C Quench Antioxidant Serum
PCA

C Quench Antioxidant Serum

This antioxidant serum combines stem cell extracts with vitamin C to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, while hydrating and strengthening the skin.
Also-called: Witch Hazel Extract | What-it-does: soothing, antioxidant, antimicrobial/antibacterial

Witch hazel is a smallish tree (up to 5m) that's native to North-America, has nice yellow flowers and is similar to the hazelnut bush (hence the name).  

As for skincare, it's loaded with active components that have a bunch of magic abilities, like astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant or anti-bacterial. It's also a well-known vasoconstrictor (makes the blood vessels narrower) and promotes the healing of broken skin by tightening up the skin proteins and thus creating a protective covering.

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The complication, though, is that different extracts and distillates can be made from different parts of the plant (bark, twigs, and leaves are typically used) and different extraction methods from different parts produce different results. So if you see only Wich Hazel Extract or Wich Hazel Water on the ingredient list, it's a bit hard to know what you're getting, but we will try to summarize the possibilities to give an idea.

The main biologically active components in Wich Hazel are hamamelitannin (potent astringent and antioxidant), catechins (anti-inflammatory and antioxidant) and gallic acid (antibacterial). The bark extract contains by far the most hamamelitannin, and it also has the most gallic acid and catechins. The twigs contain fewer catechins, less gallic acid and much less hamamelitannin (4.77% vs 0.18%). The leaves contain hardly any tannins (0.04%) or catechins and contain a medium amount of gallic acid (compared to bark and twigs).

In tiny amounts, Witch Hazel also contains essential oil and the fragrance component eugenol, but the amount is so small that it's probably not significant for the skin.

Apart from the differences in active components in different parts of Witch Hazel, the extraction methods also vary. Witch Hazel Distillate contains 14% added alcohol according to the USP specification, and alcohol is at best drying, at worst skin-damaging. Luckily, there are also alcohol-free distillates so if you prefer no alcohol, check the ingredient list carefully. Witch Hazel Extracts can also be made in different ways: browsing Ulprospector,  we could find hydroglycolic, hydroalcoholic and glicerin+water based extracts.

Well-known skin care expert, Paula Begoun rates witch hazel as poor and says that "depending on the form of witch hazel, you’re exposing your skin either to a sensitizing amount of alcohol or to tannins, or both." This might be the case if you are dealing with an alcoholic witch hazel bark water or extract, but looking at CosIng (the official INCI name listing of the EU), witch hazel bark water or witch hazel bark extract are not listed ingredients. Bark and leaf or bark and twig or all three are used together to create extracts so the chance that there is too much hamamelitannin in the final cosmetic ingredient seems small. Also, alcohol-free extracts and distillates exist, actually, the majority seems to be alcohol-free nowadays, so all in all, we think "Hamamelis Virginiana Extract" on the ingredient list is nothing to worry about.

We even found a German study that compared the efficacy of Hamamelis ointment to panthenol ointment for soothing of the skin in children (from 27 days old to 11 years old). They observed 309 children and concluded that both ointments were similarly effective but the one with Hamamelis was even better-tolerated (98.2% vs. 92.3% tolerated well the ointments in the two groups).

All in all, Witch Hazel Extract is a sloppy INCI name (btw, not in the CosIng listing), and you do not really know what you're  getting. But most probably, you are getting a goodie with nice astringent, soothing, antibacterial and even antioxidant properties.

Also-called: Aqua | What-it-does: solvent

Good old water, aka H2O. The most common skincare ingredient of all. You can usually find it right in the very first spot of the ingredient list, meaning it’s the biggest thing out of all the stuff that makes up the product. 

It’s mainly a solvent for ingredients that do not like to dissolve in oils but rather in water. 

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Once inside the skin, it hydrates, but not from the outside - putting pure water on the skin (hello long baths!) is drying. 

One more thing: the water used in cosmetics is purified and deionized (it means that almost all of the mineral ions inside it is removed). Like this, the products can stay more stable over time. 

Also-called: Vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid | What-it-does: antioxidant, skin brightening, vitamins
  • Works best between a concentration of 5-20%
  • Boosts the skin’s own collagen production
  • Fades pigmentation and brown spots
  • If used under sunscreen it boosts its UV protection
  • Extremely unstable and oxidizes very easily in presence of light or air
  • Stable in solutions with water only if pH is less than 3.5 or in waterless formulations
  • Vit E + C work in synergy and provide superb photoprotection
  • Ferulic acid doubles the photoprotection effect of Vit C+E and helps to stabilize Vit C
  • Potent Vit. C serums might cause a slight tingling on sensitive skin
Read all the geeky details about Ascorbic Acid here >>

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Sodium Pca - goodie

PCA stands for Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid and though it might not sound like it, it is a thing that can be found naturally in our skin. The sodium salt form of PCA is an important skin-identical ingredient and great natural moisturizer that helps the skin to hold onto water and stay nicely hydrated. 

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Proline - goodie

A non-essential amino acid (meaning that our body can produce it) that's also one of the major building blocks of collagen. According to the Futurederm blog, it might be able to improve wrinkles when combined with other amino acids, glycine and leucine

Also-called: Orange Oil | What-it-does: perfuming

The essential oil coming from the sweet orange. In the case of orange (and citruses in general), the essential oil is mainly in the peel of the fruit, so it's pretty much the same as the orange peel oil (also has the same CAS number - a unique ID assigned to chemicals).

Its main component is limonene (up to 97%), a super common fragrant ingredient that makes everything smell nice (but counts as a frequent skin sensitizer). 

What-it-does: perfuming

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

Squalene - goodie

Squalene is a great pick when it comes to skin hydration and emollients

It’s an oily natural stuff that originally comes from shark liver but luckily it can also be found in a couple of plant oils. Olive (0.6%), peanut (0.1%) and pumpkin (0.35%) oils contain it, though not in huge amounts. 

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What contains more of it, is the sebum (the oily stuff) that our skin produces. About 13% of human sebum is squalene, which means that it’s an important skin-identical ingredient and NMF (natural moisturizing factor)

There is also research showing it has antioxidant properties

On the negative side, squalene is less stable than its hydrogenated form squalane. If squalene is in the ingredient list look out for tubes and pumps that protect the product from air and light. 

Hyaluronic Acid - goodie
  • It’s naturally in our skin and behaves there like a sponge
  • It can bind up to 1000 times its own weight in water
  • Awesome moisturizer and has other important biological functions
  • Different molecular weight versions exist and that raises questions
  • Skin penetration abilities of high-molecular-weight HA is debated (see geeky details for more info)
  • Usefulness of low-molecular-weight HA is also debated (see geeky details for more info)
Read all the geeky details about Hyaluronic Acid here >>

What-it-does: emollient

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

What-it-does: antioxidant

We don't have description for this ingredient yet.

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