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Ethics and Personal Care

By: Steve Herman
Posted: August 11, 2009, from the August 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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The public perception of a brand as ethical can even have a significant impact on that brand’s sales. This was noted in a survey and report The Body Shop conducted in 2008.11 “The ethics of a brand are as important as the price when making purchasing decisions... Even though the current economic climate may be pushing consumers to cut down on their expenditure, the ethical reputation of a company remains as important as the price in North America, suggests the survey…34% said their purchases were based on the ethical reputation of a company.”

The beauty industry has perhaps more obligation than most to be ethical because it promises specific benefits to its consumers, famously promoting “hope in a jar.” And, as essentially a chemical business, the industry has other responsibilities toward safety and regulation. Since both the cosmetics and fragrance segments of the industry have long campaigned for self regulation, the bar is raised even higher for ethical impeccable science. It is not too fanciful to hope that every time a key decision is made, the good of the company, the good of the industry, the good of the consumer and the good of the world are considered.


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Steve Herman is president of Diffusion LLC, a consulting company specializing in regulatory issues, intellectual property, and technology development and transfer. An adjunct professor in the Fairleigh Dickinson University Masters in Cosmetic Science program, his book, Fragrance Applications: A Survival Guide, was published by Allured Publishing Corp. in 2001. A former chairman of the Society of Cosmetic Chemist’s New York chapter, he was elected to fellow status in 2002.