«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 ...»
While anosmiacs won’t be able to tell any difference between these two products (except for color), relief may be on the way. Researchers at the Washington DC Taste and Smell Clinic report that they have identified cell death factors in the mucous of anosmiacs. And now they can get to work on finding ways to reduce the effect of these factors.
Appropriately located on Cyprus, said to be home to Venus the Goddess of love, this factory still contains the original distilling equipment along with ingredients like olive oil, pine, coriander, laurel, bergamot, parsley and bitter almonds. The laboratory they uncovered is over 40,000 square feet and includes rooms dedicated to olive pressing, copper refining, and fragrance oil storage. According to the researchers, the plant employed dozens of people.
But the really cool thing is that these scientists have used the remnants of this ancient factory to recreate scents that are 4,000 years old. They duplicated the original perfumes using fragrance ingredients extracted from traces left in containers at the site. They even replicated the ancient extraction techniques by steeping the spices in water and oil.
Could a chemical actually improve your sex life? Well, if a study from San Francisco State University researchers is to be believed it can. According to their work, men are more attracted to women wearing pheromones resulting in more dates, kisses, cuddles and even sex.
What are pheromones Pheromones are a type of compound that allows animals to chemically communicate with each other. They are versatile chemicals that help ants figure out how to get home, that let dogs mark their territory and that let mammals know when to mate. The word pheromone comes from the Greek words pherin, to transfer, and hormon, to excite. These chemicals are similar to hormones but instead of working within the body, they work between bodies.
How do pheromones work?
The chemical communication of pheromones is simple. One animal (or human) releases the pheromone and another senses it. In essence, the behavior of the sensing animal is controlled by the pheromone releaser. In mammals, pheromones are detected by an organ called vomeronasal organ (VMO) which is located somewhere in the head between the nose and mouth. Pheromones are a bit like odor molecules but they have a much different effect.
So do pheromones really work?
Well, if pheromones really worked it would mean that controlling the behavior of people would be simple. If you wanted someone to fall in love with you, you could simply spray some pheromones whenever they’re around.
Fortunately, human behavior is a bit more complicated than that.
It is still debated among scientists whether pheromones have an effect or not. These researchers demonstrated that women actually saw an increase in sociosexual activity when wearing perfume that contained pheromones.
The impressive part of this research was that it was compared to a placebo
Other researchers have looked at all the human pheromone data and the results are inconclusive. Yes, pheromones are real. Yes, they have some physiological effect (such as synchronizing women’s menstrual cycles). But how much pheromones change behavior is still unclear.
You can search the internet and find lots of sources for pheromone containing products. We’re not saying these products will work. In fact, most companies selling pheromones probably don’t use real human pheromones anyway. Still, this might just be the thing that helps make this a Valentine’s Day to remember.
The answer is yes! Scientists at International Flavors and Fragrance (IFF) one of the world’s largest fragrance companies, have developed a new technology that allows them to reproduce the EXACT sent of a living flower - without even having to pick it.
Love and The Living Flower Floral fragrance ingredients were originally created by picking a flower and processing it to extract the chemical components responsible for its aroma.
But IFF’s new Living Flower head-space analysis technology changes all that.
No, head-space analysis does not refer to some kind of psychoanalytical technique. It’s a way of collecting the scent of a living, growing flower instead of just extracting chemicals from a dead flower. It works like this, a large glass globe is placed around the living flower to capture the scent it releases. This globe is connected to a sophisticated Gas Chromatograph that analyzes the exact composition of the scent.
Chemists then use this analysis as a road map to create a synthetic chemical that smells exactly like the original. (This same technique can be applied to fruits as well as flowers.) So instead of chopping up dead flowers, scientists can now create more natural smelling perfumes from living plants. (Hmmm, we wonder if natural perfumes like Le Bijou, Jimmyjane, and Apothena use this technology.) It’s another great example of better living (and loving!) through chemistry.
One interesting fragrance study suggests that exercise might not be the easiest way to look like you’ve lost those extra holiday pounds. Dr. Allen Hirsch and his team at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research foundation have recently found that the perception of body weight could be affect by the fragrance you wear.
In the study, four groups of about 50 men each looked at a woman (actual stats 5’9”, 245 lbs) and estimated how much she weighed. With three of the groups the woman was wearing one of three different fragrances (citrus floral, sweet pea/lily of the valley, and floral/spicy). For the fourth group the woman wore no fragrance.
Now, this research seems a little weak for my science-minded beauty brain but if repeatable, it is certainly interesting. And even if the results can’t be duplicated, it certainly couldn’t hurt to start wearing a floral & spice fragrance.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to spray on a fragrance and look like they lost some weight?
The Myth of Cupid and Cosmetics It’s true, at least according the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It turns out that Cupid’s estranged spouse had to travel to Hade’s realm and return with Persephone’s make up box. Unfortunately, curiosity got the better of her and she couldn’t resist opening the forbidden box to see what Persephone kept inside. (Rumor has it that Persephone was fond of Loose Lips lip gloss and Hydroderm Wrinkle Reducer.) Anyway, Psyche thought if she used some of Persephone’s magical makeup, she could win back her husband (hey, she just escaped from Hell, cut her some slack!). Of course, there’s always a catch to these myths and when Psyche opened the cosmetic box she was put into a trance and fell into a deep sleep.
