Hello! Let me introduce myself: I’m Chloé and I work with What’s In my Jar 👋🏼I am about to graduate with a degree in Biomedical Sciences, but my focus was Neuroscience, so I never particularly focused on skincare (until I got so obsessed with it that I decided to do my thesis on the microbiome and skin ageing this year🔬)
Like many of you, I have an acne journey. It started 3 years ago out of nowhere when I started university. I didn’t know why my skin was acting up and I didn’t know who to turn to because I thought my condition wasn’t severe enough to see a doctor. I had a preconception that acne was only related to poor hygiene which led me to over-exfoliate, pick at my skin, grow increasingly paranoid about each new blackhead or pimple, and be very hard on myself. It took me 2 years to go see a dermatologist...when my confidence was at an all time low. And it took me an extra year to finally feel equipped to take care of my acne on my own - phew, took a while!
Fastforward to today, there are three main things I wish I would’ve known:
We are seeing a surge of searches for this product on our website, and I thought I'd type a quick formula review.
Great things about this product:
Good basic moisturizing formula with humectants (sodium hyaluronate) and emollients (silicones mostly do the job, with addition of olive oil and tiny amounts of avocado oil).
“I’m only in my 20s so I don’t need to think about skin aging”. There is no miraculous switch that turns on skin aging the moment you hit 30 - you age your whole life from the day you were born. The appearance of wrinkles shouldn’t be the trigger for you to start caring about your skin💪
Skin aging is more than just a cosmetic problem, but people’s endless quest towards the fountain of youth has definitely fuelled research & innovation in the field ⛲️ With life expectancies on the rise, the care of aging skin must also include how skin disorders affect quality of life, not just aesthetics. Most people over 65, in fact, have at least one skin disorder, and many have two or more. Although rarely fatal, they deserve attention ⚠️
It is commonly thought that aging is mainly predetermined by your genes - “my parents have deep wrinkles, therefore I am doomed to have the same”. However, research suggests that most of the effects of skin aging are caused by extrinsic factors (sun exposure, pollution, etc), and only 3% of aging factors have intrinsic background (genetics, etc)❗️
That’s what we are so often advised to do. Beat it back, stay ahead of it. Be consistent and stick with it – it’s going to be a while. Yet, “a while” became a consistent part of life for 15 years.
It's estimated that about a third of all cosmetics-related skin reactions are related to fragrances (natural or synthetic).
But what exactly do the fragrances do to harm the skin?
The disappointing answer is: the science doesn’t fully understand why. It might have something to do with the fact that all fragrances used in skincare are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But this chemical “family” is very broad and includes many different chemicals ranging from compounds that our own skin emits, to those causing strawberries or a face cream to smell delicious to road traffic pollutants.
Cannabis plant is famous (and infamous) because it contains a specific type of chemical compounds called phytocannabinoids. There are over 100 different types of them.
These compounds are similar in their chemical structure and biological effect to endocannabinoids, the chemicals that human body produces naturally. These chemicals can bind to special receptors in our cells, “instructing” the cell to behave in a certain way. For example, to change its inflammatory response or grow slower or faster. Our skin cells have the cannabinoid receptors, and this is why cannabis is more than just a trend in skincare.
Not all parts of the hemp plant contain cannabinoids. For example, hemp seeds contain, if any, only a small amount of cannabinoids. This means that if you see a product with a cannabis seed extract in it, you should not expect any cannabinoid-related effects.
Surely we all heard that sun exposure (UV light) is a driver of skin ageing and an effective skincare routine should include a daily sunscreen. But how exactly can something as nice, warm and mood-boosting as sunlight cause the harm? What does UV radiation actually do to our skin that causes wrinkles and elasticity loss?
The main mechanism of damage is the following. UV light activates cell receptors in the epidermis (upper) and dermis (deeper layer) of our skin. This activation happens within 15 min of sun exposure and lasts for at least 2 hours after it.
