5 Surprisingly Ineffective Skincare Products You've Been Wasting Your Money On

With practically millions of skincare products on the market, it's easy to get confused about what our complexions actually need and want versus what the industry is trying to make us think we need and want. Trust us, we've seen our fair share of gimmicks and ridiculous product ideas during our time as beauty editors.)

Of course, you're perfectly welcome to use and try whatever you darn well please, and whatever you feel works for your skin (we all have different goals, after all), but considering the influx of popular product types, ingredients, tools, and devices in the recent years, I decided to reach out to two celebrity estheticians, Renée Rouleau and Kerry Benjamin, who also happen to be badass founders of their own amazing skincare lines. The question I posed to them: What types of skincare products, treatments, or trends do you simply feel aren't really worth it? Curious to find out their answers and what they recommend you do instead? Keep scrolling! 

Skip: Jade Rollers

Both Rouleau and Benjamin agree that while jade rollers are pretty to look at and might feel nice on your skin, they aren't really doing all that much for your skin. Sure, they might help boost sluggish circulation a tad, but according to Rouleau, if you truly want to get the lymphatic drainage perks jade rollers tout, you'll need to book an appointment with a trained esthetician who specializes in that technique. However, if you like your jade roller, it definitely won't cause you any harm and feel free to continue to use it—to each their own!

"Unfortunately, most people just don't know how to properly perform this," she explains. "As an esthetician, I have taken a special course in lymphatic drainage and the technique is quite extensive. If your concern is skin puffiness, the easiest thing to do is to focus on prevention by avoiding eating salty foods at night and sleeping with your head on two pillows to encourage drainage."

Try: Ice Rollers or Microneedling Tools

As Benjamin explains to us, if you keep your jade roller in the freezer, they can have a cooling effect, but they won’t be as effective as an ice roller (which gets colder and remains that way) to calm inflammation and reduce puff. 

Another option? Try a microneedling tool, which will help stimulate collagen and drive your topical skincare products deeper for increased effectiveness. 

Skip: Toner

Toners are pretty controversial within the world of skincare; some facialists swear by them and some, like Benjamin, say they aren't worth your hard-earned money. Again, if you're using a toner and feel like it's helping your skin, please carry on, but compared to other more effective products, think of toner as an optional add-on. (For the record, when I am on the toner train, I'm obsessed with Rouleau's soothing formula, above.)

"If you use a pH balanced cleanser, a toner is an unnecessary step," explains Benjamin. "Instead, I recommend saving your money and investing in active ingredients that actually affect change in the skin."

Try: A pH-Balanced Cleanser

This formula from Fresh is a cult favorite that is pH-balanced and formulated for all skin types—even those who are prone to sensitivity. 

Skip: Vibrating Dermaplaning Tools

Eek, again, some people absolutely swear by their Dermaflash device, but according to Benjamin, you might get better results using something with fewer frills or just booting an appointment for microdermabrasion with an expert esthetician or dermatologist. 

Try: Non-Vibrating Dermaplaning Tools

"A professional dermaplaning treatment uses a #10 blade scalpel, which provides the closest exfoliation possible," Benjamin tells us. "There is absolutely no need for vibration in either professional or at-home procedure, and this easy-to-use at-home tool doesn’t require charging, and it has a sharper blade designed to mimic professional treatment."

Skip: Sheet Masks

"These are mostly water and glycerin," Benjamin clarifies. "They may feel nice to relax and can help with sealing in ingredients, but they really don’t do much more beyond that." (However, if you love your sheet mask ritual and don't have plans to jump ship, we recommend investing in these makeup artist-approved ones from 111Skin that are soaked with high-quality brightening and healing agents.)

Try: Leave-On Hydrating Masks and Self-Neutralizing Peels

If it's hydration that you seek, Benjamin says a leave-on hydration-packed mask (like the above from Versed!) topped with a heavier occlusive moisturizer with shea butter (like the iconic formula below) will be much more effective for an immediately plumped and dewy complexion. 

Additionally, if you're looking for exfoliation, a leave-on self-neutralizing peel or an enzyme mask is what Benjamin recommends instead of  a sheet mask in terms of max efficacy. 

Skip: Baking Soda

Dear readers, please reserve your stash of baking soda for your pantry and your pantry alone. According to Benjamin, it has absolutely no business on top of your vanity as a DIY skin antidote. 

"This ingredient is so commonly recommended as a DIY solution and an inexpensive alternative to facial scrubs, but it's actually one of the biggest skincare mistakes I see. Baking soda has a very high pH level of 8.5, which is highly alkaline, but the natural pH of skin (4.5 to 5.5) leans more on the acidic side to fight harmful bacteria in the environment. But when we cleanse skin with an alkaline product, it changes the skin’s pH, making it a breeding ground for bacteria. High pH levels can also lead to moisture loss, irritation, and skin aging."

Try: A pH-Balanced Cleanser or Peel

To keep your skin health 10/10, leave behind the baking soda and use this effective one-two punch complexion TLC instead: a pH-balanced cleanser and a gentle exfoliating scrub or peel. A peel, Benjamin explains, is going to reap results far more superior than aggressive banking soda but still has natural acids and will be much more beneficial to the skin. Just go easy and only use your formula once or twice a week or as needed. (Personally, I'm obsessed with Dr. Dennis Gross's best-selling two-step system.)