Cosmetic Science

Chlorophyll Toothpaste – What’s that all about?

The best thing about travelling on business is seeking out different cosmetic products to blog about so when I found this while in Paris this week (oh la la)  I just had to share:

That, young ladies and gentlemen is Chlorophyll toothpaste.  Yes chlorophyll, that green pigment that plants use to convert sunlight into energy.  So my question is WHAT ON EARTH has that got to do with my gnashers?
Now forgive me for pointing out the obvious but green teeth are not all the rage around here (or anywhere outside of a Shrek swamp) and so why on earth a green pigment would be top of the toothpaste formulators ‘to use’ list seems baffling to me.
But then it occurred to me that I might just be judging this solar energy maker a little harshly, surely the giant toothy brains of Colgate have some facts to back up this rather unorthodox choice of key active.  And they did.
Next I found this from 1953!!!

Now I’m always the first to admit that I don’t know everything but how did this escape my attention?  Apparently chlorophyll has been helping de-bug oral cavities of the masses for over 60 years!    Indeed if natural health magazines and scientific research papers of the 1920’s-1960’s are to be believed this is exactly what your mouth needs.
But I wasn’t convinced.
Chlorophyll toothpaste does seem to me to be somewhat of a fashionable add-on as far as main stream dentistry goes.  Yes chlorophyll has been found to kill some bacteria but laboratory tests returned mixed results.  It didn’t reduce amounts of all types of oral bacteria and in some cases it was found to promote bacterial growth.  Further, you really can’t get over the colour issue. Chlorophyll is very green with only […]

One tiny European issue- nano or not.

Europe we have a problem, you see you know that new law that your Europollies passed about compulsory labelling of nanoparticles that comes into effect pretty much NOW?  Well, that law is lacking in practical detail and when I say lacking what I mean is the measurement tools that one needs to use to work out if a particle is nano or not are very hard to come by – totally impractical – exist only in crusty old research institutions – under lock and rusty key. Oh and even if you do have a suitable measuring device little are many different ways in which to use it resulting in many different results.  What is nano one way is massive another. Hmmmm.

And this is a problem because the confusion filters down from ingredient manufacturer to ingredient distributor and on to ingredient user/ formulator. That’s me, right there, the last stop on the R&D food chain and the hand that reaches out of the lab and touches the brand owner.  It is us who get asked ‘does my product contain nanoparticles?’ and it is us who have to make sense of the technical info and relay it to an over-enthusiastic marketing team who feint at the slightest whiff of controversy before spending every last inch of energy trying to think up ways of making whatever ‘problem’ exists go away.

Clear as mud.

And that marketing issue leads to this which is why I’m worried.

My dear Europeland, you really really don’t like it when brands market themselves using ‘free from’ claims but then you go and play right into their hands  by calling out nano particles on the ingredients label.  Now I know that just adding the word ‘nano’ after an ingredient shouldn’t spell doom […]

Nasty Chemicals and Pacifism

Are all chemicals nasty?
Can a pacifist ever  be an activist?
Can you teach a dog to pick up his own poop?

These questions have been rolling around inside my brain like marbles in a pinball machine all day, partly because it’s raining and I’m not motivated enough to do anything else except think but also because every week I see and/or hear something about one or another ‘nasty cosmetic chemical/product’ and this week I wanted to give it some more thought.  So here we go…….

In the beginning this blog was motivated by one thing – helping people to realise their natural beauty and potential and to engage with the personal care/ beauty industry in a healthy  and empowered way. That mission still stands.  However, the small print of my big mission was coming from a place of hope,  hope that I could help people see that not all chemicals are bad, toxic or ‘nasty’,  that even some of  the ‘nasties’  have their time and place and that it’s unrealistic to think that the cosmetics industry (or any industry for that matter) is motivated by a desire to kill their client base.

However, after quickly tiring both of the anger directed at anyone who poses counter arguments to the ‘toxic’ debate and the monotony and boredom of reading the exchanges that go on between the ‘toxic and nasty’ and the  ‘Trust me I’m a scientist”  mob I started to question my personal stance and motivation, was there any benefit in playing that game or fighting that fight???

Especially given that:

People don’t like being told what to think.
People don’t like to feel stupid and telling them something that goes against their ‘gut’ feeling or popular opinion makes them nervous.
Most people […]

If SPF 30 filters 96.7% of the sun and SPF 50 only 1.3% more (98%) what is the point?

Back in November I wrote a little article entitled “Inconvenient Fact Of The Day:  SPF does NOT just refer to UVB” on the back of a factually confusing press release about Australia’s move to allow the marketing and sale of SPF 50 sunscreens. Well it is now time for the sequel to that article.

