Masks, Potions and More: The Truth About Skin Care
Fads come and go, and it seems every beauty magazine has a new, hot tip that mobilizes the masses to dole out money for “the next great facial care product” that will keep your face looking young and healthy. But do these products even work? And are they really any better than the products your grandmother used? Let’s look beyond the hype and see what science has to say.
Do Masks Actually Work?
There are a number of trendy masking techniques that can make your face feel smooth and refreshed by removing impurities that clog your pores. One of the more popular trends right now is the charcoal mask, which involves smearing a charcoal-based black substance all over your face and allowing the carbon in the charcoal to do a deep clean of your pores. The “bubble” mask actually mixes charcoal or clay with a wash that foams up on your face to accomplish the same goal. Other mask options, such as peel-off or sheet masks, can also remove impurities, and some products claim to have a type of serum that may rejuvenate your skin. One novel product even uses snail mucus.
Whether you visit a spa to pay for these treatments or take the DIY route, you may experience the same results: clean, soft skin. However, some mask products may be painful to remove and may result in redness, and if you opt to make your own formula, you need to be careful to mix it properly. Whatever route you choose, use extra caution if you have sensitive skin.
What Products Make Skin Look Younger?
Low pH cleansers are showing up on store shelves. The concept behind these products is that more acidic products leave your face less hospitable to acne-causing bacteria. If you are prone to occasional break-outs, it may not hurt to try one of these cleansers, but if you have serious acne, consulting with a dermatologist is your best solution.
Some people in the skin care industry claim hyaluronic acid is the fountain of youth. Hyaluronic acid is naturally occurring within the body, and is sometimes used in medical procedures such as eye surgery because of its cushioning and lubricating properties. There is, however, no evidence to support its effectiveness in rejuvenating the skin when applied topically or taken orally.
Alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA) and beta hydroxyl acid (BHA) are exfoliating compounds meant to remove dead skin cells from your face. While your body naturally sloughs off dead skin cells, as you age, this process slows down, so AHA or BHA could help dull skin look refreshed. Prescription topical retinoids, such as tretinoin, also take off the dead top layers of skin and have been shown to offer an added benefit: stimulating collagen to help decrease fine lines. Consider seeing your dermatologist for a prescription.
Are Natural Remedies Safe for My Face?
Natural products are inexpensive and simple to try at home. When diluted with water, apple cider vinegar is being touted as a solution for acne, dry skin, wrinkles, redness and age spots. Apple cider vinegar is a potent substance that can be harsh and may sting or be overly drying, so you may be better off to avoid it. If you decide to try it, be sure to mix it with at least an equal part of water.
Stick to the Tried and True
You can spend your time and money chasing the latest fad, or you can rely on what has been proven to work. Sheryl Hoyer, MD, dermatologist for Northwestern Medical Group, notes that most trends are ultimately shown to be ineffective. “Just because a product costs a lot of money doesn’t mean you’ll get good results,” she says. Her advice? Stick to gentle, over-the-counter, soap-free cleansers. There are many basic cleansing products on the market that lather up and get the job done without drying your skin or causing clogged pores. Using one of these products may make your face glow not just from the skin treatment, but also from knowing you saved your hard-earned cash.