About Skin Station

Our Chairman and CEO, FRED C. REYES has been doing research and developing new advanced skin care products for SkinStation, which are now available under the DERMAX Professional brand. He is a multi-awarded cosmetic Chemist. In 2008, he was the recipient of Achievement Award in Industry conferred by the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies, the umbrella group of Chemists associations in the country. The Outstanding Professional Award in Chemistry came next, in 2011, from the government's Professional Regulations Commission (PRC).

DERMAX Professional is the exclusive skin care line of SkinStation. It has established a cult following among the urban sophisticates. “DERMAX uses only the best, the latest, and the safest ingredients at clinical strength, definitely at par with the world’s best. With DERMAX, we have no cost constraint. Our only aim is to delight our customers,” declares Fred Reyes.

We present to you articles written by Fred Reyes himself which appeared in the SKIN SMART column in Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section.

The Official Blog Site

Martes, Agosto 28, 2012

Dark Eye Circles and Eye Bags

Dark Eye Circles and Eye Bags

Despite what most people think, stress or lack of sleep are not the primarily causes of dark eye circles. Actually, micro capillaries that leak blood close to the skin’s surface cause the dark circles. When this blood begins to oxidize, it turns a bluish red color, similar to a bruise. Since the skin under the eyes is very thin and translucent, the under eye bruises appear more prominent. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and dark circles are likely to become more noticeable and permanent.
Puffiness below the eyes is commonly referred to as eye bags. There is the transient type, caused by crying, wrong sleeping habits, or allergic reactions. This transient type is due to fluid accumulation under the eye area. There is also the permanent type that is related to heredity and age. Such permanent puffiness is caused by increase in size of fat pad below the eyelids.
Preparation H has been touted to reduce eye puffiness.  However, there is no clinical evidence to show that the product designed to shrink hemorrhoid can do the same for eye bags. Besides, Preparation H has been reformulated, and “live yeast cell,” one of the ingredients that is supposed to reduce puffiness is no longer part of the formula.
HYALIFT helps address the twin problems of
dark eye circles and transient under-eye puffiness.
SkinStation introduced late last year the HYALIFT Eye Repair Duo to address the twin problems of dark circles and eye bags. It has an icy metal roller ball tip that cools and massages the eye area to reduce transient puffiness. Its one-of-a-kind formula is a blend of tourmaline and caffeine extract that increases microcirculation to decongest dark circles, plus Hyaluronic Acid, Retinol, antioxidants, peptide and other anti-aging components to boost collagen production and help erase fine lines and wrinkles. The ingredients are nano-encapsulated for faster and consistent results.
For removal of moderate to severe puffiness (eye bags) due to aging, the usual procedure is plastic surgery called blepharoplasty. With blepharoplasty, hoods and bags can be removed but the eyelid skin may remain wrinkled and old looking.
Our doctors at SkinStation have successfully used PIXEL (Erbium:YAG fractional laser) in smoothing and tightening  the lower eyelid skin. PIXEL creates controlled wounding of the skin, to grow new collagen. Although the skin in this area is thin, the laser is precise in its depth of treatment. The skin of the lower lid actually tends to heal faster than skin in other areas of the body. To get good result, more than one treatment is needed. With PIXEL, a truly fresh and rejuvenated eyelid appearance is now possible, including softening of crow’s feet.
There are other new, non-surgical rejuvenation procedures that work well for fine lines and wrinkles of the eyelids. Botox and Dysport give instant effect. Dysport injection techniques have undergone recent changes to avoid the frozen look. Radiofrequency (RF) and IPL photo rejuvenation procedures can tighten the skin.
Consult your doctor whether you are a candidate for any of the above procedures, or if eye creams and lifestyle changes are sufficient to address your concerns. It would feel good to finally say goodbye to your concealer and make-up to camouflage dark circles and eye bags.
This was published in the August 28, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section. The author , Fred C. Reyes, is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.

Martes, Agosto 21, 2012

Preservatives: Parabens and Alternatives

Preservatives: Parabens and Alternatives

Let’s start with a plain simple fact. There can be no safe cosmetic or skin care product without an effective preservative system. Without preservatives, your everyday cleanser, cream, lotion, or toner would be loaded with bacteria, mold, and fungus, making them unsafe for your skin. A product with “preservative free” claim is either potentially harmful or blatantly mislabeled.

