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The Beauty Brains episode 216 featuring cosmetic chemists Valerie George and Perry Romanowski. 

Beauty questions covered today include: 

  • How do bond builders work? 
  • Is sodium coco sulfate more gentle than SLS?
  • Does men’s antiperspirant better than women’s?

Beauty Science

Avon launches a new CBD skin care line.

R+Co just launched a CBD

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Sarah says – We used to carry system professional. The liquid treatment we sell. It is supposed to go in and place lipids in between protein links in hair. Does it have an advantage for hair?  How about Olaplex & Wellaplex? Do they help with the bond structure in hair?

Question 2 – Stephanie says – I’ve often read that Sodium Coco Sulfate is a gentler alternative to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate because it is derived from coconuts. I’m rather skeptical of this claim, since Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is also derived from coconut. I did some digging (a LOT of digging, there’s almost no unbiased information on sodium coco sulfate), and I found that the two also have the same CAS number of 151-21-3. I’m no chemist, but I’ve always understood that if the CAS number is the same, the chemical is the same.

Why are the cosmetic companies lying and trying to mislead us with sodium coco sulfate? Is it because of the bad rap that SLS has? Or am I missing something here about sodium coco sulfate?

Question 3 –  Sagebrush says – Does men’s deodorant work better than women’s?  Some of my friends think it does.

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

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This is Episode 215. I’m your host, Perry Romanowski and with me today all the way from sunny California is Valerie George.  Hello Valerie!

We have a few interesting beauty questions to cover today, including:

  • Can the coronavirus survive on your hair?
  • What does it mean when a permanent color says it’s not for gray hair?
  • Can ingredient technology justify a price point?
  • Is carnauba wax bad for hair?
  • Does argan oil penetrate the hair shaft and do anything useful?

Beauty Science

Scientists discover bacteria that can eat plastic

Check out The Dream podcast

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Patty – What is the potential of the virus sitting in hair? I don’t wash my hair daily. Would you recommend I wash my hair on a daily basis to combat the virus?

We’re not doctors and this isn’t really our area of expertise. 

This isn’t something that is necessarily known. The virus is so new that there hasn’t been a lot of research done on it. But viruses can live on hair. So, it’s not an unreasonable concern about having the virus build up on your hair. 

If you are not leaving the house you probably don’t have to worry about washing your hair. Unless someone in your house has the virus.

But, if you do go outside if you wanted to be ultra safe you should wash your hair.

It’s unlikely that you can spread the virus through it getting on your hair. You’d have to get it on your hair, then touch your hair, then touch your face, and that just isn’t a very efficient way to pick it up.  However, at least one healthcare expert says you should. Dr. Adam Friedman, the interim chair of dermatology at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, recommends daily hair washing during this pandemic.

Question 2 – Carolina asks – Hi Beauty Brains! Why is it that some permanent hair colors say that they are not for covering gray hair? I have been using L’oreal’s Feria, and it seems to cover my gray– though honestly, I don’t have a ton of gray yet. But I’m over 40; the writing is on the wall! I noticed that on the Loreal website, they recommend other lines (Superior Preference and Excellence) for covering gray. In general, what is different about dyes that are recommended for covering gray hair? I’m interested in using the least damaging product that works. Thanks!

Gray coverage occurs through a few mechanisms in hair color, but in speaking to the Feria and other L’Oreal products specifically…

Question 3 – Kara says – Hi there, I recently listened to your episode that addressed whether you could get ingredients of a “higher quality” which I found really interesting. I have read from some brands that they can justify a higher price point because of the “technologies” they use on the product rather than the ingredients. For example, a company might decrease the size of a hyaluronic acid molecule so that it can penetrate deeper into the skin and therefore be more effective. Is this true?

They can get patents on ingredient blends or even ingredients. L’Oreal has a patented sunscreen.  They can get different suppliers which might have higher “quality”  As a consumer though you can’t know. Any company can get access to most any other technology.

Question 4 – Hello Team, I recently started following you all. [I] thoroughly appreciate all the info you provide. My questions – how beneficial is carnauba wax for hair? Does it have a detrimental effect on hair? Having curly hair, I see this often in products I use. I’m curious because I also see it listed in my Meguire’s car wax too. Thanks, Glo.

Carnauba wax is a wax derived from a palm tree, Copernica cerifera, native to northeastern Brazil. The Dutch first talked about this tree in 1648, providing the first written description of the tree’s properties. The wax is harvested by plucking the leaves from the tree, drying it, and then beating the wax from the dried leaf. Some leaves are left on the tree to preserve the trees for the following season. The wax procured from the leaves is composed of free fatty alcohols and esters. It has one of the highest melting points of natural waxes used in personal care, with a melting point of 81-86ºC.

There are three grades of carnauba, each having to do with the purity of the wax. Typically the lightest color wax is used in personal care formulas. The high melting point provides formulations with the advantage of thermal stability, as it helps raise the overall melting point of a formulation. Carnauba wax is used in products where the product needs to be stiffer, thicker, or have better pickup. It’s also a good film-former, so it helps increase the shine of a product. That’s why you’ll fine carnauba wax in a floor or car polish, as well as candles, greases or other protective coatings. It also adds a little emolliency and skin protection properties. You’ll find it in lip balms for this purpose. 

A little carnauba is great in hair products because it can add some natural shine, but most importantly improve the rheology of your product. I can’t think if any negative impact on hair itself, other than it can be difficult to wash out of hair. However, I don’t think it’s used at such a high quantity that a good shampoo couldn’t get out of the hair.

Question 5 – Marius says – Does argan oil actually penetrate the hair shaft and does it do anything useful inside?

I haven’t seen any evidence that argan oil can penetrate hair. There was a study of coconut oil, sunflower oil and mineral oil to see how it affected hair. 

What are natural oils – Oils are combinations of fatty acids which have different lengths. Coconut oil is mostly C12, Sunflower oil is mostly C18 and mineral oil is mostly longer chain like C26 or more. Argan oil is mostly C18 so I’d expect it to behave most like Sunflower oil

At best it is going to coat the hair. It’s not going to significantly penetrate. Most products that use Argan oil use it as a claims ingredient. They rely on silicones to get the main benefits.

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

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Welcome to the Beauty Brains, a show where real cosmetic chemists answer your beauty product questions and give you an insider’s look at the cosmetic industry. This is Episode 214. I’m your host, Valerie George and with me today is the most famous cosmetic chemist who already works from home, Perry Romanowski.  Hello Perry!

We have a few interesting beauty questions to cover today, including:

  • Does UV protection really work in hair?
  • What do we think of MLM companies? Are the products better & safer?
  • How do the Lionesse and Sudden Change eye creams work?
  • What’s the difference between high end lipstick & drug store products?

Beauty News

Receptivity to BS  predicts use of essential oils

Here’s a bit of research that may come as no surprise to followers of this show.  According to a study published in the most recent PLOS journal, people who are more receptive to believe  meaningless statements are more likely to use essential oils.

The best way to arm yourself against marketers who would have you spend a lot of money on a product that probably won’t work is to remain skeptical. If someone is financially benefiting from you believing something that they are telling you, you should get verification from some other, more unbiased source. You’ll be happier and certainly save some money.

