Bendy Investigates: “Oil Rebound”


investigates500You’ll often hear people suggest that the skin has a method regulating it’s own oil production.
Phrases such as “harsh cleansers strip the skin of it’s natural oils and cause the skin to produce more oil to compensate” or that even flaky, dry looking skins somehow “compensate by producing even more oil” when you use certain types of cleansers. They might explain the workings of oil cleansing by saying that the “oil tells the skin it’s no longer drying out” which in turn decreases oil production.

Oil Rebound (sometimes called the very sciencey sounding “reactive seborrhoea”)  is a very common concept, unfortunately it is also flat not possible! There’s no evidence of any such feedback loop system in the skin, there simply are no receptors in the skin to detect how much oil (sebum) is on the surface at any given time.

So What’s Really Going On?

I’m guessing you’re sat there going “then why did I get less oily after switching cleanser?” aren’t you? Well, the effect is certainly there, harsh cleansers can indeed appear to increase your oil production but not because of any feedback loop in which the skin is somehow sensing it’s oil has been taken away.
washingface1Over-cleansing is usually the culprit behind that seemingly excess oil. We’ve all been there at some point – wash face, oh look I’m nice and clean! Half an hour later you’re all oily again and start thinking maybe you should have washed more or harder or…
Washing is, by its self, one of the most traumatising things we can do our skin. When we do it with a harsh product (harsh usually refers to a very alkaline product) we also disrupt the pH balance of our skin’s acid mantle as well as traumatising it. The skin can very much sense trauma and pH changes. When the skin senses either of these it responds by releasing stored oil onto the surface to try to protect it’s self and restore pH balance. Traumatised skin does not process the oil in the same way as undamaged skin and so the oil will sit on the surface as a film rather than sinking in and acting as a natural moisturiser. We always have a store of oil ready to be released, so ultimately no more oil than usual has been produced, it’s now just sitting on the surface and shining at you.

Can I Get Rid Of My Oily Skin?

How much oil your skin produces is unfortunately largely down to genetics and hormonal influences. Oil production can be affected by hormones including androgens and stress hormones which is why adolescents tend to have oilier skin and women tend to experience more oil and even breakouts around their periods.

Many people will tout oil cleansing as a method for “drying up” oily skin and explain it using this idea of an oil feedback loop. Oil cleansing won’t magically stop you from having oily skin, sorry! The skin will not “adjust” to the oil you are putting on it. By the same token, oil cleansing will not make you any oilier than you already are either. It is a very gentle way of cleansing, it doesn’t involve detergents and isn’t usually alkaline so cleansing once or even twice per day with an oil instead may help prevent damage from over-cleansing and oil sitting on the skin.

You can also use oil blotting paper, mattifying primers and powders. Benefit have a wholec-promo-pore-family-image range aimed at exactly this issue. Retinol (vitamin A) is thought to have an effect on oil production and pure retinol is the main ingredient in prescription acne medications such as Retin-A so gently introducing a retinol containing moisturiser may possibly be helpful.  If you have bad acne as a result of your oily skin please don’t suffer in silence, do see your GP as there are a few medications that can help including Retin-A and the contraceptive pill.

Do you have oily skin? What products would you recommend for mattifying that shine during the day?

Bendy Investigates: Fake Cosmetics

Counterfeit MAC Cosmetics

investigates500eBay, Amazon Marketplace, social media sites and many other online outlets are chock full of fake cosmetics and make-up accessories as well as the usual fake handbags so I thought I would do a post showing some of the most common fakes and the difference between them and the real products. I actually ordered a couple to compare personally to the real things.

Counterfeit cosmetics, unlike the handbags, can actually be quite dangerous to their end user. They have been found containing dangerous levels of lead, mercury, arsenic, copper, cadmium and even cyanide! Substances such as these can cause allergic reactions, skin irritation, swelling, rashes, acne, contact dermatitis and even chemical burns, some can cause long-term health problems. These products are especially dangerous for women who might be in the early stages of pregnancy. The counterfeit products are often produced in unsanitary conditions and Police reports have found rat droppings and even human urine in some of the products they examined. No one other than the maker has any idea what is in these products, there has been no supervision during the manufacture and of course all of the packaging is fake as well as the product inside. The box will list the ingredients for the genuine item not the item you have in your hands.

A national alert was issued when this huge cache of fake MAC products was found entering the country last year.

The counterfeit cosmetics trade costs manufacturers more than £300million a year. It also costs our country money in the form of lost taxes and Police time spent chasing down and prosecuting those importing counterfeit items. Importantly, counterfeiting is often used to fund other more serious types of crime including terrorism. 

