objectivity of cosmetic science

Hello Brains,

Again - I am a big fan of your blog/podcast.

I am trying my best to use products that would really benefit my skin and this benefit would be based on science so I read your blog and others and try to use the best judgement. However sometimes I get sort of confused as it seems that different cosmetic scientists have different opinions.

I thought that since this is science it should be objective so how come these different statements?

For example alcohol denat. I am so confused about it. As I understand there are differences in opinions if it is ok for skin or it could encourage aging of skin. I know that after all a user should decide if it is okay for her but what if after 10 years of using products with alcohol denat I get more aged skin than using alcohol free products? Is that possible?

Please shed some light on this matter.



  • There are differences of opinion in science, this happens all the time. "Objective" doesn't mean that science is single minded. Ideally, differences of opinion lead to new hypotheses which lead to more testing that reveals new answers. Unfortunately, in the world of cosmetic science there are far more questions than there is money for testing. I'd love to see someone do a series of conclusive studies on the alcohol question but I don't know if that will ever happen. 

    In the meantime, all we can do is look at the evidence that is currently available and the evidence we've seen doesn't indicate that alcohol is that bad for your skin when used at low levels in products. 

  • Thanks, Randy :)
  • But what is considered low levels? 1-10 %? 1-20%?
  • Based on my formulator's gut, 20% seems excessive. 1-10% seems reasonable. 
  • I'm curious whether some products formulated scientifically work very well on a molecular level, or under a microscope, but when consumers try them the don't see the benefits that the science says is there.  Does this happen?

    Also, this leads me to wonder if part of the issue is that consumers don't really know what it is they need from a product.  It could just be a language thing, for example a consumer might think they want "moisture", which a product might deliver, but what they really mean is volume, or something along those lines.
  • Yes, it's possible that a product can deliver benefits that a consumer can not perceive. 
Sign In or Register to comment.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!