Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Wish I Swore by Something with a Nice Fragrance

Late fall is upon us, and the inevitable cold weather chapping and cracking of the skin on my hands has begun. The situation is exacerbated by having to wear gloves and wash my hands repeatedly at work. Proguard is a moisturizer that's available from the Fisher catalog, which is a one-stop shopping depot for general lab supplies, as well as direct from the Princeton Chem. stockroom. It is THE ONLY THING that ever keeps my skin from cracking. I use a little every time I wash my hands and it's fantastic; I even bought one for home (Jason wears gloves, too.) I hate to waste money on one of the cute little travel size packages of scented lotion for my purse because I know it'd be purely ornamental. I just throw some Proguard in a travel size case. Ideally, I'd like to be able to take my Proguard to something like The Body Shop and just blend it with any fragrance oil to use outside of lab. Come to think of it, that's something I'll have to try, but I doubt they'd help me out unless I was buying their brand of lotion. Proguard will definitely be one of the things I miss when I graduate. Maybe someone on the inside will be able to hook me up.
Just for fun, I thought I'd do a quick comparison of the main ingredients in Proguard ("P") versus my favorite scented moisturizer (we'll call it "WVS" for short, but those of you who know me should know what I'm talking about). I don't really have any sense of the percent composition of either lotion, because the ingredients are listed in descending order of percentage with no concrete numbers, as they'd be on food. I never stopped to think about moisturizer formulation before. Moisturizers have to multitask on the outermost layers of the skin, repairing damage and sealing in water, without triggering allergies or any other adverse reaction.

emollient (skin softener):
P = cetyl alcohol
WVS = cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, petroleum jelly

silicone oils: (they form a protective layer)
P = dimethicone
WVS = same

humectant (hygroscopic substance, something that absorbs water):
P = sorbitol, propylene glycol
WVS = glycerin, propylene glycol

P = diazolidinyl urea (formaldehyde-releasing goodness!), methyl and propyl paraben, tetrasodium EDTA
WVS = basically the same

the ref: Characterization and chemistry of imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea. Contact Dermatitis 2006 54, 50-58.
So all the key ingredients are nearly indistinguishable, but the scented stuff also contains vitamins, which I'm not sure would penetrate deep enough into my skin to do me any good anyway. (Anybody know about those properties for specific vitamins offhand?) The difference in cost is negligible when you factor in the size of the package and assume a little discount for buying in bulk.
With all this newfound knowledge of moisturizers, I'm not sure I buy into the Creme de la Mer craze, what with all their "miracle formula" sales pitch. "Even now, it is not entirely clear how Creme de la Mer works," they say. To me, it seems like the ingredients that work best in moisturizers are pretty cheap (dimethicone can be found in Silly Putty!). Anyhow, for some sciencey-looking stuff (fermentors!), I recommend you click the link labeled "The Miracle" and enjoy the movie.



At 5:30 PM, Blogger Ashutosh said...

Formaldehyde in my moisturizer doesn't sound so good.

At 2:19 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

Your scheme has reminded me about something: I've been thinking a lot about whose ChemDraw structures look the best. I find ACS-96 makes molecules look whimpy. You seem to be using settings from the KCN school--settings which I think are a grand improvement.

1) What are these settings, or even better, can you post a sample of the KCN template for us to download? Is it sacred? Are mortals like me allowed to use it?

2) Is there a story behind this template and why, seemingly, everyone remotely associated with KCN uses it?

3) Do any other labs/family trees have there own particular ChemDraw settings that you know of?

Anyway, no big deal. I'm just curious.

At 2:20 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

and just to keep the grammar-nazis happy: there --> their

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Carmen Drahl said...

Paul: for such an astute observation, I'll allow you to bypass the initiation period for these prefs. Here's the link. Let me know whether it works. And to answer your other questions:
2) I don't know the story behind the template, but maybe earlier members of the group do. During my first week in the lab, I was instructed to use those settings, and as a biochemist with no previous ChemDraw experience, I adopted them quickly. I really like the settings, too, but I've found that they give you very fat arrowheads, which requires you to become proficient with the pen tool to make arrows for congested structures. Oh, and on PowerPoints, we always convert the chemdraw to gifs or jpgs before pasting them.
3) No idea, but I feel like powerpoint backgrounds/ colors can be traced to groups... but there obviously aren't as many combos.
Baran group = white on black
Joullie group = yellow on navy

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Excellent...thanks, Carmen. I made a poor KCN knock-off, and now I realize my font-size:bond-length ratio was too high.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some info on topical vitamins here:

At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Christi said...

To scent your lotion, invest in some aromatherapy oils; eBay or your health-food store should help. If you like clean fragrances, lavender oil is pretty cheap. If you like things more neutral, sandalwood is pretty cheap too. Orange blossom is pretty cheap and very sweet. Rosemary is powerfully clean-smelling; be careful, one drop too much and you have something totally antiseptic smelling. But one drop to a too sickly-sweet mixture can lighten it up quite a bit.

I use Burt's Bees shea butter hand repair cream myself, but I don't know if it has the staying power inside gloves.

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Knitting Addict said...

Hey Carmen! Does WVS stand for Warm Vanilla Sugar? If so, please check this out :) I can help!
Warm Vanilla Sugar Source as well as many other fragrances you may be interested in!

This will have you saying, now I do swear by something that I make smell nice :)

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Carmen said...

Ha, thanks! That'll come in handy.

At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Carmen. Do you still have an active link to the chemdraw settings. I like your pics.


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