The Impact of Junk Science on R&D: A Review of the 'Dirty Dozen'

Oct 1, 2010 | Contact Author | By: David C. Steinberg, Steinberg & Associates
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Title: The Impact of Junk Science on R&D: A Review of the 'Dirty Dozen'
BHAx BHTx coal tar dyesx DEAx dibutyl phthalatex formaldehyde-releasing preservativesx fragrancex parabensx PEG compoundsx petrolatumx siloxanesx SLESx triclosanx David Suzuki Foundationx
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Keywords: BHA | BHT | coal tar dyes | DEA | dibutyl phthalate | formaldehyde-releasing preservatives | fragrance | parabens | PEG compounds | petrolatum | siloxanes | SLES | triclosan | David Suzuki Foundation

Abstract: Last spring, the David Suzuki Foundation, an environment conservation group based in Vancouver, published a report online describing what it called the “dirty dozen” cosmetic ingredients consumers should avoid. The group went so far as to provide a downloadable pocket guide of the 12 ingredients for consumers to use when they shop to avoid purchasing products containing these ingredients.

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DC Steinberg, The impact of junk science on R&D: A review of the 'dirty dozen,' Cosm & Toil 125(10) 32-40 (Oct 2010)

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Last spring, the David Suzuki Foundation, an environment conservation group based in Vancouver, published a report online describing what it called the “dirty dozen” cosmetic ingredients consumers should avoid. The group went so far as to provide a downloadable pocket guide of the 12 ingredients for consumers to use when they shop to avoid purchasing products containing these ingredients. Normally this column would not cover the faulty and misleading junk science of non-governmental organizations (NGOs); however, with current political activity in the US Congress, i.e. the introduction of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, the industry should be aware of what it is facing.

In addition, marketing is well aware of consumers’ perceptions of ingredients, which in turn are passed on to R&D with the directive to omit those that are negatively viewed for “free-from” product claims. Thus, the information presented here supports both R&D and marketing by providing the solid facts behind these 12 ingredients; but since consumer perception ultimately determines success, if this effort to present sound science is futile, it may simply offer R&D a forecast of the ingredients that eventually will require replacing.

The David Suzuki Foundation is a registered charitable organization in the United States and Canada that was established in 1990 to deal with environmental issues. Due to its well-respected status, this author was surprised to see such faulty science reported by this group, as each individual ingredient description below illustrates. Following are the 12 ingredients identified, including comments from the foundation website, with additional facts about each that should have been included. Also included is the frequency of use for each ingredient, based on the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) database of some 36,811 registered formulations.

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