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Don’t waste money on expensive beauty brands Episode 66

Tune in to this week’s show to find out how your brain reacts to expensive beauty brands. And how to pick beauty products based on your astrological sign. (Yeah, right.)

Show notes

Improbable Products

This is the game where I scour the internet for new beauty products that sound too wacky too believe. Then I make up a wacky one of my own and challenge Perry to guess which one is the fake. You can play too – can you guess the phony story? Listen to the show for the answer!

1. The Boar Bristle Toothbrush
Boar bristle hairbrushes are the best natural grooming tools. Now, our new Boar Bristle toothbrush uses these stiffer natural fibers to deep clean your tooth enamel.

2. The Scented Fork
Make any meal more tasty with this elegant fork that’s saturated with enticing aromatherapy oils.

3. The Beauty Spoon
Are you frustrated because you can’t get the last few drops of your favorite beauty product out of the bottle? This new flexible, spatula like spoon lets you scrape out every drop.

Beauty Science News

Science says you shouldn’t bother buying expensive brands
According to this study, when a product’s price goes up, it increases “blood-oxygen-level-dependent activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area that is widely thought to encode for experienced pleasantness during experiential tasks.” So by purchasing a more expensive product, your brain physically changes and tells you that the product is better. But if spending more actually gives you more pleasure then shouldn’t you buy the more expensive one?

Does sunscreen make you infertile?
A new study claims certain sunscreen ingredients can make men less fertile. The researchers studied 500 couples that were trying to become pregnant. And they tracked the relationship between their fertility to lifestyle factors and to chemicals to which they’ve been exposed. They tested participants’ urine samples for five different UV filters and found that 2 of the UV filters were linked to diminished fertility in men (but not women.)

Those ingredients are BP-2 and 4OH-BP. Now this is a single study and the researchers themselves cautioned “that the results are preliminary and that additional studies are needed to confirm their findings.” So it’s important that these kind of studies are done but here’s the strange thing – neither of these are actually sunscreen ingredients.

BP2 is used in some packaging inks for foods and 4OH BP is a breakdown product of BP3 which is oxybenzone which is used. in the study BP3 was NOT a problem. It’s a little misleading to say sunscreen lotions are the problem because these chemicals come form other places. BUT if you want to be cautious you should avoid oxybenzone because it does has a bad rap as an endocrine disruptor.

Triclosan in soap causing liver damage?
Triclosan continues to be a controversial ingredient. Perhaps we should discontinue its use where volumes are high and there’s little benefit (like in soaps) but continue to use it where the volumes are low and there’s a proven health benefit (like in toothpaste for gingivitis.)

How to choose beauty products based on your astrological sign

Refinery29 published explains which beauty products you should use based on your astrological sign. This is all according to celebrity makeup artist Gloria Noto who has the signs of the zodiac tattooed all over her body. So I think she’s a credible source. Anyway, here are a few of her tips:

  • For Aquarius she suggests covering the whole eyelid with a neon blue eyeshadow. and adding a neon purple liner which she makes by adding a bit of water to shadow. Get it water?
  • For Pisces she is emulating the scales of a fish with a variety of metallic looking pigments. finished the face with a balm luminizer to highlight and give a dewy, fresh-from-the-water finish.”
  • Leo the lion get’s an elongated cat eye shape. Of course.
  • Taurus will be sexy in a slow burning way so she designed a play on the horns of the bull by creating a graphic shape to the outer edges of the eyes.” So if you’re a Taurus I guess you’re supposed to look…horny?
  • in 2015 Gemini should wear a two tone black and pink lip color. She what she did there – 2 toned color for Gemini?
  • Finally, for Cancer, she emulated sea shells and the ocean by using a loose orange pigment on the eyelid with pale green powder where the eyelid meets the brow bone.

There you have it – astrologically determined makeup for 2015.

Why are larger eyes more attractive?
Studies have shown that men are biologically programmed to find women with bigger eyes more attractive. Why the appeal of big eyes? Two reasons: Big eyes are a sign of higher levels of estrogen and the concept of neotenous protection, which says that men will take care of children.

