While there is no fountain of eternal youth anywhere in cosmetics, there are substances which, when externally applied, can not only be absorbed but will also help improve skin's texture and quality, correct problems, and preserve youth. There are also treatments with masks, exfoliaters, massage, exercise, and hydrotherapy which, although the substances used to give them are not taken directly into the skin, will also do a great deal for skin health and beauty. They are all part of the rather esoteric art of skin treatment.
skin absorption - a useful tool
In general, your skin is impermeable. Water, for instance, will not go through it. Neither will most oils. However, if it is in prolonged contact with some substances, if it is broken or has a rash, or if it is rubbed with an oil, emulsion or extract whose molecular structure is fine enough to cross the epidermal barrier, then active ingredients it contains can be carried not only through the epidermis but deep into the skin and sometimes even throughout the body via the bloodstream. In fact the skin's permeability is constantly being exploited by drug companies which view this percutaneous absorption as a means of getting medication into the body without irritating the gastrointestinal tracts of sick patients. The three main routes of skin penetration are through the hair follicles into the sebaceous glands, through the sweat glands, and through the unbroken stratum corneum between skin appendages. Once a substance does get past the stratum corneum by any of these means, its further passage into the epidermis and dermis is pretty much assured.
Vitamins were first applied this way after the Second World War to treat ex-prisoners with severe vitamin deficiencies who couldn't take them by mouth. Vitamins D, E, and A - the fat-soluble vitamins; vitamin C; and some of the B-complex vitamins have all been used successfully in this way. Hormone absorption is well known. Oestrogen creams are often given to postmenopausal women by dermatologists. Many essential oils of plants are also absorbed very readily.
The important questions are, How do you make positive use of your skin's percutaneous absorption? And how do you protect it from misuse? The second question is easy to answer:
Avoid skin contact as much as possible with household chemicals, products containing toxic metals such as aluminum, lead, and mercury, and soaps with cleansers containing hexachlorophene. Also guard your skin from atmospheric chemicals in the air by cleansing it regularly twice a day and wearing a moisturizer/sunscreen, preferably one that contains the silicones that are particularly useful in protecting from pollution.
Then get to know the substances that can be usefully applied to the skin for treatment purposes, and discover which ones work for you, using them as night treatments or special cures. The French have an excellent idea of treatment in the concept of the cure. A cure consists of a particular product or substance applied daily for a specific period - usually about two weeks at a time - as a kind of shock treatment to stimulate better oxygenation of the tissues. Because this cure is different from what your skin is used to and because your skin doesn't ever get a chance to become accustomed to it and therefore to stop responding positively to it, cures often bring excellent results. A cure can be repeated every couple of months and will be particularly useful when given with the change of the seasons.
Here are some of the commonly applied skin benefactors that can be used on their own or mixed into simple oils and creams. Many of them will be found in some of the world's best manufactured cosmetic products - particularly the European ones and those truly based on plant oils and essences. But there are a lot of so-called natural or herbal products that are made of synthetics and have never seen a flower, lemon, or blade of grass - so choose carefully.
The vitamins and antioxidants
Vitamin A applied to the surface of the skin either from a capsule on its own or mixed into cream and oil preparations has been used successfully in the treatment of dry and aging skin and acne. It appears to work particularly well in combination with vitamin D, which itself has a healing effect on the skin. (This is why vitamin D is often used in nappy-rash remedies and in burn ointments.)
Vitamin E, about which there has been such controversy, and vitamin C are certainly useful in the treatment of skin healing from a cut or burn. There is no conclusive evidence that, applied topically, it will do much for normal skin, although many women who use vitamin E regularly claim good results from it. Both vitamins are natural antioxidants and as such are probably useful in preventing premature aging of the skin (as well as the whole body) but for this purpose should be taken internally as well. In a few people, vitamin E used on the skin can cause allergic reactions. So, if you decide to use it, test it out on a small area first.
