A Simple Moisturiser

I just caught this advert on the T.V. it’s a great advert using a rose to demonstrate how the wind and cold can dry out and damage skin. To help combat this, all you need is a moisturiser. Nothing faddy needed. Pick a moisturiser that works best for you whether you need quite an intense moisture boost, a light non-oil based formula for greasier skin, fragranced or non-fragranced it’s all a personal preference and they all do the same job.

This ad does mention something about ‘vitamins’ which is a bit irrelevant…

Just thought I would share this as the weather has got cold and blustery.

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Environmentally Friendly Beauty Care

Save the sea otters, be beauty packaging aware

Being environmentally friendly is never a bad thing and everyone can do their bit by taking reusable bags to the supermarket, locally sourcing food and buying products with minimal packaging.

5 year olds know these rules to help save the planet.

When it comes to beauty; ‘organic’, ‘natural’ and ‘caring’ are all words often used to sell products, but these claims can be misleading, see here for a good guide to what eco-beauty phrases on beauty products mean. ‘Chemicals’, are mostly marketed as ‘bad’ (unless they are special, newly formulated, miracle, anti-aging compounds) and ingredients from ‘nature,’ are marketed as ‘a good thing’. But, for today, let’s forget about the ingredients and claims, and look behind the words, and think about what they are written on.

Packaging. Packaging sells beauty, it makes or breaks a product. Shelves are lined with contrasting colours, shapes and textures all to make products eye catching, and make you want them at home. Beauty blogs coo over how attractive new products look.

With beauty, first impressions mean everything.

When you buy a product, you are paying for the packaging materials, design and cost, along with the cost of the lotion or potion (almost always the cost of the potion is less than that of the packaging).

‘Green’ mantras shouldn’t go out of the window when you are shopping for beauty products. Glossybox tried to create some green awareness with their ‘Natural Box’, but all the products were in plastic packaging (some in plastic, in boxes, within boxes), and although that particluar box was biodegradable.. and made from recycled materials that only highlighted the fact that their normal boxes aren’t. When they should be.

Next time you are shopping think about what packaging is used. Excess packaging (cardboard boxes, bags, ribbons, jewels and plastic etc) might make the product stand out and look special, but stop, just picture the super cute sea otters, and think. That pretty packaging is just going to end up in the bin.

Look for recyclable materials, and look for products that have been made with recycled materials (usually on the back of the pack with the ingredient list).

The only way to reduce waste is by changing behaviour. Look after the planet like you look after yourself, it’s the only one we have.

What to do with old products?

Don’t just throw the packaging in the bin, look and see if it is recyclable. Also, Origins run a recycling beauty product packaging programme, where you can take empty previously unrecyclable packaging (from any brand) into stores or department counters and they will recycle or use the products for energy recovery.

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Homeopathic Skin Care

I set up this blog to critically look at the ingredients and claims of beauty products, to help people try to understand what works and what doesn’t. What I didn’t expect (and I probably should have) to see is a whole bunch of homeopathic skin care products being sold. I also didn’t expect to be insulted by @homeopathicdana on twitter who told me:

‘My sympathies for not understanding. Have you considered reading? You might actually learn something’

Well how rude.

So off I went to read about the ingredients in the products he is peddling.

 ’7 cream’ 

From the website:  ‘Consider this skin cream for many types of skin problems, ranging from eczema to dry skin (it is a fabulous moisturizer!), to burns and sunburns to burns from radiation therapy, to undiagnosed skin problems to the itch from hemorrhoids.  Try it…and you will see!

Ingredients:

Shea Butter,  Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Neem OilManuka Honey, Aloe Vera, Calendula, Germanium oil (Pelargonium graveolens) is the newest ingredient to this Plus now with Manuka Oil

Plus pure, soft Canadian Glacier water

There is no information about the concentration of the individual ingredients on the website.  This formulation doesn’t appear to be homeopathic at all..  it looks like any other moisturiser with some additional ingredients which are found plenty of creams (to see the benefits of a moisturiser see here). I’m not sure if this product can be recommended to treat medical conditions such as hemorrhoids, burns and sunburns. I know for my eczema I avoid as many additives in creams as I can. There’s nothing special to see here.

