For people who keep an eye on the latest beauty trends, is it really worth it to buy a jade roller to smooth over your forehead, cheeks and neck? And what about the beef tallow craze - should you rub this thick, waxy fat on yourself in the pursuit of better-looking skin? Skincare advice is everywhere these days.
Skincare claims made on social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok stack up billions of views. But could some of this trendy advice be harmful to our skin? A Healthier Michigan podcast recently tapped an expert to talk about this, and came away with some simple and useful advice about what real skincare should look like. And it’s not the “quick hacks” you might be seeing online.
Beauty by the numbers
The beauty industry is big business. More than $90 billion is shelled out each year worldwide. The average American spends about $722 annually on their appearance, which includes skincare products. Some of this buys expensive moisturizers and serums, eye gels and skin exfoliators. Other dollars go to skincare hacks people saw on social media and try to replicate at home.
“People want stuff quick, they want it cheap,” said Dr. David Baird, chief dermatologist and director at Farmington Dermatologists. “They want immediate appeal, immediate results, and in a lot of cases, they don't want to put in the time and the effort that's necessary to achieve those. So these huge claims, for whatever reason, (to) the human brain, it's appealing. And like I said, people just want that quick fix, that quick hack. That's why these things are very popular right now.”
Real skincare should be simple
Baird said taking care of your skin is not complicated, but you also won’t see a difference overnight. Why? Because our skin takes about 40 days to turn over. That means products that show pictures claiming an overnight or even a one-week difference don’t ring true. Instead, Baird shared these basic skincare steps, depending on your age:
- Use a gentle cleanser on your face once or twice a day.
- Use sunscreen daily.
- Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer that won’t clog your pores.
- As you age, you may need a retinoid or something to help replenish the skin.
“That's where a little bit of money can come in with the addition of those,” he said. “There's some over-the-counter ones. Your dermatologist can give you some prescription ones, but it's just a routine that you have to get into and it doesn't take a lot. It's kind of like brushing your teeth.”
Social media skincare trends
Baird took aim at a few of the most popular skincare hacks people find online. He pointed out how they might be harmful to people’s skin, and how there’s really no scientific evidence to back up claims that they actually work.
“Almost every one of these popular ones, they've not been studied scientifically,” he said. “They'll throw in some technical terms to sound impressive, but you can't point to any definitive studies. They sound like they know what they're doing, they sound like they're informed on the information, but they're really not.”
Beef tallow: This smelly fat, when rubbed into the skin, will clog your pores, he said. If a fragrance is mixed in to cover the beefy smell, it could bother people with allergies or those sensitive to added fragrances. Tip: If you are looking for a natural plant-based moisturizer, go with avocado or grapeseed oil.
Ice water facials: While an ice pack can decrease swelling on a sprained ankle, it won’t help your face. The trend of sticking your face in a bowl of ice water could actually cause a cold injury to your skin. Or, it could trigger your body’s “dive reflex,” which could slow down your heart and make you pass out.
Jade rollers: These beauty tools actually date back to 17th-century China as a fancy way to smooth your skin. Recent social media posts claim using these will increase your skin’s collagen and elastin production, giving you younger-looking skin. Baird says there’s no truth to these claims, but cold stainless-steel rollers might have a cooling effect and reduce some under-eye puffiness.
For real talk on skincare, Baird recommends using the American Academy of Dermatology's website at aad.org, and checking out the blog on his practice’s website, farmingtonderm.com.
Want to learn more about social media trends that can harm your skin? Listen to this episode of “A Healthier Michigan Podcast” featuring a conversation with Dr. David Baird, chief dermatologist and director at Farmington Dermatologists.
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