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Should your vagina smell like peaches? Episode 60

Would you take a dietary supplement to change the way you smell “down there?” That’s only one of the hot topics we discuss in this week’s show. Also, we play a toothpaste-themed version of Improbable Products.

Show notes

Improbable Products

This is the game where I tell Perry about three unlikely beauty products and he has to guess which one is fake. Today’s theme is toothpaste. Which of these is NOT a real toothpaste ingredient?

  • Caviar
  • Urine
  • Wasabi

The answer will surprise you! Tune into the show to find out.

Beauty Science News

Should a supplement make your lady parts smell like peaches? 
This is a controversial (and confusing) story about a supplement that will allow you to “hack” your biome to change the way your vagina smells. In a press conference, two representatives for the company (Austen Heinz and Gilad Gome) claimed that their new probiotic supplement, Sweet Peach, will allow women to change the odor of their vaginas. In addition, the product will help prevent yeast infections. However, Audrey Hutchinson, the founder and CEO of the company (Sweet Peach Probiotics), says this is NOT the case. Her product is NOT intended to make vaginas smell a certain way and the idea was misrepresented by Heinz and Gome. Rather, she says, the probiotic is only intended to help maintain a healthy biome.  Follow the link above to read the entire convoluted story.

Why scratching makes you itch
Have you ever noticed that the more you scratch an itch the more itchy it gets? Well, now researchers have discovered why.  As you probably know, itchiness can be caused by minor skin irritations and more serious conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. When you scratch you’re actually triggering pain receptors which send a signal along the nerves that blocks the nerve from transmitting the “itch” signal. A recent study published by the British Association of Dermatologists shows that scratching causes a vicious cycle because this pain signal causes the brain to release serotonin which is a “happy” neurotransmitter. The serotonin then activates nerves in the spinal cord that control itch intensity. Once the serotonin level subsides the itch intensity increases again so you feel the need to scratch more. The good news is that this research may lead to cures for chronic itching which affects people with the skin conditions I just mentioned.

Environmentally friendly scrubs
We’ve previously covered the controversy of plastic micro-beads in cosmetics. A new article lists a few alternatives to these polyethylene particles:

  • Sugar and salt (although these can’t be used in water based formulas)
  • Milled rice (good abrasive but should we use food crops in cosmetics?)
  • Candelilla and jojoba wax (plant-based scrubbers)
  • Walnut shells (these may be too abrasive to skin)

What’s the deal with fermented skin care ingredients?
Fermentation is a way of preserving foods because the yeast or other bacteria feed on sugars and release lactic acid or alcohol which prevents the food from spoiling. (Think sauerkraut.) Some fermented foods supposedly provide health benefits because of these beneficial bacteria. (Think of yogurt.) Of course, you have to be careful when considering these health claims… “In 2010, yogurt giant Dannon was found by the US Federal Trade Commission to have made “false and misleading claims” by suggesting in its marketing that its probiotic yogurt product line “reduces the likelihood of getting a cold or the flu” and “is scientifically proven to help with slow intestinal transit.”

So what does all this have to do with beauty science? Fermented ingredients are starting to make their way into cosmetics:

  • L’oreal has done a study which purportes to show that kombucha (a fermented tea) is “beneficial to the skin, helping to maintain moisture and elasticity so it appears more even in tone and texture.” (Although the study was really about skin irritation.)
  • Another study found that fermented red ginseng had higher levels of antioxidants and supposedly “increased anti-wrinkle efficacy, [and] whitening efficacy.”
  • A Korean skin care company claims that fermented medicinal herbs are more easily absorbed through the skin.
  • LaMer has a so-called Miracle Broth that contains some kind of bioferment.
  • The skin care line SK-11 is based on fermented rice. According to their website “Scientists noticed that the brewers had wrinkled faces but youthful hands. This led to SK-II’s secret ingredient, Pitera™, which allows the skin’s natural surface rejuvenation process to function at its prime.”

Tommy Chong’s smoke wipe product
Pop culture stoner, Tommy Chong, has launched a clothing wipe that supposedly removes the odor of pot smoke. This could be the most appropriate celebrity-endorsed product ever. (Although it’s somewhat surprising that he chose a wipe as the delivery vehicle for use on clothing because a Febreze like spray may be better.)

Will cosmetics list all their fragrance ingredients?
We’ve talked about cosmetic ingredient lists in the past and at one point someone asked why all the ingredients in fragrances aren’t listed. Why is that? First, all the ingredients can’t fit on the package so you need an insert or you have to put online. Second, it’s just going to bewilder most people. If you’re allergic to something specific you can already look up the allergens which are listed.

