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Is Cosmetic Science Really "Bad"? Part IV: How Scientific is Cosmetic Science?
By: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, JW Solutions
Posted: March 16, 2010
The third and most recent column in this series investigating whether cosmetic science is "bad" produced a number of reactions. Of course cosmetic science is not "bad" but it can be done in a bad way. Therefore, the initial question of “Is cosmetic science really 'bad'?” changes to: “Are you doing ‘bad’ cosmetic science?” It becomes personal to suggest that someone is doing bad science, which was obvious from the emotional reactions.
After part III of this series, a discussion followed on the Society of Cosmetic Chemists' LinkedIn group, where many people said, "It’s not me, but ..." filling in the blank with their favorite group of culprits such as marketing, consumers, competitors, etc. While these individuals are correct in stating that it is not only cosmetic scientists that may get it wrong, still, cosmetic scientists are not correct "beyond any reasonable doubt." While this was acknowledged by most, the attitude in most reactions was that the other party was more guilty and should change (first). But why should small bankers hand in their small bonuses when big bankers continue to cash big bonuses? Why should someone care about the environment if that company next door is not as environmentally friendly as they could be?
As my mother used to say (and I'll bet your mother, too): "Changing the world means you have to start by changing yourself." But it is not easy to implement change in a society, as Barack Obama is finding out the hard way. So why would it be easy to implement change in the society of cosmetics? The point of this series of columns is to urge those scientists who find the reputation surrounding cosmetic science to be unjust to change, although change requires action and energy and does not happen by itself. But let’s return to cosmetic science to continue the evaluation of how good (or bad) it is.
Six questions from Michael Shermer’s Baloney Detection Kit have been discussed in this series. The results were not flattering for cosmetic science (read: cosmetic scientists) but cosmetic science did not score badly on all points. Questions seven and eight of the Baloney Detection Kit discriminate true science from borderland science and non-science or nonsense.
Question seven asks, “Is the claimant employing the accepted rules of reason and tools of research, or have these been abandoned in favor of others that lead to the desired conclusion?” I would not deliberate on a paper I once edited for the magazine of the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). A cosmetic scientist wrote in a submitted paper that something was significant at the p = 0.5 level, leading me to ask whether this was a typo and this should instead read p = 0.05. The author's response was no, and that their statistical analysis showed the result was statistically significant at the p = 0.5 level, which is as significant as flipping a coin ... but the author wanted this published.
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