Fatty acids can be very helpful in treating skin. GLA from borage oil or Evening Primrose Oil squeezed from a capsule enhances both the health of skin as a whole and improves the ability to hold moisture in all kinds of skin. Flax seed oil is excellent too. But it must be cold-pressed and kept in the fridge and you need to be careful of it on the body since it can stain clothes and sheets.
There are two ways of applying vitamins to the skin: You can squeeze the vitamin oils directly from the capsules (which works well with E but tends to smell very strong with vitamins A and D) or you can mix any of the vitamins into a simple carrier oil and then spread it on the face. Good times for doing this are before you take strenuous exercise (the physical exertion improves the skin's absorptive abilities) and after a facial sauna, steaming, or hot bath (when the skin is warm and moist). Leave your preparation on for twenty minutes, then either remove with cleanser or simply tissue off the excess.
The essential oils
Plant extracts, or essential oils, are some of the most useful substances for skin treatment that you will find anywhere. The chemical structures of these essences are close to those of the fluids and oils in the skin itself, so that the skin appears to have a natural affinity for them. Essential oils in small quantities mixed with a carrier oil are excellent for general skin treatment as well as for correcting problems such as early aging and excessive dryness or oiliness. Make sure when choosing them that you are buying the pure essential oils of plants, not their synthetic substitutes, which are much cheaper but have no therapeutic action.
Mix your own formulas, using fifteen drops of plant essences (that is, all the various essential oils you may use should total only fifteen drops together) to each ounce of carrier oil. Almond oil, apricot oil and hazelnut oil are particularly good carriers for the face. You can add vitamin E or A, squeezed directly from the capsules (the scents of the plant essences do wonders to mask the unpleasant odors of vitamins). Keep your mixture in a cool place (mix only small quantities each time), preferably in a brown glass bottle to protect them from the light.
Some plant essences such as fennel contain phytohormones, which have an action on the skin resembling that of hormones such as oestrogen. They have a remarkable ability to firm skin and stimulate cell metabolism in aging skin. Others, such as lavender and orange blossom (neroli) are cytophylactic: They stimulate cell reproduction in the basal layer. Most essential oils used externally encourage the elimination of cellular wastes and help regulate the activity of the capillaries, restoring a look of freshness and glow to the face. Massage them in gently. Here are some of the best essential oils for specific purposes.
For skin that is too oily: lavender, lemon, basil, geranium, juniper, and ylang-ylang.
For skin that is dry: sandalwood, geranium, rose, lavender, jasmine, and chamomile.
For aging skin: fenugreek, wheat-germ oil, sandalwood, rose, myrrh, frankincense, lavender, mace, clary.
You hear a lot about these little microscopic spheres used in cosmetics. Actually they are nothing in themselves but little delivery vans for active ingredients. Filled with GLA or plant fractions or antioxidants they are a great way of making sure these treatment substances and complexes are carried to just the right place in the skin where they can do the most good - restoring the integrity of cell membranes, improving the use of oxygen, and protecting from free radical damage.
Available only on prescription this derivative of vitamin A comes in gel, lotion or cream form. Originally used as an acne treatment in the late 70's doctors noticed that it also appeared to improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin, smoothing out fine lines, lightening freckles and blemishes and improving tone and texture. Retinoic acid can change cell metabolism, making cells turn over faster and bringing them better oxygenation and nourishment. That is all the good news and why for a few years retinoic acid was hailed as the great rejuvenator of skin.
