≡ Menu

Hello and welcome to the Beauty Brains, a show where real scientists answer your beauty questions and give you an insiders look at the beauty product industry.  

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

  • should you wash your hair every day
  • whether dermatologist recommended products are better,
  • the difference between natural and synthetic hair colors
  • how home skin analyzing devices work & if they’re worth it

Beauty Science stories

Parabens continue to be safe

‘Sub-zero waste’ set to be next big global beauty trend in 2019

Follow us on Instagram


After a brief hiatus, the Beauty Brains podcast is back.

Covered on this episode:

Beauty Science stories:

Cruelty free products are free from cruelty.

What does it mean for consumers? Getting rid of animal testing means that products will not be much different than what you could ever make.

EWG on the Kardashian’s show

We got an email from the PR firm that does the work for the Environmental Working Group (the EWG). This is the group that seems to exist to propagate fear about cosmetics. Well, they sent me a notice crowing about how they were mentioned on the Keeping up with the Kardashian reality tv show. I think they wanted to get us to book the EWG expert on the show. Maybe we’ll do that some time.

The article goes on to parrot the other standard, misleading talking points of the EWG…the idea that cosmetic products are not safety tested…they are. The idea that products with a low EWG rating are more safe than ones with a higher rating…they aren’t. And the notion that new cosmetic regulatory legislation will make products more safe…it won’t.

So what can you do? I think you can assume products bought at stores and produced by big corporations are safe. The things you have to most worry about are products made by small companies who don’t do safety testing.


Beauty Questions:

Are human stem cells effective in anti-aging products?

Coincidentally, I just read a story about a new skin care product that incorporates both plant and human “stem cells.” This type of marketing is a bit annoying because it’s completely misleading. There aren’t stem cells in the product no matter what this company claims about their skin cream.

How do I know this? Well, all you have to do is know a little about the science of stem cells and it becomes clear. So let’s talk about stem cells.

Stem cells are living cells that are undifferentiated. They’re a bit like the cells that start every embryo when the sperm and egg cells fuse. They contain all the DNA information to make an entire human being (or plant or other animal depending on the species). When embryos start to grow, most of their cells differentiate into things like skin cells, brain cells, heart cells, and all the other different organs in your body. While nearly every cell in your body has the same DNA material, the DNA code is expressed differently so you end up getting the different organs. It’s like your DNA is one big recipe book and the organs are made by following different recipes in the same book. This is called cellular differentiation.

Stem cells do not differentiate in this way. They maintain their potential to become any type of organ. They also have an unlimited ability to divide and live. See most differentiated human cells can only divide about 50 generations before they die. They are subject to the Hayflick limit and have a built-in program that kills them off. Scientists theorize this prevents cancer.

But Stem cells, are not restricted as such. That’s why they are so promising for curing diseases or regrowing organs. Imagine if you could take some of your own skin stem cells and grow new patches of your own skin from them in a lab. You could use that skin to cover scars or other tissue damage. You could even get rid of wrinkles or signs of aging skin. It’s this potential that makes them a promising treatment for antiaging products.

It’s also a misunderstanding of this potential that has duped consumers and inspired marketers to put them into skin care formulations. So you might be wondering, if a stem cell could reverse aging, why wouldn’t you do it?

I’ll tell you why.

Because stem cells only work if they are living. And living stem cells are not being put into these skin creams. If they were, they would have to have a special growth medium and be kept at a specific temperature. They would need to be refreshed with food too. Stem cell containing creams are not created as such. At best you have a cream filled with dead stem cells that have no potential to do anything.

Plant stem cells

Plant stem cells in a skin cream is even more baffling to me. These are stem cells that come from plants and have the potential to grow stems, leaves, fruits, etc. Why would anyone think that a plant stem cell is going to be able to help improve the appearance or condition of your skin? It is nonsensical.

The reason companies put them in formulas however, is because they can claim the product has stem cells (which consumer like I guess) and the ingredients can be obtained inexpensively. Human stem cells would be pretty pricey and probably illegal. This isn’t a problem with apple stem cells. So marketers figure if people like stem cells in their products, it doesn’t matter what type of stem cells they are.

In this, they are right. But only because the type of stem cell in your cosmetic doesn’t matter. No type of stem cell added to your skin lotion will do much of anything!

Of course, I should add that stem cells are a promising technology for the future. And they may even be a great anti-aging treatment when the science catches up with the application. You will know when it is a real anti-aging treatment when the following things are true.

The stem cells are from humans (preferably yourself)

The stem cells are alive

The product is somehow delivered to your dermis (probably an injection)

The product is applied by a doctor

If stem cells really worked the way they are promised, this treatment would be beyond a cosmetic one and well into the drug category. It just might happen in the next 20 years but any cream that is advertised to be anti-aging because it contains stem cells now is about as effective as all the skin creams without stem cells.

Kelly asks : What hair dyes cover gray the best?

Kim asks  – Why do people think “All Natural” is better?

There certainly is a “natural” trend in the beauty industry. It has taken on many names such as Green Beauty, Organic beauty, Natural beauty, and the latest, Clean Beauty.

Essentially, these phrases are all meant to imply that this new type of cosmetic is somehow more safe for consumers. They also try to imply that the products are also somehow better for you and that they work better. This is all just misleading marketing.

But why do people think that natural is somehow better?

I think there are a few reasons.

First, there is a thing in philosophy called the appeal to nature. This is a type of argument that says something is good because it is ‘natural’, or something is bad because it is ‘unnatural’. Of course, it’s easy to demonstrate that this is false (just think of dangerous things like poison ivy, snake venom, or anthrax) But many people just accept this as fact.

So with people primed to believe claims, advertiser take advantage of this. You see it all the time with companies making Free From claims or 100% all natural claims. The worst is Chemical Free claims as if everything isn’t made out of chemicals. All these claims imply that something natural must be better for you. When people are constantly told by advertisers that natural is better than synthetic they start to believe it.

Add to this a complicit media who love to do stories about some natural wonder product that scientists didn’t create. I think there is something compelling about stories where some unexpected, overlooked person or ingredient is discovered to do something amazing. This is almost always some type of natural ingredient.

Another reason I think is because (at least in the United States) there is a tendency for people to not trust corporations. They see big corporations as the ones who are making synthetic products while the natural products are made by little companies. Mom and pop shops that only put out wholesome goodness. This is false of course. In fact, some of the biggest natural brands are made by big companies, but people don’t really know that. We’ll have to do a show sometime looking the big companies and the “independent brands” they produce.

There is also the notion that natural ingredients are somehow better for the environment and more sustainable. (some are, some aren’t) Or that natural ingredients are better for indigenous populations and farmers. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. And there are also people who buy into the natural trend who genuinely think that natural products are safer just because they are natural.

So those are a few of the reasons I think some people prefer natural products.

The reality is that in most cases natural is not better.

Natural products are not safer, natural products do not work better, and natural products are not always better for the environment. As with most things, these issues depend on many factors and the truth in any instance is complicated.

Shereen asks Does silicon damage curly hair?

Not really.

Remember to check out our new Instagram account.

Follow us on Twitter.


We don’t have a transcript for today’s show yet but please enjoy the audio. Listen to the end of show when Perry and I announce that this will be our final podcast for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for stopping by!


Today, we bring you a special Beauty Brains episode featuring Sarah Bellum.  Randy is on vacation.

We answer a few question.

About beauty products on Amazon

cejxn19 asks – Hi Guys, I’ve heard some horror stories of people buying expired or knock off beauty products on amazon. Is there any good way to tell if a product is legit other than trial and error?

About the K-Beauty product craze

shar037 says – Hi! I am fascinated with the whole K Beauty craze. With ingredients like Snail Mucen (goo), bee venom, sheep placenta…my curiosity is peaked. Not to mention the fact that most K Beauty routines consists of at least 10 steps! Is there any validity to the use of ingredients like these? Are 10 steps better than 3?

About diluting shampoos

Dash says – I’ve read quite a few times now about people diluting their shampoo with water before using it. The ratio varies, but it’s roughly 1 part shampoo to 5 parts water. Does this seem like a good, hair-protective idea? Or would it simply not clean as well?

Beauty Science Story:




Is bee venom a good anti-aging ingredient?

Monika asks…Korean Bee Venom essence but it does seem to work. My question is the bee venom really magic or is there something else that removes the spots?

RS: Thanks Monika…this gives me the perfect excuse time to remind listeners to go back to Episode 105 and listen to the story about how Perry got stung in the eye by a bee. If nothing else, just go the webpage and check out the picture of his face. It’s horrific. I’m not kidding. But let’s put my personal revulsion aside and try to figure out why this product seemed to work on Monika’s acne.

PR: We found a study published in the Journal of Integrative Medicine titled “Effects of cosmetics containing purified honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) venom on acne vulgaris.” The researchers did testing in the lab and found that bee venom can kill p acne which is the bacteria that is a contributing cause of zits. Then they did a study on real people and found that a significant decrease in inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions. The P value was only 0.027 which is not very statistically sound but at least there’s a reasonable chance this really works on acne.

RS: BTW, the product also contains azelaic acid and willow bark extract which is a natural source of salicylic acid. Both of these acids are drugs that are proven help acne so they could be responsible for the improvement you saw. But this raised the larger question about the trend of using bee venom in beauty products, specifically in anti-aging products.

