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Helping People Achieve Clear Skin Since 2007

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The Google Effect On Your Choices In Acne Care

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Once upon a time, people actually had to remember those great products and great ideas they came across for acne care. Now if they can’t remember what they saw or heard or read, they just Google for it. But how you use Google can limit your choices in getting the right acne products.

A website that gives you more visual information will be easier to remember.

What Is The Google Effect?

Dr. Betsy Sparrow, an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University in New York City, documented the Google effect1 in a paper published in the prestigious academic journal Science. Dr. Sparrow and her collaborators found that test volunteers were more likely to remember information when they were warned that a file would be deleted than when they were told they could “hit save.”

The research team also found that test volunteers were more likely to remember information when the data were unique but the file names were generic. For instance, if someone were to see a story about an inexpensive acne product that uses corundum crystals to get rid of brown spots after pimples healed that is made by Exposed Skin Care, they would be more likely to remember “corundum crystals for brown spots” than they would be to remember “Exposed Skin Care.”

Since there isn’t any product called “Corundum Crystals for Brown Spots After Pimples Heal,” someone who reads the article and later wants to buy a product for his or her own acne skin care will use this string of words as a search term. If the right brand name does not show up in the first page of results, then chances are that the buyer will go with the first link to a product that “sounds right.” If the product mentioned in the article isn’t on the first page of Google results, it is almost as if the reader never saw the article, from the product maker’s perspective.

How Acne Product Vendors Get Around The Google Effect

The average person with acne waits nine months before beginning treatment. That is a long time for them to remember the name of a specific acne product that works best for their skin, especially if the product has long name or relies on the term “acne” in its brand name. We barely remember the names of some of our friends without search engines and smart phones.

The people who sell you acne products know all about the Google effect. They know that in the Internet era, people just don’t remember specific product names any more—unless they use them or they have seen them over and over again. That is why acne treatment sites mention the same products over and over again, hoping you will remember the name when it comes time to buy the products you need.

That’s also why vendors of acne treatment products take to social media2, putting up pages on Facebook and tweeting about their products on Twitter, and resort to pay-per-click advertising. They struggle to get to the top of the first page of results on Google by creating more and more and more new and original useful content. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Using The Google Effect To Your Advantage

There is a very simple way to use the Google effect to your advantage. You don’t have to do any of the kinds of memory tricks that went out of style with 8-track tapes. You don’t have to do a Google search every time you need a new acne product. All you need to do is to bookmark this site.

We’ll come clean. We would like for you to think of Exposed Skin Care whenever you think of acne products. We have a good conscience about it, because we know that this product line works really well for about 98% of the people who use it and we take care to ensure that everything we tell you is just as factual and helpful as we can make it. But we also realize that the 2% deserve the best acne treatment, too.

That’s why this site offers information for people who won’t necessarily be buying any products that make this site money. But even if you choose to get some of your information from other sites, there is one more way to use the Google effect to your advantage.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

In most (but not all people), the human brain is wired to remember pictures better than words3. A website that gives you visual information about acne is more memorable and more useful to you that one that does not—but that does not mean that you should believe everything you see.

When you are looking at photographic evidence that an acne product really works, it helps to keep certain principles of photographing4 merchandise in mind. We’ve mentioned them in a recent blog post, but they are important enough to mention again.

  • Before and after photos need to be shot in the same light. Anytime more light is shown on the face, scars (especially raised scars) and pimples and blackheads are less visible. If the before photo is dark and the after photo is bright, you may not be looking at an honest imagery5 and a truthful advertisement.
  • Before and after photos can be used as a kind of bait and switch in reverse. The before photo may show an acne patient in an office, and the after photo may show the same person at the beach. Our brains associate the acne product with a trip to the beach.
  • Before and after photos can include subtle distractions. In the before photo, the acne patient may be sitting in a cubicle hunched over a computer. In the after photo, the acne patient may be in the boss’s office sitting in a big, comfortable chair. Our minds associate “comfy chair” with the acne treatment product, especially if we happen to at the office when we surf and find the ad.

Frankly, we don’t use a lot of pictures on this site. We think it’s much better to give you objective data on the size of blemishes and the number of blemishes and how many days or weeks it takes each product to treat them than just to show you some before and after photos. But we also think that most of our site visitors who try Exposed Skin Care won’t feel the need to look for anything else.


  1. Sparrow B., Liu J., Wegner D.M. Google effects on memory: cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science. 2011;333(6043):776-8.
  2. Gough A., Hunter R.F., Ajao O., Jurek A., McKeown G., Hong J., Barrett E., Ferguson M., McElwee G., McCarthy M., Kee F. Tweet for Behavior Change: Using Social Media for the Dissemination of Public Health Messages. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance. 2017;3(1):e14.
  3. Park D.C., Puglisi J.T., Sovacool M. Memory for pictures, words, and spatial location in older adults: evidence for pictorial superiority. Journal of Gerontology. 1983;38(5):582-8.
  4. Cook C.H., Centner R.L., Michaels S.E. An acne grading method using photographic standards. Archives of Dermatology. 1979;115(5):571-5.
  5. Chiang A., Hafeez F., Maibach H.I. Skin lesion metrics: role of photography in acne. The Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2014;25(2):100-5.
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