The trouble is there is bad news too. First, it can cause birth defects used by pregnant women. It also irritates the skin badly, making it dry and flaky and highly sensitive to UV light damage. Retinoic acid has too often been used wrongly, even in the hands of doctors, in too high a concentration and all over the face. As a result it has recently gained a bad press. Used properly in low concentration (0.05%) it can be useful. But results come slowly over a period of three to six months and you still end up with highly sensitive skin. Retinoic acid is only for sun-damaged skin. It has little to offer natural aging skin.
the acids and enzymes
"Fruit Acids" otherwise known as alpha hydroxy acids or AHA's include such compounds as glycolic acid from sugar cane, malic acid from apples, pyruvic acid from paw paws and lactic acid from milk. They are used in all sorts of concentrations, some of which you can buy over the counter, others which can only be used by doctors. With regular use they dissolve the intercellular glue that sticks old dead cells together allowing them to slough off and make the skin clearer. They also help plump up the skin of the epidermis, help to fade age-spots and increase the skin's supply of hyaluronic acid - a natural moisturizer. Some also believe they stimulate the production of new collagen.
But why buy expensive products when you can use the fruits themselves complete with rich plant enzymes? Many of the best European skin-treatment products are based entirely on the actions of plant enzymes. These biocatalysts consist of two parts: the protein fraction, or apoenzyme, and the coenzyme. The smallest particles of enzymes are very large if one takes into account the entire molecule. However, thanks to enzyme splitting, the action of many plant enzymes is not restricted to just the uppermost layer of the skin. They can also produce effects on the deeper layers.
Enzyme splitting is part of the manufacturing process in the production of cosmetics that depend for their effectiveness on the action of those plant biocatalysts. Another part lies in preserving the stability of their actions. For enzymes are delicate substances. All are destroyed at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 C). Many also lose their activity if they come in contact with oxygen. Traces of iron or heavy metals also render them inactive. Finally, enzymes function best at the same pH as the skin - in a slightly acid medium. So the quality and the activity of vegetable and herbal extracts must always be carefully controlled in order to produce preparations of quality. But plant-based skin-care products that are made with all this in mind are excellent.
On a do-it-yourself level, raw fruits and vegetables from your own kitchen are rich in acids and enzymes and will, in my opinion, give you an even better effect used regularly on the skin than most of the expensive "Fruit Acid" preparations you can buy. For instance, the cosmetic effect of the juice of fresh cucumber, which contains Ascorbic acid oxidase, has long been known. It is slightly diuretic and astringent and good for all types of skin. Similarly, the juice of fresh lemons, which also contains phosphates and the enzyme esterase, is also beneficial, particularly for oily skins. It is antiseptic and refining. So are fresh carrot juice and fresh papaya, as well as the juice and pulp of many other fruits. The enzymes contained in them help stimulate the life processes in your skin's cells, making it firmer and fresher-looking and giving it a glow of health.
Only infinitesimally small quantities of enzymes - measured in millionths of a gram per liter - are needed for the enzymes to have a beneficial effect on the skin. And the art of using enzymes for cosmetic purposes is an elaborate one. For instance, for dry and tired skin one needs preparations with more proteases in them - enzymes that act on proteins; for blemished skin, or acne, you use more lipases - fat-affecting enzymes. When preparing plant-enzyme treatments at home, you need to make your preparations fresh each time and then put them immediately on the skin. The beneficial results will occur only so long as the living substances from the fresh fruits and vegetables have not yet been oxidized by exposure to air. And this oxidation process takes place rapidly. Here is an easy way of treating skin inside and out: When you make fresh juices with a juice extractor, spread a couple of tablespoonfuls on your face. Masks are also particularly beneficial when made with fresh fruit and vegetable juices or pulp plus other ingredients from the kitchen - beaten egg yolk plus a tablespoon of raw, unheated honey for dry skin, or two teaspoons of natural yogurt for oily skin. They are best used after a facial sauna, when the skin is highly receptive to whatever is put on it. The following juices can be made with a juice extractor or the fruits and vegetables can be pureed in a blender. Experiment until you find the ones that work best for you, for every woman's skin is unique.
air - let your skin breathe
It may surprise you to see such a common thing as air listed among the important treatments for external use on skin, but in many ways it may be the most valuable of all. It is also often the most neglected by women who tend to cover their skin day and night with heavy creams.
