The Skin Issue, April 2021

In this month's issue, we're going skin deep, literally.

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Mistook your monthly magazine for a pack of One Wipe Charlies and flushed it down the toilet? No worries, here’s the online version!

In this edition:

  1. Why Does Getting Wet Make My Skin Dry?
  2. Meet the Invisible Spiders Who Live in Your Skin!
  3. Why Do People Put Cucumbers on Your Eyes in Spas?
  4. Your Quick Guide To Moles
  5. Historically Horrible Skincare
  6. What Should I Know About Skin Cancer?

Welcome!

We’re going to start using this page as a place to keep you posted about what’s happening with us every month. Here’s this month’s update about the Club.

We launched a new Club Benefits program! Enjoy perks only available to Members (like you!), including free shipping on razors, exclusive savings, gifts on your birthday, and more. Everyone loves perks. Read more about them here: DollarShaveClub.com/club-benefits

Just one small but mighty update this month. We’ll be back, right here on the first page, in the next issue. And now onto what you came here for, this month’s magazine: The Skin Issue

1 – Why Does Getting Wet Make My Skin Dry?

It seems illogical, but there’s a scientific reason for it — and a solution, too.

We’ve all stepped out of an invigoratingly hot shower, toweled off, and suddenly discovered that our skin feels so dry it hurts. How is this possible? We were just wet!

It’s not a mystery, just science. Thanks to your sebaceous glands, your skin forms its own natural moisturizer called sebum, an oily, waxy fluid made out of triglycerides, fatty acids and other chemicals. This light film not only helps protect your skin from outside particles, it also keeps the moisture in your skin locked inside.

When you’re washing your hands (or your entire body), you’re inevitably using cleansers to remove dirt, grime and dead skin cells from your body, but they remove the sebum from your skin, too. Once you’re out of the water and dried off, you’ve taken away all the moisture the sebum once kept stored in your skin. Cleansers aren’t the only culprit, by the way; a long, super-hot shower can blast sebum off as easily as soap, and the chlorine in a pool will strip it away, too.

So whatever body part (or parts) you’ve gotten wet, it’s as important to moisturize them once they’re dry. Not only does this help prevent cracks, irritation and acne, a good moisturizer is going to make your skin look better and healthier, too. When everything’s moist, everybody wins


2 – Meet the Invisible Spiders Who Live in Your Skin!

Warning: You are about to learn some very uncomfortable things about your face.

Here’s what you need to know first: Your face is not in danger, and you are not alone. Every human being has “face mites,” but you will never see them, and they will never hurt you. In fact, in a small sense, they could be considered a little helpful in that they eat sebum, the oil that seeps from your pores to lubricate hair and hydrate the skin, but which in excess can also cause pimples. It’s why they hang out on your face, the greasiest part of the human body.

Try to keep that in mind, because everything else about the genus Demodex — micro-sized, nearly transparent arachnids — is not going to make you happy, starting with the fact they crawl into your pores to eat the 24-hour sebum buffet located there, where they effectively move in for the entirety of their two-week lifespan.

Or, almost the entirety, and here’s where things get truly upsetting. When you sleep, the Demodex exit your pores and crawl around on your face. That’s horrifying enough, but the reason they’re out and about is to mate. Yes, you’ve essentially been throwing nightly spider sex parties on your face for your entire life without knowing it. And now you can never unknow this. Hey, we warned you!


3 – Why Do People Put Cucumbers on Your Eyes in Spas?

There’s no good reason… there are several great reasons!

When you think of a spa, chances are you think about someone wrapped in a white robe, mud mask on their face, and cucumber slices on their eyes. They don’t do this to seem fancy (although that’s a happy by-product): Spas do it because cucumbers were practically designed to make your eyes look and feel better.

“The physical benefits of putting cucumbers on the eyes are that it helps to improve the appearance of puffiness and dryness,” says Paula Lopez, Lead Esthetician at Pure Spa and Salon. “Cucumbers’ high water content and coolness are great for soothing dry, irritated skin, especially sunburned skin.” A 2013 study published in the research magazine Fitoterapia: The Journal for the Study of Medicinal Plants agrees: “Cucumber has a cleansing action within the body by removing accumulated pockets of old waste materials and chemical toxins.”

And that’s just for starters! The vitamin K in the cucumber fruit (yep, like the tomato, it’s actually a fruit) strengthens the capillaries in the skin, which helps get rid of dark undereye circles. Its ascorbic and caffeic acids pull off the nifty trick of lowering water retention while still managing to keep the skin properly hydrated, which lessens the visibility of lines and wrinkles.

Cucumbers, then, are very much your eyes’ best friend. So forget the spa and head to the grocery store!


4 – Mole-in-One: Your Quick Guide To Moles

Here’s a handy guide to what to be on the lookout for — and why.

