Friday, 18 June 2010

Dejunk/declutter/simplify your life.... by buying more!

Since the CREDIT CRUNCH, quite predictably there has been a big interest in thriftiness (or at least the media are presuming that people are interested in it). To live your life properly now you must have - Auntie Gok's capsule wardrobe (consisting of only 24 items - from the high street), a variety of craft skills so you can fashion homemade gifts/trinkets/sellable items and of course you must de-clutter and sell all the crap you have accumulated over the 'glory years' on E-bay.

I found this article in The Sun, at first glance it appeared quite helpful - 'How to beat a beauty cream habit'. It reveals that  British women have 50 million skin products that they will never use. I don't know who they polled for this, but I imagine I have 10 million skin products personally lying around in my drawers, bathroom, kitchen and car (yes car). I do have half an excuse though, I did work for one of the worlds biggest personal product manufacturers in the world... so most of them were free, or 1p. Is that an excuse? I am not sure..

The beauty industry is HUGE, it makes big money. People are vain, they want to look and feel nice, so they will pay for it. Most moisturisers/face creams are quite similar, they are moisturisers and they do work - they moisturise! Which makes your skin look nice and feel nice (not dry and flaky). Some have SPF too, which is good, sun burnt/leathery skin is not a good look. However, many of them are extremely similar, just in different bottles, in different colours and with different additives - which largely do not very much other than allow the manufacturers to claim that the product contains 'wonderaminoacidantioxitantX'. Which makes people want to buy them. I think people really do get addicted to spending money on these products in the hope that their life will be transformed, I know sometimes I walk out of various shops having spent far more than I intended too!

Back to my point, the article. What you should do is throw out all of your creams/wonder potions and just keep a few which are useful and targeted to your skin type and ones that you aren't allergic to (a problem I personally have). Sounds reasonable so far - the obvious benefit is that it would give you plenty of extra drawer space for more wonder mascaras and foundations. The next obvious and predictable move from the article is to move to the advice of an 'expert', so they bring in the Dr, Dr Patrick Bowler (Dr's are good for advising, beauty editors are not). Dr Patrick Bowler now advises some lovely ladies on their skin and he recommends two or three products for them to use (I thought we were de-junking here?) he also recommends that you change brands because if you keep bombarding the skin with the same products the favourable response will stop. SO YOU NEED TO BUY MORE CREAM ?! - this isn't the usual advice that people give to addicts.

I know nothing about Dr Patrick Bowler, so I cannot critique him and his advice, all I can end this post with is a link to his website, which specialises in skin advice and sells skin creams, anti aging treatments and links to a cosmetic surgery clinic.... To be fair to him, he doesn't recommend any of his own products in The Sun article. He is however helping to convince people to buy more, rather than use and understand what they have, which unfortunately seems to be a running theme with the majority of beauty and 'thrifty' TV programmes and articles around at the moment.....

Friday, 11 June 2010

Science Story Tracking

The Guardian newspaper is way ahead of the rest of the UK media when it comes to science reporting. They actually publish science articles written by real scientists who have a real understanding of what they are talking about. It's quite simple really. Newspapers wouldn't employ someone who isn't an expert in finance to fill out their Finance sections - so why do they feel that it is OK to get any Tom, Dick or Harry to cover a big science story? Newspapers like science stories (especially health related ones) because the resonate with a large majority of people - so why not spend just a little more time doing it properly? I am pretty sure I can speak for a lot of people when I say that everyone is sick to death of the 'Meat/Bananas/Talcum powder cause cancer' stories.

The latest idea from the Guardian is for a 'Story Tracker' . This week an article on Autism was published in Nature, the Guardian ran an article about the paper and now they have set up a way of tracking how the story is covered across the world - http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/jun/09/science-story-trackers#start-of-comments.

When a science news story appears in the media, I always try and track it back to where it came from - quite often there is no actual published data and the story comes from a press release (see my Walnuts and Prostate Cancer blog). This method of story tracking - along with Nature making the paper free for everyone to see allows transparency in the system. No research is perfect - ever. There are always limitations and people will always have different views on how good the research is - how it can be used and what benefits it may have in the future. The 'story tracker' allows people with a good knowledge of science to easily read all the articles published by the media of the paper and can also read the paper to make their own mind up. It also allows an interested person with maybe less of an understanding to easily read all of the information - from this they can form opinions, rather than being limited by reading one or two articles on the subject (which could be misinformed).

So, all in all a great idea. I have already emailed in 4 articles I found on US websites about the research. I hope this trial is a success and something like this becomes common place with science reporting!

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