Antioxidant Rich . . . Toilet Paper?

Well, not really, at least I haven’t seen antioxidant toilet paper in the marketplace yet. But think of the potential; natural USDA certified organic antioxidant toilet paper, oh, and anti-aging too. It would fly off the shelf.

I love marketing. The powerful art of manipulation. Marketing makes the world go round – consumerism, politics, education, science, and so on. So what got me going on this? I just read this report titled The Growth of Brand “Antioxidant,” and how the term antioxidant is being used as a marketing tool for products.

I sell stuff. I need to market to sell stuff. I enjoy it, but sometimes it can be irritating, mostly because the good words – or the truth – gets burned and twisted and distorted to the point of meaningless dribble. The reason I find it irritating is because I also enjoy putting the truth in my products. And when the real descriptive words are reduced to empty promises, it makes it more difficult to find a way to explain, “no, really, it’s in the package too. Not just on the label.” I don’t think I’m alone in this as so many others share my frustration. In a way, I must admit, I also enjoy the challenge.

So now, antioxidant. We know antioxidants; the ability of a compound to absorb reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, that potentially cause imbalance and disease in the body; are a good thing. Just read the studies. I’ve already presented plenty in my blogs.

But now that marketing research has shown that “antioxidant” is a powerful branding tool . . . I mean . . . imagine the potential for major BS!

The whole premise of my Whole Food Philosophy for Skin Care is that so many ingredients are refined to  a level of antioxidant free. Once marketing gets wind of the branding potential I bet the labeling of antioxidant will boldly go where no antioxidant has gone before.

So let’s add it to the list, along with natural and organic, of words that require qualifying, defining, authenticity . . . and likely, lots of self-serving debate.

I love marketing.




  1. I thought Marketing was supposed to be the “truth well told”. What happened to that? In my opinion, it is very sad that some have reduced the Marketing profession to the art of manipulation. Webster defines manipulation as the control by unfair or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.

    Marketing is not a license to deceive and marketing useless products like antioxidant toilet paper amounts to nothing more than deception, in my opinion. The whole antioxidant concept is already over exaggerated so it’s too late to prevent that from happening, but let’s don’t make things worse.

    Also, why do we need a new definition for “natural”? Could it be that old definition is inconvenient to marketers that want to fool the public into thinking we live in a nirvana-like world were everything “natural” must be good, wholesome and safe? Nature is a dangerous place filled with many unsafe, naturally occurring substances and naturally occurring carcinogens. These marketers wish to redefine “natural” so they can eliminate the “inconvenient naturals”, i.e. petrochemicals and continue to perpetuate the deception that “natural” means “safer”.

    Why don’t we tell the consumer the truth? Natural doesn’t mean safer and (according the USDA’s own statements); “organic” doesn’t imply that the product is any safer or better quality.

    • Hi Doug,

      We’ve had discussions, especially regarding the “natural” issue on a few of the LInkedIn discussion groups.
      Let’s start by being sure we all know that my “Antioxidant … Toilet Paper?” post was total fictitious sarcasm (for the most part) designed to make a point.
      In response to some of your comments:
      1) I don’t, and I’m sure I’m in the majority here, believe that marketing is “truth well told.” I’m also not sure that’s sad. It just is. Marketing is marketing, it could actually be humorous and even uplifting to see the levels of no-truth-well-told that marketing can achieve. Therefore, marketing is not a license to deceive, it’s a career choice.
      2) In my attempt at sarcasm I used the recent marketing research study stating that antioxidant was now a high response branding opportunity – like so many buzzwords before it. That was why I created, for entertainment purposes, the natural organic antioxidant anti-aging toilet paper (and if any manufacturers actually put one out after reading this, I want points – 2% will be fine). My writing is a warning of sorts, mostly to the professional spa therapist who I cater my information to, but also to the retailer and the consumer – that they should beware of how the new branding word is used, or misused as the case may (very likely) be by those who wish to “control by unfair or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.”
      3) In regards to your question, “do we really need a new definition for natural?” please refer to my post “I’m A Natural, You’re a PC.” (September 10). And, yes, I think that natural on a label needs to be qualified to the consumer. I’m not playing the synthetic vs natural game here.
      4) Then you get into that – what I call “lame”- argument about nature being dangerous and not safe, etc, etc. The argument is, I will repeat, lame. It has no, none, zero, validity in a discussion regarding the use of ingredients from nature in skin care. If you wish to challenge this, name one ingredient considered natural by my definition in my post, that would be sensible (the key word is sensible) to use in skin care that is “dangerous.” Dangerous, by the way, does not include individual allergic sensitivity, which very well may even cause death. Sensitivity is exclusive to the person and not of a result of natural, dangerous or synthetic. When I think “natural” I think food, medicinal herbs, etc. My guidelines for natural in skin care are – what would I eat or use for health and does the nutritional value have any useful and therapeutic benefit in skin care?. You say “nature is a dangerous place.” If you are trying sell synthetic human made chemicals for skin care, you are definitely using a fear-based (no-truth-well-told) marketing strategy, that has worked well by those who use “control by unfair or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage,” Be afraid, very afraid – but of nature? Come on. Yeah, stay out of active volcanos, forest fires, tidal waves and don’t try to kiss a brown bear on the forehead – but use some green tea and blueberries in your skin care.
      4) You ask “why don’t we tell the consumer the truth?” I am. For the planet especially, organic is safer and better quality. Do you work for Monsanto or what?

  2. Hi Jimm,
    I hope all is well. I got your sarcasm on the TP and actually thought it was quite funny.

    I hope we can agree that marketing claims should have to be the truth. I;m not sure I understood your point.

