Skin conditions and skin care

Sunscreens and skin care

Ultraviolet (UV) light is dangerous

Everyone knows that sunshine can burn your skin. The main culprit in sunlight is a high-energy radiation called ultraviolet (UV) light. There are two types: UV-A and UV-B. UV-B is the major cause of sunburn and increased skin cancer risk, while UV-A causes tanning and ageing of the skin, as well as to a higher skin cancer risk. The skin damage caused by UV radiation occurs mostly through a chemical process called photo-oxidation (as we’ve discussed before, here and here).

On an average summer weekend in Australia, 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 teenagers get sunburned while outdoors at the beach or pool, in the garden, or beside the barbecue. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

Sunburn causes 95% of melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer. It is the cause of other skin cancers too, such as basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC), that may be less life-threatening than melanoma but still dangerous if left untreated. All three types of skin cancer have become more common in the last 20-40 years, especially in areas with predominantly Caucasian populations like Australia.

Protecting your skin from UV

The first-line in sun protection is to avoid sun exposure during periods of peak UV radiation (and most particularly during summer daylight hours). In Australia, the times of day when UV protection is recommended are published by the Bureau of Meteorology. On cooler and overcast days, many people mistakenly believe the UV radiation to be not as strong—but sunburn can still occur.

If you must be in the sun when the UV is high, then protect yourself:

Slip on sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
Slop on sunscreen, and make it broad spectrum and at least SPF30+ (more on sunscreens below).
Slap on a hat with a broad brim (or legionnaire style) to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
Seek out the shade—don’t linger in the sun.
Slide on sunglasses, and make sure they meet Australian Standards for UV protection.

Sun exposure that doesn’t burn you can still damage your skin cells and increase your risk of skin cancer, especially when the exposure is regular, year after year. This is especially relevant to skin that is rarely covered (like the face, neck, or hands). Despite what many people think, having a sun-tan is not healthy.

A sunscreen, applied to at-risk skin, is the easiest way to protect against UV damage.


There are two major types of active sunscreen ingredients:

  • Organic chemicals (that absorb UV light and prevent it from reaching your skin; some filter UV-A, some UV-B, some both); and
  • Metal oxides (which act to reflect or scatter the UV radiation away from your skin).

How well a sunscreen can protect your skin is expressed as a SPF (sun protection factor) value. Oddly enough, an SPF value is determined by burning the skin of volunteers with a UV light. The SPF value is the ratio between the dose of UV light required to burn the volunteer’s sunscreen-protected skin over their unprotected skin. For a sunscreen to rate an SPF 50+ label, it must have a tested SPF of at least 60; that is, it took 60 times more administered UV light to burn skin that was protected by the sunscreen.

Sunscreen should be applied generously to clean dry skin, 20 minutes before UV exposure. Critically, it must be reapplied every two hours afterwards while in the sun. Try limit how long you spend in the sun during peak UV times. Sunscreens should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.

When buying a dedicated sunscreen product, look for an SPF of preferably 50+, as it will give you a more reliable, longer-lasting protection. If you are going to be in the water or perspiring heavily, choose a sunscreen that is water resistant. They are formulated in an oily cream vehicle that won’t easily wash off and leave you unprotected.

Aren’t there risks in using sunscreens, too?

Sunscreen ingredients get a lot of bad press, but the “risks” are exaggerated and overblown. People get scared reading websites and articles that declare sunscreens as containing endocrine disrupting chemicals, or nanoparticles of metal oxides. However, these “dangers” have never been shown scientifically, do not consider all the available evidence, or only occur in lab animals at doses many times higher than those used in sunscreens—doses many fold higher than could ever be absorbed through the skin.

One thing is certain: UV exposure is much, much more dangerous than any sunscreen.

People with sensitive skin can struggle to find a commercial sunscreen product that does not irritate their skin, however, and may come to believe the irritation is caused by the sunscreen ingredients. However, more often it is the sunscreen’s formulation—its base—that is the problem.

BCP’s Suncreens

At BCP, we specialise in custom-made sunscreen options for sensitive skin. Protecting your skin against UV light not only reduces the risk of skin cancers, but also reduces UV-induced skin thickening, wrinkles, and visible signs of ageing.

We have a range of metal oxide sunscreens (such as titanium dioxide) and UV-A and UV-B absorbing sunscreen ingredients available to add into a custom-made dedicated sunscreen product, or to add into your favourite BCP Custom Skincare product. Why not contact our friendly formulating pharmacists to discuss your custom-made sunscreen needs today?

