Last year, just as the Christmas shopping season was ramping up, I found myself invited to a wholesale buy on social media. Basically, it was a large, private group that was going in together to buy clothing, beauty products, and household goods at the wholesale prices.
The very first buy was my favorite eyeshadow at a third of the price. I signed up right away, sent my money over via PayPal, and excitedly awaited the arrival of my new eyeshadow.
It wasn’t until I talked to a friend in the beauty industry that I learned the secret about these wholesale buys. The people running the group believed they were getting a really great deal on really great products, but the truth was we were likely buying counterfeits.
After being warned by my friend that there was no way to know if the eyeshadow I was receiving would be safe for my skin, when the package arrived, I opted to throw it away. Lesson learned.
That experience left me wondering, just how much do I not know about the beauty industry? How often am I buying unsafe or ineffective products—completely unaware? If the average American women is spending $8 a day on her makeup, the least we should get is a little transparency, right?
So, with the help up a few beauty industry professionals and dermatologists, we're going to bring to light some of the truths the beauty industry would rather you didn't know.
1. The Truth About That Steal You Found Online
If you find a skincare or makeup product online that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Just recently, a groundbreaking reporting by Refinery29 revealed that many products being sold online through websites like eBay and Amazon are actually counterfeit products purchased through the beauty black market.
I firmly believe if you do want a 'brand name' or luxury product, you should 100 percent buy directly from the company itself.
For instance, Kylie Lip Kits not bought directly from their source were found to be coming from unsanitary production conditions. There have even been reports of counterfeit products causing severe adverse and allergic reactions on unsuspecting consumers.
“People will duplicate a product and since they have no obligation to protect the consumers, they will put harmful chemicals and whatever they can in them. I’ve heard this happen to MAC and most recently Kylie Cosmetics. I firmly believe if you do want a 'brand name' or luxury product, you should 100 percent buy directly from the company itself,” says Emanuela DeFalco, founder of cosmetics company Dirty Little Secret.
2. The Truth About Brand Names
Although consumers need to be careful about buying brand names at a fraction of their retail cost because they could be counterfeit, that doesn’t mean spending top dollar is the only choice. Brand names aren’t the only quality makeup out there.
I would spend hundreds upon hundreds on top name brands even though their product wasn’t up to par or if I hated the way they blended.
The truth is, many lower-cost brands have a great reputation for making long-lasting makeup that applies well, according to DeFalco, who shares that she often preferred low-cost products when she first began her career as a freelance makeup artist.
“Buying brand names, for me personally, isn’t necessary. When I first got into freelancing I would spend hundreds upon hundreds on top name brands even though their product wasn’t up to par or if I hated the way they blended. However, smaller brands, even ones I’ve found at the dollar store (lip pencils) last way longer and have a better consistency than high end corporate brands,” she says.
3. The Truth About Aging
If there is one thing the beauty industry doesn’t want you to know, it’s that aging is an inevitable process. By making consumers believe they can turn back the clock or prevent aging altogether, the anti-aging beauty industry had grown to a value of $140.3 billion back in 2015, according to a Zion Market Research Report.
Aging is a process. It is gradual, irreversible, and inevitable, occurring in every member of the species.
Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Fayne Frey tells HealthyWay, "The term ‘anti-aging’ is brilliant, as it tugs at the insecurities of most women who are influenced by the media, health and beauty magazines, and skincare ‘experts’ who want to make women believe that they physically ‘expire’ at the age of 37."
She goes on to say, "The truth is, aging is a process. It is gradual, irreversible, and inevitable, occurring in every member of the species."
4. The Truth About Over-the-Counter Anti-Aging Products
The truth about anti-aging products is pretty simple. They don’t work. But if the beauty industry can’t convince you that you don’t have to grow older, it will at least try to convince you can you erase the signs of aging.
They can’t really claim to change this structure of skin or they’d be classified as drugs and have to go through the FDA.
However, all over-the-counter products marketed as being able to reverse aging are a complete waste of money, according to Frey, who encourages consumers to pay attention to wording on the labels of these products.
"As cosmetics, they can’t really claim to change this structure of skin or they’d be classified as drugs and have to go through the FDA."
