Coming Soon… Advanced Retinol Serum with Time-Release Technology

Retinol is often referred to as the “gold standard” ingredient for anti-aging. In fact, I have been hearing this from my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, for years, as he has been (gently) insisting on the need to add a retinol product to our Alchimie Forever assortment.

“But,” I say, “retinols are not ideal for sensitive skin types, our target customer.” “Even sensitive skin types need retinol, and can adapt to the right formulation,” he responds. “But,” I say again, “one of our brand promises is the lack of side effects.” “To most women, controlled side effects are worth the results retinol gives.” And on and on and on we go. For four years.

And Dad “won,” as he usually does – because he is usually right (there, I said it). Or perhaps it’s that I turned 40 last year and thought selfishly that I should probably start incorporating retinol in my skin care routine. And why not an Alchimie Forever one…

As we approach the launch of our Advanced Retinol Serum, here is a quick snapshot on retinol. Next week, I’ll tell you more specifically about our formulation.

What is retinol?

In the skin care world, vitamin A and its derivatives exist in various forms. The most widely used ones are pure retinol, retinyl esters (such as retinyl acetate, retinyl propionate, and retinyl palmitate), and retinaldehyde. Through various enzymatic reactions in the skin, all of these molecules are ultimately converted to all-trans-retinoic acid, aka the active form of vitamin A in the skin.

Retinoic acid was first discovered in 1969 by James Fulton and Albert Kligman in the late 1960s as a treatment for acne; its anti-aging benefits emerged as a surprising and positive side effect.

Retinol has the form of light yellow crystals – which is why many retinol products often have a yellowish tint to them.

Products containing actual retinoic acid require a medical prescription (you may have heard of brands such as Renova, Retin-A, Retino-A, ReTrieve, or Stieva-A). The most common strengths are 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1%. In contrast, products containing pure retinol, retinol derivatives, or retinaldehyde are non-prescription, and tend to have higher concentrations (0.5% to 1.5%).

The pros

“At the microscopic level, retinol enhances cell division in the epidermis, replacing damaged and unorganized cells with new organized cells. It also reduces melanin production. In the dermis, new collagen and elastin fibers are formed,” says Dr. Polla. My non-medical translation: fine lines and wrinkles diminish, the skin becomes plumper, smoother, and softer, and the complexion more even. It really works.

The cons

Instability especially to oxygen and light. Look for products packaged in tubes that are opaque and impermeable to oxygen. Tubes are typically preferable to jars (given the smaller opening and thus diminished access to air and light).

Skin irritation. Typically, within two weeks of starting to use a retinol, you will experience flaking, redness, and a slight discomfort. Of course, this will depend on your skin type, if you have used retinol in the past or not, and specifically how you are using your retinol.

Retinol best practices

Retinol should be incorporated in your skin care routine in your mid-30s to early 40s.

Retinols should not be used while pregnant or nursing.

Time of day. Retinol products should be used in the evening. Dr. Polla explains: “It is important that the topical retinoid be applied at night-time for two reasons. First, patients who use topical retinoids during the daytime notice increased sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Second, trans-retinoic acid is unstable when exposed to sunlight. When exposed to light, the molecule degrades rapidly, not providing its full benefits.”

Sun sensitivity. Make sure to use an SPF20 or above daily. This is true regardless of if you are using a retinol product, but be particularly diligent if you are. (See ultraviolet light sensitivity comment above.)

Frequency of use. Do not use your retinol product daily – two or three times per week tends to be sufficient for most skin types. Start slow, then build up. Listen to your skin and to its reactions. Continuous inflammation and irritation is not the goal.

Apply your retinol to dry skin. Per Dr. Polla: “Instructing patients to apply their retinoid to dry skin can minimize side effects. Patients should be advised to wait a few minutes after washing the face to apply a topical retinoid. Wet skin enhances the penetration of the retinoid into the dermis, thus exacerbating irritation.”

Using complementary products. In addition to a morning cream with SPF, add an extra nourishing even cream to help soothe and moisturize your skin, and heal any flaking you may experience.

For some great additional information on retinoids, take a look at our partner Heyday’s retinol manifesto here.

And stay tuned – next week I’ll share more specifics about Alchimie Forever’s Advanced Retinol Serum with time release technology – which launches next month!

Never Ending Wisdom From Mom

In 2010 for Mother’s Day, I shared my mother’s life tips – which are still incredibly relevant today, and which I still prescribe to 100%.

Yesterday, on the Polla Sisters blog, I shared her beauty tips – which I utilize every day.

Yesterday, upon reading that latest post, she called to say how lovely it was, and also that she had a lot more tips now that she is reaching her late 60s. Tips about beauty as you age. So today, I share these – with gratitude that I have a mother that makes me look forward to aging, makes me look forward to everything that lies ahead, and never makes me feel like the best is behind me – in beauty or in life.

