Paula Begoun is The Cosmetics Cop, a name Oprah Winfrey gave her. Paula and her research team have written 21 books on beauty including her best-selling series Don’t Go To the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. Paula also launched Paula’s Choice Skincare in 1995.In this article Paula Begoun debunks 5 Misleading Cosmetic Claims
No matter where you shop for skincare or makeup products, you’ll find at least one, and probably more, with claims that are misleading or exaggerated to the point of absurdity. Lots of cosmetics companies make too-good-to-be-true claims just to get your attention. So, you’re probably asking: What about truth-in-advertising regulations? How do these brands get away with it? Drawing on our 35 years of researching this fascinating, sometimes frustrating, industry, we bust five of the most bogus cosmetic claims so you can shop smarter!
It’s a Jungle Out There!
No matter where you shop for beauty products, you’re bombarded with new products (plus the longstanding products) claiming to do all manner of great things for your skin. It’s tempting to just give up out of frustration because you can’t be sure who’s telling the truth … but hang in there! The truth is that beyond all those fantasy claims there are lots of brands that do offer brilliantly formulated products. We’ll help you cut through the hype by revealing the facts behind five common, yet bogus, cosmetic claims—some you might have believed for years!
Armed with our research-based information, you’ll be better prepared to find products that REALLY work, no matter your skin type or concern!
“Hypoallergenic” is meant to imply that a product is unlikely or less likely to cause reactions and, therefore, is better for sensitive skin. It isn’t true … here’s why: There are no accepted testing methods, ingredient restrictions, regulations, guidelines, rules, or procedures of any kind, anywhere, for determining if a product qualifies as being hypoallergenic.
More proof: We’ve reviewed hundreds of products labeled “hypoallergenic” or “good for sensitive skin” that contain seriously problematic ingredients capable of causing a sensitized reaction.
Even the United States FDA says:
There are no Federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term hypoallergenic. The term means whatever a particular company wants it to mean.
Instead of focusing on shopping for “hypoallergenic” products, make sure you avoid products that contain skin-sensitizing ingredients, such as fragrance (whether natural or synthetic), denatured alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, fragrant plant oils like rose and lavender, and all forms of mint and citrus. These ingredients show up in lots of products, and all of them are problematic for skin, regardless of the claims for the product!
Non-Comedogenic or Won’t Clog Pores
You really can’t trust any product that makes claims of being “non-comedogenic” (or the less common “non-acnegenic”) because, just like hypoallergenic, there are no approved or regulatory standards for these terms, not anywhere in the world.
With no guidelines or standards in place, even the thickest, greasiest moisturizer can claim it “won’t clog pores”! As a general rule, the thicker the product, the more likely it is to be pore-clogging.
Also, be wary of the claim “oil-free”! Lots of ingredients can make skin feel greasy even if they don’t contain oils or are not listed as oils. Shopping for oil-free products is not necessarily a slam-dunk solution for oily or congested skin.
Instead, if you have oily or clog-prone skin, avoid products with a thick, creamy consistency. Look for products that have a liquid, gel, or extremely light serum texture, or a thin, water-based lotion consistency. Generally, products with thinner textures are less likely to clog pores or worsen breakouts.
The word “cosmeceutical” (a combination of “cosmetic” and “pharmaceutical”) was dreamed up to describe cosmetics products that are supposed to have some level (proven or not) of special benefit over and above regular cosmetics.
The truth? It’s just another marketing term with no regulation or standards behind it. That means that any brand (whether from a doctor’s office, salon, or medical spa) can label its products cosmeceutical, regardless of what they contain. There are no cosmeceutical-grade ingredients, not anywhere in the world.
What about different “grades” of ingredients? There definitely are different grades, but their use is not restricted to only the most expensive brands or to brands sold only by aestheticians or dermatologists. All cosmetics lines have access to the very same ingredients, and they are used throughout the cosmetics industry. Falling for this line is a surefire way to waste your money!
Dermatologist-Approved or Dermatologist-Tested
This popular claim sounds official and professional, but—surprise—it’s another that isn’t supported by any agreed-on standards.
“Dermatologist-approved” could mean something or it could mean nothing at all. What you don’t know is whether or not the dermatologist is on the payroll of the cosmetics company (many are, so they’re expected to “approve” the products—when was the last time you saw a “dermatologist-rejected” product?) or what standards he or she used to “approve” the product.
The same applies to “dermatologist-tested.” Unless you know how the test was done and what the results were, it could be good, bad, or just plain meaningless—and it’s often the latter.
Specially Formulated for Mature Skin
This claim is not used so much anymore, but it still shows up, and it couldn’t be more irksome, for many reasons. The main problem is that cosmetics companies always define “mature skin” as occurring at some arbitrary age, usually over the age of 50, where all of a sudden, skin becomes dry. But, skin does not abruptly change at the age of 50, and it does not automatically become dry, either.
In reality, age is not a skin type. Women over age 50 have many different skin types. Skin concerns, such as wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and loss of firmness are fairly consistent, but that’s true for women in their 30s and 40s, too. In truth, women of all ages can struggle with oily skin and breakouts (just ask Paula, who, over 60, still has oily, combination skin).
There are no special formulary standards that make products labeled “for mature skin” any better or “more anti-aging” than products formulated for other skin types or concerns. Most products sold for mature skin are just overly emollient moisturizers that may or may not contain the skin-replenishing and skin-restoring ingredients that skin showing signs of aging needs. That’s why it’s a mistake to let this claim guide your purchasing decisions.
It all started when Paula was very young trying to take care of her own problem skin that progressively got worse in spite of the professional help sought. Acne, super-oily skin along with debilitating eczema over 60% of her body at the age of 11! She tried numerous options but all led to disappointment. In early adulthood after working as a makeup artist to send herself through university she came to the realization that most skincare claims were either seriously misleading, just plain wrong, or at best delusional. Determined and resolute to find out the truth about skin and skincare—it became a compulsion eventually leading her to take her first steps into a career in the world of cosmetics.
It was by no means a straight path, and she had no idea that it would lead to where she is today. She knew she was on a personal pursuit, which eventually became a global mission, and she never wavered from that mission through¬ out all the years she has been doing this.
“I didn’t want anyone to go through what I went through ever again. In looking over my evolving career, I believe I’ve accomplished much of what I set out to do. But I’m not quitting! There’s still a lot of work and research yet to be done and this blog continues my lifelong work” Paula Begoun www.paulaschoice.com
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Written byPaula Begoun