Saturday, 30 April 2011

Product review: Burt’s Bees Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash

I was recently invited by Burt's Bees to trial the entire Radiance range of products for their Facebook page trial team. I am now going to provide more detailed reviews for each of the products in the Burt’s Bees Radiance range. The hero ingredient of this range is royal jelly, which, according to Burt's Bees is very nourishing, made of nectar, pollen, flower parts, vitamins, minerals, bee hormones and other natural ingredients. It is a very precious, mysterious substance that honeybees produce and feed to only select.

I have long been obsessed with shower gels. I don't know what it is, but I can't get enough of them. I have 4 different gels in my shower to cater to every mood and in my bathroom cabinet there is about 3 1/2 litres of various gels, waiting patiently to make it into the starting lineup. So I was very excited to welcome a new gel into the family, especially an exfoliating one as this would set it aside from the other shower gels in my collection. RRP $19.95 (350ml, 99.2% natural).

The claims (from the Burt's Bees website): Bring your radiance to the surface. This creamy body wash infuses Royal Jelly, one of nature's most nutritious substances, with jojoba beads and a fruit acid complex to gently exfoliate, smooth and help even skin tone. Safflower seed olesomes intensely moisturise and condition, leaving skin with a naturally healthy, radiant glow. Go ahead, reveal your radiance. Apply to a sponge, loofah, washcloth or your hands and lather generously all over your body for clean, smooth skin. Rinse, towel dry and follow up with your favourite Burt's Bees body lotion.
Ingredients: water (aqua, eau), decyl glucoside, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) oleosomes, sodium cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein, glycerine, royal jelly, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, hydrogenated jojoba oil, vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) extract, saccharum officinarum (sugar cane, extrait de canne à sucre) extract, acer saccharinum (sugar maple) extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) fruit extract, citrus medica limonum (lemon) extract, fragrance (parfum), glucose, xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium chloride, lactoperoxidase, glucose oxidase, butylphenyl methylpropional, hexyl cinnamic aldehyde, hydroxycitronellal, linalool

My review: I didn’t mind this body wash, it was quite nice. But I did have issues with the fragrance. This also has the fruity fragrance that runs through the whole range, which is nice, but then there is something else that I can detect, one of the underling ingredients I am guessing, that I didn’t like. I love my shower gels to be really strongly fragranced to really invigorate me when I use them. This didn’t have one of those fragrances – it was pleasant enough but not amazing.

The body wash is the consistency of custard. It is quite slippery so i had to rub it through my hands before using it otherwise it would slide straight off my body. It contained jojoba beads for exfoliation (which you can see as the white dots in the second picture) but these melted almost instantly on contact with my skin. It also contains fruit acid complex for exfoliation, so I am guessing this would have had more an exfoliating effect than the jojoba beads. I didn’t really notice any exfoliating effects.
The body wash was non-drying. My skin felt lovely and soft after using it and not at all tight. Some days I didn’t use the lotion and my skin still didn’t feel tight or dry. It did everything a shower gel should - it was a very gentle, effective body cleanser. Really, my only criticism of the body wash is the smell - so if the scent of a body wash is not an issue for you, I am sure you would be quite impressed by this.
It comes in a 350ml plastic bottle with a flip top lid. The lid is very convenient as it can be opened with one hand and is spill proof if you drop the bottle.
I am not sure whether I would repurchase this body wash. I don’t have sensitive skin so love to use highly fragranced shower gels. This wasn’t as pleasantly fragranced as the other ones I use. I do think that if I ever did develop sensitive skin then I may revisit this body wash as it seemed really gentle and nourishing on my skin. The body wash is $19.95 for 350ml which is an okay price for a shower gel.
Stockists In Australia, Burt's Bees is available from David Jones, Myer, Priceline, pharmacies and health food stores. Or you can buy the Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash from Amazon.

If you would like some more detailed information on royal jelly, you may be interested in my blog article- The use of royal jelly in skincare

All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments. These products were provided for consideration by Burt's Bees for their Facebook Trial Team.

Product review: Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion

I was recently invited by Burt's Bees to trial the entire Radiance range of products for their Facebook page trial team. I am now going to provide more detailed reviews for each of the products in the Burt’s Bees Radiance range. The hero ingredient of this range is royal jelly, which, according to Burt's Bees is very nourishing, made of nectar, pollen, flower parts, vitamins, minerals, bee hormones and other natural ingredients. It is a very precious, mysterious substance that honeybees produce and feed to only select.

Perfume is very important to me and so I also love highly fragranced beauty products - especially body lotions. I was really looking forwarded trialling the Radiance Body Lotion as the description of it (below) makes it sound amazing. RRP $24.95 (177ml, 99.02% natural).
The claims (from the Burt's Bees website): Bring your radiance to the surface. This natural body lotion is specially created to enhance your skin's natural glow. It's formulated with Royal Jelly, one of nature’s most nourishing substances, packed with 134 nutrients, including 17 amino acids, and vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as multiple B-vitamins. Sunflower oil moisturises and mica, a light reflecting mineral, enhances your skin's natural glow. The result is soft, shimmering skin you'll love.

