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20 Beauty Products You Should Never Use

You could be damaging your skin without ever knowing it.

It's not quite spring yet, but you might want to clean out your cupboards a little early. While there are plenty of great beauty products that do wonders for your well-being—whether that's giving you silky-soft skin or shiny hair—there are also a handful that either have the potential to cause some major harm or are a total waste of money. Here are 20 to look out for and exactly why you should never use them. And for more on looking your best, here's 50 Best Ways to Look Red Carpet Ready.


bad beauty products

Glitter is starting to make a comeback (hello, childhood!), but it doesn't belong anywhere near your body. While there's nothing wrong with a little shimmer, the sparkly substance, on the other hand, is neither great for your skin or the environment. Aside from causing irritation, a 2014 study in the journal PLOS One found the microplastics it's made of make up the majority of the 270,000 tons of plastic in the ocean. Ditching glitter is also one of the 30 Best Tips for Dressing Well in Your 30s.

Cuticle Cutters

bad beauty products

Whether you're giving yourself a manicure at home or at a salon, it's tempting to cut your cuticles to get a more flawless look. Toss those things in the garbage, though, because it's there for a reason: It's protecting your body from potentially harmful bacteria and fungus that could lead to an infection. Instead, just push them back—don't get rid of them altogether. And for some amazing beauty tips, here are the 40 Ways to Guarantee Healthy Skin After 40. 

Natural Makeup Brushes

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While getting a set of natural makeup brushes might feel super luxurious, it's actually pretty disgusting. Believe it or not, the real hair they're made of actually comes from animals like squirrels, mink, goats, and horses—and it's not taken in the most nice and gentle way, as you can imagine. Instead, go for synthetic options created with manmade fibers that feel just as soft. You'll save money on makeup due to them not hanging onto as much product, and you'll be able to apply your makeup even more precisely with the perfectly smooth bristles. And for more beauty tips, check out the 20 Best Energizing Beauty Products for an Extra Morning Boost.

Lip Scrubs

bad beauty products

People use lip scrubs in hopes that they'll get rid of dry, flaky skin, but since they're super rough and abrasive, it's only going to do harm. "We all know what happens when we pull dead skin off our lips when they are chapped. Our lips become raw and very sensitive. Then when you use a lip scrub, this is essentially what is happening: an abrasive scrub on the delicate skin of our lips can make them raw and painful," said dermatologist Stuart H. Kaplan on his blog. "A lip scrub exfoliates good and bad skin on your lips, they then become dry and ultimately results in even more chapped skin."

Basically, it's like using sandpaper on your lips—and that's not beneficial for anyone. Instead, stick to a lip mask or alcohol-free balm.

Lip Balm

bad beauty products

Speaking of lip balm, there's a reason it's on this list. While some types are A-OK, others do the one thing you're using them to avoid: make your lips dry, cracked, and chapped. It sounds insane, but plenty of the big brands on the market use ingredients in their products that keep your lips just irritated enough to keep buying more. When you're looking for balm that will actually help with your problem and not make it worse, grab something that doesn't contain alcohol. And for more skincare tips, here's How to Get Meghan Markle's Glowing Skin.

Anti-Aging Shampoo

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Sorry, but no anti-aging hair product is actually going to anti-age your hair. Why? Well, mainly because once your hair leaves your head, it's already dead. There are certainly ways you can make your strands look healthier and more lively, but it's impossible to prevent your hair from going gray or become "younger" no matter how convincing the commercials look.

Stretch Mark Creams

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There are many creams on the market that say they can banish your stretch marks in minimal time. The only problem? They don't actually work. Like, at all.

A 2015 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology looked at repairing stretch marks after pregnancy in particular and found tropical treatments can't do anything to fix the problem, which are essentially disrupted elastic fibers that don't allow your skin to go back to normal after stretching. Instead, University of Michigan dermatologist Frank Wang, MD, says your best bet is preserving your elastic fibers instead of trying to repair them after the damage is done. And for more great beauty tips, know that you can Simplify Your Life with These Amazing Multitasking Beauty Products. 

Shaving Cream

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Shaving cream might be less expensive than shaving gels, but saving money might not be worth it when it comes to your skin. While it gets the job done, purchasing a gel instead—which isn't that much more, by the way—is going to offer more benefits, making it easier to soften your hair for a closer and less-irritated shave.

Split End Serum

bad beauty products

Split end serums are always flying off the shelves, promising to fix all those pesky hairs that are ruining your 'do. Unfortunately, they're a total waste of money: You can't actually repair them in the first place. Because a split end is simply your hair splitting typically due to damage (AKA using too many hot tools or getting your hair dyed too often), you can't mend it back together again. There are products that can strengthen your hair and temporarily hide the damage, but the only real way to get rid of them is to get a trim and cut them off.

