The smell of skin care products is important for many reasons. Humans are programmed to dislike synthetic scent because it is potentially harmful. But what do we know about the functional scent of terpenes?
Terpenes are the largest classification of small chemical compounds derived from living organisms. You may not have heard of them before, but they are all around you. Listen in as Ella Cressman talks terpenes with registered nurse, certified aromatherapist, and international speaker Wendy Pagaduan. As an advocate for clean beauty, Wendy is devoted to integrating medical wisdom, philosophy, and plant medicine into customized formulations for effective skin care and wellness solutions.
Ella Cressman is a licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, business owner, and absolute ingredient junkie! As an educator, she enjoys empowering other estheticians and industry professionals to understand skin care from an ingredient standpoint rather than a product-specific view. She has spent many hours researching ingredients, understanding how and where they are sourced, phytochemistry, histological access, and complimentary compounds for intentional skin benefits. In addition to running a skin care practice, Cressman founded a comprehensive consulting group, the HHP Collective, and has consulted for several skin care lines, including several successful CBD brands.
00:00 Ella Cressman: You are listening to ASCP Etsy talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows it's all about you.
00:16 EC: Hi, hello and welcome to ASCPs Esty talk the ingredient decked out series. Here, we explore the fascinating world of ingredients and how they work within the skin. I'm Ella Cressman a licensed Esthetician and owner of a skin care studio as well as the HHP Collective. Today, we are going to discuss one my favorite, my new favorite ingredient, I say that every time, this is my favorite ingredient, but this classification of ingredients is so broad that it's just really fun to explore. And we're going to talk about that with one of my favorite industry friends, Wendy Pagaduan who is a registered nurse and certified aroma therapist. She has dedicated most of her nursing career to patient safety and education, and continues that intention in skin care product formulation. She's an amazing, amazing person. She combines aroma therapy and plant medicine with traditional medicine knowledge in formulating products. Her products not only smell amazing, but provide synergy and interaction with the body's systems, including the little known endocannabinoid system, and the overall intention is to encourage skin health. Wendy is a public speaker, an international educator, a cannabis medicine advocate, and I'm proud to say, my friend. Welcome, Wendy.
01:41 Wendy Pagaduan: Thanks for having me. How are you today?
01:43 EC: I'm great. So Wendy and I met in the cannabis circuit before the explosion of hemp cannabis infused skincare hit the mainstream and professional markets. And what we did is we would network at that time, Wendy, remember it was only, really it was very marijuana side-centric. It wasn't really hemp-centric, and we were very much hemp enthusiasts, and what I recognized in Wendy was two things that I felt very paralleled for. First was her intention to really bring quality products to the market, and the second was her passion to educate. And so we were kismet to meet and serendipitous friends, so Wendy thank you so much, and I'm super excited and honored that you are a part of this. You are a wealth of information, and I can't wait to get to it, so terpenes. Terpenes are on the tip of the tongue in 2020, not the only thing, but definitely a positive thing to focus on. We've heard more and more about these, and I think we both agree that terpenes are kind of in the mainstream because of hemp cannabis, but they have been around... Well have they? Wendy, are terpenes a hot new trend, or have we been using them already?
03:01 WP: We've been using them already, but they are a hot new trend. I don't think they're just a trend though, I think they're here to stay.
03:08 EC: I can agree. Trend. Yeah, that's great. That's an important thing. What does the terpene... I know there's all different kinds of classifications, different molecule sizes and such, but what's the simplest way that you can explain what is a terpene.
03:22 WP: A terpene, they're abundant in nature, we encounter them everyday from the flowers we smell, to the food we eat, to the spices we put on our food, and the trees we look at on a daily basis. The aromas that are coming from a pine tree or a rose, even your wine that you drink, the tannins that come from the wine are terpenes as well. So we're encountering terpenes on a daily basis from food to nature.
04:00 EC: Yes. They come from plants, animals, everywhere, really even the depths of the oceans, right?
