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Reviewing all the sponcon beauty products you definitely shouldn’t try


TextDaniel Rodgers

From a chewable ball gag to a sperm charger (yes, really), we ask experts to debunk the alleged must-have items that you probably considered purchasing

It’s no secret that our phones listen to what we say – scavenging for morsels of personal data and dumpster diving through our deep web searches, all in a flurried attempt to drop the perfectly timed sponsored ad onto our timelines. Like Aladdin’s lamp, say it three times and it’s bound to appear. Only, the genie is an algorithm and your wish is a frantically Googled: “ingrown hairs what to do”. 

Sometimes, though, it would seem these ads have no correlation to our lives whatsoever. Think random health products and weird beauty gadgets, complete with dodgy art work, sensationalist claims, and at least one questionable use of emoji.

It’s nothing new. Paid ads which offer an instantaneous solution to a problem that, quite frankly, we never knew existed. But it does feel all the more insalubrious during lockdown – wedged between one friend’s banana bread and another’s Zoom quiz, as if preying on our isolation and heightened anxieties.

Here, experts give us the lowdown on whether these products are, in fact, more harm than good and whether their brazen claims are simply too good to be true.

JAWZRSIZE 

As if spat out by toxic masculinity himself, the Jawzrsize is a chewable ball-gag which promises to “chisel your jaw” so you can “achieve a stronger looking face”. The ads showcase a rotation of beefed up, all American guys chomping down on 20-40 lb mouth balls, as tiny veins amass and bulge out of their necks. 

It looks painful, and that’s most likely all it is. “It can contribute to temporomandibular disorder, a joint issue in our jaw that is caused or exacerbated by excess wear and tear” warns Joshua Van der Aa, an aesthetics doctor based in Harley Street. It could even have the opposite effect of making our faces look “bulky and heavy instead of defined”, which would then require relaxing injections to slim the jaw and relieve any migraines caused by excess muscle tension. Ouch. 

GOLI GUMMY

If Gwyneth Paltrow collabed with Haribo, this is probably what you’d get. Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies. These sweets promise to “energise and curb cravings”, which is not a complete lie given the digestive benefits of acetic acid – a product of fermented apples. Yum.

However, nutritional therapist Lucy Sommer (of Live Better Lucy) claims that there is no evidence to support the claims that Goli Gummies have ‘fat burning’ effects. “This is just another money making weight loss fad”. According to Lucy, you’d be better off getting some unpasteurised apple cider vinegar and just diluting it in water. 

POSTURE PROFIX

As we spend even more time slumped over screens and curled up into sofas, there’s a strong chance we’ll all hobble out of lockdown like a troop of Quasimodo cosplayers. Enter Posture Profix – a “nano” back brace created to fix those humped shoulders and restore our natural posture.

The ad claims a permanent posture fix after just two weeks but according to Bevin McCartan, sports and exercise medicine doctor. “Over time it will make the muscles lazy and cause them to weaken or waste away, which will worsen your posture,” he says. “The idea that there is one correct posture is a myth, every body is different”. This means simple exercises are the best way to strengthen your posture. After all, “there are no quick fixes”.

A SPERM CHARGER (?!) 

This next one is courtesy of none other than Wish.com – the billion dollar website known for its bizarre stock, shoddy knock-offs, and disappearing deliveries. Bags of prosthetic teeth you want? They’ve got you. Waterproof bedsheets? Look no further. 

They’re also home to what is perhaps the most cursed product to have been advertised online – a sperm charger. At least, with a jumble of voltage signs, sperm symbols, and a strongman, that’s what we think it is. That’s just part of the joy of wish.com spon con, you never quite know what each item actually is. 

Unsurprisingly “having a battery operated device near the male reproductive organs could potentially damage sperm health” says Dr Attilio D’Alberto. Avoid at all costs. 

FACE YOGA

Want to “drop three years in just five minutes a day”? For $99.99 a year, this app may well be your answer. 

“Based on academic research” a subscription to Face Yoga gives you access to a series of workouts, vowing to tone and relax your facial muscles in all the right areas. Fit with a sciencey looking stop-motion video of a receding double chin, a Bella Hadid snatch suddenly feels within reach. 

And sure enough, “scientific studies have confirmed an anti-ageing effect of facial yoga, mainly in women around 40-60 years of age,” Joshua Van der Aa tells us. However, “increased facial expressions will increase dynamic wrinkles in the face, such as smile lines, frown lines, forehead lines and crow's feet.” So try not to go hard. 

TENT NUTRITION [FOL-I-KUH L] HAIR LOSS TABLETS

Back in the day, hair loss remedies were all but shunned to the back pages of gentlemen’s magazines. And for some reason it feels just as seedy peeping out between Insta stories – especially with a caustic strap line like: “Hello hairline my old friend”.

TenT Nutrition’s [fol-i-kuh L] supplements purport to target hair loss from within, containing biotin – a vitamin which supports the creation of keratin (a protein needed for good hair). Unfortunately though, there is no evidence to support their claims that “over 85 per cent of men surveyed saw a significant reduction in hair loss”. 

In fact, very little can be done to salvage a thinning crop of hair. Unless you’re willing to fork out around 10k for a (good) hair transplant. And as we have discovered, “none of these – including transplants – can be considered reliable ways of rescuing your balding head.”

ROSEY RABBIT SKIN TAG REMOVER PATCH

Imagine if you could just whip off skin blemishes like hair under a waxing strip. Well, with these nifty wee stickers, it would seem you can. The Rosey Rabbit Skin Tag Remover Patch alleges to remove skin tags and moles “painlessly and permanently!” Just stick ‘em down and peel ‘em off, for a smoother, wart free complexion.

Yet all that glitters is not gold. In the words of Dr Monah Mansoori of DR:M SKIN, not only do these run the risk of infection and scarring but “it may be that the growth isn’t a simple skin tag but a skin cancer, which could have serious implications”. The advice is simple: “Steer clear of removing any skin growths that have not been reviewed by a doctor.” 

BIOLIGHT SMART SWAB

Somewhere between a toothbrush and a drill, the BioLight Smart Swab positions itself as a safer alternative to cotton buds (which we all know can push wax further down the ear canal). Designed with “soft and flexible spiral groove tips”, the gadget supposedly captures any build up “safely and easily” but looks extremely mechanical – spiralling through your ear and catching wax on its plastic blades. Surely not safe, knowing that the eardrum is thinner than a sheet of paper? 

Lo and behold, “it’s really not safe”, says audiologist Joseph Schnek. “The anatomy of individual ears, and the variety in texture of earwax means that this could easily push wax against a user's eardrum and cause a perforation. And as the old saying goes, “never put anything smaller than an elbow in your ear”. 

FASTIC APP

“Find your fasting partner”, this paid ad reads as it pops up on TikTok. ‘Fastic’ is an intermittent fasting tracking app designed to help users “curb cravings, improve wellbeing, and improve skin”. Less of a diet, more of an eating pattern, intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity recently and there is good evidence to suggest that it can be effective in weight loss. 

However, Lucy Sommer stresses how far this kind of diet “can have damaging impacts on mental health” – urging users to consult “a GP or a nutritional therapist before proceeding”. The ad also makes an unsavoury addition to a platform populated by young adolescents – one which is already experiencing a sharp increase in disordered eating content. Shame on you, Fastic. 

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