Every day during my daily social media scroll, I pass by influencers, friends, and just general Instagram users who are now self-proclaimed skin care experts. You know, the friend who watched six TikToks and now believes she knows more about your own skin than you. We are living in a strange time where 15-year-olds dancing on an app are as influential as the Kardashians, and if you ask me, that signals the end of society—but that’s not really why we are here.
I have seen every skin care tip and trick in the book shared across these platforms, and while some tips are amazing, some are not so great. I know, hard to imagine that social media can be misleading! But, on a serious note, don’t believe everything you see (especially on the internet). Since I’m actually upfront about the fact that I’m not an expert, you don’t need to just take my word for it: I spoke to Candace Marino, aka the LA Facialist and Kourtney Kardashian’s trusted medical aesthetician. I asked her to break down the negatives of self-care at home, and which shiny new tools and tricks you may want to avoid.
“There are brands out there that want to cash in on professional services, making them ‘easy and convenient’ for at home use, but let’s be honest, they do not compare,” explains Marino. “Medical device companies spend thousands of dollars on research and development and clinical trials to ensure professionals can safely and effectively treat people with lasers, and microneedling, etc.”
If you’re currently worshipping your $150 at-home microdermabrasion tool, prepare to be heartbroken. So what products should you not bother with? We’re here to break it down for you.
Let’s start basic and broad, because these are the tools that most of us have fallen victim to. Any massage tool, roller, gua sha, or sculptor with a triple-digit price tag is a ripoff. If something is real stone, it has the same impact whether it costs $10 or $100, and that is where the trouble comes in. “These prices are NOT worth the investment. I’ve seen these gorgeous facial rollers at Bergdorf Goodman for $290, I have to roll my eyes,” Marino explains. Because, as mentioned before, these expensive rollers are the same thing as an inexpensive tool. Or you can even forego the tool entirely: “Save that money for a treatment that will actually do something for you,” Marino advises, “and massage your face with your hands.”
Her reason for passing on these products? “Half of you are going to see an ad, get jazzed about it, buy it, do it for one week and then lose it in your sea of beauty products,” she says. Okay, I feel attacked but also seen. I don’t want to say this rattled me, but I will admit that I’ve definitely considered splurging on a “good” gua sha or face sculptor. That being said, as long as the stone is real, it’s safe. And if you want to skip altogether, your hands are always free.
I am proud to say that while I’ve seen these all over the ‘gram, I have not been tempted to purchase. After all, I live in a Manhattan apartment, aka my windowless bathroom doubles as a steam room. “Are you really going to waste $50-200 on a facial steamer when steam is FREE? Boil a pot of water, throw a towel over your head and voilà,” Marino says, validating my thoughts. “Or simply jump in a shower. Plus, I don’t think people should be regularly streaming, it’s actually more harmful than good when done too much or too regularly. This is definitely not an essential piece of beauty equipment. Save. Your. Money.”
What is a dermaroller, you may ask? Well for starters, if you’re asking, you can mark yourself safe from these. But, if you search the internet, you’ll see that a dermaroller is a spikey little torture device used to poke holes in your face. JK—sort of. “These are NOT the same as professional microneedling,” Marino is quick to say. “I see people digging into their faces with these. First of all, you should not be puncturing yourself with anything that isn’t sterile. You’re opening up your skin to infection, and also potentially damage.”
Marino emphasizes, “I’m not an advocate of home dermarolling. Of course people are going to still do it, but I hope they have a professional to guide them. I’ve seen more harm done from these than good.” If you are going to use one, she advises, “make sure the depth is less than .5mm. Anything larger than that is just tearing the skin, and you should be leaving anything that punctures the skin to a trained professional.” I for one would never purchase one of these, simply because I don’t trust myself doing such a risky procedure. But, I do have many friends who own these, and furthermore rave about them. So for this one I’d say, (derma)roll at your own risk.
“This is a great way to break capillaries, damage your skin and cause bruising,” explains Marino, urging people, “Please don’t buy into the hype. It’s a $260 investment that will literally damage your skin. I’ve had customers debate me on this, saying ‘diamond glow and hydrafacial and microderm all use suction, how is this any different?'” The first is rather obvious: these are professional devices used by trained professionals who have the knowledge and skillset to properly treat skin issues. I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but someone’s gotta do it: watching hours of YouTube does NOT make you a professional.
The second, less common-sense reason is that blackheads are waxy plugs in the skin (ew), so the approach with this device might be wrong from the start. “A vacuum isn’t the answer, it’s going to have to be awful strong to magically pull a true blackhead from the skin. What you do get is bruising, sensitivity, and broken blood vessels,” Marino explains.
Again, if you’re like “wtf is an extractor”, do a little internet search and you’ll likely recognize these sneaky little tools. The good news is, these aren’t dangerous when used properly. The bad news is, your favorite influencer is probs using it incorrectly, and therefore you likely are too. “I see people digging into the skin…that’s not what they’re intended for,” Marino says. “You should be gliding the extractor gently, not pressing, which causes injury and may lead to scarring.” Yes, scarring. So be careful!
I also asked Marino to help debunk some myths floating around TikTok and the internet in general.
I recently saw a video that basically tried to *end* jade rollers, saying that jade stone holds in dirt and particles (gross). The video also mentioned rose quartz was the safe way to go, so I asked Marino what the truth is.
“The healing power of stones and crystals have been used for centuries—their ability to cool the skin, yet warm up once worked with makes them great tools to use at home and in the treatment room,” Marino says, confirming that jade is OK to use, when real. “When discussing the powers of rollers, I always say, don’t look for a miracle. This isn’t going to change your life or your face. Is it a good self-care practice? Yes, you’re doing no harm, you’re encouraging circulation and you’ll definitely look more plump, alive, awake. Go for it, just be realistic with your expectations.” *sigh* When rolling my face, am I expecting to come out of it looking like Bella Hadid? You bet I am. I guess I’ll have to live on with chubby cheeks for another day.
I also asked about the ever-popular ingredient debate. Are clean beauty ingredients really better? Are essential oils all safe for your skin? Are there any ingredients you should actively avoid? I, for one, have a skin care cabinet that could last me a lifetime, and I wanted to be educated by someone other than the internet.
“I don’t chat ingredients,” Marino says. “What’s important is formulation. People want to talk ingredients like they’re chemists. They question simple things like an alcohol, an ester or an oil and automatically assume a product is bad… you can’t base a product on one ingredient alone.” To this I say, stick to your dermatologist’s advice. Different ingredients work for different people, and Marino can’t exactly diagnose all of our skin needs simultaneously.
So now that we’ve addressed the bad and the ugly, don’t be afraid to rid of your favorite tools. Trust me, a few dollars wasted today is better than permanently damaging your skin. On the bright side, I can keep my $12 jade roller and put that rumor to rest. On the even brighter side, I am now one step closer to being the first (naturally) blonde Kardashian. An all around win if you ask me!
Stay safe out there kids, and be good to your skin.