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Hydroquinone creams, Vitamins in hair and more – episode 196


On this episode of the Beauty Brains we answer a number of beauty product questions and talk about big companies and the brands they own.

Beauty Questions On today’s episode we answer your questions about  

  • Are there any benefits in putting vitamins on hair?
  • Does anything work better than hydroquinone for age spots?
  • Do shave minimizing products work?
  • Are film forming ingredients easy to wash off?

Beauty News

The Rise of Fancy Face Cream—for the Rest of Your Body

High end skincare companies are making powerful skin care creams for the body, not the face. 

Dermatologist rant! – Not everything you hear from dermatologists online can be trusted or is true. This misinformation really harms consumers. Remember, dermatologists are not necessarily formulators or know which are the best, most effective ingredients to use. They also are not unbiased, especially when they are pushing a product.

Cloud 10 – transparencyIt’s laughable that a company who sells a product that has no proven benefits is calling for transparency.

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – We need a beauty brain for vitamins !  Can you guys talk about vitamins for hair etc or any vitamins that are recommended for beauty benefits Years ago companies claimed that THEIR vitamins would break down (digestion) and other vitamin brands would not. Thank you I so enjoy your podcastGeraldine

There are not any proven benefits of vitamins in hair products. They are added because consumers like vitamins and they make them feel like the products are better.

Question 2 (audio) – Is hydroquinone effective and why don’t you see more products with it? Also, is niacinamide as effective?

Hydroquinone has been used for depigmentation since the 1960s and its use as a skin lightener is highly controversial. A widely accepted mechanism for how hydroquinone works is that it inhibits synthesis of the enzyme tyrosinase, which is an enzyme responsible for melanin production. Melanin is the molecule that gives skin its color. Additionally, melanocytes, the cells that make melanin, and organelles that contain melanin, can be destroyed. It’s pretty effective! 

However, the safety of this ingredient is a little controversial. Hydroquinone has been banned in cosmetic products in Europe since 2000. In the United States, depigmentation products are considered as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. In Over The Counter drugs, the FDA generates a monograph that dictates what ingredients can be used and at what levels. Typically OTC products are products that induce a physiological change. Historically, since 1982, the level concluded to be safe was between 1.5% and 2.0%. However, the FDA recently withdrew the monograph listing hydroquinone as an ingredient. The FDA determined that it could not rule out potential carcinogenic risk from topically applied hydroquinone in humans, nor make a final determination on hydroquinone’s potential to impair fertility. 

The Cosmetics Ingredient Review board, which we often refer to, has been studying the safety of hydroquinone since the early 1980s and has created several reports over the years recommending restricted use in cosmetics. The CIR says they believe hydroquinone is safe at concentrations of less than or equal to 1% in formulations that are designed for discontinuous, brief use, followed by rinsing from the skin. It is unsafe for use in leave-on cosmetic products, other than in nail adhesives. 

Niacinamide does not lighten the skin, but it has shown to be effective in studies to visually help improve the appearance of fine lines and improve skin’s tone.

Question 3 – Elizabeth asks – Do topical products that claim to minimize the need for shaving work? Like this one or this one. They always suck me in because I hate shaving, but I have no idea if they’re actually worth the money. What is the ingredient in them that’s supposed to be having this effect, and how does it work, if it actually does?

No, shave minimizing products do not slow hair growth. But they can make it feel like you don’t need to shave as much. Essentially, the products are conditioning your hair which makes it feel softer and that makes you think you don’t need to shave.  Then when it says it’s clinically tested this is true. But this isn’t like real science. It’s sciency but the data is not really reliable. 

But if you like the products and it makes you feel less inclined to shave, you might like it. But it is not having an impact on the speed at which your hair grows.

Question 4 – I’ve recently been trying to eliminate silicone from my routine, but found other film-forming substances like carbomer, acrylic acid copolymer, and ammonium acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp copolymer in many of my products. Will they be easily washed off with soap and water? Do you think these other substances are better than silicone? Thank you!Suzy

We’ll answer the question presuming you’re eliminating silicone from your routine because you think it’s a film-former, and are looking at other polymers as film formers. 

Carbomer, Acrylic Acid Copolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer are polymers that thicken aqueous systems. They work by being hydrated in water, tightly coiled up, then become extended upon neutralization. When they extend their polymer arms, they build a network and thicken the system. Carbomer is famous for forming clear hair gels in the 90s like LA Looks or the green aloe gel you buy at WalMart when you have a sunburn. They are relatively “senseless,” meaning you won’t feel a tacky or sticky film on the skin. In fact, I think you can barely feel they’re there.

They are thus very different from silicones; silicones are a very generic term for a class of molecules, and not all of them stay on the skin. For example, cyclopentasiloxane and certain dimethicones are extremely volatile and volatilize from the skin and hair into the atmosphere. Other dimethicones are not volatile and can form an emollient layer on the skin. 

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