Trick or treat? How about both? Some ingredients provide benefits by tricking the skin into behaving or performing differently. In this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, we discuss some favorite ingredients that recharge cellular energy and interfere with inflammatory reactions and even one that should not be tried at home (maybe). Tune in to hear about effective trick-and-treat ingredients!
ASCP Esty Talk with Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman
Produced by Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP) for licensed estheticians, ASCP Esty Talk is a weekly podcast hosted by Maggie Staszcuk and Ella Cressman. We see your passion, innovation, and hard work and are here to support you by providing a platform for networking, advocacy, camaraderie, and education. We aim to inspire you to ask the right questions, find your motivation, and give you the courage to have the professional skin care career you desire.
About Ella Cressman:
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, as well as phytochemistry, histological access, and complementary 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.
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About Maggie Staszcuk:
Maggie has been a licensed esthetician since 2006 and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College. She has worked in the spa and med-spa industry and served as an esthetics instructor and a director of education for one of the largest schools in Colorado before coming to ASCP as the Advanced Modality Specialist.
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0:02:04.1 Ella Cressman: Hello, and welcome to ASCP Estee Talk. I'm Ella Cressman, licensed esthetician, certified organic skincare formulator, international educator, and content contributor for associated skincare professionals.
0:02:15.4 Maggie Stasek: I am Maggie Stasek, licensed esthetician and ASCP's education program manager.
0:02:21.0 EC: Maggie, do you have any funny Halloween stories? [laughter] Like, it's about that time, was it, like, in a couple days?
0:02:29.7 MS: Yeah, so I used to teach aesthetics, and any time I had a class around the October time frame, Halloween time frame, and it was the makeup module, they would always want to do Halloween face painting. And first, let me preface this by saying, makeup was the module that I disliked the most.
0:02:55.2 EC: I remember. [laughter]
0:02:55.3 MS: Yeah, because I'd bring in Ella to teach, FYI, everybody. [laughter] And so I would have classes that would look to me to say, oh, my God, can you teach us how to do face painting? And we want to do, like, Day of the Dead and skeletons. And I'm like, yeah, let's do this. And let me also say, this is aesthetics class, so we don't actually have face paint or, you know, all this kind of stuff.
0:03:21.5 EC: Really light foundation. [chuckle]
0:03:23.0 MS: So, you know, I'm like, bringing up my model to the front of the class, and we're going to do a bunny today. A little bit of lipstick on the nose and lipstick on the lips, and demo's over.
0:03:33.8 EC: [laughter] Special effects.
0:03:36.2 MS: Special effects, yeah.
0:03:37.5 EC: Oh, that's funny. Mine is not aesthetic-related. It's a hilarious story, though. Today we're going to talk about ingredients that trick and treat, and it's in honor of my mom, because this is the funniest story. So where I grew up, and we had elementary school, obviously.
0:03:55.5 EC: Then we moved to sixth grade, middle school. And in middle school was actually an old high school. So it was kind of a big deal. Like, you're there, and you're with all the upper-class people, and no, no, no. That's number one. Number two was a very, very small school. I think maybe 50 people in my class total, like, all of the classes. So maybe 150 people in the whole school. Everybody knew everybody. And they had a dance. So for me, as a sixth grader, it was the first dance, and it was Halloween dance. My dad, and it was at night on, like, a Friday. So I was all excited about going. All my friends were going to go. Everybody would go. And my dad said no. He said a bunch of funny things. And one of them was like, hey, she cannot go, because dancing is a mating ritual, and she can't go. And my mom was like, well, she should go. You know, she was on my side. She's like, what if I was one of the chaperones, and I would go, and I would make sure that nothing happened, and I would go with her.
0:05:09.3 EC: And so finally, she tricked him into letting me go, my treat. And the other thing that she did, she was fantastic about, like, making all of our Halloween costumes. So she... It was decided I was going to be the bride of Frankenstein. She was going to be Frankenstein. And the other thing to know about my mom, she's all in. So she had my dad's work boots on, black, like, work boots on, black jeans, a black turtleneck with thumbtacks in the side, and she had cut a milk carton to over her head, painted it. And not just was she all in. I mean, she looked the part, painted her face green and everything. Not only did she look the part, but all throughout the dance, she followed me around with her hands outstretched in front of her and was like, Ellie, Ellie, because that's what they called me growing up. And I was like, oh, my God, Mom, I'm so embarrassed. I can't believe it. So it served its purpose. I was able to go to the dance. She was like a supreme, supreme chaperone, and it was one of my favorite stories. So I was thinking about it, and I thought, what a great way to shout out my mom for helping me go to my first dance. And the other thing it made me think of, now back to aesthetics, some of my favorite ingredients that trick and treat, just like my mom was able to trick and treat. So let's talk about them. The first one is adenosine. So I don't only want to talk about the ingredient, but if it were a Halloween costume, what would it be?
