In November 2015, a cosmetics manufacturer planned a TV commercial with the theme of “We Hate Chemistry” to render the “natural” selling point of the product. After the advertisement was broadcast, it caused widespread controversy and was quickly removed under the pressure of public opinion. This is because the misunderstanding and prejudice against chemistry makes the advertisement commit a basic scientific mistake—all modern cosmetics are manufactured with the participation of the chemical industry and cannot be “naturally natural”.
Open the vanity closet and see what’s inside. Shampoos, shower gels, toothpastes, lipsticks and other cosmetics in bottles and cans are all products of the modern chemical industry. Even seemingly simple soaps, except for a handful of expensive “handmade soaps” made in ancient ways, need to be manufactured on the chemical plant’s production line. Moreover, even the handmade soap, which is advertised as “natural”, actually utilizes the saponification reaction between oil and grass ash. And this kind of empirical chemical knowledge that humans have known thousands of years ago determines that handmade soap is actually not a product of “natural”.
In fact, it is precisely because of the blessings of the modern chemical industry that the process of cleaning the body and make-up is simple and easy. When the ancients used original soap baths, used natural oils to protect their hair, or used heavy metal powders to make up, they often had to endure rancidity, inconvenience, and even threatened by heavy metal poisoning. In contrast, today’s basic makeup steps, from bathing and shampooing to foundations and eyebrows, have a number of easy-to-use and safe options.
But what is changed by chemistry is the industry of cosmetics? Look at your side, how many daily necessities are supplied by the modern chemical industry? The hairpin on the head is a plastic product; the sole of the sports shoe may be synthetic rubber, or other polymer materials produced by organic chemistry; the outer casing of the mobile phone, the take-away lunch box, the bottle containing the water and the beverage, and the ubiquity Plastic bags, their origins can often be traced back to oil, as well as the chemical system derived from it; a variety of detergents, reducing the labor intensity of housework, air fresheners can quickly suppress unpleasant smells, and The convenience of all this is also due to chemistry.
Even our body is actually a very precise chemical machine. The process of nerve conduction is actually a mixture of electrical signals and chemical signals; the food we eat is also decomposed by the chemical process, and finally becomes a small molecule that can be absorbed by the body; the lactic acid produced by exercise makes the tired muscles feel sore. Until it is gradually taken away by the blood… It can be said that behind the daily operation of the human body, a series of chemical mechanisms are working. And a lot of Western medicines that we eat when we are sick are also a part of the pharmacists’ efforts in the laboratory to study the molecular structure.
Chemistry is a fundamental subject, but chemistry has long penetrated into every aspect of our daily lives. In this issue of Knowledge is Power, we will take you closer to chemistry and appreciate its value in improving the quality of human life. As you will see, today’s people are not only aware of the pollution and destruction caused by backward production methods, but also are committed to transforming chemistry with new scientific achievements, so that our lives will be better because of the advancement of chemistry.