There’s no denying that Instagram is the best place to discover the latest and greatest skin care trends, as one glance at the #igtopshelfie hashtag introduces you to a plethora of prettily-packaged products (we’re looking at you, Drunk Elephant!) any influencer would love.
But while these trendy skin care buys are sure to gain tons of likes on the ’gram, it’s fair to say that some also tend to cost an arm and a leg, making us all wonder if they’re actually worth the hype. Besides, just because that pricey brightening sheet mask has a four-star rating on Sephora doesn’t mean it actually works.
With this in mind, we consulted seven dermatologists to break down all of those overhyped skin care buys that probably aren’t worth the expensive price tag or the long waiting list you’ve been keeping close tabs on. From charcoal masks to facial toners, below are 12 products you’re better off saving your money on, even if they have a glowing beauty vlogger endorsement.
1. Activated Charcoal Masks
Activated charcoal is practically in everything imaginable these days, as one internet search of the term leads you to a ton of charcoal-infused cleansers, soaps and shampoos. However, charcoal masks are probably the most popular of all charcoal beauty buys, especially since they claim to deep cleanse your pores with ease.
However, Kathleen Suozzi, a dermatologic surgeon and director of aesthetic dermatology for Yale Medicine, explained to HuffPost that while these masks are often marketed to those with oily skin, they don’t exactly detox clogged pores the way you assume they would.
“Activated charcoal can absorb dirt from skin surface, but only what it comes in direct contact with,” Suozzi told HuffPost. “When the charcoal is mixed with a vehicle in the mask, the amount that is actually coming in direct contact with the skin is likely not significant,” she added.
2. Snail Mucin Cream
Although snail mucin (a special mucus secreted from snails) is a popular ingredient used in many trendy K-Beauty skin care treasures, Suozzi suggested that it isn’t exactly the skin-boosting ingredient everyone likes to think it is.
“Snail mucin is reported to have high amounts of hyaluronic acid,” Suozzi said. “And while hyaluronic acid is proven to be an excellent skin moisturizer, it can be found in many skin care products, and does not need to be harvested from a snail.”
3. Jade Facial Rollers
You’ve definitely seen one of these facial rollers on Insta at some point, especially since they are available in practically any crystal (jade, rose quartz, amethyst...) of your choosing.
And while these crystal rollers definitely bring some bougie vibes to any vanity, cosmetic surgeon Gary Linkov suggested there really is no research to support their alleged anti-aging benefits.
“Jade rollers may seem holistic and soothing, but there is no real data to support their purported benefits of reducing swelling or puffiness in the skin,” Linkov told HuffPost. “Reducing your intake of salty foods is more likely to make a much more significant improvement in swelling than a manual roller,” he explained.
4. Facial Toner
While antioxidant-rich facial toners are often encouraged in any skin care regimen, board-certified dermatologist Zain Husain said that these products’ supposed skin-neutralizing benefits aren’t exactly what they seem.
“Facial toners dehydrate the skin, which can cause inflammation, sometimes exacerbating acne,” Husain told HuffPost. Instead of using alcohol-based toners, “you would be better off using products that contained glycolic and salicylic acid instead, as they do a far better job with treating acne, and are more effective in exfoliation,” he suggested.
5. CBD Skin Care Products
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of those industry-hot ingredients that every skin care brand under the sun seems to be incorporating into their product lines. And sure, those CBD muscle rubs and creams may feel great on your legs after a long run, but Husain suggested that there is no real merit surrounding any anti-inflammatory benefits attached to these kinds of products.
“Although research has shown CBD helps with inflammation in the skin, I am waiting for more research on the products before backing up the hype,” Husain said. “As a Mohs surgeon who treats skin cancer, some of the claims I have seen with CBD being used to treat skin cancer [are] worrisome,” he added.