While we can’t put an SPF value on our products—that would require us to use your custom-made product on someone until they received a sunburn—we are confident that your skin will be well protected against incidental UV exposure.

Why not also include an antioxidant like Milk thistle seed extract (silibinin) and/or Vitamin B3 (as scientists propose) to your sunscreen or skincare, to prevent or repair the damage from sun exposure?

BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.

Antioxidants for your skin

We hear about antioxidants in any mention of skincare, but why?

Oxidation and antioxidants

Before talking antioxidants, first we need to talk about damage. Oxidative damage, that is. It’s a bit like rust in a machine, but in your cells. Oxidative damage occurs when the body’s cells become stressed, for example by heat or UV light.

A particular stress to your skin happens when it is exposed to sunlight, and particularly its high-energy ultraviolet spectrum light. With sun exposure, many chemical changes take place within your skin’s cells, proteins and DNA. Photo-oxidation is a kind of oxidative damage caused when sunlight induces the production of free radicals. Most people have heard of free radicals—and they’ve probably seen and felt their effects, too. It is these reactive, damaging chemicals that lead to sunburn, suntan and wrinkles.

Antioxidants consume or “scavenge” free radicals, often chemically changing and being inactivated to do so—but without free radicals, there’s no oxidative damage.

Oxidative damage and your skin

As your skin is on the outside of you, some part of your skin will experience oxidative damage every time you go outside.

Photo-oxidation in skin cells will:

  • Trigger melanin deposition and the formation of a suntan (the body’s natural defence against UV light). If your skin develops a tan, damage has occurred. Hyper-pigmented spots (e.g., freckles, melasma) are other consequences of photo-oxidation in skin cells.
  • Cause DNA damage and genetic mutations.
  • Makes skin age and wrinkle faster by degrading the skin’s collagen, leading to wrinkles and a lack of elasticity.
  • (With over-exposure) cause a sunburn.
  • (In excess and over time) lead to skin cancers (e.g., melanoma).

To make this worse, some areas of skin are only rarely protected by clothing—like the face, neck and hands—and it is these areas that benefit most from the application of sunscreens and antioxidants.

So, clearly I need antioxidants for my skin!

Since antioxidants are “scavengers” of free radicals, when they are applied to the skin they can prevent and treat oxidative damage. The safest antioxidants are those found in our own cells and in foods, such as:

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

L-Ascorbic acid

  • A very potent antioxidant.
  • Also involved in at least eight enzymatic reactions in the body—including collagen synthesis—that are especially important in wound-healing.
  • Reduces damage & hyperpigmentation from sun exposure.
  • Reduces the appearance of age-related changes, such as skin wrinkles and age spots.
  • Has been used for the treatment of scarring and hyperpigmentation (e.g., freckles, melasma, or “age” or “liver” spots).

Vitamin E (α-tocopherol)

α-tocopheryl acetate

  • A variant, α-tocopheryl acetate, is used in skin care because it is more stable than the plain vitamin and is able to penetrate through the skin to the living cells (where it is converted to free αtocopherol to provide beneficial antioxidant effects).
  • Strong antioxidant that protects skin cell membranes from damage.
  • May assist with wound healing and reduce scarring.
  • May possess natural sunscreen characteristics.

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone)


  • Kind of like a vitamin, but technically it is called a “cofactor”. It is necessary for virtually all cellular energy metabolism.
  • A very potent antioxidant, as it can absorb two free radicals per molecule!
  • Heals and repairs skin, by increasing collagen production.
  • May protect against damage from sun exposure.
  • Reduces the appearance of age-related skin changes, such as skin wrinkles and age spots.



  • Glutathione is not really a vitamin, either—rather, it’s a peptide or tiny protein—but it is one of the major antioxidant chemicals in the human body. It’s the body’s first line of defence against free radicals.
  • It is a strong antioxidant that works by binding to free radicals.
  • Lightens skin by preventing melanin formation.
  • Smooths skin and increases its moisture content, and so improves the appearance of age-related skin changes (like wrinkles and spots).

Silibinin (from milk thistle seed extract)


Put antioxidants on your skin

You can include one or all of the above antioxidants (as well as sunscreens, the skin cancer-fighting vitamin B3, and many other options) in a BCP Custom Skincare product, such as a serum or moisturiser. Get your BCP Skincare today!