Anyway, is bee venom a good skin care ingredient?

PR: As always when looking at functionality of cosmetic ingredients we try to answer the 3 Kligman questions.

RS: Does it penetrate? Sure it does…when you get stung by a bee. But I couldn’t find any clear evidence that it penetrates when applied topically. There are studies on bee venom as wound healing agent but of course open wounds are NOT the same as healthy intact skin. So that doesn’t tell us much. We can infer it penetrates based on some of the efficacy studies we’ll discuss in a moment but it certainly is not a clear cut YES.

PR: Is there a mechanism to describe how bee venom could theoretically reduce wrinkles or improve the appearance of your skin in any way? Again, this is murky at best. Bee venom does have some anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and it’s been used for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer. But this has little to do with skin. Apparently it has some some antimicrobial properties which could make it beneficial for certain skin conditions. We did find a study done in vitro showing it can decrease the formation of a type II collagen (which is how it helps treat arthritis). Melittin is the majority chemical found in bee venom is SAID TO increase/boost collagen production. But we couldn’t find anything explaining how it could do this or how it could reduce their degradation which is what you’d expect in an anti-wrinkle product.

RS: Okay then, what about the third (and most important) Kligman question: Is there evidence that bee venom reduces wrinkles when applied to real people? Well, there’s some evidence but I wouldn’t call it very good. I thought we had hit the jackpot when we found the study “The beneficial effects of honeybee-venom serum on facial wrinkles in humans.” I mean how much more on point could you ask for, than that?

PR: Here’s what they did: First they got some bee venom. That in itself is not an insignificant task. Here’s how the facial study paper described it…”the bee-venom collector was placed on the hive, and the bees were given enough electric shocks to cause them to sting a glass plate, from which dried bee venom was later scraped off. The collected venom was diluted in cold sterile water and then centrifuged at 10,000 g for 5 minutes at 4°C. Purified bee venom was then freeze-dried and refrigerated at 4°C for later use. They took the bee venom and formulated it into a serum at 0.006%. There was no discussion of what else was in this serum. Which, by the way, is kind of important.

RS: Next they recruited 22 women ages 30 to 49 and asked them to apply this serum to their faces twice daily for 12 weeks. The researchers did a clinical evaluation before the test and at 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Here’s what they found: The average visual grade of all patients significantly improved with the bee-venom serum treatment: 6.64% at 8 weeks (P=0.002) and almost 12% at 12 weeks. (P=0.0003) I don’t even know what that means. They also directly measured wrinkles using a couple different techniques, one was total wrinkle count. Results showed that total wrinkles went from about 104 initially to about 100 after 12 weeks. Plus or minus 32. Huh? There were similarly confusing results for wrinkle depth and total wrinkle area.

PR: Even if these numbers showed a conclusive reduction in wrinkles the data would still be suspect because the study was done with out a proper control. The product is just tested against nothing so we don’t know if some other factor cause the change or if other ingredients in the serum moisturized skin and therefore provided a modest reduction in wrinkles. There’s just no way to know.

RS: So what’s the bottom line? There seems to be a CHANCE bee venom may be helpful in treating acne, but we have data showing how it compares to conventional treatment like sal acid or B.P. There seems to be even less evidence that bee venom has any reliable anti-aging properties. By the way, thanks you Paige DeGarmo for providing much of the research we used in answering this question.

Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence 

Snail Secretion Filtrate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Arbutin, Human Ogliopeptide-1, Bee Venom, Plantago Asiatica Extract, Laminana Digita Extract, Dios Pyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Ulmus Campestris (Elm) Extract, Bacilus Ferment, Azelaic Acid, Althaea Rosea Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Beta-Glucan, Betaine, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Cross Polymer, Adenosine, Panthenol, Allantoin, Zanthoxylum Piperitum Fruit Extract, Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract, Pulsatilla Koreana Extract, Arginine



Is dandruff shampoo good for your face?

Vanessa asks…I just saw a video of someone saying she uses Nizoral dandruff shampoo as a face mask or face cleanser for clearing tiny bumps on her face. Would this really work?

RS: This is one of those practices that sounds like an urban myth..I was ready to call B.S. on this one. Until we did a little digging.

PR: First, a little background on Nizoral. The active ingredient in that formula that stops dandruff is an anti fungal agent called ketoconazole. It kills the fungus that causes dandruff. That’s unlike most dandruff shampoos, like Head and Shoulders, that use zinc pyrithione. Did Nizoral get an NDA?

RS: Second, let’s talk about face bumps. It’s like a fist bump but done with your face. What causes face bumps?

PR: Of course there is acne but that condition is caused by bacteria (among other factors) not related to fungus.

RS: There’s Milia which is a skin condition characterized by small white bumps. These are typically keratin-filled cysts that are harmless. Milia is extremely common in infants (but adults get it too) and it’s believed to be caused by oil producing glands in your skin that are not fully developed. But they have nothing to do with fungus.

RS: What about razor bumps? No, those are caused by ingrown hairs, not fungi.

PR: BUT…there is a condition called “Pityrosporum folliculitis” which is caused by a yeast that can colonize the hair follicles and cause itchy, acne like bumps.

RS: I believe it’s pronounced “Pity the forum you like to eat us”

RS: It’s not TYPICALLY found on your face…most commonly found in what is called “the cape distribution.” I had never heard that term but it refers to the upper chest and upper back. Which is wear a cape would contact your skin. The bumps are said to be pinhead sized and uniform.

PR: Everyone has this yeast but in some cases it can grow like crazy. Contributing factors including applying greasy ingredients, like coconut oil, to your skin and wearing tight clothing that doesn’t breath.

RS: Which is why all the best dressed superheroes only wear capes made from cotton.

PR: Why are we spending so much time discussing this condition? Because this particular kind of yeast can be killed by ketoconazole. And that brings us back to Nizoral. According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, washing your face with Nizoral weekly can get rid of face bumps. The best practice is to apply it to your face and leave it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing it off. However, you should be aware that treatment with ketoconazole doesn’t always work.

RS: So the bottom line it that IF your face bumps are caused by “Pliny thesaurus, come and fight us” then washing your face with a dandruff shampoo containing ketoconazole MIGHT help. But if some other condition is the cause then you’re totally wasting your time. In that case, consult a dermatologist.

Reference: http://www.aocd.org/?page=PityrosporumFollicu

Is dry conditioner the next dry shampoo?

Melissa Mary asks…Have you seen some of the dry conditioner formulas lately? They seem to be sold in specialty beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora. I’m not sure if they’ve made their way to drugstores yet. Are they essentially just shine sprays? Would they work well with dry shampoo?

RS: Dry Shampoos have been popular for several years now. In fact, we worked on the first successful mass market dry shampoo, Tresemme Fresh Start.

PR: But we weren’t familiar with dry conditioners until now. Melissa Mary provided a link to a couple of example products. One is from Amika and it’s an alcohol based spray with some silicone and cationic type conditioning agents.

RS: The other is Drybar’s Detox Dry Conditioner I can’t figure it out. According to a Sephora website it’s a very light light aerosol spray that you apply to dry hair. But the ingredient list they provide must be wrong because it looks exactly like a conventional rinse out conditioner with fatty alcohol, silicones, and quats. It could even be a No Poo Spray (although that sounds like some sort of aerosol laxative.) Regardless, this kind of product couldn’t be sprayed in the way shown in the video. So I’m guessing the ingredient list is wrong.

PR: We can tell you, though, that these products appear to be more conditioning than a shine spray because shine sprays are pretty much just pure silicone. Typically Cyclomethicone is used because it evaporates and it’s paired with something like dimethicone which gives good shine.

RS: But I still don’t understand the point of these products. I don’t really see how these would work with a dry shampoo, though, because dry shampoos leave a powder in your hair. Would you really put another leave in product on after that? Or do you use them instead of a dry shampoo in which case you’re applying them to dirty hair which is just going to make it weighed down? It makes no sense! We’ll post the ingredients in the show notes.

Amika spray:
Butane, SD Alcohol 40-B, Propane, Diisopropyl Adipate, Peg-8 Dimethicone, Panthenol, Butylene glycol, Quaternium-91, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Extract, Water.

Drybar spray:
Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Chloride, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isododecane, Cyperus Esculentus Root Oil, Prunus Insititia Seed Oil, Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed) Extract, Citrus Junos Peel Extract, Keratin, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Caesalpinia Spinosa Gum, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract, Cystine Bis-PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol, Jojoba Esters, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Panthenol, Sodium Nitrate, Inulin Lauryl Carbamate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dextran, Caprylyl Glycol, Parfum (Fragrance), Stearamine Oxide, Methoxy PEG/PPG-7/3 Aminopropyl Dimethicone, Glycerin, Amodimethicone, Cetrimonium Chloride, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Silicone Quaternium-22, Isopropyl Alcohol, Quaternium-80, Dimethiconol, PPG-3 Myristyl Ether, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Octyldodecanol, Octocrylene, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Quaternium-95, BHT, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Sodium Chloride, Dehydroacetic Acid, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Potassium Sorbate, Benzyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Disodium EDTA, Sucrose Laurate, Glyoxal, Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Methylisothiazolinone, Linalool.

http://m.sephora.com/product/P404912?icid2=skugrid http://m.sephora.com/product/P406254

Beauty Science News

Allure to stop saying anti-aging

Don’t condition your hair after a nuclear explosion

iTunes reviews

PR: Great podcast says “Fake noise from United States.” Perry and Randy help make me feel like an informed consumer who can make more informed choices. This Podcast has quickly become one of my favorites joining the ranks of Science VS, Skeptics Guide…, and This American Life.