The move to SPF 50 has prompted some to look at their SPF 30 products and say ‘oh bugger’. Now this is not because there is anything technically wrong with SPF 30 products, it is more a case of them having been numerically demoted. That and the fact that the standard (or goal posts) have now changed to ensure that UVA and UVB protection is always balanced – before while it was crucial that a product had some UVA protection to reach SPF 30 the ratio between the UVA and UVB had less baring on the result.  That said, almost all brand owners opted for a broad-spectrum analysis anyway as when it comes to sun protection quality is as important as quantity (when talking UV spectrum filtering).

Anyway, that aside it is time to look at and test these numbers.

30 – a reasonable number.  A number that when pre-fixed with the letters “SPF” means something quite useful.  It means that the product in question, when used as directed will give you thirty times more protection than your un-protected skin can offer you.

That means that if you usually get redness appear after 5 minutes in the sun, with this product on you have ‘bought’ yourself up a maximum of 150 minutes.

150 minutes?  That’s 2 ½ hours of pure unadulterated sun baking.

Sounds like a lot but let’s look at it from the other side.

We […]

Stability Testing of Face Scrubs

Have you ever bought yourself a face scrub and wondered how long those lovely scrubby bits and pieces will stay suspended in their gel or cream home?   Maybe you are a wannabe or actual scrub maker wanting to know how long your particular brand of loveliness will remain nice and tidy on the shelf?  Maybe you just don’t give a damn but have nothing better to do for the next 5 minutes of your life.

Well you guys are in luck as I’m going to let you into my secret world of stability testing starting with method validation.

Facial scrubs can come in all different shapes and sizes but are most commonly either in a cream or a gel base.  Cream scrubs start off life as a normalish moisturiser to which something bubbly and then something scrubby are added.

Gels start off life-like a typical hair gel and also get pimped with a little something bubbly then scrubby.

Both can be just as rough or mild with creams winning out for ultra-dry skin due to their inbuilt oil phase.

As many a cosmetic chemist will tell you the problem with facial scrubs is keeping the scrubby bits suspended – fighting gravity.  This can be achieved in a number of ways including matching the density of the scrub particle with the base (pretend that the two are weight lifters, they need to both be the same grade),  making the continuous phase (usually water) thicker and harder to ‘move through’ (try to visualise your scrub particles running through water, then custard, then thick toffee….).  Finally and most importantly are suspending agents which act like spiders webs by structuring the continuous phase (water) like a net, preventing your scrubby stuff from falling straight through it.

Get […]

Prove it baby. How do brand owners substantiate their claims?

In the scientific community  a little bit of eye rolling, pfffffffing and muttering under the breath  ‘cosmetic science?????’ follows the admission that you are one and while us people on the inside know that there’s a lot ‘to it’ we still feel pain that our beloved craft is the scientific equivalent of the used car salesman.  Snake oil?  Magic?  Hope in a bottle Ma’am?  To quote my youngest when told she can’t stay up and watch that cop show ‘It’s just not fair’.

As the cosmetics industry spins on an emotional access (we all know that we don’t really NEED these products.  Don’t we?) there will always be room for bull ****,  false promises and misplaced optimism, not all of which can be laid at the feet of our poor, defenceless chemist.  But in a world where we are demanding bigger and better results and competition for the mighty dollar is fierce we have to offer products that do something.  So, the question of the day is how do we prove it?

Claim Substantiation.

When you buy a product that says you will get a  “40% reduction in eye wrinkles after 28 days”  it has to have been tested in a very specific way.

If you buy a product that says ‘tightens and firms to give a fresher look’  it may or may not have been tested.

and when you buy a product that says ‘melts away cellulite while you continue to eat chocolate’  you know that the only testing that has been done is a pressure test on the bank account to see how much it kerching it can hold.

So how do we test?

1)  Testing the claim that you get a 40% reduction in eye wrinkles over 28 […]

Product Specifications and C of A’s – A New Service for Realize Beauty

Good morning everyone!   As we have a diverse pool of readers this is a warning that the following post will be boring for some of you.  However, if you are a product manufacturer, brand owner or someone wanting to get started then read on.

Have a great day.

Amanda (fresh from nerdsville :))
As of June 2912 we are now able to produce Product Specifications and Certificates of Analysis for cosmetic clients requiring this paperwork for their product portfolios.

Product Specifications and Certificates of Analysis are essential for brands seeking entry into most overseas markets and are often requested as part of the product information pack.  A specification should outline the main physical characteristics of your product so that importers and stockists can ensure that what they receive matches your standard.  A Certificate Of Analysis demonstrates to your overseas client that you are operating a quality control system and have analytical standards in place.

What we need from customers:

3 x 300g of each product that requires a spec.   Each of the three samples should be from different batches if possible.  You can get your samples and packaging back after the testing if you wish.

