“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.
One of our favorite writers about cosmetic science, Dene Godfrey, asked and answered the question, “100% Natural?…Almost 100% Certainly Not.” His point? Many companies claim their products are “all-natural” or “100% natural.” But how many really are?
It is no exaggeration to state that they are NOT 100% natural in well over 90% of cases. Whilst I must admit that I am talking about a fairly small sample size (tens, rather than thousands), it is clear that a large proportion of one sector of the market are making inaccurate claims.
His article got us thinking about all the product descriptions floating around out there: natural, naturally-derived, nature-identical, organic, certified organic, non-synthetic, no chemical additives, and many more. What do they all really mean? The truth is no one really knows. Are the companies that use these wonderful buzzwords in their promotions actually telling us anything of value? Even more importantly, are the companies careful and responsible about their use of earth-friendly and human-friendly ingredients?
For example, if products are truly “natural,” what would that mean? Again, Dene’s got 2 excellent questions and a great answer to this puzzle:
1) Does the substance exist in nature?
2) Is the substance extracted from nature without any chemical modification?
Only if the answer to both questions is yes, can the substance be truly described as “natural”.
Really when you think about it, any substance that comes from either a plant or an animal – flora or fauna – is “natural.” Are oil, gas and coal “natural”? Yes, by this definition – as those substances are formed from fossils.
As we at Paul Penders are utterly opposed to any cruelty to animals, we avoid the use of any animal-derived products. That leaves us with plants and rocks – beautiful tropical flowers, leaves, herbs, and roots that when gently crushed or bathed in oils give off lovely fragrances and a range of properties that can cleanse, refresh and beautify skin and hair.
To the botanicals, we can add minerals taken straight from the earth. Minerals have been a secret of great beauties for centuries, although not always the healthiest choices. Think of the lead-based skin whitening used by Mme. de Pompadour and other 18th century French ladies. We know our science and our chemists would never allow lead or other dangerous minerals to be included in our formulas.
For skin care and cosmetics, we believe freshness is a determiner of what makes an excellent natural beauty product. We need to choose the freshest ingredients and prepare them in small batches to preserve their inherent properties. We don’t want to over-process the ingredients so instead we use a cold-blending process rather than heating ingredients which would cause chemical bonds to break or reform and therefore change the basic natural chemistry.
What about “organic” and “certified organic”? As Dene reminds:
…many people confuse “organic” and “natural” – a situation not discouraged by those involved in the market sector. These terms are NOT interchangeable. A high proportion of ingredients certified as “organic” (by one or more certification bodies) are NOT natural, as they don’t exist in nature and, therefore, a certified “organic” product cannot automatically be promoted as “all-natural”, unless it truly is, of course!
This is part of the problem we have with the certification agencies that get big bucks for their seals of approval. Just because a product is certified, that doesn’t mean that the consumer is not being misled or false claims are not being made. Was the product synthesized in huge batches in a factory or collected by hand in a rainforest and hand-blended? Certification won’t tell you the difference – but your body might.
Really, it all comes down to processing. Do we use the gifts of Nature in their most natural forms and gently blend them into creams, lotions, shampoos, and other skin and hair care products? As a small company, we vow never to take the route of “Big Business.” Our bigger brothers see no problem with processing huge quantities of ingredients in giant vats. But we want to do something different – something more beneficial to our customers and for our planet. Our aim is not quantity but quality.
As Dene says,
“…taking the definition of “nature-derived” to its logical conclusion, unless you actually create new matter, everything is “nature-derived”; the only question is to how many stages of processing has the substance been exposed.”
Dene Godfrey is one of the people in the cosmetics industry we most admire. He has been involved with preservatives for cosmetics since 1981, from both technical and commercial angles and holds a degree in chemistry. He speaks out often on cosmetic issues on the “Personal Care, Truth or Scare” site. See the article that inspired this blog at http://personalcaretruth.com/2012/06/100-natural-almost-100-certainly-not/comment-page-1/#comment-4961 .
By Teviot Fairservis.
From the great people of “Personal Care – Truth or Scare” in California I received message that “The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics” (CCIC) who runs “The Leaping Bunny Program” has the same concerns about the newly proposed “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011” as they had before with the “Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010” that was rightfully rejected in Colorado and by U.S. Congress.
The new proposed Safe Cosmetics Act 2011 will overhaul the way cosmetic products are regulated in the United States. While the purpose of this legislation is good to ensure that cosmetic products are safe, it will have disastrous consequences for laboratory animals. Innocent creatures used to undergo cruel test for cosmetic products and their ingredients.
Although this newly proposed Act endorses the development of non-animal testing methods, there is little doubt that animal testing will be required by this bill! It will result in a substantial increase of animal tests!
Here is my vision on this bad news.
CCIC hopes that changing the cosmetic regulations can be done without animal tests. They believe that harmonize U.S. law with the European Union would be the best and I totally agree! In Europe they make safe cosmetics but also prohibit the use of animal tests for cosmetics! So in America we are going to re-invent the wheel. Why not totally disregard what scientists already know in Europe for many years? Or are the cosmetic products made by L’Oreal and Chanel regarded as unsafe in America?
Most of this incredible stuff right now just starts here.
To me, for the last 10 years, few things seem to go little but awkward in my own country. Maybe Americans have become little bit isolated compared to modern developments in the rest of the world? For example, here in the US we have the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that consists of no cosmetic chemists and they seem to act totally confused.
What disturbs me most is that our company in the past helping to establish a law in The Netherlands to prohibit animal tests for cosmetics already 25 years ago! The Netherlands was actually the first country in the world to make it ILLEGAL to do animal tests for cosmetics and its ingredients…. and now after all this time, the US wants to start doing it all over again?!
How many of us Americans feel lost in a society run by legislators and lobbyiests?
Also lawyers who make money in any way they can? Does neglecting all they learned in Europe bring us to more safe cosmetics and closer to nature? The EWG makes it sound like using a simple herb used for centuries with great results, now suddenly can cause death, or risk getting terrible diseases like cancer and more?
Consumers are made scared by scare-tactics of EWG
New “arm-chair scientists” coming along making things bad that later need to be fix that didn’t need to be fixed in the first place. Here is the business part that comes in. Because for centuries people in Europe use simple herbs for improvement of their health and cosmetic purposes. Now EWG and their “scientists” claim we are at risk from these same herbs. Of course, these scientists do not understand the miracles of how nature works… therefore it is suddenly no good anymore. How arrogant can we be?
But maybe there is more to it?
Maybe it is just pure business. Because who pays for all this nonsense? With all we do we are missing the boat. I think we are little bit lost as a Nation.
Most people in the world believe animal tests for cosmetics is terrible.
Useless and some find it even a crime. In Europe they stopped doing it a decade ago. In name of innocent animals, please stop the stupidity; the ignorance! Please let’s start to educate ourselves. When one buy a cosmetic product look for the track record of a company. Also be aware that “the new kid on the block” is not always the best but some tell great stories.
Please be not confused like many of us. Do not support EWG. They are simply not qualified to make their strange assumptions.