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12 beauty myths that waste your time and money Episode 36

Is “kitchen chemistry” really good for your hair and skin? This week Perry and I bust a bunch of beauty myths about using ingredients from your kitchen in home made beauty treatments.  

Show notes

Randy’s Refinery29 Rant

We love the the website Refinery 29 but sometimes their advice isn’t based on science. As an example, I talk about their article on fixing dried out mascara with eye moistening drops.

Beauty Science or Bull Sh*t

A special animal themed version of the much beloved game where I challenge Perry and our listeners to guess which of the following 3 beauty science headlines are fake. (2 are real, one is made up.)

  1. A Philippines Zoo is offering ‘snake massages’ by 4 giant pythons.
  2. Chinese spas offer fish pedicures where tiny fish nibble off your dead skin.
  3. At an Arboretum in Thailand is you can get a butterfly facial which is said to soften skin and brighten and your complexion using butterfly wings.

Can you guess better than Perry?

Beauty Myth Busting

Today we’re introducing a new segment where we bust beauty myths. (I wanted to call this “The Beauty Brains Big Busts” but Perry didn’t like the name.)

1. Apple cider vinegar softens hair and reduces dandruff
Vinegar has a low pH but other than helping to remove mineral build-up on hair, it doesn’t do much. There is no evidence it helps with dandruff.

2. Tumeric paste gets rid of zits
There is some evidence that components of turmeric have antibacterial properties but it’s never been proven to be helpful for acne.

3. Oil-pulling whitens teeth and “detoxifies” your body
This may help reduce bacteria in your mouth but there is no reason to think it will whiten teeth (it won’t) or detoxify – it definitely won’t do this.

Oil pulling may however, improve the health of teeth and gums. One study shows swishing sesame oil in the mouth improves reduces gingivitis and plaque; there was a net decline in mean plaque scores.  Another study, as reported by the British Dental Association, shows that “pulling” with coconut oil can reduce cavities. They found that that “coconut oil strongly inhibited the growth of most strains of Streptococcus bacteria including Streptococcus mutans – a major cause of caries.” However, the coconut oil may need to be “pre-digested” with an enzyme to make it most effective.

4. Rice flour exfoliates your skin
Will rice flour help for exfoliation? Maybe as long as the starch capsules aren’t so hydrated that they’ll just smoosh into your face.

5. Petroleum jelly grows longer eyelashes
This ingredient will definitely help condition eyelashes but there is no evidence that it will improve hair growth.

6. Frozen aluminum foil soothes puffy skin
If you wrap your face in frozen foil the coldness could help reduce swelling.  But foil won’t cool as efficiently as something like a gel mask which you can buy in any drug store.

7. Ketchup fixes brassy hair
Ketchup is made of tomatoes and has a low pH so it could help remove minerals and the tomato may stain the hair. But it could give an uneven color. Better would be something like a henna rinse.

8. Honey cleans your face
While honey can help moisturize the skin and has some anti-bacterial effect, it does not have good cleansing properties. Better would be some type of oil that you can apply and wipe off. Honey would work better as a moisturizer/facial mask.

Honey appears to work against bacteria in two ways, depending on the type of honey. In most types, the bees add an enzyme that generates low levels of hydrogen peroxide, which is the active ingredient that kills bacteria. In a special honey, known as Manuka honey, the bees feed on nectar of the flowers of the manuka bush which imparts additional anti-bacterial properties. Both types of honey can be effective but (and this is VERY important) their efficacy can vary greatly from batch to batch. Any given jar of honey may or may not have a high enough antibacterial activity to really work. To ensure efficacy, each lot of honey must be tested for activity before you know it will really work.

9. Green tea gets rid of bags under your eyes
Green tea is filled with polyphenols which have an antioxidant effect however, there is no evidence that topical application would have any benefit.

10. Coconut oil plumps your face
There’s no evidence that this oil would help to plump your face (other than the normal plumping effect you get from moisturizing.) This would actually work better as an oil cleanser than a face plumper. Coconut oil also can help strengthen your hair so you might want to try that as a home remedy.

11. Blackstrap Molasses gets rid of gray hair
No, this won’t stop the appearance of gray hair. It’s caramelized sugar and carmel is a colorant so it MAY stain hair and cover gray.

12. Fabric softener sheets can replace your conditioner
Putting laundry products directly on your skin is not a good idea because they maybe irritating. Even if safety wasn’t an issue, why would you want to do this? Fabric softeners are are NOT optimized to condition hair. While they may help reduce static they certainly won’t improve the feel of your hair and they won’t give it more shine.

