As a cosmetic chemist, you should always keep an eye on products and try to figure out what other people in the industry are doing. One of the best ways to do this is to review their product claims, then guess how they support what they’re saying. In this entry I’ll show you an exercise that will help improve your skills in this area.
Step 1 – Obtain the product claims
One of my favorite websites to go to for cosmetic products is Drugstore.com. They have a great selection but best of all, they have a listing of what is written on the bottle including ingredient lists. This is a huge benefit for a cosmetic chemist!
For this example, let’s look at Fructis Triple Nutrition Fortifying Shampoo. We could’ve picked any but Fructis has lots of claims.
Here is the text of their claims.
For Dry to Over-Dried or Damaged Hair
* 3 Nutritive Fruit Oils – Olive, Avocado & Shea
* Fortifies & infuses with nutrients for silky hair, full of life.
Is your hair dry, over-dried or damaged? Feel unhealthy to the touch? It needs nourishment without being weighed down.
Fructis Triple Nutrition The 3 nutritive fruit oils penetrate to nourish every strand to the core.
3 Fruit Oils For Triple Nutrition:
1. Olive Oil – Nourishes the inner core
2. Avocado Oil – Nourishes and softens the middle layer
3. Shea Oil – Nourishes and smoothes the surface.
Results: Triple nutrition for dry, over-dried or damaged hair. Hair is silky, radiant and full of life.
Create and control any style you want with Garnier Fructis Style.
Questions? 1-800-4Garnier (1-800-442-7643) or visit garnier.com.
INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Coco Betaine, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Amodimethicone, Cocamide MIPA, Laureth 5 Carboxylic Acid, Polyquaternium 10, Pyrus Malus Extract (Apple Fruit), PPG 5 Ceteth 20, Parfum (Fragrance), Sodium Benzoate, PEG 55 Propylene Glycol Oleate, Propylene Glycol, PEG 60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicylic Acid, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine HCI, Olea Europaea Oil (Olive Fruit Oil), Citric Acid, Saccharum Officinarum Extract (Sugar Cane Extract), Benzyl Alcohol, Persea Gratissima Oil (Avocado Oil), Linalool, Methylcocoate, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter (Shea Butter), Ribes Nigrum Oil (Black Currant Seed Oil), Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Sodium Cocoate, Sodium Hydroxide, Citrus Medica Limonum Peel Extract (Lemon Peel Extract), Camellia Sinensis Extract (Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract), CI 19140 (Yellow 5), CI 14700 (Red 4)
Step 2 – Filter out the claims
While anything written on the bottle is technically a claim, some of the statements require more support from a cosmetic chemist than others. Your next step is to read through the text and figure out which claims required testing.
Here is a listing.
- 3 Nutritive Fruit Oils
- Fortifies and infuses with nutrients for silky hair, full of life
- …nutritive fruit oils penetrate to nourish every strand to the core
- Olive oil nourishes the inner core
- Avocado oil nourishes and softens the middle layer
- Shea oil nourishes and smooths the surface
- Hair is silky, radiant and full of life
Step 3 – Figure out how they support the claims
1. For the first claim, they indicate that the formula has 3 nutritive fruit oils. This can be verified by looking at the ingredient list. Indeed, they have Olive fruit oil, Avocado oil, and shea butter (oil). Claim verified.
2. The second claim is a mix of “puffery” (non-specific language that doesn’t have to be supported) and real claims. Since ‘fortifies’ isn’t really specifically defined, the company can support this claim with some reasonable explanation. (e.g. ‘by removing dirt the hair is fortified’). The phrase “full of life” is supported similarly. Hair is dead so saying it is full of life is puffery. The important part of the claim is “infuses with nutrients for silky hair”. To support this, the company has to include whatever they consider nutrients in the formula and also demonstrate that the feel of the hair is improved. This can be done with hair tresses, a test panel comparing treated vs untreated hair, and a crafty questionnaire which asks “which one feels more silky”?
3. The third claim is a bit more difficult to support. It says that the fruit oils penetrate. One way to show this is to treat the hair with fruit oils and look at the fibers under a microscope to show penetration. Or a more sophisticated way is to follow the procedure of Keis, et al. and check the inter fiber adhesion forces and the reflectance of light. In their study, olive oil was shown to penetrate so some version of this is probably what they did.
4 & 5. Claims 4 and 5 can be supported in the same way as claim 3. You could simply make the argument that if the oil got to the core of the hair, it must have passed through the middle layer. Oils are known to soften hair so this argument should be persuasive. The word “nourish” is more puffery.
6. The claim about shea oil can be easily supported by treating hair with shea oil and running any number of comparative tests like a diastron combing study. Smoother hair is easier to comb.
7. This is mostly a puffery claim but you could use panel data comparing treated and untreated hair to support the statements.
Try it out
The claims for this product were relatively easy to support. Since they were mostly puffery claims, panel testing comparing treated and untreated hair will satisfy most requirements. The penetration claims were a bit more complicated to support but a quick look through the JSCC showed a method. If you can’t find a method here, you can also look through US patents as testing methods are sometimes written up there too.
So, now it’s your turn. Go to Drugstore.com, find a product in the area that you are formulating (or better yet one in which you do not formulate) and try it out.
You will learn a lot about formulating and testing cosmetic products.