14 Beauty Products You're Using That Actually Do Nothing

by Beth Buczynski on 27 May 2014 7 comments

We all want to stay healthy and look our best. So we troll the beauty aisle, picking up little pots of ointment, bottles of cleanser, and tubes of cream that all promise breathtaking results. In fact, the only thing that's breathtaking is the price tag. Healthy and beauty experts tell us that 90% of these products are simple soap and moisturizer in expensive packaging. (See also: 24 Places to Buy Inexpensive Natural Beauty Products)

Save your money and protect yourself from a plethora of unnecessary chemical ingredients by tossing these 14 pointless beauty products to the curb.

1. Foot and Elbow Lotions

Any lotion or moisturizer that claims to be specially formulated for one specific part of the body is a scam. Cosmetic companies would love nothing more than to see you buy a separate product for each appendage. The truth is that a good quality body lotion can be used on any and all body parts, and there is no discernible benefit to targeted lotions.

2. Anti-Aging Creams

There is no such thing as a face-lift in a bottle. The value of an anti-aging cream can be determined by its active ingredients. Most are nothing more than moisturizer in a fancy container. It appears to plump and smooth for the moment, but results are temporary.

3. Toner

Many of us have been taught that toner is an important part of a daily skincare regimen, but this is outdated advice. Toner is nothing more than a cleanser meant to remove soap residue. The good news is, most modern facial soaps leave little to no residue, so you can skip the second-cleaning. (See also: 15 Wonderful Uses for Witch Hazel)

4. Cellulite Cream

Like anti-aging creams, we want so desperately to believe that anti-cellulite creams can smooth and tone our bodies. Unfortunately they can't. If you look closely, most of these products claim to reduce "the appearance of cellulite." Big red flag. While the caffeine in most formulas will temporarily firm the skin, the only thing that can really remove those dimples is a healthy diet and some exercise.

5. Lip Exfoliator

Remember what we said earlier about products "specially designed" for a single body part? Rip off. Same goes for the sugar and oil concoctions now being marketed as the short-cut to soft lips. Your lips, like the rest of your body, are capable of exfoliating naturally. If you want to help it along, wash with a cloth and then apply moisturizer.

6. Makeup Remover

Makeup can clog pores, and you should never leave it on your face overnight. However, a $5-$10 bottle of makeup remover is an unnecessary expense. Simply use your regular facial cleanser to remove the bulk of the residue. If you used particularly heavy or waterproof makeup (especially on your eyes), dab a bit of moisturizer on a tissue and rub gently to remove it.

7. Foot Masks

No one likes dry or cracking feet, especially during sandal season, but if you're using foot masks, you're wasting money for no reason (and you probably feel kind of silly). Use a pumice stone to slough away dead skin in a jiffy, and then apply your regular body lotion to heels and toes before you go to bed at night.

8. Pore Strips

Blackheads are what happens when dirt and oil gets trapped in our pores. Since we've got lots of pores, it's easy to get lots of blackheads. It would be great if there were an easy way to just suck them out of our entire face at once, but there isn't. Pore strips claim to lift away blackheads, but since many linger just under the skin's surface, they rarely do. Instead, they leave the area dry and irritated — perfect conditions for acne and more blackheads.

9. High SPF Sunscreen

The connection between sun exposure and skin cancer is obvious, so we slather on lots of sunscreen to protect ourselves. If SPF 25 is good, SPF 100 must be better, right? Wrong. There is no proven benefit to any SPF higher than 30. Anything more is just a waste of money and a false sense of security. (See also: Cheap and Simple Sunburn Remedies That Really Work)

10. Heat Defense Hair Serum

In a world where hair is brushed, dyed, ironed, and curled on a regular basis, it's no surprise that it occasionally looks fried. Various serums and sprays claim to defend your hair against heat treatments, but most benefits are temporary at best. Some make your hair sticky and even more prone to breakage.

11. Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Spotted a few flakes on your shoulder? You might want to reach for the anti-dandruff shampoo — but don't. Most of these soaps actually dry your scalp out, creating even more flakes. The best thing you can do for a dry scalp is brush your hair. Brushing redistributes your body's natural oils and sloughs away flakes.

12. Color-Enhancing Hair Care

You just spent $120 on a new hair color, and you want it to last forever. The stylist will likely try to sell you a "color-enhancing" shampoo or conditioner, but don't take the bait. "These shampoos have more additives than others" and "contain a temporary color stain that's more detrimental than beneficial." The best way to keep your color fresh is reducing shower frequency.

13. Shaving Cream

They feel nice, but most shaving creams are an expensive way to help the razor glide smoothly over your skin. Look for a moisturizing body wash with lots of glycerin, and kill two birds with one stone.

14. Vibrating Mascara

Mascara is hard enough to apply correctly, who on earth would you want the stick to vibrate on purpose? This high-cost beauty product is yet another example of stupid idea wrapped up in fancy packaging, accompanied by a flashy commercial. Save your $15 and apply mascara the old fashioned way — with a steady hand.

What beauty products have you found to be a waste of money? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Tova

While I agree with most of these, I object to the one about shaving cream. I have oily skin; for the acne-prone, moisturizing body wash can cause awful breakouts. Shaving cream moisturizes exactly where I need it - and washes off immediately.

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Guest

Disagree on the dandruff shampoo and shaving cream. There are many types of dandruff and most aren't simply dry scalp, and brushing won't help at all, yet zinc pyrithione is a successful treatment for some types. Additionally, shaving cream does much more than just lubricate (though that is one function) it als softens the beard, making it easier to cut. Also, most shaving cream is cheap, so why substitute a more expensive high-glycerin body wash??

Guest's picture
Guest

Shaving cream is a necessary soothing lubricant for those of us who have sensitive skin. Most brands have much less irritating scented ingredients than a body wash and the cream helps to lift the hairs. You can't leave body wash on your skin without it drying, and shaving cream is very moisturizing if you leave it on for a couple minutes before shaving. You can get perfectly good shaving cream at the dollar store for DUH a dollar and it's very cheap elsewhere unless you're springing for the flowery shaving gels. You people don't know what you're talking about.

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Guest

Pretty sure I used a pore strip with fascinating and disgusting success last night.

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Crystal

I might agree with you on over the counter dandruff shampoos. However since going to the dermatologist I have 3 different shampoos for my seborrheic dermatitis: two you can only buy at the doctor's office, the other a prescription. I alternate between the three and they have help greatly.

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Thea

As someone who deals a lot with skincare, I had to disagree with a lot of these. I think it's incredibly subjective -- maybe some products don't do anything for you, but to generalize is a bit of a stretch. I made my counterpoint on my blog at http://roadtopink.tumblr.com/post/87153383813/counterpoint-14-beauty-pro...

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Guest

I agree with most of these but my dermatologist told me to alternate Head and Shoulders shampoo with a prescription medicated shampoo for a scalp condition (just itches, no flakes, slightly pink scalp). I tried Head and Shoulders long ago for some flakes and it did dry my hair out, but this time at the doctor's recommendation, I apply a little conditioner ...a different brand, not Head and Shoulders and my hair has maintained it's softness and is not dry at all.