Does your beauty item have a false claim?

By: Sangeeta Dwarka – beauty enthusiast and PR student

What makes you purchase that skincare items you’ve heard so much about, or seen on TV ads several times during your favourite show? Is it multi-million dollar ad campaigns? Your favourite beauty “guru” said it was good? Or did you just pick it up because it was the first one you saw on the shelf that claimed to solve what you think you have. Many companies use catchy lines on their labels to entice consumers to buy their products, however, little do we know is that there is actually a list of claims that are acceptable by Health Canada which companies need to follow in order to be an acceptable claim. For starters one should know whether the product is a cosmetic or a drug. To differentiate whether a product is a drug, there will be a DIN number, which means that this item has a short shelf live.

The Guidelines for Cosmetic Advertising and Labelling Claims:

Cosmetic – Includes any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in cleansing, improving or altering the complexion, skin, hair or teeth, and includes deodorants and perfumes.

Drug – Includes any substance or mixture of substances manufactured, sold or represented for use in:

(a) the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or prevention of a disease, disorder, abnormal physical state, or its symptoms, in human beings or animals.

(b) restoring, correcting or modifying organic functions in human beings or animals.

(c) disinfection in premises in which food is manufactured, prepared or kept.

Below are several items that I found in my beauty cabinet; I have decided to put these items to the test. To see whether the claims on these items were in fact accepted by Heath Canada.

  1. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser


Ingredient One: Imperata Cylindrica Root – conditions skin

Ingredient Two: Lemon Fruit Extracts – refreshes skin

Packaging Claims: “Lightweight formula to remove excess oil and impurities” – both claims are acceptable by Health Canada. Acceptable claims by Health Canada are to remove oil and purify skin by removing dirt.

 Cosmetic or Drug: This cleanser is a cosmetic.

  1. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Toner


Ingredient One: Glycerin – conditions skin

Ingredient Two: Propanediol – viscosity controlling

Packaging Claims: “Hydrating formula to balance and freshen skin.” Both claims are accepted by Health Canada. Acceptable claim by Health Canada is refreshes skin.

Cosmetic or Drug: This toner is a cosmetic.

  1. L’Occitane Immortelle Precious Eye Balm


Ingredient One: Immortelle Flower – anti-aging solution for the face

Ingredient Two: Ruscus and Holly extracts – eye area looks younger

Packaging Claims: “The Immortelle Precious Eye Balm offers triple action benefits for firmer skin and reduced appearance of wrinkles.” These claims are accepted by Health Canada, firms skin and smoothes wrinkles (from an appearance perspective) are accepted by Health Canada.

Cosmetic or Drug: This eye cream is a cosmetic.

  1. L’Occitane Red Rice Ultra-Matte Face Fluid


Ingredient One: Red Rice – healthy benefits for the skin

Ingredient Two: Rebalancing Zinc – mattifies skin

Packaging Claims: “Leaves skin pure and mattified.” These claims are accepted by Health Canada. Cools skin and oil control (from an appearance perspective) are acceptable by Health Canada.

 Cosmetic or Drug: This moisturizer is a cosmetic.

  1. Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50

_9831227Ingredient One: Avobenzone – broad-range UVA protection and helps protect the skin against the harmful effects of sun exposure which can cause premature skin aging.

Ingredient Two: Octocrylene – water-resistant and has a broadband absorbent range.

Packaging Claims: “Provides long lasting protection against damaging UVA and UVB rays, which can cause again, dark spots, freckles and skin darkening.” This claim is not accepted by Health Canada. UVA and UVB references are not acceptable.

Cosmetic or Drug: This sunscreen is a drug.

After reviewing these products I have found that most of them did past the Health Canada test, that being said, one did not. The sunscreen I looked at had false claims. As a strong believer in sun protection, I did not realize that many of them I kept repurchasing have false claims to entice consumers to continue to purchase.

The next time you are in your local drug store or beauty retailer, take a look at the labels and compare whether the claims on that item is an acceptable claim. If it is not, then that item is most likely not going to do what it’s supposed to and you will be wasting your money on false advertising and claims. Don’t buy into the hype, I would suggest that you do your research and choose your beauty products wisely.


One thought on “Does your beauty item have a false claim?

  1. melissadesantis April 10, 2015 / 8:02 pm

    Very interesting and eye-opening post, Sangeeta. I myself am a beauty product connoisseur and have a great appreciation for good quality beauty products. I also agree on the importance of checking product labels before buying. However, I was not aware that brands could make false claims on their products. It is disappointing to hear big companies are stating false facts through their products. I was shocked to read Kiehl’s Super Fluid had false claims, as Kiehl’s has been one of my go to brands for a long time now.

    Recently, I have gained an interest and curiosity towards what exactly are in our beauty products. Everyday, women and men use moisturizer or toners to improve the appearance of their skin; however, most of the time we are unaware of the ingredients in the products. Another false claim brands may make are claims that state the product is “organic” or “all natural”. There is no legal definition of these words; therefore brands take advantage of them in order to attract more customers. Do you think Health Canada should also have restrictions and regulations for certain ingredients?

    Next time you are reading the labels of beauty products, remember to stay away from these toxic ingredients listed in this article.

    There are more chemicals in our beauty products than we think. I learned to stay away from products with long lists of ingredients, especially ones I cannot pronounce. The products that claim to be natural or “good” for our skin may be doing more harm than good. A few of my favourite trustee beauty brands are THENTIX, with honey and aloe vera as their main ingredients. Also, Lush Cosmetics has been my favourite for a few years as well. Most of their ingredients include essential oils, fruits and vegetables and other true organic and fresh ingredients. What are some of your favourite brands and what ones do you stay away from?

    Melissa DeSantis, a health and wellness enthusiast and a Public Relations student at Humber College.


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