I have to stay up late at night, and get up early in the morning to come up with ideas for this math blog. Today's idea came to me in the shower. There were some bottles of shampoo, body wash and lotion on our tile counter. Many of them were making statistic claims of one sort of advantage or another. So today we look at percent. Percentages. Percentile. Percent on tile. Get it? (Ok, yes, it's lame).
The first thing I noticed was the claim that I got 25% more in each of these containers. And I immediately thought Twenty-five percent more than what?
A 16-ounce bottle of Pure & Natural Body Wash contains 25% more than "our 12.8-ounce bottle." Ok, that's true - you multiply 12.8 x 1.25 = 16. But so what? That's a statement of fact, and not any advantage to me.
Suave Sensitive Skin Fragrance Free Moisturizer also offers 25% more - but in this case it's a 25% bonus value, because we get 22.5 oz for the price of 18 oz. (18 x 1.25 = 22.5 oz.) This at least feels like an advantage, even if I can't easily confirm it. And it's labeled BONUS, Clinically Proven and Lasts 24 Hours.
The Pure & Natural body wash also claims to be 94% Natural Origin. The front label also says it is paraben free, so presumably it has 0% parabens (chemicals used as preservatives in cosmetics).
I do discover that Pure & Natural is part of a very large company called Henkel. They own many brands, including Dial, Right Guard, Tone, Soft & Dri body care products; Loctite and other sealants and adhesives; Persil, Purex, SoftScrub and other cleaning products.
You can see in pie chart below that cosmetics/toiletries contribute 22% of total Henkel sales.
The back of the packages give us more percentages; p&n claims the body wash is in 100% recyclable packaging.
I also noticed they give $100,000 a year to Project Wildlife. If it was a tiny company, I'd worry about that (give $100k even if they only earned $50?), but since Henkel net income was €1.143 billion in 2010 ($1.5 billion), they can afford the donation.
Suave makes two (or three) more percentage claims on its bottle - it says 100% free of lanoline and dye; it also says fragrance free - if it's free of something, doesn't that imply there's nothing (0%) of that item in the product? Or is it only partly-free of fragrance?
A journal article called Exposing Covert Fragrance Chemicals says: Fragrance is the most common cosmetic allergen found when dermatitis patients are patch tested in the United States and in many places worldwide. Fragrances are ubiquitous in our daily lives and are present in items ranging from toiletries to toilet tissue. Although fragrances enhance the smell or mask unpleasant odors of various cosmetics and household items, it becomes very difficult for fragrance-allergic patients to find products they can use. Many items labeled unscented and fragrance-free contain esoteric fragrance chemicals that most consumers would not recognize. This article details some covert fragrance agents to help physicians better educate their fragrance-sensitive patients.
Another report told me: an “unscented” or “fragrance-free” personal care product may contain a “masking fragrance,” a mixture of chemicals meant to cover up the odor of other ingredients
The Suave company website told me nothing about the use of fragrances, but I learned that "more than half (50%) of American households choose Suave."