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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Lesson in Elasticity

Elasticity is a very important factor in assessing the strength of hair. The elasticity of the hair is an indicator of what styles and/or processes your hair can withstand. When hair has low elasticity, it will not hold a curl well (thermal or wet styled) and it is more prone to damage caused by styling and chemical treatments. Basically, hair with low elasticity is weak and must be handled with care.

Chemical treatments including relaxers, permanent wave, color and even keratin should be preceded by an elasticity strand test to ensure minimal (ideally zero) breakage occurs. But you should also consider performing an elasticity test before going to wacky with the hooded dryer, blow dryer, round brush and flat iron because this requires good elasticity, too. One way to test your hair's elasticity is to take a [full length] strand of hair from your comb or brush. Hold the strand with the index finger and thumb of both hands about 2 inches apart. Quickly and firmly pull the strand of hair. If the strand snaps, it has low elasticity; If it remains in tack, it has good elasticity.

Another strand test that is equally as fun is what I call the "ribbon curl" test. Hold a strand of hair between the index finger and thumb of one hand. With the index finger and thumb of the opposite hand, use your thumb nail to firmly run along the length of the strand so that it curls. -- This is similar to curling a ribbon with scissors. -- Now stretch the curl until the strand is straight then let it go. If the strand returns to the original curl pattern, it has good elasticity. If it returns to at least half the original curl, it has moderate elasticity. If it stays straight, your hair is in bad shape :(.

Many factors affect the elasticity of the hair. Excessive heat styling, combing/brushing when the hair is wet and chemical treatments can all have a devastating effect on your hair's level of elasticity. If after performing the strand test you find that your hair has low elasticity, avoid all of the above styling faux pas. Hair elasticity can be improved by giving your hair what it lacks... PROTEIN! Hair is 100% protein (keratin). Hair with low elasticity has weaker protein bonds than that of good elasticity. Nevertheless protein treatments are a good idea for everyone sooooo... Run, run, run to your nearest beauty supply to purchase a deep conditioning protein treatment.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hair, Hair and More Hair!

Wednesday evening, I gave a speech entitled "Hair, Hair and More Hair!" at my Toastmasters International club. I covered a lot in that 9min 30sec speech that I have not yet covered here... so, here it goes. :-)

I've always been completely fascinated and intrigued by hair. My mom has maintained her cosmetology license for nearly 30 years, so I grew up a tad more knowledgeable and obsessive about my hair than many other little girls. In addition to working on a hair care line in the lab, I recently decided to make a drastic change in the way that I manage my hair. Enter even more obsessive behavior O_O. As the glam girl in me was reading about various hair textures and styles and treatments, the scientist in me peeked in to ask a few questions. A scientist that has questions cannot rest until they have answers, so you can probably guess how my "research" grew wings.

How does hair get it's texture?

The texture of any one person's hair depends on the shape and size of the hair follicle. There are 4 general shapes of a hair follicle which happen to correlate perfectly with Andre Walker's hair types philosophy. A hair follicle is like a tiny tube that guides the hair to the surface of the scalp. A round hair follicle yields straight hair. The more oval the hair follicle, the more curly the hair it yields.

Similarly, the thickness of hair is dependent on the size of the hair follicle. Large follicles produce thick strands of hair while smaller follicles produce thin strands of hair.

What I really wanted to know was the real science behind hair texture. I was interested in why hair texture differs across and within ethnic groups. Could it be genetic? Hormonal? Due to human adaptation/evolution? Apparently, the type of hair your parents have definitely determines the type of hair you end up with, whether that is straight, wavy or curly. Just last year, a study showed that variants of a particular gene determine how curly your hair will be. Scientists still aren't clear exactly which variants play a part or how they work.

The fact that some people have hair that changes textures throughout their lifetime hints that hormonal changes may be at work. There are even cases of caucasian people with thick, coarse hair like that of African and African American people. It's a rare occurrence, but it happens often enough to have a name-- "Wooly Hair Syndrome". Imagine that.

While I'm slightly disappointed that all of my questions were not answered, the research is well on it's way. I look forward to finding out what factors are at work in determining our hair texture. I hear that the research is being pushed because the findings are a gold mine. There may be a pill developed that could change your hair texture from straight to curly and back straight. My curiosity didn't take me to that train of thought (that's bordering on mad scientist territory imo), nevertheless, I find it all muy interesante...

So, what's your hair texture? Does it change from time to time?

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

So Dry, So Unfortunate

It's that time of year again when my skin starts going absolutely nuts. About 3 or 4 years ago, the skin on my hands became really dry and chapped. It was so bad that my finger tips could snag soft material and if I rubbed my hands together you could hear it... clearly. O_O It was devastating for a gal like me, but I tried to ignore it. After all, I was taking 2 lab courses in school and working part time in an industrial lab as well. I thought it came with the territory. But now that I'm done with school and I'm not working with harsh chemicals, I still find myself with the ever dreaded, severely dry skin.

Normally in the fall and winter months, the biting winds and blistering cold take the blame for the dry skin epidemic. However, thus far I have only had to wear a coat twice, so it was time to dig a little deeper...

pH Makes the World Go Round...

The pH of normal skin is mildly acidic ranging between 4 and 6.5. A good moisturizer will not only contain key moisturizing and nourishing ingredients, but it will also have a pH in the range of normal skin. Using products that are too acidic (pH less than 4) or too basic (alkaline, pH greater than 7) can cause irritation and dry skin. Some products will indicate the pH on the label, but don't count on it. If you really want to know if your dry skin troubles are due to the products you're using, pick up some pH paper from your local craft store and see for yourself. Unfortunately, most soaps and cleansers have a pH much higher than 6.5. So daily bathing can be an uphill battle. Dare I recommend skipping a full body lather and only "hit the hot spots" once or twice throughout the week? It's a bold proposition, but desperate times...

What if your products are not to blame?

I'm almost running out of things to blame for my dry skin dismay... it's not the weather (directly) nor is it the pH of my topical cosmetics. However, pH is not just an external factor. Your internal fluids have a pH as well. Aha! Maybe we're on to something. An internal pH that is too acidic or too basic can have a negative effect on your body in many ways, one of which is dry skin. The fact that I always have dry skin, but it worsens in the fall/winter peaks my scientific interest. I plan to take a deeper look into my eating habits and how they differ in the warm months vs the cold months... stay tuned for an update from my mini research project.

Meanwhile, what have you discovered are your dry skin triggers? What are your cures? All the dry skin Glam Girls want to know!

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Monday, October 18, 2010

Not Tested On Animals

I've seen the claim "Not Tested On Animals" more times than I can count. I recently saw it while browsing Etsy, so I thought now was a perfect time to address it.

