Dan Thompson: Beauty Busted


Experts on Call: CFRA Ottawa Panel Discussion

delving into the very confusing world of "natural" cosmetics

On August 30, I told you about a broadcast on CFRA Ottawa called Experts on Call. I was invited to tape a panel discussion that delved into the very confusing world of "natural" cosmetics.

Over the course of the one-hour taping the debate was, to say the least, lively. Many different points of view and many opinions—some of which with I agreed, some of which I openly challenged.

The panel was comprised of some of the most expert people in the field and I was very honoured to be included amongst the very knowledgeable people assembled for the discussion.

Participating in the debate was me, Adrian Vasil, Meg Sears, and Julie Harrison, all of whom offered some great insight for consumers and certainly helped clarify the incredibly complex world of cosmetics.

In part one of the broadcast, I walked away with three points where the experts agreed:

1. "Natural" is not a terminology that should be applied to cosmetics. There is neither a legal nor regulatory standard for the term "natural" when applied to a cosmetic product. In fact, any cosmetic can be marketed as "natural" without any specific formula requirements.

2. Preservatives are confusing. Remove one and another takes its place. So is the new preservative any more safe than the older one? The answer is "not always."  While preservatives are required to maintain the integrity of the products, most of them operate under the same principles. Simply removing one that is objectionable does not always mean the remaining ones are better or more safe.

3. Consensus amongst the experts does not exist. The research about the safety or non-safety of cosmetics is far from conclusive. Even this esteemed panel of experts could not agree on all the data and what it actually meant for consumers.

The experts did agree there is a need to create safer products with easier to understand labeling.