Over recent months I have argued continuously about the dangers of BB Glow. My fears and concerns are echoed by the many professionals who raise the same concerns and have seen first hand the serious effects caused by this so-called skin enhancing service. A treatment that is promoted for evening skin tone, brightening skin and hiding blemishes. Yet, whilst the temporary effects may look good, is the long term damage really worth the risk?
History of BB Glow
Before we go further, let me discuss the origin of the BB Glow Treatment. Whitening treatments are big business across Asia, especially in China and Korea, where the 'Glass' skin look is highly desirable. The Koreans in particular are the driving force behind the invention and popularity of BB Glow. Whilst the actual first dates or companies that invented this treatment are sketchy, it can be somewhat attributed to the brand Dermedics whose Meso White Serums were used to brighten and lighten the skin of their Asian fans.
The treatment was originally done using a Meso Vytal, plastic tipped cartridge, that gently massaged the serum into the skin. The products by Dermedics are EU certified and safe for 'topical' application.
I have watched Facebook lives of one training school that claims that BB Glow has been around since 1997. This is a not true, micro-needling itself has been, but BB Glow is far more recent. In 1996 Dr Fernandes a plastic surgeon, presented a paper to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) conference in Taiwan on the subject of skin-needling. Since then there has been a significant amount of research into skin needling for collagen induction and its popularity has grown since then. BB Glow came many years later, with the development of pigmented serums.
Whilst I can't place an actual date on the treatment, 1997 is not correct, unless referring to the very safe, scientifically researched treatment of Microneedling.
I first saw and came across the treatment in China in May of 2016. The treatment had been popular for some short period prior to this. Let's assume at the most a couple of years, then BB Glow may be around 5 years old.
However, I will correct this blog should it need to be corrected in anyway.
So does the fact it's been around for this length of time mean its perfectly safe?
The treatment has been offered in Korea and China for some time now. With this knowledge, many training academies have deemed it 100% safe. They are promoting it as foundation effect, blemish cover-all that lasts up to 4 months. The information given from one trainer to another is a complete contrast and one that highlights the issues and dangers surrounding our industry. The main concern many professionals have is the risk of titanium dioxide within the product. Although the pigment is also another concern, it is being marketed as having no colouring agents. Lets look at the issues one by one:
The first place we should start is the brand in itself. The most common brand popping up is a Korean brand called 'Stayve'. The argument started with the product containing both Titanium Dioxide and Pigment, and the depths at which these were being implanted into the skin. I will cover more on that shortly. During these discussions over recent months, the trainers started to confess that the product was not on the CPNP portal, nor did it have any EU required safety assessments, and more recently, a banned ingredient in the UK was present. The lack of knowledge from importers of products from outside the EU, has been the thing that scares me the most about the beauty industry. You cannot simply buy any product, from any country outside the EU and use it on or sell it to the general public! It is against the law. Failure to register a product and in the event of injury, the fines are high as is the risk of imprisonment.
So why are training providers and distributors, buying untested, unregistered products and using them on their clients and selling them to their students. If you have a training provider or distributor not follow the basics of UK law, would you really trust them to teach you correctly too?
Let's break down the law for those that don't know, because let's face it, we are not taught this at college or on any advanced training courses. However, you would hope that those people wishing to import products in from outside the EU would educate themselves.
Anyone that brings a product to market within the EU or brought in from outside the EU must register it on the CPNP European Cosmetics Portal.
Registration is FREE, therefore distributors and importers have no excuse not to register.
EVERY SINGLE IMPORTER - Even those just bringing a few packs in from Korea with the intention to use on the public or to resell - HAS TO REGISTER ON THE CPNP!
So every training school in the EU, bringing in any cosmetic including BB Glow from outside the EU, should be registered on the CPNP portal.
If the training provider purchases the products from within the EU then it is your duty to check its met all safety standards.
It doesn't matter if there are 30 people in the UK, all importing the same brand - Each person needs to register on the CPNP! Unless they are purchasing from a UK or EU distributor.
The fact that a product has been successfully notified through the CPNP does not necessarily mean that the product in question fulfils all the requirements of the Regulation (EC) N° 1223/2009.
The main purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation is human safety. The laws apply to products intended for sale and those given away free, as this is considered to be a commercial enterprise. As always, ignorance of the law is no excuse and no defence; and the penalties for non-compliance can be severe with heavy fines and even periods of imprisonment options open to the courts.
Each cosmetic product must have its own Product Information File (though the term 'file' includes virtual records) containing a great deal of information about the product. This is a legal requirement and the files are open to inspection by the competent authorities.
The PIF must include the product description, the Cosmetic Product Safety Report, details of methods of manufacture in accordance with good manufacturing practice and, where justified, proof of the effect claimed.
The main purpose of the Cosmetics Regulation is human safety, and each cosmetic product must be the subject of a safety assessment performed by a duly qualified professional before it is placed on the market.
