I give green personal care products a pretty rough time on this blog. I don’t have any problem doing this as a public service because so many of them basically aren’t very good. But it does run the risk that I appear to be anti-green in general. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I thought it might be a good idea to lay out what I think the problems facing the planet are and how seriously I take them. This doesn’t strictly have anything to do with coverage of the health and beauty issues I normally cover, but it is always sort of there in the background. And anyway, this my blog so it’s my rules. Continue reading
I get asked from time to time about how to become a cosmetic scientist. I have already talked about what kinds of qualifications you might need. But I think there is an assumption that the only way into this line of work is to get a job. That is what I did and what most of the people I know did too. But the world moves on and I wonder whether that is still the only way. Indeed, is it even the best way? I can certainly think of some big drawbacks to having a job as a scientist, and some of them apply to pretty much any kind of job. Here are five reasons not to get a job. Continue reading
I am not sure exactly when Victoria’s Secret became such a big thing. It only seems like a few years ago nobody in the UK had even heard of it, but now it is one of those brands you can’t get away from. This is quite an achievement given that it is still has a fairly small footprint on the British high street, with only a few stores in the big cities. So when I ended up spending a few hours in Copenhagen airport last week I was intrigued enough to pay a visit to their outlet. The interesting thing was just how much space was devoted not to the underwear for which they are so well known, but to fragrances and skincare – all of which was branded as Victoria’s Secret. Continue reading
Regular readers will know that any aqueous cosmetic product needs a preservative to stop it going mouldy. Preservatives tend to get a bad press, and given that most of them are inevitably toxic they are probably going to carry on getting it. Preservatives get a lot of attention not only from journalists and the nervous, but also from regulators. The EU cosmetic regulations only permit certain preservatives and only allow them at prescribed levels. This means that the job of supplying preservatives is a difficult one. Not only are you always dreading a bad news story, you can also wake up to find that the regulations have changed and you can no longer sell your product. Continue reading
Here’s a funny thing. I was asked on my Facebook page why Clinique Smart Custom Serum smells of bacon. I should first point out that I am a bit of social media dinosaur and although I have had a Facebook account for some time I was only vaguely aware that you could messages on it and even now I can only find the message bit if I get an alert telling me that someone has sent one. So if you have ever messaged me on Facebook there is a good chance I have never realised. But I digress, Nicola asked me to comment on her on the smell of this product and pointed me to a forum where people were discussing it.
The theme of the last Scandinavian Society of Cosmetic Chemists’ annual meeting was labelling of cosmetic and personal care products with various accreditations, of which the biggest example is the various organic accreditation schemes out there. These are certainly talked about a lot in the industry – indeed there were some pretty heated discussions about them at this meeting. And there are plenty of schemes to choose from, well over thirty in fact. But just how popular are they with the general public? Continue reading
Some formulations look a lot more complicated than they really are. Take this one from cult emollient Oliverum bath oil.
Isopropyl Myristate, Pinus (Pine Oil), Arachis hypogea (Groundnut oil), Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin Oil), Limonene, Linalool, Citrus limonum (Lemon oil), Eukalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus oil), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary oil), Citral, Litsea cubeba (Exotic Verbena), Fragrance, Lavendula augustifolia (Lavender oil), Juniperus communis (Juniper oil), Geraniol, Coumarin. Continue reading
I was delighted to get the chance to listen to cosmetic industry demigod Alban Muller at the recent annual meeting of the Scandinavian Society of Cosmetic Scientists. Almost as an aside he brought up the subject of the Cosmetic Valley – a sort of European version of Silicon Valley for cosmetic and perfume producers. It is centred on Paris and takes in a big slice of northern France. Paris, of course, has a long tradition of luxury goods. This goes back to the days of the Bourbons, whose excessive lifestyles gave rise to the phrase ‘Bourbon Excess’. Paris became the centre of the art of perfumery, and even when the royal and aristocratic patrons got their heads cut off enough demand remained to keep the show on the road. Continue reading
The biggest cause of complaints to cosmetic companies from consumers are allergic reactions. Anyone can develop an allergic reaction to anything at any time, so this is only to be expected. There are some ingredients that are more inclined to cause allergic reactions than others. Preservatives and fragrances are big culprits, which probably won’t surprise anyone. Colours are not, which is probably mainly because they are used at exceptionally low levels in most products. But as I say, anything can cause an allergy and they can develop at any time. So even if you have used a product for years you can still develop an allergy. When this happens most people assume that the product has changed, but it is just as likely to be your own immune system that has changed. Continue reading