There’s so much misinformation floating around the beauty world that it’s become incredibly difficult to navigate. Everybody’s got a different opinion on what works and what doesn’t and, of course, this is an industry based on sales. Brands have an investment in making certain claims. It’s as simple as supply and demand. You want a moisturizer that can make you look 10 years younger? Of course we can give that to you. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of tried and true products out there, but there are also a lot of false claims being made. I wanted to take a look at 20 of them today.

1. Multi-tonal colour correctors can correct everything.
Ugh. Loads of brands are coming out with colour-correctors that contain every imaginable colour under the sun. “Green for your redness, purple for your sallowness, pink for your dullness, etc.” The whole point of colour correctors is to target one issue and use an opposing colour to counter-act it. Mashing together a load of different colours won’t actually correct anything.

2. Colour-correctors in general.
Colour-correcting has gotten way out of hand in the beauty industry. Very few people actually need a colour corrector. Most times a foundation or concealer alone would be more effective. Additionally, if they’re used incorrectly, they serve no purpose. I’ve got a cheat sheet on how to properly use them here.

3. Matte foundations are less likely to break up on oily skin.
Matte foundations can be longer lasting on oily skin, but I find they can also break up on the skin much worse. I tend to see more separation and cracking, vs the gradual fade you get from a hydrating foundation.

4. Toners… let me explain.
Toner is kind of an odd blanket term for a variety of liquid products. They’re technically mean to balance PH levels. Some toners hydrate the skin, some soothe, some brighten and some exfoliate. Chances are if you’re looking at a toner with no acids in the ingredients, it’s probably not actually balancing the PH levels in your skin, which is fine… unless that’s what you’re expecting it to do.

5. Silicone primers are good for oily, porous skin.
Silicone, or dimethicone, based primers are predominantly marketed to oily/porous skin types to create a smooth, matte, long wearing effect. However, in reality they tend to break up when they come in contact with oil and slip around the skin. Also, I rarely find that they actually minimize the appearance of pores.

6. Hydrating primers are different to moisturizers.
Hydrating primers, such as the Too Faced Hangover RX, are usually nothing more than a lightweight moisturizer. There might be some “grippy” ingredients such as glycerin, but you’ll often find that high up in the ingredient list in moisturizers anyways.

7. Gel moisturizers are good for dry skin types.
There have been a lot of gel moisturizers launched lately that promise deep hydration. While they can help to moisturize the skin (and they often contain helpful ingredients such as hyaluronic acid), there’s no way that they’re as effective as rich, oil based formulas.

8. Natural skincare and makeup.
There are a lot of brands that claim to be natural in the beauty world, most of them are misleading. To be honest, I don’t buy into brands like Tarte, BareMinerals or Origins being natural. If you really want natural I would go to Whole Foods. It’s hard to know the difference sometimes, but in general, if you’re reading that back of a box and all the ingredients are illegible, that’s a good indicator that it’s not natural. Tata Harper also has a nice article on the top 10 ingredients to watch out for in skincare.

9. Natural is good for sensitive skin.
Natural can be good for sensitive skin, but it’s different for everyone. I often find that synthetic ingredients are much more gentle on sensitive skin. It’s about trial and error. I will say however, that there are certain ingredients that are more likely to aggravate the skin (fragrance, alcohol, peppermint, citric acid, etc.). Drunk Elephant is a great happy medium brand.

10. Non-comedogenic products.
Much like with sensitive skin, there’s no ingredient that’s guaranteed to clog to pores. When people come to Sephora and say that their doctor sent them there looking for a non-comedogenic foundation I cringe. There is no such thing. Wearing foundation will always be worse for your skin than not wearing foundation. If you’re worried about it, I would look for lightweight textures that don’t contain sunscreens and heavy oils such as mineral oil (a.k.a. liquid paraffin, paraffinum liquidum).

11. Tinted moisturizers/BBs/CCs/etc. are different.
The line has become blurred between these products. The original idea behind BB Creams was that they would act as a primer, foundation, skincare and sunscreen in one. A lot of them don’t though. Additionally a lot of tinted moisturizers do contain sunscreen and have skincare properties. There’s really no point separating these products anymore.

