Article by: Perry Romanowski

As a chemist, little bothers me in the world of cosmetic claims than the claim “chemical free.”


Ok, I’ve gotten that out of my system.

The reason that this is bothering me today is that I saw on my Twitter feed an article that says this company McNabb Nutraceuticals was being investigated by the NAD. The NAD is the National Advertising Division which is a part of the Better Business Bureau. They are responsible for telling cosmetic companies whether their claims are misleading or not.

It turns out that there were four claims at issue with McNabb’s sunscreen products.

– “Most sunblocks use man-made chemicals and preservatives; That’s why I use Sunology.”
– “Sunology is different. It uses only natural ingredients to block the sun’s harmful UV rays.”
– “Sunology is safe for me too. It contains a moisturizer that helps prevent wrinkles and keeps my skin soft.”
– “Sunblock for skin that prefers no chemicals. Sunology. Naturally.”

Of these, the NAD disallowed only the claim about the product being a moisturizer. Specifically, the NAD determined that…

…the express and implied claims that Sunology is a natural or chemical-free sunscreen — coupled with the clear disclaimer — were supported.

How could they possibly support being a “chemical-free” sunscreen!!??

Hey NAD, everything is a chemical!

Rant over.



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    What we now as formulators need from our suppliers, is a “positive list” of which chemicals are free from chemicals.

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    Must . Not. Start. To. Bite….
    If its any consolation the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK have history for this sort of thinking. Its frustrating, however, unlike in the past they are now starting to take notice of some more of the woo-tastic charlatans who promote magic miracle cures.

    It may be a long haul.

    That said, having had to get clearance for some pretty minor claims for TV advertising, as a responsible vendor I had to go through many hoops. All I want to see is a level playing field where we can advertise products honestly with verifiable claims. That way the consumer has proper choice of what claims they want to buy. Most, however, will probably just plump for the product they like the smell and texture of

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      It was my experience that TV claims were much more difficult to substantiate (needed more testing) than print or bottle claims.

      I guess the ultimate solution would be to have an educated public who doesn’t fall for such idiotic claims. I don’t have a lot of hope for that however.

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    So the only claim that was true was disallowed? Must have good lawyers.

    If TiO2 and ZnO are now natural sunscreens, then mineral oil is natural too there’s certainly less chemical processing to get the finished product…

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      Indeed. It is highly unlikely they are using TiO2 that they mined directly from the Earth.

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      I always wander how these “nature”-lovers can consider TiO2 and ZnO natural oraz organic (sic!) and but not mineral oil, which is actually organic.
      And how they can reject the fact that these oxides are products of highly envirnomental unfriendly mining industry. Not only mining Ti and Zn ores is really bad for environment – because of low concentration of ore in host rocks, lots of rocks need to be mined and processed to extract desirable minerals, but also producing oxide from ore minerals isn’t particularly ecofriendly.

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        You can’t let logic and a well-reasoned conclusion get in the way of fearmongering.

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