‘Your skin will appear to have less wrinkles’ vs ‘Your skin will have less wrinkles’
To be able to spot the difference between these two claims may be able to help improve your expectations from products.
There is a lot of misleading information out there. Truthfully, it’s not clear how the average person would even be able to navigate these claims. I’ve often said that this could be a section on the SAT because it’s so tricky.
Here is the gist of the products claim and what it actually means:
If a product claims to make you look better it’s a cosmetic.
If a product claims that it will affect the function or structure of your skin that will result in an improved appearance then it’s a drug.
If it’s a cosmetic, then the FDA has not approved these claims before going to market. Safety is the only factor, not effectiveness.
If it’s a drug, then the FDA has been asked to approve the product for both safety AND effectiveness.
What does this all mean?
This means that the claims have to be read in such a way that one carefully considers the intention of the claim. It also has to be read in such a way that you don’t make assumptions based on what you wish or hope for the product to achieve, or that you are not unduly influenced by the pretty face in the ad.
I educate my patients to look at ingredient labels more so than the front of the package. Look for products to contain certain ingredients that we know based on medical studies are effective. Look for percentages of ingredients as well – there’s a big difference between a product that has salicylic acid vs one that says it’s 2% salicylic acid. It could just be a “splash” or sprinkle of an ingredient but not enough to have a clinical effect!