Cosmetic Industry: Tall Claims

 As a dermatologist, I meet a lot of med reps and beauty publicists and one thing is for sure: in the beauty world, 'natural' is the new black.

The market for natural products has been expanding fast. According to the Organic Market Report, the trade in organic health and beauty products is robust. But along with this increased popularity has grown up a quasi- religious belief that 'natural' means 'good' and 'chemical' equals 'bad'. That view so exasperates the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) that it has offered £1 million to anyone who can show it a chemical-free product. Let me assure you no one is walking away with that money!

The word "chemical" has been misappropriated and maligned as synonymous with "poison” which I find very misleading. Everything we eat, drink, drive, play with and live in is made of chemicals. Natural and synthetic chemicals are essential for life, as we know it.
Today as I was reading my Twitter updates, I saw another claim about a beauty product being “chemical free.” Reading claims like this is beginning to bug me because nearly EVERYTHING is a chemical.

There is no such thing as a Chemical Free Sunscreen!!! Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are CHEMICALS!!

Alright enough of that. I’ll calm down. But it does remind me of all the other misleading cosmetic claims that I see from cosmetic marketers. Here is a list of some of the most misleading cosmetic claims that I could find.

What makes a claim misleading?

Before I get to the list, I want to define my terms. There are plenty of more preposterous claims than the ones on this list but typically those are direct lies. (e.g. cosmetics that say they will re-grow your hair).
The claims listed here are not lies per se the companies no doubt have supporting tests. However, they are specifically made to mislead consumers.

1. Natural, Organic, Green, etc.
This claim can mean anything because there is no specific definition for ‘natural’. Some companies argue that if an ingredient comes from a natural source then it’s natural. They conveniently overlook the fact that they chemically modify it to make it work the way they want it. And ‘organic’ is not much better. True, there is a USDA organic certification program but it is not required that a cosmetic company follow it to use the ‘organic’ claim on their products.
Why it is misleading – Companies who use this claim want consumers to believe that the products they produce are “safer” than other cosmetics. Natural / organic / green cosmetic are not safer.
2. Chemical free
Every cosmetic or personal care product you would buy is made of chemicals. There is no such thing as a ‘chemical free’ cosmetic. Water is a chemical. Titanium Dioxide is a chemical.
Why it is misleading – It’s just wrong. It also is made to imply that the product is “safer” than cosmetics made with chemicals. The products are not safer. This is just wrong.
3. pH balanced
Skin and hair products often advertise themselves as ‘pH balanced’ as if that is supposed to be some big benefit. What products are sold that are not pH balanced?
Why it is misleading – Companies who make this claim try to imply some superiority over products that are not making this claim. They want consumers to believe that the products will be less irritating and will work better. They won’t. Why? Because any decently formulated product will be made in a pH range that is compatible with skin and hair. A consumer will never notice a single difference between a product that is “pH balanced” and one that is just normally formulated.
4. Hypo-allergenic
Companies make this claim because they want consumers to believe that their products will not cause allergies. But the FDA looked at this issue in the 1970s and essentially concluded that the term hypoallergenic has no real meaning so anyone can make this claim.
Why it is misleading – Hypoallergenic products are not safer or more gentle even though this is what the claim is meant to imply.
5. Patented formula
Companies love to claim ‘patented’ or ‘unique’ or ‘exclusive’ formula. What they want consumers to believe is that the formula is someone special and will work better than competitors.
Why this is misleading – It’s relatively easy to find some way to patent a formula but that doesn’t mean the patent will somehow make the product a superior personal care product. Often cosmetic patents are just technicalities that made it past a naive patent examiner. Typically, the patent has nothing to do with how well the formula performs.
6. Makes hair stronger
This is a pet peeve of mine. Products that claim to make hair stronger do not make hair stronger. What they really do is make hair less prone to breakage when it is being combed. This isn’t hair strength, it’s conditioning.
Why this is misleading – If you test the strength of hair with a tensile test or other force measuring device, you will discover that hair is not actually stronger. But consumers are meant to believe that hair becomes stronger even though it doesn’t.
7. Boosts collagen production
You find this claim in lots of cosmetic products.
Why it is misleading – If the product actually increased the amount of collagen your skin produced, it would be a mislabeled drug. Cosmetics are not allowed to have a significant impact on your skin metabolism.
8. Reduces the appearance of wrinkles
Most any anti-aging product is going to make this claim and it’s very likely true. However, the message that consumers get from this claim is different than the words that are written and marketers know this.
Why it is misleading – While the product is only reducing the “appearance” of wrinkles consumers read that and believe that the product will somehow get rid of wrinkles. It won’t. Almost no cosmetic skin cream is going to get rid of wrinkles. They might make wrinkles look less obvious but this isn’t what consumers think when they read a claim like that.
9. Proven formula
The term proven is powerful in the consumers mind even though it doesn’t have to mean much of anything.
Why it is misleading – Marketers know that the term ‘proven’ automatically makes consumers think that the product works. And maybe it does work, but it almost never works in the way (or to the extent) that consumers will think it works. This is why it is a misleading claim.
Claims and the cosmetic chemist
Unfortunately, cosmetic companies have to make misleading claims because this is what consumers respond to. There are certainly some claims that are more egregious than others but as a cosmetic chemist you should be able to recognize those and help your marketing department find ways to make non-misleading claims. It’s not easy but someone should be doing it.


