Tuesday, 10 September 2013

British Science Festival - Science and Cosmetics

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Last week I had all good intentions of going to loads of things at British Science Fest in Newcastle but because of a multitude of reasons my good intentions went a little bit down the pan. HOWEVER today I managed to get myself to a lecture on science and cosmetics by Des Tobin, lecturer from University of Bradford and it was well good.

Mostly, I learnt lots of cool things about our bodies that I wasn't aware of before and that extended beyond the mass of fake daily facts I see on my Twitter feed. Tobin is a fantastic speaker, I'm not going to lie I've been to quite a few lectures in my short time as a student that resemble bed-time stories: the content is interesting but their voices are like lullabies; this was most certainly not the case with Tobin's lecture. A clearly very very intelligent man Tobin breaks up what should be slightly overwhelming knowledge with his casual tone and fact throwing in: "by cell count us humans are 90% bacterial cells" and the fact that humans are the best of all sweaters (of the BO causing variety, not the warm over-clothes), sweating up to 10 litres a day.

As a pale person I sometimes have what can only be described as a "hair complex", by that I mean I am very conscious of how visible for example my arm hair is because I am so pale and it is so dark. So it was reassuring to hear that every person has the same number of hair follicles (4/5million), so we are just as hairy as each other and the most dense area of hairiness is the tip of your nose. Who would have known. Once explained it seemed stupidly obvious, from birth every part of us lengthens and therefore makes the hair follicles more sparse in those areas. So there you go. Hairy noses.

I do a lot of complaining about how much money things like the beauty are worth even though I am conscious to the fact that I am funding a small portion of it. BIG STATISTIC TIME. It is estimated that in the UK the beauty industry will have grown to £1.26billion. That is quite a big number. Flaming heck! Too add to this confused annoyance I have for the "cost of beauty", the retail cost of a product is around five times as much as its cost of manufacture. Still in with this cost of beauty theme, I sometimes hear adverts and think "really, you can actually say that" or "yeah right, that is a load of rubbish". Cosmetic companies are very clever on this front, they can technically only claim to  alter appearance but not actual physiology so they just go crazy on the adjective front to make us fall for the products. Clever.

For the animal rights activists amongst you, I learnt something I was not aware of today. Recently, a law has been passed which means that at no stage of manufacture can cosmetic products be tested on animals; this includes the testing of an ingredient for a product. Very impressed by this for the sake of the happy bunnies out there.

If I was to say I had learnt one main thing in this hour or so lecture it would be this:

We are all seduced by the personal care industry and sometimes that is perfectly okay.


Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK

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