Clinical Trials in the Beauty Industry: Why Onomie Does It Right

March 10, 2017
Brown Eyed Toast - Clinical Tests and Onomie - Cover Photo

As a blogger with a heavy focus on beauty, I encounter countless pitches from brands claiming clinical performance as proof of efficacy – “98% improvements!”, “100% approval by testers!” and similar claims often bombard us. But actually explaining the science of clinical trials is something brands often sweep under the rug, because to do so means exposing how much of these claims are merely pretty packaging. And so, it was incredibly refreshing to learn about Onomie Beauty– a brand that prides itself on transparency, education, and consumer feedback. And all that hard work definitely pays off.ย 

Unlike the rigorous standards required for drug testing, cosmetics do not actually need FDA approval to go to market. Given this, beauty manufacturers are only liable for proper packaging and ingredient disclosure under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) and Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FP&L). Even the most basic safety screens are not mandatory. This means all those claims to change your skin and accomplish this and that for your pores could mean zilch.

However, brands like Onomie that are truly committed to their products can (and do) take extra steps to first establish a baseline of product safety, then go even further by seeking clinical testing from a neutral third-party lab to prevent any fraudulent claims and ensure the highest quality results. It can be a costly process, taking into account everything from participant recruitment, preliminary screens, qualitative evaluations, and use of highly advanced instruments for more quantitative and analytical tests. As such, conducting clinical trials demonstrates not only a strong faith in the efficacy of the products, but also a deep sense of commitment towards wanting a better understanding of the degrees to which they may affect consumers.

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ABC’s of Clinical Trials

Just as one can choose to shop around for products or retailers, brands too can also shop for laboratories that may have more or less stringent testing requirements. So what should we look for among clinical trial protocols and results?

[K]eywords to look for include: independent, unbiased, and sample size (30 or higher).

First and foremost, look at what type of study was conducted. Was this an independent study? Was there a placebo involved (this applies more so to pharmaceuticals, although not inapplicable for cosmetics)? How many participants were included in the study? And over what period of time? For example: what good is simply testing a product among five women employed by the same company over one week? (P.s. it takes approximately three weeks for our skin cells to turn over and see lasting effects of skincare products). To boil it down, keywords to look for include: independent, unbiased, and sample size (30 or higher). Essentially, you want a study conducted by an independent party with no skin in the game besides honest and accurate scientific testing; study participants who will not be biased and can report consistent results under any scenario; and a large enough pool of participants to accurately mirror how the rest of consumers may react to the same products.

Next, examine the degree of technology and care applied. Some brands don’t even go so far as to offer additional information on this front. That being said, Onomie is one of very few that welcome questions and are willing to explain how they test their products. In fact, they use AMA Labs, a highly regarded independent laboratory with a state-of-the-art facility, for all of their clinical studies. Among their services is Matched Scientific Photographyโ„ข (MSP) for unbiased, precise visual comparisons of before and after results in controlled environments. Doing so eliminates biases from variables such as lighting and temperature that may impact results. In conjunction with MSP, the lab also employs Photogrammetrix, a suite of photographic measurement techniques to quantify these visual results. This means AMA can literally measure your pore size, depth and length of wrinkles, and more. Compared to tabulating results based on only qualitative feedback from participants about how they think the products work, test, and feel, these advanced services put a hard number on results to create empirical evidence. And guess what – Onomie uses them all!

In the cosmetics and beauty realm, verbiage is everything.

Finally, note the wording and fine print. Are the quoted numbers simply medians, singular examples, or averages? Bear in mind, brands that say 100% of women saw results could just as easily mean that all women saw very minimal but technically improved results. Another lesser known trick is for brands to go so far as to claim 100% of women saw improvement, but that figure could simply be 6/10 (a majority) rounded up to a full 1.0 or 100% figure. In the cosmetics and beauty realm, verbiage is everything. So keep your eyes peeled, note the nuances, and maintain a healthy skepticism.

