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Cosmetic Claims Substantiation – Case Study 01

Formulating is only one of the responsibilities of a cosmetic chemist. An equally challenging task is to come up with claims and tests that will support the claims that your marketing people want to make. Since this is a pretty specific task, it would be helpful to go through a variety of products and figure out how they support the claims they make.

Cosmetic Claim Analysis

When analyzing claims you’ll want to follow a process. Here is a simple procedure that I’ll use and you can too.

Step 1 – Get the label copy and ingredient list
Step 2 – Figure out what claims need to be supported
Step 3 - Figure out how they might be supported

Let’s start with something easy, shampoo.

Here is a shampoo from Liquid Keratin

Liquid Keratin Professional Healthy Hair De-Frizz Shampoo

Cosmetic Label Copy

I love websites like Drugstore.com, Beauty.com, and Ulta.com. They almost always have a list of ingredients and the claims that label copy from the bottles. Here is the copy for this product.

Liquid Keratinâ„¢ Infusing Healthy Hair De-Frizz Shampoo gently cleans hair while drenching it with keratin proteins for improved strength, shine and manageability.

Moisturizes as it protects hair from sun damage, leaving even frizzy hair silky smooth. Developed for all hair types and suitable for natural or color treated hair. All Liquid Keratinâ„¢ aftercare products help prolong and improve the results of Liquid Keratinâ„¢ 30-day Straight Smooth Strong & Long Treatment.

All aftercare products are paraben and sodium chloride free.

And for good measure, the ingredient list for Liquid Keratin shampoo

Water, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Cocoamidopropyl Betaine, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, PEG 150 Distearate, Keratin, Panthanol, Polyquaternium-10, Cetrimonium Chloride, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Fragrance, Polysilicone 15, Disodium EDTA, Methyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Methylisothiazolinone

Cosmetic claims

Now that we’ve got the copy, let’s list the claims.

1. Liquid Keratin Infusing Healthy Hair De-Frizz Shampoo
2. …gently cleans hair
3. …drenching it (hair) with keratin proteins
4. …for improved strength, shine and manageability
5. Moisturizes
6. …protects hair from sun damage
7. …leaving even frizzy hair silky smooth
8. Developed for all hair types & suitable for natural or color treated hair.
9. …help prolong and improve the results of Liquid Keratin Strong and Long Treatment
10. …paraben and sodium chloride free

You see that I had to pick apart some of the sentences because there are multiple claims being made in a single sentence.

Ok, next step, how might they support the claims.

Supporting cosmetic claims

These are all relatively easy claims to support because they don’t make any incredible claims. They are all fairly standard.

1. This is just an identification of the product. It’s required and the fact that it is what it says it is is enough.

2. Since this is a shampoo that contains surfactants, it will clean the hair. “Gently” is a relative term on some undefined scale so it can be used for any personal care product. Yes, it’s “gently” cleansing compared to hydrochloric acid.

3. This claim is supported by having keratin proteins in the formula. And indeed they do…Keratin right there on the ingredient list.

4. This is a subtle claim where the consumer might think that the keratin is going to improve strength, shine, and manageability but that is not exactly what the claim says. It says that the shampoo cleans…for improved strength, shine and manageability. You can support these claims for any shampoo using standard tests like the Diastron for strength, and trained panalists for shine & manageability. In truth, these claims for shampoos are so ubiquitous people often just skip doing the supporting tests.

5. Making a moisturizing claim from a shampoo is as easy as just including some moisturizer in your formula. They could point to any number of ingredients but the Polyquaternium-10 would support it. This ingredient is a conditioning polymer that will moisturize hair.

6. Here’s a claim which I’m hard pressed to figure out how they support. Typically, you would put some kind of sunscreen in the formula and just say that is what is providing the protection, but I don’t see one in their list. How they do it is a mystery to me.

7. Pretty much any conditioning shampoo is going to smooth out frizzy hair. They don’t quantify the term “smooth” so it’s easy to support. The addition of the Polyquat-10 will definitely help.

8. This claim is simple to support because it refers to what the company was thinking when they created the product. No extra support is required.

9. This claim just means that it works with one of their other products. Again it is supported in the same way that the previous one is. The support is their intention.

10. And this “free from” claim is easy enough to support. They don’t add those ingredients and they are not listed on the ingredient list. Support is simple.

Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proof

Going through the claims of a competitive product is a helpful exercise that will build up your ability to create and support your own claims. This particular product did not have any extraodrinary claims so it wasn’t too hard to support everything they wanted to say.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • David 06/15/2012, 9:37 am

    Hi Perry!
    Thanks again for this site.
    I guess this link explains the “mysterious” claim number 6… :)
    http://www.personalcaremagazine.com/Print.aspx?Story=2641

    Cheers,

    David

    • Perry 06/15/2012, 10:08 am

      Yep David, looks like you figured it out. Interesting.

  • Ellesey 06/14/2012, 12:41 pm

    I believe substantiation of the cosmetics claim is really important. I can imagine that companies are always struggling between using words, number or percentages when it comes to promote a product. How is this choice made? I can understand that it is sufficient for some claims to be supported only by the ingredients list but i believe that claims such as shinier, strength provider are more difficult. How to chose between a consumer or panel testing and actual objective measurements? What is prefered? How do the cosmetic companies make a choice there?
    I find this topic really interesting and i really would like to more about it.

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