Skin-deep truths

Nov 07, 2011

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I have been catching up with my pile of unread journals. I see the Economist ran a story on how skin-care advertisements are being hammered by ‘tough new rulings’. They quote an example, that of Rodial a British skin-care company who produce something called ‘Boob Job’. The claim (they report) is that this can increase the size of what my old boss used to refer to as modified sebaceous glands (for the detail, it is from 32A/B to  “a much fuller and firmer 32C”. [their quotes].

The Economist say that the Advertising standards agency report that there was no scientific evidence for this claim, and that beauty products in the UK are not licensed to modify physiology.

Well, all well and good, but there is a problem here. Virtually anything you do to skin, from putting a plaster on, to sitting in the bath for a while, alters skin physiology if,  by physiology, you mean that pattern of activity and interaction with the environment we see reflected by changes in gene expression and neural activity. Yes, I agree with David Colquhoun that a lot of skin care products advertising indulges in ‘pseudoscientific technobabble’ but drawing the line from a regulatory angle is not so simple as it may appear. The money is all on one side.

Post by Jonathan Rees

Clinical academic and skin watcher at the University of Edinburgh

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