There's a sucker born every minute: a phrase that's as true
today as it was when coined over a century and a half ago about
P. T. Barnum and his suggestible sideshow customers. Though we
may no longer fall for tales as tall as the Cardiff Giant, we
consumers still eat up a whole lot of bogus claims from
manufacturers -- especially when the products they're shilling
promise to improve our health and well-being.
So before you drop another dollar on that "doctor-approved" cure
for what ails you, make sure it's not on display in the suitcase
of snake oil that follows.
For generations, a panacea for the common cold had stumped
professionals in the medical and scientific communities. But in
the late 1990s, hope came from the unlikeliest of places: a
Spreckels, California, elementary school. In between cursive
handwriting lessons, second-grade teacher Victoria
Knight-McDowell claimed to have cracked the code with a
holistic formula and we all shrugged, "Sure."
Without proof to substantiate its immune-boosting and
germ-killing claims (but with a lot of
help from Oprah et al.
), Airborne started flying off the shelves at major retailers
). And, despite getting smacked with a
$22.3 million class action lawsuit
and an FTC fine for false advertising in 2008, this
"overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill" is still on the
market -- only accompanied by a disclaimer.
It's basic physics: Instability plus motion equals rock-hard
If the "secret" behind toning shoes lies in an elevated and
tottering base of support that pushes the lower body out of
equilibrium and thereby forces it to work harder to stay
balanced, high heels would have already done the trick.
Each shoemaker's version of the body-shaping footwear varies
slightly -- from the "rocker sole" to the "air-filled pod" --
but all have the same pseudoscience in common. Thankfully
they've all also been duly debunked (and, in some cases, even
) by fitness and medical experts. Too bad it wasn't until
hundreds of millions
had been shelled out by consumers envious of Kim Kardashian's,
At least for those duped into buying the
), Reebok, and New Balance brands of toning shoes,
class action lawsuits
are offering financial restitution.
Sometimes products intended to relieve specific ailments
perpetuate the problem at best and, at worst, actually turn out
to be their very cause. Such is the case with the insidiously
(PFE), which has left us with a self-fulfilling malady on our
Read the label. If the active ingredients are camphor, phenol,
menthol, or alcohol, all you're doing is making that pucker
drier and more cracked, leaving you to reapply and exacerbate
the problem. "It's a vicious cycle of trying to keep up,"
Gary Slaughter, a dermatologist with Charlotte Dermatology in
Charlotte, North Carolina.
Of course, there are all-natural balms on the market without
these parching chemicals, but one of the best and cheapest
chapped lip remedies is the tried-and-true yellow and blue.
(UN) puts a healthy moisture lock -- not just on lips, but on
(gasp!) faces, too.
Anti-Aging Creams With AHA
Now that we're on the subject...
Though I'll refrain from hijacking this article into a forum
espousing the virtues of petrolatum (incidentally, Marilyn
Monroe's personal beauty secret), I will use it to expose the
quackery that is wrinkle cream.
That youthful glow you're getting from your skincare regimen
may actually be a sunburn. Though women enlist anti-aging
creams in their fight against time, those containing alpha
hydroxy acids (AHAs) can instead act as molecular double
With the worst offenders being chemical peels, the
dermatological community largely agrees that lotions containing
a greater than 10% concentration
of AHAs increase UV sensitivity in skin, resulting in sunburn,
changes in pigmentation, and cellular damage. AHAs have also
been found to worsen skin conditions in those with sensitive
skin by causing irritation and removal of the top layer of skin
In 2005, the FDA began recommending that
be applied to the labels of AHA products and advised using
sunscreen for up to a week after using the product.
Now that we're on the subject...
Just make sure it's not
(JNJ) because, according to the non-profit Environmental
Working Group (EWG), these leading brands are among the
least effective in blocking sun and the most
hazardous to our
Of the nearly 1,000 name-brand sunscreens investigated by the
EWG in "a detailed review of hundreds of scientific studies,
industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and
regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government,
academic, and industry databases," a staggering 80% aren't
doing their job. This means that most products protect skin
against UVA radiation, but also contain potentially toxic
chemicals that cause harmful sunlight interactions, hormone
balance disruptions, and, when in spray form, lung absorption.
As the result of a
class action lawsuit
this past March, Merck is no longer allowed to label or market
its Coppertone products with the terms "sunblock,"
"waterproof," "sweatproof," "all day," and/or "all day
protection." On the bright side, it looks like Coppertone is
still free and clear to call itself "lotion."
There's a reason idiot teenagers are raiding their parents'
medicine cabinets and
. At 54-proof, its alcohol content nearly triples that of a
(BUD). And if adults need another reason to start tossing their
alcohol-based mouthwashes, it's not doing their breath any
Manufacturers may present their own studies with findings to
the contrary, but many medical experts insist that rinses
inhibit the flow of saliva
and parch out the mouth. Since dry salivary glands can't wash
away germs, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for new
bacteria and chronic halitosis.
While alcohol-free mouthwashes like TheraBreath and SmartMouth
have provided safe and effective alternatives for years, the
major brands have finally started hitching their wagon to the
(CL) offers an Optic White alcohol-free mouthwash, Crest has a
Pro-Health line, and Listerine introduced Listerine Zero -- it
has managed to prevent any collateral damage to its flagship
product by cleverly marketing this new one as merely having a
"less intense taste."
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