0:06:20.1 EC: I hear the word adenosine, and I think of, like, a Latin ballroom dancer.
0:06:25.8 MS: Oh.
0:06:28.2 EC: Yeah, adenosine would be the name. [laughter] And it would be a Latin ballroom dancer because after you dance something so spicy and lively, you can't come away, even if you're just watching it, you can't come away without feeling energized. That's what an adenosine does. Yeah.
0:06:44.2 MS: I like it.
0:06:46.9 EC: So let's talk about what adenosine is. Maggie, what is adenosine?
0:06:51.8 MS: It is a purine nucleoside made up of two components, adenine and nitrogen, containing base, one of the two types of purine bases found in DNA and RNA, and ribose, a five-carbon sugar molecule.
0:07:05.6 EC: When adenine is attached to ribose, it forms adenosine, which is a fundamental building block of nucleic acids like DNA and RNA. That's what Maggie just said. Here's another fun fact. Adenosine, working in the medical field, has been used often for emergency resuscitation. So it's something you'll get if your heart stops, suddenly they may inject this into your heart. I like to think of Pulp Fiction, which is another fantastic costume idea, Mrs. Mia Wallace.
0:07:37.6 EC: So when it's injected into the body, all of a sudden, your heart starts beating again and such. In the body, it has several important functions. One is energy metabolism. Ding, ding. That's a key word for later. When it is broken down in cells, it releases energy, which is used to power many other cellular processes. Also, a neurotransmitter. So in the nervous system, it acts as a neuromodulator and a neurotransmitter, and that can have a calming effect on neuronal activity, that which influences sleep and wake cycles, among other functions. What other functions? [laughter]
0:08:15.5 MS: It's also cell signaling. It can activate specific cell surface receptors found in various cell types, which play a role in regulating processes like blood flow, inflammation, and immune response. Dilation of blood vessels can cause blood vessels to dilate, allowing for increased blood flow to tissues, and it's important in wound healing and oxygen delivery to cells.
0:08:39.4 EC: Finally, one of the other really important parts of adenosine is that it's anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. So it helps regulate immune response.
0:08:50.4 EC: Here's the trick. Adenosine, of course, as we talked about, is made by the body, and adenosine applied topically can also activate adenosine receptors, which encourages physiological effects and the natural production. That's the trick. So it not only supplements, but encourages the body to make more, and I think that's a really cool component of this particular one. As far as the skin goes, some of the important benefits are that it helps to stimulate collagen and elastin, it's anti-inflammatory, it can enhance the skin barrier, and it plays a role, just like in the body, in the skin, it helps with wound healing and scarring. And that's because it accelerates angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels. Also, fibroblast activation and collagen synthesis. That's really a cool point because it can help in minimizing scarring by promoting the organization of collagen, which is important. So when you have a scar or a deep wound, sometimes it comes back bumpy, even if you're not prone to keloids. So adenosine would help alleviate the opportunity for that, which is cool. If you are prone to keloids, it could minimize the actual keloid itself.
0:10:11.3 EC: And then finally, it helps to reduce puffiness by improving lymphatic drainage in the skin. So all over a really great Latin lover for your face. Okay, what do you think of when you hear the word glutathione?
0:10:18.9 MS: I don't know.
0:10:19.0 EC: What if I say it like this? Glutathione. [chuckle]
0:10:24.6 MS: Robot.
0:10:24.7 EC: Yes. So that would be... This ingredient's Halloween costume would be a robot. It is also something that is produced by the body. It is an extremely important endogenous compound that is imperative to physiology, not just skin health, but entire body health.
0:10:41.2 MS: It is not a new power compound. In fact, we're born with a healthy supply locked and loaded within nearly every cell of our bodies.
