These days, it’s impossible to open a magazine without
seeing advertisements for skincare products that boast some pretty incredible
claims. But instead of being swayed by hype, it’s important to read the fine
print—literally. If you look closely, in many cases you’ll see an asterisk, and
something along the lines of “based on in-vitro testing.” So what does this
mean for you, and what does this mean in terms of a product’s effectiveness?
“In vitro” is Latin for “in glass,” so when you see this
referring to some sort of clinical testing, it means the results are based on
lab testing—as opposed to testing on actual human skin. “In-vitro” skincare
ingredient testing involves skin cells in a petri dish, which means that the
ingredients’ ability to penetrate to the deeper levels of the skin cannot be
assessed. This isn’t always a bad thing, but in most instances, these “in-vitro”
results don’t translate to human skin—or treating the beauty concern or skin
condition that the product is claiming to be effective for. Think of it this
way… No matter how great an ingredient works on skin cells in a glass dish,
it’s useless if it cannot penetrate the upper stratum corneum layer of the skin
and get to the deeper cells.
One example of an ingredient with great “in-vitro” results that
does not translate to skin benefits is the family of peptides.
In the lab, peptides have been shown to boost collagen production, reverse skin
damage, lighten discoloration and much more. But while many skincare companies
tout these “in-vitro” results, they fail to disclose that most peptide
molecules are too large to penetrate the skin—which means they can’t possibly
deliver their in-lab results in real life.
My advice: When you see “in vitro” in an advertisement for
some groundbreaking, revolutionary product with never-before-seen results—
beware as a buyer. If they were able to achieve those results in women like you, don’t you
think they’d include that in the ad?
“In vivo” testing is another method for assessing the
efficacy of skincare ingredients, and this means something is tested on live
animals or humans, and these results are always more convincing. Of course, animal
testing is frowned upon, so look for “in vivo” testing on live human subjects,
which is what we do at the Baumann Cosmetic and