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
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.
We’ve all seen and may well have actually experienced the dark marks that you sometimes get around the eyes. They are known as dark marks, dark circles and spider veins. They vary in colour – they can be black, blue or purple. The cause of them is that the skin is particularly thin on this part of the face. This makes the blood capillaries there particularly prone to damage, both as a result of rubbing them and to things that affect the size and permeability of the blood vessels. The result is that blood cells can get out of the blood stream and accumulate into this dark coloured structures. The spidery appearance is due to them following the lines of the capillaries. Having got there they can trigger an inflammatory response making the skin puffy as well. 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
Being a formulation scientist I appreciate elegant formulations that have been carefully crafted to produce an elegant solution balancing all the competing requirements of elegance, efficacy and economy. But sometimes you just don’t need all that. This product is just a big jar of clay. A pound of the stuff in fact. But does it make up for its lack of sophistication in product development by snazzy marketing? Er, not really. It is called Indian Healing Clay evoking the sounds, smells and mystery of the sub-continent. But the pack is illustrated with what looks like an Aztec or Mayan pyramid. It’s not really considered polite to continue the old mistake of mixing up the indigenous populations of South America with those of somewhere else altogether. So it doesn’t look like this has been carefully thought out by a team of highly paid marketing professionals. I quite like the look, but as Mrs BeautyScientist always makes clear, I have no taste so this is a bad thing.
The EU has a rather Byzantine way of regulating cosmetics. The rules are set by the European Commission in Brussels. This is run by the commissioners, of whom there are 28 one from each state. They have what strikes me as quite a modest sized staff and they don’t employ any scientists specifically to look at cosmetics and indeed don’t have a department that dedicated to the industry. So the regulations are drawn up by general bureaucrats. Continue reading
I don’t like the Daily Mail. There are a number of reasons. There’s their support for the fascists prior to the second world war. There’s their campaign against the MMR vaccine which led to a major public health problem. And there’s the general nastiness of their columnists. But I am also a bit worried that if I look at some of the pictures of very young female celebrities that they have on their sidebar all the time I might end up on the sex offenders register. Continue reading
There has been a big increase in the number of people suffering from allergies of all kinds, and although there is a perception that the problem is bigger than it actually is it still remains a problem. Nut allergies are one of the biggest categories and we have all become used to pervasive labelling of foods including ones that don’t even contain nuts as regular ingredients. Traces of nuts are enough. So should you be worried about allergies to cosmetics containing nuts? Here are my observations. Continue reading
A paper in the most recent International Journal of Cosmetic Science has just drawn attention to a little noticed issue that has been bubbling away in the background of the cosmetic science world for a while. The issue is the use of long chain hydrocarbons in lip products. This sounds pretty formidable, but it is not really that complicated. Mineral oil is largely composed of long molecules that are composed of nothing more than chains of carbon atoms surrounded by hydrogen atoms. This is about as simple as chemistry gets, and the chemistry of hydrocarbons has few surprises. The most interesting thing about them is that they make a good source of fuel. And the biggest use we put them to is to put them into cars and aeroplanes. Continue reading