I reviewed the Ordinary as a brand back in early 2017 when they were not that well known. I quite liked the idea, but wasn’t sure it would fly. Well that shows how much I know, because since then they have created quite a stir. I think they have also been generating pretty good sales, in so far as you can tell these things. But they have certainly been generating a lot of attention. One reason for this is the, how can I put it, highly personal social media profile of the founder. But I think the much bigger reason is that they have developed a very distinctive offering which isn’t quite like anything else out there. I thought it would be fun to have a look in detail at one of their products. Continue reading
There is an article I have seen posted on Facebook a couple of times that highlights the health risks of synthetic fragrance ingredients. I won’t link to it, but if I am seeing it there is a good chance you will have seen it too. The thesis it proposes is that synthetic chemicals in fragrances are toxic and might be dangerous to people who inhale them in public places, even if they aren’t actually wearing the fragrance themselves. Continue reading
Fashions come and go in the cosmetics and personal care world, and everyone is keen to be on the latest trend as soon as possible. The latest buzzy thing seems to be Cannabidiol or CBD. This has an interesting background, being a derivative of hemp which is also the source of cannabis – which has been a popular if illegal recreational pharmaceutical since the sixties. So CBD comes with ready made notoriety. But it is currently being sold not as a gateway into a counter culture, or even as an aid to relaxation, but as a substance with health benefits. Continue reading
A question from Emma
I started reading your blog a few months ago, and find it a fascinating and useful resource. I am in the process of setting up a small business selling soaps and bath products that I make myself by hand. I started this as a hobby about 4 years ago, but found that I loved the process and the huge learning curve, and wanted to devote more and more time to it…
I am very keen to learn more about basic chemistry, but I have no idea where to start as I have no science background (if you were arty in my day, the sciences were another world!). If you are able to suggest any reading or learning material to get me started I would be very grateful.
Some things are impossible to describe. Smell for example. But fragrance is a huge multinational business worth billions. So with so much at stake it is necessary to try. There have been various schemes put forward over the years but they all rely on the same basic idea. Continue reading
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