Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ah, vanity

Every now and then, when I've nothing better to do, I examine the backs of cosmetic bottles and other gubbins that are found lying around the house. (Yes, this is the kind of exciting life a science writer has.)

What I see on the back of some of those bottles is a mystery to me. Actually, a number of mysteries.

Mystery #1 is why some products have a contents list and some don't. The fact that some don't seems to imply it isn't required. So why do it at all? (It could be it's specific products, or it's on the cardboard box instead. Dunno.)

Mystery #2 is who do they think they are fooling with 'aqua'? Pretty well all cosmetic bottle contents have water as their number one ingredient, but the manufacturer seems to think that they can make it sound more impressive by calling it 'aqua'. Only they also seem obliged to give the game away as it is, in fact, always called 'aqua (water)'. So why bother with the 'aqua'? It just makes you seem silly, guys.


Mystery #3 is how a particular company making the product seen above (and for all I know many others do this also) managed to make themselves look even more stupid. Because the next entry is wonderfully bizarre. It's 'Paraffinum liquidum (Mineral oil)'.

Okay, let's break this down. Firstly 'Paraffinum liquidum' sounds more like a rather bad Harry Potter spell than an ingredient. Secondly, it doesn't take a classical education to work out that 'Paraffinum liquidum' is liquid paraffin. You know, that stuff your granny used to put in her portable heater. Actually, a classical education is the last thing you want here. Admittedly 'liquidus' is the Latin for liquid, so they were quite close there, but 'paraffin' is not taken from a Latin word so this is pure pig Latin.

I can see they realize people wouldn't want to know that they are coating themselves in paraffin, but this hardly conceals it, does it guys? They would have been better off sticking to the much more natural and friendly sounding 'Mineral oil' (it must be good for you, it has minerals). Admittedly all this means is something extracted from crude oil - technically petrol and diesel are mineral oils - but it sounds so much better.

So there we have it. Is there a sillier contents label? Almost certainly. But I am yet to find it.

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