In the pursuit of clear, smooth skin, sometimes what you don’t put on your face is just as crucial as what you do. “People bring in bags and bags of products they’ve tried,” says Durham, NC-based dermatologist Brooke Jackson, MD. “But less is often more with skincare.” Slathering on every new wonder cream can irritate your face, creating a negative situation, adds Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD. A check-in with a derm should help you come up with the best overall plan for your skin. And there are some questionable products and tools that dermatologists make a point to avoid. Here are the products they say are simply a waste of money—or worse, could actually could damage your skin.
At-home chemical peels
“I NEVER put strong chemical peels on my face at home. Sometimes people buy medical-grade peels online that are too strong for home use. I’ve seen bad results, such as redness and too much peeling than can lead to long-term scarring and discoloration. They also sometimes cause allergic reactions.” —Angela Lamb, MD, Dermatologist, The Mount Sinai Hospital.
“I stay away from using a loofah or a buf puf on my face. They are too abrasive and can actually irritate your skin. I have underlying acne and eczema and these sponges–which also tend to attract bacteria—can make both conditions worse.” —Jeanine Downie, MD, Director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, NJ.
Moisturizers with collagen
“Frankly, I believe that the collagen molecule is too large to work as a topical. The active ingredient does not penetrate the skin, so you’re just getting an overly expensive moisturizer.” —S. Manjula Jegasothy, MD, CEO and Founder of Miami Skin Institute.
Abrasive face scrubs
“There is no reason to use abrasive face scrubs, which can be irritating and induce hyperpigmentation. Most people who try them are acne patients and you can’t scrub acne away. Your face is being irritated unnecessarily. Instead, I cleanse with a creamy wash using my hands then I use a washcloth to wipe the cleanser off (don’t scrub).” —Brooke Jackson, MD, Founder and Medical Director of Skin Wellness Dermatology Associates in Durham, NC.
At-home microneedling devices
“I feel there’s so much risk of infection from these devices because they create all those tiny holes in the skin. Your skin barrier function is compromised. We do microneedling with radio frequency in the office, but it is in a controlled, cleaner environment so it is safer.” —Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills and author of Heal Your Skin.