Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beauty Bullshit: LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Facial Wash

LaFace Laboratories PUR Purifying Facial Wash is an overwhelmingly expensive face wash that charges $48 a pop. Part of the reason it is so pricey is because of its supposed skincare benefits.

According to Birchbox, "Copper encourages collagen production and skin regeneration, while gluconic acid and eliminates harmful micro-organisms and lemon peel oil cleanses without stripping skin." [sic]

My Birchbox sample of the PUR Facial Wash
The LaFace Laboratories website adds, "the Science behind the majical combinations of these wonderful raw materials result in a product that is anti inflammatory, moisturizing and healing to blemishes" [sic]. Science with a capital 'S'! Sounds legit. And we all know things are extra-science-y when they are described as "magical" and the word "magical" is spelled with a 'J'.

"Majic?!"
Source: http://images.sodahead.com/polls/002339017/4246395664_goofy_gandalf_answer_4_xlarge.png
For the purposes of this Beauty Bullshit, I am mostly going to focus on the claim about copper. However, I do also want to address the claims about gluconic acid and lemon peel oil.

Gluconic Acid

Gluconic acid is an acidity regulator that is naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and wine. It is commercially used for a variety of things that range from floor cleaners to neutering puppies.

It's for your own good, Ralph!
Source: http://beyondcewt.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/11.jpg
Gluconic acid has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. However, scientific analysis has demonstrated that the only reason it has antimicrobial properties is because of its pH. Indeed, I found several studies that specifically used gluconic acid as a buffer to test the antimicrobial properties of other compounds because it is so well demonstrated that this substance is not inhibitory on its own.

Gluconic aicd
Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/D-Gluconic_acid.png
Although that pretty much demonstrates the inefficacy of gluconic acid as an antimicrobial agent in any skincare product (since no skincare product should have such a low pH), it did pique my curiosity about the pH of this facewash. I used some dinky home pH strips and found that this product has a pH of about 4.5. This is slightly acidic, but an acceptable skincare pH. It not acidic enough to do jack shit to any microorganisms chilling out on your pores. 

pH of PUR Facial Wash

Lemon Peel Oil

Although some suggest that lemon peel oil may cause photosensitivity, if there are any problems, they are clearly far less hazardous than straight lemon juice. However, I can't find any empirical evidence that lemon peel oil does anything beneficial except smell pretty.
Source: http://lemonmania.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Lemon_Oil.jpg
Copper

The claim about copper is the big "OMGWHATAREYOUEVENDOINGHEADDESK" claim associated with this product. Again, the claim is that "copper encourages collagen production".

Like most Beauty Bullshit claims, this doesn't come completely out of nowhere.

Lysyl oxidase protein structure
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lysyl_oxidase.png
Copper is the cofactor for the enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). This means that, in order for LOX to work, it must have copper bound to it. Despite its similarity in name to something one might eat on a bagel, LOX actually functions in your body by catalyzing aldehydes in collagen precursors. These reactive aldehydes react with each other and with unmodified lysine, forming crosslinks between collagen and elastin.

Thus, it is clear that your body must have copper in order for successful collagen production to occur.

Copper Gluconte
Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Copper_gluconate.png
The copper in the LaFace Facial Wash is in the form of copper gluconate. Copper gluconate is a remarkably stable molecule. Indeed, the stability constant for copper gluconate is over 100,000,000,00,000,000. In order to utilize the copper in the copper gluconate, the copper atom needs to pop off so it is able to be used. This incredibly high stability constant means that there is no way in hell that the copper will dissociate sufficiently to be involved in collagen synthesis.

What's more, it's highly unlikely that any topical copper substance will affect your collagen production. I can find no evidence that anyone has examined topical copper and collagen, but the studies that do look at topical copper consistently find it doesn't do much of anything for your skin.

Furthermore, although copper is necessary for proper LOX functioning, the only reason you wouldn't have sufficient copper is if you have a dietary copper deficiency. Given that copper is in foods ranging from chocolate to nuts to herbs to leafy vegetables, it is unlikely that you will acquire a copper deficiency unless you also have other very severe medical conditions. Thus, copper is not a particularly useful mechanism for increasing collagen.

"It's not because I'm gluttonous; it's because I'm vain!"
Source: http://100redflags.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/chocolate2.jpg

It is clear that all three LaFace ingredients that have been highlighted here are advertised using demonstrably false claims.

