10 skin-care products you're wasting your money on, according to dermatologists

Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDERSome skin care products aren’t worth your money.
  • Not all beauty products live up to their hype.
  • From toners to cleansing oils, some products are over-priced and not worth your money.
  • INSIDER spoke to board-certified dermatologists to find the beauty products that you shouldn’t buy.

Building a beauty routine can feel overwhelming – it seems like every day there’s a new product that claims it will give you perfect skin. Add up all those items, and it can be pretty expensive, too. Before you spend all that cash on creams, serums, toners, and other products, make sure you’re getting ones that actually work. Unfortunately, there are some pricey products out there that don’t do very much for your skin (and can actually end up irritating your skin).

So what are these products? INSIDER spoke to board-certified dermatologists to find out which items aren’t worth the money.


Toners may dry out your face.

PixabayOpt for serums instead.

“Patients love toner because of its cool refreshing sensation, but toners do not provide any benefits and may even dry out or irritate the face,” Hedy Setyadi, a dermatologist in Florida, told INSIDER. “You’d be better off spending that money and effort on products that work.” Looking for some suggestions? Setyadi recommended using a benzoyl peroxide wash in the morning and retinoids at night if you have acne-prone skin.

For anti-ageing purposes, Setyadi said to use an antioxidant serum. If you’ve been using toner to even out your skin tone, Setyadi said to switch to a glycolic acid facial wash in the morning and retinoids at night (but only if your skin can tolerate both).


Expensive washes, moisturizers, sunscreens, and retinoids aren’t always worthy of their high price tags.

ShutterstockSometimes drugstore products will do the trick.

Luxury-brand products may seem like they’re better formulated because of their huge price tags. But Susan Bard, a New York-based dermatologist, told INSIDER that she always discourages her patients from buying pricey skin care basics. “When it comes to these items, you can find some wonderful products at the drugs,” she said. “Save your money for serums containing growth factors and peptides. Those products are expensive to produce, so in that case, you get what you pay for.”

Read more: 12 drugstore beauty products celebrities love that cost less than $US10


Oral or topical collagen supplements likely won’t penetrate your skin.

karolinamis/FlickrYour skin probably isn’t getting the benefits.

You’ve seen all the collagen supplements on the market that promise to give you the skin of your dreams. But they’re generally a waste of money, said Omar Ibrahimi, a dermatologist based in Connecticut. “Collagen and elastin are large protein molecules which are present in our dermis,” he told INSIDER. “Applying these topically or ingesting them will not benefit our skin because the molecules will not penetrate the epidermis (the top layer of the skin) to get to the dermis.” If you ingest them, Ibrahimi said that it will get broken down before the stomach can absorb it.


There isn’t much evidence supporting the benefits of exfoliating scrubbing brushes.

Shutterstock/MaridavDel Campo suggested sticking to treatments with clinical evidence when it comes to your skin.

You might want to think twice before investing in an expensive scrubbing brush, Danny Del Campo, a Chicago-based dermatologist told INSIDER. “Exfoliating facial scrubbing brushes have very limited evidence, and I often find patients spending hundreds of dollars on these devices,” he said. “With these brushes, there are no well-performed studies and there are better alternatives you can find by seeing a board-certified dermatologist.”


Stretch mark creams likely won’t work.

Monning27/ShutterstockTalk to a dermatologist if you are bothered by the appearance of stretch marks.

Dealing with some pesky stretch marks? Unfortunately, a pricey cream won’t do much to help, said Sarika Snell, a dermatologist in Washington, DC. “The problem is under the skin in the dermis layer, and topical medications can not penetrate to that area to fix the issue,” she told INSIDER. If your stretch marks are really bothering you, go see a board-certified dermatologist.


Makeup removers won’t work as well as cleansers.

Shutterstock/sirtravelalotCleansing your face should be enough.

Jennifer Kitchin, a dermatologist in New York, said that it’s best to keep your beauty routine simple to save. One item she said you can absolutely cut from the process? Makeup remover. “Buying a separate makeup remover is a waste of money,” she told INSIDER. “I recommend finding an effective and gentle cleanser for your face, and use it on a regular basis. Cleansing your face effectively will remove dirt, debris, and excess oil. It will also remove your make up, saving you both time and money.”


Commercial subscription lines aren’t worth their high costs.

cushyspa.com/FlickrYou can often find the same ingredients for cheaper.

Product lines that promise to fix your acne are almost never worth the money, said Marcy Alvarez, a dermatologist in Florida. “Most commercially available subscription lines and multilevel marketing products aren’t worth the monthly subscription fees or high costs,” she told INSIDER.

“While the grouped and mailed products may seem convenient, you can often find the same active ingredients in many other branded over-the-counter products at a cheaper price and without the monthly commitment.” If those products aren’t helping, Alvarez said that you should visit a board-certified dermatologist.


Miracle-promising products often don’t follow through on their claims.

Charley Gallay/Getty ImagesIf you’ve got a skin concern, Daniel said you should consult a dermatologist, who can help you find the right regimen.

Ever seen a product that promises to do it all and think that it’s too good to be true? It probably is, said Stephanie Daniel, a Virginia-based dermatologist. ” It is a billion dollar industry and over zealous promises are abundant so it’s definitely buyer beware” she told INSIDER. Daniel suggested staying away from anything that claims to perform a miracle, as those pricey products won’t do very much in the long run except empty your bank account.


Cellulite creams have no research to back them up.

dimid_86/ShutterstockSkip the pricey products when it comes to cellulite.

Just like stretch mark cream, cellulite cream is a bust, said Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York. “Pretty much every cellulite cream out there is a scam and have no research to back them up,” he told INSIDER. Skip the pricey products and seek out the advice of professionals when it comes to cellulite.


Cleansing oil might do more harm than good.

Voyagerix/ShutterstockChoose products that are non-comedogenic.

Cleansing oil may be trendy, but it can also lead to more skin problems for some people, said Jennifer Channual, a dermatologist in California. “Cleansing oils are a popular trend, but can be tricky to use especially in patients with acne-prone or oily and combination skin,” she told INSIDER. Cleaning oil can actually worsen your skin if you have one of those skin types, Channual said. Instead, she recommended choosing products that are non-comedogenic, which means they won’t clog your pores.

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