Here are a few of the most interesting beauty science news stories of the week…
For reasons I can’t fathom, Folic Symbol Hair Loss Shampoo is a beauty best seller on Amazon. (Folic Symbol – phallic symbol, get it?) Let’s look at the label for their ingredients and their claims.
Let’s start with the bizarre explanation in the comments section for the reviews on Amazon. They claim that their product is so good that it has “caught the eye of one of their competitors” who reported their 5 star reviews as abuse so they would be taken down. Then, since that tactic doesn’t work any more, “they” have started posting fake 1 star reviews. It’s an interesting conspiracy theory to say the least.
Here are the claims for Folic Symbol:
- Hair Growth and Loss Prevention Shampoo
- Best Seller to Stop Thinning
- Clinically Proven
- Safer than Minoxidil
- More Effective Thickener
- DHT Blocker
- Thickening Each Hair
- The label actually says “medical grade!”
It’s amazing to me that they make a comparison to Minoxidil (safer than Minoxidil.) How can they compare the safety of a cosmetic product, which by definition can’t change the physiology of the body, with a proven drug that DOES have an effect on the body? That’s like saying orange juice is safer than chemotherapy – the comparison means nothing! It also implies that the product works like Minoxidil which is false because if it did it would be a drug as well.
Another thing that always makes me question the authority and authenticity of a product is whether or not they properly follow the ingredient labeling laws. If a company isn’t labeling the product correctly then what ELSE aren’t they doing correctly? In this case they list what are apparently the “active” ingredients first followed by the inactive ingredients. This style of labeling is used for drug products which, again, this product is NOT.
Folic Symbol Hair Loss Shampoo ingredients
Ingredient Highlights: Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3 FRS-10(TM), Dextran, Equisetum Hiemale Leaf/Stem Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract. Inactive Ingredients: Deionized Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycol Distearate, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hydroxide.
Given these technical inconsistencies and inaccuracies, I’m VERY skeptical about this product. So I recommend that you click this link to Hair Growth and Loss Prevention Shampooand then buy anything else! You’ll still be helping the Beauty Brains but you won’t be wasting money on a sketchy product.
Miriam asks..I’m looking for a conditioner similar to Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Conditioner from Kiehls, could you recommend something cheaper?
The Beauty Brains respond:
Miriam’s question comes from the boards on Makeup Alley where we’ve been contributing recently. It’s the most active online beauty community we’ve ever seen – if you haven’t checked it out already you should!
Use the “Rule of 5 Ingredients”
Of course there’s no way to know for sure without testing but we can identify good candidates for Miriam to try just by looking at the ingredients list (see below.) In particular, look at the first five ingredients:
Water, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, glycerin, amodimethicone
Water is the solvent/carrier and will be the first ingredient in any emulsion-type conditioner. The cetearyl alcohol is the “body” of the product and is a mix of cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol. (Remember that these so-called fatty alcohols are NOT the kind of alcohol that dries your hair.) Behentrimonium chloride and amodimethicone are both excellent conditioners which are chemically modified to stick to the damaged spots on your hair after rinsing. Glycerin is a good moisturizing agent although it really doesn’t do much from a rinse out product.
A quick scan for products with similar ingredients reveals that Loreal Nature’s Therapy Mega Hair Moisture Treatment has the same five ingredients in the same order (see below.) It also contains a few lesser ingredients which may give the product a different feel like cetyl esters and cetrimonium chloride. Most of the other differences, like the preservative, won’t impact the performance of the product.
The Kiehl’s product sells for about $2.26 per ounce ($19 for 8.4 ounces) while the L’Oreal “dupe” is only $1.40 per ounce ($11.21 for 8 ounces). So if you’re looking for a cheaper option, the L’Oreal product should be a good one to check out.
Loreal Nature’s Therapy Mega Hair Moisture Treatment ingredients
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Amodimethicone, Cetyl Esters, Sodium PCA, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Trideceth-12, Sunflower Seed Oil, Chlorhexidine, Dihydrochloride, Cetrimonium Chloride, Yellow 5.
Kiehl’s Olive Fruit Oil Nourishing Conditioner
Water, cetearyl alcohol, behentrimonium chloride, glycerin, amodimethicone, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, trideceth-6, 2-oleamido-1, 3-octadecanediol, lanolin, citrus limonum (lemon) peel oil, cetyl esters, methylparaben, chlorhexidine dihydrochloride, cetrimonium chloride, dimethyl tin dineodecyl ester, fragrance.
Do YOU have any favorite products you’d like to find a cheaper version of? Leave a comment and we’ll try to track one down for you.
