Some years ago, I was in cosmetic product overdrive. I would see a product that made wonderful promises, buy it, try it on my skin/hair and then sit back and wait for the astounding results. When they didn’t come or were too slow to come, I moved on to the next best thing. After a while, I had gathered a lot of products.
Fast forward a few years and I have gone from being blinded by the claims a product makes to understanding that there are no silver bullet solutions. Some may argue that I have low expectations, but I think that what it actually is is having realistic ones. Also, I have had to adjust my idea of what a cosmetic product must smell, look and feel like. It is when consumers begin to get picky about things like looks, smell and feel that manufacturers may feel a need to cave in to the pressure and provide them with just that regardless of a product’s loss of efficacy. Worse still, they may find that there is a need to introduce a substance which enhances appeal to consumers but at the same time introduces some risk to their health.
It is important for consumers to adjust their expectations. Certain ingredients will give you certain results. For some ingredients, you may only see results after prolonged use, for others the results will come really quickly and then you hit plateau and stop seeing those results.
So how exactly do you adjust your expectations? Learn about your ingredients. If you did this, you would know for example that Shea butter is a wonderful sealant, has several vitamins and will give most people beautiful skin. You would also know that it has a nutty smell. You would then know to expect that smell when you buy Shea butter. You would not expect that a basic cream that contains just Shea butter will lighten your complexion. You would look to ensure that there was a skin lightening ingredient in the mix like kojic acid, arburtin or hydroquinone.
Let’s look at a cream that promises to get rid of your cellulite. The fact that it contains certain active ingredients e.g. carnitine and or caffeine means that it will tighten your skin and it will facilitate water loss from your body. It does not however mean that a tub of even the best cream will get rid of your cellulite. If it were that easy, women all over the world will be cellulite free. You would have to massage the cream into your skin, be active at a gym, eat right, drink plenty of water and maybe THEN you will get rid of your cellulite or reduce it. A topical cream does not erase it. It just gives you a better chance of getting rid of it when you make a lifestyle change.
Also, you have to ensure that the active ingredient that you need is in the right quantity in the product. For example, I like shampoos and conditioners that have Aloe Vera listed as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient. If it is all the way down the list, then there isn’t enough of it in the bottle to create the effect I want.
To explain, all manufacturers list ingredients according to their weight per volume w/v. This means that the first ingredient is the most abundant one in the bottle, the second is the second most abundant and so on. So when I get a bottle of shampoo that claims it has Aloe Vera in it, I turn it over and check how the ingredients are arranged. I want to see Aloe Vera as one of the first three or four ingredients. If it isn’t then the first 3-4 ingredients had better be something else that I really need.
However some ingredients, due to how powerful they are, can only be used at say 1-2% of the entire volume of the product. You will need know that so that you don’t expect it to be one of the first three. Anything higher and you get not the result you wanted but something you didn’t bargain for.
To summarize, make sure the ingredient you want is in the bottle and that it is present in the right quantity. You also need to educate yourself on what ingredients do for you. My advice is to be an ingredient junkie, not a product junkie.