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Does Europe ban more cosmetic ingredients than the US? Episode 53

Is it true that Europe bans more cosmetic ingredients that the US? Listen to this week’s show to find out (or read the notes below). You’ll also learn about perfume from the past, microbeads in your mouth, and more. (Plus a special themed version of our  “Improbable Products” game.) 

Show notes

Improbable Products

Can these crazy products be real? Two of them are – but one is made up. Can you guess which one is fake?

  1. Triple Penis Potion – this exotic skin lotion uses fermented penises from dog, deer and seal to moisturize skin and increase virility.
  2. Pocket penis – A prosthesis you slip in your pants to instantly look more well endowed.
  3. Fresh Crotch- a revolutionary lotion that transforms to powder as it dries to soothe a guy’s sweaty private parts.

Listen to the show for the answer!

Beauty Science News

Perfume from the past
Bottles of perfume have been recovered from an 1864 shipwreck. Using a gas chromatograph, perfumers were able to recreate the scent and it is not offered for sale in a limited edition. The lesson here is that it’s a good idea to store your perfume in a cool, dark place because it prolongs the shelf life. (You can wrap the bottle in aluminum foil and keep it in the refrigerator.)

Are micro bead toothpastes bad for your gums?
We’ve talked about microbeads before in an abstract “somehow they’re bad for the environment which is probably not good for us either” context. But now the stakes have been raised and research shows microbeads now present a clear and present danger. Dentists are finding that these little polyethylene micro-beads from toothpastes can become lodged in your gum line and lead to inflammation and infection.

Now if there was definitive benefit to the beads I’d say that MAYBE they’re worth the risk but they don’t do anything! So, that begs the question, why do toothpaste manufactures put them in the first place? They’re just there for the visual effect – to provide a sensory cue of scrubbing beads. The beads don’t actually contribute to cleansing. This maybe a moot point if microbeads are banned but the lesson is be careful what you replace them with.

Butterfly wings inspire a new type of cosmetic pigment
Did you know that butterfly wings do NOT contain any colorants? If you look at a wing under high magnification you’ll see the structure looks like rows of tiny Christmas trees. This nano-structure reflects light in a specific way that makes creates all those iridescent colors. Scientists are now looking at similar technology to create paints that will NEVER fade and cosmetics that don’t contain chemical colorants.

Are soaps safe for the environment?
Plastic microbeads may not be good for the environment but what about all the tons of shampoo and body wash that we dump down the drain every day? Do you think all that detergent kills little fishes and frogs? A new study says that we’re NOT damaging the environment by shampooing our hair, cleaning our bodies, and even washing our clothes.

Researchers at Department of Environmental Science AU Rokskilde were concerned because these detergents are some of the most commonly used substances and we dump a LOT of them into our wastewater – so if they make their way into the environment that could be a BIG deal. So, they looked at 250 studies done over the last 50 years and found that because these detergents are made to degrade rapidly and once they are processed treatment plants there’s very little risk to the environment. The study was done based in the North America but they expect the results will apply across the world. It’s good that we keep an eye on these things but sounds like we can keep using our cleaning products – as long as they are micro-bead free, that is!

Is it true that Europe bans more cosmetic ingredients that the US?
The rumor is that the EU has banned over 1000 ingredients while the governing body in the US (the FDA) has only banned 9. Can this be true? Is the US really that reckless compared to Europe? When you look at the EU laws that govern cosmetics you’ll see that the list of 1000+ ingredients include chemicals that are not used in cosmetics AT ALL (such as the picric acid, which is explosive, and radioactive substances.) These ingredients would never be used in cosmetics in the US because they are not safe, so even though they are not banned they are not legal in the US. Many of the banned ingredients in Europe are only banned if they contain contaminants. As long as the ingredient is purified, it’s allowed to be used (just like in the US.) Click the link if you want to learn more details about the EU regulations.

New scent trends for 2015
Just like in the world of fashion, there are new fragrance trends are predicted for the coming year. For 2015, here are the surprising (and not so surprising) notes that are expected to be used in perfumes and personal care products:

  • Rhubarb
  • Mint
  • Tea

LIL buy it now button

Buy your copy of  It’s OK to Have Lead in Your Lipstick to learn more about:

      • 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.
      • How to tell the difference between the products that are really green and the ones that are just trying to get more of your hard earned money by labeling them “natural” or “organic.

Click here for all the The Beauty Brains podcasts.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Irina Tudor October 22, 2014, 4:49 am

    Perry & Randy, you are hilarious, thank you for another very entertaining show 🙂

    As a mad smell scientist I am so glad you bring up a few smelly subjects to the party.

    A few things: something might have gone wrong in the notes about the 1864 shipwreck perfume. It is still available online here:
    http://lilibermuda.com/

    As Randy rightly points out, replicating perfume is not such an easy endeavor. Besides the costs involved (a GC/MS analysis and a perfumers fee are really expensive) you might stumble upon aromatics that are captive molecules, meaning that they are patented and only the patent holders can use them.

    I love that you talk about the fragrance trend notes. Mentioning fragrance notes as something that actually has to do with the inspiration source (like rhubarb) is a pet peeve of mine. It’s mostly a marketing tactic and has nothing to do with the actual extract of the plant. Not even the head-space odor. It does involve aromatics that ‘smell like rhubarb’ to consumers (fragrances are often screened by consumer panels before being marketed). In this case I am guessing the aromatic in question would be styralyl acetate.

    As for the EU safety, as a safety assessor I’m glad Randy points out that there are differences between USA and EU and the legislation is not so opposite but just different.

    For example as an allergy sufferer I am very glad that in the EU fragrance allergens need to be labeled by law.

    Another problem I (in my capacity as a safety assessor) encounter when helping manufacturers of cosmetics to export to the EU is that in the USA a cosmetic can be sold if it bares this ‘Warning—The safety of this product has not been determined.’
    http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm074162.htm

    Small cosmetic manufacturers struggle for example to get their affairs in order for an EU product file dossier, when USA fragrance manufactures don’t disclose the % of allergens or when suppliers sell ingredients that bare the warning above.

    Cheers,
    Irina

    • Randy Schueller October 22, 2014, 6:00 am

      Great commentary, Irina, thanks so much! (And I’m excited to learn that rhubarb scent might be based on styralyl acetate!)

  • Irina Tudor October 22, 2014, 7:10 am

    You’re most welcome, Randy! 🙂 Please do smell Styralyl Acetate when you have the chance and compare it with a fragrance that has ‘rhubarb’ listed as a note and let us know what you think/smell 😉

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