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How much sunscreen should you put on your face?

Ben is bewildered…I recently came across this new article published on Allure Magazine and it got me a little confused. In an article published on Futurederm, it’s explicated that 2.0 mg/cm2 is about 1/4 teaspoon of sunscreen for the average person. However, in the Allure article, author Jenny Bailly wrote this: “For your face alone, you’re looking at about half a teaspoon.” I thought 1/4 was too much, but 1/2? I’ll never be perfect with sunscreen application then. Can you please address this on your blog?

The Beauty Brains respond:

The answer is there is no single answer that’s right for everyone. But let me walk you through the different numbers that are out there and how they came to be.

Who decided the right sunscreen dose?

The first thing you need to know is where this value of “2.0mg of sunscreen for every square centimeter of skin” came from. The answer is the FDA. Sort of. In the 2007 proposed sunscreen monograph the FDA declared that the “2.0 mg/cm2 with single-phase spreading” is the amount for “application of sunscreen drug product to plate.” The plate they are referring to is part of the device that is used to measure the efficacy of sunscreens. So the 2.0 mg number is designated as part of the testing protocol.

To ensure that the SPF delivered during actual product usage matches (as closely possible) the SPF value derived from testing, the FDA roughly extrapolates the 2.0 number to figure out how much to apply to your total body. That’s where the “use one ounce or a shot glass full for your entire body” notion came from.   But, the FDA opted NOT to specify exact amounts to apply because they feel that is is misleading since it can change from product to product and person to person. Rather than specify exact numbers the FDA-required directions are to apply ‘‘generously’’ and ‘’liberally.”

To make things even MORE confusing in the 2011 final monograph the FDA changed the “Application of sunscreen drug product to plate” from 2.0 mg/cm2 with single-phase spreading” to 0.75m/cm2 with two-phase spreading.” In other words, for the purposes of testing they have decided that using a smaller amount applied in two coats gives better results. I haven’t seen anyone reflect this change in actual skin application, however.

Okay, having said all that, which is better for your face – 1/4 tsp or 1/2 tsp?

The case for 1/2 teaspoon

The “original” teaspoon rule by Schneider uses the “Rule of 9’s” which says that your head, face and neck (presumably including the ears but that’s not explicitly stated) comprise approximately 1/9 of the surface area of your body.  Schneider then applies this calculation to the “one ounce/shot glass” dose and arrives at an application amount of 1/2 tsp for the face and neck but without explicit mention of head and ears.

Lim’s modified version (the one cited in the paper that Ben asked about from the Allure article) once again uses the rule of 9′s to calculate that the head, face and neck (presumably including the ears but that’s not explicitly stated) are 1/9 of the body’s surface area.  That approach gives “One teaspoon to face, head, and neck takes into account that face and head is the most exposed site for most individuals and that for most head is totally or partially covered by hair.” Again, this presumably means 1/2 tsp for the face alone.

The case for 1/4 teaspoon

Rather than cite the “Rule of 9’s” FutureDerm’s approach is to measure the surface area of the face ONLY (no ears, neck and head) which yields a value of 1/4 tsp for the face only (I like that FutureDerm also breaks down ALL the calculations for you.)

The Beauty Brains bottom line

I’m not sure these two numbers are all that different because it’s ambiguous if the proponents of the 1/2 teaspoon dose are including the ears in their calculation. I think if you’re applying sunscreen to your face ONLY then 1/4 tsp is probably enough (depending, of course, on the size of your face.) If you’re applying sunscreen to your face, ears, and neck then 1/2 tsp will probably be needed to get the job done. The key, as the FDA says, is to apply product generously and liberally.

I hope this helps, Ben. If you want a more specific answer you’ll have to measure your own face and do the calculations.

Reference:

PHOTODERMATOLOGY, PHOTOIMMUNOLOGY & PHOTOMEDICINE Volume 29, Issue 1, February 2013, Pages: 55–56, Prescilia Isedeh, Uli Osterwalder and Henry W. Lim

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Tune in to hear Perry and I bust some more beauty myths. Plus: Can Perry finally win another round of Beauty Science or Bullsh*t?

Click below to play Episode 40 or click “download” to save the MP3 file to your computer.

Show notes

Beauty Science or Bull Sh*t – a special animal-themed episode

Can you guess which one of the following 3 beauty science headlines is fake?

  1. A Gecko-inspired adhesive has been used to make repositionable bandages.
  2. A treatment based on cow antibodies is as effective against acne causing bacteria as benzoyl peroxide.
  3. Hippopotamus sweat can be used as a natural sunscreen and skin protectant.

