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Allison O'Brien
Whitney Gilchrist
ENC 2135- Research Paper
22 March 2017

Big business makeup companies advertise the promotion of

making women feel beautiful while giving them a product that is going
to give them outstanding results. Whether it is skin care or makeup,
they advertise that it is an amazing product with wholesome
ingredients- but how do we know that? How much do we actually know
about the cosmetics products that we are buying- are we, as a market,
blindly subjecting ourselves to potentially negative side affects of
products that are potentially false advertised. The cosmetic industry is
a big business, whose main goal is to, of course, make money, not to
satisfy the consumer.

Have you ever heard of the term smoke and mirrors? That
phrase goes hand in hand with marketing and advertising to the mass
population. Obviously not every product is going to work the same or
look the same on every person; we are all of vast ethnicities, cultures
and skin tones. Moreover, we all have different skin types (dry, oily,
combination) and preferences. It is quite impossible to please
everyone, it is a fair assertion for companies to advertise a product as
miracle working or revolutionary, however it is unfair for the
company to say that the product will work for everyone, give false
claims and/or exaggerate the benefits. It is not uncommon in todays
day and age for companies to over-Photoshop an advertisement
campaign, setting unreasonable expectations and goals for the
product, making the resulting image unattainable with sole use of the
merchandise. A company will set up a campaign shoot advertising a
specific product or a product line to promote the sale of said product to
the consumer; saying that the company edits the photos is a fair
assertion to make, and editing small imperfections to polish the
campaign is not shameful. Contrarily, when the original photo is
unrecognizable in regards to the finished product there in lies an issue
with patrons of the company.

On October 27th, 2013 a 37 second video was posted onto

YouTube called Photoshop makes anything possible depicting the
manipulation of a womans picture from an average photo into a
Barbie girl, in a Barbie world (Brown). Women idolized the idea of
looking like a Barbie doll, and the power of Photoshop fuels the fire of
unattainability. This is exactly what big shot companies rely on- the
nave consumer. Some see this level of excessive editing as being
deceptive; enough so that the National Advertising Division (NAD)
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motioned to ban all use of Photoshop in cosmetic advertisements

(Brown). This specific ban was suggested in backlash towards a 2012
CoverGirl ad featuring Taylor Swift in which the brand was advertising
mascara, claiming that it made the users eyelashes longer and
thicker (CoverGirl and Brown) as well as stating that the mascara will
give 2X more volume(CoverGirl and Brown). The NAD deemed the ad
to be deceptive by the means that her (Taylor Swift) eyelashes were
airbrushed to exaggerate the effects of mascara. (CoverGirl and
Brown). Eventually the assertions made against CoverGirl were
deemed valid, in turn forcing the hand of Proctor and Gamble into
discontinuing the ad, for it stood in contradiction to the primary
message conveyed by the advertisement. (CoverGirl and Brown).

Cosmetic companies seek out influencers, like Taylor Swift, to

promote a product to their platform by stating various positive
attributes, even if these claims are false. Typically cosmetic companies
will pay public figures that have the capacity to have a significant
influence on thousands, if not millions of people to advertise their
product. The Kardashian family has a major influence on millions of
people; Kim, Kendall, Kylie and Khloe are all in Instagrams top 10 most
followed people list. Together they hold over 30 million followers; they
have the power to reach people all over the world and set trends as
easily as a simple post to any social media outlet. The Kardashians are
known to promote various products including cosmetics, fashion
brands and tea companies. They have such a strong following that
anything that they promote will be followed by an instant sell out of
said product.

Not only do celebrities have a major say in whats hot or not, in

recent years, YouTube has been the up and coming place for beauty
vloggers (video bloggers) to talk about whats new in makeup, give
tutorials and advertise their favorite brands. You tubers with significant
influence include people like Jaclyn Hill, MannyMUA and Desi Perkins to
only name a few. Manny Gutierrez, better known as MannyMUA is a
male You Tuber with close to 2.5 million subscribers. As a homosexual
male who films videos about makeup, he has come to inspire many
LGBTQ+ people to be their authentic selves. MannyMUA has
collaborated with brands such as Make Up Geek, Ofra cosmetics and
Gerard cosmetics to create products for all of his fans to purchase.
Manny has also become the first male spokesperson for Maybelline, a
major, affordable cosmetics brand. These public figures have
extremely dedicated followers who do not take their opinions and
recommendations lightly. Following the hype of the promotion video,
it is not unlikely that the product is going to be mass purchased and
even sell out within days if not hours. The negative aspect of this
business deal between a cosmetic company and influencers such as
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MannyMUA is the fact the Manny probably doesnt know much about
the actual product itself. Manny will most likely make a video using the
merchandise, spreading the word via YouTube, without researching the
ingredients of the product.