Ingredients: aqua (water, eau), helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, glycerin, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, stearic acid, cera alba (beeswax, cire d'abeille), parfum (fragrance), royal jelly, mica, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) extract, salvia officinalis (sage) leaf extract, urtica dioica (nettle) extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (sweet orange) peel wax, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, tocopherol, sucrose stearate, xanthan gum, glucose, titanium dioxide, sodium borate, canola oil (huile de colza), glycine soja (soybean) oil, sodium chloride, sodium benzoate, glucose oxidase, lactoperoxidase, butylphenyl methylpropional, hexyl cinnamal, hydroxycitonellal, hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexane carboxaldehyde, limonene, linalool.  

My review Unfortunately, I wasn’t too keen on the smell of this product. It has a fruity fragrance (that the whole Radiance range is fragranced with), which I quite like, but for some reason on my skin this fruity fragrance vanished really quickly leaving a harsh, stale perfume kind of scent. I am not sure whether it was the fragrance reacting with my skin chemistry or the scent of one of the underlying ingredients coming through, but either way I wasn’t overly keen on it.

Smell aside, this was a fantastic body lotion. It contains mica which gave my skin a gorgeous sparkly sheen (which you can see on my arm in the second picture) – I loved the effect. It was very sexy and flattering. It was beautifully moisturising, yet non greasy. It left my skin hydrated and silky smooth. It really did leave my skin looking, and feeling, quite amazing and I can honestly say that it did leave my skin glowing.
It comes in a 177ml squeeze tube. The nozzle you squeeze the product through is actually quite narrow, so not a heap of product comes out at once. I loved this feature. I tend to be a bit over enthusiastic in squeezing tubes often resulting in way too much product coming out. I never once had this problem with the Radiance body lotion.
Would I purchase this again? Quite possibly. I loved the way it made my skin look. I loved the mica particles and the sheen it gave me – it was very flattering. But I didn’t like the smell. If my perfume can cover the scent of this, then I will probably get it again. If not, then I will use it as a going out moisturiser for my legs – they will look amazing but will be too far away for me to smell them. The body lotion is $24.95 which is in the mid range for a body lotion.
Stockists In Australia, Burt's Bees is available from David Jones, Myer, Priceline, pharmacies and health food stores. Or you can buy the Radiance Body Lotion from Amazon.

If you would like some more detailed information on royal jelly, you may be interested in my blog article- The use of royal jelly in skincare
All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments. These products were provided for consideration by Burt's Bees for their Facebook Trial Team.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Burt's Bees Radiance Range

I was recently invited by Burt's Bees to trial the entire Radiance range of products for their Facebook page trial team. I have never used all the same products from the one range before (I'm a bit of a skincare tart - I like to spread my love around!), so it was a real treat to trial the Burt’s Bees Radiance range. The hero ingredient of this range is royal jelly, which Burt's Bees claims boosts your natural glow.

The claims According to Burt’s Bees, when used in skincare, Royal Jelly can help enhance skin texture and smoothness, whilst reducing the appearance of fine lines. It has antioxidant properties and is beneficial to overall health and anti-aging programs.

The range The Burt's Bees Radiance range is comprised of 9 different products, outlined below

  •  Burt’s Bees Radiance Facial Cleanser RRP $24.95 (175ml, 99.2% natural) Reveal your skin's radiance. I found this to be a very gentle, non drying cleanser that effectively cleansed my face.  It is of the consistency of custard - it looks creamy but is actually quite foaming. It contained jojoba beads for exfoliation but I found that these melted on contact with my skin so did not really offer much exfoliation. I was quite happy with this cleanser but wasn't overly impressed with the fragrance. It has a fruity fragrance - which was okay - but I think the scent of some of the underlying ingredients overpowered this and made it smell quite strange. Scent aside, I probably would buy this again as it really did do its job.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Toner RRP $24.95 (175ml, 100% natural) Cleanse skin, leaving it feeling fresh and nourished! I loved this toner! I am not really much of a toner user - I don't see the point in them - but this one was lovely. It smelt delightful - both fruity and floral. It was non drying. It whisked the remnants of the cleanser off and removed the cleanser scent which lingered slightly. One evening I was too lazy to cleanse so just used this and found it was very effective as a light cleanser (I wasn't wearing makeup at the time). It was perfect for use just before the serum as it helped the serum spread easily. I can definitely see myself buying this toner again.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Serum RRP $34.95 (13ml, 99.86% natural) Bring out skin's natural radiance by next month. This is another product in the radiance range that I absolutely loved - actually it is my favourite product in the range. This is a gorgeous serum, with next to no fragrance, that absorbs really well into the skin. I used it both morning and night and found that it was not at all greasy. I found that it really seemed to plump out my fine lines and left my skin looking so smooth. I can definitely see myself buying this serum again in the future.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Eye Creme RRP $34.95 (14g, 99% natural) Radiance in the blink of an eye. This was quite a light eye cream that absorbed really well into the skin and left the eye area feeling slightly tightened. I was very impressed with the feel of the cream but I had serious issues with the smell of the eye cream and because of this I really don’t see myself using it again. Other than the smell, it is a fantastic eye cream, but i just couldn’t get passed the scent. It had the same fruity fragrance as the rest of the range but one of the underlying ingredients must have been contributing to the smell that I didn't like - it reminded me of barn yard smells. I have seen reviews of this by other people and they haven't complained about the smell so it is possible that it was a reaction to my skin's chemistry that was causing the smell...whatever it was, I didn't like it.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance SPF 15 Day Lotion RRP $39.95 (55g, 98.22% natural) The royal treatment for your face, plus protection from the sun. I really liked this moisturiser. It was very lightweight, absorbed easily into my skin, was not at all greasy. It has a bit of a fruity fragrance but it is not offensive. It contains SPF15. I would have preferred SPF30, but SPF15 is sufficient for incidental exposure (ie if I am walking to my car, hanging out the washing). If I know there is a chance I will be getting more sun exposure I will always wear sunscreen, anyway, so the SPF15 is sufficient. I can definitely see myself purchasing this again in the future.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Night Creme RRP $39.95 (55g, 99% natural) Wake up to renewed radiance. I really liked the night creme as well. It was lightweight and absorbed quickly and easily which was great as it meant that it didn't end up on the pillow. In the morning my skin looked so hydrated and refreshed, with the fine lines filled out. It had a slight fruity fragrance - almost bubblegum like, but nothing too strong or offensive. I would definitely purchase this again.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Exfoliating Body Wash RRP $19.95 (350ml, 99.2% natural) Wash away dull, reveal radiance. This was a gentle body wash that was non drying. It contained jojoba beads for exfoliation but I found they melted instantly on contact so offered no exfoliation. It also contains fruit acids for exfoliation, and these may have worked but I didn't notice and difference whilst using the body wash. fragranced shower gels. If I ever develop sensitive skin i would definitely consider this again in the future.