Beauty Myth Busting

Myth: Silicones suffocate hair

The Truth: Silicones can build up on hair from shampoos and conditioners that contain high levels of high molecular weight, water insoluble silicones. If you over-use products like this everyday, it is possible to end up with hair that feels weighed down and limp. But even this does happen, you’re not really suffocating your hair.

1) Even if you didn’t wash all the silicone out, we’ve never seen any data that indicates that a small amount of silicone residue acts as a “barrier” between hair shaft and moisture. On average, your hair contains about 8 to 14% water by weight but it will equilibrate to the ambient humidity. In other words, it will pick up moisture when it’s very humid and it will lose moisture when it’s very dry. Slight silicone residue won’t substantially change that. Now, if you slather on a heavy layer of a silicone hair treatment product, that’s a different story!

2) Even though your hair absorbs moisture from the environment, its state of dryness isn’t completely controlled by this external water. Dryness is more a function of how damaged your hair is and how much natural lipids it contains.

3) Even if you did block your hair from absorbing moisture, the silicone would act like a moisturizing agent because it would plasticize and lubricate your hair. It would essentially fight the effects of dryness.

Myth: Preparation H cures puffy eyes

The Truth: First you have to understand there are many causes of Puffy Eyes (isn’t that your rapper name?) Can be due bloating, dehydration, fatigue, allergies, hormones, or genetics. Because there are so many causes there is no single treatment. But I can see how this myth got started because redness is common complaint and that can be due to increased blood flow so any treatment that restricts blood vessels could provide some temporary relief.

Since Prep H does restrict blood vessels at least when applied to the butt-u-lar area, some people think it will help around your eyes as well.

This may seem like a good idea but there are two basic issues here:

First, at best, it can only address the redness not the puffiness. And second, if you accidentally get some in your eye, the other ingredients can cause some serious damage in which case puffiness will be the least of your concerns. The Straight Dope has a nice debunking of this myth in their entertaining article on the topic.

You’re better off addressing the underlying causes of the problem. Are you getting enough rest? Seven hours of sleep per night is the recommended minimum. Also, often puffiness is due to allergies. While it may not be pollen season, you can still be allergic to anything from airborn allergens like grass to certain foods . If this is that big of a problem for you, get an allergy test done, or try eliminating foods from your diet to see if any relief occurs. Another big reason for undereye puffiness is bloating or dehydration. This can be hormonal like before menstruation, or because of diet. The best treatment in these cases is to take a diuretic (it will help you eliminate the extra fluids), as well as to drink enough water and consume healthy amounts of salt to stay hydrated but not bloated.

Finally, for some people, having puffy eyes is hereditary. In these cases, there really is not much you can do besides really invasive measures like cosmetic eyelid surgery. But either way, the notion that Prep H is an easy cure for the problem is just a myth.

Myth: Yeast infection cream make your hair grow better

The Truth: Here’s another myth that involves taking a product designed for one part of your body and using it somewhere else – yeast infection creams can grow hair.

The idea that miconazole nitrate (the active ingredient in Monistat) can stimulate hair growth is all over the Long Hair Forum. They make several mentions of medical studies that says miconazole works, but I was unable to find any such studies. (If anyone from the Long Hair Forum reads this, please let me know which reports you’re referring to.)

The only credible research on this topic that I could find comes from a report issued by the Department of Internal Medicine, Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland entitled “Ketoconazole Binds to the Human Androgen Receptor.” Ketoconazole, for those of you not up on your imidazole chemistry, is another antifungal which is a cousin of miconazole. The Bethesda report says that lab tests showed ketoconazole can interact with androgen receptors and therefore can inhibit testosterone levels.

Since androgen and testosterone levels are associated with androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness), it’s THEORETICALLY possible that this chemical could affect hair loss. However, this test did NOT evaluate hair growth, it only showed that this drug MIGHT be involved in PART of the metabolic pathway that leads to baldness.

Furthermore, the study also says that “ the dose of ketoconazole required for 50% occupancy of the androgen receptor is not likely to be achieved in vivo…” So even if this reaction can be observed in the laboratory it doesn’t seem very realistic to expect it would work on people.

The researchers said “androgen binding studies performed with other imidazoles, such as clotrimazole, miconazole, and fluconozole, revealed that in this class of compounds only ketoconazole appears to interact with the androgen receptor.” So even in lab tests at high levels, miconazole DOES NOT show any effect.

