If you’ve used ever used a beauty product, you’ve likely noticed that not all are created equally. Some actually work, while others… not so much.
Advertisers know that they have some pretty stiff competition in the billion-dollar beauty industry—in fact, in 2017, market research company The NPD Group announced that the prestige beauty industry in the United States reached $17 billion in sales. With opportunities like this, you should know that beauty companies will do whatever it takes to encourage consumers to use their products.
These attempts at persuasion include implementing some sneaky jargon in order to convince you that their cream, serum, or lotion is the best available.
Think about it: Are you more likely to use a product whose packaging states that it is medically endorsed over one that doesn’t? Most people would go with the “doctor-approved” product, but it turns out that some claims don’t have as much authority as you may believe.
According to Business Insider, products can carry the “clinically proven” claim if in a test setting, someone believes the product did what it promised to do. A doctor—just about any doctor—signs off on the assurance and congratulations, you have yourself a useable claim.
Since we know how it feels to be disappointed by yet another beauty product promise, we want to give you the inside scoop on what to believe (and when to save your money).
Do ingredients really matter?
Many products claim to contain rare and exotic ingredients that have magical super powers. But even though they sound fancy, they may not be all they’re cracked up to be.
Are stem cells worth the hype?
There’s no question that stem cells are pretty darn amazing. And it makes sense to use them in a product that is claiming to accomplish some hefty feats. After all, stem cells are known for the impressive effect they have on other cells.
In 2015, scientists at California-based company Lifeline created a facial lotion that contains stem cell peptides from donated human eggs. The manufacturers claim that the product visibly firms, tones, and defends skin on a daily basis.
The product does actually moisturize and seems to improve the skin’s appearance. It is unclear, however, if stem cells are the reason for the magic.
Margaret Foster Riley, a law professor and expert on food and drug law at the University of Virginia, isn’t buying what these scientists are selling.
“Stem cells that are in contact with skin are not really alive anymore,” she told USA Today. “So I don’t really see how a stem cell product is working on the skin. I suppose some of them may actually work in a way that cosmetics work otherwise, because of moisturizing capability. But it’s not stem cell capability that’s working there to the degree we know how stem cells work.”
What’s the take away here? Stem cell lotions might be effective, but it’s not necessarily because of the presence of stem cells.
Here’s the real deal with retinol.
What do we want? No wrinkles! When do we want it? Now!
Cosmetic companies know that when it comes to wrinkles, customers want them gone yesterday. Part of the allure of this vitamin A derivative is that it supposedly works in a short amount of time. Sadly, you’ll likely have to wait much longer than what is promised before you see any results, if you see them at all.
Gary Fisher, a professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan’s medical school, told Allure that retinoids take about 12 weeks to make a noticeable difference, a time period of about double or even triple what many companies claim. Use the product for at least that long before you decide whether or not to chuck it.
Does a higher price point result in better quality?
The saying, “you get what you pay for” has always sparked a little healthy debate. Is it really true that paying more for something results in a better product or experience? Scores of cosmetics companies claim this, which is why they charge more for their products than drugstores do.
But, you have to wonder, does the price actually make a difference in the quality?
Drugstore vs. High-End Makeup
Who hasn’t walked into a makeup store and felt completely overwhelmed and awestruck to be in the presence of so many pretty things? With all the professional-looking mirrors, gorgeous colors, and flattering lighting, how could you not?
As you gazed upon the fancy makeup and its tools, you likely noticed that the products here are priced higher than they are at drugstores. Like, substantially higher.
One would hope that if they splurged on makeup, it’s darn well better than something that’s a fraction of the cost. But is that the reality? Not really, says an article in Cosmopolitan.
Senior Beauty Editor Brooke Shunatona did a side-by-side comparison of 28 different makeup products. Half were what is considered high-end makeup, while the remainder is what you’d find at the drugstore.
What did Shunatona surmise from her experiment? That the quality and results of the makeup were basically the same.
Don’t let this stop you from taking a few moments to bathe in luxury at your favorite cosmetics shop, but maybe save your actual purchases for the drug store.
Does it actually work?
Some products have big claims when it comes to what they can do for your appearance. Whether its “turning back the hands of time” or “giving your skin a luxurious glow,” cosmetic companies make their customers some pretty hefty promises. But do they really fulfill their guarantees?
Do nail hardeners deliver on their promise?
If you don’t have to deal with the agony that is having brittle nails, consider yourself lucky. Those who do will tell you that having them is a real pain in the finger, literally.
Many with the issue have given up the dream of ever having long, natural nails. They’ve probably accepted that a life of constant breaking and cracking is all they have ahead of them. They may change their mind, however, if they believe the magical claims that nail-hardening products make.
Nail hardeners are essentially formaldehyde-infused clear coats, which can do more damage than good. The chemical creates a bond between the strands of keratin protein in your nails. Although the nail itself may become stronger, this bond comes at a cost.
The hardener will make the nail less flexible, likely resulting in breakage. If you think this kind of defeats the purpose of the hardener, you’re not alone.
The wrinkle cream that wasn’t.
Crow’s feet got you down? If so, reach for a bottle of the latest miracle-working wrinkle cream, say many advertisers.
While you would like to believe that what is promised is true, especially based on the information that is presented in the ads, the reality is you can’t always. Fuzzy claims are often made and images are even retouched to make the product appear to perform better than it really does.
It’s difficult to believe that companies would blatantly deceive their customers by altering photos of models wearing the product, but that’s exactly what Olay did in 2009.
An ad for its Definity Eye Cream showed former model Twiggy looking far younger than her age. The reason? The ads were retouched.
Speaking of misleading, who could forget when a L’Oréal ad featuring a luminous-looking Rachel Weisz was banned? Turns out the image of the stunner underwent some serious alterations during post-production.
While prevention is key when it comes to skincare, don’t be swayed by too-good-to-be-true advertisements that play on your insecurities by highlighting Photoshopped celebs with seemingly perfect skin. Trust us: it’s not real.