If you do not know what homeopathic remedies are, basically they are usually in a pill or medicine form and are a diluted version of an ingredient. So diluted that there is no trace of the original ingredient.  Homeopathic sellers claim that water retains a ‘memory’ of the original ingredient. If that was true, all water would have a memory of every single element on the planet anyway.

Studies on homeopathic remedies have repeatedly shown there is no benefit (above what is known as the placebo effect).  A true homeopathic skin cream consisting of moisturising ingredients isn’t going to do anything more than moisturise your skin. I was pleased to see that a number of other Beauty Bloggers are already aware and skeptical of these kinds of remedies!

SB X

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GlossyBox Harrods Edition and YSL Forever Youth Liberator Serum

GlossyBox is a service where you pay £10 for a pretty box full of cosmetic goodies to be delivered to you. They also have a box for men. There are a number of these schemes on the go at the minute (including, Joliebox, Carmine beautybox and latest in beauty along with many others!

GlossyBox contains a mix of high-end beauty products and perfumes for you to try (mostly sample sized). Although I realise schemes like GlossyBox are a crazy moneymaking scheme (as they make you pay for samples that beauty makers want to give you for free to encourage you to buy more). I couldn’t resist. The lure of a beautiful box, in stunning packaging, containing beautifully smelling goodies was too much. I was very excited about receiving it, and it didn’t disappoint. This month they teamed up with Harrods to bring me this….

Harrods GlossyBox

Inside it contained some very pretty packaging

Harrods GlossyBox

and then

Harrods Glossybox Contents

My GlossyBox contained:

  • Narcisco Rodriguez – For Her – Eau De Parfum (sample)
  • Molton Brown – Heavenly Ginger- Lily Moisture Bath & Shower (sample)
  • YSL – Forever Youth Liberator Serum (5ml)
  • Burberry Beauty – Minature Lip Mist Copper No202 (sample)
  • Clarins – Extra Firming Body Cream

After the initial excitement subsided I started thinking about the contents of the box, I also noticed a leaflet in the box about Harrods ‘Anti-Aging’ and my skeptical brain started waking up… what is this? And what does the YSL- ‘Forever Youth Liberator Serum’ do?

YSL - Forever Youth Liberator Serum GlossyBox

YSL-FOREVER YOUTH LIBERATOR

The ‘guide’ to my samples, contained in the GlossyBox says that the, Forever Youth Liberator is, ‘A powerful serum enriched with 3 glycans to help increase youthful activity in skin cells (In Vitro Test).’ I like that they state that this claim has been tested ‘In Vitro’ but, does the general beauty lover know what In Vitro means? In Vitro means, ‘within glass’, it means the testing was carried out not on a full living thing, but on an isolated part of that thing, in a lab. Here it means that they tested the properties of the glycans/or the serum on cells in a dish. Good for them calling the testing method out, but more detail (and clearer language) would be better.

The serum comes with a leaflet of instructions/information. This states that ‘Youth is a state of mind that cannot live without science’, a slightly strange statement. I can agree with the first part, but youth not living without science? It does, and will.

‘After DNA and stem cells, Glycobiology is recognised as one of the breakthrough sciences of the future. It provides a new understanding of biological mechanisms’ – OK but what does that mean?

‘Glycans, “YOUTH KEYS” are naturally present in the skin and are able to”UNLOCK” cellular activity helping to liberate the skin’s youthful potential. With age, the quantity of Glycans decreases, the skin regeneration process is slowed down.’ - Glycans are not just youth keys, they have a number of different functions (more info below)

‘On the surface, signs of ageing appear: wrinkles, loss of firmness and uneven skin tone.’

