Scientific Evidence is “empirical evidence interpreted in accordance with scientific method which serves to support or counter a scientific theory or hypothesis”. Clear as mud right?
In the case of skincare and to nerds like us, this means that we can only be confident that certain ingredients will do anything for skin aging, if they have been properly tested and those tests have been independently verified.
So for example, if the ACME skincare company were to test it’s products on 5 people that it selected and concluded that the people were happier, that wouldn’t pass muster.
But we have had more relevant examples than that.
Why do we bang on about “Evidence” and Skincare?
It’s not too long ago (2012’ish) that Resveratrol was all the rage in skincare. Resveratrol is an antioxidant and we understand that it has the potential to reduce the risks of; stroke, hearing loss from exposure to loud sounds (tested in mice) and improve the effects of radiation in treating cancer. Moreover, tests in cultured cells have shown that resveratrol can make cells live longer.
Well it really didn’t take long before every skincare company had to have a resveratrol based antiaging product. And the marketing materials were full of great theory, convincing pseudo-science and terrific claims (including using the phrase “scientifically proven to reduce aging”).
It’s just that there was no evidence showing that it actually worked when applied to the skin. The limited number of trials using real people have had disappointing results.
So while some skincare companies still have their resveratrol products, once the hopes for Resveratrol took a knock, most companies quietly pushed it out of the headlights.
Vitamin E is another great example of an ingredient that hasn’t lived up to its early hopes. And given the number of products still on the shelf which talk about all the wonderful things it does, we can all be forgiven for thinking it is a miracle ingredient. But there just isn’t any evidence to support the marketing hype2. Now both of these ingredients were “backed by science”, because the early scientific studies (on mice, cultured human cells etc.) suggested they might. But when it came to trials using the ingredients on real people’s skin, the results of the trials have been too weak to show evidence that the ingredients work. So the hope and the scientific backing just didn’t translate into evidence.
Now don’t get us wrong, we think there is an important place for hope in our lives. It’s just that when making skincare that is designed to have real effect, we prefer to deal with evidence, not hope.
Perhaps we choose that because we can’t spin a great yarn or perhaps it’s because we are the ultimate nerds. Regardless, it’s just the way we are and we find it helps us sleep well at night. (which incidentally is a great time to apply Hydroxy acids and Retinal – two great, Evidence Based antiaging skincare ingredients 😊)
 Impact of resveralogues on the senescence-associated secretory phenotype https://bmccellbiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12860-017-0147-7
 Vitamin E in Dermatology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4976416/