Skincare Oils and Free Fatty Acids: The Science (with video)

Video: Skincare Oils and Free Fatty Acids: The Science

If you’re a skincare nerd, you may know that different skincare oils have different fatty acid profiles – that is, they differ in terms of which fatty acids they contain e.g. linoleic, linolenic, oleic and lauric acid. The fatty acids have interesting properties. For example, lauric acid is strongly antibacterial, and works better than benzoyl peroxide against Cutibacterium acnes bacteria. …

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Will Blue Light from Computers and Phones Damage Your Skin?

Will Blue Light from Computers and Phones Damage Your Skin?

A lot of our lives now involves staring at phone and computer screens. I recently posted an article about how visible light can damage your skin, and how to prevent it from happening. The key takeaways: Visible light can theoretically damage your skin Higher energy blue wavelengths is the harmful portion of the spectrum It causes pigmentation in dark skinned …

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Video: Is My Skin Purging or Breaking Out?

Video: Is My Skin Purging or Breaking Out?

Video: Is My Skin Purging or Breaking Out?

Here’s my second video. It’s based on my Purging vs Breakouts post, which I got a lot of questions on – I’m hoping that this video makes things a bit clearer if you’re trying to work out if you’re purging or breaking out from a new product! In it I cover:

  • the science behind purging and breakouts
  • tips on working out if you’re purging or breaking out
  • some ways of making the purging process less severe

(Yes, right after I edited this photo and realised how bad my eye wrinkles were, I started using anti-aging peptides and sunscreen around my eyes religiously.)

Check out the video here.

Here’s a handy, Pinterest-friendly summary of the key points for differentiating between purging and regular breakouts. These rules aren’t hard and fast, and the lists of product types are really not exhaustive at all. There’s a fair bit of guesswork required to figure out what’s going on too. But hopefully it helps!

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Why Has the FDA banned Antibacterial Soap?

Why Has the FDA banned Antibacterial Soap?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that hand and body washes containing certain antibacterial ingredients can no longer be widely sold (the final rule can be found here, and the consumer update is here). Why have they been banned?

Why Has the FDA banned Antibacterial Soap?

The Banned Antibacterial Ingredients

In high enough concentrations, antibacterial ingredients kill bacteria either by rupturing their membranes (their “skin”) or by interfering with how they work.

19 of these ingredients have been targeted:

  • Cloflucarban
  • Fluorosalan
  • Hexachlorophene
  • Hexylresorcinol
  • Iodophors (Iodine-containing ingredients)
    • Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
    • Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
    • Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
    • Poloxamer-iodine complex
    • Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
    • Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
  • Methylbenzethonium chloride
  • Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)
  • Phenol (less than 1.5 percent)
  • Secondary amyltricresols
  • Sodium oxychlorosene
  • Tribromsalan
  • Triclocarban
  • Triclosan
  • Triple dye

The most common ones in hand soap are triclosan and triclocarban. Any hand or body washes containing these ingredients will not be able to be sold in the US from September 2017.

Three other antibacterial ingredients are still being reviewed, but can still be used in soaps for the time being: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol.

Why have antibacterial soaps been banned?

The key reason is: because they don’t work any better than non-antibacterial soaps to warrant the potential risks. While antibacterial soaps do tend to kill more bacteria, this hasn’t translated into tangible health benefits, like reduced rates of sickness. In the FDA’s regulatory terms, they’re no longer “generally recognised as safe AND effective (GRAS/GRAE)”.

The risks are:

Possible health effects from long-term, frequent exposure

Animal studies suggest that some antibacterial ingredients may contribute to health problems like hormonal disruption and skin cancer. A positive result in an animal study doesn’t automatically translate to humans, since there are fundamental differences between species – for example, chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and two paracetamol (acetaminophen) tablets will kill a cat. But it does signal that there could potentially be a problem, and more research is warranted (and is currently underway).

Contributing to antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics are a mainstay of modern medicine. However, a few bacteria have a natural immunity to antibiotics, and will survive and multiply. If this happens on a large enough scale, the bacteria will become resistant to that antibiotic, and you’ll need a new antibiotic. The scary thing is that antibiotic resistance is developing at a frightening speed – faster than the discovery and development of new antibiotics. Which means in the not-too-distant future, we may regress back to a scary time when skin infections were ~11% lethal.