Myth: Windex cures zits

The Truth: Windex is a mixture of water, rubbing alcohol and some industrial solvents. Yes, it might help degrease your oily skin and it might even kill off a few acne causing bacteria, but it won’t work as well as pimple medications that you buy in the store. And it’s a household product -which means it’s not held to the same high safety testing standards as cosmetics. It’s not meant to be directly applied to your skin and that means it could even irritate your skin and make your pimples worse.

Myth: Your hair “gets used to” your shampoo after a while

The Truth

A lot of people complain that their shampoo “stops working” or that their hair “gets immune” to it and they have to change. Hair care researchers have looked into this question but have never been able to find any solid scientific reason that this should happen. But we have a theory that could explain it:

Many shampoos contain some level of condtioning agents. Back in the day, unless your shampoo was a “2-in-1″, it was not generally capable of depositing any conditioning ingredients on your hair. But today, that the 2 in 1 (shampoo plus conditioner) technology has found its way into moisturizing shampoos, color care shampoos, and even some volumizing shampoos. You might find ingredients like silicones, cationic guar gum, and conditioning polymers in almost any shampoo today.

So, although you may not realize it, you may be using a shampoo that provides as much, or almost as much, conditioning as a 2 in 1. Let’s say that you use this kind of shampoo for a while. You might feel that your hair gets over conditioned after a while. So, you decide to change shampoos.

Maybe you start to use a clarifying or deep cleansing shampoo. For a while everything is fine – your hair feels nice and clean again. All the ingredients that built up on your hair from the 2 in 1 shampoos get removed. But then, after using that stripping shampoo for a while, your hair starts to feel dry like straw.

So, you feel the need to switch shampoos again. You pick up a “balancing” shampoo that contains some conditioning ingredients. And after using this one for a while you start to feel buildup and the whole cycle starts all over again.
This kind of process could be the cause of “shampoo burnout.” Of course, this is only a theory, but it is a theory that makes sense when you consider how modern shampoo formulations work.

Myth: Salon shampoos have better pH than drug store brands 

The Truth: Shampoos tend to be fairly neutral so they fall around the middle of the scale between 5 and 8. Shampoos that contain cationic conditioning agents are generally formulated a little lower and deep cleansing shampoos designed to get rid of styling residue are formulated at slightly higher pH to neutralize styling resins. But overall you should expect your shampoo to have a pH between 5 and 7.

According to one version of this myth ”The pH of grocery store shampoos is too high 99% of the time.” That’s a pretty definitive statement but it’s also a highly testable proposition.  I took samples of ten different shampoos, some from salons and some from grocery stores and then I measured their pH. I found that the average pH of grocery store shampoos is 5.95 and the average pH of salon brand shampoos is 6.14.

As you can see from this data the premise that 99% of all grocery store shampoos have a higher pH is simply not true. In fact in the samples I measured the salon products had the highest pH. The pH will vary by brand and doesn’t depend on where you buy it.

Myth: Fluoride toothpaste causes cancer

The truth:  Fluoride and tooth decay share a long and interesting history. It all started with the discovery that people living in areas with water supplies with naturally occurring fluoride had lower incidence of cavities. This knowledge led to the addition of fluoride not only to toothpastes but to public drinking water. The latter prompted rumors of a Communist conspiracy which, mostly, have faded away.  Health concerns associated with fluoride remain but there seems to be little data to indicate there’s really a problem in regard to cancer. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, adding fluoride to water supplies has been “one of the greatest achievements in public health in the 20th century.” More importantly, multiple animal and human studies have failed to show a link between fluoride and cancer. Researchers reviewed over 2.2 million cancer death records and 125,000 cancer case records from places where fluoridated water is used and found no indication of increased cancer risk. You can read all the details at cancer.gov.

Another aspect of the rumor is that “responsible” governments are removing fluoride from water supplies. We could find no evidence to support that notion. It is true that too much fluoride can cause a condition called fluoridosis which can initially cause teeth to turn mottled and brown eventually cause irreversible skeletal and nerve damage.  This condition is a problem in parts of the world which have high exposure to fluoride due eating food grown with fluoride-containing fertilizers, drinking ground water contaminated with excess fluoride, or breathing fumes generated by burning fluoride-containing coal. In those areas where this problem exists UNICEF is working on de-fluoridation programs with local governments. However this has nothing to do with cancer risk and it does NOT mean that governments are eliminating water fluoridation programs in areas that need it (in other words, areas that have low levels of naturally occurring fluoride.) This is still a raging controversy and for a more detailed debunking, you can read this reference.

 

 

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      • Clever lies that the beauty companies tell you.
      • The straight scoop of which beauty myths are true and which are just urban legends.
      • Which ingredients are really scary and which ones are just scaremongering by the media to incite an irrational fear of chemicals.
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Do stem cells work in cosmetics?

