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Can I believe the claims made in ads for cosmetics and skin products?

Even if a product says, “clinically shown to...” remember that it’s one thing to research how a component of coffee, such as caffeine, say, affects mouse skin, and quite another to claim that adding coffee to a lotion will perk up human skin. Also, little cosmetic research meets the scientific gold standard -- that is, a randomized, double-blind crossover study, performed by a qualified researcher (who is usually affiliated with a university or teaching hospital) with no financial stake in the outcome. The studies are usually very small, typically lack a control for comparison, and are paid for by cosmetics companies, which have a vested interest in the results.

How many times have you seen a product marketed with the phrase, “Clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by up to 33 percent,” or some such. Have you ever asked yourself, What does that mean, exactly? The term clinically proven sounds persuasive, but it’s often more marketing than science. Generally, the phrase means that at least one component of the product has been shown, in one study or another, to have had some biological action, such as helping wounds heal faster by stimulating cell division. But it’s not necessarily true that it has been demonstrated by a well-controlled, independent clinical study to have significant effects in skin.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.