The Things Cosmetics Companies Really Don’t Want You to Know

How savvy are you about the cosmetics world?

The world of skincare and cosmetics is a multibillion-dollar industry – and it can get pricey. Are you familiar with the tactics companies use to snare your attention? Read on to arm yourself the next time you’re standing indecisive in the shopping aisle. Image by dit26978 for Freepik

It’s a story many of us are familiar with. You wake up one day and realize that your skin has changed. Perhaps it’s sudden (like a pimple) or chronic (rosacea, eczema, etc), or maybe it’s more nuanced, like noticing a few extra lines in the mirror.  

The first place we often turn to address our skin concerns is the skincare aisle at our local drug or beauty store where we’re met with an overwhelming volume of choice. 

In fact, if there’s a skin problem, you can be sure a cosmetics company is probably selling a solution. 


But does any of it work? 

Many ingredients and products really can help your skin but – no doubt about it – it’s big business. Our skin is very personal, and a lot of emotions go into what products we choose – colour, feel texture, even the models who appear in ads all factor into our choices, and you can bet the cosmetics industry spends a lot of money understanding what’s likely to sway us. In the spirit of arming you with knowledge for the next time you venture into the skincare aisle (and in celebration of my new Feel Confident skincare launch!), over the next few weeks, I’m going to talk about the things cosmetics companies really don’t want you to know. Read on because I’m sure the ones I’ve chosen will surprise you. 


1. You’re probably applying too many products… and cosmetics companies are keen for you to apply even more. 

Feel like you’re not applying enough things to your skin? Ten-step regimens and multi-step cleansers can leave you in a state of feeling like you need to keep up with the Joneses. Image by Freepik

You’ve found a simple skincare routine: a cleanser, sunscreen, a moisturizer for dry patches, and maybe even a targeted treatment (for acne, rosacea, eczema). You see an improvement and your skin feels great. You’re happy! 

All done, right? Not if the advertisers have anything to say about it. 

Cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums, boosters, exfoliants, essences – the sheer selection of products can become overwhelming! What gives? 

Researching and developing new products is expensive, so often companies will repackage existing formulas, with only modest changes and introduce them as new products. Each time a new product is released, you might be tempted to add it to your skincare routine – especially if you liked their other products. 

And that’s where the trouble can begin – dryness, rashes, stinging, cosmetic acne, and contact dermatitis. Not what you signed up for when you filled your shelves with products promising a glow-up. 

If something is good, more must be better, right? The problem is that even well developed, gentle formulas can be problematic when too many are used. Image by wayhomestudio for Freepik

Too many occlusive ingredients can clog pores, potentially leading to acne, irritation, and inflammation. But even lighter, ‘beneficial ingredients’ such as those found in many serums (niacinamide, azelaic acid, vitamin C, antioxidants) when applied all together can end up being too much for your delicate upper layers to take. And then there are all the ways to cleanse and exfoliate the skin – make-up removers, toners, foaming cleansers, two step oil systems, acids, scrubs. 


Why are too many good things a potential problem? 

The stratum corneum (SC) bilayer lipids (fatty acids, ceramides and cholesterol) act as glue keeping the outer seal of your skin strong (the skin’s barrier). Having a healthy barrier is critical for the function of your skin, allowing it to keep bad things (bacteria and fungi) out, and good things (moisture) in. A little exfoliation and cleansing are great – it dissolves oil and dirt and helps remove make-up and built-up layers of dead skin that may no longer be shedding optimally – all great things. Unfortunately, too many surfactants and exfoliants can end up dissolving this glue too deeply, leaving your skin in a painful, red, reactive place. 


Exercise your common sense!

Skincare is not a place where you should be worried about ‘missing out’. Though sunscreen is a non-negotiable, the rest is… up to preference. Does your skin feel and look great with a cleanser in the evening and a splash of water and sunscreen in the morning? Awesome. Perhaps you have a dry patch or two? A moisturizer might be beneficial. Perhaps you deal with mild acne and find that an acid and retinoid help? That’s good too. 

But, if your skin is behaving in a healthy way, chances are a cleanser to remove sunscreens and make-up before bed and a sunscreen you like to wear is all you need. That’s one of the reasons my Feel Confident line includes a cleanser, gentle moisturizer, and serum. For most folks, that’s all you need. More just isn’t better. 