6. Dark Spot Serums and Dark Spot Removers
While there are a ton of brightening dark spot serums and removers on the market, board-certified dermatologist Sheel Desai Solomon suggested that these skin care products are more effective in correcting uneven skin-tone than actually addressing dark age spots.
“For dark age spots that are caused by sun exposure over time, you definitely need a tougher treatment than any product sold over the counter can provide,” Solomon told HuffPost. “If you are dealing with spots of bold hyperpigmentation, you can ask your dermatologist for a prescription-strength retinol cream, as an over-the-counter spot corrector (made up of oils and fruit extracts) is not going to be the best course of action for treating liver spots,” she explained.
7. Overpriced Moisturizers
Yes, we’ve all faced the dilemma of having to choose between a luxury and drugstore skin care product at some point. And while the siren song of those pricey cleansers and serums may be tempting, Solomon said that expensive moisturizer products, in particular, may not be worth the expensive price tag.
“There are plenty of affordable moisturizers on the market that do a great job for your skin type,” Solomon explained. “Don’t just rotate towards the most luxurious cream you can find, as expensive moisturizers (with a lot of oil inside) can cause breakouts instead of smoothing and hydrating your skin,” she added.
8. Blackhead Strips
We all know how much of a royal pain blackheads can be, making those budget-friendly removal strips at CVS oh-so-tempting. However, Solomon advised passing on these products, as they don’t have the capability to remove any deep-seated gunk lingering beneath your pores.
“Pore strips just don’t have the capability to draw out the dirt and grime that has dug itself deep inside the pores,” Solomon explained. “They also won’t be helpful to those who struggle with blackheads in hard-to-reach places (like the curvature at the side of the nostrils), as it is difficult for the strip to even to make contact (or actually attach itself to the deep-seated dirt in the pore) there,” she added.
9. Cellulite Cream
We’ve all seen those expensive creams and body scrubs that promise to send cellulite packing. However, board-certified plastic surgeon Manish Shah explained that such products really have no effect on skin condition whatsoever, while in-office treatments prove to be much more effective.
“Even though this condition has no bearing on the patient’s value as a person, they still purchase expensive cellulite creams (reduction in the actual appearance of cellulite) that give them the same results as a major brand moisturizer,” Shah told HuffPost. “Research has now found that physical massage done with affordable home-devices (or at a dermatologist or plastic surgeon’s practice) can help improve the condition much more effectively than creams in a shiny bottle,” he added.
10. Stretch Mark Creams
Much like alleged “cellulite-busting” products, creams used to treat stretch marks are another overhyped cash-grab, according to Shah, since stretch marks tend vary in pigmentation and size, making them pretty difficult to remove.
“Expensive stretch mark creams just don’t do enough to address and remove the tearing and scarring in the dermis,” Shah suggested. “At most, they can moisturize the area, which is always helpful to the skin, but you can do that with your regular body moisturizer,” he added.
11. Ingestible Collagen
Beauty powders containing skin-boosting collagen are also gaining a lot of traction these days, as they can be easily added into smoothies or water to increase your skin’s natural elasticity. However, dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson said that while these products may give you a good boost of protein, they won’t directly benefit your skin in the long term.
“Our body digests these powders just like it does with any other food, so it does not know to send it directly to the skin, hair and nails,” Robinson explained. “Adding this kind of product to your diet for overall wellness is fine, but if you’re trying to troubleshoot one specific issue, then it’s not the answer,” she added.
12. Expensive Anti-Aging Cleansers
This one should come as no surprise, especially since cleansers are quickly wiped off of the face, according to dermatologist Dendy Engelman. And since cleansers are not on the skin long enough to have any lasting anti-aging effects, she said it’s worth passing on buying products with such claims.
“If the cleanser contains ingredients that helps remove pollution or residual make-up, balance the skin or promote a healthy microbiome, then it’s probably a good investment,” Engleman told HuffPost. “However, if the cleanser claims to contain a rare arctic flower that has major anti-aging benefits, then it’s probably too good to be true,” she added.