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Is Cosmetic Science Really "Bad"? Part V: Who do you think you are fooling?
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions
Posted: May 7, 2010
page 2 of 4
There is only one field where cosmetic science excels above other scientific disciplines and in that particular discipline, other scientists borrow our industry's skills and capabilities: formulation science. Here, cosmetic scientists are simply the best! And how do they do this? They try, they observe and they describe. But do cosmetic chemists and formulators explain what they do? Normally not. Sometimes they do but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Take, for example, Manufacturing Cosmetic Emulsions, the latest book of T. Joseph Lin, PhD. He explains things in a simple language, where manufacturing cosmetic emulsions starts to make sense and becomes fun. Most of the time, however, cosmetic scientists do not offer such explanations. They offer descriptive statements on yet another molecule in yet another application, meeting yet another unmet consumer need. In case you do not believe me, pick up the top article on the pile to the left of you and read the introduction. If it is a cosmetic science paper, it describes recent progress made in the first paragraph but the but... already comes in the second paragraph. A really big but! Despite all the progress made in the first paragraph, the author has suddenly achieved absolutely nothing and starts to wonder how cosmetic science survived until now.
Miraculously, all the issues mentioned in the big but are subsequently solved with the introduction of a new cosmetic ingredient. Is there any explanation given at all? Unless you are fooling yourself, not really. Can cosmetic formulators now explain more than they could before? No. They observed that new ingredient X lacked some of the negative characteristics that existing ingredients Y and Z had. While there's nothing wrong with this, the same article fails to mention that new ingredient X has other disadvantages. Why do cosmetic scientists not report these? Because cosmetic scientists want to sell.
I do not think that cosmetic science is violating this ninth rule dramatically, as cosmetic scientists generally offer no explanations. Cosmetic scientists carefully pick the disadvantages of a product that work to their advantage with whatever new technology being promoted. They do this because they want to sell. But is that science? Is it the purpose of cosmetic science to sell, or is it the purpose of cosmetic science to explain first and then subsequently utilize the explanations in selling activities?
Selling and science both start with the letter s and both have seven letters, but that is where the resemblance stops. Two valid entities, but with different purposes! The difficulty is that, in the cosmetic industry, there are too many salespeople that call themselves scientists and too many scientists that have become sales professionals.