5 Skincare Scams That Dermatologists Say Are A Waste Of Money—And 5 Effective Tips That Actually Work For Younger-Looking Skin

Navigating the world of anti-aging skincare trends as popularized on TikTok and social media can be a daunting task, as not all products are worthy of your money and time.

To help guide you in your quest for healthy, glowing skin, we consulted with top dermatologists and skincare experts to uncover five common skincare myths and scams to avoid, and offer up five tried-and-true alternatives for optimal results.

Read on for tips, suggestions and insight from Dr. Anna Chacon, MD, board-certified dermatologist and writer at My Psoriasis Team, Dr. Elaine F. Kung, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Future Bright Dermatology, Dr. Angela Casey, MD, dermatologist and founder of Bright Girl youth skincare line and Dr. Alberto de la Fuente Garcia, board-certified Dermatologist at VIDA Wellness and Beauty.













5 Common Anti-Aging Skincare Mistakes To Avoid—And 5 More Effective Tips

1. Using Makeup Remover Wipes

When it comes to removing your makeup after a long day, there's no doubt that makeup remover wipes can be a quick and simple solution. However, Chacon warns that prolonged use of these wipes as the main way to take off your makeup can lead to dryness, irritation and faster wrinkling.

"I’d recommend avoiding makeup removing wipes for skincare over 40 due to the harshness of the alcohol contents in the wipes," she says, noting that mature beauties might notice a more irritating reaction.

"Alcohol makes for a great anti-bacterial agent, but it also can lead to stripping of the natural essential oils needed for healthy skin and a complexion," she adds. This, she says, is likened to "hand sanitizer post-COVID and the dryness and eczema that can come from chronic use."

Instead, Try a Mild Face Wash

The dryness and irritation can "perpetuate and accentuate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and give the skin a lack-luster appearance," Chacon continues. Instead, she says she recommends removing makeup with "cotton balls or a soft face towel and a mild face wash."

"It’s something I have been doing in my own skincare routine since I was a teenager," Chacon reveals. It may take "more than one wash to get the cotton ball without signs of makeup," she acknowledges, but she stresses that it is worth it to always be "gentle on my skin."

"There’s a reason why a lot of people care for a baby’s delicate skin with cotton balls or a soft towel," she adds. She also shares that she prefers "cotton balls or pads over a towel as they are single use, which decreases the chance of buildup of makeup and bacteria in subsequent washes."

2. Over-Exfoliating with Salicylic & Glycolic Acid

If you've taken a scroll on BeautyTok or are familar with skincare trends, you've likely heard of the wonders of exfoliating and removing dead skin cells. While Chacon notes that exfoliating is important in your skincare routine, over-exfoliating risks skin damage, a dry complexion and forming more wrinkles as a result.

"Never over-exfoliate with various acids like salicylic or glycolic acid and facial scrubs or brushes," she says. "Over-scrubbing and over-stripping the skin of its components can damage an already compromised barrier, leading to dull, dry, and irritated skin."

Without proper "post-exfoliating, scrubbing and moisturizing," Chacon says that the skin can be left "dry, sensitive, and dull." This is because "as we get older, skin inherently becomes drier, due to less active oil-producing glands, and doesn’t retain moisture and healthy fats," she adds.

Instead, Exfoliate with Poly-Hydroxy Acids

Chacon emphasizes that one should only exfoliate once or twice per week, and with poly-hydroxy acids rather than salicylic and glycolic acids. "Poly-hydroxy acids are unique in that besides being a chemical exfoliant, they also function as a humectant, which means they attract moisture and draw it into your skin via its large molecules," Chacon explains.

"This prevents water loss by sealing the moisture in and forms a protective film on the skin to prevent vaporization," she goes on. Common humectants are hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid, aloe vera, and glycerin, and "they’re known for their ability to hydrate and bind water to the skin to help restore elasticity and fill in fine lines," Chacon notes.

"This means that PHAs simultaneously exfoliate while moisturizing and plumping the skin, leaving it supple and smooth for an overall healthy glow."

3. Cleansing with Sodium Lauryl Sulfates

Sodium Lauryl and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) are present in numerous commercially available cleansers, as well as face and body washes. These compounds possess robust cleansing properties, which are instrumental in eliminating oil and grime from the skin.

Additionally, they generate an opulent foam, which results in a revitalizing lather while cleansing. Nonetheless, the negative effects of using such chemicals on your skin surpass the ephemeral gratification experienced during rinsing, Chacon says.

"SLS is a common ingredient in soaps and facial cleansers, but it's also known to irritate sensitive skin and cause itchiness or redness for some people," Chacon says. "If you have dry skin and use products with SLS in them, try switching to something gentler like coconut oil," she advises.

Instead, Use a Gentle, pH-Balanced Cleanser

After a long day, it is vital to remove all makeup, dirt and oil from your pores with the help of a gentle cleanser, Casey explains. "Prevention is truly the best medicine when it comes to your skin health," she says.

"Implementing a skincare routine that cleanses, moisturizes, and protects your skin will lead you on the path to healthy, glowing, gorgeous skin."

She adds that this first step of cleansing is important because it "refreshes the skin and removes any sweat and debris that may have accumulated." She also suggests washing your face and neck areas with a "pH-balanced, gentle cleanser using lukewarm water."

4. Applying Skincare Products with Fragrances

Many moisturizers, body lotions, face washes and body washes have synthetic fragrances in them, Chacon says, and while this might seem appealing, they could wreck havoc on dry, aging and acne-prone skin if used often over time.

"Fragrance can cause irritation and allergic reactions in some people, including those with asthma, so make sure any skincare products or body washes you use don't contain fragrance as an ingredient," she stresses.

Instead, Look For Fragrance-Free Moisturizers and Cleansers

Garcia says that "hyaluronic acid, shea butter, ceramides, glycerin, and other natural oils" are great ingredients to look out for when shopping for a moisturizer, cleanser or body wash, rather than fragrances.

"These ingredients will help to create a protective barrier on the skin and trap moisture, while also providing essential nutrients to keep your skin looking its best," he adds. "Additionally, look for products that are non-comedogenic and free from fragrances or other potential irritants," he notes.

5. Fully Skin Fasting

You may have come across the buzzword 'skin fasting' on TikTok or social media, which entails taking a break from your current skincare routine to let your skin rejuvenate and reset. This is believed to enable your skin to function naturally without relying on any skincare products.

While purging your skincare products may be beneficial, Kung recommends that you keep two items in your routine - sunscreen and a gentle cleanser. Skipping these, she warns, can lead to sun damage, faster wrinkling, skin cancer and clogged pores.

"In this era of one-click easy online purchases, our patients often have an exhaustive list of skincare items and unwittingly introduced over 50 different chemical ingredients to their faces on a regular basis," Kung says.  


Instead, Make Sure to Always Use Sunscreen and a Gentle Cleanser

Kung adds that "when people have irritated skin, I often tell them to take a break from their routine which is not helping them." She continues: "I wholeheartedly support a purge of skincare products that are not working or are redundant.  I also support people not wasting their money on unnecessary skincare steps."

However, she concludes: "my biggest caveat is that washing our faces with a gentle cleanser and using sunscreen should still continue even if we stop everything else." Sunscreen, Chacon reiterates, is perhaps the most crucial skincare product of all when it comes to skin health at any age.

"The most crucial piece of everyday skincare is sun protection," she says. "No matter what other products you use, your skin won't look its best if you don't initially protect it. Everyone should consistently use sunscreen."