The beauty industry is tricking consumers to buy their stuff.

That was my thought when I walked past the newly-opened World's Largest Etude House Flagship Store at Orchard Wisma Atria this week. It boggles me to wonder how many skincare bottles and makeup have they sold that they can afford the luxurious renovations + the rent for such a prime location?

Simple quiz: What do all these brands have in common? 
Answer: All are Korean skincare brands, and exploded 
onto the Singapore beauty scene only in the last 5 years.

It got me thinking how these brands manage to earn so much money, which was when I realized - we, as consumers, are the ones fuelling their growth. Because we keep falling for their (empty?) promises to make us look better.

As you probably figured by now, Budget Babe majored in PR + Marketing + Advertising, and I'm trained to do / spot such things. Skeptical? Yes. Do I still buy into it? Sometimes.

So here's my list of top beauty promises (or traps!) which I've noticed almost everyone falls for. 
(Yes, male and female alike.)

1. Get Whiter Teeth!
The dental hygiene market is expected to reach $2 billion by 2017, and teeth whitening is fuelling this growth worldwide. How many of you have paid for a visit to the dentist to do teeth whitening or polishing treatment? While I haven't done that before, I've bought into Darlie, Crest 3D Strips and Theramed's whitening promises myself.

2. Get Longer Eyelashes!
It seems like every other mascara ad is competing solely on the premise of how many times they can lengthen your natural eyelashes by. I put together these 4 Maybelline ads over the (recent) years below. What do you notice?

7x! 8x! 9x! 16x!

Get longer natural eyelashes!

I used DHC's eyelash tonic, and a number of mascaras that claimed to give me XX times of my natural eyelash lengths. Did they work? Nope, my eyelashes have remained at pretty much the same length since I was 16.

3. Get Smoother / Silky / Thicker / Non-Frizzy / No Split Ends Hair!
There's so many things you can say about hair. But the question is, do they really work? Or are the effects temporary?

Smooth. No Frizz. Silky hair.

4. Make Your Skin Fairer!
Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

Sometimes it irks me how most fair girls are immediately taken to be pretty, especially in photos because they stand out. But unfortunately this remains a classic beauty standard which hasn't changed at all over our times. I used to religiously apply Nivea's body whitening cream, then I switched to L'oreal, then not too long ago I fell for the Garnier Sakura Whitening range...what next?

On a sidenote, I recently found ONE whitening facial product which I now swear by. Will reveal the name in a more detailed post later as I've only been using it for 2 weeks so far. And yes, I purchased it on my own.

5. Get Clear Skin!
Self-explanatory. I don't know who wouldn't want clearer skin (no blackheads, no acne, no pigmentation, blablabla). 

6. Shrink / Cover Your Pores!
Pores help our skin to breathe, but now even visible pores are viewed as a negative thing?!

I don't understand the logic of this, but even I bought 2 of the products listed below. Go figure.

I spent money on 2 of these and didn't get any compliments that my pores looked 
smaller or that my skin looked better. Did they cover my pores? Somewhat. 
Would I buy another product claiming to shrink my pores again? No.

7. Make Your Bust / Chest Bigger!
This is a little embarrassing to admit but I actually fell for this as well a few years back. And I bought a bust serum that claimed it could "increase cup size" which was pretty expensive to me. 

Flip open the newspapers and you'll probably see at least 1 bust improvement ad. Where do all these salons get the money to advertise? (From customers, duh)

Budget Babe doesn't have a C-Cup, so these ads look pretty tempting...

And nope, if you're wondering, the bust serum I bought did not work. I'll share my review on this as well at a later stage.

8. Lose Weight!
Who hasn't seen a SkinnyMint ad yet? If that's you, then you've probably been living under a rock, or you're simply just not active on social media. This brand, which seems to be telling everyone that if you drink their detox tea you could very likely lose weight (as almost all their ambassadors have!), earns $69.90 each time someone buys into that promise.

I don't know about you but that's a promise I can't say no to. And look at those Before/After photos! So I finally caved and gave my $69.90 to test this out for myself. I'm EXTREMELY skeptical, though, so follow my journey as I review SkinnyMint here (right now at Day 3 things are looking bleak).

Aside from SkinnyMint, there's also all these slimming pills which you find on Watson's and Guardian shelves, also promising you to shave off those excess fat / get a flat tummy. I've been tempted on numerous occasions to get one of the products below, can you guess which one?
Really work meh?
And nope, I didn't get any of the pills...yet. Still skeptical.

9. Tone Your Body!
Just use slimming soap, apply skin toning lotion, or sit on some piece of equipment and tada! You can get a toned body!

I just bought one of the above products, will review once it has arrived and I've tried it long enough.

This is also why so many people buy into gym memberships (not me). Someone at Amore Fitness once tried to coax me into buying a gym membership, and I rejected him by saying I already exercise

10. Build Muscle!
My guy friends insist protein shakes are a waste of money and do absolutely nothing, after spilling their cash down that drain. Leave a comment below if you're someone who found them useful!

Companies make billions of dollars a year selling products with such claims and promises, which we as consumers buy into. I'm not saying they don't work (there are indeed some that do), but having studied consumerism and advertising myself, I'm highly skeptical whenever I see these claims. 

I felt compelled to put together this list because when I did a quick search online on "beauty traps", "beauty promises" and "beauty claims", there wasn't any one resource that could tell me this. But it is important, because if you're trying to save $20,000 in a year, you can save a lot of money by being educated about these beauty claims and knowing where is worth spending your money on. 

At the end of the day, products have different effects on different people. A brand that worked for me might not work for you, so you have to take a calculated risk and decide if you want to spend your money to try that out for yourself.

I used to be a beauty junkie who loved purchasing the latest cosmetics or skincare launches, before I cut down in 2009 and decided to stick to tried-and-tested favourites. Nowadays as an educated consumer, I still try new products every once in a while, but tend to go for quality ones instead of hyped stuff. I'll also be sharing my reviews of good and bad products that you should try / not waste your money on over time, so do check back!

Was there anything I missed out on this list? Please share with me below!


  1. i think a beauty trap that i often see (and something i find really perplexing, even as a female 20-something lol) is when people buy multiple types/brands of products that does the same/similar thing i.e. buying 10 different brands of facial cleansers or 10 brands of lipsticks of the same shade (and tend to use them up halfway then throw away or leave in a drawer to expire :X). now i don't mind that people splurge on themselves once in a while but over-buying is a wasteful habit. and really, how much better can our skin get by buying into an 'improved' version of the same kind of product say every 2 months?

    as for me, i include points 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in my own beauty routine but limit my collection to 2-3 products from each said category. they may cost more than normal drugstore brands, but they have been tried and tested and i'm happy to invest in them. buying anything more is considered luxurious and will probably clutter up my room lol.

    (btw, imo $69.90 on tea is e x p e n s i v e - hope it works out for you though!!!:))