My changing relationship with cosmetics

John Lofthouse, Director Global Sales & Marketing

Welcome to our new “Insights” series, where we invite you to get to know our colleagues at CLR.

First up: Meet John Lofthouse, Director Global Sales & Marketing.
John does not only tell the story of his career path in the cosmetics industry, he also lets us in on his personal skin health journey.


First Contact

Growing up in the 1960s-70s I had no real connection with cosmetic products other than soap (Imperial Leather or Wright’s Coal Tar), Shampoo, APDs, toothpaste and bubble bath. Cosmetics were for girls, (and in our house, I don’t remember seeing a varied selection). My mother I remember, always used Oil of Olay, then called Oil of Ulay in the UK, but that was about all I recall. As I hit the teens, personal care products would often come as Christmas or birthday presents and it was usually involving a really strong-smelling aftershave called “Brut by Faberge” (just googled it and it still exits). This seemed to be for the under 25s and Old Spice for the older guys. Crazy time, everybody got the same thing, so I reckon we’d all smell the same. Must have been quite an olfactory experience in the night clubs …

I had the usual teenage problem of acne and I remember the main product I used was the Coal Tar soap, I probably would have recommended that my old self try something else these days! I don’t think it really helped, I just had to wait for the hormones to calm down.

When I began working in the labs at Ciba Geigy (now Novartis) I started getting more interested in the pharma products (because we were making them) and the first cosmetic ingredient I was involved with was the anti-bacterial Triclosan. We produced the intermediate which had a very strong smell which clung to the skin and led to my increased use of Brut! The company shop used to sell products containing ingredients made by Ciba Geigy, I used to enjoy seeing where the ingredients we made were sold, I guess my first interest in INCI listings.

Despite lots of contact with pretty aggressive solvents and chemicals, my skin was in pretty good condition at these times, but I did suffer from dandruff and could not find any effective products. As my favoured music was punk, the easy answer was to “lose the hair”, so for many years, if the dandruff occurred, out came the clippers! This strategy always seemed to work, I guess the scalp was cooler and easier to care for. I would find more subtle strategies later.

The front line

My next job was as a sales guy in North East Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, for a UK distributor called Ellis and Everard (later becoming Univar). The new skin challenges were particularly coming from long car journeys, especially difficult in winter with the heater on. To be fair the change in role also led to an increase in alcohol drinking and a worse diet which probably had an impact! My skin started to become drier and for the first time I started using moisturizers, simple, OTC pharmacy products.

I also began working more with cosmetics companies. Though the early products I sold were more commodities rather than specialities, I began to get interested in this industry.

I then got my first dedicated cosmetics job with a distributor called DF Anstead, then an Ellis and Everard company. I loved the market and the people and joined the Society of Cosmetic Scientists. The car journeys got worse; alcohol increased but at least the diet got better.

By now I was experimenting with new products, it is always exciting to see the ingredients you promote, being used in cosmetics and I wanted to try them all (still have this addiction). I guess the cupboards at home were groaning with the weight of once or twice used products.

I started reading INCI lists which meant my family would always try to avoid shopping with me. I spent a few minutes one day in the supermarket explaining to my wife what was in a particular product, only to find she had long since wandered off and I was being looked at warily by bemused nearby shoppers.

Up the slippery slope

I moved into marketing and business management for a few years then and was closer to suppliers than formulators but maintained my interest in the personal care industry.
I always loved the technical side of the business and stayed involved with the SCS.

My skin still tended to be dry and still struggled with dandruff, so still short hair.

Back on the front line

I then had a few years working for Lake Life Sciences, this was when I finally got to know CLR. One of my first jobs for Lake was to go to Berlin to discuss Lake taking over the distribution of the CLR business in the UK. I was excited by the technology, the culture and the people and remember saying to my wife when I got back, I would love to work for them someday. Strange how things work out!

While working for Lake I had an outbreak of Acne Rosacea on my face. This was disturbing, I always thought; it’s hard to sell slimming products if you are overweight, hair care products with a shaven head and skin care products with a bad complexion (I tried all three!).

I had an appointment with the dermatologist at my local hospital and he gave me a tube of cream, with the cheery words “use it sparingly or it will turn your skin yellow” unfortunately I have forgotten the name, but I tried it (sparingly) and my skin didn’t go yellow, but I still had Rosacea.

My understanding of Rosacea is it can come from stress, diet, cold weather, hot weather, bacteria, mites and steroids so … take your pick. Around this time CLR had released Modukine™, a skin care ingredient with strong anti-inflammatory benefits which was often used for helping A-Topic dermatitis sufferers, calm their symptoms but not specifically aimed at Rosacea. I thought “Hey! its not going to turn my skin yellow so why not give it a try”. I was delighted to find that it worked, and my Rosacea was under control. This was a bit of a religious conversion for me and I have always since had confidence in CLR’s work.

I should also say by now I had got rid (mostly) of the dandruff issue, so I had longer hair, also handy if you want to sell hair care ingredients. I don’t know if this was age or just for some reason Zinc Pyrithione started working for me.

Life at CLR

I joined CLR directly in 2007 and my international role meant changes to my skin care challenges, less time in cars, more time on planes, very varied diet, climates and lots of meat and red wine. What surprised me was that the Rosacea now disappeared, apparently age can have an effect on this, but I like to think the wine helped too.

My latest skin care challenge is Granuloma annulare, sounds more like a Harry Potter spell than a skin disease. This little beauty presents often on the hands and feet and the cause seems to be even more of a mystery than Rosecea. I have had this now for a couple of years and the worst thing for me is a rash on the back of my hands. Looking at the Facebook group I realise I am lucky to have such mild symptoms. Again, a trip to the dermatologist helped with diagnosis and the prescribed Steroid cream does control it somewhat.

However, I have been doubtful about using steroids on my hands due to the problem with skin-thinning, I have enough issues with this as age does its evil work. So, I have, (of course) been experimenting with CLR ingredients. I started using our MultiMoist CLR™ which moisturises the skin and promotes the availability of vitamin D in the skin. This had a calming effect and certainly improved things.

The next product was AnnonaSense CLR™. This was designed to reduce itchiness and discomfort in the skin and has CBD-like activity on the endocannabinoid system helping balance aggressive inflammatory pathways. AnnonaSense CLR™ is my new Modukine! The redness and rash have reduced to a point that it doesn’t bother me so much. I have also tried an interesting mix of CBD oil and AnnonaSense CLR™ which seems even more effective. The journey continues!

Looking forward to trying our CutiBiome CLR™ I guess I’m too old for acne, but the dandruff can always come back, and I’ll be ready for it….

I have spent many enjoyable years spreading the CLR message to anyone who will listen and talking about our products is always fun, particularly when someone new to CLR gets converted. It is surprising how many times we get messages saying, at the correct dose it actually works. We wouldn’t launch a product unless we believed in it.

Unfortunately, efficacy is not necessarily at the top of the wish list when products are developed. Cost, the plant it comes from, or the way its sourced are increasingly important to customers. We at CLR always try to get the right, sexy story and I think we get better at this with every product, but our real strength is making products work. To me that’s how it should be.

Thank you, John!

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