‘Glycanactif (trade name) is a scientific complex, exclusive to YSL, which works as a genuine “youth key” that helps stimulate skin’s youthful capacities’ (again, they state, ‘in vitro test’)

YSL glycans in the Forever Youth Liberator are synthetic, i.e. created for use in the serum and not taken from an animal source.

Their claims for FOREVER YOUTH LIBERATOR -

  • Effectively targets signs that determine the appearance of a young face

And that is about it! Although including some flowery language around the product, the scientific claims are fairly balanced. They are pretty clear about how the product has been tested. They have worked with respected chemists at the Max-Plank Institute, who (quote lifted from this article on the serum on the Huffington Post), “He said the complexes in the cream had been shown to have “clear beneficial biochemical changes” on the skin.”

The website for Youth Liberator clearly states the product testing and methods:

‘INSPIRED BY GLYCOBIOLOGY, OUR 1ST SKINCARE WITH GLYCANS TESTED UNDER INDEPENDENT CONTROL

YSL. SKINSCIENCE has developed a patented1 powerful serum enriched with a combination of 3 glycans to help increase youthful activity in skin cells.²

LIBERATE SKIN’S YOUTHFUL APPEARANCE WITH FOREVER YOUTH LIBERATOR

  • 88% agree skin looks more luminous³
  • 72% agree fine lines appear less visible³
  • 72% agree skin feels more plumped³
  • ¹ Patents pending
  • ² In Vitro Test
  • ³ Self assessment on 50 women’

Like I said previously, they could clarify what an In Vitro test is, but I think that YSL are pretty clear about what their product does and how they tested it to create the claims that they put forward for the product.

Glycans are popping up in other anti-aging formulations too. But what are they? What is the evidence that they work?

Glycans are sugar molecules found in the body (also found in other animals). They are a number of different types and they perform a number of different roles in cells and the body. They are found on the surface of all mammalian cells and this is where the skin part comes in.. the glycans contained in Forever Youth Serum (according to the sources I could find) bind to receptors on the cell and stimulate changes in the cell behaviour. The information I can find on the serum is rather cagey about what they actually mean by ‘liberating skins youthful potential’. What the changes are in the cells that were tested with the glycans is not clear. The full mechanism isn’t available.

Here lies a problem for me, I would like to know what exactly is being changed, it could for example be causing an increase in moisture in the skin and creating a moisturising effect. Moisturising effects can be achieved in various other ways. This product does not state that it is any better than any other similar products (and it does come with a hefty price tag).

I would also like to know how the glycans penetrate the skin, this part is key as the glycans need to get to the right parts of the skin (what that is, in this instance, isn’t clear) in order to have beneficial effects.

Some quotes from experts in the area that I found on Lois Rogers blog,

‘Richard Gallo, professor of dermatology at the University of California in San Diego, carried out much of the original science now being developed by cosmetics firms.

“The study results are surprisingly good, but we don´t know if these molecules are really getting into the skin or how the beneficial effect works. We need more studies,” Gallo said.

“There are a number of companies looking at this area. The optimistic side of me says it does have the potential to provide an effective topical cosmeceutical, but the pessimist in me says it might be just another piece of hype.”

Chris Griffiths, professor of dermatology at Manchester University, pointed out that the effect on skin would be measurable only after years of use, but said cosmetics firms were adopting a much more rigorous scientific approach to the search for anti-ageing products than they had in the past. Dermatologists generally believe that an effective anti-wrinkle agent is within reach.’

So, although the claims of the product are fairly reserved and clearly state how the product was tested, the results and outcomes of the testing are not so clear. They really did an excellent job in drumming up hype for the product though.. check out this story in The Telegraph stating that the ‘holy grail of skin-care has been found’.

It is an exciting new area for skin care, but I wouldn’t say we are quite there yet with how or what benefits glycans can potentially have.

As for GlossyBox, I will continue to buy their boxes. A great way to try out new products and see what exciting things are out there!

I struggled to find any relevant scientific literature on glycans the skin and ageing. If anyone spots any please leave a comment below and I will include it in the post.

