Education - Click on the Question to read my response
I receive a lot of questions and will try and answer them all.
Firstly, let me say that I do not test on animals. It’s banned in Europe and has been for years.
It was Anita Roddick and her company, ‘The Body Shop’, that first alerted me to the issue of animal testing in cosmetics during the 1980’s. As a teenager, I used to look on the back of products to see if the ‘not tested on animals’ claim was there. It brought the issue to the attention of the media and to those of us who bought the products. It started a movement that has led to the total ban on animal testing in Europe.
The UK eventually banned the testing of finished cosmetic products on animals in 1997 with Europe taking a little longer, eventually introducing a ban in September 2004. This was followed in July 2013 by a complete animal testing ban of all individual cosmetic ingredients for products sold within the EU. I think most of us would agree that this is good news.
Animal testing in cosmetics was historically used to ensure the safety of products to human health. Everything was tested from essential oils to synthetic ingredients. In cosmetics and personal care, we can now ensure products and their individual ingredients are safe by using safety profile assessments. These reports can only be carried out by experienced toxicologists who also take personal responsibility for the safety of each formulation they sign off. The majority of products are made from ingredients that have a well-established safety record and this information is stored in the scientist’s database. These individual ingredients can also be analysed to ensure their safety within a formulation.
There are some countries outside of the EU that still require some animal testing of certain cosmetics under their own laws. However, this is under review and a worldwide ban is a real possibility very soon.
I’m sometimes asked why I don’t make a ‘cruelty free’ claim on my packaging. It’s simple, the criteria for making cosmetic claims (which are now part of European cosmetics law) prohibits claims that simply state compliance with the legal requirements. Since the ban on animal testing applies equally to all cosmetic products sold in the EU, it’s just a claim stating the obvious. I think using such claims perpetuates the myth that animal testing in cosmetics still occurs in Europe. It’s expected that the European Commission will stop these broad ‘animal-friendly’ claims when it reviews their guidance.
It’s thanks to passionate people like Anita Roddick that our industry can change and innovate. The ‘Cruelty Free’ logos were something I looked for thirty years ago but I’m glad to say that, every product you buy in Europe has reached the shop shelves without having been tested on animals, whether it’s got a logo or not.
Why do you use Aluminium in your Deodorant especially as it's a range created for teenagers? I've read lots of negative things about that ingredient.
I created the range for my own children, having joined the Society of Cosmetic Scientists and retrained in Cosmetic science.
The Deodorant/Anti perspirant formulation was one that took the longest and in which I studied the scientific, peer reviewed, research intensively.
It was essential that I used an active that was not only safe but also highly efficacious. Young people don’t want a Deodorant that doesn’t work. In formulation Aluminium Chlorohydrate works as an antiperspirant, that is to say it forms insoluble salt (a gel like substance) in the pores that reduce sweating by forming a plug. The molecules are large and create a gel like substance that sit on the skin and are designed to go no further. It is simply washed away the next time we bath/shower. in my formulation I alter the percentage concentration of Aluminium Chlorohydrate and combine it with a plant derived active called Polyglyceryl-3-Caprilate. This means that the formulation is gentle but will also protect from body odour for the entire school day.
Aluminium is the third most abundant element on the planet, it’s in our food and water. We ingest more aluminium in a day than would be absorbed through the skin using an antiperspirant and our bodies metabolise the aluminium we consume daily. The skin is a barrier, it’s incredibly difficult to penetrate the skin using topically applied products.
I have reviewed the scientific evidence and spoken at length to the most experienced Toxicologists in this field. I’m now an ambassador for the Society of Cosmetic Scientist’s schools eduction programme and have spoken at the Royal Society of Chemistry about the misinformation surrounding cosmetic ingredients. The industry is awash with scare stories and some companies and websites exist in this market, I am not part of that. I am from the scientific community.
This is what Cancer research and the NHS say about Aluminium in Cosmetics.
I completely understand your concern about cosmetic ingredients and specifically Aluminium Chlorohydrate. I hope my reasoning for including it in formulation is clear.
I'd like to know if the fragrance you use is artificial? Generally I keep away from artificial smells as they irritate my skin but would love to try your product.
Yes, my fragrance is synthetic (All Classic fragrances including Channel No 5 use synthetic fragrance) I'm surprised to read that you have irritation issues with synthetics as they are usually included to avoid this exact issue.
Essential oils are are far higher in allergenic compounds such as limonene, citral, cinnamyl alcohol, geraniol and eugenol. In fact, more than half of the allergens that need to be listed in the INCI list are naturals. I do not think that essential oils are in anyway better for my range, in fact, I would be wary of using essential oils on teenage skin.
