I was interested to see that Body Shop have a new optical primer out. This is a fairly new category of product that was really pioneered by Nanoblur. I have explained in a previous post how products like this one and Nanoblur work – basically by manipulating the refractive index of the upper layers of the skin to modify the way they reflect light making the wrinkles much harder to see.
The way this is done is by using ingredients that themselves have a high refractive index. This pretty much means that you have to use silicones. Silicones are pretty much the definition of synthetic chemicals. There are no silicones in nature – they have all been made by man. This doesn’t of course mean that they are unsafe. It is possible to make unsafe silicones if you want to. There are an infinite number of silicones that could be made and if you wanted them to be toxic you could make them toxic. But the ones specifically made for cosmetics are perfectly safe.
But they aren’t natural. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
This gives companies that have a special relationship with nature, such as the Body Shop, a bit of a problem. When they came out with their previous optical primer they simply ignored this problem and launched a highly synthetic product anyway. It was called All In One Instablur and was pretty much the same as the other blurring products launched at around the same time in response to the success of Nanoblur.
So when a new Body Shop launch came along with a new optical primer in a green pack came along I pricked my ears up. Had they solved the problem of achieving a high refractive index with natural ingredients? That would be something. Sadly, I was to be disappointed. The ingredient list looked pretty much like any other member of this family. There were a couple of seed oils in there – low down on the ingredient list so probably only at a low level. But that was it.
In fact I compared the ingredient list of the Wonderblur –
Isododecane (Solvent), Dimethicone (Skin Conditioning Agent), Vinyldimethyl/Trimethylsiloxysilicate Stearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (Absorbent/Bulking Agent), Silica (Absorbent), Dimethicone Crosspolymer (Emulsion Stabilizer), Polymethyl Methacrylate (Emollient), Mica (Opacifying Agent), Tocopheryl Acetate (Antioxidant), Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil (Emollient), Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent – Emollient), Glycerin (Humectant), Parfum/Fragrance (Fragrance), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Leontopodium Alpinum Meristem Cell Culture (Skin Conditioning Agent), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citric Acid (pH Adjuster), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Modifier), CI 77891/Titanium Dioxide (Colorant).
With that for the earlier All in One Instablur
Isododecane (Solvent), Dimethicone (Skin Conditioning Agent), Vinyldimethyl/Trimethylsiloxysilicate Stearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (Absorbent/Bulking Agent), Silica (Absorbent), Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer (Viscosity Increasing Agent), Isononyl Isononanoate (Emollient/Skin Conditioner), Polymethyl Methacrylate (Emollient), Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent – Emollient), Ethylene Brassylate (Masking Agent), Tocopheryl Acetate (Antioxidant), Laureth-4 (Emulsifier/Surfactant).
This revealed that they were pretty similar. In fact the first five ingredients – which are the ones that are there in the highest levels – are identical. You get two seed oils instead of one, and there is now a fragrance. But basically these look like almost identical products and neither have any claim to be natural.
Oh well – I will carry on waiting for someone to discover some natural ingredient that has the right properties to produce an optical primer. I have had quite an interest in this type of product ever since Nanoblur came out. In fact, when I got hold of a tube of Nanoblur and worked out how it worked I was really impressed. I got in the lab and came up with the best copy I could as quickly as I could. I even went to the trouble of driving over a hundred miles to the head office of the company I was working for at the time to urge them to get a copy out quickly while the idea was still new.
Sadly the top decision makers in cosmetic companies tend to be middle aged men. They didn’t see the potential and simply added it onto the development list, where I imagine it still is. I think that particular company was a particularly conservative one, but even so it is odd that so much of the thinking behind cosmetic products is done by people who don’t use them much themselves. We’d be equally surprised if young women were responsible for deciding which cars should be designed and put on the market. In fact, I did suggest that Zoella should be chosen as a replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. But I was only joking.
Body Shop Drops Of Youth Wonderblur is one member of a crowded field. Long term friend of Colin’s Beauty Pages Alison Harriman recommends “Boots No7 Airbrush Away. These 2 are primers, but have the blurring effect on me: Laura Mercier Fdn primer & MAC prep&prime.” – Thanks for that Alison.
Bear in mind that everyone’s skin is different. The optical blurring effect can sometimes have the effect of making the skin look more translucent, which can even make it look worse on some people. You’ll see that most of them get pretty mixed reviews online. With more offerings coming into the field there should be more cheaper ones becoming available too – though the need to use relatively high levels of silicone means they are always going to be relatively more expensive than more conventional skincare products.
You might also find my review of Nanoblur with before and after pics interesting.