Skincare: What Works and What Does Not Work

Woman with cotton up to skin | Dermatology Institute of America Skincare Blog Skincare: What Works and What Does Not Work

Moisturizing Masks:

These are masks made of a disposable mesh. They are usually made in the shape of the face with cut-outs for the eyes, nose, and mouth. The mask is impregnated with a myriad of ingredients. There are also some masks designed for use under or around the eyes. Once removed, the skin usually appears in the mirror to be more moisturized, but this is due to the occlusion of the masks. This moisturizing effect lasts on average 20 minutes to one hour. The mask can contain rare substances, such as gold, stem cell extracts, placenta extracts, and caviar.

There is no health benefit to the masks. Rarely, allergic reactions are elicited.

Microbiome Stabilizers:

These products go by different names, including Microbiome Stabilizers, Replenishers, and Balancers. “Microbiome” is a relatively new buzzword in skin care. The microbiome of the skin consists of bacteria and fungi, including yeast.

It is established at birth. This bacterial and fungal film is part of our defense against environmental assaults, including foreign bacteria, fungi, chemical and particulate matter.

Although one can temporarily affect the skin’s microbiome, it is unique to each person and cannot be permanently altered. Approximately 20 minutes to 2 hours after cleansing the skin, the microbiome has replenished itself. Persons with eczema and psoriasis should be cleansing gently, as the microbiome is more easily disturbed when one has a chronic skin condition.

Pore Strips:

These are strips of tape impregnated with glue. They can be temporarily effective for blackheads on the nose and chin. They are sold at most pharmacies without a prescription, and they are safe to use on a once a week (or less) schedule.

Soaps and Cleansers:

Most Americans currently use a synthetic detergent, or syn-det soap or cleanser.

There is a shift away from liquids and back to bar soap because one uses five times as much detergent with a liquid as with a bar soap. It is important to minimize the use of soap or cleansers as they do disturb the pH, microbiome, and the protective lipid mantle of the skin. Excessive cleansing can lead to dryness and to lower skin tolerance to environmental irritants. Try to minimize soap use across the body, and instead apply soap to areas that have visible dirt, malodorous bacteria and yeast, or excessive perspiration. Use of a washcloth or cleansing brushes is not recommended as chronic inflammation and worsening of any underlying skin condition can occur.


In the past, there was some makeup brands that caused acne, but this is now rare with good manufacturing practices. Makeup can act as a sunscreen as it provides physical and reflective sun protection. Ingredients such as kaolin, talc, and iron oxide can provide some sun protection.

There is no data which shows that makeup should be washed off every evening. Your skin does not “breathe”, so makeup left on the skin is not a problem. However, if you are on a regimen of skin care, then it is important to remove your makeup so that you have an even application of the product(s).


There is no data which shows that shaving is harmful to the skin. It is important to use a sharp and clean blade, however. Make sure your razor has a chance to dry between uses so that bacteria do not multiply on the blade or the lubricating strips. Shaving, whether by a man or a woman, does not increase hair growth.

Women who wish to remove the fine hairs on the face can shave with a razor and not cause damage to the skin. Cream depilatories may be irritating. Threading and laser hair removal are safe, but should be performed by a licensed professional.



There are several hundred types of facials. Generally, there is no harm in having a facial for special occasions or approximately once a month. More frequent facials may cause chronic inflammation and damage to the skin. Facials will usually cause the skin to look more plump and glowing, but this is a temporary effect.