The most commonly used preservatives in skin care products are the parabens, as they offer significant protection at very low doses while at the same time being affordable. They come in a variety of forms, such as the methyl, propyl, and butyl paraben. The past decade, however, there has been media frenzy on the “risks associated with estrogenic effects of parabens, with potential to induce tumor in breasts.” The stories on their potential harmful effects have found wide circulation that the public has lately been avoiding products with parabens.     

Are parabens really that bad? In a word, no. Despite the demonization of parabens, the government regulatory agencies around the world have taken the position that in the small amounts used in personal-care products, parabens do not pose a significant health risk. There is no legitimate scientific reason for consumers to avoid cosmetic products that contain parabens.

If for your peace of mind you would rather avoid anything suspect, the good news is that there are safe and effective alternatives to parabens. However, for the natural purists, the bad news is that there are no available 100% natural broad spectrum ingredients that can adequately provide the required product preservation.  

Following the paraben scare, these are a few of the ingredients that have emerged as the most commonly used, including products with natural and organic claims:
Phenoxyethanol - The most widely used paraben alternative, phenoxyethanol is an effective and very stable antimicrobial. It isn't as good at preventing growth of fungus and mould, so it is often combined with an anti-fungal preservative such as potassium sorbate or diazolidinyl urea.

Potassium Sorbate - Approved by Australian Certified Organic (AOC) for use in organic skincare products, potassium sorbate inhibits moulds and fungus, but only kills a few bacteria, so it is often combined with phenoxyethanol. It is non-toxic and non-sensitizing.

Airless containers help increase shelf life.
Natural Preservatives - There are natural alternatives that offer limited antibacterial protection. Grapefruit seed extract, essential oils of thyme, oregano and tea tree, as well as rosemary and neem extracts are protective against some strains of bacteria and rancidity. Unfortunately though, on their own, they don’t protect from all forms of bacteria and fungi.

Although most products have an indicated expiry date of 2 to 3 years from manufacturing date, once opened, their shelf life can be as short as 30 days, at most 6 months. So many people contaminate their creams by not following simple hygiene rules, like washing hands before applying skin cream. Some of the bacteria that can infect cosmetics can cause allergic reactions resulting in irritation and itching of skin. When this happens, the usual assumption is that the allergic reaction was caused by any one of the ingredients. The possibility of microbial contamination is rarely considered.

Packaging design can also play a role in extending product shelf life. The new advanced airless containers prevent product degradation from air exposure, and have hygienic design that helps protect the product against contamination.

This was published in the August 21, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.

Martes, Agosto 14, 2012

Red Light Therapy: LED vs. IPL


Red Light Therapy: LED vs. IPL

Red Light Therapy earned the moniker NASA Light Therapy for a good reason. More than 40 years ago, NASA observed that astronauts who became injured while in space would not heal until they were back here on Earth. When plants were placed aboard spacecraft to experiment with ways to grow food during long distance space travel, the astronauts who became injured were healing before they got back to earth. The scientists determined that the red lights that were used to encourage the plants to grow were in fact healing the astronauts' wounds!

Red Light Therapy uses wavelengths of visible red light from the 630 -- 660 nanometers, and the invisible infrared light at 880 nm, to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin. Visible red light penetrates to a depth of 8-10 mm. The dermal layers, with high water and blood content, absorb red light very readily.  It is beneficial in treating problems close to the skin surface. It promotes healing of inflamed acne, wounds, cuts, scars, and infections. It can also be recommended as a post care treatment after fractional laser, dermal roller, chemical peel, and dermabrasion.
LED Light Therapy 

Infrared light penetrates deeper and stimulates the activity of fibroblasts, which are responsible for making the proteins collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are responsible for supporting the skin and giving it its elasticity. Replenishing the collagen and elastin helps smooth wrinkles. Infrared light uses relatively longer wavelength, penetrating to a depth of 30-40 mm, which makes it effective also for problems with bones, joints, and deep muscles.