We’ve previously touched on the topic of stem cells in our podcast about exfoliation but I still find it annoying when companies talk about plant and human “stem cells” in cosmetics.  That’s completely misleading because there aren’t stem cells in the product no matter what this company claims about their skin cream.   cosmetic stem cells

How can I say that with such confidence?  All you have to do is know a little about the science of stem cells and it becomes clear.  So let’s talk about stem cells.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are living cells that are undifferentiated.  They’re a bit like the cells that start every embryo when the sperm and egg cells fuse.  They contain all the DNA information to make an entire human being (or plant or other animal depending on the species).  When embryos start to grow, most of their cells differentiated into things like skin cells, brain cells, heart cells, and all the other different organs in your body.  While the cells in your skin have all the DNA material of the cells in your liver, the DNA code is expressed differently so you end up getting the different organs.

Stem cells do not differentiate in this way.  They maintain their potential to become any type of organ.  They also have an unlimited ability to divide and live.  Most differentiated human cells can only divide about 50 generations before they die.  They are subject to the Hayflick limit and have a built-in program that kills them off.  Scientists theorize this prevents cancer.

Anti aging stem cells

But Stem cells, are not restricted as such.  That’s why they are so promising for curing diseases or regrowing organs.  Imagine if you could take some of your own skin stem cells and grow new patches of your own skin from them in a lab.  You could use that skin to cover scars or other tissue damage.  You could even get rid of wrinkles or signs of aging skin.  It’s this potential that makes them a promising treatment for antiaging products.

It’s also a misunderstanding of this potential that has duped consumers and inspired marketers to desire stem cells to be put into their skin care formulations.  If a stem cell could reverse aging, why wouldn’t you do it?

I’ll tell you why.

Because stem cells only work if they are living.  And living stem cells are not being put into these skin creams.  If they were, they would have to have a special growth medium and be kept at a specific temperature.  They would need to be refreshed with food too.  Stem cell containing creams are not created as such.  At best you have a cream filled with dead stem cells that have no potential to do anything.

Plant stem cells

Plant stem cells in a skin cream is even more baffling to me.  These are stem cells that come from plants and have the potential to grow stems, leaves, fruits, etc.  Why would anyone think that a plant stem cell is going to be able to help improve the appearance or condition of your skin?  It is nonsensical.

The reason companies put them in formulas however, is because they can claim the product has stem cells (which consumer like I guess) and the ingredients can be obtained inexpensively.  Human stem cells must be pretty pricey, much more so than apple stem cells.  So marketers figure if people like stem cells in their products, it doesn’t matter what type of stem cells they are.

In this, they are right.  But only because the type of stem cell in your cosmetic doesn’t matter.  No type of stem cell added to your skin lotion will do much of anything!

The future of anti-aging stem cells

Stem cells are a promising technology for the future.  And they may even be a great anti-aging treatment when the science catches up with the application.  You will know when it is a real anti-aging treatment when the following things are true.

  1. The stem cells are from humans (preferably yourself)
  2. The stem cells are alive
  3. The product is somehow delivered to your dermis (probably an injection)
  4. The product is applied by a doctor

If stem cells really worked the way they are promised, this treatment would be beyond a cosmetic one and well into the drug category.  It just might happen in the next 20 years but any cream that is advertised to be anti-aging because it contains stem cells now is about as effective as all the skin creams without stem cells.

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Beauty Science News – July 20

Another weekly dose of beauty science knowledge…

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Face Whisperer Day Cream – Look at the label

Face Whisperer Day Cream is a top seller on Amazon this week. Let’s listen carefully to the label.  

Face Whisperer Day Cream claims

Argireline Reduces Fine Lines & Wrinkles up to 30% in 1 month
Wrinkle reduction is a standard claim that many moisturizers can support

Moisturize and Replenish Skin with Superior Ingredients
“Superior” is considered a puffery claim and doesn’t mean this product have been proven to be better than others.

Trylagen boosts collagen production
According to the label, Trylagen is a mix of Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, and Tripeptide-1. As Truth in Aging has pointed out, other than a study conducted by the company that makes this stuff, there’s no data showing that the Pseudoalteromonas Ferment extract really reduces wrinkles. 

7 page Report about ingredients behind Face Whisperer after purchase
Huh? AFTER you buy this stuff you get proof that it works??

There’s no clear evidence that this product is significantly better than other, cheaper alternatives.

