Toxic Beauty Marketing and Why It Doesn't Serve You

Toxic Beauty Marketing and Why It Doesn't Serve You

This week, we’re diving deep into some beauty buzzwords like, ‘toxic, clean, dirty’ and setting the record straight.The famous saying by Paracelsus, "the dose makes the poison," highlights a fundamental principle of toxicology that is frequently overlooked in beauty marketing. We want to demystify the fears often associated with cosmetic ingredients and shed light on why sensationalised beauty marketing does not benefit any of us.


What is Toxicology?

Toxicology is the scientific study of the adverse effects that chemicals or substances can have on living organisms. It involves understanding the nature of these effects, their mechanisms, and the conditions under which they occur. In the context of cosmetics, toxicology is crucial for ensuring beauty products are both safe and effective.


Understanding Toxicity in Skincare

Toxicity refers to the ability of a substance to cause harm to a living organism. In the context of skincare, toxicity is determined not just by what the ingredient is, but by how much of it is used. This means that virtually any substance can be toxic under the right conditions—even water.


The Role of Concentration

The concentration of an ingredient is crucial. Many ingredients that are vilified, such as parabens, sulfates, and silicones, are safe at the concentrations used in cosmetic products. Regulatory bodies like the European Union's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) rigorously assess the safety of cosmetic ingredients, approving only those that are safe for use within specified limits and they regularly reassess their safety based on new research.


The Issue with Misinformation and Fear-Based Marketing

Unfortunately, "free-from “and “clean” claims often create unnecessary panic. Products are frequently advertised as being free from certain chemicals, implying that those chemicals are inherently harmful without providing context regarding their safe usage levels. This type of marketing exploits consumer fear for profit, detracting from the real issues of product safety and efficacy. Most of these "dirty" lists, which aim to identify harmful ingredients in cosmetics, are not compiled by scientists, let alone toxicologists, nor are they supported by studies and if they are, the studies often cited by these lists lack detail and context. Many are based on in vitro tests on cells or on animals, which don't accurately reflect living human skin reactions—cells, for instance, can be damaged by substances as benign as tap water. Animal studies frequently use unrealistic conditions, like feeding rats large amounts of parabens, which doesn't mirror typical human use. Despite a hundred years of use, human studies have not conclusively linked parabens to serious health effects and their estrogenic effects are much milder compared to natural estrogens found in foods like soy.


How Misleading Marketing Affects Consumer Perception

This kind of marketing can skew our perception, leading to a misunderstanding of what is genuinely safe and effective. “Clean beauty” perpetuates myths about "chemical-free" skincare—a misleading term, as all matter, natural or synthetic, is made of chemicals. Pseudoscience is generally easier to understand and easier to sell, but it’s not the truth.


Regulatory Oversight and Safety Assessments

In the UK and across the EU, cosmetic products are subject to stringent regulations that ensure safety for consumer use. Before any cosmetic product can be marketed, it must undergo a safety assessment by a qualified professional. This assessment includes a rigorous evaluation of the toxicological profile of each ingredient, considering its concentration and the intended use of the product.


Maintaining scientific rigour is key to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of all cosmetic products. By basing our choices here at Sekkeizu, on evidence-based research and following regulatory guidelines, we are able to provide skincare products that not only meet but exceed consumer expectations for safety and performance. This commitment to scientific integrity is what helps us deliver the trusted and reliable products you love.


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