The BBC’s, The Truth About: Looking Good

A few nights ago, the BBC aired a documentary presented by Cherry Healey, titled “The Truth About: Looking Good”. The aim of the program was to expose the secrets of the beauty industry and its first segment piqued my interest, it explored different moisturisers in a study carried out by the University of Sheffield.

With Cherry Healey stating, 75% of women & 50% of men moisturise, it was disappointing to see the lack of diversity represented, with only 3 men being chosen to undergo the trial out of the 9 participants.

As the beauty industry is continuously, and rightfully, criticised for its lack of inclusivity, this programme only further exemplified that.

Initially I welcomed the intention of questioning efficacy of skincare but a 3 week study on only 9 people? Surely that should have come with a disclaimer, as this is not a scientifically valid study. Was there even a control group? Of course not. The three moisturisers (arbitrarily selected to reflect the low, mid and luxury price markets) were:

NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Creme


Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+


Embryolisse Lait-crème Concentré


Results from the study showed that hydration had increased from the use of the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturiser and the Nivea Soft Moisture but not from the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. Cherry Healey used these results to make an unqualified leap and conclude that your skin health is determined only with hydration (or Trans Epidermal Water Loss to give the correct term) however skin health doesn’t just factor on one point but several others too. What Cherry Healey failed to mention was how factors such as weather, diet, hormones and the participants’ skin type, where our skin’s condition naturally fluctuates, would greatly affect the outcome.

NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Creme

INGREDIENTS: Water, Myristyl Alcohol, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Alcohol Denat, Stearic Acid, Petrolatum, Myristyl Myristate, Glyceryl Stearate, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Dimethicone, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba), Tocopheryl Acetate, Polyglyceryl 2 Caprate, Phenoxyethanol, Lanolin Alcohol, Fragrance, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Cetyl Phosphate, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+

INGREDIENTS: Water, Mineral Oil, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Oil, Urea, Lanolin Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol, Trisodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 33.

Embryolisse Lait-crème Concentré

INGREDIENTS: Aqua (water), Paraffinum Liquidum, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate, Triethanolamine, Cera Alba, Cetyl Palmitate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Parfum, Steareth-10, Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Tropolone, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Laureth-7.

R10 Labs 5in1 Super Hydrating Face Moisturiser

INGREDIENTS: Purified Water, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil (Argan), Olea Europaea Oil (Olive Oil), Oryza Sativa Oil (Rice Bran Oil), Cetearyl Olivate (Derived from Olive Oil), Glycerine (Vegetable based), Prunus Avium Seed Oil (Cherry), Tocopherol (Natural Vitamin E), Ferulic Acid, Myrica Gale Extract, Copaifera Officinalis Resin (Copaiba), Bulnesia Sarmientoi Extract, Coffea Arabica Seed Extract (Coffee), Mentha Piperita Extract (Peppermint), Cedrelopsis Grevei Bark Extract, Cymbopogon Martini Sofia Herb Extract (Gingergrass), Cistus Ladaniferus Oil (Labdanum), Cedrus Atlantica Bark Extract (Cedarwood), Origanum Majorana Leaf Extract (Marjoram), Vetiveria Zizanoides Extract (Vetivert), Cupressus Sempervirens Leaf Extract (Cypress), Myrocarpus Fastigiatus Wood Oil, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan (Seaweed Extract), Phytic Acid, Citric Acid.

By law, skincare manufacturers must sort the list of ingredients by weight in descending order. As you can see above from the three moisturisers selected by the study, the bulk of what makes up the formulations are low value fillers & comodegenic petrochemicals, with only two or three natural ingredients found much further down the list, indicating the amounts used are typically very, very low.

The 3 Moisturisers are very similar in composition, what the study tested were near identical products – is it surprising that the results were the same too?

If there is one take away message to this “study” that is true, as Cherry Healey concludes, it’s not the price of the product but the ingredients that determine the true value of a moisturiser.