Skin care is a huge, billion-dollar industry pervading our lives through advertising, television, YouTube tutorial videos, Internet forums — you name it. Many of us constantly seek advice for how to better take care of our skin. Yet it seems as if we are always being up-sold to buy more and more products.

But what if I told you that most skin-care products aren’t necessary? What if, actually, you don’t need much of anything to have healthy skin?

Notice that some articles rarely ask questions such as “Is toner even necessary?” Instead, they ask, “What’s the best toner that you should use?” as if the question of whether these products are necessary is already settled. Often these articles cite little research published in medical or science journals. Could it be because there is no good evidence that these products do much?

“But wait,” you might ask. “All the celebrities and beautiful people use these products, so why shouldn’t I?” Most beautiful people are beautiful despite, not because of, all the products they use. In fact, they are able to market things because of their beauty. Not to mention they present only their best selves to the public (and don’t forget about the wonders of Photoshop — no product can mimic that tool). Actors, actresses, and models are successful and elevated with fame because of their genetic gifts. And, we can’t change our genetics (at least not yet).

I’m a dermatologist, and I’m here to tell you that most skin-care products are kind of a scam. Taking care of your skin doesn’t need to be expensive or difficult. The beauty industry plays upon our insecurities, superstitions, and our tendency to enjoy the complicated.

What’s the best skin care for this summer? How can I be natural and organic in taking care of my skin? What’s the best regimen for my skin?

This year the global skin-care industry is estimated to exceed $140 billion. Companies have every reason to persuade you to use multiple products that cost a lot of money. They will play on every insecurity you have. If there is a problem out there with nothing that will actually work and a company puts anything at all on the market claiming to fix it, people will buy it. Sure, by sheer chance and law of averages, some people will improve. That’s the case with Mederma, a popular gel that claims to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks. So many people have unsightly scars, and will try anything out there. However, there’s no good evidence Mederma (or any similar product) does anything to improve the look of scars or stretch marks. But people spend money on it anyway.

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