New Scientist

The Placebo Effect In Beauty

The arrival of my New Scientist magazine this week got my brain ticking a little more than usual – the cover displayed what can only be described as a Voodoo doll accompanied by the headline “How Beliefs Can Harm You”…….

Turning to page 30 (New Scientist Issue no 2708) the page heading “Beware Witch Doctors” draws the reader further into this fascinating review of what we would more commonly call the “placebo effect”.  Now I wonder how many of us read the side effects that come listed with the drugs that we take? Do we sit and worry about the possibility of the internal bleeding that may follow because of aspirin use? Do we put on weight with every contraceptive pill we take just because it says that we might in the small print?  It seems that some of us do!

This is not surprising as humans,  being pack animals like to follow the crowd. We like to fit in and “belong”, if that means belonging to the 5% of all users who get diarrhea after taking iron tablets then so be it! We can talk it though over coffee with friends and feel happy in the knowledge that we are “normal” and life goes on.

This got me thinking about the placebo effect in cosmetics and a discussion with a business partner of mine made me think that actually the placebo effect in our industry should be embraced and celebrated and here’s why!

Unlike medicinal science, which is all about keeping the body ticking over nicely, Cosmetic Science is all about how we dress it all up.  If the foundations are strong and the body is working well, the cosmetics that we use help us to celebrate […]

Taking the smell out of fake tan!

The fake tan is a must for many of my melanin challenged brothers and sisters (self included)  but if you are anything like me, the smell is an unwelcome and off-putting side effect. Well,  I for one was happy to find out that the bad smell may be a thing of the past!

Fake tans make you brown in a couple of ways:

a)  They paint your skin by containing brown coloured pigments and dyes that stick to the stratum corneum and give you an instant brown (or orange/yellow) appearance.

b) They contain ingredients such as DHA  (Dihydroxyacetone) and/or erythrulose which undergo chemical changes when applied to the skin to develop a brown colour over time. DHA works by reacting with the amino acids that are present on the skin surface. DHA can’t get through the top layer of skin and is plant derived making it acceptable to most people.  Erythrulose is another plant based ingredient that works in the same way as DHA. When the DHA and Erythrulose are combined the resulting colour is said to be less orange and more natural looking than DHA alone. Many brands now use both – they should both be listed on the label.

C) A combination of the above.

The smell seems to be a unwanted bi-product of the above chemicals reaction with proteins in the skin. Chemist Tim Whitely of UK based CPL Aroma’s identified between 250-300 different molecules originating out of this reaction – and some of these smell bad. This article was reported in New Scientist – see it here.

The good news is that CPL Aroma’s have developed a product called Aromaguard which interacts with these smellies and turns them into longer molecules which can’t be detected by […]