12. Anti-ageing skincare.
I truly believe anti-ageing skincare is a scam. Once you’ve developed signs of ageing, no amount of peptides or vitamin C can significantly turn things around. You might see a bit of difference, but nothing like you would ever see from surgery, injections or laser treatments. Save your money. What I do believe in, however, is preventive-ageing skincare. Sunscreen and anti-oxidants are key in protecting your skin from premature ageing.

13. Essences/softeners etc.
Essences and softeners are a Korean concept that have recently become more popular in the West. They’re referred to as “delivery systems” for your skin. Essentially they’re to be applied before your serum and your moisturizer to help pull the hydration deeper into your skin. Essences and softeners might be hydrating in and of themselves, but the idea that they can help other products penetrate deeper into the skin is ridiculous. It’s just not possible on a molecular level.

14. High end is intrinsically better than drugstore.
When people tell me that they want to switch from their L’oreal foundation to a Lancome foundation so that they’re using something better for their skin it hurts me. There’s nothing intrinsically better about a Lancome foundation. The ingredients aren’t cleaner or higher quality. In fact, a lot of the ingredients are probably the exact same (parent company). The one thing I’ll say is that you tend to see newer technology make it to high end products first.

15. Peel off masks are good for your pores.
Sephora has been selling peel off masks like crazy lately. They’re marketed as though they’re going to pull everything out of your pores, finally allowing them to shrink back down. For one, these masks are not going to get anything significant out of your pores and two, they’re going to damage your skin. If you want to shrink your pores, BHA’s are going to be much more effective.

16. Plumping glosses.
If you’re hoping for lip injection results, plumping glosses are not going to cut it. They’re barely going to make any difference to the size of your lips. They’re definitely not going to have permanent results (like some claim to) and, what’s more, constantly irritating your lips with chili powder cannot be good for them.

17. Face wash with acids.
A lot of brands will sell cleansers with BHAs, AHAs or enzymes in them. There’s nothing wrong with a cleanser containing those ingredients, but they’re not going to have much of an effect on your skin. If you want results you need to leave those ingredients on your skin for an extended period of time.

18. High percentages of ingredients.
This is a tricky one. Some products will contain high percentages of ingredients such as 12% AHA’s or 70% hyaluronic acid. It sounds good but your skin can’t actually do anything with that high of a percentage. Additionally, percentage can mean nothing if the PH balance of the product is off or it’s paired with the wrong carriers or buffers. It’s complicated, but it’s important to remember that percentages aren’t everything.

19. Hydrating, long wearing lipsticks.
I get asked for hydrating, long wearing lip formulas at work all the time. Some products are good at finding a happy medium (Marc Jacobs Liquid Lip Creme, YSL Glossy Stains), but know that if you want a truly glossy, balmy comfortable lip product, despite what some brands claim, there’s no way that it’s going to stay on all day.

20. Brightening eye creams for hereditary dark circles.
If you’re someone whose dark circles are affected by lack of sleep, stress and diet, then your average brightening under eye cream might help. However if you’ve had dark circles your whole life, you need something different. You actually want to stay away from ingredients like caffeine (which you’ll find in a lot of eye creams) and you want to look for eye creams that contain Vitamin K. Vitamin K constricts over-dilated blood vessels that enhance the look of dark circles.

  • This is such an informative post! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    xo, Liz

    • Thank you! It’s fun talking about this. It’s kind of almost a little venting session for me.

  • I remember reading somewhere to stay clear of silicone primers (no idea why that was said) but I have oily skin, so actually I need to be using them haha!

    Lucy | Forever September

  • *clap clap* This is one of the most intelligent beauty articles I’ve ever read. I was nodding along as I read this because they’re thoughts that have crossed my mind at one time or another. As a chemist, the whole “natural/chemical-free/natural is better for you” marketing drives me up a wall. Same goes for the anti-aging points and silicone primer points you’ve made here. The ads for anti-aging skincare always note self-reported results where skin *appeared* smoother, etc.

    Anyways, this post reads really well. Out of curiosity, did you learn this information from cosmetology courses or literature sources?

    • Thank you so much! That’s incredibly kind of you to say.
      It’s glad to hear you agree with the anti-ageing skincare stuff, given your background. I’ve learned this stuff from a variety of places. I read a lot about skincare and ingredients in general. I also work at Sephora which means we get a lot of brand rep training on products. After a while you start to discern what’s true and what’s BS. Also my roommate is a biologist and really into skincare so we talk about that stuff a lot.
      I’m curious to know if there’s any BS in the beauty world that drives you up the wall. Tell me you chem ways! I was sitting down and thinking about it and I know there was loads more stuff I was forgetting.

