This blog post originally appeared in the September 2021 issue of Personal Care Europe
I started my career in the cosmetic industry in 1983. They let anyone in in those days. A few days in I got my first project, which was to reformulate a shaving stick. It wasn’t the biggest project, but it did lead my manager to make a prediction. He said that unlike him, I’d probably be spending half my time formulating products for men rather than women. He quoted some statistics which I believed, even though he probably made them up on the spot – 95% of cosmetic and personal care products were bought by women. But that was obviously going to change in the gender fluid world of the 1980s. After all, a lot of male pop stars were wearing mascara.
I was drinking my tea this morning and having a quick look at the news on my phone. I nearly spat the former out over the latter in shock when I saw the headline. It read “UK could allow animal testing for cosmetic ingredients for first time since 1998”. My initial reaction was that this was completely insane. Surely the last thing the UK needs is to align itself with anything so unpopular. Any idea this stupid should be buried so deep that only the development of new fracking techniques would enable it be dug out again.
Reading the article it turned out that the headline was significantly at odds with what is actually going on.
You’ve seen skin pH on packs and adverts. Should you be worried about it?
Skincare is a crowded and busy market where you have to shout loud to make yourself heard. So it isn’t surprising that just about anything you can think of has been used to sell products at some point. I don’t think there is an idea so ridiculous that somebody won’t base a skincare range on it.
I’ve covered before the cases where Johnson and Johnson have had huge damages awarded against them. This is due to the suggestion that the talc they sell contains asbestos, and that this has increased the risk of users getting cancer as a result.
I have blogged before about collagen, and how it is one of the keys to understanding skin ageing. I’ve also pointed out that this hasn’t so far translated into effective skin care products. Basically collagen, and its cousin elastin, are the proteins that give your skin its lithe springy behaviour. The collagen content is the biggest determinant of how old your skin looks and feels.
Boy is this a hard book. In the Middle Ages scholars everywhere in Europe wrote in Latin. This meant they could be understood everywhere, but not by everybody. There is a lingering effect of this in that academic language relies heavily on words of Latin origin. This makes it difficult to read if you are not used to it. It does have a good reason for this of course – everyday language varies across the English speaking world and words have associations that can cloud their use and their meanings are continually changing. So you can see why that is how scientific papers are written. But it is still heavy going to plough through a whole bookful of it.
I’m a chemist, and chemicals are my friends. So I always get a little upset when journalists pick on them. It’s particularly upsetting when it is the Guardian that is doing so. The Guardian has a reputation for being the most accurate of the UK newspapers, a reputation that in my experience is usually well founded. But they’ve let themselves down with an article exposing the presence of what they deem ‘forever chemicals’ in makeup. We should be worried because they are allegedly linked to cancer. The article calls them PFAs, but the more normal term is perfluorocarbons. I prefer it because there are other chemicals called PFAs, and it is easy to get confused.
I’ve just got back from a brisk walk over the fields near where I live. You might wonder why I am troubling to tell you this. Read on, and all will become clear. A couple of days ago I was listening to the radio and the estimable Michael Mosely came on, telling us about a proposal that if you wanted to sleep well you should go for a walk early in the morning. There is something about being exposed to full daylight early on in the day that triggers off getting better sleep later on in that same day.
I’m at that age where I need to be careful about a lot of things I never used to give a second thought to. Well into my forties I had little to worry about with my weight. But since then I have found that left to itself, my stomach indulges in what used to be called middle aged spread. This bothers me mainly because my self image is someone who is thin. And indeed most of the rest of me is indeed thin. If my stomach expands it is all the more noticeable.
On the whole suggestions for home made products to cope with medical emergencies that you find on the internet are a really bad idea. But as it happens, this one that has been circulating on social media isn’t too far off the mark. Vodka is basically alcohol – so as long as it is a brand with a fairly high content you are getting alcohol that will have the capability of sterilising your skin. You’d want a good brand. Cheaper ones with lower alcohol content won’t work as well. I like the idea of the aloe vera. It will offset the drying effect of the alcohol to some extent. I don’t think I’d put so much in though. It is diluting the alcohol from the vodka and reducing its effectiveness. The tea tree is a pretty good option too. It has well established antibacterial properties and will stay around to give some protection against further infection after the alcohol has evapourated.