Why Cosmetics Companies Can Mislead Legally

Reporters all over the world constantly ask me why cosmetics companies mislead and often out and out lie to women, and how they manage to get away with it. The simple answer is that women like to be lied to. We want to believe that the products we buy can get us what we want.

We prefer the promise of eternal youth (or some approximation) and clear, flawless skin to reality. No matter how many thousands of products there are, often dozens of them from the same companies, and all guaranteeing some degree of a miracle, it still happens—we just don’t seem to have a learning curve. We want the next one we buy to be the answer.

Using either scientific mumbo jumbo or concoctions said to come straight from the earth, or a mix of both, they tell us exactly what we want to hear. Most cosmetics companies need to lie just to gain a consumer’s attention because the truth is never as enticing as the deception. While women want to find hope in a jar, regulatory agencies do what they can to protect us.

However the official limitations provide no real protection from truly misleading information or lies. One of the most beguiling aspects of the cosmetics industry in the U.S. and Canada is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada (HC), and most regulatory boards around the world—with the exception of the European Union (EU) member countries—don’t require cosmetics companies to prove their claims.

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