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
I was glad I made the time last summer to visit the National Gallery’s exhibition of the pigments artists have used over the years. It was a fascinating business, and it is a bit sobering to remember just how much work the great masters of painting had to do before they even got to the stage of getting to the actual painting. As a cosmetic scientist it was also interesting to see just how much overlap there was between what artists and cosmeticians used, and indeed still do. It was also interesting to note that changes in the availability of raw materials and the technology for processing them have had a big influence on what could be done, another common thread that applies to both art and cosmetics. Continue reading
Bath bombs have come a long way. The chemistry behind them is simple enough. Citric acid and sodium bicarbonate react together to release carbon dioxide which makes it fizz when you add them to a bath. A simple if unsophisticated pleasure. I don’t know who first thought of the idea but I first became aware of them back in the eighties. They were a craft thing mainly then, turning up at village fêtes and the like. They are still a mainstay of the people who like making their own fun – and very imaginative a lot of them are. Continue reading
As a keen environmentalist I often find myself face palming when a cosmetic company picks up on a green issue. They often home in on things that aren’t particularly relevant and propose solutions that are questionable. But I think the recent interest in the risks posed by microbeads is one where there is a real problem. Continue reading
Lavender farmers are worried that under new legislation products containing lavender oil will have to bear a black and red warning symbol. They will also have to bear the warning ‘fatal if swallowed’. You can see why this might put people off. Continue reading
Have you ever wondered what exactly a cosmetic is? Most people don’t give it a second thought. And why should they? But the people who drafted the EU’s Cosmetic Regulations had to be a bit more systematic and before they started coming up with the regulations they drew up a list of the thirty categories of cosmetic product which they covered. Being a bit of an imp I instantly tried to think of any they had left out. I couldn’t, but I wondered if any of the shiny, happy and reproductively successful people who read this blog could think of any.
One of the most surprising things about blogging is how much you learn. A good example arrived in my inbox yesterday. I have just started a newsletter for people with sensitive skin, largely because I get a lot of people getting in touch looking for information about it, and in particular sensitivity to methylisothiazolinone or MI. This is of course of no interest at all to the 99.9% people who don’t have a problem with it, so I thought a newsletter was a good way of giving them the information they want without devoting too many blog posts to it. But a list member drew my attention to something simply too interesting not to share it. Continue reading
I get a lot of traffic to this blog from people interested in methylisothiazolinone, or as it is now known MI. For people who haven’t been following the story, here’s a quick recap. MI has been used for about 40 years in combination with a closely related chemical called methylchloroisothiazolinone. I’ll call that MCI. The combination works extremely well at very low levels. Its Achilles Heel is that it causes a lot of allergic reactions when used at higher levels. This took formulators a while to work out when it was first introduced. But the level was scaled down and the reactions went down. Continue reading
The dudes at the Beauty Brains tweeted a link to an article in the Huffington Post in which the American cosmetic industry was accused of acting in an untrustworthy manner over the issue of reforms to the cosmetic industry. What is going on?
“There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term “hypoallergenic.” The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean. Manufacturers of cosmetics labeled as hypoallergenic are not required to submit substantiation of their hypoallergenicity claims to FDA.
The term “hypoallergenic” may have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products to consumers on a retail basis, but dermatologists say it has very little meaning.”
So said the American Food and Drug Administration in 2000 on the subject of hypoallergenic products. Continue reading