My obsession started when I was 12 and my previously-clear skin became fraught with pimples...which soon escalated to teenage acne. It was so horrendous that I Photoshopped pretty much every picture I took up till age 18, where my skin started clearing up, so I don't really have photos of how disastrous my skin was back then to share (even if I did, I wouldn't post here!).
Previously, I wrote about top beauty traps that we, as consumers, commonly fall for (and end up spending tons of unnecessary money on). With greater access to information and people becoming more educated today, I believe it will not be long before we become more aware about the potential dangers present in our skincare products as well.
There's quite a bit of information I want to share on this topic, so I've divided it up into a few sections for easier reading.
Part One: The lies we're led to believe in the skincare industry
Part Two: Harmful ingredients to avoid in your skincare products
Part Three: Budget Babe goes skincare shopping
Part Four: What you should look out for in your skincare products
Part Five: How I cured my acne after struggling for 6 years
Today, let's first talk about the truth behind the common lies we believe about our skincare products.
Lie #1: Products on the shelf are safe to buy / use
|Credits: Beautycounter. I do not know this brand nor am I endorsing them.|
Contrary to what most people think, there are little regulations governing the skincare industry today. Even in the U.S., where many groups have been lobbying for safer cosmetics and more honest product claims, the FDA still has limited powers to deal with cosmetic companies. In Singapore, you only need to notify HSA of what products you're selling - this counts as being allowed to sell the notified products thereafter.
Thus, don't just assume that just because it's still for sale means it's safe to buy and use it. Always make a habit to check the labels and read the ingredients before purchasing, or buy only from tried-and-trusted brands.
Lie #2: Products that are "hypoallergenic", "dermatologist-tested" or "non-comedogenic" are better.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but these terms are quite meaningless. You're basically just buying into advertising lies. Brands use them because they know it's what consumers want to hear, and companies continue to use these claims because there's no regulations stating they can't!
I've drawn up the table below as a quick guide to debunk these common claims:
Lie #3: It was recommended to me by the cosmetic salesperson, so it must be good.
Remember when Watsons / Guardian used to have pushy Avene salespeople trying to sell you their products, claiming that it worked for many customers to solve acne problems, wrinkled skins, pigmentation and what not?
Well, I fell for it when I was 16 and bought 2 items from the Avene Cleanance range. Did it work to cure my acne like what the salesgirl said it would? Obviously not.
You see, these salespeople are there to make sales so they get a commission whenever you buy at their "recommendation". They are trained to sell you the products, not certified skincare experts!
The next time someone tries to sell you a skincare product, question them and see if they truly know what the ingredients are and how they work. Just last week someone tried to sell me an "organic facial wash" - I indulged her by following her to the shelf where the products were displayed, let her say her sales pitch, then I took the box from her hand and started reading out the ingredients which were definitely not organic and asked her nicely why she would try to convince me that it is.
Lie #4: It won beauty awards, so it must be good!
Now I don't doubt that sometimes these awards do recognize great products, but often times, the awards go to companies who give these magazines tons of money in advertising.
Not convinced? Look at this:
Lie #5: If they say the product is "natural" / "organic", it means it is better and safer.
While I believe organic skincare products are better, my issue with the skincare industry is that I've picked up one too many "organic" products excitedly, only to find that it contained synthetic ingredients and known preservatives related to cancer and other health issues.
Unfortunately, there is no specific industry definition for such terms. "Natural" can mean it was grown or derived from natural sources, whereas "organic" largely refers to plant-derived substances. Anyone can make this claim, and only the USDA has a recommended guideline (which isn't followed by most companies) to help consumers understand what is truly organic and what isn't.
If there's one key takeaway from this whole post, I hope you've understood how important it is not to believe cosmetic claims, beauty awards or salespeople. Your skin is one of your most important assets, so trust no one but yourself (or a few good and ethical brands). Learn how to read labels and learn how to identify potential toxins and chemicals in my next post, and start making wiser, more informed choices about the stuff you put on your skin from now on.