Truth Or Myth? Cosmetic Claims That ‘Push The Envelope!’

“Yes, you too can look younger,” goes an old joke. “Do we have a product for you! Guaranteed to make you look 10 years younger! We will sell you a knob you can install at the back of your neck and every time you see a wrinkle, just tighten the knob for an instant face and neck lift.” It’s no joke. Marketing departments come up with all kinds of claims in order to sell products.

New companies come into the beauty industry making big promises for their products. They make marketing claims for their products that stretch the truth. These fallacies are perpetrated by some of the most-read beauty writers, whether out of ignorance or because they ignore the realities. Unfounded claims hurt the industry as a whole as consumers learn to distrust the sales pitches.

One of our favorite blogs features beauty science experts sounding off on their favorite topics. Kristin and Lisa at Personal Care Truth or Scare always seem to post something informative and thought-provoking.

We especially liked Katherine Corkill’s recent piece titled “Beauty Industry Professionals May Be Their Own Worst Enemy.” While we’re not sure we agree that it’s only the ‘newbies’ to the industry who make misleading claims, we were intrigued by her list of common claims that really are myths.

1) “Free From” How many times have we read ads claiming that products are parabens-free, synthetic-free, oil-free, anything-free or “chemical free.”

2) “Chemical Free” This clearly is nonsensical when everything in the universe is composed of chemicals.

3) “Hypoallergenic or Noncomedogenic” is another bit of nonsense. What is safe for some people can cause reactions in others or in the same person at different stages in life.

4) “Dermatologist / Clinically Tested” By how many doctors? In which laboratory? One doctor could make a claim that marketing people parley into a blurb.

5) “Anti-aging Formulas” A single doctor might claim, for example, that the products have “anti-aging” properties. But what does that mean? Nothing (that we know of) stops the ageing process, although some things may slow it down. Cosmetics are supposed to change appearance, not the body. The FDA specifically forbids cosmetics from making changes to the body. Anything that makes real change is considered a drug.

6) “Non Toxic / Harmful Chemicals” We’re with author Corkill on this. The industry watchdogs, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CFSC), seem to think that almost anything is toxic and can cite a study or report of someone somewhere once having an adverse reaction to an ingredient or formula. Warnings like this prey on consumer fear, even when that fear is unreasonable or even irrational. And of course, as the author reminds us, too much of almost anything – even water – can be harmful.

7) “100% Pure / Natural / Organic” as so many small cosmetic companies claim may have merit as a for the sources of their ingredients. However, to become usable in skincare or cosmetic products, most ingredients must undergo some processing or mixing to make effective formulas.

8) “FDA Approved” This is marketer’s gone wild and prohibited by FDA regulations. The FDA only approves medical devices and drugs. It does not approve or disapprove ingredients or products for cosmetics.

9) “Does Not Contain Fillers” Bulking up a product with mica for mineral makeups or adding water to fill a bottle is not a crime nor does it mean fillers cheapen the value of a product.

10) “Non Irritating” How do you know? Scientific evidence may suggest something is relatively safe but there are almost always exceptions. That exception could be you or someone you love. As mentioned in #3, what works for one person may not work for someone else. And — as your body changes through the years, what soothes at one time can be irritating at a different stage in life.

The only safe way to be sure whether or not your body will react to a substance that you apply to your skin or hair – especially if you are chemically sensitive – is to make tests on small patches of skin first. Before committing yourself to a full application – whether of shampoo, moisturizer, or any kind of skin care or cosmetic product – do your own tests. Don’t just trust the hype!

By Teviot Fairservis.


Subscribe to the Paul Penders Newsletter

Share this post, download zipfile with the html code

Good when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Pledge Closes

To me, “The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics” has grown to something as far away to understand like planet Mars. A thing to know is that The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics is a part of the political lobbying process by the Environmental Working Group (EWG); professional lobbyists who – what at many times is being said – rely on misinformation, disinformation or even lies in order to SCARE consumers. The basis of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is the Skin Deep database. After 7 years they suddenly decided to stop.
On their web site they invite you to “visit SkinDeep; the world’s largest database of chemicals in cosmetics” but it does not give true indication of the safety or toxicity. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics misleads consumers because the ONLY way to ensure the safety of cosmetic products is to carry out safety assessment based on existing knowledge.
I am very happy to report that The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics stops their Skin Deep database by September this year.

