Testing Tactics—Consumer vs. Scientific Language: Relating In vivo to In vitro

Editor’s note: Cosmetics & Toiletries is pleased to revive its former “Testing Tactics” column with two new columnists. Chris McLeod will focus on skin beginning in June 2013, and Trefor Evans, PhD, featured here, focuses on hair. Evans’ expertise in designing tests and interpreting results will advance the scientific understanding of hair and strengthen claims substantiation. Readers are invited to engage in this article on the Cosmetics & Toiletries' LinkedIn Group, or send comments to CTEdit@allured.com.

It should perhaps go without saying that consumer products are sold using consumer language. Market researchers and consumer scientists spend a great deal of time studying their target audience and learning this vocabulary, which subsequently allows the recounting of product benefits in the same terminology. In the hair care world, this has resulted in a long list of now well-known attributes that represent the language of the industry. Thus, R&D may receive direction from marketing colleagues to develop products that better promote “shine,” increase “strength,” tame “frizz,” or aid in any number of other familiar properties.

Upon receiving these directives involving consumer-derived words and phrases, there is a natural tendency for the product development chemist to consider the attributes from a highly scientific standpoint. Therefore, the term strength may be equated with the tensile properties of individual fibers, frizz could be associated with electrostatic buildup during grooming, and shine may be taken to relate to the interaction of light with the hair surface. As such, armed with their mission and these notions, the product developers embarks on a variety of strategies in an attempt to attain their objective.

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