Skincare Studies Explained


Every skincare brand these days sounds the same: they all use common ingredients, claim that 90%+ of women see improvement, and talk about magical clinical results. How can a consumer break through the marketing noise and know if something will work for her?

Some brands, Trufora included, will conduct a variety of studies on their products to help consumers know what kind of improvements they can expect in their skin; what customers who have used the products think about them; and whether the products are good for sensitive skin, can be used around the eyes, or will make them break out. In this post, we are going to explain the different studies to help you make more informed decisions about the skincare products that are right for you. 

Clinical Studies

When a skincare brand makes the claim that their product or products have been “clinically proven” or if they have results from a “clinical study” or claim to be “Dermatologist tested” the details of exactly what was studied should be readily available on their website. In order to say “clinically proven” on a cosmetic skincare product (that is, not a prescription or OTC skincare drug) a study on at least 30 people needs to be conducted to ensure statistical significance. The people in the study must all use the product in the same way without using anything else, for a set duration of time. The study should have been completed by an independent third party research laboratory that has a Dermatologist on staff to read and analyze the results of the study. 

Studies are typically performed for 8 weeks (sometimes 12 weeks) with measurements and pictures being taken at “baseline” (the start of the study, before the product being tested is used on the skin) then at 4 weeks and 8 weeks. As the skin goes through a 30 day renewal cycle, even if some benefits can be seen immediately, for there to be real improvement in the skin it will take a minimum of 4 weeks, usually 8 weeks, with further improvement possible the longer the product is used. There are standardized factors that can be measured in a clinical study, here are some to look for: skin moisture levels, skin texture/roughness, skin clarity, mottled hyperpigmentation (where there are lighter and darker spots on the skin), skin laxity, fine lines and wrinkles, skin dullness and skin luminosity. 

It’s also important that when pictures are taken that they also are standardized. Things to look out for in “before and after” pictures include: 

  • Is the lighting the same in both pictures?
  • Is the angle used the same in both pictures?
  • Is the person not wearing any makeup in both pictures?
  • Is the person’s facial expression the same in both pictures?
  • Is the person’s hairstyle the same in both pictures?
  • Are the pictures taken from the same distance?
  • Is the background the same? 

It’s very important that all of these factors are the same, so that you can see a real and honest comparison between the pictures to know if you can see actual improvement in the skin from the product that was being studied.

If the skincare brand you are interested in claims that they are “clinically proven” or “dermatologist tested” without any further details - buyer beware! They could just have not put the information on their website, but unfortunately there are skincare brands out there that are making claims that have not been proven. 

Consumer perception surveys

Unlike a clinical study, which takes scientific measurements of the skin, a consumer perception survey is where people who have been using the product for an equal amount of time are asked whether they agree or disagree with a series of statements on the product. A consumer perception survey will tell you things about the product such as what percentage of consumers liked the way the product felt on the skin, or what percentage of consumers thought their skin improved after using the product.

Product Testing

A number of different tests can be carried out by skincare brands on their products before they start selling them, that will help consumers know whether that product will be suitable for their skin type. 

Here are some of the most common tests: 

  • Skin irritation testing: HRIPT (human repeat insult patch testing) is used to determine whether a product causes irritation or allergic reactions when applied to the skin and then occluded with a bandage or dressing. Depending on the specifics of how this test is administered, the results are used to be able to say a product is “non-irritating”, “non-sensitizing”, “suitable for all skin types” and “hypoallergenic”.
  • Eye irritation testing: EpiOcular Eye Irritation Testing is performed on 3-D human tissue models to determine whether a product will cause irritation to the eye during use. The results of this test are used to be able to say a product is “safe for use around the eyes”.
  • Comedogenicity/acnegencity testing: Comedogenicity is a product’s likelihood of causing blocked pores or comedones on the skin and acnegenicity is a product’s likelihood of causing acne lesions (pimples) on the skin. These characteristics can be studied in two different ways, depending upon the type of product being tested. For products that remain on the skin (serums, creams, gels, lotions etc) comedogenicity and acnegenicity are measured by comparing the number of comedones (blocked pores) and lesions (pimples) on the face before the product is used and then after 4 weeks of use. The results of this test are used to be able to say that a product is “non-comedogenic” and “non-acnegenic”. Both wash off products (cleansers, exfoliators, masks etc) and leave on products can also be studied for comedogenicity by taking follicle biopsies from the back (where the product has been applied) before the product is used and then after 4 weeks of use. The results of this test are used to be able to say that a product is “non-comedogenic”.

Look for Cruelty Free Products

When comparing skincare products, always look to see if the product is certified cruelty free and vegan. This means that testing was not carried out on animals and that the products don’t contain any animal derived ingredients and therefore no animals were harmed making the products. Some of the best known cruelty free certifications are Leaping Bunny and PETA and the most common vegan certification is through Vegan Action. To receive third party certifications, companies have to submit all of their ingredients, ingredient supplier information and manufacturing information so that the certifying company can complete an independent audit to ensure that the products, ingredients and process adhere to their strict guidelines. 

Why do all of these tests matter?

So are all of these studies and tests important? Consumer perception surveys will tell you what real customers think about different product attributes e.g how the product feels on the skin, how easy it is to use, whether they liked using it - and so on. Clinical study results will tell you whether real changes in the skin (lines, wrinkles, dark marks, skin roughness etc.) were achieved (or not) when using the products. The clincher here is this - even the most effective skincare product available won’t do your skin any good if you don’t use it as directed. So, if customers don’t like the product and don’t keep using it long enough to see results - it doesn’t matter what the clinical study results show as you will never see any improvement in your skin. 


At Trufora, we think transparency on our products is critical for consumers to be able to trust our products and to prove that our products do exactly what they claim. Our stringent and extensive product testing helps you to decide exactly which Trufora products you want and need and what results you can really expect. 

Look for products that give you real and honest customer reviews and consumer perception surveys along with real clinical study results. Combining these things along with product testing that proves Trufora is non-irritating, non-sensitizing, suitable for all skin types, hypoallergenic, safe for use around the eyes (for those products that can be used around the eyes) as well as Vegan and cruelty-free. This will let you make an informed decision about whether a Trufora product is right for you, or not, and that you can trust in what we are saying about our products as our claims are backed by real scientific data.

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