  • Burt’s Bees Radiance Body Lotion RRP $24.95 (177ml, 99.02% natural) A healthy radiance fit for a queen. I absolutely loved how my body looked when I used the body lotion, it gave it such a sexy, flattering sheen. The body lotion contains mica, which is what gives the sheen. It absorbed easily and left my skin silky to touch but I didn’t really like the smell. On my skin it smelt a bit like stale perfume or deodorant and this smell lingered for a while. If I can cover the smell with perfume then I would keep using this as it will be worth it due to how gorgeous it makes my skin look. 

  • The range also contains a Day Creme; however, I did not trial this.
    Overall impressions I loved how natural this range is. Each product has listed on its packaging what percentage of natural ingredients it contains, and the percentages range from 98.2-100% natural. I was very impressed with the range and found that all of the products did exactly what they were described to do. The only disappointment with the range has been the smell of some of the products – I am not sure whether it was the product itself, or a reaction to my skin chemistry but some of the products did not smell nice on me at all, which was a shame, because other than that they were so lovely to use.

    So, did the range live up to its claims (Royal Jelly can help enhance skin texture and smoothness, whilst reducing the appearance of fine lines. It has antioxidant properties and is beneficial to overall health and anti-aging programs)? I definitely think that it improved my skins texture and smoothness – it really did seem to soften my skin and give it an overall glowing sheen. I guess it really did look quite radiant. My fine lines definitely seemed reduced – especially on the forehead – they just seemed to be really plumped out. Two weeks of use is too soon to say whether the range has had much effect on anti-ageing, but so far the range really does seem to be improving the appearance of my skin. I really recommend this to anyone who needs a boost to their complexion, who has fine lines that need ironing out, and who prefers to use natural products as this is a nearly completely natural range that lives up to its claims!
    I will be putting up more detailed reviews of each product shorty, so check back here for the links.

    Stockists In Australia, Burt's Bees is available from David Jones, Myer, Priceline, pharmacies and health food stores. Or you can buy the range from Amazon.
    If you would like some more detailed information on royal jelly, you may be interested in my blog article- The use of royal jelly in skincare

    All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments. These products were provided for consideration by Burt's Bees for their Facebook Trial Team.

      Tuesday, 26 April 2011

      The use of royal jelly in skincare

      I recently described in my blog how honey is being used in skincare. Similarly, royal jelly is another popular additive to skincare. Both honey and royal jelly have been used in skincare for thousands of years. Indeed, eHow explains how the Egyptians, famous for their beauty secrets, historically have been known to use royal jelly as part of a skin care regimen to keep their faces moisturised and protected, even in the most harsh desert conditions.

      Image from Wiki
      So what exactly is royal jelly? Royal jelly is a substance made by worker bees to feed the queen in her first days of life to ensure her growth and fertility. It's considered to be one of the world's most nutrient-rich substances, packed with 134 nutrients, including essential amino acids, minerals and Vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, C, E along with Biotin, Niacin and Folic Acid which helps the queen grow to 40 times the size of worker bees and live 50 times longer.