PSA – Don’t make your own hand sanitizer!

Why?

  1. Most of the online recipes are not accurate. Adding thing like aloe gel & essential oils have not been tested for effectiveness. They very well can reduce the germ killing ability of the product. the FDA is very strict about its formulations for hand sanitizers. 
  2. Most people aren’t good at measuring or don’t have the right equipment. When we formulate we use a scale & measure everything in grams (weight). If you use volume measurements like cups or tablespoons, you won’t get the right ratios of ingredients. If you don’t get the right ratios of ingredients, you are deviating from that very specific recipe the FDA has set.
  3. It’s dangerous – This can give you a false sense of security, using a product that doesn’t work when you think it does. You’ll do more harm than good.

Wash your hands!

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Vanessa – Does UV protection really work in hair?

Suppliers will tell you it does. I’m skeptical. 

We can’t measure UV protection for hair like we measure UV protection for skin. 

  • Effect of UV on hair damage (tryptophan cascade). 
  • Effect on hair color (degradation of the chromophores that color the hair). 

Common ingredients that formulators use to provide UV protection on the hair, and why that likely doesn’t work (shampoo/conditioners)

Question 2 – Claire asks – Is there a difference between high-end vs drugstore lip beauty products, specifically lipsticks? If so, what is the main difference?

Formulas are pretty much the same. I looked at Maybelline lipstick which costs about $3 a tube versus the Tom Ford lipstick which costs $55 a tube. Both use the same basic ingredients, a wax base candelilla & microcrystalline wax. And they both used the same basic colors. In the US & EU colorants have to be approved before being put into cosmetics so everyone has access to the same raw materials. From a formula standpoint, there isn’t a quality difference between the expensive and less expensive products. 

This doesn’t mean that if you try one of the products it’s going to feel exactly the same as the other. How it performs and feels is a personal preference. What I am saying is that there is no reason they couldn’t be made to feel & work exactly the same. There are no special ingredients that the expensive formula uses that the inexpensive formula couldn’t use. And from a cost of goods standpoint, the ingredients are pretty much going to be the same cost. 

The biggest difference is the brand name and the packaging.

Question 3Laura from Instagram asking about Lionesse and Sudden Change’s eye serums and their “superglue” effect on the skin. Which ingredients are doing that?

Sudden Change Undereye-Firming Serum – Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Serum Albumin, SD Alcohol 40, Dimethicone Copolyol, Hyaluronic Acid, Dextran Sulfate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Quaternium-15, Methylparaben.

Lionesse Amber Eye Serum – Ingredients: Aqua, Propylene Glycol, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Sodium Hyaluronate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Amber Powder, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Pueraria Lobata Root Extract, Sodium PCA, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Ascorbic Acid, Sclerotium Gum, Sodium Polystyrene Sulfonate, Allantoin, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

Question 4  – Meredith – What do you think of MLM companies claiming to sell safer products. brands like Beautycounter. How do you respond to people who are trying to sell you MLM. What evidence can you provide for reasons not to buy?

No the products aren’t safer.

From a formulation standpoint these products aren’t better than what you can get in the store

They generally cost more & do not work better.

For many brands the MLM marketing model is little more than a pyramid scheme.

According to research done by the Federal Trade Commision, 99% of people who sell for MLMs lose money, so only 1% of people will turn a profit. For comparison, people who start their own business turn a profit about 39% of the time. Less than 50% but still 39 times better than if you sell through an MLM.

As you might imagine, I’m not a fan of the MLM model.

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

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We have a lot of beauty questions to answer today, including:

  • What do we think of the Beverly Hills MD brow serum
  • Are lash tints safe?
  • Why do anti-aging ingredients affect skin color?
  • Why do dermatologists keep saying hyaluronic acid is pointless?

Perry and Valerie are under self imposed quarantine!  But we’re still recording. 

Beauty science news

Are cosmetics going to be more regulated?

The spokesperson from the EWG (who likes this new legislation by the way) said the following about the cosmetics industry.  “…no category of consumer products is subject to less government oversight than cosmetics and other personal care products.”  This is patently false. The least regulated, and in my view most dangerous, consumer product segment is the Supplement Industry. Congress passed the DSHEA act in 1994 which essentially took all the power the FDA had to regulate the supplement industry and put it in the hands of the supplement industry. I have zero faith in the quality of supplements. 

I still wonder why there isn’t a “Campaign for Safe Supplements.”

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Diana says – Hi there! I just bought this after getting really mesmerized by the infomercial, and of course after I received it I’m wondering are any of these ingredients dangerous? I knew it might not be as effective as they promise, but I didn’t think about potential harm… do you mind taking a look? 

https://beverlyhillsmd.com/product/thick-full-brow-enhancing-serum/

Does it work? 

Well, first I’m never terribly impressed with the scientific validity of supplier funded research. They have a vested interest in exaggerating outcomes and ignoring things that don’t support their marketing story. They also aren’t under the same advertising rules that they would be if consumers were the customer. Symrise or Givaudan can make much more impressive claims than P&G or Unilever.

But for a small start-up company, they can just go to a supplier and ask them for something that can grow hair, and put it in. They probably don’t do any testing themselves and just use the product because the supplier says it works.  And if you’re selling online and advertising through infomercials, you can be a lot more loosey goosey with your claims. 

Of course, looking at their website they do a pretty good job of writing claims. They give the impression of this product working like a drug, but they don’t make any direct claims about it. For example, they say “..this formula helps support the stem cells present in your hair follicles, which control hair growth — so you can achieve the look of fuller, thicker brows without the need for excess makeup or microblading.

I mean the claim “formula helps support stem cells” is vague. What does it mean to “support the stem cells”?

Importantly though, nowhere do they say that the product will make your hair grow. 

So, I doubt you are going to see any real benefit to this product beyond some film forming that makes your brows maybe more noticeable.

And to the question of safety, this product is probably safe, at least as far as the ingredients go. I wouldn’t worry about product safety. I’d be more worried about spending $88 for less than 1 ounce of product!  Geez! 

Ingredient list – Deionized Water, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Acetyl Tretrapeptide-3, Dextran, Larix Europaea (Larch) Wood Extract, Sodium Metabisulfite (Antioxidant), Glycine (Amino Acid), Zinc Chloride, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Propanediol (Non-GMO), Psidium Guajava Leaf Extract, Polysorbate-20, Keratin, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5), Lecithin, Pullulan, Sclerotium Gum, Xanthan Gum, Allantoin, Cetraria Islandica (Icelandic Moss) Extract, Keratin Amino Acids, Biotin, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil

Question 2Han from Instagram says, “Hi! I’ve been listening to the podcast for quite a while but only just found you on Instagram. Just listened to the episode about lash lifts… which made me wonder, are lash tints very safe or do they have different dangers?”

Is it safe? In Europe, silver nitrate is approved up to 4% in eye lash tints. A small selection of oxidative color is approved for use in dying eyebrows and eyelashes as well, but a majority of the colorants that you can use on head are not approved for use on the brow or lash. This is important for keeping in mind, to our EU listeners, that you should not take any hair color for the head and just put it on your brows or lashes because they don’t have the established safety. In the US, there are not any colorants approved for use in the lash area.

