Chemical-free dare to know
In line with the naturals trend, the words chemical free have been popping up. Do you really know what that means?
Every Scientist shudders when they hear chemical free. That is just not possible. Humans are a mix of chemicals, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen – we are a chemical cocktail. As is every living and even non-living thing. All things are made up of matter, which is made up of chemicals. Water is also a chemical.
So what is it meant to mean? Somewhere someone came up with the term to allude to safe products or products that are made free from synthetic chemicals or are not harmful or safe for the environment.
The real issue I have with the term is that it is not a real term and makes consumers believe things that are not true. It is misleading.
With the overload of information at our fingertips these days it is difficult to find the real info. Marketers are always trying to come up with new ways to attract our attention. The real science is usually too technical or boring for most consumers. Telling you the full story versus scaring you into buying the product, which is more effective? Yes, the scare tactic works every time. Fear marketing is very effective and used in so many industries. Including cosmetics.
The reality is that cosmetic products are safer than they have ever been. Ingredients go through intensive safety tests before they are ever allowed to be used in final products. Ingredients are re-tested if issues surface questioning their safety.
There are products that have recently been banned for use in some applications. This can be due to new data has been found due to excessive use or new studies done. These studies are always done by independent scientific panels, and the results are always peer reviewed before publishing. It is quite a rigorous process.
Most of the scare tactics make out as though you can take anything you randomly find and put it on the market. This is not true, but that doesn’t make it as much fun to advertise does it?
This product is perfectly safe – yes it has ingredients you may not like, but it is safe and will do exactly what it claims to do.
Then the competitor product, is also perfectly safe, has other ingredients that you will like more, is it better than the other product? Maybe not, maybe it is, but the best way to market it is to make it sound like the ingredients you don’t like are bad for you. Which they aren’t, but it is an easier way to market their product.
One example. Let’s look at Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES). OMG, you are already quivering, aren’t you?
There is nothing wrong with it as it is used. Yes, if used in a super concentrated form will irritate the skin. It has a high pH. Anything with a higher pH will irritate the skin. This is a no-brainer.
Are you going to get brain cancer from it being in your shampoo?
This was re-evaluated in 2010 to make sure that stories going around questioning the safety of it were not substantiated. It was found to be safe as used in cosmetics. What does this mean?
It means that when it is formulated into a shampoo, body wash or foam bath, it is done so to ensure the correct levels are used, and the proper pH is maintained.
Being safe means there is no toxicity whatsoever.
But telling you that my shampoo is sulfate free, and thereby you won’t get brain cancer is a stronger marketing proposition isn’t it?
Just out of interest, you can actually get an organic version of SLES that is derived from wheat. How can organic be dangerous?
So claiming something is chemical free, is lazy marketing as it actually does not exist and is a nonsense claim. It is meant to make you think something when it actually isn’t possible.
Next time you choose a product, think about what the claim really is. Is it highlighting how good the product is because the product is excellent? Or is it telling you it’s better than other products by alluding to other products not being safe?
Have you come across some absurd claims that you couldn’t believe? Send them through to us, or add your comments below.