The Skincare Hoax by Dr. Fayne Frey
In The Skincare Hoax: How You’re Being Tricked into Buying Lotions, Potions & Wrinkle Cream (Skyhorse Publishing), Dr. Fayne Frey names five skincare products that she says are all a person needs. Women spend an average of $3,756 per year on beauty products, according to a survey commissioned by Groupon. Dr. Frey claims that the high cost of boutique products is due to unnecessary packaging and clever marketing, not better ingredients.
Dr. Fayne Frey leverages her scientific expertise and 30 years of experience as a board-certified dermatologist to give women the facts to make safer, healthier, better-informed decisions about the skincare products they buy. She empowers women to make the best affordable choices for the health, protection and ongoing care of their skin.
Refuting marketing claims that skincare products are vital to being attractive, she’s also committed to promoting a skin-positive image — for women of every skin tone and type, at every age. “Kindness matters. Health matters. Accomplishments matter,” she assures. “None of those things come in a tube or bottle.”
Based on a foundation of impeccable research and presented in a way that’s authoritative yet accessible and refreshingly down-to-earth, The Skincare Hoax will not only expand your knowledge about skincare but also change your perspective on beauty. “Over the 30 years I’ve practiced medicine, my passion remains unchanged,” Frey writes. “I strive to give women information that is true and effective, to point them toward positive lifestyle choices and help them feel better about themselves.”
Q: What inspired or motivated you to write The Skincare Hoax, and why now? Did the rising popularity of social media affect this decision?
A: I’ve been a board-certified dermatologist for over three decades. I have been evaluating skincare product formulations and objectively testing the efficacy of over-the-counter (OTC) moisturizers for almost as long. I don’t sell anything. I don’t have my own private skincare line nor do I work for a particular skincare company.
About twenty years ago, a representative from a reputable skincare manufacturer came into my office and with sheer delight, enthusiastically presented to me a new hand cream. I looked at the ingredient listing of the new product and noticed that it was identical to the body lotion made by the same manufacturer. It was also the identical ingredient listing of their ‘baby’ body lotion. As I lowered my chin and looked at the rep over my eyeglasses she said, “I know Dr. Frey, it’s the same formulation as the body and baby lotion, it’s just repackaged.” Although I understand a business’s desire to expand market share, what I didn’t appreciate was the fact that the unit price of this hand cream was 40% higher than the other two identical products. I was annoyed. Shortly after this conversation, a talented financier with a corner office on Wall Street came into my office and dumped a bag of moisturizers onto an examining table. She asked, “How am I supposed to know what to use on my face everyday?” My desire to educate consumers began.
Based on object testing, I know skincare companies make effective OTC products, ones that are truly beneficial to skin health. But I also know that they advocate for their shareholders as does any successful business. I also know that skincare companies have a great advantage when it comes to marketing their wares, namely, consumers don’t understand the ingredient listing, the most important information on any product.
The media, like skincare companies, advocate for themselves. They often pitch sensationalism as they vie for ratings and ad dollars. Headlines vilifying ingredients, fear mongering beauty ads and marketing campaigns filled with misinformation, are everywhere, hence, the confusion and overwhelming feeling so many consumers experience when choosing OTC cosmetics.
With skincare companies advocating for their shareholders, the media advocating for the media, and consumers who don’t understand the ingredient listing, I felt it was time to assist and inform the consumer. So I created FryFace.com, an educational skincare website that simplifies skincare selection and clarifies what products are truly necessary based on valid science.
Invitations to speak on the topic of skincare, to clarify some of the sensationalism seen in the media and to debunk many of the skincare myths we see on a daily basis, flowed in. As did opportunities to be a medical expert and contributor for media outlets such as CBS, USA Today, Huffington Post, and Reader’s Digest. With encouragement from friends and patients, I decided to put much of this information into a book. The Skincare Hoax: How You’re Being Tricked Into Buying Lotions, Potions & Wrinkle Cream. And I became an author.
Q: Similarly, in The Skincare Hoax, you present the skincare and beauty industry as symptomatic of a culture obsessed with physical appearance and attractiveness to an unhealthy degree. What can be done on a practical level to shift society in a less superficial direction?
