The Truth about ‘Before & After’ in Home Shopping for Cosmetics
The Truth about ‘Before & After’ in Home Shopping for Cosmetics
  • 한정선 기자(향장학 박사) (
  • 승인 2020.01.23 15:56
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When watching cosmetic sales on home shopping channels at home, viewers often see ‘before & after’ pictures of users using the cosmetic products and are told that the pictures show long-term effects from so-called ‘clinical trials.’

Furthermore, everyone must have experienced watching at least one home shopping channel that emphasized skin improvement effects by telling the viewers of human application tests and improvements in wrinkles, pigmentation, and skin dryness as well as increase in dermal density.

CARD 1. Should we trust the before and after images of clinical trials?

Home shopping channels emphasize that their data is scientifically reliable by displaying before and after images of cosmetic usage from clinical trials.

For cosmetic human application tests, the cosmetic company pays the funds and implements the tests at commissioned research laboratories. From the perspective of business logic, higher efficiency should naturally be guaranteed in relation to the investment costs.

Card 2. Are the trial results real?... A rational doubt to have as a consumer!

However, it is difficult for consumers to apprehend how the ‘experimental design’ was carried out during the process of inducing clinical trial data for cosmetic sales. Furthermore, they also cannot help but doubt whether the trial results were made artificially in order to develop the data the company wants.

CARD 3. The meaning of the kind phrase, ‘there is individual differences’

The reason clinical trial images can even further surprise viewers is because the companies use picture of subjects who experienced the best results.

However, can all consumers expect skin improvement effects like the effects shown on pictures of home shopping?

At the end, in order to avoid the responsibility of committing the error of generalization, the words, ‘there is individual differences,’ are always kindly inputted in very small letters below the clinical trial pictures.

CARD 4 Must check the clinical test period and number of experimenters

Is the clause 1 of South Korea’s ‘Regulation for Cosmetic Advertisement,’ which establishes rules ‘to protect consumers from false or exaggerated advertisements,’ actually protecting the advertisers with the help of scientific clinical trials?

If a product provides dramatic skin improvement effects with mere 4 weeks of use, it can only be a medicine and not a cosmetic in order for that to be possible.

From now on, let us not have blind faith towards pictures of clinical trials and carefully examine the test period as well as the number of experimenters.

CARD 5. Scientific cosmetics listed on SCI-grade journals?

And let us not get tricked by the words that claim the cosmetics have been listed on renown foreign journals and thus have a scientific basis.

On home shopping, I have seen cases in which cosmetic companies mention multiple prominent academic journals and market the cosmetic’s superiority by telling the viewers that their product has been listed on ‘SCI-grade journals.’

Card 6. In actuality, cosmetic companies only use parts of the components listed on academic journals

After careful examination, one can discover that the cosmetic raw materials listed on academic journals were only used as partial components for their cosmetics. Furthermore, they refrained from displaying the exact content.

The show hosts then confuse the consumers by zooming in to the sentences quoted from journals, as if the corresponding cosmetic is amazingly scientific and superior enough to be listed on the academic journals.

A cosmetic is simply a cosmetic and not a medicine. From now on, let us not get tricked by the marketing strategy that utilizes cited sentences from academic journals.

Card 7. Cosmetics sold by pharmaceutical companies are always good?

Additionally, pharmaceutical companies also sell cosmetics these days. Since the manufacturing standards are clear for medicines and cosmetics and there are side effects for medicines, pharmaceutical companies strictly categorize and control the product ingredients.

This is because no harm should be inflicted on people’s health due to any misuse of medicines.

Card 8. Merely a cosmetic and not a medicine

Cosmetic companies take advantage of the expectancy theory of consumers regarding medicines by making the names of their cosmetic products similar to the medicines sold at pharmaceutical companies.

In other words, they make the consumers expect a similar effect to that of medicines.

However, the names are the only similar attribute as cosmetics and medicines are fundamentally different. Therefore, we should strictly distinguish medicines from cosmetics.

From now on, when we are told that specific ingredients will solve our skin problems, let us develop the habit of carefully examining the names of those ingredients and their content prior to purchasing the product.

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