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Skin Care

Demystifying Clinical Testing:

What Is Clinical Testing and What Does It Mean for Skincare?

What’s the deal with clinical testing, and why is it so important? In a fast-to-market world that is both crowded with products and confusing, clinical testing is our not so secret sauce when it comes to product efficacy and objective results. Because great skincare is not about magic tricks, it’s all about science. We reached out to our VP of Product Development and Regulatory and resident skincare scholar, Francine Krenicki, to get to the bottom of what clinical testing is and what it means, and why it’s so essential to today’s skincare savvy consumers.

What is clinical testing? 

“Clinical testing studies are designed to measure the efficacy and safety of new products or treatments. There are three main types of clinical testing:

  • Consumer Perception

A panel of consumers use the product for a set period of time and answer questions on how their skin looks and feels.  Example: 93% of panelists saw firmer skin in 2 weeks.

  • Instrumentation

Instruments are used by professionals to measure improvement on consumer panelists after they use the product for a set period of time. Example: 90% of panelist showed a measured improvement in firmness in 4 weeks.

  • Expert Grading

A dermatologist or expert clinician evaluates consumer panelists for improvement in skin parameters after using the product for a period of time. Example: 92% of panelist showed an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles.

Of the above types, the consumer perception model of testing where claims are made around what you can “see” is most common.

Instrumentation helps us measure the skin’s firmness, the amount of water in the skin indicating levels of hydration, and measure how a product can help reduce the intensity of pigmentation/spots. We can even measure the skin’s radiance by studying how light bounces off of the skin to that beautiful lit from within look.

We also use expert grading by dermatologists or trained evaluators who “grade” the skin based on set parameters. For example, they will look at a study participant’s skin at the beginning of a trial and then look four weeks later to track improvement in skin function and appearance”.

What is typical for testing in the current beauty landscape?

“Most brands out there don’t do the variety of confirmation and substantiation that we do. We only formulate with active ingredients that have clinical substantiation; so everything in our formulas is already proven to work before we test the finished product. We always ask for that proof upfront so we can formulate the right ingredients at the optimal active levels. We vet every formula so consumers can feel confident and trust that our products work and provide real results. Investing in this type of upfront testing helps us retain legions of loyal customers and fans”.

What’s the difference between clinically proven and clinically tested?

“Anything could be clinically tested, but clinically proven is all about results. And to get those results, you have to test on a wide swath to determine success and consistent results. We shoot for statistically significant proof on a wide range of ages and ethnicities and use the data and studies to help us assess efficacy”. 

What’s involved with before and after photos?

“Our amazing before and afters go a step beyond the norm. Because it’s one thing to measure something, but to then have the person get photographed in real-time on how their skin is improving is another. These photos are of real consumer panelists who are using the product and are never retouched.

How does clinical testing help skincare consumers?

“Since the skincare arena is so crowded, consumers are smart, and they know the right skincare product is an investment. How do you go online in a sea of serums/skincare and find the one that works for you? You look for proof. Our team is always looking to up the ante by combining and calibrating our formulas to do many things at once. We’re always fine-tuning our ingredients to target different skin traits and behaviors.

One of our newer products, Peptight™ Tightening & Brightening Face Serum, is a winner because it not only tightens, but also brightens. It’s a particular strategy, and clinical testing is a big part of that. Primarily, we've done our homework. Our products work. Gaining trust and confidence from consumers are things we value, and if we don’t see or measure improvements or innovation in a product, we won’t bring it to market”.


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