Cosmetic conundrums

April 1, 2006

Q. What is Sepilift? Does it induce a skin tightening reaction as advertised?

Q. What is Sepilift? Does it induce a skin tightening reaction as advertised?

It is a plant-derived single amino acid chemically known as dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline. It falls under the peptide category of skin additives, just like Matrixyl (Proctor & Gamble), which is probably the most widely marketed peptide in the current skin care market. However, Matrixyl is comprised of five amino acids, while Sepilift is comprised of one. Matrixyl is touted for its ability to increase the skin concentration of collagen I, collagen III and fibronectin through decreased collagenase production while Sepilift is said to inhibit the synthesis of metalloproteinases due to its similarity to estradiol.

Does Sepilift induce skin tightening as advertised? Probably not, as I doubt the actual advertising copy makes this claim. Does Sepilift create the appearance of tightening skin? Possibly, depending on your point of view!

Q. What is the best way to pluck a hair?

A. Even with laser hair removal, shaving and waxing, there still arises the occasional need for both men and women to pluck unwanted hairs. This is an excellent question for that reason.

Successful hair plucking requires both good equipment and the proper technique. The best tool for hair plucking is a square tipped pair of small tweezers without teeth. The square tipped tweezer is preferred over a round tipped tweezer, since it allows better skin contact. Teeth are not recommended, since the hair is more likely to fracture as the teeth are pressed into the hair.

The best tweezing technique is to grasp the tweezers in the dominant hand placing them squarely on the skin surface. The hair should be firmly grasped between the tips of the tweezers and firm, gentle pressure should be applied to remove the hair from the skin with the bulb intact.

Hairs that are aggressively yanked may result in a damaged follicle such that healing occurs with the hair oriented in a different growth direction. This is how permanently ingrown hairs are created. The damaged follicle heals such that the follicular ostia no longer is in alignment with the direction of hair growth and either a painful nodule or a cyst forms each time the hair attempts to grow. These hairs ultimately must be permanently destroyed, preferably with electrodessication. Proper tweezing prevents this problem.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and primary investigator, Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, N.C. Questions may be submitted via e-mail to zdraelos@northstate.net
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