RS: Ruweida from South Africa says…How do I profess my love for thee? Sexy nerdy scientists with an unbiased view on beauty products. Compulsory listening for any consumer. Love. Love. Love.

PR: Paul From France says…Goodbye marketing BS. Thank you Beauty Brains for providing an inside view on how marketing is constantly trying to screw you! And thank you for enlightening everyone on how cosmetic products really work.

RS: Alez from South Africa says…These two are my heroes. I’m a beauty writer, and I can’t tell you how many times the Beauty Brains have saved me from buying into and endorsing products on false premises. Just one request – Randy, please be nicer to Perry


Can you use diaper rash cream as sunscreen?

Mari asks…Today a customer came into the retail pharmacy where I work and demanded that we sell him zinc oxide diaper rash paste so he could use it as sunscreen. I tried to steer him in the direction of actual sunscreens with listed SPFs, but he was not to be dissuaded and ended up leaving with a tube of generic diaper rash cream (with no listed SPF) in hand. His rationale was that diaper rash paste has a higher percentage of zinc oxide than zinc oxide sunscreens. Although this is sometimes true, depending on the brand, my concern is that (a) the formulation of a diaper rash paste might not make it an effective sunscreen and (b) without a listed SPF, there’s no way to really know. What are your thoughts on this?

We’ve talked quite a bit about sunscreens on the showgram but believe this is the first time that diaper rash products have come up. So a little quick background discussion is in order.

We used to think that urine was the primary cause of diaper rash which makes sense since a baby (especially under 2 months) can urinate up to 20 times per day. But the hypothesis was that urine releases ammonia which raises the pH of skin which opens it up to damage. But it turns out urine is NOT the primary cause…it’s feces.

The pH of feces is acidic due to bile and studies have shown that diaper rash is more prominent where the feces contact the skin. This contact can lead to yeast and bacterial infection. So mark your calendars that today was the day that the whole urine-diaper rash myth was busted.

And that brings us back to diaper rash creams. In case you didn’t know, both sunscreens and diaper creams are Over the Counter drugs and are controlled by the FDA.

Sunscreens are 1 type of drug…they are sunscreens. But diaper rash creams are actually not 1…not 2…not 3 but actually 4 different types of drug products: External Analgesic, Topical Antifungal, Topical Antimicrobial, and Skin Protectant.

In addition to Zinc Oxide other approved diaper rash ingredients include mineral oil, petrolatum, cornstarch, allantoin, calamine, dimethicone, kaolin clay, and cod liver oil.

How does ZnO help with diaper rash? It works 3 ways: It helps water proof (or feces proof) skin, it’s a mild astringent which means it can cause the contraction of body tissues, and it has some antimicrobial properties. That’s what makes it suitable for use in the 4 drug product categories we just mentioned.

So Zinc Oxide is an approved drug ingredient that is used in both products. But does that mean you could use them interchangeably? Can you use diaper cream as a sunscreen as the demanding gentleman in Mari’s pharmacy intended to do.

And conversely, can you use sunscreen on diaper rash?

Let’s begin by answering a fundamental question: is the zinc oxide used in diaper creams the same as the zinc oxide used in sunscreens?

In classic Beauty Brains fashion, the answer is yes and no. Chemically, they’re identical. Both have to use USP grade [what does USP stand for] which means they have to meet certain purity requirements.

BTW did you know that, being a natural product, zinc oxide contains somewhere between 1 and 10 ppm of lead?

Physically, there are differences. Zinc oxide powders are sold with different particle sizes and the size of the particle impacts how well the zinc screens out UV rays. It’s even more complicated than that because it’s not just the size of the particles but these particles tend to stick together to form clumps or aggregates which affect how well the zinc scatters UV rays.

In addition to different particle sizes zinc oxide is commercially available in different varieties such as surface coated varieties as well as dispersions in different materials like natural oils and silicone fluids.

So sunscreens HAVE TO use a version of zinc oxide that’s designed to scatter UV rays…and sunscreens are tested to ensure that they do indeed do that. But diaper rash creams do NOT have to use one of those forms. They may or may not and there’s no way to know since diaper rash products are not tested for UV protection. So that’s issue #1.

Here’s issue #2: Even if a diaper rash cream uses the exact same grade as a sunscreen, the way the diaper rash cream is formulated can impact level of UV protection it provides.

Yeah, the medium in which the zinc is dispersed can determine the final opacity of the product. In other words, the oils, waxes, and other ingredients used in diaper creams can make the final formula more transparent in which case it won’t filter out as much UV radiation.

And then there’s issue #3: The way the product is processed makes a difference as well. For sunscreens, specific dispersion technology can be used to one way to make sure these particle agglomerates are broken up.

Diaper rash products wouldn’t necessarily require the same kind of dispersion technology.

What does all this mean? IF a diaper rash cream contains the right kind of ZnO, and IF it’s used at the correct concentration and IF it’s properly processed, and IF the final formula doesn’t contain any ingredients that can compromise the UV scattering properties of the ZnO, THEN you certainly could use a diaper cream as a sunscreen.

But the only way to know for sure is to conduct SPF testing and it’s doubtful any company will do that because even if it works they can’t use that data to promote the product? Why not? Because the drug monographs and don’t allow for any combined claims.

Even if I knew all those IFs where true I’m not sure I’d want to use diaper rash cream instead of sunscreen. Aesthetically it could be a trainwreck: a diaper cream’s PRIMARY purpose is to create a hydrophobic barrier so they use high amounts of things like petrolatum. A high ZnO/petrolatum cream is great for babies but not very pleasant when smearing all over your face or body.

Is there ANY reason why you’d want to do this? I’m guessing it’s motivated by cost: depending on the brand, diaper rash creams can be cheaper than sunscreens. For example, Desitin costs about $1.75/oz while a ZnO-only sunscreen like Badger costs about $4.70/oz.

So the Beauty Brains bottom line is amount of money you save is not worth the risk of compromised UV protection or the sacrifice of aesthetics.


Is facial massage good for winkles?

Mark asks…is facial massage good for wrinkles?

We’ve touched on this before. Way back in Episode 14 we answered a question about facial yoga being good for wrinkles. So go listen to that for a full recap. But the basic idea is that “plumping up” muscles by exercising them gets rid of wrinkles. Massage is essentially another way to stimulate facial muscles.

But as we pointed out at the time, muscle laxity is not the cause of wrinkles – rather it’s the collapse of structural elements like collagen and elastin. So if we’ve covered this before why are we answering it again? Because it gives us an excuse to discuss another aspect of this which is using electrical stimulation to get rid of wrinkles.

CNN recently reported electro-stim for skin and they quoted Jennifer Aniston who said that “”It’s like a little workout for your face.” And an aesthetician they interviewed said that the more times you have the procedure the more results you’ll see.

Sure, get a bunch of treatments – depending on where you have it done it costs between $200 and $600!

However, the consensus of the medical experts they talked to is that “there is no data demonstrating its effectiveness.” I did find a couple of papers on the subject. One study tested 6 women. Another evaluated 108 women and did show that the procedure resulted in SOME difference in facial muscle thickness.

But it required treatment for 20 min/day, 5 days/week for 12 weeks. That would cost you between $12000 and $36000. Who’s going to spend that kind of money for such a small benefit?

As always the important takeaway is that you think critically when you hear about treatments like this. Not everyone thinks like that. 

RS: When I posted this on Facebook, one commenter said “Clearly Mr. Knott needs to experience micro current himself because regardless of “data” it most certainly does produce results and it is so much more than a “feel good” skincare modality. It seems like he is trying to discredit skincare therapists.”

I replied: DM: It may be nice for Mr. Knott to experience the treatment but that doesn’t prove or disprove that it really works. That’s what “data” is for and in this case there doesn’t seem to be sufficient data to prove that this treatment really works. If you’re familiar with any evidence we’d love to see it and share it with our readers.

Does this plant extract boost collagen?

Ana asks…We love the beautybrains podcast here in Portugal and I finally have a question to ask. I read recently about a plant called bulbine frutescens that is kind of similar to aloe. In some studies it says the juice of the plant stimulates collagen production. Have you heard about it? Do you think it would be a good think to use on the skin for the anti aging properties?

Bulbine frutescens is similar to aloe in that their both used in the treatment of skin wounds and burns. We found a study showing that leaf gel extracts can increase collagen deposition in wounds on pig skin.

I won’t go into details on how the testing was done but unfortunately I CAN’T say that “no pigs were harmed during the course of this study.”

But even if there is some data, before you get too excited, consider 2 of the Kligman questions. Remember what those are?

Mechanism, penetration, and data it works on real people.

In this case they’re applying the BF leaf extract directly to a wound. So the extract doesn’t need to penetrate and the mechanism of wound healing is NOT the same as the production of normal collagen that keeps your skin looking smooth and healthy.

In fact, we couldn’t find anything to suggest this material has anti-aging properties when applied to healthy skin.

If it is similar to aloe it may have some moisturizing properties and it may be good for sunburn but don’t expect it to fix the kind of collagen loss we all experience as we age.


https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232319403_Bulbine_Natalensis_and_Bulbine_Frutescens_promote_cutaneous_wound_healing [accessed Jun 21, 2017].