A:I see the impact that marketing has on my patients in my office every single day. Women, and men too, who are more concerned with a trivial skin flaw and feeling less of themselves because of that minor imperfection. I believe educating consumers about the realistic expectations of OTC skincare is important. In my book I discuss many of the nonsense claims often seen on skincare product labels. My goal is to teach consumers to be mindful of marketing that feeds off of our insecurities and to recognize beauty campaigns that make us to feel bad about ourselves. Ultimately, this will have a big impact on our buying decisions. For example, the term “anti-aging”, a term commonly seen on the label of a skincare moisturizer, and an absolutely brilliant marketing phrase. The fact is, science has yet to figure out what causes aging yet let alone how to reverse it. I find talking with my patients about aging, a natural process that our culture has turned into a battle, a process that comes with many benefits is liberating. On a personal note, I believe many of us could benefit from a change in perspective. Emphasizing the value of optimism, gratitude and engaging in causes that benefit others helps us appreciate ourselves for who we are instead of harping on the trivial skin imperfections that come with the years. I like to remind my patients that kindness matters, accomplishments matter and health matters, and none of these things comes in a bottle, a jar or a syringe.
Q: What can skincare product manufacturers do to support this shift?
A: Skincare companies can offer less promotion and more education based on valid science. Products must be made with ingredients that are safe, sustainable and biodegradable. Packaging should be written in simple language that is easy to understand, with full disclosure and cautions included where appropriate. Marketing must be honest and transparent, straightforward and data driven. There should be an end to over promising, over-packaging and overpricing.
Q: In The Skincare Hoax, you expose myths promoted by the skincare industry purely to sell more and pricier products. Have you encountered any pushback because of your commitment to informing and empowering consumers with the facts?
A: I have been overwhelmed with encouragement from so many. Many of my colleagues in dermatology have reached out with praise. I’ve received support from cosmetic chemists, specialists in skincare product formulations who understand the laws and limitations of what OTC cosmetics can actually accomplish, representatives from major reputable skincare manufacturers, and from numerous consumer advocates in the media. I have received expressions of gratitude from family and friends, from more patients than should be allowed, and from total strangers. I am grateful beyond words.
Q: Speaking of the facts, would you share a few simple, basic practices that everyone can apply to help maintain skin health?
- The skin is an organ. The health of skin parallels a healthy body. There is ample science to show that a healthy body is best obtained by eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise, and adequate nights of sleep. It is not the sexy answer or the fast and simple answer to optimal looking skin or the one that people want to hear, but it is the honest answer.
- And when it comes to skincare, sunscreen application is by far, the single most effective protectant to sun damage and skin cancer. Sunscreen should be applied daily and liberally. In addition, skin functions best when it is adequately hydrated, so the application of a well-formulated moisturizer on dry skin is recommended. And if you are worried about exposure to skincare ingredients, don’t use so many products. A simple skincare regimen is all that is necessary.
- Since there is absolutely no correlation between the cost of a skincare product and how well it works, there is no need to mortgage your home to purchase expensive products. Inexpensive sunscreens and moisturizers, ones that are both safe and effective, can be purchased at your local drugstore or pharmacy.
- And lastly, be mindful of the influences that beauty ads have on your psyches. My guess is that you are already awesome just the way you are!
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in dermatology, and what do you feel is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
A: I was inspired to become a dermatologist by several incredibly brilliant talented professionals. I fell in love with investigative dermatology in medical school when I had the great honor of working with the late D.Martin Carter, MD, PhD and Alice Gottlieb, MD, PhD at The Rockefeller University. Encouragement from Alfred W. Kopf, MD, a renowned expert in malignant melanoma and family friend sealed the deal. The most meaningful aspect of being a dermatologist is working with an incredible office staff and being able to diagnose and treat over three thousand skin conditions to my incredible patients. They continue to inspire me everyday.
Q: What would you most like readers to take away from The Skincare Hoax?
A: My hope is that after reading The Skincare Hoax, consumers are more mindful of the marketing ads and the influences that beauty campaigns have on our psyches. That you are awesome the way you are despite trivial skin imperfections. That a simple skincare regimen is all that is necessary for optimal skin health and that inexpensive products are as safe and effective, and sometimes more so, than expensive ones. I also hope that skincare companies become more transparent and again, offer less promotion and more education, educating consumers so they can make the best decisions for their own skin health.
Publish Date: October 18, 2022
Author: Dr. Fayne Frey
Page Count: 192 pages
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing