Does wearing makeup give you better grades? Episode 119

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Why you should listen to your toothbrush4020584983_650058eea4_o


Here’s an interesting study that comes to us from the International Journal of Arts and Technology. Two Japanese researchers found that certain types of toothbrush noises will help you brush your teeth better. At first I just thought this was another one of those musical toothbrushes – you know, you usually see these for kids – it plays a song for two minutes so you brush for two minutes that’s worth it. But this is not that at all.

Instead the researchers hypothesized that people don’t brush their teeth very well because there’s no immediate reward involved. There’s the long-term reward of not getting cavities or having whiter teeth but that’s not something you get right away.

So they looked at immediate positive reinforcements. One of the things they considered in the research was the tooth tunes I just mentioned but they also came across some strange technology I don’t quite understand which involves a virtual aquarium. The more you brushed your teeth the more it feeds the fish and they grow up and you get more happy virtual fish.  I don’t understand. But the approach they eventually settled on involves noises that the toothbrush itself makes.

First, they connected toothbrushes to microphones to record the sounds that people make while brushing. Then they digitally played around with the sound files to alter the volume, pitch and frequency. Finally, they had the volunteers wear headphones so they could listen to the altered sounds while they brushed.  They found that with the right kind of sounds people were “more comfortable and accomplished after brushing” and they were convinced that their teeth were cleaner.

So the sounds that the toothbrush plays makes it sound like your teeth are clean – if that makes sense. It seems to me this only helps if you brush longer or better. If it just makes you THINK your teeth are cleaner but they’re not then it doesn’t really provide much real benefit.

It’s sort of gives a whole new meaning to those sonic toothbrushes doesn’t? I know you don’t put a lot of stock in the studies but it does make me wonder if there’s some version of this for body wash or shampoo. Can you make can a product make a sound to indicate that it’s working better?

Face transplants are aging faster


Here’s an interesting story about a mystery about face transplants. It turns out face transplants are inexplicably aging faster than they should.

Let me back up and talk a little about face transplants. Believe it or not, there have been more than 30 face transplants performed around the world. They are primarily done for people who’s faces have been destroyed by cancer or burns. They continue to be pretty dangerous and approximately 10% chance the transplantation doesn’t take. Incidentally, the source of face transplants is the same as most other transplant organs…cadavers. It’s also not like the movie Face Off where your face looks exactly like the person you got it from. The face looks significantly different because it adheres to the patient’s particular bone structure.

Anyway, researchers followed three face transplant recipients for three years to see how their faces were holding up. It looks like the faces are aging faster than should be expected and the scientists don’t exactly know why. It could be a sign of inadequate blood supply or some kind of ongoing organ rejection. They are now looking for countermeasures to stop the aging. I imagine if they are able to find out ways to stop this, it could lead to new ways to stop aging in non-transplanted faces.

Of course, this research is just laying the groundwork for where I think the technology will be moving. 3D printed faces.

Imagine a world where when your face gets too old looking you can just print a new face mask made from your own skin stem cells. That could really have a significant impact on future cosmetics. We wouldn’t need anti-aging creams any more.

Do you make your own cosmetics? Follow these tips to stay out of jail.


I know a lot of our listeners like to make their own products either for personal use or for sale on Etsy or what have you. If are a cosmetic Do It Yourselfer, then listen up because I’m going to tell you how to stay out of jail. All you have to do follow these simple tips published by the FDA for small cosmetic manufacturers. I’ll read a few of these and I’ll put the link in the show notes to the rest.

Hopefully everyone who listens to our show already knows that the FDA does regulate cosmetics. Go back and listen to Episode 16 where we explained all about regulations which cover the cosmetic industry. Specifically, they are covered specifically under the food drug and cosmetic act. The big takeaway of this law is that YOU are responsible for ensuring that your product is safe to use.

By the way keep in mind that there are additional regulatory concerns outside of what the FDA covers. For example…if you sell products in stores or through the mail or even by going door to door, you must meet the ingredient labeling under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. (Spa and salon products are exempt from this if they are only used by professionals and not sold to consumers.)
But here are additional tips you may NOT know…

1. Before you sell your product to someone do you have to have it approved by the FDA?

No you don’t. (unless the product is actually an over the counter drug.)

2. Speaking of drugs…how do you know your product will be considered to be a cosmetic or a drug?

Long answer to this one but basically it depends on the claims you make about the product. Go read the article that explains how the claims you make determine whether it’s a cosmetic or drug.

3. Do I need to register my cosmetic firm or product formulations with FDA?

No you do not. There is a voluntary registration program that most big manufacturers follow but there are no requirements to do this especially for smaller companies or individuals.

4. Can I manufacture cosmetics in my home or salon?

Yes you can! In fact you can make your products wherever and however you want as long as they are safe. So if you’re mixing it at home in your bathtub and it gets contaminated because the baby peed in the bathwater or whatever then you’re liable for selling a misbranded/ contaminated product. The FDA does publish guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practices on their website.