Vitamins C and E are also available in our ever-popular BCP Vitamin C Serum, which is available to purchase online in our BCP Shop.

BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.

Vitamin B3 for acne

No one likes pimples

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. Medically, it is known as acne vulgaris. It occurs when skin pores or hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin (sebum), and so usually affects skin areas where oil glands are present in relatively high numbers, such as the face, back, and upper chest.

If poorly treated or if left untreated, acne can result in scarring. More, it can negatively impact a person’s psychological state, worsening their mood and lowering their self-esteem, and can be associated with a higher risk of anxiety and depressive conditions.

Acne is most common in puberty, brought on by hormonal changes either during the menstrual cycle or with increasing testosterone, as these hormones cause an increase in sebum production. Dead skin cells then block the pore, leading to the typical swelling or “head” as sebum builds up behind the blockage. Finally, excessive growth of normal skin bacteria occurs in and around the pore, resulting in inflammation, redness and soreness.

The usual acne treatments

Common treatments target one or more of the above stages in the development of acne, and may be either taken orally or applied topically to the affected area (1).

Benzoyl peroxide is commonly used to reduce the number of skin bacteria, and salicylic acid can unblock pores (1). A doctor may prescribe retinoids (e.g. tretinoin), that work to both unblock pores and reduce inflammation, or alternatively, topical antibiotics (e.g., clindamycin or erythromycin) that work by killing off the infecting bacteria.

Most of these treatments have the disadvantage of drying and/or irritating the skin, and many cannot be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Topical nicotinamide

At BCP, we have been promoting the benefits of topical nicotinamide (a form of Vitamin B3) for some time. When applied to your skin, it may:

But we wanted to take a moment to point out what we believe is one of its most overlooked abilities: the treatment of acne.

Topical B3 is effective against acne

Topical nicotinamide has been shown to be effective in the treatment of acne. A 4% or 5% nicotinamide gel has been found to be as effective as topical 1% or 2% clindamycin gel for treating mild-moderate acne (2,3). The study concluded that nicotinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties may have contributed towards its success, however it has also been shown to reduce the excess facial sebum production that causes inflammatory acne, facial shine (oiliness) and non-inflamed comedones (small, skin-coloured bumps frequently found on the forehead and chin of those with acne). Application of a 2% nicotinamide moisturiser to the face for 4-6 weeks reduced sebum production with significant differences in facial shine and oiliness (4).

Our formulations

Available-without-a-prescriptionWe have formulated a BCP Vitamin B3 gel that is a 4% w/w nicotinamide gel in a hyaluronate gel base. Importantly, the formulation is non-comedogenic (i.e., it will not block pores). It is available in 50 ml pump packs through our secure BCP Shop online, or by contacting us. We can also make the gel to any other desired strength.

We recommend that Vitamin B3 gels be applied twice daily. If this application rate causes excessive skin drying, it may be applied once daily or every other day.

Another way to take advantage of the benefits of topical Vitamin B3 is to incorporate it into your skin care, such as in a facial moisturiser! Consider our BCP Custom Skincare options. BCP gives you control of your skin care.

It is worth considering that sometimes biofilms of acne-causing bacteria are present that may worsen acne. Using a topical Vitamin B3 product in combination with an EDTA-containing product like our BCP EDTA foaming wash may enhance each product’s benefits—with or without other preparations prescribed by your doctor.

 BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.


  1. Titus S and Hodge J (2012) Diagnosis and Treatment of Acne. Am Fam Physician. 86(8):734-740.
  2. Khodaeiani E, et al. (2013) Topical 4% nicotinamide vs. 1% clindamycin in moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol. 52(8): 999-1004.
  3. Shahmoradi Z, et. al. (2013) Comparison of topical 5% nicotinamid gel versus 2% clindamycin gel in the treatment of the mild-moderate acne vulgaris: A double-blinded randomized clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 18(2): 115-7.
  4. Draelos ZD, et al. (2006) The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 8(2): 96-101.


The skincare potential of silibinin

What is silibinin?

Silibinin is a purified form of Silymarin, a standardized extract from the seeds of the milk thistle (Silybum marianum)—a traditional herbal medicine that has been used since antiquity (1). Silibinin is also found abundantly in globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus).

