Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you have to explain it, it wasn't funny.

I used to follow a blog called people I want to punch in the throat. The first post I read was funny but then as she "went viral" she got meaner with every post. If anyone dared to disagree with the post or comment with a valid point that person was immediately attacked by her vicious followers for "not getting the joke". They would instantly scream "BUT IT'S SATIRE!!!" "IT'S JUST A JOKE!" and be chastised for their lack of a sense of humor. To me, she just turned into a bully. She picked on people for posting pictures of their dinners on FB, a list of things they accomplished for the day as their status, or a whole litany of things that annoyed her. She relentlessly picks on what she calls "OAMs" (over achieving moms) just for trying to be good parents. Because they are trying too hard. BUT IT'S SATIRE! I'm sorry but if you have to continually defend your writing as satire, maybe you just aren't that funny.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetics Claims: 5th Installment

Understanding "Helps" Claims

There are two categories recognized for cosmetics; cosmetics and drugs.
  • Cosmetics- products intended to be applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance.   
  • Drugs- products intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man. 
 A drug product is subject to registration, testing, labeling and packaging requirements that a cosmetic product is not. Since by definition a drug product is intended to treat something the claims that can be made on a drug product are substantially different than a cosmetic product. A drug product has an active ingredient that is recognized as a treatment for a disease or condition by FDA. For example, acne treatments. Here are the claims for Neutrogena Rapid Clear Acne Defense Face Lotion:

Contains maximum-strength acne-fighting medicine with botanical extracts to fight existing acne, help prevent future breakouts and leave skin feeling soft. This lightweight, daily lotion fights the multiple symptoms of acne. A powerful formula contains soothing natural botanicals to help prevent irritation, peeling or dryness. Powerful Salicylic Acid fights acne fast, penetrating deep into pores to unblock dirt and oil while sweeping away dead surface cells that can cause future breakouts.

The monograph for the active ingredient- salicylic acid- defines what you can say about the product. Salicylic acid is recognized as a treatment for acne and it functions by exfoliating the skin of dead skin cells which can block pores and cause acne. Botanical ingredients are not recognized as a treatment so any claim related to them must include the word helps.

Of course cosmetics companies want you to believe that a cosmetic (not drug) product is going to do something for you otherwise why would you buy it? So they couch their claims with words like "helps" and "reduces the appearance" and this is where it gets misleading. Here are the claims for Estee Lauder Time Zone Line and Wrinkle Reducing Creme:

Now you can take more than 10 years off the look of your skin in just 4 weeks and dramatically reduce the look of wrinkles. We can prove it. In fact, this anti-wrinkle moisturizer is so powerful, every single woman tested showed a reduction in the look of wrinkles.

That sounds great, right? If you read carefully, they only claim a reduction in the "look" of wrinkles not and actual measurable reduction in the number or depth/ length of wrinkles.

In 2005, Strivectin introduced their "better than BOTOX" stretch mark and wrinkle creams. These were cosmetic products but they were literally COVERED in claims. They claimed things like:
  •  Decreased the actual length of striae (stretch marks)
  •  Decreased the depth of indented surfaces
  •  Actually reduce the size of saddle bag thighs
  •  One problem area at a time, until you've literally melted the fat and molded your body into a more pleasing shape
And so on. It was ridiculous. No drug does the things that they claimed let alone a cosmetic. But it sold their product. Then the customers did not get the results that they claimed and they were understandable mad because these were not cheap lotions. FDA sent them a warning letter and forced them to withdraw all of the false claims from the market. StriVectin reformulated (or repackaged I don't know for sure) but their claims are much more subdued now because they are just selling lotion and no mater what the package says- there are no miracle lotions.

Read the packaging carefully and critically. Don't be a sucker for a pretty package that says great things.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An objective dissertation on glitter in cosmetics

Glitter is the worst invention ever. Exhibit A

I'm never going to get deglittered. I've had to take extreme measures in the lab to prevent such horrible glitterings from ever happening again.

Ok I'm actually just cleaning out twenty years worth of old glitter from the lab but I hate glitter. I hate it a lot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Most Misleading Cosmetic Claims: Fourth Installment


When you see a product labeled as "hypoallergenic" you would think that this means that the product is less likely to cause allergic reactions than similar products without this designation. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. According to FDA there are no federal standards or regulations that apply to the term "hypoallergenic". The decision to use the term lies solely with the manufacturer and may be used without any proof that the product causes fewer allergic reactions than others.

Decades ago, a lot of harsh ingredients were used in cosmetics. Today, what can and can't be used in cosmetics is highly regulated so the ingredients available to a cosmetics company are limited and all the same. When using the term "hypoallergenic" became popular in 1975, FDA tried to regulate the use of the term, stating that a cosmetic product could be labeled "hypoallergenic" only if scientific studies on human subjects showed that it caused a significantly lower rate of adverse skin reactions than similar products not making such claims. However, this regulation was struck down by US courts and manufacturers were free to say "I DO WHAT I WANT!"

At my company, we do RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Testing) on every product that we sell for our own peace of mind (and to protect the company from law suits). An outside testing company gets a collection of volunteers who have the product applied to their skin for a predetermined amount of time and then evaluated for skin reactions. Our products have never shown any adverse reactions but we still do not label our products hypoallergenic.

The bottom line here is that labeling a product hypoallergenic means nothing and the company is not obligated to perform any testing in order to use this label.