Brands’ desire to meet these growing demands without breaking the bank has given rise to a phenomenon called “fairy dusting,” in which brands add small amounts of a buzzy active ingredient to their formulas so they can advertise its benefits on the label. — and, in fact, get more people to buy their products. It’s a shady shortcut, sure, but it’s not a well-kept secret within the industry. “It’s a recognized term A deceptive practice within the cosmetics and skin care industry involves brands and manufacturers misleading consumers by adding insufficient amounts of active ingredients and claiming that it will produce measurable results or benefits,” states. Bandhu, Ph.D., Cosmetic chemist and founder Akaderma. This practice allows brands to claim that formulas contain an active ingredient without spending the money it takes to include it in an effective concentration (because technically it does).
mostly of the Food and Drug Administration Regulations surrounding beauty products relate to toxic or hazardous ingredients and the sanitary conditions in which the products are made. Therefore, the organization isn’t keeping a close eye on how companies market their ingredients — as long as they’re deemed “safe.” “So, brands can fly under the radar unless there are dangerous ingredients or false health benefits printed on the label, such as ‘niacinamide helps control oil production’,” he says. Priscilla Fadul, Founder of skin care brand Lendawa. “This is the main reason why fairy dusting remains unchecked and completely legal.”
And while fairy dusting doesn’t technically involve breaking the law, many brands continue to see the practice as a practical method to keep their production costs down. Dr. According to Hu, brands choose fairy dust because it allows them to promote the latest ‘it’ ingredient—even if it means sacrificing the quality of their formula. She explains that they are able to get away with this without losing credibility because they do not disclose the concentrations of the actives they are using, assuming that consumers will not be able to hold them accountable when a product delivers results.
There is one a lot Here to unpack, but educating yourself will ultimately prevent you from wasting your money on products that don’t deliver on their promises.
Knowing the ‘1 percent rule’ can help you understand your activations – and avoid fairy dust
To understand why fairy dusting is problematic, it is first important to understand how the active ingredients work and how they are listed on the product packaging.
“Activates are ingredients supported by laboratory research to have the desired effect on the skin,” says Jesse Cheung, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Chicago. Vitamin C, for example, helps lighten the skin; Hyaluronic acid aids in hydration; And retinol reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
However, simply adding actives to your routine doesn’t guarantee that your skin problems will go away. “You should also pay attention to the specific concentration of each component, because it is necessary to have the desired effect, and yes. [what makes] “The difference between a skin care routine that works for you instead of against you,” says Dr. Cheung, is how many specific ingredients are included in a complete formula. For example, vitamin C works best when concentrated between 10 and 20 percent, and glycolic acid to be effective. At least a 10 percent concentration (ideally at a pH of 3.5) is required.
Finding out if a brand is dusting off one of these actives requires a little detective work on a product’s ingredients list—which starts with educating yourself on what cosmetic chemists call the “1 percent” rule.
According to Fadul, more than 1 percent is the ingredients that make up the formula Listed From highest to lowest concentration on the label. “The first ingredient is the one with the highest amount in the product, while the last one is the lowest on the list,” said Paul Pestano, senior database analyst at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit organization that provides information and research. its contents Skin deep Database, as stated earlier good + good.
To use the 1 percent rule to your advantage, Fadul recommends familiarizing yourself with the most commonly used inactive ingredients, such as phenoxyethanol, parabens, sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin, and glyceryl caprylate. “These ingredients are usually equal to or less than 1 percent, which means everything listed hereafter will be [concentrated at] Less than 1 percent,’ she says. “So, if you see key ingredients like vitamin C on the brand’s list, after these filler ingredients, you’re getting fairy-dust.”
She adds that angel-dust products containing vitamin C and glycolic acid will be the easiest to find, since these ingredients are known to work best in higher concentrations. Generally, if a product contains an effective amount, it will be one of the first few ingredients listed.
The 1 percent rule isn’t foolproof, though: “Many actives are effective at low usage levels, like retinol, so even when they’re used at the right percentage they’ll still be found low on the ingredient list,” says Amy Ketchum, co-founder and CPO, R&D of Use skincare.
More ways to shop smart
Looking at the order of the ingredients, there are some other tell-tale signs that the product will not be able to deliver on its supposed benefits. “Always be wary of brands that list these ingredients without specific concentrations, have zero clinical data reports available online, or use broad marketing terms like ‘technology’ or ‘complexes’ to assure you that the active ingredient is present,” Dr. Cheung says.
“Purchasing medical-grade skin care helps protect consumers from false claims – they have a higher potency of active ingredients, and are backed by clinicians, research and data,” he adds. Karen Campbell, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco. “It’s a safe way to spend your money.”
And remember: if you reach out to a company for more information, and they won’t give you a straight answer, be clear. There are many brands that pride themselves on being transparent about ingredients and sourcing and are happy to share clinical data to back up the claims on their products.
Typical fairy-dust material to watch
“Peptides and hyaluronic acid are very common because they are very popular but very expensive,” says Ketchum. “So brands’ formulas usually include cheaper, more effective, hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin, touting the effectiveness of hyaluronic acid in their marketing.” In other words, brands can sprinkle in an effective glycerin-based serum (the ingredient is known as one of the best universal hydrators on the market) and a bit of hyaluronic acid so they can claim the formula gets its hydrating powers. Buzz active and charge a premium price… even if it’s not doing much.
Collagen is another good example of an ingredient that people overspend on: its molecules are too large to penetrate the skin, so applying it topically won’t do much for your complexion. But that hasn’t stopped brands from adding the ingredient to expensive anti-aging formulas and using it as a miracle solution for reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Plant and fruit extracts and oils are also frequent culprits, as these ingredients generally do not contribute significantly to efficacy, they are highly valued in marketing. Dr. “A lot of these extracts sound good, but they’re not clinically effective, which means they don’t work,” says Dr. Campbell. Campbell says. Additionally, some botanicals such as tea tree, citrus and lavender oils can cause irritation on sensitive skin.
While there’s no real harm in using fairy-dust products — as Ketchum notes, many affordable ingredients are actually more effective than their popular counterparts — investing in them isn’t worth the cost. Dr. “Much of the beauty industry is built around using marketing to make people feel ‘less’ or ‘weak’ and feel ‘good enough,'” says Campbell. “But while good skin can help you feel good on the inside, it’s important that It’s important to invest your money and time wisely in products made by brands you can trust.”
We know that brands have to compete for our dollars and attention, the most important thing to avoid wasting your time and money is to educate yourself and do your research. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to fall victim to unethical beauty industry practices.
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