Using synthetics allows for a wider number of fragrance components and a reliability in quality and fragrance stability. Also, from a sustainability angle, fragrance from rare or protected raw materials, such as Sandalwood, can be reproduced without the risk of extinction! It also keeps the cost at an affordable level. I couldn't sell my products starting at £4 if I used essential oils.
I love your products! They work so well and the smell is amazing. What is the purpose of moisturiser. I see all these people saying "its important to moisturise your skin" but I don't know why. Also, why is the moisturizer smaller than all the others?
Thank you for getting in touch and what a great question.
When you wash your skin (Body or face), cosmetic and personal care products may contain ingredients called surfactants (surface active agents). They basically help dissolve oil and water. This is important because, as you know water and oil don’t naturally mix (e.g. when you pour olive oil into water it will not mix together) and dirt contains oil so these ingredients dissolve the oil and the water washes it off your skin.
However, your skin contains it’s own complex natural oils (also called lipids) and this is disturbed in the upper most layers of the skin (Statum Corneum or SC). After you’ve washed, the skin needs to replenish this natural oil and we help the process by moisturisation, the act of rebalancing the lipid structure of the top layers of the skin.
When it comes to moisturisers, there are an enormous amount of products to chose from depending on what is required. The reason I only make it in 50ml is that the formulation is expensive due to the ingredients I use and it’s created for just the face, so you only need a small amount each time you apply.
I formulate for adolescent skin and hair. The Face Wash is very mild but you still need to apply a moisturiser afterwards because the act of cleaning, by it’s very nature, requires some removal of oils. However, as well as Vitamin E (Tocopherol acetate), Squalane (constituent part of skin lipid), Glycerin, Shea Butter and Aloe all used to assist in moisturisation and soothing of the skin, I use an active called Butyl Advocadate that helps to control the overproduction of sebum (stimulated by the hormones in adolescence) which can lead to breakouts.
I can go into far more detail, in all the topics mentioned above, if you have any more questions.
Thank you again for writing, I’m so glad you like the formulations and it really makes a difference to me when I hear from people who have used the range.
I would desperately like to buy my 19 year old son with your products...however he won't use a roll on deodorant. Do you have any plans to produce an aerosol?
Thanks so much for the email, it really made me laugh. I agree completely!
The reason I don’t produce a aerosol deodorant is mainly due to the following;
1. I come from a scientific background and wanted to apply this to every aspect of the range. The most effective way to apply deodorant is directly to the skin in the area it’s needed.
2. Less is more when it comes to adolescent skin and hair care. Butane, Propane and their derivatives are propellents and provide no benefit to the activity of formulation, they just drive up the cost.
3. The wastage involved when using aerosols can be enormous.
I also wanted to stop the 'explosion in a perfume factory’ moment as whole rooms are consumed by the spray. The rollerball on the SAMFARMER deodorant is slightly smaller which allows for a more acurate application. My daughter and son also wanted to apply deodorant during the school day without drawing everyone’s attention by using a noisy aerosol.
Aerosols are the preferred weapon of choice for young people but I’m on a mission to convince them that it’s not the future!
Thank you for getting in touch and you are absolutely right to ask before applying.
They're absolutely safe for both but if you want your colour and perm to keep in best condition I would recommend a specialist product.
Is there a way for consumers to easily check that what companies put on the packaging is what they actually put in the bottle?
Cosmetic legislation, in relation to labelling, is a fairly large topic but I will focus on your question relating to specific listings. When it comes to mandatory labelling, this is dealt with under Article 19 of the cosmetics Regulation 1223/2009.
Ingredients are required to be labelled on the outer packaging, each one has to be listed in descending order of concentration down to 1%, then they can be listed in any order, finally any colours are listed at the end. To avoid any confusion that might occur for ingredients the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) list is used for labelling. This means that the ingredients are called the same thing in all EU countries.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
On the outer packaging the country where the product was made has to be listed. You will see on the back of mine it clearly states 'Made in UK'.
NAME AND EU ADDRESS
Each company has to have a 'responsible person' for their products. This is where the buck stops, who is personally responsible for making sure the products comply with all of the rules and regulations. For SAMFARMER it's me, Sam Farmer and my company and postcode are also listed on the packaging.
As for claims made to a products' efficacy, these are pretty open to interpretation as they are usually created by marketing departments rather than the scientists who formulate them. Word of mouth or beauty blogs are a great way of hearing about how well something works but it might be different for you. The best way of finding out if a products' claim delivers, is to try it yourself.
