The 3 ingredients that dermatologists would absolutely never put on their skin


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Photo: Stocksy/Liliya Rodnikova

I like to strategically copy certain people in different ways for different things. I’ve adopted the vintage oversized blazer look, thanks to Mary Kate and Ashley. I try to copy (key word: try) the perfectly messy hairstyles of French women. And I pretty much try to copy everything that dermatologists do to their skin.

What Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are to fashion, dermatologists are to beauty (like, basically). I hold onto their skin-care tips and tricks for dear life, and incorporate everything I learn from them immediately so I can have more of a professional-level glow.

In my quest to cure myself from hoarding every single active ingredient that’s good for my skin in my personal beauty cabinet, I decided to tap the skin gurus’ brains and ask: What ingredients would you actually never use on your own skin? And with that, I come to you with insight to bring with you as you shop beauty shelves for your own regimen. Below, the three ingredients that derms wouldn’t put on their faces.

1. Edible ingredients

Natural beauty is great and all, but when you’re slathering on an ingredient that you can literally eat, then… well, it can actually be problematic. “If you can eat a product, then bacteria and fungus can eat it too,” says Purvisha Patel, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. This is particularly if you’re acne-prone, though. “Coconut oil, olive oil, and cocoa butter are examples to avoid, as they clog the pores,” she says, who admits when she works out or sweats, these ingredients even make her break out.

2. Apple cider vinegar

It’s a big time wellness elixir, sure—and the Internet may want your to believe it’s an acne cure-all (it’s not)— but dermatologists aren’t so keen on it being used as skin care. “My patients literally try to use apple cider vinegar for everything,” says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, of Mudgil Dermatology. “It can be very irritating to the skin and even cause burns of the skin and eyes if used in too concentrated of a form.” So maybe stick with actual toners, rather than swipe this on as a makeshift version—especially if you’ve got sensitive skin.

3. Cocoa butter

Cocoa butter was one of the first skin-care ingredients I ever heard of. It’s fine on your body, but dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group, says she would never use it on her face. “I wouldn’t use cocoa butter,” she tells me. “It’s incredibly comedogenic and can trigger acne, and it’s too occlusive for most skin types…. it’s completely safe, but not worth the acne issues.” Time to Marie Kondo.

Take their authority when you shop by stocking up on these dermatologist skin-care brands that are so good, they rival in-office appointments. And here are esthetician skin-care tips to copy, too. 

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