The activated receptors start accepting distress signals from outside of the cells. It happens within 30 min of sun exposure and lasts for full 24 hours. The signals activate enzymes within the cells, and the enzymes, in turn, start synthesis of special proteins with the function of "cleaning up" a site of skin wound. The "cleaning up" involves destruction of collagen fibers in the skin.
Acne-causing bacteria, Cutibacterium acnes (C.acnes) is part of a healthy skin microbiome. Most people have it on their skin, and in majority of the time, it doesn’t cause any trouble.
The C. acnes bacteria can produce active enzymes and compounds that are recognized as “inflammation signals” by our skin - and this is how we get inflammed lesions.
While C. acnes plays a role in acne, it is not an infectious disease (hence you can’t contract it from someone with acne). Growth of the C. acnes colony on skin is a necessary precondition for developing acne, but much more factors need to come together for these skin inhabitants to cause the problem.
Skincare minimalism is an approach to skincare that advocates for a careful selection of skincare steps, products, and ingredients. Only those with solid scientific evidence backing their effectiveness are included in a minimalist skincare regimen. This results in a skincare routine that is easy to follow, does not take much time out of your day, and does not need to be expensive.
Skincare minimalism does not mean not using skincare products. It means using only the products that work. Each ingredient in an ideal skincare minimalist product has a clear purpose. No ingredients are added for “decoration” only, this is why a minimalist skincare prefers products without fragrance, colorants, and any ingredient that lacks solid evidence for a skin benefit. This approach respects the skin as an organ of our body that performs many vital and complex functions on a delicate balance. We should avoid interfering with the natural balance of our skin as much as possible, and avoid exposing it to ingredients that do not have a clear purpose.
Our mission at WIMJ is to help you craft a minimalist skincare routine that works. We’ve created a system that can help you create your own minimalist skincare routine. A minimalist skincare routine includes 3 types of skincare steps (and products that go along with the steps).
Advanced Night Recovery range is definitely a special one: it introduced a word "serum" into skincare vocabulary and got us accustomed to the idea of delivering potent active ingredients into our skin in a thin watery texture rather than in a thick cream. Well done for this one, Estée Lauder! When it comes to effectiveness, though, this product is not that advanced actually: it is a basic hyaluronic-acid based moisturizing serum. A very expensive one: it's $107 for 1.7 oz.
In addition to hyaluronic acid, it includes a few fermented moisturizing ingredients like Bifida Ferment Lysate. This extract consists of remains of dead yeast bacteria cells. It helps hydrate the skin and reduce irritation. It might also has some anti-oxidant effect, but we don't know if and how well it works for sure.
All-in-all, this iconic product is an excellent moisturizer, but there are equally as effective moisturizing serums on the market today for a fraction of a price. When it comes to the anti-aging promise, it is definitely overstated, don't get fooled by the name.
Don't get fooled by skincare products that claim to "help your skin renew / detox / rejuvenate itself at night".
Our skin doesn't sleep, even though skin cells do "prioritize" different activities for the day and night time.
This is still a new area of research, but scientists have found out that epidermal stem cells differentiate (aka “decide who they want to be when they grow up”) at a higher rate at night. Also, skin cells have their highest natural UV defense on during the day (it’s still not sufficient, so use sunscreen!).
Confession time: I had a DIY period in my skincare journey. My mom used to do a lot of DIY masks. But she had a good excuse: it was Soviet Union and skincare products were not available. Her favorites included fresh sour cream mask (it probably delivered a tiny-tiny amount of lactic acid, while the acidity helped maintain the healthy skin surface pH - so better than nothing), fresh yeast mask (smelled yucky, but probably delivers some beta-glucans for moisturization - again, better than nothing). There were less safe ones, too, like a fresh strawberry mask (don’t do it, nothing is better!).
