Drilling muds are viscous fluids of chemical mixtures used in geotechnical drilling to flush boreholes, carry debris to the surface, lubricate drills and related functions — the humor is that this sounds pretty much like a process, on a very different scale, that cosmetics users would like to achieve with pores in their skin! It is funny in part because of the absurdity of using an engineering-scale chemical mixture as a personal care product. But perhaps the real joke is that skin care products, like many products people use every day, are all mixtures of chemicals, and the perception of their safety or toxicity may have more to do with how they are marketed than their actual chemical composition.
- - - Shana Sturla, ETH Zürich
[Sturla is Editor-in-Chief of the ACS journal Chemical Research in Toxicology]