Why do websites have an FAQ page? It is there to post Frequently Asked Questions along with answers to those questions. Personally, I view FAQs as another part of my educational structure along with “Hey Dr. Marta“; my “Blog“; and various other articles and topics that I post.

I’m building a community where anyone that wants to know the science behind skincare, why different skincare ingredients are used, and how and which skincare products will benefit them can visit and participate in the quest for this knowledge. As I get frequently asked questions I’ll post them along with the answers.

What is the difference between a "natural" skincare product and an "organic" skincare product?

Natural: The definition of “natural” in skincare is not regulated (at least I could not find anything that states otherwise). However, it is widely accepted that “natural” refers to what is not synthetically made but occurs in nature. A couple of “watch-outs” are since “natural” is not officially defined, it may be subject to interpretation and the second is that generally a natural ingredient must be isolated from its source, which could be a process that involves many synthetic chemicals, which makes one question how natural it is when packaged to sell.

Organic: For an ingredient to be considered organic, it must come from a source that was raised or grown without the use of artificial/synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. One must be aware that the definition organic can also be applied even if certain pesticides or fertilizers are used. Also, there are some instances when organic applies even when synthetic compounds are used to assist growth, as long as it is only during a certain period of the life cycle of the resource.

What's the difference between hydration and moisturization?

Hydration is defined by the amount of water kept in the skin, located under the epidermis where collagen “sits”. Hydration is crucial to maintain resilience, as collagen (the component of youthful elasticity) crumbles without it. In short, if you want supple skin with a healthy glow, hydration is the key. When your skin lacks hydration, it is dehydrated.

Moisturization is related to the oil barrier, which maintains hydration and blocks pollutants, dirt, and other free-radical causing agents. When moisturization is insufficient, your skin is dry.

To maintain proper hydration, choose a water-based serum with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin B, urea, and other water-carrying actives.

To achieve moisturization, use a cream or lotion, ideally 10 to 15 minutes after applying hydrating serum. If you have oily skin, make sure that your moisturizer does not contain comedogenic emollients, such as wax, Shea butter, and petrolatum, amongst others.

What is the difference between mechanical and non-mechanical exfoliation?

One of the key habits to maintain healthy, radiant skin is periodic exfoliation. This removes the non-functional layers of skin cells that naturally accumulate on the skin’s surface, clogging pores and making it appear dull and pasty.

Mechanical Exfoliation

Mechanical Exfoliation is the active removal of those dead, non-functional skin  cells, either by physical action (with micro beads, salts, small granules, or any other scrubbing agents) which “sweep” them. These products can be fairly invasive, affecting the oil barrier and healthy cells.

Non-Mechanical Exfoliation

Non-mechanical or biological exfoliators can be enzymatic, such as bromelain and papain, which chew up those dead cells leaving intact the healthy ones. There are also ingredients that can act as exfoliators by increasing activity of the skin’s biome, which leads to proliferation of new cells and in turn, the descend of those dead ones.

Your Choice

If you choose a physical exfoliator, make sure that you don’t apply too much pressure on the skin while using copious amounts of water to avoid scratching (which could initiate surface lines).

If you prefer chemical exfoliator, always follow the instructions so you don’t use too much. That may strip oil and healthy layers of skin, exposing inner layers (rawness!).

Why do I have wrinkles?

Wrinkles are the result of the loss of elasticity followed by breakage of the skin’s collagen and elastin. When skin is stressed, it deforms and adapts to the force applied by stretching. When the source of stress is removed, skin goes back to its original state (which in Physics is called “elastic recovery”). However, after that stress application and relief is done multiple times, eventually collagen and elastin lose their ability to recover to their initial form and eventually break. That breakage is the initiation of a fine line, which becomes deeper and more visible as more and more collagen and elastin chains lose their elastic recovery and break.

When you think about where wrinkles appear first and become more prominent, it is finger joints, elbows, knees, the sides of your eyes, around the mouth, and lips. What do those areas have in common? The skin there is stretched more often and in many occasions for prolonged periods of time.

What is adult acne and why does it happen?

Just when you thought that puberty and its consequences, such as acne, was over, acne shows up again in your 30s, 40s and even up to your 60s. The reasons why that happens are not all that different from your youthful days.

It could be stress, hormonal imbalance (such as periodical spikes in women, pregnancy or even post-partum), or even consumption of stimulants such as caffeine or certain preservatives used in food. The reason is the same in all of these instances — the destabilization in your hormonal system translates into a lack of control of all glands regulated by hormones including sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing the substance that maintains your skin barrier.

When oil production is out of control, pores clog (black and white heads) that can infect (zits). Poor skin hygiene habits make the issue worse. Develop good hygiene habits such as a daily routine of cleansing with water and soap and making sure you remove makeup at night.

What's with sun and age spots?

The job of your skin and all its fabulous components is to protect you. One of them, melanin, is present to defend against harmful UV radiation, coming from the sun. These UV rays, which are energetic enough to penetrate through the different layers can disrupt DNA and ultimately lead to melanoma or skin cancer.

When you expose your unprotected skin to the sun, your skin activates its defense mechanism by producing more melanin, which accumulates, resulting in those unsightly spots. Age and sun spots are versions of the same melanin buildup, which when stacked, becomes visible.

While sun spots can suddenly appear (i.e. after sun worshiping on a Caribbean vacation), age spots are the result of a more progressive exposure to the sun. But fundamentally they are the same.


  • Dr. Marta

    Supported by a BSc. in Chemistry, MS in Polymer Science and doctorate in Polymer Chemistry, Dr. Marta began a fifteen-year journey into the health and beauty industry ultimately leading to the founding of “dr. mp”, a company dedicated to among other things, formulating skincare products for private labels. She is the author of many informative blog articles.