Don’t Fall For These Skincare Marketing Tricks, The Truth On The Industry From A Cosmetic Scientist – Dr. Nichola Conlon & Magdalena Groselj

Today we are bringing together two amazing women to talk about some of the misleading marketing tactics that are running out there to sell us dreams…that unfortunately don’t come true.


Dr. Nichola Conlon is a molecular biologist who is a trained cosmetic scientist from the UK. Skincare marketing expert Magdalena Groselj is from Slovenia. They both have very unique insights and perspectives to all the creams, serums, lotions and potions we try nonstop.

Although Dr. Nichola is trained as a cosmetic scientist, she went down the road to specializing in the study of cellular aging and a career in drug development. She is my go to person with all questions about NAD, because this is what she is super passionate about and even created her own company Nuchido.

If you‘ve been following me for more than a minute, you know I am a fan of Nuchido as my favorite way to keep my NAD levels in check so I have plenty of energy to do what I need to do.


Magdalena started out as an economist, and then moved on to the beauty and anti-aging business for the last 30 years representing one of the largest French luxury goods company Christian Dior. After that she continued to represent many other big name luxury brands including Chanel, YSL, Estee Lauder, Gucci, Kenzo.., just to name a few.

Eventually Magdalena created her own personal care company and brand in 3 countries with beauty salons and retail stores similar to the cosmetics company Sephora. Magdalena has got both beauty, brains and expertise.

I love and value both Magdalena and Dr. Nichola for their transparency and their mission to educate and empower women to make the best decisions for their future selves.


Allure magazine survey by SkinStore – US women on average spend USD$300,000 on their face in their lifetime

Statista survey – Worldwide revenue of the cosmetic market in 2020 is estimated at USD$136.4 billion and expected to reach USD$187 billion by 2026



  • At 25 started to work for Christian Dior covering Adriatic area and Balkans. She
    was brainwashed and believed all she was taught on new products.
  • She was told many stories and learned how to storytell.
  • Marketing is telling a story about the product to tell people what they want to hear.
  • When you are young, you are brainwashed, skin is beautiful, no wrinkles so you believe all that you are told.
  • We are told that by using proper skincare products you will reduce the wrinkles, saggy skin and so on.
  • Now at 57 heading to her 60s, she knows these are just stories. She was just selling dreams.

How much are you willing to spend on your looks and how skin looks?

  • Skincare products is not enough.
  • Need all the basics – healthy lifestyle, no sugar, healthy food, drink water, sleep well, manage stress, etc – no one thinks about doing this, because you can’t see the results from one day to the next.
  • Skincare products give additional value, but we want to believe that in a month it will work. People want shortcuts.
  • There is no magic product that can help reduce wrinkles, except botox (but it only lasts 6 months and need to repeat)
  • Now we can get good results by looking at the long haul. Start young with a healthy lifestyle.
  • Non-invasive cosmetic procedures are necessary.
  • But even with these procedures alone, we won’t get you smaller pores, better texture, improved pigmentation.
  • We must start in our 20s to protect from sun damage.
  • Every year we lose collagen and then by the time you get to your 40s you see the damage and then it’s much harder to reverse the damage.


Agree. Lots of storytelling in skincare in advertising to appeal to the emotional buying habits.

As a scientist, she is trained to see through this, but most consumers aren’t.

  • Customers believe the story.
  • Skincare marketing is a smoke and mirrors game.


Companies make claims about a product. Legally they must substantiate the claims (claim substantiation), but they must provide evidence.

  1. Look at the wording on a skincare package. For example, an anti-aging claims, “this product may reverse the appearance of wrinkles”, so you believe the product will get rid of wrinkles, but they are NOT making this claim. So they don’t need evidence.
  2. Some clinical evidence is provided – “80% of women felt this product increased hydration”. This is easier to achieve. Customers think there is clinical evidence. But it’s not actually making the claim.

So we believe this and the company is getting away with it.

The majority of products out there, don’t have the evidence to back up what you THINK they are claiming.


Some cellulite creams use light to deflect the look of cellulite, not actually get rid of cellulite.

Some companies say “inspired by science”, but they are not really backed by science.

When a brand uses prefixes and suffixes like RX, Dermalogical, Skinceuticals, Skin Medica – you believe its approved by a doctor or its medical grade. Or backed by science. It is not.


These prefixes and suffixes are all marketing techniques. The packaging also look like a clinical medicine bottle to make you think its medical grade, approved by a doctor, therefore, better and safer. It’s not.



Who is monitoring clinical trials for skincare?

Some companies are hired to do clinical trials as a third party. The one Magdalena met at a health conference explained that if a product results are not 100% positive, they must find an “in between” result. The company and the skincare company client must
together define how to publish the results. Even if a clinical trial is done, the results are not transparent.


Clinical Research Organizations (CRO) specialize in third party testing for companies. There are some reputable ones, that won’t give a bias.

