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ShopSmart Decodes Virtually Meaningless Beauty Claims

ShopSmart Decodes Virtually Meaningless Beauty Claims

Common label terms to ignore on creams, cleansers, makeup and more

ShopSmart Cover November 2012YONKERS, NY — Plenty of beauty products make claims that sound official but actually hold no legal definition. The November 2012 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from Consumer Reports, decodes 15 common label terms used on beauty products, including five that shoppers should ignore. 

“Only a few claims used on cosmetics are regulated and the government doesn’t review labels before products hit store shelves,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “We’ve given shoppers the straight scoop to help them differentiate between an actual benefit and a marketing term on beauty shelves.”

Just Ignore These Claims

1.  HYPOALLERGENIC

  • Where it can be seen: Lotions, shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays, and deodorants.

  • What it sounds like it means: The product won’t cause allergic reactions.

  • Why it’s bogus: The FDA website lists the definition of this term as “whatever a particular company wants it to mean.”

2.  NATURAL

  • Where it can be seen: Acne treatments, lip balm, hair products and more.

  • What it sounds like it means: The product is made of fresh, safe ingredients from nature—not synthetic ones.

  • Why it’s bogus: “Natural” holds no regulatory definition. And just because something isn’t man-made doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe (consider poison ivy, poisonous mushrooms, or hemlock.)

3.  LIFTING

  • Where it can be seen: Facial creams, eye gels, makeup, and masks.

  • What it sounds like it means: It will reverse sagging or drooping.

  • Why it’s bogus:  According to dermatologists, a formal dermatologic treatment such as a heat-generating ultrasound, is usually needed to boost collagen production.

4.  100% PURE

  • Where it can be seen: Facial cleansers, masks, creams and balms.

  • What it sounds like it means: The product is clean and contaminant-free.

  • Why it’s bogus: This is a general term that doesn’t necessarily say much about the product’s contents. However, there is one exception—products with just one ingredient, such as 100 percent aloe vera, should be purely that one ingredient.

5.  FOR SENSITIVE SKIN

  • Where it can be seen: All kinds of personal-care products.

  • What it sounds like it means: The product was specially formulated for and tested on sensitive skin.

  • Why it’s bogus: The manufacturer may have minimized the use of irritating ingredients such as fragrances, but there’s no way to know for sure.

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $5.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.  

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