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The Significance of Clinical Trials: Testing Viability vs. Efficacy

To retierate, clinical trials are not FDA mandated for cosmetics, and in fact, neither are baseline safety screens. Brands can actually go straight to market without conducting such tests as long as they are sold direct to consumer or provide their own supply to a retail chain. It goes without saying that a product that has not yet proven its safety and viability cannotย consistently demonstrate high efficacy. Thankfully, Onomie goes above and beyond to do both ๐Ÿ™‚

Many brands will claim safety testing in the form of two primary screens adopted industry-wide called the RIPT (Repeat Insult Patch Test) and PET (Preservative Efficacy Testing). First, RIPT is used to test for allergic responses and sensitization of products. The former concerns an immediate immune (i.e. allergic) response when a consumer uses a product, while the latter is concerned with immune responses that may develop over a prolonged period of time. Meanwhile PET is another important screen to evaluate a product’s ability to sustain shelf life and prevent spoilage. This is what validates the bottle with a 6M or 12M figure on the back of all your cosmetics. Forget whether the products work or not- first and foremost you want to make sure that they won’t go bad in a short period of time and are safe to use on your skin now and in the future.

Make no mistake however: safety testing cannot replace nor is it equal toย actual clinical trials.

Make no mistake however: safety testing cannot replace nor is it equal toย actual clinical trials. It can be easy to fall prey to persuasive marketing after seeing the words “testing” printed across the packaging. While RIPT and PET are great precursors to a brand’s development of a product, nothing beats an actual clinical study conducted with a third-party lab to empirically validate the results. This important distinction narrows down the field of trust-worthy beauty brands even more so, in which Onomie continues to stand out. Onomie believes that these safety tests are the minimum bar forย allย beauty brands and differentiates itself by going several steps further to conduct such thorough clinical trials.

Clinical trials are also important for another major reason- they provide an opportunity for ongoing feedback and improvement. A general timeline for brands involves testing a new product around 6-9 months prior to launch. The study first involves approximately 2-3 weeks for participant recruitment, a washout period (this ensures that the effects of prior products used are neutralized and participants start from a clean slate), and protocol development. The trial itself is then conducted over the client’s desired usage time. Finally, results are tabulated and evaluated to ensure quality control while any anomalies are analyzed further. At this juncture, brands can decide to move forward if results are acceptable or continue to make refinements to produce the highest quality product. Just like the opportunity afforded by voluntarily applying the RIPT or PET, this too is something that brands can choose to capitalize on if they are serious about truly developingย the best product.

Ultimately, it’s not just about a brand’s claims on their ability to deliver results or the amount of money spent to earn that “clinically tested” label. These trials serve to quantify results, validate product benefits, and create opportunities for continued improvement. The most tangible benefit is of course, producing the hard numbers that can irrefutably prove claims of improvements.

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Why Onomie Does It Right

Now that we’ve gone through the basics and significance of clinical testing, try to recall if any brands you know of that can substantiate their claims so thoroughly or are willing to educate the consumer on these topics. In my recollection, there is only one to date- Onomie Beauty.

In fact, the brand dedicates an entire page of their website to educate consumers on how to properly assess clinical results and the resultsย of how each product performed in tests (P.s. you can find it here). For example, there was an average of 35% improvement in participants’ skin while using the Priming Serum over 8 weeks. Similarly, they foundย an average of 26.75% and 27.56% improvement after using the Illuminating Eye Treatment and Concealing elixir, respectively, over the same period of time. However, I will note that these figures can be confusing as they are displayed somewhat less prominently than the statistical statements made directly below the before & after photos (such as that quoting 72% improvement in skin brightness in the Priming Serum’s Skin Tone Improvement section). In fact, the higher figure refers only to the results in each photo alone. When asked about it though, Onomie did explain that this was simply to demonstrate the full potential improvement seen by a participant, which I appreciate and hope they can clarify on the website.

The packaging is feminine and of course more than Instagram worthy, but don’t let the pink fool you- the three pack a powerful punch.

But let’s put numbers aside for a second. Even before delving deep into the science backing the products, I was already a fan. Their Priming Serum is my go-to on days when I wear minimal makeup and still want to look radiant. It also serves as an extra primer layer when my skin needs more hydration. It’s one of those products that you know instantly upon applying it, that your skin feel nourished. The A.C.E. Illuminating Eye Treatment and Bright Concealing Elixir, the only two other products in Onomie’s repertoire for now, are also standout items that never leave my purse. The packaging is feminine and of course more than Instagram worthy, but don’t let the pink fool you- the three pack a powerful punch.This is no surprise given all three products are patent pending for the ground-breaking way in which the brand combines ingredients to maximize efficacy. If my personal testimony isn’t enough, the forthcomingย seal of approval from the U.S. Patents & Trademark office should do the trick.