Can almond oil kill you?
Back in episode 59 we talked about sesame oil as a skin moisturizer. That made me think of another popular natural oil used in lotions – almond oil. Did you know that almond oil can be a deadly poison? This came to my attention though our friend Colin over at Colin’s beauty pages when he reported on a study that almonds were pulled from Whole Foods stores because they contained cyanide. So I wondered that if almonds contain cyanide is almond oil safe to use in cosmetics.

It turns out, and I didn’t know this, but there are two kinds of almonds: bitter and sweet. The bitter variety DO contain a relatively high level of cyanide. Bitter almonds yield about 6.2 mg of cyanide per almond and the LD50 for cyanide is 50 mg – 200 mg. That means if a person of average weight ate only 15 of these almonds you could die.

Fortunately, sweet almonds are the ones sold for human consumption and it’s sweet almond oil that used in cosmetics so there’s really nothing to worry about but I thought it was an interesting story worth sharing.

Men try to impress women with their grammar
A recent study shows that men unconsciously change the way they talk to women depending on where the women are in their monthly cycle. Researchers found that men mimicked women’s sentence structure less frequently when the women were at the more fertile point in their cycle.

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.

  • Amanda January 21, 2015, 10:23 am

    The scented fork is the fake one…. amirite? 🙂

    • Randy Schueller January 21, 2015, 11:33 am

      Amanda: What? You didn’t listen to the show for the answer? Shame on you! (PS you’re not right.)

      • Susan January 24, 2015, 7:12 pm

        Actually the boar bristle toothbrush exists here is an example:
        Fuchs Toothbrushes Pure Natural (Boar) Bristle Record V Adult Soft (Pack of 5)

        • Randy Schueller January 25, 2015, 8:57 am

          Wow, thanks Susan! Does this mean I have to void Perry’s loss in the game?

          • Susan January 26, 2015, 6:24 pm

            No! That would be no fun ! 😉

  • Patricia February 3, 2015, 10:05 pm

    “The only Merle I know was on that show, ‘The Walking Dead’.” lol

    Hope the folks at Merle Norman Cosmetics don’t hear this audio. *gasp!* Those peeps have only been around for a few days now…

    Like about 30, 660 of ’em.

    Have two cosmetic chemists just shared an amazing brain fog moment?

    That singing ad for Green Shampoo sounds like it may have been their’s back in the early days of radio…shortly after the Ice Age. You guys should try to get out of your cave more often. 🙂

    • Randy Schueller February 4, 2015, 6:17 am

      Great comment, Patricia, we did forget about Merle Norman cosmetics. (But that’s no excuse for you to diss our sponsor!)

      • Paricia February 4, 2015, 2:37 pm

        LOL I dissed your sponsor? Um….who is your sponsor? Someone named Merle, right? Or am I just out here in left field, missing the catch? Maybe I need to have a second listen. Old ears never die; they just become hard of hearing. Or it could be ADD.

        • Randy Schueller February 4, 2015, 4:51 pm

          This show was proudly sponsored by the makers of Drene shampoo. (It’s not our fault that they picked an obscure celebrity named Merle to be their spokesperson!)

          • Patricia February 5, 2015, 5:40 am

            Oh! I swear I heard Green Shampoo – hahaha! I thought, who would name a shampoo like that? Sounds totally “natural,” doesn’t it? (Whatever THAT word means.) Okay, it was a hearing problem.

            But if you mean they picked Merle Haggard, whom you mentioned in the podcast, as an “obscure” celebrity, well, that’s just plain wrong. You may not be familiar with country music, but he’s been around as long as Merle Norman! In fact, he’s so UNobscure, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of FAME 20 years ago…lol. You really need to get out more, Randy. 🙂

            And somehow, it conjured up a memory of a quirky little song about him. It’s an Oldie. The twangy kind. So I word searched it for you – enjoy!