Although most of the oxygen your skin needs comes by way of the bloodstream, the skin also helps itself to as much as 2½ percent of the body's total oxygen from the air by direct absorption. Skin also directly eliminates almost 3 percent of the body's carbon dioxide waste. Generally, this direct oxygen intake is used only by the epidermis, where it helps to break down nutrients for cell use at the basal layer and to eliminate wastes. But in an emergency, when the body is short of oxygen, skin respiration can increase in order to partially oxygenate the blood as well. This ability of the skin to take in oxygen directly from the air appears to play an important part in maintaining its health and beauty. In the words of one oxygen researcher, Goldschmidt, "There is no doubt in my mind that skin respiration as such, and all our concern for its perfect function, is vital to health, life, even beauty ... the retention, holding back of exhaling carbon dioxide must produce a toxic condition in the body which is supposed to be discharged by way of normal respiration through the skin. If such unloading of carbon dioxide is made impossible, the condition of health suffers."
Yet how many women do let their skin breathe? We cover the face day in and day out with cosmetic products, not to mention necessary sunblocks and sunscreens, many of which form a heavy, occlusive film on the surface of the skin that severely impedes the natural exchange of gases through the skin's surface. And in some cosmetic products too high a concentration of preservatives can cut down the skin's ability to inhale. On the rest of the body we wear layer upon layer of clothing, much of it made from synthetic materials, which also tend to restrict this skin breathing process. All this, together with the fact that few women breathe deeply and fully even through their lungs, means that they may be severely depriving the skin of vitality both from inside and out.
Recently cosmetic manufacturers have begun to produce products - foundations and complex emulsion moisturizers - that do not interfere with the skin's air absorption. There are also several good treatment creams for older skin that contain ingredients designed to stimulate the skin's use of oxygen, which can be particularly helpful in aging skin. But whatever products you use on your skin, give it time to rest some of each night by cleansing it thoroughly and then leaving it free.
For instance, there is no reason to wear a night cream all night long. With any treatment product you put on your skin, the lion's share of what the skin will pick up is taken in during the first twenty minutes after you apply it. Leaving it on longer than that is a waste of time.
A night cream or a treatment oil or a mask can be applied after cleansing, for instance, left on for fifteen minutes to half an hour, and then removed before bedtime, so that your skin will be left free to breathe throughout the night.
On the other hand there are also useful tools for encouraging the skin cells' use of oxygen. As your skin begins to age, its respiration slows down so dramatically that by the time you are sixty your skin may be taking in only half as much oxygen as a teenager's. At that stage it is helpful to take adequate supplies of pantothenic acid and the other B-complex vitamins and to use products containing placental extracts on the skin's surface.
The skin on the rest of your body needs air too. Traditional European naturopathic methods of treatment have for years insisted on "air baths" as a means of increasing resistance to disease and strengthening the whole body. Patients are exposed to air in the nude or near nude for a specific period of time daily and even in cold weather. The treatment is even used with babies and small children, for colds and other infections. Practitioners claim that one of the main reasons women tend to feel so well during the summer months, while they are on the beach, is simply that their skin's surface is exposed to the air for long periods of time and that, although the sun's ultraviolet rays are destructive to skin tissue, the air exposure does it nothing but good: helping to clear up rough patches, lending a youthful glow to skin from improved circulation and better use of oxygen in the cells, and even, they say, revitalizing the whole body. They recommend spending from five to fifteen minutes a day (depending on the temperature) unclothed in the air - preferably outside or if that is not possible at least in a room in which the windows are wide open. They also recommend sleeping in a well-ventilated room. However you do it, find a way to set your skin free in the air for a few hours in every twenty-four.
Every now and then (how often depends on whether your skin tends to be dry or oily and whether you live in the polluted air of cities or the clearer, fresh air of the country) skin needs more than everyday cleaning. It needs deep cleansing, and one of the most effective ways of getting it is from a facial sauna. In fact, the only skin condition that doesn't benefit from facial steams, or saunas, is that in which broken capillaries appear in the cheeks and nose, in which case the warm steam could aggravate the condition.