Beauty Science News

J&J vs natural products


I want to give a quick mention of an article I saw on Global Cosmetic News about Johnson & Johnson speaking out on natural products. First of all I love the title: J&J calls parents bluff over natural baby products. Let me quote the article:
“While many parents want all-natural products for their baby, natural or organic isn’t always what’s safest for baby,” said David Mays, Senior Director of Global Scientific Engagement at Johnson & Johnson in an email sent to Forbes. “The debate over naturals and chemicals has been oversimplified where many consumers now believe that the more natural something is, the better and safer it is. It’s just not that simple and in fact that oversimplification is doing a great disservice to consumers.” I think important take away is this quote: ‘being natural is never more important than being safe.’

Artificial sun tan


iTunes reviews

  • Ouija says…Your “showgrams” are fun, educational, and a much needed public service. Put me down for a yes on the banter.
  • Tornadogirl1981 from Germany says…So useful! Should be on a list for everyone who spends money on skincare. In addition to substance, the form of delivery makes you laugh out loud so beware when listening to the Beauty Brains in public places.
  • Tavelbella says…Just when I thought I knew it all! Love sharing your factoids with my clueless friends.
  • Rose from Australia…Great to learn more about beauty products and how they work 🙂
  • Sashawhyismynamenotavailable says…Great podcast for the closeted cosmetics junkie (or junkie to be) — 5 stars
  • Togahairgurl…I absolutely love listening to these Cos-chesmonauts! I would love to be in your industry, so listening to your podcast is fascinating.

How can you find a cheaper natural lip balm?

Abby says…I have a question about Bite Beauty’s Agave Lip Mask. It claims its natural formula smoothes, nourishes and moisturizes lips with a bio active combination of organic agave nectar, jojoba oil, vanilla co2 extract, and triple the amount of the antioxidant trans-resveratrol found in red wine. It doesn’t mention anything about it containing lead so I’m wondering if it’s safe and effective to use on dry lips. I’m also wondering if you can tell me if there’s anything else on the market that might be similar to this because this is very expensive.

Bite Beauty, in case you’re not aware, is a Toronto based company that hand crafts lip products using “food-grade, or good-enough-to-eat ingredients.” Their credo is to prove that “there’s no sacrifice in quality for products sourced from nature.”

That sounds quite noble but of course it’s never as simple as that. Mainly because when it comes to cosmetics everyone has a different definition of what “sourced from nature” means. But let’s set that aside for the moment and focus on what this particular lip mask.

Most of the hype is around the ingredients Abby mentioned: the agave, the “CO2”vanilla, and the resveratrol but let’s use our “Rule of 5” to look at the PRIMARY ingredients in the product: lanolin, castor oil, agave, olive oil and beeswax.

Lanolin is the first ingredient and it’s perfectly reasonable for use in a product like this because it’s composed of waxy, cholesterol-like materials and other skin compatible lipids. That means it’s good for sealing moisture into skin and making skin softer and more pliable. The big negative of lanolin is that some percentage of the population is allergic to it. It also gets a lot of criticism because it’s an animal by product. You don’t have to kill the sheep – it just comes from the oil on the wool. But still, it’s animal derived which some people don’t like.

Castor oil is another good emollient. Do you know why it’s called “castor” oil? I always that original it was used to lubricate casters…those rollers used on the bottom of some kinds of furniture. But that’s not it all all. Castor oil was originally used as a replacement for the oil from the perineal glands of beavers. And the latin word for beaver is “castor.” Anyway, when properly mixed with other ingredients it can form a nice film on the lips which make it good for a “lip mask.”

Next is agave which is essentially cactus nectar. It doesn’t have ANY benefits to the skin that I’m aware of. (Maybe it can help bind a little more moisture but the other ingredients really have that covered.) It’s primary used as a sweetener so in this formula it just makes the product taste better. It does have the advantage of having a lower glycemic load which means it doesn’t have much impact on your blood sugar.

That might be a big deal dealing with a product like a sweetened soft drink because you’re consuming a lot of it. If you drink a can of soda with sugar it can mess with your blood sugar levels but a drink sweetened with agave isn’t as bad. Of course, that doesn’t matter very much when you’re talking about a lip balm because you apply such a small amount. Instead of 1 calorie you’re ingesting 0.5 calories. It doesn’t really matter.

Olive oil unsaponifiables, which are also known as hydrogenated olive oil, is the next ingredient. This is a solidified version of olive oil that has some skin moisturizing benefits and also contributes to the heavier feel of the product.

Beeswax rounds out the top 5 ingredients and it’s there simply to give the product a thicker consistency. This product is not in stick form it’s packaged in a small squeeze tube so it’s more fluid. Beeswax helps, to some extent, seal in moisture so it’s a good thickener for a product like this.

So these are the ingredients that provide the form and function of the product. The vanilla, which Abby also asked about, is just there as a flavoring agent. The fact that’s it’s CO2 vanilla just means that it was extracted from the vanilla bean using carbon dioxide and high pressure rather than a solvent like alcohol. Supposedly this means the aroma of the extract is closer to the aroma of the original vanilla bean but it doesn’t necessarily give the vanilla any super powers. It may just make it taste a little bit better.

And that brings us to the resveratrol which is often touted as a miracle anti-aging ingredient. This all started because of a few studies back in the early 2000’s which showed that if you give older mice high doses of resveratrol they are able to more successfully walk across a balance beam. Another study showed it made lazy mice look like they had exercised.

There haven’t been very many studies on the effect of resveratrol on skin. There was a 2005 study that indicated topically applied resveratrol can protect skin from UV damage but again this was an animal study. A couple of studies have been done on humans: a 2012 study showed that people who took the ingredient orally had better quality skin and a 2011 study showed that resveratrol gel improved acne. But overall, the scientific consensus is that the benefits of topically applied resveratrol are not well established.

The fact that this product contains “triple the amount of resveratrol found in red wine” isn’t that relevant because you’re applying such a small amount.

So at best you’re applying a very small amount of a compound that hasn’t really been proven to have much of an effect.

On the plus side it may help you walk better on a balance beam.

So back to Abby’s question about less expensive substitutes for this Bite Beauty product. If the agave is just there for sweetness, the vanilla for flavor and the resveratrol…well probably not much. So let’s say for the sake of argument you don’t need to worry about finding a product with those ingredients. What SHOULD you look for?

Since the majority of the product is lanolin I’d look for another lanolin based product. We can’t tell you how to find a product that will FEEL the same way but we can give you a couple of options that are close enough for you to maybe want to try and they’ll be a hell of a lot cheaper.

First there’s Koru Naturals lip balm. It contains just two ingredients: USP Grade Lanolin and Sunflower Seed Wax. It only costs $2.80 for a 0.15 ounce stick.

And then there’s Lanicare which contains Lanolin, Castor Seed Oil, Olive Oil Unsaponifiables and Beeswax. That’s also about $3.00 per stick. Both of these products are about a tenth of the cost of Bite Beauty so they certainly seem worth a try.

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask Ingredient list:
Lanolin* (medical grade), Organic Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil**, Organic Agave Tequilana (blue agave) nectar**, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables*, Organic Cera Alba (Beeswax)**, Flavor, Vanillin, Siraitia Grosvenori (Monk Fruit)*, Vanilla Tahitensis (Vanilla) Fruit Extract*, Organic Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax*, Trans-Resveratrol*, Vitis Vinefera (Grape) oil*, Tocopherol acetate*, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract (And) Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract (and) Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*.

What’s the deal with K Beauty anti-aging alginate masks?

Kate in our Forum asks…. There is this new beauty trend going on in Japan and South Korea – Alginate Masks. They work by mixing alignate mask with water, then you need to apply it to the face, leave the mask in place for at least 15 minute, then remove by peeling it off in one piece. These masks claim to have lifting effect, reduce wrinkles and hyper pigmentation. Is this something new that can actually work on skin and penetrate it? Or is it another foolish trend created by marketers?

To answer Kate’s question let’s start by explaining what it means for a product to be a “mask.” In her original Forum post Kate asks about two ingredients that she saw popping up in a number of these K Beauty mask products: Calcium sulfate and Sodium alginate. Alginate is a material derived from seaweed and it’s a polysaccharide, sort of a long chain of sugary-starch material. When alginate is combined with a divalent atom like calcium, these long chains of starches are connected together in a process we call cross linking.

So when this cross-linked mixture dries, it forms a film. That’s the basic property of any mask – the ability to form a film on your face. That film serves two purposes. First, it provides a tightening feeling because it’s pulling on your skin. That may give the look and feel of lifting and may temporarily tighten some wrinkles. But these benefits only last until the mask is washed away. The second function of the film is to hold other ingredients, like anti-aging actives, onto your skin.

Remember, that for anti-aging ingredients to be effective a few conditions must be met. First, the ingredient must be efficacious, just because a company CLAIMS an ingredient will do something doesn’t mean it really works.

Second, you need to have that ingredient in the right form, delivered from the right kind of forumula (e.g, pH), third it has to be at the right concentration.

And lastly it has to have enough time to get to it needs to do. Some ingredients don’t need to penetrate into the deeper layers of the stratum corneum to work and they work fairly quickly. Others need to be on skin for a lot longer. And that brings us to the problem with masks.