Face Whisperer Day Cream Ingredients

Water, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyl Dimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Prunus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Cetyl Alcohol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Dimethicone, Saccharide Isomerate, Trylagen®: Pseudoalteromonas Ferment Extract, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Tripeptide-10 Citrulline, Tripeptide-1, lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, triethanolamine, Phenoxyetanol, Butylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol; Ubiqinone 50, Squalane, Sodium Carboxymethyl Betaglucan, Aloe Vera Gel, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Sodium EDTA, Persea gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Curcurmis sativus (cucumber) Fruit extract, Panax ginseng (Ginseng) Root Extract, Tilia cordata (Linden Tree) Leaf Extract, Tromethamine

Click here if you want to waste your money on Face Whisperer® Day Cream. Or you can click the link and buy ANYTHING else on Amazon and you’ll still support the Beauty Brains. Perry and I thank you!

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Camay Pink Soap – vintage cosmetic video

I used to think that today’s 15 second hyper-speed commercials were a sad side effect of our ever decreasing attention spans. But I’ve changed my mind after watching this mini-opus which takes a full minute and a half to explain the color of a bar of soap. Okay, I get it, it’s PINK. It’s really pink. It even smells pink. (Whatever that means.)

Given the extraordinary amount of pinkness that needed to be conveyed, it’s surprising that the narrator managed to slip in a passing mention of the cold cream contained in the soap. Too bad since this is the true beauty science behind Camay. In fact, said cold cream was the basis of a 1959 law suit against the brand which alleged that there wasn’t enough of the emollient (less than 2%) in the soap bar to significantly impact performance.   The court ultimately ruled that just by claiming Camay contained cold cream didn’t necessarily mean that the cold cream DID anything for your skin.

By the way, don’t forget that Camay is “the soap for beautiful women.” Women of average appearance had better look else where to satisfy their facial cleansing needs.

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Louisa asks…Can the 11 in 1 Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner live up to its claims? Is this the end of using both shampoo and conditioner?

The Beauty Brains respond: 
Based on a review of the ingredients Grow Gorgeous appears to be another fairly standard co-wash conditioner.  What I mean by that is it doesn’t contain any heavy silicones that could weigh hair down. The one interesting difference between this formula and some of the other popular cowash products (like WEN) is that it contains a little bit of a mild surfactant (Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate and Betaine.)

The most noteworthy thing about this product is the marketing. Combination claims are common in cosmetics and everyone’s familiar with 2 in 1′s and 3 in 1′s. Pantene even makes a 10 in 1 beauty balm. But Grow Gorgeous has upped the ante by marketing what I believe is the first 11 in 1! How do they pack so many claims into a single product? Mostly by using their thesaurus. Let’s look at the list of 11.

Grow Gorgeous claims

  1. Deep cleanses
  2. Deep conditions
  3. Hydrates hair and scalp
  4. Adds lustre
  5. Adds shine
  6. Reduces frizz & flyaways
  7. Makes hair soft
  8. Offers lasting smoothness
  9. Makes styling easier
  10. Adds protective shield
  11. Adds volume

You’ll notice some overlap in these claims – “deep conditions” is really the same as providing hydrating hair and making it soft and smooth. Lustre is not really different from shine. There are a lot of synonyms on this list!

If you are into co-washing then this may be a perfectly fine product for you (although it is on the pricey side.) I doubt that traditional shampoos and conditioners are in any danger of disappearing because of this product!

Grow Gorgeous Cleansing Conditioner ingredients

Water (Aqua) · Palmitamidopropyltrimonium Chloride · Propylene Glycol · Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil · Jojoba Oil Glycereth-8 Esters · Macadamia Seed Oil Glycereth-8 Esters · Olive Oil Peg-8 Esters · Ppg-3 Caprylyl Ether · Ethylhexyl Stearate · Hydroxyethylcellulose · Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract · Panthenol · Glycerin · Sodium Chloride · Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate · Betaine · Phenoxyethanol · Potassium Sorbate · Chlorphenesin · Fragrance (Parfum) · Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone · Butylphenyl Methylpropional · Cinnamyl Alcohol · Citral · Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde · Limonene · Linalool.

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Does Neodermyl really boost collagen?

Jonny says…I came across this range of products including supplements, skin and hair care. They make some bold claims including ‘wrinkles disappear’ not just reduce appearance of them or whatever. They also appear to have done well in something called ‘in cosmetics’, not sure what that is. Their latest product is a hair serum that claims to re grow 17% more hair than the placebo, they have done clinical trials and have been mentioned on a few blogs similar to yours where the science appears to hold up. If you guys could take a look it would be great! Here’s a link to what appears to be their leading skincare product Neodermyl

The Beauty Brains respond: 

Jonny, we share your implied skepticism. All too many times seemingly outrageous claims are nothing more than “smoke in the mirror” as one of my old bosses used to say. But surprisingly, there may be something to this Induchem product.

