skincare blog

Zax’s Original Creams – New at PharmacyMix!

zax's logoNew to the PharmacyMix family, Zax’s Original Creams are pharmacist-developed, natural remedies that treat and manage some common skin conditions, including rosacea, dark spots and dark circles under the eyes. Our customers tell us that they are concerned with reducing the amount of chemicals and additives in their lives and we’ve listened. These new products from Zax’s can help you reach your skin care goals.


Zax’s Original Facial Redness Cream

Facial redness can be a challenge to deal with, whether it is caused by rosacea, windburn or dehydrated skin.  All these conditions are addressed by hydrating Zax’s Original Facial Redness Cream, which contains a proprietary formula that combines:

  • Pine bark extract, with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties
  • Niacinamide, which improves the skin barrier function, leading to diminished reaction to irritants
  • Aloe, long-known for its soothing properties
  • Vitamin E, a multi-tasking antioxidant that fights free radicals and protects the skin from UV damage

Zax’s Dark Circle Eye Cream

Getting lots of sleep and avoiding allergy triggers are often not enough to keep dark circles at bay. That’s why Zax’s Dark-Circle Eye Cream was developed. It reduces puffiness and minimizes dark circles, leaving your eyes looking refreshed while tackling the bags under your eyes.

Zax’s Dark-Circle Eye Cream is made with ingredients that each play a special role in treating dark circles:

  • Witch Hazel, a natural astringent to help reduce dark circles under eyes, puffiness and swelling
  • Caffeine, a natural anti-inflammatory that can effectively reduce the amount of swelling throughout the under eye area by constricting blood vessels
  • Niacinamide, an effective skin-lightening compound that aids in the elimination of skin discolorations
  • Cucumber Extract, which soothes and moisturizes while tightening and toning the areas around the eye

Zax’s Darkspot Cream

This skin brightening formula removes dead skin cells, reduces the appearance of age/dark sports and moisturizes aging skin. Zax’s Darkspot Cream uses a unique combination of 5 natural and effective ingredients to tackle dark spots by blocking melanin production or by absorbing the UVA rays that darken the skin:

  • Citrus Unshiu Peel Extract has clinically proven skin-lightening effects  from a specific form of vitamin C, which inhibits melanin production.
  • Licorice Extract absorbs UVA and UVB rays. It is also acts as a de-pigmenting agent by inhibiting the production of melanin.
  • Aloe has subtle skin lightening properties while moisturizing aging skin.
  • Niacinamide, a unique form of Vitamin B3 that is an effective skin-lightening compound
  • Vitamin E with anti-oxidant properties that help protect and rejuvenate aging skin

Another great thing about Zax’s Original? Like well-respected brands Neostrata, Reversa and Cliniderm, Zax’s Original is Canadian.  Get ready to love your skin again.

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Green Defined: What to Consider When Choosing Beauty Products

woman tree huggingThe idea of being “green” and “eco-chic” has certainly been a part of mainstream consumer society for many years, influencing the food, clothes and cars we buy.  The desire to be “green” has also significantly extended to our choice of beauty products, from the creams we put on our faces to the mascaras that go on our lashes.

When we choose “green” products it may mean different things to different people, including:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cruelty-free (not tested on animals)
  • Organic
  • Chemical-free
  • All natural
  • Socially beneficial (supporting local or international charities; fair trade)
  • Sustainable principals
  • Local

Reading labels and ingredient lists can help us determine if we are buying products that fit our idea of what “going green” actually means, but when some of those terms carry very loose definitions, it makes it more difficult to do the right thing.

The two main terms that lead us to believe the product is “green” appear to be “natural” and “organic” but what do they actually mean?

  1. Natural:  In our minds, natural is synonymous with botanical or plant based, but in reality, there is currently no legal definition of “natural” when it comes to labelling of beauty products in Canada or the United States.  The term “natural” on a label has no quantitative meaning, so the contents could be formulated with 100% ingredients sourced from the land or sea, or zero %.  In most cases, the word “natural” is simply for marketing purposes.
  2. Organic:  Although food can be certified organic and must meet specific, well-established criteria in order to bear either the USDA certified or Canada Organic logos, beauty and personal care products still have a ways to go in developing universal standards and guidelines.  Like the term “natural”, there are currently no governmental rules regarding the use of the word “organic” on beauty product labels.

However, some cosmetic and skin care companies are seeking recognized designation from organizations such as EcoCert, a French company with a branch in Canada, which has established standards for natural and organic cosmetics. In Europe, the UK’s Soil Association and Germany’s BDHI both test and certify organic cosmetics.  In the US, it is possible to see USDA certified logos on personal care products but only if each step of production has in turn been USDA certified, from the growing of the ingredients to the processing and final manufacturing of the product – very stringent requirements.

Until more globally uniform standards are established for cosmetics, the final decision as to what “green” means is ultimately up to the individual.  Perhaps the best approach is the same one that you would use for buying food:

  • Look high quality, naturally grown ingredients (aka free of harmful pesticides and herbicides)
  • Familiarize yourself with the names of ingredients that you want to avoid
  • Read labels scrupulously
  • Get to know the company behind the product and determine if their values correspond to yours

So can “green” be defined?  Maybe not yet, but the day is coming.