Edit – I found some more information on an Elle Blog. They state that, “This amped-up glycan activity, YSL claims, will result in better production of hyaluronic acid, promote thickening of the epidermis, speed cell turnover, and fortify the intercellular structure, resulting in firmer, more even-toned skin.”

Where hyalruonic acid is present naturally in the skins connective tissue, it binds water and helps keep moisture in.. it is a natural moisturiser.

Posted in Anti-aging, Eternal Youth, skeptical beauty | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Perfection does not exist

This week I thought I would remind people of/share this video with you. Remember what you see in magazines and on T.V. isn’t always what it seems…

 

 

Next week I want to talk about a product I really love.. and find out more about what is in it :-)

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New Year, New You? Burn pounds in SECONDS and BANISH CELLULITE

New Year is prime gym membership selling time. It is also the season for health products, fads and unfulfilled promises and resolutions.

The Holland and Barrett shop window is dedicated to slimming products and supplements promising that you can, ‘Get in shape, FOR LESS’.

Some beauty products can take these promises even further, creams that banish cellulite and promise that you can lose inches by simply covering your bum in goo. There is even a whole website dedicated to them at cellulitecreams.net ….. Is this really possible?  Even if you are still eating copious amounts of left over chocolate?

RevitaShape

 Top rated on the celulitecreams.net website is a cellulite and fat reducing cream called            RevitaShape which claims..

  • Metabolizing stored fat
  • Draining water and toxins
  • Improving circulation and flushing away fat and toxins
  • Firming and toning the skin

Strangely, it is also top rated on http://www.getridcellulite.org and the delightfully named, http://www.bumfat.com. (Do you think they might be buying websites and rating their product as No1? Surely not)

What’s in it?

Full of sciencey sounding jargon the RevitaShape website states: ‘The RevitaShape formula contains the most powerful anti-cellulite components available on the market. These ingredients work together to boost circulation, finish off fluids and initiate lipolysis, the metabolization of stored fat. The key ingredients to RevitaShape’s success are (these are taken from various websites about RevitaShape, do not believe everything you read here):

  • Bupleurum Falcatum: One of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. Initiates lipolysis, breaking down adipose (fat) cells (found no evidence for this)
  • Glaucine:An oil derived from the horned poppy flower. Inhibits new fat cells from forming (found no evidence for this)
  • l-carnitine: An amino acid involved in the metabolism of fat, l-carnitine can help breakdown lipids (or fats) beneath the skin surface, thus helping to minimize the quantity of available subcutaneous fat that may later herniate into the connective tissue (What?! In a cream, no.)
  • Coenzyme-A: breaks up fat and is involved in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and produces similar effects to l-carnitine
  • Centella Asiatica Extract: a Chinese herb that is widely regarded for its ability to assist in the restoration of the skin’s suppleness (widely regarded does not mean that it works)
  • Caffeine and algae: drains excess fluids within deep tissues of the dermis. Caffeine can temporarily tighten and firm the appearance of your skin by absorbing moisture, effectively dehydrating your skin. Caffeine works on impact, instantly diminishing the appearance of lumps and dimples, for smoother, even skin. Caffeine is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent, and can help reduce the swelling beneath the skin of herniated connective tissue, thus help to minimize the cause of cottage cheese dimples
  • Bladderwrack Extract:A marine algae, bladderwrack removes excess fluids that become trapped in the layers of the skin.
  • Vitamin C: A key antioxidant, Vitamin C improves circulation and aids in the synthesis of collagen (‘a key antioxidant’ is meaningless)
  • Retinyl Palmitate: A powerful form of Vitamin A, Retinyl Palmitate helps firm and tighten the skin (retinol, it might well just do that)
  • Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin-E): Essential for healthy skin, Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals and improves circulation (it is but it doesn’t improve circulation or cellulite)

    GUARANTEED?

