What skin-care products work best? What does “fragrance-free” really mean, and what about other terms used by the cosmetic industry? This article is a thoughtful eye opener for consumers overwhelmed by the scores of new “miracle” products marketed.
The packaging might be pretty, but it won’t do a thing to alleviate troubled acne, reduce fine lines, smooth wrinkles, or replenish moisture and oils to dazzle your complexion. When it comes to cosmetics as with most other things, it’s what’s inside that counts.
If you feel overwhelmed by the scores of product choices available today, and the “miracles” each repute to do, becoming more familiar with terms used in cosmetology and their true meanings might be helpful in distinguishing which products are and are not right for you.
Cosmetic companies are required to accurately divulge all the contents in their products, listing them in the order of concentration, from the most to the least. Certain cosmetic terms, however, can be confusing and misleading to the average consumer; terms such as “all natural” and “fragrance-free,” for instance.
While all natural does mean that ingredients used were derived from natural sources like plants and other organic material, use of the term applied to cosmetics is not regulated by the FDA. Some cosmetic companies not concerned with accuracy or with reputation often mislead consumers by applying the term to their product.
It is noteworthy that according to author and cosmetic expert Paula Begoun, in her book “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me,” there is no scientific evidence that “natural ingredients” are any more beneficial for skin than synthetic.
Products that advertise they are fragrance-free may still use fragrant plant extracts to mask offensive odor resulting from unrefined materials used. These extracts can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Fragrance-free, then, can mean only that the product is devoid of any “noticeable” aroma. “Irritant-free” is a more reliable term to look for in a product.
Alcohol-free products may be free of “grain alcohol,” which is drying. However, other forms of alcohol such as lanolin alcohol or cetearyl alcohol may still be used. For persons with sensitive skin, Ms. Begoun suggests using products that list any alcohol component just before or just after the list of preservatives.
The wise cosmetic consumer will select products based upon ingredient content and performance, not upon packaging or brand. Higher-end cosmetics will not necessarily work better than those that cost less, and one brand’s product may be excellent, while another product by the same brand ineffective. Therefore, “brand loyalty” will not necessarily benefit the consumer.
Many department-store cosmetic companies have been merged together. In all probability, cosmetic purchases bearing three different “brand names” might in actuality all be distributed by the same cosmetic company. In fact, over 75% of department store cosmetic lines are presently owned either by Estee Lauder or L’Oreal.
The short and sweet of it is to forget the hype. Everyone’s skin is different. Find out what works for you, and stick with it. Following a daily skin-care regimen tailored for your skin type, using tried and true products, will give your face a healthy glow like none other.