopeful gleam in the eye of beauty scientists.

2. Does that mean raccoon eyes and wrinkles are forever?

No. And eyelifts, Botox, and laser surgery are not your only options. Several noninvasive skin treatments can significantly refresh and revitalize the eye area. The precise degree of improvement you can achieve depends a variety of factors, including the causes of your symptoms and your commitment to eliminating the major culprits.

3. Which of the following factors can cause the development of dark circles, puffiness, and wrinkles around your eyes?
(a) Heredity
(b) Allergies
(c) Rubbing your eyes
(d) Aging and environmental damage
(e) Lack of sleep
(f) Dehydration
(g) Smoking
(h) Eczema
(i) Anemia, kidney disease, or other serious health condition
(j) All of the above.

(j) All of the above. The first 7 items on the list are the most likely causes  of thinning, damaged skin and areas of dark pigmentation under the eyes. Individuals born with fair, delicate complexions are naturally more prone to under-eye rings and signs of premature aging. But inheriting these genetic tendencies doesn’t automatically doom you to looking perpetually tired and old before your time. The safest least-invasive approach is a three-pronged action plan: (1) Use a high-SPF sun block daily (2) practice healthy lifestyle habits and (3) adopt a gentle, effective skincare regimen. (A good under-eye concealer also helps.) If your symptoms are allergy-related, try an over-the-counter anti-histamine. In rare cases, persistent dark circles may signal anemia, a clotting disorder, or another serious illness. If you’re also suffering from fatigue, unexplained bruising, or other worrisome symptoms, consult your physician.

4. The safest and most effective eye creams contain the following ingredients:
(a) Vitamin A derivatives
(b) Caffeine
(c) Niacinamide (vitamin B3)
(d) Botanical oils and humectants
(e) Vitamin K
(f) All of the above

(f) All of the above. Like vitamin K and caffeine, niacinamide has demonstrated beneficial effects on under-eye discoloration and a variety of other age-related skin problems in numerous medical studies. Vitamin A derivatives such as retinyl palmitate and the powerful antioxidants in natural plant-based complexion care also play an essential role in restoring the strength and resilience of maturing skin. Together with the superior emollient properties and moisture-binding capacity of plant-derived oils and humectants, these valuable nutrients comprise a balanced diet for ailing, exhausted skin. Good natural sources of these ingredients include the following:
• Green and white teas
• Squalene
• Jojoba oil
• Sea buckthorn
• Shea butter
• Pearl powder
• Aloe vera
• Hyaluronic acid

Remember, complicated, long-term problems can’t be reversed in an instant. But gradual meaningful change is a truly rewarding alternative to the false promise of overnight miracles.
Image: renjith krishnan /
Image: Carlos Porto /