The flower of the milk thistle (Silybum marianum)

The molecular structure of silibinin

Silibinin is a strong antioxidant chemical (2), but both it and the Silymarin extract have a growing range of other effects that are now gaining recognition in Western medicine. Both extracts have promising uses in the treatment of some liver diseases and diabetes (1,3), as immune system modulators (4), and they may also have anti-cancer properties—but more studies are needed (5).

Silibinin and skin

Protection from the damaging effects of the sun?

When skin is exposed to sunlight—and particularly to the high-energy ultraviolet spectrum (UV) it contains—many chemical changes take place within its cells, in the DNA and proteins. A major mechanism by which these changes take place is known as photo-oxidation, a kind of damage caused by sunlight-induced free radicals (a kind of reactive, damaging chemical). This kind of oxidative damage leads to skin ageing and a range of dermatological conditions—including various skin cancers.

Antioxidants are so-called “scavengers” of free radicals, as they prevent and treat oxidative damage. The safest antioxidants are those found in nature, like silibinin—a strong antioxidant that scavenges free radicals (2). In recent studies silibinin appears to have a range beneficial effects on skin, including protective effects against environmental toxins, anti-inflammatory effects, and protective effects against UV damage (6). Silibinin given orally (i.e., ingested) or applied directly to the skin of lab animals protected them against sunburn (i.e., skin damage caused by UV-B light), and protected them against skin thickening and DNA damage caused by UV exposure (6,7). Perhaps as a result of these effects, silibinin-treated animals were also protected against UV-induced skin cancers—reducing the size and number of cancers by up to 97% when compared to untreated animals (8).

These exciting effects are unique to silibinin.

Silibinin for treating melasma?

A large melasma, on the face (left cheek).

Melasma is a kind of skin hyperpigmentation disorder, manifesting as tanned, greyish or dark skin discolourations, usually on the face. Although melasma can affect anyone, more than 90% of all cases occur in women. Often it is a patch or spot (or group of spots), but can appear as a “mask” across the upper cheek, nose, lips, upper lip, and forehead. Especially prone are pregnant women or women taking hormonal replacements. It does not cause any other symptoms, but the cosmetic discolouration can be severe.

A 2012 clinical trial using a Silymarin cream resulted in tremendous improvements in treated melasmas, with complete resolution of their clinical appearance within four weeks (i.e., the discolouration disappeared) (7). No side effects were observed, confirming the results of earlier animal studies that found Silymarin and silibinin treatments were safe (7,8). Milk thistle has traditionally been taken as a tea, and side effects are rare (5).

Do you want to try silibinin?

There is a vast amount of information to support the safe use of silibinin in “cosmeceutical” preparations for your skin (6). We have silibinin available for incorporation into our range of personalised creams, BCP Skincare—or we can add it to another formulation to suit you.

Since silibinin may protect against UV damage to the skin, a combination skin care product might also contain niacinamide (Vitamin B3) as it, too, shows promise in protecting against UV damage and skin cancers.

Silibinin might also be used to help with skin hyperpigmentation conditions, such as melasma, where a good combination product might also contain other natural antioxidants known to improve hyperpigmentation (such as Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and/or Vitamin B3, niacinamide).

The choice is yours. Why not talk to one of our friendly pharmacists about a silibinin product to suit you… and your skin?


  1. Federico A, Dallio M, Loguercio C. (2017) Silymarin/Silybin and Chronic Liver Disease: A Marriage of Many Years. Molecules. 22: 191. (doi: 10.3390/molecules22020191)
  2. Carini R, Comoglio A, Albano E, et al. (1992) Lipid peroxidation and irreversible damage in the rat hepatocyte model: Protection by the silybin-phospholipid complex IdB 1016. Biochem Pharm. 43:2111–15.
  3. Stolf AM, Cardoso CC> and Acco A (2017) Effects of Silymarin on Diabetes Mellitus Complications: A Review. Phytother. Res. 31: 366–374. (doi: 10.1002/ptr.5768)
  4. Esmaeil N, et al. (2017) Silymarin impacts on immune system as an immunomodulator: One key for many locks. Int Immunopharmacol. 50:194-201. (doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2017.06.030)
  5. Cancer Research UK (accessed 01 Nov 2017):
  6. Singh and Agarwal (2009) Cosmeceuticals and Silibinin. Clin Dermatol. 27(5): 479–484. (doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2009.05.012)
  7. Altaei T (2012) The treatment of melasma by silymarin cream. BMC Dermatol. 12: 18. (doi:  10.1186/1471-5945-12-18)
  8. Mallikarjuna G, Dhanalakshmi S, Singh RP, et al. (2004) Silibinin protects against photocarcinogenesis via modulation of cell cycle regulators, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and Akt signaling. Cancer Res. 64:6349–56. (doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-04-1632)

What your cosmetic’s packaging is telling you

Your skin care products — products you use every day — how are they packaged, and what does that tell you about them?

