But I don’t know who to believe?
I speak to a lot of people in a week about cosmetic science and it is clear that the subject causes much confusion. We live in a time when having an opinion, an internet connection and an inclination to write is all you need to become a world-wide celebrity (just look at me for proof! OK, that was a joke…..) and quite frankly, it sucks at times.
Not a week goes by when I don’t stumble upon a brand owner of the ‘trust me I’m a scientist’ ilk giving out advise on cosmetic formulating. Does it matter that the science they studied was geology and the only cosmetic science they have done is what they learned from google? Not at all, small detail, no need to mention it old chap.
Or a Doctor (one of my favourites) that claims to be able to ‘repair the visible signs of ageing’ with their hand-formulated cosmetics. The fact that their PhD was centred around exploring the reproductive cycle of an earth worm makes them perfectly well placed to do that of course.
Or the mid-life career changer who sings with all the evangelical enthusiasm of a reformed smoker about their new cosmetic industry talent and how their products are safe to use on cancer treatments. Must share, simply must darling.
It does happen. Often in fact and while it is all entertaining it does add to the pot of mass confusion.
and somewhere in a deep, dark corner of the world a science molecule shrivels up and dies……
My advise is not to say ‘don’t worry your pretty little heads over THOSE other guys, just believe me’ as I’m not the ‘believe me’ kind. Well, I lie, I do believe people mainly but what I believe is their intent. I believe that when people say things they are generally either being quite nice and have good intentions and are trying their best to give you what they feel is the bare naked truth or they are are the seeking some kind of recognition, empire building of sorts and tend to feel happiest when they are getting praise, feedback and kudos from others – the ‘I’m a celebrity’ camp. These people are often quite nice too but when they are in this mode their motives are a little skewed in their favour which can add to the mis-guided information dishing and background fact omission.
It takes quite a lot of time and often a substantial investment of money to really find something out. Whether that be by experimenting in a lab, talking to others about your experimentation, testing your findings, reading papers, getting others to analyse your theories or whatever. It takes almost no time at all to read something juicy on the internet and cut and paste it onto your own website, blog or Facebook account. It is also very easy to absorb information that conforms to our view of the world. We’ve all done it, cut and pasted without investing, without REALLY understanding, without questioning. But not all of us go on to then teach that re-hashed stuff or preach like we invented it and it is people in that head space that really do make the game of knowing who to believe so much harder.
One of the most important skills in the 2010’s is the ability to discern information, to pick the wheat from the chaff. It is hard to know where to start especially when you are trying to get a brand or a business up and running quickly but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. If you are in the ‘I’m an expert’ camp be honest with what you know and what you don’t know. Call it as it is, explain how and why you think what you think, keep an open mind and allow your clients, readers or whatever to grow WITH you. If you are a searcher question your service providers. Why do they say that? Does it work in your situation, what experience do they have of implementing that? What could go wrong etc. Prove it.
But the biggest thing for us all to remember is that cosmetic science is an applied science, a science that has to be used and tested and that can be many different rights and many wrongs depending on the application. What works for some skin doesn’t work for others, what is stable in one environment is terrible in another.
It may not be so for all areas of life but in cosmetic science seeing is believing.
Because the question shouldn’t be one of whom to believe but more of ‘what’.
So go out there with your eyes wide open and you will find what you are looking for.
Without deferring to anyone.
PS: For the record I believe in Fairies, magic and the healing qualities of tea and chocolate.