Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crappy Cosmetic Claims

Buzzword bingo claims that are not helped by the existence of multiple spelling mistakes.

What do cosmetics companies like Estée Lauder and some guy called Gene Science have in common? They're involved in making the cosmetics industry completely disreputable.

In 1996, the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists wrote about standards for substantiation of cosmetic claims. Their position was that misleading the public will undermine the public's trust and be unfair to those in the industry whose claims can be substantiated. In 2011, I am frequently annoyed by the mere puff that litters advertisements for cosmetics products.

There is an International Journal of Cosmetic Scientists. It sounds fairly legitimate... It even has a logo. It's sponsored by the Society of Cosmetic Scientists, which seems to have somewhat stringent requirements to join.

So, what I'm getting at here is that despite all of this scientific infrastructure that seems to exist, a person would have to be pretty stupid to take a claim made in a cosmetics ad at face-value. In fact, the more money that is spent on the ad, the less trustworthy, in my opinion.

If you have to spend money on computer graphics to show hair "coming back to life" or show supermodels talking about how they haven't had pimples for the last 10 years because of a brand new product, then you've lost me. Lucky for the cosmetics industry, I'm not their target demographic, but how stupid do they think their target demographic is?

Anyway, here's my proposal for what seems to be a pretty corrupt industry: Use your infrastructure.

If you want people to trust your claims:

  1. Ensure they are backed up with real science
  2. Make sure that science is peer-reviewed, by respectable peers
  3. Publish the science in a reputable journal
  4. Have an industry certification program that determines if ad and product claims are backed up by science - Don't use the authority of a "research institute" that's part of your company
  5. Put a logo on products that are certified.
The industry is so untrustworthy right now, that even with all of this, people will be skeptical, but the industry should persist: When it comes to regaining the public' trust, it won't happen overnight, but it will happen. Actually, maybe it won't, but I had to work in that line.

Either way, stop annoying me with junk claims that anger me while watching TV.


  1. Meh, they dont care, people will still buy it, they all want to look like clowns instead of humans. the whole industy is worthless, its superficial bullshit. If anything could actually help with aging, it would be done by a medical company, not a face paint company.

  2. Good point. They do market their products as alternative medicine a lot of the time, and as Tim Minchin says, "You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine."

  3. Most of the 'institutes' and 'foundations' etc are set up by the advertising agency that is there to market them. Just watch the gruen transfer or :30 Seconds and you'll see that these are just ways for them to back up their 'puff' claims... And even though you aren't their primary target market, don't think they aren't coming for you... have you seen all the blokey products out now? This is just all marketing.. these products would be different from the womens products only in the packaging.