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Should beauty companies keep secrets from you? Episode 80

Do you think it’s okay for cosmetic companies to keep their ingredients a secret from you if it means you get better products? We discuss this question and more in today’s quick Q&A show.

Improbable Products5103209989_72f73816d9_o

Two of these “ancient secrets” have been found to really work; one of them is just made up. Can you spot which one is fake? Tune in to the show for the answer.

  1. An onion and Garlic wine cooler can kill Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
  2. Pancake syrup from middle eastern dates inhibits the growth of Strep and E coli.
  3. Goat grease fights the fungus that cause cradle cap in infants.

Can I protect a product from oxygen by transferring it to an airless pump?

Bronwyn asks…I know products in jars are not ideal but I found I bought a “Holy grail” product that happen to come in jars. Can I decant to an airless pump container or will the oxygen that it’s exposed to during process render the products ineffective?

I think that as long as you do the transfer quickly and avoid stirring up the product too much it may be worth the effort. Once you’ve transferred it to an airless pump it will be less likely to come in contact with oxygen than if you were dipping into the jar every time. Keep the container as full as possible to minimize head space. One question – where do you even get a container like this?

Are eyelash perms safe?

Michelle asks…I had an eyelash perm before without problems, but I was wondering if the procedure is safe. I couldn’t find anything on the FDA website, but apparently is not approved according to other sources. Does that mean the procedure is unsafe or because it is a cosmetic doesn’t really require approval?”

I thought these had gone away because of their so dangerous but there are still several eyelash perm products on the market. (All from small I companies, I believe.) I looked up the ingredients on one and this is a true perm: A high pH solution of ammonium thioglycolate. This is a BAD idea: the eyes absorb things really quickly and no one ever rinses their eyes long enough to get it out. You could seriously damage your eye with a product like this. I’m not even sure how well these products would work. Any curl you achieve wouldn’t last very long because even the longest lashes aren’t really very long any bend you create would quickly revert to its natural state.

Is this hydrogel claim bogus?

Ling asks…I was hoping you guys could help me with a product claim for Etude House Collagen Eye Gel Patch. It says on the packaging (in bad english) “Hydro-gel under eye patches formulated with collagen to revitalize and improve appearance around eyes.” I just want to clarify something – Etude House isn’t claiming that the collagen in the product is what is “revitalizing and improving the appearance around eyes” and that this product isn’t claiming to actually improve the eye area (since it says appearance) or prevent any aging. Right? Or are they misleading people with bad science?  Commas make a big difference it seems…

You’re right. Commas DO make a huge difference. To be completely accurate, the claim should be written with commas:

“Hydro-gel under eye patches, formulated with collagen, to revitalize and improve appearance around eyes.”

This way it’s clear that the product (NOT the collagen) is responsible for whatever revitalization and improvement it provides. It’s all about “weasel words” or, in this case, “weasel punctuation.”

Are Celloplex and Juvalift miracle products?

Lee asks…Can you expose CelloPlex and JuvaLift, please (unless these really ARE the ‘miracle products’ to which all the stars are turning!

I couldn’t find an ingredient list for Celloplex but any product that claims to work “better than Botox” is obviously over-hyped. There doesn’t appear to be any that special about Juvalift.  It contains (among other things) Ceramides (which are used in a lot of products) Retinol Palmitate (which is about the least effective form of retinol), and Palmitoyl oligopeptide (a peptide which is also used in other products.)

Is facial mapping for real?

More Blonde Than Human says…I’ve had two facialists praise facial mapping (wherein acne on different parts of the face correlates with functioning of various internal organs.) But it it seems… unscientific. Thoughts?

“Unscientific” pretty much says it all. This idea is so ridiculous that I was surprised to find so many articles in a quick web search. But even most of these articles said something like “such and such dermatologist says there’s no research that proves this is true.” We even had one reader say the following…

“These articles that discuss facial mapping I believe point out that the ancient Chinese used it so therefore it must be true (I’m Chinese btw and I’ve never heard of this from my family but rather from these articles!).”

This is a logical fallacy (Argument from antiquity).

Should beauty science be kept secret?

Irina asks…‘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?

I agree that Ingredients must be labeled… but that doesn’t mean the ingredient list discloses all the product’s secrets. For example:

  • Ingredient that has a surprise benefit – color protection.
  • Ingredient combination that works better than single ingredients – hairspray
  • How ingredients are put together makes a difference – patent on silicone dispersion.

Also, companies can protect specific technology with patents without being “secret.”

Why is sunscreen always greasy?

Roni asks…Why is sunscreen so slick and oily? 