Hair Removal Creams

bad beauty products

Hair removal creams—otherwise known as depilatories—seem like an easy way to get rid of unwanted hair (and a lot less painful than waxing!). The problem, though, is that they're so full of chemicals that they can really irritate your skin, even burning it. You can always try your luck, but anything that literally melts your hair away is probably something you don't want on your body.

Deodorant with Artificial Fragrance

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To make sure you don't start to smell throughout the day, you probably depend on your trusty deodorant with its strong floral scent. And yes—it really does typically do the trick. The issue is that deodorants that use those powerful, synthetic fragrances are stock-full of chemicals that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) says have been associated with everything from allergies and skin conditions to respiratory distress and effects on the reproductive system. Instead, go for natural brands that will help you smell great without the use of the artificial stuff.

Lip Plumper Devices

bad beauty products

The plump-lip trend is still going strong and people are going to great lengths in order to achieve a perfect pout. Those who don't want to go down the injection route often try alternative methods, one of them being lip plumpers. Some are simple plastic cup devices and others look more high-tech, but they're both doing the same thing: Making your lips swollen through suction. And because swelling is the body's reaction to injury, that should be an immediate no-go since they could possibly cause scarring or disfigurement down the line. And for some amazing health advice, check out this story: I Tried DNA Testing to Lose Weight And the Results Blew My Mind.

Eyebrow Razors

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You can shave everywhere else, so why not use a razor to shape your eyebrows? Because it's just a nightmare waiting to happen, that's why. The tiny razors are cheap and look easy enough to use, but they can be risky. Instead of having someone take the time to thread your brows as precisely as possible, you're trying to get a great shape yourself with a tool that could easily take off too much and ruin your look for good. Toss them in the trash and leave your eyebrows to the pros.

Acne Extractors

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As satisfying as it is to pop pimples, not even fancy acne-extracting tools should be used at home. Whether it's a blackhead or a zit, taking matters into your own hands by picking and prodding at your skin can make the problem worse or cause permanent damage. That's why it's best to schedule an appointment with your derm or esthetician who's skilled in the procedure and can do the job right.

Cellulite Creams

Cellulite up close

If cellulite creams actually worked, wouldn't everyone be using them? Dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, told Reader's Digest that while plenty of products are marketed to get rid of the pesky dimples, they don't deliver results: "Some may cause a temporary dilation of vessels leading to swelling, which can mask cellulite, but again, they are not able to treat the underlying cause and hence don't have a lasting or meaningful result," she said. Luckily, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, losing weight can sometimes help reduce the amount that's visible—especially if you're building up muscle in the process.

Alcohol-Based Toner

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Toner has become a regular part of plenty of people's skincare routines, giving them a glowing complexion. Unfortunately, when it's alcohol-based, it tends to have the opposite effect, though. They're supposed to help remove all the dirt and grime on your face, but to do that many products typically contain alcohol, which can completely dry out and irritate your skin. If you do want to try it, just make sure to check the ingredients list to make sure you don't grab something that's too drying.

Sunscreen Over 50 SPF

bad beauty products

Ready for a shocker? Getting a 100 SPF sunscreen might sound like a great way to protect your skin, but you really don't need anything after 50 SPF. According to EWG, values greater than 50 don't really give you any more protection, are often misused, aren't applied as frequently (resulting in sun damage!), and aren't usually even as high as the label claims anyway. Save some money and stick to 50, and reapply often.

Pore-Minimizing Products

bad beauty products

As nice as it would be to put a cream on to instantly shrink pores, that's not the case. Although there are many products available, there's one problem with their claims: You can't actually make them smaller. Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD, told Real Simple that pore size is genetically determined. So while some creams might make them look a little smaller, they're not going to make any major changes. (Thanks, mom and dad!)

Foot Masks

bad beauty products

Sorry folks, but your foot doesn't actually need a mask. Sure, you can buy them if you really want to for R&R reasons, but putting something expensive over your feet probably won't do that much more than slathering on some lotion and a cozy pair of socks. With that being said, though, some do have some that offer crazy foot-peeling benefits if that's something you're into. Otherwise, save your money.

Neck Cream

bad beauty products

Buying a cream specifically for your neck can set you back a whole lot of money, but do you really need them? According to the experts, there's no real reason to drain your bank account on an entire new product. Keeping your neck moisturized is a must, but you can simply do that through your regular body lotion—no need for anything special. For more style advice, Simplify Your Life with These 20 Multitasking Beauty Products.

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Tehrene Firman
Tehrene Firman is a freelance health and wellness writer. Read more
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