A-Closer-Look-At: Argan Oil

Argan Oil is hot at the moment, in the sense that it is trendy to use it
And why not? Celebrities like Beyonce are said to use Argan Oil. It is a deep, golden colored oil and is a very multi-functional product. Argan oil can be used as a skin- and hand serum and as bathing oil. It can be used by all skin-types from greasy to super dry, flaky skin types like myself. I’ve been using argan oil in the evening as a serum under my regular night cream and it’s wonderful! Flakes disappeared in a few days and the oil gave my skin a natural glow. Argan oil originates from Morrocco, where it was first used as an oil for cooking and baking. Later, it was also used for skin and hair.

Argan oil is extracted from the seeds of the Argania Spinoza tree. The argan tree grows in infertile and dry regions of south-west Morrocco. From June to September, the fruits are harvested and processed into oil.

A single tree produces about 30 kilos of argan fruit, which in turn yields 700 ml of argan oil. Until a few years ago, the seeds of the argan tree were found in goat droppings, since they were the only ones able to climb up the thorny trunk.

Nowdays, the demand is much higher and so the fallen fruits of the argan tree are collected.
The fruits are then taken to the villages to be processed.The seeds are beaten with rocks to get  the kernel out.

The fruit is used to feed livestock and the shells are used to make the fire which is needed in the extraction of the oil.

If the oil is used for consumption, the kernels are roasted before pressing to add some flavor.

After cooling down, the nuts are ground by hand. Water is added during the grinding process, so a paste will be formed. The paste is pressed by hand and what’s left is pure argan oil.


This labour intensive process takes about 15 hours, which makes argan oil pretty expensive.

Nowdays, this process is more and more replaced by mechanical press machines to extract argan oil. The collection and removal of the outer shell of the seed is still done by hand, but everything else is done by a machine. This saves time and eliminates the use of water, thus prolonging the shelf life of the oil.

Argan oil contains twice the amount of vitamin E found in olive oil, an anti-oxidant. It also contains a lot of lipids and fatty acids which are beneficial for the skin, including oleic acid, palmitic acid, and especially linoleic acid. It is therefore great for people with acne, as well as eczema and psoriasis.

Until next time,


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. 😉

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,


Read-the-Label: FACE Atelier Lip Glaze

Today I wanted to do another lip product and I choose the Lip Glazes from Face Atelier.

FACE Atelier Lip Glazes are available in 10 beautiful and versatile colors: Clear, Ice, White Gold, Flamingo, Peach, Cameo, Dianthus, Primrose, Plum and Shiraz and come in generous tubes of 15 ml/.5 fl.oz. at € 21,50. An enduring industry staple!



What’s in the product?

Polybutene, Octyldodecanol, Petrolatum, Beeswax, Ozokerite, BHA, Trihydroxystearin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Butyrospermum Parkii, Silica, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Retinyl Palmitate, Squalene.

May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Mica, Carmine, Red 7 Lake, Red 6 Lake, Red 30 Lake, Red 33      Lake, Red 27 Lake, Red 28 Lake, Red 36 Lake, Red 21 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Tin Oxide, Calcium Aluminium Borosilicate.

Polybutene is a polymer that is used for lubrication and thickening. It ensures that the application is even and smooth. Octyldodecanol is an alcohol, which is a surfactant. It is used as a thickener and emulsifier. It also gives the product a bit of opacity and provides lubrication. Petrolatum can form a film and is also used as a thickner. Beeswax is a thickening agent with some moisturizing capacities. It is made by bees, so this product isn’t vegan. Ozokerite is a mineral that is a thickening agent.

BHA, betà hydroxy acid, also known as salicylic acid (aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, and thus closely related), is an exfoliant which is probably used in a concentration of 0,5 to 2%. BHA has the ability to penetrate into the pore, and therefore can exfoliate inside the pore as well as on the surface of the skin. Trihydroxystearin is a mixture of fatty acids and glycerin and is used as a moisturizer and thickening agent. Ascorbyl Palmitate is the stable form of Vitamin C, and acts as a anti-oxidant. Tocopheryl Acetate is also a vitamin and anti-oxidant, Vitamin E. Butyrospermum Parkii, also known as Shea Butter and should be listed as Vitellaria paradoxa, is a thick butter that is renowned for it’s moisturizing properties, but can be used as a thickener as well. Silica, a mineral is used as a thickener.

Methylparaben and Propylparaben are the preservatives which stop the formula from going rancid. They are the most safe and effective preservatives. Retinyl Palmitate is better known as Vitamin A, an anti-oxidant and Squalene is an oil which could be derived from sebum, plants (mostly olives) or shark liver. It’s a natural component of the skin, and thus can moisturize the skin. It also has antioxidant and immune stimulating properties.

Now onto the “may contain” list. Keep in mind that the ingredients in this section are added in such low quantities, that is has no other effect than to color the product. For instance, Titanium Dioxide has some thickening properties, but because of the low concentration, it only acts as a white pigment. Same for iron oxides, a group of chemical compounds with have range of colors such as yellow/orange/red/brown/black. Mica is white as well. Carmine (derived from bugs), Red 7 Lake, Red 6 Lake, Red 30 Lake, Red 33 Lake, Red 27 Lake, Red 28 Lake, Red 36 Lake, Red 21 Lake are pigments used for their red color, Yellow 5 Lake is yellow, Blue 1 Lake is blue, Tin Oxide can give the product, in stable form a blue-black color or in metastable (the stability is long, but not infinte) a red color. Calcium Aluminium Borosilicate is another preservative.

