With thousands of skincare products to choose from (and more and more launching every day), it can become surprisingly easy to loose track of what your skin really needs as you get sucked into buying the latest trending ingredient or viral product.
Of course, testing and trying new products is part of the fun of beauty, and at the end of the day, what works for you works for you, regardless of what other people think of it. But there comes a point when experimenting with skincare can become overwhelming, especially if you’re the type of person who wants to address their skin concerns and goals as quickly and effectively as possible. In recent years, we’ve seen the skincare industry boom. Fuelled by social media trends, it’s been hard to ignore the influx of new products, ingredients, tools, treatments and devices, and it can he hard to figure out what is a true innovation and what is nothing more than a fad or gimmick.
I decided to reach out to dermatologist Sonia Khorana, who not only is super clued-up on skin and skincare products but also regularly shares her product reviews and advice on Instagram, dispelling myths and advising her followers on where best to spend their hard-earned money and what to avoid. I posed this question to her: What types of skincare products, treatments or trends do you simply feel aren’t really worth it? If you’re curious to find out her answers and what she recommends you try instead, keep scrolling!
Jade rollers are pretty to look at, fun to use and can be a great tool for facial massage, but according to Khorana, they won’t do anything long-term for your skin. “They’re often touted as an ‘anti-ageing’ tool that promises to erase wrinkles, stimulate collagen, tighten pores, and potentially improve inflammatory skin conditions, but this simply isn’t the case,” she says. “They can certainly make your skin look brighter and maybe temporarily more contoured and less puffy—as massaging increases the blood flow—but if you’re looking for substantive change, that’s not going to happen with the jade roller.”
If you’re after noticeable and lasting results when it comes to lifting, firming and contouring, Khorana says you’re better off investing in a microcurrent device. These devices use low-voltage electricity to stimulate muscles, causing them to perk up, which results in a tighter, lifted-looking complexion.
The NuFace Trinity is one of the most powerful at-home devices available on the market, meaning it’s as close as you can get to an in-salon treatment. Many users notice the effect right away, but you’ll see really impressive results with continued and consistent use.
Exfoliation is a key step in any skincare routine and can be especially beneficial to those with concerns like dull skin, pigmentation and uneven texture. However, it’s important to note that there are two routes to go down when it comes to choosing exfoliating products: physical exfoliants (like scrubs) which buff away dead skin, and chemical exfoliants, which use acids to break down the dead skin cells. “Scrubs contain grains and grits, which scrape away the dead skin cells and help smoothen the skin surface,” explains Khorana. “But if this is not done carefully, it can cause microabrasions and trauma to the skin, so physical exfoliants should be avoided, especially in people with acne, and used with caution if you have sensitive skin.”
“An alternative is using chemical exfoliants or acids,” says Khorana. “For example beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), which can be used for acne and are very effective, or poly hydroxy acids (PHAs), which are great for sensitive skin types.” These ingredients are typically found in toners or pre-soaked pads, which are much less likely to cause irritation or long-term damage to the skin. Just go easy, and don’t use them more than a couple of times a week or as needed—over-exfoliation is still possible.
Pore strips can be super satisfying to use, especially if enlarged pores and blackheads rank amongst your top skin concerns, but instant results don’t necessarily indicate that a product has long-term benefits for skin. In fact, it usually implies the opposite. “Pore strips are a temporary solution and can have the potential to cause irritation,” Khorana clarifies. “They use an adhesive that can cause irritation to the skin, especially if the skin is sensitive or you suffer from conditions such as eczema or rosacea.” In addition, she adds that the unnecessary force needed to pull pore strips away from skin can lead to skin trauma.
Khorana recommends setting aside the pore strips and using products with ingredients like BHAs or niacinamide instead. Blackheads and enlarged pores are caused when sebum and dead skin cells build up in pores, but niacinamide reduces the amount of sebum produced and salicylic acid (a BHA) breaks down any existing buildup in pores. You’ll most commonly find these ingredients in masks, toners and serums, which can be used daily to keep on top of these common skin concerns.
Face wipes can be useful if you’re on the go or in a rush, but most skin professionals, including Khorana, will tell you that they’re ideally not a product that should feature in your everyday skincare routine. “Face wipes are not great for you skin and also pretty bad for the environment,” she explains. “They do not clean as thoroughly as a dedicated facial cleanser, often leaving behind grime and oil, which can cause issues with your skin.”
While face wipes do no more than move makeup around your face, and maybe remove a small amount of it, an effective cleanser will actually break down makeup, dirt, pollution, SPF, and anything else on the skin’s surface. If you’re after something quick and easy to use, look instead to micellar waters. These simple water-like solutions use micelles, molecules which can remove both oil-based and water-based impurities. The micelles act like magnets and lift away makeup with no scrubbing required. As effective as they are, however, heavy makeup will probably require a double cleanse—a first to remove makeup, then a second to clean deeper within the pores.
Garnier’s micellar water is easy to use, effective and affordable and works just as well as more expensive formulas.
We all know that SPF is a daily essential, and while any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen at all, it’s important to remember that not all sunscreens are created equally. An SPF number indicates how long it will take for your skin to redden in the sun versus the amount of time without any sunscreen, and in addition, Khorana explains that to get the SPF listed on the product, you need to apply a thick enough layer. “Most people do not apply a thick layer of sunscreen, so they’re probably not getting the sun protection listed on their product,” she adds. Basically, an SPF of 20 will protect you for less than half the time an SPF 50 will, so if in doubt, the higher, the better.
“I usually recommend patients use an SPF of 50+ so that they are covered if they do not apply their sunscreen very well,” says Khorana. In addition, ensure that your SPF offers both UVA and UVB protection. UVA rays are responsible for premature ageing of the skin and tanning, while UVB rays cause the redness and burning associated with sun exposure. Both increase the risk of skin cancer.
Eye creams are pretty controversial in the world of skincare; some people swear by them, and others see them as nothing more than glorified moisturisers. “Splashing out on expensive eye creams is likely to be a waste of time and money if they contain the same ingredients as a generic facial moisturiser,” says Khorana. Plus, eye creams with thick textures can actually contribute to puffiness.
One way to know you’re getting an effective eye-care product is to opt for eye serums over eye creams. Serums typically contain more active ingredients and will do more than just moisturise skin. “Look for products formulated with targeted ingredients,” advises Khorana. “Caffeine for puffiness, pigments for concealing or retinoids for ageing concerns.”
Not everyone is bothered by the appearance of stretch marks (we’re certainly not!), but if this is something you’re looking to target, don’t expect to see instant results from products you find on the shelves of your local pharmacy or supermarket. “Stretch marks are quite complex and creams and oils can’t really target that, as stretch marks are essentially scars,” explains Khorana.
While professional in-salon treatments are considered the best way to guarantee a change in the appearance of stretch marks, you could also try dry brushing. The massaging action helps to stimulate collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Face mists work so well for some skin types and concerns—they’re perfect for dampening skin before applying serums, for soothing irritation, and for layering moisture if you have dehydrated skin. However if you have very dry skin, you’re going to want something a little more moisturising.
While most face mists have a thin, watery texture, there’s a growing trend towards formulas with thicker, milkier consistencies—which can be a more suitable option for dry skin types. These solutions act like toner-serum hybrids and are typically packed with moisturising ingredients like ceramides, which help to keep skin hydrated in the long term.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.