Before we begin you may be thinking “I’ve never seen any products from Induchem before.” That’s because they are not finished goods manufacturers. Rather, they are a company that makes ingredients. That’s also explains the reference in “In-Cosmetics” which is an exhibition for suppliers of the cosmetic industry. For those of you keeping score at home, In-Cosmetics 2015 will be held in Barcelona. But I digress…

The Neodermyl complex actually consists of 4 ingredients: Glycerin, Water, Methylglucoside Phosphate, Copper Lysinate/Prolinate. Here are the product’s primary claims:

  • The “needle-free” collagen & elastin filler
  • Revitalizes aged fibroblasts
  • Reactivates collagen I, III and elastin synthesis in a fast and sustainable way.
  • Visible results in only two weeks: skin is firmer, more supple, and deep wrinkles disappear.

What does testing show?

These are extraordinary claims and, as followers of the Beauty Brains know, we look for 3 types of data to support such claims: a mechanism, proof of penetration (in the case of skin products) and placebo controlled double blind studies on real people. Induchem seems to have done most of their homework. They conducted a series of in vitro and ex vivo tests that seem to confirm the mechanism (stimulation of fibrobalsts). They’ve also done a single small scale in vivo study (n = 20) which showed improvement in collagen density and alignment, firmness and elasticity, and wrinkle reduction.

It appears that their in vivo assessment of collagen production (which they calculated from measurements of dermal thickness) is the basis for their “needle free collagen and elastin filler” claim. According to their paper, injections with hyaluronic acid improve dermal thickness by about 3.5% after 1 month. Neodermyl, on the other hand, increased thickness by almost 6% in 15 days. Of course there’s no direct evidence that Neodermyl makes your skin look as good as if you used an injectable filler. Still, it gives them some place to argue from if their claims are ever challenged.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Given that Induchem’s in vivo data is limited to a small, single study we need to take this information with a grain of salt. Still, there’s enough “stuff” here to indicate that their ingredient may actually boost collagen to some degree. (Assuming that you can find a product that uses their ingredient at the proper level.)

Reference:

C&T article: http://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/testing/invitro/Collagens-I-and-III-and-Elastin-Activation-for-Anti-aging-premium-246919201.html?c=n

Feb 24, 2014 D. Auriol and G. Redziniak Libragen; and H. Chajra, K. Schweikert and F. Lefevre, Induchem

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What are xenohormones and should we be worried about them in cosmetics? This week we talk about the alleged dangers of estrogen and other endocrine disruptors in beauty products.  

Click below to play Episode 39 or click “download” to save the MP3 file to your computer.

Show notes

Beauty Science News – The case of the stolen body parts

Stolen hair and skin – who would have thought that beauty body parts would be the target of theft?

Question of the week: Are endocrine disrupting hormones dangerous in cosmetics?

Melissa asks…I’m interested in your take on the Suzanne Somers organic skincare and cosmetic line. As a recent breast cancer patient I would like to know if you think we should be concerned about xenoestrogens and are her products or any other nontoxic type of products hype or really worth taking a look at?

What is the endocrine system?

The endocrine system is responsible for controlling biological processes such as metabolism, blood sugar levels, growth and function of the reproductive system, and the development of the many organs.

It has three parts:

1. Glands are organs like the thyroid, testes and ovaries that secrete specific chemical substances called hormones.

2. Hormones which are chemicals that stimulate cells or tissues into action. For example, there’s estrogen which regulates menstrual cycles.

3. Cell receptors that pick up the signal from the hormones and trigger a response. Estrogens (for example estradiol) are a group of steroid compounds, named for their importance in the menstrual cycle and function as a primary female sex hormone.

The problem is that certain chemicals can mimic the effects of hormones and interfere with normal operation of the endocrine system.

Xenohormones and endocrine disruptors

Chemicals that can “fake out” cell receptors are known as Xenohormones. These are a group of either naturally occurring or artificially created compounds with hormone-like properties.

The most commonly occurring xenohormones are xenoestrogens. (And, by the way, there are also xenohormones that mimic other hormones such as xenoandrogens and xenoprogesterones.)
Xenoestrogens are often referred to “environmental hormones” or “EDC” (Endocrine Disrupting Compounds).

