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5 Beauty Products Dermatologists Wish You’d Stop Wasting Money On

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Beauty products you might not need

You work hard for your money, and you deserve products that work hard to keep your skin and hair looking great. But, alas, that’s not always what you get. We discovered nine that don’t live up to their promises (and often high price tag), and got the scoop on what to use instead for beautiful results.

1. Costly cleansers

Cleansers are only on your skin for a short time, so they rarely have much “action” beyond removing makeup, oil, and dirt—something any cleanser should do, says Christine Choi Kim, MD, a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. A more worthwhile investment: a Clarisonic cleansing brush. Unlike other cheaper cleansing devices, which use manually rotating brushheads that can be too abrasive on sensitive skin, Clarisonic employs ultrasonic vibration to gently, yet deeply cleanse skin. The payoff: Besides minimizing breakouts, you’ll get more punch from the products you use afterward.

Keep your skin looking healthier and younger with our Ultimate Skin Care Guide.

2. Trendy anti-aging products

Snake venom and stem cells sound sexy, and they may even have some skin benefits. But nothing has the proven scientific track record of retinoids and alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), says Dr. Kim. Both can gradually build collagen, minimize the appearance of fine lines and unwanted pigmentation, and keep pores clear to help alleviate acne. “These, combined with sunscreen, are the simple foundation of most dermatologists’ personal skin-care regimens,” says Dr. Kim.

3. Spendy sunscreens

The best sunscreen is one you’ll use. So if you’re more likely to apply a $35 sunscreen because you love the way it feels or smells, slather away. Just be aware that there’s no need to shell out big bucks to effectively shield your skin from the sun. “Expensive packaging doesn’t mean more protection,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. In fact, Consumer Reports testing consistently shows that many drugstore and mass retailer brands provide excellent protection. P.S.

Here are 5 Reasons Your Sunscreen Isn’t Working.

4. Cellulite-reducing creams

If the arrival of swimsuit season has you heading for the miracle potion section of the beauty aisle, experts implore you to save your pennies. “Cellulite is a complex biologic process that no cream can currently correct,” says Mount Kisco, New York-based dermatologist David Bank, MD, who evaluates claims for these products for the Federal Trade Commission. At most, he reports, some creams may temporarily smooth the appearance of cellulite by hydrating the skin or—in the case of those that contain caffeine—by slightly improving drainage of the sluggish lymphatic system, which is one of the underlying causes of cellulite. A more surefire way to disguise the dimpling is with self-tanner; according to Dr. Bank, the darker colour diminishes the “shadowing” created by the alternating high and low areas of skin.

5. Stretch mark creams

Skip ‘em, advises Dr. Gohara. “If they really worked, stretch marks wouldn’t exist!” The one exception is prescription retinoids, which studies show can improve the appearance of new stretch marks after six months of daily use. (Note: For health reasons, retinoids can’t be used during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.) For more significant improvement (at a far more significant cost), ask your dermatologist about laser treatments. Some lasers can stimulate collagen growth and zap away the redness of fresh stretch marks, while others can re-pigment older marks that have turned white. If camouflaging them is more your style, a little body makeup can help even out your skin.