It isn't difficult to find amazing claims from beauty advertisements. And yet, if these miracle cures truly did, say, put an end to cellulite . . . nobody would have cellulite anymore. (I can provide proof of this not being true.) While some products can produce results, it's important to keep your expectations in line — and one part of doing so is figuring out how to assess those miracle claims. For instance, check out this claim for my imaginary face cream:
In a recent study, 44 percent of women using Shystercreme said their skin appeared smoother after just six weeks.
Sounds good, yes? Maybe not. Find out how to decode that claim when you read more.
When you see an over-the-top claim in an advertisement, ask yourself these questions:
- Was the study blind? Ideally, studies should be double-blind. That means that until the data were
analyzed, both the researcher and participants didn't know who was in the control group and who was part of the experimental group. This reduces the possibility for unintentional (or intentional) bias.
- Who paid for the study? The big one! It should come as no surprise to you that if Company X funds a study, Company X will focus on the positive findings.
- Who was in the study? Try to find out more about the subjects in the study to be sure that the results are even worth mentioning. For instance, putting Shystercreme on a 16-year-old isn't the same as putting it on an 80-year-old. So if a wrinkle cream reduces the appearance of fine lines on a 16-year-old, that doesn't mean much. Which leads us to . . .
- What's really being said? Advertisements use weasel words all the time, so read the claims carefully. Saying that skin appeared smoother isn't the same as actually making skin smoother.
- What's being measured? If an advertisement says that people "saw results" but doesn't define what that results are, it's hard to tell what's really being measured. Look for hard facts rather than subjective opinions. And even if there were improvements in the look of skin, were they little ones or big ones? Shystercreme reveals nothing!
- What's not being said? Forty-four percent of Shystercreme users say they saw improvement. That means a whopping 56 percent did not. Which means, of course, that for more than half of the women, Shystercreme did nothing — or, who knows, maybe it made their skin look worse.
For what it's worth, my miracle cream was Crisco. Just proving a point.