It’s a very misleading industry.
Whether we like it or not, we’re all heavily influenced by marketing.
If an ad tells us about a new cream that will get rid of wrinkles, pigmentation, and dryness, we’re interested – especially if it’s celebrity endorsed and “clinically proven.”
Add some fancy packaging and a cool name like ‘Instant Age Rewind,’ and it’s a done deal. Even though we know there’s no such thing as a miracle beauty product, we want to believe it will somehow improve whatever we don’t like about ourselves. And if it comes with a hefty price tag, well, it must be worth it, right?
Besides the fact more expensive isn’t always better, with some cheap cosmetics being just as good as the high-end ones, consumers should also be aware of common misleading claims and promises they find on packaging and in ads.
Even though they sound brilliant, and often even convincing, some of them are downright lies. Here’s what to look out for – and immediately call BS on – when buying beauty products…
1. “Makes hair stronger”
Haven’t we all heard this before? A shampoo or conditioner supposedly “makes hair stronger”, consequently leading to less breakage and split ends.
The truth is, there is no way for an ingredient to actually improve the strength of hair. According to beauty product chemist and former Tresemmé employee, Perry Romanowski, “if you do a test where you take the hair and pull it apart with an instrument like the Diastron, then measure the amount of force required to break the hair, you’ll see no significant increase in strength.”
What hair brands are referring to, is the fact that there’s less breakage of hair when combing it after using their products, compared to untreated hair. This is solely to do with conditioning the hair, not strengthening it, as less hair gets tangled in the brush – something especially girls with frizzy hair will understand.
2. “Boosts collagen production”
The word ‘collagen’ has become quite the buzzword in skincare, and arguably one of most face creams’ selling points. If a product contains collagen, or supposedly “boosts collagen production”, we expect it to prevent our skin from ageing, and make it look more plump and youthful.
But ask any doctor, and they will tell you it’s impossible. Collagen is like the glue that sticks our cells together, and it’s produced naturally when we’re young, but unfortunately decreases the older we get. (Bummer, I know.)
While you can boost your collagen production internally by eating a healthy, protein-rich diet, it’s impossible to increase it by slapping on some cream externally, as collagen molecules are simply too large to penetrate our skin.
“There might be some collagen products that are good moisturizers. And if your skin is well-moisturized, it’s going to look great — it’s going to be healthier, look younger — but it’s not because you absorb the collagen,” says dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler.
It’s also important to note that skin creams containing collagen are made from animal products, as collagen is usually derived from chicken bones, i.e. it’s definitely not vegan.
3. “Reduces wrinkles”
This promise is one we all want to believe so bad, however, it’s as misleading as it gets, as all skincare products can do is reduce the appearance of wrinkles, not actually do away with them.
Most ‘wrinkle-reducing’ products contain silicones which temporarily fill in the gaps in the skin, and brightening pigments, which reflect light to make it seem as though wrinkles are minimized, when in fact, it’s more like an optical illusion.
Cosmetic scientist Hilary Rodriguez-Taiwo says moisturizing plays a big part, too.
“The fine lines and wrinkles will plump up and they will appear to fill in.”
So while you may look younger while using these products, as soon as you stop regularly applying them, your wrinkles will be back. Sorry.
There’s a shift towards natural products and away from chemicals, and the word ‘organic’ gets thrown around a lot these days. When a beauty product promises to be organic, we assume it contains only natural ingredients; basically nothing man-made in a laboratory that could irritate our skin.
However, just because it says organic, doesn’t mean it actually is. As there is no proper regulation for the term, brands are abusing the word as a means to sell more products. More often than not, a product claiming to be ‘organic’ simply contains one or two organic ingredients, while the rest are chemicals.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, products labeled ‘made with organic ingredients’ can have up to 30 percent non-organic ingredients. Our advice? Check the list of ingredients before buying anything ‘organic’.
People with sensitive skin will often look out for the term ‘hypoallergenic’ on products, as it implies the use of ingredients that won’t irritate the skin or cause breakouts or redness.
Unfortunately though, once again, there’s no regulation or guidelines for the use of the word ‘hypoallergenic’. It’s also nearly impossible to find a product that won’t cause an allergic reaction on anyone, as every person’s body and allergies are innately unique. What benefits one woman’s skin may cause redness in yours.
Skincare brand Paula’s Choice creator, Paula Begoun, recommends “instead of focusing on shopping for ‘hypoallergenic’ products, make sure you avoid products that contain skin-sensitizing ingredients, such as fragrance or denatured alcohol.”
6. “Formulated for ageing skin/hair”
While it may be true our hair and skin change when we get older, it doesn’t mean we need completely different, and often more expensive products, starting from a certain age.
According to the non-profit organization Truth in Advertising, “if you compare the ingredients in Pantene Pro-V AgeDefy Shampoo to Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Shampoo, a non-anti-ageing shampoo from the same line, the first several ingredients – which make up most of the product – are identical, and the rest are pretty similar.”
It’s the same with most skincare products, whose main benefit for both young and ageing skin is their moisturizing quality.
So next time you’re reaching for that product “formulated for mature hair/skin”, it might be worth checking the ingredients of the cheaper version first.
Media via giphy.com, thesmartlocal.com.
Comment: Have you ever bought a beauty product that disappointed you? What was it?