So I wasn’t alien to the idea of DIY skincare (I did even partake in the pampering activities with my mom, mostly for the fun of it). When I was in my early 20th, DIY powder clay masks were a thing in Ukraine. At least in the underground skincare circles I hang out it. The process worked like this. First, you buy a sachet of dry clay. You had a choice of different colors of clay, all claimed to be natural (not sure if it’s true) and having different impressive benefits for the skin (definitely not true). Then you mix a bit of the powder with warm water, and “spice it up” with stuff that should have been eaten. Like yogourt or egg yolk (yuck, I know). Or, even worse, with essential oils. Tea tree was my favorite. I am sorry, skin.
The good thing about DIY skincare is that it is tedious, so there is no way you can do it regularly. The fact that I was engaging in this activity no more frequently than once per month probably helped to control the damage. At least for some time. The masks obviously didn’t work to improve clarity and hydration of my skin, but I didn’t experience a reaction. My skin was still full of youthful resilience.
Hello! I am Maria from the WIMJ team. I’ll share my skincare journey with you. I grew up in Ukraine. I have an older sister, and my mom has always been interested in skincare, so I grew us watching these two beautiful women do DIY face masks. The thing is many skincare products were not available in Ukraine at that time, or they just couldn’t afford it. This is where my love for skincare comes from.
I also have a little bit of hate towards some skincare:). When I approached my teenage years, menthol-enriched anti- skin acne washes were, unfortunately, already in abundance. And an older friend told me that “blackheads appear because the skin is dirty”. So yeah, I was off to a great start in facing the hormonal rollercoaster of adolescence:).
Things got sad when I started college. Stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, and I’ve got hit with moderate hormonal acne. I was still using menthol washes, trying to “dry out” blemishes, and scrub away acne marks. I was very surprised when my friend told me she was using a moisturizer (if I remember correctly, it was Vichy Aqua Thermal). I thought creams were for old people in their thirties (I'm 32 today :) ).
The uppermost layer of the skin resembles a brick wall: already dead cells serve as bricks, and skin lipids together with moisture-loving compounds "glue" them together like mortar.
This “brick wall” is called stratum corneum and it is responsible for the skin’s barrier function. In other words, its purpose is not to let things into the deeper, living layers of the skin and the rest of our body. This also means that the products we apply to the skin are most likely to stay on the surface never making it through the “brick wall”. Some products can penetrate deeper though. In most cases, the penetration happens through the “mortar”: the lipids between the dead cell “bricks”. The route is long: our skin’s “brick wall” is 10-15 cell layers thick, and the larger the bricks are, the longer way the compounds need to travel around them through the lipid “mortar”. This route is also only accessible to lipophilic molecules (like retinol) and not water-soluble ones (like Vitamin C). Water soluble molecules can still fight their way through - but they need to penetrate the “bricks” themselves. Ingredients can penetrate deeper into the skin through hair follicles and pores: they can offer a "short cut" for reaching skin's dermis.
As skin ages, its look might be changing. But its ability to serve as an excellent barrier against environmental factors remains strong.
This is a skin science post of ultimate positivity: we don’t need to worry about aging of the upper most layer of our skin, the stratum corneum. Based on the studies conducted to date, it appears that the skin’s barrier function doesn’t age, or, at least, there tend to be no significant differences in the barrier function between people aged 20-25 and those who can boast with 30-40 more years of life experience.
While the composition of the stratum corneum change (younger people have more lipids, while older people’s skin has larger and flatter corneocytes, the non-living “bricks” that form the uppermost skin layer), the researchers have been not able to detect a difference in the epidermis’ ability to perform its main function (which is absolutely vital for our whole body)- as measured by trans-epidermal water loss and substance penetration through the stratum corneum.
Our bodies are made of chemicals, so is our skin. Plant extracts and DIY kitchen cabinet masks are made of complex chemical compounds, too.
In fact, their chemical composition is more complex than the man-made skincare ingredients. In other words, with a lab-produced ingredient, you are getting one pure well-known substance.
Plant extracts, on the other hand, can contain hundreds of different chemicals, with complex interactions between them.