The scandalous secret beauty companies don’t want you to know

“Angel Dusting: The Marketing Devil Makes Them Do It”

Part One of a Two Part Scatter Brain Expose

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is not an expose on the illicit drug habits of advertising professionals though I’ll admit it is an interesting topic. Instead, I’ll trust you to know which ad copy was produced whilst someone was smoking something “funny”. But, all “funny” stuff aside, this is an expose? on one of the more scandalous marketing practices of some cosmetics companies known as angel dusting, fairy dusting or window dressing.

Two Kinds of “Angel Dusting”

Illegal drugs and storybook creatures aside, Angel Dusting is the practice of adding minuscule amounts of certain ingredients just so that they can be listed on the product label. Some companies use Angel Dusting in a harmless way just to get your attention. They try to entice you into buying the product by adding a touch of a popular and easily recognizable appealing ingredient. This type of Angel Dust ingredient is usually not functional, but it makes women feel good about the product because they find the ingredient attractive. Other less reputable companies abuse this practice by deliberately misleading consumers. They claim to be using a functional ingredient, but they don’t add enough to be truly functional.

Deliberately misleading

Let’s say that ingredient X is the wonder of the age and really does reduce fine lines and wrinkles; not just the “appearance” of fine lines and wrinkles. However, ingredient X costs $100 per ounce and it takes ½ ounce to actually work its magic. Cosmetic Company Y figures that they can add just a smidgen of ingredient X to legitimately list it on the label, charge a lower price but still make a huge profit because the predominant ingredient in their product is distilled water. Now, because ingredient X is listed on the label, Company Y will sell this product like hotcakes. Even so, the consumer has no idea that there isn’t enough ingredient X in this product to reduce an enlarged pore, much less a fine line or wrinkle.

Creative marketing

The other kind of “angel dusting” occurs when a cosmetics manufacturer adds a non-efficacious ingredient because research or perception has proven that consumers desire this ingredient even thought it basically does doodley squat. By the way, doodley squat is a big vocabulary word that means, “It doesn’t do a darn thing”.

For example, let’s pretend that urban legend, folklore or an old wives’ tale has convinced you that smearing chocolate on your face will decrease the signs of aging. Your mom did it, your grandma did it and now you think you need to do it too. Scientists at the cosmetics company know for a fact that chocolate tastes great but it doesn’t do a thing for your skin, however they add chocolate to their face cream formula anyway because even though it’s an ineffective ingredient, consumer perception says otherwise. Of course, chocolate may very well be a wonderfully effective skin-care ingredient, I’m just using it as an example because frankly it’s something I’d love to smear on my face…especially around the mouth area.

How to avoid being tricked

Chocolate yumminess aside, how do you avoid paying for unnecessary ingredients in this scenario? Come back for part two of my Scatter Brain expose where I’ll discuss how to read ingredient labels so you don’t get tricked.

Scatter Brain is a real-life copywriter for hire. If you’re interested in contacting her with business opportunities, please write to “Scatter Brain” care of