Let’s face it, skincare and beauty are big business. They lure us in with pretty packaging and even prettier influencers, and prey on our insecurities with the lure of total transformation. Yet underneath the smoke and mirrors, it all comes down to damn good marketing and advertising.
The beauty industry is constantly releasing new, innovative products to keep customers interested, but much like the annual release of a new iPhone, there are often very minimal changes under the hood. Even then, it is easy to spend hundreds if not thousands on skincare and beauty products over the course of a year, so for those of us who don’t want to take any chances and only want products that really work, we need to search through a lot of noise to find the most effective products on the market.
If that sounds like you, here is a list of items that should make you think twice before purchase.
Oh, and I also wanted to mention — this article was inspired by one of my favorite recent podcast finds, Scam Goddess, which dives into the world of scamming and fraud in a highly entertaining way. Seriously, go check it out. This is one of the few podcasts that actually makes me laugh out loud (and look like a crazy person to passers-by when I’m listening to it in public).
Without further ado, here are the scam-ridden skincare products to be suspicious of:
Face masks. Or more generally, any product that has a negligible amount of the active ingredient (face masks just happen to fall into this category a lot of the time). So many products claim to have specific benefits due to one or two active ingredients, but if upon closer inspection of the ingredient list you can’t find the ingredient in the first half, then the product likely doesn’t have a high enough concentration of it to actually make a noticeable difference.
Tinted moisturizers with SPF. I learned recently that the SPF in tinted moisturizers (and many BB and CC creams), makes up such a small amount of the product, that it doesn’t actually offer sufficient enough sun protection. You would have to slather on an ungodly amount of tinted moisturiser, for the SPF in there to be effective. So make sure to apply your regular sunscreen as well, even if your other skincare products claim to offer sun protection.
Any SPF above 50. SPF higher than 50 offers only negligibly better sun protection, but it does encourage people to stay outside in the sun for longer, making it more likely you get burnt. Just stick to SPF 50 or below, and apply liberally and often!
Pore strips. I love these because it’s so satisfying getting all the gunk out and looking at it up close, but within a week your pores will be clogged again and it’s a never-ending cycle of strip after strip. So these definitely aren’t a solution and won’t make the size of your pores smaller, but are effective for a quick fix.
Self-tanning. No matter how much you exfoliate or what apparatus you apply it with, you will always, always have some sort of streaks. At least I have yet to find a product that is genuinely streak-free, no matter how careful I am.
Physical exfoliants. I feel like the average woman has come a long way from using harsh physical exfoliants on delicate skin, but some people are still wary of chemical exfoliants, which, when used properly are 100x better for your skin.
Eye cream. Okay, maybe I’m not the target age for this product yet, but eye creams are always at least 2–3x more expensive than their same-brand moisturizers, making me think that eye creams are a made-up product category that was invented to grow profits.
Gluten-free beauty and skincare products. Unless you plan on ingesting your skincare products anytime soon, you’re probably fine.
This concludes the list! There are exceptions to all of these, so make sure you do your research if you want to buy products that really work. I am no expert in skincare, but I do recommend watching Hyram and James Welsh on YouTube if you want more information. These two have some great recommendations on what skincare products actually work, versus which are overpriced, overhyped and a waste of time.
One final point to make. Sometimes, you just want to blow money on dumb beauty products that looked cute on Instagram. The packaging is too cute to resist, or it looks like it would just be fun to play around with. I do it too, I think we all do. Even if I know this facemask probably doesn’t make any noticeable difference to my skin, the process of applying it, especially in combination with other self-care rituals, is priceless. So if any of these things make you happy, then keep doing what you’re doing. But if you are serious about keeping a minimal beauty routine and want to save some coin, hopefully this list has spared you some of your hard-earned cash.