≡ Menu

Should you buy Organic Botox from Kim Kardashian? Episode 113

Should you soak in Vitamin C?kim_kardashian_2015_caricature_by_karisean-d92yjb1

Mindy says…I have read about vitamin C being good for your face. What about putting it in the bath water? I heard something about it neutralizing chlorine. What I want to know is if it will give you the same benefits that it does for your face, if I put L-Ascorbic Acid Powder in my bath water. I know the concentration will not be exact and will be lower.

I think putting ascorbic acid in your bath water is a waste of money compared to using a good vitamin C lotion. I say that for several reasons:

1. For the most part the benefits provided by vitamin C are related to fighting the aging affects on your face. That’s not to say you wouldn’t benefit at all from applying it all over your body but it’s not like you’re trying to fight fine lines and wrinkles on your arms or legs. At least not usually.

2. The organic “stuff” in the bath water (either surfactants or gunk off your body) will “use up” the vitamin C’s antioxidant capacity.

3. Soaking in a bath tub for a few minutes won’t deliver very much Vitamin C compared to applying a lotion that stays on your skin for much longer.

4. You’ll have to use a LOT. Maximum skin absorption occurs at 20% AA which is quite high and can be irritating. Some sources, like our friend Paula B says use between 0.3 and 10%. Let’s choose a modest 1%. If your bathtub is average, it can hold about 75 gallons of water. 75 gallons is about 280 L which or 280 Kg is about 600 pounds. To make your bathtub a 1% solution of AA it would take about 6 pounds.

Is Colour Pop eyeshadow breaking the law?

Anna asks…I recently discovered a new online American cosmetic company, Colourpop (www.colourpop.com). I was shopping on their website and noticed several products that are sold with their eyeshadows and liners that have the disclaimer “not for use around the eyes.” It looks like Colourpop is using red lakes that are not FDA approved for use around the eyes. I contacted the company and they said that the “usage is up to consumer discretion” and people are using these shadows on the eyes with no problems. Is Colourpop breaking the law? What are the dangers of using this product around the eyes?

I’ll just read what their website says, then we’ll look at the ingredients, and then review the FDA’s regulation on colorants for cosmetics.

The website says…“For maximum coverage: Use fingertip and tap shadow onto EYE lid…use a flat synthetic brush…throughout the crease of the EYE… and finally, ***not intended for the eye area”.

According to the ingredient list the colorants are…

[+/- TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), MICA (CI 77019), RED 28 LAKE (CI 45410), BLUE 1 LAKE (CI 42090), RED 7 LAKE (CI 15850)].

Red Lake 28 and Red Lake 7 both of which are on the FDA’s list of colors that can be used in drugs and cosmetics. (If you’re so inclined, you can click here to review the FDA’s color additive list for yourself.)

BUT, according to the FDA, “None of these colors may be used in products that are for use in the area of the eye unless otherwise indicated.”
 I don’t see any indication to the contrary so it looks like these two lakes are NOT allowed in products to be used around the eye.
 What doesn’t make sense to me is why ColourPop would sell an eyeshadow that has the warning “not intended for the eye area.” WTF!?!
 I’m not a toxicologist but my understanding is that using unapproved ingredients around your eye can cause problems ranging from eye irritation to blindness.

Do AHA serums make you sweat?

Pazzaglia says…For the last two and a half weeks I’ve been applying a 12% Glycolic Acid Cream at night, and I’m just beginning to see fantastic results (clear skin, less acne, no more blackheads). I haven’t had any negative reactions BUT, one thing I noticed is that immediately after I apply the creme, I get small pearls of “sweat” on every pore. Is this normal? Is this dehydrating my skin?

I’ve never heard of this “sweating” problem and I’m not aware of any technical rationale for how glycolic acid, or any other AHA, would stimulate sweat glands. These acids work by loosening the “glue” that holds cells together. That means their effects should be limited to the stratum corneum which are in the epidermis, the outer layer of skin. The sweat glands are located much deeper, in the dermis.

There is one other possibility…Glycolic acid is hygroscopic which means it can attract moisture from the air so maybe that’s the cause? We asked her if that could be what’s happening and she responded that she lives close to the Mediterranean Sea and it’s very humid in the summer. She recently wrote back and said: “I just wanted to confirm that it doesn’t happen in the fall – so it was definitely the cream’s reaction to the atmospheric humidity!!”

Allure magazine asked…Should you buy Organic Botox from Kim Kardashian?


Our next question comes to us from Allure Magazine. They asked me about this recent story regarding Kim Kardashian purchasing the licensing rights an anti-aging product called Biotulin, which is described as quote “an organic botox gel.”  So, I took a look at the technology and here’s what I found out. This product claims to work based on 3 ingredients:

  • Spilanthol – which is an extract of a flowering herb. They say is an anesthetic that relaxes wrinkles.
  • Blady Grass extract – they say moisturizes skin.
  • Hyaluron – also binds moisture.

