The Daily Mail has a big story today warning of the risks of counterfeit cosmetics. This is the paper that disgracefully talked up the MMR story until a substantial proportion of the population were failing to get their vaccinated against a very nasty and sometimes fatal disease. Their journalistic standards are so low that I would advise not so much taking what they say with a pinch of salt as ignoring it altogether. But unfortunately on this issue they almost have a point. Continue reading
Since the nineties the European Union’s cosmetic legislation has required that all cosmetic and personal care products placed on the market should be assessed for safety by a suitably qualified person. I am not sure what the exact thinking behind this was. As cosmetics had not been particularly unsafe before that, the intention must have been simply to reassure consumers. But as almost nobody outside the industry knows about the existence of these assessments, I have a feeling that the general public has not been particularly reassured. Given how much work and effort goes into them this really is a bit of a shame. So I thought I’d do a blog post to help spread this knowledge a little. Continue reading
A gentleman describing himself on Twitter as a celebrity dentist called Dr Gerry Curatola put out this alarming tweet on the 9th of December 2013. “There is enough #flouride in a standard tube of toothpaste that, if ingested, can be fatal to two small children.” This being twitter I have no idea if this really was tweeted by Dr Curatola. I am not even aware that there were any celebrity dentists, let alone exactly where Dr Curatola stands in the pantheon of tooth titans. I’ll leave the management of his reputation to him, and concentrate on the facts.
Anyway I saw the old tweet getting retweets in my timeline, so I thought I’d investigate.
So can eating toothpaste kill a child?
Big corporations are run for profits and are not too scrupulous about how they seek them. We have seen tobacco companies ignore the health of smokers. Big chemical companies have pushed lead into petrol. Mining companies leave the public to foot the bill for clearing up the mess their operations create. The list goes on. Cosmetic companies are no different ethically from any other type of corporation. As it happens there are almost no serious health effects arising from the cosmetic business. But this is not because their standards are higher – it is simply a fact that cosmetics are pretty safe. If that gives those of us involved in selling them any kind of moral high ground, well we throw it away pretty quickly by the outrageous claims we make for them. It is very hard to do anybody any harm via the skin – but it is equally hard to do much good either. Continue reading
I have written before about the California Toxic Cosmetic Ingredient Database of supposedly risky ingredients run by the state government in California. As part of piece of legislation called Proposition 65 the Californian government has set up a database which keeps track of cosmetic ingredients. The state has a long list of chemicals which have been linked in some way to health problems. The list is a long one and mainly consists of chemicals that have no relevance to the cosmetic industry. (It has other purposes so this isn’t surprising.) But a handful of them are used fairly widely, so chemists for cosmetic companies have to check the list against their company’s formulations and notify them on a database set up for the purpose. Continue reading
You can clean your hair with just about anything. But if you want a rich creamy foam to make it an enjoyable experience, there is one ingredient that you really must have. Any good formulator will tell you that for a decent shampoo you really need to have a fair slug of cocamide DEA in it. Nothing quite matches the performance this surfactant gives. Consequently it has been one of the major ingredients in mass market and specialist shampoos and washes for years. Continue reading
Another day, another scare story. This one suggests that ingredients in anti-ageing creams can affect the development of unborn children causing autism. Well, nothing is totally impossible. But this one seems a bit more far fetched than most. The research has found that brain development can be affected by high levels of lipids. This doesn’t seem particularly surprising to me. Brain development is a highly delicate process. Disrupting it shouldn’t be too difficult. And lipids are certainly used in anti-ageing creams. So should we start to worry? Let’s have a look at what lipids are first. Continue reading
Reading Twitter first thing in the morning is not a great idea. Your blood sugar level is low and you are quite likely to find it annoying. For example this morning I was confronted with a set of tweets promoting detox products and programmes. My response was to tweet that I had just investigated the detox properties of eating a biscuit. I had eaten a biscuit and felt better, and so concluded that biscuits are valuable form of detox therapy. (Note for American readers – in the UK a biscuit is the name for what you call a cookie.) Continue reading
I wrote recently about hypoallergenic products and and pointed out that one of the few ingredients that we have any data on the incidence of allergic reactions is lanolin. This isn’t a coincidence. Lanolin was really the original cosmetic ingredient scare story. Let’s have a quick look at how it happened. Continue reading
Coffee is the bloggers greatest friend, though being English I personally take tea. Both have the same effect, they are both good caffeine sources which is great for the late nights you have to spend looking for spelling errors and desperately trying to write a post that makes sense at least to yourself. The elusive reader has little idea of the pain and suffering that has gone into the blog that they quickly scan over for a few seconds before leaving in search something more interesting.