The story doesn’t end there, fortunately for Cupid. Eventually Psyche eventually woke up and they lived happily ever after. While it’s nice to see true love triumph, the myth does leave a nagging question for us science types can cosmetics really relax you enough to make you fall asleep? Believe it or not, modern science suggests that this may actually be possible.
Does Aromatherapy Really Work According to an article in the April 2004 Issue Of Natural Health, Namni Goel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. conducted a study that indicates that smelling lavender oil can make you sleep more deeply.
His results showed that the panelists who sniffed lavender oil had significantly increased slow-wave sleep brain patterns which is indicative of a very deep stage of sleep. While this research doesn’t mean that lavender can replace sleeping pills, it does indicate there may be a valid scientific basis for some aromatherapy claims.
I’m testing out Arbonne right now, but am thinking I can’t afford it. My motherin-law is a “beauty consultant” for BeautiControl and they seem to have a pretty extensive line of skin care products. Do you know anything about the quality of their line (I’m looking mainly at cleansers, toners, anti-aging products and moisturizers) and/or can you recommend any of their products?
The Left Brain Lashes Out:
Based on what I’ve seen, the Beauticontrol products seem to be of reasonable quality. They’re also very pricey, but if you can afford them, that’s
What’s the example?
Beauticontrol says “only BeautiControl offers comprehensive, customized skin care that addresses what your skin needs when it needs it.” Based on their product catalog they appear to have typical cleansers, toners, lotions, etc. that are offered by many, many other companies. Why do they say “only” Beauticontrol offers this kind of treatment?
2. Implying Superior Performance without Substantiation
What’s the example?
Beauticontrol says one of their products is “formulated with the rejuvenating minerals of the Dead Sea.” Minerals don’t rejuvenate skin, moisturizing agents do.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, maybe Beauticontrol isn’t “lying” to us (I’m going to catch hell from the Right Brain for this) but they certainly are overstating the uniqueness of their line. And as a scientist, that kind of hype turns me off.
For chemists like the Beauty Brains, the meaning of ‘organic’ is clear. It is any chemical compound that contains Carbon. In fact, to get a college chemistry degree you take a year of Organic Chemistry where you memorize endless chemical reactions between hydrocarbons, oxygen, nitrogen and more.
126 - Scandals and Secrets of the Beauty Biz The Beauty Brains Book.indb 126 2/6/2008 12:14:28 PM Many a chemist wannabe switched to marketing degrees after flunking organic chemistry.
What does organic mean for cosmetics?
But ‘organic’ doesn’t quite mean the same thing in the cosmetic industry.
To consumers it can mean ‘natural’, ‘green’, ‘chemical free’, or ‘found at Whole Foods’. But according to this article, the US organics market is completely confused. Primarily because there is no industry-agreed meaning for terms like ‘organic’ or ‘natural’. Unlike the farming industry, these terms are not regulated for cosmetics. Companies can pretty much claim anything is natural or organic.
For example, imagine a body wash formula. It contains all kinds of synthetic surfactants, fragrances, preservatives and colors. But it also contains 85water. A company might simply claim “90% organic or natural” and be telling the truth. Certainly, this isn’t in the spirit of what people believe organic to mean, but it is within the law.
Our good friends at Burt’s Bees are outraged by the tricks some companies are playing on the public. They are campaigning to get tighter regulations on cosmetics that use terms such as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. Stay tuned to see if they will make a difference.
Are organic products better?
Incidentally, natural or organic cosmetic products don’t really provide any added benefit for consumers. Most companies are just fooling you when they say their products are natural. What isn’t? And for companies like Burt’s Bees who strive to make ‘organic’ or ‘all-natural’ products, their finished products are mostly functionally inferior to more mainstream products. This is the real trade-off of natural or organic products. That and an incredibly higher cost for an inferior product.
Remember cosmetics are not food. No one has ever proven there is a benefit to ‘organically’ derived cosmetics.
We frequently field questions asking if expensive name brands are better than other products (See e.l.f. as an example.). Our answers usually deal with the functional aspects of the formulas and we routinely find that there are good and bad quality products at all price points.
Why advertising works But here’s a scientific study we found that sheds some light on WHY people tend to like these expensive (and usually well advertised) brands better.
According to this article on brains and branding, researchers at University Hospital in Munich Germany used Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology to scan people’s brains while they were shown different brand logos. The more popular logos “lit up areas of the brain associated with warm emotions, reward and self-identity while less-recognized brands triggered more activity in brain regions associated with working memory and negative emotions — suggesting these products were less easy to process and accept. Hmmm. Maybe that explains why I start to drool when looking at the Tiffany catalog.
The Beauty Brains bottom line This study is part of a new scientific trend called neuroeconomics in which psychologists, neuroscientists, radiologists and marketing experts work together to unravel the mysteries of the consumer’s mind. Fascinating stuff but just a little bit scary!
The Right Brain Responds:
Megan, we’ve blogged about cellulite treatments before, and they really don’t do much. At best they only give you a very minor, temporary effect so you should probably save your money. But you might be interested to know that there ARE several new beauty gadgets on the market that really do work.
At least according to a Dermatology Times article that quotes Dr. Thomas Rohrer, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology, Boston University Medical Center. He says that “We are getting to the point where, for certain things, patients may be able to treat themselves safely and fairly effectively at home.” However, Dr. Rohrer also points out that these treatments are still less effective than the devices used by physicians: “They’re not going to be nearly as powerful” but “they may be effective enough…to improve some