Beauty is big business. You may snigger at the promises in cosmetic adverts but in reality the majority of cosmetic manufacturers take science very seriously. Procter and Gamble, the biggest consumer goods company in the world, invest $2bn yearly into research and development of consumer goods. L’Oréal, the biggest cosmetics company in the world, employ over 3,000 researchers around the globe and have a grant programme specifically designed to support female scientists.
|Under the Microscope: Mascara brush seen under a scanning electron microscope and falsely coloured in photoshop. Taken by me!|
COURTESY OF THE MICROSCOPE IMAGING FACILITY, INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES,
UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.
|Under The Microscope: MicroPerfecting Powder seen under a scanning electron microscope and falsely coloured in photoshop. Taken by me! COURTESY OF THE MICROSCOPE IMAGING FACILITY, INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL SCIENCES,|
UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN.
Dr Siân Morris, Principal Scientist P&G Beauty and Grooming from Procter and Gamble spoke to me about, “the first and second moments of truth. You want to delight women when they first see how the product looks, feels and smells and then in the second when you apply it to the skin and see results. We are also interested in the third, fourth and 400th moments of truth because delivering on our promise is critical, to comply to obligations on claims with regulators. Most importantly because women who use products like Olay trust our brands and products, they expect a lot from us and we know we need to deliver”.
I asked if ‘ any product can reverse the signs of ageing?’ “Interestingly, if you ask most women they will tell you they want to look great for their age and to get compliments or maybe be thought of as several years younger but most don’t want to look 25 when they are 45 anymore. So we are looking to help offer a way to achieve younger looking skin, to minimise the signs of ageing, reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, firm and even the skin tone and texture with different products. It’s also about making skin feel smooth, soft, hydrated or clean and radiant as well as protecting it every day but it’s not about reversing signs of ageing in the way you may expect.”
This is an important point; it isn’t just about the active ingredients in a cosmetic formulation. Consumers buy products that look, feel and smell appealing, which they enjoy using. Cosmetic manufacturers expend a great deal of time and money in order to determine what cues in a product indicate that it is ‘working’. What scent says, ‘This product is reducing the appearance of fine lines’? Cosmetics are a luxury item, a concept that people buy in to. The ‘experience’ goes right from the advert, to the text and design of the product packaging to the actual product used, and this; you could call the science of cosmetics.
This article was published in Au Science Magazine, which you can read here - http://ausm.org.uk/