Cosmetic Science Talk

Cosmetic Science discussion forum. For people who want for formulate cosmetics and get advice from other formulators around the world.
*** Click on one of the three Forum categories below to start a new discussion ***

Home Cosmetic Science Talk Cosmetic Industry Are the days of “natural” cosmetics coming to an end?

  • grapefruit22

    Member
    July 14, 2022 at 8:50 am

    Perry said:

    Has there ever been a chemical that developed a bad reputation but was then rehabilitated? I can’t think of any examples.

    I have a theory that formaldehyde releasers will come back into favor. Because most consumers do not know exactly what ingredients belong to this group and are not able to indicate them in the composition, unlike parabens.

    Sometimes I wondered why companies that use parabens do not conduct information campaigns in which they would explain that their products are safe. But marketing based on the fact that you have to convince people that your products don’t cause cancer and people don’t have to worry about it seems rather off-putting.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 14, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    It’s only asymmetric warfare if one side does not even put up a fight. “Companies managements - LOreal, P&G, Estee, etc. were never interested to the point of mounting a public defense.”

    This is a typical entrenched industry response to an emerging threat: (1) dimiss the threat as not credible, nothing to worry about; (2) when the threat gains some traction, issue tepid press releases that no one reads; (3) as the threat gains momentum, demonize the threat; (4) Bitch and moan the loss

    Over the past year, the ramp-up against Phenoxyethanol has been increasing.

  • OldPerry

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 14, 2022 at 2:46 pm

    I just don’t think it’s a winnable fight. When one side is willing to exaggerate and lie (e.g saying some ingredient causes cancer or some other health issue), how do you fight that? 

    How would you (or industry) respond to a question like this…

    “Why are you putting baby poison in your products?”

    You might try “we’re not doing that” and then they point to the FDA report that says a product with phenoxyethanol should be avoided because of safety reasons.

    Then you try to explain that it’s true there can be some problems with some things at a specific route and level of exposure but your products are safe.

    And your opponents just scream “baby killer!”

    And your industry competitors come out with the “nipple cream without the baby killing ingredient.”

    You can’t win. 

  • grapefruit22

    Member
    July 14, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    PhilGeis said:

     Contamination and they sue each other.

    And who won in these lawsuits?

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 14, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    @Perry

    Fair point, and yes you are correct.

    But, look at the FDA response.  Nowhere does it mention that Phenoxyethanol is not recommended to be included in products for children under 3 years of age, particularly in a nipple cream the presents an opportunity for oral ingrestion by infants.  That product should never have been on the market.

    It also does not say anything about Phenoxyethanol and Chlorspenesin being safe ingredients for use in numerous other personal care products.

    The messaging is correct as it relates to nipple creams, but is totally botched in that it makes no mention of the safety of Phenoxyethanol and Chlorspenesin in products for consumers aged 3 and up. 

  • Stanley

    Member
    July 14, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    Moving further back in the food chain…..

    What about the actual CM or company that manufactured these products?  Where were the PD/chemists and what were they advice to formulate?  Were the founders informed these were questionable ingredients and they still carried on?  I am still reading the lawsuit -currently on page 27- everything is about the marketing/advertising.  There are some RM’s that could be up for debate as being natural or synthetic to some folks.  I have had these discussion with colleagues.  

    Public perception/Marketing Department perception on what is natural, clean beauty any other new trend is very subjectable. 

    In the article it referenced the US Department of agriculture Draft Guidance Decision Tree for classification of materials.  Was this guide implemented?

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 12:13 am

    Big cosmetics companies are run by managers from advertising/marketing.  They want to convert to the growing natural market. 
    Until this year (see my comment above) preservatives were a sidelight of big chemical companies - specialty chemical divisions.  These are low volume, high-priced commodities chemicals - all out of patent

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 15, 2022 at 12:52 am

    @Stanley:

    The marketing language used and claims made are the responsibility of the company marketing and selling the products.  No party downchain would be involved unless they represented to the founders that the product could be marketed as natural in which case the founders would have a claim against that party.