This is why the state of California does not allow eye lash tinting as a salon service, because there are no authorized colorants for the lash area, therefore there can’t be any products with approved colorants, therefore there are no approved products. Additionally, just because a colorant is approved for use in the eye area, doesn’t mean you are without risk; colorants are sensitizers and people can be allergic to them, just like hair dye. It’s important to patch test 48 hours before using eye lash tint to ensure no allergies exist. Additionally, permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness. 

Question 3 – Audio QuestionLisa asks – Hi! I have three questions. First, I wondered why is it that anti-aging ingredients: retinoids, niacinamide, and Vitamin C, also inhibit or reduces melanin in your skin? I’m a really pale untanned Fitzpatrick type II, and I appreciate every melanin molecule in my skin, personally. My second question is why aren’t there more retinaldehyde products out there? Are they really expensive to produce, or really photosensitive, or? And my final question is: Is PPD the best indication of UVA protection? I’m looking for a sunscreen with really high UVA protection, so should I be buying a sunscreen with PPD 30+ or a sunscreen with 5 Boots stars, for example? Or should I find a sunscreen with so-and-so UV filters? Thank you for listening to my questions!” 

  1. Anti-aging ingredients shouldn’t have too much impact on skin color
  2. Retinaldehyde doesn’t have a huge impact on skin appearance so it’s not used as much.
  3. The Boots Star rating with 5 stars and an SPF of 30 is the best to use.

Question 4 – MaskinRelaxin asks “Why do dermatologists say that hyaluronic acids are pointless? I was told that the molecule is too big to be able to penetrate into the skin.”

Maybe because most are too large to significantly penetrate the skin and they stay on top. Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t work better than glycerin. Or maybe it’s because they want to do injections instead of topical treatments.

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. If you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

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Beauty Questions covered

We have a lot of beauty questions to answer today, including:

  • What are the best facial moisturizers for sensitive skin?
  • Is there a big difference between facial cleansers and shampoo?
  • Will castor oil help your hair grow?
  • How does someone become a cosmetic chemist? (Audio)

Beauty Science News

How is the spread of the coronavirus affecting the beauty industry?

You can’t turn on any news channel without hearing about the coronavirus, and that includes the beauty news! The coronavirus is doing more to the beauty industry than impacting stocks; supply chains for all aspects of the beauty industry have been impacted. There are packaging delays and raw material shortages. L’Oreal has said their in store foot print has slowed down, but e-commerce is still thriving as people are looking to avoid crowded places like malls. Additionally, many trade shows have been post-poned or cancelled.

Should you make your own hand sanitizer?  Alcohol & Aloe Vera

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJH1ntIMzwo

No.  You need 60% alcohol. Need humectants that will help alcohol stay on skin longer.  Not a great idea Most important – wash hands with soap and water.

Beauty Questions

Helene on Instagram asks, what are the best facial moisturizers for sensitive skin? Thanks!! Love the podcast!

Sensitive skin is a lay term that people typically use to diagnose their own skin when it becomes easily irritated. This skin can display a reaction as a result of reduced tolerance to an environmental exposure, such as the sun or a cosmetic product. The challenge with the terminology is that there isn’t really a definition, and it’s important you work with your dermatologist to identify which environmental factors cause redness, itchiness, dryness, rashes or breakouts. 

That being said, if your skin is reactive to cosmetic products, it’s important to pinpoint which type of ingredient is causing the sensitivity. We’ve mentioned on the podcast before that many fragrances, natural plant extracts and certain preservatives can be irritating to the skin. We can’t forget the JAMA editorial that Drs. Rubin and Brod penned in September 2019 that dermatologists are seeing both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis and photosensitization from plant extracts in products. 

I would recommend looking for a moisturizer without fragrance or plant extracts, and one without too many actives that can cause the skin to react. In this case, less is more! I also recommend for you to read the book, Beyond Soap, by Dr. Sandi Skotnicki. She has a product elimination diet that can help you determine what your skin is reacting to and she has found it to be pretty effective with her patients. 

And, when you’re in doubt, contact your dermatologist.

Question 2 Hi Valerie and Perry,  Love your podcast! I am an avid listener and you both have taught me so much, my hair and skin have never felt or looked better! I have a question I wanted to ask, I travel a lot and being a minimalist packer, I only ever bring a backpack with me when I board the plane, which makes me try and minimalise the liquids I take with me.  I am currently using the Cerave SA cleanser for my face and body and was wondering whether I can use it as a shampoo replacement as well when I travel (only for the short term)? Is there a huge difference between cleansers for the face, body and hair in general or is this just all marketing?  Lots of love from England!  Sally

You can use a facial cleanser as a shampoo if for a short while. It’s probably going to be more expensive but this particular product will work.

Ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Glycerin, Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate, Niacinamide, Gluconolactone, Peg-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Zea Mays Oil/Corn Oil, Ceramide Np, Ceramide Ap, Ceramide Eop, Carbomer, Calcium Gluconate, Sodium Chloride, Salicylic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Cholecalciferol, Cholesterol, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Edta, Tetrasodium Edta, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Phytosphingosine, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin

Question 3  Hello Beauty Brains! I listen to you guys and love your podcast! I had a question about thinning hair and the power behind castor oil being able to “thicken and grow hair.” Is this scientifically proven? And if so, what does the research say? Lots of love from Vancouver, British Columbia! – Luxe Lettering.

This is a common perception I hear about castor seed oil, and I haven’t been able to find any merit behind it in peer-reviewed scientific publications. At least, in humans! There was one 2008 study in the Romanian pharmaceutical journal, Farmacia, which looked at the effect of lotions containing 35% and 40% castor oil on hair growth in rabbits. There was no placebo lotion used in the study, and the paper was full of grammatical errors. I wouldn’t rely on this paper at all. That being said, I did find lots of papers about castor oil and its derivatives to cause dermatitis on the skin. While this is a more rare reaction, there are several publications in reputable journals with some perspectives on its ability to cause reactions. Nothing on hair growth!

I did find one paper that spoke about castor oil and hair on humans, but it was how castor oil has been observed to cause the phenomenon of acute felting on the hair. This is a rare disorder of the scalp called plica polonica where the hair spontaneously turns into one giant matted dreadlock that resembles a stone or birds nest. More on that in a second!

So why then, do we have this anecdote that castor oil is great for hair growth? Castor oil is extracted from seeds of plant Ricinus communis. It is a ricinoleic, monounsaturated fatty acid which can act as humectant and moisturizer. It’s an extremely viscous, sticky oil that probably offers a lot of shine to the hair. Certain cultures use castor oil to lubricate the hair shaft, much like argan oil or jojoba oil is purported to be used on hair. When the hair is lubricated, you can have a reduction in breakage. A reduction in breakage helps give the illusion that hair is growing.

Going back to the acute felting incident on the hair; I think in certain hair conditions, you have a perfect storm of damage and other debris on the hair, the hair fibers can get ruffled and cross over each other, getting snarled in a sticky mess of castor oil. It’s impossible to undo the felted hair, aside from cutting it off. This is a very rare phenomenon, although I have had one person on Instagram message me an instance where this happened to a guest of theirs.

