When it comes to skin care, the choice you make about the products and ingredients you use is a very personal matter.
Some of us might avoid parabens, others might only want “all-natural” ingredients, and still others never even read the labels — only the promises on the front of the jar. It’s about personal preference, what works for you and what you believe about all the conflicting information out there. But is there anything that you really, really shouldn’t be putting on your face?
We asked double board certified dermatologist Dr. Julia Tzu, the founder and director of Wall Street Dermatology in New York City, what ingredients she’d never use — or recommend. Here’s what she said:
1. “Stem cell” treatments
Many skin care products advertise plant stem cells or other nonhuman animal stem cells as an anti-aging ingredient, says Dr. Tzu. “While it is a brilliant marketing strategy, it has no solid scientific basis,” she explains. “Human stem cells and stem cells from other organisms are very different and are therefore not substitutable.” Alas, she says this means you cannot use an apple’s stem cells to regenerate your own skin cells. Sad face.
2. Retinyl palmitate
After the Environmental Working Group’s study suggesting the cancer-inducing properties of retinyl palmitate when combined with sunscreens, there was much controversy about adding it to daytime skin care, says Dr. Tzu. “Although there is still no definitive evidence that retinyl palmitate causes skin cancer when combined with UV radiation, I added this to the list because retinyl palmitate is pretty ineffective as a retinoid anyways,” she says. “So, why bother using it at all?”
“While gold does have some medical benefits for specific autoimmune skin conditions, its use in everyday skincare products may be more harmful than helpful, especially in people who decide to get laser treatments in the future,” says Dr. Tzu. “Individuals who have previously been treated with gold may develop hyperpigmentation after laser treatments!”
More: Discovering what ‘pretty’ really means changed everything