            Just curious…does the name Vince Gill ring any bells? You’ve heard of him, right? Maybe you can figure out the connection – for off-topic trivia’s sake. You never know when you’ll need it.

            Just funning with you. I first heard mention of this great blog from another highly respected expert – Robert Tisserand. And I was already subscribed to Chemist’s Corner, first catching wind of Perry through Personal Care Truth. I’ll have to start bugging you guys with some more “pertinent” questions! All the crazy claims I see wafting through the internet are exhausting me. But for now, I must go look up “Drene” Shampoo.

          • Randy Schueller February 5, 2015, 6:59 am

            Didn’t Vince Gill once do a cover album of Merle songs? (Or something like that.) Either way I stand by my assertion that it’s odd to choose a celebrity spokesperson for cosmetics with the name “Merle.”

            BTW, I loved the Pure Prairie League song!

            Hey, if we’re done swapping country music trivia could I ask you to write a review of our show on iTunes? Here’s the link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-beauty-brains/id733300242?mt=2

            Thank you!!

          • Patricia February 5, 2015, 4:11 pm

            Yes, I will, but no, we’re not done. 😉

            If you listen to country music long enough, it has a way of growing on you – like a fungus, but better. You’ll understand why I have a bit of hearing loss when I tell you that it was about 1979 when I sat in a little local bar in Hermosa Beach, CA, just a block from my apartment, when Pure Prairie League first spawned that growth in me. Gill was the lead singer, though that’s not him on the song about Merle. His wife-to-be, Janis Oliver and her sister, Kristine, were the singers of PPL’s front group, the Sweethearts of the Rodeo. They had grown up next door, in Manhattan Beach, and Kristine worked in a sexy little lingerie boutique right behind my apartment. Small world, eh? The Sweethearts disbanded, but Gill went solo and went on to become another Hall of Famer, having garnered a boatload of awards. And yes, Gill did a cover album of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens tunes, called “Bakersfield,” the hometown of both men.

            Okay, nuff said about ol’ Merle. On to the topic at hand – expensive beauty brands – specifically Givenchy. I have another oddball little “claim to fame” with this guy too, but first I want to ask if you’ve ever seen or done a review of one of their products.

            It’s called “Le Soin Noir,” with the specially featured ingredient – “rare deep sea black algae” – and it’s SURELY the fountain of youth!

            To me, the marketing hype is hilarious and seems to convey that since this “rare” black algae is so deep in the sea, thus not exposed to sunlight, the connection is implied that by some miracle of miracles, it will undo the damage done to your skin by the sun. Right…. When pigs fly…

            If you have yet to do a review on it, I think you’d have a field day with…lol. Lots of nice oils and other ingredients in it, but the only one that comes close to sounding like this purportedly “rare” black algae is “plankton extract.” This ingredient is easily found with a word search.

            I mean it seems like no big deal – except the price tag for a small jar – a whopping $380.00. It’s Ginvenchy, damn it! Cough it up!! And nowhere did I find the product weight listed – a big FDA labeling no-no. What’s with these people??

            LOL…when I first heard about it, I told the lady (who also thought it funny), “Hmmm… If Givenchy wants some more “black algae,” he can crawl under my house and get some. My tub is sinking, throwing the shower door off and there’s water soaking into the wall and flooring. Plenty dark down there.”

            I think I’m onto something. I just won’t call it mold. Just some simple life form. Like a fungus, (???) but that doesn’t sound particularly promising either. Black Amoebae…maybe. Oh, wait. That’s an animal cell. That won’t fly, will it? 🙂

            I never tried P&G’s Drene Shampoo back in the 60’s, by the way. But I wasn’t the household shopper back then either.

          • Randy Schueller February 5, 2015, 5:31 pm

            BTW, if you’re this stream-of-consciousness hilarious in print then you HAVE to submit an audio question for our podcast. It’d be a hoot.

