What Is The Worst Skin Care Line? Renée Rouleau Shares Her Thoughts

As a skin care expert, celebrity esthetician and someone who studies skin care ingredients and formulations extensively for my own collection of products, I’m often asked “Which skin care line do you think is the worst?” Truth be told, there is no bad skin care line, nor is there a perfect or best skin care line, not even my own. 

Why? Well, the reason for this is simply because every persons’ skin is unique due to genetics, body chemistry, lifestyle, climate and hormones and because of this, will respond differently to whatever is used on it. Differentiations within each type of skin include: thickness, thinness, oil production (or lack of), capillaries, blood circulation, pigment, rate of cell turnover, cell metabolism, pore size, tone, texture, the various types of breakouts (whiteheads, papules, pustules, cysts) and the bacteria associated with it, blackheads and more.

When a product is used on the skin, it will react with your skin either negatively or positively and this will vary for every type of skin. This is the reason why your friend could tell you about some amazing line that has improved her skin greatly, yet when you try it (even if you have similar characteristics) your skin may have gotten worse. Does this mean that this line is bad? No, it simply means that it interacted with your skin differently based on your individual skin type and didn’t give a positive result.

However, I can definitely be very critical of skin care lines and some are worse than others.

In my opinion, a bad product (or one that may not give the best possible result) has:

-An old and outdated formula. I had an $800 facial in France last year at a well known skin care institute (read my review) and the owner had her own skin care line. When I looked at a few of the products, I was surprised to see many outdated ingredients. There were a lot of ingredients that were common to use 30 years ago but clearly this line wasn’t keeping up with all the amazing advancements that truly can give better results. Must-have ingredients nowadays are vitamin C (particularly magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), glycolic acid, sunscreen and retinol and they can make dramatic improvements to the appearance of your skin. When it comes to skin care products, I generally don’t believe in the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” mentality where this esthetician probably prefers this philosophy. Using products that your grandmother used (no matter how beautiful her skin may be) will cause you to miss out on some serious benefits.

-Ingredient claims with no scientific studies backing the information. I can’t tell you how many skin care lines out there that make misleading claims of their ingredients firming the skin, getting rid of wrinkles or clearing acne but are not supported by any independent research in the world. Sadly, this is often the case with many organic lines. Talk is cheap. Show me the proof with true results.

-Skin care companies that retouch photos. I am a HUGE skeptic when it comes to before and after photos put out by skin care and cosmetic companies. It’s so easy with computer technology along with lighting to enhance the ‘after’ photos to make the skin look so much better. When I’ve taken classes at UCLA, we have studied this very subject. It’s simple to do and unfortunately, so many companies do it. Trust me when I say, what you see is not what you get. See this before and after photo of our client, that was NOT retouched.

-Harsh or harmful ingredients. I believe there are some skin care ingredients used in products that are bad for the skin. This includes SD alcohol 40 or denatured alcohol (commonly found in toners), sodium laureth sulfate (found in cleansers) and synthetic fragrance can all cause redness, irritation and sensitivity, yet these are still so commonly used in lines. I encourage you to pay attention to the ingredient labels and avoid using these as I have in my skin care line. See my full list of ingredients to avoid.

-Unstable ingredients used in retinol and vitamin C serums. In the case of a vitamin C serum, the biggest problem is that vitamin C has a very difficult time penetrating the skin and staying stable. Improper forms of vitamin C (with L-ascorbic acid being the worst kind), can irritate the skin, cause blackheads and create damaging inflammation all which offer no positive skin benefit whatsoever. (Read: Does Your Vitamin C Serum Turn Brown Over Time?) Retinol, my very favorite ingredient for resurfacing the skin to create a smoother appearance can be completely ineffective and irritating to the skin if it’s not microencapsulated and time-released. A well-formulated, stable form is Advanced Resurfacing Serum for sensitive skin types.

-The one-size-fits-all approach. I’ve never understood how a company can say a product is for “all skin types” when clearly all skin is different. If a product is for good for everyone and anyone to use, then this means that a teenager with cystic acne can use the same products as an aging woman with wrinkles and brown spots? Nonsense. It is with my vast knowledge of hands-on skin care experience that lead me to believe there are nine different types of skin and so my line is extensive to address exactly this. Even the standard dry, normal, oily and sensitive classifications are simply way too generic.

When using any new product on the skin, it’s always best to introduce them one at a time, and to be extra cautious, do a patch test with each product before using it all over the face. Read: How to Avoid a Negative Reaction to New Skin Care Products

There’s a lot of marketing hype out there with skin care products and it’s really easy to get confused about how to make sense of it all and find out how to best care for your skin’s unique needs. It is why I have written over 1300 posts on my blog with the intention of giving you my expert, no-nonsense advice so you can achieve healthy and beautiful skin for a lifetime. Stick with me. I’ll show you the way.

Read: Confused About Your Skin Type? Take This Quiz

Read: The Five Worst Skin Care Products

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take our Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

Need expert advice from a licensed esthetician? Schedule a virtual consultation to get customized advice in person, over the phone or online via Skype or Facetime.

For more expert advice check out the blog. Also sign up for our skin tip e-newsletter, follow Renée Rouleau on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on our Facebook page. You’ll be your own skin care expert in no time. Get the #ReneeRouleauGlow!

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Comments:

  1. I’m curious to know what your favorite hair care products are, especially shampoos and conditioners, because they contain sls and fragrance almost always. I have a hard time knowing what to use.

