Tag Archives: donkey milk

Leave The Donkey Milk To The Donkeys – Advertising Standards Canada Responds To My Complaint

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donkeyWritten by:  Heather Clemenceau

Advertisements have a huge influence on people. So it follows that advertisers must be careful about what they display to the audience in ad copy and on websites. Despite the number of laws to curb misleading advertisements to protect consumer interests, the public is often left to fend for themselves in the marketplace.

A few months ago I complained to Advertising Standards Canada about “exuberant” claims made about a donkey milk skin cream and soap, whose website suggested that the products “slow down the aging process,”  among other dubious claims.

The first red flag I saw when I began reading the claims on the Shamâne website was the logical fallacy of the “appeal to antiquity”– claiming that something has powerful properties because some ancient civilization used it. The fact that ancient Egyptians used donkey milk (if indeed they actually did) is irrelevant to the claim that the products are clinically effective, and we can’t determine whether something is good or bad just because it has ancient origins. Treating disease by ingesting animal feces or applying it to your skin is also an ancient remedy (that also helps to ward off bad spirits!), but I don’t see that catching on in the same way. We’re smarter now – we would not likely treat nosebleeds or cataracts with warm dung!

Now, in my opinion, there is absolutely no way that donkey milk was used in Europe during the Dark Ages for its anti-bacterial or disease curing properties. The germ theory of medicine was not developed at the time, and was not used clinically until about 1870, so the fact that a French naturalist supposedly used it in the 1700s is not proof of anything.  But let’s say we give the company the benefit of the doubt and say that donkey milk was used throughout the Dark Ages in Europe for its anti-bacterial properties. When you think “anti-bacterial” do you really think of the Dark Ages as a good example?  Back then, everyone pretty much had a life expectancy of around 30 years, so clearly whatever they knew wasn’t helping them much.  The whole of the modern argument by Shamâne rests on anecdotal evidence made by people who lived anywhere from 460 BC – 1804 (Hippocrates and Buffon, the French naturalist). The second they bring up modern research, though, they become vague and non-specific. Why not say “in recent years, researchers at Harvard have shown that…” or something like that? The reason is simple. There actually isn’t any modern research that supports the claims. There are lots of proposed anti-aging remedies, but as far as I know, no treatment has yet been proven to slow the aging process or extend the human lifespan.  People can and do find anecdotal evidence to support any product, even a harmful one. And studies are only useful if the methods are valid and the results have been reviewed (and hopefully replicated).

The real problems I have with products with donkey milk in them is the exaggeration of their effects and the use of an animal product that has no business being added. If the only claim that proponents of the product made was “this smells good, and makes your skin soft” (and it doesn’t harm any animals in the process) I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of donkey milk cream and soap are exaggerated because exaggeration sells.

So……….Advertising Standards Canada wrote back to me:

“We carefully reviewed the advertising in light of your concerns and contacted the advertiser for additional information. We were informed by the advertiser that being from France, he was not completely aware of the Canadian regulations regarding Skin Care Non-Therapeutic Claims. However, the advertiser informed ASC that it would like to be in compliance with the Guidelines for Non-prescription and Cosmetic Industry Regarding Non-therapeutic Advertising and Labelling Claims and is ready to amend its advertisement accordingly. We have been working actively with the advertiser and provided assistance on how to appropriately amend its advertising to comply with these guidelines. We will keep you informed as soon as the advertisement in question is appropriately amended. “

So ASC made them remove the claim about “slowing down the aging process,” (it’s now gone from the website). Unfortunately,  I wasn’t able to get all the other dubious claims removed,  pinocchio-noseand I wrote back to ASC to ask why it was OK to claim a product was hypo-allergenic without providing proof, they replied with this qualificaton from the government’s consumer product safety guidelines:

“’Hypoallergenic’ is neither a legal nor a scientific term. It simply means that the manufacturer has chosen ingredients to produce a finished product with minimum potential for causing allergy. This does not guarantee that the product will not cause an allergic reaction in some individuals, since people are allergic to a wide range of substances. There are no non-allergenic cosmetics. If you experience an allergic reaction to a cosmetic, try switching to a different brand.”

I’m still unsatisfied with this response,  because it basically means that anyone can claim their product is hypo-allergenic without evidence. Nobody knows whether the ingredients in these products truly reduce the potential for reactions.

Why do I think going after these product claims is important?  By not reporting suspect advertising claims, you allow businesses to continue profiting by misleading consumers with their exultant language, whether on purpose or by accident. Even if you were not fooled by a misleading advertisement, reporting false claims may prevent other people from being misled. Even though this is “just” a skin cream/soap, know that suspect claims devalue legitimate products, in particular, those with plant-based ingredients which demonstrate some efficacy and don’t require any animal breeding or suffering.

 

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No Leaping Bunny Award For Donkey Milk and Horse Oil Skin Products

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No Leaping Bunny Award For Donkey Milk and Horse Oil Skin Products
Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a character in American Horror Story: Coven portrayed by Kathy Bates.