Bottom line, I don’t think that castor oil will help you hair grow, and it’s probably a fine oil to use in products, but I would recommend a more lubricious, spreading oil on the hair if you would like to use an oil to prevent breakage.

Question 4 – Audio Question

How does someone become a cosmetic chemist?

Well… it depends where you want to work!  But if you want to work as a cosmetic chemist for a company, you’ll need a degree in chemistry or chemical engineering. 

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

 

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It’s an all Vitamin C podcast episode. In this show we answer questions including…

Beauty Questions

  • Are there different grades of vitamin C/ascorbic acid since the prices vary so much for the same thing?
  • What is your opinion of the effectiveness of waterless Vitamin C products?
  • Does Vitamin C really do anything for your skin?
  • Is it ok to use jars for packaging?

Vitamin C in Cosmetics

Alright, let’s move on to the main show topic, Vitamin C!  Now, Randy and I covered the topic way back in episode 31, but I thought it was time to revisit it.  This is an ingredient that gets lots of positive press. A quick look through Google Trends finds that it has been steadily gaining interest in the last ten years. Right now it is about on the same level as another popular topic, CBD. We’ll save that for another show. Let’s look at Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is a chemical called ascorbic acid that has a wide variety of functions in our body, most notably as an antioxidant. It is not naturally produced in our bodies so we need to get it from our diet. Fortunately, a lot of foods we eat either have vitamin C in them or they are fortified with it.

Vitamin C is known to play a role in collagen production in the skin. Additionally, when topically applied it is thought to help heal acne, increase skin barrier function which reduced moisture loss, protects from UV radiation, and prevent & lightens age spots.

So, it sounds like a great ingredient! Which is why you see it in a lot of skin care products and it’s raved about on beauty blogs. Of course, there is a downside – It’s an antioxidant that is highly reactive with oxygen in the air and water so it’s difficult to deliver vitamin C to your skin in a way that is stable, effective and non-irritating.

For this reason raw materials companies have come out with a bunch of different forms of vitamin C. They modify the basic ascorbic acid structure in the hopes of making it more stable but still delivering some benefit. So let’s talk about how successful that is or not.

Types of Vitamin C

First, the types of vitamin C out there. There are a bunch including

Ascorbic Acid (AA) and more specifically, L-Ascorbic acid. The L just refers to the handedness of the molecule. This has to do with chirality and where specific atoms are on the molecule but suffice it to say, L-ascorbic acid is the more active version than D-ascorbic acid.

Other types you might see in cosmetics include Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP)
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
Ascorbyl 6-Palmitate (AA-PAL)
Ascorbyl Tetra-Isopalmitate (VC-IP)
Ascorbyl Glucoside (AA-2G)
Dehydroascorbic acid

Now, the ingredient that is biologically active is Ascorbic Acid. So, these other versions need to penetrate the skin and then get converted to ascorbic acid to be effective. Well, in a study published in Dermatologic Surgery back in 2001 looking at this exact question, none of the derivatives significantly converted to L-ascorbic acid in the skin. There is some evidence that they might convert but this is pretty weak. So, while they might be more stable in the formula and penetrate better, they probably aren’t actually working. At least in the way ascorbic acid works.

So let’s talk about Ascorbic Acid (AA) Most importantly in a formula, if it’s going to work, it has to be stable which means it has to chemically exist as ascorbic acid in the formula, and it has to penetrate the skin to get to the Dermis which is where all the skin activity happens.

So, is it stable? Well, researchers have found that it is stable at pH less than 3.5 in aqueous solution and it’s stable in anhydrous systems. So, if your product has a pH higher than 3.5, you’re probably not getting working vitamin C. Unless, it’s waterless.

Based on available research, ascorbic acid is the gold standard for Vitamin C. For it to do anything significant, it needs to be included in a formula in a concentration higher than eight percent. Now studies have shown that above 20 percent there isn’t much more biological significance so it looks like the sweet spot for vitamin C in a formula is between 10 and 20 percent. Effectiveness of course will vary based on the formulation.

I’ll also give our usual disclaimer about these types of cosmeceutical ingredients. If this ingredient was actually working as claimed, (you know affecting collagen synthesis, anti-acne, reducing UV damage, etc.) it would technically be an illegal drug. In the US anyway. Cosmetics are not allowed to do those things. But if companies don’t make specific drug claims, the FDA usually doesn’t go after them. At least, at the moment.

So some things to consider when looking at products that advertise they use vitamin C.

First – Look for something that uses ascorbic acid. It’s the ingredient that works. The derivatives haven’t really been proven to work.

Next, look for products that use ascorbic acid in levels between 10 – 20 percent. Most companies don’t tell you how much they use but when they do (assuming they aren’t lying) that’s what you should look for. Under 10% it’s probably not doing much and over 20% doesn’t do much extra but it can lead to irritation.

Another tip – waterless products are probably going to be more effective.
AA can begin to oxide (which causes it to be used up) as soon as it’s dissolved in water. Look for products where water is NOT one of the first ingredients. That gives you a better chance of finding a product that will really work. That means looks for serums instead of cream based products.

Also, if you are getting a water based product look for something that has a low pH. As I said AA is unstable above 3.5 or so. Look for low pH products. Of course pH is only meaningful if water is present so it’s less of an issue in the kinds of water free formulas we just discussed.

Finally, consider the packaging the product is in. Any Vitamin C formula must be properly packaged to protect it from excess light and air. So pump packaging is probably better and you should avoid things that are clear as light can degrade the ingredient. Look for brown glass containers.

Questions

Question 1 – Mei asks – From Kielhs to clinique to the ordinary. Is there different grades of vitamin C/ascorbic acid since the prices varies so much for the same thing. I understand some vit c serum contain other actives thus making it more expensive. Ignoring that, is there a difference in the ascorbic acid these various brands us?  For example, i think mineral oil come in diff grades ie. Cosmetic grade and pharmaceutical grade.

Question 2 – Katherine says – I listened to your most recent podcast and I was wondering what your opinion is of the effectiveness of these 2 Waterless Vitamin C products from The Ordinary.

Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%  Ingredients: Ascorbic Acid, Squalane, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Coconut Alkanes, Ethylene/Propylene/Styrene Copolymer, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glucomannan, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Butylene/Ethylene/Styrene Copolymer, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Trihydroxystearin, BHT.

Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone  Ingredients: Dimethicone, Ascorbic Acid, Polysilicone-11, PEG-10 Dimethicone.

Question 3 – This one comes to us from Ashley.  She asks – When using vitamin c, does it actually affect the skin in a positive way? The claim is that is “lightens, tightens, and brightens” the skin. Typically products start at 8% vitamin and go up to 20%. After getting up to 20% you’re supposed to start back at 8% because your skin will get used to it. How does any of this work? 

Question 4What’s the scoop on products that are in jars? Don’t they get exposed to air  when on skin? What about contamination? Is it true  for facial products or products for  the body?

