Yves Saint Laurent Youth Liberator: Glycan…or glycan’t?

Last weekend, I took lovely Mother WITS out shopping for her first foray into the world of high end beauty. Our first stop was the YSL counter in Debenhams, where we were almost instantly approached by a fairly persistent  heavily made up counter lady. ‘Here we go’ I thought….I asked which products she would recommend, and her hand moved at the speed of light to the YSL’s Youth Liberator Serum.

YSL_Forever_Youth_Liberatorblog review

IT WAS £90.


I played along, and thought it was worth at least hearing the sales speel. I asked the counter lady if the ingredient referred to on the box as ‘GLYCANS’ was actually Glycolic Acid. No, I was told that these were ‘like little robots that sent messages to the skin to look young again’. Oh right.

Exit stage left.

It did get me thinking…and then researching. So here’s a little post detailing everything I now know about YSL Youth Serum, and its mysterious ingredient ‘glycans’.

SO…what are Glycans then?

‘Glycan’ is actually the name for the sugars found in the tissues in our skin. They are also known as ‘poly saccharides’. Glycans also send messages to the skin to boost collagen production, which is what keeps our skin plump looking and wrinkle free.

SO, if i’ve got them already….why do I need to pay £90 for some more?

Well, as you get older, glycans breakdown and stop communicating with the skin, which has the knock on effect of reducing the production of collagen and increasing the chance of developing wrinkles. YSL claim that the Glycans in their Youth serum will be absorbed by the skin and stimulate the production of collagen.

Is that true though?

Studies into glycan and glycobiology is still in the early stages, and as of 2012 a study of only 600 woman had been undertaken to study the results of using a glycan based cream. It is worth pointing out that YSL employed the services of Professor Peter Seeberger, one of the most eminent scientists in the field of Glycobiology, so it would appear that glycans and aren’t another flash in the pan. Harpers-Bazaar also put the product to a panel test and most users raved about the brilliance of the cream, an opinion that was matched by the BBC programme Horizons when they investigated YSL’s claims, and the image below is pretty exciting!

Before and after the use of YSL Youth Liberator

Before and after the use of YSL Youth Liberator

Prof. Seeberger does however admit that Glycans are a small piece in the very complex arena of anti-ageing skincare, and investigation into whether the use of Glycans in cosmetics will actually provide long term anti ageing effects is in its early stages.

So all in all, we’re pleasantly surprised, and may even consider giving one of cheaper Youth Liberator products a go.

What do you think? Have you tried these products? Comment below and let us know.


Mineral oil….as good as it sounds?

Mineral based makeup has exploded onto the cosmetics scene in the last 5 years, so why shouldn’t mineral oil be just as applauded…? Well, it’s not quite as earth sourced and nourishing as it sounds and really only gets its title by virtue of the fact that it’s neither animal nor vegetable. Allows us to explain….

mineral oil

Mineral oil is a general name or umbrella term for lots of different types of oil from a non vegetable source, and is otherwise known as white oil, liquid paraffin or liquid petroleum. Mineral oil is a by product in the manufacture of gasoline, and is produced when petroleum is distilled.

The World Health Organisation classes untreated mineral oil as a ‘group 3 carcinogen’ – carcinogens are any type of product which is involved in causing cancer. Not sounding too good so far huh? Treated mineral oils aren’t thought to be harmful to humans, however the World Health Organisation doesn’t consider their to be enough research into untreated mineral oils to class them as harmless.

There is also evidence that mineral oils prevent the absorption of certain vitamins into the body, and some mineral oils are thought to be comedogenic…which means they cause or aggravate acne!

So what is mineral oil used for?!

Rather a lot actually! Mineral oil is used in IVF, veterinary vaccines, beekeeping…and cosmetics. It can also prevent brittle eyelashes, and a thin layer of mineral oil on the skin will prevent the loss of moisture and obviously has benefits for dry skin.

Mineral oil also goes by another name….Vaseline!


