Does it matter, from an ethical point of view, if the beauty products being sold to you don’t work? Or — to give the benefit of the doubt to those doing the selling — does it matter whether no one actually knows whether those products work or not? In commerce, generally, there’s an assumption (indeed, a legal requirement) that the product you sell actually be fit for the purpose for which you’re selling it. A chair has to be strong enough to sit on. A watch has to tell time with some degree of accuracy. And so on. Beauty products are supposed to have some sort of effect — on your skin, your hair, whatever. But in many cases (most cases?) they don’t do much at all. Isn’t that fraud? OK, so what about the consumer’s perception? If I feel like my skin is nicer after using your fancy skin cream, isn’t that enough? Maybe. But consider: Imagine you sell me a fancy gadget to attach to my car, telling me that it will improve my gas mileage. Let’s assume that it does no such thing. But after using it for a month, it seems to me that I’m going longer between trips to the gas station. Would that still not be considered fraud?
LINK: The Pseudoscience of Beauty Products (by Timothy Caulfield for The Atlantic)
…In my research I worked hard to find experts who could provide a reasonably independent view of the alleged benefits of the myriad beauty and anti-aging products and services. This proved to be much more difficult than I anticipated. Many experts I found were not independent scientists, but dermatologists who also had a clinical practice and, as such, benefit (some greatly) from a thriving industry. I am not saying that physicians knowingly twist information about the efficacy of beauty treatments, but there is ample evidence that such conflicts of interest can have an impact on how research is presented and interpreted….
What do you think?