In Mom’s words:  (and here are more of Mom’s words)

“My daughter Ada just published on her blogs my beauty tips — and they were and are my beauty tips indeed, for everyday! When I turned sixty, I felt that I should add at least one each year.

60 : Think about your weight and check it everyday. A few kilos more make for a rounder face, fills in the fine lines: this is nice. A lot of kilos more make too round of a belly. Find the right balance.

61 : Beautiful hair is essential. I add one more Aveda product every six months to my collection of hair products, and now have almost as many hair products as I do skin and body care products.

62 : Lower the height of your heels just a little bit. Keep the highest just for home parties and sex of course. Otherwise, I prefer ankle boots and booties rather than low heeled shoes. 

63 : Cherish the scent of your skin. Use products that always make you smell delicious – whether lotions or perfume. I love blueberry, rose, … 

64 : Be smart with alcohol: champagne, but with ice (and even some sparkling water mixed in).

65 :  Double the frequency of medi-spa consultations. Never look “done” but take care of those brown spots as they appear. Mix a drop of the Alchimie Forever Kantic brightening moisture mask every day with your day cream and night cream.

66 : Dare to add some glittery powder on your arms whenever you do not wear long sleeves. And wear a lot of long sleeves.

67 : Tell young women how beautiful they are. They will look at you and see you how beautiful you are, and say the same back to you. Forever.

68 : Never say, nor even think, you are « old » . Just say your age as a number, not as a judgment: I am 68. 68 is what I am, I can feel it as I wish, and others will feel it as I make it feel.”

And as we get off the phone, she reminds me to smile. Smile at the sun, smile at the clouds, smile at life. That will make you “une beauté qui traverse le temps” – hard to translate as such poetic French words are, but something like “beautiful through the ages.”

Thank you, Mom!

Winter Skin Strategies

I have had the privilege of spending the past few days at the Sundance Mountain Resort, in UT, for my favorite annual conference – Brigadoon. The days have involved skiing, incredibly stimulating conversations, new ideas, old friends, as well as snow and freezing temperatures. And my skin has been suffering!

If you are still in the midst of winter weather, here are some tips to keep your skin hydrated, comfortable, and glowing.

  1. Hydrate from the inside out. You can never drink too much water… it will help your skin and your body. (And here in Sundance, it also helps with altitude sickness!).
  2. Switch out your usual cleanser for a cream or oil-based cleanser. And use lukewarm water even when the temperatures are frigid.
  3. Layer moisturizers and oils. I recently bought the Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum and it has saved my skin. I apply it after my Pigment lightening serum, and under my Kantic+ intensely nourishing cream.
  4. Exfoliate. The most nourishing products won’t be able to penetrate and moisturize your skin if you have a layer of dead skin cells on top of your epidermis. But don’t overdo it – find a gentle scrub (like our Gentle refining scrub), and keep it to once a week.
  5. Give your skin the benefit of a hydrating treatment. I have been using our Kantic Brightening moisture mask twice weekly for the past couple of weeks, and it has saved my skin!
  6. Don’t forget your SPF. In particular in the mountains, and when enjoying winter sports, daily UV protection is a must. On top of my various creams and serums (see step #3), I layer our Daily defense SPF 23.

Enjoy the rest of the winter weather, even while dreaming of Spring!

Heyday Bliss

After working with Heyday for the last few years – since before co-founders Adam and Michael opened their first facial shop in New York’s NOMAD neighborhood (they now have 5 locations in Manhattan), I finally made the time to experience one of their facials (yes, this is my first facial of 2018… the cobbler’s daughter and all).

I experienced a 50-minute treatment by the fabulous Jenna who has magical hands. She gently approved of my appointment, saying that indeed it was time for my skin to have a “reset” and that extractions were “necessary” (I loved how she didn’t say “overdue.”).

If you have not yet been to Heyday, they are not a “traditional spa” but rather a “facial shop”. What you will not find at Heyday are no dimly lit rooms, robes, silence, spa music. Instead, the space is open, with movable “walls” made of fabric. The space is well-lit (“Doesn’t it help for me to really see your skin?”, Jenna asks with a smile), and sound travels – which is actually delightful. Looking at the space, I could tell there would be no silence. What I couldn’t experience until lying there was how lovely it is to hear unintelligible chatter from the front area or other “rooms” – it sounds casual, fun, happy (I heard laughter a few times). And the music is amazing – great current tunes (apparently Heyday has a Spotify channel).

Beyond the environment, the facial was one of the best I have experienced. I don’t trust my face to many other than my father, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, or the therapists at Forever Institut – but I will absolutely come back to Jenna and will happily recommend Heyday to anyone asking.

