Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cosmetic Labels 101: The "claim" game.

Hello girls :)

This is the third article in the series "Cosmetic Labels 101".This article reveals to you all "the game of claims".

We almost always fall for those extravagant product claims..don't we? And don't you feel cheated when a product does/contains nothing like what it claimed? Let's see how this claim game is played by the cosmetic industry.

According to the "Cosmetics and Consumers" document on  consumereducation.in :

"No industry makes more extravagant claims for its products than the cosmetic industry." 

And i 100% agree with that statement! For how long have we been seeing the "Get 7 shades fairer in 14 days" S**t ??? and we all know how fake those claims are!(Forget 14 days,One of my cousin's family is using one of such c**p for more than 14 yrs now and their skin has not lightened even by 1 shade! Inturn,their skin got damaged beyond repair!!)

This does not stop at fairness creams.It applies to 99.9% of the products we see in the commercials!(including toothpastes!yes,toothpaste is considered a cosmetic too.)

And do you know that the cosmetic companies are allowed to exaggerate their claims to some extent so that it helps in selling their products?

And such exaggerations, which are permitted in advertising is generally referred to as "puffery".

But sometimes these claims exceed to such an extent that the consumer is left cheated.And there is even a term called "emotional ingredient" meaning, an ingredient whose mention on the label will tempt the  customer to buy it. For example,they incorporate some very well known beneficial stuff like almond oil/roses/strawberries/saffron/milk/some ayurvedic herbs etc., in their creams, lotions, shampoos etc.,and sing songs about that ingredient's presence to glory! However,the reality is,most of the times the product contains too little amounts of that 'ingredient in the limelight' to show any kind of benefits it is believed to provide.

So,aren't there any government/legal authorities who can control claims made by the cosmetic companies? Yes there are, But they don't seem to be bothered about this issue at all! If you've read my previous posts in this series you know who they are.If you haven't, then i suggest you read THIS and THIS posts first.

Now,lets see what one of the officials of the FDA has to say about this issue...

According to John Bailey, Director, Office of Cosmetics  and Colours, Food and Drug Administration, U.S.A., 
“Cosmetic industry sells an image and consumers can choose to believe those claims or not.”

!!!!!Ok Mr.,Now that you are giving "us" the choice,We choose NOT TO!!!!!

Baby products are included in this game too! Keep reading..

the following info is from consumereducation.in :

In the recent past, the Maharashtra FDA has been taking a number of consumer goods companies  to task on various consumer related issues. The most high profile so far has been the notices sent to
Johnson and Johnson and Wipro for their respective “baby oils” containing mineral oil, believed to be unfit for babies.

FDA, Maharashtra, investigated baby  products manufactured by M/s Johnson and Johnson Ltd. on the basis of a complaint received from the parent of a child in Amravati, Maharashtra. The complainant had alleged  that he had purchased Baby Oil, Batch Number, BM 3161,D/M Oct. 2003, for his child and the child was massaged by this oil. As a consequence of using this oil, the baby developed blisters on his skin.The use of the said baby oil was stopped on medical advise and thereafter the blisters also subsided. Then a complaint was lodged. As a consequence of the complaint, FDA Maharashtra investigated the complaint by collecting information from Johnson and Johnson, Ltd. relating to product composition, method of  manufacturing, method of testing, redressal of public complaints in respect of Johnson’s Baby Oil.FDA Maharashtra also decided to investigate other Johnson Baby Products along with “Johnson Baby Oil”  for the label claims.

Lets see what they found...

1) Johnson’s Baby Oil

2) Johnson’s Baby Hair Oil.

3) Baby Shampoo.

4) Johnson’s Baby Milk Soap

5) Johnson’s Baby Moisturizing Soap and Johnson’s Baby Moisturizing
Soap Blossoms 

6) Johnson’s Baby Lotion
7) Johnson’s Baby Milk Lotion
Shocking! Isn't it?

A show cause notice was issued to M/s Johnson and Johnson on 15th March 2005 in respect of all the baby products manufactured by them.FDA Maharashtra gave time to the company till 01/08/2005 to substantiate its claims, failing which it will take action.As a provincial regulator,the FDA does not have power to directly take any required action on the manufacturers.

It's 2012 and we still see 'Mineral oil' as the main ingredient on the label of johnson & johnson's baby oil!!!

This is India babes..we know how all the legal stuff gets managed here.If you're ready to feed the money hungry people you can even getaway with 'Arsenic' as the active ingredient! :-/

Not only 'johnson & johnson' but almost every commercial baby product manufacturer out there make false claims and uses harmful ingredients which you shouldn't be using on your baby's pure and precious skin/hair.And then they load up their ads with million tons of 'Mother-Baby' sentiment to sell their products.

So,ladies..ditch those commercial baby products and pamper you baby's skin with gentle all natural stuff which your grandma would've used on you.

