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
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
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
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
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
I have just seen a post on Facebook where someone is wondering about how much beer they need to put in a beer shampoo. They aren’t very sure – in fact they are considering anything between 5 and 50%. That’s a lot of beer! The only thing they are sure of is that they need to open the beer the day before to let it go flat. Continue reading
I have just got off the phone from discussing a citrus fruit extract I have commissioned. I have been disparaging in the past about what are called tip ins – but there are times when you want a particular extract and it is rather splendid that companies exist that have the expertise and capabilities to produce, within reason, any extract that you want. Continue reading
Some things I write about seem quite important to me but somehow don’t really resonate with the people who read my blog. For example I wrote a post on palm oil which explained how the palm oil business works. Nobody read it. But I still think it matters so here we go again. Basically palm is grown on plantations and then processed to produce palm oil. This all goes into a big system from where it is moved around to produce a bewildering number of products. Continue reading
A question about an ingredient from Sara.
Hi, just wondering if you could give some information on the preservative Polyaminopropyl Biguanide? Apparently it was banned by the EU in January 2015 however appears to be still used in many beauty products including up to very recently Liz Earle’s cleanse and polish. Many thanks.