The favored source of concentrated red light is LED (light emitting diode), which do not get hot and do not burn out. LEDs are very small special light bulbs illuminated by the movement of electrons in a semiconductor material. LEDs emit both visible red light and infrared light.

The Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy published a 2005 clinical study on 31 subjects who received eight weekly treatments of infrared LED light therapy. After the treatments were done, 82 percent of the patients reported that they had a marked reduction in facial wrinkles, especially around the eyes. Through a technique called photoaging scoring, 52 percent of the subjects had significant improvement in their facial appearance. This study concluded that while infrared LED light therapy is a valid and effective way of treating wrinkles and other blemishes for many people, although it won’t work for everyone.

Aside from LED, another device for photo rejuvenation is IPL (intense pulsed light). A handpiece is placed gently on the skin which delivers flashes of lights, also in the visible red and near infrared range. IPL photorejuvenation consists of full-face treatment or treatment of isolated body areas like the hands or chest. The treatment regimen typically consists of four to six treatments at two-week intervals.

It is important to understand that it is the light itself at specific wavelengths that is therapeutic in nature and not the machine that produced it. It is of course important that the operator sets the correct wavelength and prescribed power for the specific treatment to be effective. LED Red Light Therapy and IPL Photo Rejuvenation therapy are non-invasive anti-aging alternatives, which are both available in SkinStation. 
This was published in the August 14, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.

Lunes, Agosto 6, 2012

Stem Cell in Skin Care: Hope or Hype? (Part 2)

Stem Cell in Skin Care: Hope or Hype? (Part 2)
Skin Cells as Stem Cells. In 2007 Dr. Shinya Yamanaka's team announced that they succeeded in turning human skin stem cells into the equivalent of human embryonic stem cells. This means stem cell research is now possible without the controversial use of human embryos. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize for the discovery, which could potentially help repair damage to heart, bones and muscles, and combat Parkinson's, diabetes, and blood diseases.
Stem Cells on Skin. While skin stem cells have found use in treating diseases, stem cells in skin care products have been largely based on hype rather than science. The concept of topically applying stem cells, through cream, serum, mask, or facial procedure, with a promise to “replenish dying cells and regenerate dying tissues” simply does not wash.
First and foremost, stem cells are highly unstable. Second, they will not enter skin without an effective liposomal or nano delivery system. And as mentioned in Part 1, plant stem cells simply cannot relate with human stem cells. Plant stem cells can be useful, being excellent antioxidants, but marketing hype has made the public imagining benefits bigger than reality.
If we look at skin care products with stem cell therapy claims, the ingredients list have either plant stem cell, human stem cell extract, or ovine (sheep) placental extract. Products with plant stem cell may fetch as much as $400, with human stem cell claim, up to $2000. These high-end products can work wonders and can improve skin condition. Why not? They should, but not because of stem cells. It's because they contain a cocktail of anti-aging ingredients such as antioxidants, sodium hyaluronate, retinol, and peptides. 
What Works. At the moment, the most effective stem cell source is the patients’ own cells – called autologous human cells. It is also the safest. Stem cells are harvested from bone marrow, peripheral blood, and skin removed after a tummy tuck operation. These stem cells are not only able to cure diseases; they are also used for aesthetic purposes.
Non-autologous human stem cells can be retrieved from human placenta - typically tossed as medical waste after birth.  The human placenta, a rich source of stem cells, is preserved immediately after birth and the processing starts in the delivery room. 
Conclusion. Stem cell therapy is undergoing fast paced development, with the ethical issue now a thing of the past. The focus of the researches, as they should be, is on repair of body tissues and treatment of diseases. Effective and safe applications in dermatology do exist, and we expect better and more economical options in the coming years. However, we should be wary of marketing hypes, especially in the absence of regulations governing stem cell claims.
This was published in the August 7, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph

Lunes, Hulyo 30, 2012

Stem Cells in Skin Care: Hope or Hype? (Part 1)

Stem Cells in Skin Care: Hope or Hype? (Part 1)

Stem cell is touted as the new miracle cure in anti-aging, and has found its way in skin care application. Is it the greatest advance in anti-aging skin care, or is it just a lot of marketing hype? Both answers are probably correct, depending on the source, processing, and application of the stem cells. 

