As you can see from the photo I snapped at London's Fenwick department store yesterday, the hype of Creme de la Mer is not letting up. And why would it, when there are women like the one who told the Sunday Telegraph's Elizabeth Day that she spends £850 per week - that's $1700 US - on the cream so that she can rub it over her whole body?
This is, clearly, madness. But what is even more mad is that people are so gullible. One of the prime reasons they so easily shell out for what they believe will be miracle cures? They tell themselves that if it didn't work, the government wouldn't let it be sold. Yet another instance of people relying on the state to do the critical thinking they should be doing for themselves. Sure, all that's lost is a lot of cash, but it never stops frightening me that people are so eager to give up responsibility for their own choices. Of course, cosmetics aren't the only area of peoples' lives where they actually want to be freed from engaging their brains, but it's the one that concerns us here.
Day's article tells us that the British Advertising Standards Authority - the main body that is supposed to "protect" consumers from cosmetic products (in the US, that's the Food and Drug Administration) - last week "heavily criticised" Estée Lauder for:
suggesting that it could "melt away the fatty look of cellulite" when, in fact, the ASA said that the company had not proved the product's efficacy at removing cellulite.
But reducing the appearance of something and actually removing it are two different things. The fact is that - as beauty editor Kathleen Baird-Murray writes in How to Be Beautiful:
Many ordinary moisturisers will puff up the skin temporarily enough to 'diminish the appearance of fine lines,' so to prove that they are more effective than ordinary moisturisers, many anti-ageing creams will have undergone comparative testing. In other words, they will improve skin texture more than most, but they don't actually claim to remove wrinkles for ever - it's we who assume this because we're paying a lot of money...
Further, the Advertising Standards Authority holds that if a cream causes actual physiological changes to the skin - such as real, permanent removal of wrinkles - then it's medicine and needs to be regulated as such.
One sad claim in Day's article comes from a London PR person, Barbara Dodds, who says:
When one cream doesn't work, I move on to another one in case that does. I probably spend about £100 a month on various products. I live in hope that the next one is actually going to get rid of my cellulite or my wrinkles and increase my self-esteem - but it never does.
In which case, Barbara Dodds is a fool, and it is up to her to curb her reckless and ridiculous buying habits. I am all for shouting it from the rooftops if a product doesn't work, but a lowering of expectations is clearly in order for far too many women. Fine, spend £850 per week on Creme de la Mer, but don't come crying to the nanny state when it doesn't turn you into Heidi Klum.
Hat tip: Adriana Cronin-Lukas