Skincare Quiz

Material Science: cosmetics for geeks
answer key:
1. Originally used to treat cross eyed individuals, this product paralyzes facial muscles and is derived from:
the answer is
a bacterium famous for food poisoning
hence its name Botox
However also of interest is the pufferfish's Tetrodotoxin  a neurotoxin used as a chemical defense by many animals

2. Adding  __________  in a skin cream is done to help heal sun damage, reduce liver spots, and wrinkles.
 the best response is A. Lactic acid  This may explain the historical popularity of milk baths
but vitamin c can also help so L-ascorbate  is also correct

Note: a symptom of scurvy is the formation of liver spots which the ingestion of  L-ascorbate prevents.

3. Organic compounds like oxybenzone  or p-Aminobenzoic acid are used to absorb ultraviolet radiation in

4. Inorganic particulates are employed to reflect or scatter UV light in

While the difference between the two is blurred wikipedia's article Sunscreen is informative.
Note: that sunblocks have never been implicated in increasing skin cancer rates while the same can not be said for sunscreens.

5.  A lot of skin creams contain ingredients that are too acidic to use directly and have to be

Moisturizer terms (more information can be found in Understanding Moisturizer Ingredients By Heather Brannon, MD at

6. Occlusives, such as beeswax, lanolin, and mineral oil,  are used to
slow the evaporation of water

Humectants, like sorbitol, urea, and propylene glycerol,
attract water to epidermis

8. Emollients  such as castor or jojoba oils, and cyclomethicone
act as lubricants and give a soft & smooth appearance to the skin

What was surprising for me, was that many of these ingredients from urea to mineral oil have been touted as having medicinal properties.

9. Because they are similar to cell membranes _________  , tiny spheres,  can deliver active ingredients like vitamins into the skin itself.

10.  Alpha Hydroxy Acids like tartaric, malic, and citric acids have been used for centuries and are now more popular than ever. It is possible that they stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. However, their principal role is for _________ or the removal dead skin.

Bonus question: When faced with banal sounding ingredients like water or petrolium jelly
what language does the skincare industry employ to make these items appear more expensive?
Water becomes aqua and petrolium jelly is transformed into paraffinum liquidum

If you like this quiz perhaps you should try the lipstick quiz as well.

Christopher YUKNA 
schools:Ecole des Mines IUT Fac de Droit
websites: The Business Emporium + Totally Unorthodox English + Science General
work:  mobile:
e-mails: yukna(AT) or yuknachris(AT)