I had imagined the UK’s much publicised microbead ban would be basically much like the legislation that is either already in force or well on the way around the world already. Despite all the recent evidence I still think of my fellow countryfolk as sensible pragmatists who don’t panic about things. So when I heard that UK parliament had brought in a ban on microbeads I wasn’t too bothered. Such a ban is already in force in a few countries and no doubt EU legislation will be along later. In any case everyone in the business knows the score and has already got rid of them or is well on the way to doing so. I’d assumed this was just a bit of window dressing by the government to be seen to be doing something to help the oceans given how popular the Blue Planet television series is proving to be. So I didn’t trouble to look up the details. I’d guessed it would be a ban on very small polythene beads and we’d have to switch to natural or biodegradable options, which is pretty much what we are already doing anyway. Continue reading
The rise of the Ordinary has stimulated the interest in cosmetic active ingredients. Or has the rise in interest in cosmetic active ingredients stimulated the rise of the Ordinary? It’s hard to say, and I dare say we’ll never know. But I now find myself reading beauty blogs where the bloggers are intensely interested in which of the ingredients are working and even how they actually work. Some are even going so far as to look at the research behind them. Continue reading
Allantoin was in the news a couple of years back when some researchers made the rather astonishing discovery that it prolonged the life of some species of worm. This is the sort of thing that gets journalists excited and articles duly appeared. Whether or not this means we can extend our lives by taking it in pills is a bit outside my area of expertise, so I’ll pass on that one. But it did make my ears prick up because this is an ingredient I have been using since I first started formulating cosmetics over 30 years ago. It is one of the more useful things in the cosmetic chemist’s toolkit. Continue reading
Taupe – Beige for ninjas
Reading beauty blogs is a very educational process. I have for example just now come across a colour that hasn’t hit my radar before. I got this from Charlotte at LipGlossiping who announced that her favourite colour for eyes is taupe. Not having come across it before I googled it to discover it has quite an extensive wikipedia article devoted to it. The name comes from the French for a mole. (That’s the mammal, not the quantity of atoms for any chemists reading. It is recognisable in the scientific name for the species – Talpa europaea. ) It is supposed to resemble the colour of that animal’s fur, though given how rarely we come across moles on a day to day basis that isn’t a lot of help. Continue reading
We’ve had elections recently in France, the US and the UK. We’ve had quite a lot of them in the UK actually. One of the things that happens a lot in politics is that partisans for one side or the other are keen to make out that their opponents have made a lot of mistakes. Given their terrible track record, you should boot them out and pick someone else instead is the argument. This is a convincing line if, and only if, the people who have got things wrong never learn from their errors. But the reality is that when things go wrong most of us look at the situation and see what we can learn to avoid getting it wrong again next time. I think this is true in every walk of life, and it is definitely true in the world of cosmetic formulation. The best lesson is getting something wrong and having to put it right. Good judgement is the result of experience. But experience is the result of bad judgement. You won’t get much right without first getting a lot of things wrong.
Sweet almond oil is a viscous oil with a yellowy colour. Cosmetic scientists like it because it gives a rich lubricious feel to cream formulations. Marketers like it because it sounds natural. More on that in a minute. It contains a lot of unsaturated fatty chains. This is something that might turn out to have some benefits for the skin, though there is no formal evidence I can cite to justify this at present. The skin contains some chemicals that look a lot like the unsaturated bits of sweet almond oil and which seem to help protect the skin against bacteria. It isn’t impossible that adding sweet almond to the skin boosts this sort of thing and so helps build the skin’s barrier and protective function. Continue reading
A handy skin care ingredient
Here’s an ingredient with a mixed pedigree. Lanolin is a pure and rather lovely natural ingredient derived from wool. PEG-75 Lanolin is lanolin that has been ethoxylated. This means that the lanolin is treated with ethylene oxide to make it more water soluble. This enables it to be used in ways that you can’t use lanolin itself. Continue reading
Hinoki is well known in Japan
One of the good things about the job I do is that I come across interesting stuff all the time. For example Hinoki Oil, which is the oil obtained from the leaves and roots of Chamaecyparis obtuse, Cupressaceae. The shrub from which it is derived is commonly known as either Hinoki or Hinoki Cyprus and is common in Japan. The wood from it is used to make incense sticks. So it is something that is quite exotic to me, but presumably is commonplace in Japan. Continue reading
Has this man overdone the shampoo?
This was a question posed to me by a journalist on the Daily Telegraph. The answer is of course no, but I’ll get onto that later. First this is quite an interesting example of how stories like this originate. Here is the full text of the e-mail I was sent. Continue reading
Silver can help make you beautiful as well as be used in jewellery
I don’t think that animal testing works the way some people commentating on the internet appear to think it works. This was brought home to me when I was asked a question about a new preservative material called silver citrate. It is one that might appeal to the lovers of natural because both silver and citrate sound safe and natural. We all know what silver is and so assume it is safe. Citric acid sounds like it comes from oranges so that sounds pretty safe too. But the person who was interested in it had read the material safety data sheet that came with it, and concluded that it had been tested on animals. For them this was a no no. Continue reading