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
This feels like the end of a chapter.
December 21, 2016
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued draft guidance recommending a limit of no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of lead as an impurity in cosmetic lip products (such as lipsticks, lip glosses, and lip liners) and externally applied cosmetics (such as eye shadows, blushes, compact powders, shampoos, and body lotions).
So now at last we have the issue of lead in lipstick settled. This will now become a de facto world standard. Nobody wants to make stuff that is illegal in the US even if they don’t plan to sell in the US. And I imagine that the EU will quietly add this requirement to the EU legislation at some point anyway. Continue reading
There are an interesting couple of points in the comments thread on my blog post asking for MI not to become a scare story, from Suzanne. She has drawn my attention to a paper from 2012 that details developmental problems in tadpoles exposed to MI. She concludes from this that MI is potentially unsafe for humans as well and asks what the liability is for companies that continue to use it now that this risk has been identified. Continue reading
Doctors in arms race with antibiotic resistant superbugs
As I write this, this news isn’t being widely reported. A bacteria has been found in the United States that is resistant to the last antibiotic left in the arsenal. There is now no longer any antibiotic available that bacteria can’t survive. This is certainly bad news – though not unexpected bad news. Resistance to antibiotics has been a problem since antibiotics came into use. The more widely antibiotics are used, the bigger the problem becomes. While this is an unpleasant milestone to pass, it doesn’t actually mean that the problem is suddenly bigger than it was. The laws of natural selection are hard to dodge, and bacteria have many tricks up their sleeves to defend themselves. Continue reading
I get a steady stream of enquiries from journalists. Their questions are usually fairly similar. They ask about the safety of cosmetics, and lose interest quite rapidly when I tell them that they are in fact safe. “Stuff you’ve never worried about before is still nothing to worry about” is not really the makings of a great headline. But I did get one that was a bit more interesting than most the other day. Who does the research on cosmetic safety? Obviously, there might be a story if all the research on cosmetic ingredients is carried out by cosmetic companies, or paid for by them, then maybe something sinister is being hidden. Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy? Continue reading
Another blow for Johnson and Johnson: an American jury has awarded a big talc payout to one of its customers. I haven’t looked at the details yet, but on the face of it this is another case of sentiment trumping science. Nobody likes big corporations and we are all only too willing to believe the worse about them. So when you are told that they are poisoning the public and lying to cover it up, you tend to sympathise with the victims. Continue reading
How Big Is The Risk Of Cancer From Using Talc?
How much does using talc increases your risk of developing Ovarian Cancer? Talc is pretty widely used, so if true this is a pretty big story and also rather bad news. It is such handy and useful stuff it would be a great shame if we had to stop using it and of course it would also be bad if people are contracting cancer who otherwise would not. The only people who would be pleased would be the people behind the campaign for safe cosmetics. They have been going since 2002 and have yet to find any unsafe cosmetic product. Continue reading
I am rather stunned by this news story. Johnson and Johnson has been ordered to pay damages to a woman who claims her ovarian cancer was caused by using the firm’s talcum powder. First off, let’s get the science out of the way. The exact cause of any individual case of cancer simply cannot be determined with the current state of scientific knowledge. Even if there was a link between talc and cancer, it would not be possible to say that this woman was actually killed by it. The evidence that talc causes cancer is in any case not particularly convincing even by the standards of scare stories in general. So when the jury decided that Johnson and Johnson were responsible, they were to say the least being very original in their thinking. Continue reading
My good friend Dene Godfrey wrote an article for personal care truth denouncing the practice of free from the claims on cosmetics. This is very much the kind of thing Dene does, and he did it very well. Normally he beats all oppostion into instant submission, but this time there was a riposte to it from a blog called Skin Matters, which although I wouldn’t call them great friends is a blog I read from time to time and generally appreciate. This response was also very well-written and made some good points. To sum up the debate, Dene asserted that free from claims were not based on scientific evidence and had the effect of alarming consumers about non-existent risks. Skin Matters replied by saying that some people have genuine problems, and there was a need for products to address this. In fact Skin Matters are so convinced of the general goodness of free from claims that they have instigated an award for free from products. Continue reading
I subscribe to the FDA’s mailing list where they detail problems with products. There is usually something going wrong somewhere so alerts come through most days, and getting several on the same day is not unusual. It is pretty rare for cosmetics to trigger off the alarm bells. I am sure that people in the cosmetic business are just as error prone as those in any other walk of life, but it just happens that by the standards of consumer products cosmetics are pretty safe. Nobody knowingly uses hazardous ingredients in cosmetics – there is simply no reason to do so. And the skin is a pretty good barrier anyway so you would be unlikely to come to any harm in the unlikely event of anything accidentally ending up in a cosmetic anyway. Continue reading