People often assume that I spend most of my time in the lab formulating products. If only! There are people who can manage to do that but only in very big companies which have big teams. The reality for most formulators, and certainly for me, is that you spend the biggest part of your time troubleshooting. When I started working as a freelancer I did think I might be able to skip doing quite as much. But it turns out that there is more demand for trouble shooting than there is for straight product development.
Oh well. 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
Good stuff, but don’t overdo it
A striking news story today about an accidental overdose of caffeine at a UK university. The students were given 30g of caffeine instead of 0.3g – a very significant error. Apparently they did the calculations on a mobile phone and got the decimal point in the wrong place. This is a remarkably easy mistake to make. People who need to make sure they weigh things out correctly, cosmetic chemists included, take some trouble to make sure that they do this correctly. In this case the students were lucky things weren’t a lot worse. According to the account of the trial 18g has been enough to be fatal in the past. I have actually experienced something a little similar though much less serious. Continue reading
Is standing up a lot a good idea? The claimed health benefits for standing rather than sitting are quite impressive. According to juststand.org excessive sitting is causing “obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease. ” Continue reading
Among the many things I try to cram into my schedule is a newsletter for people with sensitive skin. I am not very successful at doing this I am afraid, and I don’t get the newsletters out very frequently. But despite this I get a steady stream of people talking to me about their issues with reactions to cosmetics. In particular, to preservatives. And particularly in particular to methylisothiazolinone. Continue reading
Charcoal – Skin Purifier?
In recent years a lot of people have started making their own cosmetics. There are quite a few places online where they discuss their progress, and it makes interesting reading from my perspective. Having done it for a living for several decades it is interesting seeing what people find interesting and what they find difficult. Continue reading
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.
I know a lot of people who read my blog are themselves bloggers. If you are, well now is the time to enjoy a brief moment of smugness. As most of us know blogging is not a lucrative thing to do. The monetary rewards barely cover the costs of the coffee to keep you awake late at night looking for spelling errors in your latest opus. So it is quite nice to discover that writing regularly does have some health benefits. 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 in fact safe. “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