I'll start by saying: I don't know of any cosmetic end product that has been tested on animals. IF any exist, they are few and far between. The typical testing that cosmetic companies undergo involve test tubes, beakers, volumetric flasks, graduated cylinders, analytical instrumentation and human subjects... NOT animals.

So where does the claim come from?

The claims "Not Tested on Animals" or "Cruelty Free" are mere marketing claims meant to appeal to the consumer that opposes animal testing. Once upon a time, animal testing of cosmetics was commonly used to assess the safety of cosmetic raw materials and/or end products. Because this testing method was once widely used, many veteran cosmetic raw materials have been tested in this way. For this reason alone, the claim may not hold any weight (but it sounds good, right?).

That doesn't mean it's obsolete

The advancement of technology and testing methods have eliminated the need for animal testing in most instances. Even still, the FDA will support the (responsible) use of animal testing to substantiate product safety. By "responsible" I mean using as few animals as possible, as humanely as possible, while still obtaining enough information to draw a conclusion. Because animal testing is a legal and acceptable (by FDA standards) form of product testing, it may still occur today. However, it is not likely for typical end products or raw materials.

Playing Devil's Advocate

I understand the objection to animal testing and as a cosmetic manufacturer, I do not foresee employing this strategy. HOWEVER, if a product/ingredient needed to be tested in living, fully functional skin-- would you rather it get the initial trial run on an animal? or on a fellow human? Which is really more "humane"? Just food for thought.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Moving On Up!

I promised myself back in August that I would take the time to recognize my accomplishments and give myself a pat on the back before I return to business as usual. So in keeping with my promise, I have to acknowledge the fact that I've reached one of my major goals for 2010.

Writing is something that I enjoy and I'm able to use it as a tool to share some of the things I've learned over time- hence this blog. I'm pleased to say that now my blog is not the only avenue I've used to blab about cosmetic science. My very first published (in print) article can be found in the October issue of Skin Inc Magazine. My goal was more than just getting published. I wanted to contribute to a magazine that served my clients and my peers. Skin Inc is just that! As a notable, well respected spa business solution magazine, Skin Inc reaches spas, salons, estheticians, makeup artists, manicurists and cosmetologists as well as cosmetic scientists like myself and entrepreneurs looking to jump into the market.

I am honored that I was given the opportunity to submit my work to such a major magazine in the industry. This is the first, but it most certainly is not the last.

Read my article on the Skin Inc website: Excellent Extracts Consider it your dose of cosmetic science for the day/week.

So what did I do to celebrate? I treated myself to a Grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks which I am sipping as we speak. It's the little things :-)

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

pH and Hair Care

I started a new project in the lab last week that inspired this blog post. While developing new products, a lot of "tests" are done to make sure all is as it should be. One test that is a constant for all (most) products is pH. pH indicates the level of acidity (or basicity pOH) of a substance. pH is important in cosmetic product development because skin and hair have pH too. The products you apply to your skin and hair should work with your body chemistry, not against it.

The pH scale starts at 0 and caps off at 14 with 0 being highly acidic, 14 being highly basic and 7 being neutral (7 is the pH of distilled water). Either end of the scale results in severe chemical burns. The pH of normal, healthy hair ranges from 4.5 to 5.5 (mildly acidic). Similarly, the pH of basic hair care products range between 4 and 6. Color treated and/or damaged hair tends to have a more basic (alkaline) pH. In a basic environment, the cuticle layer of the hair stands out and appears frayed or split. In order to treat damaged hair, a hair product must be more acidic to smooth the cuticle layer resulting in less tangles and higher shine. The process of treating alkaline hair with acidic products is what is meant by "pH balanced". Knowing that damaged hair has a higher pH indicates that a normal pH hair care product may not be very effective in treating damaged hair.

Putting it all together

I'm sure you've noticed that hair care products are marketed for certain hair types ie dry/damaged/split ends, normal, oily, etc. While these products will often use different ingredients to garner results, one key factor is pH. A formulator will know if the product has a chance of working just by taking the pH of the final formula. I have rarely seen the pH of a hair care product disclosed on the packaging. So as the consumer, you need to get a little crafty. Before trying a product, I suggest you pick up your own supply of pH (litmus) paper and do a quick test. The ideal pH would be 4 or 4.5 to work well on all hair types. No matter how damaged your hair may appear, you never want a product with a pH lower than 3-- and even that's pushing it. **Keep in mind, the pH test only works for products/treatments that contain water.

You're now just a pH test away from gorgeous, healthy hair ;-) Here's to the Glam Life!
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Since it Can't be Priceless...

I promised to start adding a splash of business development posts to the blog, so here's the first.

One of the most important things to consider when you're looking to launch a product is the retail price. Often, potential clients ask me... "How much will the product cost?" Unfortunately, that's not a question I can readily answer. There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about the final cost/price of a product including the ingredients, volume (how much is in the bottle), packaging, target market and profit margin. I encourage clients to determine what price will suit their target market and also how much profit they would like to make per unit BEFORE we begin the project. Everything else can be adjusted along the way. Often, a contract manufacturer can deliver the results you seek within your budget. The key is to know up front.

While catching up on my reading, I stumbled upon an article on Entrepreneur.com about landing major retail placement. Among the tips was planning ahead for profit. Read that article here

I added it to my bookmarks for future reference, I recommend you do the same.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hope For Your Mani

I was watching The Rachel Zoe Project with my bestie earlier this week and of all the things to comment on, she said "Is her nail polish chipping?!" Yes, Rachel Zoe's nail polish was chipping and frankly it always is. Like most girly girls, I absolutely love nail polish and I simply hate when it chips. But the truth is, nail polish just can't be great on natural nails.

Why not?!

Nail polish is made of plasticizers, film formers, solvents etc that temporarily adhere to the nail beds. Women that wear nail enhancements like acrylic, gel or wraps don't experience chipping within a few days like with natural nails. The difference is, our natural nails have oils and moisture that prevent the nail polish from really gripping the surface. Nail enhancements create a barrier between the natural nail and the nail polish that prevents oil and moisture from inhibiting the performance of the polish. In addition to that, our natural nails are flexible. When our nails bend, they create minor cracks in the film (nail polish) that eventually result in chipping. Since gels and acrylics are rigid the polish doesn't have the chance to crack.

That's the bad news, here's the help...

I don't typically need my nail polish to last for too long because I can only wear it when I don't have lab work. Of course, I'm the exception, everybody else at least wants one full week. The key is to create a barrier between your natural nail and the nail polish. That barrier should also make your nails stronger and prevent a lot of the bend and crack issue. Nail glue to the rescue! This is a cheap trick that you can try at home. It causes no damage to your natural nail and it doesn't take a lot of time to do. Buy a small bottle of that brush on nail glue and apply a THIN coat to your natural nails. Let it dry and proceed with your normal nail polish application fun... basecoat, 2 coats of polish and top coat.

