Every year it seems the cosmetics companies find new ways to convince consumers that an OTC product can work in ways similar to prescription drugs.
The result is ever-increasing prices and, of course, disappointed consumers when the products do not live up to the claims being made.
The basic principles of skin care have changed very little since the turn of the last century. The first cosmetics regulation laws came into effect in 1906, in the United States, and the regulatory bodies have increased their demands that OTC products not make misleading claims, unsubstantiated promises, and, most importantly, control the ingredients allowed for inclusion in OTC cosmetics.
Without exception, all cosmetics are comprised of some combination of around 6,000 permissible ingredients (this includes all fragrances and dyes). The reality is that ingredients work the same in every formula regardless of how expensive the formula may be. Yes, it's true some formulas are better created based on emulsifiers, filling agents, and, of course, additives, but quite simply, as an example, glycolic acid will work exactly the same regardless of the formula in which it appears.
This brings me to the new trend in skin care—DNA matching and testing to determine OTC products that will work properly with your own genetic makeup. There are many companies out there offering this type of skin care, and people are lining up to pay the hefty price tag associated with the concept. Quite literally, the consumer takes a DNA swab and the "lab" will determine all the possible genetic predispositions that will affect how the skin ages. This way they can create a personalized skin care program "based on the DNA" of the individual. All this is achieved in about 30 minutes.
According to Dr. Ruthie Harper, a creator of one such DNA-based skin care line (SkinShift), "This report gives you a road map to understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your individual body as it relates to your skin. DNA testing is a scientifically based decision which targets skin issues from the both the inside out and the outside in."
This couldn't be a more preposterous marketing gimmick—and here's why:
1. No medical claims have been attributed to DNA testing and skin care—in fact, the FDA and Health Canada monograms state that in order to comply with rules regarding such claims, they would need to be subject to medical claim testing. They, of course, are not.
2. Neither the FDA nor Health Canada has approved DNA testing for the purpose of skin care analysis and, as such, these tests hold no scientific validity.
3. The causes for aging skin are well understood and they are universal for all skin. DNA testing does not help the skin metabolize approved skin care ingredients any more efficiently.
4. There is no scientific rationale for testing DNA to create a skin care regimen. Actual genetic disorders that affect the skin require elaborate genetic testing. The 30-minute DNA test is just a marketing mechanism.
So what do these DNA skin care programs cost?
Well, first there is the test, which can cost anywhere from $99-$500 itself, and then the specially designated products can range from $70 for a single moisturizer all the way up to $2500 for a two week supply of serum.
And what is in these DNA-based products?
Nothing you can't buy from a simple OTC product at your local drugstore.
Here is the ingredient list for SkinShift Perfecting Moisturizer (30 mL for $80)—this is a lower price point for DNA skin care:
Purified Water - all cosmetics are an aqueous solution
Perfluorohexane - humectant
Perfluoroperhydrophenanthrene - skin conditioning agent
Perfluorodecalin - humectant
Perfluorodimethylcylohexane - solvent
Polyacrylamide, thickening agent
C13-14 Isoparaffin - thickening agent
Laureth-7 - surfactant
Glycerin - humectant
Sorbitol - humectant
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride - natural moisturizing factor
Squalane - natural moisturizing factor
Cyclomethicone - humectant
Cetearyl Alcohol - humectant
Hyaluronic Acid - water binding agent
Caprylyl Glycol - emulsifier
Phenoxyethanol - preservative
Fragrance - serves no purpose except to provide aroma
Cetyl Esters - base carrier
Glycoproteins - conditioning agent
Butylene Glycol - humectant
Camellia Oleifera (Green Tea) Leaf Extract - anti-inflammatory agent
Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Extract - anti fungal agent
Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract - skin conditioning agent
Tocopheryl Acetate - preservative
Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract - fragrance
Xanthan Gum - thickening agent
Oleic Acid - natural moisturizing factor
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf - hydrating and healing agent
Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil - emolient
Ubiquinone - anti oxidant
Ascorbic Acid - exfoliator
Ascorbyl Palmitate - exfoliator
DMAE Bitartrate - solvent
Thioctic Acid - antioxidant
This is pretty indicative of products offered in this category—not a single ingredient that is unique, special, or not found in most over-the-counter products.
Top 3 Skin Care Myths: Before you make your next purchase, read these 3 myths that sales people use to entice you to buy more products.
Top 5 Key Ingredients To Look For In Your Cosmetic: Read the label before you make your next cosmetic purchase to make sure it contains some of these must-have ingredients.