Thursday, February 23, 2017


Ever look at a product and think "oh wow, they've really got a gripe on consumers with their scare tactic sales pitch"? 

If there is anything I have learned from being a science nerd my whole life, is that there is a very fine line between the truth and things pretending to be the truth (“Alternative Facts”). Science is a discipline where evidence is collected and can be replicated each and every time. It teaches you to be critical – and when you're surrounded by marketing buzzwords all the time, being critical is REALLY important.

My little piece of work that went viral, reposted by Nihilist Memes and Insufferably Intolerant Science Nerd on Facebook.

I honestly don't blame consumers for having an idea that certain things are bad – I blame the people who are purposely making up their own facts and philosophies, projecting them as the truth.

Here are a few common terms thrown around in marketing that really annoy me to tears.

Chemical Free: This is just a scare-tactic marketing term to demonize ingredients that have been used in cosmetics for decades without negative impact, simply because they are made by synthesising molecules in laboratories or are byproducts of processing. Chemicals are just single atoms and molecules that occupy space; if something were truly chemical free, you would have a complete void. Surely, if you were a nihilist, you would too enjoy a jar of the void.

Detox: People think there is an outside intervention to the process in which our physiology removes waste products from our bodies. This occurs efficiently by the excretory system, unless compromised by disease, where outside intervention may be required (e.g. Kidney Dialysis). No herbs or juices are going to clean you out, unless they're laxative based, in which they will have you on the toilet wishing it would stop before your big meeting in 15 minutes. You're probably doing yourself more harm than good. "Detoxifying" claims found on cleansers basically states the obvious; washing away dirt from the skin's surface, which is what a cleanser is supposed to do in the damned first place.

Essential Oils: They're totally unessential, most of them are irritants. Essential = Essence = Smell. They're smelly components (Aromatics), and some have therapeutic properties (e.g. Menthol from Peppermint has a cooling sensation which can relieve pain very temporarily), but most just make things smell nice and are basis for perfumes.

Natural: Occurs in nature. No better, no safer, not more environmentally sound, not really anything other than a marketing term. Arsenic is natural, so is Lava. Let's go jump into a volcano! Palm oil is very natural and responsible for deforestation and endangerment of already severely threatened species. The following molecules found in pharmaceutical drugs, such as Atropine (Belladonna), Morphine (Poppy Flower), Cannabidiol (Cannabis) and Penicillin (that fungus that makes blue cheese and antibiotics) are all derived from natural sources.

Absolutely meaningless term when applied to human biology only. There are just some things you can safely use but shouldn't put on your pets and plants, just saying.

Organic: Pertaining to living things? Oh, you mean the produce that was cultivated in a low-yield agricultural practice where it was sprayed with “natural” pesticides, that have been proven to have higher toxicity in humans than their synthetic counterparts in the same doses. This term is a chemist's nightmare, because organic chemistry is a real field; where you can build molecules based around configurations of carbon and other atoms responsible for creating the building blocks and byproducts of life.

Toxin: The dose makes the poison. There are substances that are toxic in high enough doses, but we seem to think that a substance is toxic because of its nature, not because it is safe to use up until a certain point. Excessive consumption of water can cause a severe electrolyte imbalance, which can be fatal. Chocolate is toxic to dogs in amounts humans can safely ingest. Go read a material safety data sheet before you start rambling on.

I hope that this helps with your choices. Of course, always try to buy non animal tested products – it's far kinder.


  1. YES! Thank you! I get so many people who preach products that they use because of being chemical free etc and I have always thought the same as what you just wrote (except haven't really been able to articulate it haha)

  2. Excellent post. As an esthetician in the beauty biz for 20 years I hear these catch phrases spoken often. By clients and others in my field. Glad to have another voice for common sense. FYI: essential oil is the descriptive name for the plant essence captured in an oil base. I have fun telling people that essential oils are basically volatile organic compounds. VOC's anyone?