PSEUDOSCIENCE AND SKINCARE
3 MINUTE READ
1. Beyond Soap by Dr. Skotnicki
Everything Dr. Skotnicki discussed had plagued me since childhood. I’ve had reactive, allergic skin since I was very young, with my mother always recounting a red, cherub face after eating certain foods and especially when I was exposed to the environment. I was written off as just a sensitive skin kid.
At about 18 years old, I jumped on the soap-free alternatives when I realized traditional cleansers were striping my skin. Once I cycled in the cream cleansers, I could see and feel a dramatic difference in my skin. However, it wasn’t long until I saw more soap-free alternatives converge back to more soap--> surfactant bases. I can only think that the foaming action really gives you the sense of clean that a cream cleanser lacks. I get it, my shampoo still foams.
So, while there are still cream, oil-, or even balm-based cleansers that a reactive skin girl like me can use, I also have skin that gets buildup/texture frequently. This will take most heavy oil and balm-based cleansers out of my regime. What is available and actually usable by me now is slim pickings. Enter, Beyond Soap.
After reading Dr. Skotnicki’s book, a lot of my intuitions were cemented as well as new perspectives to consider. She discusses:
- Cleanliness Obsession + your Lipid Layer
- Ingredients and Marketing in the Skincare Industry
- Diet, Skin Health and Aging
- Even Babies and Young Adult Skincare
If you’re interested in the science and details of your skincare products, concerned about allergies and botanicals, I truly cannot rave more about Beyond Soap, it’s beyond helpful! And I have no affiliation with Dr. Skotnicki or Beyond Soap, just honestly believe it is a must-have!
2. The Pseudoscience of Beauty Products
I’ve sort of known this for a while, being a researcher for as long as I have, but it was just easier to overlook it when you hear about amazing new products that will change your life. What am I talking about? The pseudoscience of beauty products. So, what is pseudoscience anyway, is it fringe science, is it real, is it fake? I like to define this type of pseudoscience as a lazy meta-analysis.
Pseudoscience: a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.
Meta-analysis: is a statistical technique that involves analyzing, combining, and summarizing relevant previous studies to answer a specific research question. Assessing the results of previous research to derive conclusions about that body of research.
In other words, pseudoscience is beliefs and practices that are not, necessarily, based on scientific proof, and meta-analysis is collecting results from legitimate research to create an overarching theme, hypothesis, or conclusion.
So, for me, pseudoscience in skincare industry is more like lazy meta-analysis. Marketing campaigns can use legitimate research about specific ingredients to create beliefs and conclusions about the products that are created.
For example, topical nano-hyaluronic acid is researched and proven to decrease depth of wrinkles and increase skin hydration + firmness. [source] These results can be used to highlight benefits of a product that contains Hyaluronic Acid (HA). Yet, what we won’t likely see about that study, which is clinically sound, is the following:
- Subjects were initially climatized as a baseline reading
- Then given the product to use twice a day at home and return periodically for measurements
- Finally, at the end of the study, 6 trained raters (humans) ranked the photos.
Again, this is sound research, my concern is how may marketing departments just use the results of this research to derive conclusions about their own products.
Is the HA the same amount or type, were study subjects allowed to use other products, did diet, like sodium consumption, affect skin results?
Caulfield and his article dive deeper, with his own first-hand account of skin imaging and solutions provided by the clinics he attended, but he does an excellent job on accounting for the pseudoscience in the beauty industry.
These 2 themes ultimately have changed my perspective on the skincare industry. I already believed I was a conscious consumer, yet these 2 pieces of literature made me more accountable to what I am listening to and using.