    To answer your question about nature being a dangerous place. You asked me to give you one example of a natural cosmetic Ingredient, i.e. skin care, which is “dangerous”.

    Well, how about titanium dioxide? Is a natural mineral found in a huge percentage of cosmetics. It’s listed as a carcinogen and has to be reported as such to California under the California Safe Cosmetics.

    It’s actually easy to come up with many examples. I’ll give you another. What would you call an ingredient that caused boys to begin growing enlarged breast? Some advocacy groups would say this was a dangerous ingredient (hormone disruption?), yet there several reports of this happening to boys overexposed to lavender oil. Tea tree oil is also implicated as well. Natural doesn’t mean safe. It means, occurs in nature.

    It is a fact; nature is full of naturally occurring carcinogens, in trace levels. Why is it okay for them to occur in nature, but not at any concentration in cosmetics? According leading interpretations of the “Precautionary Principal”, any amount of a carcinogen is dangerous and has to be completely eliminated. Of course, I don’t believe that makes any sense. Our bodies are not that sensitive, were pretty rugged and able to handle all that nature throws at us and it throws a lot.

    Finally, I was just stated what the USDA themselves say. That “organic” simply means compliance with the NOP’s guidelines. It doesn’t mean the product is safer or better quality. Those are their words, not mine. But if there is evidence to the contrary, I will certainly have a look at it. I’m a seeker of truth and have an open mind on the subject.

  3. Thanks for explaining and good to hear that you are a seeker of truth Doug – you had me worried for a moment.

    When reading through my blogs you will find me quite critical of marketing (the lies and misrepresentations). In my response to you I was also admitting to a certain “reality,” in that this is what marketing is. The main function of marketers is to sell products, truth is second or even lower on the list. I am a big fan of, and also practice, truth in marketing. The challenge to marketers is that they are representing companies that produce very uninteresting products, so marketers simply go to their research studies and focus groups and create an untruth based on studies, not what’s in the product. This is what I meant by marketing being a career choice. My intention in my blogs is to reveal the untruths, and potential untruths, so that people can make intelligent choices.

    The “naturals” you choose for dangerous I’m not so sure about. Titanium dioxide is micronized, which does not occur naturally. It is altered through human intervention, this is why I say there must be definitions to natural – mostly so there can be discussions about it and consistency in labeling. Nature doesn’t care whether we define it or not.

    In my “I’m A Natural You’re A PC” blog I list stages of defining natural. At one point I have to challenge my own beloved German Chamomile due to the fact that the chamazulene does not occur in the plant and is only present following human intervention. This could be a continuing argument about natures activity, in that animals and nature evolved together and many plants depend on animals for propagation, such as birds eating seeds and dropping them out later, or insects, etc.

    The lavender-tea tree study is weak at best – and I think it was only one study. I have been working and studying essential oils for over 20 years. I’ve never had to prescribe bras for boys even after long term use. Much of the “danger” is unfounded regarding essential oils, though there are legitimate contraindications to some oil use. Many plants and foods have phyto-estrogens, the suspected “danger” for lavender and tea tree use. The EU has made it very difficult to use essential oils, requiring limonene and geraniol and other common essential oil compounds to be listed on the label as potential allergens if there are essential oils in the product that contain them. Silly at best – and suspected Big Pharma hands are involved in this. Also when it comes to essential oils, adulteration and synthetic compounds are often included due to lack of regulation, therefore, essential oils get a bad rap for something they, in their true form, did not do.

    Currently there is a lot of back and forth about the quality of organic. I think marketing is creating a false impression that organic is better therapeutically, though based on research there are higher levels of nutrients (just not enough to impress those who for some reason like to think organic is not important – or afraid of organic because it will impact them financially). The NOP is, no doubt, influenced by Monsanto and other GMO providers who would like to see organic eliminated. Organic is a growing and production process. This is best for the planet. All agriculture should be organic (complicated as it may be). As far as quality is concerned I think logic would state that nature already got plants right. Humans do not need to “improve” it through their financially rewarding means.

    Seeking truth

  4. Hi,
    Actually, you’re not correct about titanium dioxide. The way it was discovered to be a problem was when people were exposed to the naturally occurring, ultra-fine dusts over long periods of time. I agree that the way in which titanium dioxide is used in the cosmetic industry makes it very unlikely to be an issue. So much for the Precautionary Principal, which would say titanium dioxide should automatically be banned “just in case” it’s bad and we don’t know it.

    I agree with you that nature doesn’t care whether we define it or not. However, many marketers care! Why? Here’s my theory, because some want to use the misconception that “everything natural must be safe” to deceive people into buying products that are no safer than their competitors who are making more truthful and responsible claims. I think that’s a travesty that threatens to tear our industry apart!

    I disagree with you about the lavender/tea tree study. While I agree that the evidence is indeed “weak”, it’s as stronger as most of the “evidence” used by activist groups and some marketers to claim that certain cosmetic ingredients are dangerous. If these were “petroleum-based” ingredients, people would automatically assume that this was very strong “proof”, but, since these are natural substance, it is “inconvenient” to believe anything bad about them… after all their natural.

    To my way of thinking, this is part of the hypocrisy of the arguments that some advocacy groups are using. They “select” the information they want to believe and ignore what’s inconvenient to their arguments. Scientist look at the good, the bad and the ugly, then consider everything before making a balanced decision based on the facts. That’s why the advocacy groups and politicians should stay out of these kinds of decisions and let the scientists work. They’re the ones who should be making these determinations about what’s safe and what’s not.


  1. […] (Beauty Inside & Out) @ 2:19 pm It wasn’t too long ago that I posted a blog titled Antioxidant Rich . . . Toilet Paper? It mostly had to do with marketing the word antioxidant, and using it as a branding term. I was […]