If you have any beauty claims you want researched in future Beauty Bullshit blogs, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

12 comments:

  1. I just found your blog the other day, and I'm officially in love! As a chemical scientist (and makeup junkie) myself, I really appreciate anyone out there trying to make a dent in all the pseudoscientific twaddle! Keep up the awesome work ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just came across this brand in the Sephora email and I feel like the whole line of products is ripe for critiquing.

    http://www.sephora.com/product/productDetail.jsp?skuId=1438027&productId=P374801&om_mmc=ret-us%2Bnews1%2B20130512%2Bmothersday%2Bcliniquebuyer-pl-blissfatgirlsixpack&emtc=us%2Bnews1%2B20130512%2Bmothersday%2Bcliniquebuyer&ematg=1969574301&dcid=534164:24466974980:37727630&site=email20130512

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oof. I have seen those and they are pretty absurd! I got that email as well and I have a hard time believing that people's moms are peddling such absurd crap...

      Delete
  3. I laughed so hard! :D Just discovered your blog and I'm already loving it, thanks for the hard work put in here!

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  4. On top of all the things you said, it's worth noting that any product you apply and then immediately rinse off in order to remove surface impurities isn't going to impregnate the skin with any ingredients, majical or otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am responding as one needs the correct information in order to make decisions on their purchases. As the founder of LAFACE Labs it was brought to my attention this commentary. Where I fully believe in the freedom of the press I also believe more in the truth. I would like to defend my product as the article may have confused us with something else.
    1) "Copper encourages collagen production and skin regeneration, while gluconic acid and eliminates harmful micro-organisms and lemon peel oil cleanses without stripping skin." RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
    2) Gluconic acid is an acidity regulator that is naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and wine. It is commercially used for a variety of things that range from floor cleaners to neutering puppies. RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
    3) Although that pretty much demonstrates the inefficacy of gluconic acid as an antimicrobial agent in any skincare product (since no skincare product should have such a low pH), it did pique my curiosity about the pH of this facewash. I used some dinky home pH strips and found that this product has a pH of about 4.5. This is slightly acidic, but an acceptable skincare pH. It not acidic enough to do jack shit to any microorganisms chilling out on your pores. RESPONSE; This is not antiseptic/antimicrobial genius!! It is a functional wash.

    Please know I am always open to constructive criticism or questions people may have. Contact me personally through our customer service line on our website.

    Best,

    Lisa C Alexander Founder/CEO LAFACE Laboratories

    ReplyDelete
  6. We never received a response, or an apology. LAFACE works very hard to produce products that are beneficial and really wish writers would check their facts before wrongly accusing and posting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. re posting.... and until this is taken down will continue

    I am responding as one needs the correct information in order to make decisions on their purchases. As the founder of LAFACE Labs it was brought to my attention this commentary. Where I fully believe in the freedom of the press I also believe more in the truth. I would like to defend my product as the article may have confused us with something else.
    1) "Copper encourages collagen production and skin regeneration, while gluconic acid and eliminates harmful micro-organisms and lemon peel oil cleanses without stripping skin." RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
    2) Gluconic acid is an acidity regulator that is naturally occurring in fruit, honey, and wine. It is commercially used for a variety of things that range from floor cleaners to neutering puppies. RESPONSE; There is no gluconic acid in the formula. Copper gluconate is not gluconic acid!! STOP reading Wikipedia and find more scientific source to get your information from!!
    3) Although that pretty much demonstrates the inefficacy of gluconic acid as an antimicrobial agent in any skincare product (since no skincare product should have such a low pH), it did pique my curiosity about the pH of this facewash. I used some dinky home pH strips and found that this product has a pH of about 4.5. This is slightly acidic, but an acceptable skincare pH. It not acidic enough to do jack shit to any microorganisms chilling out on your pores. RESPONSE; This is not antiseptic/antimicrobial genius!! It is a functional wash.

    Please know I am always open to constructive criticism or questions people may have. Contact me personally through our customer service line on our website.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Robyn, for the reasons I stated in my earlier response you have criticized our product for ingredients that are not in this product. I am asking that you remove this blog as it is an untruth.

    ReplyDelete
  9. LAFACE PRODUCTS AND CLEANSER, I sell LaFace products and I use them. I can tell use the owner has the highest ethics in our industry. I have very educated discerning clientele from all over the world. They love her products including the cleansers and they do work. Instead of trying to debunk her line you should be applauding her for what she brings to our industry. Own up that you made a mistake and focus of the other people. that sell you crap to make a buck.Gluconic acid which your issue does not exsist. Its not in HER LINE. THANK YOU.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

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