An impressive list of ingredients. Key thing to remember, chemicals, ‘natural extracts’, ‘vitamins’ and ‘antioxidants’ all might well show some effects when they are tested in the lab, at certain concentrations on cells grown in a dish (or animals) but that is completely different to when they are thrown together at various levels in a cream and applied to skin. Just because someone somewhere found that they did something at one point in time does not mean that they will have the same affect wherever they are applied.  There is also a claim on a website that RevitaShape is ‘natural’ despite one of the ingredients being listed as a synthetic version of Vitamin A.

What have researchers got to say about cellulite? This next quote is taken from the latest scientific review published on cellulite treatments published in 2010:

‘The best of the currently available treatments for cellulite have, at most, shown mild improvements in the appearance of cellulite, and most of these improvements are not maintained over time. Studies about cellulite treatments are often limited by small patient groups, the lack of control groups, inadequate blinding of investigators, and a failure to test for statistical significance. Therefore, the “success” of any treatment method for cellulite reduction should be regarded as speculation.’

Ah. There you go then.

That isn’t to say that no cellulite treatments work at all. There are some treatments that have shown some effects. Some of the ingredients in cellulite creams (like caffeine) have been shown to produce an instant tightening effect and a slight improvement in appearance (although this is temporary).

If we stick to non invasive/topical treatments (a cream/solution) the only one shown to have any real effect ( is the application of a solution containing 0.3% retinol (Vitamin A) after application for 6 months. But even that study involved only 20 women.

Retinol is present in the RevitaShape formula as Retinyl Palmitate (synthetic version of Vitamin A) but it is not specified what % is present in RevitaShape.

From the RevitaShape website:

‘RevitaShape also aims to reduce the amount of excess fat in your body, which causes uneven skin in the first place. As such, RevitaShape also contains l-carnitine and bladderwrack extracts. L-carnitine and coenzyme-A can help breakdown lipids (or fats), while bladderwrack is believed to counter obesity by increasing your metabolic rate.’

RevitaShape will not do this. There is nothing in the scientific literature to suggest that applying RevitaShape will remove excess fat and counter obesity.

The 'clinical trial data' on the RevitaShape website

RevitaShape claims to have been ‘clinically tested’ what they mean is that they have paid (probably – as most consumer research is) an unspecified number of women to use the cream and note the appearance of their cellulite over a period of time. There is no ‘control’ group (so there is nothing to compare the data to) and no information about this ‘study’ apart from one graph that doesn’t tell you very much.

And finally, hidden in the FAQ section you find:

Can RevitaShape eliminate dimples permanently?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent method for getting rid of dimples, not even surgery. While liposuction does target and remove excess fat, the true cause of dimples is inflexible connective tissue or skin that is too thin. Liposuction can even make the appearance of dimples worse by leaving dimples and lumps where the extra fat used to be.

Massagers and contour-refining skin creams such as RevitaShape can help to temporarily diminish the appearance of dimples. With RevitaShape, the instant effects of the caffeine will temporarily tighten and smooth your dimply butt – the perfect quick fix to soak up the sun in your cute new bikini. But, as dimples is caused by the herniation of subcutaneous fat within your connective tissue, there is a good chance that without continued use, your skin will once again appear dimpled and uneven.

In summary, cellulite creams like RevitaShape all have similar ingredients. They might offer an instant temporary boost in appearance of cellulite by dehydrating the skin and making it appear tighter. They seem to have no evidence that their cream achieves the promises they make. They will not permanently remove cellulite or make you lose any weight. If someone really did create a miracle solution that solved these problems trust me you would hear about it and they would conduct a proper scientific study to prove that their product worked. Sorry to be a party pooper, but the only real solution for weight loss and to improve the appearance of cellulite is to lay of the chocs and move that bum a bit more!

SB X

Love Your Bum

Full ingredient list for RevitaShape (taken from http://www.dermboutique.com/revitashape.html) : Deionized water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, RevitaShape complex (cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, caffeine, butylene glycol, PEG-8, bupleurum falcatum extract, coenzyme-A, glycerin, coco-glucoside, caprylyl glycol, alcohol, glaucine), glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, PEG-12 dimethicone, ethoxydiglycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, cyclomethicone, bis-vinyl dimethicone copolymer, sambucus nigra flower (elderberry) extract, retinyl palmitate (Vitamin-A), tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin-E), l-carnitine, fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack) extract, ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin-C), DMDM hydantoin, polysorbate-20, centella asiatica (gotu kola) extract, magnesium aluminum silicate, fragrance, methylisothiazolinone.

