Cheat Sheet – Beauty Industry Jargon

This one has brewing for a long time but reading the Top 100 beauty products in a ‘top’ magazine yesterday sent me over the edge. My love for the beauty business is well-documented. I love the beauty industry.

However, a business it IS – and there is not much I hate more than ‘corporate’ trying to rip off the consumer – whether it’s badly-priced 2for1s on pies in a supermarket (how rude) or the constant spew of crap that gets shoved down the average female consumer’s throat.

On that note – look at men’s products next time you’re in a store – men don’t buy into jargon – they want to know what it is, what it does, and how much it is. End of. Think of ANY tool in Homebase. ‘Power Saw’, ‘Hedge Trimmer’ – products aimed at men say ‘Shower Gel’, ‘Shave Cream’.

Products aimed at us girls go into detail about how the leaves were picked when the flowers were at their optimum at dusk/dawn and how the female workers weren’t allowed to pick the flowers when they were on their period due to the ‘negative energy’. Please make it stop.

I have been asked at one point or another about all of the below at some point in the last few months…
Glossary of Terms – Beauty Industry:

  • Hypo-allergenic
    Pretty pointless. No industry or legal standard. Different standards in USA and the EU. Lip service. What is an extreme allergen to you may be perfectly fine to me.
  • Non-comedogenic
    Literally means ‘does not block pores’. Where to start? Unproven. Untested scientifically. All evidence is anecdotal. Meaning case-by-case. Pure naturally derived lanolin is supposed to be a ‘non-comedogenic’ alternative to synthetic lanolin. I put any lanolin anywhere near my face it will be covered in huge whiteheads within hours.
  • Silky smooth
    Contains silicone – check the inci label – anything ending in ‘cone’ or ‘one’ is a silicone – I actually don’t mind silicones at all – but let’s be clear why the product is silky smooth.
  • Velvety soft
    See above
  • Shrinks pores
    I’ll say it again: Pores are not doors – they do not open and close.
    Nothing opens and closes pores. NOTHING. Well, except glue and sellotape perhaps. There is a difference between saying ‘closes pores’ and ‘minimises the appearance of pores’.
    A big fat difference. One is rubbish and the other is a possibility.
  • Absorbs immediately
    Full of synthetic pushers that force the product into the skin – basically most serums that aren’t completely natural (really natural) or organic. Think about it – your skin is highly intelligent – it’s not going to absorb anything in a hurry in case it’s harmful to you. If it did, we wouldn’t need patches for things like HRT and injections for insulin you know – things that actual DOCTORS recommend? If it absorbs straight away – it’s not natural. Which brings me to….
  • Natural
    The most over-used and abused word in the industry – causes apoplectic rage in me in the middle of stores..The truth? I could take a cup of glue, a sip of aloe vera juice, spit the aloe vera juice into the glue, label it ‘natural’ and sell it as a beauty product. There is no legal guideline or industry standard AT ALL. So seeing something win ‘best natural product’ in an awards when anyone with a PULSE and the ability of sight can read the inci and see that it is about as natural as Katie Price’s boobs/lips/hair/tan (no offence to KP intended) – drives me insane to the point of irrational blogging on a Sunday morning when I should be making a fry-up about now. It’s all about marketing. If a product is labelled ‘natural’ you think you’re doing yourself some good. Read the label. Educate yourself. There are of course excellent ‘natural’ brands out there. There are also some heinous ones. And word to the wise – it’s worse on baby products. Outrageous.
  • Organic
    This is marginally better as at least there are SOME standards in place – however, the Soil Association, Ecocert and all the others have different standards between them. You’d need to go directly to their websites to see if your standards match theirs.
  • Animal Testing
    Poor animal lovers. Talk about a minefield. If a product does not categorically state: against animal testing OR no animal testing – assume it may sell in China and that animal testing is, therefore, a possibility. The Chinese government reserve the right to test any incoming goods on animals. They are slow to catch up with the rest of the World, but I think they will get there.
    That is the easiest way to steer clear if the issue is important to you. Also – just because a brand doesn’t test its final product on animals – it doesn’t mean that all of the ingredients weren’t tested on animals in the past. Being clear: animal testing is banned in the EU – sticklers will point to China and say they won’t support a brand because the product is sold in China. That is obviously your call, but nothing you put on your face in the UK was tested on an animal in order for you to use it. If you want to know categorically where a brand stands you need to ask their PR department: ‘Are your ingredients tested on animals at their source?’ and ‘Do you retail in China?’ If they don’t know – assume they are. A brand that cares about animal testing will ensure its standards are met from the very beginning and shout it from the rooftops.
  • Waiting List
    How on earth does a brand/store have 30,000 people on a waiting list before something has launched? Answer – it doesn’t. The brand will have orders in place for 30,000 ready to be sent to retailers (if they are very lucky and mass market). You could also say that Sainsbury’s has a waiting list for 2000 bunches of bananas. It does, because they have ordered them. Individual stores may have waiting lists for certain things when they go out of stock or a list of preferred customers who get first dibs when a new product launches – but there are not 30,000 women clinging to their mobiles waiting for a phone call from a store telling them that their product has arrived – ever.
  • As used by
    The biggest load of bollocks in the industry. Fake/phony and infuriating. Here’s the difference:

    1. Victoria Beckham tweets that she has used Elemis Camellia Oil to prevent stretchmarks through all her pregnancies and that it’s brilliant. That is PR you cannot buy. Elemis are now perfectly entitled to use the words ‘as recommended/used by Victoria Beckham’ when talking about that product. Elemis however, are a class act and haven’t shoved it down our throats. You have to look at the product page on their website to find it in small print.
    2. A beauty editor uses a picture of Kim Kardashian when recommending Bum Lift by Rodial (as you would). Rodial then take that clipping and it to their website under the heinous ‘Celeb Secrets’ section and give the impression that KK uses that product – thus endorses it. Bollocks does she. Interestingly, you can’t actually read the article that the site links to – it just pops up a picture of KK. *eyebrow*