Follow the Beauty Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

{ 3 comments }

We’ve got a fully packed program today.  We’ll be covering a couple of cosmetic science news stories, catching up from my hiatus and answering questions about…

  1. Is silicone suffocating hair and causing hair loss?
  2. Do proteins in nail products strengthen nails?
  3. What is goat’s milk doing in soaps and more?
  4. What’s an affordable version of Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore?
  5. Is Bakuchiol safe during pregnancy?

LA trip chat – Eco well sustainable beauty panel

Beauty Science News #1

Is Deva curl making people’s hair fall out?

Revlon teams up with the EWG

Hallmark Channel rant

Question 1  – Audio

Jemma – Do silicone suffocate the hair and cause hair loss?  Is there any element of truth to this?

In short, no they don’t. In long, silicones is a term for a large class of molecules featuring a silicone backbone, but they can have so many different properties and are functionalized to do different things. Some silicones are volatile and are used for slip and glide of a formulation. Others are functionalized to stick to the hair and aid in color or thermal protection, but can be washed off. Other silicones can provide temporary substantivity to prevent frizz – really a whole gamut of functionalities are possible through silicone chemistry!

Now, can they cause hair loss? Hair loss can be caused by a variety of things, which we’ve covered extensively in previous episodes, including Episode 193. I think the myth that silicones cause hair loss is perpetuated by the fact that some silicones are substantive – meaning, they’re designed to build up and provide some benefit. Amodimethicone is one of them – it’s a wonderful color protectant! However, that does not mean silicones cause hair loss. If we have learned anything from the Devacurl discussion, it’s that it is important to occasionally use a clarifying shampoo and cleanse the hair and scalp. 

Bottom line – silicones to not suffocate the hair and cause hair loss. Silicones are a wide class of molecules that can provide great benefits!

Question 2

Laurie asks – I have Hyperthyroidism.  I play the guitar so my finger nails on the left hand are short and I’m trying, still, to grow the nails on my right hand (I play Classical).  Nails are very important for this type of guitar playing. The nail on the thumb on my left has cracked deep – bear in mind it’s already short, so I put clear nail polish on it: Sally Hanson Ultimate Shield.  I read that a nail polish with protein strengthens the nail. NONE OF THEM show the ingredients. Do I use OPI Nail Envy like my hair dresser recommends – or something else?

Let’s talk about nail strengtheners. A nail strengthener polish is one that can help recondition your nails. Nail strengthener ingredients that actually have an impact include ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, and tosylamide formaldehyde resin. Things like protein are just claims ingredients that don’t actually do the work. You can try a product like the Sally Hanson MEGA STRENGTH HARDENER. It’s got the ingredients that actually put a strengthening coating on the nail. No proteins but the proteins really don’t do much. In truth, nail polish technology hasn’t changed much in a lot of years so any product that says it’s going to strengthen nails (as long as it uses nitrocellulose & the other ingredients I mentioned) it should help keep your nails strong. 

Question 3

Sheila asks, “You guys are absolutely fantastic. Your knowledge on all things beauty is astounding. I always learn something from the two of you. But, I was wondering what your thoughts are on Goat’s Milk and its use in soaps, body washes, shampoo and conditioners? 

Goats milk is rich lipids, mostly triglycerides, and a small portion of phospholipids and sterols. The fatty acids in the milk are mostly medium chain fatty acids, which are C8-C14 in length. People say that goats milk moisturizes and nourishes the skin – I would probably agree. Goats milk also may contain proteins that have good film-forming properties, leading to hydration on skin. I’ve even seen where some claim the lactose in goat’s milk is responsible for hydration. Maybe! A few brands using goats milk tout it is high in lactic acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid that aids in exfoliation of skin. If you listen to Episode 181, it’s unlikely that Goat’s Milk will provide any exfoliation benefit as it will not contain a lot of free lactic acid.

Kate Sommerville is one large skincare brand that features goats milk as an active ingredient, but for the most part  it’s mostly used in homemade or hand-crafted cosmetics. As a formulator working at a large company, there is not only a push to use ingredients free of animal by-products, but using goats milk can be difficult to work with. It is typically supplied as a powder and has to be solubilized in a formula. It is typically off-color, which also is a challenge. Additionally, because of the composition, can add complexity to preservation. Finally, while there are some alluring benefits to using goats milk, there are many more ingredients that provide more benefit to goats milk at a lower use level or don’t create formulation challenges. Personally, I also have a hard time using an ingredient from a food chain. 

Question 4

Katherine says – Hi. I was wondering if there’s a more affordable alternative to this Skinceuticals Cream. Thank you. Skinceuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

Let’s look at what’s in the formula. They do have this long ingredient list, 37 ingredients by my count. But, if you get rid of all the “fluff” ingredients & the non-functional things like preservatives & adjustment ingredients, there are just a few ingredients that make the product work. These include Dimethicone (that’s the occlusive agent), Hydrogenated Polyisobutene (an emollient), and Glycerin (the humectant). Oh and to live up to the 2:4:2 claim they have 2% ceramide 3, 4% cholesterol, and 2% sunflower seed oil. Of course, with the first three ingredients there doesn’t seem to be much reason to have the next three. In my view these are just claims ingredients that aren’t actually having much effect, especially when you have those other ingredients in there. 

That’s the thing about when they test ingredients like ceramides, and things. They don’t test them against ingredients like dimethicone or petrolatum. They test them against poor placebos so they can show a significant impact. In my view, topical ceramides have not been proven to be worth spending money on. 

So, what are some options?  If you share my opinion that the only thing having a significant impact on the performance of this product is the first three ingredients, Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene and Glycerin, then I’d say look for products with those ingredients. Olay regenerist. It’s got Glycerin & Dimethicone and even has a peptide, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. Those are nice for label copy but it is really the first couple ingredients that are going to have the effect.    

Question 5 – Audio Question

Bakuchiol – an alternative to retinol. Retinol is not safe during pregnancy and breast feeding? Is bakuchiol safe during pregnancy and breast feeding?

The question of whether retinol is safe during pregnancy is not so cut and dry as it’s either safe or not. All the advice you’ll see online is that you shouldn’t use them since there is concern that retinoids can have teratogenic effects (which means they can affect the development of a fetus). Of course, there is not any evidence that topical application is a problem but it’s a case of better safe than sorry though. Since there are other options, doctors just recommend you avoid using them while pregnant. Seems a reasonable precaution. 

Anyway, that brings us to the question of bakuchiol. There’s an article published in Allure that says that “Unlike retinols, bakuchiol is completely safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding” And you’ll see similar things said on parenting and mommy blogs. But the reality is that this ingredient hasn’t been tested so those claims are overly optimistic if you ask me. There is actually good reason to avoid bakuchiol since it hasn’t been safety tested for use during pregnancy. It may be fine but until safety testing is done, I wouldn’t recommend it. 

Also, bakuchiol is a natural plant extract which means you have no idea about the purity of the ingredient that a company is using. There are no good analytical tests to demonstrate that a company is even using bakuchiol extract. They could be just purchasing brown water spiked with retinol. Companies wouldn’t really know. As you can tell, I’m super skeptical of natural extracts. 

The other thing is that the benefits of bakuchiol are way over hyped. The available evidence just does not support their use as a good alternative to retinoids. There are a couple of small studies that show some equivalence but these haven’t been replicated and there is just so much more evidence of retinoids working. I remain skeptical.

