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Is Cosmetic Science Really "Bad"? Part II: Detecting Baloney Science
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions
Posted: August 25, 2009
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I therefore asked the second speaker why he did not crack the problem of the previous speaker, since hair relaxers are a big market opportunity. Perhaps my concluding question, “If you cannot solve this issue, which issues can you solve? And why should I believe you?” was a bit harsh, but it beautifully underlined the importance of the frequency of making similar claims. Exaggeration leads to disbelief.
Consumers think that cosmetic firms make outrageous claims because some indeed do, and the regulation of claims is relatively recent. The logical consequence is that the general public does not believe what the cosmetic industry claims, even if the formulation and the product truly deliver. The quick buck-makers spoil it for the rest of the industry.
3. The third question is, “Have the claims been verified by another source?” Shermer writes, “Pseudo-scientists typically make statements that are unverified or verified only by a source within their own belief circle.” The lack of verification of cold fusion is a famous example but cosmetics is not that different. Almost everybody working in the cosmetics industry knows that a manufacturing company will not automatically believe everything that a supplier representative says. They want to verify the claims being made for themselves and test the supplier's data under their own conditions to compare it to their own standards. This either may be because they have been disappointed in the past, or because they are good scientists. Likewise, cosmetic claims are verified by regulatory bodies; maybe not immediately but definitely when challenged, and that is a good thing.
One belief related to this subject of verification, and with which this author sincerely disagrees, that is often expressed by critics of the industry is that cosmetic scientists do not publish in peer-reviewed journals and therefore, the industry's research is not up-to-scratch. In fact, there are sometimes good commercial (and competitive) reasons for not publishing scientific work--cosmetic or not, such as engineers developing the latest vehicle engines or IT software.
However, the cosmetic industry does in fact publish in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Cosmetic Science, the International Journal of Cosmetic Science and the IFSCC Magazine, in addition to peer-reviewed trade magazines such as Cosmetics & Toiletries; in fact, this author has reviewed many papers that were rejected for print in all of these publications. Nevertheless, a peer-review process is not objective but rather a personal judgment and it is not uncommon for two reviewers to hold two completely opposing views on a particular paper.
Cosmetic Science Exposed, Wiechers' Style
Memories of a Cosmetically Disturbed Mind is a timely manifesto of what our industry is meant to represent. Whether you agree or disagree with Johann Wiechers' views on the state of the global cosmetic industry, this book will blow your scientific mind! Johann is no longer here with us, but he left us much to think about.Order Today at Alluredbooks-Cosmetic Science