A facial sauna will open the pores, drawing out impurities in them, soften the texture of the face, and tone the skin, all at the same time. If your skin is oily, you can benefit from one a couple of times a week. If your skin is dry, have one only once every two weeks. A facial steam is also an excellent way of preparing skin for treatment with masks, essential oils, creams, and vitamins.
Here's how: Toss a couple of handfuls of mixed herbs (see below) into two quarts of water you have brought to the boil and then removed from the heat. Now cover your whole head with a towel and put it over the steaming pot so the towel forms a tent to catch the steam. Sit in front of the steaming pot (not closer than one foot from the water), and breathe in the scent of the aromatic herbs for five to ten minutes. Finish the treatment by splashing with cool water to remove wastes accumulated on the surface of the skin, and follow either with a treatment cream or mask, or your usual moisturizer.
Here are some of the herbs you can choose from: chamomile, elder blossom, mint, basil, rosemary (particularly good for oily skin), sage, slippery-elm bark (good for sensitive skin), comfrey leaf and root (also good for delicate or inflamed or troubled skin), strawberry leaf, raspberry leaf, acacia flower, lavender, and rose petal.
the mask effect
Masks are one of the mysteries of the cosmetic world. The manufactured kinds come in many varieties and are designed for several purposes. You have to pick the right one for the right purpose. Many women don't. This is probably why they are often disappointed. Dermatologists disagree about their effectiveness. While some swear by them, others consider them little more than cosmetic security blankets. Chosen carefully, I believe, a mask can be a boon to beauty.
A mask is designed to perform one of the more specific tasks: to deep-cleanse, to tone, to stimulate circulation, to moisturize the skin, or to exfoliate - that is, to remove the outer layers of dead epidermal cells so the skin is refined and left more receptive to whatever treatment product you choose to put on it after. Most commercial masks contain a great amount of water, which makes their evaporation rate rapid and gives the skin a cooling and soothing feel. But this is of little more than psychological help to the user. The deep response to elements in a mask comes through the vascular network in the dermis, where active ingredients coupled with physical tension from the mask drying on the skin bring about increased circulation and help stimulate cellular activity.
1. THE TIGHTENING EFFECT
Putting the skin under a controlled degree of positive stress makes it look good. Most masks are smoothed on and then left to harden. They gently squeeze, and pinch the flesh while they are hardening. This constriction of the tissue, coupled with whatever stimulating properties the ingredients have, sets up a kind of temporary tension, When the constricting substance is rinsed away or peeled off, the blood vessels in the inner layer of the skin expand, the skin turns a pink tone, and the inner layer of it swells up somewhat as the fluid escapes from the enlarged blood vessels. This fluid pumps up the skin, making it resemble younger, more hydrated skin and making fine lines temporarily disappear. If the mask's tightening effect is powerful enough (as it is in clay-based masks, used for oily skin), the pores are also constricted, making them look smaller than they are. The whole face appears younger, smoother-textured, and more alive. The only trouble is, this mask effect is very transient. Almost as rapidly as it arrives, it can vanish, for as escaped fluid is reabsorbed, the skin returns to its normal state. But, for many women, this temporary lift, coupled with the fifteen minutes of enforced relaxation, is a useful beauty treatment.
2. THE EARTH TREATMENT
Some of the most common and useful masks contain a clay base to absorb excess oil and in the process lift out dirt from the skin's pores. They usually also incorporate such ingredients as resorcinol and salicylic acid to slow down the activity of the oil glands themselves. They are designed for oily, combination, and blemished skin ("combination" meaning dry skin that has an oily "T" patch across the forehead and down the nose), and can be a remarkably effective adjunct to your regular skin-care regimen. Most of them dry on the skin. Clay also has a mild bleaching agent in it, which slightly lightens the skin. These masks are definitely not for the driest or most sensitive skins and are a kiss of death to any skin with broken capillaries.
