From Cosmetics to Toxins

Stories of Skin Care

Over time, the world of skin care has won a spot in almost everyone’s bathroom and nightstand. Commercials promote the ‘right’ skin care routines resulting in health and beauty. But isn’t there more to it, what are the true stories behind skin care?

What is a good skin care routine? Is there truly a cream that can prevent wrinkles from forming? Is skin care even necessary? Does suncream protect from cancer or cause it? Over time, the world of skin care has won a spot in almost everyone’s bathroom and nightstand. If we are to believe the commercials, the right skin care routine will not only make your skin healthy but also perfectly smooth, glowing and what not. ‘Toners can make you glow from within and serums can make your skin so hydrated that it looks like glass’. But skin care is not just healthy and pretty. Toxins in skin care can have adverse effects on our health as well as on our environment. Luckily, the development of ‘natural’ skin care is on the rise, developed in harmony with nature and only nurturing and strengthening for you… or is it?

In this edition of the BetaBreak, we will take a deep dive into the world of skin care cosmetics, by discussing the ingredients in skin care products and their effects. We will be breaking some of the most persistent skin care myths and try to answer all your skin care questions.

About the BètaBreak

The BètaBreak is a monthly science platform of the Faculty of Science of the UvA. Every month different experts are invited to speak about the latest developments in science. Former editions discussed themes such as cultured meat, nuclear energy and psychedelics. The BètaBreak seeks to analyse various scientific topics from an interdisciplinary perspective. The platform has had the honour to welcome guests as Robbert Dijkgraaf, Eric Verlinde and Nobel Prize laureate Ben Feringa. For more information, go to:

About the speakers

Heleen Kibbelaar studied chemistry at the University of Amsterdam. During her studies she did several internships at L’Oréal and Unilever. Heleen is currently pursuing a PhD in the Soft Matter Group of Daniel Bonn at the University of Amsterdam. As a part of her PhD she studies the flow behaviour of complex fluids (such as shampoos and creams). She also runs the Instagram account Sciencemeetscosmetics, where she explains the science behind cosmetic products.

Ronald van Welie is trained as a toxicologist at Wageningen Universeit and the Vrije Universiteit. As of 2014 he is the Director of the Dutch Cosmetics Association (Nederlandse Cosmetica Vereniging; NCV). Before that, he worked at NCV in the domain of techniques (ingredients, formulas, production), environment (claims, emissions), safety (product use) and law regarding cosmetics.

Majorie van Duursen is Professor in Environmental Health and Toxicology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

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