By Wendy Ouriel
A few months ago I was interviewed for an important skincare article to be published in a major magazine. I won’t say which magazine but if the woman who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird owned a Turkish marketplace, she might call it this. The article was an extensive exposé on hyaluronic acid’s drying and damaging effect in skin, how it is a hyped-up product with little scientific backing, and how skin care companies who sell it lie about its physical properties, or just parrot claims without doing any of their own research. It was an extremely well written piece by a talented reporter who left no stone unturned in her story. She interviewed experts, did her research, asked the important questions and brought to light a serious problem in skin care. That article ran for one day before it was pulled.
When I wrote about how hyaluronic acid doesn’t hold 1000 times its weight in water, or showed how it dries skin out I was asked a very important question by readers: why haven’t I read these findings anywhere else before? And the reason why is because skin care journalism is corrupt. And skin care journalism is corrupt because it is financed by beauty companies. A major beauty company who sells a hyaluronic acid serum will advertise in major publications, and they do not want any articles published that expose their products for the garbage that they are. So when any information surfaces that contradicts their advertising or marketing, they make sure to silence it.
As long as advertisers pay for the news you receive, you will never know the truth because the truth is being deleted. A modern day book burning.
The same is true for vitamin C serums. I have replicated those experiments in my lab that claimed that topical vitamin C increases collagen production, and I just could not get a result that was even close to what was published in the results of these studies. I spoke about these results to journalists, and try as they might, they were not able to find a single major publication that wanted to get within 10 feet of the story. Why? Who do you think pays for their servers, or those glossy pages? Advertisers. And the advertisers are major beauty brands who sell vitamin C serums, and they are not going to let scientific research get in the way of their profits.
So instead of getting well-rounded journalism that examines all sides of skin care, you get articles whose sole purpose is to flatter and hype what the advertisers are selling. And what they are selling isn’t good. But you will never know that because they don't want you to.
When that hyaluronic acid article got pulled, what they put in its place was journalistic puffery: an article that pandered to its readers, insulted their intelligence, told you everything you already knew while downplaying the evidence to the contrary. It even hit all of the cliches of a hyaluronic acid piece:
- Gave the phonetic pronunciation for hyaluronic acid in case you can’t read words on your own
- Told you it holds one thousand times its weight in water in case you haven’t heard that dubious claim a thousand times before
- Provided some paid dermatologists endorsement
- Parroted false claims that have been repeated nauseam by every company hawking a HA serum
And the worst part of all it was written hastily by an author with no expertise in the field. When someone is writing on a particular subject, they should have a strong background in the material. If a journalist is writing about the science of skin care, they need, at the very least, have a background in science and have scientific literacy. That way they can determine if the scientific studies published on hyaluronic acid are legitimate or bunk. The journalist who wrote the original article was experienced in scientific writing, able to determine that the studies on hyaluronic acid had major flaws, and thats why I was contacted: because I was able to verify through my laboratory research that those studies were bogus. If a journalist is writing about hyaluronic acid, vitamin c or any other ingredient and using scientific literature in their reporting, and they do not know how to determine whether the studies they are citing are bogus or legitimate, then they are not a reputable source.
Most scientific studies are flawed, and I’m not talking just about skin care. I am talking about ALL scientific studies. When I was earning my Master’s I had to replicate just about every scientific study I cited, and create new research because those studies findings were bogus because the methods used to get the results were unscientific. And the problem with that is that these studies were cited by hundreds, or thousands in follow up studies. If biologists with PhD’s can’t determine if a biological study is bogus or not, what chance do most journalists with no expertise or experience have with skin care studies?
But the worst part of all of this is that most publications do not care about the science of it all. All they want are articles that promote their advertisers so they can keep getting paid. And the journalists who are doing the good work, and writing about the truth of skin care, get silenced.
That why to get to the truth of skin care we need to venture beyond the mainstream media, because there is no fact-telling there. Not anymore. It is now just a marketplace for advertisers to promote their product.
So the reason why you haven't heard that hyaluronic acid or vitamin C in skin care is bad, is because no one will let me tell you that it's bad.