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«The Beauty Brains Book.indb 1 2/6/2008 12:14:12 PM The Beauty Brains Book.indb 2 2/6/2008 12:14:12 PM Real Scientists Answer Your Beauty Questions ...»

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By the tone of your question, a certain level of skepticism on your part is evident. We here at the Beauty Brains love that! And it’s a good thing because the idea of being able to slather on a hair restructuring treatment to actually re-form hair is ridiculous. True, hair is made of amino acids and putting them on hair may provide some minor benefit. But it won’t restructure, restore or rebuild the hair. This would be a bit like trying to repair a weather

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Restructured hair?

It’s the same way with hair and amino acids. To really restructure the hair, the amino acids would have to be chemically arranged in a specific way. This arrangement can only be done in the hair follicle when the hair is growing.

After that, nothing can be done except coat the hair with a good conditioner that mitigates some of the signs of damage. So, what are these restructuring treatments? In essence, they are just glorified rinse-out conditioners. Just take

a look at the ingredients. Here is Tricomin Restructuring Conditioner:

Purified Water, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Triamino Copper Nutritional Complex (see product information for ingredients), Hydroxyethylcellulose, Panthenol, Aloe Vera Gel, Soydimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Hydrolyzed Keratin, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Propylparaben, Peppermint Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Retinyl Palmitate, Vegetable Oil, FD&C Blue 1, D&C Red 33 The rules of cosmetic labeling require that ingredients are listed in order of concentration above 1%. In general, the more of an ingredient in the formula, the more impact it has on the product. The ingredients near the end of the list are just put in there to make a nice marketing story or are color, fragrance or preservatives.

In the Tricomin formula, some of the main working ingredients are Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, and Dimethicone.

But then take a look at a regular rinse-out conditioner. Say Pantene Pro-V Conditioner, Smooth and Sleek

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Notice any similarities?? The main working ingredients here are Stearyl Alcohol, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, and Dimethicone.

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BUT, some people do find that SLS can dry out their scalp. Those people should consider SLS’s milder cousin SLES (short for Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate) or they should consider using sulfate-free shampoos.

Are baby shampoos good cleansers?

Baby shampoos are good examples of sulfate-free formulas. Instead of SLS they contain materials known as amphoteric surfactants that are less drying to skin and milder to the eye. (Hence the “no more tears” claim of many baby shampoos.) The downside to these types of formulations is that they don’t clean as well as the stronger detergent systems. While SLS is a VERY good cleansing agent that can remove sweat, dirt, styling product residue and scalp oils, baby shampoo formulas are not so effective.

Why not baby yourself?

Is this a problem? It depends. If you’re using a ton of styling product you might have to shampoo your hair multiple times with baby shampoo to get it as clean as an SLS-based product. That’s not such a bad trade off if your scalp is really dried out. I recommend trying baby shampoo for a week or two to see if you like the effect. If not, you can always switch back.

And if you’ve got money to burn, you can also check out the adult version of baby shampoos EN Joy Hydrating Shampoo, Back To Basics Color Protecting Shampoo, or even Paves.

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My hair is SO tangly that virtually every hair I have tangles with every other hair.

After gobs of conditioner and 20 minutes in the shower separating every hair from every other hair - 2 days later it’s a tangled mess again. I stopped using any shampoo or soap or anything (except conditioner) a long time ago. I’ve never coloured my hair or used any chemicals on it.

So - what’s the most powerful, de-tangler you know of? I’d be prepared to use some spray on Teflon cookware product it that meant not having to slowly, slowly (from the bottom up naturally) separate every hair with tons of conditioner! Please help this super tangled guy!

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What Makes Hair So Tangly?

It’s possible that you have a medical condition that can cause hair to become excessively tangled. It’s called Uncombable Hair Syndrome and it occurs when your hair shaft is more triangular than cylindrical. Without examining your hair, it’s difficult to determine what your condition really is.

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Doppleganger says:

I’ve been told that hair needs protein and moisturization to stay healthy. So, for protein I use Mane ‘n Tail and for moisturization I use hair cholesterol products (like Le Kair, Queen Helene) and coconut oil. Is this good for my hair or can I be causing any kind of long term damage?

The Left Brain Replies:

Relax, Dop. These conditioners won’t damage your hair. You might find that your hair is weighed down if you’re using them all at once, but other than that they won’t do anything bad to your hair. So if you like the way these conditioners make your hair feel, then keep using them anyway you like.

The real question here is, does hair really need protein and moisturization?

The answer is yes and no.

YES, hair needs moisturization That just means you need to keep your hair from drying out. That’s the whole idea behind conditioners. You can moisturize by adding water (which doesn’t

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NO, hair doesn’t need protein Although, hair is made of protein, it’s dead. So putting protein on top f the protein in your hair doesn’t really make it “healthy.” But the right kind of proteins used at the right levels can act as a conditioning agent that can form a protective film on the hair. So it’s not that your hair needs protein, it’s that it needs SOMETHING to form that protective layer. Proteins will do it to some extent, but there are other ingredients like fatty quaternium compounds or silicones, that will work even better. So protein conditioners like Mane ‘n Tail are good for your hair, but not necessarily BECAUSE they contain protein. We’ve written other posts about protein if you’d like to read more.

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Every so often you hear about how chemicals in your cosmetics are responsible for cancer, birth defects or even autism. Unfortunately, the sources for these conclusions are rarely cited and when they are, they are typically a biased political committee or marketing group.

