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!

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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