Crazy Things Fashion Magazines Say

by Paula Begoun

One of the recurring questions I get from women about many makeup and skin-care products is "I saw this product rated in a fashion magazine as a favorite of their readers," or "I read in a fashion magazine that [fill in the name of any celebrity] loved this product." Hasn't anyone noticed that fashion magazines only tell us about the products celebrities, models, readers, or editors liked? Yet all women have products they don't like. I get thousands of letters telling me about cosmetics mistakes and problems every month. If fashion magazines were truly being objective, why not tell us what products their readers, editors, or celebrities didn't like, or even hated? But NO-O-O-O, they'll never tell us that. They leave out a very significant part of the equation, and as a result I am entirely skeptical that any of what they declare they like is accurate.

The fact is that fashion magazines can't tell you the truth about cosmetics. Think about it, when was the last time you read an article in a fashion magazine that criticized a cosmetic of any kind? When was the last time a fashion magazine warned you that a particular product wasn't worth the money or was recalled by the FDA (that happens) or contained potentially harmful or risky ingredients? About as often as you see a model with acne or wrinkles. The only stories fashion magazines contain glorify the products their advertisers sell. If an article on cosmetics casts a critical eye on a product or topic involving beauty or fashion, or if it buries the cautionary words in the middle or end of the report with a summary that concludes this stuff works, be suspicious, very suspicious, because not every product works wonderfully.

Fashion reporters have their journalistic hands tied by the demands of the companies that advertise in the publications they write for. And there is little impetus to change things. If a magazine depends on advertisers, it is simply forbidden to tick them off. When cosmetics companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars a year advertising in a magazine, a fashion magazine cannot include information that incorporates contrary or unfavorable information and stay employed. This commingling of editorial and advertising control results in gushing "news" stories that are little more than cosmetics-company publicity pieces and biased product recommendations. All the news that's fit to print-as long as it's what the cosmetics industry wants the consumer to know.

Reprinted with permission from Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, 6th Edition (Beginning Press, $24.95), by Paula Begoun. Paula Begoun has been researching and reporting on the beauty industry for over 15 years. She has sold over a million copies of her best-selling beauty guides and she continues to spread the word that "Inner Beauty is Priceless but Outer Beauty Doesn't Have to Be!" Visit or call (800) 831-4088 to find out more about Paula, request a brochure, or sign up for her free Beauty Bulletin.

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