Mind Over Matter: Cosmetic Claim Substantiation Issues Facing the Future

In the past, companies could say almost anything about the performance of cosmetic products. But today the industry is relatively modest both in what is expected from products and in what is promised to consumers. Kerryn Greive gives some beautiful examples of cosmetic claims made for soap in her 2002 Maison G. de Navarre Essay Prize winning article.1 In the 1920s, soap claims related mainly to safety: “Don’t make your face an experimental laboratory, say 250 skin specialists.” Effi cacy claims started to emerge in the 1930s: “Tests run under scientifi c conditions prove conclusively that Lava Soap removes more dirt then ordinary toilet soap and, therefore, removes more germs.” In the 1940s, more sensory-related claims started to appear: “Two out of 3 women can get more beautiful skin in 14 days! Palmolive beauty plan tested on 1,285 women with all types of skin.” The experiments supporting these statements were no doubt performed, but there was certainly no system in place for consumers to verify the validity of the experiments performed and claims made.

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