10 Things About...Skin Tone

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Your skin tone speaks volumes. Pigmentation changes, brown spots caused by sun damage, and the quantity of melanin one has inherited from his/her DNA is what first comes to mind when we think about skin tone; however, this is only part of the equation. While clusters of brown spots draw the eyes’ attention, the overall skin tone, clarity and transparency of the skin speaks volumes about a person’s health. When the skin is polluted, it looks dull, fatigued and much older – even on those who have hydrated skin and no wrinkles. When someone says, “You have beautiful skin,” it not only means you have an even skin tone, but that your skin looks radiant and healthy.

This radiance comes from light reflecting on the skin as non-polluted and healthy skin – free of excessive dead skin cells – appears to have a degree of transparency. This transparency shows the undertone of the skin and the beautiful coloring that comes with good circulation and low levels of pollutants or toxins. This healthy undertone is seen in skin of all ethnic origins, regardless of Fitzpatrick skin type.

 Here are causes of poor skin tone and tips on how to improve skin’s tone and overall health.

  1. polutionChemical Toxicity – An aesthetician, doctor or consumer puts a lot of trust in product manufacturers, hoping to buy products that improve the skin and protect its health. Unfortunately, skin care products and cosmetics have thousands of toxic chemicals. For instance, sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), a widely used cleanser in shampoos and facial cleansers, is present in virtually every home or spa. This compound can be irritating to the eyes and skin, and may contain the carcinogen dioxane. Butylene glycol (humectant and slip agent), parabens, ethyl acetate (fragrance), phthalates in lotions and cleansers (listed as DBP, DMP, DEP, fragrance), formaldehyde (listed under many different names), Quartenium-15, and hundreds of others ingredients contribute to polluting and affecting the skin’s tone and health.
    One such example of products containing toxic chemicals is the one ounce $650 cellular cream that lists butylene glycol as its first ingredient following water on its ingredient list (the highest percentage in the formulation). This very popular cream is sold online, in department stores, and at five stars destination spas.
  2. Environmental Toxicity – The skin can also become toxic due to environmental factors and smoking. The major sources of environmental toxins are industrial waste, motor vehicles, coal power plants, incinerators, some plastics, carpet and papers coatings, fire retardants, road-side and garden/lawn sprays, flea and tick spray, and the foods we ingest, such as vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy. The major toxic substances are Bisphenol-A, phthalates, fire retardants, fluorinated compounds, dioxins, mercury, smog, perchlorates, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Many of these chemicals can negatively affect the skin’s beauty and health. Furthermore, there are 84 different chemicals that are found in skin that may be linked to diseases.
  3. Buying Organic – An organic label does not necessarily guarantee protection because only 95 percent of ingredients must be natural. Additionally, the high cost and time to get certification causes some safe product lines to not be labeled organic. Also, some of the most effective and in demand ingredients, such as peptides, ATP, stem cells or DNA, cannot be certified organic, even if they are of natural origin. Only products labeled free of petrochemicals bring the assurance that the skin will not be exposed to toxins that interfere with skin health and skin tone.
  4. Exercise – By stimulating the lymph and blood circulation through exercise, toxins and waste products can be eliminated from the cellular metabolism. Moreover, excess fluids are also expelled allowing the body to restore its intracellular and extracellular balance of fluids.
  5. sleepLack of Sleep – When a person experiences a poor quality of sleep, it can cause dark circles and puffiness around the eyes and, oftentimes, a tired appearance to their skin. Ultimately, this may cause the skin to have a greyish undertone and lack of transparency. Physiologically, the lymphatic system slows down and does not remove toxins. Excess fluids, which contain waste material from the metabolism, accumulate and give the skin a greyish tone. Poor blood circulation causes distended capillaries and the leakage of plasma/blood, resulting in nutrients not being distributed properly to skin cells. As a result, the skin cells’ health and functionality are impaired causing some cells to die prematurely.
  6. nutrition