Along side many a beauty queens handbag favourite…mineral oil is also found in literally hundreds of everyday products, Baby Oil, L’Oreal eye shadow, La Roche Posay (not Effaclar Duo though!), Olay products,

So if L’Oreal use it….it must be ok…right?

Hmmmm…well, actually, no. When applied to the skin, it clogs pores and hinders the skins abilities to eliminate toxins that cause spots and acne breakouts. As if that isn’t scary enough…once it’s been broken down and absorbed into the body, it passes through to our intestinal tract and absorbs all the good vitamins that live in our guts. Cheers Vaseline! On top of all that, some studies have shown links between Pneumonia and mineral oil which can decrease lung function if absorbed orally.

Oh. That doesn’t sound so good….but it’s in so many products…how do I avoid it?!

Wellllllll….we like to take the hard work out of avoiding the bad stuff, so here’s a handy link showcasing all products that contain mineral oil, and the ones that don’t. You are welcome!


We hope you found this post interesting….please leave us a comment below, share with your friends, print this article out and sleep with it under your pillow…you know, all that fun stuff.

Love, WITS x

Co-enzyme Q10 – Anti-ageing avengers assemble!


Co-enzyme Q10 is a staple in many beauty products – from high end to drugstore, but is its fancy name really worth such widespread use, or is it another placebo ingredient, boosted by some clever marketing? We looked a little closer….

What is co-enzyme Q10?

Co-enzyme Q10 is an oil soluble, vitamin like substance otherwise known as ubiquinone or ubidecarenone. It is found throughout the body and takes part in cellular respiration (energy generation!). Co-enzyme Q10 is found in highest concentration in the heart, liver and kidneys, as they require most energy to carry out their essential bodily functions. Here’s an interesting fact….in 1972, scientists found a link between heart disease and co-enzyme Q10 deficiency.

Wow…co-enzyme Q10 sounds pretty important for my insides….but I don’t fancy spreading moisturiser on my bread….

Co-enzyme Q10 is found in lots of different foods, but fear not, we’ve put together a handy list of food that’s rich in co-enzyme Q10,  so your ticker will be back in tip top condition in no time!

Beef, pork and chicken liver, heart and kidneys
Soybean and olive oil

Note: Frying will reduce the amount of co-enzyme q10 in these ingredients.


If you’re vegetarian or don’t fancy beef heart for lunch,  you can buy co-enzyme Q10 supplements from your local vitamin store.

That’s interesting…but why is it in my moisturiser?


Co-enzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant and protects against ‘oxidative damage’ which is more commonly known as ‘ageing’. Oxidative damage is caused by a variety of factors which include UV rays, air pollution, stress, and toxins.

This little wonder nutrient also promotes the production of collagen, which plumps the skin and prevents wrinkles and laughter lines.

Finally, co-enzyme Q10 also rejuvenates the skin by stimulating skin cell reproduction.

So, all in all, co-enzyme Q10 gets a huge thumbs up, and the best part is, you won’t need to break the bank to feel the effects of CoQ10 because of its presence in so many food types and many skin products which are highly affordable and readily available.

Do you use co-enzyme Q10? Or will you now be rushing out to stockpile beef heart and soybean oil? Let us know in the comments below!

Silicone….a silly con?

From 2008 to 2010, here at WITS we refused to deviate from Pantene….we’d have put it above sliced bread. It made us swoosh our hair about as though we were starring in….well…a Pantene advert. We could almost hear Natasha Bedingfield serenading us as we sashayed along the high street.

Until we told our hairdresser.

The P word was uttered, her jaw was on the floor, and she was giving us the kind of look that we thought was only found on death row.

After hearing that we might as well be coating our locks in strychnine because of the high level of silicone in Pantene, we forlornly turned our backs upon it….but recently we’ve been beginning to wonder if the rest was still unwritten.

Silicone is a much maligned hair ingredient…but why? Let’s find out!

What is silicone?