3. FACIAL PEEL-OFFS
In recent years, some of the most popular masks have been the peel-offs. Based on rubber, wax, or some kind of plastic, they are applied with a brush or fingertips, left to harden, and then finally peeled off like a piece of cellophane tape, taking surface dirt and some of the old dead cells of the epidermis with them. Because most of the peel-offs are translucent and many even transparent, they can be worn without fear of frightening the postman or the children. They form an occlusive layer on the skin which prevents water from escaping and encourages the tissue to store it up. They also contain specific treatment agents to soften the skin, and they come in formulas for all skin types.
4. CREAMS AND GELS
Other masks are specifically designed for moisturizing as well as treatment. They contain such substances as collagen, NMFs, oestrogens, and silicons, liposomes containing fatty acids, and are formulated to increase the water retention of the skin and to soften its texture. In the form of a gel or a nondrying cream, they are ideal for dehydrated skin and can be used several times a week if necessary. They do not exfoliate, but they do moisturize and refine the texture of the skin slightly, leaving it smoother and softer to the touch.
Although usually classified as masks, really these products are simply designed for smoothing out the surface of the skin, much as fine sandpaper does to mahogany. Very young skin doesn't need them. In the process of exfoliation, or skin sloughing, the cells that are dead on the surface are taken off, the pores (which may be blocked by cellular buildup) are opened, and excess pigmentation on the surface of the skin is removed. The texture is improved. Your skin becomes more translucent and a lighter and more uniform color. Exfoliation is particularly helpful to skin after thirty; as skin ages, the reproductive processes in the basal cells slow down. Removing the top layers of dead cells tends to stimulate these cells to reproduce more rapidly. It also makes the skin more receptive to any external treatment given afterwards. There are two types of exfoliaters on the market. Either will do the job well, so it is a matter of personal choice. One is a chemical exfoliater, which dissolves the cells when it is applied. The fruit acids, AHA's, are a good, gentle chemical exfoliation. The other is a pot-scraper physical exfoliater, which comes either as a little pad you wash with; as a mask you put on, let dry and then rub off like rubber cement; or as a cream containing lots of tiny grains. This kind you put on wet skin and rub gently for two or three minutes while the little particles in it scrape off the surface cells. Your skin can benefit from exfoliation once a week if it is dry, two or three times a week if it is oily. If you use exfoliation use it gently and with respect. It is easy to get too much of a good thing.
the medium of massage
Provided it is done skillfully, massage is a wonderful treatment for the face. But it must be done gently and carefully, for the muscles of the face and neck are made up of fibers which, unlike muscles in the rest of the body, are attached not only to bone but also to the skin itself. They are, therefore, delicate and must never be pulled hard, or massage can have a detrimental effect, rather than a helpful one. Always following the direction of the muscle fibers themselves, massage will stimulate blood circulation, which improves the tone of muscles and skin and promotes the use of nutrients in the cells and the elimination of wastes. Massage will also help the skin to absorb active ingredients in creams and essential oils.
Always begin a massage by covering your face with a cream or oil. Begin with effleurage, which means moving the palm of your hand and your fingers lightly over the surface of the skin. This has a soothing effect and a relaxing one which encourages blood and lymph flow. Start at the center of the chest with your right hand, sweeping it outward towards the left shoulder and then upward over the left side of your neck. Then do the same for the other side with your left hand. (Actually these movements can be done simultaneously, using both hands at once.) Now massage from the base of the neck at the rear to the hairline. Do each stroke five times. Massage the neck, bringing first one hand and then the other around the curve of the neck from back to front also five times. Now bring each hand, one at a time, upward over the front and sides of the neck, under the chin, and outward at the jawline (five times each side). Stroke upward from corners of the mouth to temples (five times). Now, using the palms of your hands, stroke upward from the chin, over the jawline to the hairline so that the fingers cover the center portion of the face and the cupped palms go over first jaw and then cheekbones to end at the temples (five times). Stroke around the eyes. Begin at inner corners, at both sides of the nose, and using your middle finger, stroke outward around the eye to the outer corner. Then begin at the same inner corner and stroke upward and outward in a half circle around the top part of the eye, just underneath the bone that forms the eye socket. (Repeat upper and lower semicircle five times each side.) Now stroke across the forehead, using the left hand to move from right to left, followed by the right hand moving from left to right - five times each side. Finally, with the tips of your fingers tap lightly several times all over the chin and jawline, then over the cheekbones, then all across the forehead.