There are three problems actually.
1. Masks are limited in the types of ingredients they can contain. Unlike a cream or lotion where you can easily combine oil and water soluble ingredients, masks tend to be made with more water soluble ingredients.

2. Masks are not the best delivery vehicle because the ingredients can be trapped in the film which prohibits them from fully contacting the skin .

3. And most important, unlike other product forms masks are only left on the skin a relatively short period of time which limits the kind of anti-aging effects it can have. Specifically Kate asked about reducing wrinkles and hyper pigmentation. Ingredients that are effective against these symptoms of aging need to be in contact with skin for a LONG time. Think hours, not minutes. Anti-aging ingredients work best when left in contact with skin. So whether it’s a cleanser or a toner or a mask, if the product isn’t left on the skin you KNOW it’s not going to work as well.

The bottom line is that masks are fun to use and provide a temporary benefit but they can’t be your main anti-aging weapon.

Is baby shampoo good for adults?

Alessandra asks…Is Johnson’s Baby shampoo a gentle sulfate-free option for fine-haired adults who don’t use many styling products (and an inexpensive alternative to fancy salon “low-poo” products)? Or is it as harsh as stylists say, because in order to make the product non-irritating to the eyes, its pH is really unsuitable to the hair?

First let’s talk about what’s in J&J baby shampoo. We’ll put the complete ingredient list in the show notes for your reference.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the ingredients look different than regular “adult” shampoos. Remember the ingredients most commonly used in adult shampoos are sodium or ammonium lauryl and laureth sulfate (SLS, SLES, etc). These are anionic surfactants meaning they tend to have a negative charge, they are high foaming, good degreasers, and unfortunately, can intereact with skin in such a way that causes irritation for some people.

Now, in typically for a baby shampoo, and certainly in the case of J&J the first ingredient after water is what we call a non-ionic surfactant. In this case it’s PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate. This type of detergent doesn’t foam as much so it doesn’t clean as well but it is milder because of the way it interacts with skin.

You’ll also see Cocamidopropyl Betaine which is a cleanser and foam booster used in both baby and adult shampoos. It can be made from coconut oil so even though it’s chemically processed you’ll see it featured in some natural products.

Next is PEG-150 Distearate. This is another non-ionic compound but this one doesn’t do much cleaning. Rather it’s used as an emulsifier to tie the system together and to add some thickening.

Finally, there’s sodium trideceth sulfate. How can this product be sulfate free if it contains a sulfate? “Sulfate free” really refers to free of SLS, etc. This surfactant is considered more of an non-ionic because of the mildness that the “trideceth” portion of the molecule provides.

So these 4 ingredients provide the backbone of the formula. Of course it contains preservatives, colorants, and fragrance as well. It also contains a touch of polyquarternium-10 which is a polymer that can provide a little bit of conditioning but it won’t give the same kind of feel of silicones or guar that you’ll find in adult conditioning shampoos.

One more thing…it contains sodium hydroxide which is a horrible chemical that can burn through your skin. Do you want to explain how that can be in a baby shampoo?

NaOH is very basic which means it has a high pH. But a very small amount can be used to adjust to the pH. When you adjust the pH the base reacts with the acid and is neutralized. In other words the sodium hydroxide is “used up” and isn’t even really in the product any more. So you don’t need to worry about it.

The pH of this product is about 7 which is close to the pH of tears which is one of the reasons it doesn’t hurt babies’ eyes.

But to answer Alessandra’s question, is this stuff too harsh as she said? I’ve even heard it said that I baby shampoo is harsh because it’s loaded with detergents to help get rid of cradle cap. That’s not true. You don’t need a lot of detergent for that more just mechanical washing. What you might need is a keralytic agent that would help speed up skin cells sloughing off but those are not used in regular baby shampoo.

So baby shampoo is NOT harsh but that doesn’t mean it’ll leave your hair feeling smooth. Some people think baby shampoo feels rough because of what it DOESN’T contain: there aren’t really any major moisturizers or silicones in it to coat the hair and counter balance all the surfactants.

The bottom line is that you may not like the way baby shampoo makes your hair feel but it’s not harsh and irritating.

Ingredients: Water, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-150 Distearate, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Sodium Benzoate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-10, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Potassium Acrylates Copolymer, Yellow 6, Yellow 10.

Beauty Science News

Daily Consumption of a Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Alters Facial Skin Color.


Remember that time I ate 3 pounds of carrots in one night in an attempt to turn my skin orange?

Well, it turns out that that experiment wasn’t so crazy after all.  In an article published in the journal PLOS One researchers found that daily consumption of fruit and vegetables produced a measurable skin color change. Here’s what they did. They took a group of 81 university students both male and female and measured their skin color using a chronometer. I should mention these were all from an Asian population.  They were able to get a LAB value for yellowness, redness & luminance.  Remember we used to do measurements like that.

Anyway, they gave half the group a fruit smoothie to drink daily and the control group got mineral water. Over the course of 6 weeks they did skin measurements to see what would happen.

It turns out there was a large increase in skin yellowness in the test group and a slight increase in skin redness after 4 weeks of testing.  This effect remained for even 2 weeks after they stopped the test.

So, if you have Asian skin and you are interested in changing the color, perhaps a daily fruit smoothie rich in carotenoids is the way to go. Ya know, I’ve always been skeptical of this “beauty from within” trend but this is at least some evidence that it could work.

Why is Homeland Security interested in cosmetic products?


Normally we say you shouldn’t believe all the hype about dangerous cosmetic ingredients. But it turns out that some cosmetic ingredients are so hazardous that Homeland security has gotten involved.

The danger is not from using cosmetic products, those are safe, but certain raw materials in high concentrations can be weaponized. For example, here are 3 common cosmetic ingredients that can be used in explosive devices: If there are any terrorists listening please cover your ears:

triethanolamine which is used as a pH control agent, hydrogen peroxide which is used in hair lighters and a bunch of other products, and powdered aluminum which is used in color cosmetics.

So, Homeland Security is working with cosmetic companies that have large stock piles of these ingredients to help them ensure the materials remain secure.

The only time I’ve seen cosmetic chemistry threaten homeland security was that time you were doing some testing in the lab and and you set a comb on fire. Remember that?

iTunes reviews

Abky25 says…5 stars. This podcast is a must for anyone who wants to be informed about the products they’re using. Since I started listening to this i’ve really reduced the amount of money I spend on skin products. I will say the podcast can get a bit boring after a while. Overall, these guys are easy to listen to and just so knowledgeable!!

Disparate Housewife from Ireland says…Beauty is an industry and this podcast holds them to standards while guiding listeners to be savvy consumers. I love that the hosts are intelligent and have a fun sense of humour.

Monika from Sweden says…You’ve saved me so much money and I love to listen to you on my morning commute.

Um, please says…I never write reviews but this podcast is just so awesome I had to share the love! These guys address all your cosmetic questions in a fun, quick, and educational way.



Can hair straighteners stop your hair from being naturally curly?

Sarah asks…Can straightening your hair for a long time change it from being very curly to being naturally straight?

That’s like saying bleaching your brown hair for a long time will make you naturally blonde. It doesn’t work that way because you’re only treating the hair that’s already grown out of the scalp. The chemistry and biology that determines if your hair is curly or straight happens BELOW the scalp.

Yes, there are two main factors that control hair shape. One is the shape of the follicle. We’ve used this analogy before but you can think of hair as little tubes of Play Doh that are squeezed out of holes in your scalp. If the scalp hole is perfectly round the hair is round and very straight. If the hold is a little more oval, the hair has an elliptical shape which causes it to twist and turn into a curl. And if the hole is sort of kidney-bean shaped, the hair grows out to be kinky (like African-American hair.) There’s nothing you can do about this although it may change as you age and experience hormone changes.

The other factor is the protein composition of the cortex of the hair. That’s the core of hair that gives it its strength and it’s made up of protein bundles that are grouped into two different regions: one is called the Ortho Cortex and the other is the Para Cortex. These regions absorb water differently and this differential absorption causes one protein region to swell more than the other. That causes hair to twist and turn as it absorbs moisture. That’s why hair gets curlier in high humidity.

The chemistry and biology involved with these factors take place deep in the follicle which is buried beneath the scalp. Once the hair is extruded from the follicle and it pokes out through the scalp, its shape is set. Nothing that straightening products do to the dead hair on top of your head affects the living, growing cells under the skin.

These straightening products work by modifying the molecular bonds inside hair to change the shape from curly to straight. Temporary straightening products modify the hydrogen bonds which are very weak. As soon as your hair gets wet the hydrogen bonds reset and your hair reverts to being curly. Temporary treatments include heat processing like flat ironing. Most styling products work this way as well.

On the other hand, semi-permanent and permanent straightening products modify the disulfide bonds in hair. These are sulfur-sulfur bonds which are very strong. You have to break these bonds so the hair loses its curly shape, then you pull the hair straight and then create new bonds that hold this new shape. These disulfide bonds are hard to break and reform but once you’ve straightened the hair this way it’ll stay straight for a long time.

These long lasting straighteners use similar technology to permanent waves and relaxers. Some products use formaldehyde or formaldehyde-like chemicals because they are good at forming cross linked bonds in the hair which keeps it straight.