It is a bit weird is that a polymer is the major ingredient. No water or any kind of (cheap) oil is used as a carrier for the other ingredients, but then again, based on the ingredientlist, this is a quite a thick liquid, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

Until next time,


A-Closer-Look-At: Cetearyl Alcohol

Many people cringe when they see alcohol on an ingredientlist. And they should, because the alcohol/hydroxy group dries out the skin. The hydroxy group that makes alcohol an alcohol, consists of both an oxygen (symbol: O) and a hydrogen (H) atom. A hydroxy group can form a hydrogen “bridge” with another water molecule. It basically pulls out water and takes it with it when you, for instance, wash it off your face.

But why is cetearyl alcohol (or cetostearyl alcohol/cetylstearyl alcohol) good for the skin? That is because of it’s fatty acid tail. The tail usually has an even number of carbon atoms, ranging mostly from 8 to 22 carbon atoms, although 36 or more aren’t an exception.

To be more precise, Cetearyl Alcohol is a mixture of fatty alcohols, of which cetyl and stearyl alcohols make up most of this ingredient. Since cetearyl alcohol has a polar, (water loving) head and a non-polar (oil loving) head, it is a surfactant. It can therefore be used as an emulsifier, stabilizer, opacifying agent (cetearyl alcohol turns into a white, waxy solid at room temperature) and a foam boosting agent.

Cetearyl alcohol was first extracted from whale oil, but since commercial whaling is forbidden, cetearyl alcohol is now produced from vegetable oils, like palm or coconut oil. It is also an end-product of the petroleum industry. It can also be made synthetically, from, for instance, breaking up triglycerides (three fatty alcohols bound together). The source can determine the amount of carbon atoms. For instance, rapeseed produces longer molecules of about 20 tot 22 carbon atoms, whilst coconut oil will yield molecules with 12 to 14 carbon atoms.

Please be careful if you have sensitive skin, cetearyl alcohol can possibly worsten dermatitis.. If you don’t have dermatitis, cetearyl alcohol is a very safe to use moisturizer and surfactant.

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,


Read-the-Label: O.C.C. Skin Primer

Tanistates was wondering (you are always allowed to ask more questions, don’t feel shy because I love to answer them!) where she should start her primer search. To make it a bit easier, I thought it would be nice if I reviewed the ingredientlist of one of Monique’s favourites; the O.C.C. skin primer.

O.C.C. skin primer contains the following:
Deionized Water (Aqua), Vegetable-Derived Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Chamomile (Anthemis Noblis) Extract, Comfrey Root Extract, Lemon Peel Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate

Deionized Water (Aqua) is hard to go wrong with (unless you happen to add another hydrogen which means you get hydrogenperioxide aka bleach used for bleaching your hair – don’t worry, that usually doesn’t happen, unless you force it to happen by means of a very complicated process). It is mostly used as a solvent.
Next up the list is Vegetable-Derived Glycerin, which is probably derived by fermentation of sugars. Fermentation happens to be a very posh word for “letting it rot”. Another great example of a fermented product is fish sauce. Glycerin is an excellent moisturizer, but don’t use it in it’s pure form as it will have a drying effect on skin.
Xanthan Gum is a polysaccharide (a type of sugar) and is used as a thickener in oil-in-water emulsions, to stabilize the oil droplets and it has some skin hydrating porperties. It could also be used to create a water-gel-like structure.
Chamomile (Anthemis Noblis) Extract sooths the skin, and has some anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties.
Comfrey Root Extract has some anti-inflammating properties, but could be toxic if taken orally. This proves that not only synthetic ingredients are ‘bad’ for you. Don’t worry if you put it on your face, since the water and glycerin (the first two ingredients) make up the most of the product, so it shouldn’t give any problems.
Lemon Peel Extract is a bit of a delicate subject. Some say it is great for moisturzing and it has some anti-bacterial properties, some say it could be irritating on the skin. Combined with the Chamomille, I would give a try.
Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate are preservatives, which are really necessary because the sugar (Xanthan Gum) makes it ideal for bacteria and fungus to grow.

The ingredientlist is what you make of it. Personally, I would give the skin primer a try, but if you don’t like the Comfrey Root and Lemon Peel extract, it’s up to you.

Anyway, do you have any other favourite primer as a recommendation for Tanistates? Please share below in the comments!

Until next time,


A-Closer-Look-At: Castor Oil

Castor (seed) oil is derived from seeds of the Ricinus communis plant.

The seed is bean shaped, but doesn’t belong to the bean family.

The oil from the seeds is a colorless to pale yellow liquid with no odor or taste.The seeds contain between 40% to 60% which is rich in triglycerides (fatty acids) of which (90%) ricinolein acid is the main compononent. Other fatty acids that are present in the castor oil include oleic acid, linoleic acid, linolenic acid.

Another component of castor oil is ricin, a toxic protein. This protein is denaturated (=inactivated/destroyed) by the heating during the oil extraction process.

Castor oil can be used as an moisturizer. It has a unique property that, when dry, it forms a solid film that can have water-binding properties. That film could feel a bit sticky on skin, but it is rarely associated with skin irritation or allergic reactions. I also read (although I couldn’t confirm it) that castor oil helps stimulate the production of elastin and collagen to soften and hydrate the skin; causing wrinkles to dissapear. It could therefore also be great for combating stretch marks and acne.

Castor oil can also be used as a bathing oil. However, the oil dissolves quite poorly in water, so it needs a little soap (showergel or something alike). Otherwise it just stays on the surface of the water, instead of mixing with it. As a massage oil, castor oil has some anti-inflammation properties. It could be used to relieve the pain of arthritic joints, nerve inflammations, and sore muscles.

A funny fact to end this post with: castor oil has been used for ages to induce labor.

Until next time,