In an attempt to uncover what consumers really believed about such a commonly used phrase, consumer group Which? surveyed over 1,000 people about label claims on cosmetics and toiletries. Asked what they thought the term 'dermatologically tested' meant, only a quarter of respondents understood that the product had been tested on human skin. Nearly 75% of respondents thought that 'dermatologically tested' could also mean something else, or didn't know what it meant at all. In addition, 13% of people thought it meant the product would be kind to skin, 22% thought it wouldn't cause allergies and a further 10% thought the product would be less likely to cause skin allergies versus a product without the claim.
Put simply, when a brand claims a product is 'dermatologically tested' it means they've tested it on human skin. However, it doesn't tell us what the tests undertaken were designed to show, or whether the product even passed them. It's an empty promise. The same claim on one product could be completely different to that of another; there's simply no industry standard or way of monitoring what 'dermatologically tested' means. It could be that they tested their new cream on fifty women at home, on ten women under strict conditions in a lab, or a hundred consumers that volunteered; it doesn't really mean much at all. Not only is this confusing for the consumer, but it's extremely misleading and infers qualities that may not be true or proven in any way.
Companies don't tend to supply their customers with details of their tests or substantiate their claims, making them rather meaningless. It's become almost standard practice to add this phrase to makeup, skincare, body lotions and even hair products as a way to lure the consumer into a false sense of security - but when questioned, consumers don't even really know what it means. The next time you see something is 'dermatologically tested', make sure you look for other pointers that can prove its value and whether or not it's right for you. Look at the ingredients label, hunt down any quantitative research they may have carried out, research for opinion online and get in touch with the brand for clarification. We should never take claims and buzz words at face value - always ask questions, because your skin will thank you for it.
What did you think 'dermatologically tested' meant? Have you been persuaded to start buying products based on this claim, or have you become a skeptical consumer?