04:07 WP: Absolutely.
04:09 EC: What would you say when people say, "Oh, so terpenes are essential oils."
04:15 WP: That's not a true statement. There are terpenes in an essential oil, but it's not an essential oil. There's a distinct difference. You get aromas from an essential oil, those are the terpenes within an essential oil, so it's a component within an essential oil, it's not an essential oil.
04:36 EC: So not necessarily they can... Can they [04:39] ____ or get their favorite network marketing companies, oils and they're using terpenes kind of, is that?
04:46 WP: Correct. Because you can extract a terpene out of an essential oil. You can extract a terpene out of a leaf of a flower, it's really like a molecular component of a plant, animal or herb.
05:03 EC: I guess a good analogy would be a margarita. [laughter] So a margarita is made of several components, one being tequila, and they together blend and that is voila, a cocktail. So in this case, terpenes would be tequila inside of the margaritas and the margarita would be essential oil, am I my following that correctly?
05:26 WP: That's a great analogy. Absolutely.
05:28 EC: Or for those non-drinkers, maybe brownies and chocolate are part of brownies.
05:32 WP: Yes.
05:33 EC: Okay. Great. Awesome. So what are some skin benefits of terpenes?
05:40 WP: There's a lot. We'll just go over a few. Terpenes can help with sebum production, so it can help with acne, it can help the blood flow, so it can basal dilate, which we know if you don't have enough blood flow in certain areas, your skin can become dry and have some problems in that respect and cause... It can help with inflammation, like dry skin is an inflammatory condition, so it can help with things like that, things like eczema, psoriasis, KP, those are inflammatory dry skin conditions, terpenes can target and direct those conditions. It can help with pain, it can improve skin immunity and what I mean, skin immunity, your skin is your largest organ. It's protecting your inner organs from the outer environment. And it has a very resilient ability to ward off problems, and utilization of terpenes can help you work those immune problems, whether it's dry skin or acne or problems with free radicals, that's just fumes in the air, sun damage, things like that.
06:55 EC: So terpenes work to fortify like a fortress. If our skin is our defense system, terpenes work to really fortify or strengthen those defenses, so not letting those outside assailants into our beautiful city, that is our body. Is that right?
07:13 WP: Exactly. You actually said it a little more eloquently than I was describing. Absolutely.
07:18 EC: Yes. And so that's amazing. I think something fascinating to me, I'd love being an esthetician, you know me, I eat, sleep, drink. Well, I guess I literally do eat on accident, not on purpose. But skin, I dream about the skin at night, I see functions. In fact, when I decided to go to aesthetic school, it was like this aha moment for me. I saw the movie of my life replaying in my head of these different instances. But something that's come now, almost 15 years later, something that's been an interesting understanding is, for years, I thought we just slept on a product and I'm gonna believe what the manufacturer said that this is what it's supposed to do. And then I started getting more skeptical, really understanding ingredients more and asking more questions, and then understanding the synergy of ingredients that has to happen, that has to be woven together, not just one ingredient inside the space. And so what then happened is this understanding of the function of the skin and skin care in particular. And I think a big differentiating factor in good skin care versus not so good skin care is the way that it encourages proper function of the skin.
08:31 EC: And Wendy just said it, is skin immunity and skin function as far as sebum production or cell proliferation when she's talking about KP, is that the terpenes have this way and let me know if I'm understanding this correctly. The terpenes have a way of simulating these natural functions, and these are the natural functions that slow down as we age or as we are exposed to environmental factors, I'll say, which could be stress or the blue light from our computer or being outside and the pollution that is out there. Terpenes initiate that. Often also, terpenes have a scent associated when we're talking about specifically that side of it. I think that's the first way people understand terpenes is by scent, especially on the cannabis side, because that's the profile there, so can you talk about scent and what that is?
