The beauty business today is massive $277+ billion industry and covers the entire globe. Consumers are no longer limited to what’s stocked in their local pharmacy, big box store or department stores. Beauty products can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the world. This shift has given consumers more options. But it’s also made it more difficult to determine which beauty product will actually deliver the desired results. Part of the problem is lack of regulation.
In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve cosmetics for sale. Manufacturers do have to follow the regulations set forth by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FD&C Act). These “prohibit the marketing of adulterated or misbranded cosmetics in interstate commerce.” However, they don’t have to prove the efficacy of their products. And only colour additives have to be approved before a product can be sold.
Because there are no government agencies that pass-or-fail the claims on beauty products, consumers have to rely on other means to determine if a product is worth purchasing. There are three primary ways that beauty product claims can be justified.
Third Party Product Testing
Many of the claims that you see on product packaging come from beauty market research performed by a third party testing facility. A number of procedures are used to test a product depending on what it does and where it’s at in development.
Common product testing includes:
Consumer perception studies – This is when consumers are given a product to test out and are then interviewed about their experiences and how they believe the product worked.
Instrumental evaluations – Instrumental evaluations are a scientific test that utilizes before and after measurements to gauge the benefits of a product. Many skincare products are tests this way to show they do in fact improve the skin’s appearance and health. Instrumental evaluations are generally done within a clinical setting.
Sensorial evaluation – These tests are similar to an instrumental evaluation. Except that an expert conducts the evaluation to determine the sensorial effect in real-world situations.
All three testing methods can provide solid evidence that a beauty product does what it claims to do.
In-House Product Testing
A manufacturer may perform the product testing themselves in-house. Most of the testing happens during the research and development phase as well as before a product is made available to the public.
Manufacturers use many of the same testing procedures that third-party researchers. Another common tactic is to compare their product to competitors. They’ll have testers use their product and weigh it against the efficacy of a competing product. It doesn’t measure how effective a product is, just whether it’s more effective than the competition.
Of course, testing done in-house can be questionable because the company has vested interest in making sure the test results are in their favour. In other words, there could be bias in regards to how the results are interpreted or how the tests were conducted.
Another consideration that may be important is whether or not a company tests their products on animals. Some beauty product manufacturers do this to prove a product is safe for human use. Consumers should know that it isn’t illegal to test on animals, but it also isn’t required. Animal testing also doesn’t prove that product claims are accurate.
If you’re like 85% of consumers you trust what other buyers have to say as much as a personal recommendation and much more than marketing hype. That statistic was uncovered in a 2017 consumer review study by BrightLocal. Thanks to the rise of social media, consumer reviews aren’t just found on review sites like Yelp.com anymore.
I really enjoy sharing my reviews on makeup brushes, cosmetics and beauty products. Beauty bloggers are one of the best resources for consumers that want an honest opinion on how a product works and if it’s worth the price tag.
It’s easy to get pulled in by marketing claims when you’re shopping for beauty products. Before investing your hard earned cash, check to see where the claims came from and how they were proven.