There is a very serious and worthy video online made by the West Yorkshire police about the risks of medical creams that contain paraffin. I get what they are thinking. Policemen do of course look younger all the time, but no doubt there are still some that are old enough to remember paraffin heaters. These large but portable oil fired devices were a must to get through a cold English winter in the days before central heating. They might even remember the little paraffin burners with cotton wicks that were used in chemistry sets. I certainly do. So you can see why they might be worried. It really doesn’t sound like a good idea to get paraffin onto towels.
And they had an illustration of the risks involved when an elderly woman was involved in a house fire. It got out of hand and killed her. She suffered from a skin condition and had cream soaked towels around her at the time of the unfortunate incident.
Few people would chose to be bald; we all assume that it makes you less attractive. This consensus has been around at least since the Bible was written and certainly since then. It isn’t just Western culture either. Native American Indians tried to cure baldness withherbal remedies. It is surprising how often generally held beliefs like this turn out not to be true. But not this one.Continue reading →
Cannabidiol is being treated by everyone on the business as the next big thing. It is getting media coverage as a treatment for mental health problems, so its connection to personal care isn’t that obvious. But if you think logic has anything to do with this sort of thing, well you haven’t been paying attention. Anything with a bit of a buzz around it is good enough. In fact there is a reasonably good case for cannabidiol being of some use on the skin. If it can affect receptors in the brain there is a pretty good chance that will do the same to receptors in the skin which could be beneficial for pain and itch. We don’t have any data to back this up yet, but that isn’t the kind of detail that troubles the folk who are looking to get ahead in a crowded market.
At time of writing everyone is talking about cannabidiol and there are lots of projects going on. A few pioneering skus have hit the shelves, but it is far from mass market yet. I predict that by this time next year there will be CBD variations of most of the major brands and maybe even a couple of new ones.
You can’t avoid social media in the beauty business. And you can’t avoid the big four platforms – Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. All of them are used by brands to communicate their offerings, and consumers to find and react to those offerings. You also need to use them to promote yourself if you offer a service. I have a business so that is obvious, but I’d argue that if you have a job you need to promote your services as well. Continue reading →
There’s no doubt about it, a personal recommendation from somebody you know and trust is the best possible advert. If I am anything to go by, a good recommendation will actually overrule my own personal experience. If someone tells me something is good, if I don’t find it works for me I’ll often blame myself rather than the product or its fan. Continue reading →
Does The Way You Sleep Cause Wrinkles? It doesn’t sound like an unreasonable proposition in principle. Your skin is in contact with cotton, which is quite a hard and abrasive material, for many hours each night. You might well expected to have a detrimental effect on the Quality of your skin. Dr. Jaime Davis is in no doubt about it. He attributes the fact that many women have more wrinkles on one side of their face and that the other to the fact that they sleep on that side of their face. This doesn’t happen with men apparently. We are supposedly more likely to sleep on our stomachs. So we get our wrinkles on our foreheads. Continue reading →
Sodium benzoate is a preservative that crops up on ingredient lists for skin care products. It is safe, works well enough and doesn’t give rise to many skin reactions.
I don’t think it is many formulators favourite though, because there are other preservatives that work better. Not every preservative works in every formulation and against every organism, and sodium benzoate is one that really needs a low pH to work well and even then isn’t enormously effective against all the microbes you’d like it to be. So it has its uses, but it isn’t especially versatile.
To a chemist though, the name is quite interesting. It is the salt of benzoic acid, and benzoic acid has played a key part in the development of organic chemistry. It was first derived from an asian shrub. Specifically, it was extracted the gum of the Styrax platanifolius. This had been used for centuries but was purified still further by a sixteenth century French chemist. He got it into a crystalline format from which he concluded, correctly, that it must therefore be a single compound. I think that this was the first pure natural compound to be identified.
The chemist’s name was Nostradamus. He’s still famous, not for his science but for some confusing predictions he made that continue to be talked about.
The chemistry of this compound was the focus of intense interest in the nineteenth century. It was studied by many chemists. But the prize for working out its structure was taken by Friedrich Wöhler and Justus von Liebig. These are two of the giants in the history of chemistry. Their work was later built on to create the discipline of organic chemistry.
There are quite a lot of cosmetic ingredients that are derivatives of benzoic acid, so you see ‘benz’ quite often on the backs of packs. It is a neat little history lesson.
When I give a talk I rarely use notes, but I have generally written out what I am going to say in advance and to some extent memorised it. But I am now getting to the stage in my life where I don’t really worry too much about getting up to speak in public. What’s the worst that can happen after all? So when I was invited to speak at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recent meeting on anti-ageing I decided to risk getting up to speak with very little idea of what I was going to say. I think the technical term for it is ex-temporising.
I think this is a universal truth, but it is certainly true in labs. The most stressful role is middle management. I enjoyed my time as a bench chemist doing the actual work. I enjoy supervising projects at a higher level. But most of my bad memories of my career are when I was in between – managing a team but reporting to senior management. Continue reading →
2017 was a remarkable year for the aviation industry. There was not a single passenger death from flying. The industry was quick to point out that there was an element of luck involved. But even so, given that their business is ferrying people around the world in metal tubes at a great height, to not have lost a single person in 12 months is quite an achievement. Continue reading →