Stem cells are a part of all living things: plants, animals, and humans. They have the ability to develop into different cell types, and continue to divide almost indefinitely. When a stem cell divides, the daughter cells have the potential to either remain a stem cell, like the parent cell, or they can differentiate into cells with a more specialized function. (See diagram below.)

Skin Stem Cells
The skin stem cells are located at the base (basal layer) of the epidermis. When the cells divide, they form more stem cells, and daughter cells that progressively differentiate into skin cells as they travel through the epidermis. They eventually degenerate and die as they reach the skin surface. The skin that you touch is composed is composed of dead keratinized cells that are shed. Skin stem cells continuously renew the epidermis, with a normal turnover of 25 - 30 days.

Skin Aging
As we age, the stem cells begin to regenerate more slowly, with skin cell turnover likewise slowing down. Dying cells begin to outnumber their regenerated counterparts, which lead to signs of aging. It is for this reason that stem cells make an intriguing additions to anti-aging products. These expensive anti-aging products claim having stem cell ingredients from plants, animals, and/or humans.  

Plant Stem Cells
Plant stem cells are frequently derived from Swiss apple, grape seed, lilac, melon, rose or rice plant. These plant-based stem cells can be found in many expensive anti-aging products. Are they beneficial to the skin? Yes. They have properties not unlike antioxidants and are an excellent source of protection against free radicals.

But do plant stem cells stimulate the body's human stem cells? NO! It’s a clear case of marketing hype based on contentious scientific assumptions. Human cells communicate by a complex symphony of biochemical signals exclusive to the animal kingdom. There is no way plant stem cells can relate to human stem cells.

Animal and Human Stem Cells
While it is logical to assume animal and human stem cells will provide a better source of ingredients than plant stem cells, that is not always the case. This will be our topic in Part 2.


This was published in the July 31, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin, Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.

Lunes, Hulyo 23, 2012

Understanding Cosmetic Label Claims

Understanding Cosmetic Label Claims

Do you really know what you’re buying when you choose a product labeled as hypoallergenic and allergy tested? Or natural and organic? We have been programmed to think that if a label has these claims, the product must be safe and superior. But this is not necessarily true. There are many misleading cosmetic label claims and you should know what to look out for.
The hypoallergenic and allergy tested claims imply that the products are less likely to cause allergic reactions than others.  Unfortunately, the claims are largely unverified, as most countries have no existing regulations on their use.
To understand the absence of regulations, let’s go back to 1975. That year, the U.S. FDA issued a regulation requiring companies with hypoallergenic claim to conduct clinical trials on human subjects. The scientific studies should show that their product caused a significantly lower rate of adverse skin reactions than similar products not making such claim. The manufacturers of Almay and Clinique contested the FDA regulation, reaching the U.S. Court of Appeals, which subsequently ruled that the FDA requirement is invalid.
The Philippines FDA requires manufacturers to substantiate any hypoallergenic claim, but like in most countries, there is no clear standard on what kind of evidence is required.  To support the hypoallergenic claim, manufacturers generally avoid the use of fragrances and paraben preservatives, the culprits in most cases of cosmetic allergic reactions. It is good that listing of ingredients on cosmetic labels is now required, so you will be guided.
Organic ingredients are defined as natural, plant-based extracts produced from farms that do not use synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and are not processed using chemical solvents or additives. For a cosmetic product claiming to be organic, look for the stamp from any one of the following certification bodies in the world. Each body has its own set of standards.
The Australian Certified Organic (AOC) stamp requires 95% or more certified organic ingredients with the remaining 5% being restricted to natural ingredients. AOC has the most stringent requirement.

DERMAX Squalane Oil
has ECOCERT seal. 
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic logo sets a minimum of 95% certified organic content (excluding water and salt). The remaining 5% can include non-natural ingredients. The word ‘organic’ can be used on products with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, but these products are not permitted to display the USDA organic seal.

