These are six common skincare gimmicks we've all fallen for

The world of beauty seems to have grown overnight. Being a beauty fanatic and skin care addict, I have mixed feelings about it. My first thought was, YAAASSSS finally there are so many new things to try! But a few seconds later, I realized: there are SO MANY things to try! I suddenly can’t cope with all of these new products, innovations, and, let’s face it - gimmicks.

I do understand that the beauty industry is even more competitive now. Brands are pressured to come up with standout products that can get them #trending both online and off. I personally find that there’s a very thin line separating the ingenious and the gimmicky though so here’s a rundown of what works and what doesn't, based on what I've tried so far!


Character masks

I love me my sheet masks. Whenever I can grab a few extra minutes on a particularly stressful day, the right mask definitely uplifts my spirit. The rest of the PV team love them, too! Kim tried one every day for a week, Katsy tried DIY sheet masks, and we've even shared our personal faves. How to make sheet masks more appealing? Why, make them look like cute animals and cartoon characters, of course! The Face Shop’s Character Masks come in so many animal prints. Lately, I’ve also seen some with the faces of Homer, Marge, and Lisa Simpson (in different sizes!). I’ve also tried masks I’d found in Watsons with Pororo characters printed on them. Not to be left behind, Etude House also makes hydrogel eye patch with adorable kitty ears.

The Verdict: Unfortunately, this is a gimmick, through and through. Granted, it IS pretty cool to literally be chillin’ like a villain (Catwoman, specifically) while hydrating your eye area. Character masks are more enjoyable to use because of how they look but they don’t add any additional skin-caring benefits. I’d gladly shell out a few extra bucks for more quality skin care actives, rather than eye-catching sheet mask designs (and the licensing fee that was passed on to us).


“V-Shape” products

Getting the ideal oval face shape was never really a concern for me (and my somewhat pointy chin). Still, promises of getting firmer, lifted skin always catch my eye! This Etude House Petite Face Mask has a separate “V-Zone Taping Patch” (not for that v-zone, but for your jaw!). This is worn along your jawline, with holes that hook over your ears. I also have a Skinzen Slimfit Lifting Cleanser, which is actually more of a leave-on firming mask that turns into a foaming cleanser. I really dig the fact that it actually does have a lifting effect on my skin! Plus I don’t have to use a separate cleanser to rinse it off.

The Verdict: Sadly, the effects are temporary for both products and the same can probably be said for most other products promising a v-shape face after use. The only real permanent option is getting your jaw surgically altered. It’s gimmicky, but also definitely effective, at least for a few hours or so. Paired with decent contour makeup, it’s worth a try for special events or when you know you’ll be photographed.


Precious ingredients

While it’s been rumored that the legendary beauty Cleopatra used gold masks in her skincare regimen, anything with precious and semi-precious ingredients like gold, diamonds, and pearls feels gimmicky to me. It just doesn’t make compute in my head: I know that no matter how much these are powdered, liquefied, or reduced, they just won't be absorbed by the skin. It also doesn’t help that there just aren’t any studies to back up the claims made by these products.

Given that, I *do* like the glow my skin gets after using Leaders Gold Foil Mask. I was also drawn to Watsons Collagen Instant Finishing Cream when our editor said it literally looks like crushed pearls (thanks for the enabling, Den). Okay, so it doesn’t actually contain crushed pearls like some other creams do but I imagine that’s where they got the idea for this. The glow is undeniable! I find that again, the effect is more cosmetic - there are simply not enough studies to back up the claim that precious gems and gold benefit the skin in the long run.

The Verdict: Until there are clinical studies backing up the benefits of gold, pearls, and diamonds as skincare, I’ll settle for using these as cosmetic skin boosters (because again, they do boost dat glow). Backup evidence for these products are anecdotal at best, even though they may span centuries.


Gaseous skin care

Yes, pure oxygen is truly good for our bodies – when inhaled. Can it be good for topical skin care, too? Products with oxygen make the most of the gas’s literally pure reputation, promising reduced inflammation, faster skin regeneration, and overall healthier skin. The truth is, there just aren’t extensive studies to back these claims up. I personally am willing to give O2 a chance but my brain again intervenes. Oxygen is a pure gas element – as in it is GAS. I can’t imagine how it can be contained in a serum, facial mist, or sheet mask. A mousse-y product might work (oxygen bubbles might be suspended in the solution), or something like the Aqutop Talk Tox carbonated clay mask can do the trick, where the wet and dry components react when mixed together.

The Verdict: I like the idea overall but my main concern is making sure the oxygen is delivered to the skin in a way that can be properly absorbed. Some skin clinics offer oxygen treatments using complicated machines so there might be something to that. But as for oxygen-infused skincare products, I still am a doubting Thomas.

Pore-cleansing tools and devices

It seems many beauty brands have latched on to the public’s outcry for good cleansing tools. So many options have emerged, from affordable ones like pore brushes and konjac sponges, to pricier sonic devices like the Clarisonic and the Foreo Luna. I love the idea of using a tool to help me get a better cleanse, but I don’t like that the only way to find the best is to try each option! Unlike skincare products, I don’t have an ingredients list to go by so I can gauge whether or not it might work for my skin. At best, the only thing I can base my purchasing decision on is the texture or feel of the tool against my skin (and not all have available testers).

So I took a big risk when I ordered the Foreo Luna Play Plus from Sephora late last year; good thing it paid off! I was looking for a good sonic cleanser, and was eyeing the Clinique Sonic System since Liz had such a good experience with it. I disliked having to get replacement brushes every so often, though. The Foreo Luna sonic cleansers might be more expensive, but at least I won’t have to buy replacements for the medical-grade silicone bristles. I love it to bits and cannot survive a day without it (I reverted to my crusty self when I skipped it).

The Verdict: There definitely is something to these devices, regardless of how odd they might look at first glance. Finding the best one for your skin type concerns might be a challenge, but once you do, your skin will forever thank you for it!


Mask-cleanser hybrids

I love my skincare routine but it doesn’t change the fact that I often feel lazy to do it. So when I heard of mud pack to foam cleanser products, I felt like I had a winning lotto ticket in my hands! I tried Banila Co.’s Hi Bye Clean Up mud-to-foam cleanser and it worked like a charm. Yes, it felt like a normal clay mask that hardens after a few minutes on my face, but when activated with water it turns into a foamy facial wash!

The bad news: it irritated my sensitive skin and turned my face into a splotchy red mess. It’s kind of my fault though; after checking the ingredients online, it turns out this contains witch hazel extract which my skin abhors. I think I also left the mask a bit longer on my face by accident; it should be left on for just about a minute or so. Mask pack-foaming cleanser hybrids like this might also contain sulfates, which absolutely must not be left on the skin and rinsed immediately.

I also tried Human Heart Nature’s Detoxifying Mask + Scrub, which isn’t a pack to foam cleanser, but still is a two-in-one product. This felt moisturizing and not the least irritating on my skin when used as a pack. As a scrub, this is definitely a winner in my book! HHN’s scrub products remain the only ones that don’t irritate my sensitive skin as their main exfoliants are tiny strawberry seeds.

The Verdict: Multi-use products do work but proceed with caution. As with other skincare products, check the ingredients list first for sensitizing ingredients (a lesson I learned the hard way). This is definitely more than just a skin care gimmick so I hope brands put out more options for us to explore in the coming months!

And that’s that for skincare “gimmicks” I’ve tried so far! Are you as adventurous as me, and tried out products you’re curious about? What are they and how did they fare?

Sources: The Klog, New York Times