Not all moles are born evil; you can have potentially dozens of them and they’ll never trouble you. But not all moles are born good, either — occasionally, some can develop into the skin cancer melanoma. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests you give yourself a skin exam once a month to find those potential moles gone bad.

Thankfully, dermatologists have come up with a mnemonic to help you remember what to look out for. “We call it the ABCDEs of melanoma,” says dermatologist Anthony Rossi. If you find any moles that fall into one of these categories, see a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible.

A Is for Asymmetry
Normal moles are generally symmetrical, where one half looks exactly like the other half. If you see a difference, as if it’s two separate moles connected or overlapping with each other, it’s worth getting checked out.

B Is for Border
Being symmetrical, moles also normally have a uniform, clearly defined border. If that border wall looks jagged or irregular, or has areas where the border is indistinct and hard to make out, this could be a warning sign, according to Rossi.

C Is for Color
While not all moles on your body will likely be the same color, your individual moles, on the other hand, should be made up entirely of one pigment. If you spot a spot that has hues in it, get it looked at. While it could be two shades of brown, melanoma could even turn parts of your mole white, black, red, or even blue.

D Is for Diameter
Grab yourself an old-school pencil with an eraser on the top. The diameter of the eraser is about 6 millimeters, and most melanomas are larger, so you can use that as a tiny measuring stick to see if any of your moles might be too big for their metaphorical britches. However, this isn’t foolproof — sometimes, melanomas can be smaller.

E Is for Evolving
You don’t need to just take a look at your moles from time to time, you need to track them through time to see if they’re changing — changing color, changing size, changing shape, anything. Skin cancer tends to cause visible changes, but you might not notice them unless you do your monthly self-exams. “If you see a lesion growing rapidly, then you should see [a dermatologist] immediately,” says Rossi.


5 – Historically Horrible Skincare

Eight weird ways humanity has tried to take care of their skin over the centuries.

Sour Milk Chemical Peels
Chemical peels may have hit their peak popularity in the 1990s, but the practice is thousands of years old. When the ancient Egyptians, including Queen Cleopatra, wanted to even out their skin tone, lessen their wrinkles and lighten blemishes and scars, they’d hop in a bath full of sour donkey milk. Sour milk isn’t spoiled milk, but it’s on its way. The reason Egyptians endured the smell is because sour milk contains lactic acid, which removes the surface layer of skin to expose a newer, smoother layer underneath, much like an extra-thorough exfoliation.

Crocodile Poop Baths
Alas, nearly spoiled milk wasn’t the only questionable substance the ancient Egyptians bathed in. Crocodile dung was believed to have some kind of anti-aging properties, and it was a belief widespread enough that ancient Greeks and Romans combined it with heated mud to form a mud bath, which they’d soak in for hours, or more simply would apply it as a face mask. This also sounds incredibly unpleasant, but not quite as awful as being the guy who has to find all that crocodile poop without getting eaten and becoming crocodile poop himself.

Urine Moisturizer
While modern people tend to carelessly flush their pee down the toilet, urine has been hugely popular throughout recorded history for many, many things. Ancient Indian and Chinese documents extol the benefits of drinking your own urine, and much of the classical world used fermented urine to clean and launder clothes — it was such a big business that the Roman emperor Nero instituted a urine tax. Urine was also used to treat rashes, burns and skin diseases. In the Middle Ages, washing your face with urine would hydrate your skin and help improve your complexion. And here’s the thing: It works! Urine contains urea, which is a natural skin moisturizer, softener and exfoliant — and it’s still used in a wide assortment of modern skincare products. Luckily, there are now more scientific ways of making urea beyond just going to the bathroom.

The Uncomfortable Chicken Facial Mask
In the 6th century CE, Chen Subao was the emperor of China. If he had a skincare regimen, it is lost to time; besides, he was probably too busy losing a war that ended his family’s imperial dynasty for much grooming. However, Subao’s concubine, Zhang Lihua, had the time and the servants to create one of the most unique facial masks recorded in human history. It began by grabbing a fresh egg from a hen. The egg white was mixed with powdered vermillion but mixed in the egg itself, rather than a bowl. That’s because the final step was to somehow reconstitute the egg and use the hen to…ah… reincubate it. Egg whites are still used in some skincare products today to tighten pores and freshen the skin, but without the chicken trauma (hopefully).

Lead Skin Smoothing Agent
Ancient Roman women used lead-based make-up to whiten their faces and reduce wrinkles and scars by smoothing out their complexions. By the 17th century, well-to-do European women and men alike were still using it, dissolving it in vinegar to create a substance called “Venetian ceruse.” Naturally, the first problem with a lead-based skincare product is that lead is incredibly poisonous, potentially causing pain, stomach issues, depression, anemia, neurological issues and then finally death as it builds up in the human body. The second problem is that the lead make-up wasn’t actually treating or helping the skin in any way, it was just being slathered on like paint and worn all day, ensuring that the lead would have ample time to do its dark work.

