1. Treatment cleansers. True, a formula with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help with acne-prone skin; one with glycolic acid can reveal smoother skin through exfoliation, says Susan Taylor, MD, founding director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's–Roosevelt Hospital Center in NYC. But cleansers boasting antioxidants or vitamins will likely have no effect on your complexion. Those ingredients work only when they penetrate the epidermis, not when they have brief contact with your skin.

2. Slimming creams. I think it's lovely that hope springs eternal in the human breast. Except when a woman tells me she spent money on a slimming cream. There's no FDA oversight of over-the-counter cosmetic skincare products, so you never know whether the stuff in that $60 jar or tube will do anything for you. Caffeine and other ingredients are often combined in these creams to temporarily plump the skin's surface, making it appear smoother and slightly reducing the appearance of cellulite, says Cheryl Burgess, MD, medical director of the Center for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery in Washington, D.C. But whatever results you get will be minimal.

3. Facials. A facial can be terrifically relaxing and give you a temporary glow. But you don't need one to have gorgeous skin. Better to invest in a daily skincare system (with sunscreen) that exfoliates, moisturizes, and provides antioxidant benefits (like smoother, brighter skin) from vitamins A, C, or E, says Susan Evans, MD, chief of dermatology at Cosmetic Physicians of Beverly Hills. And, says Evans, if you have acne, rosacea, eczema, or hyperpigmentation, the extractions and peels sometimes performed during a facial can actually worsen your condition.

Ask Val your questions about makeup, skincare, or haircare.

How to save money on skincare
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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