skincare blog

More Retinoid Myths Busted

woman in mirror2We’ve touched on the subject of retinoid myths in the past to try and cleared up some misconceptions about this vitamin A derivative that, in our humble opinion, is the closest to that ever-elusive miracle anti-aging ingredient. We’ve already shot down the myths that only prescription strengths retinoids are effective, that they thin the skin and can’t be used in the summer. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

We love retinoids so much that we thought it high time to give a few more props to our favorite night-time treatment and bust a few more myths along the way:


  • Myth: All Forms of Retinoids Are Equally Effective. 

Fact: Not so. Retinoids encompass many forms, including retinoic acid, retinaldehyde, retinol and retinyl palmitate. In terms of effectiveness, there are many factors that come into play, including how many conversions the retinoid must go through in order to become retinoic acid (the form of vitamin A that the skin uses). Retinaldehyde (also known as retinal) is the closest to retinoic acid, then retinol, with retinyl palmitate a distant third. This doesn’t mean that they don’t or won’t convert, but it does mean that there may be more variability amongst individuals. Another thing to keep in mind is how far along the ingredient list the retinoid is. If it’s found low on the list, it may not be present in adequate enough concentrations to do your skin any good.

Retinyl palmitate <=> Retinol <=> Retinaldehyde => Retinoic acid

  • Myth: Using retinoids and AHA’s together cancel each other out.

Fact: This myth seems to have stemmed from a 25 year old study where the test material was not human skin and as such, the results cannot be applied to how our skin reacts. Retinoids and AHA’s can definitely be used together as part of your regular skin care routine. The only caveat is that both have the potential to irritate the skin if tolerance is not built up gradually. We like to alternate: 5 nights a retinoid, 2 nights an AHA, or whatever schedule works best for you.

  • Myth: Retinoids are so potent that results are immediate.

Fact: We wish that were true! However as much as retinoids can speed up cell turnover, we won’t wake up looking 10 years younger. Skin cells renew themselves every 28 days on average. As we age, this process slows down. Retinoids can help speed things up, and while changing up our routine can make skin look fresher and brighter, lasting results will take some patience. Don’t judge until at least a month or more has elapsed.

  • Myth: If you’ve tried retinoids and experienced some redness and peeling, they’re probably too strong for your skin.

Fact: Sometimes, we get so excited that we start off too hard and fast. The fact is that retinoids come in different forms and strengths. If you’ve got sensitive skin, the smart move is to begin with something that is gentle but effective, like Apothekari’s A is for Anti-Aging. This serum formulated with retinaldehyde, the least irritating of all retinoids and the immediate precursor to retinoic acid. The skin has an amazing ability to adapt. Once it’s able to tolerate a retinoid, your skin will reap the rewards. If your reaction is severe and dialing back the frequency of use doesn’t improve the condition of your skin, you may want to reconsider retinoids and opt for other anti-aging ingredients like peptides.

  • Myth: Retinoids are too strong for the eye area.

Fact: Luckily, we are now spoiled for choice with retinoid products, some of which are specifically formulated for the delicate and sensitive area under the eyes. And since the skin around the peepers is some of the thinnest on the body, wrinkles and fine lines seem to show up here first. Again, give your skin time to build up tolerance before throwing in the towel.  Neostrata’s All in One Eye Serum uses encapsulated pure retinol for improved tolerance.

  • Myth: There’s no need to exfoliate because retinoids do that for you.

Fact: Well, not exactly. Retinoids are cell communicators that encourage cell turnover, helping new skin cells to ‘push’ out old ones. Chemical exfoliants like AHAs or manual exfoliants like scrubs help shed dead skin cells on the surface. These are two different products that work in different ways and fill different roles in a good skin care routine.

  • Myth: Retinoids are a last-ditch resort when nothing else is working.

Fact: Hugh Jackman once said that it was harder to get into Wolverine shape than to maintain it. The same can be said for great skin. Why wait until the damage is done before putting in the effort?

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Propolis in Anti-Aging Skin Care

honey bee flowerAs consumers continue to seek out more nature-sourced skin care products, cosmetic and dermaceutical companies are turning to the past in order to bring forward-looking and innovative products to market. Propolis may not yet be a household word but the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians were certainly familiar with it.

From the Greek words for “before the city”, propolis is a mixture of beeswax, sap and resin that bees use to seal the entrances to their hives. This “bee glue” is a natural antibiotic that shields the hive from parasites, bacteria and fungal growth.