And that is not the end of it..

The area in which the consumer is most exploited, cheated and mislead is the claim of ‘Naturals’ and ‘Herbals’ in cosmetic products.

Words on labels like "natural","safe" and "pure" have no definition in law and no relationship to the hazard inside the packaging.Acceptable levels of risk are entirely at the panel's (FDA's) discretion.

The California Department of Human Services found in a random sample of herbal stores that nearly one third of these “natural” remedies contained either heavy metals (such  as lead, arsenic and  mercury) or undeclared pharmaceuticals.

In order to understand what the “natural’ label says about a drug or cosmetic product, consumers need to understand how the government regulates the claim of natural. The Government agencies are still working in this direction and hence there are  no regulations or guidelines, regarding the use of ‘plant derived’ claims on these products.

Recently, Maharashtra FDA has taken steps to check this trend by sending show cause notices to   Ozone Pharmaceuticals for their ‘No Marks’ skin cream and sought certain clarifications from the company.According to FDA officials, the advertised claims of Ozone Ayruvedics,who are the manufacturers of the  ‘No Marks’ range of personal care products revealed that the company has been making misleading claims about the ‘No Marks’ cream, as it contains antibacterial and hyperaemic(blood circulation enhancing) agents in it, which comes under the category of drugs.

Hair dyes selling as Kali Mehandi has been found to contain Para Phenylene Diamine (PPD) along with Henna by a consumer activist group and reported in CONSUMER VOICE.


• Wipro – Baby Oil
• Emami
• Wipro Consumer care
• Ozone Ayruvedics ‘No Marks’ Personal Care Products
• R S Hair Care – Ayurvedic Hair Dye

And there are thousands of companies like these out there which are making false claims and cheating millions of consumers.

Here are some of the loophole's in canadian law which also applies in India:

*Products marketed as "Fragrance free" or "Unscented" may contain fragrance ingredients in the form of 'masking agents' that prevent the brain from perceiving odour.

*Products regulated as "Drugs" on the basis of therapeutic claims (e.g.,tartar fighting toothpaste,bacteria-killing cleansers,face cream with sun protection) are only required to list 'active' ingredients.not complete list as required for products regulated as cosmetics.
Now this point takes us to the new kid on the block: "Cosmeceuticals"

Cosmeceuticals  are topical cosmetic-pharmaceutical hybrids,intended to enhance the beauty  through ingredients that provide additional health-related function or benefit. They are applied topically as cosmetics, but contain ingredients that influence the biological function of skin.

Though the claims made about drugs are subject to high scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review and approval process, cosmetics are however not subject to mandatory FDA review.Much confusion exists regarding the status of ‘cosmeceuticals’. Although,there is no legal class called  cosmeceuticals, this term has found application and recognition to designate the products at the border line between cosmetics and drugs. Cosmetics that make therapeutic claims are regulated as 'drugs and cosmetics' and must meet the labeling requirements for both. For such product, the regulations require that active ingredients be listed first on these products, followed by the list of cosmetic ingredients in order of decreasing predominance. Active ingredient is the chemical that makes the product effective and the manufacturer  must  have  proof  that  it  is safe for its intended use.

Some products that come under the "cosmeceuticals" category are: 'Products containing AHAs/BHAs/Retinoids','Anti aging creams with pharmaceutical grade actives','Dandruff shampoo','tar tar fighting toothpaste', etc.,

unsupervised or over use of some products containing such pharmaceutical grade actives may cause serious damage.

And finally,here's a table from Data on Indian Cosmetic Industry comparing three different cosmetic regulatory bodies of the world.You can see how weak our Indian cosmetic regulations are.

Need i say more?

ppphhheeewww!!! such a long post! But wait, this game isn't over yet! There's one more level called "Greenwashing". So,in the next article let's see how that level is played ;)


NOTE: I referred many reliable resources which are listed below to gather this information.


consumereducation.in  LINK

safecosmetics.org  LINK

davidsuzuki.org LINK

docstoc.com LINK

cdsco.nic.in LINK


  1. Greeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaat work ra!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep going..... :*****

    1. ThanQQQQQQ shona.. :)) couldn't have done this without your support :*** <3 <3 <3

  2. Fabulous article..and it's all soooo true!!! I am so glad I read ingredient lists and stick to companies that write the entire list out. Even if I don't understand half the ingredients in there, at least I can look them up on google or whatever instead of just being ignorant...I keep telling my mom, regular coconut oil that we make at home is the best thing we can use for our skin instead of the fancy-looking/smelling bottles of lotion...

    1. ThanQQQ rads :)) and most of the times,the products which claim to be natural do not list all the ingredients! They just highlight the actives and hide the others..Cheaters! I love love looooovvveeee coconut oil <3 <3 <3 It works the best for me.I use it from tip to toe and love it more than some fancy oils like argan and jojoba.