Let me know how much longer your mani lasts now... Here's to the Glam Life!

Oh, manicurists, leave a comment with any other tips and tricks you may have to help mani's last longer. Thanks!
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Monday, August 16, 2010

EVERYBODY Wants One...

I get inquiries for all kinds of product development ideas. Usually, the products I'm asked to develop have differentiable features, but one thing I hear probably 85% of the time is *drumroll*

"I want to patent my product."

Is that even possible?

Yes, it is possible to patent a cosmetic product, but it's not likely. Most of the time my prospects believe they can patent the formula to keep it safe from being reverse engineered or reproduced. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. You cannot get a patent on a recipe and a patent certainly won't keep the formula safe. Securing a patent on a cosmetic requires scientific innovation. The patent is not so much on the end product as it is on the process or key ingredient that makes the product unique. The process or key ingredient must be completely new or have a completely new use.

Even if you can, I don't advise it...

When you file for a patent, you must give full disclosure of the product. I'm talking detailed descriptions of the ingredients, the equipment used, the exact formula etc. This kind of transparency means any and everybody has access to the product that was to be the ticket to your million dollar dream. Contrary to popular belief, patented cosmetics can and will be knocked off...legally. Think about it, lip plumpers and eyelash growth products have both been patented. But there are so many of them, who knows which was the original? and what's more, who cares?

My best advice is to develop an amazing product and file for trade secret protection. This way, the most important ingredient that makes your product a cut above the rest can remain a secret. With trade secret protection that ingredient never has to be exposed... Think Colonel Sanders(KFC)and Pepsi. Nobody has done chicken or Cola the way they have.

So while I know it sounds really cool and important to hold a patent on your fabulous product, it's likely more trouble than it's worth. I don't say this to crush dreams.. That's just not what I'm about. I say it only to make you aware before the dream gets too big and is crushed by reality. Think about what's really important-- having a patent, or having a results driven product that makes millions for you in the long run :-) Do you homework and take it to the bank!

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Happy Anniversary!!!

August 11, 2010 marked the first anniversary of Envie Bath and Body. While most people would've found some way to celebrate that milestone, I merely mentioned it briefly on twitter and moved on. Even the fact that I acknowledged the day as being slightly special was big for me. For some reason that is unclear to even me, I rarely "celebrate" anything that I've accomplished. It could be because I have endless goals and dreams. As soon as I reach a goal, it's on to the next. No more than a week ago, I flipped through one of my lab notebooks from college. Looking at that notebook and all the textbooks and notes it was among reminded me of just how hard I've worked to get to where I am. I promised myself that I would begin to celebrate more along my journey... starting now.

*cupcakes, confetti, balloons, and horns* HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!!

In just the first year, I have managed to acquire several projects, hosted a fragrance event, had product placement in "swag bags", met a bunch of amazing people, traveled to New York and Chicago on business, written articles for a major industry mag *to be published soon :-) and positioned the company for monumental growth in the next year among other things.

When I actually think about it, I'm proud of myself. So here's my pat on the back... What's next? :-D

I hope you take the time to revel in your greatness as well! Here's to the Glam Life!
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Monday, August 9, 2010

Follow the Rules... Pretty Please?

I often have people approach me to review the ingredients lists of their personal care products. Usually they want to know if the product(s) are as natural as they claim or if the product will work. Most of the time, I'm reviewing mass market products and the ingredients lists are properly written. Other times, I'm disappointed to see that they aren't.

We've already established that I believe in natural ingredients, and also that I have great respect for synthetics... I'm equal opportunity. But when I see natural product companies failing to play by the rules, my red flags go up.. and your's should too. The FDA requires that ingredients be listed in descending order of concentration and by INCI nomenclature. INCI nomenclature is the accepted chemical naming system for the cosmetic industry. So when I see an ingredients list that looks like this (just an example):

Olive Butter, Coconut Oil, Vitamin A, Vitamin E

Instead of like this:

Olea Europea, Caprylic Triglyceride, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopherol Acetate

... I'm very concerned.

There is so much controversy surrounding the cosmetics industry now, so everyone needs to play by the rules. That includes companies that focus on being completely natural/organic. Even the minor details make an impact on what is "safe" or "unsafe". So while I'm all for natural products and the beauties that use them, I encourage you to demand more from your favorite companies. If you come across a product(s) that has all the ingredients listed in lay-man's terms, please give them a courteous nudge. Let them know that you know better and ask them to do better. Consumer's make the world go round, so do your part... Pretty Please? :-)

And if you really want to do your public service, refer them to me... I'll whip their ingredients lists into shape! :-D

Here's to the Glam Life!
[ ... ]

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Eczema Relief

As you may already know, my son has severe eczema. I used a hydrocortisone compound nearly everyday for a year to keep his skin clear. After getting conflicting opinions about whether or not there would be adverse side effects, I chose to discontinue use. Instead, I looked to natural emollients to keep his skin moisturized. Evening Primrose Oil has a standing reputation for being an effective treatment for eczema and psoriasis, so I tried it. I didn't notice any drastic change in the condition of my little man's skin so the search continued. A friend of mine came by and put a little Emu Oil on his arms which instantly stopped the itching and softened his skin. FANTASTIC!... except Emu Oil is expensive 0_0

Finally, I tried Pumpkin Seed Oil. I already use it in a lot of my branded products because of all it's skin benefits, but I never put it on my son. Oh how I wish I tried it sooner! I put it on him after his bath and his skin was still moisturized throughout the day. By Day 2 of using the Pumpkin Seed Oil, I can already see his rough patches clearing and his skin does not appear dry at all. I haven't used ANY lotion, but I'm sure adding that back to the regimen will be even better.

So what's in Pumpkin Seed Oil? AWESOMENESS!

Pumpkin Seed Oil has a significant amount of fatty acids, notably: linoleic, oleic, palmatic and stearic acids. Linoleic acid helps prevent transepidermal water loss. In other words, it keeps moisture in the skin. Oleic acid is a penetration enhancer that helps transport the benefits of a cosmetic to deeper skin layers. Palmitic and stearic acids occur naturally in the skin barrier lipids. Pumpkin seed oil also has a wealth of vitamins and minerals to nourish the skin.

Word to the Wise

This is a heavy oil and a little goes a long way, so use it sparingly. Also, it has a noticeable "nutty" scent just like pumpkin seeds. Although the scent doesn't last, I recommend putting it on at night to avoid smelling like Halloween.

