Meet the anonymous chemists behind Instagram’s best new beauty account|
It’s hard to believe anything on Instagram is real.
I mean, did that influencer ~really~ just tout American Eagle jeans when we know he only wears Gucci? *Excuse me as I call my optometrist as my eyes are rolling so hard they’re stuck in the back of my head.* Which is why there’s been a surge of popular accounts as of late, like Diet Prada, an IG handle that calls out brands, keeps them honest, all the while snatching wigs in the process. It’s easy to see why the account is so popular – in a world full of fakes, we’re dying to for someone to tell it as it is.
Following in that same vein are beauty handles that are being super transparent, like @chemist.confessions. The IG account is by far the best new beauty handle to follow, assessing beauty brands’ popular products by ingredients, while explaining why certain ones work, why others don’t, all the while providing really good (and free!) skincare tips. Whereas Diet Prada uses a snarky tone and readily drags people or brands, Chemist Confessions does so in a gentle, approachable manner, with cute illustrations included in every post.
So we decided that with the new year we’ll start a new series. It’s #DecodethatIL: The Price is Right! edition. This is where we try to weigh in on whether or not it’s worth forking over the money for that elixir. Today’s post is on La Mer The Concentrate which comes at a whopping $360/oz, and that’s the price of a 49” Roku smart TV. The formula is a silicone emulsion with minimal water (all silicones highlighted in blue). The product comes with a La Mer standard blend of ingredients: algae extract, blend of gluconate salts, and a bunch of oils, which none have any particularly compelling scientific evidence on long term skin benefits. We find this ingredient list pretty uninteresting until the end of the ingredient list where you find cholesterol and linoleic acids… which suggest ultra low percentages. Realistically, silicones are great skin protecting ingredients and do most of the heavy lifting in this product. Silicones also serve as a more texturally attractive alternative to petrolatum/mineral oil. They also form a nice protective film on the skin that is more permeable than petrolatum but… given that the product is predominantly silicones… we’ll be taking the TV. Also fun random fact! Zinc gluconate has been used for herpes treatments.🤫 #decodethatIL #thepricecouldbebetter #spendingmondaycontemplatingTVsinstead
Posts include comparisons like La Mer’s The Concentrate’s price to a 49″ Roku Smart TV, and goes on to explain why the latter (yes, the television) is the better pick. Others assess the ingredients and why or why not they’re good/bad, like Mario Badescu’s popular Drying Lotion and the use of calamine, apparently ancient. Then there are informative posts explaining what ingredients, like ceramide, actually are and why it’s suddenly in your favorite products.
DecodethatIL: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion The strategy for this product is to spot treat by completely drying out the affected area, which may be ok for that occasional one pimple but with breakouts and persistent acne, it’s a bit much. In just the first few ingredients we find Alcohol, Calamine, and Sulfur. Sulfur has been around for a long time, but it’s not commonly used anymore due to the odor. It acts as a keratolytic, loosening cells in the follicular wall and helping to unclog pores. Calamine, you may recognize as that chalky pink, childhood remedy to help relieve itchiness from bugbites and rashes.This ingredient has been around since 1500 B.C! The calamine INCI name actually refers to a trio of calamine, zinc oxide, and ferric oxide, which we found only one study suggesting calamine helping to increase the potency of sulfur, definitely a lot more data needed. All in all, based on our previous posts we feel that acne is such a complex issue that there are more comprehensive ways of tackling acne than simply drying the lesion out. Also, from an ingredient list standpoint it’s a bit dated. Anybody have any experiences using this guy? What’s your favorite spot treatment? #decodethatIL #spottreat #oldremedy
We spoke with the two anonymous chemists, who hail from San Francisco, behind the account and got to the bottom of how and why they decided to launch a much needed (and refreshing!) beauty account.
What exactly is Chemist Confessions?
Our instagram is really just a skincare chemist’s viewpoint on skincare. There’s lots of great content out there on general skincare tips and tricks, yet there’s still a lot of mystique around the actual ingredients in skincare. Not to mention the somewhat popular “chemical hating” trends. So we wanted to add our voice to the community.
