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Skin Care Reality Check

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A multi-billion dollar industry, the world of cosmetics outsells the food industry. It seams hard to believe, but it is true.

A “magic” jar of 1.7 oz. moisturizer costs three times more than the best pound of meat bought at a gourmet store, not to mention that a 0.5 oz. of perfume is more expensive than the same quantity of black caviar.

There you have it; it adds up before your eyes.

The cosmetic industry has been successfully selling the “eternal youth” we are all seeking and their philosophy is based on two premises: fear (of premature aging) and probability (eventually we will all get there).

Aging is a natural process and can’t be stopped. With some preventive care, the signs of aging could be slowed down, however, and that is the best we can hope for.

This being said, let’s see what is true and what is false about cosmetic products and beauty “miracles.”


  • Benefits of exfoliation
  • Keeping the skin moist
  • Nourishing the skin
  • Protecting it against external elements

Examining the true statements, scientific research has found that:

  • Exfoliation insures removal of dead cells and stimulates production of new ones, giving you a more radiant complexion.
  • Keeping the skin moist will make the skin smoother and more malleable.
  • Nourishing it will insure a good balance between sebum (oil) and water resulting in a healthier skin.
  • Protecting it against external elements will keep the skin healthy and beautiful for a longer time.


  • Reversing skin’s aging process
  • Eliminating wrinkles
  • Eliminating dark spots
  • Plumping up the skin for better tone
  • Eliminating sagging

Examining the false statements, scientific research has found that:

  • Reversal of the aging process is “wishful thinking” and will not deliver on its promises.
  • Plumping up the skin is strictly a temporary effect obtained through ingredients that will cause an adverse reaction and as such will make the skin swell ever so slightly (for a few hours), giving the impression of erasing fine lines, until the reaction is neutralized by the self-defending mechanism of the body. In professional terminology, this Cinderella effect is called “controlled irritation.”

False promises and half-truths are nothing new to an industry that makes its claims carefully. Please notice the language of those claims and you will figure out how vague and subjective they really are: wrinkles appear smoother; the skin will have a more luminous look and a better texture. What does it all mean?

Such claims are entirely based on the well-known fact that “we will see what we want to see”; wishful thinking, combined with inflated egos and our desire to outsmart nature, will easily result in brain washing, playing right in the greedy hands of the cosmetic industry.

Knowing that most consumers are constantly looking for “new and improved products,” the industry is ready to satisfy that thirst and is constantly reinventing itself coming out with new products.

By now, we know that collagen and elastine (both are proteins present in the connective tissue) will not penetrate the skin, due to a large molecule.

After years of selling us useless products, the industry came out with new ingredients like Vitamin “C” (extremely unstable and as such ineffective if not used immediately), Vitamin “A” (retinoids as Renova and Retin-A), alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic) and beta hydroxy acid (salicylic), peptide (amino acids), lycopene (carotenoid antioxidant), “coenzyme Q10” (benzoquinone), and many other ingredients. Some are good; some are worthless.

Another myth perpetuated by the industry is the appeal to customers of the magic words: “natural ingredients” and “organic product.” Nothing but selling points, those claims have little to do with the effectiveness of the product—just one more deceptive tactic.

Basically, all cosmetic products are more or less similar and the few differences are practically negligible and not worth the additional price. Some of the most reputable companies have been fined for false advertisement and asked to withdraw claims of “wrinkle removing properties” or “improving skin structure.”

Recently, some pharmaceutical companies got involved in the profitable world of the skin care industry offering “cosmeceuticals,” an ambiguous term intended to give consumers much-needed reassurance by implying pharmaceutical properties.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates the pharmaceutical industry and defines drugs as “products that cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent diseases by affecting the structure or function of the human body.”

Aging is not a disease. The last thing that the cosmetic industry wants is to be regulated by the watchful vigilance of the FDA. The cosmetic industry prefers its own studies and statistics, the so-called “in house research.”

A new marketing technique is gaining popularity: the independent study. Cosmetic manufacturers are conducting their own studies, reaching their own conclusions and presenting the results as facts. 

What some of them are saying is outrageous; here is an example: “Out of the eighty-four people in our polling group—raging from twenty-four to sixty-two years of age—fifty-seven individuals showed visible signs of improvement after regularly using the product for a period of three months.”

My guess is that the most spectacular “improvements” happened to the ones who needed the product the least in the first place.

Most of what the consumer is paying for when buying cosmetics is not the content of the “magic jar”; it is the packaging, the name of the company, and their expenses related to advertisement.

Knowing that it does not make much sense to buy “La Mar” as opposed to “Origins,” since both of them are owned by the same “Estee Lauder Company,” as are Clinique, Aramis, Aveda, Prescriptives, Jo Malone, Darphin, Donna Karan, MAC, and Bobbi Brown.

The “in house competition” is well spread and it is meant to give the consumer a false sense of freedom of choice. Let me give you a few more examples:

Revlon owns Almay, Ultima, and Princess Marcella Borghese. The powerful house of L’Oreal owns Garnier, Lancôme, Maybelline, Kerastase, and SkinCeuticals, as well as Matrix, Redken, and Helen Rubinstein.

As if all this was not confusing and misleading enough, a new fad found its way into the cosmetics arena; recently many plastic surgeons and dermatologists are offering their own brand of cosmetics by attaching a label followed by the prestigious MD to ordinary cosmetics and implying therapeutic properties. To escape FDA control, please note that such “miracles” are being sold only to the doctor’s regular patients.

When it comes to choosing a skin care product, the “buyer be aware” slogan should be reinforced by an alert and informed costumer.

The long and the short of it all is that the claims and promises of “eternal youth” should be taken with a full box of salt.


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