What have you used to treat your eczema?
[ ... ]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Lipstick Theory

I've been away from the blog for far too long, but with good reason. Things are picking up in the lab and I've been working on a little personal and career development. I recently joined Toastmasters International which is a world reknown public speaking and leadership organization. My primary goal was to refine my speaking skills to position me for a few business goals. I decided to that the cosmetics industry would be the general topic of all of my speeches. This week's speech covered the lipstick theory which I thought to be both timely and interesting. I thought I would share a synopsis of the speech here to let you all into another part of my Glam World. :-)

The lipstick theory arose out of the fact that in spite of economic disaster, women still purchased lipstick. It is representative of the idea that people always need a touch of luxury, even if it is an "affordable luxury" like lipstick. The theory held weight in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks when key players in the industry like Estee Lauder saw an increase in their cosmetics sales. While 9/11 was not quite a major economic disaster, it was certainly a precursor for what we face today.

The recession has shown that the lipstick theory is plausible, although it may be due for a name change. Nail polish has risen as the ultimate female recession buster which is not a great surprise considering the similarities. Both lipstick (lipgloss) and nail polish come in a multitude of colors, styles and textures so there is something for everybody. Color has a way of altering moods and complimenting personalities and styles. Personally, lipgloss and nail polish make me feel feminine and can instantly boost my mood. Women love to feel pretty so even if we can't afford a fancy dress or the fab shoes of the season, we can usually splurge on choice glam cosmetics.

Clearly, this is not the 6 and 1/2 minute speech I gave at my club earlier this week, but that's it in a nutshell (minus the quotes and the numbers, etc). You can expect more of my speech summaries in future blogs. :-)
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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunscreen Actives

Now that we've discussed what SPF is and how it's determined, we can get into a few of the ingredients that actually deliver the sun protection.

Octyl Methoxycinnamate (octinoxate) is the most common chemical sun blocking agent. It absorbs UVB rays and also has waterproofing qualities which makes it ideal for summertime fun. When exposed to the sun, Octyl Methoxycinnamate loses some of its effectiveness so it is rarely the single sun blocking ingredient found in a sunscreen formula.

Octyl Salicylate is a less effective UVB absorber. It is often used in conjunction with other blocking agents as its effectiveness decreases upon sun exposure. Although uncommon, this ingredient has been known to produce mild skin irritation. There is also concern that this ingredient is a penetration enhancer which means it may make the skin more susceptible to invasion by other topical treatments that ordinarily couldn’t pass through the skin’s natural barriers.

Oxybenzone and its close cousin Sulisobenzone are both photo stable (not affected by sunlight) chemical UVB absorbers. They are typically used to stabilize other UVB absorbers that degrade with sun exposure. These chemicals can possibly be absorbed by the skin and raise concern of free radical invasion.

Titanium Dioxide is a physical sun blocking agent that is effective in the UVB and UVA range of the light spectrum. It covers the full UVB range however it doesn’t reach the peak region of UVA. Titanium Dioxide is a common sun blocker in natural formulations. It is very efficient in preventing sunburn; however since it does not cover the entire UVA spectrum, skin cancer is still a relative concern. Most over the counter sunscreens that contain this ingredient incorporate other chemical and physical UV blockers.

Although Titanium Dioxide is stable, it has been known to cause reactions with other chemicals which again raises the possibility of free radical formation. This ingredient is unsightly as it goes on white and stays white. Titanium Dioxide nanoparticles (super small) are a more esthetically pleasing option because they leave a less noticeable white residue, but the verdict is still out on the safety of such. On a positive note, Titanium Dioxide is not known to cause skin irritation and is even safe to use on sensitive skin.

Zinc Oxide is another common physical sun blocker that is actually more effective and less reactive than Titanium Dioxide. In fact it covers the full range of UVB and UVA wavelengths which makes it the most effective single ingredient sunscreen available. Even so, it is usually used in conjunction with other chemical protectors. Zinc Oxide is not a known skin irritant and it can be used on sensitive skin. Similar to Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide leaves a white residue on the skin. In nanoparticle form there is the threat of formation of free radicals, however, scientists have been successful in coating the nanoparticles to prevent such occurrences.

What's in your favorite sunscreen?
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Monday, May 17, 2010

Cracking the Code of SPF

Late last week, someone tweeted that they were about to put on their SPF 100 lotion. My immediate reaction was "Wow! Marketing at its finest!" We all know by now that sunscreen is of the utmost importance in protecting our skin from harmful sun rays. Sun damage rears its ugly head in the form of dry rough skin, wrinkles and even skin cancer. None of which any of us want. But is one SPF any better than another? Let's explore sun protection.

What are we afraid of?

There are actually 3 forms of UV (ultraviolet) rays: UVC, UVB and UVA. UVC has the shortest wavelength of the 3 and is also the most dangerous. We don’t often hear about UVC because the ozone layer protects us from those rays. UVB appears next in the light spectrum with a longer wavelength. It is the culprit behind sunburn. Finally, UVA rays have the longest wavelength of all ultra violet light. The longer wavelength results in less damage in a given time period. In fact, the difference in rate of damage caused by UVB and UVA rays is astronomical. UVA rays are thought to cause more long term damage that may affect deeper layers of the skin. In short, we should focus on protecting our skin from both UVB and UVA rays.

I like to use metaphors to simplify science so let's try this explanation of UV rays. Consider a day at the beach. The day could be pleasant—warm, sun shining, very relaxing… there’s a gentle breeze so any noticeable waves are few and far between. Or the day could be slightly overcast with a stronger breeze… waves are coming with significantly more frequency, but it’s not exactly a tropical storm. Then you have stormy weather, not only is it cold and wet, but the waves are beating the shore more often than not. The frequency and tenacity of the waves at the beach represent the various UV rays. The best day at the beach correlates to UVA and the worst day to UVC. Get the picture? Good!

Sunscreen agents are classified as physical protectors (UV reflecting) or chemical protectors (UV absorbing). The physical protectors work to reflect both UVB and UVA rays. Chemical protectors generally absorb UVB rays although there is some overlap in function between the two. Some UV protectors are compromised by the sun; thus, they must be used in conjunction with other ingredients to stabilize them.

So what is SPF and how is it determined?

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) refers to the level of UVB protection a product offers. Note I said UVB protection. Currently there is no test for level of UVA protection in a product. While many companies have released high SPF products ranging from 45+ to 100, this is more of a marketing strategy than a real difference in protection. It would be easy to assume that SPF 30 was twice as effective as SPF 15 and so on, however, that is not the case. In reality, SPF 15 will block around 94% of UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97% and SPF 45 blocks 98%. The increase in sun protection becomes more and more negligible as the SPF increases. In essence, an SPF of 100 is not as amazing as it sounds.

In order for a product to make an SPF claim, it must undergo clinical testing. In this testing, 10-20 healthy, fair skinned individuals are exposed to UVB radiation from an artificial source similar in intensity to that of the noon sun. The test measures the time it takes each participant's skin to burn while wearing sunscreen in comparison to the time it takes the skin to burn without sunscreen. Of course, everyone's skin is different, thus the average of this ratio is taken to determine the SPF of a given product. Keeping in mind that testing is very controlled, there are a number of factors that will determine how well a given product will protect you. Those factors include the actual intensity of natural UVB rays, your unique skin type, the amount of sun care product you apply and how often you apply it.

