Is there any science behind women's cosmetics, or is it all snake oil?

A lot of women buy lots of fancy cosmetics that supposedly will make their skin look better. These various lotions and things have seemingly random lists of vitamins, various plant extracts and other chemicals and such that claim to fight aging, reduce wrinkles and such.

Is there any body of science backing up these claims? Obviously wearing products with UV protection will help some in the long term. And some sort of moisturizer can help the appearance of dry skin, at least in the short term. Other that that, do we know that any of these products actually do what they say when it comes to aging, wrinkles and such?

Maybe it’s just me, but I draw a distinction between cosmetics - which are the largely colored paints, powders and goos - and “skin care products” which are the largely invisible treatments, wrinkle removers, rejuvenators, etc.

I think most in the second category have just as much science behind them as do multi-blade razors… that is, enough to keep the marketing team from getting sued, but not much more.

If you ask me, they apply this makeup then just look old with makeup on! My best friend gave an honest opinion like this to his wife, then she didn’t talk to him for a week! (So Shhhh!)

Everything scientific I have read says the only actually effective anti-aging treatment is Retin-A. There are products that can appear temporarily smoothing or plumping, but it’s temporary.

Retin-A, Botox and plastic surgery seem to be the only things that make a scientifically verifiable difference in appearance.

As Amateur Barbarian points out, there is a difference between what’s known as “color” (I call it “paint your face”) and skincare. If you can paint your face a pretty color, and you like the way it looks, then that’s an effective cosmetic. The same applied to fragrance. If it smells good, at least to you, then it’s effective for the purpose intended.

Skincare, barring Retin-A, is pretty much a con game. I think it does have a significant placebo effect. Women feel that they must look nicer since they are paying large amounts of money.

Expert Paula Begoun gives reviews based on active ingredients in every major available cosmetics product. Her reviews are held in high regard among scientifically inclined cosmetics enthusiasts.

Edit: apparently that sit is no longer updated.

Moisturizing can prove temporary, topical improvements in appearance as long as the hydration effect lasts.

“Expert” Paula Begoun is also promoting her own line of skin crèmes. Is there someone who is actually impartial we can refer to?

I will add though - good moisturizers will moisturize, good primer will help smooth, good mattifiers will mattify, etc…

That does not translate to the most expensive.

In her early years, she was impartial, and her own cosmetics line was much smaller. That, apparently, is no longer the case.

Verzonden vanaf mijn iPhone met Tapatalk Pro



Back in 2006, Consumer Reports tested anti-wrinkle face creams. They were about 90% ineffective – the best made only 10% difference, and only temporarily.

I think there was an even older Consumer Reports test of skin oils/moisturizers. As I recall, there was no connection between price, label, and effectiveness. The cheapest option would be to spend $2 at the grocery store on a pound of lard – and it’d be as effective as the expensive brand name moisturizers.

Disclaimer: I do not now, nor have I ever worn make-up, except for theater productions, and when doing interpreting where I was a long distance from the Deaf people, when I used a little mascara and lipstick to make my facial expressions a little more obvious.

It’s my understanding that concealers that contain collagen dry tight, so they can conceal fine wrinkles to a small extent. It’s a very minimal effect, and helps women only of a certain age-- those just beginning to develop fine lines around the mouth and eyes, maybe late 30s. Younger women don’t need them, and older women don’t benefit from them.

The huge drawback, of course, is that they contain an animal product. It may be that they contains slaughterhouse refuse, and no animal dies specifically to make them, but still-- ewwwwwwwww

I may be wrong, either about the purpose of collagen as an ingredient, or about whether it actually works, but I’ve read this in more than one place.

It’d go rancid, though, and might attract flies.

There’s no connection between price and quality, with the exception that some cruelty-free stuff is a little more spendy, if that’s a quality you value.

In my lifelong quest to erase dark circles from under my eyes I have spent probably thousands on various product which I diligently applied and which did not work.


I do not have wrinkles around my eyes. On my neck, yeah. I never paid much attention to my neck. But not around my eyes.

So it’s possible they did something. Just not what I wanted them to do. Maybe it was massaging the area as I applied this stuff. Maybe genetics.

Also, there are moisturizers that may not make you look younger, but I’ve always had dry skin, and they make me feel a lot better. Also coconut oil is great stuff. (And cheap. And odorless. And fine in pie crust if you’re out of Crisco.)

But as someone said, cosmetics is not the same as skin care products. I consider the $$ I’ve spent on cosmetics well spent, for the most part. I definitely look better with makeup. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t.

Gives a drier/non-oily appearance to the skin

As in provide a matte finish.

That’s so cute when you do that. :slight_smile:


I can’t help feeling he’s talking about me…