Here’s a quick answer to your question: basically, you’re out of luck! Sunscreens feel oily for two reasons. First the UV absorbers used in sunscreens are oil soluble. Without a good slug of an oil like material the UV absorber won’t stay dissolved. Second, to keep the UV absorber on skin after exposure to sweat or moisture formulas have to be waterproof and that means more oil.

You might have better luck with some of the so-called “dry oil” products. I don’t recall a brand name off the top of my head but I have seen products that use esters which feel a little less greasy than traditional oils. Look for the phrase “dry oil” on the label.

Image credit: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1397/5103209989_72f73816d9_o.jpg

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Maria April 28, 2015, 6:51 am

    Garnier makes a few ‘dry mist’ spray sunscreens. It’s made with esters. I don’t know if it’s available in the US but I’m sure there are others like it.

  • nsq April 28, 2015, 8:46 am

    Regarding sunscreen, Japanese sunscreens are really lovely and milky. They don’t leave your face feeling greasy and there’s no white cast. They’re fast-absorbing and they’re also more photoprotective than Western sunscreens. It’s also possible to find varieties that are physical UV filters only.

  • karen April 28, 2015, 3:34 pm

    I’m pretty stoked with the TarteGuard spf 30. it’s a physical sunscreen that seems to be working for my finicky skin. so far so good.

  • tron April 28, 2015, 4:33 pm

    Daiso sells airless pump containers. Daiso is like the Japanese version of dollar stores and are usually in cities with high Asian population.

  • Dafna April 28, 2015, 7:36 pm

    Airless bottles can be found on Ebay, Amazon, and DIY skin care websites, such as Skin Actives, Bulk Actives, and others. They are pretty cheap- a couple of bucks a pop.

  • Claddagh April 28, 2015, 7:36 pm

    I believe this sunscreen is worth a try – EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46

    Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%. , Purified Water, Cyclomethicone, Niacinamide, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Polyisobutene, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lactic Acid, Oleth-3 Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Butylene Glycol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane

    • Perry April 29, 2015, 8:57 pm

      I suspect this uses nanoparticle sized zinc oxide (if it’s clear anyway)

  • cris hamilton April 28, 2015, 7:58 pm

    I think that physical sunscreens that block uv rather than absorb them are not greasy. I love Clinique City Block (mineral) spf 25. Zinc and titanium oxides. It’s moisturizing but not greasy imo.

    • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 6:57 am

      A couple of people has raised this point, thanks Cris. It’s true that the mineral sunscreens are not dissolved (so they don’t need an oily solvent.) Of course, the ingredients still need to be dispersed in a matrix that is waterproof.

  • Gladys April 28, 2015, 11:49 pm

    Face Mapping is not “frameamology” as Randy and Perry has discussed. I study TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and we use acupuncture on the face. I attend Perry’s cosmetic formulation class and think he is great and professional where cosmetic science is concerned. I find it somewhat disappointing that both of them gave that answer without proper research.

    • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 6:59 am

      Hi Gladys. I think Perry was referring to “phreonology” which is a pseudoscience based on measurements of the skull. If you have credible evidence that facial mapping really works, Perry and I would be happy to share it with our readers. Thanks!

    • Perry April 29, 2015, 8:58 pm

      I’ve never heard of “Frameamology”. I was speaking about phrenology.

    • Perry April 29, 2015, 8:59 pm

      I’ve also seen no good research suggesting that acupuncture does anything more than the placebo effect. But I’d love to be shown wrong.

  • Anak April 29, 2015, 4:58 am

    Md solar sciences, a usa comapny, makes amazing, non oily, silky feeling spf! Awesome product, formulated by dr.s for the most sensitive skin types. Check out their website.

  • Mo April 29, 2015, 5:52 am

    You guys are great but almost every week, you demonstrate you could benefit from the input of a beauty product junkie or just plain Google. It seems like each week you say something that isn’t true, express ignorance about something that’s well known to people who are avid beauty product consumers or make a joke that indicates you’re too familiar with the production side and not enough with the consumer side. For instance, “commercial” packaging, such as airless pumps, are available all over the Internet in small quantities, like on Amazon. Almost all makeup artists “re-pot” their products, and obtain packages like this easily.

    As far as the eyelash perm, yes, they’re dangerous. But as far as whether they work to curl lashes for extended length of time, they do. The caller indicated she was happy with her results, but her concern was safety.

    Or agreeing the sunscreens are just greasy things. Other commenters have rightly noted which sunscreens aren’t and why that is so.