She goes on to explain, "Manufacturers can, however, claim to change the ‘appearance’ of fine lines. They can do this because the overwhelming majority of them are formulated like moisturizers, and by increasing the water content of the skin they can temporarily improve skin appearance."
And, as disappointing as it might be to hear, even prescription retinol can’t do much to turn back the clock. These products have only been found to help to improve the signs of photoaging (sun-related damage to the skin), according to Frey.
I recommend sunscreen 365 days a year to all exposed skin.
Additionally, there are risks when using retinoids, and Frey believes that most people don’t understand they could be making their skin more vulnerable to sun damage or be putting their babies at risk if they continue use retinol products during pregnancy.
“I’m not convinced the benefits of using retinoids outweigh the risks for most users, and they certainly don’t outweigh the benefits of using sunscreen! I recommend sunscreen 365 days a year to all exposed skin. Compare the skin on the breast of a 50-year-old with the skin on the shoulders. The skin is the same age, the only difference is sun exposure,” she says.
5. The Truth About Targeting Products to Specific Age Groups
If all these anti-aging products can’t deliver on what they promise, should consumers give up altogether?
It’s not quite that simple, it turns out. The truth is, one big issue is that these products are being targeted at a certain age as if they can turn back the clock, when the only proven anti-aging strategy is prevention.
No matter how old you are, you should already be diligent about using anti-aging products in your treatment routine.
For this reason, your beauty products shouldn’t change with age, according to Ann Phillips, licensed master aesthetician and founder of Zerenity Spa.
“There’s really no such thing as products for people of a certain age. While skin, obviously, is impacted as you get older, your skin type usually remains the same. There are so many skin types, but we all have something in common: Every single one of us can benefit from anti-aging ingredients,” she explains.
Her main anti-aging advice is about lifestyle, not a magic cream to turn back time.
“No matter how old you are, you should already be diligent about using anti-aging products in your treatment routine. You must use sunscreen every single day. I’m talking at least SPF 30, and make sure it has zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.”
And if you plan to be in the sun more than you typically are, your SPF should go even higher and you should reapply as often as possible.
Outside of prevention with sunscreen, Phillips also recommends people of all ages use glycolic acid on their skin since it is safe for just about any skin type and helps with cellular turnover.
6. The Truth About Where You Buy Your Beauty Products
I constantly find myself questioning if I am unnecessarily overspending on my skincare products. Should I just run in to Target and stock up on $5 face wash and call it good?
What drugstores and box store chains don’t want you to know is that skincare is incredibly personal and you should have help from a professional when picking out your products.
Phillips suggests getting your products and treatments from a dermatologist or licensed master aesthetician and says, “It’s probably a good idea to chat with one of them before starting your critical anti-aging regimen."
7. The Truth About Hypoallergenic Products
If you think you’re doing yourself a favor buying products that claim to be hypoallergenic, you might want to think again. A September 2017 study published in JAMA Dermatology found that these products weren’t exactly living up to their claims.
In fact, in their evaluation of 174 of the best-selling moisturizing products, researchers found only a few that didn’t contain a contact allergen like fragrance or parabens. And when it came to those products claiming to be fragrance free, 45 percent still contained fragrance.
“Contact irritant and allergic dermatitis is due to irritation or even allergic reactions to specific chemicals applied to the skin. Chronic irritation and skin inflammation can lead to skin redness, discoloration, thickening and/or collagen breakdown, which can lead to premature skin aging and wrinkling,” explains Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California.
8. The Truth About Eye Creams
Eye creams are popular thanks to their promises to reduce puffiness and fine lines and brighten dark circles, but is it really possible for them to deliver any of this?
“Simply put, [eye creams] are just facial moisturizers. Eye creams don’t contain any special ingredient that is specific to the eye area,” explains Frey.
What's more? Products that market ingredients like caffeine for reduced eye puffiness have little to no scientific evidence backing up their effectives.
Interestingly enough, Frey says that what the skin around the eyes needs most is sunscreen, since it is so thin. Most eye creams actually don’t contain any sunscreen.
With all that in mind, you now know what to ditch, what to avoid, and what to invest in and stock up on when it comes to your cosmetic bag and beauty routine.