Counter intuitive, right? Especially when skincare companies are trying to sell dozens of products at a time.  


A special note about more severe acne and other skin conditions (like eczema and rosacea). Despite what skincare companies often advertise, more serious skin problems often need the help of a doctor and prescription medications, not a trip down the skincare aisle. Well formulated skincare products can help with managing irritation and oil, but they won’t fix the problem. You’re much better off consulting with a doctor and finding the right solutions that won’t hurt your pocketbook. 

Remember, don’t create problems for your skin by buying into advertising messaging. Your skin deserves better. 


2. Vitamin C isn’t nearly as much of a slam dunk skincare ingredient as cosmetics companies would like you to think. 

Free radical fighter, uber skin brightener – but for some it comes with a cost – redness, irritation, and a compromised skin barrier. Image by Freepik 

I imagine this one is going to be controversial – vitamin C has been around for a while and its popular in skincare for a reason. We even did a video a while back on vitamin C. It’s an important antioxidant essential for collagen synthesis and neutralizing free radicals caused by UV exposure. Cosmetics companies absolutely think you should be applying a vitamin C product, preferably even two or three. 

So, what’s the issue? The problems with topical vitamin C come down to stability, a lack of research, and its potential for irritation. 

When Vitamin C is applied to skin cells in a petri dish, researchers see an increase in collagen production and increased protection against UV damage. That is really promising. However, there isn’t a lot of independent research investigating whether this holds true when vitamin C is applied to your skin. That doesn’t mean vitamin C products don’t work, it means that – unlike with sunscreens – we’re not entirely sure how well topical vitamin C actually works. 

L-ascorbic acid (the active form of vitamin C your body uses) is notoriously difficult to formulate and stabilize – it’s a high maintenance ingredient. And though there are other, more stable vitamin C derivatives now in use, there’s even less evidence backing their effectiveness up. Formulations with L-ascorbic acid also tend to be acidic, which can be irritating to skin. If a vitamin C product irritates your skin, does that negate the potential benefits? We don’t really know. 

Topical vitamin C can really have a nice, cosmetic brightening effect on the skin. If you have a favourite vitamin C product that’s great! But I do think it’s important to be aware that cosmetics companies often overpromise on what we actually know vitamin C can do, and that’s worth considering when determining where it really fits into your budget and routine. 

And if you’re someone who finds vitamin C products irritating? Ditch ‘em. Feel confident that you can have beautiful, healthy skin without it.  

Inexpensive Prescription Hair Loss Medication Delivered To Your Door.


What you really need and terms to be aware of:

In celebration of the Feel Confident Skincare launch, I’ll be revealing more things cosmetics companies don’t want you to know and why.  In the meantime, here’s a list of popular cosmetic product terms and what they generally mean. 

Cleanser – a great idea, especially if you wear make-up. Many people get away with once a day use in the evenings to get rid of sunscreen, and that’s just fine!

Make-up remover – developed specifically to remove make-up, often from the delicate eye area. Because of this they’re often very gentle. Can be helpful if you wear tenacious eye make-up. 

Sunscreen – it’s non-negotiable. This is one skincare ingredient you need if you spend any time outside. 

Moisturizer – can be helpful for combatting dry, flaky patches. 

Toner – they tend to be extraneous, though some people enjoy these for delivering very light moisture. 

Exfoliant – can be helpful for reducing surface wrinkles (from sun damage), post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and managing acne. 

Serum – can be useful for delivering light moisture and some actives. 

Treatments – corticosteroid, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, topical antibiotics. When used properly, treatments can help normalize skin and manage conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema, but not everyone needs a treatment. Often require medical supervision or a prescription. Many cosmetic ‘treatments’ you find in the drugstore are in fact serums or exfoliants. 

Looking for a gentle skincare routine? Our Feel Confident skincare line is available for purchase starting with our gentle cleanser and our HA serum. Products that help without the hype! 

Written by
Kristi Charish
Edited by
Dr. Gary Linkov
The content of this newsletter is for entertainment and educational purposes only. This content is not meant to provide any medical advice or treat any medical conditions. Patients must be evaluated by an appropriate healthcare provider on an individual basis and treatment must be tailored to meet that patient’s needs. Results and particular outcomes are not guaranteed.
Back to Education