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Scary or Not? Ingredients in Your Cosmetics

surprised blondThese days many of us are so careful about the foods we buy, yet we tend to forget that what we put on our skin and in our hair should also warrant some careful consideration. Beauty and skin care products often contain not so beautiful ingredients that are sometimes necessary, sometimes not, and sometimes downright scary!

A rule of thumb when at the grocery store is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn’t buy it. When it comes to personal care products though, some multi-syllabic ingredients are often necessary to preserve and maintain the quality of what’s in the bottle.

Scary or not? Here are some ingredients that you may wonder about:

  1. Parabens:  Parabens are preservatives used widely in cosmetics. Concerns exist that because they have mild estrogenic properties they may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. They are also damaging to the marine environment. The jury is still out on their risks, but regardless, many individuals wish to avoid them.  Earlier this year, the European Union banned the use of the following parabens in cosmetic products -  isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, phenylparaben, benzylparaben and pentylparaben. There are no such restrictions in either Canada or the USA, but many companies have moved on to alternative preservatives, which do not disrupt hormones.   Should you wish to avoid parabens, don’t go preservative free. Preseravtives are essential to keeping personal care products free from bacteria, fungi and other nasties that can grow in products and cause harm.
  2. Phthalates:  Phthalates are a common industrial chemical used in PVC plastics, solvents, and synthetic fragrances. They’ve been around since the 1930′s, and now they’re pretty ubiquitous. When they tested 289 people in 2000, the Center for Disease Control found phthalates in all of the subjects’ blood at surprisingly high levels.   Phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to problems of the reproductive system, including decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys. More recently they’ve also been linked to asthma and allergies. Phthalates are found in many nail polishes (Dibutyl phthalate – DBP – is often used to make nail polish chip-resistant). In fragrances, Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is often used as part of the “fragrance” in some products. DEP won’t be listed separately so steer away from personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list.  Just like fragrances in personal care products, most air fresheners contain phthalates.
  3. Silicones:  Found in moisturizers and shampoos, dimethicone (also known as polydimethylsiloxane) and cyclomethicone impart a silky feeling to skin. Both silicones sit on top of the skin and create a barrier helping to limit transdermal water loss. In hair care products, dimethicone is used to coat the hair’s surface providing lubrication and helping to improve combing providing detangling, and thus, hair loss and breakage. Studies have shown that due to their large molecular size that the silicones are not absorbed into the body and that they are safe when used at the levels currently found in cosmetic preparations.
  4. Vitamin A in Sunscreens:  Vitamin A in skin care products is highly effective at combating acne and is an important anti-aging ingredient. Yet, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a group that oversees the safety of personal care products recently issued a warning that a form of Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), may damage skin in the presence of sunlight. The EWG claims that their warning is especially  important because 41 percent of sunscreen manufacturers in the USA routinely add Vitamin A to their sunscreens. Retinyl palmitate does not protect the skin from the sun, but when added to sunscreens its antioxidant action may help to prevent free radical damage. However, since it is an extremely light sensitive ingredient, it is rendered inactive upon exposure to sunlight. Based on the evidence I’ve seen, I don’t think retinyl palmitate in sunscreens is unsafe. But, because it is light sensitive and inactive in sunlight, I don’t see the point of using a sunscreen that contains this ingredient.
  5. Triclosan & Triclocarban:  Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban) are very toxic to the aquatic environment. Often found as contaminants in people due to the widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products, triclosn disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance. Watch out for this ingredient in all manners of personal care products including toothpastes, where it is widely found.


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2% Ketoconazole Helps Reverse Hair Loss

NizoralHair loss affects up to 70% of men and up to 40% of women at some point during their lifetimes so how to reverse hair loss becomes a significant concern for a considerable number of people! Sure it may sound superficial, but our hair is often a major contributor to how good we feel about ourselves. The good news is that the topical application of 2% ketoconazole can help.

Many factors can contribute to hair loss in both men and women, including:

                                • Hormonal changes
                                • Genetic disposition
                                • Stress
                                • Diet
                                • Other health issues unrelated to hair

Classic male pattern baldness is referred to as androgenetic alopecia.  The vast majority of cases concerning men are due to a genetic sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a derivative of testosterone.  DHT is classified as an androgen, or “male sex hormone” that plays a role in male traits and reproductive activity.  Androgens are produced by both men and women.

The process of balding is complicated, but evidence from various studies has shown that it is possible to reverse hair loss and encourage hair regrowth using 2% ketoconazole as found in Nizoral Shampoo. Although ketoconazole was used primarily to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, researchers discovered that it also had anti-androgenic properties. This feature allows ketoconazole to block DHT from binding to hair follicles thereby inhibiting the process that leads to hair loss. When the hair follicle functions normally, the hair regrowth cycle continues. Even more encouraging is a 1998 study by Belgian researchers that found topical 2% ketoconazole to be as effective as 2% minoxidil at stimulating hair growth.

If hair loss is due to hormonal changes, stress or diet, then attention must be focused on dealing with the causes.  The good news? Many cases of hair loss may be temporary when attributed to hormonal imbalances, traumatic experiences or nutritional deficiencies.  Hair-healthy vitamins and minerals including B, C, D, E, omega-3’s, biotin and zinc, in conjunction with recognizing the importance of taking care of yourself, should improve the condition.

Keep in mind that hair loss may also be an indication of other health issues, so it’s always important to discuss your concerns with your doctor.

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