Fad or Real? How to Decide Whether a New Product is Worth Your Money & Time

Dear Dr. Irwin, I've read several articles proclaiming the benefits of squalane oil as a new "it" ingredient for skincare regimes. Is any of this grounded in actual scientific studies or is this another skincare fad that we're better off avoiding? Your thoughts and guidance would be most welcome. Thank you.

We all have good reasons to be increasingly skeptical about what we read anywhere, but especially on the web. Why?

Reasons to be skeptical:

  1.  A large company employs an army of digital workers to bombard us with ads for new stuff.
  2. Companies may pay for good “reviews.”  See the latest news on this!
  3.  Marketing companies help to decide the next latest and greatest ingredient, sometimes based on internet trends and the supplement market trends.
  4.  Derms and docs speaking up for products are often paid by the company.  This comes in the form of research money, advisory board pay, speaking opportunities, etc.  This doesn’t mean that the research is wrong, it just means to be skeptical.
  5. A company may advertise widely and get a million people to buy their product once. Then they fold or mutate and start all over again! “Better than Botox” creams – remember them? Those companies made a ton of money.
  6. Counterfeit “cheaper” skincare products are a big business on Amazon.

7 ways to protect yourself:

  • Just wait a few months. Watch the sites you trust for comments.  Often a product will be dead in 6 months, after a lot of hype, because it does nothing.
  • Establish a great basic regimen for yourself that you know works for at least 3 months. From that base of good skin, add 1 new product for 1-3 months and see if you notice a difference.  Stop, of course, if it irritates you.
  • Find a good derm, or a good aesthetician who can help guide you.  Beware those who want to “redo” all your products.  That’s usually not needed, and there’s no rush.
  • Read sites like ours, and I’ll try to comment more on new ingredients.  🙂
  • Hope in a jar is false. We all know that anything worthwhile comes with consistency, thoughtfulness, and alignment with our values.
  • Talk to friends and family, but make sure they’ve been using the product for at least 3-6 months before you take their comments seriously.
  • Avoid “web fear” and “web hype.”
Hope this helps!
Dr. Brandith Irwin
Founder, SkinTour
Director, Madison Skin & Laser Center
Follow my skin tips and travels on Instagram!

P.S. I’d avoid the squalene oil for now.  🙂

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

Ask me your skincare question!

Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

  • All our content is written and researched by myself.
  • My medical office in Seattle has treated thousands of patients for 15+ years.
  • This site is not affiliated or financially tied to any product, treatment or device.
Ask Me Something
SkinTour Skincare
One of the best investments in your skin is your daily skincare. Why? Because you can prevent many problems with blotchy skin color, lack of glow, texture, some types of acne, and fine lines with good skincare products. You can also correct some of these problems with effective skincare products. Great skincare is often more expensive because quality ingredients are expensive. Some companies spend on research/development which benefits all of us and adds to the cost. Are they worth it? In general - yes! I have handpicked some of what I consider to be the best skin care products, and offer them for sale on SkinTour's shop. This is based on my team and I's testing and research at our clinic. Many of the products are in my own regimen. What could be better than using skin care products a dermatologist uses?!