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Cutting through skincare BS: An evaluation framework.

Ivan Galanin, scientist, explains the evaluation framework he uses to understand whether something is potentially useful in skincare. The framework derives from nearly 20 years of evaluating scientific innovations. Ivan shares the details and insights in an understandable way. He even explains a few bits of scientific jargon so that you can start building your science vocabulary.

You will learn the 4 elements of evaluation, which is analogous to a criminal trial. Element 1 is The Charges. Element 2 is The Motive. Element 3 is The Evidence. Element 4 is The Provenance. After watching this video, you will be able to critically appraise whether you are getting all the facts you need to make a decision about whether to use a product or service.

0:00 Introduction: Who I am, why I got started in skincare, how I learned skincare science from scratch and how you can too.

1:39 Why an evaluation framework is necessary to avoid making mistakes. How most YouTube skincare videos don’t actually teach you anything. How a framework can support learning by creating an outline for knowledge to be deposited. How a framework can help avoid mistakes and bias.

4:02 Your first bit of science jargon: “intervention.” A broad view of what an intervention is.

6:02 The framework in 4 parts. What does the intervention do? How does it do it? What’s the data? Can we trust it? The framework is analogous to a criminal trial. Element 1. The what = the charges. It frames the evidence. Element 2 The how is like the motive. Element 3 The data is the evidence. Element 4. Is the evidence reliable? Are the “witnesses” believable.

9:42 What does an intervention do? Why FDA and EMA restrictions make it so difficult to assess what interventions do. Example of misleading claims. A particularly annoying instagram ad touting the “first ingredient to reverse the skin’s biological age at the cellular level.”

17:20 How an intervention works. Cell types and signaling pathways. And don’t fall for the BS. All cosmetics work at the cellular level. Ivan uses an example of adipogenesis — new fat cell formation — to explain how a signaling pathway is like a set of dominos where a ligand — in this case, long-chain fatty acid, sets off a series of steps which causes a physiological change.

24:02 Ivan introduces different types of evidence starting with in vitro, then in vivo and finally clinical studies. At 31:52 Ivan discusses the critical aspect of delivery which gets the intervention where it needs to go. You learn about the Franz chamber experiment and why it’s so important.

39:19 Ivan “finally” discusses clinical studies. You learn that most beauty company studies are not scientific studies at all but rather fail at the first step in the scientific process which is to set out a hypothesis ahead of time. The characteristics of a good study: protocol-registered, controlled, blinded, randomized and published in a peer-reviewed journal.

47:07 Sources and data quality. The most salacious part of the video. Ivan explains that most studies are biased, even heavily biased. There are ways, however, to mitigate the effects of bias.

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