You should be aware of the tradeoff involved in using these products though: the longer lasting the straightening effect, the more damaging it is. That’s because not all the bonds are reformed once their broken. That means your hair is weaker after permanent straightening so it will break more easily.

I just learned something about curly hair that I think is interesting. Mechanical engineers at Purdue University used an infrared microscope to study how hair reacts to heat and they found that curly hair loses heat faster than straight hair. That’s because the shape and surface area of hair determine how fast heat dissipates – and straight hair holds on to heat for a longer period to time.

This research is important because it can help consumers predict how much damage they’re doing to their hair during heat styling. It could lead to the development of new styling products that are designed to work better on curly hair. Better living through chemistry!

Can you believe this anti-aging ingredient list?

PMA asks…Can I believe Skinceuticals A.G.E Interupter when it says it contains 4% of blueberry and 30% of proxylane?

I think the more urgent question is…what the hell is proxylane? That’s how it’s spelled on the Skinceuticals website: p-r-o-x-y-l-a-n-e. One word. Proxylane. But there is no such thing. There is however, an ingredient called Pro-Xylane. Pro – dash- Xylane (which is a type of sugar.) (Pro-xylane, by the way, is a trade name for hydroxypropyl tetrahydropyrantriol.) The fact that they couldn’t even spell the name of one of their key ingredients correctly is the first strike against them in terms of believability. But there’s more.

Let’s look at the claims.

  • Reduces the appearance of skin creping and thinning
Visibly improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin texture
Restores water and nutrients to improve the look of skin firmness
Comforts dry, aging skin
Paraben-, alcohol-, and dye-free.
  • These are pretty generic claims…note the use of weasel words like “reduces the appearance of” and “improve the look of.”

If you do the right kind of test you can usually get enough data to support these kinds of claims. But the last claim…the one about paraben free. That should be a no brainer right? All you have to do is not use parabens. BUT if you look at the ingredient list on their website you’ll see that the product contains both ethylparaben and methylparaben! In terms of believability, that’s strike two!

Now let’s get back to the core of PMA’s question which was about the concentration of 2 key ingredients. The only way we can tell FOR SURE is to look at the actual formula. We don’t have access to that but we do know that by law ingredients must be listed in order of descending concentration until you get to ingredients that are used at 1% or less. Below that level you can list them in any order.

The first four ingredients are: Water, Propylene glycol, dimethicone, and Pro-xylane. Skinceuticals is telling us that the Pro-xylane is present at 30%. Given the ingredient label law we just mentioned we know what the first three ingredients must be present at HIGHER levels that 30%. But if that were true the first 4 ingredients would total up to at least 120% of the formula which can’t be right either. Something is screwed up!

Ok but what about 4% Blueberry? The INCI name for blueberry extract is vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract. It appears on the ingredient list almost at the end, AFTER EDTA and parabens which are used at much less than 1%. If blueberry was present at 4% it would HAVE to appear much higher on the ingredient list. So this seems very sketchy too.

So what’s gong on here? The wording on their website says that key ingredients are “4% Blueberry extract and 30% Proxylane.™” I wonder if it’s possible that they’re referring to the concentration at which the ingredients are supplied to them. In other words, if Pro-xylane is sold as a 30% solution, then they could be saying, “hey, we’re using 30% Pro-xylane in our product” In other words, they’re referring to the concentration of the ingredient itself as purchased, not the concentration used in their final product. But that still sounds very sketchy to me too. That’s strike 3.

Yeah, in terms of ingredient list credibility, this product is just a hot mess. What makes even less sense to me is when you look at who owns Skinceuticals. It’s L’Oreal who typically is very careful and accurate with claims like these. Maybe the parent company is letting this brand play a little fast and loose the the facts. But the important thing is that if you want to try this technology, it’s expensive. ($160 for a 1.7 ounce jar.) Wouldn’t it be nice if L’Oreal made a cheaper product?

Well, they do! Here’s a L’Oreal’s Triple PowerTM Deep-Acting Moisturizer has the same active ingredient with a similar formulation that’s only $25 for the exact same amount.



Aqua / water / eau, propylene glycol, dimethicone, hydroxypropyl tetrahydropyrantriol, cyclohexasiloxane, isohexadecane, glycerin, synthetic wax, dimethicone/peg-10/15 crosspolymer, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, ci 77163 / bismuth oxychloride, phenoxyethanol, magnesium sulfate, ethylhexyl hydroxystearate, salicyloyl phytosphingosine, acrylates copolymer, methylparaben, ethylparaben, disodium edta, vaccinium myrtillus extract / vaccinium myrtillus fruit extract, parfum / fragrance, butylphenyl methylpropional, coumarin

Is this makeup ingredient ALWAYS a sunscreen?

This question comes from our Forum… Hi all – just wondering if all skin care or make up products that contain titanium dioxide provide some amount of sun protection even though an SPF is not listed on the bottle? I see it listed in some of my moisturizers, serums, etc. for example: Olay Eyes Lifting Serum.

Titanium dioxide is not just a sunscreen. It’s also used to whiten a formula or to make it more opaque. I think that’s the case in the Olay product you mentioned. Based on where it appears on the ingredient list there’s not enough there to be a functional sunscreen.  In this case its at the bottom so its less than 1% so its not a sunscreen which is up to 20%.

Water, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Sdimidetheicone Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Polyethylene, Panthenol, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Allantoin, Polyacrylamide, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Phenoxyethanol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-4, Dimethiconol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Laureth-7, Sodium Peg-7 Olive Oil Carboxylate, Disodium Edta, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Titanium Dioxide, Mica, Iron Oxides.

Do lip plumpers have long term effects?

Angela C asks…Just wondering if there are any long term effects to using lip plumping glosses? My favorite is by Soap and Glory, a product called “Sexy Mother Pucker.”  About a minute after application the tingly stops and its a nice long wearing gloss that isn’t overly goopy.   My question is – is there a downside to such products? Will using this daily prematurely age the skin on my lips or cause fine lines to appear sooner?

RS: Lip plumping products work by using an irritant to stimulate the nerves in your lips which causes that tingly feeling. They MAY stimulate histidine release which could give you some temporary swelling. As long as the product doesn’t over-irritate and/or your lips and you don’t develop an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients it’s probably fine.  The thing to watch out for is that if you’re applying this kind of product to very dry/chapped lips that puckery tingling sensation can become too intense.

Polybutene, Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil/Huile Minérale), Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Glycerin, VP/Hexadecene Copolymer, Hydroxystearic Acid, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica, Calcium Aluminum Borosilicate, Mica, Parfum (Fragrance), Spilanthes Acmella Flower Extract, Propylene Glycol, Alumina, Stevioside, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, BHT, Tin Oxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hexyl Cinnamal, Limonene, Linalool, Eugenol, Geraniol, Citronellol, Benzyl Alcohol, Coumarin, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 15850 (Red 6), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides)

Beauty Science News

Skin lotions can cause you to catch on fire


Do you really want beauty products that smell like this?

I saw three different news stories but they all had something in common – new products that with a rather odd fragrance profile.

The first one is a Japanese spa treatment that is pancake-scented with notes of vanilla and maple syrup. I know that different cultures embrace different scents but the idea of “hot cake hot tub” seems sickly sweet to me.

Next, there’s a new fragrance from Demeter (De-meter? Dem-etter?) Anyway, it’s called Kitten Fur and it smells like the back of a kitten’s neck.
Personally I’m waiting for them to develop a “wet dog” cologne.


Finally there’s a pizza flavored lip balm. This comes to us from Etsy seller is Regina Panzeca. She says it’s not a bland pizza flavor because it has notes of Italian herbs, tomato, garlic. In other words, this lip gloss makes your mouth taste like all the things you brush your teeth to get rid of.


So there you have it – 3 products with questionable aroma-ti-city.

iTunes reviews

Robert from the UK says…Informative for Chemist Listeners as well! The episodes always bring a smile to the end of my day, when I get to enjoy Randy & Perry rip into false claims, cheeky company practices and pseudoscientific blog posts.

Wenabar says… Makes my life easier. I used to spend so much time researching and reading articles, blogs, magazines, etc. Now if I want to know something, I can count on TBB’s to fill me in. I love their rapport which is a hilarious mix of nerdy-cool.

Yeoldegoldie says… Do you scour cosmetic ingredient labels with the avidity of a Lululemon-clad Yogini dissecting the food product labels at Whole Foods? Are you a critical thinker who understands that the difference between marketing hype and solid, tested, and effective anti- aging ingredients?? If so, this podcast is for you!

ChoirGeek from United Kingdom says…Super fascinating, listen asap &educate yourself on what you’re putting on your skin.

Cwfjluwgjj says…I’m a guy who wears “natural” makeup to cover my blemishes, etc and I’ve slowly been sucked into the world of makeup and skincare. As much as I love Fat Mascara, it’s so refreshing and awesome to hear guys discuss the world of makeup and beauty. Pleeeease keep this podcast going forever!

Abbielove says…Humor, Wit & hardcore cosmetic science!  I’m an Esthetician and I just love filling my beauty brain with all the scientific information from behind the cosmetic industry scenes! Do you ever want a showgram guest?


Why isn’t everyone exfoliating with AHAs?

Melissa says…I’ve been using an night cream with glycolic acid and I noticed that my skin is actually brighter, clearer, and softer. I’ve been using this product for years and I still love it but I worry that it may be too good to be true. Are there any risks associated with alpha hydroxy acid products? Why aren’t we are using them?

