Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Cosmetic Industry An open letter to cosmetic chemists

  • Chemist77

    January 27, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    @Perry the article is a mockery of science, further a perfect situation to sue and bare them naked for such blatant lies and audacity. 

  • belassi

    January 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    I just rang them to complain but all I could do was leave a message. I suggest that more of us call them!

  • Microformulation

    January 27, 2017 at 9:13 pm

    I saw this article come up in a Facebook group about a month or so, My response was identical to yours. However, I have to say that I see these crap articles and Marketing several times a week. It is simply too pervasive to try and correct aggressively. There exists a certain sector of the market that is simply invested into the “Naturalistic Fallacy” and builds their product line around this foundation. On the bright side, I believe in the big picture (when you look at the Cosmetic Market as a whole), it is a vocal minority and for the most part it’s targeted audience is getting more sophisticated and less gullible.

  • belassi

    January 27, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I just received a mail and have sent them this:

    Thanks for your quick response. My comments are below, noted in black.



    Legal News Reporter

    Published: December 22, 2016


    Health-conscious people generally watch what they put in their bodies,
    but very few people pay attention to what they put on their bodies—even though
    cosmetic formulas may contain more harmful chemicals than are in many foods.

    1. The FDA regulates the industry. There are no “harmful chemicals” in
    cosmetic products that comply with FDA regulations.


    So said William Marthaler, formulating cosmetic chemist and founder of
    Akron’s Garden Art Innovations, developer of Bodisafe cosmetics.


    Most cosmetic formulas are composed of at least 30 chemicals, many of
    which are dangerous, said Marthaler, and most are half water as well, which is
    a waste of consumer money, he said.

    2. “most” – please give references to qualify this. It’s merely an opinion
    and in my opinion, incorrect.

    3. Water is a necessary component in cosmetic products other than the
    few that are of the anhydrous type. Shampoo for instance. It is not a “waste”
    of consumer money any more than is the presence of water in, say, orange juice,
    or Coca-Cola.


    All Bodisafe products are composed of only shea butter, jojoba oil and
    castor oil, in different formulations, and natural color.

    4. Most consumers with nut allergy will be allergic to Bodisafe products
    as a result (shea butter is a nut product). Colours are closely regulated by
    the FDA and declaring a colour “natural” neither makes it safe nor acceptable.
    EG carmine is a pink or red natural colour that comes from crushed beetles.


    “We are working to get down to two ingredients,” said Marthaler.


    The company sells foundation, concealer, finishing powder, lip and cheek
    color, eye and brow color and night cream. The latter was their first product,
    said Marthaler, and took about 150 tries to get right.


    “The average woman puts 350 chemicals on her body in a day,” said
    Marthaler. “About 60 percent of those chemicals cross the skin and get into the
    body.” Some of those have proven harmful effects, including carcinogenic
    properties, he said.

    5. 350 ‘chemicals’? WATER is a chemical. We are made of chemicals. This
    is scaremongering and again, no proof (reference) is given. Secondly there is
    no proof or reference for the 60% claim. And carcinogenic ingredients are
    specifically forbidden by the FDA, so that claim is nonsense.


    Beyond that, he said, are any number of hidden problems. For instance, a
    person may have a gluten-free diet, but may unknowingly be putting gluten into
    her system through cosmetic applications, he said.

    6. Please give examples of cosmetics that contain gluten! I have never
    seen any. Also, please cite evidence that gluten can penetrate the skin. It


    Marthaler and his partners have been working on creating safe,
    low-impact cosmetics in their space at the Akron Global Business Accelerator
    since 2011, and have reduced the number of ingredients in their makeup to
    three, plus color, he said.

    7. And no preservative? Cosmetics without preservatives are unsafe.


    This has resulted in Bodisafe and its predecessor line, GlamNatural, to
    be the first of cosmetics to be certified by the Natural Products Association

    8. There is no agreed definition for “natural”. Coal is “natural”.
    Gasoline is “natural”.  Would you want
    these in cosmetics?


    Both Marthaler and his primary business partner and funder took up the
    cause of natural cosmetics because of personal negative experience. Marthaler
    had a severe reaction to some chemicals early in his chemistry career, forcing
    him to change the emphasis of his chemistry to something “safe”—cosmetics, he


    “But when I started to see how many dangerous chemicals—parabens,
    preservatives, dry cleaning fluid, carcinogens, and more—were in cosmetics, I
    decided to try to develop something safer,” he said.