There seems to be overlap in definition I think all xenohormones can be EDCs but not all EDCs have to be xenohormones.

Here’s the EPA’s definition:
An EDC is “an exogenous agent that interferes with synthesis, secretion, transport, metabolism, binding action, or elimination of natural blood-borne hormones…”

So what are these EDCs?

They can be either synthetic or natural. Some synthetic examples include …
Industrial solvents/lubricants and their byproducts [polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), dioxins], materials used in plastics like bisphenol A (BPA)] and phthalates), a variety of pesticides and even some pharmaceutical agents.

For natural chemicals…examples include phytoestrogens (genistein and coumestrol).

5 Reasons studying EDCs are problematic

You might wonder then, if EDCs are so bad, why are they still used in ANY product, not just cosmetics. The answer is that the science is very complicated and we don’t really know yet which compounds are REALLY a problem. In fact there are 5 reasons why this is so complicated.

1. Age at exposure
2. Latency from exposure
3. Importance of mixtures
4. Nontraditional dose-response dynamics
5. Transgenerational, epigenetic effects

EDCs in cosmetics – what are they and how bad are they?

There are a handful of chemicals that are of concern in cosmetics related to endocrine disruption. I’ll list the important ones and give you their status.

Phthalates
First, recognize that there are probably 6 different common phthalates – Some of these have shown up as contaminants in blood samples and are believed to produce teratogenic or endocrine-disrupting effects. For this reason, the European Union has categorized dibutyl phthalate and diethylhexyl phthalate as Category 2 reproductive toxins. In the US, the FDA has moved to restrict the use of DEHP and DBP in pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Both the FDA in the US and the SCCP in EU agree that there’s no clear data that the use of these ingredients in cosmetics pose a measurable hazard to consumers. The FDA is continuing to monitor the situation while the EU has taken a more conservative approach and decided to limit the use of some phthalates to only trace levels. From a regulatory perspective, the EU now has three categories for phthalates:

Accepted phthalates: This one is considered safe for use in cosmetics: DEP
Banned phthalates: These are banned from being added to cosmetics but are allowable as “trace contaminants” up to 100 ppm: DEHP, DBP and BBP.
Unregulated phthalates: These have not been regulated in EU but given their low usage (at least in perfumes) there is no quantifiable risk to consumers: DMP, DIBP, DCHP, DINP and DIDP.

Parabens
Most recent data shows that when used at designated levels (around 0,2%) they are safe, particularly Methyparaben which is the most commonly used. insert reference.

Bisphenol A (or BPA)
There is data showing BPA is hazardous but it’s only used in packaging not as part of any cosmetic ingredient.

Dioxin vs 1,4 dioxane
Dioxin is an EDC but not found in cosmetics. Comes from pesticides, industrial manufacturing. 1,4 dioxane is found in cosmetics as a contaminant from surfactant manufacture. At certain levels it has been shown to be carcinogenic but the industry regulates the amount to make sure it’s at a safe level. http://cosmeticsinfo.org/HBI/32

Now as I said, some of these EDCs are naturally occurring compounds
For example, plant estrogens (also known as phytoestrogens) found in soybeans and other foodstuffs have been shown to have weak endocrine activity. However, the estrogenic activity of these materials, as measured under laboratory conditions, is generally far below that which is observed for estradiol – the naturally occurring form of estrogen in the human body. In addition, the levels at which these ingredients with potential hormonal properties occur in cosmetic and personal care products is significantly below levels that have been associated with the laboratory demonstrated endocrine activity.

Vitamin E
Some studies say this is an EDC while others say it protects against EDCs. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16182432

And finally Tea Tree oil and Lavender oil http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17575592 have been shown to mimic estrogens and a few years ago there was a case reported where a couple of boys developed gynomastia (they grew breasts) after using products tea tree and lavender products.

But after a closer look at the data, it appears there’s nothing to be concerned about – for a thorough breakdown of this case check out the link:

http://roberttisserand.com/articles/TeaTreeAndLavenderNotLinkedToGynecomastia.pdf

So it seems like the EDCs which are of most concern in cosmetics really aren’t that concerning after all…Of course the debate still rages on.

EDCs in cosmetics: Two sides of the story

Play it safe and act now
Some people take the stance that we should play it safe and act not. They say that…
We don’t know if there are a safe exposure levels.
We don’t know if there’s a synergistic effect with mixtures of ingredients
It can take years for effects to show up and by that time it’s too late

So, if there’s even the slightest risk why not completely get rid of the right now? (Some people call this the Precautionary Principle)

Get more data so we can make informed decisions
Others say we should collect more data so we can make more informed decisions.
According to CosmeticsInfo, this topic is very controversial and is currently under-investigation by scientists in many countries. Right now the best science says that “Although a variety of chemicals have been found to disrupt the endocrine system in studies of laboratory animals at very high doses and in some populations of fish and wildlife, there is no convincing evidence that ingredients used in cosmetic and personal care products cause endocrine disruption in humans.”

