- Who are you?
- Why did you start Lab Muffin?
- What was your PhD on?
- What are your qualifications?
- Why the skincare and nail polish obsession?
- What was your association with Skincare Addiction?
- Can you do a post on how XYZ works?
- Can I link to your post?
Who are you?
Lab Muffin is solely run by me, Michelle, a thirty-something PhD grad and science educator in Sydney, Australia. I spend all my time eating/breathing science or playing with beauty products! I am Chinese-Australian, which means my English spelling is excellent, my Chinese writing is appalling, and I have a rabid love of potatoes and chicken feet.
Why did you start Lab Muffin?
I started this blog because, being a geek, I ask “why” and “how” a lot, and the answers I usually got when it came to beauty were along the lines of “_____ technology”, or “it works on a cellular level”, or “it performs well in clinical tests”. These answers are probably jargon-y enough to put off a lot of people, but I kept Googling. It got to the peer-reviewed scientific journal article stage.
And as I was wading through endless search results, I realised that I couldn’t be the only one asking these questions. So I started this blog as a way of sharing the information I found, and presenting the science in an easy-to-understand way, so hopefully even the non-geeks (or as they’re commonly known, “normal, well-adjusted people”) can get something out of it.
What was your PhD on?
Synthetic organic chemistry. Think Walt from Breaking Bad, but making tiny quantities of drugs that may or may not have any effect on the body. It’s a lot like cooking, really! Specifically, I worked with small peptides that will hopefully have anti-cancer or anti-microbial applications. There was a lot of synthesis and pharmacology in there, which is why I’m reasonably good at interpreting whether active ingredients work! There was also a lot of supramolecular chemistry, which is surprisingly relevant to things like surfactants and skin structure.
Why should I trust you?
This is a good question – I really hate this new trend of people trusting random strangers on the internet just because they have a blog!
I am qualified in a tangentially relevant field (organic medicinal chemistry PhD, with a minor in physiology and pharmacology as well during my undergraduate studies), and I have a lot of experience in science education and communication. But I have no medical qualifications, so take my advice with a grain of salt and consult a doctor before making radical changes to your skincare/make-up regimen.
Even then, I’d encourage you to corroborate my information with other trusted sources. I list the most relevant resources I used for each scientific post, which you can refer to for further information. I try to use peer-reviewed, open access sources where possible, but unfortunately, due to the nature of scientific publishing, scholarly open access sources are hard to come by.
Why the skincare and nail polish obsession?
I’ve thought long and hard about this myself, and the only explanation I can come up with is: I am not a morning person. Skincare cuts down my morning make-up routine, and a nice mani makes me feel pretty and polished for days.
What was your association with Skincare Addiction?
I was brought on as Chief Science Editor in 2014 on a purely voluntary basis. I contributed heavily to the content of the ingredients database, both with writing the science and adding ingredients lists to the database. I also wrote two guest blog articles. I and the other volunteers thought it would be a fantastic unbiased, science-based database for skincare addicts everywhere with a kickass search function that would win multiple internets.
What I and the other volunteers didn’t realise was that without our knowledge, the site was becoming monetised without any clear disclosure policies in place, amongst other things that most of us would have been uncomfortable with. The money was carefully hidden from the rest of us. I am a big fan of transparency and believed in good faith that it was an unbiased, non-profit venture, so it was obvious I had to part ways when this information came to light (almost all of the other volunteers have walked away as well). The (as far as we can tell) for-profit nature of the venture was also against Reddit rules, the exciting drama of which you can read here.
I was never given any monetary compensation for my work, which is what I expected. I’m proud to say that my contributions to the site were entirely unbiased with no profit motive.
Can you do a post on how XYZ works?
Probably! Drop me a line.
PR/media enquiries – contact me by email here.
Can I link to your post?
Linking is more than fine! However, if you want to quote a substantial portion of the text, or if you want to copy or adapt an image, please contact me first as my material is copyrighted. If you’d like to refer to my content, a linkback would be courteous and appreciated! Plus I’ll be notified – I’d be interested to read your take on the topic 🙂