    And the “holy grail” and “low poo” comments? :/ “HG” or “Holy Grail” are the most common beauty raves on every message board, so a joke like the one on this ep sounds pretty tone deaf. And the “low poo” talk from last week shows you didn’t really understand the “no poo”/”lo poo” process/distinctions before discussing it.
    I tried sharing your show with other beauty geeks, but they were really put off by the fact that it didn’t seem like you guys were up on trends enough to provide fully informed answers. While your key value proposition is your chemist knowledge and experience, if you don’t know the audience and what they use or what they know, credibility is lost. I’d love to keep listening to and sharing your podcast, but lately it’s gotten frustrating. One of the things that made Paula Begoun’s podcast enjoyable was the co-host makeup artist who “got it” and really knew the product landscape.
    My advice? Consult an editorial hair stylist/makeup artist for every episode. These people are out in the scene, not stuck in a salon, and know what’s on the cutting edge on the user side.
    (This is coming not from a stylist or artist, but a lawyer.)

    • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 7:21 am

      Hi Mo. Thanks for the feedback. I think your criticisms are valid in that Perry and I aren’t “out in the field” where we’re exposed to the latest consumer feedback. Our expertise lies in our understanding of the scientific principles of how products work and in being able to explain that to average consumers to help them avoid spending money on over-hyped products. It’s not really practical for us to consult with a stylist or a makeup artist on all our content even though that may make us less attractive to some listeners.

      We do appreciate when listeners, such as you, point out where we’ve made mistakes or where there are gaps in our “consumer side” knowledge, so thanks for that.

      PS Sorry if some of our jokes/comments feel “tone deaf” but part of that comes from our general corniness and the fact that we’re trying to generate 30 minutes of entertaining content each week.

      Does anyone else want to chime in on this issue? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

      • Marie April 29, 2015, 10:58 am

        As a listener (reader actually), I don’t think the podcasts need to be ‘cutting edge.’ Personally, I like reading the science behind the hype. It saves me from wasting money. Read two things I had never heard of – eye lash perm (SCARY!) and the airless pump containers (checking amazon in a moment).

        • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 11:01 am

          Thank Marie. I’m glad the the written transcript of the podcast is useful to you. And fortunately, when reading the podcast, you avoid most of our corny jokes!

          • Forky June 9, 2015, 1:59 pm

            I just recently found your web site, and from what I’ve seen and read so far, this is great! Thank you! I also like having the text version in addition to the podcast.

            I read a bunch of other sites that probably very well cover the consumer end (it’s not like someone interested in this topic is only going to come here, and never check Makeup Alley, R29, Into the Gloss or wherever), but what’s lacking there is the actual science stuff. Keep it up!

          • Randy Schueller June 9, 2015, 3:34 pm

            Thanks Forky! (Hey, did you review our podcast on iTunes yet? Perry and I would really appreciate it!!)

  • Jean April 29, 2015, 10:16 am

    I follow The Beauty Brains for your cosmetic chemist experience and unbiased answers. I also follow Paula Begoun – another pretty unbiased source for great information on personal care products.

    I don’t mind the different styles. Paula is very factual and business-like. I enjoy a smile or two listening to you guys. Smiling is good for both health and appearance 😉

    There’s no one else out there willing and qualified to take on some of the weird questions you guys get. The misinformation floating around the internet and in product ads/reviews is appalling.

    Thanks for what you do.

    • Randy Schueller April 29, 2015, 10:26 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Jean! The Beauty Brains will never replace “regular” beauty resources but we’ve carved out a little niche in the internet where we can answer those weird questions that you mentioned.

  • Tree April 30, 2015, 1:56 am

    I love everything you do!

    However, while facial mapping sounds suspiciously unscientific and I strongly suspect it is, I have noticed that I get acne on certain parts of my face depending on what the reason is. Like I get terrible pimples on my forehead that don’t go away for 2 weeks and hurt and look terrible if I eat gluten. Benzoyl peroxide doesn’t help much with preventing those. If I’m gluten free, I use nothing on my forehead and get no pimples there whatsoever. Actually, getting a terrible pimple there is a sure sign I’ve been glutened and it always turns out I’ve had some gluten in a new food.
    I do, though, get pimples on my cheeks and chin just before my period or if I’m stressed but if I use benzoyl peroxide, they are generally small and nearly non-existent. So while facial mapping might be nonsense, it’s possible that a certain kind of acne appears on different parts of the face. They might be different for each person though.

    • admin May 18, 2015, 11:17 am

      Well your experience makes sense. The microbial population and oil production levels will be different at different parts of your face. So the acne experience can be different.

      That’s decidedly different than the claims made about facial mapping that we were talking about.

  • Barbara April 30, 2015, 9:22 am

    I love Neutrogena dry touch technology – never greasy which makes me use it all of the time.

    I did have a question though – the SPF for this product goes up to 100! What do you recommend – 30, 45, or higher?

    Love your site 🙂

    • admin May 18, 2015, 11:18 am

      Once you get past SPF 50 there isn’t much noticeable difference. In truth, the difference between 30 and 50 is probably negligible in practice.