There are two reasons we meed more data:
1. We can’t do everything at once. We should focus on the chemicals that have been proven to be a high risk. For example, we should prioritize efforts to remove EDCs from foods before cosmetics.
2. Let’s not accidentally make things worse. There are lack of good alternatives (for example, we don’t have any preservatives that works as well as parabens, so getting rid of them may cause other more pressing issues (like contamination leading to infections.) Also, we don’t have good alternatives that have better safety profiles. Don’t want to exchange a potential EDC for a known carcinogenic compound.

Also, for what it’s worth, historically once the cosmetic industry has had clear data that an ingredient is harmful, it has moved quickly to removed it. Numerous colorants, hexachlorophene, certain preservatives.

So called “Organic” or “Green” products are not necessarily the answer

Melissa also asked if the SS line and other “non-toxic” products are worth taking a look at. Unfortunately, Just because a product is labeled “organic” or “green” doesn’t guarantee that it is better.

First of all, since there’s no standard definition you don’t REALLY know whether or not you can believe a company when they tell you their product is green. For example in a 2011 study researchers found that in terms of the number of “hazardous” chemicals, the “green”-labeled fragranced products were not significantly different from regular fragranced products.

I also found a study that tested over 200 products and compared “regular” products to “green” alternatives and found EDCs in both.

And, here’s an example from the SS line: Her product line is “organic” and certified as “Toxic Free” yet it contains tea tree oil which is a known EDC. (I’m not saying it’s proven to be dangerous but it is proven to be an EDC so why would they include that?)

You have to be very skeptical of HOW green products are different. It’s just not enough to be told “they’re organic.”

Substitute products may involve trade-offs in performance.

Here’s another factor to consider, choosing substitute products is complicated because there are likely to be trade-offs in performance.

For example, let’s look at a couple of the Suzanne Somers’ products which Melissa mentioned:

Her Organics Defining mascara is based on simple plant extracts and waxes rather than polymers which means it’s more likely to flake, smear and so forth.

Her Organics Ageless Serum uses a vitamin C derivative that doesn’t convert well to ascorbic acid and it doesn’t contain anything else proven to work for anti-aging. (such as retinoids or niacinamide)

Her Organic Nourishing shampoo is based on Decyl glucoside but it’s $20 for 8 ounces. Rinse off products are even less an issue due to lower exposure so probably not the place to waste money.

The point is, if you’re that concerned about product safety and you’re willing to pay a lot more money for products which CLAIM to be safer, then you deserve to know that these products will work differently.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

When it comes to learning which cosmetic ingredients pose a risk as an EDC, pay attention to legitimate scientific sources rather than fear mongering groups.

Consider what your personal risk factors are. Are you pregnant or likely to become pregnant soon? Then you may have a higher level of concern about potential effects upon your reproductive system.

If you do decide to look for alternative products then do your research. Learn what’s really in the products you’re considering and find out what trade offs in performance you might expect. That way you can make an informed decision.

But at the end of it all: If you’re really concerned about EDCs and don’t mind spending more money and potentially sacrificing performance, to avoid an undefined risk then MAYBE these alternative products are a good option for you.

 

References

Dodson RE, Nishioka M, Standley LJ, Perovich LJ, Brody JG, Rudel RA. 2012. Endocrine Disruptors and Asthma-Associated Chemicals in Consumer Products. Environ Health Perspect 120:935–943; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1104052

http://www.suzannesomers.com/pages/suzanne-organics-certified-toxicfree

Diamanti-Kandarakis E et al. 2009 Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement. Endocrine Reviews 30(4):293-342

http://www.endocrine.org/~/media/endosociety/Files/Publications/Scientific%20Statements/EDC_Scientific_Statement.pdf

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Pros and cons of cosmetic surgery

Did you know that fat transfer is the 8th most popular cosmetic surgery procedure? Did you know that Botox or dermal fillers can be administered by anyone, even if they don’t have proper training? (At least in the U.K.) Did you know that botched Botox injections can cause speech and breathing difficulties?  Yikes!

Those are just a few of the interesting tidbits I found in this info graphic on cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic Surgery Claims
Original source of information about cosmetic surgery compensation claims: Blackwater Law

 

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