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Cosmetic Products

Submitted by Admin on Wed 18, 2010


One of the hallmarks of femininity, and the secret weapon of every femme fatale, are long, luscious eyelashes. From the pages of Vogue to the images of cartoon character Jessica Rabbit, long lashes are considered a universal characteristic of feminine beauty. Although every woman desires long, thick, glamorous eyelashes, not all of us have been blessed with Jessica Rabbits's glamorous look.  To enhance the appearance of eyelashes, there a dizzying array of products and procedures to choose from.

The simplest way to enhance lashes is through the use of mascara. There are many types of mascara, all claiming to give you the full lashes you want. Mascaras can be a great way to get darker lashes, with some fullness and length. They work by darkening, thickening, and giving a slight curl to the lashes by depositing the product onto the lashes.  They are relativity inexpensive, so it is easy to try different kinds or brands to find one that you like. Most mascaras are tolerated fairly well with little irritation and possible side effects.  However, mascara alone has its limitations. Mascara can only make superficial changes to the lashes and for some of us, that is not enough. The thickening and darkening of lashes with product can leave lashes clumpy or cakey, and the effects last for a limited time.

Once and awhile, or on special occasions, false eyelashes can be a good option in creating a dramatic effect. However, false lashes have drawbacks that make them impractical for everyday use. False eyelashes can cost anywhere from $15-$50, so using them everyday would be very expensive- as much as $1,500 a month! In addition, removing false eyelashes and the eyelash glue can cause lasting damage. This removal pulls out the natural lashes, and over time, this can cause lash grow to halt. A more lasting form of false lashes is lash extensions, which can be applied at a salon and last 2-3 weeks. But lash extensions are also cost prohibitive, a single application cost between $450-$550. With the popularity of both false eyelashes and lash extensions, the number of women with permanent eyelash damage has dramatically increased.  Not surprisingly, eyelash transplants now have become one of the more popular procedures.

Given the cost and limitations of false lashes, it is not surprising that lash enhancers have grown in popularity. Many cosmetic companies have their own versions, that claim to make lashes longer or fuller naturally. They range in cost from $20-$120. These products can perhaps be compared to hair conditioner- in fact, many of them utilize similar ingredients. They can condition the lashes to be healthier, and thus appear longer and thicker without actually increasing growth. However, beware of smoke and mirrors. Many of these cosmeceuticals work in a similar fashion as mascara, by building up the lashes superficially without increasing growth.

The other option is the prescription product, Latisse. Latisse differs from other lash enhancers, in that it has been proven to actually grow your natural lashes thicker, longer, and darker. Latisse was accidentally discovered when it was noted that patients using the glaucoma medication Lumigan had dramatically increased eyelash growth. Latisse typical cost around $125 for a month supply, and once the desired growth has taken effect, it can be used less frequently. Considering this, Latisse is often both the most effective and cost effective choice. Latisse can only be obtain by a prescription and purchased from select physicians. Dr. Shah prescribes Latisse in his downtown Chicago office

Longer lashes are here to stay.  Choosing a way to enhance them in a cost conscious and damageless manner is the ideal means to achieve that bombshell gaze. 

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Submitted by Admin on Fri 11, 2010

Scientists, explorers, and woman and men all over have long been searching for the "Fountain of Youth." While the mystical Fountain has still alluded us, so far, the closest thing we have is Retin A. Retin A is a topical vitamin A application that was developed more than 25 years ago as an acne treatment. Currently it is used to treat many skin conditions including acne, fine lines and wrinkles, oily skin. While oral vitamin A derivatives such as Accutane have substantial systemic side effects, the topical use can limit many of these.

Aesthetically, Vitamin A derivatives work by helping build collagen in the dermis, firming skin over an extended period of use. In addition, skin is exfoliated, creating a smoother appearance. It can be effective in the treatment of acne by helping remove plugs in the pores which can also lead to inflammation and acne. In order for Vitamin A to be effective, it must be in a high enough dosage, which typically necessitates either a prescription or physician grade product.In Dr. Shah's practice, maintenance of skin is critical to looking and feeling your best. Healthy skin is one of the key factors in looking younger and refreshed.

The critical question here is not "Do I need a Retinol product?" but "Which one will my skin tolerate best?"  For patients using a prescription product (i.e. Retin-A, Renova) look at the compositon of the product (cream, gel, solution) to help guide to the best product for your skin.  For patients seeking a prescription strength product, our office recommends Retriderm Serum, probably one of the best retinol products on the market, in part since it is a less oily product, with greater concentration of Retinol, and has the added side benefit of costing less. Retriderm Serum is only available in physicians' offices, and Dr. Shah's office in one of the few in Chicago that carry it. 

Types of Vitamin A:  

Retin A (Tretinoin)
Retin A (Tretinoin): Strengths:0.01% Gel; 0.025% Gel; 0.025% Cream; 0.05% Liquid; 0.05% Cream; 0.1% Cream; .04%, 0.1% Micro Gel, .05% solution
Retriderm (.5%, .75% and 1%): RetinA in a more tolerated moisturizer base. Ideal for fine lines and wrinkles. ?Strengths: 0.05% Cream; 0.025% Cream Most patients use Vitamin A at night on either a daily or every other day basis.
Avita (Tretinoin)
Avita (Tretinoin): Strengths: .025% cream, .025% gel
Differin (Adapalene)
Differin (Adapalene): Strengths: 0.1% Gel; 0.1% Solution
Tazorac (Tazarotene)
Tazorac (Tazarotene): Strengths: 0.1% Cream; 0.1% Gel; 0.05% Cream; 0.05% Gel
Atraliin (Tretinoin)
Atraliin (Tretinoin): Strength .05% gel
Refissa: .05% cream
Tretinoin Topical Strength
Tretinoin Topical Strength: .025%, .05%, .1% cream, .01%, .025% gel

For Dry Skin- Consider using a cream to hydrate skin

Oily Skin- Consider using a gel to dry the skin

Very Oily Skin- Consider using a solution to dry skin further

Sensitive and Dry Acne Skin- Use a Microgel which is less irritating

Keep in mind it takes up to 2 months to see any changes in the skin and often as long as 6 months to see rejuvenation or youthfulness in the skin. Instructions for using Vitamin A derivatives:

  • Initially use product along jawline or shoulder to see if can be tolerated. If tolerated can begin to start using product every other night on face.
  • Wash your face with non-irritating soap
  • Apply a small bead, roughly the size of a pea to your finger and dab to affected areas of face and rub in well
  • Do not place product in or around eyes
  • Increase strength and frequency as instructed by your physician
  • Wear sunscreen daily- Vitamin A will make skin more sensitive to light

Side effects:

  • Redness
  • Burning/Stinging
  • Peeling/Exfoliation
  • Increased Sunburn Potential
  • Do not use during pregnancy- Vitamin A derivatives have potential to cause birth defects

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Submitted by Admin on Wed 2, 2010

Summer is coming, and for most people it is the season of fun in the sun and much needed vacations. But for some of us, hot weather can lead to an embarrassing situation with excessive perspiration. Although sweating serves an important physiologic function in temperature regulation and removal of toxins, when it is in excess it can create a less than desirable outcome.

Just as with most treatments, Dr. Shah advocates the use of conservative measures before attempting stronger formulations or therapies. Start with these more mild products in the beginning, and then work up to those that are more assertive.

The first step in alleviating the problem is to use a good antiperspirant/deodorant. While a deodorant is used to mask the smell, an antiperspirant will actually reduce the amount of sweat produced. Products which contain aluminum chloride are the ones which are most effective. These products work by blocking sweat glands (the aluminium chloride reacts with sweat to plug up the sweat duct).

If excessive sweating continues, a stronger over the counter product such as Certain-Dri or Xerac may be more effective. These products can take up to a month to work.

If the problem continues after this, a presciption of aluminum chloride hexahydrate (such as Drysol) can be effective and takes about a week to begin its onset. The downside of many of these products is that they can produce irritation, which may ultimately just be substituting one problem for another.

Finally, when all of these modalities are still not producing results, Botox can be an effective treatment option. Botox stays local and has been proven to be more effective than prescription antiperspirants in treating hyperhidrosis. Benefits of botox treatment include only twice a year treatment, less irritation than topical modalities, and little to no maintenance. The main drawback of botox is that since it requires a large amount of units for effectiveness, the price can be an issue for some patients.

Certain-Dri and Xerac, over the counter products, can take up to a month to work.
Certain-Dri and Xerac, over the counter products, can take up to a month to work.
Drysol, a presciption of aluminum chloride hexahydrate, can take about a week to begin its onset.
Drysol, a presciption of aluminum chloride hexahydrate, can take about a week to begin its onset.
Botox, treatment is twice yearly, usually requires a large amount of units for effectiveness.

Botox, treatment is twice yearly, usually requires a large amount of units for effectiveness.

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Submitted by Admin on Wed 3, 2009

snake bite youth

It seems that after the injection of botox, a wonderful toxin which can do a little bit of everything, the beauty industry is looking for another poison for a botox like alternative.  Termed Syn-ake, it is a compound derived to mimic the venom of a temple viper created by Pentapharm, a Swiss pharmaceutical company.

The idea is that Syn-ake, found in such skin care lines as Sonya Dakar or Borba, will penetrate the skin to relax the muscle. Syn-ake, what a clever name, is actually a tripeptide (a fancy word for protein), which works similar to Waglerin. Waglerin is the compound found in snake venom.  This was shown in a study sponsored by Pentapharm, the manufacturer of the compound, to reduce wrinkles in about half of the participants of which there were only twenty eight. By the way I yet to see a single skin care product demonstrating a skin care study sponsored by the company who made it that states that there product is completely ineffective and useless.

The cost of the product is about $280 for a one ounce bottle.

Although this sounds fresh and exciting, before jumping at the chance to apply snake venom to certain things should be analyzed. Botox (injectable) is effective in almost every patient. with an experienced botox injector. Cost wise, the snake venom may even cost more than Botox.

The verdict is still out on how effective the snake venom will be as it is not regulated by the FDA since it is a cosmecutical not a pharmaceutical product. Incidentally, Botox is working on a topical version of its product to do a similar thing.

My opinion is that I do not think it is probable that a product will be able to penetrate the epidermis and dermis and then selectively target the underlying muscles. Although Botox seems almost boring compared to something as sexy as snake venom, it is likely not going to be replaced anytime soon by a topical Syn-ake cream.

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