Do you have crow’s feet, turkey neck, laugh lines, or frown lines? What about a spare tire, muffin top, potbelly, saddlebags, love handles, batwings, cankles, or crinkle-pits? It seems that every inch of our bodies are being cataloged and scrutinized by companies who promise to shave off five, ten, or twenty years of wear and tear. We know we can’t all be perfect, but when the pressure to look good has us feeling vulnerable, scammers can swoop in and take advantage of our insecurities.
A SOFTER, SMOOTHER SCAM
Since the first caveman stumbled out of his cave and felt a bit sorer and rough around the edges than usual, humankind has been on a quest for eternal youth and beauty. People have tried everything to shave of a few years or pounds, including crocodile-dung rouge and poisonous powders. What would inspire so many fine looking people to smear themselves with all sorts of dangerous things in pursuit of that ‘healthy glow?’
A common cosmetic product pitch begins by wearing you down and making you think there is something wrong with you. You look tired, you feel tired, you look old, you feel old, but wait! We have the solution! It is an ancient folk remedy improved by the miracle of modern science! Just apply this cream twice a day!
AYE, THERE’S THE RUB
But extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, and for the most part these companies don’t have it. If over-the-counter creams and treatments claim to have the same or greater effect as prescription salves and medical procedures, one of two things is going on:
The less likely of the two options is they may be juicing their product with regulated and dangerous substances and just not telling anyone about it. Prescription medication and medical procedures are controlled by government agencies because they are dangerous and should be left in the hands of professionals. If you think you are getting a little something extra out of your skin creams by avoiding a prescription, you might be right: some side effects include thinning of skin, intense irritation, heart defects, hormonal imbalance, and glandular problems.
The more likely answer to these extraordinary claims is the more obvious one: they are not true. If it seems too good to be true it probably is, and when these snake oil salesmen roll into town or onto your internet browser take a step back and assess the situation. Are its claims over the top? Are you setting yourself up for disappointment? Have other people complained about the company’s product or the business practices?
Another thing these companies do is all too common in the infomercial and pop-up add marketing circuits. They offer you a free trial, an introductory offer, free shipping and handling, so on and so forth, to get you on the phone. You order a limited amount, say one bottle of face cream, and they say they will you a free second bottle. The company ships the two bottles (or four bottles, or eighteen bottles) separately and charges exorbitant fees for each. While you thought you were paying $19.95 plus $9.00 shipping in handling, your bank gets charged over $100. When you call to return the unwanted products or complain, you are given the run around, treated poorly, or even threatened with legal action. These bully like tactics make it less likely you’ll ever get your money back, money you never thought you were handing over in the first place.
A HEALTHY GLOW
Don’t get us wrong: cosmetics are not scams in and of themselves. With or without them, we human beings would still be preening and pruning our bodies and clothes to make us look better. Why? Some people dress to impress, but most of us try to look good to feel good. It isn’t that certain shade of red, the moisturizing scrub crystals, or the notes of lavender that shine through your cosmetic products, but a more confident side of you that radiates from beneath them.
Even if you have smile lines, people notice your smile first and foremost. People won’t see your crow’s feet if your eyes are beaming. Don’t stop using the products that make you feel better, but don’t let hot air from snake oil salesmen inflate your expectations to leave you and your bank account feeling deflated a few weeks down the line. Stay informed about who you’re buying from and what you are buying and don’t forget, smart and savvy looks good on everyone