5. Do I have to test my own products before I sell them?

No. The FDA does not have a list of tests required for any particular cosmetic product. BUT, as we said, you are responsible for making sure your product is safe. You also responsible for supporting any claims you might make – you’re probably not advertising but you may have a website or copy on the bottle. You have to be able to prove that what you say is true. (Not under the FDA.) Here’s a great quote:

“Newcomers to cosmetic manufacture sometimes think that because they have used a product themselves with no apparent problems, or because the ingredients are “natural,” “organic,” or “botanical,” the product must be safe. This assumption is not correct.”

By the way, if you do make your own products, I have a new product idea for you. At the risk of making a reference that will make the show sound dated in the future.  Remember the news story about El Chapo, the drug lord, who was recently captured after he gave an interview to Sean Penn? Well here’s the product idea…
El Chapo-stick. It’s a lip balm that glues your lips shut to keep you from talking to Hollywood stars. (Get it, Chap stick?)

Preservative-free shampoo can kill you

One of the most alarming things I see in the cosmetic industry is companies that are switching away from standard, effective preservatives to ones that are less proven and less effective or getting rid of preservatives all together. Some marketers and consumers seem to think preservative-free cosmetics are a good thing.  They aren’t and this story I read about a shampoo marketed in Saudi Arabia demonstrates the potential danger.

According to the story the Saudi Food and Drug Authority has issued a warning to the public not to use Rolana Baby Shampoo after one baby died and 13 others became ill after using the product. The problem…harmful bacteria in the product.  They say it is polluted with serrate marcescens which is a microbe that can cause toxemia, meningitis, inflammation of the urinary system and in this case…death.They said the source of contamination could have been the water used in making the shampoo. Clearly, the product was not properly preserved.

It really is dangerous not to use preservatives in cosmetics. When consumers see claims like “paraben free” or “formaldehyde donor free” they should think twice about buying those products. Especially, when you are talking about baby products.  It’s just really difficult to create a robust preservative system without using parabens or some of the other standard cosmetic preservatives.  I know people are afraid of them but those fears are unfounded.  What is not unfounded are the fears of contaminated products killing you.  That can actually happen.

The problem with pump packaging


Remember back in the episode 106 we we warned you about using beauty products in open mouth jars? That kind of packaging is more likely to lead to product contamination. We recommended using pump packaging because the pump dispenser separates the product from the outside world and therefore protects it from the coming contaminated. Well it turns out that pumps are not the perfect solution that we thought they were over and most of the industry has overlooked a major issue:

While the pump does protect the product that is inside the container there is a possibility that the residual product in the pump nozzle (which may be exposed to the environment) may become contaminated. That little plug of product that’s the remains in the nozzle after you push down on the pump, if that is close enough to the pump opening it can be exposed to moisture, to contact with your skin and certainly to contact with the air – all of which can introduce bacteria. Once the bacteria get a foothold there they can grow what is called a biofilm which is a thin layer of bacteria that is extremely difficult to remove.

What all this means is that the product inside the package maybe uncontaminated but as it moves up and goes through the pump you can pick up the bacteria can sort of be self colonized by the pump head.

But wait there may be a happy ending to the story. L’Oreal has done some research (published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science) that shows a new way to measure the protection provided by pump packaging. They’ve actually figured out a way to measure what they call dose protection, as well as the ability to protect the rest of the product in the package. They found that some packaging does a good job of protecting the bulk product and other types of packaging does a better job protecting the dose. Now that they have a reliable test method expect it’s will be much easier for them to develop packaging it’s optimized to provide the best all-around protection. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any new packaging patents in this area which may benefit only Loriell or if this kind of technology will be broadly used across the industry.

Do pretty girls get higher grades?  Science says yes

Here’s an interesting study reported on by NPR about a link between attractiveness and performance in school.  What I conclude from this work is that cosmetics can actually help you get better grades.

In this study published by researchers at Metropolitan State University in Denver, they found that attractive female students earn higher grades than unattractive ones.  This advantage disappears when the students take an online course where the instructor is not able to see them.

In the study they compared the students class grades to ratings of their physical attractiveness as judged by outside observers from the student ID card photographs.

They found women judged as least attractive earned significantly lower grades (after controlling for their ACT scores).  The best-looking women earned higher grades.  And, surprise surprise, male professors were more likely than female professors to give better-looking women higher grades.

This research supports other studies which demonstrate that better looking people have lots of advantages including making more money, being liked better and being more trusted.  As superficial and troubling as it is, attractiveness has it’s advantages.

So I guess if you wanted to give yourself the best chance you can at getting a good grade, make yourself as attractive as possible.

iTunes reviews

RS Ali Ag Ag says…LOVE these guys, smart and funny! 5*

PR Alicia Cintora says “This is an informative podcast! I’m currently a grad student and this has fueled my interest to go into the same industry after I finish.” Maybe she should sign up for that online course that you offer for budding cosmetic scientists…

RS Derp+ says…Too much “fluff” — 3 stars. The information is good, but the hosts waste too much time with “fluff” and not-really-funny humor. Just get to the point!