Photo Credits: nelen/ Shutterstock | Model Used for Illustrative Purpose Only
When the Twins Day Festival took place in Twinsburg, OH two summers ago, it wasn't just a massive meeting place for multiples, but an opportunity to survey a "perfect study group" for the very prevalent skin condition of acne.
As published in the April issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, the study was able to separate genetic versus environmental factors that may contribute to acne severity by surveying 139 identical and fraternal twins (279 individuals) and one set of triplets. Both groups, on average, were predominantly female.
Perhaps not surprising, the study supports the thinking that there is a definite link between genetics and acne, as the findings show the proportion of pairs where twins have acne was significantly higher in identical (64 percent) versus fraternal (49 percent) twins. Additional factors, such as possible associations with other health conditions were also examined, including the relationship between acne and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), anxiety and asthma.
“There is some suggestion that factors other than genetics may contribute to acne severity. As was demonstrated in our study and others, people genetically predisposed to acne can reduce the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates to help keep acne on the mild side. Using cosmetics that are non-comodegenic can also help reduce acne severity," dermatologist Elma Baron, MD, professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University and chief of dermatology at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, said in a release.
When it comes to skin care, dermatologists know best. We’re all obviously well-versed in the basics at this point (aka, knowing that retinol and SPF should have VIP status in our medicine cabinets), but with the market flooded by unlimited product options, it can be difficult to know what’s actually good for our skin and what’s not. So, we tapped two renowned derms for their list of products they don’t recommend patients use, no matter how trendy or well-intentioned they may seem.
“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 oilmade 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."
Bad habits are hardly ever unique to just you—and the same goes for the ones you are making with your skin. Celebrity aesthetician Renee Rouleau says she sees these blunders all the time. Here’s how to break them.
Mistake #1: Caring for your blemishes—the wrong way
Call them zits, pimples, acne or blemishes. Bottom line: Most people will get them at certain periods in their life, and some will get them more severe than others. “Where most people go wrong is in how they treat the blemish once it appears,” Rouleau says. “Picking at it—or what I like to refer to as ‘performing minor surgery in the mirror’—applying spot treatments at the wrong phase of thebreakout, and using the wrong breakout treatments on the wrong kinds of blemishes. All of these will result in a blemish lasting longer and leaving a post-breakout red or dark scar than can linger for months.”
Mistake #2: Using too many exfoliating products too often
In reference to skin care products, Rouleau says she has recently noticed the "If it’s not burning or stinging, it’s not working" trend. “In the quest to look younger and have smoother skin, people are doing too many aggressive exfoliating treatments that are actually injuring their skin. Too much exfoliation can cause a damaged moisture barrier, resulting in flaking, dehydration and inflammation, possible destruction of healthy cells, and a stimulation of melanin activity causing increased hyperpigmentation.”
Mistake #3: Not wearing sunscreen daily and not applying it generously enough
For starters, the number-one reason why your skin will get premature aging is from sunlight, daylight and UV rays—period—and Rouleau says 78 percent of those rays come from incidental exposure. “These are all the times when you don’t think you’re getting the damaging rays, like driving in the car, sitting in your home or office near windows or walking outside on a cloudy winter day when people don’t feel like they need sun protection. If you want to prevent wrinkles, wearing sunscreen365 days a year, rain or shine, inside or out, is a must. But in order for the SPF to truly protect your skin and prevent the harmful UV rays from damaging it, the formula has to be applied generously or it will not provide adequate protection. If you have a sunscreen that feels too heavy on your skin, you’ll probably only apply a small amount and you’re not doing your skin any good.” Her advice: Find one you love (she likes her Daily Protection SPF 30) and load it on every single day.
Mistake #4: Either using alcohol-based toners or skipping this step in your routine entirely
“Toners are an important step in a skin care regimen and should be used daily,” Rouleau says, but adds that, using one loaded with alcohol will only dehydrate your skin and cause an increase in dull cell buildup. "If you’re not using one, it’s usually because you notice that it leaves your skin feeling dry, so you’ll skip it completely and miss out on important skin benefits. Alcohol-free toners should be used after every cleansing because they offer the following benefits: They give your skin a drink of moisture when left damp on the skin before applying moisturizer, they remove drying chlorines and minerals found in tap water, and because damp skin is 10 times more permeable than dry skin, when left damp, they can carry the active ingredients of your serum and moisturizer (applied after) deeper within your skin.”
Mistake #5: Not taking care of your neck
Most women know to apply moisturizer daily and nightly to their neck, and many do. But the mistake: Treating your neck as an afterthought. “A woman will typically rub moisturizer onto her face and then whatever is left over on her fingertips will extend down onto her neck,” Rouleau says. Sound like you? “While the intention is good, it’s truly not helping that much in the quest for smooth, moist skin on the neck. This particularly applies with sunscreen, which is considered to be the best anti-aging product in the world. The little amount being applied as an afterthought is hardly enough to do its intended job because sunscreen needs to be applied generously in order to offer full sun protection.”