Hyaluron – sounds good right? That’s because it’s just another name for hyaluronic acid which you can also get in a lot of other products. Brady Grass moisturizes? So what. So do a lot of things. Spilanthol…this seems like the “magic”. And guess what? According to peer reviewed articles I found in PubMed it DOES really have topical anesthetic properties. It also may have some utility as an anti-malarial drug. But to compare this ingredient to Botox makes NO sense. Do you know how botox works? It paralyzes muscles so it makes your skin more taught and stretches out the wrinkles. What does anesthetic do? It relaxes muscles. If anything, Muscle laxity CAUSES wrinkles it doesn’t reduce them.

How well does it really work? Who knows? The mode of action they describe makes no sense but they say they have clinical test data that proves it works similar to Botox. I don’t believe that AT ALL because I’ve never seen ANY topically applied product that can work as well as an injectable. But, to be fair, I haven’t seen their data. And I doubt if we ever will…but if they have robust clinical studies that they’d care to share with us, I’d gladly retract all my snarky comments.

One more thing. Allure asked if this product is safe. We haven’t reviewed their safety test data so we really don’t know but I do know that Spilanthol has been assessed as a penetration enhancer for other ingredients. That means it may be cause other ingredients that you DON’T want in your skin to penetrate.

Improbable Products

Can you guess which of these tattoo products is fake? (Listen to the show for your answer.)

  • Skin ink subscription – 
A custom mail order tattoo subscription service that sends you personalized temporary tattoos in the mail.
  • Skin scanner
 – A tattoo parlor’s skin scanner app that let’s you scan other peoples tattoos and upload them so they can give you the same ink.
  • Tattoo taxidermist
 –  A tattoo taxidermist who will save your ink art by taking the skin off your body when you die.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eileen December 22, 2015, 10:49 am

    As long as Colorpop says a specific color is not intended for use on the eyes, Colorpop is not breaking the law or violating regulations and it really is up to the consumer, at his/her own risk, whether or not to deviate from the intended use. We all know there are MA’s who routinely create a special look by using products “off label”, but that’s usually for a fast turn on a runway or a photo shoot. But, just because they take that risk, doesn’t mean the rest of us should. The warning about not using a specific color in the eye area is there for a reason. Personally, I think Colorpop’s response to Mindy was a bit cavalier. Someone higher up should instruct customer service to say unequivocally that the product isn’t intended for use around the eyes.

    There actually are a lot of companies like MAC (pro) and MUFE that market colors that are intended only for certain areas of the face but that are frequently mixed in with the eyeshadows because they come in similar pans and it looks far more artistic and impressive to present all the colors in a single display. If you look at each color description; however, you’ll often see that “not intended for use around the eyes” disclaimer. Or, there will be a blanket statement such as “Shades number blah, blah, blah . . . are not intended for use around the eyes.” So, what Colorpop is doing is really nothing new. In truth, so long as the company is clear about a product’s correct use, it really is up to the consumer to exercise some common sense. With clear information, a consumer would have to be exercising extremely poor judgement to ignore the warning. Unfortunately, there are makeup artists, beauty bloggers, and Facebook “gurus” who create looks and promote them without any regard for safety and there are plenty of unthinking consumers who will rush out and buy the products to “get the look”. Appalling! Bottom line: So long as the company is properly labeling, it really is the consumer’s responsibility to use the product for its intended use.

    “An organic botox gel.” Really? I bet Allergan–or should I now say Actavis–will have a legal field day with that silly bit of advertising since Botox is a registered trademark. Kim K’s company better move to change that pronto! LOL Looking at the ingredients, I don’t see Onabotulinumtoxin A listed anywhere so I don’t know where the company gets off advertising it is an “organic botox gel”. Perhaps they’re trying to say it is an organic product that mimics the effects of Botox. If so, then that is what they should be saying rather than implying that it is a topical Botox which is false and misleading. I know there is a lot of research currently going on (for all you needle-phobes 🙂 ) in the development of a topically applied product that will have Botox’s effect on muscles, but they’re not there yet and it’s certainly not available OTC in a jar from Kim K. Word is that when such a topical product does become available, it will initially be in in-office procedure.

    • Randy Schueller December 23, 2015, 8:25 am

      Very thoughtful comments, as always, Eileen. I’m not sure I agree with you on Colourpop, however. I can understand “off label” use as you describe but is it really off label when the company instructs you to apply the product to the eye? I think that practice will be hard to defend when the FDA comes calling.