  7. Nutrition – Fresh, healthy food that is free of pesticides, herbicides and other toxins brings healthy nutrients to the cells. Processed foods loaded with chemicals, sugar and hydrogenated fats cause pollution in the skin and cause the skin tone to appear greyish. Likewise, healthy fiber promotes colon health and rapid elimination of a number of waste and pollutants.
  8. medicationsMedications – Treatments and medications promoted to increase a person’s health can actually change the skin’s tone for the worst. Medications and treatments, such as chemotherapy, pollute the skin and body with harmful toxins.
  9. Lymphatic Drainage Massage – By stimulating the lymphatic system organs are cleansed of pollutants and toxins. A visible clarity of the skin’s tone can be seen within as little as six minutes on the face, neck and around the eyes with a mechanical lymphatic drainage massage.
    In other words, inflamed cells are sick cells that cause the skin to age faster. The fact that inflamed skin tend to show less wrinkles at first is misleading due to the swelling of the skin scars, wrinkles and pores being hidden at first, preventing the skin from healing properly. A gentler treatment program with soothing, but highly effective products would be the most beneficial protocol of choice.
  10. Scars – Whether acne scars, enlarged pores or pockmarks, they all distract the eye from seeing the overall skin tone, even if the skin looks healthy. Skin care products, specifically formulated to heal scars, lighten the darker pigmentation present on many scars and reduce the size of pores. Over time, these products can transform the skin’s appearance and restore an even skin tone. While peels and various treatments might help, attention must be paid to avoid inflammation and irritation due to their propensity to worsen hyperpigmentation and decrease the DNA’s ability to repair.
    Our lymph nodes cleanse the lymph. The lymph system tends to become sluggish due to age, poor health, and lack of exercise. Lymphatic drainage massage is beneficial for the skin as the water and minerals that make up lymph filtrate from the blood through the wall of the capillaries to surround and hydrate the cells. The capillaries reabsorb some of the water and small amounts of waste. What remains must be collected and returned to the blood stream by the lymphatic system. Lymph is drained from the spaces around the cells by lymph vessels. As lymph moves around the body, it passes through the lymph nodes (or lymph glands) that are distributed throughout the lymphatic system.
  11. Melanin Control – Skin lightening ingredients are of natural or chemical origins. Hydroquinone is a chemical that has been used in percentages ranging from two percent to 10 percent for a very long time. In 2006, the FDA issued a proposed ban on hydroquinone in over-the-counter products in response to studies that linked it to increased risk of cancer, reports of severe darkening of the skin, and damage to the skin and overall health. Lobbyists from the chemical industry were effective in keeping hydroquinone in business (two percent hydroquinone is allowed in cosmetics despite the serious health warnings and toxicity to the skin, liver and other organs). Conjointly, clinical data shows that hydroquinone gives little results and the results are lost quickly after hydroquinone has been discontinued.

    Hydroquinone can cause severe pigmentation patches, even necrosis (death of skin cells) that damages the skin health. On very dark skin, it yellows the skin instead of whitening it, making the skin appear to be sickly. Better and safer alternatives are widely available.
    Product formulators focus on ingredients that lighten the skin by inhibiting tyrosinase, the enzyme that is a catalyst for melanin production, or ones that block the transfer of pigment between skin cells. The synergistic properties of several actives create a better effect, inhibiting the pigment-making process at many levels. Among the list of ingredients are Renovage®, kojic acid, Arctostaphylos uva ursi extract, and arbutin (bearberry) are similar to hydroquinone in molecular makeup, but without the health risks; Morus alba leaf extract (mulberry); Phyllanthus emblica L. (amla) fruit extract; Rumex occidentalis extract; Dextran and Nonapeptide1; leukocyte extract; Oxynex K®, a compound made of the perfect proportions of vitamins C and E: mushroom extract; and Glycyrrhiza glabra root extract (licorice root).

    PULL QUOTE for Melanin Control
    Natural dark circles around the eyes are characteristics of some ethnic origins. While eliminating this natural trait is not possible, lightening and brightening the skin around the eyes can be achieved with safe formulas made of natural ingredients.

melanin-controlIngredient labeling is confusing to professionals and consumers alike because the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) and the International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) names the ingredients on the boxes of products but do not indicate the origin of an ingredient. Staying clear of petrochemicals in skin care products and living a healthy lifestyle in a chemical-free environment can significantly improve skin health and restore healthy skin.

Catherine-AtzenCatherine Atzen takes a progressive approach to skin care and product ideation. Her inspiration stems from her upbringing in a French spa town and the creativity of the San Francisco Bay Area where she resides. As a talented product developer, she recently launched the newly formulated ATZEN line, chosen for the Academy Award’s celebrity gift box. She also developed the LymphMed® device for lymphatic drainage. Atzen holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; an M.B.A. from Columbia University; she is a CIDESCO diploma; and she is NCEA certified. Atzen can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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