The cosmetic product industry is one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative markets in the world today. The inherent desire of men and women to be better and more beautiful is stimulated and maintained by the phenomenal growth of the cosmetic market, which has turned into a billion dollar industry.
As a result of various cosmetic needs, a variety of cosmetics brands are on the market, each catering to a certain segment of the global vanity and cosmetics market. Certain cosmetic brands have specialized to cater to the skin, hair and fragrance needs of men, such as Zirh, while some committed themselves to using only all-natural raw materials in their products, such as The Body Shop. Bigger cosmetics companies such as L’Oreal and Nivea have even expanded their operations to create separate subgroups for men’s and women’s cosmetic needs.
The perennially high demand for cosmetics and cosmetic toiletries has led to the emergence of discount cosmetic products. Whereas cosmetics once belonged to the exclusive enclave of the rich and powerful, owing to their often exorbitant and prohibitive costs, cosmetics brands began to target the more numerous lower socio-economic strata by introducing lower priced discount cosmetics.
The sheer number of cosmetic products for each cosmetic need has made it very difficult for consumers to choose the best products. A visit to your friendly neighborhood pharmacy or supermarket can show at least 20 different kinds of facial cleansers – some are for oily skin while some are for dry; still others have beads and microcrystals, while some have integrated moisturizers.
The inherent difficulty of choosing among the myriad of cosmetic products spurred the appearance of cosmetic product ratings in different beauty magazines and some websites. Cosmetic products are tested by a panel of “beauty experts” and graded based on selected criteria, such as smell, texture, cost, among others. In some cases, different cosmetics brands are juxtaposed with each other and graded in relation to each other’s merits – possibly leading to better judgement in the part of consumers, since multiple products are being compared at any given time.
Nowadays, companies are allowed to use nearly any ingredient or raw material for their cosmetic products, yet the government does not require them to test the human and environmental safety of their products before these get sold. While drugs are always tested by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) through multi-level clinical trials prior to use, cosmetic products – which are sometimes treated as pharmaceutical products – do not undergo such stringent testing.
Safety ratings are, in fact, available for nearly a quarter of all cosmetic products in the market today – equivalent to more than 50,000 products and almost 9,000 distinct ingredients. A database of these safety ratings may be accessed online at Cosmetics Database. Such databases use the power of information to protect human health and the environment. You can also find ratings and safety reviews at Consumer Reports. Cosmetics safety information is very important, because many cosmetics are also drugs that have the power to both harm and beautify.