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Shaving problems resulting in razor burn and ingrown hairs

Shaving 1

Major problems associated with shaving and depilating

Common complaints encountered when shaving or depilating hair are;

  • In the case of shaving, developing shaving rash or razor bump and 
  • Most commonly the formation of ingrown hair when shaving or depilating.

These are best shown in figure 1 2

ingrown hair and razor bump

There are many various methods employed for hair removal:

  • Shaving using sharp blades and a “soap”
  • Plucking the hair out
  • Waxing (whereby a layer of wax is applied followed by a rapid removal of the wax layer)
  • Using a scrubbing material to vigorously massage the follicles out
  • Laser burning of the hair strand
  • Electrolysis (which involves the insertion of a fine needle into the hair follicle down to the hair root. A mild current is then passed down the needle to the tip. This then cauterizes the hair root enabling the hair to be withdrawn).

All these methods have the potential to develop some form of ingrown hair problem, although the electrolysis method has a higher success rate at removing the hair permanently with very few side effects. The method discussed in this blog is on the use of shaving products for face and body.

Most shaving products use the philosophy of hardening the follicle then running a razor blade over it. This will initially tug the hair out slightly from the skin so that it can then be cut by the blade. The problem with this method is numerous.

  1. The method of stiffening the hair follicle results in a spear like fibre piercing the skin when it springs back into the root. It can then be trapped under the skin rather than being freely able to grow through the orifice naturally occurring for it.
  2. Another issue is that some hair follicles will stiffen up but recoil like a spring and curl under the skin. This then develops a lump where the hair continues to grow in a coil pattern under the skin and not able to be released. This is particularly problematic for the African/American type skin where the hair has a tendency to curl naturally.

Many of these shaving products come as soap bars, sticks, lather creams, foaming aerosols and oils. They are usually very high pH products having pH values around 9 to as high as 11 in combination with stiffening waxes (not the shave oils which would have an apparent neutral pH) which are not really suited to the pH of the skin as they would tend to dry and strip the skin of it's natural oils. The pH is kept high possibly under the premise that it minimises any irritations to the skin from the shaving.

Ortron Corporation has developed and is marketing a unique shaving cream (Tetrashave™). This skin care product goes against all of the above mentioned principles of how a shaving product should function. Unlike the anionic properties (negative ions) of the stearic acid in combination with the triethanolamine to neutralise and form the basis of the emulsion, the Tetrashave™ has a totally unique and innovative formulation.

The Tetrashave™ is a type of skin conditioner and not an anionic soap. It is a cationic (positive ions) formulation which incorporates a slightly high pH in combination with tea tree oil and herbal extracts. The conditioning effect of the cation along with a pH around 7 to 7.5 helps to soften the hair fibre of the beard or body and does not harden them.

Therefore when the blade passes over the follicle and cuts a soft hair there will be no recoiling or springing of the hair. The tea tree oil assists in the healing process of the skin after a blade has abraded the skin. Tea tree oil is critical in the formulation as it helps avoid infections of the skin and hair root.

This cream then acts as a type of skin moisturiser by trapping moisture onto the skin surface and therefore is a great skin care product. Men and women would not need to use any moisturisers after using Tetrashave™. The subtle herbal fragrance will also not interfere with any aftershaves or perfumes that people may want to use. Women could safely use this product to shave their legs, underarms and even the scalp.



1 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/64/AtTheCuttingEdge.jpg/280px-AtTheCuttingEdge.jpg
2 http://www.paradoja7.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ingrown-hair-diagram.jpg

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What is the role of collagen and elastin and do these type of creams really work?

In order to understand what collagen and elastin do, we must first understand;

  1.   what these molecules are and;

  2.   what are their functions in the skin.

What is collagen and elastin?
Wikipedia edition June 2014 quotes that:
Collagen is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals. As the main component of connective tissue, it is the most abundant protein in mammals, making up from 25% to 35% of the whole-body protein content. Collagen, in the form of elongated fibrils, is mostly found in fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments and skin, and is also abundant in corneas, cartilage, bones, blood vessels, the gut, and intervertebral discs. The fibroblast is the most common cell that creates collagen.
Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that is elastic and allows many tissues in the body to resume their shape after stretching or contracting. Elastin helps skin to return to its original position when it is poked or pinched. Elastin is also an important load-bearing tissue in the bodies of vertebrates and used in places where mechanical energy is required to be stored. In humans, elastin is encoded by the ELN gene