Trials should be double blinded, so they don’t know which is the real product and which is a fake. Results should be delivered blinded until payment.

Clinical testing of products are important.


When we see third party testing, we have confidence, but now we need to question who is the third party.

Are there any reputable third party companies we can look for?


There are many, but I cannot think of names off the top of my head.

Look for studies published in a peer reviewed journal, so other experts can analyze the interpretation of the data.

The companies that do this kind of third party testing are few and far between. Because its expensive and not legally required, most companies won’t do this testing.

There are more and more companies coming up doing good testing. Look for what the
trial is done on.

For example: “Our product repairs DNA. We have clinical data showing this.” If you look at the clinical data, it shows only data, research and results on one active ingredient, but not the whole product. When you formulate and mix ingredients in products, they may not have the same effect once its mixed.



Dr. Nicholas training is in the UK, is it different than in US?


No. A cosmetic scientist is how you formulate products. How you put together ingredients to make a finished product. A scientist needs to understand how chemistry works.



Are there any ingredients we should be aware of what’s on the label vs what’s in the


  1. Its dermatologically tested. Means absolutely nothing. This means a dermatologist supervised some kind of testing. We don’t know what the test was and what the outcome was. Ignore this completely.
  2. “Free from”, “Natural” or “Clean beauty” – These are misleading words. It’s a trend that everything should be super clean and natural. It implies that if it’s not natural, then it’s chemical, and all chemicals are terrible. 10 years ago, the Royal Society of Chemistry put out a million-pound reward to make a completely clean skincare product. No one can claim it, because it’s impossible. Even natural things are chemical. A lot of safe chemicals are given a terrible name, like parabens. Most people don’t know what parabens are.
  3. Learn to read cosmetic labels – the small print is intimidating. The “inky list” (ingredient list) is the international names for the ingredients, so no matter what country you’re in, you can understand it. It goes in order of what is contained most in a product to the least by volume. Anything below 1% can be listed in any order below that. The ingredients at the top are what the product contains the most of. If alcohol is the first ingredient, then it’s an alarm bell. If you look for name of whatever “miracle” ingredient you saw in the advertising
    and if it’s at the bottom of the list, you know it doesn’t have much of it.
  4. Look for phenoxyethanol – a common ingredient preservative in most skincare products and it’s not allowed to have more than 1% of it. Look for this ingredient and then you know that all ingredients listed after that are just less than 1%.
  5. Get used to suffixes – With research you learn more. See -one – cone or -iaxone are silicones. Slightly different name, but same ending, so you know it’s a silicone for smoothness and moisture.



Through Paulas Choice Ingredient Dictionary – Zora uses this to understand ingredients in skincare.

Paula says parabens are organic/natural, but because of some ridiculous study that claimed parabens are bad, many companies are replacing parabens with something worse.

Is this true?


Yes, this is correct. Parabens are preservatives. The study looked at breast cancer tumors, concluded that parabens found in cancer tumors come from skincare, but the control group also had parabens. The slides that were used to look at the cells were wiped with a solution that contained parabens.

No journalist reported this and the damage was already done. Alternatives to paraben are worse.



Learned about The Ordinary brand from Dr. Nichola. It’s a new brand. Before social media, people didn’t know much about brands from other continents.

Argireline® peptide has similar effect to Botox injections. You can see the percentage of the ingredient in The Ordinary. Same for hyaluronic acid, etc. It’s important to learn about ingredients and how much active ingredient is inside a product.

Magdalena likes serums because they have more active ingredient. Moisturizers are there just for hydration. Peptide serums give her the best results. The Ordinary peptides are sold at a very reasonable price. Very low (Argireline peptide is €10). It doesn’t mean that the product isn’t good. They get free publicity from the happy customers on social media.

Magdalena shares lots of posts on social media and has no affiliation.

With celebrities and influencers, they are usually paid to advertise the product and we cannot trust if we will have the same results. There are some great influencers too who have no affiliation and give great information.



Some skincare lines out there have NAD precursors to improve NAD in cells.
To fully understand NAD, listen to Zora and Nicholas podcast here.

Do we really need NAD in skincare?


NAD is a new buzzword in the aging field.

NAD is in all the cells of our body, including skin, and is important for making cellular energy and repair. Especially as we age. NAD decreases with age. Especially in skin exposed to the sun.

Improving NAD in the body, improves skin quality and is beneficial for every cell in the

Nichola has an NAD supplement company ( Nuchido ). She is an authority on NAD.

Some companies put NAD into the cream and hope it does the job. It does not work.

  • NAD is very unstable and doesn’t survive well outside of the body or outside of the cells.
  • You cannot put NAD in a cream and expect it to get into the cells.
  • NAD is a big molecule and couldn’t get into the deeper layers of the skin even if it survived.

