Article by: Perry Romanowski

I saw this article in the NYT about a cosmetic brand who is advertising themselves as “carcinogen free”. According to the founder of Bio-Spectra, their line of body care products called Attitude is made without any carcinogens.

Of course, he acknowledges that there is no way of knowing that some of the ingredients they use won’t be considered carcinogens in the future.

Advertising like this really bugs me for a few reasons.

1. Not safer

The biggest problem with the way this product is advertised is that they make the implicit claim that traditional cosmetic products are less safe than their products. This is nonsense. If a person used Attitude products for their entire life they would not be measurably safer than someone who used products from P&G, Unilever or L’Oreal. It’s just not true.

2. They don’t know

Another problem is that while they claim to be carcinogen free, they do not know whether that is true or not. How thorough do they analyze the ingredients they use? Do they remove all the lead from the water that they use? Not likely. So they’re claim is based on ignorance. This is just wrong.

3. They are not better

Finally, their products do not offer consumers something better. If the only thing that sets your product apart is the fact that you don’t use surfactants that may contain residual levels of 1,4 Dioxane, you don’t have a product that consumers need.

Personally, I would like to see this company redo their marketing and actually create products that give some useful benefit to consumers. Making is carcinogen free without knowing whether the claim is true or not is just awful.


  1. Avatar
    Bartholomew Stephen

    Please i want to know the chemical reactions that takes place during cosmetics formulations and the chemical equations.
    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Perry Romanowski

      This question is much too broad to be answered.

  2. Avatar
    Tony Maleedy

    An excellent response, Perry! Not too good when the best they can say about their products is that they “won’t kill you!”

  3. Avatar

    This is such a great post! I’m new to your blog and I love it already! All the false claims really bug me but I’m pretty sure that many consumers fall for these claims.

    1. Avatar

      Thanks Janessa! Welcome to Chemists Corner.

  4. Avatar

    Hi Perry, great point! Is such a claim not breaking any laws? I mean it cannot be proven right nor wrong…

    1. Avatar

      I’m not a lawyer so I don’t really know but most likely they are operating in a grey area which allows to make the claim even if it could be shown to be untrue. Most likely they are a small company and not selling an unsafe product so the government agencies aren’t going to go after them.

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