Monday, November 07, 2011

Perfume in a Pill

Nowadays there seems to be a pill for everything from headaches to food supplements and soon there will even be a pill for...perfume? It is hard to believe, but Lucy McRae body architect is working on a magic pill that will release a scent as you sweat.

Combining the industries of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, fashion and technology Lucy McRae hopes to change the job of our skin, believing that the body is a base for technology. Lucy’s job as a body architect means she uses the human body as a platform on which to create art. She “builds structures on the skin that re-shape the human silhouette, suggesting a new breed; a future human archetype existing in an alternate world”. Her artwork is very bold and provocative. Her knowledge of the body and its shape comes from being classically trained as a ballerina. Lucy also works as an art director and innovation consultant. Lucy has now teamed up with synthetic biologist Sheref Mansy and together with a team they are working on “Swallowable Purfum”. It is still currently in the development stage, but when it comes out it is sure to make an impact on beauty and technology. "My main aim is to provoke and make people think in a completely different way about how make-up can be [used] in the future," said McRae.

Scientifically this is how this pill works, described from the Swallowable Parfum site. “Once absorbed, the capsule enables the skin to become a platform, an atomizer; a biologically enhanced second skin synthesized directly from the natural processes of the body. Fragrance molecules are excreted through the skins surface during perspiration, leaving tiny droplets on the skin that emanates a unique odour. The pill will consist of synthesized fragrant lipid molecules that mimic the structure of normal fat molecules naturally found in the body. The human body has enzymes that metabolise fat in a series of steps that free lipids and lipid-like molecules from their scaffolds. The Swallowable Parfum takes advantage of these natural enzymes found in our bodies to release fragrant molecules from larger structures. Subsequently, the liberated fragrant molecules are excreted through the skin’s surface during perspiration.”

Basically the concept of the pill is that once you take the pill, you skin will act as an atomizer (which means your skin will reduce your sweat/ fragrance to a fine spray). When you sweat, you will be sweating out the perfume and the chemical that gives off the scent will remain on your skin, but the sweat will evaporate off. So instead of spraying perfume on the outside of your body, you will swallow it the Swallowable Parfum pill and sweat it out; which will give the same affect of spraying it directly on your skin. The difference is that the pills will even the scent all over your body, where the bottle version sprays the perfume more localized.

Along with the announcement that a swallowable pill was being developed, there was an odd promotional video. The video is very much like a perfume advertisement with close up shots of the model and classical music playing, but mixed with science aspects. They combined shots of a model taking a pill and starting to sweat, with shots of blood droplets bubbling in water. The combination of the two was a little creepy, and doesn’t exactly create a need to use the product. The ad slogan that was said in the video was “Go beyond accessories, express uniqueness. Swallowable perfume; a new cycle of evolution.” That made the video more intriguing, expressing that this is the next best thing, which is made specifically for you, which made the video more appealing.

The press release of Swallowable Purfum begins with a provoking introduction “In a status-driven world where we are free to make our own choices, have access to infinite knowledge and information and where anything is seemingly possible, we constantly seek out new ways to communicate our uniqueness and express individuality.” For this new swallowable perfume, they are selling the idea about how this pill is unique and will be different for each person. This is because instead of creating a uniform scent, Lucy is imagines that each user's body odour would be built by the digestible perfume and create a "base note." Everyone has their own personal scent, so the pill will adapt to the individual. People are always striving to stand apart from one another and this pill is working with that thought and playing on those emotions.

Sure these perfume pills sound fascinating but who would try them and are they even safe? On ABC news scientist George Preti who specializes in taste and smell, said “ pills that claim to change body odour similar to Swallowable Parfum are often not effective due to the body's digestion process”. Unfortunately because the concept of the perfume pill is still in the development stage it is not yet known, if it actually works or even if it’s safe and George Preti’s statement doesn’t inspire confidence for the pill. If you think of what is used to make spray perfume, it makes you wonder how healthy it is to have other chemicals moving in and through your body.

As technology advances, it seems that our beauty routine will too. Society today is getting lazy with sprizting perfume, eating healthy, covering grays and applying moisturizer and SPF. Now in the making are pills to pop instead. Vitamins and food supplements have been around for a while now, but recently the release of other beauty pills has come out. L’Oreal just recently announced that they are developing a pill to prevent gray hair. Sure covering up gray hairs can be tedious, but is it taking a pill that much better?

Although taking a pill and having your own scent sounds cool, the act of sprizting on your perfume, before a night out with friends, a date or just a normal day is far more glamorous then choking down a pill. And how long will it be until pills are what we exist on?

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