• Fri, Dec 30 2011

Scientists Call Bulls*#t On Celebrity’s Beauty Advice

Few things are as schadenfreude-inducing than a celebrity getting taken to task for saying something stupid whilst atop their seemingly ever-present soapbox. Gwyneth Paltrow is, of course, the queen of this kind of gaffe, but prepare to have some fun at a few other famouses’ expenses today. A nonprofit group called Sense about Science has issued their annual report — or perhaps we should call it a retort?calling out some of the dumb shit that celebrities say they do in the name of beauty. Among this year’s targets are Gisele “Birth Wasn’t Painful” Bundchen, Juliette Lewis, and Pippa Middleton.

About sunscreen, Gisele told The Daily Telegraph: “I cannot put this poison on my skin… I do not use anything synthetic.” Gary Moss, a pharmaceutical scientist, responds by saying: “Which poison Giselle? Cosmetic products – including sunscreens – are regulated and are tested extensively before they are allowed onto the market. Testing applies to both final products and individual ingredients. You might be surprised that you use a wide variety of synthetic materials in many aspects of your life: ‘synthetic’ does not automatically mean bad, just as ‘natural’ does not automatically mean safe or beneficial.”

Juliette Lewis waxed poetic about coconut water to The Guardian, saying: “On a purely nutritional level, coconut water is pretty much the most hydrating thing you can drink, and much better than man-made sports drinks,” she said. In fact, though, says sports dietitian Ann Ashworth, “coconut water has about half the amount of carbohydrate but also a different balance of salts than a typical sports drink, and so could be less hydrating.”

And finally, Pippa tried to explain away the infuriatingly good hair genes that both she and her sister got by telling Metro that she rinses with cold water to get that shine. “It closes the pores and gives it a lift and shine – it really works.”

Unfortunately, says Dr. Frauke Neuser, beauty and grooming senior scientist, Procter & Gamble, “Hairs don’t contain ‘pores’ as such. The outer layer of the hair shaft can be thought of as tiny ‘scales’. If these are flat and sleek then the hair will look shinier as the light reflects off the hair more. If these ‘scales’ are not smooth the surface of the hair is roughened and so that reflectance, and hence the shine, is compromised. However, rinsing with water – whether hot or cold – doesn’t close or smoothen the cuticles.

And don’t worry — Gwynnie’s in there too. We just thought we’d give her a break this time around. It’s the holidays, after all.

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