Moisturisers and scrubs in particular are often sold in open-mouthed pots and jars. These look great, with a boutiquey, traditional feel. Scooping out and smoothing on a beautiful cream with your fingers can be a wonderfully uplifting experience, something a little like this:

Yet plunging those fingers in, day in and day out, has some drawbacks that you might not have considered. Even the cleanest fingers are not sterile, and every dip contaminates your product with microorganisms from your skin. Most skin care products — being nutrient-rich creams and gels — are perfect environments for the growth of bacteria, yeasts and moulds (fungi). Bacteria have even been found living in hairspray! So why don’t these products usually spoil?

The commercial reality of these products (given that retailers require them to have a two-year shelf-life) is that most of them are loaded with preservatives and chemical stabilisers. You can find the preservatives in the ingredients list of your product: benzoates, alcohol (ethanol), isothiazolinones, phenoxyethanol, or the ubiquitous parabens (esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid, most commonly mixtures of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben). Some products contain multiple preservatives, in combination, and others hide them under fancy brand names. The truth is, without preservatives and with storage in hot humid bathrooms and daily use, most products in open-mouthed jars would spoil. In some cases, contaminated cosmetics can even become dangerous.

So what is the problem with preservatives?

Don’t they make cosmetics safer? Well yes… and no. The science is still catching up, but there are signs that preservatives can inhibit normal skin bacteria, leaving skin more susceptible to some disease states. Preservatives can worsen skin problems like rosacea and acne. Some people just have ultra-sensitive skin, and others are even allergic to preservatives.

Is there an answer? One approach is to minimise finger-to-product contact, reducing contamination of the cream or gel, and thus the need for high levels of preservatives. This can be achieved simply through the use of pump-packs. Unfortunately most commercial skin care products sold in pump-packs are formulated identically to whatever is otherwise sold in a pot or jar.

The BCP approach

Formulated exclusively for you!

At BCP, we believe in freshness. Our cosmetic products never sit around on our shelves. They are formulated to order in our laboratory, using only high-quality ingredients. We offer a range of customisation options to reduce the preservation of your products: Preservative-free, Water-free, and Minimally-preserved. We package our skin care products in easy-to-use, contamination-preventing airless pump packs.

Our frustration with consumer skin care products led us to design an easy four-step system for choosing an all-natural hyaluronate-based moisturiser suited for your skin and needs: the BCP Custom Skincare system. In addition, our cosmetic industry-certified pharmacists can help you personalise any other aspect of your skin and hair care.

Interested to learn more? Why not contact our helpful staff to discuss preservatives, or to order your custom-made personal care product today. We formulate it for you.

BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.


The promise of Vitamin B3 for reducing skin cancer

Skin cancer in Australia

Skin cancers – most Australians have either had one or know someone who has. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, making up at least 40% of all cancers worldwide. Skin cancers are especially common among people with pale skin.

When people think of skin cancers, most think of melanoma… but melanoma occurs much less frequently than other types of skin cancers. Basal-cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous-cell carcinoma (SCC) account for most skin cancers (about 90%). While BCC and SCC are usually less life-threatening than melanoma, they may become dangerous if left untreated.

All three types of skin cancer have become more common in the last 20-40 years, especially in areas with predominantly Caucasian populations like Australia. Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

Protecting against skin cancer

Most skin cancers (greater than 90%) are caused when ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight causes DNA damage inside skin cells, resulting in abnormal cell growth.

Therefore, the best method of avoiding skin damage is to avoid sun exposure during periods of peak UV radiation (and most particularly during summer daylight hours). The times of day when UV protection is recommended are published in Australia by the Bureau of Meteorology.

Next, prevent UV radiation from reaching the skin: wear a hat, protective clothing and sunglasses.

The last line of defence is through the use of broad-spectrum sunscreens (SPF greater than 30+). These work by absorbing UV light at the skin surface, slowing the rate at which damage occurs. Sunscreens are only effective if re-applied regularly.