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Nikki June 24, 2014, 9:46 am

    Thanks! I will be studying up on Manuka honey. I know certain honey is used in Australia in wound care, so this seems promising to me. 🙂 Nikki

  • Cris June 24, 2014, 11:56 am

    You guys are so awesome.
    What about apple cider vinegar for the skin? I’ve been using it diluted as a toner…don’t know if it’s helping for exfoliation or not.

  • Aloha June 24, 2014, 12:07 pm

    I’m so disappointed to hear about green tea :(. I’ve been used matcha green tea mask for nearly 3 months now 🙁

    However, by saying “no evident”, do you mean that all researches show no benefits of green tea? Or there hasn’t been any research about it yet?

  • Muneeba June 24, 2014, 12:13 pm

    Great informations:) am now well aware of the facts and won’t waste time on these home beauty products which actually don’t serve the purpose we are using these things for.. Thanks

  • Denise June 25, 2014, 12:12 pm

    ACV rinsing does make the hair softer and helps scalp health. If only for lowering the ph after the shampoo has raised it. But more importantly I really can’t trust much else of what you say after reading your advice of henna rinse instead of ketchup. Ketchup isn’t the best solution but waaayy better than henna unless they want to lose their hair. You CANNOT put henna on hair that’s been color treated it will react possible smoking, breakage and hair loss. Brassy hair is the result of improper color selection and/or the proper color is fading. The correct solution is purple shampoo like shimmering lights, a conditioner made for this like John Frieda or a temporary rinse in an ash or purple tone like fanci-ful by Roux

    • Randy Schueller June 25, 2014, 12:27 pm

      Denise: I agree with your comment about henna not being a great fix for brassy hair because brown henna on blonde hair won’t look good. (Although only henna that’s contaminated with PPD will make hair break, so I don’t believe that’s a problem for most henna.) I think Perry’s comment was just an off the cuff remark so please don’t judge everything we say by that one remark. Thanks for listening and please keep commenting!

  • Chris June 25, 2014, 5:57 pm

    Brainy busts!

  • Cindy June 27, 2014, 2:03 am

    Great episode! I had been curious about a number of these myths and you did a great job explaining them.

    • Randy Schueller June 27, 2014, 2:01 pm

      Thanks Cindy! If you’re curious about any other myths let us know.

  • Ling June 28, 2014, 4:36 am

    Since you guys are always wanting feedback on the beauty science or BS, here’s my opinion. I personally like the beauty science news segment more because it goes more in depth and I tend to find the story to be more interesting than the beauty science or BS segment.

    • Randy Schueller June 28, 2014, 8:10 am

      Thanks for the feedback Ling! (I think that everyone who dislikes the game is actually sympathetic toward Perry – but that’s just my theory.)

  • robyn June 28, 2014, 5:43 pm

    Aww man. I really thought vinegar was an AHA. Learn something new everyday. Thanks for the info.

  • faux mccoy July 5, 2014, 6:08 pm

    hey, just wanted you two to know that i really do love your podcasts. they are a lot of fun for me to listen to while applying my normal skin care routine and makeup (if i am feeling super ambitious). sometimes i need 2-3 episodes to get me through the process.

    thank you for all of your work and making it entertaining.

    • admin July 6, 2014, 8:02 am

      You’re welcome, Faux. Thanks for listening. (Does your skin care routine really take 90 minutes? Wow!)

  • Tona aspsusa March 15, 2015, 7:27 am

    I think you don’t understand the point of honey: when you rub it into your skin, it scrubs/exfoliates away dead skins. Purely the mechanical effect of it. The antiseptic properties are just a bonus (plus honey doesn’t go bad).
    And of course you rinse off the honey pretty quickly. Water is usually good for cleaning too 🙂

  • Pilgrim September 27, 2015, 7:40 pm

    since it wasn’t even listed here, hopefully the myth of “trimming split ends to make hair longer and thicker” has had a much deserved death.

  • Refined April 13, 2016, 3:55 pm

    Hello. Do you have any information about using rice water as a toner or on your hair?

    • Randy Schueller April 13, 2016, 4:21 pm

      I don’t see any technical reason the rice water would condition your hair but if the starch level is high enough it may provide some styling benefit.

  • Tera Richardson January 23, 2019, 5:42 pm

    Unless I missed it, you never said what science headline was a myth.
    The python massage, the butterfly facial or dead skin eating fish….

  • asha July 1, 2019, 3:05 am

    So it really does nothing when we use ACV or rice water as a toner? I hope they don’t adversely affect the skin?

    • Perry Romanowski July 3, 2019, 10:41 am

      The moisturize to a slight extent. Nothing special