Assessing Safety: Best Foot Forward

In earlier times, the personal care industry had a bad reputation for unsafe products, so measures were put into place to protect consumers. Unfortunately, yet today, with alarmist groups and occasional irresponsible marketers flagging the media, it still is difficult to crawl out from under this perception—take “harmful” preservatives and “safer” natural products, for example. It’s a shame to have gotten off on the wrong foot.

To a different camp of consumers, and especially from an insider’s view, safety testing is an assumed step in the development of any product on the market. This puts the pressure on analytical and quality control efforts behind the scenes to ensure that ingredients and products meet or exceed expectations. In doing so, theoretically, no one else has to give it a second thought.

From a discovery standpoint, Moreira reviews traditional and high throughput methods to screen botanicals and considers their challenges and opportunities. From a safety standpoint, Lebrun discusses an in vitro animal-alternative test to evaluate ocular irritation. In relation, mild formulas for skin and hair are presented in the Mild Care Formulary. While not the main focus, testing is a major part of other articles herein as well; in fact, it almost always is. For instance, in Mondon et al.’s feature, in vitro methods are used to explore the effects of a natural dipeptide on the production of elastic fibers in skin. Also, various clinical studies are reviewed by Metral and Maibach to examine differences in skin penetration based on ethnicity and skin color.

To doubting consumers, I say rest assured that any reputable marketer has tested its products to ensure they are safe. Because beyond ethics, putting your customers at risk makes no sense; it only hurts your bottom line. It’s like shooting yourself in the foot—and after the industry’s bumpy start, we only have the right foot left. Why would we risk that?

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