NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine -
Read Original Story

What “clinically proven” means for a beauty product


5 Star

What “clinically proven” means for a beauty product

Our Review Summary

A five-star review for this "buyer beware" on an allegedly "clinically proven" product. 


Why This Matters

There may be an inclination for some to look the other way when it comes to claims for personal care products. After all, come on, what’s the harm? Well, we can think of many.   Especially with all the hype for products that supposedly protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays, scrutiny is essential.  And this story burns this issue deeply, exposing "shaky science…no data…conflict of interest" and a huge question of how and why a journal ever published a study about this stuff.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Costs not discussed and it could have been frosting on this story.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story makes clear the expert opinions that "there are no data there."

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


No discussion of harms found in the trials so far, but then the evidence in the trials so far is being called into question.  We’ll give the story credit for exposing the potential harm of consumers (and dermatologists) being misled by unsubstantiated claims.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


This is the core of the story, executed with excellence. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The opposite of disease mongering, pointing out how "branding personal care products with clinical claims is a very common strategy." 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story identified conflicts of interest that even a publishing journal did not – and it showed how this happened.  And it quoted several skeptical expert sources.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

No need to compare this with other alternatives.  This story was all about unsubstantiated claims made for one product. 

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


There’s no question about the availability of the beauty product in question.  The story states the company is preparing to "present this product to dermatologists" and that it "has already been launched in Europe and South America."

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story allows no inappropriate claims of novelty to be made.  In fact, it wraps this product into the broader context of personal care products with questionable health claims.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


It’s clear this story didn’t rely on a news release but was a fine piece of enterprise journalism.

Total Score: 8 of 9 Satisfactory


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