Browsing the aisle of a local retailer, recently, started me thinking about beauty products and how skeptical I am of some their claims. The shelves are stocked with dozens of different facial moisturizers alone, ranging in brand, size, and price. Actually, it’s surprising how wide the range of pricing is–from products that cost $5 for a large bottle, to tiny bottles selling for $30+. Now, I’m lucky that I don’t actually have any significant skin problems; however, I do find that I occasionally have dark circles under my eyes. There were plenty of different eye creams to choose from. But I wondered; why the big difference in price? Do they work? Is the higher price just trying to convince me it must be good? And, most importantly, where can I find reliable information to help answer my questions?
Well, fortunately, The Token Skeptic has covered this topic in a recent episode, On Myths and Makeup – Pseudoscience and Cosmetics. It’s a great episode that covers pseudoscience in beauty products as well as tricks used to market them. For quite a while I’ve been wondering if there are skeptical blogs dedicated to the topic of beauty and the episode points to a few, including The Beauty Brains and The Skeptical Beauty.
Personally, I love buying makeup. Different eye shadows, pencils, liners, bronzers, blush, and lipstick feels like having an artist’s kit of tools, paint, and brushes–which I guess it kind of is–and since I’m an illustrator and designer, I find it so much fun to apply different styles to my face. It’s kind of like photoshop…but for meatspace!
When it comes to products that start to use sciency-sounding jargon, I’m not a big fan. Though, to be fair, I’m not really (yet) in the market for anti-wrinkle/aging creams or other products that aim to fix beauty woes. But it’s really nice to hear some clarification and pointers on buying beauty products without getting ripped off. Like a lot of consumers, I actually enjoy using beauty products; I have a few face creams that I like simply because they’re part of a sort of mini-ritual that I enjoy in the same way I might sit down for a cup of tea. Most of the body lotions I have aren’t to treat anything–they just have a pleasant fragrance or pretty shimmer to them.
But, it turns out I’m right to question the big difference in pricing. Making a product expensive is a marketing strategy and doesn’t mean there’s a difference in quality. Like many industries, there’s a lot of bunk out there, but with the help of skeptical blogs like these, consumers have resources for learning how to make science-based decisions about their purchases.