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Purging vs Breakouts: When to Ditch Your Skincare

Purging vs Breakouts: When to Ditch Your Skincare

Have you ever tried a new skincare product, only to discover that it makes your skin flare up with pimples? This could be purging, or it could be reacting with a regular breakout. PurgingĀ is when your skin is adjusting to the new product, and persevering with the product will eventually make your skin better – in fact, the sudden crop …

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Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated? And How to Treat It

Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated? And How to Treat It

Is Your Skin Dry or Dehydrated? And How to Treat It

Note: I made a related video, with some updates! Here it is – scroll down for the written version.

For more on working out your skin type and conditions, building a routine, choosing products that fit your skin and lots more, check out The Lab Muffin Guide to Basic Skincare.

What’s the difference between dry and dehydrated skin?

Now that winter is coming to Australia, be prepared for flaky skin that makes you feel prickly at night and itchy all day. But what sort of flaky skin do you have? Dry and dehydrated skin are similar conditions, but with different causes, and hence different treatments. Both:

  • are worse in cold and dry weather
  • can cause flaky skin
  • can be treated with moisturisers and other skincare products

The big difference is:

Dry skin lacks oil

Dry skin is a skin type that appears in almost all skin typing systems, and it means that your skin doesn’t produce enough oil. It’s the opposite of oily skin.

How much oil your skin produces mostly depends on your genes, but can also be mildly affected by your diet and the weather. This means that, if you have dry skin, you’re likely to have dry skin for a long time, unless you make drastic, permanent changes to your diet. The same applies to oily skin. Skin does get drier as you age though! The best level of oiliness is somewhere in the middle, which is often called “normal skin”.

Dehydrated skin lacks water

Dehydrated skin is a temporary condition that can happen to anyone: dry and oily skin can both lose too much water and become dehydrated! Usually, dehydration is a result of a weakened skin barrier – that is, the top layers of your skin are having a hard time slowing down the evaporation of water (technically known as transepidermal water loss or TEWL). This can be caused by cold dry weather, overwashing, overexfoliating, and sun exposure.

Is my skin dry or dehydrated?

Firstly, you need to work out your skin type – is it oily or dry?

Signs of oily skin:

  • large pores and blackheads, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin area)
  • visible oil on skin (shiny) or greasy spots on pillowcase
  • moisturisers often make the oil worse
  • prone to acne and breakouts
  • make-up slides off during the day

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Why Does My Skin Look Better in the Morning?

Why Does My Skin Look Better in the Morning?

Why Does My Skin Look Better in the Morning?

You might have noticed that your skin looks plumper and brighter when you wake up in the morning compared to at night. It’s not just that you’ve gotten some rest, and you’re not simply imagining it! Peer-reviewed studies have found that your skin is actually thicker in the morning than at night, and wrinkles are less pronounced in the morning as well.

While there’s no doubt that adequate sleep will make you feel and look less tired, wrinkles can’t heal overnight. So what’s happening?

Gravity and dermal fluid in the morning and evening

The biggest impact is gravity. The deeper layers of your skin, the dermis, consists of cells surrounded by liquid called dermal fluid. Dermal fluid isn’t contained within cells (it’s interstitial fluid), so it can move down slowly between the cells in your skin, under the influence of gravity. During the day as you’re upright, the dermal fluid moves towards your legs, but overnight, when your body is horizontal during sleep, dermal fluid settles back. This swells up your facial skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, like pumping water back into a raisin or rehydrating a shriveled, dried sponge.

Why Does My Skin Look Better in the Morning?

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Perfume science: body chemistry and why you love the smells I hate

I hope you enjoyed my guest week! I’m back today with some hardcore beauty science, looking at the fascinatingly confusing world of perfumery. Do you love the smell of roses? It may reveal more about you than you think! People have been using perfumes for over 5000 years. But what makes one person like a scent and another hate it, …

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