      The amino acids in royal jelly are also a basic ingredient in collagen, which is essential in maintaining the skin's firmness by supporting the skin's connective tissue. Royal jelly  can also help to reverse the effects of ageing in the skin by eliminating pigmentation as well as wrinkles. Royal jelly is widely used around the world, where it is known for its ability to enhance skin texture and smoothness. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) royal jelly (and honey) has been shown to be effective as a softener for dry skin and the toning lotion for firming relaxed, stretched or stressed skin and may be useful as:
      • anti-wrinkle treatment
      • anti-stretchmarks
      • elastifier
      • nutrifier
      • firmer
      • revitaliser
      • hair conditioner
      • tonic
      • sebum equaliser

      Burt's Bees claim to use royal jelly in their natural skin care products because it is known to help enhance skin's texture and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Royal jelly has also been found to have antioxidant properties and be beneficial to over-all health and anti-aging programs. In addition to the skin smoothing properties, royal jelly has also been shown to be a good antibacterial agent. Whilst not as potent an antibacterial as honey, it has still been shown to be effective at killing various bacteria and some fungi.

      One limitation of royal jelly is that it deteriorates very quickly after harvest. To prolong it's shelf life it can be mixed with honey, frozen or freeze dried. If added to cosmetics in a preserved format, it's efficacy should remain; however, it would be difficult to know in what format the royal jelly was in when it was added to your skincare, so there is a chance that royal jelly in your skincare may have already deteriorated and thus be ineffective. For example, if fresh royal jelly was added to your skincare preparation it most likely would have deteriorated well before your have even had a chance to use it. A reputable supplier should have taken this into consideration.

      While there is not nearly the volume of scientific research available for royal jelly as there is for honey, it still seems to be a valuable addition to skincare. In the coming weeks I will be reviewing the Burt's Bees Radiance range, which contains both honey and royal jelly. Hopefully, these products live up to the standards set by the high tech, expensive ingredients in the other products I use as it would be nice to be using natural ingredients in my skincare.

      Do you think that honey or royal jelly add any benefits to your skincare products or are they just fad ingredients?

      All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments.

      The use of honey in skincare

      I have long thought that I need high tech, expensive ingredients in my skincare for it to actually work, but recently I have been hearing a lot about the use of honey and royal jelly in skincare. According to HoneyO, honey has been known for its healing properties for thousands of years - the Ancient Greeks used it, and so have many other peoples through the ages. Even up to the second world war, honey was being used for its antibacterial properties in treating wounds. But what is it that makes honey so good for the skin?

      Image from Qld Saffron
      We all know what honey is - its the delicious spread we put on our toast in the mornings. So how can it also be beneficial to our skin? According to the Burt's Bees website, besides being a strong humectant, honey has a very high content of minerals, amino acids and vitamins, which aid in keeping skin healthy. A humectant is a substances that attracts water, so having a strong humectant, like honey, in your skincare will keep your skin well moisturised, as the moisturiser will continue to attract water to your skin throughout the day. In addition, the Burt's Bees website goes on to say that honey contains numerous phenolic and non-phenolic antioxidants, which guard against free radical damage and encourage healthy cell turnover in the skin.

      Honey also has excellent antibacterial properties. This is due to the fact that it is so high in sugar and low in water, most bacteria are unable to grow in it. However, if honey is diluted with water it loses its antibacterial property as there is then sufficient water to allow bacteria to grow. The pH of honey is between 3.2 and 4.5 making it quite acidic, and thus preventing the growth of many bacteria and, according to Professor Peter Molan, the thickness of honey also provides a protective barrier, preventing wounds from becoming infected. Honey contains hydrogen peroxide, which is released slowly when it comes into contact with fluid in the skin and this kills the bacteria in the wound. Some as-yet-unknown ingredients in honey reduce inflammation, while others, perhaps amino acids and vitamin C, speed the growth of healthy tissue.

      Another use for honey is in the treatment of pimples - if you google 'natural pimple treatments' you will get thousands of websites all suggesting to use honey as a spot treatment. So how does it work? In addition to the antibacterial properties discussed above, honey also has really strong drawing properties, says the Bastyr Center. The high sugar content in honey draws infection and fluid in a pimple to the surface of the skin, allowing it to be removed and, therefore, the pimple can heal more quickly.

      There is substantial scientific research into the use of honey in skincare. The majority of the research is in the field of wound healing, with Manuka honey being the key medicinal honey. This research has shown very positive results in healing wounds that have previously been untreatable. The success of these results indicate that honey is not some fad ingredient being promoted by marketers but a genuinely effective addition to your skincare.

      So it seems that for such a simple ingredient, honey really does have some pretty impressive credentials. The fact that it is such a strong humectant makes it an excellent addition to a moisturiser, it is full of ingredients that speed the growth of healthy tissue and it is an potent antibacterial agent. However, if you want to use it as a pimple spot treatment or on a wound, it is best used neat as once water is added to it, it loses its antibacterial properties.

      So, even though honey is not one of the high tech, expensive ingredients I have come to expect in my skincare, it is still very impressive. Many cosmetic companies are starting to use honey as a key ingredient in their products and these include Lush, L'Occitane, Laura Mercier, Mor and Comvita to name a few. Hopefully, these products live up to the standards set by the high tech, expensive ingredients in the other products I use as it would be nice to be using natural ingredients in my skincare.

      What do you prefer in your skincare - high tech, expensive ingredients or natural ingredients?

      All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments.

      Wednesday, 20 April 2011

      My past life as a human guinea pig.

      While I was a student, completing my PhD, I would often find myself short of cash. So, to earn a little pocket money, I would volunteer to have products tested on me. My set of criteria for picking which study to go in? It had to pay more than I could get working at Kmart. That was it. It all came down to money. I did find the science of these studies very interesting, but really it was all about money for me. I thought that I would share my experiences with you to give you an understanding on how research is conducted on humans in the beauty and medical industry.

      The first study I went in was for a dermatologist completing her PhD. This one wasn't for the beauty industry but rather it was for developing a better understanding of the skin's immune system. The skin has a whole bunch of cells in waiting, ready to pounce on any bacteria or foreign material that breaches the skin barrier. These are the cells responsible for skin sensitivity - in people with sensitive skin these cells are too good at their job and react to anything that comes in contact with the skin. According to this dermatologist, nickel is the most common allergy in the general public. Have you ever had a reaction to a pair of earrings, or jewellery or even a belt buckle or watch? It is nickel you are reacting to. The purpose of the study was to see whether UV radiation suppressed the skin's immune system. I am allergic to nickel and had to wear patches on my back for 48 hours that had varying concentrations of nickel. It was bloody itchy! They then measured how badly my skin reacted. Following that, they zapped another patch of my back with varying strengths of UV radiation applied the nickel patches, then tested my reaction to the nickel again. If I didn't react as strongly it meant that UV radiation did suppress my skin's immune system. I don't know what the overall results of the study were, but my skin definitely reacted less to the nickel in the area that had been exposed to UV radiation.

      Another study I went in was for the beauty industry. They would get a panel of 11 different products, and apply them to these little metal disks. They would then stick them to my inner arm with a waterproof patch and leave them there for 48 hours. They also had a 12th disk which they would just put distilled water on, to act as a control. I am not sure what they were testing because all of the tubes were blank with just numbers on them, but I am pretty sure it was sunscreens.

      Have you ever wondered how they test how long a sunscreen will last for? There was a study going on when I was in uni testing this. They would cover you in sunscreen then you had to sit in a kiddies wading pool filled with water for 6 hours and each hour they would zap a part of your skin with UV radiation to test whether the sunscreen was still working. I didn't end up doing this study because they only paid $120 and I didn't know how I could occupy myself for 6 hours in a wading pool.

      The study I regret going in the most was another medical study though I am sure the product would end up being more lucrative to the cosmetic industry. It was for a drug that increases melanin production in your skin, without exposure to the sun. Melanin is the body's protective mechanism against UV radiation. When you go out in the sun your skin darkens. This is because it starts producing more melanin to prevent it from burning. So this drug was meant to turn on melanin production without sun exposure, and the medical purpose of this was for people who have extremely pale skin that produces next to no melanin, for example Albino's, making them virtually house bound. However, I suspect it will be used more by people who want a year round tan without using a solarium or fake tans. In this study I had a rod implanted into my arm that contained either the drug or a placebo. They took biopsies of an area of my skin that got no sun exposure (my bottom) before the study then again after the study to test whether the skin had changed colour and to have a look under the microscope at what the skin cells were doing. I am almost certain that I got the placebo as my skin didn't appear to change colour at all. I was speaking to the doctor running the study asking him whether he thought that the product worked. He told me that he had one volunteer who had really pale skin with heaps of prominent freckles. As the study progressed, his freckles became less and less noticeable. This doctor thought that it indicated that the drug worked as the rest of this guy's skin was getting darker and catching up in colour with the freckles. This was a double-blind study. What this means is that us volunteers had no idea whether we were in the control (placebo) group or the study group and the research also didn't know. So when he implanted the rods, they were all coded so he had no idea who was getting what. I was paid $300 for this study, but regret it as I now have 5 scars on my body from the biopsies and the implantation and removal of the rod. However, they are on the underside of my arm and my bottom so I mostly forget that I have them.

      The study that ended my career as a human guinea pig was for an asthma study. I did all of these tests to determine whether or not I had asthma as they needed both normal and asthmatic volunteers. Interestingly, I was diagnosed with asthma in this study - I had had it as a child but thought that I had outgrown it but the researcher determined that I still had it and suggested that I see a doctor about treatment. As I have not had an attack since I was under the age of 5, I have not gotten around to following it up. One of the tests they did in diagnosing asthma was stick a tube with a balloon on the end of it into my nose. I then had to swallow while they directed the balloon into in my lungs. They inflated the balloon and measured my lung's response. I remember sitting there with a tube up my nose and a balloon in my lungs thinking 'Sarah, what the hell are you doing here?'. This part of the study paid $50, then if you went on to the second part of the study you got paid an additional $300. What did you have to do to get this $300? Have a biopsy taken from your lung, of course! I was actually considering it until I mentioned it to a friend - he looked at me with such shock and said that if I needed $300 that badly he'd give it to me. It was then that I realised I would never need $300 badly enough to allow my lung to be biopsied - no matter how safe it was. And so that spelt the end of me selling my body to science!

      So, although most of the research on humans generally only involves no more than filling in a questionnaire answering whether you saw less wrinkles or more hydration when using a product, there are more in depth, and invasive, studies being conducted.

      What would you allow a researcher to do to you in the name of beauty or science?

      Friday, 15 April 2011

      What is chirally correct skincare?

      Being a complete and utter skincare junkie I am forever reading articles in magazines, blogs and forums about anything to do with the beauty industry. I thought that I was fairly on the ball with most concepts. Then I read a thread in the BeautyHeaven Forum about chirally correct skincare. I had never heard of this term before so, naturally, it got me researching as to just what chirally correct skincare was. Turns out there is some pretty hardcore science behind it (right up my alley!). So here is my attempt to translate just what chirally correct skincare is, back into layman's terms.
      A chiral molecule is the chemical term for a molecule that is not symmetrical - that is a molecule who's mirror image is not super imposable. The example that is universally quoted to explain this concept is the left and right hand. If you look at your left and right hands they have the same number of parts as each other and if you put them side by side they are the mirror image of one and other, as you can see in the first picture. But as soon as you try to superimpose or line up the two mirror images, they don't align. You can see in the second picture how I have tried to align both of my hands. While I can line up the index fingers, none of the other fingers align meaning that my hands are not symmetrical. It doesn't matter which way I rotate the two images they will never superimpose. As Wikipedia explains 'this difference in symmetry
      becomes obvious if someone attempts to shake the right hand of a person using his left hand, or if a left-handed glove is placed on a right hand'. An achiral molecule is one that is symmetrical and does not differ from its mirror image and so is super imposable. Pure Skin Junkie gives the example of the letter A. The mirror image is identical to the original and when you try to superimpose the two they line up completely.
      Ok, I can feel your eyes starting to glaze over already. Get on with it, Sarah. What does any of this have to do with skincare I hear you ask? Well, whilst some skincare ranges contain only naturally derived ingredients, the majority are comprised of laboratory created ingredients. It is much easier and cheaper to synthesise Vitamin E, for example, in a laboratory than to try and extract it from natural sources. Vitamin E can be found in almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil, amongst other things but the quantities of these ingredients required to acquire sufficient Vitamin E, and the cost associated with extracting it would make the final skincare product exorbitantly expensive.

      When molecules are synthesised by man they always form in pairs that are the mirror image of each other. So, like your left and right hand, these mirror imaged molecules contain all the same parts but are not identical to one and other. Each mirror image of the molecule is given a prefix to its chemical name – either d or l. So, using the Vitamin E example, the chemical name for Vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol so the mirror images of the molecules are called d-alpha-tocopherol and l-alpha-tocopherol. But even though these molecules are nearly identical (the only difference being the mirror image) only one of the molecules can be used by the human body – in this case the molecule with the d-prefix (d-alpha-tocopherol). So chirally correct skincare contains ingredients that have been tested to ensure that they only contain the active molecule, out of the mirror imaged pair, that can be used by the human body. The molecules are sorted so that only the active molecule is added. With Vitamin E it has already been determined that d-alpha-tocopherol the active molecule so any Vitamin E that is added to chirally correct skincare will have been sorted so that only d-alpha-tocopherol is added. If your skincare is not chirally correct, and the vitamin E molecules have not been sorted, it will be listed in the ingredients as dl-alpha-tocopherol, as it contains a 50/50 mixture of the d-alpha-tocopherol and l-alpha-tocopherol molecules.

      So what happens if the molecules are not sorted? Generally nothing; however, your skincare will be less potent. When a molecule is made, equal amounts of the l-molecule and d-molecule are created. So, if your skincare range claims to have 10ml of Vitamin E in it, but the Vitamin E has not been sorted to get the chirally correct molecule then your skincare will actually contain 5ml of active Vitamin E and 5ml of a molecule that does absolutely nothing - so your skincare is half as potent as you expect. In rare cases, one of the mirror images of the molecule might actually be dangerous. One of the best known examples of this is Thalidomide. Thalidomide was a sedative drug given to pregnant women to ease morning sickness, that also ended up causing shocking birth defects. Unfortunately, when the Thalidomide molecules were created, the scientists didn't test the effects of both of the mirror images of the molecules. So one of the mirror images of the molecule was the sedative, but it was the opposing mirror image that caused the birth defects. Had both of the molecules been tested for efficacy in the product development stages then the whole Thalidomide tragedy could have been avoided, but instead, the women were given the unsorted 50/50 mixtures of both Thalidomide molecules. Now that scientists are aware that the effects of each molecule can be so drastically different, all new molecules are tested. Therefore, there is no reason to be concerned if you are using skincare that is not chirally correct that it could be doing you damage, just be aware that it may not be as potent or effective as you think.

      Well, I think that's just about enough science for one day! In the coming weeks I hope to write another blog on how to identify whether your skincare is in fact chirally correct. Until then...

      I translated the majority of the information in this blog from the following websites:

      Thursday, 14 April 2011

      Are all the skincare products in your routine actually necessary?

      My husband and I each have our own bathrooms. It didn't start off that way - we had planned on sharing one and having the other one for visitors - but sure enough, he has been kicked out of mine and now has to use the visitors bathroom. So, which one did I score? The en suite of course! But not because hubby was generous enough to let me have the best bathroom, but because it's the one visitors will never go into. Yes, I confess, my bathroom is an absolute disgrace. It looks like a beauty product bomb has gone off. There are products on every possible surface, whereas hubby's bathroom is immaculate. Allow me to show you:

      Hubby's beautiful bathroom with 3 products on the vanity and a lone product in the shower

      My bathroom - my vanity is covered in products and every drawer in near overflowing, I have lost a third of the floor of the shower to various products then there is even a whole other set for the bath.

      The stark contrast between my husband's bathroom and mine has really got me thinking. How is it that men are able to use so few beauty products, yet we women need a thousand different lotions and potions. I mean, with the odd exception, most men have 2 beauty products in their routine - a cleaning product that serves to shampoo their hair, cleanse their face and wash their body, and a shaving gel which they think counts as a moisturiser as well. If you nag hard enough you may also be able to smuggle a sunscreen into their routine.

      Our routines, on the other hand, are a whole other story. I don't know about you, but I have just counted nearly 20 different products that I use in my routine, and that's just in the mornings. There is a whole other set for the evening. I have my everyday shampoo, conditioner and Morrocanoil for my hair, plus a special treatment set I use once a week; for my face there's the cleanser, toner, serum, moisturiser, eye cream, sunscreen and occasionally a scrub; then for the body there is a shower gel, scrub or soap (depending on my mood), shaving gel and body lotion. For nights I have 2 different night creams that I alternate because I can't decide which one I like better, an eye cream plus more serums depending on what 'problem' I am trying to correct (uneven skin tone, pigmentation, dullness, blemishes...the list goes on). Then there are the masks I try use once a week or so - one for brightening, decongesting, rehydrating. All of this is just for weekdays when I don't tend to wear makeup. I would just scare you if I were to add makeup to the list.

      So how much of this is really necessary? Would it be possible to become like a bloke and reduce our routines to a maximum of 5 products and still keep our beautiful complexions? I personally don't think so, and to be quite frank, I don't want to either. I do actually enjoy playing with all of these products each day. And, to be perfectly honest, most men do not have nearly as nice skin as us. There have been times when I have wondered whether it would be possible to sneak a pore strip onto my husbands nose whilst he slept (I have come to the conclusion that yes, it would be possible. It is removing it that is going to cause me grief).
      So, in the next few weeks I aim to find out:
      • are toners necessary
      • is there actually any difference between eye creams and moisturisers or is it just a marketing ploy to get us to buy both
      • do we really need to exfoliate our skin
      • what are serums and do they work
      Will it decrease the number of products I use? I doubt it! But maybe some of you may benefit from my research Until then, enjoy using all of your products!

      Wednesday, 13 April 2011

      Nooooo!!! I do NOT want to shed 5 layers of skin!!!

      Have you ever walked through a shopping centre and been stopped by a sales assistant in one of those pop up skincare booths in the middle of the centre. I think they are Dead Sea Minerals, maybe, though to be honest I think I have been cornered by about 4 or 5 different companies (I have a bad habit of making eye contact and smiling at strangers). They all have the same sales routine - firstly, they will ask your age, when you reply they act surprised - 'wow, I thought you were at least [insert age 5 years older than what you just told them]. You look GREAT for your age' they claim. They then grab your hand and really get into their spiel. 'This exfoliant is unlike any you have tried before' they exclaim, 'it can remove 5 layers of your skin - see for yourself' whereby they then start massaging their product into your hand. Pretty soon the product starts to ball up. The sales assistant starts getting really excited, 'Look! Can you see all the layers of your skin that are being removed. Your skin is going to look amazing!'. At this point my brain is screaming out for attention. 'Sarah, don't listen to what they are saying, it is all false. You have done a PhD on the skin, for goodness sake. Put them in their place!'. But, alas, my parents have instilled such a strong sense of manners into me that I cannot bear to appear rude to anyone - not even to strangers who are telling me fibs.

      So, why are these claims untrue? In my blog, Understanding the Skin, I described the different layers of the skin. Briefly, there are 7 layers in total: the epidermis is made up of 5 layers (which you can see in more detail in the image below), then there is the dermis, then the subcutaneous tissue. So, if a product were to remove 5 layers of skin, it is going to take off the entire epidermis. A second degree burn is when the entire epidermis has been burnt off leaving the dermis exposed. This type of burn always results in scarring. So, these claims to remove 5 layers of the skin are the equivalent of getting a second degree burn...and you really don't want that from a beauty product.
      Image courtesy of P&G Beauty & Grooming
      The only layer you ever want to exfoliate off is the very uppermost layer of the epidermis - the stratum corneum - as this is the layer of dead skin cells. But even then, you do not want to completely remove it. This layer is designed to offer protection to your skin, and it naturally sheds off anyway. Exfoliating once or twice a week will assist in removing cells that are ready to be shed anyway, but you really don't want to remove any more skin layers than that.

      So, what is the stuff on your hand that the sales assistant claims are layers of skin? It is most likely silicones in the exfoliant. Silicones have a habit of balling up when rubbed, so it is just the product forming balls. It most likely will pick up some debris and dirt on your skin, so would make an okay cleanser. But it is not going to exfoliate to the extent that they claim (not that you want it to!). The sales assistant usually picks up your other hand to compare the two - the hand that had the product applied always looks better than the other hand. Why? Well, your other hand was most likely hanging by your side whilst this demonstration was going on and so blood has pooled in it, giving it a purplish hue. Also, the act of massaging you hand gets blood flowing, instantly making it look better, which is why the hand that had product applied to it always looks better. Do an experiment - massage some water onto the back of one hand then compare both hands - the massaged hand will look much better than the one that didn't get the massage. This is the same effect that you are seeing with the product demonstration.