Silicones are synthetic compounds made from silicon, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and other elements. Silicones are not waterproof, but repel water and make excellent water tight seals, which is why they have such diverse uses. You can find silicones being used in practically every industry from dry cleaning to contact lenses to aquarium joints and cookware.

…so why does everyone hate using hair products that contain silicones?

Here’s where things get a little complicated, but don’t worry…just like MC Hammer, we’ll break it down.

Firstly, silicone is an umbrella term for lots of different compounds with varying characteristics. There are two types of silicones used in hair products water soluble and non water soluble. Both types coat the hair and give it that much longed for L’Oréal swoosh, whilst preventing moisture loss. Water soluble silicones can simply be washed away with water; however non water solubles need to be washed away with sulphates, which also strip the hair of moisture. So if you’re looking to retain moisture we’d advise using a water soluble silicone.

but how do I know which one is which?!

Well, we like to look after you…so here’s a quick reference guide (you’re welcome!)

Water Soluble Silicones
Dimethicone Copolyol
Lauryl Methicone Copolyol
Hydrolyzed wheat protein (Hydroxypropyl Polysiloxane)
Any Silicone with PEG as a prefix

Non Soluble (not water soluble)
Phenyl Trimethicone
Cetearyl Methicone
Stearyl Dimethicone
Cetyl Dimethicone
Behenoxy Dimethicone
Stearoxy Dimethicone

So, after a bit of scratching our heads, and reading lots of complicated words that we can’t even begin to pronounce, we think that silicones aren’t as deserving of the bad name they’ve been given thus far. We think that with a good clarifying shampoo and sporadic use, water soluble silicones aren’t the worst thing we could put on our hair.

What do you think? Will you be reconsidering the S word for a one off swoosh?

If you want anymore info on silicone or any other posts, you can tweet us @weareWITS or email us at whatsinthatstuff@gmail.com

Finally, happy mothers day to all you lovely WITS Mums out there!

Parabens…friend or foe?


Many of us are quick to lament the use or inclusion of parabens in our skincare products…but how much do we really know? You know the WITS drill….

What are parabens?

Parabens are a group of chemicals used as preservatives in everything from makeup to toothpaste to spray tans.

So…what’s the beef..?

Parabens have been linked with breast cancer and are thought to mimic estrogen, which can cause early onset puberty in girls and low sperm count in men. In spite of those links…no direct causal link has been found between parabens and the earlier mentioned conditions. It’s worth noting that nothing has been definitively proved in so far as the side effects of long term paraben exposure. Put simply, we don’t yet know if they are good or bad, so we suggest that it’s best to act with caution and opt for paraben free alternatives.

How do I know if there are parabens in my products?

Look for ingredients like:

• methylparaben
• propylparaben
• butylparaben

If in doubt about whether a product includes parabens, you can check them via http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

To help you out, here’s a list of brands known to be paraben free:

• Weleda
• Burts Bees
• Jason
• Dr Hauschka
• Aveeno

Do you know of any other paraben free brands? What do you think about the use of parabens in skincare? We’d love to hear from you!

La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo – beauty hype or marketing tripe?


A Google search of Boots brand La Roche Posay brings up a bristling plethora of superlatives from the blogosphere. Some are calling it the best cream they’ve ever used, others ‘a miracle’ and some have even ditched their usual 7 cream daily routine for this one tube of £15.00 cream….but why?

A quick read of the marketing blurb refers to 4 active ingredients, so we dug a little deeper to find out…just whats in that stuff?

Ingredient number one….Niacinamide.

Niacinamide is part of Vitamin B3 and can be found in meat, fish, yeast, milk and eggs. It is also used in the treatment of alzheimers, cancer and anxiety.

…but why is it in my face cream?!

Well, in short, niacinamide…or nicotinamide as its otherwise known, works as an anti inflammatory and is particulary effective in treating acne when applied directly to the skin. It also blocks inflammatory iodides which cause or worsen acne. So if you have persistent breakouts, this might be why Effaclar Duo works for you.


