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,

Dymphy

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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,
Dymphy

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,

Dymphy

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,

Dymphy

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,

Dymph

Read-the-Label: Naked Cosmetics Mineral Eye Shadow Cabernet Blush

Naked Cosmetics Mineral Eye Shadow Cabernet Blush

Life is full of coincidences. I spoke of oxidation last Friday, and today I’m going to review the ingredientlist of the Naked Cosmetics Mineral Eyeshadow Cabernet Blush collection. The ingredientlist is quite short;

Mica, [+/- Silica, Tin Oxide, CI 77891, CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, CI 75470, CI 77510, CI 77288]

According to the description of the loose eye shadows, they contain 100% oxidized Mica. Note that the product doesn’t contain just mica, because there would be (almost) no colour. The 100% reflects that the Mica is 100% oxidated. I have to admit, as a scientist, it actually doesn’t sound very pausible, because there is always a little bit left that didn’t undergo a reaction. A very good example is ethanol, the most common alcohol. Higher than 96% procent ethanol is just not possible, because it will disintegrate to a level of 96%.

Anyway, back to the Mica.
Oxidized Mica is a silicone. Mica itself is a silicon, and with the addition of oxygen, it becomes a silicone. There are some Mica’s known that don’t contain silicons, but I have never come across them (yet). It gives the product it’s shine and is a good base for a loose eyeshadow. In it’s non oxidized state, it gives the eyeshadow it’s sparkle and shine.

If I look at the first “may contain” ingredient (as usual, “may contain” can be read as “yeah, it is actually in it”) it is Silica. This kind of backs up my theory that the mica isn’t fully (100%) oxidized, but there is still some residue left. It won’t harm you anyway. Tin oxide, as wikipedia and my gut tells me, is added in small doses as a reducing agent, causing the mica to oxidize. In a redox reaction (as it is officially called), a oxidizer and a reducer are necessary. One cannot live without the other (wait, did J.K. Rowling say something like that – In case you’re wondering, I’m re-reading the series. Again). Don’t worry if you don’t get it, it cost me two years to get it.

Then on to the pigments. CI 77891, or Titanium dioxide (no, these eyeshadows will not give you the necessary SPF or work as thickener – the concentrations are just simply to low for that) is white. CI 77489, or Black 7489, is a brown-to-black synthetic colour. CI 77491, or Ferric Oxide is a brownish red color. CI 77492, or Iron oxide hydroxide is a yellow pigment. CI 77499, black iron oxide is well, black. CI 75470, is carminic acid (yes, made from bugs) and gives a red colour. CI 77510 is Ferric Ferrocyanide and blue. Last one is CI 77288, chromium oxide green, which is green. Together, they create the lovely colors of the Cabernet blush collection.

(Note: these are now € 32,95 which means 25% off, to get them click here)
Until next time,

Dymphy

A-Closer-Look-At: Bismuth Oxychloride and why it causes breakouts

Tanistates wonders in her recent article about the Ben Nye foundation and concealer why some of her foundations oxidize and why bismuth oxychloride causes break outs. I went out, did some research and found the answer plus some tips to prevent oxidizing.

What is bismuth oxychloride?
Bismuth oxycloride is a pigment that is composed of bismuth (a metal), oxygen and chloride. It is very rare in nature, and is mostly synthetically made. It is a crystal, but ground up it is a white, almost pearlescent powder. It can be found in many cosmetics, such as the so claimed “mineral makeup”, foundations and (pressed) powders. It is mostly used as a skin protective, thickener and absorbent agent. It adheres well to the skin.

Why does it cause break outs?
Bismuth oxychloride has a unique, cube like (for lack of a better word) crystalline structure. One of the corners of that cube can scrape, poke and thus irritate your skin. It also can get stuck in pores. And we all know, clogged pores can result in break outs.

Why do some foundations oxidize?
Oxidation is a process in which (in the case of foundation) the components react with the sebum (the oils in your skin). In the process, electrons are “freed”, which causes a ingredient in the foundation, mostly a metal or an oxide to oxidize. The extra electrons alter that ingredient, causing a color change. An extreme example (gotta love extreme examples) is Iron. There are two main Irons, Fe2+ and Fe3+. Fe is the abbreviation of Iron, while the number before the plus stands for the amount of free electrones. Fe2+ is light green, and Fe3+ is light yellow.

Helping the oxidation process along is the pH, the level of acidity of your skin. If you have a very acid skin (with low pH), you might experience more oxidation. Why? The optimum (= the best place/time/etc.) pH for oxidation is well, acidic.

How could I prevent oxidation?
There are a few tips and tricks to prevent oxidation:

1) Always ask for a small sample before you buy a certain foundation, or let a saleslady apply it and wait for a few hours before you purchase the foundation.
2) Moisturize well before applying a foundation to prevent the skin from secreting excess sebum.
3) Apply a primer. Not only it will help to make your foundation last longer, but it will form a barrier, so that the sebum can’t interact with the foundation.
4) Experiment. Every body is different. Try what works. Switch food (eat healthier, for instance, soda makes your body more acid), try different moisturizers/toners/primers.
5) Try a lighter foundation. If you really like the formula, try one or two shades lighter and after the oxidation, you might have the right match. Or try to set your foundation with a powder lighter than your skintone.
6) Avoid foundations which are oil-based, and read the ingredientlabels. Scan for ingredients that contains oxide or metal, and pick a foundation that contains as few metals or oxides as possible.

I hope this helps!

Until next time,

Dymphy