How to get the best from cosmetics, by PZ Cussons


Mrs. Mildred Bagshaw, marketing manager (personal care) PZ Cussons family care, is a specialist in cosmeceutical trends. In this edition of Beauty and Cosmetics, Bagshaw spoke with Temitope Obayendo on some pertinent issues affecting the cosmetics industry. She revealed reasons behind skin irritations in babies and adults, and also gave tips on getting maximum benefits from cosmetics products. Excerpts:

PZ Cussons family care is one of the household brands in beauty and cosmetics. How has it been since inception till now?

            PZ Cussons has always been known for the manufacture and marketing of household products. We started as a trading organization over 114 years ago; however, our hearts have always been into the manufacturing of household and family care products. We have a wide range of products that cut across different categories that are relevant for the care and protection of every family. For instance, we are particularly well known for our Personal Wash and Fabric Care products such as Premier, Joy and Imperial Leather in Personal Wash and Zip and Canoe in Fabric Care.

We also have products in the Dish Wash category with Morning Fresh and in Beauty and Cosmetics, we have our signature beauty brand: Venus, which has been around for over 50 years as well as a thriving Baby Care brand with Cussons Baby; and not forgetting Robb, our number one brand in the Medicaments category. A host of other brands are available in our portfolio, such as Stella Pomade, Jet cream, Danduala and a few others.

Our primary mission is to ensure that the African woman has all she needs to keep her family looking and feeling good always, thereby making their lives better at every given opportunity.


What made PZ Cussons go into production and marketing of family care products?

Our aim is to make life better for consumers by providing the products every home requires in meeting their personal and homecare needs; to keep them healthy and clean at all times.

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Could you explain the relationship between the usage of your products and the health of the consumers?

PZ Cussons prides itself in the development of products that are designed to meet specific consumer needs. We work with robust consumer insights before going into the production of any product. We also behave ethically in respect to our consumers’ safety by ensuring that we meet and exceed legal requirements.


Babies are naturally born with smooth skin but, in most cases, when mothers start applying lotions and pomades on them, they develop rashes. Can you mention the substances responsible for this?

There are many reasons why a child may develop rashes and a few more why they develop them after they use lotions and pomades on their skin. In most cases, rashes are evidences of incompatibilities between baby skin, baby environment and skin care applications. When creams that are made for temperate climates are used in tropical climates, users (whether they are babies or adults) tend to feel uncomfortable, sweat and develop skin rashes from their use.

Usually it’s because of the textural and protective contents of the creams which are heavier on the skin and more suited to the colder regions of the world than they are to the warmer climates like West Africa. For babies to be more comfortable, sweat less and be rash-free, they have to use skin care products developed for the particular climate in which they are applying them.

These days, parents apply all sorts of chemicals -relaxer, nail polish, toning creams etc -on children just to make them fashionable. What are the adverse effects of these chemicals on children’s health?

Chemicals, like every other substance which enhance lives, are only safe at prescribed levels. Beyond these levels, issues of concern may indeed arise from their uses. Therefore, most cosmetics raw materials are subjected to various stages of safety and toxicological screening before being approved for release. It is after this serious and severe vetting stage that ingredients can be used in skin and hair care products.

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In general, the manufacture, supply and marketing of cosmetics products is regulated. The skin care products we place on the market are researched and tested to the strictest level to ensure that they are safe and do work and deliver on the claims to the consumer. This ensures that our products enhance and protect the consumer rather than subject them to adverse effects.

However, if a product that is clearly mark for adults is used for a child, then, it could have an adverse effect. Thus, I will advise that parents should always ensure they use products particularly made for children, for children; while adults should keep to their own products.

Now that the rains are here, are there some cosmetics products you would suggest for cold weather?

I think the major results from the cold weather are cold, cough, and catarrh. PZ Cussons Robb offers relief from pains and symptoms of cough and cold. The Robb brand has different products that will help soothe people during this rainy season. These include Robb Original Ointment, for relief from symptoms of cold and nasal congestion; and Robb inhaler, to soothe nasal congestion.


The beauty and cosmetics industry is filled with counterfeits products. How do you ensure the genuineness of your products in circulation?

Counterfeiting is something the regulatory agencies, genuine manufacturers and consumer bodies need to work together to fix. It requires putting the right regulations, monitoring and enforcement, as well as consumer education to make this change happen. What was done to the pharmaceutical sector to revamp it should also be done across the length and breadths of all consumer goods to ensure only genuine, quality products are available to the Nigerian consumer. This way, the economy benefits, as healthy people will only drive increased productivity and consequently, the economy.

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At PZ, we do try to ensure the genuineness of our products by having tamper-proof evidences and seals in place to protect the products and, in turn, our consumers. We also do quality control checks within the marketplace to spot incidences of rogue products.

 What is your advice to victims of harsh cosmetics?

I think we need to be clear on what we mean by harsh cosmetics. Your question implies an unpleasant resultant effect of cosmetic products on the skin and we need to foremost understand the driver of this. Some harshness could be due to non-compliance with the usage guidelines, while others could be due to the sensitivity of the individual’s skin to certain actives in the product and, in some other cases, it could be due to the presence of carcinogenic substances, the effect of which would happen over time and will impact all who use the product.

On areas of advice, firstly, consumers need to understand their skin types and the kind of products that are appropriate for them. Secondly, consumers need to read instructions on usage and product guidelines that come with the product when using for the first time. Most, if not all products, come with instructions on how to use them for maximum impact. Consumers should learn to read through these instructions and adhere to the usage guidelines; otherwise the result from not doing that could be most unpleasant. An awareness of the nature and effect of actives contained in these products will go a long way in avoiding some of these effects.


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