DO I NEED TO SKIN DETOX ?

The word detox, used to describe a multitude of creams, lotions, serums, and masks, is often advertised boldly on product labels. There are expensive boutique "detox" potions and less costly drugstore products readily available today. These products purport to remove dreadful toxins that accumulate in your skin. What toxins?

As a graduate of an Ivy League medical school who had the honor of being taught by some of the greatest medical minds on the planet, I'm wondering why I can't name a single toxin known to accumulate in the skin. And exactly what is the end result of a "skin detox' and how do you confirm that these poisonous toxins are eradicated?

The word detox (short for detoxification) means to remove unhealthy substances, such as alcohol or addictive substances like opiates and barbiturates, from the body. It's a common expression used in hospitals and rehabilitation centers all over the world. However, during my four years at medical school, one-year internship and three years of dermatology residency, including a year as Chief Resident, I never once heard the word "detox" used in connection with the skin. So, let's be clear, from a medical perspective, skin "detox" isn't a thing.

The human body is amazing. Your skin is a barrier, and a very good one. It is very difficult for toxins to pass through healthy skin. There are no studies that show perspiration, or sweat, removes toxins from the body. The liver and kidneys have the primary responsibility for detoxifying the body. The bowel and urinary systems remove the waste. If toxins were to build up in your body, you'd likely feel quite ill.

The word "detox" on skincare products is used as marketing jargon, hijacked with the sole purpose of increasing sales. If the word "detox" is being used as a replacement for the word "cleanse" I recommend you simply use a cleanser, such as a bar of soap. Cleansing the skin also removes the most superficial layers of skin cells. If, on occasion, you'd like to use a scrub or exfoliant because you like the way it feels, do so. Just know that none of these treatments can be considered a "detox."

If you want healthy skin, live a healthy lifestyle.

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Keep the skin hydrated by moisturizing when necessary.
  • Protect yourself from the sun and wear sunscreen 365 days/year.

And one last recommendation...laugh lots. Especially when you see the word "detox" on a skincare product label.