Any product can be faked, be it a big brand like MAC, NARS, Urban Decay, Dior or Bobbi Brown, or a cult product from a less well known brand like Too Faced, TheBalm, Ben Nye, Kat Von D or Anastasia Beverly Hills… if it’s a popular brand or product that sells well it will be copied and these copies are often quite hard for consumers to spot. Even popular brands of lash glue attract copies. If you are looking for vegan brands such as Lime Crime the copies are unlikely to have the same standards and the product could have been animal tested as well as being animal derived and you will have no way of knowing in either case. Online sellers will often present an image of the real product (usually a stock image lifted directly from the brand’s own site) on their page or listing and then send you the counterfeit item when you order. Another tactic is to make a product look more legitimate by including branding on the background to the photo they’ve taken – eg. a box or bag from the brand with the logo very clear.
The only way to stay safe and be 100% sure of getting a genuine product, especially if buying online, is to always buy only from a reputable source for example:

  • the brand’s own stand alone stores and website,
  • specialist beauty retailers eg. Sephora, Boots, Sally’s or Space NK,
  • department stores such as Debenhams and Selfridges,
  • high street chain retailers such as Superdrug, TK Maxx,
  • or anyone authorised by the brand – check the brands website for a list of stockists.

If you can’t afford the genuine article, look for dupes by lower priced high street (“drugstore”) brands. W7 for example make excellent palettes very similar to the UD Naked palettes and blushes very similar to those by Benefit, while Make-up Revolution dupe the shades from the Naked palettes in their Iconic palettes 1, 2 & 3 and the shades from the Lorac Pro palettes are duped in their Iconic Pro 1 & 2 palettes.

Spotting a Fake

  • Price, if it’s 30% or more cheaper than usual it’s probably a fake.
  • Look for incorrect spelling or poor English.
  • Non-standard logos or fonts used, the weights or sizes of fonts may be out.
  • Grainy, slanted or out-of-position printing.
  • The container may be poorly manufactured or a different colour/pattern to the genuine item. Packaging may even be totally different to the genuine item, this is common with fake UD Naked palettes.
  • Some brands have item codes stamped on the box which match the one stamped on the product inside and each item has a unique number. Do yours have codes? Do they match? This applies to Benefit and Urban Decay.
  • Do the shades have names or numbers? Does the company actually produce that shade? All MAC, Urban Decay and Benefit shades have names and never just a number. Should the names be printed onto the packaging? All genuine Naked palettes for example have the shade names printed underneath the pans.
  • Does it come with an applicator? Does the brand usually supply these? Is it of good quality? MAC for example never provide sponge applicators or brushes with any of their eye shadow palettes. Smashbox do provide brushes and the fake palettes I’ve seen are easily spotted by the brushes not matching.
  • Is everything that should be there, there? Urban Decay Naked palettes for example always come with a free sample of another product inside the box but the knock-offs never have these.
  • Does the company even make this product in the first place? Naked 5 palette, I don’t think so! NARS retractable powder brush… get out of here you faker! MAC Viva Glam Lady Gaga lipstick came in two shades not six! Naked 3 brush set? Naked 3 concealer palette? You get the picture.
  • Blogs and Instagram can be a good source of packaging photographs to compare with if you’re worried you have received a counterfeit item. Do compare a few images though just in case, copies vary by who made them so unless you know the blogger got theirs from an approved stockist you can’t be sure you’re not comparing against another ‘replica’.

Urban Decay ‘Naked’ Palettes

UD Naked palettes must be one of (if not the) most copied cosmetic products there are! The only way to be sure you’re getting a genuine palette is buy from UD online, in a flagship store or one of their department store counters. There are so many fakes in circulation and many people either can’t tell or don’t care and sell them on if they don’t like them. Fakes from different producers have different ‘tells’, when comparing against another palette make sure you 100% definitely know the provenance of the comparison palette and if comparing against another fake don’t automatically assume a palette is genuine because it differs from the known copy.  This post over at The Dixie Diaries documents the difference between a genuine and a counterfeit Naked 3 palette with many helpful photos.

MAC Lipsticks

25572322555_45b5ef066a_mAnother very popular thing to fake, the fact that there are so many fakes is actually devaluing the genuine item to the point it’s not worth selling on when being sold second hand because no one can be sure of what they are getting.
This particular fake I acquired can spotted very easily: the shade ‘Lovelorn’ isn’t a matte shade!
The box also had the name on a sticker on one end whereas every MAC lippie I’ve had from counters has had it printed on the box. The tube its self is not quite 24945600823_7345cc3bfe_mthe right shape. It’s slightly taller overall than a standard MAC and more rounded.

Other common tells on fake MAC lippies are the shape of the end of the product – MAC cut their lipstick in a particular shape to help with application and many copies are cut at a completely different angle.