In the Australian summer, because of the heat and the necessity of outdoor work, many people find it difficult to completely protect themselves from the sun. Some body areas such as the hands, neck and face may be regularly exposed to low-level UV damage. Such cumulative sun exposure is a primary risk factor in the development of skin cancers.

Many people have a history of sun damage — perhaps from before “sun-safe” public health messages were commonplace — but it is never too late to start protecting oneself.

Nicotinamide and skin cancer

In recent years, Australian researchers made headlines after showing that nicotinamide has protective effects against damage caused by UV radiation, and that these effects may reduce the development of new non-melanoma skin cancer and precancerous lesions (such as BCC and SCC).

Excitingly, nicotinamide may also reduce the number of lesions in patients with pre-existing skin cancers.

The new studies looked at daily oral doses of B3 about 25 times the recommended dietary intake, a level that would be difficult to attain by simply eating a better diet. Also, note that it was well-tolerated nicotinamide that was taken, not the other common forms of Vitamin B3 — niacin or nicotinic acid — which when taken at similar levels could cause unpleasant side effects such as flushing, headache, and/or low blood pressure. Before taking oral nicotinamide, consult with a dermatologist or general practitioner to see whether it is suitable for you.

These discoveries promise to revolutionise thinking around skin cancer… and especially when applied directly to UV-exposed skin (that is, topically).

Topical Nicotinamide

For those with sun-damaged skin or who have suffered skin cancer scares, topical nicotinamide is safe, just as effective as oral B3, and is now recommended by the Cancer Council of NSW. It has been proposed as an additive to sunscreens to boost their effectiveness in reducing UV damage to skin.

Applying nicotinamide to specific areas of skin that may be of concern (for example, to sun damaged hands, neck or face) eliminates the necessity of exposing the entire body to an oral dose.

At BCP, we have long known that topical Vitamin B3 also has many benefits for sufferers of acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and melasma. It may also have anti-ageing effects, including improved skin elasticity and reductions in hyperpigmented “age” spots, less red blotchiness and sallowness (yellowing) and improvements of fine lines and wrinkles.

Topical nicotinamide is available in our BCP Vitamin B3 Gel, or as one of the many options available for our BCP Custom Skincare creams and serums.

About BCP Custom Skincare

A glaring disparity

As both pharmacists and industrially-trained cosmetics formulators, it was clear to us that there was a massive gap between the pharmaceutical and cosmetic sciences, a gap in both thought and approach.

While both schools require the formulation of products to meet consumer requirements, pharmaceutical science centres around ingredient effects and the evidence for those effects, while cosmetic science is based purely on marketing and presentation.

Pharmaceutical science often only focuses on disorders and their treatment, but what about the maintenance of healthy skin?

On the other hand cosmetic-aisle products often claim to care for your skin, but the industry requires products to be both profitable and to have a shelf-life of two years, necessitating the inclusion of cheap petroleum-based ingredients, as well as preservatives and chemical stabilisers. Many of these may be detrimental to one’s skin or even one’s health. Similarly, for reasons of product differentiation, cosmetic marketing requires the addition of unnecessary colours and fragrances—and these chemicals are some of the most allergenic and dubiously safe ingredients in the entire formulator’s recipe book.

Our approach

Formulated exclusively for you!

First, we introduced our custom skin and hair care product personalisation service: personal care products are designed and made by our industrially-certified formulating pharmacists to suit an individual’s needs. This service continues, with great interest from people who care about their skin and its health. The most common products we make include moisturisers, gentle skin cleansers, exfoliating scrubs, and shampoos and conditioners to suit a range of hair types.

Yet we wanted to redefine skincare products to optimally achieve and maintain skin health. This meant that our skincare products should contain as few all-natural ingredients as possible, and every ingredient should possess good scientific evidence for its health benefits. Nothing would be included where even a suggestion that that it might cause harm existed. Our skincare products would have an optimal pH – the same acidity as healthy skin.

Then an idea occurred to us to take our goal a step further… an idea as old as the profession of pharmacy itself: custom-made all-natural skincare products, crafted while you wait.

The BCP Skincare System

We designed an easy four-step process to help you design an all-natural hyaluronate-based moisturiser best suited for your skin and needs.