The EU is also tightening up on the 'Free from...' claims, as it implies that the ingredients brands choose to be 'free from' are somehow 'dangerous'. This is not the case and the word 'nasty' doesn't mean anything in cosmetic chemistry. It's all about concentration in formulation, personal choice and which ingredients work for you and which don't. Confusion can arise when It's left to a marketing department to explain the complex chemistry involved in formulations.
I'm rambling now so I'll finish off. To summarise, check the INCI list on the packaging and you will see what is in each product and get an idea of the concentration used in each formulation. If you want to avoid a certain ingredient you can check to see if it's listed. Product packaging should all have a country of origin listed as well. More information can be obtained from the Name and EU address printed on the outer packaging.
If you have a specific worry about a company's legitamacy, Trading Standards is where you should go.
Please keep in touch and if you need any more information just shout.
I just have ordered 2 travel packs and, belatedly, checked for ingredients. Disappointed about the parabens. What is your policy regarding animal testing?
Thank you so much for your order and your following email. I will answer in three parts
This is a great question and one that I asked myself before taking a cosmetic science qualification. I will explain why I have used (Short Chain) Parabens, in particular Methyl and Propyl Paraben and have attached some of the latest scientific data and another link to a respected Toxicologist so you can balance my view with others in the industry. This is a complex area of chemistry but a fantastic example of how consumer misinformation has been spread by the non scientific community. (i.e. Newspapers, magazines etc)
Firstly, Parabens (e.g. Methylparaben) can be found in nature (Blueberry shrub) and are part of various natural processes within plants. Parabens are used in a variety of products from personal care to foods and have been around since the 1930's, making them some of the most scientifically researched ingredients. They perform the function of a preservative within my moisturiser by prohibiting the growth of microorganisms which may lead to spoiling. They are a group of closely related chemicals; esters of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, which is where they get their name. The length of their carbon chain gives the Paraben it's name (Meth - 1, Prop - 3, But - 4 etc) and will determine their effectiveness as a preservative in formulation. Usually a combination of Parabens are used to decrease concentration of any one Paraben and give a broader spectrum of anti-microbial activity.
Having studied the scientific evidence in detail, talking to formulation experts and vastly experienced toxicologists, I believe that short chain Parabens are amongst the safest cosmetic ingredients I can use to preserve my moisturiser. In fact, if a leave on product does not contain Parabens I want to know what exactly they use as an alternative.
I know you have read some research but here are a couple of pieces you may not have seen.
- Some of the latest scientific research and data
- A respected and vastly experienced Toxicologist's view on Parabens can be found here
From a skin kindness point of view, parabens are the best choice in my opinion as they have very low irritation potential. It is also extremely important that products used on eczematic skin are free of microbial contaminants as infection with pseudomonas would be devastating for the skin.
2. Animal Testing
I am against animal testing in cosmetics. Animal testing is banned in the EU and any product for sale within the EU cannot be tested on animals. In fact, it has been banned for years so there is no need to put 'against animal testing' on packaging.
3. Irritation / Reaction
If someone has a known sensitisation to a specific ingredient then they will avoid it, just as someone allergic to strawberries avoids eating them. It might be helpful to read the customer reviews on my website here. You won't get a reaction the first time you use a specific compound, it will build over time and then the more you use it, the skin's reaction will become more intense..
Just a final note to say, as a Dad, I formulated this range for use by my children with two of the most experienced and respected formulators in the country and having myself qualified in cosmetic science. I am determined to remove the marketing hype and cosmetic ingredient misinformation, getting back to the scientific evidence in creating the most efficacious and gentle range for adolescent skin and hair.
Thank you again for your order and your questions, if you would like any further detail on the above please just get in touch.
Sam Farmer Dip SCS
I suffer from excessive sweating and I'm keen not to use a deodorant that alters body chemical make up by using harsh chemicals. Can you help?
It might be useful to just clarify an important distinction. In the UK, we are regulated by the Cosmetic Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009, there is a clear distinction here between what is a cosmetic and what is a medicine. A cosmetic is defined as (I'm summarising here) 'any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the external parts of the body to clean, perfume, protect and/or correct body odours.' However, any product that 'restores, corrects or modifies physiological functions' is a medicine and is regulated by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority). As cosmetic chemists, we can only produce products that fit in to the first definition.
Sweat is secreted through the Eccrine and Apocrine sweat glands in the skin. However, it is only the Apocrine sweat that releases a thicker secretion containing molecules that are broken down by our skin bacteria and cause body odour. These glands are mainly found under the armpits and in the groin area.
The term 'Harsh Chemicals' is rather emotive language based largely on misinformation. If cosmetics or personal care products were harsh on the skin, they simply will not sell. Every product has to go through various complex processes to determine their safety, including a Toxicologist's report. In my opinion, the most successful, safe and proven cosmetic active to counter Apocrine sweat is Aluminium Chlorohydrate. The Aluminium salts form a gel like structure on the skin, blocking the pore. They sit on the skin, are designed to go no further and are simply washed off the next time we bath/shower.
