“Silk beauty” my arse!


I got a little package of cosmetics for Christmas. It goes by the brand name of “Silk Beauty” (Luxury Velvet Edition!!!), which sounds slightly pretentious totally ridiculous, but okay. That’s marketing for you. The stuff smells reasonably nice, and that’s the only difference I’ve ever been able to notice between different brands. I’m quite able to ignore a laughable brand name to smell nice.

However, today in the shower I happened to glance at the ingredient list of my Silk Beauty (*snort*) shower gel. At the end of a standard list of shower gel ingredients stood “silk amino acids”.

Wait a minute.

(During which I waver between laughing my head off and fuming at the outrageous hoodwinking they tried on me.)

Silk amino acids?

(I decided on laughing for the moment.)

Hate to be a killjoy, but the amino acids in silk are exactly like the amino acids in any other protein. Fine, the major ingredient of silk, fibroin, is like 50% glycine, which is a very unusual composition, but once you break it down into amino acids, it’s still just a pile of perfectly ordinary glycine. You can find it in any other protein. You can find it floating around in every one of your cells.

What makes silk smooth and shiny is not the amino acids in themselves but the way they’re arranged in the protein. (Which, ironically, is basically “GAGA” hundreds of times over.) Unfortunately, no matter how much glycine you smear on your skin – assuming it even gets through the outer layer that’s specifically there to keep stuff out -, it won’t reassemble into silk protein for the simple reason that you need a fibroin gene to make fibroin. Ribosomes can synthesise any protein if you give them the instructions, but they’re not exactly creative.

Spoiler alert: humans do not have fibroin genes. (If you had one, you could produce silk without magical cosmetics anyway.)

So, basically, Oriflame expect me to smear the totally average building blocks of a special protein on my skin to make my skin like the special protein. What next? Feeding me tiger meat to give me the strength of the beast?


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