Who’s behind it?
Well, we’re Gloria and Victoria! We’re two skincare chemists by trade who became good friends working at the same large, international beauty conglomerate. Victoria used to work in anti-aging while Gloria used to be in cosmeceuticals (She deals with a lot of high level actives). We’d like to keep the rest anonymous, it’s a surprisingly small industry.
Totally understandable. What made you guys want to talk frankly about products on Instagram?
After being in the industry for some time, we both were feeling frustrated and disillusioned with the state of the industry. Skincare has become highly marketing driven. It’s gotten way too difficult for the average consumer to navigate through all the fluffly, flowery words and figure out what they need for their skin. We decided to write little science blurbs with the intent to make skincare more transparent, less intimidating, and ultimately help educate and make us all more informed consumers.
Chemist A loves using oil cleansers to take off any pesky makeup (those waterproof Japanese mascaras are especially bitchy to take off). However, after her beloved bottle of DHC oil cleanser had a little explosion in her luggage, she’s turned to many balm based cleansers for their easy travel-ability. So lets take a closer look at Clinique’s Take the Day Off cleansing balm! What we like is that it has a pretty simple IL. The 2 surfacants are: sorbeth-30 tetraoleate and PEG-5 Glyceryl tri-isostearate, both are gentle cleansing ingredients. The balm is simply thickened with polyethylene. Hmm… polyethylene, doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s the same basic structure as plastic microbeads and plastic bags! Now of course polyethylene/plastic pollution has been the center of environment contamination issues for decades. It’s a bit of a complicated issue since polyethylene (PE) encompasses a WIDE variety of materials, from plastic bags to thickening waxes like this balm. The good news is because it’s such a hot topic, there has been advances such as discovering PE eating bacteria, and renewable created PE products (from sugarcane!). As consumers, the trouble is regardless of different levels of environment responsibility, PE is still just listed as PE. But if you care, definitelly demand your brands to source their PE responsibly! #decodethatIL #cleanser #cleansingbalm #ingredients #ingredientcontemplation
There’s SO much good information on there. Can you tell us about what you think consumers just don’t know about? What do you wish they knew more about?
Whatever will help them make a more confident and informed decision. We love to do the #decodetheIL series to break down the ingredient list and show how it’s not all that intimidating reading all those long, confusing names. Ultimately each of us knows our skin best, so we hope everyone can have an awareness and confidence in choosing a product for their skin.
So in today’s world, everyone wants to see results NOW. Many skincare products advertise “instant” effects. But those are usually just visual effects enhanced by silicones and pearl pigments. For long term results, you can usually really start to see a difference at 4 weeks. Most clinical evaluations run for 12 to 16 weeks with results evaluated every 4 weeks. Unfortunately with oh so many products to try and just one face, many of us don’t end up sticking to one regimen long enough to see the difference. Patience is the name of the game! #patienceiskey #timeismoney #skincareresults
Are you trying to make brands more responsible with their formulations as well?
We don’t think that’s something we can control. It’s actually difficult even for us to know who’s responsibly formulating and who’s not. So we’re mostly consumer focused. At the end of the day, only informed consumers collectively can demand changes to an industry with their purchase power.
What’s the ultimate hope for this account?
When we first started this account, we had a pretty simple mindset — make skin science fun. That’s why we work hard on making the captions digestible (ish) and the pictures fun (all sketch credits go to Victoria, Gloria is severely artistically stunted). We weren’t sure what to expect, or if people would really care. The amount of fellow curious skincare enthusiasts and general love really blew us away! So in a way, this account has already exceeded our hopes.
Going forward, we would like to work hard to create even better content. If we can provide solutions, that would be ideal. But if people can learn to deal with some skin quirks because of our content, we would be very satisfied.
Hmm so we just might be heading to the drawing board to think about what we can do on the product creation side…
We CAN’T wait!