As you browse the skincare aisle, trying to find the right product for you, you may be overwhelmed by all of the impressive-sounding claims.
Many of these words and phrases on cosmetics and skincare products are marketing jargon or meaningless filler.
Marketers have come up with many tricks and techniques to capture our attention and convince us that their products are worth buying. They can get in trouble if they make a false claim or misrepresent their product, so they often use vague language and weasel words that sound good but mean nothing.
Unhelpful Marketing Phrases
Here are a few examples of misleading jargon commonly used in cosmetics and skincare products:
“Clinically proven,” and similarly, “dermatologist tested,” sounds like a credible endorsement, but it doesn’t mean very much. Cosmetics do not go through FDA approval the way that drugs do.
What were the results of these tests? What exactly was proven, and is this proof reliable?
This typically means that the product contains a higher concentration of the active ingredient, but “maximum” is not a measurement. You might also see “clinical strength,” which makes it sound as powerful as prescribed medication, but it likely isn’t.
Does this added strength lead to added effectiveness? Is maximum ideal?
That means that they have applied for and received a patent over it. It doesn’t mean it is effective and may not lead to better results than any other product.
How different is it from the other available products? It may be unique, but is it better?
“Instant” is a pretty subjective term. You might see nearly immediate benefits, but they may not be any more substantial than any other skincare product.
How long do these “instant results” last? Will this short-term benefit have long-term consequences?
Botanical or Natural
This may mean that there are some plant-based ingredients, but maybe not completely. Botanical can also mean that it has similar effects to a plant, even though it is synthesized.
Is natural safer? Is natural more effective?
What To Look For Instead
When you are trying to figure out if a skincare product is good for you, it is probably best to look directly at the ingredient list and learn ahead of time which materials have medical studies to back up their safety and effectiveness.
Remember that these catchy phrases are specifically designed to persuade you to buy the product. Marketers will often use these words to subtlely suggest that other products are worse.
“Maximum Strength!” might suggest that other choices are not as powerful. “Our product gives instant results” implies that other products don’t, but maybe they’re just as good.
If a product isn’t working for you, try something else. Marketers are good at making claims that sound fantastic, but real results and safety matter more.