    The company was acquired by SC Johnson and it then became SC Johnson’s responsibility regarding ensuring that the marketing language was accurate.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 15, 2022 at 1:13 am

    PhilGeis said:

    Big cosmetics companies are run by managers from advertising/marketing.  They want to convert to the growing natural market. 

    Until this year (see my comment above) preservatives were a sidelight of big chemical companies - specialty chemical divisions.  These are low volume, high-priced commodities chemicals - all out of patent

    Of course they do.  Strong consumer demand & high growth rates that they are not seeing in traditional markets.

  • Pharma

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 4:38 am

    PhilGeis said:

    …These are low volume, high-priced commodities chemicals - all out of patent

    Patentability is a strong driving force or rather an enormous hindrance if a product can’t be patented. Preservatives are traditionally simple small molecules. Usually, you can’t patent those because they are already known and/or patented (by someone else LoL). Fiding molecules which are new, which fit the idea of the public (only natural products), which aren’t pharmacologically/toxicologically active (better yet, they’re GRAS), cheap to produce, are highly stable and so on… it shrinks the space of the useful chemical universe enormously.

  • grapefruit22

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 11:08 am

    I would like to know how big brands plan to convert to natural given limited resources. When they need one natural ingredient, in practice they will need the whole farm for themselves.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    @grapefruit22
    Correct  and plantation development is not politically correct and brings into question of regionally-invasive plants
    To the extent they make the claim, it’ll be the same cynical ecocert-like approach used now.  They’re advertising/marketing is as amoral as any - they just have microbiologists and toxicologists who constrain  the enthusiasm.

  • Stanley

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    @MarkBroussard

    “The company was acquired by SC Johnson and it then became SC Johnson’s responsibility regarding ensuring that the marketing language was accurate.”

    This is what I am talking about where were the principles at SC Johnson when this was purchased?  They just took everything at “face value.”  I am sure SC Johnson could have “altered” either the marketing strategy or the RM to achieve the same goal.  At my company, we thoroughly  analyze outside formulas and even old formulas to make sure they represent the claims.  I remember having “deep discussions” with marketing/customers on what could they say in their claims versus the raw materials.

    Depending on how stealthy the research is on the defendant side…I think they have a fighting chase at beating this because but of the subjective nature of some of the information.  A lot of the same raw materials are used in other industries.  

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    @Stanley
    Due diligence for companies of this size would not identify this issue for immediate resolution. 
    SCJ acquired O&A  in late 2021 and this was no doubt part of the original sin of the deal.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 15, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    @Stanley:

    They are simply not going to be able to substantiate a natural claim with a product containing Phenoxyethanol and PEG-100 Stearate.  That’s cut and dried.

  • OldPerry

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 15, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    @MarkBroussard - I don’t think anyone has tried the “supernatural doesn’t exist so everything is natural” defense.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 3:44 pm

    @Perry
    Why not?  It’s as valid as the current contrivances.

  • MarkBroussard

    Professional Chemist / Formulator
    July 15, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    Perry said:

    @MarkBroussard - I don’t think anyone has tried the “supernatural doesn’t exist so everything is natural” defense.

    There’s no defense for SC Johnson in this case.

    The moral of the story is:  Don’t use the word Natural.  Instead use Naturally-Derived.  If your product contains synthetics, don’t try to pass it off as Natural.

    The company that SC Johnson acquired had been in business for 4 years prior to its acquisition by SC Johnson.  Within months of the acquisition one consumer filed a “complaint” and the lawyers are trying to expand this into a class action lawsuit.  This is much more about money for the lawyers than it is about Natural.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 10:56 pm

    Of course it’s about money.  
    But please, those claiming “natural” for synthesized ingredients should not indulge in moral judgement.

  • PhilGeis

    Member
    July 15, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    Here’s a new one “All-natural organic chemistry”.

Page 6 of 6