09:29 WP: I mean it's pretty fascinating. Terpenes themselves are very multi-faceted, multi-functional molecules. Not only can we get the skin to react to it, but we can get our emotions to react to the aromas. Whether it's a terpene that's uplifting, like limonene or terpene that's relaxing that people are very familiar with is lavender that has linalool in it. You can react to those things as well as your skin having physiological reactions as well. So it's a pretty cool thing, but it's a very delicate process, meaning you don't wanna just overload a product with terpenes because there are side effects to putting too much terpene in products and it can go in the wrong direction if you think more is better.
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11:16 EC: So why isn't more always better because it's going to... Like photosensitivity or...
11:23 WP: Well, there's a number of things, not only you can overpower your olfactory system with scents because there's a lot of people out there that are sensitive to scents, even though their natural scents. In the sense, when we're talking about terpenes, we're talking about natural terpenes, we're not talking about synthetic terpenes. But people can be overwhelmed with scent. If you're light with scent, then they can get that emotional balance from the scent, whether it's uplifting mood, calming mood, better focus, things like that. And on the skin, if you overload the terpenes into a product, there are skin sensitivities, you can create allergies, you can create phototoxicity, which is sunburn. So if for instance, something like limonene, there's a lot of studies out there that show at certain percentages, in certain extraction methods will cause photo sensitivity to the skin. So if you don't know what you're doing with these terpenes, then you can cause problems on the skin and emotionally.
12:44 EC: I think that's an important thing because I think it's proceed with caution as far as DIY homecare or something. There is that delicate balance of adding those products because it is... You're right, it's just the amount, just the perfect amount, like the Goldilocks, not too little, not too much, but the just right amount, and that really needs to be determined by not just that additive of terpenes but also the entire formulation, right? And the synergy with the other ingredients.
13:12 WP: Yeah. Exactly. And there are a lot of studies out there that are looking at terpenes and how to utilize them to access and penetrate the skin, and through those studies they've found out that there is a happy medium with the amount in the percentages that you should be putting in these products, and once you surpass those sweet spots, let's say, then you start to see these side effects from overload of terpenes.
13:45 EC: So why would you... What is your theory on why every company isn't using terpene? It sounds like they're a functional scent, functional therapeutic scent.
13:56 WP: First of all, it's a knowledge deficit, so people are a little scared of them. Natural products people are wary of because they're not quite as precise, right? So you have to be able to work within, let's say, a percentage of 2%-4% and be okay with having 2.2% instead of an exact 2%. Do you know what I mean? Terpenes are affected by everything from A to Z meaning, weather, climate, altitude, time of day, time of year, all of that gets affected. And when you are producing these terpenes, like this year, depending on how our weather is, for whatever we're growing to get the terpenes out of, it can be completely different next year. Meaning, what I extract out of there, and when I take the lab values out of there, a lot of terpenes are read by GCMS, and it's gas chromography, something rather. It's how they do the testing for terpenes, it tells you the percentages of each and every terpene that came from that flower, let's say.
15:19 WP: And it can be completely different next year just because of the weather, and the soil and all of that is affecting it. So that's why I think that not everybody works with them because they're afraid that they can't get that precise... The precision that they do with synthetic things. And I think the natural community is kind of bringing this to the forefront that you can still work within a percent and still have your product be beautiful and effective and have a beautiful scent, but not overpowering, and again effective. And you know, being a nurse, I come from the life of precision. We make medicine, we give it at a certain dose and we feel like we know what we can expect and in the natural community, there's a little bit more variant to it. So for me it was a little bit of a thing to adapt to, but I love it now and I really I can't get enough. I pretty much read probably something just about every day about terpenes or some kinda natural medicine or plant or something that can help us with our health.
16:32 EC: You're kind of on a great illustration or example of the way... I hate the word society, but society is moving, so you have, you're a nurse, you're a registered nurse, you have this clinical background, you mentioned precision, I know what area of nursing you worked in before, and it was very spot on. And then you went to being an aroma therapist, which is that woo-woo mother-earth side, but I think what's happening is a lot of people are understanding the benefit and the medicine, and I say medicine, not like to diagnose, but the healing component, how should we say? The therapeutic aspect.