Cadence has a question…Hi, why are most moisturizers and serums etc are mostly white or light colored even though they contained lots of ingredients that should tint the product? Ingredients such as CoQ10, grape seed extract, lycopene, green tea, blueberries etc., if I mix them into the moisturizer at home it would turn into mud. Does the extracting/purifying process in the lab removes the colors? I have not seen any dark products, even those that claim to contain a high level of the actives. Thanks so much!
The Beauty Brains respond:
There are two reasons why the products you asked about are white:
1. The main reason is that moisturizers are made by dispersing drops of oil in water. These droplets are so small that they scatter and reflect light. This scattering of light is what makes the product appear white. A classic example is milk which consists of tiny drops of milk fat dispersed in water.
2. The “dark” ingredients you mentioned are aren’t always dark and they are typically used at very low levels so they don’t have a significant impact on color.
- Grape seed extract is sold as a clear liquid that has no color.
- Green tea extract, for example, is sold as a light brown powder and as a light brown, transparent solution in propylene glycol. When added to products as a low level (usually well below 1%) the additional light brown-ness gets lost against the white background.
“Dark” ingredients that are used at higher levels (like dyes) do actually give the product color which is why you have moisturizers that are pink, green, blue, etc. (By the way, many of the extracts you mentioned are actually colorless.)
A recent article in Harpers Bazaar cited “VitaGlow” as one of the top 14 beauty trends of 2014. VitaGlow involves injecting vitamin directly into the dermis where they supposedly have a pronounced anti-aging effect. I was intrigued when I was contacted by the office of Dr. Klein a dermatologist who administers this procedure. I asked for an explanation of how it works and this is what I received.
Vitamin Injections: A One-Way Ticket to the Fountain of Youth?
In an effort to keep up with major advancements in technology, doctors and scientists have been practicing a fairly new method of injecting vitamins into the facial area. It’s commonly known as facial mesotherapy.
Facial mesotherapy is a process by which vitamins are injected below the patient’s epidermis in order to improve skin texture and tone. Put simply, it’s a natural treatment that helps improve your skin’s complexion.
Although the practice of vitamin injection has been around for over 50 years, more recently, these vitamin cocktails have become a more popular remedy for better, brighter skin, and even weight loss. Given the significant number of benefits people experience from vitamin injections, you can see why the technology has become popular among men and women looking for younger, healthier looking skin.
Injections typically consist of customized, multi-vitamin blend, consisting of low levels of vitamins A through E into specific points on the face, including your forehead, cheekbones, and outer corners of the lips. The results are fairly rapid, and after a series of four to six treatments on a weekly basis, your skin should look fresher and more radiant. You may also need three to four “touch-up” treatments approximately one year afterwards.
Lionel Bissoon, a NYC-based mesotherapist says, “When you deposit vitamins directly into the skin with a needle, you’re giving the tissues exactly what they need, where they need it.” Bissoon also said that neither oral nor topical vitamins can offer similar results. Dr. Lionel Bissoon, who is one of the pioneers of facial mesotheraphy, received his Doctorate of Osteopathy from Des Moines University.
To date, there aren’t many studies available that attempt to prove or disprove the benefits of vitamin injections. Although Bissoon believes that vitamin injections will give you healthier skin, other doctors would beg to differ. In a 2007 study performed by three dermatology surgeons (RG Phelps, D.J. Goldberg, and SP Amin), all three doctors concluded there were no significant changes to the skin after ten different patients were given multi-vitamin injections. The treatment was conducted at four monthly intervals, and patients underwent four sessions of mesotherapy. The patients also had pre- and post-treatment photographs and skin biopsies.
The answer to the question of whether or not facial mesotherapy is the new “fountain of youth” is something to ponder; however, it seems that the benefits outweigh the risks. Although vitamin mesotheraphy is yet to be FDA approved, the procedure is safe, as long as you hire a licensed physician to do the work.
Dr. Jeffrey Klein is a dermatologic surgeon practicing in San Juan Capistrano and Newport Beach in Orange County, California. Dr. Klein is listed a Diplomat for the American Board of Dermatology, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
What do YOU think? Does Dr. Klein’s explanation of VitaGlow convince you that it’s a “one way ticket to the fountain of youth?” Leave a comment and share your thoughts with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.
Is it true that cosmetics are unregulated and that companies can put anything they want in beauty products? Find out as Perry and I talk about the laws that govern the cosmetics industry. We also discuss a news story about the placebo effect in drugs and cosmetics. Super Special Bonus: Perry uncovers cosmetic chemists in comic books and movies!
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Click below to play Episode 16: “Are cosmetics unregulated?” or click “download” to save the MP3 file to your computer.