Mistake # 6: Using skin care products incorrectly
When instructions are given to you by an aesthetician or skin care professional or written on the product itself, Rouleau says it’s very important to follow them. “Many issues created by skin care products that seem to not work or cause non-favorable reactions, can be resolved by simply using the product correctly. For example, some people feel that when they are using products to reduce breakouts, it’s best to use them more often so that they will work better. However, in the case of acid serums, this is not a good practice. Acid serums, like those that contain glycolic, salicylic or lactic acid, are designed to reduce clogged pores and breakouts to promote clearer skin. They should not be overused because too much exfoliation can actually increase breakouts for some people due to irritation and inflammation. I cannot stress the importance of making sure that you thoroughly read the instructions on the back of skin care products before using them on your skin. Cosmetic formulators create products with certain intentions and using them as directed will give you the best results.”
Mistake #7: Not using the right skin routine to care for both wrinkles and breakouts
This one is common for those who are 25–35 who still get clogged pores and breakouts, yet they are noticing fine lines and wrinkles. “Their home routine is either only addressing the breakouts with drying acne products, or they don’t have anything to prevent blemishes and they are using heavier anti-aging products,” Rouleau says. “I realize that this type of skin is probably the most challenging because what your skin really needs is the best of both worlds. Any acne product that leaves your skin feeling tight, dry and irritated is most definitely a no-no, as this creates dry skin cell buildup on the surface that traps oil and bacteria within the pores and can lead to more breakouts. Any anti-aging product that feels remotely greasy on your skin is not good either because acne-prone skin needs less oil because oil breeds bacteria and bacteria leads to breakouts. I would say the best strategy for managing all your skin’s needs is to use a gentle salicylic acid exfoliant under moisturizer three nights a week.”
Mistake #8: Not wearing foundation daily
“Some of my clients hide their wrinkles, blemishes, scarring and brown spots under makeup, and they come to me with the goal of perfecting their skin so they can go makeup-free,” Rouleau says. “Other clients don’t have much they want to cover up, so they think that wearing foundation makeup is not needed and that not wearing it is helping their skin by letting it 'breathe.' For starters, the skin doesn’t have a respiratory system, so thinking that the skin breathes is a total myth. I like to educate my clients to think of makeup as a skin care product because during daylight hours it protects your skin from UV light and environmental damage. Most forms of liquid or powder foundations contain ingredients like titanium dioxide that act as a natural sun protectant. Even if your makeup doesn’t indicate it has SPF, it is definitely still guarding your skin from the sun’s rays.”
Mistake #9: Not exfoliating often with the right type of exfoliant
Most people have a facial scrub in their bathroom, but they only use it “when they remember.” Rouleau says, “Exfoliation is one of the best things you can do for your skin, so you’re missing out on some major skin improvement when you only use it once in a while. I like facial scrubs—using them three times a week is really beneficial—but I encourage my less-disciplined clients to instead use an exfoliating acid serum underneath their moisturizer three nights a week. An acid serum uses ingredients like glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids; when applied to the skin and left on overnight, they work deeply to dissolve the glue that holds dead cells together, revealing a brighter, smoother and clearer appearance in the morning. If you’re going to take the time for an extra step in your routine, you might as well make it one that’s really going to benefit your skin the most, and an acid serum is the BEST way to go.”
Lasers aren't always the most enjoyable of skin procedures—a zap here and a rubber band snap–feeling there doesn't exactly equate to a relaxing treatment. But, one look at some of the results will have most people signing up—stat—even with the discomfort factor.
As personal trainer and social media star Maeve Madden recently told the Insider, her experience with the Pixel laser was a little more painful than anticipated.
"I could feel small pin pricks as the laser lit up across my face," Madden said. "I began to get a little agitated as smoke started to rise and I could literally smell my skin burning. Fifteen minutes after the procedure my face turned a deep purple, and began to heat up. By the time I got home, I was in total agony and my face was burning, it felt like I was on fire."
As San Francisco dermatologist William Kwan, MD, explains, this type of experience is not the norm. "The Pixel laser is a fractional CO2 laser. This type of laser is ablative, meaning that the skin tissue is vaporized (or burned), but slowly and in a controlled, safe manner. It works great, but depending how strong of a treatment is done, there can be minimal to extensive downtime. The pain that she experienced is really not too typical, however the stronger the treatment, the more discomfort and downtime afterwards. The sensation of heat that she describes is common, but is usually not painful. Other factors such as what type of products were placed on the skin after the treatment, could also contribute to additional pain related to any procedure."
However, Madden says she "can't recommend it enough" and it really did a number to clear up her hormonal acne—she even says the treatment has cleared up 70 percent of her scarring and pigmentation issues after just one session.
"I can't wait to do it again, the pain was worth it."