Category Archives: Problem Pages

Colin solves your problems.

Alum As Antiperspirant


A question about alum from Alice.

Hello Colin,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a informative blog. I have a question concering potassium alum. I have been researching this product and I keep seeing comments like “its a compound” so it does not contain aluminium. KAl(SO4)2  does contain potassium and aluminium so can you please explain to me (us) if there is Al in here for those of us who try to steer clear of this stuff in our deo/antiperspirants. Thank you very much. Kind regards, Alice

Hello Alice,

Thanks for the kind words and sorry it has taken a while to reply.  Continue reading

Eczema on the Eyelids

eczema of the eyelids

A question from Breanna who suffers from eczema, eyelids being her particular problem.

Hello! I just found your page from a post on I will get right to the point-I have eczema all over my body, but the worst part is my EYELIDS! They do -okay- in the summertime, but with the wind and cold comes a horrible condition. This began happening a few years ago and I found a suggestion online (it was hard to find anyone talking about this, so I suppose it is rare) that said to use Burt’s Bees Royal Jelly Eye Cream. I love this product, but it is a bit expensive for me. I am a student and while .5 ounces lasts a while, I hate having to spend $20 all at once on this product. What is worse, the only place in the U.S. I have been able to find it is in Whole Foods stores, and the closest one is over an hour away from my home. I was wondering if you perhaps knew of any other products that may be cheaper/easier to find? Some of the products I have tried that did not seem to work: Vaseline (this seems to prevent it from getting worse, but does nothing to help the damage already there) Nivea Even tried ChapStick Neem Aura balm Bag Balm etc. All of these products stung and burned, and none worked to reverse and heal the dryness except the Burt’s Bees Royal Jelly Eye Cream. Any information you have would be AMAZING

Continue reading

Cross Sensitivity


I got a good point made to me via e-mail responding to one of my posts about methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone.   He or she desribes themselves by the pathos ridden name foreverbotheredbythisallergy and referring to some products that readers have identifed as free of those two chemicals –

Some the products above have the benzylisothiazoline which can give you the same reaction as the methyl and chloromethylisothiazoline. I have been using Tide Free for years and just now have developed the skin rash. As it turns out it is the benzylisothiazoline in the product. Be warned, the benzylisothiazoline allergy can occur after use over a period of time with a product that has this chemical in it. good luck.

And they are absolutely right.  The medical term for this is cross sensitivity.  If people with allergies didn’t already have enough trouble, it turns out that if you are sensitive to one chemical it might predispose you to get the same reaction to a related one. Continue reading

coconut oil causes spots

Coconut Oil causes spots?


One of the drawbacks I have found with setting myself up as an internet guru is that the more questions I get the more I realise how little I know.  Take this one from Rebecca.

Hello. First off, I am not entirely sure if this is a type of scientific problem that is addressable, or even common, but I thought it was startling and strange. I have always had good skin, no acne problems as a teenager. I would get the occasional pimple but it was never anything severe. I think that is pretty lucky. However, when I met my boyfriend (now fiance) he introduced me to coconut oil, to cook with. I had never heard of it, much less tried it. Fast forward a few weeks. I began breaking out like crazy, but after several months I noticed it was only on my cheeks. I was devastated, and since I have quite a healthy diet I tried everything from making sure I had a clean pillow case, washing my face am and pm, everything. I would get at least one new blemish a day. I did some online research, which I am not sure how trustworthy that can be, but I found that coconut oil could have been the culprit. I have since stopped cooking with it (note: I never used it directly on my skin, only ingested it) and my skin has improved dramatically. I no longer get any blemishes. I read that coconut oil can release liposaccharides and these can let gut bacteria into the bloodstream. This in turn was causing my body to try to fight this off, and I think it manifested as acne, but only on my cheeks. Do you know if this is really the case? Could I just be allergic to coconut oil? I can hardly believe this substance did so much damage. Do you think others have this problem? Is it common? My fiance can eat the coconut oil on food with no trouble at all. I am glad I found a solution for myself but I am just wondering at the science behind it! Thanks!

Well that one has me baffled, other than to say we are all different.  I have never heard of this happening with coconut oil before, and given that it is staple food ingredient across wide stretches of the globe I can’t imagine it is very common. Continue reading



A question from my first Twitter chum, Musicalhouses.

