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Why do women pay more for beauty products? Episode 117

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South Korean beauty innovationface-985960_960_720


Japan has long been the source of beauty trends for European and American countries but more and more that is shifting to South Korea. Recent trends out of Korea include BB creams, cushion compacts, sheet masks & ingredients like rice bran & pomegranate.

Recently, the latest products that hit Europe and North America were started in South Korea. So it would be interesting to see what else might be coming our way. Here are 5 new beauty products as reported by Health.com

1. Glass nail art. Essential people are putting little pieces of cellophane in their nail polish so it looks like your nails are shattered glass. No doubt inspired by all the shattered iPhone screens that people are seeing. Did I tell you I finally was struck by the broken screen demon?

2. Next is the Mask-Making Juicer. What do you get when you combine a juicer with a beauty product? You get a juicer that blends down fruits and veggies and turns them into a facial mask. I’ll put a link to a video which shows this thing in action. It looks pretty cool. I’m sure it’s just a novelty but interesting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gL6lIhkh-p8

3. Rubber masks – This is another mask that’s big in South Korea. It’s sold to you as flakes like oatmeal but when you add water it turns into a slimy paste. You spread it on your face and it hardens to a rubbery consistency. Then you just peel it off after 15 minutes. I’d love to try this one.

4. Intense foot peel – Here’s a product called the Baby Exfoliant foot peel which is a chemical peel for your feet. Sounds dangerous but it will certainly take the layers of dead skin cells off your feet.

5. And finally we have the Peel-off lip tint – You apply it like a regular lipstick then after 15 minutes, it hardens up and you peel it off. What you are left with is lips stained with a color that won’t come off even after a night of eating and drinking. I wonder if it comes off the next day?

Anyway, look for these products to be making their way to your beauty shelves in the coming months or years. It’s a little know fact that most cosmetic marketing is done by looking around the world to find what is selling hot in one market and bringing it to a market where the product doesn’t exist.

Breakthrough acne treatment

Speaking of “breakthroughs” in beauty science, I read about an interesting new acne treatment that qualifies as breakthrough. All you need is an ultrasonic generator, some gold particles, and a laser.

This comes to us from the Journal of Controlled Release I’ll put the link in the show notes on the off chance that any of our listeners might have missed the article. According to the article, researchers at the University of California have figured out a new way to treat acne by treating its source – which is overproducing oil glands. The new process is called photo-ther-molysis and apparently it’s extremely effective but it’s also somewhat complicated.

First, it uses low frequency ultrasound to increase the skin penetration of gold coated silica particles which are pushed into the sebaceous glands. Once the gold particles in the glands, they’re zapped with a laser that’s specially tuned to be absorbed by gold. As they absorb laser light the gold particles heat up through a process known as “surface plasmon resonance.” The heat then “deactivates” the oil gland. I think they mean “destroys” the gland, but the article was a bit vague on that point. After treatment, all the gunk that was clogging your pore, along with the gold particles, are excreted normally.

There are a couple of benefits of this approach – it doesn’t irritate or dry the skin. And, unlike antibiotic treatments, it doesn’t pose any risk of resistance or of long-term side effects. The researchers describe it as “highly local but highly potent as well.”

Before you get too excited about it, however, keep in mind that the treatment is still experimental and that more work needs to be done to understand the safety of this approach – for example they don’t know yet if it causes damage to the follicle which could stop hair growth. That might be a side benefit for women but might make it tough for a guy to grow a beard.

What’s living on your face?


According to this story your face is covered with parasitic mites called Demodex. They are microscopic arachnids that live on your skin and feed on things like oil, skin cells and skin bacteria. If you think of your face as a savanna, these little guys are like antelope grazing on whatever is coming out of the ground (or your face). Usually, they don’t cause any problems but when enough of them gather in one spot they can cause things like rosacea, dermatitis, types of alopecia, acne and more.

The fascinating thing is that researchers have been looking at the genetic history of these little guys and discovered that there or four distinct lineages that correspond to different regions of the world. There are African mites, Asian mites, Latin mites and European mites. And these mites get passed around families because any time you touch skin with another person, you trade some of your mites. The mites evolved differently in each region.

Interestingly, the population of mites reflect the history of the world. General African, Asian, and Latin mites tend to only be found on people from those regions. While European mites are found on the faces of everyone around the world. This is reflective of the days of European imperialism.