Beauty Science News: “Half Of A Drug’s Power Comes From Thinking It Will Work”
This report involves a pain medication study and the author says: “Basically we show that words can actually double the effect of a drug. That’s pretty impressive.” Here’s what they tested and what they found:
- No treatment: 15 percent increase in pain.
- Known placebo: 26 percent decrease.
- Placebo labeled Maxalt: 25 percent decrease.
- Maxalt labeled as placebo: 36 percent decrease.
- Mystery pill (Maxalt or placebo): 40 percent decrease.
- Known Maxalt: 40 percent decrease.
The “mind over matter” effect of placebos is similar to what we call the “halo effect” in cosmetics.
Listener question: Sarah wants to know about regulation in the cosmetic industry
The idea that the cosmetic industry is unregulated and that “anyone can put anything in any product” is a myth. In fact, there are 3 levels of regulation to which the industry is subjected: federal, state, self-regulation.
The Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act
- Prohibits “poisonous or deleterious substances”
- Restricts particular ingredients
- Mandates claim substantiation
- Regulates color additives
- Requires warning label for coal tar based hair dyes
Important point that causes confusion: The FDC act does NOT require companies must test their products for safety prior to marketing. If the FDA determines that the safety of a product has NOT been substantiated, the product is misbranded (illegal).
What can the FDA do?
- Prosecution – Criminal charge against the company.
- Seizure – Federal marshals takes possession of all products.
- Injunction – Civil action that requires you stop making and distributing the product.
- Recall – Companies have to pull products off the shelf.
The Fair Packaging and Labeling Act
Mandates that labels must include the following:
- Product identity
- Net contents (also includes provisions against under-filling.)
- Name and location of manufacturer.
- List of ingredients.
- Warning statements (when needed)
The FDA’s Over the Counter Drug review
This is another way the FDA has jurisdiction over cosmetics (at least for cosmetic-drugs)
Other laws which grant additional oversight but not JUST to cosmetics:
Toxic Substances Control Act
Under the jurisdiction of the EPA
Controls single ingredients, not finished products.
No direct authority over cosmetics but if the EPA rules that an ingredient is dangerous, you can expect the FDA will look at it as well and likely consider it to cause the product to be adulterated and therefore it would fall under their jurisdiction under the FDC act.
Federal Trade Commission
Regulates advertising. They prohibit “unfair or deceptive acts or practices affecting commerce.” That’s pretty broad.
The NAD is a second source of advertising regulation They are more likely to challenge cosmetic ads but they don’t really have any authority to take action. Instead what they do is turn the issue over to the FTC.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
The CPSC has authority over:
- Hazards presented by cosmetic containers – glass packaging which is breakable, or packages with small parts that could endanger children.
- Special packaging standards under the Poison Control Act (e.g. child proof caps.)
In addition to these federal controls, states are free to pass whatever laws related to cosmetics that they want as long as their laws don’t conflict with federal mandates.
Every state has regulations that apply to soap and cosmetics. Most of them follow the FDA regulations pretty closely, but some have more extensive requirements. For example:
- California pioneered legislation which restricts VOCs is determined.
- Florida requires a “cosmetic manufacturer permit” for any person that manufactures or repackages cosmetics in Florida.
- Maryland outlawed specific phthalates in cosmetics.
Self-regulation of cosmetics
Finally, on top of all these federal and state restrictions, the cosmetic industry polices itself through the following voluntary registration programs:
- Registration of manufacturing facilities
- Registration of cosmetic raw material composition and ingredient statements
- Filing of adverse product experiences
These all help the government get access to information it needs to ensure safety.
The bottom line
Contrary to what misinformed people may tell you, cosmetics are regulated on three levels: Federal, state, and industry self regulation. You may disagree with the level of regulation or how they are enforced but you can’t honestly claim there are NO regulations.
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.
While shopping in my local Sears I noticed an interesting collection of candy themed children’s cosmetics. They were branded with the names and logos of famous sweets like “Nerds.” The nail polish caught my eye since I thought that, given all the concern over the “toxic trio” in nail polishes, wouldn’t it be terrible if some little kid swallowed some of this product? So, in a moment of abandon I pulled out my iPhone and posted the following to FaceBook:
“Isn’t this candy inspired nail polish just begging for a call to the poison control center?”
After a closer look I realized this was a special non-toxic formula made for kids but it was too late. Comments were already being posted in response:
First, Vanessa accused me of being boring.
Vanessa: People…why are you so serious and boring just because of a nail polish inspired in a big company? Stop being serious about everything.
