Clean: The New Science of Skin

By James Hamblin

Recommended on: 29th July 2021

Clean: The New Science of Skin, by James Hamblin.  Clean begins with a startling claim: author James Hamblin, a medical doctor, had stopped showering for five years and had given up as well on shampoo, conditioner, or soap, except on his hands.  With this unusual introduction, Hamblin moves on to describe soap, skin, and the entire set of related industries.  The book is filled with interesting factoids, such as that the pharmaceutical industry is tightly regulated at great expense, but the cosmetics industry is basically the wild west—“there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety.”  That, in a nutshell, is why you can find seemingly elegant $60 creams and lotions with the same basic ingredients as a $6 tube. 

Clean was named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Vanity Fair. This is an especially worthwhile book if you have skin issues, or spend a lot on skin products, or have ever wondered why—and whether it’s reasonable—to spend so much on skin products. Clean is also a good book for audio.

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