Beyond just a fascination with parasites that live on your face, there is actually some good cosmetic reasons to study these mites. Since they have been implicated in conditions like rosacea, making products that can kill these little buggers could actually help improve people’s skin. In fact, a recent study of a cream containing 1% ivermectin (an anti-parasite agent) showed that it reduced inflammatory lesions.

So if you are a suffer of rosacea, it could be your misbehaving demodex mites & a cream to stop them might be just what you need.

Should we be free from “free from” claims?


Let’s talk about “free from claims” (e.g, “free from parabens, sulfates, etc.”) The problem is that these kinds of claims are often used for fear mongering because they imply there’s something dangerous about an ingredient when there’s not. Free from claims can often be used in misleading ways – my favorite example is hair conditioners that are labeled as “sulfate free.” Conditioners don’t use sulfates (at least not the detergent kind.)

I read one article with the headline ‘Free-from claims are based on fears and should stop.’ Basically, arguing that free from claims should not be allowed at all.

You could argue just read the ingredient list but that’s to cumbersome for most people.

Now, there are other times when it’s legitimate – allergies maybe? Fragrance free? free from animal-derived ingredients, free from alcohol, That’s essentially the point of view put forward in another article I read which quotes Lorraine Dallmeier, Director of online Organic Cosmetic Science School Formula Botanica

She says “free from” claims are legit when based on ethical, religious or allergy grounds. She says that “Free from claims that do not denigrate competitors, nor create confusion with the product of a competitor, should be permissible,

Why do women pay more for beauty products?

You know how women have to pay more money for their clothes than men? Well, it turns out they also have to pay more money for their cosmetic products. According to a US study done by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, women pay an average of 13% more for female-specific personal care products.

According to the people who ran the study, they looked at five sectors of personal care products like hair care products, shaving products, body wash and deodorant. They got price information by doing observational studies at retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid.

You know which category had the greatest discrepancy?

Hair care. They found that women focused hair care products were 48% more expensive than male versions. Shaving products were the next biggest discrepancy with women’s products being 11% more expensive. The best deal were female deodorants which were only 3% more expensive.

I think the important thing for people to know is that there is practically zero difference between men & women’s focused personal care products. Seriously, the only significant difference would be the fragrance and packaging. If you are concerned about saving money and don’t care much about scent or packaging, just buy the male versions of products. There are literally no significant differences.

I do wonder why there would be this difference in pricing though. Perhaps it’s because men just don’t care?

Science proves you shouldn’t tightline your eyeliner


Are you familiar with this practice of “tight lining?” It’s a makeup technique that involves drawing eyeliner inside the lash line. Apparently it’s great to make your lashes look fuller without making it look like you’re wearing a lot of eye makeup.

It’s also somewhat contentious because some people have raised the concern that it could cause pink eye or other wise harm your eyes while others say it’s completely safe.

Well, now we know the truth based on a new study published in the journal of the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists.

Dr. Alison Ng, at the Centre for Contact Lens Research at Waterloo, directed a study which proves that people who apply eyeliner on the inner eyelid run the risk of not only contaminating the eye but also causing vision problems. This is the first study to prove that particles from pencil eyeliner move into the eye.

The research team evaluated different makeup application styles and used videography to compare the amount of eyeliner particles that migrated into the tear film.

They found that “makeup migration happened quicker and was greater when eyeliner wasT put on the inner lid margin.” In fact, in as little as 5 minutes, between 15 and 30% more particles moved into the tear film when tight lining was used.

They say that this kind of contamination can cause physical irritation and redness, and, if The harmful bacteria is present in the eyeliner, eye infections or blurred vision. If you wear contact lens you’re even more likely to have these kinds of problems.

So the bottom line is tight line at your own risk – or you could use that Dior eyeliner patch we talked about back in Episode 116.

iTunes reviews

The ANDRSN Family says…Love the Show Thanks so much for all you do and share!

Boofacebookboomessenger from Australia says…I binge-listened to over ten episodes in one go! I can’t get enough. Thanks guys for telling it like it is.

