Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Cosmetics Contemplations: "It's Just A Stupid Rock"

"Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, honey.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn’t work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around here, do you?
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock."

The Simpsons, Season 7, Episode 23 (Much Apu About Nothing)

I, like many other men and women, use anti-ageing products, chiefly around my eyes and on my neck and hands. However, I rarely review anti-ageing products on my blog, principally because of the above analogy, which states that if something is not there, how can you tell if a product is really helping to prevent its existence, or whether the thing you want to avoid in question is just not there due to luck. This is especially true of young anti-ageing product users such as myself (if we read 'young' in this instance as being under 35).

I have rarely reviewed any anti-ageing product in the capacity for which it was intended, preferring instead to concentrate on other qualities, such as hydration. This is usually because I cannot ever see any effect on existing lines, and this therefore implies one of two results. One is that such products do not work at all. Another option is that the anti-ageing creams serve as prevention rather than cure. The paradox of this is that rather like Homer and Lisa's rock, for it to show that it works, nothing has to happen. No visible improvement, and no obvious degeneration - just a maintenance of current skin conditions.

So what would the skincare companies like us to believe? The most evident best-case scenario for them is that we believe that such creams actively reduce existing wrinkles. My own experience tells me that this is not the case. The next best-case scenario would be the tiger-repellent rock analogy detailed above by Lisa and Homer. This is probably what keeps people buying the lotions and potions more than anything else: people would rather believe that they can at least prevent further wrinkles, even if they can't diminish those that are already there; and they would rather believe that they can prevent future wrinkles than that they can do nothing at all. Skincare companies therefore arguably capitalise on the human desire for control over themselves, meaning that despite all the expensive advertising and sponsors, they actually ultimately have to do very little to persuade the buying masses - even if the buying masses know that all they are getting is 'just a stupid rock'.

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