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.
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?
- A Gecko-inspired adhesive has been used to make repositionable bandages.
- A treatment based on cow antibodies is as effective against acne causing bacteria as benzoyl peroxide.
- 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
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.
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.