Lizzie CAM says…This podcast helps me see through the haze that is called beauty. Marketing and bull words don’t stand a chance against these renegades.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • amy January 26, 2016, 12:23 pm

    OMG demodex mites! your article just made me so excited! I have a weird form of rosacea that could only be controlled with Azelex (which is extremely expensive), none of the other standard medicines helped. several years ago I did tons of online research out of desperation. I read about the mites but most of the articles were from really crackpot looking sites so I was skeptical. then my dermatologist asked me if I wanted to enroll in a study they were doing to research how to kill these mites. I was like… whoa, those crackpots might be on to something! I turned it down (didn’t want to be in the placebo group) but remained hopeful.

    since then I also figured out that generic retin-a also helps my issue — and I love the stuff for other reasons — so I kind of stopped paying attention. but it’s very exciting to hear that maybe there is some progress finally happening with rosacea!

    oh also re: peel-off lip stains – very intriguing. there are already some available on amazon, but they get mixed reviews. they all kind of look like they have that red lake stuff in them that stains forever, but leaves a garish pink undertone. I really want to try one anyway!

    • Randy Schueller January 26, 2016, 12:32 pm

      Hey Amy. If you try one of those peel off stains please write back and tell us about your experience!

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya January 29, 2016, 10:21 am

      Great explanation for why women pay more than men for all sorts of things!

    • suki March 6, 2017, 5:50 am

      dear Amy, Re: rosacea, i just read a study that employed a topical gel containing 4% quassia bark extract, that had pretty amazing results..quassia bark is readily available in the U.S. Its from a South American tree (amargo?), which i can’t recall the exact name of @ the moment..anyways, you can find it online or sometimes @ your local plant nursery (its an exceptional insecticide..maybe even a miticide!) for a lot cheaper than @ a health food store. Then, you could just make a concentated decoction, & mix it w/ a carbomer & a broad-spectrum preservative & you’re good to go! (obviously, keeping a record of all your weights, so you could know the ultimate strength/percentage)..i’ll check through my notes to see if i can find the relevant source data of that study..good luck! hope this helps, suki

  • Eileen January 26, 2016, 1:05 pm

    Ah, those amazing arachnids! Those mighty mites! Those delatorius demodex! Those “grazing antelopes”!?!? LOL. You guys are so funny, but while we’re laughing, we’re learning; so it’s all good. The next time I give my husband a cuddle, though, I’ll be thinking about all those mites we’re exchanging. Romantic, huh? 😉

    The study about eyeliner migrating is interesting as it explains the irritation I would sometimes get when I tightlined. The first day I wouldn’t have a problem, but if I tightlined a few days in a row, my eyes would become red and itchy. At first I thought it was a particular product that was causing the reaction, but gradually realized it didn’t matter what I used although some products were certainly worse offenders than others. Solution? I stopped tightlining. Would I consider not lining above my lashes? Nope! I’ve never had a problem with that. I imagine it’s because the eyelashes do what they’re supposed to do–help keep stuff out of our eyes 🙂

    So, just why are products for women more expensive than comparable products for men? That question had me talking to myself for half an hour this morning. LOL I’d share the highlights with you, but I don’t think anyone wants a long anthropological lecture 😛 So, cut to the chase: We live in a society where a woman’s level of physical attractiveness is still an important factor in how other people perceive and respond to her. Consequently, it is of importance to her as well. In a society where a woman’s appearance can propel her forward or hold her back in both her personal and professional life, she’ll feel pressured to do whatever she can to be as attractive as possible. That translates as a willingness to pay more for products that promise beauty and sexual allure. Men don’t have that hang-up (They’ve got their own! LOL) and so they’re not going to pay more for the promise of baby soft skin, a glowing complexion, silky soft hair, etc. The promise of a more muscular physique? Yes. The promise of a pillowy pout? No. By the way, some of my favorite products are actually part of a men’s line: Jack Black.

    • Randy Schueller January 26, 2016, 10:07 pm

      If you’re thinking about our beauty science news stories while you’re cuddling with your hubby, you may need to seek counseling. Or else you need to come to work for us.

      • Eileen January 27, 2016, 10:26 am

        That’s what my husband said! LOL

  • iris January 28, 2016, 7:36 pm

    As a clinical and spa Esthetician, the surge in interest in three of the South Korean beauty innovations is what is new, not the products themselves.
    Rubber masks entered skin care via Repechage with their 4-layer deluxe facial containing seaweed+minerals, rice bran has been prominent in Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliants for at least 15 years and I have been using sheet masques in my practice for 25 years. All three of the above have been or were available through Universal Beauty Suppliers to the trade. It just confirms the old adage that everything old is new again.

    thank you, Beauty Brains, for your passion and presentation.

  • Zlatka January 29, 2016, 3:59 am

    Always thought liner on the waterline isn’t good, even if liner is disinfected, you’ll get it in the eye, I highly doubt eyes like it. Maybe women’s grooming products are more expensive ’cause they have more different scents and oils, while the male ones are just mint or no scent, I really don’t know why. I’ll definitely start replacing some of mine, scent tends to evaporate quickly from the product anyway. Speaking of male products, can after shave balm be used as a primer? I saw a beauty guru doing it and she said it works and it’s a cheaper solution, some women were also saying it works for them. But you’re chemists, so I wanted to ask is it good to use it as a primer or should we just keep using regular primers instead?

    • Randy Schueller January 29, 2016, 8:51 am

      I guess it depends on what’s in the shave balm. If you have a specific product in mind I’d be happy to look at the ingredients for you.

      • Ana January 29, 2016, 9:38 am

        I saw that too, it was Nikki Tutorials, the product is Nivea Men Post Shave Balm Sensitive she had a link: http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=68850&catid=288417&aid=333840&aparam=QFGLnEolOWg-l_jUjbv0Sjg4_3vivqq.0g.
        Curious about it as well.

        • Randy Schueller January 29, 2016, 9:52 am

          I doubt this balm would be a very good makeup primer because it’s based on glycerin and Isopropyl palmitate instead of silicones. Here are the ingredients:
          Water, Glycerin, Isopropyl Palmitate, Chamomilla Recuitita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tapioca Starch, Triceteareth-4 Phosphate, Maltodextrin, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone, Piroctone Olamine, Fragrance

          • Ana February 7, 2016, 10:06 am

            I found it awkward as well, but what she instructs people to do in her videos is rubbing it until it gets sticky and then proceed to apply make up, she explains that it is a good primer because it has glycerin as the second ingredient and it is the component responsible for making it sticky and thus helping make up stick to the face.
            I don’t ever take skincare advice from “beauty gurus” because most of the stuff they say is just wrong or very silly. I would guess the reason why the product makes her makeup look good is that it hydrates the skin, as to making it last longer/stick to the skin I have my doubts.
            Anyway, given the number of subscribers she has I wouldn’t be surprised if Nivea experienced a boost of sales in that product.

          • Ana February 7, 2016, 10:11 am

            P.S.: Would love to have the option to subscribe to the comments and receive an e-mail when there is a new reply, I find it very helpful with following discussions on the comments because otherwise I sometimes forget to go back to the post and check for replies.

  • nurul January 29, 2016, 8:26 am

    yeah, the pink tax is extremely frustrating. a woman already earns less than a man, generally, yet they are still being charged more for their beauty products…to uphold beauty standards the society has imposed on women…it’s kinda an all around lose-lose situation for women. i get so frustrated thinking about it. .

    • Marissa January 30, 2016, 3:58 pm

      Oh, give me a break. Women earn less than men because they choose different careers than men. Women’s beauty products are more expensive because there’s a greater demand for them.

      And lastly, there’s no one forcing you to take care of yourself and be beautiful – if you want to run around completely unkempt you’re free to do so, but don’t cry and demand that people think you’re beautiful when you do. What we think is beautiful isn’t some evil conspiracy “created by society”. No matter how unfair you think it might is, men will never find fat, unshaven women attractive, just like I will never find slovenly, smelly men attractive. Some things are beautiful, and some things aren’t. That’s REALITY.

      • Eileen January 31, 2016, 1:09 pm

        Oh, Marissa, there’s an abundance of data kept by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as other state and local agencies that prove that the vast majority of women get paid less for performing the same job as a man. Women doing the same or comparable work typically earn only about 78 cents for every dollar that is earned by a man. Not paying women equitably for the same or comparable work is gender descrimantion and, in response, California set the bar for the rest of the nation by passing The Fair Pay Act this past October which makes that unfair labor practice illegal. Of course, the amount of money a person can potentially earn depends on the career that person chooses as well as where that person works, but that’s true for men and women alike. Differences in location, education, skill sets, and experience all have their value, but that is not what is at issue when we speak of inequality in pay. What we are talking about is the blatant gender discrimination that occurs when a man is paid more than a women for performing the same or comparable work for the same employer.

        You reference supply and demand and the decision to groom or not to groom as the explanation as to why women’s products are more expensive than men’s. I actually laughed at that because I had this mental image of an abundance of beautiful, clean women being surrounded by slovenly, dirty men (Sorry Brains! LOL). It’s true that companies spend more on packaging and advertising when it comes to women’s products because they are selling a dream and catering to a need to be beautiful that has been drummed into the female psyche since time began. That women are expected to do more to enhance their allure also accounts for the abundance of beauty/grooming products that they use in comparison to the number of products used by men. And, I think we all know what the folks in the beauty biz know: Because women are more likely to be judged by their appearance, they are more willing to pay extra for that sybaritic experience that makes them feel beautiful and/or pampered. That explains, but doesn’t justify, the price differnce between two comparable or perhaps even identical products when the only thing the company has done differently is come up with two forms of packaging–one for men and the other for women.

        Here’s the bottom line: When we say men and women should be paid fairly, we’re not saying they should receive the same pay for performing different jobs. We’re saying they should receive the same pay for performing the same job. And, when we criticize the “pink tax” on clothing and cosmetic/grooming products, we’re not saying men and women should pay the same for different products. We’re saying they should pay the same for the same products.

        • Randy Schueller January 31, 2016, 1:12 pm

          Well said, Eileen!

        • msexceptiontotherule February 1, 2016, 11:15 pm

          Just wanted to let Eileen know that she *rocks* – and covered everything that needed to be covered on the subject of pay inequality.

  • KatyL January 29, 2016, 9:24 am

    I’m not seeing where beauty products for women are significantly more expensive than men’s (but then, I’m cheap. 🙂 ) If you’re talking about non-drugstore products, or stuff you can’t find in a supermarket, I’d agree with you about the price hike, but there’s more to it than evil manufacturers taking advantage. Women think that something that’s more expensive is more exclusive or more luxurious or more wonderful. I don’t think that that’s necessary a BAD thing. We don’t just use beauty products for how they perform, but for how they make us FEEL. If the marketing and scent and packaging makes you feel decadent when you use a product, well, you got at least part of what you paid for.

    • Randy Schueller January 29, 2016, 9:26 am

      Good point, I hadn’t thought about it that way.

      • Eileen January 29, 2016, 10:22 am

        You know that expression “to feel like a million bucks”? Well, we ladies know how that feels first hand! $,$$$,$$$ LOL

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya January 29, 2016, 10:28 am

    So do these demodex have anything to do with eczema? It’s something I’ve struggled with particularly when I was a child.

    • Randy Schueller January 29, 2016, 10:30 am

      That’s an interesting question. The article we read didn’t mention eczema specifically.

  • msexceptiontotherule January 31, 2016, 12:41 am

    Curiously women’s jeans are now a fraction more expensive than men’s jeans – hopefully this isn’t a sign of an impending retail-pocalypse. Personal care, clothing have closed the gap and hopefully some day the wages earned for equal work with equal qualifications.

  • Jane January 31, 2016, 1:43 pm

    There are brands (mostly indie) that let you know whether or not their eyeshadows are lip safe. To avoid dryness, you can use a creamy lip balm (petroleum base works best) under the eyeshadow. This isn’t a new practice, by any means, putting eyeshadow over lipstick is a huge Instagram trend right now. The DIY source you found sounds very misinformed, but there was ways to wear eyeshadow on you lips safely! 🙂

    I’m sure you guys would love the “wear a liquid-to-matte lipstick as eyeliner” trend happening on Instagram right now, the potential for contamination is SO HIGH.

    • Randy Schueller January 31, 2016, 6:21 pm

      Thanks Jane but I still don’t see how the practice can be safe unless the colorants are approved for use on the lips.

  • Lee Brubaker February 3, 2016, 6:19 pm

    JUST purchased an interesting product (one of the ‘better than botox’ thingies … technical term)…named Donnabella Luxury Skin Care 24K 60 Second Facelift.

    The ingredients (in order) are: sodium silicate, gold 24k, magnesium aluminum silicate, cucumis sativus, [cucumber] fruit water, butylene glycol, ethylhexylglycerin phenoxyethanol.

    It DOES seem to work, ‘tightening’ the skin for several hours… how does it do this?



    • Randy Schueller February 3, 2016, 6:22 pm

      Seriously? Gold is the SECOND ingredient?? Holy crap, how much does this stuff cost???

      The tightening effect is most likely a result of the silicates.

      • Randy Schueller February 3, 2016, 6:24 pm

        I just checked their website which says that the first ingredient is water. That makes a lot more sense because the product can be mostly H2O with just a tiny bit of everything else.

        BUT, I see that this stuff sells for $750 for 50 mls. WTF?? Did you really spend that much on this? Are you rich? If so, will you adopt us?

  • priyanka October 23, 2016, 1:36 am

    i started my acne treatment with isotretinoin.unfortunately, i couldn’t complete my dose… now , im suffering from acne again… what should i do!!?? i dont understand