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Fermented milk and Shellfish Cosmetics – Episode 181


Welcome to the Beauty Brains, a show where real scientists answer your beauty questions and give you an insider’s look at the beauty product industry. On today’s episode we’re going to be answering your beauty questions about

  • Whether or not expired or fermented milk from the kitchen can be used as a DIY Toner.
  • Should you be worried about shrimp in cosmetics?
  • Do we need a spatula or scoop for skin care products?
  • What makes Maybelline lip gloss work so well?

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Beauty Questions answered

Can expired or fermented milk from the kitchen can be used as a DIY Toner.

Milk has a complex chemistry, much like other natural components coming from plants or animals. It’s roughly composed of 87% water, 3% fat, 3% proteins, 4% carbohydrates of which lactose is the main carbohydrate, , and < 1% minerals (Ca, K, Mg, Cl, PO4, Acetate,), Enzymes, vitamins and gases. Lactose is the primary carbohydrate.

Fresh milk actually has very little lactic acid in it and it undergoes fermentation by different strains and variations of lactobacillaceae, like lactobacillus, leuconostoc, pediococcus, lactococcus, befidobacterium, to make different milks and milk products. The bacteria eat the sugar lactose, and lactic acid is secreted by the bacteria as a byproduct. Fermentation of milk with various levels of lactic acid by various strains of bacteria is desirable because it changes the foods into differing textures and flavor – like hard and soft cheeses, yogurt, salami, and fermented milk products like kefir.

Milks and fermented milks actually have a standard of acidity – milk generally across different regulated countries have a maximum allowable lactic acid concentration of 0.18 – 0.4%. No, it probably wouldn’t be a good source of Lactic Acid.

Taylor from Tampa – I saw this funny tweet today, below, and I laughed out loud, so I read some more of the comments. I have never heard of fish scales in makeup! If fish scales and more importantly, shellfish, are indeed used cosmetics, would someone with a shellfish allergy have a reaction? What type/how severe of a reaction would occur? I understand you’re not allergists, but maybe you’re familiar with this subject. And my mom has a severe shellfish allergy, so I’ll refrain from doing patch tests on her for now.

Indeed fish scales are used in some makeup products. There is an ingredient called Guanine which is derived from fish scales. It produces a pearly iridescent effect and is used to make products like body wash and shampoo shiny. In the business we call it pearlessence.  In makeup, it provides a shimmering effect in eye shadow and nail polish.

Now, as far as shellfish go there are some ingredients that make their way into cosmetics. Chitosan & Chitin are natural polymers found in many crustaceans of which shrimp is one. That makes up the shell of the shrimp. Anyway, shrimp shells are a source of chitosan which is used in some cosmetic products. Chitosan derivatives can be used as hair and skin conditioning ingredients & film formers like in hair sprays and styling products.

While it may or may not be a problem, if you have a shellfish allergy you should avoid products with Chitin in it.

Love this podcast, look forward to each new episode.  I did a quick search and I don’t think you have answered this question before.  My question is, do you need a spatula or scoop to get skincare products that are packaged in jars?  The worry, I guess, is that if you stick your fingers in your skincare, it will contaminate the product…presumably destroying it or at least lessening its benefits.  But if you have clean hands, and your product is not expired and has a legitimate preservative system, the need for a spatula and scoop doesn’t seem necessary. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

First, the problem with products packaged in jars or tubs is that they are exposed to the air much more than ones in squeeze bottles or pumps. More surface area exposure of the product means there will be more exposure of microbes and other bacteria in the product.  There is the additional problem caused when you dip your fingers in the product. Your fingers have additional bacteria that gets into the product when you do this. So the question is will using a spatula or scoop reduce the chances that your product will get contaminated?

While you might like the experience of scooping rather than touching your product, it’s highly unlikely this is going to provide you any extra protection from contamination. In my view, this is just the kind of advice a beauty product marketer might give to enhance the experience of using the product. There really isn’t any additional benefit.

Hey Beauty Brains!

I’m so glad that you’re back! Valerie is a great addition to the team. It’s so nice to have a weekly source of intelligent, informed beauty discussion again!

I was hoping you could shed some light on the seeming miracle that is liquid lipstick. Specifically, I recently began using the Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink liquid lipsticks and was amazed at how longwearing and comfortable they are. What about the formula makes these so transfer-proof and flexible? (As a woman of science, I have ruled out magic as a possible explanation.)

Also, question-within-a-question (sorry): If I put an SPF lip balm underneath these lipsticks, am I actually getting the approximately two hours of sun protection that I would get if I had applied the SPF lip balm alone? (Not taking into account reapplication.)

Stay warm! Best, Claire

We looked up the ingredient list of this product…But you know as an aside I just want to give kudos to companies like Maybelline who list all the ingredients on their websites. I hate when I go to a website and look for the ingredients in a product and they list just a few feature ingredients. Provide the whole list of ingredients please!

Anyway, a quick review of the ingredients shows that it is a mostly silicone based product including dimethicone, trimethylsiloxysilicate, a dimethicone crosspolymer, and a solvent. It also has paraffin which can help blend the colorants and give the product a more cushioned feel when you apply it. They reason it lasts so long is because silicones are really good at repelling water. The polymers also help it adhere better to the skin so the product isn’t left behind as much on drinking cups and other people’s lips. This product is all about the silicones.

As for your other question, when you put a sunscreen product on your skin the product is supposed to create a protective film all along your skin. The process of letting the product “dry” helps set up the film on the skin and adds to protection.  For a lip balm with SPF the film is a waxy layer. When you put this lip stick product over the lip balm it’s possible that you could be breaking up that film and diluting the sunscreen effectiveness. Without testing it is difficult to say exactly. However, I would guess that your SPF effect wouldn’t be effected too much so I wouldn’t worry about it. The reality is that 2 hour claim is highly dependent on how much you put on, how well you spread it around and the conditions of your lips. When claims like that are tested it is under ideal conditions.

Next time

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