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Frequently Asked Questions


How do AHAs, PHAs and Bionic Acids work on the layers of the skin?

Hydroxyacids work on all levels of the skin to deliver proven results:

Top of Skin: AHAs, PHAs and Bionic Acid have remarkable effects on the skin. Hydroxyacids dissolve the bonds of thickened, dead skin cells on the surface of dry skin, causing an even exfoliation of the upper surface layers and revealing fresher, newer, hydrated and healthier cells. Skin feels very smooth and soft and looks vital healthy and glowing.

Middle Layers: Exfoliation at the top of skin leads to increased cell renewal in the middle layers. Benefits are a more even skin tone and complexion; healthier skin layers.

Deep Layers: All-over skin effects are evident in the plumping, volumizing and firming process that occurs. The skin's network is strengthened, as demonstrated by improved elastic fiber quality, increased GAGs, and increased collagen fiber density. This leads to a decrease in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Increased natural moisturization and plumping occurs through increases in the essential gel matrix, leaving the skin looking younger, smoother, more supple, firm and radiant.

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What are the effects of AHAs, PHAs and Bionic Acids on skin?

Hydroxy Acids (HAs) have been shown to decrease bonding between surface skin cells stimulating exfoliation and cell turnover. Skin surface layers become more youthful with a more normal distribution of skin pigment (melanin) which helps to clarify and even skin tone . Histology (skin biopsy) studies have shown anti-aging effects on deeper layers of skin including: increased collagen, improved elastic fibers/elasticity, and an increase of the hydrous gel matrix that leads to noticeable skin plumping and a reduction in appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Aside from prescription retinoids, there are NO other ingredients on the market that can demonstrate this many skin benefits!

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What is the difference between AHAs and PHAs?

Polyhydroxy Acids are Alpha Hydroxy Acids with multiple (i.e., poly) hydroxy groups on the molecule. The additional hydroxys attract water making PHA compounds more hydrating and moisturizing than conventional AHAs. PHA compounds are also antioxidant chelators that have been found to be gentle to skin without the stinging and burning that may accompany AHA use on sensitive skin.

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How do the PHAs and Bionic Acids function as anti-oxidants?

The PHAs/Bionic Acids chelate or trap oxidation-promoting metals in skin. They also help protect cell lipids and membranes from UV damage and help to preserve the skin's natural elasticity by preventing an increase in the enzyme elastase. Finally, PHAs/Bionic Acids inhibit MMP enzymes in skin, which are responsible for degrading the skin's extracellular matrix and structural integrity thereby contributing to wrinkle formation, skin laxity and telangiectasia (visible capillaries). MMPs increase naturally with age and exposure to sunlight.

As a side note, lactobionic acid is currently used in organ transplant preservation fluids to help protect organs during medical procedures due to its potent antioxidant effects.

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What is the compatibility of NeoStrata and Exuviance products with other cosmetics and drugs; what is the order of application?

NeoStrata and Exuviance products can be used in conjunction with other cosmetic and therapeutic skin care regimens. In general, the recommended procedure is: (1) wash and dry face; (2) apply topical medications if appropriate and allow to absorb (a few minutes); (3) apply leave-on skin care products and sunscreen (not wipe off toners or solutions); (4) apply make-up. Consult your physician for any specific questions regarding drug compatibility with skin care products. Click here to search for a dispensing physician in your area.

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Which products do you recommend before laser procedures and light therapy?

Prior to laser procedures and/or light therapy, an AHA or PHA product is recommended to smooth the skin and help minimize surface scattering of the laser beam/light. Skin lightening products may also be useful to help prevent skin darkening (hyperpigmentation) following the procedure. For product recommendations, please visit our Pre/Post Procedure category.

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Which products do you recommend following laser procedures?

Non-ablative laser procedures target the deeper skin layers where collagen and elastic fibers are found. To address the top layers of skin and promote skin smoothness with an even skin tone, use gentle PHAs following a procedure as tolerated. After complete laser resurfacing, skin must heal before applying topical formulations, unless recommended by a physician. For product recommendations, please visit our Pre/Post Procedure category.

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How do AHAs, PHAs and Bionic Acids affect pore size, and improve uneven pigmentation?

AHAs/PHAs exfoliate within pores helping to cleanse cellular debris. They also increase skin elasticity which helps to tighten pores. Cell turnover effects and improved distribution of skin pigment with AHA, PHA and Bionic Acid use help correct hyperpigmentation and promote a more even appearance.

