What if we told you that the dozens of skin care products filling your medicine cabinet are unnecessary? That the hundreds of beauty product ads you see in any given week are filled with mistruths? That the skin care industry today is more about profits and market share than health care?
The global skin care market is estimated to reach more than $120 billion this year. According to Truth in Advertising, an independent nonprofit consumer advocacy site, American consumers lose billions of dollars as a result of deceptive marketing and false ads each year.
Here's the good news: You probably only need three of the skin care products in your medicine cabinet, and the rest can go.
"We must remember that skin care is a big business," says Dr. Caroline Thornton, a dermatologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. "More products and more expensive don't necessarily mean better."
According to Dr. Thornton, the three products everyone should include in their skin care routine are cleanser, sunscreen and targeted treatments to address concerns like adult acne, dry skin and wrinkles.
- Skin cleanser is a must-have for your morning and evening routine. Choose a gentle, fragrance-free wash that is water-soluble. If you have dry skin try one that includes ceramides, which are naturally found in the skin's outer layer and which help retain moisture.
- Broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen is recommended for days when you will be outside or exposed to the sun through car and other windows. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends one ounce - about a shot glass-full - to cover the typical sun-exposed areas.
- Alpha hydroxy acid and a vitamin A derivative, such as over-the-counter retinol, have a long track record of evidence-based medicine in the treatment of adult acne and wrinkles. Regular use can improve the appearance of fine lines, dark spots, skin texture and tone. While over-the-counter products aren't as strong as those requiring a prescription are, they may lead to less skin irritation and be better for those with sensitive skin.
Dr. Thornton recommends that you talk with your doctor about your skin care concerns to determine the best routine and products to suit your individualized needs.