Ingredient number two…Linoleic Acid

Linoleic is derived from the words ‘linon’ for flax and ‘oleic’ which translates roughly as ‘derived from olive oil’. Linoleic acid is part of a group known as essential fatty acids or ‘EFA’s’.

Linoleic acid is added to quick dry oils, and is also the good part of olive oil when it comes to skin care.

…again, why is it in my face cream?

Well, linoleic acid is essential to our bodies but isn’t made naturally by our cells. It is anti inflammatory, so works together with the niacinamide to reduce acne and breakouts. It is also important to cellular repair, and can help facilitate the penetration of other skincare ingredients. Gold star for linoleic acid!

“Ingredient number 3…come on down, what’s your name and where do you come from?”

“My name’s Selenium and I’m from the periodic table of elements”

Selenium or ‘Se’ as it’s known to science geeks, is responsible for tissue elasticity…so you can probably begin to see how this one’s going to work. It’s also connected with reduction of breast cancer and protects the skin from harmful UV rays.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes! Selenium, also prevents cell damage. You can up your daily selenium intake by eating 3-4 brazil nuts per day, or a diet rich in fish, eggs and brown rice.


Now, the 3 ingredients above probably go some way to proving that La Roche Posay is a bit of a wonder serum however; we’re reserving judgment. Why? Because the fourth ingredient is listed as ‘piroone olamine’ and after extensive research we have not even the slightest clue what this little number is. It could be cyanide for all we know. It probably isn’t. ..but come on La Roche Posay…just what IS ‘piroone olamine’ ?

Until we find out, we suppose we can give Effaclar Duo a very reserved thumbs up…

Do you know what Piroone Olamine is? Are you impressed by a product but want to know why? Comment below or send us an email: whatsinthatstuff@gmail.com

Acid appeal

Here at WITS hq we’ve been hearing a lot of positive things about Alpha H – or more specifically, it’s active ingredient glycolic acid. The ‘acid’ part made our spidey senses tingle – so we decided to find out a bit more about this so called ‘DIY chemical peel’

What is glycolic acid?

An acid found in grapes and sugar cane and part of a group of acids known as AHA’s.

What does it do?

It breaks down the bonds that keep dead skin attached to the skin. Once the bonds have been broken down,  the dead skin can then simply be washed away. There is also some research that suggests it helps bring moisture to the surface of the skin.  In essence, it works like an exfoliator. In higher concentrations, it is also used as an industrial cleaner to remove rust.

Is it safe to put on my face?

This all depends. Glycolic acid does work but in the right concentration and with the right skincare routine.

Scientists agree that a concentration of less than 10% glycolic acid will see little to no results; so don’t be forced into shelling out your hard earned benjamins for a jar with a gnats breath of glycolic acid in it.

Glycolic acid also alters the skin and makes it more susceptible to UV rays, so our advice is to use a range of glycolic acid products which naturally compliment each other and counteract any harsh effects, to allow the skin to recover. At the very least use a moisturiser with a high SPF to protect your skin from sunburn.

Anything else I need to know?

Be prepared for side effects like peeling, scabbing, redness, inflammation and swelling – but don’t worry, with the right skincare routine, these will soon disappear and the skin benefits are worth it.

So all in all, glycolic acid gets the thumbs up from us here at WITS! If you want to try your hand at the DIY chemical peel, here are some amazing glycolic acid products:

Alpha-H 12% glycolic acid cleanser

Peter Thomas Roth acid hydrating gel

What do you think of glycolic acid? Have you tried it?

Is there some other skincare super potion you’d like us to investigate?  Send us an email whatsinthatstuff@gmail.com

Enjoy pancake day!


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Hyaluronic acid.


Sounds a bit scary doesn’t it? Especially when you consider putting it on your face; however L’Oreal claim it’s ‘For skin that looks as if it’s reborn’. I don’t know how true that is, and to be honest, I had NHS glasses and a bowl cut at 12 so I don’t relish the idea of getting out the family album to try and do a comparison. Instead of a haunting trip down memory lane, I decided to go down the good old fashioned route of research, and here’s what I learnt.

