When a product isn’t doing what it promises to do, sometimes it’s not the product itself but how we’re using it. If you’re doing it wrong, there’s no way it’s going to work the way its intended. I learned quickly when I went to the dermatologist to ask why my pigment-correcting cream was working for everyone else but me. “You’re doing it wrong!” she said and quickly filled me in on my user error.
To get the most out of your beautifiers, sometimes it takes a little practice and some good advice. For these six commonly used skin and hair solutions, it may take a little more time reading the label and a few trys before you get it right.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Meltaway Cleanser ($30) quickly emulsifies to remove all makeup and impurities gently and effectively without stripping your skin—as long as you don’t add water! Cleansing habits will have you trying to add water to get a foamy lather, but we heard from Dr. Gross himself that this cleanser is meant to be applied on dry skin and wiped off with a microfiber towel and zero rinsing. “This oil-free cleanser effortlessly melts away all impurities while delivering soothing and hydrating ingredients, leaving skin balanced, refreshed and glowing,” he says.
Clear Brow Gel
Celebrity brow expert Dani Kimiko Vincent says to use clear brow gel the right way, think about it as a tool to enhance your natural shape and texture without overdoing it. “To achieve that fresh and low-fuss look, opt for a brow pencil that isn’t overly pigmented or too soft. Use a light hand to fill sparse areas while preserving those natural spaces between brow hairs. Choose a clear gel like Kimiko Beauty The Brow Sensei ($33) to fluff and pick up the fronts, then gradually taper the lift throughout the last two thirds of the brow. Use the tapered micro-brush tip to adjust any overly spiked hairs in the arch towards the tail.“
The new hair and scalp care landscape can be difficult to navigate, and trichologist Bridgette Hill says it’s important to note that scalp serums and topicals should be viewed as hair-loss prevention products verses hair-growth products. “There is no serum or active ingredient to date that is proven to grow hair. No product can regrow a dead hair follicle, meaning a hair follicle without viable blood source.” Hill has several favorites she recommends, including Dr. Barbara Sturm Scalp Serum ($100). “The benefit of hair-loss serums and topicals is that they restore and reinvigorate hair follicles that are being impacted by root causes and underlying factors that disrupt the hair growth cycle, disturbance in cellular turnover, or deterioration of the hair follicle as a result of being deprived of the nutrients and energy to thrive and form a healthy hair fiber.” To allow the serum do its thing, apply it your scalp after cleansing and use the tips of your fingers to massage it into your scalp and hair. Don’t rinse it out but let it penetrate to work its magic.
Temporary Skin Tighteners
Fans of the viral Peter Thomas Roth Instant FIRMx Eye Temporary Eye Tightener ($38) have found upon first use that the fast-working formula tends to leave a white cast on the skin, but Boca Raton, FL oculoplastic surgeon Steven Fagien, MD notes that this is due to the key ingredient. Sodium silicate is the astringent ingredient that causes contraction of skin as it dries. “This substance has been used for years as an ingredient in several skin-care products but not as the active ingredient—mostly a stabilizer, anti-corrosive. It reduces the degradation of some metallic ingredient in some products and stabilizes pH balance and acidity in some other substances,” he explains. “While some user may see dramatic results, they may also see a visible ‘residue’ as well.” Dr. Fagien says using a minuscule amount should work on the skin while also avoiding the dried, white excess. In the case of this new cult-classic, a little really does go a long way.
“One common mistake I see people doing when using dry shampoo is expecting it to act as dry texture spray,” says celebrity hairstylist Tyler Bishop. “They are cousins, not twins! Dry shampoo’s job is to refresh the hair by soaking up oil and prolong washes. Dry texture spray is for after your dry shampoo has done its job and you’re wanting to add body, height and texture. Also, do not apply dry shampoo on your ends as this can cause excess dryness.” To refresh your ends, Bishop recommends incorporating a dry conditioner like Unite U:Dry Fresh Dry Conditioner ($30). “Dry conditioner should only be applied to the mid-lengths to ends to soften and add hydration back into the hair, in between washes, especially if you are using a dry shampoo.”
Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Maryann Mikhail, MD says if you’re using Cyspera Intensive ($162) for hypergimentation as a spot treatment, you’re doing it wrong. “Use a thin layer all over your face, not just in the areas where you have dark spots, melasma or hyperpigmentation.” Cyspera helps inhibit tyrosinase, which triggers pigment production and melanin. It also helps boost glutathione levels which is a skin-lightening agent. “To get the best result, use it all over the face for 15 minutes and do it on clean, dry skin that hasn’t been washed for at least an hour. A lot of patients prefer to do it at night before bed rather than the morning.”
Prescription Altreno (tretinoin) Lotion, 0.05% for Adult Acne is a topical retinoid that has been FDA-approved to treat adult acne quickly. “Tretinoin is estimated to be about 100 times more potent than retinol because it’s ready to go as soon as it’s applied to the skin and doesn’t have to go through a conversion process,” says New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.
We often hear the advice to mix your retinol in with your moisturizer to gradually introduce it and allow your skin to get used to the active ingredients, especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin. Dr. Zeichner says to think layering instead of mixing to get the maximum results while still creating a buffer. “There is a difference between mixing and layering. With layering you get the benefit of one product and then you get the benefit of other the other on top,” he explains. “If you mix then you’re actually diluting out the concentration of each of your ingredients. Once you start mixing in your moisturizer, your 0.05% concentration can go down to a 0.025% concentration.”