Welcome to Point of Interest: A science-y place for science-y people who like science

Since we have so many new members to our wonderful little group – hello, and welcome! – I thought I should write some kind of mission statement and code of conduct.

This is a science-y place for science-y people who like science. This doesn’t mean you have to have a Ph.D in chemistry to read it or participate – I’m still at university studying chemistry, so I’m a learner like everyone else – but I’d like to encourage you to stay curious and be open to the idea that you can understand science and you aren’t sucky at math. We all start off as beginners.

Yep, this is a science and evidenced based blog. This means when I’m writing about ingredients, I refer to loads of textbooks and studies and other materials to give you the best information I can. We talk about things like the importance of pH and how emulsifiers work. When I share a formula, I will share everything I can on how each ingredient works and why I’m using it.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Right now, there’s a feeding frenzy around shampoo bars and everyone wants to make them, and I’m seeing some terrible terrible formulas being shared. And people want to make soap versions of them, which are alkaline, and the science says alkaline shampoos can damage your hair (I have a longer post coming shortly, but for now, you can see the controversy in action in this post about my ongoing conflict with the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild.) I know this sentence will have people writing to me to say they make these bars and they work well for them and they sell them and their customers love them. Here’s the thing – the science doesn’t support this, and I can honestly share page after page of information from more than dozens of textbooks and studies that alkaline products damage your hair. There is no debate about this outside of soaping circles. I’m not trying to insult you, but making a claim contrary to this much science can’t rely on your personal experiences to refute it, so you’ll have to provide some really great evidence to back up the idea that using soap on your hair is okay.

Having said that, it’s okay to like or believe something you can’t support through science. Opinion and personal experience are important and vital to what we do and what we make, and there’s definitely an artistic element – that seems to have escaped me, unfortunately – and so much relies on our perceptions of skin feel, play time, moisturization, and more. I can’t objectively say that babassu oil is better than coconut oil as there are so many components that go into choosing an oil as well as the different products in which we would use them. And I would never say you were wrong in choosing one over the other. That’s because this stuff is super important, and why we come together to make things. Yeah, making lotions is all about the chemistry of emulsions, but making luxurious or light or super hydrating lotions is all about what we like to use!

We rely on reputable sources here. In yet another discussion at the HSCG members’ Facebook group, someone stated that we all have to be wary of the additives they put in hair care products as they can ruin your hair, like glycol distearate, a pearlizer in shampoos, can build up on your scalp and silicones smother your hair and kill it. I asked for scientific sources, and she gave me a link to the American Association of Retired Persons and a link to a hair care company in India. When I talk about sources, I’m talking about textbooks, studies, information from experts, and other science-y things. I’m not talking about fear mongering sites, like Skin Deep, the EWG, or the Suzuki Foundation.

I’ve created a new section of the blog called resources & references where you’ll find all kinds of things, including information on what I use to research for the blog. It’s definitely a work in progress! 

We all make mistakes. I make them all the time, and I’m okay with that as that’s how I learn. If you think I’m wrong, let me know, but let me know in a way that’s about constructive criticism so I can correct myself and learn from it instead of calling me names or insulting me. If your goal is for me to change my opinion or behaviour, yelling at me and being rude will not do that. I will get defensive, and I’ll shut down. But if you approach me with kindness and the assumption that I’m eager to learn and engage, I’ll be receptive to your ideas and I’ll listen to you.

This is a safe place to make mistakes and learn! This means there are no stupid questions, there will be no mocking or insulting of anyone – including me – and no name calling. If you engage in this kind of rude behaviour, you’ll get a warning, but the second time, I will ask you to leave. To learn, we need to be in a safe space, and being nasty violates that for all of us and ruins the community we’re building here.

Please share your thoughts in the comments! No matter your experience level or education, everyone has something to offer on this blog. I don’t want to be the only voice – I want you to speak up, share, and connect! If you’re shy or feel you have nothing to add, you don’t have to share, but know that we will be happy when you do! On this new blog, we have more comments in a month than I did in 2016 and 2017 combined on the old blog.

As you may know, I’ve been suffering from severe pain issues since February that make it difficult and excruciating to stand or sit for more than a few minutes, so I spend a lot of time just surfing the Internet looking for things. It’s been an absolute joy to read the comments on posts going back to 1999 on the AV Club. I want this for this blog. As a result, I will be moving some of the comments from the old blog over here when they contribute to the topic. 

There are no old posts. Please share your thoughts on any post on this blog!

I know you’re frustrated with broken links. We are working on these, but I can have upwards of 30 links or more in one post, especially formulas as I like to link to every single ingredient I can, and there are now 3,337 posts on this blog and maybe 500 have updated links. We have hired a young man to update them and Raymond and I are working on them, too. But it took me an hour yesterday morning to update four posts, and almost two hours to write this post today as I had to update every post to which I wanted to link, and those are hours I’m not producing new material for the blog.

Remember what I wrote up there about approaching me with kindness and not being rude? I get that you are frustrated. I get it. I’m not sure how many times I have to say this, but I really do get it.

It’s not okay to write to me in all caps about these broken links, “I CANNOT READ ONE SINGLE ARTICLE I WAS RESEARCHING BEFORE THIS CHANGE.” It is not okay to say my blog isn’t worth $1 a month. It’s okay to share your feelings, wish things were different, offer suggestions, and let us know which posts you want to have updated, but it is unacceptable to write aggressive messages to me regardless of how much you flatter and thank me in those same messages.

Please don’t write repeatedly to me via personal Facebook messenger, my blog Facebook page, my blog Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, or email to get access to the old blog. I have explained in so many places how to get access to those posts – subscribe to this blog – but even when it’s right above the form on the contact me page in bold, underlined, and green, people still aren’t reading it.

We have a workaround for the broken links for the moment: The pages in the resources tabs are getting more up to date every day, so you can consult those if there’s something you really want to know right now! For instance, if the link to soybean oil is broken, it might be updated in the emollients section. If the link to chamomile powder is broken, it might be updated in the extracts & hydrosols section. And check the ingredients section for all kinds of things that haven’t been categorized yet.

Phew, that was a lot, eh? Please share your thoughts!

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