We know that retinol and SPF should never leave the top shelf of our medicine cabinets, that drinking tons of water is key to a dewy complexion and that derms are the ultimate lifeline to better skin—but what about products they wish their patients would never touch again? Here, the products on these pros’ never lists.
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“Pore strips are definitely overhyped,” says New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD. “If your pores are clogged, it is usually deeper down in the skin than you would think and only a deep-cleaning medical facial with steam and extractions or a hydrafusion facial [with suction], would help.”
“A beauty elixir is one of those products that makes you feel good instantly, mentally, but is completely useless, skin care wise,” explains Dr. Russak, referring to the buzzy Korean skin care trend of skin essences. “It may keep you hydrated or calm your redness, but mainly it’s the fragrance that makes you feel great.”
Pure Coconut Oil
Before you freak out over the fact that coconut oil made this list, hear us out. While coconut oil is a skin care staple for many, it can be a seriously bad choice if you have oily skin. “I caution against some pure vegetable and plant-based oils,” explains New York dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD. “Pure coconut oil can be problematic for acne-prone skin.”
While gel-based products commonly work well for oily or acne-prone skin, dry skin should definitely avoid these products. “Gel-based products and bar soaps are too drying for this skin type,” Dr. Russak explains. “Strong scrubs, higher-percentage retinol and AHA/BHA products will make the issue worse.”
Exfoliating Scrubs with Nut Particles
“For any skin type, most exfoliating scrubs with nut particles are damaging for your skin in the long run,” continues Dr. Russak. “They may make skin feel smoother, but in reality, these particles may not be entirely smooth and can scratch the skin’s surface, inhibiting the barrier, causing irritation and dryness and leading to breakouts.” Instead, stick to chemical exfoliation like glycolic acid to break down dead skin cells and brighten the complexion.
If cellulite-reducing creams seem too good to be true, that’s because they usually are. “Cellulite creams and stretch mark creams simply do not work,” explains Dr. Akhavan. “Although they may cause skin inflammation to temporarily mask the appearance of cellulite or stretch marks, both of these conditions respond best to very minor in-office procedures.” Instead of investing in these creams, ask your doctor about in-office procedures like Cellfina to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
No surprise here, but alcohol-based products can seriously dry out the skin, leading to a dull, dry complexion. “I would highly recommend weeding out ingredients like alcohol and fragrance,” says Dr. Russak. “Many toners and creams have alcohol, which can deplete your skin’s moisturizer levels, leading to irritated, itchy skin.”
Last Season’s Sunscreen
“I tell all my patients to buy fresh sunscreen every season,” says Dr. Akhavan. “Even if they haven’t expired, sunscreen is often exposed to high temperatures and moisture that can alter its consistency and composition, making it less effective.”
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