Viewers Weren't Happy With The BBC's The Truth About Looking Good

Courtesy of bbc.
Last night, the BBC aired a documentary presented by Cherry Healey, titled The Truth About Looking Good. The programme’s aim was to look into the validity of claims made by the beauty industry about its products. The first segment explored moisturisers in a study carried out by the University of Sheffield. A pool of just nine participants applied three different moisturisers – Nivea Soft Moisture, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion and Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré – on half their face, over the course of three weeks. The programme misleadingly reported that the Embryolisse moisturiser costs £43 at 100ml, when in fact it retails for £20 at 75ml; this was swiftly called out by the brand in a tweet last night.
The three moisturisers (arbitrarily selected to reflect the high street, mid and luxury markets) were tested on the levels of skin hydration and skin health. The lack of diversity in the group of people being tested was hugely disappointing – seven out of the nine people participating were white and two were Asian. As the beauty industry is continuously, and rightfully, criticised for its lack of inclusivity, this programme only furthered the whitewashed image we’re presented with in the media, so naturally viewers took to Twitter to vent their frustrations.
The inclusion of people of colour across the entire hour-long programme did not appear to be a consideration. When a study is being done on a group of predominantly white people, how are the millions of women of colour who buy into moisturisers benefiting? Furthermore, viewers questioned whether a study on just nine people for under a month, would provide insightful results.
Results from the study showed that hydration had increased from the use of the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturiser and the Nivea Soft Moisture but not from the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré. Healey used these results to make an unqualified leap and conclude that it's not the price of the product but the ingredients that determine the success of a moisturiser. It was even asserted that all three offer no long-term improvements for the skin. What Healey failed to mention was how environmental factors such as weather and the participants' skin type would have also affected the results. A study conducted over just three weeks is not long enough to see long-term results, and factors such as diet and hormones, where our skin's condition naturally fluctuates, would greatly affect the outcome.
Later on in the programme, Healey sought out cult beauty journalist Sali Hughes to dispel certain attitudes towards buying makeup. Testing two products for each category (namely eyeshadow, foundation, mascara and lipgloss), on a white audience of three (five including Healey and Hughes), luxury and affordable makeup products were pitted against each other. Notably, the Rimmel foundation received a better response than the offering from MAC. But again, the testing conditions were vague and didn't touch upon factors other than the appearance immediately after application. Hughes' detailed advice and expert opinion was subsequently edited out of the televised programme and the esteemed beauty editor also took to Twitter to explain.
Rather than being founded on comprehensive studies and reputable research, or offering new insights and information, much of the programme seemed focused on the presenter's own insecurities, and the language used to describe topics such as cellulite was dated and offended some viewers.
Unfortunately, the programme, which had the potential to be incredibly educational and inspiring, let down many beauty fans and insinuated that women blindly buy into marketing ploys by big beauty brands, when in reality, the cosmetics consumer is savvier than ever. Frankly, the truth about looking good lies in self-confidence and buying from the beauty brands we believe in, and in excluding whole communities of women from the conversation and discrediting certain brands, this beauty documentary really missed the mark.
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