Fat Assisted Rhinoplasty

Fat deemed liquid gold in aesthetic medicine/sugery has found yet another role in enhancing facial contours. Fat assisted nose jobs are going to get in demand soon.

A recent study suggesting: “Fat grafting can play a role in primary rhinoplasty” was presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) annual conference in New Orleans.

In the study, 59 patients underwent primary nose reshaping with fat grafting for nasal volume restoration and contour adjustment. Fat grafting was repeated one to three times in various anatomical areas including the nasal tip, bridge, and base, and the forehead for projection. Twelve nose reshaping patients had fat grafting alone, while 47 patients had combination fat grafting/traditional nose reshaping. Improvement was observed in those who had only fat grafting, but was more effective when the defect is more planar. Thirty-five of the patients who had combination fat grafting/traditional nose reshaping saw significant improvement and were very pleased with their results.

Fat grafting is usually a tool used in revision nose reshaping procedures on patients who were unhappy with the results of their initial procedure. In this study, fat grafting was utilized solely or in combination for primary nose reshaping and results showed that when used with traditional nose reshaping techniques, fat grafting allowed for minimized dissection and improved skin quality.

Important Clarification Point: Fat grafting alone may not be appropriate or the correct course of action for every nose reshaping patient. Volume shifts due to gravity may occur in some cases, though it can be avoided by using specific external splints in the early postoperative period.

Utilizing autologous fat to enhance the nose bridge might be a good choice for those who are against foreign object implants but still want a rhinoplasty. Although fat injection rhinoplasty results are permanent, when thinking of autologous fat injection for rhinoplasty, people should take individual fat re-absorption rate into consideration. Since accurate nose bridge height is not as easily assessed as nose implant of silicone or other materials.

In the initial stage post fat transplant some of the fat transferred into the treated area may be absorbed by the receiver’s body. After 3 months following the surgery, the left fat will stay in the treated area forever since it has built up its own supply net. Second injection can be performed 3 months after to increase the nose bridge height again. Of course, people can still adjust the height in the future with HA filler or fat injection.

Since it’s your fat, the touch of the treated area is as natural as your own nose tissue. Fat injection is a perfect choice for people who advocate natural beauty and dislike prosthesis been noticed by others.
Applicable Areas

Fat injection for rhinoplasty can be applied on nose bridge and nose tip together with a complete nose adjustment. Nose reshaping combined with Scaffolds (Misko) nose tip sculpting can create an excellent result.

Revision Fat Injection Treatment

It's important to remember that some of the transplanted fat may be absorbed by the receiver’s body. The left fat after 3 months will survive permanently in the treated area. Therefore, for people who want a higher nose bridge than the final result of his/her first fat injection, a 2nd injection is recommended to obtain the optimal effect. In addition, fat injection could be an option for people who have already had implant or artificial skin in their noses yet still want to increase the height.

Fat Injection Advantages

Fat injection is performed with local anesthesia. Plastic surgeon will aspirate fat from the buttock, abdomen, or thigh first and then use centrifuge to extract purified fat for nose injection.
Because of the injection (no incision), there is minimal swelling and bruising after the treatment. Recovery is also very fast and patients can return to work right after the treatment.
Although there are not many post surgical care instruction for fat injection rhinoplasty, touching with great power should be avoided.
Generally speaking, autologous fat injection is so far the most gentle method of rhinoplasty with much less side effects.

I have personally injected few patients with great results and am so glad to find the validation of the procedure in the acclaimed medical/surgical circles.