Sorry Gals I’m on a rant!! If you love being sold a vague pseudo scientific promise then look away, or if you love Vichy I’m sorry this blog will just annoy you, and I don’t want to do that my pretties!! But I get so frustrated by vague advertising claims made by cosmetic companies that try to convince us, with veiled statements and pseudo science, that their product is the next best thing to the fountain of youth, a time machine, a fairy godmothers wand or anything else that can turn back time or grant wishes.
As someone who loves makeup and who has spent a very large portion of my professional career in Marketing, with a B.Sc. mgmt from Trinity College Dublin, I tend to over analyse adverts, particularly ones that are trying to sell me a product that hints at the fact that it might make me look younger! Lets face it there’s a lot of non committal statements made in some cosmetic adverts and I think we owe it to ourselves to read the fine print and purchase a product when in command of all the facts.
I know we all so desperately want to look young, turn back the clock to a time when all it took to look radiant was a quick brush of blush and a slick of lip gloss, that now we are so eager to 100% believe the adverts we are bombarded with. You know the adverts that say over 80% of women agreed that XYZ product made their skin feel and look better. We hope we too can belong to that ‘80% and over club’ and not the unfortunate 20% who didn’t agree, who now obviously think there must have been something wrong with them if XYZ worked for so many others and not for them!
To illustrate: Vichy Laboratories (I love the use of the word Laboratories – it makes me feel all sciency!) are promoting their new product Liftactiv with Derm Source Technology. I must mention that I have nothing against Vichy, and I’m really not having a go at them or this product, I’m really having a go at what language is allowed to be used to sell women product, and this Vichy product advert just caught my eye, I could have used one of many L’Oreal advert instead, but I recently had a go at their airbrushed adverts so thought perhaps I should lay off them. (think I’m a bit cranky? Must need a holiday???) The image of the advert is actually page 4 of their very very glossy advert insert and is a scanned copy.
‘Clinically proven results measured by dermatologists. Clinical tests on 3 wrinkle types carried out on 43 women with sensitive skin’ forehead, frown line (between eyebrows) and neck – so they show an ‘illustration’ of what these types of wrinkles look like, just to put a good clear picture in our minds of WRINKLES!! But it’s only illustrative, we don’t see any pictures of the wrinkles of the actual women tested. You think some one would have taken a photo, maybe no one had an i-phone on them?
The advert lets us know that these 43 women have sensitive skin – oh good somehow I now feel I know more about these 43 women, I can picture them more easily but it doesn’t give any other information, for example how old these 43 women with sensitive skin were? Were they 28 or 48 years old, ‘cos there’s a big BIG difference. Where they healthy, active, non-smokers, one glass of wine a night type of people or more like party animals or couch potatoes? Because lifestyle makes a difference too!!! And how long were they using the product?
So the advert also lets us know that they have clinical proven results – but they never mention what the results are? The results could be awful, I suspect if they were absolutely out-of-this-world-amazing they would have printed them and not the results of another test; a consumer test with 124 women – which I am assuming does not include the 43 women from the tests conducted by dermatologists, but they don’t say?
The actual stats quoted; lets have a little look at them:
Superb efficacy endorsed by women, (all 124 of them – well that’s good, I was worried it mightn’t have been used by women and only by a few!) So the feedback from these 124 women was:
Skin feels and looks:
- Firmer: 86% (107 women)
- Smoother: 87% (108 women)
- Plumper: 84% (104 women)
- More radiant: 88% (109 women)
- More refined: 85% (105 women)
Note the use of the subjective terms ‘feels and looks’ there’s no dermatologist or scientist telling these women that their skin is actually any firmer/smoother or what ever, because they would have said if it was dermatologically tested or scientifically proven. The results above are what women have agreed on or reported, it’s all a little subjective for me. They also don’t mention how long these 124 women use the product for nor do they mention over what period of time the ‘43 women’ clinical test took place.
You know depending on what’s been going on in my life, I can say that the look and feel of my skin changes irrespective of the products I use or don’t use. If I have a particularly stressful week coupled with a lack of sleep, then yes my skin is going to look crap! If I haven’t been getting to the gym or exercising and I’ve been out socialising too much, a few drinks too many, then guess what, my skin is going to look crap and not at all radiant no matter what cream I use! But that’s life!
The advert, as if it needed more weight of scientific information, goes on to state:
Breakthrough in the science of skin ageing (sorry that statement means absolutely nothing to me??) with 5 bullet points that simply say:
- 10 years of research (on what exactly…..?)
- 7 patents (for what exactly…..?)
- 6 scientific publications (sorry what’s that got to do with this cream….?)
- 6 clinical studies on sensitive skin (okay so you’ve done some studies on sensitive skin.. was that in general or in relation to this particular product..?)
- 2 in-vivo studies (had to look this one up.. in-vivo study means a study using a whole, living organism as opposed to a partial or dead organism – lovely – I know!!. This could mean clinical trials or animal testing, and according to peta (www.peta.org) Vichy do test on animals but I’m not saying that’s what they are referring to here, ‘cos I don’t know.)
As if that wasn’t enough go to the vichy website and read all about how ‘skin immediately feels firmer, velvety smooth and looks radiant while wrinkles appear reduced, as if re-plumped.’ Sorry can I just point out the use of the word ‘appear’ and the expression ‘as if’ I wonder why they didn’t use the sentence ‘skin immediately feels firmer, velvety smooth and looks radiant while wrinkles are reduced and re-plumped. Why? I think maybe it’s because that might have been deemed as a misleading statement?
I’m not telling you what to buy or not, go ahead and buy what ever you like if you think it will make you feel better. It’s recently hit Irish shores (April 2011 and retails for €31) and I also must say that I am most certainly not paid by any organisation for my opinion, all of my opinions are my own (not sure who’d pay for this opinion anyway – lol!!) I just want people to get use to reading what’s not been said in the glossy advertisements and question it a bit more before believing it as the whole truth.
*completely made up statement, not a word of truth, no survey or studies done, just my opinion, and I needed a catchy headline.
Photo: by Steve Ford Elliott – http://www.sxc.hu