Thanks Melissa. Long time fans of the show will remember that I love getting questions about Alpha Hydroxy Acids because it gives me an excuse to retell the story of the marketing director for St. Ives didn’t quite get the acronym and would instead of calling them AHAs would call them “Ah-Ha’s.” That always amused me during meetings because it sounded like she was speaking with exclamation marks. “We need to launch a new AHA!”

Before we can answer Melissa’s questions, let’s quickly recap what AHAs are and how they work. Alpha Hydroxy Acids are a class of chemical that is used to loosen dead skin cells.They consist of long chain of carbon and hydrogen atoms with a carboxylic acid group at the end. When naming carbon chains we start by labeling the carbon next to the carboxylate which is known as the α carbon, the next carbon is the β carbon, and so forth. So in this case the carboxylate is on that first carbon so this is an ALPHA hydroxy acid. Salicylic acid has the group on the second carbon so it’s a BETA hydroxy acid.

They work by softening the “glue” that holds skin cells together so the dead ones fall off more easily. When this happens, the basal layer is triggered to produce fresh skin cells. This is also referred to as “increasing cell turnover.”

There are several types of AHAs. The two most common are Glycolic and Lactic. Glycolic acid is the smallest, it can be derived from sugar cane or produced synthetically. Lactic is also known as “milk acid” because it can be derived from soured dairy products, as well as fermented vegetables and fruit.

One less popular AHA is actually Perry’s favorite to pronounce: Tartaric Acid. Other runners up include citric and malic acid. There’s another that’s technically a PHA or polyhydroxy acid and that’s lactobionic acid. Interestingly, According to research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Lactobionic acid is not only more effective than glycolic acid at improving cell turn over but it’s also less irritating. An international team from London, Serbia and Slovenia tested both AHAs in a cream and a gel. 26 volunteers used the products twice a day for two weeks. The researchers found that Lactobionic acid scored better in both forms even though their data indicated the gel base worked a bit better than the cream form.

But Melissa asked if there are risks associated with AHAs. Yes, there are. Some people can’t tolerate their effects and they experience redness and irritation (especially if they have rosacea prone skin.) Using products too frequently or using products that have too high of a concentration can exacerbate this problem. A potentially bigger problem is that if you misuse AHAs they can increase the danger of UV exposure. This was determined by the European Commission on Scientific Affairs. This is problematic is you’re using them improperly or too often but for most people, AHAs are perfectly fine.

So if they work so good and they’re safe for most people, why isn’t everybody using them? Great question! First of all, everyone’s skin is different and not everyone responds to AHAs to the same degree. Some people (especially if they’re prone to conditions like rosacea) are likely to see redness and irritation to an extent that can over whelm the benefits. Other people may have dabbled with AHA products but perhaps they didn’t choose one with a high level of actives and were so disappointed in the results that they just gave up. But there are a lot of people like yourself who have picked a good product to which they respond to well. Good for you!!

The other factor, in my opinion, is that the beauty industry wants to sell more products (and more expensive products) by enticing you with the latest and greatest technology. We’re so bombarded with information on all these new product launches that sound so amazing, that sometimes it’s hard to focus on the basics that really work. Companies may think it’s harder to sell “old” technologies like AHAs when they can hype the latest and greatest algae extract or whatever.

ALS vs. SLS vs. SLES vs. ALES

Long time fan Alessandra asks…Which is more harsh SLS vs ALS vs SLES vs ALES?

First, let’s decode that alphabet soup: Most people know that SLS is sodium lauryl sulfate. They may not know that ALS is Ammonium lauryl sulfate. When you see an “E” added to the name that means it’s Sodium or Ammonium “LAURETH” sulfate.

Yes, the “eth” stands for ethoxylation which essentially means that you’re extending the molecule by inserting some oxygen atoms. Why would we do this? Because the ethoxylation process makes the detergent milder (and a little less powerful as a cleanser.) Essentially that’s because it’s more water soluble. So that means that sodium lauryl and ammonium lauryl are harsher than sodium laureth and ammonium laureth? Got it?

Now what about the sodium vs ammonium versions? There’s really not much difference. It’s the lauryl sulfate part of the molecule that’s the issue not the counter ion.

Alessandra pointed out that several brands like Organix and Leonor Greyl, advertise their shampoos as SLES-free but they have ammonium lauryl sulfate as the first ingredient. Now you know how misleading that is!

Are silkworm cocoons good for skin?

Becky says…I’ve read a few articles about the collagen-promoting qualities of silkworm cocoons – apparently rubbing them on your face improves the texture of your skin, improves signs of UV damage and all those other impossibly amazing things. It sounds like another crazy gimmick but I noticed in this article http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2837024/Rub-face-silkworm-cocoons-wipe-away-wrinkles-sounds-bizarre-works.html they back it up with some pretty convincing words from a dermatologist. 

Becky’s right, the dermatologist quoted in the article says some very convincing things. For the most part the woman rubbed her face with cocoons every day for about a month and at the end of that time her skin looked better. Of course this can’t be considered scientific evidence because the test involved one person and there was no control.

But there ARE some studies showing sericin (silk protein) may have anti-aging properties under certain conditions. For example, one study showed that silk sericin can “stimulate collagen type I synthesis, suppress the regulation of nitrite, which nitrite may induces oxidative stress.” This test was done by applying pure sericin directly to cultures of cells in the lab which does NOT prove that rubbing cocoons are your face will do anything. http://www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jas/article/view/22487/15481

I’m still skeptical, however, because rubbing a cocoon on your face is not a very efficient way of delivering sericin to the skin and the amount of the protein that can be delivered that way seems like it would be very low. Stick with the anti-aging products that are proven to help.

Should you worry about counterfeit hairspray?

Redheaded 4 Trouble says… I’ve seen this picture floating around Facebook. It shows a hairspray can with the label torn off to reveal a different brand underneath. The caption says: “This is why you do NOT buy product from TJ MAXX, ROSS or MARSHALS!!! Only buy from your stylists, that’s it.” I’m thinking this is probably just something salons are spreading so people will buy these products from them at a higher price. What do you think?

This isn’t nearly as sinister as it appears and it is NOT proof that TJ Maxx is selling counterfeit hairspray. My guess is that the company had too many cans decorated of the blue product so rather than destroy them and lose the value, they decided to have them relabeled and then used them for another product.

Yeah, If it were TJ Maxx or any other third party labeling over one product with the label from another then the ingredient list would be wrong (as well as other information) which would be illegal.

How would this even work? They buy a cheaper, inferior product and then relabel it? But the product underneath is Egyptian vs Chi – prove that this is the same brand. Why wouldn’t they buy Suave hairspray and relabel it? IT MAKES NO SENSE!

After I wrote this, I found a Snopes article that gives the same answer: http://www.snopes.com/chi-products-tj-maxx-marshalls/

Beauty Science News

Lifestyle matters more than genetics for looking young

New makeup trend


We’re routinely criticized for not being in touch with the latest beauty trends – but not today! Here’s a story from Refinery29 about the newest, most exciting thing in cosmetics: ear makeup. Apparently some trendy Instagrammers are posting pictures where they have applied a dab of glitter or a spot of color to their ear lobes. Violette is one of the most popular.

It’s interesting because this isn’t an area of the body that’s been used for cosmetics much but apparently now it’s quite the rage. Right now these women are just repurposing other make up and applying to their ears but it’s only a matter of time before some savvy cosmetic manufacturer catches on and starts to create make up specifically designed for the ears.

I predict we’ll see MAC launch a line of Ear Shadow and Ear Gloss to light up your lobes! Now, this creates a new problem: which is makeup residue on ear jewelry. Inevitably your earrings will get gunked up so you’ll need a special product to to clean makeup from earrings. Well, I’ve created that product and I call it – wait for it…”Earring Aid.” Get it?

iTunes reviews – it’s an All International edition of iTunes reviews!

Twiddly dee from Canada says…As an Esthetician I can appreciate all the science behind products. Keep up the great work!

Hrwlondon from UK says…Both informative and soothing listening. Lots of interesting facts and anecdotes. Would like a top ten greatest ingredients show soon!

MeginMunich from Germany….Excellent Beauty Advice! I really appreciate the scientific basis behind these beauty tips. Most of the information available these days is distributed by marketing teams and can be totally confusing.

Livdane from Latvia says…Funny, evidence based and informative. I used to think that I was an informed and skeptical consumer. Now in hindsight I can appreciate the Dunning-Kruger effect on me at its best. The podcast revealed me the whole new world of the cosmetic chemistry in the amazingly geeky and entertaining way Randy and Perry delivers it. Now I can make the claim: “listening to The Beauty Brains minimizes the perceived feeling and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”


How does color changing makeup work?url-6

Julia asks…I’m a make up artist and my question is how does color adjusting makeup work? I’ve tried a few and they didn’t adjust very well. Also, what are both of your favorite ingredients to use on your own skin?

Thanks for bringing this up Julia! Color changing makeup has never come up on the podcast before but we’ve written about it a couple of times. On our website someone once asked “People have called self-adjusting makeup the mood ring of makeup, does it actually change with your mood?” Great way to rephrase Julia’s question…So, Perry, what say you?

The idea is great! But this is one of those amazing beauty products that don’t really exist.

