The pert and perky Dave Bradley of ScienceBase has a way with words so I can’t do better than cut and paste an e-mail he has just sent me.
How’s it going?
Dunno if you’ve come across this before, but I just noticed a sudden surge of spam emails advertising – Hydrolyze – apparently it gets rid of dark circles and bags under your eyes and reinvigorates, usual BS I assume. Something to dig around in and warn your readers if it’s a risky scam?
Obviously, to me as a chemist it looks like they just hijacked one of our words to make it sound scientific.
Well Dave has it just about sussed out. The only thing he is being overcautious on is whether this product might be positively risky. I doubt that very much. The area around the eyes is particularly sensitive so it is wise to be cautious about what you use there, but I imagine that this product is no worse than the average when it comes to safety. But I still wouldn’t recommend buying it. I don’t think it will do much for your dark marks. Even if it did, buying from e-mail or unsolicited letter is a bad move.
The people in this sector, direct marketing it is called, are drawn to it because it has high margins and is less closely regulated than other ways of selling stuff. The same rules about product safety apply but they are harder to enforce when there is such a discrete distribution method. And the rules about advertising don’t apply, because legally speaking it simply a communication to a single individual.
Direct selling also allows you to sell a product without a direct comparator. It is much easier to make a good purchasing decision when you have side by side comparisons like you do in a supermarket. Companies do their best to stop you doing this. Starbucks are masters of this. I don’t even know what language their sizes are in. The idea is stop you easily working out how much more expensive their coffee is to other sources of dissolved caffeine.
The other drawback of buying from direct marketers is that once you have purchased once they will never forget you and you will get offers from them until you move and change your name by deed poll. Lists of purchasers are themselves valuable commodities and are often sold to other direct marketers.
The interesting thing about this particular pocket emptying proposition is what the product offers to do. Dark circles and bags under the eyes are a common problem and one that is very difficult to do much about. One active ingredient that has been shown to work is vitamin K. It hasn’t been shown to work particularly well and the evidence is not very extensive, but at least there is some kind of back up for it.
Unfortunately, the EU banned its use in cosmetics a couple of years back. The rationale was a curious one. Vitamin K has some pharmaceutical applications. So if you use it in a cosmetic you have a chance of developing an allergy to it. And if you are allergic to it, you won’t be able to use it as a medicine. That has to be just about the most cautious approaches to cosmetic safety I have come across, but the law is the law.
This has left a gap in the market for an effective dark circle treatment. My guess is that the people behind Hyrolyze spotted this gap and came up with something to fill it. The description on Amazon UK, where it is offered for sale at £25, is not encouraging. They claim it contains Matrixyl, which is a genuine skin care active and some other stuff that I couldn’t work out. One of the claims is that it contains ‘a series of natural enzymes that break down the blood and cause the dark circles to fade’. If it actually does contain high levels of effective proteases that would be quite a bad idea. The last thing you want to do to the skin near the eye is break down its proteins. I am guessing that was why Dave was worried about it being positively risky.
But I doubt very much they have actually got anything like that in the jar. Even so, I recommend steering well clear of this product. But if anyone reading this blog is looking for a good opportunity to make some honest money, there are a lot of people out there waiting for a good active that will really do something for their dark circles.