cosmetic science

Science Project

Navigating your way through the 
intersection of technology and beauty.

Wendy Duren Health & Wellness

cosmetic science

111 East


I’ve learned the hard way not to take cosmetic promises at face value. Reading the ingredient list is a more reliable way to suss out what cosmetic science, if any, is at work.

Sure, I’d love to believe claims about products that will shrink my pore size, might turn back the clock on my body’s tendency to age, or even that there is a perfect shade of lipstick for my skin’s unique pH level, but they’ve let me down since I was tall enough to peer over the bathroom counter. Facts: The size of your pores is the size they are; clocks, like time, don’t run backward; and your skin’s pH isn’t that unique (everyone’s is around 5, or neutral tilting acidic).

Deciem, The Abnormal Beauty Company as they like to be called (and whose website,, should be filed under “entertainment”), has a humble mission to change everything we know about the intersection of science, technology, and beauty. It’s an umbrella company for several beauty brands and it’s attempting to think outside the beauty science box. The results are imperfect but impressive.

Ingredients I like to see in my skin care are alpha and beta hydroxy acids. AHA/BHA are anti-aging exfoliators that remove the top layer of dead skin, which speeds skin’s renewal process and stimulates the growth of elastin and collagen. Sounds great, right? Well, acids are irritants and not everyone can tolerate them. For the sensitive, Noid now offers Non-Acid Acid Precursor 15% ($55) to replace peeling acids. Made from fermentation bio-derivatives and amino isolates, it resurfaces without irritation and is as effective, if not as satisfying, as an acid.

I shouldn’t need to tell you that Hylamide Pore Delete ($18) won’t “delete” your pores, but it will temporarily hide them by refracting light. The directions suggest applying it over foundation, before powder. I’ve had mixed results with this method, and better luck using it as a primer. This isn’t science as much as it is magic, but smoke and mirrors never hurt anyone.

Two body oils from Hand Chemistry are worthy. The first, Retin-Oil ($20), is a dry oil that actually is dry. Made with 1 percent retinoid (which is derived from vitamin A), Retin-Oil targets scars, stretch marks, surface irregularities, discoloration … all signs of aging skin. It works, usually within two weeks, and for 20 bucks, that’s a time machine I can get behind.

The second of Hand Chemistry’s products is Glow Oil ($28), a DHA-free raspberry based keto-sugar self-tanner. DHA is Dihydroxyacetone, which is the ingredient in sunless tanning products that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a “tan.” It’s also what produces the you’ve-been-self-tanning stench. No DHA, no DHA stink.

Glow Oil does have its own scent — earthy, like wet grass — but it dissipates quickly. The color payoff is light and golden, more sun-kissed than mahogany. I would use Glow Oil just for the lack of odor, but that the color doesn’t transfer to clothes, sweat off onto sheets in the night, or require acute attention for application are equally noteworthy.

Noid, Hylamide, and Hand Chemistry are available at