Thoughts on Skincare’s Contradictory Views of Science

There is a contradictory attitude in the skincare and beauty world towards science.

On the one hand, brands and “influencers” try to promote products by backing them with “scientific” claims. For instance, they use studies for their products, and include ingredients that are supposedly backed by science. Or consider the infographics and videos that brands put out. Many of them don’t explicitly make scientific claims, but their visuals look scientific because they appear organized, as if they follow a logical method. You also have brands created by scientists and doctors who have the knowledge to provide you with effective and safe products. So, that all seems nice and reliable and scientific.

But on the other hand, there is a disdain for the complexity of today’s technology, which is often contrasted with nature. We all know of the new age perspective that the more “natural” something is, the better. Apparently, “natural” (or even better — fuckin’ “organic”) means untainted by human tech. This perspective holds that (to paraphrase what I just saw on some brand’s Instagram post) we know nature works for us as it has for time immemorial, long before our modern day technologies; so let’s get back to nature, without all of these harsh chemicals (which are, apparently, not found in nature?????) and things. Obviously, in this realm there is a lot of misused terminology (i.e. “chemical”, “organic”, “natural”) and misleading or unsubstantiated claims.

Obviously there is more to both of these than what I’ve quickly rambled about, but these are the aspects that are most common.

I understand the appeal of both perspectives on their own, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around how these contradictory points of view can exist simultaneously. So far I have come up with these explanations:

  • The consumer must feel the product is safe and effective
  • The average consumer must be able to understand the product and have a rough idea of some working process the product uses, whether that is accurate or not

Besides that, I still need to think on it. Any ideas or insights? Let me know.

Thanks for reading ❤

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Skincare’s Contradictory Views of Science

  1. I’ve rather had a disdain for brands that want to throw the technology out with the bathwater. Not all chemicals are bad and not all of nature is good for you. Essential oils in skincare is a perfect example! Essential oils are too harsh for skin yet there often put in as “good”

    I don’t get it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup! Even the word “chemical” seems to be thought of as this thing that humans make in their evil labs, and is somehow not…in nature??? Literally everything is made up of chemicals. But you can see how the language they use is so inaccurate and misleading.

      Liked by 1 person

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