  • Loved this! I love a good toner but never thought they were meant to balance ph levels, I use them to hydrate a little bit more my skin after cleansing anyways 🙂


    • They can be great for that. It’s just a funny thing to me that we lump so many different kinds of products into one category. What kind of toner do you use by the way?

      • I was using the Origins Rejuvenating Treatmet Lotion but don´t really like it, I´m currently searching for a new one!

  • This is such an amazing post! I never really realised how many things I believed was false! You have opened up my eyes


    Ellie xx

    • haha then again, I feel like I’m the most skeptical, jaded person on the planet…

  • Amen! All this beauty jargon does my head in!!

    Beekeyper – latest – Milani Luminoso-worth the hype?

  • I am actually bookmarking this post! So helpful! Thank you so much for writing it as it must be one of the most helpful things I read about beauty in a long while.

    • Oh my goodness. Ahh, thank you so much for saying that.

  • preach it, sister! i nod the most at point no. 14. it’s not that i have anything against high end brands but i’m quite stingy when it comes to makeup even if i have the budget for it. so imo, if drugstore works, why splurge on a $60 high end foundation? (because it’s not like i’m gonna go to bed with a foundation on anyway) i know different people have different mindset but this is what i personally stand by.

    • Right there with ya. I mean, I’ll completely admit to being a sucker for luxe packaging and some of the fanciness that comes along with high end, but do I truly believe it’s “better quality?” Heck no.

  • Lucy Birchall

    Gah, I love that I can always rely on you to write really interesting, informative posts! Everything makes so much sense when it’s all written out like that. Hate colour correcting, I saw a couple of tutorials recently and the girl’s skin looked grey in the end. And it’s true about mattifying foundations, the Clinique Beyond Perfecting (I know it’s not strictly mattifying) just separates really weirdly on my skin by midday. It gathers. It’s just weird and not the best look!

    Bravo, more of this please!

    Lucy xx – She’s So Lucy // Health, beauty & lifestyle

    • Thanks Lucy! Ugh, agreed about the colour-correcting turning you gray. Whenever people come and ask me about green colour correctors at work I always get nervous. It’s just like, yeah there’s no way this is going to go well.

  • Yes yes yes. Thank you for this post Holly! I found is so interesting and informative, especially coming from someone who works in the industry. I knew a lot of these before and agree with many of them. I’m yet to fall into the trappings of colour correctors! I’ve also never found a silicone primer to work for my oily skin, I’m still on the hunt for a good mattifying primer that will really keep oil at bay! Any recommendations? 😉 Also I tend to use face washes with acids and I know they’re not as effective since they don’t stay on the skin for long but I’d like to think I’m getting as much help as I can haha! 😛

    Tasha // shiwashiful.

    • Hmmm about the primer. I’d say the most mattifying primers I’ve found have been 1. The Becca Evermatte Poreless Primer 2. The MUFE Mattifying Primer and 3. The Benefit Porefessional Matte Rescue. The third one is a very different texture. I still don’t really believe any of them will make a huge difference. I’m more about finding the right moisturizer and the right foundation, and even then, there’s only so much you can stop oiliness from happening.

      And yeah, ain’t no harm in throwing a few more acids in the face wash haha

  • Danielle Sanford

    Love this! Well written, but concise and not preachy. =) I take it you aren’t a fan of the boscia peel off mask? I found it oddly cathartic, but I wouldn’t use it on the regular and I haven’t bought it in a while, but was thinking of repurchasing. I would be interested in a follow up post where you recommend a few things (a good primer without silicone for oily skin, good drug store foundation, good toner, etc). I know that’s all a matter of opinion, but you have shown your opinion to carry some weight with the well thought out post above, so I would be interested in what you find to be worth using.

    • You know, I’ll level with you haha. I love using the Boscia peel off mask. I don’t think it does anything good for my skin, probably the opposite, but it is immensely satisfying. It takes me back to being a kid and covering my hand it glue so that when it dried I could peel it off.
      And I really like your idea of a follow up post by the way! Thank you for that. I’m start brainstorming.