Take a fashion or lifestyle magazine or visit websites of this type. The very first thing you would see is countless ads for beauty and skincare products. These ads are from different manufacturers and use different strategies, but they do have one thing in common – they are misleading. Actually, there’s a term for this – pseudoscience.
Questionable Skincare ‘Science’
Society is vein — no surprise there. But the skincare market is taking advantage of that fact, with “skin tech” expected to be worth $14 billion in 2021. The subcategory of skin tech includes, but is not limited to: LED masks, electronic face scrubbers, facial massagers, smart mirrors and skincare cameras. The problem here is that beauty companies market themselves as “clinically proven” when that is, in fact, not the case. Most research done by manufacturers does not meet the scientific method and is not reproducible. The experts hired to tout these products are not scientists either — they are often celebs or even dermatologist-celebs who have their own agenda.
The beauty industry is, of course, massive. It involves everything from teeth-whitening toothpaste to ridiculously expensive shampoo that will transform your hair from “ordinary to extraordinary,” if you believe an advertisement for a product that contains white truffles and caviar and costs more than $60 for an 8.5-ounce bottle. It involves celebrity-endorsed cosmetics, perfumes, and a host of fashion products. And it involves numerous fitness and slimming gimmicks.
Fueled by concern over both premature aging and skin diseases (and, of course, a good dose of vanity), more and more people are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars to closely monitor and treat their skin. But many of these devices have little or no reliable scientific evidence to back them up. Even research done by the manufacturers themselves isn’t terribly convincing since it usually involves very few test subjects and includes no other lifestyle information about participants for context. But most consumers never see that research anyway.
The “evidence” that beauty tech devices “work” is often measured in terms of whether or not the client sees improvement, a less-than-objective measure of efficacy. But that doesn’t stop the press from helping market this beauty tech and parroting meaningless phrases such as “clinically tested” or “dermatologist-approved.” This isn’t science.
Publishers don’t generally sell magazines by reminding readers that nothing works. Consequently, getting straight answers about anti-aging and beauty products is nearly impossible. There exists a confluence of fact-twisting forces: lots of money to be made by manufacturers and providers, huge advertising campaigns that deploy vast quantities of pseudoscientific gobbledygook, a lack of independent research and information, and consumers who desperately want the products to do for them what is claimed. For real information on skincare and your genetic make up you might want to consider in-home genetic testing.
First coined by a prominent dermatologist in 1984, “cosmeceutical” is not an officially recognized term by the Food and Drug Administration. It has since been used to describe an ever-expanding range of over-the-counter topical skincare products with implied biological, drug-like capabilities. Euphemistic jargon abounds, with phrases like “therapeutic cosmetic” and “active treatment.” The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act distinguishes between drugs and cosmetics purely based on the intended use as defined by the manufacturer; unfortunately, these rigid categorizations have remained constant for the better part of a century.
Questionable Skincare Products
Pseudoscience is defined as a claim, practice or belief that is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method. And now, you probably imagine all those bold claims you just read in magazines or fashion websites. All those manufacturers claim they have a breakthrough formula that would somehow magically remove wrinkles from your face. They promise a wide array of results, but when you buy such products you realize how little science is involved in their creation, and how ineffective they are.
Natural Skincare Products
Clean beauty, also known as natural skin care, is having a moment. From 2017 to 2018, the natural skin care market grew by 24% to 1.7 billion dollars, accounting for over 27% of the 5.8 billion dollars of annual skin care sales in 2018.
Staunch warnings from influencers have ignited fear in consumers who are now hungry for skincare that is safe and nontoxic. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has failed to define clean and natural, leaving these labels open to interpretation by non-dermatologist retailers, bloggers, and celebrities who have set out to define clean beauty for themselves. While the clean beauty movement has demonized hundreds of compounds, an arbitrary designation of clean or natural does not necessarily make products safer for consumers.
It’s important to keep in mind that the divide between “natural” and “artificial” chemicals is meaningless – something many Americans do not know. The origin of a chemical is irrelevant. Your body cannot tell what is natural or synthetic – only the properties of the chemical matter.
Activated Charcoal Products
In the past few years, activated charcoal has become a common ingredient in over-the-counter beauty and health products. In particular, the substance has recently become a popular component in skincare, with its presence in this market expected to continue its rise for some time. There’s just one problem: There’s no proof it does any good, and in some cases it might be harmful.
Charcoal itself is simply the carbon residue left over after slow heating high-carbon-content materials like wood, coconut shells or even sugar to remove most of the water they contain.
Lancome Genifique definitely had one of the most misleading claims of all time. Here, the brand claims you can somehow influence your genes to have younger-looking skin. Lancome states that Genifique is clinically proven to produce perfectly luminous skin in 85% of women, astonishingly even skin in 82% of women, and cushiony soft skin in 91% of women in seven days. Here’s another perfect example of pseudoscience – besides using clinical studies and mentioning formulas to justify their claims, these brands also use words like “astonishingly, marvelously, cushiony” etc. It’s needless to mention that this company was also sued and had to settle charges for being deceptive and misleading.
The pseudoscience is used even by the most reputable companies to make outrageous claims and say what customers want to hear in order to sell that product. This is, also, one of the biggest problems in today’s beauty and skincare industry.