To sum it all up:
Everyone needs sun protection.
Don't believe the hype, SPF 30 is Glam approved.
Use sunscreen liberally and apply it often, especially when you're outdoors.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Color, Color, Color! Part I

"Nothing says Spring and Summer like color, color, color!"-- Me

When spring arrives, there's color everywhere-- green grass, pink and lavender flowers, blue skies. It's nothing short of inspiring, so out comes the colorful nail lacquer, lipstick, gloss and eyeshadow. Various ingredients both natural and synthetic go into making the beautiful colors you wear on your eyes, lips, cheeks and nails. I thought it would be fun to explore color with you from a nerd's perspective, so this is Part I of a series of all things color.... Welcome to my Glam Color Lab :-)

On the Natural Side

Natural colorants are popping up everywhere, but how do you know if your fave natural beauty product really is? Mineral makeup is mostly comprised of inorganic pigments. For this discussion, the terms organic and inorganic do not refer to the method of growth or extraction. Instead, the terms will be discussed in their chemical definitions. Simply put, organic chemicals contain Carbon, inorganic chemicals do not. Inorganic pigments are metallic compounds found in nature and refined for use in cosmetics.

Iron oxides
are inorganic pigments that are very popular in makeup products. Iron oxide colors are typically shades of red, yellow and black. They can be blended to make an array of natural colors for blush and foundation. There are no restrictions for the use of iron oxides so they are safe for eye and lip products as well.

Chromium dioxides
are another category of inorganic pigments used in makeup products. They are available in shades of green ranging from darker greens like olive or brighter blue greens, etc. Chromium dioxides are not approved for use in lip products.

Ultramarines cover a broad spectrum of color. There are ultramarine blues, greens, pinks and purples. While the ultramarine blue shades are not approved for lips, the others are all fair game for outrageous lip, eye, face and nail colors.

Manganese is a bright purple color and is also an inorganic pigment. It is most popular in lip and eye products, but that's probably obvious. When I was an undergrad chemistry student, I LOVED working with manganese because it was so pretty. I thoroughly enjoyed all my chem labs, but sometimes it's drab and mundane... manganese brightened my day a few times :-)

Iron blue is a very dark and intense blue inorganic pigment. If you haven't already noticed the trend, iron blue is not approved for use in lip products. However, it is widely used in other cosmetic products.

We've discussed the basic colors which can be mixed, matched and blended to create some amazing color cosmetics, but what about white? Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are commonly used to achieve the white color in color cosmetic products.

All of the above pigments can be found in nature. Commonly, they exist with other metals and must be separated and purified to cosmetic grade.

In future posts for this series, we will discuss micas, FD&C and D&C colorants, lakes, organic pigments, metallics and pearls, etc. You won't want to miss finding out what's really in your color cosmetics.

Got a question about color? Leave a comment!

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Water: The Ultimate Moisturizer

A few weeks ago, I saw a tweet that baffled me a bit. Someone (I don't remember who) was completely annoyed that the top ingredient in some product was water. My first thought was "Whoa, what's wrong with water?!" More recently, I read about a product line whose claim to fame is "water-free". From a formulator's perspective, water can be a nuisance when you are trying to avoid the use of preservatives. That is a big deal in times like these where the natural, eco and organic movement is in full effect. I'm still not clear why consumers would be up in arms about the presence of water in a formula, but I'm here to tell you why you should love it.

Water is THE ultimate moisturizer. Moisture cannot exist if water is not present, so the primary function of water in a moisturizing product is to be the source of moisture. In a perfect world, water would be all we need to maintain well moisturized skin and hair, but that's just not the way it is. Because water will always evaporate, there needs to be ingredients in a product that act as a barrier to prevent water loss. These barrier (occlusive) ingredients are waxes, vegetable oils and silicone oils. As a bonus, most barrier ingredients come with added benefits like vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc.

Another main function of water in a cosmetic formula is to be a solvent. Not only are raw materials concentrated, but they also need a medium to be dispersed. Water dissolves these raw materials and allows them to be used in safe concentrations. [While many raw materials can be used as is, they are equally effective in lesser concentrations.] I fear that some people think water as a top ingredient makes the product "watered down" or ineffective. That couldn't be further from the truth. Consider the amount of laundry detergent you use in relation to the amount of water the fills the washer. The ratio of detergent to water is clearly 1 to 99 yet, you have full confidence that the minute amount of detergent you used will clean your clothes. The same concept applies to water in cosmetics.

Finally, water plays a major role in the texture of a product. Moisturizers and hair conditioners, for instance, benefit from easier application, spreadability (hmmm is that a word?) etc when water is used effectively. Water as a main ingredient can also be indicative of a lighter formula.

Contrary to popular belief, all skin types and hair types need moisture. So the next time you see water as a top ingredient, be thankful that the formulator thought about your need for moisture. Pay closer attention to the types of oils the product uses to lock that moisture in... dry skin and hair will need heavier oils and oily skin will need much lighter oils.

Are you a consumer that's not big on water in cosmetics? How do you feel about it now?
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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The How and Why of Formaldehyde

I had the pleasure of attending America's Beauty Show and FACE and BODY in Chicago a couple weekends ago. I had a blast! While I was there, I engaged in an interesting conversation with someone regarding formaldehyde. The conversation was spun from the fact there are now at least 10-15 different Brazilian/keratin hair straightening products and one main ingredient is formaldehyde. So the question was: Why is formaldehyde in cosmetics and why would anyone put it there?

Brazilian Keratin Treatments

I can guarantee you that your hair will not be blown straight just from keratin. We've discussed keratin a bit before, but let's revisit briefly. Keratin is a major protein in skin, hair, nails and teeth. Keratin in the skin is flexible and soft, yet it is hard in hair, nails and teeth. Although the keratin in the straightening treatment does not do the straightening, it does improve the strength and appearance of the hair. I'm reluctant to also say it improves the overall health of the hair because technically hair outside of the follicle is "dead"... but you get my drift. Formaldehyde (in keratin treatments that contain it), is the ingredient that causes the hair to relax. There are keratin treatments that do not use formaldehyde as the straightening agent, however keratin is certainly not the ingredient doing the grunt work. Let's face it, a keratin treatment is a lot more marketable than a formaldehyde treatment :-/

Formaldehyde in other cosmetics

In most other cosmetic applications, formaldehyde is not added directly to the formula. Instead, it is a by-product, so to speak, that increases the effectiveness of certain preservatives. These preservatives work because they release small amounts of formaldehyde over time. [Think: formaldehyde = embalming fluid = preservative] This slow release of formaldehyde means that a product has an ongoing stream of protection from harmful microbes and bacteria. One cosmetic that uses formaldehyde directly is/was nail polish. Formaldehyde is used in nail hardening polishes, not really in the polishes that are more for show than functionality. When you see nail polishes that claim formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin FREE it's largely due to marketability as opposed to an actual difference in the product formula.