      Now, I am not saying that the products sold in these pop up stands are no good. From the brief (though numerous!) demonstrations I have had, the products do seem quite nice. However, I do want you to be informed that a lot of the claims that they are making are simply untrue. Since I have a pathological fear of seeming rude, I will forever be stuck listening to these false claims. Therefore, I want those of you with more balls than me to do me a favour. The next time you get stopped in a shopping centre and fed the spiel on shedding 5 layers of skin I want you to do this for me: firstly, burst into tears - the more tears the better. Then start screaming ' are going to cause my skin to scar' then run to the sink and start madly rinsing off the product. The sales assistant will then rush after you and ask what is wrong. You can then explain that by removing 5 layers of skin the entire epidermis will be removed and this will result in severe scaring - the equivalent of a second degree burn. Hopefully, this will result in the sales assistant never doing that spiel again. However, if you are lacking in balls like I am, here's my little tip. When they reach the end of their sales pitch they then usually ask 'So, how much do you think that products like this will cost?' I always answer with a completely innocent looking face '$20?'. You then see their face drop slightly before they reply 'Well usually they are $150, but because the manager is out I can do it for you for $100...' and there is your cue to politely decline and get away...until the next time!

      All opinions stated in this blog are my own. I have no affiliation with any company discussed in this blog and received no remuneration for my comments.

      Tuesday, 12 April 2011

      How do makeup primers work?

      Primers are used to create an ideal canvas for makeup - they fill in fine lines and pores so that the makeup doesn't pool in them, leaving the skin looking flawlessly smooth. They also help to stop makeup from sliding off the face so that it lasts longer. The primer should be applied after moisturising and left for a couple of minutes to settle on the skin, before applying makeup. There are primers available for the face, lips and eyelids.

      So how do they work? Why is a moisturiser not good enough to be used as a primer? Well, where a moisturiser is designed to sink into the skin, a primer creates a layer over the top it. This layer fills in fine lines and pores to create a perfectly smooth surface for makeup. The main reason makeup slides off the face is the secretion of sweat and oil from the skin. A primer forms a barrier between sweat and oil, and makeup. It also gives makeup a surface to adhere to. According to WiseGeek a makeup primer mostly contains waxes, polymers and silicones. The waxes are what creates the barrier between oil and sweat and makeup. Jojoba is an example of a natural wax. Polymers are used to thicken makeup products. Look out for ingredients containing the word glycol. Silicones are used a lot in the beauty industry as they provide lubrication, or slip - when used in hair conditioners they make the hair slippery so that it doesn't knot, and in makeup primers they allow the foundation or eyeshadow to glide effortlessly over the skin. Another function of silicones is to bind to your skin. All substances have either a positive or negative charge based on the molecules they are composed of. The skin is negatively charged. Silicones can be given a positive charge (ionised). Opposite charges are attracted to one and other and form a strong bond. Therefore, the positively charged silicones in the makeup primer bond strongly to the negatively charged skin. If you are looking for silicones on the ingedient list of your primer look out for dimethicone, polysiloxane, cyclomethicone and phenyl trimethicone. So, a primer works by forming a film over the skin that is strongly bonded so that it doesn't budge and this film prevents skin oils and sweat, the main culprits of makeup loss, from coming in contact with makeup.

      Some makeup artists think that wearing makeup without a primer will cause your skin to age quicker but I don't think that would be the case. Most makeup formulations these days contain some pretty high tech anti-ageing ingredients. This assumption probably came about by the fact that wearing makeup without a primer often causes the makeup to sink into the fine lines and wrinkles, inadvertently highlighting them and making skin look older.

      The following are a few examples of primers that I hope to review in the near future, though just about every brand on the market would have their own version of primer.

      Face primers
      • Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre Foundation Primer
      • Natio Pure Mineral Face Primer
      • Face of Australia Face Base Primer
      • Mirenesse Eclipse Age Defense
      • Clarins Beauty Flash Balm
      Eye Primers
      • Natio Pure Mineral Eye Primer
      • BeneFit F.Y. Eye

      Friday, 1 April 2011

      Update on Estee Lauder Re-Nutriv Ultimate Youth Creme

      Ok, so as I mentioned in my first blog on Ultimate Youth Creme I contacted Estee Lauder (Australia) to try and get some info as to why it was discontinued and if there was a replacement product. I got the following reply:

      Thank you for taking the time to contact us and for your interest in Estée Lauder.

      Whenever a product or shade is discontinued, it is not done capriciously or without taking into account many important factors.  Decisions to discontinue a product are made in response to consumer preferences and purchasing patterns throughout the country.  Sometimes, a product is discontinued to make room in the line for a more technologically advanced formula.

      For information about the Re-Nutriv product range, please visit where you will find an entire section dedicated to this skin care range.
      We trust that the above addresses your concern. We hope you will look to Estée Lauder for all your beauty and fragrance needs.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns.

      Unfortunately, that doesn't really tell me anything at all so I am now going to email the US arm of the company to see if they can provide any more info. Stay tuned!