Ask the Skin Coach: Misconceptions in Skin Care, Part I

I recently posed a question to my Esthetician colleagues: Which misconceptions do you commonly hear from clients? What bad advice are they following that just drives you crazy?


The answers were entertaining and enlightening. Here are some of my favorites.


You should only use food on your face.

Variations of this: ‘Everything you use on your skin should be edible’ and ‘I only use Paleo Skincare’. The truth is, the skin is not a digestive organ. Food is also messy, and will leave you with much poorer results than products that were formulated to be biologically active on skin. Food can be too acidic, too alkaline, comedogenic, or just plain ineffective. Apple cider vinegar, salt, lemon juice, olive oil? Save it for your salad.



You should only use natural products, or those without preservatives.

This ties in closely with the food idea. Certainly, you don’t want to use anything harmful on your skin. But consider that completely natural ingredients, sourced only from nature, are impossible to control in a formula. You’ll have a different product every time.


Formulas worth their salt are going to have active ingredients that must be included in certain dosages. There is a minimum dose at which an ingredient is effective. Ingredients created in a laboratory are able to be measured and controlled for optimum efficacy, and these ingredients can have the exact same chemical profile of a ‘natural’ ingredient.


All products require preservation. To not include a preservative leaves a product susceptible to bacterial contamination, mold, and spoilage...not really what you want on your face.


Coconut oil for skin care.

This one came up a LOT. I’ve written about it before, but it bears repeating. Coconut oil is NOT acne safe. I don’t care how many Pinterest pins are recommending it...ditch it. Regular use of most oils applied at full strength will clog the pores and also degrade the barrier of your skin, resulting in acne, sensitivity and irritation. Just because it’s great to eat, doesn’t mean it’s good to use topically (see my first point if you missed that).


Multi Level Marketing products.

Everyone deserves to make a living in this world, and it’s a free market. But I implore you to not confuse the skill level of an untrained, unlicensed person who invested in a home based MLM business, with that of a Licensed Esthetician. The Esthetician has many hundreds or even thousands of hours of professional classroom training. They have passed a state license exam, and are required to maintain that license in various ways, including surprise inspections of their office. They pay for professional liability insurance, and typically recommend products and services that are only available through licensed and insured professionals. Most are either required to complete continuing education each year, or voluntarily do so. Licensed Estheticians are trained to understand product formulations, ingredients, and to recognize which products to recommend for various skin types and conditions.


Someone who sells a multi-level skin care product does not answer to any licensing board, plus they have no professional training or insurance. I have personally had such a representative tell me she has a ‘Medical Skincare Business’. To that I reply, ‘No, ma’am, you absolutely do not.’ I’m sure the state medical boards would agree.


Please just recognize the difference, and give the professional the credit they’re due.


Fake before and after photos.

There are a number of fake photos floating around the internet. Of course this is not a new phenomenon, but social media makes it so much more prevalent. For the record, someone with full-blown Grade 4 acne does not clear up with a couple weeks of home care. This type of clearing takes a few months at the least, with complex and diligent care. The redness left behind post acne takes close to a year to fade.


This issue is near and dear to me. I have real, untouched before and after photos. These results took MONTHS to achieve, with the best professional care and products. Fake or photoshopped pictures give people unrealistic expectations, and make a true professional’s amazing results seem commonplace. Furthermore, it erodes the trust of those sincerely seeking changes in their skin. A lie is a lie.


Over scrubbing.

Over-use of scrubs, Clarisonic ® brushes (or heaven forbid, homemade baking soda scrubs) is commonplace. Many people seem to believe they can simply ‘scrub off’ the skin they don’t like. You can’t, and you’ll only make your condition worse. Scrubbing inflamed acne is the worst. Stop that!


Environmental Working Group.

Many folks conscious of health and environmental issues trust EWG as a credible source for the safety of a product or ingredient. The truth is, it’s not credible. They report skewed research, and often don’t consider the actual amount of an ingredient included in a formula, which has everything to do with safety in a skincare product.


More trustworthy sources for online research are beautybrains.com or personalcaretruth.com.


Bloggers.

Some bloggers I’ve seen have made quite the name for themselves dishing out ‘good advice’. When I see popular bloggers giving terrible skincare advice, I cringe. I feel so bad for the people piping up with questions, as if an entrepreneurial housewife with recipes for healthy meals and homemade laundry soap is qualified to solve complex health and skin concerns via a blog comment thread. Again, ‘No, ma’am, you absolutely are not.’


I hope this helps set the record straight on a few things! There were so many relevant topics to address, I will continue this subject in next month’s issue. Stay tuned for Part II.