The African cosmetics market is flooded with Western brands. Aside from the obvious problems with this, for example, undercutting local beauty brands, many of the products’ cosmetics claims are exaggerated, misleading, false, or just simply absurd. The main reason for these claims is to increase sales – and despite regulations over advertising, many companies get away with it.
The problem with regulations over advertising claims is that the world over, they are nearly worthless. “To take just one example, in Europe, cosmetics claims are supposed to be supported by studies that prove the claims are valid. But, all that really happened in response to that regulation was the creation of a new type of business: research companies. These companies, often run by dermatologists or even by universities, offer their services to perform testing, testing that they design specifically to prove whatever claims the cosmetics company wants, all for a fee, of course. The testing most often does not lead to scientific published studies, and so the results don’t prove a thing; they are often nothing more than biased deception. However, the regulators are satisfied that “studies” have been carried out and the cosmetics companies are happy because the “study” shows what they want, while the consumer remains unaware of what’s really going on.” – Source: Paula’s Choice
I can’t tell you how many times I fell for the following meaningless cosmetics claims until I started paying more attention to what actually works.
4 Common Cosmetics Claims and What to Look For Instead
1. Dermatologist-approved or dermatologist-tested
According to The Beauty Brains, “while dermatologists know how to treat skin diseases and their advice in this area need not be questioned, they don’t necessarily know the best skin care products to use.” First of all, you don’t know which dermatologist approved said product and how great their qualifications are. For all we know, he could have graduated bottom of his class from the University of Oompa Loompah.
Secondly, if a dermatologist’s name is on the product, keep in mind that dermatologists often sell their names to a product and don’t actually have much involvement in the development.
What to look for instead: Focus on finding products that contain ingredients research has proven to be safe and effective for your skin. These include broad-spectrum sunscreens and products with antioxidants, well-formulated exfoliants and skin-repairing ingredients.
The term implies that the product would be great for sensitive skin since it’s less likely to cause allergic reactions. However, there are no accepted testing methods, ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere in the world, for determining whether or not a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic.
What to look for instead: If you have sensitive skin, then look for products without known irritants like color and fragrance (both synthetic and natural fragrance are equally bad for all skin types), alcohol (isopropyl or SD alcohol), and strong cleansing agents (sodium lauryl sulphate). Always patch test your skin care too, since it’s possible to be allergic to anything regardless of skin type.
3. Non-comedogenic/Won’t clog pores/Won’t Cause Acne
Just like ‘hypoallergenic’, you can’t accurately test how non-comedogenic a product is. When a product shows it’s non-comedogenic, it generally has less acne causing offenders, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t cause you acne. The best you can do is buy non-comedogenic products, patch test, and hope for the best. Over time, you may be able to recognize specific ingredients that cause problems for you and avoid them.
What to look for instead: Avoid products that are thick and creamy, use those that have a liquid, gel, serum, or thin, water-based lotion-y texture. You can also read this guide to learn more about purchasing non-comedogenic products. Most importantly, patch test your products.
4. Specially formulated for mature skin
This is usually aimed at people over a certain age, for example, 50. However, age is not a skin type. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you automatically have dry skin. Our skin can be affected by different factors and you can have different concerns e.g. acne, fine lines, uneven tone etc at any age.
You will find that a lot of ‘mature’ skincare doesn’t address anti-aging but moisturizing which isn’t the best way to address aging well.
What to look for instead: Focus on finding products that contain ingredients research has proven to be safe and effective for your skin. These include broad-spectrum sunscreens and products with antioxidants, well-formulated exfoliants and skin-repairing ingredients. It’s all about the ingredients and following a consistent skin care routine that addresses the needs of your skin type and concerns, regardless of your age.
Misleading cosmetics claims give the industry a bad rep. However, there are brilliantly formulated cosmetics which can do a lot, and they’re absolutely worth seeking out. Hopefully, this post is a step to looking for what actually works, so you can find the best products for your skin. What are some outrageous claims you have come across? Let me know in the comments below.