Dangers of Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is certainly a dangerous chemical, but not so much in cosmetics. The FDA has approved the use of formaldehyde in cosmetic applications for hair and skin at no more than 0.2 percent of a formula. Products that contain formaldehyde releasing preservatives have no problem meeting this restriction. Formaldehyde in nail polish products can lawfully be present at 5% of the formula. Studies show most nail hardeners that contain formaldehyde come in well below 5%. Unfortunately, there have been some keratin treatments that have been found to contain 10 times the legal amount of formaldehyde.

When inhaled, formaldehyde can cause respiratory irritation like a burning sensation in the nose and throat. It can also cause sensitivity in the eyes. When I was in undergrad, I worked with formaldehyde (formalin) in large quantities daily. I can say from experience that acute formaldehyde exposure is no joke! Long term inhalation of formaldehyde has been linked to some forms of nasal and lung cancer... and therein lies the problem.

While formaldehyde is not inhaled when from products that use formaldehyde releasing preservatives, it can be inhaled from nail applications and the controversial keratin treatments. From the perspective of both a scientist and a consumer, nail hardeners do not cause me any worry... but the unregulated amounts of formaldehyde in keratin treatments paired with high temps used to make the treatment work cause me great concern.

and with that... Be Glam responsibly!
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Talk to Me!

I realized today that I don't know much about my readers, and my readers may not know much about me. Even on Twitter it surprises me how many people have no idea what I do. I clearly need to toot my own horn a bit more. Nevertheless, this post is dedicated to giving you a closer look at my life... as it relates to beauty... and you doing the same.

So a little about me... You already know I'm a cosmetic chemist. I do contract work and consulting for small businesses, spas/salons and independent beauty professionals who want to market a line of beauty products. Manicurists and Makeup Artists have been my best clients so far. I also do private labeling and wholesaling. The product offerings for those services is growing gradually.

I am vain in the sense that I take pride in the way I look. I'm not the "I know I'm prettier than you" type. I just like to look pretty and I easily recognize and appreciate beauty in other women too. I am the QUEEN of complimenting a stranger :-) I'm obsessive about taking care of my hair and my skin. I spare no expense for hair care and skin care... especially when a product no longer works for me. I don't think I'm a true product junkie, but that's probably only because I can read an ingredients list and instantly know if a product will live up to it's claims. My fave beauty products to buy are lip gloss and nail polish. I keep approximately 5 lip glosses in my purse not including the lip balm and carmex that I tote around. I buy nail polish compulsively, yet I rarely have my nails polished because of the work that I do. I also enjoy perfume... I wear it more for the status. It makes me feel all glamorous and grown up. I create perfume because I enjoy the process and because I can be inspired by so many different things that lead to creating a beautiful perfume.

So that's enough about me. I want to know about you! Tell me, what's your favorite nail polish brand? What nail color is an absolute classic in your eyes? What's the best top coat and base coat? What beauty product or types of products excite you? How often do you wear perfume? What's your signature fragrance? Are you obsessed with lip gloss like me? How long do you wish your lip gloss would last? Do you wear bronzer, foundation or tinted moisturizer? What's your fave makeup brand? Are you into color or are you a neutral gal? When you pamper yourself, what does that include?

I want to hear it all, ladies! So, please leave a comment telling me all about your Glam Life :-)
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Monday, March 8, 2010

The "Formula" in my Hair

I'm going to tell you ladies a secret... are you ready? Here it goes: One night while I was asleep, my son decided to rest his bottle in my hair. I woke up with a mane full of formula! I know what you're thinking... "That is so gross!" "I hope you washed your hair immediately" The answers-- "Not really all that gross." "I washed my hair, eventually."

Allow me to explain. My son suffers from multiple food allergies-- milk and soy included. So instead of drinking the typical milk based formula, cow's milk or soy milk, he drinks a hypoallergenic formula made solely of amino acids. It comes in powder form and I mix it with water. In essence, I had a fantastic conditioning treatment in my hair! Plus it's tropical flavor, so it smells good too. If you'll recall from your high school science classes, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins... and hair is made of a fibrous protein better known as keratin. Put simply, amino acids are hair food.

Amino acids combine to form proteins that will strengthen the hair and possibly help promote hair growth. Keep in mind, everyone's hair growth cycle is different. You can't grow waist length hair if that's not in your DNA. See previous post Long, Luxurious Hair: The Science. Fortunately, you don't have to have a formula incident to reap the benefits of amino acids and/or proteins. The claim to fame for those mayonnaise and egg kitchen conditioning treatments is the fact that they are rich in proteins, thus also rich in amino acids.

These days, cosmeceuticals are growing in popularity. They are no more than a collection of vitamins, minerals, etc that can be taken in pill form or have been packed into special beauty drinks. I'm all for cosmeceuticals-- anything to keep it pretty. Just remember that you can add the same vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, etc to your diet just by incorporating the right foods. Amino acids are included in the list of beauty must haves that you can get find in your foods. Out of 22 amino acids, our bodies can produce 13. The remaining 9 need to be supplemented and are referred to as essential amino acids. Foods such as milk and meat contain all 9 essential amino acids. Remember the tagline for milk? "--it does a body good." Add to that "--it gives you strong, healthy, pretty hair." What woman doesn't want great hair?! Other foods that contain essential amino acids are nuts, beans, soy, peas, rice, wheat and other grains. Alone these sources don't contain all the essential amino acids, but combined you will get all that you need.

The next time you're in the beauty supply, you can be confident in picking up products with amino acids listed in the ingredients. Until then, make sure your diet is giving you all the beauty food you need.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Science and Controversy

With all the controversy and bad press looming in the cosmetic industry, I thought it was important to speak as both a consumer and a cosmetic chemist. I have had the privilege of following several forum style discussions regarding the safety of cosmetics and personal care products. In these discussions, both scientists and non-scientists provide their "two cents". Normally, a sensationalist begins the discussion with wild claims like "Women put 515 chemicals on their bodies everyday!" or "There's lead in your lipstick and you're eating 7 lbs of it a year!". Think I'm being facetious? I couldn't be more serious. Of course, this is when all the scientists join in with our facts and research, etc because we hate to see the industry being bashed and shown in a negative light.