Right. in fact, back in Episode 51 we talked about 10 amazing beauty products that don’t exist and true mood ring lipstick was one of them.

Yeah, the notion that these products change color with mood is a myth. But color changing makeup, or self-adjusting makeup as some people call it, does change a LITTLE bit.

Yes, in fact, there are two different ways that these products can work.

Color change by pH

The first way involves color that changes with pH and solubility. Most of the products that we see that make these claims use this approach. The main ingredient that provides the effect is a colorant known as “Red 27,” a red dye which is colorless when dissolved in a waterless base. When it comes in contact with moisture, the change in solubility and pH causes the dye to turn bright pink.

The product appears to change with your personal chemistry because the color changes when it comes in contact with moisture in your skin or even just the humidity in the air. Red 27 can be used in powdered cosmetics, waxy sticks, and gels.

We’ll list a couple of examples in the show notes including Smashbox O-Glow Blush, Stila Custom Color Blush, and DuWop Personal Color Changing Lipstick.

Color change by encapsulation

The second way to make a product change color is to use pigments which are encapsulated. In this case the colorant is coated with a waxy or gel-like ingredient and suspended in an uncolored base. When the product is rubbed into your skin the friction breaks open the dye capsules releasing the color.

The product appears to change with your personal chemistry because the more your rub in the color, the more is released.

Encapsulated colors work best in cream and powder based products, although they can be used in water-based lotions with the right kind of encapsulating agent. Some examples of products that uses encapsulated colors include Wet n’ Wild’s Intuitive Blend Shade Adjusting Foundation , The Body Shop’s All in One BB Cream, and Carmindy and Company’s Diamond Fusion Powder.

I want to quickly mention a third type of color changing product. It’s not quite the same thing but consider products that provide a “natural tan glow.” These may use a different name but they’re just self-tanners and they work by using an ingredient called “dihydroxyacetone” or DHA. This chemical reacts with the keratin protein in the upper layers of your skin, staining them a light orangish-brown color. The product appears to change with your personal chemistry because it uses low levels of DHA that provides a very gradual change in skin color. The more you use, the more pronounced the “glow” effect is. Jergen’s Natural Glow is an example.

Finally, here are a few tips if you’re planning on using any self-adjusting makeup. If you’re using the pressure sensitive type you may have to play around with it a bit to find out how much you need to rub it in to match your particular skin tone. (Or at least to get it as close as possible.)

You should also keep in mind that color change has little to do with you individual skin chemistry. However, the color of your skin will have a significant effect on the appearance of the cosmetic color. As your skin color changes (either with age or sun exposure) the color of these cosmetics could look different. This is not an issue for lip products since the skin on your lips doesn’t change color much because it doesn’t tan.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

While it’s true that cosmetics can change color, the idea that they can match your mood is a myth. If you find a product that gives you the color you like, then fine. But don’t be fooled into buying these products because you expect them to magically adjust to your skin tone.

Does lipstick make bubbly drinks go flat?

Jessica asks…I heard an interview on NPR that said if you have lipstick and you drink something out of the glass the lipstick interacts with the champaign and makes it go flat. Is that correct?

Very interesting question. I had never heard this before but we tracked down the interview which was with a chemist by the name of “Richard Zane” who said that “any greasy thing like chips, fries, or lipstick will actually break up the bubbles. So will leaving too much soap in the glass.”

This makes sense – at least for the part of the liquid that actually touches the lipstick. especially if you’ve just put on a fresh coat of lipstick and you leave a large smear of it on the inside of the glass then there may be enough left over to continue to break up the bubbles. It most cases it doesn’t sound like wearing lipstick will make the entire glass of champagne (or beer or soda or whatever) go flat.

The ingredients that are causing the problems are the primarily the oils and the silicones in the lipstick. Certain silicones are actually used as anti-foaming agents which are specifically designed to break up bubbles. You could certainly avoid silicone containing the lip products to maximize bubbles. You could also look for lipsticks that are higher in wax content since those are less likely to transfer to the glass.

Do high ph shaving creams work better?

Christopher asks… Many shaving creams seem to have very high pH’s. Some assert that alkaline shaving cream opens up the cuticle of the hair, which makes the oils and conditioners enter the strands more effectively and therefore making cutting it easier. This seems like a well-marketed excuse. Is there merit to the idea that opening the cuticle of the hair with a pH cream better accepts the conditioning agents and makes it easier to cut? If so, is it worth the high pH trade-off?

Shaving creams traditionally are formulated from true soaps which mean they inherently have a high pH. It is true that very high pH can swell the hair shaft which would soften and weaken the hair. (This is one of the tricks used in hair coloring products and to some degree relaxers.) It’s not really about opening the cuticle but about swelling the hair shaft.

However, I’ve never seen any data showing that shaving cream works that way, possibly because the pH isn’t as high as the other products we mentioned and it’s not left on the hair/skin for very long. But at least it’s theoretically possible.

The “trade off” that Christopher mentioned is that high pH soaps can deplete the natural acid mantle of your skin which protects your skin. If any slight improvement in the ease of hair cutting worth a potential compromise of your skin barrier? I guess that depends on how hard it is for you to shave…

Will salt ruin your hair straightening treatment?

Liz says…”After using a hair straightening treatment, I’ve heard that it’s not only sulfates one should avoid but also (and perhaps more importantly) sodium chloride. Is it true that sodium chloride is the so-called Kryptonite of these treatments?”

We’ve never seen any evidence that the level of salt that one would encounter during normal shampooing would have any impact what so ever on the longevity of hair straightening treatments. I can’t even think of a plausible mechanism for this effect, can you?

Nope. Of course it depends on what kind of straightening treatment you’re talking about. Some straighteners do actually modify the chemical bonds in hair. I can’t think of anyway that those would be effected by quick contact with salt. Others products straighten temporarily by coating the hair with silicone or something – but any shampoo will reverse that effect, not just ones that contain sodium chloride. I think the whole “salt is bad for your hair” thing is highly exaggerated.

I can see how people would think this, though. They’ve seen their hair be damaged by swimming in the ocean, so they assume salt water is bad for hair. But being in the ocean (or even the pool) exposes you to multiple sources of damage: extra UV radiation, multiple wet and dry cycles of your hair, chlorine, etc. The exposure time to the saltwater is also a lot greater.

Yeah, there’s a big difference between salt exposure from being in the ocean or in a pool and simply washing and conditioning your hair. And besides, just about every shampoo has salt in it anyway even if it’s not listed on the label. That’s because sodium chloride is a byproduct in the production of many surfactants.

Beauty science news

Alarm clock wakes you up with scents


During the holiday season I was in the market for a new alarm clock. Mostly, I wanted to get one in which I could plug in my phone and listen to podcasts while I go to sleep. Anyway, while looking for one I stumble on this product called the Sensorwake alarm clock. It’s an alarm clock that wakes you up by diffusing a burst scent in the room. You can wake yourself up to the smell of coffee, bacon, the forest, waves, grass and 10 other scents. Each scent blasts last about 30 uses and it costs $5 for each cartridge. I suppose if it takes off famous fragrance companies might get onboard. This product seems a bit ridiculous to me. Who would wake up just from a strong odor? Does that happen? Well, they also have a backup traditional alarm just in case the odor isn’t enough to wake you up. Anyway, if you’re curious about the product you can go to their website https://sensorwake.com/ to learn more.

St Ives face scrub may be dangerous


Remember when the company we worked for bought the St. Ives brand? When was that…late 90s? At the time St. Ives had shampoo and conditioner as well as skin care. Do you remember one of the most popular skin products? 
St. Ives Apricot Scrub! In fact, at one point it was the number one facial scrub in the country. Well, it’s back in the news but not for a good reason – the current owner of the brand is being sued because the product is “”unfit to be sold or used as a facial scrub”.

There’s a class action lawsuit that argues the particles in the scrub can cause the skin to tear. Interesting sidenote contrary to what you might think the scrubbing particles are not Africa pieces but actually walnut pieces. 
the article mentions a couple of dermatologists who say that this kind of product can be too abrasive. Unilever, naturally, says their product is safe.

So what’s the truth? I expect both sides are right to some extent. I’ve personally use this product and I know there are tens of thousands hundreds of thousands of consumers with used it with no problem. If you miss use for either use a product like this I wouldn’t be surprised if you could cause some skin abrasion. I don’t expect this problem will go away but I wouldn’t be surprised if you leave her and some extra warning statements to their label.

On an ironic endnote there is an ingredient that they could substitute for the walnut shells that would completely solve this problem. That’s right – plastic microbeads. Unfortunately they’re being banned world wide because they contribute to pollution.

iTunes reviews

Oznuck from Austraila says…Mansplaining — 1 star. I’ve tried to like this podcast because I love science and skincare. But this is the epitome of mansplaining. I’m tired of the condescension and the sexual comments. I’m tired of hearing the hosts’ mocking comments about what their listeners must be watching on tv (the Bachelor? Really?). I’m tired of their “humor” and the snide remarks made to put others down, including the other host. It could be so much better.

Smelliness says…5 stars
 “As a science student I quickly developed an interest in the chemistry of beauty products. Imagine my disappointment in trying to find podcasts to further my understanding, I found a veritable drought of science focused cosmetic podcasts. Then lo and behold, beauty brains popped up on my phone and at last I had the scientifically backed podcasts of my makeup dreams.”