      • Eileen December 23, 2015, 1:16 pm

        Hi Randy; Hi Christopher,

        I don’t think there’s any disagreement here, gentlemen 🙂 We all think products should be showcased in their proper category and that instructions should be clear and concise. Colorpop did neither. The product appeared with the eyeshadows and the instructions were contradictory. Anna (Sorry, I meant Anna in my first comment and not Mindy) was absolutely right to call the company for clarification. The company representative did correctly inform her that the color was not intended for use around the eyes as per the online warning, but then dropped the ball by telling her that it was up to the customer’s discretion. Such a careless and irresponsible concluding comment made by a company representative in the course of doing his/her job would do considerable harm to the company’s position should a lawsuit be filed. The representative should have just stuck with a firm “Don’t use it in the eye area” and then have passed the concern on to someone higher up so that the website could be corrected.

        As for the FDA, Colorpop would probably only get their hand slapped because even an attorney of modest skill could successfully argue that having it in the eyeshadow section with the generic eyeshadow instruction was a website design mistake, that it was labeled as unsafe for use in the eye area, and that the problem has been (hopefully) corrected. By the way, has anyone contacted Colorpop about their potentially injurious gaff?

        As fo brands like MAC (pro) and MUFE, when I mentioned them it was not to condone the practice of placing products in categories where there might be safety issues. Rather, it was to illustrate that Colorpop isn’t the only brand engaging in this confusing practice and that consumers do have to pay attention to warnings despite how they see the product being used on blogs, on YouTube, in magazines, etc. Example: Remember that video which appeared on Refinery 29 (It was discussed by the Brains) wherein an MA used a lipgloss on the model’s eyes despite the fact that it contained a colorant that was not approved for use in the eye area? Imagine how many people saw that video and thought it was OK because it was a bonafide MA using it. I bet a lot of women bought the gloss and used it on their eyes because, unfortunately, not everyone reads The Beauty Brains 😉

        Yes, companies have the primary responsibility of insuring safety which includes properly classifying and advertising products so there is no confusion about their intended use. And, industry insiders have a responsibility to be knowledgable about ingredients and to use products appropriately; especially when they’re publishing tutorials because many consumers look to them as experts. But, consumers also have a responsibility to take warnings seriously, to make sure they use products correctly, and to contact the company when concerns arise.

        Interesting discussion, gentlemen.

        • Randy Schueller December 23, 2015, 1:29 pm

          Bottom line: if everyone would just listen to the beauty brains this wouldn’t be a problem anymore. :-).

          • Eileen December 23, 2015, 2:39 pm


  • Christopher December 22, 2015, 3:32 pm

    I would be understanding if it was a pallet that had one or two shades that weren’t intended for the eye area but these are single shades that are clearly marketed as eyeshadows. They are categorized under “Eyes” on their website and they even tell you to apply it to your eyes. If they are not breaking the law then perhaps a change in the existing law is appropriate.

  • sophie December 26, 2015, 3:11 pm

    Hi randy, I definitely agree with you regarding the vitamin C question, that would be a huge waste if we were to follow the 1% dosage. I guess if I don’t misunderstood mindy’s real concern : it is chlorine. I would simply recommend her to check a good chlorine water filter. That would be way more effective and cost effective in the long run 🙂

  • Laura P. December 28, 2015, 8:07 am

    I hate the word “users”, too. I call my readers “cooks”. That wouldn’t work for Beauty Brains so why not call us “listeners” or “readers”? : )



    P.S. Thanks for including my question and giving more detail about Glycolic Acid and how it works on the skin!

    • Laura P. December 28, 2015, 9:02 am

      P.P.S. I started on the 12% AHA before I knew what I was doing – thankfully my skin tolerated it! It was either that or the initial efficacy was greatly reduced by the extra surface moisture!!!

  • Trish December 28, 2015, 10:04 am

    Legal issues aside, I don’t think Colourpop, MUFE, MAC, Urban Decay, or most other makeup brands that do this are doing anything ethically wrong (and by that I mean they are not compromising the safety of their consumers). The pigments in question that have not been approved by the FDA for use around the eye area in the US typically have been approved in Europe for use around the eye area. So, even though the US-marketed version of some of these eyeshadows come with the “Not for use around the eyes” warning, the European-marketed version of the identical product does not come with this disclaimer. The analogy I would make is that if some of the many sunscreens available in Europe suddenly became available in the US without going through FDA approval, it would be illegal but not unethical; the products are safe and they work, but the FDA is ridiculously inefficient at approving new sunscreen ingredients (and many other things). It does sound sketchy, but ultimately safety should be universal, and when something is proven safe in one country but not acknowledged as safe in another country, it says as much about the country’s regulatory body as it does about the company using sketchy marketing techniques.

  • Joan January 1, 2016, 10:55 am

    As soon as I see the Kardashian name on anything, I’m immediately turned off and don’t want it no matter what it is. Pass!