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One-way Communication in Personal Care
Posted: May 7, 2008
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Taking the paraben issue as an example, someone who was trying to sell an alternative to parabens performed a study where the oestrogenic activity of a paraben was shown. I will not even go into whether the study was performed correctly or not, but did you know that a single piece of sashimi drenched in soy and wasabi produces more oestrogenic activity inside the body than a lifetime's use of parabens? The Japanese happily continue to enjoy their sashimi and have continued to produce offspring, whereas the personal care industry immediately jumped the bandwagon of commercial success and decided to ban these products because a scientist with a not-so-hidden objective to sell his or her alternative to parabens decided to tell the press-at-large that they were feminized by the outrageous exposure to these parabens.
Instead of telling the cosmetic world and our cosmetic marketers that the campaign against parabens is merely propaganda, the industry allows them to insist on paraben-free products. We give them what they want and in doing so, indirectly admit that we were wrong for all these years.
A comparison with the normal world would be to close zoos because tigers, lions and snakes could break out of their cages and do us utter harm. But whereas these animals come with a high hazard and zero exposure, parabens are accompanied with high exposure and a zero hazard. As a consequence, in both cases, the risk (the product of exposure and hazard) is zero.
You’ve got an idea about the problem by now. Journalists are not cosmetic scientists and will follow the story that needs to be written. They would like to have the right and correct information but we are not willing to give it to them, simply because we assume they would not understand. We as cosmetic scientists need to stand up and take the time to explain things to them. Journalists can be your best friends and it is perfectly OK for them to be critical. Even better, you should want them to be critical. If we would start telling them that what we really do is make better products every day, they might write differently. How many journalists for the general public are members of the SCC, the SCS and similar IFSCC-affiliated member societies?
If only 1% of cosmetic scientists would speak to the general public and explain what we are doing, most of the unjustified scare stories that currently dominate the cosmetic public news could be avoided. Is it one-way traffic or will we all drive the same road and in the same direction? Don’t you think it is time to start talking to the public and the journalists instead of ignoring them?