Cosmetics must have a European address on the label. Along with a full ingredients list and best before date or open and use by timeframe.
The terms natural and organic are not specifically regulated under the Cosmetics Regulation but any claim must be capable of substantiation and must not be misleading. However, if you are making a claim such as natural or organic, then this will be covered by the Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Since the 6th Amendment to the Cosmetics Directive (1997) adverse effects attributable to a cosmetic product have been required to be kept in the Product Information File (PIF). This requirement remains under the new EU Cosmetics Regulation, but additionally, any Serious Undesirable Effect (SUE) now has to be reported. Article 23 to the Regulation states the Responsible Person and Distributors must report an SUE to the Competent Authority of the Member State where the SUE has occurred. When an SUE is reported to a Competent Authority, the authority then has to alert the authorities in all other Member States. A report can also come from a consumer or a healthcare professional.
I think the above is pretty self explanatory. However I want to just quickly re-cap. I have watched videos and read comments on posts that the products they use are FDA or KFDA approved (UK based training academies). FDA and KFDA approval does not have any standing within the European Union. As of November the 9th 2018, BB Glow was not FDA approved, although this may have changed in recent months. Cosmetics must be registered by a responsible person on the CPNP if they are being imported in from outside the EU. They have to go through strict testing to claim they are natural and organic and each product should have a product safety data report before entering on the market. This goes for almost all products, so its worth asking the right questions when purchasing products. I will add links to the end of this blog for further reading.
The idea of registration on the CPNP is this; should a SUE be reported, all responsible persons selling the product will be notified.
Those of you reading this, that know me, understand by biggest argument is over needle depth and needle type. There are two types of needling methods, medical micro-needling which involves depths of 0.5mm to 1.5mm (on the face) and cosmetic micro-needling, which consists of depths up to 0.3mm.
BB Glow was originally performed with a Meso-Vyal type cartridge with small, micro, plastic spikes, that stimulate the cells to allow product penetration. The idea being that the cells separate during the process. Cosmetic rollers or pens allow up to 80% more product to be absorbed by the skin, than just applying a product topically.
Now let's say, at the best case scenario, we treat the skin with a 0.15mm depth, using a silicone tipped micro needle with 81 tips to manipulate product (BB Glow) into the skin. Allowing for the fact that 80% of this product will now penetrate the skin and keratinocytes, the product and the titanium dioxide can be dragged down lower, through manipulation, langerhan cells trying to remove this foreign body and natural water absorption. The dermis, naturally attracts water from the skins surface, this action alone can draw a serum (along with its ingredients and titanium dioxide) towards the dermis.
However, due to the shallow application method, and the renewal cycle of the skin, let's say for arguments sake, only 10% of the product remains in the skin, either permanently or until it eventually sheds. Research though is our friend, along with 20+ years or Permanent Make-up documentation and research, we can safely safe that once titanium dioxide is in the skin, it will rarely leave!
I will cover the ingredients and also the longevity and the questionable lasting effects later. Instead let's focus on the many other training schools out there that people have spoken too. The fact BB Glow is only supposed to be implanted at 0.15mm is testament that many people are breaking this protocol. Some are doing the micro-needling treatment at medical needling depths and then applying the serum on after, sometimes putting the client under an LED Light, which I can't even begin to add this to the blog, or it will end up too long. Applying BB Glow serum after a micro-needling treatment, does not mean it will only sit 'just under' the skin's surface! No, the product will seep down the channels at the depths you created. BB Glow is supposed to sit just under the outer most layer of the epidermis, yet training academies are teaching students to apply this serum at depths of 0.5mm-2.5mm! And yes I meant to write 2.5mm and not 0.25mm.
What is even more worrying is that many of these trainers are unaware of how deep the skin is! They also don't seem to know just where exactly they are 'implanting' these serums. One trainer claims 2.5mm is just above the dermal/epidermal junction and that is where you implant the serum, and another trainer claims it is to be implanted at 0.5mm deep, just beneath the epidermis, but not as deep as Permanent Make-up! Permanent Make-up and Micro-blading can be implanted at 0.3-0.5mm and we all know how long that can last in the skin.
How can trainers, who are teaching other professionals how to do this treatment, not only all conflict in their information, but also be so wrong and ill-informed on needle depths and skin depths. Just for clarification, BB Glow should not be implanted or applied with a needle longer than 0.15mm!
Results and Benefits of the Treatment
Salons and academies across the UK are advertising this as a miracle solution to hide blemishes, improve skin tone, even skin colour and obviously ditch the foundation! Whilst the serums will help to hydrate the skin, or push back in essential and much needed nutrients, I am yet to see how or where the titanium dioxide fits into all of this.
Of course regular treatments of BB Glow will produce amazing results! After all, its teamed with a tried and tested and very much researched micro-needling component. Even cosmetic needling can produce some amazing short and long term results that will impress the clients. Using a 0.3mm needle the benefits include:
Cellular cross talk between the keratinocytes and melanocytes leading to a better distribution of melanin.