          • Patricia February 7, 2015, 5:06 am

            It’s probably more like a stream of semiconsciousness, given I don’t get enough sleep – beauty or otherwise. Lack of sleep also pairs me up nicely with you guys in the brain fog department. 🙂 If you actually knew the weight of personal responsibilities I shoulder, you’d wonder how I could ever be humorous, but I think it’s my coping mechanism for stress. “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.” Others have found me funny, too. More than one person has told me I should have been an author. I once was offered a job (when I wasn’t even applying for a position, nor even knew an opening existed,) based on 12 pages of creatively written fundraising ideas I’d submitted. Go figure. Maybe I’ve missed my calling. Don’t know really.

            What I DO know is I much prefer truth over fiction, and as such, I am probably the recipient of the “Most Reviled” Award in at least a couple of forums having to do with this industry – specifically in the micro-formulators category. I’ve seen more people jump straight into production because “Whoo-hoo – this is fun!” without ever considering the legal ramifications (rules & regs) or producing something of real quality. Do I care? Not really. I’m not a contestant a popularity contest. I’m simply after the truth. One could be as sweet as peach pie ala mode in expressing a dissenting view, but they’ll still distain you because the bottom line is this – you’ve assaulted their intelligence and/or credibility (and thus their pride,) and there’s a backlash for that. Fairly certain you know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you have your fair share of haters, right? Their mentality is, “If I can’t pronounce an ingredient, it’s not natural!” or “What GMP? What FDA??” or “What do you mean there’s no such thing as organic beeswax?!?” *sigh*

            All of that being said, it’s probably why I’m happy to have found this blog. I’ve been silent for a while due to the backlash. But after listening to several podcasts here and getting the sense that you guys are down to earth – and very funny yourselves – I feel more comfortable here in opening back up. I’ve not even launched my business yet, but have tested formulations and done a lot of research, but surely not enough. I don’t have a chemist’s background, so I need to surround myself with those that do, but not people that are so “heady” that the only use of their bodies is to transport their supremely intelligent brains around. People who can explain things in a way that I can comprehend them. Like you guys.

            I don’t know that I can submit an audio question. I have burned through 3 or 4 PC’s since 2005 and I finally swore them off and bought a MAC about 6 months ago. I am the farthest thing from a tech geek, so I have no idea if this thing even has a microphone. I sure do have a lot to learn – still! Or….is there a phone number to call in?

          • Randy Schueller February 7, 2015, 8:00 am

            Sorry no call in phone number. (I used to give Perry’s personal cell number to our female podcast listeners but Mrs. Romanowski frowns upon that practice.) And, YES, your Mac has a microphone. *sigh*

      • Patricia February 7, 2015, 8:53 pm

        But Perry’s fortunate then since I have yet to comment to him…lol. Honestly, I don’t normally drone on as I have here. Just had to get you on the same page with Merle thing. His name may be obscure, but he’s not. I’ll think of a good question & figure out how to do it after I listen to some more podcasts.

  • Patricia February 5, 2015, 5:19 pm

    Oh, here’s the link to that fab black algae goo. Do you think some product reviews by customers that have bought the product are fake?


    “Out of Stock.” Somewhere I read it’s only available at the NYC Sephora store or the Givenchy website. Which happens to be a pretty amazing scrolling experience about a “gold” perfume if you click on the “Beauty” tab. High tech; must pay their IP guy very well. Try it. It’s a great little head trip. I hope you’re at least familiar with Alicia Keys, their high-paid spokeswoman for this fancy foo-foowear.

    • Randy Schueller February 5, 2015, 5:28 pm

      Thanks for the algae links, the PPL trivia, and the LOLs. I’ll take a look at the Givenchy website when I get a chance. BTW, I’m pretty sure that “Black Amoeba” is a band. Or at least it oughta be.

      • Patricia February 7, 2015, 5:33 am

        If such a band existed, they’d probably be from Seattle. Definitely a “Grunge” group.

        My connection to Givenchy was the possibility of being a “Mrs. G.” His grandson wanted to date me. I declined, imagining him to be – in one word – smarmy. Want to know my connection to Brad Pitt? Kevin Bacon in less than 6 steps?? LOL….never mind. Totally irrelevant.