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6 Pseudoscience of Beauty Products

Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.

Take a fashion or lifestyle magazine or visit websites of this type. The very first thing you would see is countless ads for beauty and skincare products. These ads are from different manufacturers and use different strategies, but they do have one thing in common – they are misleading. Actually, there’s a term for this – pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience is defined as a claim*, practice or belief that is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method. And now, you probably imagine all those bold claims* you just read in magazines or fashion websites. All those manufacturers claim* they have breakthrough formula that would somehow magically remove* wrinkles from your face. They promise* a wide array of results, but when you buy such products you realize how ineffective they are.

In fact, big beauty and skincare companies invest more money into promoting their products than in researches that would develop those breakthrough formulas they brag to have. They use pseudoscience, include “big” or scientific words to make their claims* seem legit and only tell target audience what they want to hear thus making millions.

Recognizing pseudoscience in beauty and skincare product isn’t that difficult. Although we’d like to have the possibility of having our wrinkles removed in just a few days, unfortunately that’s still not possible. Whenever some famous brand uses outrageous claims* to sell their product, you can be sure it’s nothing but a pseudoscience.

This post contains 6 examples, but it’s safe to say there are hundreds examples of pseudoscience in beauty and skincare industry today.

Let’s start with L’Oreal which poses as the biggest cosmetic company in the world. They endorse celebrities such as Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez to promote their products. But, the brand is also known for their misleading claims* and pseudoscience habits.

1. L’Oreal Youth Code was a product-line in which the company claimed they used “gene science” to crack the code and make your skin young again. Youth Code products were apparently formulated to boost* the production of “youth proteins” thus making your skin look younger. L’Oreal even claimed the benefits of this product like were clinically proven*. Actually, that would be perfect. Imagine how great it would be to become younger just by applying these products. However, it turned out the benefits of these products were not clinically proven* which only indicated the company wanted to deceive and mislead target audience – pseudoscience at its best.

Unfortunately for these famous brands, pseudoscience isn’t something that’s allowed to be done, which is why the company is sued and they settled charges for being misleading and deceptive.

2. L’Oreal Revitalift promises* that in just 8 weeks you will see clinical results on deep set wrinkles. The wrinkle repair treatment is advertised by Andie MacDowell. Here, as well, L’Oreal company claims* they conducted clinical trials which proved the benefits of the product. Now, it’s also important to mention that Revitalift ads which featured Rachel Weisz were banned because the company used Photoshop to make her look younger. The question is, if the anti-wrinkle treatment is that effective, why do you have to airbrush model’s face to make it look smoother?

3. Lancome Genifique definitely had one of the most misleading claims* of all time. Here, the brand claims* you can somehow influence on your genes to have younger-looking skin. Lancome states that Genifique is clinically proven* to produce* perfectly luminous skin in 85% of women, astonishingly even skin in 82% of women, and cushiony soft skin in 91% of women in SEVEN days. Here’s the another perfect example of pseudoscience – besides using clinical studies and mentioning formulas to justify their claims*, these brands also use words like “astonishingly, marvelously, cushiony” etc. It’s needless to mention that this company was also sued and had to settle charges for being deceptive and misleading.

4. EOS lip balm was probably on your to-buy list for quite some time. These lip balms look super cute and shaped like little marbles thus being easier to apply. The popular lip balms were praised by the likes of Kim Kardashian West and Britney Spears. Furthermore, the company itself claims* they revolutionize the science in rejuvenating your lips. However, this company also faces lawsuit because their lip balms didn’t only provide those rejuvenating properties to make lips smooth, but they also caused blisters, rash, and redness in many women.

5. Estee Lauder is one of the most famous high end beauty and skincare brands. However, instead of using their reputation to provide supreme experience to customers who can actually afford their products, they also used pseudoscience to lure potential buyers. For example, in 2013 the company was sued because they claimed their serums promoted DNA repair and other anti-aging effects. The company didn’t conduct any clinical trials to support* their claim*. Basically, they just wrote their claim* like it was a post-it note until the angered customer decided to take the matter in her own hands and sue them.

6. Nivea as one of the most reputable skincare companies in the world isn’t innocent in pseudoscience and misleading practice. The company’s Nivea DNAage Cell Renewal Day Cream claims* that innovation in skincare, which boosts* surface skin cell renewal leaves you with noticeably firmer looking skin. The ads for this product were banned because according to authorities, Nivea tried to imply that individual will have firmer-looking skin effect permanently (which would be impossible). However, unlike L’Oreal which stated that despite being charged for misleading and deception the effectiveness of their products is intact, Nivea promised to point out that all their products have temporary effect in future ads.

The pseudoscience is used even by the most reputable companies to make outrageous claims* and say what customers want to hear in order to sell that product. This is, also, one of the biggest problems in today’s beauty and skincare industry. Although we’re aware that label which describes products (or ads on websites or in fashion magazines) are too good to be true and we don’t really believe in them, we still buy these products. Why? It’s because we want to look younger and have smoother and more nourished skin.

However, just because pseudoscience is largely used today, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find products that are genuine and effective. There are many companies that constantly work towards delivering effective products without pseudoscience. This is why the company invests their money into researches and clinical trials instead of endorsing celebrities to promote their brands. All this just shows that you have to be very careful when choosing your skincare and beauty products. Making bold claims* and only mentioning “clinical researches” on labels isn’t enough. It is important to have solid proof that product really can accomplish what is claimed to do.

Therefore, whenever you notice outrageous claims* such as eliminating wrinkles entirely in just a few days and other “too good to be true” things, you should skip that product and find the one made by the brand that doesn’t subject to using pseudoscience.

Conclusion

Pseudoscience is largely used today and is most expressed in beauty and skincare industry. Brands use big words, epithets, or mention clinical trials that they didn’t conduct coupled with promises* that are even too good for fairytales. However, it’s important to mention that pseudoscience doesn’t only indicate misleading but also disrespect to loyal customers. It’s important to think twice before you purchase a certain product and make sure it’s really effective.