Madame Delphine LaLaurie is a character in American Horror Story: Coven portrayed by Kathy Bates.

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Hat Tip: Paola

The origin of the word ‘quack’ comes from the Dutch quacksalver, literally meaning “chatter salve” or someone who prattles or boasts about the efficacy of his remedies.

The next big wave in skincare comes straight from cottage industries in Canada and countries like Korea and Japan.  More paleo than vegan, some of these products are not for the faint of heart.  Instead of plant-based oils such as coconut or argan, oils from the rendered fat of horses and milk from donkeys are the new “natural” alternatives.  Dreams of soft, smooth skin are interrupted by visions of Black Beauty shedding a single tear.

Shamâne Cosmetics is a company located in Quebec and like another company in British Columbia that used horse milk in 15their skin care products, they are adding donkey milk to their skin care line. Like Spa Creek Ranch (who were forced to remove unsupported claims on their website by Advertising Standards Canada)  Shamâne have made some rather extraordinary claims about the supposed benefits of washing yourself with soaps made with donkey milk. Claims made by Shamâne were referred to ASC, who will referee their statements. I attempted to contact  the company to find out how many donkeys they had and what they did with the foals, but they did not return my phone call and their email is defunct.

Their website tells us that the product:

  • Contains protein and lactose proportions close to those of woman’s maternal milk (I say so what? Milk is species specific food for infant animals, not for washing your face with)
  • Is hypoallergenic (To determine if a product is hypoallergenic a company usually performs a patch test on 100-200 subjects and records how their skin reacts).
  • Nourishes and regenerates the skin deep down (Where is the proof that the product penetrates the skin or accomplishes “nourishment,” whatever that means?)
  • Slows down the skin aging process (It’s a pretty extraordinary claim to make that donkey milk does this, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence).

mam-14-kh0375-01pThe company makes additional claims about the powers of donkey milk, based on testimonials from the 1700s!  Back then microscopes were a very new invention, and the most popular methods of treating patients included bloodletting and blistering.  But the assertion that the product will slow down the aging process is probably the one thing that will get some of the statements removed from Shamâne’s website with prejudice, by Advertising Standards Canada.

According to the ASC:

Advertisements must not contain inaccurate, deceptive or otherwise misleading claims, statements, illustrations or representations, either direct or implied, with regard to any identified or identifiable product(s) or service(s).

Both in principle and practice, all advertising claims and representations must be supportable. If the support on which an advertised claim or representation depends is test or survey data, such data must be reasonably competent and reliable, reflecting accepted principles of research design and execution that characterize the current state of the art. At the same time, however, such research should be economically and technically feasible, with due recognition of the various costs of doing business.”

Although relatively unknown in Europe and the UK, horse oil is a popular and widely used beauty product in Asian culture. It’s the latest craze in Korean skin care. No, it doesn’t dsc_0001give you long, pony-tail like locks.  It’s rendered horse fat, quite likely made from American and Canadian  horses who were exported for live slaughter.  Horse oil products are sold/marketed by a variety of names – Guerisson 9 Complex Cream with horse oil is readily available at the Pacific Mall in Toronto, along with many other products containing horse oil from Korea. Horse oil is also sold as “Son Bahyu/Sonbahyu” on both Amazon and eBay. Once again,  miraculous claims are made about these products, none of which are substantiated.  There may be little we Canadians can do about products that are not produced in Canada and where claims are made on websites in Korean or Japanese languages.

dsc_0032There is no reason to assume that donkey milk or horse oil have any beneficial properties other than possibly as emollients,  and we have plenty of cruelty-free products that already accomplish this.  In order to satisfy some of these claims, the constituent ingredients in the milk and oil would have to be absorbed by the skin past the epidermis (the outermost layer).  The rule of thumb is that anything smaller than 500 Daltons can penetrate the skin while anything larger cannot.  A Dalton is the standard unit that is used for indicating mass on an atomic or molecular scale.

If the milk and oil molecules in question were small and permeable (under 500 Daltons) they would be uptaken into the skin cells and possibly into the bloodstream. If not, the ingredients may just penetrate through the top layer of skin only and will just be sloughed off as part of the dead skin cells. Even if they can be absorbed there is no evidence that they will have any sort of positive impact or that they will suspend the aging process. Myths that your skin absorbs large amounts of chemicals are NOT true.

Even people who eat animals often realize it’s ridiculous to add them to skin care products.  We already have the option of plant-based products that can be crueltyfreelogo_jpgabsorbed into the skin and may even provide some protection against essential fatty acid deficiency. We don’t need milk or horse oil or other animal products added to soaps or lotions.

Always remember that oftentimes these claims about skin care in particular have little to no research behind them and they may be based in superstition, popular trends, or “traditional medicine.”  Please buy cruelty-free products wherever possible. And Pubmed is great for advanced reading to help substantiate claims.