Our beauty shelves and bathrooms are awash with products labelled with
the phrase ‘dermatologically tested.’ On some unconscious level this may put our mind
at ease and help file them away in the ‘good for my skin’ category; it’s easy to believe that a product that’s been effectively tested isn’t going to irritate our skin or cause unnecessary tightness. However, do we really know what this means and are we being mislead
into believing any product adorned with this statement is better for us? What does ‘dermatologically tested’ really mean and why should we take any such claim with a pinch of salt?

In an
attempt to uncover what consumers really believed about such a commonly used phrase, consumer group Which? surveyed over
1,000 people about label claims on cosmetics and toiletries. Asked what
they thought the term ‘dermatologically tested’ meant, only a quarter
of respondents understood that the product had been tested on human skin. Nearly 75% of respondents thought that ‘dermatologically tested’ could
also mean something else, or didn’t know what it meant at all. In addition, 13% of people
thought it meant the product would be kind to skin, 22% thought it wouldn’t cause allergies and a further 10% thought the product would be less likely
to cause skin allergies versus a product without the claim.

Put simply, when a brand claims a product is ‘dermatologically tested’ it
means they’ve tested it on human skin. However, it doesn’t tell us what the tests undertaken were designed to show, or whether
the product even passed them. It’s an empty promise. The same claim on one product could be completely different to that of
another; there’s simply no industry standard or way of monitoring what ‘dermatologically tested’ means. It could be that they tested their new cream on fifty women at home, on ten women under strict conditions in a lab, or a hundred consumers that volunteered; it doesn’t really mean much at all. Not
only is this confusing for the consumer, but it’s extremely misleading
and infers qualities that may not be true or proven in any way.

Companies don’t tend to supply their customers with details of their tests or
substantiate their claims, making them rather meaningless. It’s
become almost standard practice to add this phrase to makeup, skincare,
body lotions and even hair products as a way to lure the consumer into a
false sense of security – but when questioned, consumers don’t even really know what it means. The next time you see something is
‘dermatologically tested’, make sure you look for other pointers that
can prove its value and whether or not it’s right for you. Look at the ingredients label, hunt down any quantitative research they may have carried out, research for opinion online and get in touch with the brand for clarification. We should never take claims and buzz words at face value – always ask questions, because your skin will thank you for it.

What did you think ‘dermatologically tested’ meant? Have you been persuaded to start buying products based on this claim, or have you become a skeptical consumer?

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  1. Lucy H
    September 30, 2015 / 10:36 am

    I never really pay attention to the claim when buying a skincare product – but I wasn't 100% sure what it meant either I knew they'd tested on human skin but for what? If that makes any sense haha, great post.Lucy | http://www.foreverseptemberr.blogspot.co.uk

  2. Pam Scalfi
    September 30, 2015 / 10:58 am

    I thought the label meant the product wouldn't cause any skin reactions (dont judge me :p)Now I know and I am not impressed by the brands that do it!Pam xo/ Pam Scalfiā™„

  3. My Beauty Dreams
    September 30, 2015 / 11:35 am

    Wow! Thank you so much for this post… I knew that it meant tested on human skin, but I thought it meant that it had passed all the tests/was really good for your skin! I've definitely persuaded to buy products just because they say 'dermatologically tested', thank you so much for telling me what it really means!mybeautydreamss.blogspot.com

  4. Bev
    September 30, 2015 / 12:14 pm

    I probably would've been swayed into buying a product based on the claim that it was dermatologically tested but I have to admit that I really didn't fully understand what it meant. Thanks for the informative post.

  5. Ashley Elizabeth
    September 30, 2015 / 12:29 pm

    For the last few years I've been using Aveeno Sensitive Skin Body Wash, mostly because it was fragrance free, but also because it reads "Dermatologist Recommended." Now I am going to delve into this a little further. Thank you for sharing a post that has made me think twice about what I'm using : )http://www.ashleyelizabethbeauty.com

    • Anonymous
      December 4, 2017 / 12:16 pm

      No, 'dermatologist recommended' is something different. It means a professional skin expert has put their personal stamp of approval on the product, basically backing up the claims that the product is making.

  6. Lauren Powers
    September 30, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    This is such an interesting post! I have always believed it would mean that it is suitable for sensitive skin!Lauren x | http://www.laurenapowers.blogspot.com

  7. Miranda | SlashedBeauty.com
    September 30, 2015 / 7:53 pm

    Exactly!! Glad you spoke on this– I always look for Dermatologist recommended over tested.

  8. Abigail Alice
    September 30, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    I'd always assumed that it had been tested on the skin but the fact that it wasn't dermatologist approved meant it perhaps didn't do all that it promised or wasn't particularly kind to the skin!http://www.abigailalicex.com

  9. Isabella Clark
    October 1, 2015 / 4:46 am

    This is really interesting! I have quite sensitive skin and I think after reading this I will definitely be a lot more careful about what products I chose to use, thanks! xhttp://isabellaweb.com/blog/

  10. Anca
    October 1, 2015 / 10:41 am

    I don't like this at all. It seems they are mocking the consumer, like "fat free" potatoes or "gluten free" sausages on food items. I had no idea the product is just tested and that is all.

  11. Beauty Bloss
    October 2, 2015 / 12:20 am

    This phrase literally means nothing to me. I'm more inclined to look at the ingredients and decide if a product is worth it or not. The Beauty Bloss

  12. Anonymous
    October 15, 2015 / 9:24 am

    With Dermatologically Tested there is clear EU guidance as to what this implies, if brands operate within the law, then the product will have passed human tests overseen by a Dermatologist and will be positive and well tolerated by the skin – see page 10 of link to EU regulations: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/sectors/cosmetics/files/pdf/guide_reg_claims_en.pdfMost brands that claim Dermo Tested and suitable for sensitive skin will have had a 50-60 people independent user trial conducted on people assessed to have sensitive skin and product is applied against a control (normally purified water) and these patches examined by a Dermatologist before product is passed.Hope this helps clarify. Most decent brands will always be able to talk you through these tests they completed to make a claim if you want to check out what the details.

    • Hayley Carr
      October 15, 2015 / 10:23 am

      Thanks for your comment, info and link. Unfortunately, like with the majority of 'marketing speak', this is only guidance and doesn't really mean much if it's not enforced. Testing even on sensitive skin doesn't provide an indication of how it will react to individual concerns either, so even if it has gone through some kind of trial does that really provide value?

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