A few words that come to mind when I think of ingredients like royal jelly and propolis: hydrating, moisturizing, nourishing, gentle, natural, clean, and antibacterial!

Let’s get into more detail about royal jelly and propolis, two natural ingredients that come to us straight from the hive.

ROYAL JELLY:

What is it?

Royal jelly is a white-yellowish, milky substance that consists of water, proteins, carbs, lipids, mineral salts and vitamins (including vitamins A, E, C, and B). It’s made by worker bees and is used to nourish honeybee larvae. Royal jelly is also consumed by the Queen Bee for her entire life, which is approximately seven years, as compared to the worker bees’ life cycle of approximately seven weeks!! Royal jelly, at one time, was reserved only for royalty because it was considered incredibly precious. Now, it is more widely available and is a choice ingredient in many clean skincare lines.

How does it benefit our skin?

Royal jelly is believed to be a multi-tasking ingredient with anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Its antioxidants help to soothe the skin and to fight free radical damage (which contributes to premature aging). I find that it can be very hydrating and healing when used topically. Of course, if you have an allergy to bees, honey, or pollen, speak to your doctor before incorporating any products including royal jelly into your skincare regimen.

PROPOLIS:

What is it?

I think propolis is a fascinating natural ingredient. Bees harvest sap and resin from trees and add their own enzymes and beeswax to produce this powerful resin-like substance.  Bees then paint the propolis inside their homes – filling in crevices in honeycombs – in order to serve as protection for the hive. It is known for its ability to fight against bacteria and is packed with antioxidants.

How does it benefit our skin?

Propolis has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, is moisturizing without being heavy, has soothing properties and, like royal jelly, fights free radical damage because it is packed with antioxidants. I find that this is a very gentle ingredient and is therefore a wonderful option for my patients with sensitive skin.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE PRODUCTS IN THIS CATEGORY:

Farmacy Honey Savior Balm: This soothing balm is made with royal jelly and propolis. I find that it’s very soothing and hydrating without being greasy or heavy. I love to use it on my lips, cracked hands, cracked heels and I even apply a little bit on my daughter’s cheeks when her skin becomes red and irritated from snow or wind in winter. Recommending clean products is very important to me, so I love that this brand is certified clean at Sephora.

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm: Another clean product, this cleansing balm is made with royal jelly peptides. The scent is heavenly, the texture is rich, and the best part – this product is specifically formulated with the health of our microbiome in mind. Many oil based cleansers offer a very deep clean, but can strip your skin of its moisture and leave your skin feeling dry and tight. This is the opposite of how your clean skin should feel. In contrast, this cleansing balm is made with hydrating Manuka honey, which has natural antibacterial properties. Therefore, it cleanses deeply, removing makeup, sunscreen and debris, but the added nourishing ingredients prevent it from stripping your skin of its healthy, natural moisture. I also love that this product is made with nourishing probiotics and prebiotics proven to protect and nurture your skin’s healthy, good bacteria.

Dr. Whitney

 

What are Sulfates? 

Sulfates are a type of surfactant, which are like detergents for skincare products.  In other words, they help cleanse the skin of dirt and oil, and help many liquid soaps, body washes and shampoos to create a rich, foamy lather. Although “sulfates” aren’t technically a class of chemicals, the term is often used as a stand in to talk about harsh surfactants since many of those chemicals have “sulfate” in the ingredient name (e.g. sodium lauryl sulfate).

Surfactants and “sulfates” are also found in many moisturizers and sunscreens, because they help ingredients mix well together, instead of clumping or separating in the bottle.

Some sulfates are synthetic, meaning they are man-made and come from petroleum, while others come from natural sources like palm oil or coconut oil.  Regardless of where they come from, some of them can do major harm to your skin, hair and scalp. Not all sulfates are evil, but I do avoid all harsh sulfates and here’s why.

How do Harsh Sulfates Impact your Skin?

Some sulfates can be very irritating.  If used in high enough concentrations, they can damage the outer layers of your skin, resulting in itchy, cracked, dry or inflamed skin.  They very rarely create true allergies, but they can be a major cause of irritation.

In shampoos, harsh sulfates can irritate the scalp and result in frizzy, dull hair.  They can even make your hair dye disappear quickly, making your trips to the salon more frequent.

What about your Microbiome? 

If you continue to cleanse with harsh sulfate-containing products, this is also likely to damage your skin’s microbiome.  The healthy bacteria on your skin need a certain environment, or “terrain” to survive and thrive.  When you wash away and damage their terrain, these delicate bacteria die and unhealthy, hearty ones remain and take over – we do not want this to happen!

How do I know what to look for on the label?

Sodium lauryl sulfate is a particularly harsh sulfate, so I recommend avoiding that one whenever possible. Other sulfates contain an “-eth” at the end of them, like sodium laureth sulfate and aluminum laureth sulfate. When chemicals end in “-eth”, that means they’ve been put through a process called “ethoxylation” to make them less harsh, and make the ingredient more gentle on your skin.  Now the catch is, during the process of ethoxylation, you sometimes end up with low levels of a contaminant, specifically, 1, 4 dioxane, that is a carcinogen. 1,4 doixane doesn’t appear on ingredient labels.

So, even though some of these sulfates that end with an -eth are more gentle for the skin, there is a risk that they mght contain tiny levels of carcinogens, which is something I’m not comfortable with. So, not only do I avoid harsh sulfates, but I also avoid ingredients that end with “-eth.”

My Bottom Line

Avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Avoid Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLES)

Avoid any chemical names that end with “-eth.”

 

Dr. Whitney

 

I love bonding with my 7 year old daughter, Maclane, and planning special activities together. We might take a mommy and me yoga class, go out to lunch, or get a manicure together as a treat for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding!

I have been getting a lot of questions this week about the safety of child facials or “baby facials” after a photo of Harper Beckham receiving this type of facial was shared on social media.

First, Is a “Baby Facial” Safe?

Children naturally have lots of collagen and hyaluronic acid in their skin, so their skin is naturally more smooth and plump than adult skin. However, they are more prone to absorbing ingredients rubbed onto their skin than adults due to a number of factors including their high surface area-to-volume ratio and immature drug metabolism systems. This can present safety concerns depending upon the type of products and ingredients used during the facial.

Additionally, some facials can use products that make the skin more sensitive to the sun. Given that children spend more time playing outdoors and are not as diligent with sunscreen, this is something to consider when providing consent for a facial treatment. Furthermore, sun damage during childhood can have especially serious consequences when it comes to skin cancer risk down the road.

And – some facials involve extractions. If those extractions are too aggressive, it could bruise, break a blood vessel, or leave a permanent “ice pick” scar in the skin.

Finally, children are generally not as careful around steam and boiling water so depending on the facial, there could be a risk of being burned.

My Opinion on “Baby Facials”

From my clinical experience (and life experience), children can be very susceptible to comments made about their skin and appearance. A well-meaning practitioner might begin a treatment by pointing out an “area of concern” or identifying “problem areas” in the skin. I would hesitate to expose my daughter unnecessarily to these types of comments given the impact they could potentially have upon her emotional well-being and self-esteem.

In my opinion, if Mac really wanted to experience a “baby facial” specifically geared toward children which involves pampering and positivity and some natural, clean skincare products, I don’t think it can hurt. On the flip side, if she feels like we are treating an “issue”, addressing a “problem”, or if she thinks she “needs” this to be beautiful/healthy, then I would most likely believe that the risk outweighs the benefit.

 

@DrWhitneyBowe

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