There have always been people out to separate you from your money and prepared to say almost anything that will work to do so. Since the internet has been widespread there have been many more opportunities for small companies and simply unscrupulous individuals to sell stuff that just doesn’t do what it says.
Most of us are wise to this now, though obviously enough of us still pay out often enough for the rogues to carry on offering us all manner of implausible products with outrageous claims.
But on the High Street you expect the standards to be a bit higher. Big companies who are prominent enough to be regulated easily and who can easily be sued or fined tend to be a little better behaved. It is a question of degree of course, and the big brands are adept at making claims that while not exactly untrue, are rather misleading. Even the smartest consumer can easily get caught out by these kinds of claims.
The thing you have to look out for is a claim that is true, but phrased in such a way that it gives a false impression. Boots in the UK recently got caught out in just such a way. They were selling a nasal spray which they claimed had been clinically tested and proven to be effective against the flu virus. And this was true. From that most people would assume that they meant that using the product would reduce your chances of getting the flu. This in wasn’t the case.
Phrasing a claim in such a way as to imply that it has a benefit that it doesn’t isn’t really being very honest even if the claim is literally true. It is still misleading the customer. That at any rate was the conclusion the Advertising Standards Agency came to when they looked at the data Boots presented when somebody complained.
The trouble is that it is actually quite hard to spot this kind of thing even if you are looking for it, as I often do when I look at adverts. The beauty business is much harder than the health business for this kind of thing. Ultimately you can prove whether or not a product prevents flu. It is much harder to do with some of the things that are said about products that are only improving your appearance.
I think a good practice is to treat every cosmetic advert as an opportunity to develop your critical thinking skills.
Best of luck.