skin and beauty products

With a constant barrage of trendy beauty products calling for your attention, it’s nearly impossible to figure out what the true gems are—especially given each and every one promises to give you the skin of your dreams.

We took a closer look at some of the latest trends to claim the spotlight to see what’s worth your time, and what’s a waste of money.

Over the last year, it seems that the popularity of novelty face masks has exploded, bringing us some good, some bad, and some downright weird.

1. Is micellar water as miraculous as it sounds?

If you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the world of beauty, chances are you’ve heard about the amazing properties of micellar water—and that you can easily replace a handful of your existing products with this one bottle.

What it is:

Micellar water is a face cleansing product made up of teeny tiny balls of oil molecules (“micelles”) that are suspended in soft water. Though it’s become part of the cultural beauty lexicon only recently, this formula—and the philosophy around it—has been a popular skin solution in France since the days before traditional plumbing, when French tap water was seriously rough on the skin.

What it claims to do:

Because micelles are attracted to the dirt and oils residing on your skin at any given point, micellar water can help draw out excess oils and remove impurities without drying out your skin like other cleansing agents. In theory, micellar water eliminates the need for water—and means you can skip foaming cleansers, toner, and moisturizer. Some micellar water products also claim to remove waterproof makeup.

Our verdict:

Give it a try! Micellar water can be an excellent option for those with dry, sensitive, or combination skin, though anyone with oilier skin may want to skip over this trend. We don’t suggest swapping all of your other products for micellar water, but it can be a great product to have on hand for vacation, camping, or those nights where you’d much rather drop straight into bed than going through your face washing routine.

2. Will a 24 carat face mask make your skin golden?

Probably not. And gold’s not the only unusual face mask ingredient making beauty news: with snail slime, carbonated clay, and caviar all being employed in the name of beautiful skin, one wonders what could possibly be next! The novelty face mask genre has positively exploded, bringing us some good, some bad, and some downright weird.


What they are:

These masks fly off the shelves thanks to bizarre ingredients, Instagram-worthy application, and promises of gorgeous skin. Pre-packaged sheet masks often come infused with normal skin-healthy ingredients and serums, in addition to attention-grabbing ingredients such as bee venom, snail mucus, or pure gold. Jarred or tubed products may foam, have fun colors, or require a unique application or removal process.

What they claim to do:

Most of these face masks promise clearer, firmer, glowing, and youthful skin. What they actually deliver may be another story.

Our verdict:

Have fun, but use with caution. Most novelty face masks are ineffective at best, but a few may cause more trouble than they’re worth. For instance, the now famous carbonated bubble mask boasts a tingling experience of rapidly foaming product that supposedly removes blackheads, thoroughly cleanses the skin, and leaves your face feeling softer, tighter, and more radiant. However, the mask is clay-based, which means it can have some seriously drying effects, particularly for those who are already prone to dry or flakey skin.

Whatever you decide, just avoid “knock off” formulas or products from other countries that don’t list their ingredients in English. And to be extra safe when trying a new product, do a small test on an inconspicuous area of your skin, rather risking your face.

3. Can topical hyaluronic acid plump my skin from the outside?

A skincare product that replenishes your skin with exactly what it needs to stay youthful and supple? Yes please! But does putting hyaluronic acid on top of your skin actually do anything?

What it is:

Hyaluronic acid is a type of carbohydrate that naturally exists throughout the human body, providing lubrication and support to connective tissues. For this discussion, the most important fact about hyaluronic acid is that it is one of the components of the skin that keep it youthful, supple, and elastic. As we get older, the amount of hyaluronic acid in our bodies naturally decreases, leaving our skin more susceptible to wrinkling and sagging.

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What it claims to do:

Hyaluronic acid is used primarily as a component of injectable dermal fillers such as Juvéderm, providing a subtle, natural-looking increase in volume to smooth wrinkles and create more youthful contours. It is also used in topical anti-aging creams and serums to moisturize and soften the appearance of lines.

Our verdict:

While the molecule size of hyaluronic acid means not much is being absorbed by your skin, it has been shown to provide some improvement to skin firmness and appearance. Talk with your professional skincare provider about medical-grade products that are formulated with a combination of hyaluronic acid and other anti-aging ingredients.

4. Can probiotic skincare help with acne?

In recent years, it seems that everyone from Jamie Lee Curtis to your favorite beauty guru is extolling the virtues of probiotics. But are they as beneficial to your skin as they are to your gut?

What they are:

Probiotics are good bacteria that are the same or similar to bacteria that already naturally exists in your body. Your body is teeming with trillions of beneficial microbes—a majority of which take residence in your gastrointestinal tract.

Probiotics have become a popular and highly recommended supplement for improving gut health, immunity, and even reproductive function. They are also starting to appear in topical skincare products.

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What they claim to do:

Topical probiotics supposedly help improve common skin conditions, particularly acne and other inflammations, by positively influencing the natural “microflora” of your skin—i.e. helping support a good bacterial environment while reducing the number of “bad” bacteria present. Essentially, this helps even your skin’s pH and reduces pimple-causing bacteria, similar to how topical antibiotics work.

Our verdict:

Unfortunately, while probiotics do have proven skin benefits, live cultures are not typically found in skincare products and cosmetics. Be wary of products boasting probiotics, as chances are that they do not have any truly beneficial bacteria that made it through the formulation and packaging process.

If you’d like to explore the benefits of probiotics in treating acne, talk to a dermatologist or experienced aesthetician who can help treat you or provide expert recommendations.

5. Are charcoal peel masks worth the pain?

The old adage “beauty is pain” rings true when you’re ripping a trendy, pore-targeting charcoal mask off of your face, inch by excruciating inch.

What it is:

These charcoal-based face masks come out of the tube in a thick, tar-like texture and, over the course of 15-20 minutes, dry to a thin, tight, peelable mask.

What it claims to do:

Similar to pore strips, charcoal peel masks claim to clear pores by physically removing blackheads, built up dirt, and old skin cells. In theory, the mask “grabs” all the gunk in your pores as it dries, making extraction easy. The supposed result: smooth, blemish-free skin.

Our verdict:

Avoid this one! Not only is the process very painful, it is also removing the protective layer of vellus hair on your face and some of your skin. Ouch! As for the results, all those blackheads you see attached to the mask after removal are mostly sebaceous filaments—a necessary feature of your skin that actually helps wick oil away from the pores to moisturize the surface of your skin.

These masks can easily open your skin up to breakouts and inflammation, often leaving you worse off than before you tried the mask. While a single use isn’t going to permanently doom your skin, we recommend sticking with gentle exfoliating products or scheduling a professional skin resurfacing treatment for a safer and less painful experience that yields better results.

Skip the scams and get some expert advice

When in doubt, the best thing you can do for your skin is to meet with a highly trained skin care professional working under physician supervision. They can help you understand your skin type, discuss any concerns you may have, and make expert treatment and product recommendations.

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, contact us today! Our skin rejuvenation and laser specialists would love to work with you to improve your skin health and beauty using safe, proven methods.

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