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How to analyze Cosmetic Ingredient Marketing


Welcome to another rant about the sin of omission AKA marketing. Let’s explore what some of these marketing terms really mean. Read through the ad copy example below then look at the comments below:

“more than 50% biomass” – This probably means 50.1 % plant inputs (snort) – or something like that. What you need to ask the ingredient company is: what is the rest of this ingredient made from and … how was it made?

“it may be labeled as a naturally derived ingredient according to ISO standards.” – This is referring to ISO Standard 16128 – a standard that, was an attempt to define organic and natural. Downsides: the Standard allows up to 50% non-plant derived inputs (think petroleum products). There is no clear calculation defined in this standard to establish the percentage of organic or natural ingredients. Additionally, GMOs are okay depending on which country the product is being sold in – just to name a few issues with the standard. Basically, they ignored the international understanding of Green Chemistry.

“Synthetic” – The simplest definition of “synthetic” is that a NEW molecule is made as the result of a reaction between two or more other substances. In all likelihood, the ingredient referred to above is (at least partially) synthetic (which is not a problem per se) but is a problem in the amount of omission used to lure one into thinking that this is a “natural” product.

It is not natural. That is not to say that it is not “clean”, but without full transparency about what this is made from and how it is made and the downstream effect, it is impossible to judge the “clean” status of the ingredient.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

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