The McDonald's Effect: Skin Care Trickery

by 

Wendy Ouriel

 

The skin care industry can be summed up in a metaphor:

It is 1970, and you live in a house that was built 50+ years ago. The house has asbestos in the drywall and walls coated in lead paint. You read an article in the Times written by a scientist who founded a company that sells asbestos-free drywall. He states that from his research he has found that asbestos leads to cancer, and this new type of drywall he sells is safe, strong and wont lead to health issues. A dismissive retort is written by a supporter of asbestos: asbestos is safe! It prevents fires! Everything causes cancer nowadays, so what can you believe? And you shouldn't listen to someone from a drywall company because he just has a product to sell!

 

You agree with the retort because it does seem like scientists state everything causes cancer, and so this must just be another hysteria fad. Plus, the immediate benefits of asbestos are clear: your house can be lit ablaze and the walls don't catch on fire. This means that your house is safe and therefore we should continue using this safe material. 

You then read a report from another scientist: She says that lead paint is dangerous, can lead to mental retardation, cause birth defects and cancer. Another retort is written in the same ilk as above. You dismiss it because lead-based paint is strong, lasts a long time, everyone uses it and it looks great. 

....

The year is now 2020 and we know that asbestos and lead paint lead to cancer, and they are banned materials in most of the developed world.

....

In skin care I see a variation of the above all the time. Skin care containing a damaging ingredient, but people continue to use it because it has an immediate effect that they perceive as beneficial, but is slowly doing damage underneath. I also see the dismissiveness from those who aren't qualified to make scientific judgments.

 .....

There are skin care products and procedures that some claim to see great immediate results from, and it is why they continue to use them. Despite their damaging effects.

This is seen with dermarollers, who cause cell death by puncturing the skin cells, damaging the DNA contained within, and causing inflammation and rapid (and irreversible) aging.

This is seen with essential oils/terpenes, fragrance and flower extracts, which are cytotoxic to the cells and lead to skin aging and disease.

This is seen with vitamin C serums which break down the skin microbiome and oxidize the skin.

This is seen with hyaluronic acid, which causes skin drying.

This is seen with most skin care.

And what complicates things is that because the immediate effect is good, when skin disease ultimately arises, you are left wondering what the cause was. You don't assume it was the skin care, you blame yourself, and seek out harsh treatments to cure yourself. Which leads to more skin problems. 

So what is going on here? Why is something that seems to be beneficial at first something that leads to damage later on?

 

The McDonalds Effect

It's 10pm and you just got finished working a 13 hour day, you haven't eaten since breakfast and your job is physically demanding. You are famished and any healthy dining options are closed. You're driving along the highway and you see the Golden Arches™. At this point you are drained of any energy, your stomach is sucking up against your spine and you can't go another minute without eating something. So you pull up, get a Big Mac, large fries, Coke and eat the entire thing in the parking lot. You feel instantly better, your stomach no longer hurts, you have energy, and feel alert.

So your body feels great...but did you really do something healthy for your body? Not really, you ate which is necessary, but what you ate wasn't healthy, and although you may have the immediate effects of good health, a constant bad habit of eating junk food will lead to long-term consequences. And after time eating junk food will lead to the exact opposite of what was experienced in the above scenario: lethargy, stomach aches, etc. Furthermore, eating junk food can lead to diabetes, heart disease, depression and cancer. 

How this relates to skin care: Let's say you are using a hyaluronic acid serum. You feel like it is doing what the brand told you it would do, specifically it would hydrate the skin. Your skin feels nice and hydrated, but in reality the hyaluronic acid is drying out your skin. By its very nature, hyaluronic acid pulls water from its environment, and when you take cosmetic hyaluronic acid, and put it on your skin, the water in your skin is the first thing it grabs onto. Over time this leads to skin dryness, fragility and inflammation.

The McDonalds Effect with Hyaluronic acid is the following: The ingredients in the serum coated your skin, giving the illusion of hydration, much like the Big Mac gives the illusion of health by just filling you up when you were ravenous. But the hyaluronic acid is pulling water from your skin and over time this leads to dryness, much like how the preservatives and hormones (and lack of nutrition) in fast food leads to diabetes, weight gain and heart disease in the long-term.

A common example is when your lips are chapped. If you lick your lips they feel instantly better, but after 5 minutes they feel a lot worse than before. This is because the saliva evaporated into the air, and pulled moisture from your lips in the process. The result is dryer lips.

Instead of buying skin care that is supposed to put hyaluronic acid into your skin, why not just buy skin care that preserves the hyaluronic acid that your skin already has? This is the formulary principle that I work on, and is why we use skin preserving ingredients in all OUMERE products. 

Does your skin care elicit true results or is what you experience just the McDonalds Effect?


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