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Every drug company, small or large, wants to do just one thing – to sell more of their products at pharmacies and health stores. And these companies make their sales pitches to you not only through flashy ads, but also through the ubiquitous product label. Get the real deal behind any too-good-to-be-true claim by learning how to read between those dubious lines.
"No rub." Where: Contact lens solution.
Contact lens solution billed as “no rub” meets the requirement for killing bacteria, but it doesn’t clear the dead bacteria from the surface of the lens. “Soaking without rubbing will kill the bug, but this won’t remove the body,” says Christine Sindt, head of the American Optometric Association’s contact lens and cornea section. “Only rubbing will restore lenses to their cleanest state.” Wearing lenses that have microbial build-up can lead to eye irritation and infection.
What you should do: With the lens in your palm, rub with a solution for five seconds. Then rinse with the solution for another five. Also, wash your lens case, Sindt says. Bacterial buildup creates a film that can prevent full cleaning.
“Good source of certain nutrients found in fruit.” Where: Vitamin-enhanced water.
“Water products that are infused with minerals and flavours contain only some amounts of the nutrients found in fruit,” says David Mallen of the Council of Better Business Bureaus in the US. They might contain comparable amounts of minerals such as zinc and potassium, but they may also have far less of the fruit’s other crucial nutrients, like vitamin C.
What you should do: If you really want the nutrition of the fruit, complete with a full serving of vitamin C, eat an orange.
“Contains glucosamine, proven to combat joint pain.” Where: Joint-health supplement.
The compound glucosamine, found in healthy cartilage but not in natural food sources, is often highlighted on supplement labels. But a 2010 analysis in the British Medical Journal examined data from 10 clinical trials and found that it was no better than a placebo at alleviating pain.
What you should do: Supplements are not FDA-regulated, so be wary of their claims. If you have joint pain, don’t self-medicate. See a doctor.
“Waterproof.” Where: Sunscreen.
No sunscreen is fully waterproof. “It doesn’t mean you can spend all day in the pool,” says dermatologist Dr D’Anne Kleinsmith. FDA guidelines only require “water-resistant” sunscreens to maintain SPF after 40 minutes of water immersion.
What you should do: Re-apply water-resistant sunscreen every 60 to 90 minutes, Dr Kleinsmith advises, just as you would with any other type of sunscreen.
“Moisturising and soothing.” Where: Shaving cream.
Such a shaving cream works best when you rub it into your skin, but most men just slap it on, says David C. Steinberg, a personal care consultant. The product’s oils need to penetrate in order to protect and lubricate, so the cream itself is not really “moisturising and soothing”.
What you should do: Either use a shaving gel, which forces you to rub vigorously, or treat the cream like a gel and rub, rub, rub.