The Psyche Skin And Cosmetic Product Triangle

It was known for many years that skin well being correlates with physical, social, and mental well functioning. Consumer's use of a cosmetic product on their skin is overall in perspective, and not used by the consumer specifically to improve elastic fibers, electrical conduction, or transepidermal water loss, to maintain a pH of 5.5, or to give her or his kerotinocytes a bigger and rounder shape or whatever the intellectual or pseudointellectual argument for the product might be. Basic biology is a black box for the consumer. Likewise, the consumer does not apply an antiwrinkle cream to improve fine lines of micrometer width, which are only visible under a microscope, but she or he uses an antiwrinkle cream to directly treat visible coarse wrinkles with the overall aim to obtain a young or younger look. The consumer typically has almost no idea about the strong economic forces in the marketplace, where she or he is more or less a gambler in a beauty shop.

There is in cosmetic-product use a triangle with the psyche at the top and the skin and the product at the bottom (Fig. 1). The consumer spontaneously coexists with her or his skin and develops her or his degree of self-esteem relative to the skin depending on her or his intellect and society's coding of her or his psyche. There are many examples of how use of cosmetics vary in different cultures and in different historical periods, and this is, of course, not explained by a different biology of the skin.

Already the application of a cosmetic product is a venue of pleasure and relaxation. The person can for a brief period concentrate on herself or himself and relax, and the massage maneuvre, while spreading an elegant, fragrant scent, is coupled with pleasure and mental satisfaction. Such daily life dreamy meditation is often displayed in announcements for cosmetics where beautiful ladies apply wonderful creams, wordless in their happiness, almost flying in the cosmos. By promoting this way, the producers contribute to daydreams and quality of life, and actually meet with some true needs of the consumers. Cosmetics are used to an enormous degree, much more so than true biological or medical needs of the skin could ever explain or justify on rational grounds.

Thus, it is a difficult dilemma to use objective methods, including biophysical techniques in order to document cosmetics. The role of the methods is bound to be limited, but there remains to exist a distinction between fine and honest products with true claims and documented safety and efficacy, and those products that are just manufactured and sold and which may after all, with an unknown risk, also improve quality of life, despite their limited documentation.

Figure 1 The psyche, skin, and cosmetic product triangle.

Figure 1 The psyche, skin, and cosmetic product triangle.

Figure 2 The professor's research project on cosmetics.

The dilemma between theory and subjective needs and practice and objective effects has no solution or answer (Fig. 2). There are different angles. This was elegantly expressed by a leading researcher in a French company who said, "The cosmetic products do less than we say, but more than we think."

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