This article about hair dye and cancer caught my eye. Reading the title is downright scary “Can dyeing your hair really give you cancer?” The article continues to discuss a major conference that is being held in Belfast in which they’ll discuss the long-term link between bladder cancer and people with dyed hair. It even states

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Now, if this article was all you read on the subject, you might conclude that hair dye causes bladder cancer. You might also get the impression that experts are in agreement. After all, they did get their information from Questor a European Environmental Research Centre.

Being the skeptical Beauty Brain that I am, I went to see what the medical journals had to say on the subject. A search of ‘hair dye’ resulted in 649 hits.

The most current research is most useful and for answering questions like these, review articles are best. Review articles are designed to summarize all the work that has been published before.

Does hair dye cause cancer?

This article about hair dye and cancer published in late 2006 in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health concludes

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This is a bit different than the definitive bladder cancer/hair dye link suggested in the newspaper article. Essentially the researchers say certain genetically predisposed people may have issues, but even this isn’t a certainty. A more thorough study is needed. But the important implication is that for most people, this isn’t a problem. Hair dye will not cause cancer.

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For a more thorough summary of the cancer/hair color research look at this article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association*.


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Pamela Ponders:

Since the weather is getting drier, I’ve decided to look for some cuticle treaments to help them from drying. I’ve noticed that a lot of them include very similar ingredients, like jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, shea butter, and in particular sweet almond oil and lavender oil. Do these ingredients really help to moisturize and what exactly do they do? I’ve noticed a lot of body care products emphasize shea butter. I’ve also noticed them some body lotions have coconut oil in it, is this another beneficial ingredient?

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How oils moisturize Moisture evaporates from your skin by slipping though tiny cracks and fissures oils form a barrier layer on top of the skin that prevents the water molecules from escaping. It’s all about stopping evaporation! This property is called occlusivity and it’s measured by a rating called Transepidermal Water Loss, or TEWL. (pronounced “tool.”) The TEWL value has been measured for various oils, and the ones that have the highest rating (in other words, the

ones that stop the most water from escaping your skin) are as follows:

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Kay’s Question:

Is there a difference between moisturizers for your hands and for your face?

Relatedly, is there a reason to use specially formulated anti-wrinkle creams rather than ordinary moisturizers that you would use on your hands?

The Right Brain saves face:

Yes, Kay, this is one of these cases where there is some really science behind the marketing hype. Here’s why facial lotions should be different

than hand lotions:

1. Skin on hands and face are different Skin is very thin on your face and thicker on your hands. Also, your hands don’t (usually) develop acne or blackheads. Therefore, they need to be treated differently.

2. Drying conditions are different for hands and face You may wash your hands in harsh soap many times a day; you may only wash your face once or twice with a gentle cleanser. Hands are in and out of dish water or laundry water, your face is not. The cumulative effect is that your hands can be much dryer, even cracked and bleeding, and therefore they need stronger moisturization.

3. Hands and face have different cosmetic needs You might want to tighten the little crows feet wrinkles around your eyes but this isn’t the case on your hands.

The Beauty Brains bottom line For the reasons above and more, you need to use products designed to suit your skin’s different needs. Hand lotions should be heavier barrier creams to protect from harsh conditions. Facial moisturizers should be lightweight, noncomedogenic, and may have film forming agents that tighten skin to

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Beauty Bug begs an answer:

I’m currently reading Free Gift with Purchase, by Jean Godfrey-June, the beauty editor for Lucky. The books says that Retin-A helps with wrinkles and Beauty Bug wants the Beauty Brains to comment. Does Retin-A really get rid of wrinkles?

The Left Brain responds:

What is Retin-A Retin-A is the brand name of a prescription drug called Tretinoin which is a derivative of vitamin A. In 1971, the FDA approved the topical application of Tretinoin to treat acne and sun damaged skin. This drug works by irritating the skin, which triggers the basal layer to produce fresh skin cells, thus increasing cell turnover. (Mmmm, turnover!) As new cells more rapidly replace the old ones, the skin takes on a younger, smoother appearance. So it does work, but there are a few issues you should be aware of.

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Could buttermilk be responsible for your youthful appearance?

Mmmmmmaybe. But doubtful. Here’s why.

What the heck is buttermilk, anyway?

For those of you who aren’t up to speed on your dairy products, buttermilk is a thickened, sour type of milk that is made by adding bacteria to regular milk.

The bacteria cause fermentation which changes the milk sugar (aka lactose) into lactic acid. Sound familiar? It should! Lactic acid is an alphahydroxyacid (or AHA) the same chemical that’s used in anti-aging lotions to exfoliate your skin. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like buttermilk is better than lotions you can buy.

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So, if it’s not the buttermik, why does your skin look good?

There could be several other reasons you skin looks so good. First, genetics plays a large role in the health of your skin. It might also be your healthy lifestyle. By staying out of the sun and not smoking you’ve avoided two of the major causes of premature aging. Finally, you said that you’re using other beauty products like Revive and Origins along with the buttermilk. If any of these products contain sunscreen that could be prevent your skin from aging too. But the important thing is - keep up whatever you’re doing. It’s working for you!

And if anyone is still interested in buttermilk but you don’t like the stench of sourmilk on your face (and gee, who doesn’t want that??) you also might try Burt’s Bees Buttermilk Lotion. It’s 98.31% natural so it MUST be good.


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Supplements are unregulated…that’s bad The claims on some of these things are so wild, it seems that just popping a pill everyday should fix every problem you’ve got. Of course, this is nonsense.

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