Junk science used to hard sell cosmetic products

CHOICE says “clinically proven” studies are often bunkum.

CHOICE research into pseudoscientific claims commonly used to sell cosmetic products has shown many are nothing but marketing spin and warns consumers should take them with a grain of salt.

CHOICE says the references to clinical trials and special formulas used to advertise cosmetic products are often meaningless and found many examples of scientific-sounding claims.

Trilogy rosehip oil claimed to be “clinically proven” based on a study of only 20 people for just eight weeks. Any genuine scientific study would require more participants over a longer period of time.

CHOICE also found examples of trademarked names used to make a product sound like it has a secret ingredient, such as “Pro-Xylane” and “Nutrieum”, which are actually just made-up names designed to sound like chemicals in order to give the product some scientific cred.

“Some of the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims used to sell cosmetics would be laughable were they not so misleading,” said CHOICE spokeswoman Elise Davidson.

“Marketers have been using junk science to sell cosmetics for years but there are some examples that stray dangerously close to the line by implying there is some sort of therapeutic benefit to using a particular product.”

In Australia anything claiming to have a therapeutic effect must be either listed or registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Most cosmetic companies opt for the simpler, cheaper option of listing rather than registering their products, meaning that they’re safe to use but there’s no requirement of proof that the product has a therapeutic benefit.

CHOICE says the line between cosmetics and therapeutics has become increasingly blurred by the increase of “cosmeceuticals” on the market. Cosmeceuticals is a general term used to describe products such as anti-ageing creams and lotions that are supposed to have more than just a temporary cosmetic effect.

“People might think twice before splashing out on products being marketed through scientific authoritative language and dubious studies if they are aware much of it is really more science fiction than fact.”

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