There isn’t anything that really beats old fashioned soap and water for keeping your skin clean and clear of bacteria. This is comforting information. We’ve all got soap to hand so we can at least keep ourselves germ free at home. Soap has a double effect. Its cleaning action removes the invisible droplets that might contain infective material. Its high pH and disruptive effect on membranes put stress on microbes – killing or at least weakening them. This isn’t instantaneous: the medical profession recommend a 20 second contact time. Hands need to be kept clean to stop them transferring contamination to other parts of your body. So make sure that the whole hand gets the treatment. Pay attention the backs of the hands, the areas between your fingers and most importantly of all the space between your finger nails and the tips of your fingers.
Fashions come and go in the cosmetics and personal care world, and everyone is keen to be on the latest trend as soon as possible. The latest buzzy thing seems to be Cannabidiol or CBD. This has an interesting background, being a derivative of hemp which is also the source of cannabis – which has been a popular if illegal recreational pharmaceutical since the sixties. So CBD comes with ready made notoriety. But it is currently being sold not as a gateway into a counter culture, or even as an aid to relaxation, but as a substance with health benefits. Continue reading
I was talking to someone who grew up on the Indian subcontinent and he asked me about something his mother and sister do. They make their own hair conditioner using yoghurt and egg. It’s quite an interesting idea. As a cosmetic chemist I can draw on raw materials from several hundred suppliers and use all sorts of equipment to develop and make highly effective hair treatments. But what if I had to work with only the materials that were to hand in the average country kitchen? Continue reading
I am not religious, but I was struck once by something a Catholic priest said on the radio. He was talking about a seminar they had just had on morality. “It’s easy to agree on principles. The arguments start when you get into the details.” Well I don’t know about morals, but that is certainly true when it comes to cosmetic claims. The principle is pretty simple. You are only allowed to sell your product on the basis of legal, decent and truthful declarations. No argument there. The problems start when you actually start making those claims. Continue reading
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
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
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
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