Arsenic Beauty Pills
What if having beautiful, healthy skin was as easy as swallowing a pill? Why, that would be one of the greatest, most popular skincare products the world had ever known! Well, the company behind Dr. Rose’s Arsenic Complexion Wafers certainly sold a lot of them, as they were touted as removing tans, pimples and freckles, giving “the complexion an indescribable brilliancy” and being “perfectly harmless!” That’s quite the claim, given that arsenic is astonishingly toxic. What’s worse is that human bodies can handle ingesting small doses over time, which allows the toxin to slowly build up until it starts wreaking havoc on your nervous and urinary system, makes your hair fall out, and eventually kills you. But along the way it does, indeed, make your skin whiter, so at least the hucksters got that part right.

Nightingale Poop Facials
Before the 20th century, the entertainers known as geisha were considered the height of sophistication, artistry and beauty. Their process to achieve the latter was intense and included uguisu no fun, which is more euphemistically referred to as the “Geisha Facial” but translates as “nightingale feces,” because that is exactly what it is. Nightingales eat a certain combination of bugs and berries which their bodies process into guano with high amounts of uric acid, the amino acid guanine and our helpful friend urea. Uric acid does the exfoliating, while the urea helps keep moisture in the skin. Guanine is more cosmetic, giving your skin a fresh, bright, shimmery glow. But feel free to try it for yourself — uguisu no fun treatments are back in fashion in high-end spas around the world. No joke!

Radioactive Mudpacks
It wasn’t just scientists who got excited when Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium in 1898. Like so many scientific discoveries of the age, it was practically immediately announced to be a cure-all by con artists and snake oil salesmen in the early 20th century, who sold a variety of beauty and health products long before anyone thought to wonder if it might be dangerous. The classiest by far had to be Kemolite Radio-Active Beauty Plasma, which claimed to consist of volcanic mud from the Carpathian mountains and, of course, radium. In the 1920s, it was a huge hit both at salons and as a home treatment, likely because it was advertised as 1) erasing wrinkles, 2) toning up muscles, 3) improving blood flow to the skin, and 4) getting rid of all acne, blemishes, scars, and rough spots. Thankfully, companies quickly started using far cheaper — and much less dangerous — radium gas in their products, as opposed to its solid form, which is why millions of consumers weren’t poisoned. Yay, corporate greed!


6 – Oh FAQ! What Should I Know About Skin Cancer?

It’s more dangerous than you realize, and you’re not as safe as you think.

1. Skin Cancer Is the Most Common Type of Cancer: In the United States, more people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer every year than all other cancers combined. In fact, the Skin Cancer Foundation estimates 20 percent of Americans develop skin cancer before the age of 70, and cases are on the rise. “[Skin cancer] usually affects older individuals, but unfortunately we’re seeing a rise in younger individuals, too,” says Dr. Anthony Rossi, a dermatologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. So wear sunscreen!

2. The Sun Is Not Your Friend: Looking forward to hitting the beach this summer to work on your tan? Don’t. A 2010 study in the scientific research magazine British Journal of Cancer found that 86 percent of melanomas are caused by the sun. If you tend to burn easily, you need to be even more careful. Your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had five serious sunburns before you’re 20 — and if you’ve ever had a single sunburn so bad it blistered, you’re in the same boat.

3. Indoor Tanning Is Even Worse: When you go in a tanning booth or bed, you are bathing in ultraviolet rays that can be 10 to 15 times more powerful than the sun emits, according to the SCF. Not only are UV rays proven to cause cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies them as Group 1 carcinogens — a group which includes cigarettes and plutonium. “If you have a history of tanning at a young age, you’re increasing your risk of a basal cell carcinoma by around 69 percent,” says Rossi.

4. Moles Aren’t the Only Warning Signs: Although most people know to watch out if they see a mole that has suddenly changed in size, shape, or color, any new spot, growth, or scaly patch on your skin could be trouble, especially a sore that won’t heal. You should perform a thorough self-exam of your entire body once a month and see a dermatologist once a year. If you have a history of sunburns, indoor tanning, or skin cancer in your family, you should go more often to be safe.

5. You Can Die From Skin Cancer: If skin cancer goes unchecked, it can spread to other organs. “Some tumors, when they grow big enough, can also wrap around nerves, [which] can cause nerve problems,” says Rossi. “When things are more advanced, these cancers may need radiation and chemotherapy or immunotherapy.” The SCF estimates that two people die from skin cancer every hour in the U.S. alone, which is why it’s so important to keep the sunscreen on, and those self-skin exams on schedule.


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