So, if you’re pregnant, stick with proven safe ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Bakuchiol may be perfectly safe but it’s better to avoid it just to be cautious.  I also wouldn’t take product safety advice from mommy blogs and the Internet. Or even a science podcast for that matter. Talk to your doctor about this and then avoid using it. 

Follow the Brains

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ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

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Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

{ 6 comments }

It’s a solo Beauty Brains podcast.

Chemical Free Rant
Since I’m going solo, there are a few topics I’d like to rant about. Let’s start with chemical free.

Can someone tell me something, what do people mean when they claim “chemical free”?

I look at the world from the standpoint of a scientist but you don’t have to be a scientist to know that everything is a chemical right?  I mean, that was the kind of thing we learned in grade school. Right? I know a lot of people don’t like science in school but everyone knows about atoms and molecules and chemicals right? Am I mistaken here?  

So, I have to think that when people claim “chemical free” they must not actually mean chemical free in the sense that I take it. I mean, everything is a chemical except stuff like gravity and UV rays and that kind of thing. But anything you might touch or hold or put on your body as a cosmetic is just made of chemicals. So what do people mean. What do marketers who say “chemical free” sunscreens mean? Zinc oxide is a chemical. 

I guess they probably mean natural? Or safe? Or…I don’t know. Maybe you can help me. I put up a post on our Instagram about this (we’re thebeautybrains2018). Maybe you could weigh in. When you say or some marketer says or someone says “chemical free”, what does that mean?  I’m really curious to see what people have to say. 

Active Ingredients

On my Chemists Corner website which is frequented by cosmetic formulators, someone posted that they thought most ingredients (active) are overrated.  They further went on to say over 99% of active skincare ingredients are overrated marketing hype. They simply do not have any visible effect on the skin. The industry is built on lies.

It was a bit harsh to tell you the truth. I think this is a bit of a cynical take on the cosmetic industry. I’m not saying it’s actually wrong, but maybe too cynical.

First, skin care products work. We can make great cleansers, excellent moisturizers. Hair removal depilatories and exfoliation products all work. And of course, color cosmetics are effective at making people feel better about how they look. Cosmetics work! And cosmetic/drugs work too. Sunscreens, antiperspirants, skin lighteners, and anti acne products work.

But there are 2 significant problems with the cosmetic industry that lead to what seems like lies.  Incidentally, I don’t think the cosmetic industry really lies. It’s actually illegal to outright lie, except in political ads. Then you can say what you want I guess.  Anyway, the two problems in the cosmetic industry are…

One, there haven’t been any consumer perceivable technological improvements in the last 20 to 30 years. The stuff you use now, is really pretty much the same as the stuff you used decades ago. Shampoos aren’t different. Skin lotions aren’t different. If anything, they don’t work as good. That’s mostly because of regulations but it’s also because we’re using all the same chemicals that we’ve used before. 

The other problem is that There is no consumer perceivable, proprietary technology that makes one company’s products better than another’s. That is to say, every company can make products that work just as well as every other company. L’Oreal, P&G, Unilever, can make products that work the same as every other product on the market. Now, there might be some exceptions where companies have patents but these aren’t really significant performance differences if you ask me. At least, nothing that consumers notice. 

Of course, in the cosmetic industry consumers always want something new. The products they have might actually work but you get bored with them. Consumers want to look better and switching to a new product gives them hope that this time, they might look better.

And it requires stories to give people that hope. Stories in the form of “active ingredients.” Marketers need a hero ingredient. They don’t want to talk about glycerin, or petrolatum or mineral oil (the old ingredients that actually work). No, they’d much rather make stories about Hyaluronic acid, or Bakuchiol or Argan oil. I don’t know, what’s the hot ingredient now…CBD.  Even though you can demonstrate that these ingredients probably don’t work as well as the old technology. But new stories sell new products.

So, yeah there is a lot of misleading and exaggeration going on in the cosmetic industry. It’s understandable and on some level, it’s what consumers want.

Question 1  – Audio

Stephanie – Eye lash lift. Is eyelash lift safe?  Can this procedure affect the growth of your eyelash? 

Oh boy. Let’s talk about eye lash lifts. To tell you the truth, I had not heard of this before your question. I’m sure Valerie probably had but you might be surprised to learn that I don’t give much thought to my eyelashes. I mean, I have eyelashes and I guess they work. They annoy me when I’ll occasionally get one in my eye. But mostly I don’t think about them. 

But based on being in the beauty industry and the questions which spark interest on the Beauty Brains, lot’s of people give great thought to their eyelashes.  

Whenever I am introduced to a new topic I like to go to Google Trends to see what kind of interest there is in the topic. And according to that tool, interest in eye lash lifts really took off somewhere around 2017. And that only seems to be growing. Yikes!

Anyway, so what are eye lash lifts?  From what I could tell, an eye lash lift is essentially a perm for you eyelashes. It’s a way to permanently (in temporary sort of way) curl your eyelashes. After you get this done, you don’t have to use those eyelash curlers any more. Which, quite frankly, do look like a pain. I see my wife using them every so often. 

You see, eye lash curlers rely on moisture and hydrogen bonding to give the eyelash some shape. It’s more or less effective but certainly not long lasting. Maybe one evening if you’re lucky.  Eye lash lifts use a chemical that breaks down some bonds in your hair, and then reforms them so the eye lashes maintain a curled state. This is exactly how a perm works. In fact, eye lash lifts use the same chemistry. Which makes sense because eyelashes are made up of the same stuff that the hair on you head is made up of. Keratin protein.

The active ingredient Thioglycolic acid breaks down the Sulfur-Sulfur bonds in your hair. Then, you reshape the hair. Next you reform some of those Sulfur Sulfur bonds and the hair more or less will keep the new shape. Permanently. Well, at least until it grows out. Like a perm, new growth will revert to your natural state. There’s some other ingredients in there 

Now, you had two questions.  First, is it safe?

God no! This seems like a terrible idea to me. Thioglycolic acid is not something you want in or around your eyes. It can cause severe burns and chemical injuries on your skin, your eyes, your respiratory tract. It is corrosive and can even induce a systemic toxicity. This isn’t a safe ingredient. Now, when put on your head for doing perms, there’s just less risk of it getting in your eyes but getting a chemical burn on your scalp is still a risk when you get a perm. Ideally, your stylist is well practiced and none of it gets on your skin but it’s still a risk.

However, around the eyes, that’s just not a good idea! You could go blind! Or burn your cornea or some other not insignificant eye injury. This does not seem safe.  But maybe I’m just being overly cautious. You have to say to yourself, well salons all over the country are offering this service. How bad could it really be? I don’t know. I don’t have the stats to tell you how many people have eye injuries as a result of this. I just know what could happen. And then you have to decide, is risking your eyesight really worth this treatment?  I would say no, but you know, I don’t think much about my eyelashes anyway. Some people think the risk is worth it.

Ok, your other question was can the procedure affect the growth of future eyelashes?

