Navigating Product Claims

Deciphering the Truth About Your Skincare Products

It’s hard to believe that in this time of readily accessible information and large forums for consumer feedback, false claims can still be made. Unfortunately, companies still haven’t grown quite out of the age-old marketing strategy: The White Lie. In fact, product claims have become even more grandiose over time as companies compete for market share. Advertising regulations generally require studies to support claims. Unfortunately, studies and statistics can be easily skewed so that results support the desired product claim. While researching every claim before you buy is nearly impossible (but if you’re feeling so inclined, start by going to, there are a few key terms commonly used in claims that you can add to your mental checklist when purchasing a new product.
  • Hypoallergenic

    The term hypoallergenic just means a product is not likely to cause allergic reactions. So, it still could cause allergic reactions. If you are prone to allergic reactions or have sensitive skin, you want to look for products that are marked irritant free, not just hypoallergenic.
  • Unscented

    This sounds natural, non-irritating and even healthy, right? What it actually means is that there is simply no detectable odor. That means that it still may contain fragrances to mask its natural scent, versus no fragrance chemicals like preservatives. Fragrance ingredients are some of the most common allergens found in skincare products. If you are sensitive to fragrance, a better option for you would be to look for products that are labeled as “fragrance-free.”
  • Won’t clog pores

    Your skin is unique to you, so sweeping statements like ‘won’t clog pores’ can’t be true. If you’re worried about clogged pores, avoid thick creams, and instead look to gels or serums that have a lighter texture. All products are capable of clogging pores.
  • ‘Specially formulated for mature skin’

    Aging is not a skin type, like oily, dry or combination. The concerns of those with ‘mature skin’ are usually wrinkles, discoloration and sagging, but their skin type remains oily, dry or combination. That’s why it’s more effective to create a comprehensive skincare regimen that addresses your unique skin type and your current skin conditions at the same time.
  • “95% of users saw a reduction in wrinkles”

    Numerical product claims are one of the strongest ways to “prove” the product works. After all, if it worked for 95% of the other people that used it, why wouldn’t it work for you? However, statistics can be easily manipulated to support a desired claim. When reviewing numerical product claims, make sure that the study was conducted by a third party (not the company itself). Also, try to find out the study sample size (i.e. how many people participated). Ninety-five out of 100 people experiencing significant results is a lot more compelling than four out of five people.
Unfortunately, as consumers we have to take most claims with a grain of salt and make sure to read the fine print. Stemology’s goal is to be open and honest with consumers about product claims, ingredients and testing. So, if you ever have any questions about our products – or another company’s products – feel free to email us at Sources: Huffington Post, Oprah, Paula’s Choice