She started by measuring my hydration levels (not surprisingly given my travel schedule, my skin needs more moisture). She then proceeded to cleanse, exfoliate, extract, massage, and hydrate, using a blend of products – Alchimie Forever, Naturopathica, Image, and Shaffali, an ayurvedic brand that is new to me. The blend of products was chosen specifically for my skin and created not only immediate results, but also an amazing sensorial experienced. My favorite part of the treatment was Jenna’s massage, which she did with a mixture of Alchimie Forever Kantic Brightening moisture mask and Naturopathica Carrot oil, pre-extractions. In effect, as she explained, the massage will soften the skin and make it more malleable, hence the extractions easier to perform. And they were indeed painless. She then used a micro-current machine to help serums penetrate deeper into the skin, and applied multiple masks (for different areas of my face, as my T-zone needed purifying and my cheeks needed moisturizing) before sending me on my way.

I left glowing, without a mark on my face – and photos to prove it. (If you haven’t ever experienced a facial because you think you will leave with blotchy skin, please think again).

I can’t wait for the next Heyday training, which will once again end with a treatment!

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Immediately Post Treatment

Ending the year in beauty with a Me-So-Light treatment

Earlier this month I made a list of the goals I wanted to achieve before the end of December.

In the next two days, I still need to finalize the Alchimie retinol serum, marketing plan and budget, but otherwise, I checked everything off this list. And in the self-care department, I did even better than I set out to do.

I did get a pedicure (purple toes to end 2017 and enter 2018 – given that Ultraviolet is the Pantone color of 2018). I also left for Switzerland with perfect eyebrows (thank you Erwin at Karma by Erwin Gomez). And I took time to do a treatment at Forever Boutique: Me-So-Light.

What is it?

This treatment is a blend between face mesotherapy and micro-needling (for more on micro-needling, read this post). Dr. Bani used a Dermapen (9 microneedles) to make minute perforations in my skin, which enables the “secret sauce” of product to optimally penetrate. The product applied is indeed a secret sauce – a powerful cocktail of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals to help rejuvenate and hydrate the skin, and give you an immediate glow.

 

Was it painful?

Not at all! I was a bit concerned, but this was much less bothersome than Botox injections.

What did I look like immediately after?

See the photo below! Just a bit flushed, which lasted for about an hour – nothing more.

 

How did my skin react in the following days?

I went into the Christmas holidays with a nice glow, looking much more refreshed than I felt!

Would I do it again?

Yes! I can’t wait to be back in Lausanne Q1 2018 for my second treatment.

Micro-needling: yes or no?

I have been asked repeatedly about micro-needling, a skin treatment based on the concept that creating micro-wounds in the skin will help stimulate the formation of collagen and elastin.

While I have my personal opinion (I would never get this done), as is usual with skin care questions, I turned to my father, Switzerland’s top dermatologist, Dr. Luigi L. Polla, for some more scientific and expert explanations and opinions.

AP: What exactly is micro-needling?

LLP: Microneedling is a simple procedure during which rolling is done 15-20 times in horizontal, vertical, and oblique directions to create micro-wounds in the skin. This can be performed by aestheticians or even at home. Medical micro-needling is typically done through mechanical or manual microneedling, and is performed by an MD, typically a dermatologist.

In the dermatologist’s office during or just after the procedure, it is possible to apply on the injured skin hydrophilic suspensions of active molecules. Vitamins or self-growth factors obtained from the patient’s platelets will penetrate easily into the epidermis and amplify the microneedling effect. Pin-point bleeding and redness typically occur but are easily controlled. The entire procedure lasts for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the extent of the area to be treated.

AP: What is the difference between at-home micro-needling and in-office micro-needling?

LLP: In Switzerland, at-home procedures are done with a roller with needles limited to 0.5mm length and is intended to induce skin rejuvenation.  Medical procedures may use needles up to 3 mm long. With these needles, it is possible to improve not only the skin quality but also scars and stretch marks by using very specific protocols. These regulations will vary country to country, and in the United States state by state.

AP: What are the typical benefits from this procedure?

LLP: The benefits of micro needling are linked to the skin’s own healing systems, which when faced with such micro-wounds, will stimulate collagen and elastin production. This will help with the skin’s overall texture and glow, dilated pores, fine lines, scars, and aging skin.

AP: What are the possible side effects from this procedure?

LLP: Pain during the procedure (which can be managed with anesthetic creams), some light edema and redness during maximum 48 hours. We have to be careful with possible post inflammatory hyperpigmentation when micro-needling is done on darker skin tones.

AP: Do you offer this procedure at Forever Institut? Why or why not?

LLP: Yes, we do. The procedure is complementary to other collagen-stimulating treatments. I very much believe in the combination of various to yield the most effective rejuvenation results, without downtown. We combine micro-needling with photo-facials and various types of non-ablative laser treatments. Furthermore, in my experience, micro-needling is the first and best therapeutic option in the treatment of stretch marks and scars.

Thank you Dad! I have to admit that I might just have to try a treatment on my stretch marks…