    Thanks,
    Katie

    Posted By: Kate  | 

    Reply
  2. I’ve been battling white heads on my cheeks (& forehead) for a couple of years. Do you have any advice for this? I have combination skin with some breakouts (I’m in my mid 20s)

    Posted By: Kim  | 

    Reply
  3. (continued) I’m using a deep cleansing foam cleanser, gentle exfoliating pads (allowed to use twice a day but I use it once/day or 2 days), followed by natural balancing toner and moisterizer for combination skin.
    White heads are so stubborn :( Do you see any problems?

    Posted By: Kim  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      I would also suggest you see an esthetician to manually removed those. Products will help but they will work so much better when the pores are clearer.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  4. I love your blog and your amazing products however I use only natural tested ingrediants and in more interested in what ingrediants you use for blackheads and acne type #6 and #3 skin. what Ingrediants do u mostly use? I try jojoba, peppermint, Apple cider, tea tree oil, glycol, Rosemary, rose, lemon, lavendar. Have any ingrediants (mostly herb/organic/essential oils) I should use??

    Posted By: Diana  | 

    Reply
  5. My mom grew up in more of a farm land, never used sunscreen or products on her face and had acne. She had said she did pick alittle. Her entire face and T-zone is covered in wholes and he pores and tremendously huge. From her genetics I have oily skin and blackheads everywhere. They started at a very early age and I do not want to have large pores like my mom did. Have any tips or know of any ingrediants that really help? I have heard jojoba helps with oil production. Does it?

    Posted By: Diana  | 

    Reply
  6. Thanks so much I look forward to reading your blog!
    -diana

    Posted By: Diana  | 

    Reply
  7. Hey,
    I had a question..I am planing to do esthetician course from Aveda. They just teach about there products and don’t teach about chemical peels etc… Would Aveda be a good choice or should I look at the institutes which teaches out microdermabrasion?? Please give your inputs!!

    Posted By: Dimps  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      I have a great post about my thoughts on which esthetics school to attend. Read it here.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  8. Hi I don’t know if you received this or not but a few years back I switched from merle Norman to Chanel makeup and ever since them my skin has been itchy and when I switched back to Merle Norman I still itch can you please help I really need your help finding a skincare line or makeup that my skin won’t react to have you ever hear of la Roche posay or skin ceuticals or ddf skincare? What about cover fx or derma blend and la Vichy makeup? Do you think those would be suitable for my skin there all fragrance and allergy tested I just need someone’s help I can’t take the itching anymore?

    Posted By: Morgan  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      I would suggest that you either see an esthetician or a dermatologist to see what is going on. Itching, can be a sign of a damaged moisture barrier which can be fixed using good quality skin care products like my line, but it’s just hard to really say. But as for makeup lines, I don’t have recommendations of brands other than just to say use only fragrance-free.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
      • thank you and thank you so much for responding it really does mean a lot to me thank you.

        Posted By: Morgan  | 

        Reply
  9. For someone who has sensitive skin and doesn’t live near your spas I would like to start getting regular facials monthly at spas do you have any recommendations for someone who lives in north carolina

    Posted By: Morgan  | 

    Reply
    • I would like to start by saying I think your products are great. I use all of your products on my face everyday. I have tried a lot of products and wasted a lot of money on products but I do feel like you are the real deal and so happy to at know when I do buy that I’m not getting scammed!! I would love to have a facial at your Plano Spa I only live about 5 hours away and I hope do that one day but again thank you for all the skin care advice and it would be great to meet you in person some time.

      Posted By: Charmaine Sinclair  | 

      Reply
      • Renée Rouleau

        Thank you so much for your sweet comments, Charmaine! We are definitely the real deal. Stick with us, there’s no going wrong :)

        Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

        Reply
  10. Hi. I have a question about the AHA/BHA Cleansing Gel for Acne-Prone skin. Is this cleanser meant for or able to remove makeup, even BB cream? I’m tired of having to remove my makeup first then have to cleanse it, or having to find a cleanser that removes makeup and cleanses. Is this a good product to use for that as well as clearing and helping with acne? Thank you so much for your help.

    LEAH

    Posted By: Leah  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Hi Leah, Yes, it will remove makeup mainly because it has exfoliating acids that help loosen off makeup plus it has little natural jojoba exfoliating beads in it that also help take off makeup. It’s a great cleanser for deep cleaning and clearing acne-prone skin.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  11. hi Renee my name is Jeanine st Charles I’m 40 years old and struggling with bad acne right now trying to get it cleared up and nothing works

    Posted By: Jeanine  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      Hello Jeanine, I suggest that you start by taking my Skin Type Quiz here and get products recommended. It would also be helpful for you to read my blog, especially the adult acne section. You’ll get a lot of tips to clear your skin.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply
  12. Hello Renee, I am opening a shop in a “very small” town in Tn. I wish I could use and retail your products in my soon to be shop, but I know that isn’t an option, so I was hoping you could recommend a product line similar to yours. I hate to ask, but I have almost gone insane looking for a good product line. Plus, I respect your opinion and knowledge about products.

    Posted By: Krys  | 

    Reply
    • Renée Rouleau

      I don’t have any suggestions at all for lines similar to mine, but my suggestion would be to attend trade shows and talk with the various vendors to see who sounds like is the best fit for your demographic and your personal skin philosophy.

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

      Reply

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