The world of cosmetics is full of choices, and it can be hard to choose the products that are best suited for your skin. However, there are a few products I would outright ban if I had the chance because they are wildly popular, but often responsible for skin issues I see in clients. I’ll admit— I’ve been guilty of using every single one of these products at some point in my life, too! Almost everyone is using at least one of them, so take a look and see what skin sins you may not even know you’re committing!
1. Apricot Scrub
I’ll admit— I used this exfoliating scrub every day for years. It’s like a drug, right? I used to think apricot scrub was the only thing keeping my skin from the brink of real disaster, but it turns out it was a major reason I had problems at all.
Why? Well, if you are using this product daily you’re probably also having issues with blackheads, redness, flakiness, combination skin, or large pores. See, it’s ok to exfoliate your face 1-2 times a week with light pressure, but you want to make sure the little particles that are doing the scrubbing won’t damage your skin. If you look at the crushed shells and seeds in your apricot scrub under a microscope, they will look like little shards of glass and pebbles, and guess what? They tear up your skin just like little shards of glass and pebbles would. Even with light pressure, these particles leave tiny rips and tears in the skin and break down your skin’s natural barriers and defenses to environmental damage, which leads to rapid aging and unwanted redness. In addition, it over-strips your skin of the natural oils it needs. This leads to oil over-production that can cause combination skin issues, blackheads, and larger pores.
Ideally, your exfoliating scrub contains something called jojoba beads/seeds, instead. Jojoba beads/seeds are made by mother nature and are rounded, smooth spheres that will remove dull, dead surface skin cells but won’t tear or rip at your skin in the process.
However, still don’t want to throw your apricot scrub out? No problem! It makes an excellent foot scrub! Just don’t put it anywhere above your shoulders.
What to use instead: I like Murad’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser* and Aveda’s Tourmaline Charged Exfoliating Cleanser. However, what you’re really looking for is an ingredients list that includes jojoba beads or seeds, so use any scrub you love that contains them
2. Cetaphil Cleanser
This product isn’t actually bad, but using the wrong cleanser for your skin is. There are far more people using this cleanser than their skin types call for. It’s a clear gel cleanser, which means it’s fairly high in surfactant. If you skin feels tight or squeaky clean after using this product, it’s just not right for you. Try switching to a light cream cleanser.
What to use instead: Click here for a guide to choosing the right cleanser for you.
From time to time, especially long cold winters like this one, our lips dry out and could use a little help. Unfortunately, many lip balms contain ingredients like camphor, phenol and menthol that can actually dry the lips out further and discourage your lips’ natural ability to rehydrate and lubricate themselves. This can lead to your lips being “addicted” to lip balm, because you need more and more of it to keep feeling normal! Quite the marketing racket, eh? Chapstick, arguably the most popular brand of lip balm, is notorious for this.
What to use instead: Aquaphor, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), and even coconut oil are great ways to give your lips temporary help and relief without the addictive side effects. Have a really bad case of chapped lips? You can also buy Bag Balm at local drug stores. Yes, I know it’s udder cream for cows, but it’s udderly fantastic and can provide relief for even the worst case of chapped lips. There’s probably no butter product on the market, unless I’ve made a miscowculation. Ok, I don’t want to get cheesy and milk this pun pasture tolerance levels. 😀
4. Nose Strips
This was another skin-sin that was hard for me to give up. It’s just SO satisfying to pull the strip off and see all the stuff that comes out of your pores! However, repeated use of nose strips tends to create more blackheads than you would have had in the first place. The strips don’t just remove blackheads, but they also remove a thin layer of skin and tiny hairs, which leaves you with open pores that are perfect for bacteria to settle into. Natural oils get stripped away, as well, which leads to extra oil production that further clogs the open pores. This combination of oil and bacteria usually leads to even more blackheads.
What to use instead: If blackheads are your concern, pick up a hydrating toner instead. The water it adds to your skin will help cut down oil production, and therefore your blackheads.
5. Extraction tools
Extraction tools are verboten for all the same reasons as nose strips, with the added bonus that if they’re misused (and if you haven’t been trained to use them, you’re probably misusing them), they have the ability to break, bruise, and to cause bleeding in the skin. These tools are designed to be used by a professional on a client. Even as a trained esthetician, I cannot properly use the tool on myself; the physics just don’t work. So stop using them!
What to use instead: Your esthetician. Schedule a facial, and they will properly extract for you! If you really want you, you can always ask to see what comes out of your skin!
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See you next Sunday!
*Disclosure— My spa carries the Murad product line. However, I am not directly compensated by any manufacturer, including Murad, for recommending their products on my blog.