Cosmetics companies provide information about their products in a few different methods. Claims, which are essentially pictures or words made about a product, are the primary means of distribution. Product labels can be anything that informs consumers about the product’s composition, capabilities, and proper application. Cosmetic claims are intended to set your product apart from the competition and sway consumers to make a purchase. 

Now, the fact is that most currently available cosmetic products perform admirably in their primary role. The products may look, smell, and taste different from one another, but they may serve the same purpose. In theory, everyone can make goods that compete with the best of the others. There is no technological impetus in the cosmetics business. The assertions made about items are important to the marketing stories that drive it.

How do they justify their claims?

Examining the claims made about a product is the first step in determining its efficacy. Now things start to become complicated. The manufacturers of cosmetics are very skilled in the art of wordplay. They are executed in a way that conveys the facts while giving viewers the appearance of something different.

Offering advantages

Consider this illustration. Here’s a promo from Dove claiming their shampoo will fortify your mane. They go through the product’s keratin protein ingredients and how they go “deep down into the cellular level” to repair and shield keratin in the hair. Finally, they state that their product can increase hair strength by a factor of up to 10. 

Now, it’s understandable that a viewer may walk away thinking that using this Dove hair care product will increase the strength of their hair by a factor of 10. It’s also not unreasonable to assume that the keratin protein is what’s providing this benefit.

This interpretation is flawed for two reasons. You won’t see a tenfold increase in hair strength, and the keratin protein isn’t to thank for the improvement. 

You may be asking, therefore, how Dove can get away with such boasting. After all, deceptive advertising is against the law.

What does it mean to strengthen hair?

One must first verify the claim of “up to 10x stronger.” That caveat opens up the range of “much stronger” to include intensities as high as 10 times the original. There’s a lot of room for negotiation. Even if it only strengthened hair by a factor of 5, the claim would be justified. 

But let’s presume they aren’t attempting any pun there. If a hair were ten times stronger, it should be able to support ten times its current mass. There are a few ways to quantify this, but one technique involves tearing apart a single hair fibre. Diastron has a product that can help you do that. Hair fibres treated with Dove should be able to withstand 10 times as much force before breaking if the product is effective in its claim that it makes hair 10 times stronger. Actually, no.

The amount of power that Dove-treated hair can sustain before breaking is probably very close to that of untreated hair. 

You might also try breaking a bundle of hair to see how much force it takes to determine if it is stronger. Again, there wouldn’t be much of a distinction between Dove-treated hair and untreated hair in this experiment. How then do they avoid getting caught?

Measuring hair strength

The key to their success is in how they measure the durability of hair. Although the aforementioned examples of hair strength are realistic, they are not the only possible definitions. One alternative definition of hair strength could be “the ability of hair to not break while combing.” Furthermore, the company may argue that this definition is more beneficial because it more accurately depicts what consumers do with their hair. Hairstylists and consumers aren’t particularly interested in tensile strength, which physicists measure by pulling fibres apart to check if they break.

You can back up your definition of hair strength in terms of combing with this test.

  1. Start by applying the Dove system to some hair and a regular shampoo to the rest.
  2. Use a robotic comb to run over the hair for a certain amount of strokes (say, 100) or time (say, 3 minutes).
  3. Tally the number of shattered hairs at the conclusion of the test.

The difference in the quantity of shattered hairs is indicative of the relative tensile strengths of the two types of hair. Let’s assume the control group used a non-conditioning shampoo and suffered 100 damaged hairs while the Dove system suffered only 10. If so, then the hair would be ten times stronger after using Dove.

Weakness in the hair department

One may argue that this is more of a test of hair conditioning than of hair strength. The results would not have been as striking if they had compared it to a conditioning shampoo or shampoo with conditioner. However, this test is a reasonable technique for the brand to consider hair strength. That’s why making such a claim is perfectly permissible.

The protein keratin isn’t helping, either

Another possible interpretation of this advertisement is that the keratin protein itself is the beneficial component. Instead of just referring to keratin protein, they refer to it as “keratin protein actives technology.” That could refer to just the protein itself, or it could refer to a combination of the protein plus silicone, cat-ionic surfactants, and cat-ionic polymers. You know, the usual stuff used to condition hair.

Despite the brand’s claims that the keratin protein is simply a “part of the solution,” consumers still see it as crucial. They don’t openly acknowledge that the benefit is due to silicone.

It’s possible to debunk other claims, such as those that suggest it restores hair “from the inside out” or on a “cellular” level (since when do hair fibers have cells?). but now for the million dollar question.

Does it deliver as promised?

From the perspective of the brand, this product delivers as advertised. They back up their claims with legitimate scientific research. Consumers may trust that Dove’s products will effectively cleanse and moisturise their hair. If this product works as advertised, consumers should notice less hair breakage than they did before using it. The stuff is effective, so there’s no doubt about it.

However, I’m afraid that treating a rope made from human hair with this solution won’t help if you need it to be ten times stronger so that you can pull your automobile out of the ditch.