Injury to keratinocytes will promote the skins natural Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) which increases cell turnover
Allows for up to 80% more product penetration than applying to a product to the skin prior to needling
Decrease in sebum production and outbreaks
Increase in Natural Moisturising Factors NMF to hydrate the skin
Reduction in the appearance of fine lines, pigmentation and rosacea.
Just using a 0.3mm needle regularly with a vitamin serum will improve the skin over several sessions, without the need for the BB Serum.
Number of sessions required and longevity
After some research I found that BB Glow should only last 3-7 days with just one treatment. Whilst I still believe that some product will be left indefinitely in the skin, the claims are 3-7 days. If this is true, then why are we applying this product for such a short temporary effect? However this would be true, if applying the BB Glow correctly at 0.15mm deep. Depths greater than 0.3mm will ultimately last longer, but also pose a much greater long term risk also!
BB Glow needs a succession of treatments, usually around 3-5 for clients to see the best results. Obviously with regular sessions of any needling treatment, the clients skin will improve overall and would do so without the need for the BB Serum.
So why are therapists even bothering adding a serum that could cause potential risks, risks that far outweigh the benefits if it only lasts a few days. Knowing also that the product is meant to sit under the outer-most layer of the stratum corneum, why is this product being applied topically after the skin has been medically micro-needled? Why also are many salons and trainers implanting the BB Serum itself at depths up to 2.5mm?
This is where I start to raise a 'botoxed' brow (thats how much this has irked me), some training academies claim that after the 3-5 treatments, the BB Glow itself is built up so much under the skin, that it lasts 4 months. Some trainers might I add, make the 4 month claim from one session of BB Glow implanted at 2.5mm depth! Overall the treatment is designed to continually flood the skin with the BB Serum and thus titanium dioxide. This makes it harder for the skin to remove this foreign object and the titanium will remain in the skin for the rest of the clients life. Even with removal, traces will still be present.
I don't think I really need to say too much more on this subject. Obviously the fact that many places claim it last 4 months, only proves Lance Setterfields' own blog that the titanium dioxide runs a risk of being dragged deeper into the skin. This may be then, why some salons are claiming that the results last 6-12 months after a course of treatments. I have added the link to Lance Setterfields full blog below.
Is titanium dioxide actually that bad for you? Depending on the particle size, studies have shown that nano particles can cause toxic effects in the brain and cause nerve damage as well as being a carcinogenic. I hear the clucks of some people shouting already at these words and saying 'scaremongering' and shouting out 'risks are everywhere' or worse and the one I hear or read often 'its only small traces in the serum'.
I agree with many that if we sit down and focus on every ingredient we use or apply to our skin we can claim and link most to being carcinogenic or an allergen. The concern over this product though is that it is being built up over and over and over again in the skin. This is where the risk factors kick in. Doing this treatment once might be ok, but risking implanting large amounts of product over time could increase risk of not only toxicity and cancer but also discolouration of the titanium leading to yellow blotches under the skin surface or worse blue or black patches post laser treatment. Yes titanium dioxide is in some Permanent Make-up colours, especially if they are light in colour as titanium dioxide makes the pigment lighter. The colour though is located to small areas and mixed with other pigment colours. This means upon yellowing, it will be barely visible.
The pictures flooding in from BB Glow treatments are not nice to look at and you can only imagine the suffering the client will be enduring. Whilst many are claiming these images to be a result of Permanent Makeup Camouflage or post laser, what I will state is that some clients are proceeding through court with BB Glow claims. Whether this is from wrong implantation depth, the build up of titanium dioxide or unregulated products, the risk for undesirable outcomes are far too high. As the British are also a fan of sunbathing, many clients may experience blotchy faces over the summer months, meaning they will have to return to have a darker pigment implanted. Remember Asians do not go out in the sun, so this would not be a common issue raised until the UK summer months. Having seen what this product does with a suntan, it leave white freckles on the clients face.
Granulomas also pose a threat within the epidermis, whereby the body creates a scar around a foreign object it is unable to remove. Once present granulomas are not the easiest thing to remove and can cause small, bumpy nodules beneath the skins surface.
Overall titanium dioxide isn't present naturally in our bodies. To achieve beautiful skin with long term results, we should work with the skins natural healing process and only provide the cells with the nutrients it needs and recognises. Why, as skincare professionals, would we implant an ingredient into the skin that has side effects and very little benefit to the long term skin health.
My other concerns are with the darker pigments claiming to contain no colourants and also the banned ingredient Rh-Ogliopeptide-1 which is being claimed to now being removed from the European products. However without independent testing, this could still be very much present still.
I am going to list some links below on this treatment and I will add to this and update along the way. What I have written above comes from my own personal beliefs, knowledge and research around this treatment and my in-depth understanding of the skin and pigments. I am going to end this blog here, as it is very long, but I will continue my research and try to ascertain the benefits of this treatment overall. As of now, I cannot find any reason for the BB Glow serum step at all!