It can be disappointing that nowadays, far too many brands over-promise by displaying a seal of clinical testing as a sign of confidence. Then after trying these golden products, we find that mostย of them miss the mark. Granted, a lot of cosmetics can simply come down to trial and error (as beauty is quite subjective). But in the face ofย marketing statements that sway consumers looking for guaranteed results, education and knowledge about clinical tests or even general verbiage can make a significant difference. On a high level, just keeping in mind some of the keywords mentioned above will provide a good check of whether a brand is simply wooing you with dulcet tones or has actually done the hard science to back results. And of course if you don’t want to deal with that at all, you can always just stick to Onomie ๐Ÿ™‚

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In partnership with Onomie Beauty; all thoughts and opinions are my own. Learn more here: Onomie Beautyย & Clinical Trials

As always, thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!

Signature xo Soo

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  • Reply wanderlustts March 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Wow Soo! This was such an informative read for the Onomie skincare line! Honestly I’ve been having the worse experience with a lot of the skin care product i’ve been using lately because they break me out so badly, even with all their miraculous claims. I honestly had NO idea that skincare was not regulated the same way makeup was so that was really shocking…I was already skeptical but now i’ll be so paranoid about the truth. It’s truly refreshing to see this brand honouring honesty and being transparent with their consumers – even going out of their way to a neutral third party to test their product? Absolutely amazing. I know the process can get expensive but i would not mind paying the extra money to ensure that the product i put on my skin is safe and will ACTUALLY help because let’s be honest – skin care is such a delicate and important part of our daily routine we cannot cheap out on companies with their frilly claims unless we have the proof for it.
    You definitely sold me on this one, I’m already looking up their product in another tab !! Thank you for this, it came at the perfect time!

  • Reply Lily March 10, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    It’s so educational. I got my set of samples and thanks to you! I can’t wait to give it a try. There are so many products on the market. We are often lost and do not know what’s the right choice. Thank you for guide us through:).

  • Reply Vanessa March 10, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    This post is very complete and informative! Love to read about all the information about Onomie skincare line. I would love to try them, because I’m always on the loop to find new good skincare products to enhance woman’s natural beauty. Thanks for sharing such a good option to try, in order to make us feel beautiful and confident.

    Have a nice weekend!

  • Reply Gina Diaz March 10, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    This is the first time I hear about Onomie skincare. I’m not a fan of trying too many things on my skin, to be honest. But after reading this post, I think I can give a try to Onomie. Thanks for sharing and educating us!!!

    Happy weekend, Gina
  • Reply Christine Kong March 11, 2017 at 1:50 am

    Wow I have never really thought about the claims that beauty brands make and know that some are exaggerated but after reading this post it’s great to hear that there are brands out there like Onomie that really put forth the effort to back their claims. It really validates the brand and their products and makes me want to give it a try. The primer sounds amazing but I definitely need to try the eye treatment and the concealing elixir! Thank you for such an informative post. Xoxo, Christine
  • Reply Jennifer Lee Quattrucci March 11, 2017 at 8:10 am

    Dear Soo,
    I am so overwhelmed right now with all of this knowledge! I knew when I came to your blog I would hear honest and highly relevant feedback and lots of valuable information about Onomie but I had no idea how the beauty industry is basically allowed to take advantage of its customers. I did not know
    that clinical trials were not mandated by FDA regulations and I am certainly impressed by the lengths Onomie goes through to make sure they are producing a quality product.
    I certainly would like to try all of these products, most especially the concealing elixir.
    Thank you so much, for once again providing such valuable information!
    Yours truly,
  • Reply Lily Rose March 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    Wow what an informative and educational post on the topic of skincare clinical claims. How did you know all this? I didn’t know anything about clinical trials and how brands can falsely claim clinical performances. Thanks for the thorough ABC’s of Clinical Trials and for introducing me to Onomie. Knowing that they would back up their claims and explain further if consumers have questions, I feel safe and that I could trust a such company. The pink packaging is of course pretty, but I appreciate the product inside too, and now I really wanna try the 3 Onomie products!