This may become a hot topic because SC Johnson just announced that will begin to voluntarily disclose product-specific fragrance ingredients. Consumers will be able to go online or call a special number and find out what fragrance ingredients are used in their air care products. But, here’s the catch, they’ll list all the ingredients as a group rather then tell which specific ingredients are in which specific products because as the company says…”we see those as secret recipes.”

Orangutans like red heads
Did you know that orangutans are attracted to red haired humans? According to “Zoo Times” one specific orangutan is a big fan of Nicole Kidman. You can’t make up stuff like this.

The beauty science of brass
The Oligodynamic effect explains the antimicrobial properties of certain metal ions (like silver, copper, lead) which can actually kill harmful bacteria. Apparently the effect works because these metal ions can denature certain enzymes. That’s why some hospitals and schools use brass doorknobs to stop the spread of disease. Brass is made of copper and zinc both of which exhibit this effect.  Brass door knobs completely disinfect themselves in about 8 hours while stainless steel or aluminum knobs never do. However a recent study has shown that human sweat can reduce anti-bacterial properties of brass objects in hospitals and schools. Within just an hour, sweat can cause enough micro-corrosion on the surface of the metal knob to reduce its bactericidal properties.

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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.

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{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Christopher December 9, 2014, 11:33 am

    Maybe you guys could hold off on giving the answer until the next episode. That way you’ll probably get more tweets and/or comments. I always play along and it’d be fun if the audience can participate.

    • Randy Schueller December 9, 2014, 11:34 am

      Interesting idea Christopher! Thanks for the suggestion.

      What do you think, Beauty Brainiacs? Would waiting a week for the answer make the game more interactive or do you prefer the immediate gratification of finding out right away?

      • eastvillagesiren December 9, 2014, 11:55 am

        I agree with Christopher. Keep us waiting ; )

  • Janelle December 9, 2014, 3:42 pm

    Ugh, I would NOT like to scroll down or click on a link and not have the answer there! Perhaps a compromise–ask a question at the beginning and discuss it in the rest of the article/podcast, then END with a teaser question that will be answered the next time.

    • Randy Schueller December 9, 2014, 3:53 pm

      That’s a clever solution, Janelle. (But it’s twice as much work for me because I have to come up with more questions!)

  • Lynnette Conder December 10, 2014, 6:24 am

    Well, maybe the commenters can ask questions and you could chose one to answer in the next post. A reader’s q and a.

  • Irina Tudor December 13, 2014, 10:00 am

    OMG another hilarious one for the books, guys, I laughed with tears 😉 And tweeted my answer right away and it was the right one LOL

    Maybe you can do both? A run of fun q&a at the beginning of the show and 1 question at the end?

    I especially enjoy your when you bring up topics that are smell or fragrace related 😉

    While I think more transparency in the F&F (fragrance & flavor) industry would certainly be a welcome modernization, I’m afraid it won’t go far. Because of the vital importance placed on ‘trade secrets’, transparency could have a disastrous economical impact. Imagine Coca-Cola’s recipe’s being known? No way that this is ever going to happen, not in times of capitalism anyways.

    Something else: there ARE sugar (& salt) scrubs on the market being sold that do contain water. The scrubby effect depends on how fine the grains are milled, but some are really nice.

    In the US there is a popular cosmetic brand called Bath & Body Works that offer a line of sugar body scrubs and here is a link to one of them, including their INCI:
    http://makeupandbeauty.com/bath-body-works-golden-sugar-scrub/

    My question for you is:

    ‘In your educated opinions:
    How important is secrecy (either technology or ingredients) when developing a new beauty product? And are there advantages to keeping some of those ingredients or technologies secret when the beauty product is released to the public?’

    Thank you and wishing you both a happy holiday season 🙂
    Cheers,
    Irina

    • Randy Schueller December 14, 2014, 7:52 am

      Thanks for the great comment, Irina! And your question is thought provoking – we’ll try to cover it in a future show (especially if you’d submit an audio version, hint…hint. Just record it on your phone or computer and email to thebeautybrains@gmail.com)

  • Laura P. July 6, 2015, 3:05 am

    About the itch & scratch infinite loop: I found a solution. I scratch the itch, and then I slap it a few times. It will stop itching.

    It seems to work for my family – I passed it on to my kids so when I see them scratch and slap I know what’s going on. Try it!

    It can’t hurt. Well, actually it hurts a little bit, but at least it stops itching.

    Ciao,

    L

    • Randy Schueller July 6, 2015, 8:46 am

      That sounds like a great idea Laura! (Unless of course you’re just looking for an excuse to slap around your family.)

  • Dawn April 5, 2016, 4:35 am

    In reference to the orangutan who’s attracted to redheads..
    Fun fact: “Hsing Hsing” is actually orangutan in mandarin (猩猩)! 🙂
    Although, if we were to spell it out alphabetically (pinyin) it would be “xing xing”.

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