Dan Thompson: Beauty Busted


The Truth: What Cosmetics Can and Can't Do

Marketing Claims Aside, Cosmetics are Limited In Their Abilities

what cosmetics are capable of

For over seven years I've been writing about the over-exaggerated marketing claims made by cosmetics companies. I am, most certainly, not the the first or only writer to discuss how cosmetics companies market their products, but let me be clear - I am all for using well formulated, safe cosmetics. In fact, I am a bit of a cosmetics junkie myself.

What I have always been against is representing formulations as some sort of miracle product in a jar when, with just a little logical reasoning, it is easy to determine a great many of the claims attributed to cosmetics simply cannot live up to the actual abilities of the formulas.

The CBC recently published an article, quoting many of the same sources I use for my research, discussing how the FDA is cracking down on over stated claims attributed to non prescription products (including cosmetics).

To be clear:  any product which claims to have any type of physiological effect of the body is a drug and must be registered as such.  In Canada we use DIN identification to clearly separate drugs and non-drugs for consumers. No DIN identification on the packaging then it's simply not a drug.

Here is my very incomplete list of what an OTC (over the counter) cosmetic can a and can't do (and this is irrelevant of brand):

Cosmetics CANNOT:

  • Boost collagen production
  • Enhance elastin production
  • Effect genes (cosmetics DO NOT contain stem cells no matter what the marketing info says)
  • Effect cell - cell growth, development or activity
  • Repair ageing tissue
  • Remove wrinkles
  • Produce enzymes
  • Increase the skin's metabolic functions
  • Manipulate DNA or RNA
  • Lift/tighten. or otherwise increase firmness

Cosmetics CAN:

  • Clean the skin of make up/dirt/debris
  • Exfoliate the skin removing dead cells
  • Increase hydration levels
  • Protect from UV light (when an approved SPF is included in the formula)
  • Enhance oil/water balance
  • Change the colour of hyper-pigmentation
  • Increase surface antioxidant protection
  • Clear blackheads and general congestion
  • Control acne causing bacteria
  • Reduce surface irritation and inflammation

Well formulated cosmetics can and do make the skin look fresh, radiant, vibrant while providing hydration and environmental protection. However, there is no cosmetic product that can reverse ageing or somehow provide some "miracle" in a jar.  

What's the best way to prevent premature aging and keep the skin as strong and healthy as possible?

Stay out of the sun, wear a sunscreen, eat a balanced diet and get allow the skin to regenerate.  The skin repairs itself, and regenerates, while your body is at rest (sleeping).  It's true a great night's sleep will indeed make your skin look amazing!

 RELATED: Deciphering Cosmetic Labels