There’s a new paper out with some numbers from dermatology clinics about reactions to methylisothiazolinone (MI). Dermatologists regularly patch test people to discover what they are allergic to. This involves applying a set of common materials that tend to provoke allergic reactions to the skin, and seeing which ones the individual reacts to. Continue reading
Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish
Christmas 2016 is over, and like a lot of people for me the next item on the agenda is getting rid of all the rubbish. I am particularly aware of it this year having read an article in the Biologist over the holiday by freelance naturalist Rajith Dissanayake. Despite the popularity of naturalness and general greenery we still produce one heck of a lot of plastic. I can certainly vouch for that as I have tried to squeeze of lot of it into my bin. Rajith quotes the figure that the average American produces around 2.5Kg of plastic waste per day, and us Europeans can’t be far behind.
Do you need this stuff on your skin?
Caffeine has been a cosmetic ingredient for a long time, and you’ll find a jar of it on the shelves of most cosmetic development laboratories. There are three things it gets used for. There are the so called body sculpting products. The idea behind these is that you apply them to parts of your body that have more fat than you’d like. The caffeine stimulates fat burning, so you can get rid of the fat in the areas you don’t like it. Keep it up and you can change the shape of your body to something you like the look of. It is also used to improve the tone of the skin. It is supposed to stimulate energy production in the upper layers of the skin. This again uses the breakdown of fat, but in this case to release energy to improve the look of the skin. And finally it is used in shampoos to stimulate hair growth.
“How do I learn more about the science behind cosmetics?”
I get this question asked from time to time – a lot of people are interested in getting to know more about the science of cosmetics but don’t have a strong background in basic science. What do I recommend by way of learning the foundations? This is something that is very helpful if you want to do some blogging about beauty products and really really helpful if you want to create your own products.
I certainly think that there is no such thing as having too much knowledge of science when it comes to actually working on cosmetics either as a maker or a commentator. I have observed that the best formulators are usually the best scientists and it is surprising how often something you learn that doesn’t seem to have any direct applicability later turns out to offer a solution to a problem that you never realised you were going to have. If I could live my early life again I’d spend even more time learning about basic science than I did.
So where do I suggest you start? Continue reading
I get a regular question from people doing science degrees who want to get into a career as cosmetic scientists. Here is the kind of rely I give, this particular one to long standing Beauty Pages reader Hannah. Continue reading
Doctors in arms race with antibiotic resistant superbugs
As I write this, this news isn’t being widely reported. A bacteria has been found in the United States that is resistant to the last antibiotic left in the arsenal. There is now no longer any antibiotic available that bacteria can’t survive. This is certainly bad news – though not unexpected bad news. Resistance to antibiotics has been a problem since antibiotics came into use. The more widely antibiotics are used, the bigger the problem becomes. While this is an unpleasant milestone to pass, it doesn’t actually mean that the problem is suddenly bigger than it was. The laws of natural selection are hard to dodge, and bacteria have many tricks up their sleeves to defend themselves. Continue reading
I get a steady stream of enquiries from journalists. Their questions are usually fairly similar. They ask about the safety of cosmetics, and lose interest quite rapidly when I tell them that they are. “Stuff you’ve never worried about before is still nothing to worry about” is not really the makings of a great headline. But I did get one that was a bit more interesting than most the other day. Who does the research on cosmetic safety? Obviously, there might be a story if all the research on cosmetic ingredients is carried out by cosmetic companies, or paid for by them, then maybe something sinister is being hidden. Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy? Continue reading
An interesting way to spend the time is to compare the way science is reported in the media to what the actual published research states. There is often quite a mismatch. So when I saw some online comment about an article in Time that said that men preferred woman with less makeup, I didn’t take anything at face value. Continue reading
It’s tasty, but is it healthy?
A pair of groups of whom I have never heard before called the the National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration have made a bit of a stir in today’s newspapers by attacking government health advice. The official line is that obesity is caused by eating too much fat, so we should avoid it and go for low fat options. These activists claim that it is the other way around. We should eat plenty of fat and avoid processed carbohydrates. Who is right? Continue reading
The world is changing all the time, and one of the big changes is that technology is removing many of the barriers to doing things that used to exist. Had you wanted to start a cosmetic company thirty years ago you would have had to have had a pretty big slice of capital just to get into the game. But now things are available in much smaller quantities so you can launch a product with much less actual cash. This is already having an effect. The business is now much more about niche products than it used to be. Continue reading