  1. Choose one of four moisturiser bases depending on your skin type and need;
  2. Choose vitamin additives for their health effects;
  3. Choose a natural, organic oil for benefits that suit your skin;
  4. Choose a quantity that suits your level of use.

These products are minimally preserved (and we can make them preservative free on request), giving them a three-month shelf life.

We believe your skin will be enhanced in a way that you have never seen before.

We call this service the BCP Custom Skincare system (click to learn more).


BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.

Caring for baby’s skin

Everyone knows how special a baby’s skin is… or do they? It is very different from an adult’s skin, and requires special care.


Why is it so important to be careful when putting anything onto your babies skin? Well, because a baby’s skin:

  • is only about half as thick as an adult’s skin and remains undeveloped until about a year of age, so chemicals diffuse across it and into the bloodstream much more easily and quickly;
  • lacks an adult’s metabolic enzymes. Without these enzymes it cannot ‘deactivate’ many chemicals, making baby more prone to irritation and sensitivity reactions;
  • is only slightly acidic when compared with adult skin. Applying alkaline products to baby’s skin (such as most commercial soaps and cleansers) risks irritation and dermatitis; and
  • has a very large surface area relative to the baby’s size. Even small amounts of absorbed chemicals results in higher blood concentrations than would occur in an adult.

To meet commercial two-year shelf life requirements, most available baby care products contain high levels of chemical preservatives and stabilisers—yet these chemicals are known to both dermatologists and cosmetic formulators as the main perpetrators of skin irritation. Why do we require such long shelf lives from these products, especially for baby care? A skin cream consists of water and oil in emulsion, something like dairy cream. Imagine dipping your finger into a jar of dairy cream on the shelf, every day, for two years. How much preservative would be needed in that cream to keep it from going bad? Would you eat something like that (even if it was ‘organic’)?

At BCP we make our baby care products fresh and on site, specifically for each and every individual. This means that our products can be made free of added preservatives and chemical stabilisers. Our baby care products have a pH of 5.0 to match the natural pH of baby’s skin, thus soothing and protecting the skin against alkaline irritation.

If you would like to learn more about any of the chemicals and ingredients in your baby’s skincare products (such as preservatives, essential oils, sunscreens or stabilisers) don’t hesitate to call and ask one of our qualified formulating pharmacists.

Your baby’s skin will thank you!

Skincare products and skin pH

What is the pH of your skin, and why does it matter?

Acid vs. Alkaline vs. “Neutral”

You might have heard these terms thrown about in relation to all manner of things. But what do they mean? Pure water has a pH of 7, and this is called “neutral pH”. Lower pH values than 7 are acidic, and values greater than 7 are alkaline.

Because a logarithmic scale is used for pH measurements, actual acidity increases much faster than the numerical decrease in pH might seem to indicate. A pH of 5, for example, is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 6—and 100 times more than a pH of 7.


Normal skin pH and normal skin flora

The surface of healthy skin is a thin oily film atop the outmost layer of skin. It has an acidic pH, on average between 4 and 5, due to lactic acid from sweat and from production by normal skin bacteria. This acidic surface acts as an inhibitory barrier to invasive microorganisms, and so it is sometimes called the “acid mantle”—a necessary part of your body’s defence system. Healthy skin bacteria, the “bacterial flora” that live around and atop of your skin cells, grow better in this acidic environment. The bacterial flora not only help to maintain the acidity of the acid mantle of your skin, but also protect your skin by out-competing other invading microorganisms for resources.

Different areas of skin may have different pH values, even in the same body area like the face. Men often have have lower skin pH values than women (although they may be more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections, due to their skin’s higher oil content). Babies have a less acidic skin than older children and adults.

Soaps and skin cleansers

Most skin cleansers on sale today contain inexpensive alkaline surfactants that are similar or even identical to those found in dishwashing detergent. Soaps, by the chemistry of their manufacture, are very alkaline. At least one study of commercial skincare products found that the majority of soap cleansers have a pH of 9 to 10—that is to say, quite alkaline.

Alkaline cleansers make your skin feel “squeaky clean”—i.e., not greasy—but in doing so they strip it of its acidic mantle, making it much easier for potentially harmful chemicals, allergens and bacteria to find their way in. As an example, the foaming agents sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and its analogues (e.g. sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)) are found in almost every cleanser, yet under alkaline conditions their well-known ability to cause skin irritation is exacerbated.

