Fear Mongering in Beauty Advertising

Can we just stop already?

We're all smart women, trying to live our best lives. That may look different for many of us. Living within our means, achieving certain goals, crushing through stereotypes, raising families or starting over after one of our previous attempts at these has been sidetracked. Basically, what I'm saying is, we're all trying here. And the last thing anyone has time for is fear mongering in the beauty and skincare industry.

I'm talking about a marketing strategy, and if you think it's not happening, look a little closer.

We all know not everything we read online and that's posted on Facebook isn't necessarily true but it seems that when it comes to beauty claims a lot of women just blindly believe what they are being told.

But first, let's get one thing out of the way. I'm not here to bash the 'clean beauty' movement. I personally have made strides in cleaning up my own regimen. What I DO take offense to is claims that are not backed by science or terms that are not regulated and used to strike fear into customers for marketing purposes ONLY. And this type of fear-based advertising is being used by people on both sides of the aisle here. It's frustrating.

There are many reputable brands and publications that are doing just fine - better than fine - thriving actually, by educating and standing by the integrity of their product and the ingredients in them without having to resort to baseless claims, unscientific research or using fear to motivate people into buying their products.

For reference, the following is a list of terms that are not regulated:

Not Tested on Animals

I have used these terms. We all have. But they have no legal or official definition by the FDA, FTC or the FD&C Act.

The Food & Drug Administration oversees the cosmetics industry, making sure that they are safe for consumers, meaning - used as directed and labeled properly. There is no pre-approval oversight by the FDA before going to market. (That's reserved for food & drugs only)
So companies cannot, legally, knowingly, put harmful ingredients in beauty products and sell them.

But this is where the fear-mongering coming in. What is harmful? The FDA hasn't updated their regulations in a long time and there is a growing list of ingredients that, depending on what side of science you're on, you may want to steer clear of. But there are problems there too. Because for every replacement comes new issues. Take out parabens and now we're seeing tons of recalls because of the contamination of microorganisms in products. Leave parabens in and we encounter issues like endocrine disruption.

Here is where these brands have decided that we're either 1) too lazy,  2) not bright enough,  or 3) simply don't care to do a little research to make our own decision on what is best for us and our bodies. They put out a message of "THIS IS BAD AND WILL HARM YOU! But our product is amazing, incredible, safe and will make you beautiful!" They will also make sure to add in as many of the hot, non-regulated, buzzwords that are listed above, knowing a certain percentage of people will blindly just believe this nonsense without doing any of their own research.

Are these your people? If you even like this product is this how you want them spending your money? With fake advertising? I'm not one to use my space here for negativity but when I see good brands get caught up in bad marketing it makes me frustrated. Use the money I give you to formulate, to educate, to ensure sustainability, to give better working conditions to your employees, something other than this madness.

People see what they want to see.
In 2014, the European Union banned some parabens. But they did not ban the parabens most commonly used in cosmetics. They deemed butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and ethylparaben, among others, to be completely safe.

The EU has also banned some 1400 ingredients in personal care items while the United States has a list of roughly 30. But if you actually look into the EU list, you'll see that many of those never have been or never would be intended for personal use. The U.S. has a long way to go. We need reform and oversight in this industry. I'm not disputing that. I'm saying really look at the facts and know the details.

Chemicals can be good and bad. Water is a chemical. Too much is toxic. Plant-derived ingredients are technically chemicals too. Fragrance is just as bad for one person as essential oils are to another and there are reports out that state that lavender and soy are endocrine disrupters. How about all these companies just put out their products, market them for how truly great they are and see where we go?
Why do we need FEAR? Oh, wait. BECAUSE IT SELLS. It sells lots of lipstick. And face cream.

We are smarter than this. We know our bodies. We have resources. We can learn how to research and read a label and decide for yourself. A brand I love, for what the products actually do, recently came to my attention for this very same advertising. I confess I had actually never come across any of their ads. I'd learned of the company (which I won't mention here, but you can probably guess) through the J. Crew catalog years ago when they launched - as their products and were used on the models to give them the most beautiful, luminous skin. I snapped them up, have read many a grand review in Vogue and Harpers and many a blog, but never came across their advertising until now. It saddens me that a company, so revered for its actual product, would need to resort to this to sell more product.

Additional reading and resources:

Educate yourself on both sides of the aisle.
FDA - Is it a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both?
Cosmetic Labeling & Labeling Claims
CIR - Cosmetic Ingredient Review
Lab Muffin - The Science of Beauty
COSDNA - search ingredients by product name or enter ingredient info
Leaping Bunny
Cruelty-Free Kitty - Leaping Bunny vs. PETA
The Beauty Brains - Real Scientists Answer Your Beauty Questions
EWG - Skin Deep Cosmetics Database    -    Forbes' take on EWG
Estee Laundry - Instagram: Airing out the Beauty Industry's dirty laundry.

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