Claims such as 'dermatologically tested' or 'dermatologist approved' - found on many cosmetics, toiletries and some washing products - are confusing and potentially misleading.1
Such claims imply that a product has reached a certain level of safety or effectiveness, but there are no standard industry-wide definitions to determine how a product must be tested or the results it needs to achieve, before a company can make such a claim. This means that tests designed by companies to substantiate dermatological claims may not necessarily replicate how a product is actually used.
In over 1,000 people asked about label claims on cosmetics, over a quarter thought that 'dermatologically tested' meant that a product had been tested on human skin and the remaining three quarters either did not know what the term meant, or thought that it could mean something else:
13% said it meant the product is kind to skin; 22% thought the product would not cause allergies and 10% thought the product is unlikely to cause skin allergies.
In most cases, the term ‘dermatologically tested’ does not tell you what the tests were designed to show, or whether the product passed these tests. Of the ten leading cosmetics companies, asked to supply evidence to support their claims, only eight replied despite repeated requests. Of the information supplied, this was considered by two independent experts to be only general information about the tests carried out. Without specific details on the methods used, or the results achieved, the experts were unable to assess fully whether the products lived up to their claims.
This lack of standard definitions is confusing, totally misleading and allows malicious companies to take advantage of consumer trust and confusion. Indeed, with companies refusing to supply details of their tests and results, these claims are meaningless, and consumers are left guessing about the benefits implied by such claims.
how does natracare test?
Natracare only ever conducts tests on human volunteers.
Natracare carried out a clinical study on human volunteers by way of repetitive application patch tests for skin2. This is according to the international prescription for cosmetic safety to determine irritancy. These tests are conducted at the Laboratory of Skin Tests, Department of Dermatology, A. Sygros Hospital Medical School at the University of Athens.
Because of the lower sensitivity of human skin to irritants, testing for the baby wipes and intimate wipes is performed by repetitive patch testing. The method used is to carry out 10 applications on 20 volunteers with sensitive skin for 20 days. Any reactions are measured according to classification of scores from 0 (no reaction) to 4 (a severe reaction).
To obtain a panel of volunteers with sensitive skin, first they receive one patch on their left upper arm containing a diluted solution of surfactant (SLS 0.75%) which is removed after 24 hours. Irritation to SLS is evaluated 30 minutes later. Panelists developing a redness score 1 or more are selected for the natracare study.
Every 24 hours for 20 days, skin reactions are graded according to erythema3, oedema4 and dryness. Any test material eliciting any of these reactions with a score of 3 or more is not re-applied and is then considered to be an irritant. The results of the trials for natracare baby wipes and intimate wipes showed there was no evidence of erythema, oedema or dryness.
1 According to studies conducted by the UK's Consumer's Association WHICH?
2 A Primer for Cosmetic Scientists. Editor James Whittan Markel Dekker Inc. New York and Basel 1987.
3 erythema: redness of the skin resulting from inflammation.
4 oedema: puffy swelling, representing a collection of abnormal amounts of fluid in the tissues.