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The Science Behind Origins ‘Youthtopia’ Serum

This time of year sends beauty counter tills into overdrive. Big promotions, aggressive advertising and plethoras of sales staff enforce the message that beauty products are at the top of the Christmas list for women AND men. This weekend I braved the shopping masses and ventured into town and came accross a brand with appealing packaging, promises and values that was new to me. ‘Origins’.

Origins ‘Mission’ is to:  ‘Create high performance, natural skin care that is powered by nature and proven by science. We use potent plants, organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils. And our long standing commitment to protect the planet, its resources and all those who populate it is reaffirmed by our earth and animal friendly practices’  

Listed as one of their bestsellers is, ‘Youthtopia’ an anti-aging serum.

This might be a relevant time to delve into the legalities of a trade marked name. A trade mark like ‘Youthtopia’ is a brand name and says nothing about the efficacy of a product or what it does. The beauty and cosmetic industries often use nonsense sciency sounding trade marks (Like ‘DNAge’) to imply that products have some scientific proven efficacy without actually implying anything.. you do not need to prove anything to create a trade mark. Here is a website that helps to explain the legalities of trademarks and ones that are unacceptable.

So, ‘Youthtopia’ is meaningless. It is not the serum of eternal youth. 

So what  in it Youthtopia? What do Origins clam it does and what can it achieve?

This is the description on the website:

Age-correcting serum with Rhodiola

 

Origins phyto-technology helps skin look firmer in the face of aging.

First, Rhodiola the legendary adaptogenic herb linked to longevity, kick starts skin to help correct the appearance of lines and renew skin’s vibrancy.

You’ll see and feel tighter, tauter skin texture, fewer lines and wrinkles and a complexion that appears significantly younger.

Rhodiola – is a plant, nothing new there. People have been using plants to poison each other, eat, get high, treat diseases and other skin conditions for thousands upon thousands of years. There is nothing significant about using a plant in a product.

There is some research about the  efficacy of Rhodiola on Guinea Pig skin (collagen, see my intro to skin here) here – http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-BQEB200505018.htm the study concludes that a combination of Rhodiola and Deer serum (yes Deer serum) ‘can defer the aging on skin’. This is based on a study of 6 shaved guinea pigs treated for 60 days.  The ‘aging’ was deemed as being deferred by measuring various factors in the skin (volume density of collagen fibres) and number of fibroblasts. I am not sure how these relate directly to ‘aging’. I couldn’t find any information about Rhodiola on human skin.

Rhodiola is linked to ‘longevity’ as a Rhodiola extract makes fruit flies live for longer . Interesting research but I am 120% sure that applying some extract to your skin is not going to extend your lifespan. Also, the paper did not conclude that a mechanism from the extract made the flies live for longer. Rhodiola supplements are a whole different ball game.

I cannot get an ingredient list for this product, so we have no idea what levels or what form the extract of Rhodiola is. There is no information from Origins about the efficacy of this product.

‘Phyto-technology’ means there is a plant extract in the product… this is meaningless and included in the discription to suggest an additional benefit to the product.

I expect that this product contains some kind of moisturiser. This makes the skin feel plump, moisturised and smooth. You can achieve these effects with any moisturiser.

I imagine this also contains some 100% natural essential oils to make the product smell nice.

The fact that Origins do not produce a list of ingredients or any data to support the efficacy of their products is a little disconcerting. They appear, from their brand image and website to come across as a friendly, ‘about the earth and environment’ company. The lack of information about their products could suggest that behind their branding, they are extremely similar to every other beauty and cosmetic company.

Posted in Anti-aging, Eternal Youth, skeptical beauty | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments