Exploring new skincare and beauty products can be a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it can also be quite overwhelming. One way to narrow down what works for you is to figure out what to avoid. The process could take some trial and error.
With that said, here are some types of skincare products to avoid or be wary of.
In the best-case scenario, redundant products make for a coveted collection. But in the worst-case scenario, using products redundantly can create skin dilemmas from overdoing a step.
Too many cleansing steps will strip away your oils and lead to dryness or overproduction of sebum to compensate. Too many exfoliation steps compromise your skin barrier due to microtears. And over moisturizing clogs your pores or causes your skin to halt oil production, leading to drier skin!
Ironically, a redundant routine that damages your skin will cause you to eliminate products to get your skin back to normal. Make sure every product in your routine has its purpose, and avoid combining active ingredients like retinol and exfoliating acids. You can also group product sets together and rotate them seasonally. Doing so makes your collection more strategic than redundant.
Everyone’s skin is different, so the term “useless” may be subjective. I’m using the word “useless” to describe products that fail to deliver on their main premise.
One useless product example is something that boasts topical collagen. It may seem strange to call out collagen when it’s found in youthful skin. But collagen’s molecular structure just isn’t tiny enough to penetrate your skin when used topically. This is what makes topical collagen useless.
Avoid useless purchases by learning the science behind active ingredients. Collagen may be ineffective topically, but you can benefit from it orally and eat protein-rich foods to up your body’s collagen production.
Scaremongering is when marketing or information brings out your fears in a way that overrides reason. A beauty brand relying on scaremongering might convince you that most other products are poisoning you. But unless you’re using Victorian-era beauty products or unknowingly using a counterfeit (more on this later), you are most likely safe.
Sure, there are admirable brands that strive to do their part in saving Earth by using nourishing, sustainable ingredients. But be wary of marketing tactics that scare you into throwing away perfectly good products that have been helping you because that’s ironically more wasteful.
Someone I know once raved about a skincare line allegedly curing cancer and paralysis. Sounds too good to be true, right? It probably is. Unlike scaremongering that preys on fears, magical claims prey on your hopes and desperation, especially when it feels like nothing else works.
One example of magical phrasing is “maximum strength.” This likely refers to a skincare product containing more of an active ingredient than other products offered by the same skincare line. Or maybe not, and it’s just a cool thing to slap on the label and draw your attention.
Demystify magical claims by examining a product’s ingredients list for a better understanding of how it works.
Multi-level Marketing (also known as “network marketing”) is less about the product and more about membership recruitment. It starts out innocently when someone you know talks you into checking out their beauty business. Direct sales tactics get you interested in the products as a potential customer. But then the sales pitch shifts.
Before you know it, they’re talking to you like a potential business partner who can help them by paying for a sales kit to do what they do. Suddenly, it’s not about buying the product. Look out for this red flag.
If you’re a beauty enthusiast with an entrepreneurial streak, it’s better to build your business through networking, learning about the industry, preparing a safety net in case your endeavors tank, and niche-ing into something you can promote authentically without the pyramid scheme.
Doing things yourself may seem like a good way to be frugal and resourceful. Using DIY treatments successfully can create a bit of a survival bias — the belief that what worked for you will always work.
But keep in mind that there’s a reason skin products are tested in a lab, made in a factory, and regulated the way they are. DIY beauty makes you the sole guinea pig of your own concoction. And if it goes wrong, your skin pays the price.
Let’s say you used coffee ground scrubs to make an exfoliating product. If you get a bit too carried away with scrubbing, you risk creating a bunch of micro-cuts that could lead to irritation or even infection.
Some DIY skincare and beauty ideas may be interesting as a one-time experiment. If you really want to dabble with homemade beauty products, be sure to sanitize your workspace, tools, and containers. Also, work with tiny batches since your concoctions will likely have a shorter shelf life.
Unfortunately, the fake beauty industry continues to thrive due to social media and our reliance on trends and e-commerce.
You might wonder: What’s the harm in getting a cheaper product that looks like the original? Unfortunately, many seized counterfeit products have been found to contain harmful chemicals like lead, mercury, and arsenic. Yikes!
It’s also worth noting that fake beauty marketing has become more convincing. Counterfeit product sites feign legitimacy by copying original labels more closely, using pictures of the real product on their item page, and being priced more “reasonably.”
Avoid fakes by checking an official brand’s website for approved vendors or buying straight from the source. Follow your gut if something seems “off.” And like with any new product, do a patch test.