Well, the ingredient is cytotoxic which means that it can kill cells. If the liquid gets into your hair follicle, travels down and gets in the bulb where cells are growing. It will kill those. And your hair in that follicle will stop growing. So, yeah it could affect that.  Now, whether it will, I’m not sure. If it is being applied correctly there’s no reason it should get that far down into the hair follicle. But geez, it certainly could. So, yeah it can affect the future growth of eyelashes. Also, it will make your current eyelash hairs weaker. That’s because you break down bonds and when you reform them, that’s not a perfect system.

I will note that the FDA does not specifically say tho avoid doing eye lash lifts.  Perhaps they haven’t heard about it or haven’t come out with a position on it. They are slow like that. They do say don’t use hair colorants on your eye lashes or brows. It’s different chemistry but both are reactive and dangerous. 

So, the bottom line is that this treatment does work. It will give you permanently (mostly) curled eyelashes. But I don’t think it’s safe. 

Link to dangers of thioglycolic acid 

Follow the Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.  

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

{ 3 comments }

Beauty questions answered today include

  1. Is there a bar shampoo or bar conditioner that works as well as the ones out of a bottle?
  2. Why can’t everyone use retinol?
  3. Is sugaring dangerous? And does it work as well as waxing? 
  4. Do peptides have an effect beyond moisturizing & is there a “best one” to pick?

Beauty Science News

Industry must take a wholistic approach to talking about ingredient safety

UV protection may not be enough for skin protection 

Beauty Questions

Question 1  – Audio

Jennifer asks – Is it wishful thinking to hope that a bar shampoo or bar conditioner will work as well as a product that comes in a bottle?  Do you know of any brands you might recommend?

We actually talked about the chemistry of solid bar shampoos and conditioners back on episode 178. I’d encourage you to go take a listen to get a more in-depth discussion. 

Basically, these formulas use many of the same ingredients as standard formulas but with a lot less water.  Lush uses Sodium Lauryl Sulfate as their main solid detergent. They also have some formulas which include Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate. Another popular ingredient in these bar shampoos is Sodium cocoyl isethionate. These are all standard shampoo detergents. I saw another shampoo bar based on Sodium Cocoate which is more of a soap that’s not going to work well on hair. If you’re going to get any benefit from these plastic free formulas, stick with the SLS, SLES or the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate versions. They will work the most like regular shampoos. 

For a solid conditioner, they substitute a solid like Coco butter or Shea butter for the water but then include conditioner ingredients like Behentrimonium Chloride. They also include some detergent surfactants so you can was the stuff out of your hair.  These are tricky formulas to make and they generally don’t include the best ingredients you can use in conditioners.

While you might be able to find a bar shampoo that works find enough, I double you’ll be able to find a bar conditioner that works well enough. That’s because they can’t include stuff like silicones. 

In truth, I think the reason these don’t work as well is mainly because you don’t get enough delivery from the solid form. If you think about the amount of product you get from a squeeze of bottle, you get much less than rubbing a solid formula together in your hand or onto your hair. I don’t have exact measurements but I would guess you’re getting about 10 times less ingredients when using a soap bar versus a squeeze bottle. 

Question 2 Amy says Hi Beauty Brains – Love your Podcast & watching my friends get angry as I debunk their crazy claims. I worked in cosmetics for years and it’s crazy the scripts we’d be given to push products. Thank goodness for Science based reliable info like yours. Question; why can’t all skin types acclimate to Retinoids/ Retina-A. I’ve tried everything ( easing into it) and get nothing but irritation. I’m 55 & would love to be using it( something that’s proven to work & I just have no luck). Thanks for “keeping it real!” 

Thanks for the kind words.  Sorry if we’re causing any problems with your friends. But sometimes reality is less appealing than the marketing stories.  Ok, on to your question.

First, a little about retinoids.  Retinoic acid (also known as Retin-A, tretinoin and sometimes by brand names like Accutane) is a prescription drug used to treat acne. While it is primarily known for its anti-acne properties, dermatologists have also prescribed it for evening out complexion and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. This makes it one of the most valuable anti-aging ingredients. However, retinoic acid is not available in any cosmetic because it can only be purchased with a prescription from your doctor.

On the other hand, Retinol is NOT a prescription drug. It is the alcohol form of retinoic acid. That means it’s chemically related, and does have some similar skin refining properties, however it is not nearly as effective as the acid. Neither are the other derivatives of retinoic acid or retinoids like Retinaldehyde or Retinyl palmitate.

Another problem with retinol is that it is not very stable and is easily oxidized. That means that exposure to oxygen, light, or even other ingredients in the same formula can render this ingredient even less effective. Which will also probably be less irritating so that might be a plus. 

But as far as irritation goes, first, I don’t really have an answer to why some skin types can tolerate retinoids and others can’t. It could be a combination of a bunch of things like genetics, environment, your personal pain tolerance level. There really isn’t one simple answer.  But as far as what you might be able to try. The less effective retinoids are also less irritating. Use a lower level at the start. You might consider mixing your retinol lotion with a non-retinol containing lotion to dilute the exposure. Also, using it on dry skin might help reduce the problems.

Ultimately, for some people they just can’t use some ingredients. It’s the same with food allergies. Unfortunately, we don’t have many cures to some of these problems. 

On the plus side, daily moisturizing, avoid smoking, and stay out of the sun will provide a lot of anti-aging benefits you can get without retinoids.

Question 3 – Elizabeth writes – I listened to episode 192 of the podcast and was surprised to hear you group home sugaring recipes in with the dangerous kitchen chemistry segment. I did that one myself back when I made  less money and it seemed to work just as well as waxing kits from the store. Is there a danger here I’m not catching? These days I make more and get my legs waxed at a salon, and the last salon I went to offered sugaring as well as waxing, though they certainly weren’t using the home recipe kind. They claimed that the sugar sticks less to the skin than wax, but just as strongly to the hair, so it’s less painful. I couldn’t tell any difference myself, do you think that claim is true?

I’m sorry if it sounded like we were saying that sugaring was unsafe. I think we were referring to some of the other home treatments.  Sugaring to remove hair has been done for a long time so it’s not like a new technology. Some people claim that it can lead to a more permanent hair removal but that’s not true. Both waxing and sugaring are temporary measures. The reason is that they only pull out the hair but do not remove the hair-creating cells in the follicle.   

The sugaring paste you get at a salon is made from sugar and an acid like citric acid (lemon juice). In sugaring, the sugar actually forms crystals that trap the hair. Essentially, it’s like you are putting caramel on your skin then letting it harden, then ripping it off.  Wax is made up beeswax plus rosin or another sticky polymer. The sticky polymer attaches to the hair and comes out when you pull off the product. But they basically work in the same way. And they basically can both hurt. Maybe one hurts less than the other but pulling out hair is probably going to hurt either way. 

As to the question of whether sugar sticks more to hair and less to skin, there is no scientific basis to this claim. Wax and sugar will both stick to the skin and to the hair. If one formula sticks more to the skin, it will also stick more to the hair. From an adhesive standpoint, there isn’t some difference in mechanism. Sugar doesn’t know whether it is sticking to skin or hair.   

Sugaring and waxing can both work to remove hair temporarily. Whether one works better for you or not really is a personal preference. I think everyone will be different. 

