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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
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Needless to say, the paper was rejected. A cosmetic scientist may be factually right but it is against the accepted rules of science and tools of research to call anything with a p value above 0.05 significant. This individual does not represent the behavior of the whole cosmetic industry but it serves as a reminder for papers claiming statistical significance at p < 0.1, or p = 0.07. Even in one of my own papers, I have stated that my results achieved a p value of 0.055 but I always add that that is not significant. Occasionally, cosmetic scientists do not employ the accepted rules of reason and tools of research but this occurs infrequently; rather, almost the opposite regularly happens in our industry.
In relation, the cosmetic scientist also does his or her utmost to portray a scientific image. For example, a number of articles in trade magazines reference Nature and Science, two high impact scientific journals that do not in fact deal with cosmetics. These references are intended to give the impression that the article is scientific.
Another example of (sometimes not) “employing the accepted ... tools of research” is the use of questionnaires in clinical testing. There is a striking difference between the methods for conducting cosmetic claim substantiation in Europe and Asia compared with the United States. Wherever possible, the methodology will use skin bioengineering equipment in Europe and Asia, whereas questionnaires are used in the United States when possible. Europe and Asia may use questionnaires as supporting evidence whereas the United States may use skin bioengineering equipment as its supporting evidence.
Cosmetic scientists know that questionnaires can be leading, sometimes even misleading. If a woman is told that she is testing anti-wrinkle products, nearly any product will work (to some extent). Referring to Perry Romanowski’s comment during the LinkedIn discussion, this is what I would like to call the "gullible consumer" effect. Some consumers believe anything because they want to believe everything. Of course, questionnaires can be constructed in good and bad ways but measuring the objective nature of skin via bioengineering equipment is preferred. Everybody will accept that an instrument is more objective than asking a volunteer whether she felt better after having used the product. But to quote the late, great Professor Albert Kligman, who sadly died last month, "A fool with a tool is still a fool!"
Still, skin bioengineering studies can go wrong and both questionnaires and skin bioengineering equipment must be used properly, and I have no reason to assume that this is deliberately not the case. Questionnaires will, however, always be deemed as less objective unless one can see the exact questionnaire used and whether repeat questions asked in different ways resulted in the same result.
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