Breaking Down the Best and Worst Skincare Trends of 2018

From sheet masks to charcoal, coconut oil and crystal rollers.

Glitter Skin Care
Photograph by Dario Catellani; Styled by Vittoria Cerciello; Makeup by Dick Page. Hair by Marki Shkreli for Marki Hair Care at Bryant Artists; Manicure by Maki Sakamoto for NARS AT THE WALL GROUP. MODEL: Tessa Bruinsma at Next; Photography Assistants: Leonardo Ventura, Kris Shacochis, Evgeny Popov; Fashion Assistants: Shant Alvandyan, Sidney Munch.

Charcoal, sheet masks, 12-step routines—in a post-Instagram world, it can feel like a lot to keep up with the latest skincare trends, let alone try them out. And lest you forget, quality can be deceptive when you’re basing your own routine primarily off photos, videos, and alluring packaging. That’s why we consulted with an expert, skincare guru to Emma Stone and Naomi Campbell and head of Rescue Spa, Danuta Mieloch, to find out which trends are worth investing in and which ones are better to skip. As Mieloch says, “Stay with the trends but don’t blindly follow them until they run out.”

The veteran esthetician, who also counts makeup artist and beauty mogul Pat McGrath as a client, has the experience to differentiate. “I like to think that I’m an aesthetician since I was a child,” she says over the phone. “When kids were playing with toys, I had a little apothecary and dreamed about finding a cure for aging.” She went on to make her own lotions and extract her 15-year-old sister’s skin at the age of five. But these days, she’s thankful she’s found better tools. “I’m lucky I don’t have to mix things up in the kitchen anymore because there are so many good products out there,” she says. “Skincare can be confusing; that’s why it’s really good to find a good skincare specialist. It’s almost like finding a nutritionist or trainer. You don’t have to go all the time. You get what you put in—like workout, diet. No one is going to do it for you; you have to do it.”

That’s true, but it’s much easier to keep up with your own skincare routine when you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, Mieloch, who’s done more than 10,000 facials, is here to help break down which trends to try and which to skip.

Trend: Charcoal

Verdict: “Not necessary. The idea of charcoal is [that it’s] dark, and anything that is black or muddy can get in your pores. Even if it seems like it should be purifying, it’s too harsh for your skin. There are so many better products to use that are more predictable—I’m a big fan of predictable skincare versus trying something unpredictable. Clay masks are a good alternative, like Biologique Recherche’s BioMagic Mask.”

Trend: Elaborate Skincare Routines

Verdict: “If you don’t have the experience of how to layer products, too many skincare products applied in the wrong sequence can be harmful because it can cause pore clogging. I’m a proponent of using two to three lines, tops, and you have to be guided through it because different companies use different ingredients and one can counteract with another.”

Trend: Sheet Masks

Verdict: “All sheet masks are not created equal. There’s a big Korean beauty trend, and you have to really know which brands to choose. Some have great hydrating ingredients and they’re a quick fix. At my salon, we use a collagen mask, and that collagen is medical grade and it’s regenerating. I would really look for sheet masks that are a higher quality.”

Trend: Collagen Supplements

Verdict: “Not many products can actually penetrate the skin; they’re more topical hydrators. But anything hydrating is going to be great for your skin. When we think of healthy skin, we think of moist, plump, hydrated skin that’s glowing. As soon as you get into your 30s you start losing the moisture so you need to replenish it. If you’re in a dryer climate, you’re going to lose that moisture much faster. Hydration is the most important thing.”

Courtesy of Rescue Spa

Trend: Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer

Verdict: “Not my favorite. Oils are not predictable. Maybe after the beach—or I use coconut oil for massage purpose. But to use it on a daily basis is not great. It’s too greasy and doesn’t allow your skin to breathe. There are a lot of naturalists who are using coconut oil, though, and it works for them. Personally, I’m not a big fan of oils, period. It’s difficult to say what source they come from and how they were produced. Usually, when oils are exposed to pollution and your own oil, it’s a ticking time bomb.”

Trend: Vampire Facials

Verdict: “There is probably some truth to that. For me, facials and treatments are all about finding a reputable place and trusting them. I love all of the technology, but I’m also a purist. If you’re already getting regular facials and your skin is balanced and you’re looking for that step up, I think it’s great.”

Trend: Bone Broth

Verdict: “I think it’s fantastic because it’s protein, and skin is protein. Having a wholesome nutrition is supremely important. It’s your natural protection from the environment and oxidation. Every single day we’re fighting free radicals and aging. So bone broth is smart. But eating with a healthy pyramid is the best way to go about it.”

Trend: Crystal Rollers

Verdict: “Some people love gadgets; some don’t. You have to recognize in yourself: Are you a gadget person? Rollers can help you penetrate the skin with creams and be fantastic. To me, the best gadgets are your own hands and learning how to touch your skin with your own fingers; massaging your face, learning your muscles and the attachments is probably more important. Supposedly we are getting some minerals in the jade, but I’m not too sure about that. [But] I don’t think jade rollers can hurt you. If you like it, go for it.”

Courtesy of Rescue Spa

Trend: Placenta Facials

Verdict: “It’s hard to tell if it works, but placenta is all protein, like bone broth. Placenta is an old way to treat the skin and help repair it—if you don’t mind the smell and you’re not weirded out by where it’s coming from.”

Trend: P50

Verdict: “It’s like a magic potion. I call it a facial in a bottle because it balances the pH of the skin and exfoliates. It helps with circulation and tightens pores. It tingles, so it feels like it’s working immediately upon application.”

Trend: Over-Hydration

Verdict: “The skin only absorbs what it needs, and the rest will be sitting on top. So for someone who has oily skin, if you put too much moisture on it, it will get clogged. It’s important to get familiar with your skin and see if it needs more moisture or purifying and cleansing. I live in New York, and because of the climate and pollution, women in their 30s experience more breakouts and clogging than anything else.”

Trend: Adaptogens

Verdict: “Adaptogens inspire me because of the mineral content. Ashwagandha is a root-like Indian ginseng, and, for me, it’s really helpful for women with hormonal issues like PMS, and it has a calming effect. So why not? At this time, we are in a global moment so we take from all the cultures, whether it’s acupuncture or other ancient wisdom. I love that because I love all the traditions. I use Sun Potion myself, like the Yin powder or Pine Pollen for longevity. I love anything containing reishi mushroom for women because it has such a nice effect on our reproductive system. Reishi is good at any age. I think mindfulness and wellness are super important, so I’ll try anything in that space once. “