    9. Parabens is considered safe by both the FDA and European regulators. Mr
    Mathaler’s opinion is spurious. Preservatives are vital to consumer safety. See
    note (5) and (7)

    His partner, Robert Dorman, saw his wife pass away from cancer and was
    very enthusiastic about the project from the beginning, said Marthaler.

    10. What has his wife passing away from cancer got to do with designing
    cosmetics? Is he accusing the industry of causing the cancer? That’s his
    implication and again, it is scaremongering.


    Although a direct cause is impossible to determine, Marthaler said that
    nearly 90 percent of cancerous breast tumors contain one or another chemical
    that can be found in most cosmetic formulations. Research in this area is
    ongoing, he said, and “the literature is mounting,” he said.

    11. 100% of tumours contain water, perhaps we should ban water?


    I strongly suggest that you consult actual industry experts and the FDA
    prior to publishing more of this kind of nonsense. Please note I have no
    interest in Bodisafe nor am I a competitor since my personal care company does
    not market or sell in the USA. I am writing as a cosmetic chemist who is very
    concerned at the spread of false consumer “advice”.

  • OldPerry

    January 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    @Chemist77  - I don’t think suing them is the right approach. I just wish chemists had more respect for the truth and their position in the world. I fully expect marketing folks to pass off nonsense information. I just expect more from chemists.

    @Microformulation - Yes, I believe you are right. At the end of the day consumers want products that work. If the faux natural stuff doesn’t work as well as the standard stuff, consumers won’t keep buying it.

    @Belassi - You’ll have to let us know if there was a response.

  • belassi

    January 28, 2017 at 2:12 am

    I will keep you informed. No doubt they will have asked the guy for a response to my points.

  • belassi

    January 30, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Well I had a response from the people who published it. They merely said that their writer wrote down what they’d received from Bodisafe, and suggested that I complain directly to Bodisafe! Obviously I am not going to bother with that. Waste of time. But I do believe we should continue to challenge media that publishes such nonsense.

  • OldPerry

    February 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

    I was just alerted that the company who inspired this post responded.  Thanks @Microformulation

    Here’s their response.

    This can’t possibly have been written by someone who cares about science.  

    What scientist would write “…some experts believe that up to 60% of cosmetic ingredients are absorbed by the skin to some extent.” ?

    And referencing a study by the EWG?

    There is NO PROOF that their products are safer. Their entire brand story is based on something that just isn’t proven. Fearmongering at its worst.

  • Microformulation

    February 10, 2017 at 1:10 am

    @PerryI was equally put off by their letter. It was not written from an empirical view of a Scientist and simply rehashed some of the very same fear-based marketing that we have all seen far too many times in the last 10 years or so.

  • OldPerry

    February 10, 2017 at 1:23 am

    @Microformulation - Their letter prompted me to go look at their website.  What a complete wreck.  It’s just filled with fear-based marketing nonsense. And worse, they pride themselves on their mission to “educate” (read misinform) the public.

  • Microformulation

    February 10, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Working as a Consultant in the start-up “fringe” of the Cosmetic Industry has opened my eyes to these companies that foolishly try and use fear: to sell their products. Firstly, I submit that since their proposed market is quite vocal in Social media, they overestimate the effectiveness of a chemophobia based marketing campaign. Once they get to a larger Market they will find that this fear-based sales strategy is outdated and the Market as a whole has evolved. The clients I am working with that penetrate into the larger markets are finding that rather than taking a negative fear-based stance, it is more effective to be transparent and to communicate a more positive message of sustainability and adopt an LOHAS approach. As a Marketer once told me recently, you wouldn’t brag about your kids by saying “at least they are better than the neighbor’s miscreants” but you would use positive talking points. This is no different in the Cosmetic Market.
    That said, I hope they will realize the limitations of their flawed campaign.

  • Bill_Toge

    February 10, 2017 at 7:58 am

    @Perry given how much nonsense and hand-waving there is in that response, you’d think it was written by a politician!

  • OldPerry

    February 10, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    @Bill_Toge - exactly.

  • gmicca

    February 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I shared the “open letter” to my FB account. Hopefully some of my colleagues notice it. I am also in a difficult situation as I work in a RM distribution company. I share the same sentiments. The sales team have marketing strategies which I am strongly against with but I can’t do anything about it since I’m basically in the rank & file position. Although I’ve voiced out my opinions many times. I will take note of the do’s and don’ts I’ve learned from this post. Thank you very much!

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