17:10 WP: The therapeutic aspect.
17:11 EC: The therapeutic aspect of plant medicine, and maybe before we have relied on synthesizing these molecules because the composition of these natural products does change and these products change and adapt with the environmental conditions that they're under. Too much rain, not enough pollination, too much, too little sunlight, these conditions change and adapt, but I think something to think about is, so do we. 'Cause we're in that same natural function too. We are inside a lot, especially now, or we're stressed out, we're rolling with life as just like the plants do and if we watch them, that's why we need different things at different times. And I think that's fascinating. I think what we've touched on, and I'd love to emphasize that terpenes are a scent, the one form of terpene is scent and not the volatile form of mono-terpenes and it's therapeutic scent, and therapeutic histological application, has skin benefits, but what are some bonus therapeutical... Therapeutic effects. [chuckle] I made up a new word. Bonus therapeutic effects from terpenes?
18:22 WP: Let me just go back just for one second to the... I mean, I also wanna talk about not only do some of these products have side effects, but they can be very delicate to terpenes, can be very delicate and have to be handled well because they're volatile molecules. So if they're not handled properly and they oxidize, let's say, limonene is a very delicate terpene, and if it's left out in a jar and you leave the cap off or not tight enough, you can oxidize that oil and ruin the product. And that oxidation can cause skin reaction. So I think that's the fear of some of these skin care companies, is the volatility of those kinds of products. A synthesized product, you don't have to worry about that, they're stopping that oxidation from happening.
19:25 WP: But with a natural product, if it's not treated with care, then you can have oxidation and other problems that can cause the product to react to people's skin. So I think that's why it's not widely used yet, and people have to figure out how to handle these products, store them, use them, and cap them pretty quickly after opening and re-sizing bottles when oil gets low. You don't wanna keep it in a large bottle and everytime you open, the oxygen has to come all the way up to the top of the bottle. So the best thing is to do is put it in a... Keep putting it in smaller and smaller bottles until it's empty. So those are the kinds of things that aren't always sustainable for some of these skin care companies, and it's a lot of steps and can be a cost factor.
20:20 EC: What then should a practitioner, for example, look for on companies that are using terpenes in their products?
20:31 WP: I think testing alone. If people are making sure they're testing their terpenes with some kind of GCMS procedure or at least getting those reports from their suppliers and things like that, there's some feeling that they have, some care that they're taking when using that kind of ingredient. I think that's one thing that people can be doing. And I think as you learn in you're working with these manufacturers, you get to know their procedures pretty quickly. I'm a very transparent manufacturer, when I'm in salons and spas and they're asking me questions about our procedures, I'm happy to share that kind of information and walk through our processes in how we handle all of our ingredients. And I don't know that every manufacturer's ready or prepared to do that or their sales people are ready to talk about those things either.
21:42 EC: Okay, Wendy. Well, let me ask you one more question. What's your favorite terpene?
21:47 WP: On any given day, it's probably limonene, just because it's uplifting, it's just... I'm a very positive person, I work off of positivity, I try not to bring any negative energy and limonene helps with that. But there are days that... It could be a hairy day and you need something a little bit more calming, linalool or lavender is a good one too. But my definite go to is the limonene.
22:20 EC: Well, thank you so much, Wendy. If anyone has questions, how can they reach out to you? What's the best way?
22:25 WP: One way they can get hold of me is... Social media is always the easiest @cleancoconutskincare. It is on Facebook and on Instagram. You can always hit up my website cleancoconut.com and hit the 'Contact Us', it's only me, so you're able to get me directly through that 'Contact Us' email.
22:50 EC: Well, thank you so much. I'll also include the contact information in the notes and have a great and happy day, Wendy. Thank you so much.
23:01 WP: Thank you. Have a great day.
23:04 EC: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all inclusive Association for Estheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights and an opportunity to spotlight your six skills, join at ascpskincare.com, only 259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows, it's all about you.