• Susana Andújar, chemist

    Cosmetic labels, true claims?

    16 Mar Cosmetic labels, true claims?



    European Commission

    Cosmetic ads in newspapers and TV refer to marvellous effects and properties, "miraculous" in some cases. This is indeed a world of illusions – yet sometimes we wonder what truth there is in those ads and labels. Although most people are not aware of this fact, there are strict rules that regulate what should and should not be claimed on cosmetic labels.


    Wavy, silky hair, clean, glowing skin, no wrinkles or cellulite, how wonderful! Shopping or watching TV, it’s easy to begin believing that our skin and hair will quickly respond to a few cosmetics and gels. Shop windows, advertising, marketing and labels are all designed to persuade us to believe such claims. But manufacturers are obliged to be very cautious about the properties they claim for their products, as otherwise they will break the law. Read More

  • Fede Montagud, editor

    A tattoo removal cream

    11 Mar A tattoo removal cream



    Dalhousie University

    Alec Falkenham doesn’t regret any of his tattoos. But, if he did, he’d know how to remove them, or at least fade them, without going through the torture of laser or spending a fortune. This Canadian student has patented a cream that takes advantage of the immune response to pigments in inks to remove records of failed love or reminiscences of youth from the skin.


    When ink is injected into the skin the body reacts by sending cells called macrophages to the area to absorb the pigments into the lymphatic system and so clean up the area. However, some of the cells that have "eaten" the pigment remain in a deeper layer of the skin, which explains why tattoos are visible. Read More

  • Ailish Maher, science journalist

    The lowdown on clay

    6 Mar The lowdown on clay



    Applied Clay Science

    Clay, with its rich content in minerals, is making a comeback as a powerful healer and skin beauty treatment. Benefits are backed more by a history of successful use that stretches back to ancient times than by scientific studies. However, one claim that is solidly backed by science is that some clays have powerful antibacterial properties.


    Clay has been deployed for medicinal and aesthetic purposes for centuries. It was used in Mesopotamia and Egypt for its antiinflammatory and antiseptic properties and was also reportedly used by Cleopatra to preserve her complexion. Famous physicians such as Hippocrates, Avicenna, Averroes and Paracelsus — and also Sebastian Kneipp, one of the founders of the naturopathic medicine movement — all recommended clay remedies for the skin. Clay was also used to promote the healing of surgical and war wounds. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Glycans: is this the sugar the skin needs?

    28 Feb Glycans: is this the sugar the skin needs?



    American Academy of Dermatology

    These complex carbohydrates are not related to the sugars we ingest through food. Glycans, found on the cell surface, play an important role in intercellular communication, metabolism and skin structuring. Maybe that's why they have become the new promise of youth in the world of cosmetics.


    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) noted the importance of glycans in an article titled “Glycomics”, published in 2001, but for over a decade scientific advances in this field were timid. However, for some years now, the cosmetics industry has been flirting with the benefits of this line of research for improving the appearance of the skin. In fact, some brands already have creams in the market whose labels include the term "glycans", conjugated with the term "eternal youth". Read More