Cosmetic companies make all kinds of exaggerated, and even false, claims to attract our attention and sell us their products. Some are so ridiculously unrealistic that they’re easy to spot. But others are more subtle and cunning, bending and twisting the truth to make consumers believe that a product has some special benefit that makes it safer and more effective than the other options on the market.
Here are those that I find the most misleading.
This is the one that irks me the most. It implies that there are cosmetic chemists that add all kinds of poisonous and toxic chemicals to some products (although I can’t see why anyone would think that killing off their customers would be a good idea), and that therefore chemical-free cosmetics are safer. But chemical-free cosmetics don’t exist. Everything made of matter is a chemical or a mixture of chemicals.
That means that water is a chemical. Plants extracts are chemicals. The human body is made up of lots of chemicals. Any ingredient, whether natural or synthetic, in your cosmetic products is a chemical, and even its packaging is made up of chemicals. I admit I have sometimes, in the past, used the term chemical-free sunscreen for clarity reasons because it has unfortunately become a synonym with physical sunscreen, but I hate it. I don’t use it anymore, and neither should you.
2. Reduces the appearance of wrinkles
Pretty much every anti-aging cream and lotion on the market makes this claim, and it’s an accurate one. These products, usually thanks to brightening pigments or silicones that smooth out the surface of the skin so that it reflects light better, can really reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Appearance is the key word here. The claim simply means that the product makes wrinkles look less obvious, not that it gets rid of them (which is the way most consumers interpret it). When the effect of the cream is over, your wrinkles will still be there, as deep as they were before.
3. Helps reduce wrinkles/make hair stronger/boost collagen production etc
When companies don’t have any proof their products can address a certain problem, but want to make their customers think it does, they add the word “help” in front of it. Proving that a product can help do something is easier than proving that said product does that something. In other words, it allows companies to make almost whatever claim they want without getting in trouble.
When a company claims its products are natural, it implies that they’re safer than those made with “chemicals”, or, to use the appropriate term, synthetic ingredients. But natural doesn’t really mean anything. The term is not regulated, so companies can put whatever they want (unless it’s not harmful to health, of course), in these products.
But even when these products don’t contain synthetic stuff, are they really natural? What makes an ingredient natural anyway? A lot of natural ingredients undergo chemical processes that modify them and make them behave in a certain way. Would these ingredients still be considered natural?
A lot of people purchase hypoallergenic products believing that they are gentler and won’t cause irritations or allergies. But that’s not true. Again, this term is not regulated in any way, and so cosmetic companies can add any ingredient they want in a product and claim it is hypoallergenic. This means that these products could still cause a negative reaction so, if your skin is prone to allergies or irritations, always check out the ingredient list to make sure it doesn’t contain the offending ingredient instead than relying on this claim.
6. Ph balanced
Another term used to make you think that these products are better and safer than other alternatives on the market. The truth is that pretty much any product is made in a range that is compatible with the neutral ph of the skin. And why would it not be? Should a product not be ph balanced, it would be too drying or irritating to use and no one would buy it. Unfortunately, because companies don’t add the ph balance information on the label, consumers don’t know this, and tend to fall more easily for the ph balanced claims.
7. Makes hair stronger
Most hair care products claim to make your hair stronger, but what does that mean? It’s not like your hair needs to lift any heavy weights or something. If you interpret it to mean that it can make your weak and damaged hair strong and healthy again, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. Once hair is damaged, it is damaged, and nothing can fix it. You’ll just have to cut it off and wait for it to grow out again.
Instead, products that claim to make hair stronger just make it less it prone to breakage when you comb it. How? Usually, it is thanks to silicones, which smooth out the surface of the hair so that the comb will glide through your locks more easily. And that’s something that any products that has conditioning properties does.
What misleading claims bother you the most?