Wong and Sass, as well as cosmetic chemists Jen Novakovich (known as The Eco Well) and Esther Olu (who posts as The Melanin Chemist), all say their followers will routinely tag them in content posted by other brands and influencers, and ask for their opinions or positions on issues under discussion.
For Novakovich, who has 81.k followers on Instagram, the most frustrating claims are around clean beauty or sustainability. “I don’t think that anyone is communicating about the nuance of the topic effectively, so I try to dig into that.”
She is concerned by the demonisation of certain ingredients such as parabens and aluminium, which are commonly used in cosmetics, but are criticised by the clean movement. “People are tired of influencers constantly pushing products, and people are tired of misinformation in the beauty industry, and being let down by marketing claims,” addes Olu. “Now, they’re genuinely interested in learning about the science behind it all.”
Also cited by cosmetic chemists as a regular frustration: Brands that sidestep or ignore regulatory guidance that prohibits them from claiming a product can “treat” or “cure” conditions such as acne and eczema.
Working with brands
Many science communicators are happy to work with brands — providing they can do so on their terms. Wong recently collaborated with Pantene for posts across her Instagram, Tiktok and Youtube, in which she conducted an experiment showing that both expensive and drugstore shampoos leave the same amount of residue on hair. Wong says that the co-branded Tiktok video gained her over one million views. Ultimately, she says, her yardstick for working with a brand or not is whether social media viewers can learn something, regardless of whether they make a purchase.
Novakovich has also worked with Pantene, while Sass has an ongoing partnership with Paula’s Choice. “My rubric for collaboration is asking the brand, how are you communicating scientific information? And are you doing it in a way that might make people afraid of other kinds of products?” says Sass.
According to Engel, the input of cosmetic chemist commentators may be exactly what cosmetic companies need: “In the absence of brand trust, brands originally turned to celebrities and influencers to speak on their behalf, but that has become so watered down.”
Partnerships with cosmetic chemists require brands to allow the chemists to work in their own style. Get the partnership right and longer-term collaborations could have rich potential, suggests Begley. “Bringing [cosmetic chemists] in and getting their feedback on the actual product development process is highly effective.”
Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected]
More from this author:
Beauty in the metaverse: …….