• Violeta Camarasa, science journalist

    Toxic cosmetics

    10 Nov Toxic cosmetics



    The History of Skincare

    Do we have to suffer for vanity’s sake? Since time immemorial humans have used a host of products to beautify the skin. Many of these historical ingredients were toxic and some even lethal. Cosmetics have an ugly side that shows how humans in their vanity are capable of suffering — a lot.


    The beautiful Cleopatra eyes that we see in the movies are often achieved with galena (lead sulfide), a neurotoxic chemical. In the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, kohl, a paste made with ground galena, has been used for centuries as mascara. Galena is just one example of the long history of the use of lead in cosmetics. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Photoprotective pills

    14 Oct  Photoprotective pills



    Actas Dermo-Sifiliográficas

    Applying sunscreen is the most common way to protect the skin from the sun’s radiation, but not everyone uses the most suitable product and not everyone remembers to re-apply it after a few hours. For some time now, more convenient alternatives for avoiding UV damage have been investigated. Oral photoprotectors could be one solution.


    These products are sold as a method to protect the skin of the entire body evenly and uniformly, with no need to worry about sweat or contact with clothes or water, as happens with sunscreens. Oral sunscreens essentially contain antioxidants (carotenoids, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc.) and vitamins (C, E) that restore damage to DNA caused by UV rays. So far, however, they have not been shown to provide sufficient protection to be able to replace sun creams and, even less, to replace coverup clothing, sunhats and sunglasses. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Diamonds for the skin

    16 Jun Diamonds for the skin



    Cosmetics Design

    For several years diamond-dust creams have been sold as an outrageously expensive treatment used by celebrities to ensure they walk the red carpet with a fabulous complexion. Now, Asian scientists say they have managed to produce diamonds inexpensively in their laboratory — making this luxury skin care fad potentially more affordable.


    The labels of creams containing diamond dust promise a smoother, younger skin from the first application, claiming that this gem has exfoliating properties that stimulate collagen production and help conceal wrinkles and blemishes. Marketing makes these texts not very different from those for other creams based on less exclusive ingredients. What is different, however, is the price of these exclusive creams, clearly aimed at the pockets of those who can afford the luxury. Read More

  • Anna Solana, science journalist

    Sun damage continues after dark

    31 May Sun damage continues after dark



    Scientific American

    It may take a few hours for you to realise that you got sunburned while sunbathing. Similarly, the mutations that ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause in DNA and that lead to the dreaded skin cancer continue for several hours after you’ve left the beach or the mountains and the sun has gone down.


    Researchers at Yale University – led by Douglas E. Brash, a professor of radiology and dermatology – have published a study in Science that demonstrates that melanin, the pigment that darkens the skin to protect it from harm inflicted by UV rays, also has its downside. Certain components of this pigment are involved in the onset of DNA lesions that can cause the mutations responsible for melanoma – which continue for up to four hours after sun exposure has ended. Read More