What is the difference between a drug and a Cosmetic?
The simple answer is it depends on the claims you make for it. So if you sell a shampoo to treat dandruff, it is a cosmetic. If you say it cures psoriasis then that makes it a medicine. The more complicated answer is that if you present a product in such a way as it seems to be making medical claims then there is a good chance that the regulators will take notice and take action. This rule is pretty much a universal one. There are differences from market to market on just what will trigger off an enforcement, but the principle is always the same. Continue reading
We now live in a world where information is freely available in quantities much greater than we can possibly need. But information is not knowledge. Knowing facts isn’t much use without the knowledge of how to use them. A story I came across made this clear to me. A gentleman had bought a deodorant specifically because it had a big ‘alcohol free’ splash on the pack, and he reacts to alcohol. But in fact he still had very bad reaction to the product. When he looked at the ingredient list he noticed it contained benzyl alcohol. So, he concluded, the product was not alcohol free at all! Continue reading
I had imagined the UK’s much publicised microbead ban would be basically much like the legislation that is either already in force or well on the way around the world already. Despite all the recent evidence I still think of my fellow countryfolk as sensible pragmatists who don’t panic about things. So when I heard that UK parliament had brought in a ban on microbeads I wasn’t too bothered. Such a ban is already in force in a few countries and no doubt EU legislation will be along later. In any case everyone in the business knows the score and has already got rid of them or is well on the way to doing so. I’d assumed this was just a bit of window dressing by the government to be seen to be doing something to help the oceans given how popular the Blue Planet television series is proving to be. So I didn’t trouble to look up the details. I’d guessed it would be a ban on very small polythene beads and we’d have to switch to natural or biodegradable options, which is pretty much what we are already doing anyway. Continue reading
The rise of the Ordinary has stimulated the interest in cosmetic active ingredients. Or has the rise in interest in cosmetic active ingredients stimulated the rise of the Ordinary? It’s hard to say, and I dare say we’ll never know. But I now find myself reading beauty blogs where the bloggers are intensely interested in which of the ingredients are working and even how they actually work. Some are even going so far as to look at the research behind them. Continue reading
I was talking to someone who grew up on the Indian subcontinent and he asked me about something his mother and sister do. They make their own hair conditioner using yoghurt and egg. It’s quite an interesting idea. As a cosmetic chemist I can draw on raw materials from several hundred suppliers and use all sorts of equipment to develop and make highly effective hair treatments. But what if I had to work with only the materials that were to hand in the average country kitchen? Continue reading
I am not religious, but I was struck once by something a Catholic priest said on the radio. He was talking about a seminar they had just had on morality. “It’s easy to agree on principles. The arguments start when you get into the details.” Well I don’t know about morals, but that is certainly true when it comes to cosmetic claims. The principle is pretty simple. You are only allowed to sell your product on the basis of legal, decent and truthful declarations. No argument there. The problems start when you actually start making those claims. Continue reading
Glorious as it is, the Sun is the skin’s worse enemy.
There is no doubt about it. The biggest thing that makes your skin look old is sunlight. There is plenty of academic backup for this suggestion, but most of us can prove it simply by looking at ourselves. Areas of skin that are routinely exposed to light always look older than parts that don’t. In my case I have the habit of rolling my sleeves up in summer and the skin just below the join is rougher, darker and more hairy than above. Continue reading
People often assume that I spend most of my time in the lab formulating products. If only! There are people who can manage to do that but only in very big companies which have big teams. The reality for most formulators, and certainly for me, is that you spend the biggest part of your time troubleshooting. When I started working as a freelancer I did think I might be able to skip doing quite as much. But it turns out that there is more demand for trouble shooting than there is for straight product development.
Oh well. Continue reading
Calling your company ‘The Honest Company’, as Hollywood’s Jessica Alba has done, is asking for trouble. For a start it means you are claiming a very high moral position, so you have a long way to fall if you slip off. It also gets the backs up of people you compete with. If you are going big that you are honest it rather implies that the rest of us are a bunch of scoundrels. It isn’t a way to win friends. Continue reading