A-Closer-Look-At: Polymers & Plastics

Polymers & Plastics

Although I already explained polymers briefly in the article on methyl methacrylate and poly(methyl methacrylate), I wanted to write a more in depth explanation of polymers.

Aw, look at my old science notes. Brings back memories. ūüėČ

Polymers are the result of a polymerization reaction. I think the best way to explain this is with Lego. Within Lego, you have different building bricks. You have white bricks, blue bricks, red bricks, yellow bricks and so forth. You have bricks with four studs on them, and bricks with six or eight studs. If you take a brick, and place it onto the next, you are building a column. Building with Lego has a lot of similiarities to a polymerization reaction. You have individual units of small molecules, which you can bond to each other.

I have only seen two major polymerization reactions (I’m a biologist, not a chemist, so excuse me if I exclude some possibilities) in cosmetic science. The first one is the formation of the most common polymer, by the breaking a double bond. A double bond can be found in a molecule (a brick), mostly between two carbon atoms. Oxygen is also known to form double bonds (other atoms as well).

As shown in the figure above, carbon atoms (and also oxygen atoms) are going to form a double bond to make sure to get the necessary 4 (carbon) or 2 (oxygen) bonds. In a polymerization reaction, another molecule is present to which a carbon atom can bond. The double bond breaks and both carbon atoms form the fourth bond with another molecule.

A polymer can consists of a large number (10.000+) of molecules, hence the ~ sign on both ends. Another polymerization reaction is shown in the photo of my old science journal above, when a hydroxyde (OH, also known as the ‘alcohol’ group) reacts with another hydrogen atom and thus forms water (H2O). The carbon atom then bonds with the other oxygen atom and a polymer is formed.

Polymers are considered plastics and are used in cosmetics as thickening or film forming (for instance in nailpolish) agents. If you find a plastic or a polymer in a ingredientlist, please do not flush it through the sink. The plastic ends up in the ocean, where it can contribute to the plastic soup that already is floating around there, killing sea animals by choking or contributing to the malformation of a sea animal. Rinse the product off with a make up removal wipe or by using a cotton pad and some cleanser.

I hope the topic of polymers and plastics is even clearer now. If not, just ask a question in the comments.

Until next time,



A-Closer-Look-At: Glycerin

Glycerin, also known als Glycerine and Glycerol, is a colorless, odorless, viscous and sweet-tasting liquid. It has a low toxicity and three hydroxyl (=the main group of alcohol, very water-soluable) groups. It can occur as the polar head of a fatty acid. It can be made from natural substances by hydrolysis of fats and by fermentation of sugars. Next to extraction, glycerin can also be made synthetically and it is a by-product of making soap.
A plus is that the glycerin is skin-identical; it means that it can be found naturally in skin. It is therefore one of the many substances in skin that help maintain the outer barrier and preven dryness and scaling.

Glycerin is mostly used in cosmetics to moisturize, giving the skin a smooth feel, as a thickener and as lubricant. It can also be used as a humectant because glycerin likes to absorb moisture.


From the dermis, the water is drawn out to the epidermis by the glycerin. The more glycerin, the more water is pulled out of the under layers of the skin. It is therefore not very wise to apply pure glycerin to your skin. It can even cause blisters if left on too long. Since the water drawn from the inner layers can evaporate into the air, glycerin is mosty combined with other moisturizers, oils and/or other film-forming ingredients.

If you are a pro-amateur (a non-make up artist who want professional materials and results) and you are wondering if a mixing medium is something for you, you can try out this DIY. Take one part glycerin and three parts (boiled, then completely cooled before adding) water. Mix well. You can mix it in a bottle, or in a jar. Keep in mind that it doesn’t contain preservatives so you should only make a little at a time. This DIY should keep well for two weeks, discard any left overs. You can also make enough for just one application.

I hope you enjoyed this information and the little DIY on the end.

Until next time,


A-Closer-Look-At: Triticum Vulgare

I browsed through the Promakeupstore website and I clicked on the Embryolisse Cleansing Bar. First I thought that it was a soap bar, so I was curious whether or not the ingredients would be listed (contrary to regular cosmetics this isn’t obligatory for soap bars). Then, I actually discovered that the bar was soap free. So, I quickly scanned the ingredient lists, and saw Triticum Vulgare listed. The name made me curious, what is this ingredient?So, Triticum Vulgare, otherwise known as Wheat germ, Octacosanol, Octacosanol concentrate, Octa cosyl alcohol, Polycosanol, Isopolicosanol, Ateromixol is a grain.

In the Embryolisse Cleansing Bar, the oil is used. It is extracted from the kernel of the grain
It is a light yellow or reddish oil. The oil contains octacosanol and policosanol(long, saturateded alcohols which are good for the body) , the fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6 and omega-3), palmitic acid, oleic acid and vitamin E. It is no surprise that the wheat kernel oil is used as a moisturizer. Scientist believe that it is the vitamin E that benefits the skin the most.
It is also used in the treatment of exzema, dry or irritated skin, wrinkled skin, scars¬†and hair. However, it isn’t very wise to put pure wheat oil on your face. The oil has a drying effect on skin. If you do want to DIY with it, try an oil blend of a maximum of up to 10-15% of wheat kernel oil.
Is the oil all safe? No, people allergic to wheat or with Celiac’s disease (there is a difference between allergy and intolerance such as Celica disease) should avoid it.
Wheat kernel oil can also be taken as a supplement, but you should make sure that it doesn’t interfere with your medication. For instance, octacosanol may interfere with the Parkinson’s drug Levodopa. Policosanol may thin the blood slightly and thus should be avoided by people with potential bleeding disorders and who are taking blood-thinning drugs such as Asperin and Warfarin (Coumadin).
Until next time,

A Closer Look At: Hemp Oil

Yes people, today the subject is Hemp (Seed) oil. Many of you will immediately think about drugs when they hear the word “Hemp”. However, Hemp is so much more than just the drug. But, I couldn’t ignore the fact that Hemp is used to create cannabis and to make my story complete, I will include it as well.

