Cosmetics- When Chemistry meets Beauty

in StemSocial10 months ago

First time posting in here, but given that my world revolves around beauty, I decided to share a little insight into some chemistry behind products that many of us both men and women use every day!

From Pixabay

Cosmetics have been present for thousands of years, from the ancient Egyptian men and women's kohl liners to today's mattifying acne-fighting primers! But what exactly is in these items, and how do they function?

A bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti exhibiting the application of kohl eye liner.
Source License

Let's start with lotions and creams, both of which are examples of what's known as an emulsion. Water and oil are two of the most common constituents in lotions, and they don't generally mix. If you mix water and oil in a container and shake it, you'll get a dispersion. However, as soon as you stop shaking, the water and oil will separate, something we don't observe in a lotion.

A quick look here from Youtube Courtesy of [McGraw Hill PreK-12](

This leads us to the term "emulsifier," which refers to a substance that keeps small droplets of one liquid dispersed in another, such as oil droplets distributed in water. This is due to the structure of the emulsifier molecule, which has one end that is hydrophilic (loves water) and the other end that is lipophilic (loves oil).

A. Two immiscible liquids, not emulsified
B. Emulsion of Phase II dispersed in Phase I
C. The unstable emulsion progressively separates
D. Surfactant positions itself on interface between Phases I and II, stabilizing emulsion
Sourced from Public Domain

The molecules lessen the surface tension of the water by situating themselves at the barrier between it and the oil, allowing the two immiscible liquids to stay together! This means that when we apply lotions, we're not just rubbing around oil and water!

To chip in a little fun fact; perhaps you've ever wondered why eggs are used in a lot of different baking recipes. Well, it's largely because of the emulsifier that's found in their yolks, but there is no contesting the fact that eggs are super delicious!

Still on the topic of keeping things together, bees wax and plant waxes are used in some cosmetics to prevent the emulsion from separating. It also thickens the oil in the make-up product, which helps to give lipsticks their texture as well as the useful capacity to not melt as quickly, which is a big benefit.

Bees wax License

Other substances, such as hydroxyethyl cellulose, a sugar-based polymer derived from cellulose, the substance that makes up plant cell walls, can be used to thicken certain cosmetics. They absorb water and swell to thicken the product when used in cosmetics.

Now we'll move on to possibly the most exciting aspect of make-up: the color created by the pigments! These pigments are usually divided into two categories:
-> Organic: Molecules made of carbon that are usually brighter.
->Inorganic: Metal oxides such as iron oxide and titanium dioxide are examples of inorganic materials.

Titanium dioxide - Public Domain

But there's another form of pigment out there that's even creepier: it's composed of bugs! That's right, you read that correctly! Cochineal bugs are crushed up in some of your favorite red lipsticks, which is surprising! Carmine Red is the name of the color, and I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it! I'll never be able to see it in the same light again.

Powdered carmine pigment Source

When it comes to cosmetic components, however, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Preservatives are also used to preserve the product free of bacteria and fungi. Emollients soften your skin by limiting water loss, among other things.

I tend to see cosmetics as essentially a form of artistic chemistry that you can apply to your face and body.
So, what are your thoughts now that you've read this article? Do you find it surprising that cosmetics are so complicated? Are you going to maintain wearing Carmine Red lipstick if you wear makeup? Please let me know in the comments section below! Thank you for taking the time to read this!

More details are provided here:
The chemistry of cosmetics
Science of Eggs

Posted from HypeTurf