Their safety rating system from 0 (low hazard ingredients) to 10 (high hazard ingredients with many natural ingredients included) is something I disagree with many times, and that even harms the name of impeccable brands like the Paul Penders, known for using SAFE ingredients for over 40 years.
And even though natural ingredients can have a hazardous impact when used for long time in massive volumes, SkinDeep’s database makes indiscriminate suggestions that some natural ingredients in cosmetics are linked to cancer and other terrible diseases. And there is no such thing that SkinDeep takes into account the actual minor contents in the cosmetics product which are tested in independent labs on health safety!
More and more professionals in the cosmetic industry as well as scientists outside the industry criticize their rating system. They say that the conclusions of The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are not based on valid scientific evidence. And they don’t pay heed to the relationship between hazard and risk.
Let me give you 2 examples of what we think is bad.


  • “Biodynamic® lemon peel oil has invigorating properties and also serves as a purifying disinfectant. With no risky antiperspirants such as aluminum salts, your body’s natural detoxification process is supported while bacteria that cause unpleasant odors are neutralized.”.

To me, Weleda is a wonderful natural cosmetics company from Switzerland that I highly respect. They use great ingredients for their natural citrus deodorant. The philosophy of Weleda products are based on teachings of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. However, this excellent product is rated by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at high hazard level with Weleda’s ingredients in this product linked to:

  • Cancer
  • Developmental/reproductive toxicity
  • Allergies/immunotoxicity

Other concerns from them for the ingredients used are:

  • Neurotoxicity
  • Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive)
  • Multiple, additive exposure sources
  • Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
  • Enhanced skin absorption
  • Occupational hazards

Now, let’s be honest here. Who in the world would want to buy a natural deodorant from an otherwise impeccable, one-hundred year old, pure natural cosmetics company that -without any doubt- Weleda is…. but their products suggested is linked to cancer and a host of terrible heath issues? Sorry to Weleda, because you guys deserve MUCH better!!!

Same devastating news as Weleda is given to several of our Paul Penders Natural Cosmetics as well!!
Paul Penders produces for 40 years natural cosmetics that even recently were awarded by few magazines in USA and UK. They are used by consumers in some 15 countries. These include popular products like: Rescue Blemish Away, Natural Moisture Foundation, Citrus Fruit Exfoliant and Holy Basil Conditioning Scalp Toner. These contain impeccable and safe natural ingredients including 22 certified organic herbs, natural plant oils and much more.
But The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics rates these products as being a possible health hazard because of few ingredients, for example: a FOOD emulsifier OK’d by the FDA but according to The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics rated as a high health hazard. And salicylic acid produced from the bark of the willow tree used in Citrus Fruit Exfoliant is a high health hazard as well. This popular product was the first natural exfoliant products on the market, introduced by our company 15 years ago in California.
Even we use only a fraction of these ingredients (i.e. less than 1/10th of one percent) in our final product formulation, still The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics rates these products as being “moderate to high health hazard”. Therefore, our products are linked to cancer and more terrible diseases (same as the above excellent Weleda product).
Should this unfair Scare-Tactic not stop?
OK, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has become a powerful organization in the US with their fingers in politics and high-end people. But I don’t care and wrote them few times to demand to have all Paul Penders products taken off their SkinDeep database. Why? Because consumers start to think that they could get sick of using our natural products. But The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics responded and simply refuses to do so.
Therefore I have an attorney in California now looking into the matter. I even consider – together with few friends natural cosmetic manufacturers – a lawsuit against The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics when they will not comply with my request.
Is The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ rating system a joke or a nightmare? Or simply business??