Beauty by Science? Debunking Common Cosmetic Claims

Beauty by Science?

By Aakshi Agarwal

We’ve all seen those irritating booths at the mall or the subpar television commercials persuading you to buy their product, claiming that their exfoliant or cleanser will change your life. In fact, it’s estimated that Americans are exposed to 2000 ads a day, the majority of which are for beauty products such as these. How do you know what claims are true? Science can lend you a helpful hand. Here are three major beauty products and concepts that you should (or should not) trust when it comes to your skin.
1. The Dead Sea Products

Any company selling you products from The Dead Sea is attempting to entice you with a mysterious name. These products dead seaclaim to reinvigorate skin and moisturize it, giving users softer skin. However, The Dead Sea has a very high salinity- that is, it is extremely salty. Nearly 1/3 of it is mineral salt. Regular table salt dries out skin, but the mineral salt of The Dead Sea is composed of different elements like calcium, potassium and bromide. While this all sounds great, truly exposing your face to The Dead Sea would cause irritation and unpleasant effects for your eyes and the gentle skin around your eyes. The products are actually made of common extracts and salts, which are mostly not from the true Dead Sea. A face mask of oats, coconut oil and organic honey could work just as well and at a fraction of the cost. Oats can exfoliate, coconut oil moisturizes and organic honey cleanses the skin.

2. Pore Minimizing Products (Benefit’s Porefessional)

The notion that you can minimize pore size has been around for centuries. In older times, a splash of cold water would appear to do the trick. Now, we know that pore size is genetically determined. Pores cannot be made smaller. You might be wondering porewhat exactly pores are right about now. Pores are miniscule openings of hair follicles on your skin. These pores have sebaceous glands that produce your skin’s oils. Why do some people appear to have bigger pores? People with oily skin may have larger glands/are genetically predisposed. What can make pores appear larger is dirt trapped in them. When skin cells die and sebum (the oils secreted by the sebaceous glands) mix together, they enlarge and form a pimple that stretches out pores. Once the dead skin and sebum are cleaned out, the pimple disappears. An interesting tidbit is that this explains why picking at pimples causes wider pores. Essentially, you have permanently widened your pores.

The claim of minimizing pores is overdone. All these products do is fill in the spaces between pores to make your skin appear flat. This can actually clog your skin further if the primer dries it out. The sebaceous glands excrete more sebum to moisturize skin. If the skin feels dry, more oil comes forth and more pimples occur. If you absolutely must use a pore minimizer, a non-drying one is the way to go. Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser Primer may have a false claim, but it is fairly inexpensive and is known to moisturize skin.

With all that said and done, what products really can minimize your pores? Daily cleansing with an exfoliating facial cleanser (like St. Ives Nourished and Smooth Oatmeal Scrub) can keep your pores clean. They open and retract with temperature, therefore warm water can open them up and the cleanser can swoop in to clean them. Over time, they will appear cleaner and therefore appear smaller.

3. Anything that claims to be “Cosmeceutical”

Cosmeceutical was a word dreamed up by cosmetologists with a knack for making money. These lucrative geniuses combined “cosmetics” with “pharamceuticals” to prescribe beauty as medicine. Although this seems ridiculous, millions of Americans have fallen for it. Hundreds of compounds are dispensed with a syringe to make the person feel as if there is a greater difference by magical scientific reasoning. Take a look at any common serum for anti-aging or pro-calcium. Don’t fall for this barrage of fancy terminology- it’s simply a marketing cue. Cosmetic companies legally cannot put the same products in beauty items as pharmaceutical companies can.

Common “cosmeceutical” anti-aging products claim to be “pro-collagen” or “pro-calcium.” Collagen is a structural protein of the connective tissue in animals. Injections of collagen can fill in depressions of the skin and remove wrinkles. Beauty products cannot increase the growth of collagen. However, laser therapy and diet can. Collagen production is mostly regulated by nine amino acids that are obtained through eating a balanced diet. If you find that your collagen levels are low, obtain proline from egg whites, meat, and cheese. Vitamin C can be obtained from oranges, strawberries, and peppers.

Overall, beauty products often claim to have greater effects than they do. Their catchy phrases and scientific sounding reasoning are pulled out of thin air. Stay away from captivating titles and stick to the basics. Going makeup free or product free for a day or two can give your pores a well needed cleanse. Ignore “cosemeceutical products” to ensure your skin is safe from lies. To maximize the efficiency of your wallet and keep your skin beautiful, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and allow your skin to “breathe.”

Image credit: Avani Benefit