If you are over 40 and live in the UK there is a very good chance that I have helped increase your chance of getting skin cancer. My first job in the cosmetics industry, back in the early eighties, was formulating bars of soap. In those days it was normal to put a small amount of formaldehyde into soap bars as a preservative. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. These bars were on the shelves of most of the big supermarkets at the time.
Looking back on it, my reaction is “what were we thinking?”. But the past is a different country where they do things differently. In the days when smokers were in a clear majority, all petrol contained lead and some buildings were still coated with accretions of soot going back to the Victorian era a bit of formaldehyde in your soap probably didn’t make a lot of difference.
These thoughts were triggered by hearing that Yves Rocher is launching a new range – Culture Bio – in October. In France the term used for organic is bio-cosmetics. I think that this sounds a bit more scientific than organic, but the basic idea isn’t that different.
It seems that everyone in the skin care business is going organic these days. When you are watching the industry closely like I do it is easy to get cynical about this sort of thing, which is why I have to remind myself that it wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t bat an eyelid about putting formaldehyde in soap. It is good to see top companies taking the consumer’s desire for safe and natural cosmetics seriously.
Yves Rocher are also planning a new top-of-the-range anti-ageing care product at the same time. This is to be called Jour Nouveau (New Day). They must see organic products as an add-on to their range rather than a road to Damascus conversion away from their old way of doing things. This makes commercial sense as organic beauty products are only 2% of the market in France, though with Yves Rocher weighing in this is likely to grow. It will be interesting to see which of their two offerings they put most promotion behind this autumn. It will also be interesting to see how well they do.
I will do a review when they come out.