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Popular Skincare Products That Aren’t as Great as They Seem

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is actually very comedogenic, which means that it easily clogs pores. This can be problematic for sensitive or blemish-prone skin. Because there are so many other moisturizers and oils out there that do not have this issue, there’s no need to be using coconut oil on your face.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel toners have become popular especially among people with oily skin, as they see that witch hazel produces a degreasing effect. However, this is actually due to the denatured alcohol it contains and chemicals called tannins that have a constricting and drying effect. While this may appear good in the short term, witch hazel ends up creating many more long-term problems. The tannins in witch hazel are sensitizing (it makes your skin more sensitive), the denatured alcohol generates free-radical damage and impairs the skin’s surface, and a natural oil found in witch hazel may also create long term sensitization. Another misconception is that witch hazel can “dry up” acne. However, acne has nothing to do with the skin being dry, so using astringent products on your skin doesn’t fix the situation. It can actually add more irritation and in turn, make acne worse.

African Black Soap

This product does have some noteworthy pros like its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, however, tread lightly with this product. Black soap can dry out even the oiliest of skin, so it’s important to make sure the soap at least includes other moisturizing ingredients in it as well. This product is also usually all plant-derived, therefore it is very possible it may cause allergic reactions. Test it on a small part of the skin on the first day of use. People also often report their skin feeling tight, tingling, or burning, thinking this is drawing out impurities; don’t fall for it. These are signs of irritation, and if you experience these symptoms stop using the product.

Facial Scrubs

It can be nice to feel the sensation of exfoliating beads on the skin, but physical exfoliation can often cause irritation and tearing in the skin. This can be especially problematic for skin with acne, as you do not want to disturb already inflamed skin any further. Instead, try a chemical exfoliator like AHA or BHA. I personally love Paula’s Choice 2% liquid exfoliant. It can be used once daily and performs like a moisturizing toner. 

Clean Beauty

Recently, clean beauty products have become the next best thing, however, there is often confusion over what this truly means. Clean basically means products are formulated without certain ingredients, however, each brand’s definition of what qualifies to make it clean may vary. There are also two sides to the argument on whether to be for or against clean beauty. On one side, clean beauty vilifies many safe safe ingredients that have little to no evidence they are harmful, chooses instead many irritation-causing ingredients such as denatured alcohol, and formulates less safely compared to the scientific community that focuses more on skin health when formulating products, as opposed to a label. Also, keep in mind that seeing the label “clean” does not mean anything. There is no regulation or expectations regarding the term clean, and it is often used as a marketing tool to create a false sense of comfort. However, clean beauty isn’t a complete villain. It encourages people to look through the ingredient lists so we can hold brands accountable, and it helped start the conversation about environmental sustainability. To summarize, instead of relying on a clean label, analyzing each individual brand for oneself would be much more effective. 

My name is Savannah Rae Richard, and I am a freshman from Georgia. Currently, I'm interested in studying Integrative Biology and going into medicine. I plan to go into Dermatology and also create my own cosmetic brand someday. I also love beauty, fashion, aesthetics, and most things that come in pink!
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