Dermatologist Examines Caroline Calloway’s Snake Oil Skin Care Product
Caroline Calloway is in good shape right now. The extraordinary slash grifter influencer – whose previous projects include selling $ 200 titty paintings, infringing Matisse’s intellectual property, and selling tickets for $ 165 to a creativity workshop despite her perpetual inability to complete her first novel – announced his latest venture: a homemade face oil, which goes for up to $ 210 (£ 151) a bottle, and is literally called “snake oil”.
In a series of slightly manic Instagram stories, Calloway launched Snake Oil just over a week ago. “Okay, we all know I have amazing skin… I have the skin of an 18 year old viral TikToker, and I’ll be 30 in December,” she began (to be honest , she has amazing skin). “Only my close friends know that I’m obsessed with making my own special face oil concoction,” she said, revealing a mysterious vial of cloudy yellow liquid.
Unsurprisingly, the first question on many people’s lips was: what is this potion and what benefit, if any, could it have for my skin?
For the first few days, the contents of snake oil remained a mystery, although that didn’t stop the first set of products from selling out within hours. Eventually, Calloway released a long list of ingredients, containing many complicated-sounding oils that are more like a £ 9 Muji candle than something you should put right on your precious, delicate face.
So we decided to do what Calloway maybe should have done some time ago and get a medically qualified dermatologist to give his opinion on snake oil. I showed Snake Oil’s ingredient list to NHS dermatologist Dr Sreedhar Krishna, and the results were mixed.
While Dr Krishna was quite complimentary about grape seed oil, which is about 70 percent of snake oil (it makes the skin “softer, more elastic and protects against acne breakouts. “), he was slightly less excited about the remaining 30 percent. For oils such as ylang-ylang, frankincense, and pomegranate, there is “very little evidence to support any benefit for your skin”, while the uses of rosemary oil are “primarily culinary”. .
Dr Krishna rejected Calloway’s claims that snake oil is a magical cure-all: “The vast majority of the ingredients provide no benefit to the hair and the oil is very unlikely to strengthen the nails because it does not contain any ingredient that would help transport the ingredients into the base of the nail. However, he was sort of a pro in putting it in your tub: “It will produce a range of desirable flavors, but it’s expensive for what it is. »Ouch.
He was also wary of the large number of ingredients in snake oil: “While an ingredient can be safely applied to the skin in isolation, this may not be true when combined in one. single product. »Putting so many oils in one product increases the likelihood that the oils will cause a reaction, either with your skin or with each other.
Finally, Dr Krishna noted that lemon peel oil and neroli oil sensitizes your skin to sunlight, which means users should avoid direct sunlight after use – something Calloway said. might consider mentioning it on its labels.
It’s not at all surprising that Caroline Calloway’s skin care product isn’t particularly legit, because it doesn’t try to be. Everything from the homemade label to ironic references to Goop (another company that excels at outrage marketing) suggests that Snake Oil needs to be taken with a heavy dose of irony.
In Calloway’s Instagram stories, we see her proudly demonstrating her production line – which consists of Calloway lying on the cluttered floor of her bedroom, chaotically pouring various liquids into vials. We suspect that the “paintings” (Calloway’s term for his studio causing a panic attack) is probably not a sterile environment. There is even a cat hair visible in one of the product photos.
I asked influencer marketing manager Lottie Madison why consumers would choose to buy a homemade skin care product from someone like Calloway, instead of something lab tested that won’t burn you. certainly not the face. “It’s not about skin care,” says Madison. “It’s more like a memory.”
“If I bought Caroline’s snake oil, I probably wouldn’t even put it on my face. I tweeted about it, put it all over my Instagram, reread it on TikTok, ”she says. “People are buying an exclusive series of something that is part of the culture and history of the Internet. This is to say that you know who Caroline Calloway is and that you are cool enough to participate in the joke.
In a tweet, New York Times Journalist Taylor Lorenz took it a step further, suggesting that Calloway is essentially selling a backlash, which will result in more attention, which she can then monetize further, in a sort of endless late capitalist churn.
If you want to buy Caroline Calloway Snake Oil for cosmetic reasons, keep in mind that you can buy a large bottle of Holland & Barrett Grapeseed Oil for £ 5.99, and if it does please for god’s sake wear SPF. But if you want to buy snake oil like an expensive little tchotchke – a token that proves how extremely online you are – go for it.