NB:  We can produce specifications with less material but may not be able to measure all aspects of the product.  In addition with less product we may have to err on the side of caution and make the range figures larger.  This is not idea but should be adequate for most cosmetic products. 

The costs:

Our price structure depends on how many products you wish to test but prices start from as little as $100 a product.

The Time Frame:

Our usual turn-around time is 1-2 weeks depending on how many products you have to test.

 What type of Products […]

Question everything then be prepared to have your morals questioned

As many of you readers will know I am a chemist with a green heart.  That doesn’t mean it is mouldy, formaldehyde pickled or jealous it means that I do actually consider the environment before I formulate.  I have been working as an independent consultant in the cosmetics realm for four years, a move that I made  after never really feeling like I ‘fit’ into corporate life.  I am happy to tell you, my lovely readers that at times my own value system was compromised by being part of a ‘big machine’  – not necessarily because these big companies were doing anything wrong, it was just that I felt that I could do so much more right away from them and that was because of culture.  A corporate works like an army, it has few leaders and many foot soldiers and those foot soldiers must be highly efficient at manning their posts.  I could never keep my brain still enough to stay on my post and soon realised that I longed for the mental freedom that only consulting could give me.  I also thought (and rightly so) that being an independent mind for hire would allow me the freedom of thought to question everything without fear of being pulled up for not towing the party line or for spending too much time on non-core business activity.  And so that’s what I do.

So, when the other week I questioned the Safe Cosmetics Australia group and was then joined by a couple of my peers  I wasn’t surprised to find that things started to get personal on the facebook page.  I’m not egocentric enough to think that it has everything (or even anything) to do with […]

Bleetingly good skin care – It’s Lanolicious

Lanolin used to be one of those ‘love it or hate it’ ingredients in skin care.  Being a chronic eczema sufferer I spent pretty much all of my childhood avoiding it because I was told that it would be likely to irritate my skin. Indeed ‘lanolin free’ had become somewhat of a selling point long before we’d ever developed a taste for ingredient hate and that was mostly due to the deeds of some unscrupulous lanolin purchasers who in their wish to save a few dollars had been pushing the rough, sheep-dip infused stuff into cosmetics.  Naughty, naughty.   Anyway, all of that was sorted out pretty quickly, lanolin was found to be an AMAZING skin-friendly ingredient and, fast forward to the present day and everything old has become shiny new again. Lanolin is all good!

And it is all thanks to its special chemistry.

According to this old article published by my cosmetic society colleagues Lanolin consists of around 95% esters, 4% free alcohols and 1% free fatty acids.  Mean anything to you?  Me neither until we dig a little deeper.

Woolgrease is collected from sheep, washed and dried to give anhydrous lanolin.  This product is too coarse and dirty for cosmetic use but has many industrial applications.

Anhydrous Lanolin is the first really useful form of lanolin as far as commercial chemistry goes.  This can be treated in a number of ways.

Ethoxylated Lanolin:  This turns the fat into a surface-active material that can be used to de-grease surfaces.  Ethylene Oxide is reacted with the lanolin to form a range of surfactants including the commonly used PEG-75 Lanolin which is a highly effective emollient, conditioning agent and moisturiser.

Aceetylated Lanolin:  This is another very useful branch of lanolin chemistry […]

The Sh*t natural product brands say

If you’re an internet tragic like me you probably spent a good part of February (or was it March????) laughing at the Sh*t people say on you tube.  Well, I think it is about time we called out something closer to home – yes people, it’s time for the  top ten Sh*t  things that natural product brands say Oscars.  Drum Roll Please……

100% of all of the chemicals you put onto your skin are absorbed (Well, that’s thousands of years of evolution down the drain then.  Skin…. Why do we even bother ?)
If you can’t pronounce an ingredients name it is probably toxic. (Excuse me while I vomit…. Are we all 5?)
This product contains no petrochemicals  (Fair call for some of you but could the guys with the Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Potassium Sorbate and cheap Glycerine please stand up?)
Free from palm oil (yeh ’cause by replacing palm oil feedstock for  jojoba, Soy or cotton seed oil I avoid the need for land, water and soil. Right?)
Contains Purified Spring Water  (Would that be an ancient magical spring that unicorns drink from?   Just wanted to get that clear because ‘mainstream’ brands are obviously getting their water from the urinals).
Chemical Free   (I think you need to go back to school NOW).
If you wouldn’t eat it why put it on your skin (Uh?  Did I miss something here?  Am I the only mum not serving up lip balm and whipped body butter for pudding?)
This formula took us 5 years to develop  (Unless you’ve created something truly magical and are now sitting on your yacht sipping cocktails I’d keep that little known fact to yourself).
No Nasties (Well thanks for pointing that out because I was expecting the boogie man […]