Travelling with British Airways these days, you could be forgiven for imagining you’re on a one-way trip to La La Land.
How disorientating it must be to find yourself miles in the air, possibly at some ungodly hour, and then be confronted with surreal advertising – relating to the health-giving properties of coloured light, negative ions and snake venom. Claims which can only be based on pure fantasy – since reliable evidence to support them is distinctly lacking.
Take the Talika Light Duo. This ‘revolutionary’ device shines light on your skin to make you look younger. It has been created based on NASA research (a claim which doesn’t impress me much, having heard something like that before). They say the green light reduces dark spots (or ‘anti-tache’, in French) and the orange light stimulates collagen production. Needless to say, they don’t cite any documented evidence to support such claims.
If you can’t afford the sky-high price of £215 for the coloured torch, you could try to improve the elasticity of your skin by investing a mere £155 in the Oregon Platinum Beauty Roller. This massages the skin, which apparently boosts the metabolism and enhances facial contours.
And if you can’t even stretch to that, the snake serum is a snip at just £105 (RRP £127). Yes – you read that right. It isn’t just Groupon who push snake oil to the unsuspecting public. This product, ‘inspired by’ the potent effects of the temple viper’s venom not only gives ‘instant radiance’ but also helps fade fine lines and wrinkles and gives ‘powerful antioxidant protection’. I’m not sure what that even means but given that this product comes from Rodial, who have been caught making ludicrous advertising claims several times before, I’m not convinced.
Even the jewellery has supposedly health-giving properties. Having encountered several types of ‘sports band’ before, this doesn’t surprise me. According to British Airways, the Breo Watch is ‘made from tourmaline’, a naturally occurring mineral ‘said to be beneficial for the health’. I wonder if they’d seen this adjudication by the Advertising Standards Authority..? Although this proves that manufacturers have indeed been claiming health benefits for such products, it also makes it abundantly clear that such companies have been unable to provide any evidence to support their claims.
Perhaps the Eye Mosquito Repellent Band provides some benefit..? It does contain DEET, after all – contained within a special durable and waterproof compartment. Somehow I’m not convinced.
They don’t even try to explain how the Lunavit Health bracelet works but they do helpfully point out that it was ‘energised’ in Germany using ‘SM17 technology’. Whatever that means. This wonder-bracelet is said to give the body enhanced motor skills and ‘refexes’, as well as promote recovery from fatigue and jetlag. A bargain at just £60.
But my personal favourite has to be the Oregon I Balance Everyday Bangle, retailing at £45. This combines the negative ion nonsense so beloved of bangle manufacturers with the ridiculous ideas about raising alkaline levels I have discussed many times in the past…
Apparently, negative ions may help raise the alkaline levels in your body. As silly as that sounds, being pedantic, it’s hard to dispute it. But I’m not sure how these negative ions are supposed to actually enter the body. Is it through the wrist? Would you achieve similar ‘alkaline’ health benefits by pouring concentrated sodium hydroxide onto your arm..? Do the ions penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream..? Would it be of benefit if they did..?
Of course not! As I have tried (and failed) to explain to the Daily Mail’s Health Editor, the pH of the body is tightly regulated by well-understood mechanisms. If you were really suffering from acidosis, you would be far too poorly to take to the skies. Anyway, you really can achieve an alkaline high not by wearing a special bracelet and not by overdosing on Rennies, but by simply blowing up a succession of big balloons. I can’t say I recommend it but at least it won’t put you out of pocket. You might want to wait until you get off the plane though.
It all makes you wonder who on earth buys this stuff? Then I remember that we often leave our better judgement behind when away from home. I’m not sure if this effect has a name but I’ve witnessed many otherwise sensible people investing in expensive tat, sickly liqueurs and even indulging in ill-advised holiday romances – all to be regretted on their return home. I can only assume that BA are capitalising on this effect. Tired and disorientated, their passengers are a captive audience for pie in the sky products.
I first heard of these products on Twitter from @lecanardnoir and @ScepticLetters. If you don’t follow them already, I urge that you do so.