My Granddaughter is 10 years old and has started to get get a few spots, will your products be helpful for her or is she too young yet?
Thank you so much for getting in touch. If someone has skin that is prone to spots, there isn't a cosmetic product on the planet that will prevent it 100%. However, your grand daughter can start a face washing routine that will minimise outbreaks and help to reduce the 'redness' associated with these outbreaks.
The SAMFARMER face wash is extremely mild, will not strip the skin and should be fine for her. It is advisable to also moisturise with a light moisturiser afterwards to help rebalance the moisture content of the skin, otherwise enzymes (activated by a hormone during puberty) will simply produce more sebum (oil) to counter the cleaning action and could lead to more outbreaks.
1. A 50p sized amount of Face Wash into the palm
2. Rub together with warm water and gently rub into the face - Do NOT scrub
3. Rinse well
4. When dry, apply a 5p sized amount of light moisturiser. As mentioned above - This is very important as it will help to rebalance the moisture content of the skin, if you don't the skin will simply produce more sebum to compensate.
I have two teenage daughters. One of them has suffered from excema as a child. She has often been told to avoid parabens. So, what are parabens, why are they used, and are they unfairly demonised?
(Please see answer on why I use short chain Parabens - Above)
Scientifically proven, effective and gentle ingredients are my mantra for formulating teenage personal care products. My advice to your daughter is that, if she finds a product that works for her, then that is the one to stick with. Please feel free to call me if you would like any more information and thank you again for getting in touch.
I heard Sam Farmer on the Gaby Roslin show today. I would like to know if the de-odorant contains any Aluminium like most products on the market do. There was some publicity some years ago connecting Aluminium with breast cancer and from that moment on I have used Aluminium free products..
Thank you for getting in touch, It's a good question and one in which I did a lot of research as I wanted to use an active that was safe and had proven efficacy. I do find it interesting that you know a connection has been scientifically proven NOT to exist yet you are still concered it does. We ingest Aluminium daily, it is in our food, water and is the third most abundant element on the planet. I use Aluminium Chlorohydrate because it works as an antiperspirant, that is to say, the active forms insoluble aluminium salts in the pores, reducing sweat excretion by forming a gel like substance. This gel sits on the skin and is designed to go no further. It is simply washed away the next time we bath/shower.
I have reviewed the scientific evidence myself and spoken at length with numerous Toxicologists about this specific issue. In addition, I am constantly attending cosmetic chemistry lectures and reviewing scientific papers.
Below is the conclusion of a recent French (they love a bit of sceintific safety anaylysis of cosmetic ingredients!) scientific paper on this exact issue. (Translated)
Use of deodorants/antiperspirants and increased incidence of breast cancer: are we on the wrong track?
Chairman; Prof Moïse Namer (Oncologist, Chairman of APREMAS [Association for thePrevention of Diseases of the Breast] and Chairman of the “Patients Commission” of the Antoine Lacassagne Centre, Nice)
"No prospective epidemiological study to date has demonstrated this hypothesis, but the anxiety generated by these pseudo‐scientific speculations regularly prompts a number of patients and women to raise the question of the safety of use of these products with their doctor. Despite a reassuring response published recently by the AFSSAPS on the use of antiperspirants, our expert group wished to make a detailed analysis of the pathophysiological hypothesis and the epidemiological data in order to respond scientifically and methodologically to patients’ anxiety. After analysing the available literature on the subject, no scientific evidence to support the hypothesis has been identified. Furthermore, after elimination of off‐subject studies, studies which appear methodologically unsound or relating to parabens – substances which are generally not used in the composition of deodorants/antiperspirants – there remains no validated hypothesis likely to open the way to interesting avenues of research. In conclusion, it can be said that this question does not constitute a public health problem and that it therefore appears unnecessary to continue research on the subject.
Taking into account the high prevalence of breast cancer, particularly in France , it seems essential, rather than alarm women with groundless assumptions, to heighten their awareness of the importance of prevention and the value of screening by relaying to them the information campaigns set up by the authorities, hospitals and patient associations to combat this scourge better."
I formulated the deodorant to give my kids the confidence to get through the school day without having to worry about body odour. As well as Aluminium Chlorohydrate I have incorporated a naturally derived active (Polyglyceryl-3 Caprylate) that HAS been proven to reduce odour causing bacteria. This has allowed me to reduce the concentration of Aluminium Chlorohydate in formulation, so it is effective AND gentle.
If you would like any more information please do get in touch.
Go on ask away.