Hemp (Cannabis) as a drug
From the Hemp (or Marijuana) plant genus, Cannabis Sativa is used to create cannabis. The tops of the female plant is used to create the drug, because it is high in őĒ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). The THC provides the high, while the CBD playes an unknown role in the process of getting high. Besides THC and CBD there are other 400 compounds that are also considered to be part of the cannabinoids group (substances that activate cannabinoid receptors, little “antenna’s” on top of your cells. Marijuana which is rich in THC (and therefore is considered as a high quality), is less likely to induce anxiety than vice versa.

Sometimes, Marijuana is used as a medicine. This is not so surprising. Used in lower doses than the average “recreative” Marijuana user does, it can relieve pain. Actually, the main dogma of toxicology is that “the dose makes a substance a poison or a medicine”. In theory, if you dillute mustard gas enough, it could be used as a medicine. However, since already the tiniest amount of mustard gas is deadly, it is impossible to do so in real life and hence mustard gas is considered as a poison. This dogma applies to everything: water, potatoes, coffee; if you consume a lot of it, it could be deadly. However, since the poisenous effects only kicks in after large amounts (I believe coffee is deadly after 40 cups an hour), it is not considered a poison.

It is still debated whether or not hemp is healthy or not if you smoke it. For instance, studies shows that THC improves the life span of mice with lungcancer, breastcancer or leukemia. Before we go into discussion whether or not the hemp oil in the O.C.C. Lip Tars ¬†is tested on animals, let me say that every ingredient is tested – if it is used in medication or looks promising to be used as a medication, which includes nearly everything, including the tea that you might be drinking right at this very moment. If you’re really into buying cosmetics that isn’t tested on animals, look at the company, which makes O.C.C. good and MAC bad.

Back to the mice. The mice lived longer despite having cancer, but other research shows that regular use of THC could cause testicular cancer. Also, cannabis could help men as a substitute for viagra, but it is entirely possible a man could experience more negative effects than positive. (Sp!ts, 16-5-2012, http://www.spitsnieuws.nl/archives/binnenland/2012/05/wietplant-toe-aan-psychiater

Other uses
The Hemp plant is used for more than just drugs. For instance, the fibres from the stem can be made into jewellery (mostly bracelets and such), clothing, the inner lining of your car. The seeds of the hemp plant can be eaten. Funny fact: in 2003, 95% of the hemp seeds were used to feed animals. For these products, another species of the Cannabis genus is used, mostly Cannabis indica or Cannabis ruderalis. They are low in THC, so there is no reason why you should get high using Liptars, wearing it on your lips (or actually eat a bit of Liptar – and we all eat lipstick and lipgloss, unwillingly). Another funny fact: most of the typical marijuana smell comes from the amount of THC in the plant. High amount, strong smell; low amount not so pervasive smell. I have been told (okay, I googled it) that the Marijuana smell is a very bad mixture of herbal tea and wet dog.

Hemp in cosmetics
Hemp is very effective as an emmolient/moisturizer. In cosmetics, the seed oil is used. About 44% of the seed contains (edible) oil. The oil contains about 80% of essential fatty acids, linolei acid, omega-6, alpha-linolenic acid, omega-3, gamma-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid and proteins. Hemp seed oil is therefore considered very heatlhy; in one tablespoon, the human daily requirement of linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic are easily met. If you intend to ingest the oil, be aware that hemp seed oil can turn rancid pretty quickly: store it properly by using dark (brown) bottles and store it cold, preferebly in the refrigerator of freezer (the freezing point of hemp oil is -20 degrees celcius. Majority of the freezers only go to -18 degrees celcius, so it should stay liquid).

Because hemp seed oil is so rich, it has, besides being an effecient moisturizer, anti-inflammatory properties. One example of hemp seed oil being used is in the O.C.C. Liptars. In the liptars, next to hemp seed oil, peppermint oil is used. Peppermint oil can irritate the skin, so therefore it was a very smart move to include hemp oil as well, as it calms the skin and moisturizes it.

I hope I made it clear that you shouldn’t be afraid if you see hemp seed oil listed in an ingredientlist. Hemp is a very multi-functional plant, can be used as a moisturizer and can calm the skin.

Until next time,


Read-the-Label: Embryolisse Essential Dry Skin Balm

I have mentioned the Embryolisse Essential Dry Skin Balm in the last post about shea butter, so I thought it would be nice to discuss the ingredient list of the balm.

The ingredient list is short, I guess something we all like (fewer ingredients means lower cost price, which equals a cheaper retail price):


The list starts with Butyrospermum parkii, known as Shea or Karité butter.
I guess that the listing will be changed soon to Vitellaria paradoxa, because that is the new, proper name.
Shea butter is known for its moisturizing properties, and consists of fatty
acids and anti-oxidants. The melting point of shea butter (at which the butter becomes an oil) is very close to the temperature of the human body, so the butter melts when you rub your finger over the balm. Be careful when you have a latex allergy.

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