Real Techniques ‘Bold Metals’ Brushes

24945132603_9797bdb9d3_zThese fake ‘Bold Metals’ brushes are everywhere online at the moment and the brush cuts are noticeably different from the real thing (especially on the 301, pictured) when they arrive. The tone of the handles are also off; the ones that should be rose gold are just a darker gold. The silver ones are darker than the genuine Real Techniques brushes. The tips of the handles are not as defined or well moulded. The packaging of the fakes looked almost identical on the front barring a few font errors but on the back it became quire obvious they were fake – very grainy and substandard image printing! Another thing regarding the packaging is that all of the genuine ‘Bold Metals’ brushes are unable to move around in the box as they have a bit of tape wrapped around the handle which is glued to the box while the fakes were just loose in the box and could move around and bash the brush head.
Obviously counterfeit brushes are not going to poison you or make you go blind as
counterfeit cosmetics possibly could and thus are less of a concern but counterfeiting takes money away from our economy (both from British businesses & brands and from the exchequer) and could well be funding organised crime both here at home and abroad.

Have any of you been caught out by sellers of fake cosmetics? Have any of you had any bad reactions to wearing counterfeit products?

Bendy Investigates: Micellar Water

Micellar Waters

investigates500What is micellar water? Is it just expensive tap water? Is it just a marketing buzzword? Let’s investigate!

There’s actually quite a bit of science behind the workings of micellar water but you might be shocked to discover that you’ve actually been using all sorts of products that form micelles for years without even knowing it. So in that sense it is very much a marketing buzzword!
Micellar water has thoroughly made it’s way into the skincare mainstream after being an important part of the make-up artists kit for some time. Very often when you are backstage or on location you have no access to a sink or water to be able to cleanse the skin and properly remove make-up so micellar cleansing water quickly became a very popular addition to kits.

To fully cleanse the skin with it you do have to use quite a bit though – not just one or two cotton pads for the whole face, think up to four times that to cleanse the whole face properly! When done correctly and thoroughly it should not be ‘quicker’, and nor is it any gentler thanks to the cotton pads, than using an ordinary cleanser and water. You can however do it sat in bed which is great for over tired zebras! Some formulas can even remove waterproof mascaras and eye liners which makes them a very valuable product for doing small touch ups with cotton buds.

A Micelle. Image from Wikipedia.

On to the science of micelles!

Micellar waters contain tiny spherical huddles of molecules called micelles which form when a large enough volume of surfactant is placed in water or a water based (aqueous) solution. Surfactant molecules look a bit like a bead stuck on top of a long chain or string, these form the head and tail respectively. The head is water loving (hydrophilic) and oil hating while the tail is the reverse; water hating (hydrophobic) but oil loving. This is what causes the molecules to huddle together with all of the water hating tails hiding from the water protected by their water loving heads.
Surfactants may act as detergents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants. You will find surfactants in many products from cleansers and shampoos to laundry powder and washing up liquid. The majority of these products also produce micelles – they just don’t bang on about it! The micelle is what enables your Fairy liquid to remove the grease from your dishes as the oil is hidden from the water (which we all know will not mix with oil!) inside an individual micelle and then “smuggled” along in the water and washed away. All soap works this way. If you have used a cleansing lotion on a pad before, it almost certainly contained micelles.

When you put a micellar lotion onto your cotton pad the molecules rearrange themselves – the water loving heads stick to the cotton pad (because it is also water loving and is holding the solution water) leaving the oil loving tails pointing down away from the solution on the pad. Because the tails are so oil loving they pick up oils and make-up from your skin and keep hold of it, soaking up as much as they can. They can only hold so much though so you do have to repeat the process with another cotton pad!

cleansingwaterWhen buying micellar water however, do be aware that not all formulations are created equal. Pretty much every skincare brand out there makes one or more micellar cleansing waters now. Some formulas contain alcohol in high concentrations which is harmful to the skin, and pretty much all formulas contain fragrance of some kind. Do check the ingredients carefully!
I would not recommend relying on such a product on a daily basis for cleansing of the whole face (surfactants are not always great for the skin and some are known irritants) but it is certainly a very handy product to have in for touch ups to make-up, for travel or those days when you’re dog (zebra?) tired – remember using micellar water shouldn’t really be quicker than washing with water at the sink.

Bendy Investigates… A New Series

investigates500I’m going to be starting a new irregular post series where I indulge my personal love of science and desire to know how things work by sharing posts on subjects such as how a particular type of product works, how products interact with our bodies, how our skin works and of course debunking myths and cod science in the industry. I might stray into other kinds of investigation under this header depending on what’s happening in the industry and what peaks my curiosity.

If you have any particular types of products you would love to know the origins of, anything you would like to know how it works or any beauty myths you’d like me to investigate do let me know and I can add them to my list!

Doesn’t my zebra look cute with her hat on?