We all want to look good, maybe now more than ever in this age of selfies and social media. In fact, the global skin care products market was valued at over 138 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, and is projected to keep rising.
But this begs the question: do the skin care products we see advertised day after day actually work?
Unfortunately, many consumers realize only after spending a lot of hard-earned dollars on heavily marketed over-the-counter skin care or anti-aging treatments, that these products aren’t really making a difference in the look or health of their skin. Here’s why.
The science isn’t there.
Many of the skin care products out there might sound impressive, but that’s just the marketing department talking. Many eye creams, for example, are just expensive moisturizers. And some of those ingredients with a lot of syllables end up just getting washed off your face before they make can make any difference.
For example, creams that claim to contain collagen are very popular. Collagen is the protein that gives skin elasticity, strength and youthfulness, so a face cream containing collagen sounds like a great idea. But collagen is a very large molecule that is physically incapable of being absorbed into the skin. It just doesn’t work that way. You’ve basically washed that expensive molecule down the drain, along with the $50 or more you spent on it. The collagen drinks don’t work either. Unfortunately, ingesting collagen doesn’t route it to your skin, where you want it to go.
Cellulite creams are a similar letdown. Cellulite is largely linked to genetics, and there is no product on the market this is going to overcome your DNA on this front.
Face mists are another item on this list. While these “refreshing and hydrating” products have become popular as of late, there is no science to back them up. If you review the ingredient list, you’ll see that many are mostly water and artificial color and fragrance. They may feel refreshing and smell nice in the moment, but don’t kid yourself that they are doing anything more than that.
There isn’t enough of the active ingredient.
For products that do actually work, the problem isn’t clever marketing but simply that regulations limit the amount of active ingredient allowed in products sold in a non-medical environment.
Anti-aging substances like vitamin E, hyaluronic or lactic acids, peptides and Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) work best when they reach the deeper skin layers. For safety reasons, over-the-counter products simply can’t deliver the concentrations necessary to affect real change. Only medical-grade products sold in a doctor’s office are strong enough to deliver results.
For medical problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea, the same applies. A medical-grade product will give much better results because it has a higher concentration of medicine in it.
They can do more harm than good.
Home skin care solutions also run the risk of hurting more than they help. This can be because they are not used properly, they don’t agree with your skin, or they are simply a bad idea.
Chemical peels involve applying acid to the skin to remove the top, damaged layers of skin and expose the younger, fresher layers beneath. But chemical peels burn the skin and should only be applied by a professional. Concentrations of alpha hydroxy acids (the active ingredient in chemical peels) of over 10% should never be done at home.
Blackhead extractors are another product best left to professionals. While you can purchase these devices online, your likely at-home results will be ineffectual at best and leave scars at worst. The best way to treat bothersome blackheads and acne is to see a dermatologist.
Depending on your skin type, certain over-the-counter products can actually be more damaging to your skin than helpful. Dry, oily or combination skin, sensitive skin, skin allergies and other aspects of your skin (especially the vulnerable skin on your face) mean that not every skin care regimen works for everyone. A professional with access to medical-grade products is your best bet for finding a skin care routine that works for you and will give you the results you are looking for.