Dear derms: Why is my skin is clearer when I use zero products?


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Photo: Getty Images/ RoBeDeRo

Have you ever taken an “it’s not you, it’s me” break from your skin-care routine, and found that your complexion looks glowier than ever? Admittedly, it can be really confusing when you go to sleep without slathering on your usual serums and wake up with flawless looking skin, and can have you wondering whether the skin-care routine you’ve invested time and money in is really worth it.

To find out once and for all why skin can sometimes look clearer when you use no products at all, I asked Austin dermatologist Ted Lain,  MD to (pardon the pun) clear things up. “Usually it’s either because a person’s using the wrong products for their skin type, or they’re using the right products and they’re using too much and it’s causing dermatitis,” he explains. “It’s because their skin is not meant for the products that they’re using, so it’s causing irritation and maybe even acne.”

If your skin-care regimen is giving you anything other than the gorgeous skin you deserve, Dr. Lain suggests taking a few days off from what you’ve been using and starting back at square one. “You should stop everything and just use bland cleansers and moisturizers for a few days,” he says. Then, it’s all about reevaluating whether you’re using the product correctly or whether it works for you to begin with. The best way to assess this is to use something gentle with no active ingredients.

And in case you’re considering ditching your routine for good, Dr. Lain confirms that’s would be a truly terrible idea. There’s so much research to support the idea that you need skin-care products for the health of your skin,” he says. “Not only for the sake of appearance and rejuvenation, but also literally to improve the health of your skin: To decrease the risk of skin cancers, to decrease sun damage, all of that. So it’s definitely worth using skin care.”

Take a second to appreciate the fact that no, we haven’t all been living a lie in terms of our skin-care routines, then consider clearing out yours for the sake of clearer skin.

If you’re looking to change up your routine, try adding in some Elderberry, AKA one of 2019’s trendy ingredients. And don’t miss the buzzy beauty products at (wait for it) Trader Joe’s, or my new favorite place to shop for skin care.

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