The newest buzzword on skincare product labels is microbiome. Everyone’s new formulations are microbiome-friendly, containing prebiotics, probiotics or postbiotics. Is all of this enthusiasm really warranted? Is there ample scientific proof of benefit from these claims or is it just hype, a way to increase market share?
What is a clean beauty product? Truth is, I have absolutely no idea. Some think it refers to products only made from plant derived ingredients, although that is what most people would call a “natural” skincare product. Others say clean products are products without chemicals. Those people are clearly mistaken, because all ingredients, even those derived from plants, are chemicals. And then there are those who say, clean beauty products are products made without “bad” chemicals. You know, the ones that cause cancer, that make you sick or irritate your skin.
Skincare manufacturers often sell the same exact product with different labels in order to target different customers. This means two products with the exact same formulation (or ingredient listing) are marketed differently and sometimes are sold for different prices!
Examples found in skincare aisles:
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Night Moisturizer & Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night Moisturizer
Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby & Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive
We've all seen ads proclaiming that a skincare product is "free-from" some particular ingredient: a brilliant scare tactic that implies that the product is now safer because it is "free-from" that particular ingredient. Let's take the commonly used, most studied class of preservatives called parabens, for example.
To prevent contamination, all water-based products (which include the vast majority of facial and body moisturizers) require a preservative. Without one, mold and bacteria spoils the product in less than two weeks.
The word detox, used to describe a multitude of creams, lotions, serums, and masks, is often advertised boldly on product labels. There are expensive boutique "detox" potions and less costly drugstore products readily available today. These products purport to remove dreadful toxins that accumulate in your skin. What toxins?
Silk pillowcases are lovely. They feel soft and smooth on the skin. Advice from "skincare experts" regarding the benefits of silk pillowcases on social media, on-line blogs, and in health and beauty magazines is ubiquitous. Claims include they prevent acne and wrinkles. The use of a silk pillowcase supposedly prevents split ends on hair. They are reported to help the skin retain moisture and minimize chemical exposure (from what particular chemicals I do not know.) Most of these "experts" are well-intentioned but are simply misinformed.
Of the many marketing terms found on the front of skincare product labels, this is one of the most meaningless. 'Nourishing' the skin is medical absurdity. The use of the term is meant to lead the consumer to believe that the nourishig skincare product provides food or other substance necessary for skin growth. Marketing nonsense.
Pulling at the heartstrings of animal lovers everywhere, the unrestricted use of marketing terms like 'Cruelty Free' and 'Not Tested On Animals' are frequently found on skincare product labels. Some manufacturers apply these claims to their finished skincare products only. The same manufacturers may rely on raw material suppliers to perform animal testing to substantiate ingredient or product safetly.