Makeup is the palette of the cosmetic artist. Features of beauty can be accentuated and less desirable features can be subdued. Artful application of makeup can greatly enhance ones natural beauty, yet when poorly applied makeup can be distracting.
Cosmetics are a multi-billion dollar industry. As the ‘baby boom’ generation ages, the industry has shifted its emphasis away from products for the younger generation to ‘anti-aging’ products. Magazines are full of advertisements for products suggesting that they alone have the answer to aging. They would have your believe that the daily use of their product will assure you an everlastingly youthful appearance. Their claims, though seductive are questionable.
Let’s review the components of the skin. The skin has three layers: the epidermis (top layer), the dermis (middle layer) and the layer of cushioning fat (bottom layer). Aging largely affects the dermis and at this level a product must reverse the signs of aging to be as effective as it claims. At this time most products are incapable of penetrating the epidermis and are therefore rendered relatively impotent in their impact on aging.
However, liposomes have appeared on the scene. These micro-balloons can carry active ingredients to deeper levels of the skin’s surface and beyond. For the quick delivery of medications they are very effective. However as cosmetic companies begin to use these microscopic vehicles to transport the active ingredients in their products, which they claim will prevent or reduce the signs of aging, the risk to the user increases.
This has caught the attention of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States and the Health Protection Branch of Canada. The outcome of their scrutiny will have one or both of two possible outcomes:
First, if the product actually alters the tissue, then it is no longer considered a cosmetic product. This means that the product must undergo scientific evaluation to support the claims, a very expensive process. If the claims are substantiated, the product must be reclassified as a drug, which means it will be shelved differently in stores and the marketing strategies for the product will have to change.
Second, claims that are unsubstantiated may be considered fraudulent. The product could then be removed from the shelves without further warning and class action suits may ensue.
These consequences apply to product claims whether liposomes are used or not. Some companies have chosen the simpler route of changing the anti-aging claims on their labels and in their advertising. However the competition is stiff so many ignore the warnings and continue to press their claims. For the most part it is up to you, the consumer, to evaluate the legitimacy of cosmetic products.