Dear Colin, How can we guess how much retinol there is in a skincare product? It’s quite hard to get a percentage ge since companies don’t disclose this. In particular, I’m looking at the Hada Labo Retinol Lifting and Firming Lotion (Ingredients: water, butylene glycol, glycerine, PEG-20 sorbitan isostearate, caprylic/capric triglyceride, methylparaben, PPG-10 methyl glucose, ether, sodium Hyaluronate, triethanolamine, Carbomer, hydroxyethylcellulose, tocopherol, BHT, disodium EDTA, hydrolyzed collagen, hydrolyzed soy protein, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, retinyl palmitate, helianthus annus (sunflower) seed oil, sodium Everglades Hyaluronate, zea mays (corn oil) thioctic acid, beta carotene), since retinol appears all the way down there in the ingredients list and it doesn’t have the characteristic smell or colour (white to off-white yellow) of most retinol-containing products I’ve used in the past. Also, I’d be interested in knowing any rules of thumb you have for guessing the % of a skincare ingredient given how far up or down the ingredients list it is. Thanks!

Retinol is one of the few so called active ingredients used in cosmetics that actually does something.  But as a savy consumer and beauty blogger (see Musicalhouses knows  you have to have enough to have an effect.   Continue reading

Witch Hazel In Eye Drops

witch hazel - not that kind of witch

Er, not that kind of witch

Here is an interesting question from Claire

Hi Colin, I was looking at some eye drops today fortired eyes (optrex- I think it was the refreshing ones) and I noticed that witch hazel and alcohol were listed as ingredients, I though that both of those were astringent and I can’t see how they could make eyes feel better. Could you give me an idea why they might be there? Thanks! Claire

Two ingredients listed, but I think we are only talking about one raw material here.  Continue reading

Phthalates, Fragrances and Pregnancy

phthalates-fragrance-pregnancyLong standing reader Ffiona has not only a question but also some happy news as she expecting her first baby in July.

Hello Colin love the blog I always scan my feeds to see if you have written anything new and read that first.  I have another question, this time about phthalates.  I have seen stuff that says pregnant women should avoid fragrances because they contain phthalates.  Is this just a scare story or is there something in it?

Thanks for the kind words Ffiona and thanks for sticking with Colin’s Beauty Pages for such  long time.  So what is the relationship between phthalates, fragrances and pregnancy? Continue reading

Is hard or soft water better for skin?

is hard or soft water better

Here is a question that comes up every now and again.  Is soft water better for skin?  Suzanne has noticed that her skin condition is better when she uses soft water.  I’ll let her speak for herself.

Hi Colin, First let me say I’ve only recently found your blog but I think it’s great, very sensible advice, wish I’d known about it earlier. Perhaps you could answer this question for me? I live near London in a very hard water area. When I go to stay in other, more rural parts of the country, I am amazed at how good my skin looks and feels after just a few days. Is this because the water is cleaner, or contains less limescale, or is less chlorinated? My skin is sensitive but not dry, and I find that washing in water at home produces a ‘taut’ feeling, even if I use no soapor cleanser. I don’t get this feelingin soft water areas. To get rid of the ‘taut’ feeling, I apply moisturiser, very sparingly, but often find that I then get whiteheads, blackheads and milia, I’m often better off without moisturiser at all. How can I reproduce the wonderful results I get in soft water areas at home? Is it necessary to spend upwards of £500 on a home softener system – which may not do the job anyway as this is not ‘natural’ soft water? I have bought a ‘Rainshow’r’ chlorine remover, and was thinking of adding a little salt or some bicarbonate of soda to my bath water? Grateful for any suggestions! Suzanne Continue reading

Heat Protection Sprays


Lilliana is wondering about her heat protection spray’s ingredients.

Hi Colin, I suddenly decided to change my heat protection spray. However, this slightly more expensive product (I usually use Tresemme) doesn’t have any of the wheat protein ingredients of which I know they actually do protect my hair from heat. Is this my latest impulse buy a total miss? The ingredients: water, glycerin, propylene glycol, sodium polystyrene sulfonate, ppg 5 ceteh 20, ppg 5 ceteth 10 phosphate, hydrolyzed conchiolin protein (is this the heat protectant, aka. alternative wheat protein?), phenoxyethanol, triethanolamine, xylose, limonene, linalool, alpha isomethyl ionone, citronellol, hexyl cinnamal, parfum

Yes Lilliana, you have correctly identified the active ingredient.  To be honest, heat protection is a bit a misnomer here.  The way they work is much more a question of treating the damage.  Extreme heat tends to remove the tiny protective scales that keep your hair in good condition.  The proteins in the formulation sort of glue them in place, so you don’t lose them altogether.  But they don’t really stop the damage. Continue reading

Colin Solves Your Problems 27 – Heavy Duty Hand Cream Recommendation


A tough question from Andy.

“I need a really good recommendation for a hand cream colin, i have tried so many yet always end up disappointed with it being gloopy, tacky and sticky on skin, with me being a hairdresser hands hurt and are sore at night, the only hand cream that i like is ardens 8hr hand. Yet its so expensive i need an alternative. Plz help?”

Well hairdressers hands get a lot of punishment from water and the detergents in the products they use for hours on end day after day.  They certainly need protection from a heavy duty hand cream. Continue reading