Question 4 – Kayla asks – There is some concern that peptides are too large to have any other benefits other than being a humectant, what do you think of this? Is there any “superior” peptide? Thank you for you time.

We actually covered peptides way back in episode 55 and I would encourage you to go listen to that show. As far as whether they work…

There was a review article published in the journal Cosmetics back in 2017. They reviewed the work that had been done on 28 different peptides which have been suggested for use as a topical skin treatment. There was also a review article published in 2017 in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science that looked at 19 peptides. All this is to say that there are a lot of peptides. 

Whether there is a superior peptide or not is still up for debate. 

I’ll preface this talk by saying that if peptides really had the effect that the research claims, these would be illegal drugs. Peptides are said to stimulate collagen growth (cosmetics can’t do this), stimulate keratinocyte growth (cosmetics aren’t allowed to do this), stop cell apoptosis, and a number of other processes affecting the body’s biochemistry. It is not legal for cosmetics to interfere with the body’s biochemistry.

This is one of the reasons that the claims about peptides remain vague and general. If they came out and claimed what they want to claim (the products stop the formation of wrinkles) then the products would be illegal.  But let’s ignore that for the moment. 

What has been proven?

As I said there are a number of studies looking at all kinds of different peptides. Many of the published studies are on cell cultures which isn’t terribly helpful. This type of work is useful to give scientists an idea about what compounds to evaluate, but it doesn’t tell you if it would work in a person. 

A number of studies were done with a small number of subjects or they used peptides along with some other ingredient like niacinamide or retinoids. I don’t know why they did that. Probably because they didn’t get good enough results using the peptide alone.

But there were some studies that were placebo controlled, double blind with a good number of subjects. The peptides that appeared to do the best or at least had the most rigorous science behind it were.

The first is a signal & carrier peptide called Copper Peptide GHK-Cu. The INCI name you would find on the cosmetic container is Copper tripeptide-1. In a couple of double blind, placebo controlled studies, it was found to reduce wrinkles, increase skin density and thickness.  They showed results starting in week 4.

Another one that showed promise was Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 or Pal-KTTKS – This one is a signal peptide that is thought to stimulate collagen and elastin production.  In a couple double blinded, placebo controlled studies, they found significant reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and a reduced bumpy texture. 

Now, I remain skeptical about recommending these ingredients for two reasons.  First, there aren’t reproduced studies. One study doesn’t mean much to me & they are often funded or even published by manufacturers who certainly aren’t unbiased.  But second, I didn’t see what the control placebo formula was. There is a trick that researchers can do and this happens with raw materials all the time. If you want to prove that your ingredient has some kind of property the first strategy is to compare it to no treatment. If the untreated side looks worse than the treated side, viola, you’ll convince some people your technology works.

But if you don’t want it to be easily dismissed, it’s better to compare yourself to a placebo. If the ingredient shows an effect then, at least you can say the ingredient is doing something. The trick here is that you want to use an ineffective placebo. So, if you wanted to show wrinkle reduction you might make a cream with a low level of moisturizing ingredients versus the same cream with your peptide. If the ingredient has wrinkle reducing abilities it would be easier to see.

The only problem with that is that from a consumer standpoint you don’t want to know whether an ingredient has an effect. You want to know whether an ingredient is the best thing to use. What they should compare themselves to is a good moisturizer that has proven anti-aging effects. Consumers don’t necessarily care about the ingredient per se, they want to know what overall treatment is the best. If these peptides don’t work better than a good moisturizer like..I don’t know…Neutragena or something like that, then they aren’t worth paying the extra money for are they? 

Anyway, if you’re sold on peptides in skin care then the ones with the best science behind them include Copper tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4.  Look for those names on the ingredient lists. 

Peptide article

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On today’s program we are going to talk about a couple of beauty industry news stories and answer your questions about…

  1. Is an expensive skin serum worth the money even it if is from a pharmaceutical company?
  2. Which is more damaging, hot water or hot styling devices?
  3. Do nutrition pads work to deliver actives?
  4. Can a shampoo or conditioner make your hair grow faster?

Beauty Science News

New York is putting limits on 1,4 Dioxane
What does this mean for shampoos and body washes?

Gweneth Paltro is at it again – Vagina candles

Beauty Questions

Question 1 – Paula asks – Skin Medica – TNS essential serum and recovery complex. Do these products do what they claim? It can strengthen sagging skin through anti-aging peptides + growth factorIs the product worth the money? Do the ingredients do what they claim?

Wow!  $281 for a one ounce product!  That’s amazing. I wonder how many they actually sell. I’m just blown away.  

Skin Medica essential Serum

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media, Water/Aqua/Eau, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Unsaponifiables, Alpha-Arbutin, Isoceteth-20, Arachidyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Ethoxydiglycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dimethicone, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Ergothioneine, Hydrolyzed Sericin, Phospholipids, Ubiquinone, Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Leaf Extract, Saccharomyces Ferment Lysate Filtrate, Aminobutyric Acid, Phytosterols, Tocopherol, Tocotrienols, Squalene, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax (Oryza Sativa Cera), Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Polyacrylate-13, Polyisobutene, Polysorbate 20, Behenyl Alcohol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Steareth-10, Steareth-20, Butylene Glycol, Maltodextrin, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Parfum/Fragrance, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Coumarin, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Geraniol, Isoeugenol

Question 2  

Does hot water damage hair more than hot styling devices?

Both are damaging but from a heat standpoint, the styling device are worse. But really, these are two different types of damage on the hair that can’t compare.

Question 3  

Ingredients by Louise shared a post with us via Instagram about a brand called Le-Vel. They are selling “wearable nutrition” as part of their Thrive product portfolio. The patches, featuring Derma Fusion Technology, promises that technology meets premium nutrition. The patches are placed on the arm to deliver – over an extended period of time – ForsLean, Green Coffee Bean Extract, Garcinia Cambogia, CoQ10, White Willow Bark, Cosmoperine, Limonene, Aloe Vera and L-Arginine. 

It’s unlikely you’ll get any noticeable benefit out of using this product.

Classic MLM marketing tactic! 

Question 4   

One Drink Bona asks, I’m a hairdresser that loves listening to ya’ll. I have clients that always want to grow more hair or make their hair grow faster. Some have always had finer hair and some have gone through chemo. Is there a shampoo and conditioner or topical solution that does actually do this? Is there one that is the best? Thank you so much!

If your hair is slow growing or not growing due to a deficiency, taking a vitamin that addresses that deficiency may help, but if you’re not deficient, you’ll just urinate them out. 

Follow the Brains

Thanks for listening. Hey if you get a chance can you go over to iTunes and leave us a review. That will help other people find the show and ensure we have a full docket of beauty questions to answer.  

ASK A QUESTION – If you want to ask a question click this link or record one on your phone and send it to thebeautybrains@gmail.com

Social media accounts
on Instagram we’re at thebeautybrains2018
on Twitter, we’re thebeautybrains
And we have a Facebook page.

Support the Beauty Brains!
The Beauty Brains are now on Patreon! Help support us to continue to make episodes.

Thanks again for listening and remember Be Brainy about your Beauty

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