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

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:

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

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

Enjoy your salmon skin rolls!


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‘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