Finish off the massage by removing the excess oil still left on the skin and splashing with cold water several times.
the esoteric helpers
Probably the finest toner you will ever find is simple ice-cold water. This is an excellent shock treatment not only for everyday use but also as part of postoperative care after plastic surgery. It stimulates cells, improves circulation, and brings back life to a neglected face.
Here's how to give yourself a water treatment: Add two dozen ice cubes to a basin of cold water. Tie back your hair and cover your face with a layer of rich cream (oily and thick) or Vaseline or vegetable oil. Put on cotton-lined rubber gloves (I prefer to wear cotton, rather than rubber, gloves). Splash water on your cheeks ten times, under your chin ten times, on your neck ten times, and on your closed eyes five times. By now your face should be tingling and feeling frozen, so you are ready to go to work on the parts that most need firming, such as lines around the eyes, and double chin. Splash each section six to ten times. (You can begin with half the number of splashes everywhere and work up each time you give the treatment.) Finish by patting your skin dry with a soft towel and then applying a little oil or eye cream under the eyes and on the cheeks. You can use this freezing treatment every morning if you like, or only once a week. It is good for all skin types except those with broken capillaries, which should never be put under the strain of temperature extremes.
Another marvelous skin treatment is spring water. Although I cannot say why, the spraying of spring water in microscopically small droplets from an atomiser or a spray bottle with a fine spray can not only hydrate skin but can also help eliminate skin eruptions and alleviate dry skin. I know two French dermatologists and an English one who have found this treatment useful in all kinds of skin inflammation as well. One of them believes that its beneficial results come from its being in such small droplets that the skin will actually take the water into itself. Whether or not this is true I don't know, but I do know it can greatly improve the texture and look of skin when used regularly. It is best to spray your skin after cleansing night and morning, before applying moisturizers or treatment products. I also find treatment products appear to be more effective when used after a skin spray.
Ionization is excellent for improving skin of all types and ages. Ionization is the discharging of negative air ions into the atmosphere and is well known for its ability to speed the healing of severe burns. It has also been shown to be helpful in the treatment of many types of migraine and respiratory ailments and in improving mental clarity. Negative ions, which have often been referred to as "vitamins of the air," are negatively charged air molecules which occur naturally in unpolluted air, particularly by the sea or a river or in the mountains. It is the presence of these molecules, which carry a tiny negative charge, that makes one feel so well standing beside a waterfall in the country. It is also partly their absence in polluted air and in the air of centrally heated or air-conditioned offices and houses that makes some people feel tired or depressed, and which can cause illness and emotional disturbances in weather-sensitive people when the so-called ill winds blow, such as the sharav in the Middle East, the foehn in Germany, the mistral in southern France and the chinook in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
Scientists still do not know whether the beneficial effects of negative ionization occur as a result of these tiny particles being absorbed by the skin, or taken in through the lungs in breathing, or both. But, besides their other health-promoting properties, negative ions are useful in improving acned and blemished skin and, even more important, in helping protect skin against premature aging.
This particular aspect of ionization is not one that has been proved scientifically yet, for most of the research into the use of air ions has been in the treatment of specific ailments, not as cosmetic treatment, but I can vouch for its effectiveness. I have seen it improve the skin of a number of women with all types of skin and of all ages. An ionizer you can put beside your bed at night will also help you sleep soundly. Ionizers are not cheap, but they are a most worthwhile investment.