For a cosmetic product to be approved for production and sale, it

must follow a certain guideline in regards to ingredients used to create
the product. There were instances in which cosmetics products were
deemed illegal because they were composed with corticosteroids,
which, from a dermatology standpoint, are used to treat skin disorders
like psoriasis, dermatoses and eczema. (Giaccone, Polizzottom
Macaluso, Cammilleri, Ferrantelli). Consumers were unknowingly
purchasing these products and suffering intense side affects from what
was thought to be a normal and safe product. Blind, prolonged use
of corticosteroids will eventually cause skin atrophy- it should not be
included in everyday products such as makeup. Cosmetic products are
not chiefly meant to be therapeutic or corrective in any manner
unless clearly stating so; in the interest of full disclosure, the presence
of glucorticoids should be outwardly noted to ensure consumers know
what they are putting on their faces.

The European Union is having a major issue with the lack of

medical supervision that they have within the union. There are illegal
products for sale on then market that are used for bleaching
pigmentation spots and lightening skin tone which have forbidden
pharmaceutical agents including corticosteroids, hydroquinone and
tretinoin (Demedt, Courselle, Beer, Rogiers, Deconinck, Paepe). There
is an apparent issue, but what is being done about it to protect the
consumer? The average consumer: 1. Is not a scientist, and probably
doesnt know the difference between any of the chemicals in the
product that they are purchasing. 2. Probably doesnt even know what
most of the chemicals are or what they each specifically do in the
product. 3. Is very likely to not even read the ingredient list because
they just assume that since the products are being sold, they are
automatically safe and regulated

People of Malaysia were included in a survey conducted in April

of 2015 concerning their perspective on cosmetic products. Interviews
were conducted face-to-face and lasted 15 minutes, all audio recorded
for accuracy and then later translated and transcribed. The
demographic pool included 10 male participants and 20 female
participants between 18 and 55 years old. There were 4 subtopics
within the overall survey: Awareness of cosmetic products, Perceptions
related to cosmetic products, attitudes toward the use of cosmetic
products and the personal experience in using cosmetic products.
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In theme 1, the awareness of cosmetic products, studies show

that Malaysians have very low awareness level of cosmetics, i.e. they
arent keen on knowledge concerning cleanliness and packaging. In
this subtopic, they were asked about their skin condition, with
reference to the fact that the cleanliness (or lack there of) of cosmetics
can trigger skin conditions such as irritation or acne. The participants
listed some of the positive and negative affects that cosmetic products
have in which they were aware of; Positive affects were their
appearance was enhanced, their skin became smooth, and the color of
their skin became brighter. Negative affects mentioned were
pimples, dry skin, skin rashes, and skin erosion. (Ayob, Awadh, Jafri,
Jamshed, Amzar Ahmad, Hadi)

In theme 2, perceptions related to cosmetic products, over 50%

of the participants had a positive view with regards to natural cosmetic
products. They felt that the use of natural products was much safer
than the use of conventional cosmetic products, saying that even
though it will take longer for their positive attributes to be
implemented, at least their skin is saved from negative affects like
erosion. (In a similar yet unrelated, study of citizens of the town Jijjiga
in Eastern Ethiopia, 44% out of the participants who had used
cosmetics in the previous 2 weeks had reported using herbal

In theme 3, attitudes towards the use of cosmetic products, the

majority of the people interviewed did prefer to use natural cosmetic
products, but they used conventional products in their every day lives.
They also said that in some circumstances, the packaging or the brand
name is a factor that influences purchases, and in a way sucks them
into consumption rather than the quality of the product.

In theme 4, personal experience in using the cosmetic products,

out of the 20 females interviewed, 13 of them had experienced
negative outcomes in conjunction with using the product; breakouts
and dryness were common complaints. One male participant reported
the use of facial wash that caused severe dryness, but eventually went
away after ceasing usage of the product.

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