I think this is the first time accused I’ve being too serious when it comes to safety of cosmetic products. More often I’m accused of being paid off by big cosmetic companies to say that all products are safe. Go figure. BTW, have you seen those brightly colored laundry detergent pods? Since early 2012, poison-control centers nationwide have received reports of nearly 7,700 pod-related exposures to children age 5 years and younger.
Next came a series of “this isn’t really a problem” comments.
Natalia: They are water based and no more dangerous than Crayolas which American children seem to munch on all the time
You’re right the products are water based and “non-toxic.” Still, they use the colorants which are NOT approved for use in products which are ingested.
Jasmyn: It clearly looks like nail polish and stickers to me, and is not sold in the confectionery isle, so I don’t understand how a parent could be confused that this is a food item and feed it to their children??
The concern is not that the parents will be confused and feed it to their kids. It’s that very young kids may find the product within their reach and try to consume it, thinking it’s candy. Little kids can’t read the label or know which section of the store the product was purchased in.
Joelene: If they [children] can’t read the labels why would they assume these particular bottles of polish are edible over other bottles?
A. Because even if though kids can’t read they might recognize the logo/packaging from their favorite candy.
B. The polishes are candy scented which could make them more attractive without seeing the label.
Jasmyn again: My comment stands. I see absolutely no difference in leaving this product around as to leaving ANY cosmetic item around. If you have young children and don’t want them to eat nail polish, lipstick, batteries etc. then don’t leave it within reach? P.S. If they are that young then how will they get the bottle open?
I could argue that since this product is deliberately designed to look like candy that the risk is higher. And P.S., an older sibling could play with the nail polish and leave the open bottle unattended. A younger sibling could then see and smell the product, assume it’s candy, and start to chow down.
What is really in this stuff?
Ironically, after looking at the ingredients, I agree this is probably much ado about nothing. The product is certainly not going to kill anybody. Here is the complete ingredient list:
Water (Aqua), PVP, Acrylates Copolymer, Propylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Triethanolamine, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Disodium EDTA. May Contain [+/-]: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510), Red 6 (CI 15850), Red 7 (CI 15850), Red 34 (CI 15880), Red 36 (CI 12085), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Violet 2 (CI 60725), Green 6 (CI 61565), Black 2 (CI 77266).
It’s probably about as dangerous as eating glue. But in a world where people FREAK OUT because of microscopic amounts of lead in lipstick, you think they’d also worry about a product such as this which uses colorants that are NOT approved for ingestion: D&C Red 6, D&C Violet #2, D&D Green #6 . (Interestingly, the product does containing a warning to keep away from kids under 3 because it contains small parts.)
The Beauty Brains bottom line
I know my original comment was a bit tongue in cheek but I was in Sears and I was bored. Anyway, I don’t think it hurts to remind people to keep brightly colored makeup and household products away from small children who might think they are actually yummy candy. Every year there are a number of calls to poison control centers for this very reason.
Do you have any thoughts on this candy cosmetic conundrum? Leave a comment and share with the rest of the Beauty Brains community.
A fresh crop of beauty science facts for your perusal.
- WTF? Study finds that the Safe Cosmetics Act will increase animal testing!
- Learn how this stem cell breakthrough could revolutionize health and medicine.
- Should you be worried about California’s data base of cosmetic ingredients?
- Our new favorite blog, Realize Beauty, explains how jojoba oil is like sebum.
- What is the best moisturizer to use for eczema?
Ultima Pure Swiss Hyaluronic Acid Serum is a top selling beauty product on Amazon this week. Let’s look at the label.
Hyaluronic acid, as most of you probably know, is a natural moisturizing agent capable of binding many times its own weight in water. It is a good moisturizer but it only works when it’s left on the skin. It has no sustained effect that lasts through washing.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (note the spelling error on their original list below) is a stable form of vitamin C. It’s a good antioxidant and can improve skin hydration and elasticity.
However, the product worries me for a couple of reasons. The fact that it’s normally almost $90 but it’s on sale for $13 seems strange. Remember – an extraordinary discount was one of the signs of counterfeit cosmetics that the FBI warned us about! Plus the ingredient list just doesn’t seem quite right (besides the typo.) How can water be the last ingredient in the formula? That doesn’t make sense. And if the ingredient list isn’t correct, then what else could be wrong? (Of course this could just be an error on the part of Amazon as well. If the company contacts us with additional information about the product and how it works I’ll be more than happy to revise this post.)
Ultima Pure Swiss Hyaluronic Acid Serum ingredients
Sodium Hyaluronate, Magnesium Ascorbil Phosphate, Sorbic acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Aqua (Pure mineral water).
If you’d care to purchase Ultima Pure Swiss Hyaluronic Acid Serum please do so using our link and you’ll be helping to support the Beauty Brains. Thank you!