Beauty Care Products: Reality and Hype


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Do you spend a lot of money on beauty care products? Do you wonder what works and what doesn't, and how much is really worth paying for a beauty care product? Well, the last question really depends on how much money you have and what you expect to get for your money, but the first question is worth spending a little time on. Let's take two popular beauty care products, chosen at random, and consider what the label says and what the ingredient list tells us: St. Ives ® Swiss Formula Apricot Scrub and Clairol Herbal Essences ® Citrus Lift Shampoo.

The Apricot Scrub product package tells us to “Discover the Swiss Secrets for Smooth, Radiant Skin, " and brags about containing “Pure Swiss Glacial Water. " A quick read of the ingredients list reveals the following in order of total quantity: water, glyceryl stearate, glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, corn kernal meal, cocamidopropyl betaine, and more than 13 additional ingredients, some recognizable and some with long chemical names. The Citrus Lift shampoo bottle brags about its “100% certified organic blend of tangerine, lemongrass, and aloe. " Reading the ingredient list reveals, in order of total quantity: water, sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, citric acid, sodium citrate, and then finally the tangerine extract, followed by more than 13 additional ingredients, most with long chemical names.

Now, what does all this mean? First of all, pure water is pure water whether it comes from a melting glacier or from a water distiller or distillation and deionization machine in a cosmetics factory. Second, our hair and skin can't tell whether an extract of tangerine came from an organically grown tangerine or from the more common variety. These things, glacier water and organic fruits, are in the realm of hype - nice sounding marketing words, but not related to the actual performance of the beauty care products at hand.

So, what makes these commercial beauty care products better than just plain soap? Science. Science in the form of ingredients like the one, in addition to water, present in both the scrub and the shampoo: cocamidopropyl betaine. This compound is used in more than 1,000 shampoo, bubble bath and hand and face cleansing products. It helps to enhance foaming and helps to stabilize the foam while providing good wetting properties (the ability of the cleaner to get through the oil that can repel soap and water from skin and hair). This ingredient is in so many products because the people who developed the products found out that it is safe and effective for this application, the results of basic and applied scientific work. It is the science and chemistry, not the hype that makes these beauty care products work. The hype helps you agree to pay the price asked by the large, profitable shampoo, cosmetics and beauty care products companies that sell you the products.

Do you want to know something interesting? You can buy a gallon bottle of cocamidopropyl betaine for $14.55 and you can pick up a five-gallon pail for only $68.75. That's a lot of shampoo, face scrub and bubble bath! In fact, one gallon is enough for more than 250 twelve ounce bottles of shampoo. Not surprisingly, the total cost of the ingredients in most beauty products is far less than the price you pay at a brick and mortar store or cosmetics online store for the product.

In the next article in this series, we will discuss some beauty care products you can make at home that work just as well as most of the high-priced beauty care products from the store or cosmetics online website

For other articles by Agostino Rossi, visit , and today.


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