Whether you love everything beauty or just swipe on the occasional bronzer, you should be reading The Beauty Brains, a website run by cosmetic scientists. In it, the anonymous scientists, called the Left Brain and the Right Brain, answer readers’ questions about everything beauty related: products, old wives’ tales, trends, ingredients, beauty advertising.
And they’re not afraid to name names. They’re not trying to sell anything, so they have the luxury of being able to offer unbiased opinions and advice. And the best part? The advice is based in science and they have a cynical eye which allows them to see through the beauty advertising that sucks a lot of us in. It’s truly fascinating, and you won’t look at your products the same way. Every time something crosses my desk, I reference this site to check out the Brains’ take on the claims and ingredients.
The Beauty Brains just released a book titled Can You Get Hooked On Lip Balm? Top Cosmetic Scientists Answer Your Questions about the Lotions, Potions and Other Beauty Products You Use Every Day. It’s a mixture of education, answering questions, and addressing common beauty myths. Written with a good dose of humor, they make what could be dry information (like parabens or the physiology of wrinkles) fascinating.
Here are a few sample questions from the book, with answers paraphrased by me:
Q: Is semen good for the skin? (This is the first question I turned to after quickly scanning the table of contents. Don’t judge me.)
A: “Well, I don’t care much for the product but I love the packaging!” They go on to tell us all the components of semen, with this conclusion: “A good facial cream will do a much better job with much less social stigma.” I’d call that a “maybe.”
Q: Does Retin-A eliminate wrinkles?
A: Yes, but beware of over-the-counter versions that claim to do the same. Only the prescription strength has proven benefits.
Q: Should you use lip liner as eyeliner?
A: The answer is an emphatic “no”, since some ingredients in products made for the face can be unsafe to put on or near your eyes. Ooh, wonder if Tom Pecheux knew about this when he put orange Estee Lauder lip liner on the girls’ eyes at Derek Lam for Spring 2011.
Q: What does “organic” really mean?
A: This is the most fascinating answer in the book. “Unlike the farming industry, these terms [organic and natural] are not regulated for cosmetics. Companies can pretty much claim that anything is natural or organic….It’s used by cosmetic marketers to trick you into buying cosmetics that are often functionally inferior.” (Those are fighting words. I love it.)