What is hyaluronic acid?

In its purest form, hyaluronic acid is a thick fluid carbohydrate, which is present in all of us….mostly in our eyes and joints. In actual fact, hyaluronic acid is used as a medical treatment for osteoarthritis.

Why is it in my cream?

Hyaluronic acid is a very thick or ‘viscous’ fluid. Because of that it can act like a cushion or ‘plumper’…and we all know that the secret to younger looking skin is smooth wrinkle free ‘plump’ skin. It also is though to stimulate collagen growth in the skin, and act as an antioxidant when included in face creams.

What else is it used for?

Hyaluronic acid is also used in cosmetic fillers such as restylane and Juvederm, injected directly into the skin.

Does it really work though?

Well. I’m no scientist, but after lots and lots of research…i’m afraid to say that so far as working as an anti ageing cream…..the jury is still out on hyaluronic acid. Most research says that hyaluronic acid,  cannot be absorbed into the skin due to its viscuous consistency and therefore simply sits on top and is washed or brushed away during the day.

So it sounds a bit pointless….

Aha. All is not lost. Now for the exciting part. Hyaluronic acid isn’t a complete case of Emperors New Clothes. It’s a bit complicated, so grab yourself a cuppa and a quiet two minutes and you’ll be whooping for joy in no time. Maybe don’t do that out loud though….unless you’re alone and the curtains are closed. Here goes…

Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in all of us but is broken down by our skins interaction with damaging UV rays and other naughty stuff present in day to day life, it triggers the growth of another enzyme known as hyaluronidase, which breaks down our natural stores of hyaluronic acid. So….the best cream to use is something that stops the growth of hyaluronidase, to give your hyaluronic acid levels a little kick. Now luckily for you, I’ve found out the name of one little hyaluronic acid booster, and….surprisingly its a natural sea kelp based nutrient known as ‘phytessence wakame’ and is widely used by the Japanese…who funnily enough are known for their youthful looks.

The good news is, phytessence wakame isn’t a thousand dollars a gram and can actually be found in most seaweed based products available from your local asian superstore and even in the seaweed sheets known simply as ‘wakame’…hey, they even use it in the production of sushi.

So put down that hyaluronic acid cream and make a booking at Yo!Sushi. You’ll be back in your 12 year old skin in no time…or you can simply click on the link below which will take you to a plethora of wakame products starting from as little as £1.30.


If you found this article interesting….please let your friends know, and if you have any questions about the hyaluronic acid, or a suggestion for a further post, just drop me a comment below or send me an email to whatsinthatstuff@gmail.com

Enjoy your salmon skin rolls!


lotion question mark-thumb-480xauto-1037

‘It’s got this stuff in it that helps with….’

Ever heard, read or said that before? Chances are, you have…but what if, for just a few minutes we actually sat and thought…’what is that stuff, and why am I putting it on my face / body / hands / etc?!’…because lets be honest, give it a space age name and we’re all there clamoring to immerse ourselves in the next wonder product claiming to give us twelve year old skin or the hair of Cheryl Cole. We throw this stuff on without much regard for what it actually means, whether it will really work and what the long term effects are. So really, that’s a short introduction to the aim of this blog and eventually….video channel.

Now, i’m not here to be the Watchdog of the beauty world – what I want to do is expand my knowledge of the real science behind all these wonder emporiums and their promise of everlasting life, and take you along on that journey with me.

Everything detailed in this blog will be based on my own research and with the aim of giving you all a better understanding of just whats in that stuff….

So without further ado, lets get this show on the road…

If you have anything you’d like me to find out about – maybe there’s a cream that’s worked for others but makes you look like a splotchy Mr Blobby, or some wonder chemical that you’ve heard of but want to find out more about….or maybe it’s just that you’ve found the elixir to everlasting 12 year old skin and would like to find out why so that you can mass reproduce it and sell it to old peoples homes the nationwide. Let me know in the comment box below….or send me an email to whatsinthatstuff@gmail.com.