Navigating the vast realm of skincare products can be daunting, with promises of transformative results at every turn.
To uncover the real truth behind skincare claims, let's delve into the differences between clinical testing with measured instrumentation and subjective consumer perception testing. Understanding the difference between these approaches will arm you with the pattern recognition to evaluate how effective a skincare product actually is.
Welcome to the bustling laboratory, where the wonders of clinical testing unfold. This method relies on objective and quantifiable measures to scrutinize skincare products and separate fact from fiction. Subjects come into the lab to get a baseline measurement by a machine tailored to measure a specific skincare concern like fine line depth. Subjects then undergo a wash out period-- not using any skincare products for a period of time before starting to use the product that’s being tested. After using the tested product for a period of time (usually anywhere from 4-12 weeks), they are brought back into the lab to measure any improvements, reductions, or increases in the particular skin concern. While in a clinical trial, participants following a protocol are seen regularly by research staff to monitor their results and to determine the effectiveness of the products.
A little more detail on how it works:
Now, let's step away from highly tuned measurement machines and venture into the more whimsical side of skincare evaluation - consumer perception testing. This is a subjective measure where subjects are told to incorporate a skincare product into their routine for a certain period of time and then asked to fill out a survey where questions ask ‘how much do you agree with the following statement,’ usually on a scale of 1-5. An example would be ‘how much do you agree with the following statement: the appearance of fine lines is diminished’ with a 1 being a strongly agree.
A little more detail on how this works:
To illustrate the difference between consumer perception and clinical results, let’s review some of the marketing language that can tip you off to which is which:
CONSUMER PERCEPTION RESULTS
CLINICAL TESTING RESULTS
Tip: Always expressed as % of subjects. Look for words like “agreed” or “said” or “felt.”
Tip: Can be expressed as a) % of subjects or b) a % increase or decrease in a specific skin concern. Look for words like “X% of subjects saw an increase/decrease” or “X % showed or had an improvement” or a direct % increase/decrease in a particular skin concern.
100% of women said this was the most effective skin-plumping product
100% of subjects showed a clinically significant decrease in global facial fine lines and wrinkles after 4 weeks
97% agreed their skin felt replenished and nourished
96% saw a clinically significant increase in skin firmness after 4 weeks
95% said their skin felt moisturized
Subjects had, on average, a 17% decrease/improvement in fine lines and wrinkles after 4 weeks.
90% said skin looks radiant
In an eight week study, subjects saw a 66% improvement in smoothness.
It’s clear that clinical testing with measured instrumentation yields objective data on the efficacy of skincare products so you may be scratching your head as to why more brands don’t do it. Exponent Beauty did research on the top selling 500 skincare products and found that less than 20% had conducted clinical trials. We have two hypotheses as to why:
If you're wavering between an Instagram-famous face mask or one that's been clinically tested, NYC dermatologist, Dr. Bhansuli, urges the latter. "I would generally recommend to pick products that are backed by science," he said. "If a brand relies more on marketing than testing, there could be an issue with the product."
At Exponent Beauty, we proudly conduct clinical testing on all our products to ensure we deliver real results—check out our Clinical Results here. Our mission extends far beyond our formulas, empowering consumers to make informed skincare choices through our Product Recommendations Page, where we list 83 out of 500 skincare products that meet the Exponent Standard for efficacy.
Powered by clinically-proven, pure Active Powders combined with a Hyaluronic Acid Hydrator, our Superior Serums are made fresh in an instant at peak potency.