Sunday, 4 September 2011

'Skin so luminous it's highly flammable'

According to Liz Jones you shouldn't trust me. Why? Because I don't usually plaster my face with truckloads of foundation and blusher and I rarely wear lipstick (never sensible colours). She also called me "arrogant, lazy and deluded" for not improving my allegedly hideous natural skin but I think I'll get over that one.

I'm quite happy to spend time creating an interesting look with eyeliner and eyeshadow (steampunk rust colours or demonic red are particular favourites) but I just don't see the point in spending huge amounts of money on making myself look like every fashion model following the current trend. I have nothing against people choosing their own style, of course, but I do take exception to people strongly hinting that I'm somehow ugly or inferior by not trowelling the latest magic cream all over my face at £30 a tub.

I could rant on about my objections to the shallow attitudes of the beauty and cosmetics industry but to be honest I'm more peeved about their flashy displays of meaningless science. Adverts for facial creams and other skin products are full of complex terms in an attempt to blind the viewer with science and making use of the famous charlatan tactic of intellectual shaming. Scratch the surface and you'll see through this act for what it really is: complete bullshit.

One particular brand which is guilty of these tactics is L'Oréal Paris and their rather expensive collection of goods. Their products often have fancy names such as Hydrafresh, Youth Code and Derma Genesis to make them sound highly advanced and cutting-edge, but I'm sure you knew that anyway. Let's start off with the oddly named L'Oréal Youth Code Pot, which has the following description:
Mature skin and young skin behave differently when exposed to external aggressions. As you age, skin takes longer to recover and responds more slowly. The complexion loses luminosity, facial features appear tired and wrinkles deepen.
Youth Code Rejuvenating Anti-Wrinkle Day Cream leaves your skin hydrated, smoother and more radiant. Skin behaves more youthfully: luminosity is improved and facial features appear rested.
As an astrophysics geek I understand the term luminosity as the amount of electromagnetic energy radiated by a celestial body in a fixed unit of time. Unless your face normally generates temperatures of, say, 6000K (about 5726°C) I wouldn't worry about fading luminosity - as a human you don't tend to absorb all types of electromagnetic radiation very well and you mostly emit EM radiation at the infrared area of the spectrum. Even if you were a black body radiator like a star your luminosity value would be negligible at 37°C, as shown by the formula L = 4pR2s T4 (explained here).

It would be interesting to see a cream which did increase facial luminosity, mind you. You'd emit a hell of a lot more radiation than usual, emitting a lot of light and creating quite a show in the process. (Just be careful not to stand near anything flamable or you'll create some potentially very nasty situations for the rest of us.) You'll be incinerated in a matter of seconds after applying the cream but on the plus side Liz Jones can't accuse you of being arrogant or lazy for not attempting to improve your skin. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

In less exciting news, we're not told exactly in what way your skin is supposed to behave "more youthfully" or how the cream achieves this. Awfully convenient but you've got to be shameless in advertising to make an impression, even if that involves skewing scientific knowledge in the process.


  1. Mind you, Liz Jones writes for the Mail, so no-one should be surprised at the brainwashed anti-feminist stance.

    In fact, it probably wouldn't even enter her tiny little mind that some people cannot wear makeup for health reasons (allergies, for example).

    The Harrods requirements are ridiculous anyway. No wonder they all look like dolls in there.

  2. Heh. Nice work.
    Did they really mean albedo? And if so, I thought shininess was a bad thing on faces. They should make up their minds.

  3. I'd assume so but albedo doesn't sound as cutting-edge and sciencey. The double-standards in fashion are maddening, I gave up a long time ago and just went with my own thing - far, far easier and probably less expensive in the long run.