The Scientist's Brain

Scientists realize that consumers are often skeptical and that they are being fed a lot of misinformation. What the general public doesn't realize is that scientists are by far the most skeptical beings... ever. Our minds are wired to question everything and believe nothing until we have seen the research or performed the research ourselves... it's the scientific method. Once we have the facts, we will fight and argue tirelessly to inform those who don't believe. In the case of the cosmetic industry, some of these arguments and fights occur publicly. It may appear that the scientists are picking on "the little guy", as we often must take our stand against individuals like sales reps from MLM companies or "all natural" companies. The problem is, these individuals rarely know the science behind the ingredients that we use-- both natural and synthetic.

My Note to the Consumer

Be careful what you believe. It's perfectly ok to be skeptical, but be fair with your skepticism. I urge you to not only question claims made by the cosmetic industry, but the claims made by radicals and special interest groups as well. Keep in mind, the research and development department of any major cosmetic company is run by various scientists ie chemists, biologists, chemical engineers, etc. With the "natural" cosmetic companies, not so much. Don't get me wrong, this post is not to bash indie beauty companies in any way. On the contrary, it is meant to bring about awareness and to say "Shame on you." to those companies whose marketing strategy is to shed a negative light on larger, more established companies.

As with any industry, there are some snakes in the grass. There are plenty of cosmetics on the market that make claims they can't live up to. Those products belong to both big brand manufacturers and small cosmetic companies alike. Learn to read your ingredients lists and familiarize yourself with which ingredients are natural and which are synthetic. If you want to know if a product is likely to work, feel free to ask me. Keep in mind, product claims are largely made by marketing departments, not R&D.

Final Points

1. Research shows there is no harm in parabens.
2. Water based products NEED preservatives. If you see water and no preservative, be afraid... be very afraid!
3. Preservatives are your friend... they keep your products safe from nasty little bacterial creatures.
4. Lead is not purposely included in your lipstick as a secret ingredient. Lead is a naturally occurring metal and can inadvertently be introduced to not only your cosmetics, but your food and drink as well. Albeit in TRACE amounts, as it is only found in nature in trace amounts.
5. Cosmetic Scientists use the SAME cosmetics that we market to the general public. We put them on our skin and our children's skin. Sorry to break it to you, but there is no secret society for cosmetic scientists that makes all the "good" products that we keep to ourselves.
6. The nature of any scientist is to research, test, research, test, research some more, test and then share our findings. This is no different for the cosmetic industry.

Knowledge is Hotness, here's to the Glam Life!
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Means War: Antioxidants vs Free Radicals

I'm sure everyone has heard the terms "free radical" and "antioxidant" before. You generally know, one is bad and the other is good, but do you really know what they are and why they are? Marketing of cosmetics depends on the consumer being a little naive and the marketer sensationalizing the truth. Armed with the facts and a sense of understanding, you can start to chop through some of the claims out there and get to the meat of what the product(s) are all about.

So what is a free radical?

The body, like all matter, is made up of countless molecules. Sometimes oxygen comes along and reacts with molecules that it should not react with, leaving the molecule "undone" and looking for a partner. I like to think of free radicals as renegade puzzle pieces. I know that sounds crazy, but follow me on this one. So these renegade puzzle pieces are on the hunt for a piece that fits, whether it belongs to that puzzle or not. Imagine how crazy the finished puzzle will look if it has pieces that don't even belong. That sort of chaos is the effect that free radicals have on our bodies. In essence, free radicals attack good cells rendering them damaged or destroyed. This process is disastrous to our skin, causing us to age beyond our years, though we're all on a quest to look younger than our years. #conundrum

So how do we fight free radicals?

With antioxidants, of course! Antioxidants (in this sense) do exactly what the name implies, combat oxygen. *side note-- My fellow chemists know this is not the whole truth, but it explains antioxidants' role in this topic.* The antioxidant's job is to keep oxygen from reacting with molecules that it shouldn't, thus preventing the creation of free radicals. Hopefully, this explanation gives you a little more insight as to why cosmetic companies love to claim antioxidants. In a nutshell, they are key ingredients for any anti-aging product.

What should you look for?

The next time you're on the hunt for a great product that will improve the health of your skin and is also anti-aging, look for the antioxidants. The most common antioxidants in a cosmetic product are: tocopherol (Vitamin E), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), beta-carotene or retinol (think Vitamin A), and green and white teas. Remember, antioxidants are a great addition to your product regimen, but they also work wonders when you add them to your diet. Eat plenty of berries, broccoli, tomatoes, grapes, carrots, etc for your fill of antioxidant goodness.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taking a Lesson From Generic

This past Saturday, I sent the kids to hang out with their dad so I could have a little quiet time. While they were gone, I did a little work and indulged in a nice long shower complete with a wash and style :-) Doing my hair is what inspired this post. Generic Value Products is a hair care brand that has capitalized on their right to "reformulate" name brand products that are already a success.

A few years ago, my best friend (who is also my cosmetologist) started using Paul Mitchell's Super Skinny Serum when drying my hair. The product claims to smoothe, soften, condition, seal and reduce drying time. Let me be the first to tell you that it does all of the above. I have thick, long hair that usually takes a half hour to 45 minutes to dry, so this product is a god-send to me. The trouble is, Paul Mitchell products are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. For someone like me that washes their hair once a week, I need more bang for my buck. Enter Generic with their Smoothing Serum labeled "Compare to: Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum" Ding, ding, ding!!!! We've got a winner here!

Allow me to explain a bit. Most personal care products are not protected from being reformulated. Of course some carry patents, but cosmetic chemists have plenty of legal tricks to get around a patent and deliver a comparable product. A lot of people are hung up on brands, especially when it comes to beauty products. A quick comparison of ingredients lists will show you that most store brands are exactly the same as the name brands. In some instances, the name brand products are private labeled to smaller companies and chain stores.

My point is:
1. Don't be afraid to try the store brands. They are often of equal quality and will save you some money.
2. There is a fortune to be made by small businesses in reformulating already successful products. Pick a niche, develop a unique branding strategy and call a chemist (that's me!) to work on the project.

Pretty and Rich?! That's the Glam Life!
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tough Skin

I spent a few days in New Jersey last week for Fabulous Smells and Cocktails (Review and Pics coming soon) and my friend's launch party. While I was there, I decided to treat myself to a manicure because my hands were in bad shape. Honestly, I was slightly embarrassed at the condition of my paws at my own event, but what can you do? At any rate, while I was in the local nail salon, I watched someone get a pedicure. Yes, I watched! I couldn't help myself. I was appalled because the technician was using a Credo blade on her client's feet. I sat there watching thick layers of skin fall from this poor lady's feet and I cringed every time. If you recall, I did a post on pedicures this past summer in which I was clear on my position. Those things are the devil!

If you have tough/rough skin, it's there for a reason. It's your body's natural defense- it's way of protecting you from harm. That's not to say you have to live with crusty feet. Just be careful how you treat the problem. Credo blades remove far too many layers of skin. You may leave the nail salon with feet smooth as a baby's bottom, but when the skin begins to heal duh-duh-duh-dummmmmm! That skin will grow back thicker and tougher because your body needs to repair the damage and try to keep it from happening again.