Taking their cue from the bees, the ancient Greeks used propolis extensively for treating wounds, bruises and ulcers and to speed the healing of certain skin conditions. Propolis is also referenced in Jewish, Persian and Roman sources as being medicinal and therapeutic.

In modern times, propolis is used as an anti-aging ingredient thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Not only has it carved out a niche for itself in treating acne but also as part of a skin care regimen that harnesses its flavonoids and polyphenols. Current research suggests that much of the body’s ailments, including visible signs of aging, can be attributed to inflammation. Propolis, rich in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, may be poised to become aging skin’s greatest ally. Although clinical studies are few and far between, interest is growing. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that the humble bee has inspired cosmetic companies. Remember bee venom cream?

Ahem, the ancient Egyptians also used propolis as part of their embalming process. If it can help with preserving even a little of skin’s youthfulness, I wouldn’t count it out.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here

Skin Care Combinations that Work – and Don’t

mixing chemicalsIn an effort to have the skin of our dreams, we’re always on the lookout for skin care products that promise to erase those wrinkles, dark spots and fine lines. Our bathroom counter is filled with bottles and jars just waiting to perform their miracles every day.

Some are single-purpose, others multi-functioning but are we combining them in a way that maximizes their effectiveness or are we doing more harm than good?


Do you know which ingredients are BFF’s and which are sworn enemies?

1. Retinoids + AHAs = BFF: Occasionally, we hear about how retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids can cancel each other out when used together. So not true. Retinoids are cell communicating agents that have been shown to effectively increase cell turnover, reduce pigmentation, stimulate collagen production and manage acne. AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) like glycolic acid and lactic acid, are exfoliants, which help remove dead skin cells that can cause the skin to look dull. Exfoliation also helps to increase the absorption of other active ingredients. Using both retinoids and AHA’s simultaneously will improve the skin in different ways. The danger, however, is in potentially overtaxing the skin and causing irritation while not allowing the skin enough time to build up tolerance. Those with sensitive skin may opt to use retinoids and AHA’s on alternate nights, thus reducing the chances of irritation while reaping the benefits of both these proven anti-aging ingredients.

Conversely, retinoids + sun = sworn enemies. When exposed to UV light, retinoids break down, thus losing their efficacy so it’s best to use only at night and to store your products in a dark, dry place. Contrary to what many people believe, it isn’t dangerous to apply retinoids during the day, just ineffective. Look for gentle, effective retinaldehyde in Apothekari A is for Anti-Aging.

2. Vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid = BFF: Vitamin C has long been the darling of the skin care world, working hard to brighten skin tone, fight free radicals, decrease skin discoloration and boost the power of your sunscreen against UVA and UVB damage. But straight from nature, vitamin C is highly unstable. Vitamin E and ferulic acid, however, help to stabilize Vitamin C. When paired, these three BFF’s work synergistically to soothe, heal, moisturize and provide substantial photoprotection against the sun. This terrific trio (and more!) can be found in Apothekari Bespoke Vitamin C+++ serums.

Like retinoids, vitamin C has its Achilles’ heel: Air. Exposing it to air accelerates the oxidation process. Vitamin C preparations that are not formulated correctly will oxidize (break down) and become ineffective as well as potentially harmful by actually increasing the formation of free radicals which can lead to skin damage. Oxidized vitamin C will take on a yellowish tinge so look for clear solutions or white creams and powders, a good indication that your formulation is stable and therefore, effective and safe.

3. Hydroquinone + sunscreen = BFF: Successful skin lightening really takes a village. Hydroquinone, the ingredient that disrupts the production of melanin that darkens the skin, cannot do the work alone. Its best friend and ally is an effective, broad spectrum sunscreen that will block UVA and UVB rays. The sun encourages the production of melanin and may lead to the reappearance of those dark spots that you’ve worked so hard to fade. In an already long and difficult battle against hyperpigmentation, teamwork is the best approach.

In an effort to speed up the skin lightening process, some people may be tempted to use a peroxide product along with hydroquinone. In a word: don’t! This combination can lead to dark staining of the skin, the very opposite of what you want to achieve.

