Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.
When you pick up a beauty product that touts a wonder ingredient that's supposed to be great for your skin, you expect it to completely change your life. But, let’s get one thing straight: Not everyone has the same skin, so all those lofty promises stamped on the outside of a tube or bottle just might not come true for you.
That said, just because something was an epic fail in your own skin-care regimen doesn’t mean certain ingredients are all-around terrible — they just might not be right for your skin type. “What makes something ‘bad’ depends on the individual,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist in Manhattan. “Retinoids would be ‘bad’ for individuals in the sun a lot (like lifeguards). Fragrances would be ‘bad’ for highly allergic individuals; straight alcohol as an astringent would be ‘bad’ for dry-skinned individuals.” You get the drift.
The trick lies in knowing which ingredients work (or don’t) for different complexion concerns. To get that intel, we spoke to expert dermatologists for their take on those ingredients that are ideal for almost every skin type and those that come with caveats.
Of course, it’s important to remember that for any ingredient (natural or synthetic), there’s bound to be someone out there in the big, wide world who is allergic to it. So, when we say certain things are pretty much universally great, pay attention to your skin and discontinue use if you see signs of trouble.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, click through to check out our list of good and sometimes-bad common skin-care ingredients, so you can customize your beauty routine accordingly.
Illustrated by Tida Tep