The 8 Biggest Lies Reddit Told Us

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
If you ever want to know more about…well, anything, visit Reddit. It’s a hideously undesigned, totally warped wonderland of diverse opinions, where breaking news emerges and pop culture fans create alternate realities. For beauty junkies, there are several rabbit holes to fall into, including AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts from makeup gurus, nail art tutorials, and in-depth breakdowns of Asian skin-care regimens. As with any fandom, the beauty world has its lunatic fringe, and that’s where you’ll find the juicy conspiracy theories.

Precisely why I slipped into my wrinkle-resistant Agent Scully blazer and set out to investigate…the Beauty X-Files. WE WANT TO BELIEVE.

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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The increase in paraben-free beauty products is a scheme by companies to sell cosmetics that spoil faster, so you need to buy more.
You don’t need to be a cosmetic chemist to realize that this is a terrible business plan, but we asked one anyway. The idea here is that makeup companies will reformulate, increase their production costs, and repeat testing to sell a formula that won’t last as long? “That doesn't make any sense,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson.

Parabens are commonly used preservatives that prevent bacterial growth. So why leave them out? In the early 2000s, a controversial paper linked them to endocrine disruption and breast cancer. Since then, other research has contradicted the theory and scientists agree that evidence is thin, but “chemical fear-mongering groups have used the media to propagate the myth that parabens are dangerous,” says cosmetic chemist and cofounder of The Beauty Brains, Perry Romanowski.

When marketers stick a paraben-free label on a foundation bottle, it implies a safer, better result, but it might as well say, "Unicorn Dust-Free" or "No Thumbtacks." “Parabens are perfectly safe ingredients that do a good job of protecting consumers from microbial contamination,” Romanowski says. “In fact, paraben-free products often cost more and don’t work as well.” But if you’re into paying more for no good reason, know that “properly made products can be paraben-free and still stay just as fresh.”
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Selfies were popularized by the government to help build a facial recognition database
…because driver’s licenses don’t provide as many duck-face options as the CIA’s identification software requires? We love a good Big Brother conspiracy, but we’re going to go with a big fat nope here.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Makeup companies use high-quality samples to get customers hooked on anti-agers, then sell full-size versions with watered-down formulas.
Psssst…follow us into this sketchy alleyway as we open our trench coat and extract a 1 oz sample of 100% pure, uncut wrinkle-smoothing serum. Put away your wallet — this time, it’s on the house. Once you get hooked on the feeling of poreless, baby-soft skin, you’ll come crawling back. And when you do? Mwahahahaha.

Sound realistic?

“No,” Romanowski says. “This definitely doesn’t happen.” Samples are typically made from the same batch as full-size products. “There’s no reason to ‘water down’ a product because it wouldn't save much money,” he says, since the majority of the expense of producing cosmetics comes from packaging and marketing. Plus, retesting the less-potent version would cost more than the company would save.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Kylie's Lip Kits are just repackaged makeup from ColourPop, a company owned by the Illuminati.
Remember when Kylie’s Lip Kits debuted last November and sold out in 30 seconds flat? Beauty vlogger NikkieTutorials tweeted — and very quickly deleted — "Let's say you want the kits but not spend the money, pay close attention to Colourpop's 'Clueless,' 'Beeper,' and 'Limbo.'" The insinuation? That Kylie’s $29 kits were a slapdash rebrand of ColourPop’s $6 Ultra Matte Lip shades.

That’s when Reddit’s beauty sleuths went into conspiracy theory overdrive: One eagle-eyed commenter found a photo taken on September 2, 2015, of Jenner leaving a business meeting at Spatz Laboratories in Oxnard, CA, carrying a clear bag stuffed with ColourPop cosmetics. Spatz Laboratories is a cosmetic development lab owned by Laura Nelson (no apparent Illuminati connections) — who also owns Seed Beauty, a “cosmetics brand incubator,” and…wait for it…ColourPop cosmetics.

In typical Jenner fashion, Kylie addressed the rumors on Instagram, posting a photo of her and the owners of ColourPop on the factory floor (resplendent in shower caps and lab goggles). She wrote: “hanging out with the owners at @colourpopcosmetics we don't have the same formula or exact colors but they are my friends and they do have some bomb ass products that I love. Check them out.”

TLDR: Kylie’s Lip Kits and ColourPop are two different brands, but they’re BFF.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Chap Stick puts tiny amounts of fiberglass in their products that create microscopic cuts on your lips, making them feel raw and perpetuating your need for Chap Stick.
“Oh boy, here we go with the BS,” says Wilson, who is positive there are no ingredients in Chap Stick intended to make lips raw. When lips dry out from cold air and low humidity, lip balm soothes them temporarily — when that feeling wears off, it’s tempting to put on more. “Some people essentially get psychologically addicted to lip balm,” says Perry. “There’s no need to modify the product at all.” No glass shards necessary.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The real reason you can’t bring more than 3.4 oz bottles of fluid through TSA screening is to sell more beauty products and beverages after security.
On August 10, 2006, British officials let the public in on a foiled terror plot to bring drink bottles filled with liquid ingredients on several flights for mixing into explosive agents. After carrying out a bunch of tests, government agencies determined that 3.4 oz was the amount of liquid (or aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes) that gave the lowest risk level for completing a bomb. Downside: No more full-size shampoo on vacation. Upside: Benefit Glam Up & Away beauty vending kiosks at airports.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Kiosks that sell Israeli Dead Sea beauty products at malls across the United States use their profits to finance Mossad spy school.
Yes, obviously. And that salty skin cream money is funneled into idiosyncratic black ops programs like this — surveillance dolphins, sharks, and vultures who gather information by land and sea in Gaza, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
La Mer’s origin story is made up — the NASA astrophysicist Max Huber, who created it after a lab explosion left him severely burned, isn't a real person.
We know that Estée Lauder bought the brand in 1995 after Huber’s death. The lore is that Lauder’s scientists were tasked with deciphering his notes — 6,000 experiments over 12 years — and replicating the process; through a series of experiments involving California sea kelp and bio-fermentation, they nailed it, and a super-luxurious cult cream was born.

Redditors and others have had a few misgivings about the Huber story. (Where are his lab notes? His obituary? What about before and after photos? Why hasn’t NASA ever corroborated the claims?) When we asked La Mer about Huber, they chose not to comment. But Refinery29’s own editor Megan McIntyre once took two planes, a helicopter, and a boat to La Mer's Max Huber Research Labs in a remote part of British Columbia, so at least we can vouch for it.
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