0:10:50.4 EC: I know, and I love that part. Glutathione is involved in many biological processes, including building and repairing tissue, making chemicals and proteins for the body, fortifying the immune system, and most importantly, acting as an antioxidant. Generally, just a sidebar, antioxidants have a short lifespan and they're exhausted after combating free radicals.
0:11:18.5 MS: Glutathione is converted to glutathione disulfide when it encounters, absorbs, and destroys free radicals. Glutathione disulfide, the oxidized version is then converted back to glutathione and is restored to full, free radical fighting capacity. Think of it like a grape that turns into a raisin and then naturally turns back into a grape.
0:11:39.1 EC: Boom.
0:11:39.4 MS: Boom.
0:11:39.9 EC: Magic. Isn't that cool?
0:11:41.7 MS: Yes.
0:11:41.8 EC: And it happens over and over and over. And except there can be different circumstances that can cause a glutathione deficiency. And that deficiency leads to, an opportunity for oxidative stress. Supplementing the skin with topical glutathione is important. That's the trick. The trick is, it's not only able to recharge itself, but it also resuscitates other spent antioxidants like vitamin C and E. So if we refer back to Maggie's analogy, that would mean the grape recharges and restores other fruit.
0:12:29.4 EC: Dried mango, dehydrated apple slices, freeze-dried strawberries, all of them return back to juicy, fresh fruit. I mean, that's pretty cool, isn't it? That's a cool little robot. Hold that thought, we'll be right back.
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0:14:24.6 EC: Okay, here we go. Let's get back to the podcast.
0:14:28.8 MS: So you guys probably have all seen the picture that is an analogy for the epidermis, where you have the grapes, the raisins, and then...
0:14:39.7 EC: Cornflake?
0:14:40.4 MS: The cornflakes. So when we're talking about the use of glutathione, are we affecting those bottom layers of the epidermis and rehydrating our raisins?
0:14:48.3 EC: We are not rehydrating the skin cells. We're actually reactivating vitamin C that would be depleted and burnt up and be coming back. Or.
0:15:00.4 MS: Got it. So we're impacting other antioxidants, not our cells.
0:15:00.6 EC: Right. Okay. How about tranexamic acid? What would be the costume for this?
0:15:05.9 MS: I don't know what the costume would be, but I just want to say that I love this acid, and it is trending right now.
0:15:12.5 EC: Oh, we also have this. If you are a Skin Deep subscriber, there's a complete article on this, but it's also my favorite at the moment. So, what is tranexamic acid, Maggie?
0:15:27.3 MS: It is a synthetic form of lysine and amino acid that was originally intended as a drug for the treatment of hemophilia to prevent excessive blood loss in surgeries and for heavy menstrual bleeding. Holy cow.
0:15:40.3 EC: Yeah, it's really cool. This is like an accidental really cool thing that they found, and it came out of Asia. And in that part of the world, when they were doing the research on this, there was a happy circumstance where they noticed the people taking this orally were exhibiting signs of like clear skin. So, oftentimes, internal complications can cause a hormonal response on the skin where it can darken like a melasma. And so, the patients who were also taking the medication for this other thing, or like pre-surgery or post, were having this brighter skin. So, that's the trick. Tranexamic acid works by blocking plasminogen to plasmin. And in the blood, same thing. So, plasmin would cause the clotting, which is why this is important to use post-surgery. In keratinocyte, that plasmin initiates melanin response into action. So, it calls it into the space. So, translating it to how does it work in the skin, what happens is the antiplasmin effect results in less free arachidonic acid, which reduces prostaglandin levels.
0:16:51.1 EC: And then by reducing prostaglandin levels, this reduces melanocyte tyrosinase production. So, now that we know that tyrosinase is the culprit of many unwanted pigment spots, it's not just a tyrosinase inhibitor, it actually prevents the initiation of the entire melanin production process. That's why it's such an effective ingredient in addressing that hard-to-treat pigment disorder of melasma. And as a side effect, sun-induced damage, device-induced damage, and hyperpigmentation from inflammation.
0:17:33.8 EC: Here's the other trick with this, is how it's formulated is key. So, it does all of these things, but it doesn't mean it plays well with others. It doesn't really do well with small molecular weight alpha hydroxy acids. So, I've seen it in peels and stuff, but it's nulled. It does better on its own in a serum, maybe with other brightening or a cream with other brightening, but not with those. So, great to use as a take-home product for post, great to use as a preparatory product, not really good in peels. The trick. There's another one that's, one of those ingredients that's been around for a long time, and that is rice water. It's making a splash, if you will, on the scene now. So, let's talk about what rice water is.
0:18:15.4 MS: Yeah, it is the starchy water obtained from washing uncooked rice. So, if you've ever been cooking rice, you rinse it under the water, you see that water draining kind of milky, that's the starchy water.
0:18:28.0 EC: Yeah, and it's been used for a long time in a lot of different cultures as a natural beauty remedy. It is anecdotal at this point because there's not as much scientific evidence on rice water itself and their potential skin benefits, but if you were to examine rice water and what's in it, then you have the if-then philosophy.
0:18:54.7 EC: For example, skin brightening. So, it's thought that rice water can be very skin brightening because it can be assumed the presence of vitamins and minerals that are extracted, particularly niacin or vitamin B-3. Other touted skin benefits are skin hydration, anti-inflammatory effects, supporting of the skin barrier, anti-aging, and a lot of the people use it for acne. Here's the trick. I mean, this goes right with a lot of things that we've talked about before, and this is absolutely my personal opinion and I want to know yours. Don't DIY this because as you were talking about that milky water, when I rinse my rice, all I can think of is like fingertips used to like process it, machines going through to separate it, sitting on a Connex box and going across the sea. That's what I feel like I'm washing off.
0:19:50.3 EC: Again, no scientific evidence to back this up. This is just what I'm thinking. Now, at home, I can imagine that there's no way for me to test it for pesticides or different malicious components. There is a trend of rinsing your water and putting it on your face and making different things. However, I would not recommend using this as a toner or a facial cleanser like you might find a recipe for on a social media site. I would not mix it with other natural ingredients that maybe I would... Actually, I never would. So for me, that's the trick. Don't do that. Instead, look for skincare products that include rice water as an ingredient. And the reason is there's certain standards that have to be met for FDA-approved labs. They have to have certificate of origin. They have to have certain testings. So just don't DIY this one. What do you think?
0:20:45.0 MS: Yeah, no, I totally agree. And DIY can go terribly wrong. You think about, it's just rice, for instance. Let me tell you a story. This is nothing to do with rice. But there was a girl who we were talking about chemical peels. We were teaching the origins of these AHAs and BHAs. And she decided to go home, chop up and mush up a bunch of strawberry thinking she was getting natural glycolic acid, applied it to her face, and got second and third degree burns. So while rice water certainly is probably not going to have that effect on your skin, like you're saying, you don't actually know what's on your rice. There are a lot of people that don't rinse their rice, cook it and eat it, and there's no problem. But when we're applying it to our skin, and you might have little micro tears in your skin, maybe you just had a dermaplaning, and you just, you don't know what's in that water.
0:21:37.2 EC: Yeah. So better safe than sorry. Just get it already mixed up. [laughter] For sure. I agree. So the last thing I want to talk about is your Halloween costume this year, Maggie. [laughter] Do you have any ideas of what your Halloween costume might be?
0:21:52.7 MS: Yeah. I'm going to be Daphne from Scooby-Doo.
0:21:58.6 EC: Oh, I love it. I love it. I'm going to be Cesar from The Dog Whisperer because my husband goes hunting on Halloween, and I'm home with our dog. He's 140-pound Cane Corso who, like, last year we had somebody, and he wasn't even full grown yet. We had a kid come to the door and run away. [laughter] So, I was like...
0:22:15.2 MS: Oh my God.
0:22:16.1 EC: Because I'm going to dress up as a dog trainer and just be like, sit. [chuckle]
0:22:18.2 MS: That is awesome. I love that. I read his biography, and it was really good.
0:22:22.7 EC: Oh, good. Good. I'll have to check that out.
0:22:25.2 MS: Check it out.
0:22:26.1 EC: Now, listeners, we really want to hear from you. What are your favorite trick and treat ingredients? Be sure to let us know, comment on our social media posts, or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to know all the details. In the meantime, thank you for listening to ASCP Esty Talk. For more information on this episode or for ways to connect with Maggie or myself, or to learn more about ASCP, check out the show notes and stay tuned for the next episode of ASCP Esty Talk.