Oh, there are so many of them—cosmetics sales pitches that simply cannot hold up under scrutiny.
I've heard them for years, and I am always so dismayed when I hear them again.
Here is a short list of sales pitches I heard this weekend at actual cosmetics counters in leading department stores:
1. "This is a Botox alternative. All the results of Botox without the injections."
There is no over-the-counter product that can provide the results of Botox. Even Botox cannot provide the results of Botox if it is not actually injected into the skin. Botox is a specific drug that must be injected into the muscles in order to provide the proven effect. OTC products do not penetrate into the muscles, and even if they could, the idea of a topical product used all over the face that can cause paralysis is so ridiculous, because how could an at-home product be monitored as to not be used incorrectly, thus causing paralysis in areas that could be very dangerous.
2. "Age spots are just part of getting older."
"Age spots" are sun damage. Everyone can get them regardless of age. If the skin is protected from extreme sun exposure, the chances of getting this discolouration is quite minimal. Also, the damage is actually so deep in the skin that the only way to correct this damage is with a medical procedure. There is no OTC product that can correct sun damage.
3. "The tingling means it's working."
The tingling means it's damaging your skin. OTC products should not have any tingling, cooling, or other type of sensation base when applied. If you feel anything of the sort, remove the product immediately and neutralize with water. The tingling/cooling sensation is a sign of allergic reaction and over all cellular damage (after prolonged use).
4. "Skin needs different ingredients at night than in the day."
Often the pitch starts with something like, "The skin is regenerating at night so . . . " or "The skin requires more nutrition at night . . . " If these claims are actually true, I would love to see the science behind them. Truth is the skin is regenerating and repairing every moment of every day. The only ingredient that is more beneficial to the skin in the daytime than the night time is sunscreen.
5. "It's an award-winning formula."
I have written many times about the pseudo-science used to "prove" cosmetics formulas' claims, but the "award winning" slant is something I often overlook, because I consider it so unimportant. The idea is that if an award was given there must be some high quality to the product. What are the top 5 awards in the cosmetics industry? Allure Magazine's Best of Beauty Award, Good Housekeeping Magazine's Beauty Awards, Elle Magazine's Editor Picks Awards, Glamour Magazine's Glammy Awards, and Cosmetic Executive Women's Beauty Awards. Four of these awards are given out by beauty and fashion magazines, and one is a trade association award. How are the winners comprised? For the beauty magazines, the list is created by the magazine's advertisers—yes, the list is long, but the only way to be considered for an award is to advertise in the magazine. For the CEW, the award is only given to companies that are dues paying members. Point is, these awards mean nothing at all for consumers—they are just marketing tools for the companies.
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.
For decades the cosmetics industry has used some tired sales pitches to encourage consumers to buy more products than are actually needed.
Skin care is a cosmetics category that, often, is packaged to appear to have lots of scientific backing but most of the sales pitches are just myths.
Here are my top 3 myths about skincare (and be sure to click on the YouTube link to learn more):
1. Different cleansers for different skin types.
Cleansers have no lasting benefit on the skin. They are washed off as soon as they are used, and they are only used on the surface of the skin. The texture of a cleanser has nothing to do with how it will clean the skin. As long as it is pH balanced any cleanser can be used on any skin type. The difference is one of preference not of performance.
2. Different ages need different skin care.
Many companies sell products based on your age and not based on your skin care needs. It is really quite silly because a 25-year-old can have very dry, damaged skin while a 60-year-old may have healthy skin with little need for advanced treatment. It is important to treat the skin as it functions and not lump all age groups together for care. Every individual needs a customized skin care plan.
3. Eye cream.
This is my personal pet peeve. There is no difference, from a topical cosmetics perspective, between the different areas of the face. Eye cream, neck cream, night cream are all just ways to sell additional products to the consumer. Truth is a single ,well-formulated moisturizer is perfect for day and night application and for all areas of the face. Again, skin type is important but not area of the face. The only time I would use a separate product on different areas is if the skin type is different between those areas. This is, however, extremely rare.