ECOCERT is the European standard for organic labeling. In 2003, it became the first body to set standards for organic and natural cosmetics. The ECOCERT natural and organic seal requires a minimum of 95% plant-based ingredients with at least 10% of all ingredients coming from organic farming. The natural stamp is allowed with a minimum of 50% plant-based ingredients with 5% of all ingredients certified as organic.

NATRUE is a Belgian based organic cosmetic certification body. It specifies at least 95% of the product’s natural ingredients “must come from controlled organic cultivation and/or controlled wild collection”. Note that the requirement is not to have 95 per cent organic ingredients – just that 95 per cent of the natural ingredients used must be organic.

In the Philippines, there is still no standard set by any independent or legal body for organic claims in cosmetic products.

This was published in the July 24, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.

Lunes, Hulyo 16, 2012

Is there hope for acne scars?

Is there hope for acne scars?
Most people recover completely from acne without any permanent scarring. Those with severe acne are not as lucky. They are left with disfiguring acne scars of various types that can leave them feeling self-conscious about their appearance. Picking, pressing or rubbing of pimples or whiteheads increases the possibility of scar formation.
When acne clears up, pink, red, or dark spots often appear on the skin. The good news is that these are not scars and will eventually fade. To be classified as scar, the skin defect has to persist for at least a year. Topical products with lightening and exfoliating ingredients like Retinol-C serum, NanoWhite cream, and AcneX soap can lighten these dark spots. Multiple sessions of mild glycolic peel combined with diamond peel may provide faster relief than topical medication.
Acne scars take several shapes. The back and chest get the hypertrophic scar, which is thick and lumpy. The face usually gets the depressed types of acne scars, named after their shapes.  The first is an ice pick scar, which is deep pitted with steep edges. The second is a boxcar scar, which has sharp, square sides to it.  The third is a rolling scar, which has wide, shallow and curved indentation.
Most successful acne scar treatments may take multiple sessions over a period of several months before significant improvement can be seen. The basic steps of acne scar removal may include a combination of the following procedures:
Dermal fillers: These are substance that can be injected into depressed scars to plump them up to the level of the surrounding skin. Hyaluronic acid injectable like Restylane and Juvederm are good fillers for shallow to deep acne scars. They can last from 3 to 18 months, depending on the material used. Your own fat, taken from another part of the body, can also be used as dermal filler and can last from 1 to 3 years. Ice pick scars may require dermal fillers.
Chemical peels: A chemical solution like trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or glycolic acid is used to peel away the outer layers of skin. The solutions are available in several strengths, and used according to the degree of peeling desired. A series of 4 to 6 superficial peels are effective for improving discoloration from acne, while medium depth peels or a deep peel can improve the appearance of atrophic acne scars. Healing can take from 3 days to 3 weeks depending on the depth of peeling. Avoiding unnecessary sun exposure, wearing sunscreen daily during the healing period and following post-care instructions are important to prevent unwanted side effects.
Fractional laser is available
 at SkinStation. 
Fractional lasers: Excellent results can be achieved for the boxcar and rolling acne scars with ablative fractional lasers using CO2 or Er:YAG. These lasers are called “fractional” because they work by resurfacing only a “fraction” of the skin at a time, leaving the surrounding area intact for faster healing. These lasers poke tiny microscopic holes in the skin down past the epidermis and into the dermis, causing new collagen to form, which fills in the acne scars and smoothens skin. The same basic principle is the basis for micro-needling procedure (dermaroller or auto stamping) which we call the COLLAGENESIS in SkinStation, but more sessions are needed to approximate the same benefits one can get from fractional laser resurfacing.

Scar surgery: The goal of scar surgery is to raise the scar to the level of the surrounding skin, thereby creating a smooth appearance.  Sometimes the scar is actually cut out and the edges of the remaining skin are brought together.  Fillers may be used to raise the affected area. 

Before committing to any medical treatment for acne scar, be sure you have all the knowledge you need to make an educated decision.  Have your free consultation with the doctors at SkinStation so that you fully understand the risks and benefits of each treatment option.
This was published in the July 17, 2012 issue of Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Section. The author is the CEO of SkinStation. He received the 2011 Outstanding Chemist Award from Professional Regulations Commission for his achievements in the field of cosmetic chemistry. He can be reached at fred.reyes@skinstation.ph.