Personal Care Products Council asks beauty editors to help set the record straight on science and safety of cosmetics

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Kowcz (left), Breen, Calvert, Keith, Powers
Kowcz (left), Breen, Calvert, Keith, Powers

Related tags Mass media Communication

At this week’s annual meeting event in Palm Beach, Florida, the trade organization held a dedicated session for press in an effort to better mitigate the proliferation of misinformation about personal care, cosmetics, and fragrance ingredients.

“We believe as an industry that consumers have the right to know what’s in their products but we also feel they have right to understand,” ​Lisa Powers, EVP of public affairs and communications for the PCPC, told a room full of media insiders.

Editors, reporters, and other content creators attend the annual PCPC meeting as speakers, sponsors, and of course to cover news coming out of the event.

B2B media, like Cosmetics Design, are there primarily to cover the event proceedings. Consumer-facing media pros from Condé Nast publications such as Allure, from Meredith Corporation, Essence magazine, and sites like PopSugar and Refinery29 spend quite a bit of time at the event meeting with beauty brand and corporate leaders to discuss advertising campaigns and content partnerships as well as upcoming product launches.

So, a fairly diverse and influential group of some 40 editors and media insiders were in the room for the invitation-only beauty editors reception and panel discussion Tuesday afternoon.

Who and what

The panel addressing the session’s attendees included Thia Breen, former group president North America for Estée Lauder; Alex Keith, president, global P&G beauty; Alex Kowcz, chief scientist for the PCPC; and George Calvert, chief supply chain officer for Amway. Lisa Powers, EVP of public affairs and communications for the PCPC, moderated the discussion.

The swift progress of digital media has meant that the personal care and beauty industry simply doesn’t have the same control over messaging and information that it once enjoyed.

“The availability of information that has come with the internet age has just allowed people to get more involved and more interested,”​ noted Keith.

“I’m thrilled that people want to know about the science and stuff in the products…but the internet also has lots of sources of information. And knowing where the good sources are and where the not completely valid sources are is a challenge,” ​she said, adding that her concern centers on “where people are going for this information.”

Why and how

Expanding on that, the industry at large is concerned with issues of product safety and consumer trust.

“I think it’s a real challenge for the consumers now,”​ Kowcz said. “The most important thing is to make that science understandable. And, the misinformation that’s out there drives the scientific side of me crazy…people don’t distill it into very understandable consumer language.”

The PCPC wants to use formalized media as a key channel to better communicate with consumers. “This is what you do so well,”​said Kowcz, referring to the media pros in the room. “Your role is so very critical in really getting the right word out….The power of the written word, the power of what you do every day is so critical for the science.”

Keith affirmed her point, saying, “consumers are looking to third party experts rather than the manufactures themselves. The collective group in this room often serves that purpose.”

She then went on to acknowledge that corporations like the one she works for should be doing more. “We have a job at P&G to do on our brand websites….We spend millions and millions of dollars on people, and clinical tests, and manufacturing standards to make sure our shampoos are safe. But today, if you search for safe shampoo, Procter & Gamble shampoos don’t show up there. Why? Because we haven’t put that engine together right.”

“We also bear some of the responsibility to make sure that all the money that we’re all investing and passionate about is actually showing up in the consumer ecosystem as information that they can use,”​ she said.

The panel closed by encouraging beauty editors to reach out to the PCPC and to Kowcz, in particular, when covering ingredients topics or when seeking the insights of a scientist.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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