In Remembrance of Johann Wiechers, PhD

Johann Wiechers, PhD
Johann Wiechers, PhD

A year ago this month, on Nov. 5, 2011, beloved cosmetic industry member Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, passed away. Cosmetics & Toiletries takes a moment to remember him and reflect on his expertise as well as his zeal for life and pursuit of science.

Cosmetics & Toiletries has continuously been reminded of Wiechers' truth-seeking self from his article, "The Effects of Showering Too Often, Too Hot, and Too Long," which has ranked among our top web features for nearly three years now. Here, he shared an experience in which his own children used up all the hot water by showering too long and compared it to industry realities.

He asks, "How does the personal care industry explain to consumers that water dries them out, when we cannot even convince our own teenage children? If anyone knows the answer to do this question, please let me know. It will save me money [i.e., on the water utility bill], it will save my children’s NMF, it will reduce skin irritancy for consumers and reduce product complaints for the personal care industry. The effect of excessive showering is definitely a hot issue that the personal care industry may have left alone too often for too long."

In addition, his series on whether cosmetic science is really "bad," which began in 2009 and was based on his review of a book by Ben Goldacre, turned the industry inward, to consider whether the science it thinks it is conducting is in fact sound. He stated, "I will pick up almost every book that is critical of science. After all, cosmetics is a field where many extraordinary claims are made, often helped by celebrity endorsements. Therefore, some critical thinking would not be out of place in relation to cosmetics. However, I had honestly not anticipated that a whole chapter on the subject of cosmetics in a book entitled Bad Science was possible."

Further, his discussions on nanotechnology, skin delivery and particle penetration are often referenced by the industry, and his legacy of Formulating for Efficacy continues yet today not only as a means to conserve resources and improve formula design, but also save on cost.

Rachel Grabenhofer of Cosmetics & Toiletries recollected, "I said it once and I will say it again: I can’t put into words what a great loss this has been to the industry. He was a brilliant mind and true scientist. The industry still misses him."

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