4. Avobenzone + octocrylene = BFF: Avobenzone is an effective sun filter that blocks UVA-I rays, the ones that age the skin and are responsible for wrinkles, dark spots, saggy skin and some forms of skin cancer. However, avobenzone is vulnerable to breaking down through exposure to the same UV rays that it is meant to protect us from. Pairing avobenzone with octocrylene effectively stabilizes it and allows it to do its job. Bonus: if you see tinosorb in the list of ingredients, be confident in the knowledge that this latest sunscreen favorite also boosts avobenzone’s stability while adding its own strengths, namely the ability to block both short and long UVA rays, an enviable photostability and minimal skin irritation or hormone disruption associated with older sun-filtering agents.

Lastly, we’ve got one combination that makes for bad roommates but good neighbors: Sunscreen and foundation makeup. As the weather warms up, we’ve had customers asking if they can mix their daily sunscreen with some foundation to add tint. While we love DIY, we would not recommend it in this case. By diluting the sunscreen, you’re not getting the full SPF or UVA/UVB coverage that the label indicates, and since most of us tend to be light-handed when it comes to applying the recommended amount, we’re short changing ourselves even more when diluting. The best bet is to find a sunscreen that we enjoy wearing every day that will allow us to layer the makeup on top for a smooth, finished look.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here


apothekari productsMany of you are familiar with Apothekari, our line of pharmacist formulated skin care. In order to serve you better, we are moving the sales of all Apothekari skin care products to Watch out for exciting changes including new products and information to help make it easier for you to shop online. For the month of April, in appreciation of your patience during this transition, we are offering free shipping on ALL purchases – no minimum required! Head over to Apothekari and enter code aprilnl and shipping is on us! Why Apothekari? Apothekari isn’t just like every other brand on the market. What makes it different?

  • Apothekari products are developed by a pharmacist. Specialized knowledge results in treatments made with optimal concentrations of pure, clinically safe ingredients
  • Apothekari products are manufactured in North America in state-of-the-art facilities
  • Apothekari products are paraben free, phthalate free, cruelty-free

Whatever your skin type, regardless of your age, our advanced and innovative solutions are designed to deliver the best possible outcome. If you’re looking for serious skin care that delivers results, you’ve come to the right place. Apothekari Serums, Moisturizers and Oils

1. Apothekari A is For Anti-Aging Retinal Serum. Providing photo-aging protection, exfoliation, anti-inflammatory/anti-irritant properties and skin brightening effects – if you’re looking for a skin care miracle, this is as close as you will get. 2. Apothekari Antioxidant Firming Eye Gel. This corrective treatment helps to prevent signs of aging while correcting existing photo damage. Moisturizing too. 3. Apothekari Bespoke Vitamin C+++ 10% and 15% Serum. Our new Apothekari Bespoke treatments are custom made just for you! Made by our compounding pharmacy partner, it features L-ascorbic acid plus an arsenal of antioxidants, moisturizing and other skin beneficial ingredients. Bespoke Vitamin C will:

      • ​Exfoliate (due to its acidity)
      • Promote collagen synthesis, restoring elasticity to aging skin
      • Protect against UV damage caused by free radicals
      • Reduce skin redness
      • Promote wound healing
      • Lighten and brighten skin tone (by suppressing melanin synthesis)
      • Moisturize

4. Apothekari Daily Infusion Moisturizer. Our hydrating, plumping anti-aging moisturizer protects skin and leaves it feeling refreshed. Ideal for all skin types, it is fragrance free, gluten free and paraben free. You can’t ask for more!

5. Apothekari Argan Oil 100% Pure.  Excellent as a daily moisturizer or to strengthen and condition nails and hair.

Apothekari Cleansers and Scrubs

1. Apothekari Cloud Nine Foaming Cleansing Crème. A gentle foaming cleanser rich with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients to soothe, moisturize and protect. Ideal for all skin types.

2. AHA-Mazing Clean Triple Action Exfoliating Cream. Our Apothekari AHA-Mazing Clean is a gel cleanser containing a unique blend of active ingredients which help to cleanse and purify the skin. Its star ingredient is Sugar Cane Extract, which has received amazing raves for its many benefits: moisturizing, anti-aging and exfoliating. All skin types, including Oily skin. Sensitive skin types may wish to choose Cloud Nine Foaming Cleanser instead.

Want to keep up to date on the latest in skin care and anti aging information? Visit this skin care blog updated 3 times a week. Sign up for our weekly newsletter with exclusive info and discounts on new products. Sign Up Here