Provenance's guide to understanding 'Clinically Tested'

Published on
November 1, 2019

Table of Contents

With so many brands now claiming that their products are ‘ethical’ - how can you figure out what really is? Provenance’s Proof Points are a way for you to compare and trust what brands say about their businesses and products. This guide will show you how this Proof Point is defined, how it works and where you can see it when you are shopping online.

What should I know about 'Clinically Tested?'

Most beauty shoppers can relate to the dizzying amount of beauty and personal care products boasting ‘clinically tested’ claims to erase under-eye circles, eliminate congestion or imbue the perfect glow - to name a few.

Unfortunately, not all of these ‘clinically tested’ claims adhere to a consistent standard and can lead to false advertising and increased confusion for you as a shopper. Variance between regulating bodies, acceptable evidence, and types of testing result in a skew of ‘clinically tested’ claims which may not be equivalent.

For example, the US Federal Trade Commission requires companies to back up their claims with ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence’ but this evidence is not uniform and varies depending on the case. There is also the challenge of accurately measuring and quantifying cosmetic results, such as skin hydration, in the first place.

Even without cohesive regulation, brands seem to be conscious of the power ‘clinically tested’ claims can have on shoppers as well as constant scrutiny from the public and competitors. This is why we have included it as a Proof Point in our framework. Ultimately, a ‘clinically tested’ claim which is clearly explained, supported by evidence and vetted by a third-party - like us at Provenance - represents an easier and consistent way for you to choose between products.

Not to be confused with...

Clinically proven - While ‘clinically tested’ claims can be made after a single trial, ‘clinically proven’ claims must take into account all evidence for a particular product, not just one or two trials. If a majority of trials show something has no effect, brands cannot highlight the few that did. But due to the vague language of ‘clinically proven’ and the absence of cohesive regulation (i.e. a required amount of trials) shoppers should rely on their own judgment.

Learn more: Cosmetics – are they really 'clinically proven'?

How does Provenance define 'Clinically Tested'?

The product was tested on humans under the supervision of a scientifically qualified professional according to a clinical protocol or in a clinical setting. This means that the brand has gone beyond what is legally required of them to evaluate the safety, tolerance, performance and efficacy of nutraceuticals, cosmetics or personal care products.

Image credit: European Commission

Reference document:
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products

What does the Proof Point look like?

When a brand wants to claim this about their product you will see one of the following on their website or a website they sell on:

Here is an example of this Proof Point on an online shopping page.

Why should I trust it?

Proof Points are designed to be interactive. When you click on a ‘Clinically Tested’ Proof Point you should see an expanded card with supporting information and links:

Types of supporting evidence

Every Proof Point also contains links to evidence, so that brands have to prove what they say with real documentation. For ‘Clinically Tested’ this is the type of evidence and verification you can expect to see:

  • A report
  • Strength of this evidence: STRONG
  • Requirements: Must identify the product tested, clearly establishes link to product available in market, includes the study’s objective, the test schedule and test protocol, presentation of results and their interpretation, statistics
  • Verifiers: Evalulab, Eurofins

What does verified mean?

A verified proof point means an independent 3rd party has confirmed the accuracy of the brand’s statement. This is the verifier.

Provenance has our own list of approved verifiers. Third parties include (but are not limited to):

  • Accredited auditors
  • Accountants or lawyers
  • Laboratories
  • Data providers
  • Sustainability consultancies
  • Assurance providers
  • NGOs and Charities
  • Governmental bodies
  • Supranational organisations

This Proof Point is just one example from our entire framework. As we grow the framework we will publish a full list so you can learn about the key claims businesses are making about themselves and their products.

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