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Can AHAs and PHAs be used to improve skin under eye circles?

Most under eye circles are caused by an accumulation of blood from fragile capillaries in the eye area. PHAs and Bionic Acids help to build the skin's cushiony matrix to protect fragile skin; they also chelate iron and aid in its removal over time. It is also advisable to use a concealer with PHA to cover the dark circles and a hydrating eye cream for moisturization and diminishment of the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. We also recommend visiting our Dark Eye Circles category for related products.

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Can you explain Retinol and Retinyl Acetate as an ingredient in comparison to Renova, Retin-A or Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is the generic term for a variety of fat-soluble substances including retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinaldehyde and the provitamin A carotenoids such as beta-carotene. Vitamin A or retinol is found in foods and biological tissues as retinyl esters such as retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate. Retinyl palmitate is the major storage form of Vitamin A in the body, primarily in the liver. The best known function of vitamin A is in vision where it participates as the metabolite retinal (retinyl aldehyde) in the visual cycle.

Topical retinoids have many effects on skin that are similar to alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). However, they act by different mechanisms on skin -- the retinoids interact with a specific receptor in skin; no specific receptor has been identified for AHAs.

Cosmeceutical retinoids are sold over the counter in skincare formulations. Cosmeceutical retinoids include: retinol (vitamin A) and retinal (vitamin A aldhehyde). Esters of retinol are also commonly used in skincare topicals; they require hydrolysis to retinol which is why they are often called "pro-retinol" or "pro-vitamin A". Two commonly used esters include retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate.

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Why use PHAs and Bionic Acids with topical retinoids?

PHAs moisturize and help to reduce irritation and redness from retinoids and provide benefits to skin that are often complementary and additive to retinoid effects.

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Can NeoStrata and Exuviance products be used during pregnancy?

There are no known safety concerns with using cosmetic products during pregnancy. However NeoStrata Company, Inc. recommends that all pregnant and lactating women, or those currently planning to become pregnant, seek the advice of their physician before using any skin care products. In addition, NeoStrata recommends discontinuing use of products with retinyl acetate (pro-vitamin A) and retinol, and OTC drugs (acne, skin lightening, psoriasis treatment) during pregnancy and lactation unless advised by a physician.

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Explain CoverBlend application techniques and various uses.

CoverBlend is an opaque concealing medical makeup designed to cover areas on skin with deep pigmentation or coloration, for example, Port-Wine stains, vitiligo, birthmarks, post-laser redness, etc. The products are applied to clean skin using a layering technique to provide the desired degree of opacity. There is also an optional finishing powder to reduce skin reflectance. For product information visit CoverBlend.

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Can hyperpigmentation and brown spots be treated topically?

A visit to a dermatologist can determine whether the hyperpigmentation (brown spots) is located in the surface of the skin or in the deep layers. Surface (epidermal) hyperpigmentation can be treated successfully with skin lightening products found in our Lightening/Brightening category. Deep (dermal) hyperpigmentation often does not respond well to topical treatments and may require special care - see your dermatologist. It is also advisable to use a concealer with PHA to cover the pigmentation.

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If you have a nut allergy can you use Mandelic Acid?

Nut allergies are typically caused by exposure to nut proteins. Mandelic Acid is not a protein. Furthermore, NeoStrata products contain Mandelic Acid from a synthetic/chemical source; NeoStrata's Mandelic Acid is not obtained from nuts. Therefore, NeoStrata/Exuviance Mandelic Acid-containing products should not be allergenic in customers with nut allergies. As always, if there is concern, we recommend applying a small amount of product to an inconspicuous area such as under the jawline for a few days to test compatibility.

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If you are lactose intolerant can you use the Lactobionic Aacid?

Lactose intolerance is caused by insufficient enzyme (lactase) secretion in the intestines resulting in the inability or reduced ability to digest lactose found in food. This is an intolerance due to poor digestion and is different from an allergy, which involves an immune response. Lactobionic Acid is the acidified form of lactose (milk sugar). Since it is applied topically, there is no particular relevance to lactose intolerance and lactobionic acid-containing products can be used without concern in this population. Milk allergies occur when proteins found in milk are identified by the body as harmful substances and an immune response occurs. Lactobionic Acid is not a milk protein and should not cause an allergic reaction. However, since Lactobionic Acid is obtained from milk sugar, it may make sense to perform a small sensitivity test to ensure compatibility in customers with severe milk allergies.

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