When a cosmetic product has gained wide public recognition and sales, you will soon find “copy cats” following suits. Typically they will copy the ingredient label word by word to create a “me-too” product hoping to gain market share.They will first copy the product aesthetics such as taking measurements of product viscosity (to know how thick this product should be), the pH (usually below 6.0 for skin care preparations), and solid contents or moisture contents so they know approximately how much water is in the formula. They will match the ingredient name one by one and thus, a “copy cat” or often a “store brand” may be born.
In the past, copying a product was quite easy. Nevertheless, all the cosmetic companies are eyeing Asia these days for global expansion. In order to go into China, it is mandated the ingredient name must be listed on the 2004 INCI dictionary. Gone are the days with exotic, romantic INCI names to entice consumers when there is a new active. The newest trend in raw materials world is now- COMMON ingredient name for the sake of globalization. This can create some issues. Chemists can no longer take for granted that a plankton extract from company A is the same as plankton extract from company B. There may be 5000 materials all called plankton extracts but have DIFFERENT FUNCTIONS. When you read the labels, unless the specific functions are listed such as skin mattifying, special enzymes for sun protection, skin plumping or pore reduction, it is very hard to figure out WHICH plankton extract is actually in the formulation. This creates some challenges for copy cat products as well as consumers when they chose to buy a “cheaper” alternative. Moreover, most of the purchasing agents may not be aware the Plankton extract from company A performs differently than company B. Therefore, whatever is cheap will be their source and wow, they think they save company millions of dollars!
So, reading the cosmetic label alone no longer reveals what’s really in the product since there can be 5000 ingredients with the same name yet different functions. How should you go about picking the most efficacious skin care products? Look for clinically tested claims. Look for clinically tested photos (before/after). Only clinically tested ingredients can possibly yield to great tested claims. Just because an identical ingredient deck does not mean the products are the same or equal. Buyers beware!