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Are high quality cosmetic ingredients a thing? #203


On today’s episode we’re going to be answering your beauty questions about 

  1. Quality of ingredients versus price of the product?
  2. The Curly Girl Method and Parabens?
  3. What it’s like to work in the cosmetics industry
  4. Do you have to wait after applying Vitamin C?

Beauty Science News stories

Is your old makeup is contaminated? 
Here’s an interesting story which should be a wake up call to anyone who uses products that say “no preservatives” or preservative free.  It turns out even products that don’t contain water have been found to be contaminated with potentially harmful microbes.  

In this study publish in the October issue of the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers wanted to investigate the nature and extent of microbial contamination in five categories of used cosmetic products (lipstick, lip gloss, eyeliners, mascaras and beauty blenders) and highlight the potential risk posed to consumers in the UK.

The got samples of used products donated by consumers and analyzed them for the microbial contents.  This was done by taking a sample, plating them on microbial culture plates and then letting them grow.  Surprisingly, they found that anywhere from 79–90% of all used products were contaminated with bacteria, with bacterial loads ranging between 102 and 103 CFU per ml, beauty blenders contained an average load of >106 CFU per ml. Presence of Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and Citrobacter freundii were detected. Fungi were also detected in all product types, and were prevalent in beauty blenders (26·58 and 56·96% respectively). Ninety‐three per cent of beauty blenders had not been cleaned and 64% had been dropped on the floor and continued to be used.

The researchers concluded that significant levels of microbial contamination occur during use of cosmetic products and presence of pathogenic organisms pose a potential risk to health.

Now, I suppose most of these products passed microbial challenge tests or were not tested because the manufacturer has the mistaken notion that products that don’t contain water do not need preservatives. But this is not true.  Don’t listen to marketers who say preservative free or even paraben free.

You should only use cosmetics that have preservatives. It is the much safer option as this study demonstrates.

Survey Says – Our Eyelids are Itchier Than Ever
According to research published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Americans are typing in the keyword “itch” to the tune of more than 18 million—with the skin on the eye/eyelids appearing at the top of the list with 3 million hits.

Two dermatologists were interviewed, where one dermatologist advocated one should avoid touching their eyelids if they’re irritated, and one should apply Aquaphor sparingly. If it gets too bad, there are prescription topicals available to ease the itch. The other dermatologist stated that you should buy his balm, which contains 1% hydrocortisone and NO irritating ingredients that other OTC hydrocortisones contain, like alcohol and petrolatum. 

While the dermatologist is in his rights to recommend hydrocortisone cream, and it’s convenient he recommends his own, he should know better that petrolatum is not an irritating ingredient. Petrolatum is actually recommended and approved by the FDA as a skin protectant. Furthermore, most creams don’t contain alcohol, as in isopropyl alcohol. They contain fatty alcohols that help structure the product to make it a cream. These are not drying and not irritating.

Beauty Questions

Question 1: Charolette – My esthetician tells me that price difference is due to the quality of the ingredients. Is that due to the quality of the ingredient?  Is that true?

No, it’s not true and let us tell you why.

Question 2: Helen asks – Hi beauty brains! I’ve started following the curly girl method, and while i’m not sure if all of the claims are well founded, but  i will say that it has sorted my itchy flakey scalp out, so i will stick with it either way. I know that we are to avoid silicones that can’t be washed out without SLS, and we shouldn’t use drying alcohols and SLS, but i’ve never heard what hair benefit avoiding parabens is meant to bring. Are they just on the ‘we hate parabens’ train? What is the claim here and is the claim correct?

Question 3: I am 28 and am considering going back to school to study chemistry and enter the cosmetic chemistry field. This would be my second B.S.  (the first being in Textiles and Apparel). I was hoping I could ask you a few questions to get an idea of what the industry is like. In your experiences, is a masters needed or will a bachelors in biochemistry or general chemistry be enough to secure a job in the industry? What are the daily tasks of a cosmetic chemist like? Is it extremely competitive to place with a company or is there a lot of opportunity? Any advice you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Looking forward to the next show!

Question 4: Love your podcast — I wish I’d known about it when I first started exploring skincare! My question is about whether it is necessary to wait 15-30 minutes after applying vitamin C. I tend to wait for at most 5 minutes due to being in a rush. Have I been diluting the effect of the vitamin C, or is the wait time a myth? Online resources seem to differ on this, and I’d really appreciate your input from a scientific perspective! Thanks so much, Sonia

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