When Australia first got wind of  the “YOU PUT 515 CHEMICALS ON YOUR BODY EACH DAY”  article (UK’s Daily Mail November 2009) things went ballistic. How DARE they put chemicals in my products?  Why ARE people trying to kill us?   HELP!

The story was quickly picked up by bloggers and social commentators until as of today, there are 52, 300 articles citing this and most of them are taking it at face value.

Women (not men or children – just WOMEN) put 515 onto our skin every day.

I felt that this useless piece of non-information was worthy of a few harsh words,  I don’t like it when words are used as weapons of mass hysteria, it sucks. You can read more on that here.

So, the argument was put to bed until I stumbled upon a rather lively and interesting debate on Linked In discussing this very thing. In two weeks 91 comments have been posted in response to the post “Did you know that the average consumer puts 515 chemicals on their face/body everyday?”  The post leaves us with a kiss of death by telling us that most products are filled with junk and cancer. 

So it was no wonder that some of the worlds best cosmetic chemists have said NO to fear mongering.

Thank GOODNESS for that!

I am delighted that the cosmetics industry has finally found a social media voice in the form of a few brave souls who will risk life and limb to point out the folly in saying that a product is full of cancer.  It takes a brave soul to take on the “other” cosmetics industry.

In the early 90’s the cosmetic industry’s younger sister hit puberty and the naturals market was born.  It was and still is  a fab idea to make products that are all natural, have a low-carbon footprint, contain ethically sourced ingredients, are non-irritating (period), are more in-tune with our bodies, are simpler, are biodegradable and are packaged with sustainability in mind. 


A small minority thought that it would be good PR if a number of more ‘traditional’ ingredients were named and shamed – these ingredients would be the type that this NEW cosmetics industry wouldn’t use if you paid them a million dollars and threw in a night with Al Gore. They were 100% EVIL.

I am talking Parabens, Sulfates, Mineral Oil, Silicones,  Propylene Glycol,  Pthalates and possibly a few more.

But these ingredients ARE evil aren’t they?

Well, it is time to confess that there are issues with these ingredients.  Some of them are irritating, some of them can suffocate your skin, some will pollute waterways and some will block up your drain.

If you get enough of them in their neat, unprocessed form and either bathe in them or pour it into the garden /river.

 But who in their right mind would do that?

Well apparently I would and so would all of us other ‘dirty’  companies, chemists and consumers. We are all going to stew in our own cancer-filled juices after bathing too often in our oh-so-innocent  looking bubble bath while those in the natural camp chew on their carob sticks saying “I told you so”.

I am a cosmetic chemist, I have kids, I love the planet  and people and am passionate about protecting it, them and me.   I am always delighted to hear of innovation and I know enough to realize that some of the ingredients we currently use have a ‘could do better’ stick on them. However, I am sure that if used  AS INTENDED the cosmetics that we (natural and traditional) churn out are no more likely to give you cancer than your morning coffee, your afternoon apple or your evening tofu burger.

Let’s go green for all the right reasons.

“Top soil is one of the most valuable resources  so we should all stop the mud-slinging and start basing our product information on science fact, not marketing fiction”

PS:  I am writing this piece as a participant of the above linked-in discussion and while I don’t share the concerns of the person who posed the question, I am grateful that they were brave enough to start discussions.  These are my personal views based upon a 13 year stint in the industry and are in no way meant as a personal attack on the discussion initiator.