About Michelle

Lab Muffin

Hi! I’m Michelle, and I’m here to help you figure out what beauty products are worth buying, and which ones aren’t, using science!

I’m a 30-something science educator, chemistry PhD and cosmetic chemist, based in Sydney, Australia. I started Lab Muffin almost 10 years ago, frustrated that the beauty blogosphere didn’t have enough easy-to-understand explanations of the science behind beauty products.

I firmly believe that anyone can understand the science behind skincare and beauty, and if you can’t, it’s not your fault – it’s the fault of the person doing the talking (and sometimes, they’re trying to bamboozle you into believing them!).

I am pro: science, healthy skepticism, honesty, transparency, money well spent, chocolate, bunnies, chocolate bunnies, sunscreen

I am anti: fear-mongering, hype, one-size-fits-all, “detoxing”

 

Business, consulting, collaboration enquiries: [email protected]

Guest post enquiries: I only accept unsolicited guest posts with adequate scientific evidence to back up any claims.

Backlinks: Do not contact me about getting backlinks unless you like reading expletives and being reported as spam.

Get in touch on social media:

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Selected media features:
 
Media Features
 
Featured in ABC News, Elle France, Elle Canada, NewBeauty, The Atlantic, Allure, The Verge, Popsugar, Byrdie, Racked, MSN Living, The Consumerist, The Klog, Rambler, The Daily Mail, SciBabe, Huffington Post, Female Daily, The Cut and more. Number 3 on Feedspot’s Top 100 Australian Beauty Bloggers. Featured in The List TV’s “3 Brainy Female YouTubers Who Make Learning Fun”.
 

Who are you?

Lab Muffin is solely run by me, Michelle Wong, a thirty-something chemistry PhD graduate and science educator in Sydney, Australia. I spend all my time eating/breathing science or playing with beauty products! I am Chinese-Australian, which means my English spelling is excellent, my Chinese writing is appalling, and I have a rabid love of potatoes and chicken feet.

Why did you start Lab Muffin?

I started this blog because, being a geek, I ask “why” and “how” a lot, and the answers I usually got when it came to beauty were along the lines of “_____ technology”, or “it works on a cellular level”, or “it performs well in clinical tests”. These answers are probably jargon-y enough to put off a lot of people, but I kept Googling. It got to the peer-reviewed scientific journal article stage.

And as I was wading through endless search results, I realised that I couldn’t be the only one asking these questions. So I started this blog as a way of sharing the information I found, and presenting the science in an easy-to-understand way, so hopefully even the non-geeks (or as they’re commonly known, “normal, well-adjusted people”) can get something out of it.

What was your PhD on?

Medicinal/supramolecular/synthetic organic chemistry. Think Walt from Breaking Bad, but making tiny quantities of drugs that may or may not have any effect on the body, and checking whether or not they work. It’s a lot like cooking, really! Specifically, I worked with small peptides that can potentially have anti-cancer or anti-microbial applications. There was a lot of pharmacology in there, which is why I’m reasonably good at interpreting whether active ingredients work and how they work! There was also a lot of supramolecular chemistry, which is relevant to things like surfactants and skin structure, and how ingredients interact with each other and your body.

Why should I trust you?

This is a good question – I really hate this new trend of people trusting random strangers on the internet just because they have a blog!

I am qualified in a tangentially relevant field (organic medicinal chemistry PhD, with a minor in physiology and pharmacology as well during my undergraduate studies), and I have a lot of experience in science education and communication. I was also a moderator on the SkincareAddiction subreddit for a bit over 4 years. But I have no medical qualifications, so take my advice with a grain of salt and consult a doctor before making radical changes to your skincare/make-up regimen.

I’m now also a qualified cosmetic chemist, which means I know how to formulate a wide range of cosmetic products, and ensure products are safe and compliant with regulations. 

On top of that, I’ve been investigating and producing content in the beauty space for close to a decade. 

Even then, I’d encourage you to corroborate my information with other trusted sources. I list the most relevant resources I used for each scientific post, which you can refer to for further information. I try to use peer-reviewed, open access sources where possible, but unfortunately, due to the nature of scientific publishing, scholarly open access sources are hard to come by.

But you’re sponsored by brands and have affiliate links, how can that be trustworthy?

This is a question I’ve agonised over for years. I shared my thoughts in this post

Why the skincare and nail polish obsession?

I’ve thought long and hard about this myself, and the only explanation I can come up with is: I am not a morning person. Skincare cuts down my morning make-up routine, and a nice mani makes me feel pretty and polished for days (although to be honest I’ve fallen off the polish bandwagon since about 2015).

Can I link to your post?

Linking is more than fine! However, if you want to quote a substantial portion of the text, or if you want to copy or adapt an image, please contact me first as my material is copyrighted. If you’d like to refer to my content, a linkback would be courteous and appreciated! Plus I’ll be notified – I’d be interested to read your take on the topic 🙂 I don’t accept unsolicited guest posts or backlink requests.

Why do you list “Further Reading” rather than “References” in your posts?

When researching a post, I usually go through upwards of 30 papers in varying amounts of detail (sometimes hundreds). I only include the most relevant and useful references in the “Further Reading” list, so interested readers can find out more without having to do a full review themselves (I’m assuming that if someone is going to do a full review of the topic, they’ll go to a database and conduct their own literature search rather than rely on my blog). For specific studies I discuss, I’ll usually link to them in the body of the post even if they aren’t listed in the “further reading” section.

How can I contact you?

DM me on Instagram, comment on my posts or email me via [email protected]