Figure 1 of the skin structure in relation to the effects of collagen and elastin 1

What is the function of these molecules in the skin?
In essence we note that the role of these molecules is to act like a “spring” so as to return the plumpness in the skin. When you visualise the skin surface having folds and crevices (as seen in the above schematic diagram), then the role of the collagen and elastin is to “push” these creases out from the inside in order to reverse the aging process. This naturally happens in young skin when it is pinched or distorted in some way.
Unfortunately, as we get older that “springiness” in our collagen and elastin start to break down and cannot function well to prevent the signs of aging. These molecule then become stiff and brittle.
Following is a detailed description taken from the website for The Dermal Institute (Postgraduate Education in Skin and Body Therapy) of an article “Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin” by Dr. Diana Howard 2
“Breakdown of Collagen and Elastin
The majority of age-dependent changes that occur in our skin happen in the dermis, which can lose from 20-80% of its thickness during the aging process. This is the result of changes in the fibroblasts, the cells responsible for collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) biosynthesis. Not only is the collagen and elastin produced at a slower rate, which impacts the skin’s inability to repair itself, but the organization of the protein also changes, affecting the skin’s structure.
The breakdown of collagen and elastin is controlled by the activity of Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP) enzymes known as collagenase and elastase, respectively. Studies have shown that UV radiation activates these enzymes within hours of UVB exposure. Long-term elevation of the MMPs, which is typically found in people with prolonged exposure to sunlight, results in disorganized and clumped collagen and elastin that is characteristic of photodamaged skin.
Changes in elastin fibers are so characteristic in photoaged skin that the condition known as elastosis is considered a hallmark of photoaged skin. This is characterized by an accumulation of amorphous elastin protein and a breakdown in the typical structural layout, which results in decreased skin elasticity and tensile strength. This phenomenon accounts for why more mature skin takes longer to assume its original position when extended or pulled.”

So what can be done to repair the collagen and elastin in the skin?
There are many collagen and elastin skincare creams on the market that claim to help stabilise the collagen and elastin levels in the skin. These creams contain the molecules. Only problem is that for these elements to have any effect they must be somehow “placed” under the skin as shown in the following picture.

Figure 2 Simplified model of collagen and elastin 3

These proteins do not travel through the skin and so there is some doubt cast over these claims. At best these creams would only help to “fill in the nooks and crannies” on the skin, much like spakfilla does in the cracks and holes in a wall. These creams help to bridge across the crevices but unfortunately once the cream dries out on the skin, then the creases reappear to then have to undergo the same procedure again.

Needling is another method to repair the creases but this method is painful and invasive. This method is not always a guarantee of success.
The only effective way of rebuilding the collagen and elastin under the outer skin layer is to allow the body the ability to naturally fabricate it. This is what normally happens in the body when it is young but diminishes with age. One of the recognised methods to do this is by use of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). 4
An article presented in the NYU Langone Medical Centre website, showed that apart from using alpha-lipoic acid or other anti-oxidants have shown that:
A small, 3-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found benefit with a cream containing 5% alpha-lipoic acid . Use of this antioxidant substance improved several measures of aging skin as compared to placebo, especially skin roughness. Benefits have also been seen in preliminary studies with a cream containing vitamin C .”
Antioxidants are substances that neutralise free radicals. These free radicals are created by ultraviolet light from the sun. They are naturally occurring substances that can harm many tissues of the body, including the skin. 5

Vitamin C is a powerful, naturally occurring anti-oxidant that acts as a trigger mechanism for the body to rebuild the 2 proteins in the area where the ascorbic acid is present. Any topical oil in water cream applications will not have many benefits because ascorbic acid is easily hydrolysed when in contact with water and so is very unstable. The molecule readily undergoes breakdown to form inefficacious hydrolised by-products.

Using derivatives of ascorbic acid, such as ascorbyl palmitate, will give little results because these types of molecules are too strongly bound for the body to be able to break down to yield the useful acid form. Too much energy is necessary to be able to break the molecule to the acid form of the vitamin C.
So the only problem remains is how to transport the vitamin C to the areas where it is needed namely under the subcutaneous layer of the skin?

This will be discussed in the next  blog on “Vitamin C and its relationship to Anti-Ageing products.



1 http://rankines.com/CUSTOMER%20CARE/SKIN_INFO/files/Collagen-Elastin-Production.png
2 http://www.dermalinstitute.com/au/library/11_article_Structural_Changes_Associated_with_Aging_Skin.html
3 http://www.wrinkletreatment.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/collagen_elastin.jpg
4 http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38389
5 http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38389

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how to design a label with respect to information and acceptable wording for directions

Things to consider when designing a label. What you can and cannot write.
(This blog is a little longer than normal as many things need to be addressed and follows on from a previous blog on selecting packaging).

Once you have sorted out the packaging for that exclusive skin care range, you need to consider what to do about displaying the information on the product.

Here is a mock example of a label.

Humperbug label

Firstly there are 2 considerations

1. Should the packaging be printed on? Or
2. Should the packaging have a label applied?

Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages.

Printing directly onto the packaging

The advantage of printing directly onto the packaging is that:

1. It is permanent and cannot be affected by the material inside, in most cases
2. It looks smooth on the packaging with no edge ridges of a label
3. The print can be very striking and clear and even raised (3-D effect)
4. It is the best method to use on tubes
5. Once the machine is set up and aligned, runs are much quicker than when having to apply labels.

The disadvantages are that

1. You are forced to print a minimum quantity, most times in the thousands otherwise it is very cost ineffective to have short runs
2. You are stuck with printed packaging which may take a considerable time to use up and take up a considerable space to store
3. If you make a mistake on the print then it is permanent and only removed by discarding the whole packaging
4. In the process of starting up the print run, there can be quite a few items of the packaging that will not print well.  These items cannot be used as they will look wrong. This happens when there is the need to align the different print runs for the different colours. This affects you most if you are supplying the packaging and you have a definite number you need (an example is if you supply 1,000 bottles you may only get 950 back).

Printing on labels

The advantage of printing on labels which can be affixed to the packaging is

1. Regardless of how many labels you print ranging from 100 to 10,000, the storage of the rolls or sheets take much less space than storing printed packaging
2. If there are any errors in the label, the discard process is much less costly as it is just a case of throwing away the labels
3. If the labels are applied to the wrong product the situation can be simply rectified by removing the label unless the label is paper which unfortunately can leave glue or material behind.
4. There are many more ways to print on labels as opposed to straight on the packaging. Gold or silver foil stamping look very impressive on vinyl type labels
5. It is possible to have a booklet type label where more information can be displayed or where several languages need to be included other than English (especially useful for the European Union requirements)
6. You need to only label the number of products you wish to fill and not significantly more
7. There is no packaging wastage necessary.

The disadvantages are

1. The cost to apply the labels needs to be considered when evaluating feasibility of using labels.
2. It can take longer to apply the label than to have the packaging printed
3. In most cases the packaging can definitely show where the label is, due to the edge surrounds of the label
4. Labels on tubes can develop creases when the tube is squeezed to expel the product
5. Economically it becomes non feasible for large runs such as 10,000 units or more.

Creating the information to be displayed

Once a decision has been made on which way the information will be presented then it is necessary to develop a unique registered logo and a name for the brand and the product inside.

Your skincare contract manufacturer and formulator should provide you with an ingredients list in descending order of concentration which is mandatory to be printed on the label. In order to cover all markets in the world it would be safest to give both the common name (which is most necessary in the US market) as well as the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) name (most necessary in the EU market).

Some examples

* Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil.
* In the case of herbal extracts the common and Latin names as well as where it is extracted from eg. Chamomila matricaria (chamomile) flower extract

Next you need to use your creative skills to make a little story about the product and how to use it. For example “tea tree originated in Aboriginal times. Wounded natives found that bathing in the pools of water which tea tree grew in, aided the wounds to heal much quicker rather than just leaving the wounds untreated. Tea tree is called as such because tea was hard to come by in the early colonial days so settlers improvised by boiling the leaves of the tea tree fronds.

Next write a short description for application and use of the product. For example “place a small amount on affected areas and spread on the skin followed by gentle tapping into the skin for maximum absorption”.

It is best to try to associate this product with other products you may have in your range. For example “After cleansing your face with “my brand” face cleanser you should use this “my brand” toner followed by “my brand” moisturiser.

A contact address and/or a website must be included along with the name of your business. Writing Post Office Boxes as the contact is very unethical and can lead to difficulties with the authorities especially when the public wish to make inquiries or complaints.

The front of the label should clearly show “my brand”, what it is (eg. Super Hydrating Face Moisturiser) and the volume or weight. It is best to write this as several options as all products have not the same properties. For example use a weight such 50 g/ml, or 4.5 fl oz (when distributing to the American market).

Next is what you can “claim” your product does. Be careful not to make therapeutic claims such as healing, antiseptic, scar removing, disinfectant, etc as this may incur the wrath of authorities such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or the Federal Drugs Administration (FDA). They may either force you to withdraw the product or prove the product was made in a proper authorised facility. They may even force you to have double blind tests to prove the validity of your claims. This can be extremely costly. Your contract manufacturer can usually help you to word your descriptions so that you will not cross that fine line into the therapeutic world.

Finally you are advised to find a good, knowledgeable graphic designer to prepare your artwork so it looks professional. Unfortunately MS Word and MS Publisher documents are not used by industry and whilst they are acceptable to convey an idea, they are programs capable of converting into a printers graphics file except at a great added cost.

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Are sun screens really as effective as people wish you to believe?

(Referenced from www.thriveyouth.org)

This discussion wants to debunk some notions which have been established as being irrefutable proof why current sunscreens are the most effective and why the SPF classification can tell you everything about the skincare product.

Imagine these scenarios:

  • It is the middle of a hot summer’s day and you are driving around in your air conditioned car. You finish your journey and you notice that your arms and even legs are red and a little bit sore. You will instantly think “I should have put on sunscreen because I have become sunburnt by the nasty UV rays while in my car” 
  • You sit in the bus and notice that the cloth covered seats that had bright colours, seem to have faded.
  • The heavy drapes and curtains you draw on the windows to block out the worst of the days heat seemed to have faded and the polyamide backing appears to be disintegrating.
  • Why do women who wear foundation on their face seem to suffer less of melanomas on the face than do men?

The question to ask is why these events happen. Current thought dictates that all these events are occurring because of the UV A and B rays. These are high energy short wavelength beams which penetrate any living matter and cause alterations in skin, fabric, dyes etc. thereby creating serious damage.

All sunscreens must carry a Skin Protection Factor (SPF) which is a theoretical figure to designate the amount of time you may be able to stay in the sun without being sunburnt. The figure is relative to the length of time to get sunburned with the sunscreen on as opposed to not having any on at all. So in theory a sunscreen with an SPF 30 would allow a person to stay in the sun for 30 times longer than with no cream on before being sunburned. So if it takes you 20 minutes before you get sunburned at the peak of the heat of the day, then with the cream on you would theoretically be able to be in the sun for 600 minutes (10 hours). Problem is you perspire and so expose regions to the sun and can burn in those areas.

This does not take into consideration skin types, location of sun exposure (ie near the equator as opposed to near the poles), what time of the day to be exposed, melanin content in the skin etc. Most sunscreens that use an SPF are chemical sunscreens. These types absorb the UV rays through complex reactions with chemicals in the sunscreen. These can be very effective for UV rays although side reactions may lead to by-products which may not be so desirable on the skin.

Firstly we need to understand what these UV rays are. Broadly speaking nature has a very broad spectrum of wavelengths going from the shortest to the longest wavelength as shown below.

(Referenced from http://9-4fordham.wikispaces.com/Electro+Magnetic+Spectrum+and+light)

They range from Gamma rays then X-rays, UV, Visible light, Infrared (IR), Radio wave and Microwave.

So from this you would logically think that the shorter the wavelength the more “penetrating” it would be. Now we need to clarify some perceptions that have been bandied around which theoretically have problems in its logic.

It is a fact that UV rays do not pass through glass (a non-crystalline material) but yet can pass through quartz crystal. So when an object or person is behind a window or glass sheet, UV rays do not reach the target.

So what is it that created that skin burn when you were in that air conditioned car behind the closed window? The answer has to be something with a longer wavelength. Although you can “see” the visible spectrum, which are colours (therefore able to pass through the glass), it does not have enough energy to create damage to the skin. The damaging portion of the spectrum is the Infrared (IR) rays. Infrared easily passes through glass and is what we feel as heat.

The IR wavelength has a frequency which matches the size of the water molecule. It is long enough therefore to spin the water molecules in skin. They rotate faster and faster until they “evaporate” off the skin. So when you are in a car with the air conditioning on the atmosphere is dry, which will dry out the skin quicker.

Once the skin has no more moisture to protect it the skin starts to denature (much like what happens when you boil an egg and the albumen changes form). This denaturing creates what we perceive as pain and burning. After this burning, we have the blistering of the skin which leads to that typical peeling of the skin.

So moisture is very critical to skin. Another example of how water can protect skin is if any acid spills on your skin you will not feel an immediate burning sensation. There is a reaction on the skin which leads to a warming sensation. This heat is due to the reaction between the water molecules in the skin and the acid. When there is no more water to react with the acid, then the skin will start to burn or denature (giving the stinging sensation). So there is enough time to wash most acids (not all) off the skin before any damage is created.

So what should we do to protect our skin from the effects of sun and heat?

There may be some merit to protecting the skin against the action of UV rays but the fundamental thing that the skin has to have is moisture. The skincare cream that is applied needs to have several things in order to be effective.

1. Moisture deficient skin has to have a good replenishment and retention of water in the skin. (I will release an article on differentiating between a “moisturiser” and an “emollient” in the treatment of water poor and/or oil poor skin)

2. The moisturising effect needs to remain for long periods of time which means the water molecules need to be bound to the skin more strongly using a hydrotrope

3. There needs to be reflective materials in the cream so as to “bounce” or reflect the UV and IR waves away from the skin thereby protecting the penetration into the areas where the most damage occurs.

So if you cannot get your hands on an appropriate skincare cream for outdoors find a suitable moisturiser and liberally apply as often as necessary so that the skin does not dry out.

The ideal cream to use would be Australian Melaleuca’s patented Skin Protector Cream which has the appropriate Hydrotropes (water trapping chemicals) and micronised metal oxide compounds needed to reflect the harmful rays. It also contains the emolients and penetrating agents needed to ensure long lasting effects. Contrary to most creams it will be effective even when perspiring heavily, swimming etc. This cream is only removed by washing with a body cleanser. For regular use we also recommend Australian Melaleuca's Hand & Body Lotion which is also a very good moisturiser with very good hydrotropic materials although with no ability to filter out harmful wavelengths from the radiation spectrum.

(Referenced from salmanshaheen.com)

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How to choose the appropriate packaging?

Which packaging would be appropriate?


Choosing the correct packaging for your cosmetic skincare range can sometimes be challenging. There are so many considerations to make when selecting packaging necessary for that special skincare range such as:

  • If the packaging is too showy then there is no justification for the expense of the packaging which places significant financial pressure on getting good returns on the initial sales.
  • If the packaging looks very expensive then people will not buy it because of a perception of the article being too expensive. This would then necessitate a big budget invested into the promotion in order to establish the brand name.
  • If the packaging is too plain and simple then it will be perceived as cheap. Your skincare range won’t stand out unless you design a very eye catching label to display on the packaging.
  • How can you make the product look elegant and classy while also having a presence on the shelf?

Before choosing packaging it is necessary to understand what your skincare creams, lotions and liquids are made of as this will impact on what can be used. Ortron as your contract manufacturer and formulator, could help you to choose the appropriate materials for jars and bottles and so avoid having to invest in the cost of researching compatibility tests on the packaging.

What your contract manufacturer should be able to advise you on is how some raw materials can react adversely with some packaging materials. Some examples are

  • Essential oils such as Tea Tree oil for example, is not always compatible with polyethylene plastic as the oil can travel through the wall of the container leaving a sticky residue on the outside.
  • Packaging made of PET cannot hold a solution which has a pH greater than 8 to 8.5.
  • Oils like IsoPropyl Myristate (IPM) can actually make the packaging brittle by stripping the plasticizer from poly vinyl chloride (PVC).
  • Many plastics cannot tolerate hot filling which may be necessary for lip balms, waxes, some hair gels etc.

 There are many packaging suppliers on the market. Many will require that you order a minimum order quantity (MOQ) which can be around 5,000 to 10,000 units. This mainly applies when the packaging you want is very exclusive.

Ideally it is best to deal with a supplier that has a wide variety of packaging and that they have them available “on the floor”. This means that the company has a regular stock of that type of packaging and therefore will supply any amounts needed.

The one big disadvantage in buying small quantities is that you end up paying considerably more than in pallet or box quantities. Ideally to minimise cost you should try to purchase the packaging in box lots which may be from 100 to 500 units although this may vary depending on the packaging size. In this respect Ortron is sometimes able to get better prices because of the volume we are able to purchase from the suppliers.

In most cases it is advantageous to deal with the packaging supplier that your contract manufacturer deals with. Our preferred supplier is Vision Packaging and you may wish to investigate their packaging range on their website at www.visionpackaging.com.au.  

Images courtesy of Vision Packaging


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