People have searched for a fountain of youth for many millennia, and that’s no different today if ads and infomercials for anti-aging products are any indication. Today’s promise of youthfulness comes in the form of wrinkle creams, eye creams and other skincare potions in pretty packages.
Can Skincare Companies Lie About Ingredients?
While skincare product companies in the United States are not legally obligated to have their products or product ingredients FDA-approved, the law does require truthful branding and safe usage for humans. The agency also has different safety requirements for products classified as drugs (those claiming to “effect structure or function of the body”) and routinely sends out warning letters before taking action against companies that violate these policies.
There are a lot of buzzwords around skincare products — at least one of which, “natural” — has no legal requirements and is not regulated by the FDA or any government agency for cosmetics. Another often seen buzz phrase, “clinically proven” just means consumers were given the product to try — it doesn’t mean the product was tested in clinical trials, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD).
Are Skincare Products Effective?
There are skincare products on retail store shelves and at your dermatologist’s office that contain ingredients believed to make skin appear more youthful by improving skin conditions and delaying skin aging.
Sunscreen, for example, protects skin from the fine lines and wrinkles of premature aging that can be caused by sun exposure, and moisturizer can help minimize existing fine lines, according to the AAD. The AAD also notes dark spots may be minimized over a period of several months with a daily cream.
Additionally, retinoids (or retinol, as the variant found in over-the-counter products is called) work to slow collagen decline and promote collagen production, according to a report published in the journal Dermato-Endocrinology. The report also notes that antioxidants can help slow damage done to skin by free radicals, cell metabolism biproducts that are linked to aging, and lists vitamins C, B3 and E as “the most important antioxidants” because their small molecular structure allows them to be more readily absorbed by the skin. When retinoids and antioxidants are used together, the benefit is increased.
It is important to note that retinol and compounds containing this vitamin A derivative make skin extra sensitive to the sun and should be used only as directed.
Is It Illegal to Not Disclose Ingredients?
The FDA requires ingredients to be listed on cosmetics by order of quantity, but most people will need a strong magnifying glass to read them. The font size requirement is a mere 1/16 of an inch. If the product package is small, the font size may be further reduced to 1/32 of an inch.
The FDA allows certain ingredient exemptions from labeling if the ingredient is deemed a confidential trade secret of the product by the agency. Consumers can know this by looking for the expression “and other ingredients” at the bottom of the ingredients list.
Talk with a Dermatologist
For guidance on how to care for your skin and keep it looking as youthful as possible for as long as possible, reach out to a St. Elizabeth Physicians dermatologist near you.