Other companies use “precursors” or NAD building blocks so the body can make its own NAD. The cell can put them together and create a larger NAD molecule. The data shows that these molecules, like NR and NMN, cannot get into the skin cells. The only precursor that shows data of actually getting into the cells is nicotinamide.

Nicotinamide is a common skincare ingredient.

NAD skincare companies chop up other precursors, but if there is any benefit then it’s usually due to the nicotinamide rather than some other fancy precursor.

The studies that these companies show are usually ones that prove nicotinamide are improving skin cells as opposed to doing studies on their own product showing that NAD is being boosted by their product.

The best way to get NAD into the cells is to help the body switch on its ability to make its own NAD. You can put as many precursors as you want, but the real reason that NAD declines is because the enzyme that sticks the NAD building blocks together declines. If you don’t fix the decline in the enzyme, then you won’t have any NAD.



Zora uses the supplement Nuchido to help the body to produce its own NAD. Can you
expect the same results with companies that include nicotinamide in skincare? Are
they not actually fixing the root cause of the problem either and so you won’t have
good results?


Whether it’s a skin cell or brain cell, the reason the NAD declines, is because the body’s “NAD factory” is broken. So, the best way to improve it is the same. Fix the factory.

The best way would be to not only have the nicotinamide precursor, but other enzymes to help the body produce NAD to create more power within the cells.


If I am already taking an NAD booster supplement, do I need NAD in my skincare?


Everything in our body starts at the cellular level. That contradicts that everything we do from the outside. We should start from the inside. We know that taking supplements that support NAD, such as Nuchido, does help skin quality and skin health.

Often, it’s the later effects to be seen as the NAD is prioritized to other parts of the body that needs it most. Hair skin and nails is also the first to go when health goes down.



There is no “one solution”. It’s very important to have a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, water, sleep and stress management for great skin. But we still need skincare. Otherwise the skin can still dry out.

Additional supplements are important in the aging process, because the body cannot produce enough of certain nutrients.

Healthy skin isn’t ever just one thing. Just Botox, one supplement or one cream. It’s a holistic approach.



Lilac cell culture extract in a serum may be able to stress the mitochondria to improve skin quality. True?


I am not 100% sure, but I haven’t seen any of this research. It may be a claim based on some research of a single ingredient, but, when it is mixed into other ingredients to create a skincare formula, does it really work?



What about CoQ10, collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, exosomes…? What should we be focused on?


Collagen and elastin are absolutely pointless when you put it inside a skincare product. It doesn’t work. This is marketing.

You need to look for ingredients that stop elastin and collagen from being degraded and prompt the body to make its own collagen and elastin.

TOP things to look for:

  1. The Ordinary brand – every single product IS a specific active ingredient. You can experiment with your own skin.
  2. Tretinoin – Tretinoin (along with matrixyl) has the most evidence out there. It is a retinoid/retinol. It’s the strongest form of this family. It is only available on prescription. Need a doctor to prescribe. If used incorrectly, your face can flake. Start very low in concentration and build up a tolerance. Retinol works by regulating the activity of the skin cell. In young skin, it can slow down cell turn over and prevent acne. In older skin with a slow cell turnover it does the opposite and promotes cell turnover.
  3. Matrixyl – Also has the most evidence. Matrixyl is the brand name. It’s actually 2 peptides. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-7. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 is a fragment of collagen. It tricks the body think there is collagen breakdown and triggers the body to make its own. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-7 reduces inflammation (IL 6 cytokine), so within this one peptide complex it boosts collagen and reduces inflammation. Lots of good clinical research in it.


Do you need to buy the pure ingredient (matrixyl or tretinoin) or can you buy a product that includes these ingredients?


Tretinoin won’t be combined in a product. You must buy it pure and build it up. Matrixyl is included in other skincare products. It is what is doing the legwork in any fancy skincare. For example, Boots #7 Protect and Perfect was sold out due to it’s great results. But it is because it had Matrixyl 3000.

You can get matrixyl very cheap from The Ordinary.


  1. Sunscreen SPF 50+
  2. Retinoids – vitamin A creams. A313 is a favorite (buy cheap at the pharmacy or
    on Amazon)
  3. Peptides – matrixyl (daily use), copper peptide and Argireline® peptide
  4. Vitamin C or other antioxidants

Don’t forget the basics of healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s not enough to apply just



  1. Aging starts from within.
  2. Improve your cellular health first, then the results will show on the skin.
  3. Healthy lifestyle, exercise and hormones.


  1. Healthy lifestyle starts in your 20s. Don’t wait until you’re 50.
  2. Take care of yourself.
  3. Bioidentical hormones are important for good looking skin and the body. Find
    your doctor to help you.


Instagram: @magdalenas_secrets


Instagram: @drnicholaconlon

LinkedIn: @nichola-conlon

Website: Nuchido

Facebook: @nuchido

Instagram: @nuchido

Twitter: @nuchido


Website: Hack My Age

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