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Top Ten Cosmetic Urban Legends

The great thing about the Internet is that you can learn almost anything that you want to know about. Often, you can get the information for free. But the downside to the Internet is that it is so easy to publish that cosmetic-urban-legend

Anyone can write anything about anything

Most people have no way of knowing whether something is true or not. This is especially true when it comes to cosmetics and the chemicals that are used in them. Fortunately, there are websites like Snopes and The Beauty Brains to bust the myths behind cosmetics. But I thought it would be amusing to list some of the top 10 myths about beauty products that I could find. Feel free to add your own…

Top cosmetic myths and urban legends

1. J&J lost their license to sell cosmetics. – Not really. They do have a manufacturing plant in India that was banned from making cosmetics but J&J is still free to sell cosmetics.

2. Bat guano is used to make mascara – No, it’s not. People confuse the colorant guanine (derived from fish scales)

3. Lead in lipstick will cause cancer – No, it won’t. This is such a wide-spread myth that the FDA has weighed in with a complete analysis. The amount of lead in lipstick is not harmful.

4. The average woman ingests over 6 pounds of lipstick in a lifetime. No, she doesn’t. Do the math, it does not add up. We analyze this thoroughly in our new book “It’s OK to have Lead in Lipstick.”

5. Sodium lauryl sulfate in shampoo will cause cancer. No, it won’t. It is an irritant and should be limited to rinse-off products, but it will not cause cancer.

6. Novocaine makes baby shampoo tear free. No, it doesn’t. The use of mild surfactants and sometimes benzyl alcohol are what makes baby shampoo tear free.

7. Waterproof sunscreen will cause blindness. No, it won’t. Cosmetics are safety tested and it is easily demonstrated that waterproof sunscreens don’t cause blindness. Imagine how many blind people there would be if it did.

8. Propylene glycol in cosmetics will cause cancer. No, it won’t.

9. Cosmetics are not regulated in the US. Yes, they are. The FDA regulates cosmetics.

10. Toothpaste strips mean something about toxicity. No, they don’t. Those are simply artifacts of the manufacturing procedure and have nothing to do with what’s inside a toothpaste.

It’s hard to be a cosmetic chemist these days as the Internet makes passing myths and BS so easy and many people in the world lack the critical thinking skills to sniff out the BS from reality. But I do find these things interesting as they are almost always rooted in some fact or idea that people got a bit wrong.

If you learn of others, please send them along.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Pedro 09/10/2013, 7:43 pm

    In Brazil: salt (sodium chloride) is bad for the hair. It’s so strong here that companies like P & G and Unilever had to launch special shampoo versions to Brazil: Pantene and Dove without sodium chloride.

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