Now, my experience at that little nail salon in South Amboy, NJ inspired me to write this post, which is not really about Credo blades. I wanted to explain some of the other options out there for treating those unfortunate calluses. Callus treatments are becoming more and more popular. Most contain a collection of moisturizers, humectants and anti-microbial ingredients. Plus a host of vitamins. The most common ingredient in Callus Removers is dihydroxy propylene which acts as a surfactant, humectant and anti-microbial. Callus Remover treatments are concentrated formulas that quickly soften the skin and allow for easy removal with a pumice stone/pad or foot rasp. With proper upkeep, one Callus treatment should be enough to last the whole summer.

Interesting fact: Callus Removers and Cuticle Removers are usually the same product in different packaging. Read the labels, you'll see ;-)

Callus remover treatments are not your only option. A simple soak once a week and frequent moisturization should keep your skin in decent condition. I also recommend keeping some sort of foot file in the shower. You can upgrade your soak with loose tea (green or white), oatmeal, a drop of tea tree oil, and a few drops of a jojoba oil.

Here's to the Glam Life!
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fabulous Smells and Cocktails

If you're following me on Twitter (@Glam_Scientist or @envielabs)then I'm sure you've notice how extremely excited I am about Fabulous Smells and Cocktails. Susan Vernicek of Identity Magazine and I have been working nonstop to make sure this event is everything it is promised to be. This is the first of many events that we plan to host across the country. This time around, we're catering to the Glam Women of New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. The event will be held on January 28, 2010 at 141 South Restaurant and Bar in Union, NJ.

Each of our guests will have the privilege of creating their own custom fragrance with me. I will be right there to give every woman one on one attention to make sure the fragrance she gets is something she will really enjoy. The fragrances we will create will be made from pure essential oils in a base of jojoba oil. Whatever your taste in fragrance, whether its floral, spicy, citrus, oriental or a combination, we will create something you can enjoy that is ALL YOURS! *Insert spookie, mad scientist laugh here*.

In addition to creating your own fragrance, you will have the opportunity to participate in the decision making for the new fragrance in the works for Identity Magazine. Susan wanted a fragrance that would fit the personality of her magazine and celebrate the individuality of her readers. We thought the best way to get the perfect fragrance would be to include you in the process. If you've ever wondered how celebrities "design" a fragrance, this is how! The perfumer presents them with several fragrance samples and the celebrity critiques and evaluates the fragrance until it is something they can agree to. In this case, you are the celebrity. You will sample and comment on 6 or more fragrance options to help Susan and I come to a final decision. How exciting!

Finally, our guests will not only leave with their own personalized fragrance, but with a goodie bag FULL of interesting and unique gifts. We've got premium teas, lip gloss, mini bottles of specialty vodka, free yoga passes, boutique gift cards and so much more. AND.... one of our guests will receive a gift bag valued at over $200 from our raffle.

Susan and I hope that you will come to our event and enjoy all that we have to give. Currently, tickets are only $15, but the price will go up as we get closer to the event. Included in your ticket price are your custom fragrance, drink specials, finger foods and raffle tickets. The bar and kitchen will be open for you to purchase items from the 141 South Restaurant and Bar menu.

Purchase your tickets here: Fabulous Smells and Cocktails

See you soon!
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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Sticky

This post was inspired by my good friend and fellow cosmetic chemist, Kimberly Riley (@KiMiStRyCOS), who recently posted this tweet:

@KiMiStRyCOS: Wondering why your lip gloss is sticky? It's probably comprised of mostly synthetic ingredients #makeupmonday

I couldn't resist the urge to take this statement a bit further by telling you exactly which ingredient(s) are responsible for the sticky texture. Some women like sticky lip gloss because it is long lasting. Makeup artists use the sticky stuff to add an artistic touch to the lips with rhinestones, glitter, sprinkles etc. There are other women, like myself, that don't like the "tacky" feeling, but rather prefer a smooth, moisturizing texture.

The ingredients typically responsible for the sticky texture of lip gloss are polybutene and polyisobutene. Polybutene is a synthetic polymer that acts as a binder, epilating agent (hair removal) and a viscosity increasing agent. It is a sticky, non-drying liquid that is also used in adhesives. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review has deemed this ingredient safe as it is currently used. You may also find this ingredient in lipstick, eye makeup and other skin care products.

Polyisobutene is a close cousin to polybutene. It is also a binder and viscosity increasing agent used in cosmetics. Unlike polybutene, polyisobutene dries to leave a thin coating on the surface of the lips. Low molecular weight polyisobutenes are thick, soft and tacky liquids. Polybutene is typically used in water based formulations, while polyisobutene is used in oil based formulations.

One of my biggest pet peeves about lip gloss and lipstick alike is that some formulas tend to cause my lips to peel. I believe polyisobutene is the culprit responsible for this gross occurrence. Of course, I will take a closer look at this to confirm or deny the accusation in the near future.

So that's "the sticky". Use it to live life glamorously :-)
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Makeup Mondays Exposed

As you may already know, I'm an avid tweeter (can I say that?! lol). I primarily follow people who share my interest in beauty, makeup, skin care and fashion. So you can imagine my twitter feed is on fire on #makeupmonday. Periodically, I will do a post explaining the science behind one or more of the tips from #makeupmonday.

This post was inspired by a new twitter friend of mine, @AnonamusPoetry who suggested the use of Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel as a foundation primer. So I already know what you're thinking... "Isn't Monistat for yeast infections?" Yes and no. Monistat makes yeast infection treatments, but the chafing relief gel is not such a product. The key to a great makeup primer is silicone oil. The Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel contains plenty of silicone oils! The results of the Monistat product as a foundation primer have been compared to that of Smashbox Photo Finish Primer. Let's compare the ingredients:

Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel

Cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone, crosspolymer, silica, tocopheryl acetate and trisiloxane.

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer

Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Propylene Glycol, Water, Grape Seed Extract, Kolanut Seed Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract

Do you see the similarities? Both are heavy on the silicones ie cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, cyclomethicone. Remember, when reading ingredients lists the ingredients are listed in descending order with the most abundant ingredient first. Silicone oils are most often found in conditioning products. They have a slick, velvety texture which makes them a fantastic ingredient for makeup primers.

In comparing the two products, the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer does have a much more impressive ingredients list due to ethylhexyl salicylate (sun protection) and the various extracts which are high in antioxidants. However, if you are already using a great moisturizer (which you should be, shame on you if you're not) then the Monistat product will serve it's purpose well plus, it's a much cheaper alternative. For those of you that are wary of using an intimate care product on your face, remember this-- your lady parts are much more delicate and sensitive than the skin on your face.

Here's to the Glam Life!!!
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