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Cosmetic 'Helping' Claims Exposed: Fact vs. Fiction


Helping Claims in Cosmetics
Marketing claims in cosmetics help above all creating confusion

While direct claims that cannot be proven are prohibited, stating that a product can provide assistance with a particular issue is acceptable. This broad allowance companies to make claims about their potential benefits of their products, even if their accuracy isn't guaranteed. Similar terms like "stimulates," "revitalizes," "improves," and "restores" also fall under this category.

"It moisturizes and helps strengthen the skin’s barrier function

This is a statement intended to make consumers believe that the skin barrier function is strengthened. However, it is merely a string of words with no practical meaning.

Now, specifically about natural soaps

We invite you to understand how soaps are made (here) to better understand this article. Numerous fellow soap-makers love to focus on the benefits of some of their ingredients. This may be especially true when the ingredients are taken pure - as in creams or lotions for example. Let's keep in mind that the ingredients have been through a saponification process, reaching a temperature of 80°C in an alkaline environment. Most substances will be partially or totally denatured, losing their original properties.

Saponification reaction: oils and lye water are fully transformed into soaps and glycerin
Saponification reaction: oils and lye water are fully transformed into soaps and glycerin

​And this, regardless of when they are added in the process, before or after emulsion, or even later at a thicker trace (which is when the soap batter begins to thicken). There are no studies to support the claim that adding certain ingredients at the very last moment could cause your soap to have the properties of those ingredients. Precision and examples with certain ingredients or claim...

1. OILS / BUTTERS (superfat)

Oils in natural soap formulations do nothing but help cleanse your skin as they are converted into soap molecules. If you see a soap "enriched" with an oil... it is a bit silly. The remaining oils in the final product (those that have not reacted: superfatting soap) help to make the soap milder for the skin, as some fatty acids (from coconut oil for example) are harder on the skin = clean too aggressive Even if the soap maker makes an extra effort to add "nourishing" oils at the last moment, the superfat does not stay in the soap. It is always a mixture of tri-glycerides (the original fat, untouched), decomposed fats (di- + mono-glycerides) or fatty acids (soap molecules). This small pile does not behave like the original "nourishing" oil from the beginning. Exceptions: jojoba oil or beeswax, as they are largely composed of waxes / esters that hardly react with the lye water, their molecules can be found in the final product.


2. ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils in soaps do not help other than to have a wonderful experience through their smell.

Collection of botanical essential oils
Collection of botanical essential oils

There are only two credible studies on the successful use of aromatherapy to combat hair loss and acne (see references), however essential oils used topically (=on the skin) do not aid against a specific condition in most situations. However, if you want to ease tension, a few drops of diluted essential oils in a warm bath won't hurt :) Very interesting video for more insights from a Youtube channel I highly recommend about essential oils. Make your own opinion about it.



3. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL

This is a new trend: activated charcoal is becoming more and more popular in cosmetics, from soaps and creams to toothpaste, where it is credited with removing toxins or heavy metals or whitening teeth. Sorry to disappoint you, but there are no studies that prove the former or the latter for cosmetics.

activated charcoal uses in cosmetics

Activated carbon has the remarkable property of having a huge surface area compared to its weight. It is common to find the comparison that 2 grams only of activated carbon has the same surface area as a tennis court, and this is not an exaggeration. It means about 100m² per gram.

It certainly has beneficial and proven properties in the areas :

  • medicine (emergency detoxification, kidney function...),

  • water decontamination

  • use as chemical catalyst in industrial reactions (doped with metals like copper, palladium...)

...but in cosmetics its only and true role is as a colorant (as used for babassu soaps). So the next time you read that activated carbon aids detoxification (cosmetics, food...), know that the corporation making the claim is either repeating something it doesn't understand or simply taking you for a fool.


4. MAKES HAIR STRONGER

Companies behind this claim must surely be big fans of the zombie series... Indeed, hair is a structure composed of dead cells arranged in layers like tiles on a roof and won't get back to life :)


The tiles of the hair are called cuticle
Hair "tiles" are called cuticles = 1 dead cell (in red)

Conditioning your hair with products containing silicones fills in the gaps in the cuticle of the hair, making it smoother and easier to comb, and reducing breakage. However, it does not make the hair stronger. In the long term, silicones can harm the hair, some are less harmful than others. It's important to be mindful of non-water soluble silicones as they are harder to remove by washing.

Conditioners (silicones) are covering up the cuticles and filling the free spaces in purple (exaggerated for the example). The hair is now heavier, smoother, and shines like plastic.
Conditioners (silicones) are covering up the cuticles and filling the free spaces in purple (exaggerated for the example). The hair is now heavier, smoother, and shines like plastic.


For face and body, I guess we do not have to convince you of the benefits of natural soaps anymore, do we ? After many experiment on myself, the formulation of our soaps make it great for hair no longer than 6cm. If they are longer, you will experience the effect described below. If you're unsure about using soap as shampoo, it's worth giving it a try! All hair are differents and it could be what you need! Your hair may take time to adjust to natural ingredients, as synthetic surfactants and silicones used in many shampoos can leave buildup. The scalp may take several weeks to adapt to the high pH of natural soap, which can cause the hair to feel rough and dull during this period. However, the high pH of natural soap opens the cuticle for a deeper clean and leads to smoother, shinier hair over time guaranteed.




 

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