It can be hard to tell what is a waste of money in the wellness industry, but there are certain red flag words you can watch out for to avoid getting scammed. You can find scams in pretty much any industry, but the wellness industry has the advantage of being able to use sciencey-sounding words to convince you a product or program is legitimate. That combined with capitalizing on people’s insecurities and health goals, creates some pretty tantalizing offers. Here are some common wellness industry red flags you can watch out for to clue you in that an offer is bogus.
Toxins are a huge buzzword in the wellness industry, playing on our fears and the average person’s lack of knowledge about chemistry, biology, and manufacturing. The “natural is best” argument makes sense on its face, but just because something is manufactured or lab-made, doesn’t make it unsafe. The wellness industry would have you believe that we are constantly being bombarded with massive loads of chemicals that do everything from make us gain weight to cause infertility. But there is little to no scientific evidence behind those claims. These companies also neglect to mention that plenty of natural solutions can actually be toxic, so natural is not necessarily safer.
Bottom Line: You don’t have to pay $47 for a toxin-free shampoo and the claims these all-natural companies make are unfounded.
(if you want to learn more about chemicals, particularly in food products, check out @FoodScienceBabe)
Similar to “toxin,” marketing of cleanses and detox programs rely on consumer fear and distrust to convince us that we need these products to cleanse our bodies and optimize our health. But here’s the thing: our bodies are already equipped with a top-of-the-line detoxing system, our liver and kidneys. Our bodies simply don’t store up all of the toxins we’re exposed to and we don’t need any special products or programs to rid our bodies of them. Our bodies already do that.
Bottom Line: Save your money and skip the cleanses and detoxes.
Repeat after me: there is no such thing as a superfood. “Superfood” is literally a made up marketing term designed to play up the supposed nutritional superiority of a food to sell more of it. Off the top of my head, blueberries, kale, acai, and cauliflower have each had their turn as superfood of the year. But the nutritional value of these fruits and veggies is no greater than any other produce. All fruits and veggies are good for you, but none of them are going to magically cure any ailments or upgrade your biomarkers overnight.
I see this term used most often to market over priced protein powders, mostly from MLM companies. They’re just another shake. There’s nothing super about them.
Bottom Line: Superfoods do not have super powers.
(For more reading on diet industry shenanigans, check out Food Isn’t Medicine by Dr. Joshua Wolrich)
Limited Time Only/Limited Edition Flavor
This is another one MLM companies LOVE to rely on. They fabricate a product shortage to create FOMO and convince you that you just have to seize this opportunity because you can’t live without X wellness product. This is a huge red flag that the product is not worth it. You shouldn’t have to fake a shortage to convince people to buy your product if it’s really a good product.
Bottom Line: Short of an actual prescription medication used to treat a specific condition, there is no wellness product you truly can’t live without.
Here are a couple bonus wellness industry red flags to clue you into possible scams.
Anything that promises to boost your immune system or boost your metabolism, etc. is a scam. It’s just not a thing – 0 science behind this.
Spot Reducing Fat
Any product or program that promises you will lose weight (specifically fat) in a specific area is selling you on lies. You cannot spot reduce body fat – whether it’s with a supplement or doing those weird air humping videos on TikTok. If you want to reduce fat in your belly area, you have to reduce fat in your body overall. You can’t just target one area – that’s just not how our bodies work.
Rapid Weight Loss
Any product or program that promises you can lose a large amount of weight in a short period of time is a HUGE red flag. First, you can expect that any weight loss from such programs/products will not last. Secondly, they could be relying on unhealthy means to get you there. Third, the means they do use will without a doubt not be sustainable in the long term. A reasonable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, for reference.