Doesn’t Elixir sound like something out of Greek Mythology, like akin to Ambrosia? It’s kind of Ambrosia for your facial skin now that I think about it. Ambrosia translates literally to “not mortal”…and sorry I don’t usually get geeky in the first paragraph. eep! Elixirs and Moisturizers are formulated to address and repair damage (aka fine lines and wrinkles), provide additional hydration, and to do some deep healing overnight – to help you with that “ageless” look. Hopefully these products will become some of your favs, too.
Elixirs are usually combinations of oils, herbal components, plant extracts, and or butters. These wonderful potions are designed to repair at a cellular level. The smaller molecule size of ingredients used allow them to penetrate skin levels in a high concentration. Elixirs are used sparingly, similar to serums. Elixirs soothe, reduce fine lines, and even skin tone. Elixirs can also address rosacea, eczema, and acne.
Oftentimes an Elixir is combined with a humectant. Because the terms Serum and Elixir are often used interchangeably the product line has blurred. They are both cellular repair products and most of us can benefit from using them in our skin care arsenal. I’ll admit that the precise naming convention is blurred in my own product line for the sheer euphony of one word versus the other.
This is probably a good time to chat about the Comedogenic Scale. This is a ranking of oils and butter by how likely they are to clog pores when used in cosmetic formulation. The scale uses a numbering system 0-5 with oils and butters that are least likely to settle into pores and combine with sebum having a lower number.
So what is considered non-comedogenic? Pretty much anything rated at 2 or less is considered non pore-clogging. Ingredients rated 5 are those that are just about guaranteed to settle into pores and combine with sebum.
Examples of non-comedogenic oils & butters are Argan, Jojoba, Blackberry Seed, Hemp Seed, and Shea. Examples of comedogenic oils and butters are Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, and Palm Oil (we don’t use Palm oil in our products, for health reasons.) Everything else falls onto the scale between the two extremes.
The catch is that some of the oils and butters with higher numbers are the most emollient and very effective for dry and maturing skin. It’s a balancing act, and one of the reasons it’s not a great idea to just throw together some oils from your kitchen cupboard and use them on your face. I pick up and look at a lot of skin care products made by crafters at vendor shows and I can tell really quickly if they know what they’re doing by the oils listed in the ingredients. If there’s no ingredients list on the product (and it’s common) that’s a whole other problem…
When I’m formulating a skincare product I take into consideration the dynamic of the fatty acid profile as well as the comedogenic scale. Different fatty acids have vastly different properties and uses in skin care.
Before delving into Moisturizer, let’s chat about eye cream for just a moment. The skin around your eyes is different than the skin on the rest of your face. First off, it is ten times thinner than facial skin. Also, there are no oil glands in the eye area so this skin tends towards dryness and fine line formation. When the body is dehydrated it is apparent in the eye area and has a limp, baggy appearance. The foundational collagen structure of the eye area loses its elasticity as we age and is exacerbated by allergies, crying, internal hydration levels, eye makeup removal, contact lens insertion and removal, mascara application, squinting, and smiling. Blinking alone has been calculated to be responsible for over 10,000 movements of the skin around the eyes each day.
So the next step in our skin care routine is eye cream. Eye cream is specifically formulated for the delicate skin around the eyes. These tend to be thicker and gentler. Oils used here should be non-comedogenic. HLA is also a really good option for a stand alone eye product.
We know now that aging reduces the skin’s elasticity. I’m asked a lot if moisturizer is important. Yes. Yes it is. Now I know that we’ve talked about a lot of different types of products, but seriously if you only do one thing after you cleanse and tone – moisturize.
Moisturizing reduces the chance of developing extreme conditions in the skin. Because our facial skin is the only skin that is constantly exposed to every extreme of the environment it runs the risk of developing dryness and oiliness in response to these environmental conditions. Moisturizing gives your skin a barrier from heat, cold, and wind. Leaving moisturizer out of the skin care routine can lead to deepening wrinkles. No one wants that!
Ok, so we know why moisturizer is important now. Let’s talk about what moisturizer should contain to do the best job possible for your skin. There are four classes of ingredients in moisturizer: occlusives, humectants, emollients, and barrier-repairing ingredients (aka ceramides.) Within each of these classes of ingredients there are both wholly natural as well as wholly synthetic choices to be made by the formulator. Cats Paw products are wholly natural and derived from plants (except for lanolin and beeswax which are derived from sheep wool and bees.)
Remember that humectants (such as HLA, aloe, glycerin, calendula) are the ingredients that attract water from the environment and draw it into the skin in order to hydrate it.
The purpose of emollient ingredients is to soften and soothe dry, rough, flaky skin. These ingredients are often wax-like or have chemical properties very like skin itself (such as jojoba oil…which is actually a wax.) Shea, lanolin, and squalene are also great emollients.
Occlusive ingredients used for moisturizers should be low in comedogenicity. These oils and butters create the physical barrier on top of the skin to retain moisture within. Examples of natural occlusives are oils, butters, and beeswax.
The barrier repairing ingredients prevent permeability and prevent dryness and irritation. They also act as plumpers and minimize the appearance of fine lines. Natural barrier repairing ingredients (aka ceramides) are essential fatty acids that occur in the natural skin barrier. These ingredients are those which are most often synthetically synthesized (but not in our products.)
At Cats Paw Farm you’ll find a selection of Elixirs and Eye products and a variety of Moisturizers that are formulated by skin type and environmental condition. I’m always happy to work with you to recommend one your skin will love.