  • Reply Diana March 11, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    OMG, I never read so much of information about beauty products, it is actually really worth to buy products that are confident in what they do and let their customer to understand better who they are and why they need to be choose! I also love the pink packaging and it is definitely Insta worthy! I also quite shocked that many companies don’t need FDA regulations, I thought that in this country so many rules and nothing is being sold without back check!
    xoxox Queenhorsfall
  • Reply Candi March 12, 2017 at 4:24 am

    I’ve learned so much from reading your post babe! I have to admit, I sometimes fall for “vague” claims too. Eg. when a food item says “no sugar added”, I’ve recently learned that it doesn’t mean sugar free AT ALL! I’ve been trying to educate myself since, and I’m so glad you wrote an article about this. I honestly didn’t know this applied to the cosmetics industry before this, I was only looking out for food(haha!) but now I know better! Onomie sounds amazing, perhaps I should look into it once my current brand of skincare runs out!

  • Reply Aimara March 12, 2017 at 10:02 am

    OMG girl! THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post!
    I’ve learned so much and I love how you explain everything so easy!
    I’ve honestly never read about this before, but now it’s good to know! Definitely giving this brand Onomie a try, I’m sure I won’t regret it! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thanks again for sharing

  • Reply Elizabeth Lee March 12, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    This is such an informative review! I’m a beauty product junkie and I’ll admit that I don’t often look behind the pretty packaging to read up on the science. This is something that I’m trying to do more with the products that we eat and apply on our skin. This brand looks really incredible and I’m curious to try these powerful products that you seem to love.

    Love, Liz
  • Reply Kierra March 13, 2017 at 1:07 am

    That is so crazy. I love beauty products and I’m starting to get more and more into beauty products, but this post made me really think. You are so right, beauty brands usually don’t have you all the science and chemistry of there products which is so important. I also think if a company pays the money to get there products tested and certified they want to create nothing but the best product. They care for it to be good and actually work. I do think they have fabulous packaging as well but they have the science to prove it as well.

  • Reply Sarah Atiq March 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    This was so informative, I feel like I have learnt so much about clinical trials. Over the years, I have bought so many different beauty products, but I honestly have never looked at their policies for clinical trials. We trust brands to “take care of our skin”, but a lot of us do not know the full details. It’s so amazing to hear about Onomie Beauty, they are transparent and putting their customers first. After I had my children, I have had the worst under eye circles. So I would really love to the Bright Concealing Elixir first and then try the other items in their skincare line. And I really need to do more research on the current brands I am using. Thanks for sharing this information.

  • Reply Open Kloset March 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    Hey Sweetie,
    Hows you?
    I never heard About Onomie Beauty, And Really Thank you for sharing such a Detailed post about this Brand. It is really hard to Try out Beauty Products and my skin is Super Sensitive and Dry so I am always afraid .
    This Brands sounds really Good and I think I will Give a Try:) I hope it works:) I will share my experience for sure:)
    Love Open Kloset By Karina
  • Reply Michelle March 13, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Wow – I’m usually surrounded by kids books and homework – that was the most intelligent read I’ve had in a while LOL. It’s so interesting that there is no industry standard for regulation of beauty products. So many things in the US are heavily regulated but that whole marked is ignored? So crazy! That said, Onomie sounds like an amazing company. I’m so impressed with all the information they put forth to educate the consumer. I would love to try these!
  • Reply Katya Bychkova March 13, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    I love the brands that pick a smart and educated approach to skincare. Because there are so many of us skincare junkies that are always interested in what exactly they are applying on their skin and how each individual ingredient works. I wish many more brands were as transparent about the ingredients and the testing results as Onomie Beauty!
  • Reply Tandya March 14, 2017 at 12:03 am

    WOW! So informative! I feel like I just took a course on all thing beauty, and the best part is, I didn’t have to pay! I know very little about testing and claims, so I am very thankful that you shared this.

    As for Onomie, I have heard such great things! I have been meaning to try and I will definitely check it out now! As I’m getting older, I definitely need to take better care of my skin. It’s amazing that there their customers have over a 20% improvement rate in 8 weeks!

    Thank you for sharing!
  • Reply manda March 14, 2017 at 11:38 am

    What an amazing read on the Onomie skin care line! I’ve seen it a little here and there on Instagram but haven’t heard all of this detailed information! Isn’t it so scary that there are not more regulations on skin care products and especially since around 60% of what you put on your body is absorbed into your blood? I absolutely feel like this is a company that I could trust! I am all for spending extra money on product like this! When brands go above and beyond it’s so worth the extra change! Certainly checking them out!