Moisturisers and other cosmetics, too, can be far more alkaline than your skin’s normal pH.  Some cosmetics companies even erroneously claim that healthy skin is pH neutral—but this is both factually wrong and unscientific.

When the acid mantle is disrupted by alkaline conditions, healthy skin bacteria do not thrive and are more likely to fall off. With out their protection your skin’s acid mantle is weakened even further, and sometimes this can lead to skin disorders.

Skin disorders and skin pH

While everybody has a naturally different proportion of sweat to oils in their sebum that can sometimes “naturally” take skin away from its natural balance, most often it is external changes that cause unhealthy skin. Short-term use of alkaline products on your skin can cause transient symptoms of skin “tightness”, itching, dryness and/or excessive oil production. Continued use of these alkaline products weakens the acid mantle over time, causing irritation, inflammation, and infections.

Alkaline skin has been implicated in causing or worsening a range of medical skin conditions, including acne, various kinds of dermatitis (particularly atopic dermatitis and its secondary bacterial infections) and rosacea. Certainly, sufferers of these conditions should avoid irritating heavily foaming facial cleansers—but paying particular heed to the skin’s pH should be just as important.

Wound healing and pH

Most skin disorders involve some kind of damage to the skin that requires healing, and the pH of the skin in and around wounds (even small wounds, such as acne lesions) can affect the processes required for their healing. It is well known clinically that chronically non-healing wounds (e.g., ulcers) contain an elevated alkaline environment, and that all wound healing occurs better and more rapidly when in an acidic environment.

Maintain natural skin acidity AND keep clean and moisturised? How?

  • Use acidic pH-balanced skin care products and avoid harsh soaps
  • Moisturise regularly with a slightly acidic moisturiser
  • Avoid excessive sun exposure

So, what does “pH-balanced” mean when purchasing soaps and cleansers? Such claims abound on supermarket shelves… but at what pH are these products balanced? One study on a range of cleansers for the treatment of acne, for example, revealed pH values anywhere from 4.5 to 10.5, and a disturbing majority of the products were very alkaline.

Few of the bewildering array of skin care products in the supermarket isle describe their pH value on the packaging. Without the use of sophisticated pH-measuring equipment, it is frustratingly impossible to know which might be the most appropriate.

All of this may seem to present quite a challenge… and for many people with skin problems, it can be an uncomfortable one. Yet one fact remains: while maintaining your skin’s acid mantle can be a fine balance, it is vital to your skin’s health.

The pH of our products

At Border Compounding Pharmacy, all of our products are designed to promote better health. Naturally, then, our skin care products are formulated with an acidic pH. Whenever possible, this is between 4.0 and 4.5 to match the pH range of skin.

Applying products with such pH values changes the surface of your skin toward the healthy pH range, promoting growth of normal bacterial flora and a protective acid mantle… and that is even before the benefits of our use of hyaluronate gel bases, our range of vitamins, our all-natural organic oils and our no-added preservative formulations.

Read more about some of our innovative products, all formulated with a skin-appropriate acidic pH:

All of our products can be further customised to suit the individual needs of your skin.

More information

Want to learn more about skin pH, or about how our acidic pH-balanced products might help you? Our industrially-certified formulating pharmacists are available to help. Simply contact us with your enquiry or needs.

BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.


BCP Body Butter

Emollient (adj): having the quality of softening or soothing the skin.

Our new BCP Body Butter provides maximum emollience for extremely dry skin. It is formulated using only highest quality natural ingredients, making it extremely soft and smooth to apply. Your skin will be restored almost immediately.

BCP Body Butter is truly fresh – made on site, on the spot, with virtually no preservatives. Like most of our products, once it is prepared for you in an airtight pump, it will have a shelf life of 3 months.

As with all of our skincare products, BCP Body Butter is balanced with healthy skin’s natural pH and contains only natural oils and ingredients:

  • Avocado oil
  • Water
  • Squalene
  • Shea Butter
  • Beeswax
  • Non-ionic natural emulsifier
  • Vegetable-derived glycerin
  • Vitamin E
  • Essential oil derived preservative

Each of these ingredients has been selected for its benefits… but as with all of our products, if a particular ingredient does not suit, or if you would like something else added in, we can personalise it to suit you.

BCP products are unique, because they are formulated by pharmacists.

We understand that everyone’s skin is different—and we believe that no skin is too difficult to treat!

To order our Body Butter or to learn more about it, please contact us!