    Manda |
  • Reply Eva March 14, 2017 at 2:24 pm

    Never heard before similar products , you commented so well about product . Should one of the bests products intelligence in the skincare and the capacity to found a little damages and repair them, like a microscopic surgery. I’m really obsessed to find similar skincares .
    Thank you babe
  • Reply Maryam March 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for sharing all this information with us, very helpful and educational. There are so many products in the market and it makes it hard and confusing to choose. Your guide is very helpful!

    xx, Maryam
  • Reply shalini March 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Glad to read an informative post on this product. I have known about FDA not regulating or testing for safety on the cosmetic industry for a while now, therefore I started using a lot of organic essential oils for my skin. I so believe in being extra careful when choosing skincare products for your skin. For me it is like the old saying “you are what you eat” but for your skin I would like to add “you are what you apply”. Thank you for sharing and I will be sure to check out this product. xo shalini

  • Reply Tania March 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

    This is an eye-opening post! I already knew that the US is rather lax on testing and regulations for beauty products so I always take any claims made by a beauty company with a few grains of salt. It’s so refreshing to hear that Onomie actually tries to be transparent with customers about the efficacy of their products and that they use a third-party company to test their claims! And the products are also super cute to boot. Can’t get over the lashes on that make up sponge!

  • Reply Sheree March 15, 2017 at 1:04 am

    Such a great and informative post! I knew that the beauty industry is quite shady, but didn’t know how gray it can be. This is quite scary considering how much products we put on our faces each day and it makes me angry that companies can fabricate results. I am glad that you introduced Onomie and what they do as a company to ensure their products are measured against higher standards and it is a brand def worth checking out more.

    p.s. I can’t even begin to think what those Kylie lipgloss are made…seriously horrid stories have been told.

    ~ xo Sheree
    Posh Classy Mom
  • Reply Lily March 15, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Wow – this was such an informative post! I love that you got into the US regulations because it’s truly terrifying. This is why I like to use European products on my skin. I try not to think about it too much, but it’s definitely scary. PS – your photos are ALL soooo amazing, they belong in a magazine I’m serious!
  • Reply Rachel Holliday March 15, 2017 at 5:31 am

    This was such a unique and interesting read. It’s so scary that some countries have such loose regulations- I think that there should be a worldwide standard. It really does always pay to read the small print! This brand sounds great though, I like that they go into details about how they test etc

    Rachel xx
  • Reply Elif Kadioglu March 15, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I never heard about Onomie Beauty. Thanks for sharing such a good option to try in order to make women feel confident and beautiful. The products look really incredible and Iโ€™m curious to try these powerful products. And I love the pink packaging! It is definitely Insta worthy! xoxo Elif

  • Reply Andreea Birsan March 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    This was such a great and informative read about Onomie’s line & clinical testing! It was the first time I was introduced to their skin care products, and reading from your experience it sounds like Onomie is the best brand to rely on when taking care of our skin. Besides that I also loved the cute dusty pink packaging and the transparency of the brand. After reading your post I will have to start taking more care about what I use on my skin! Thank you for the recommendation and wishing you a great day! <3

  • Reply Jessie March 15, 2017 at 7:45 pm

    i have never heard of Onomie, but I love their packaging. The pink colour is so pretty. Thanks for sharing such a great piece, it’s so informative. I definitely want to try Onomie out after reading it ๐Ÿ™‚

    xx, Jessie
  • Reply Elizabeth Seal March 15, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Your blog is so darling and such gorgeous photos! Such an in depth review too! ๐Ÿ˜€ xx

    elizabeth โ™ก โ€Ice Creamโ€ whispers Clara (P.S we should absolutely follow each other on bloglovin or instagram haha ๐Ÿ˜€ xx)

  • Reply Ana Vukosavljevic March 16, 2017 at 9:29 am

    This was really helpful post, I never know all of this stuff and Onomie sounds like soo worth trying, I will immediatly go to their website to see some products for myself.
  • Reply Hadasah Love March 17, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Reading this post was so meant to be as I really wanted to find a line like Onomie. I’m always very skeptical about skin products, but with all the detailed information you provided and the info on their website about the results, I think feel pretty confident to go ahead and try the products. Thank you so much for all the insight and helpful information.
  • Reply Camille April 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

    Camille xo
  • Reply Valerie April 11, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Great article… I have been using this brand for a long time now and actually recommend it to a lot of clients. You should come and visit Caravan Stylist Studio again.. it’s been a while since you got some fun glam at Caravan!
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