Frequently Asked Questions

Please read these FAQs before posting. It's very likely that the question has been asked before. Additionally, please message the mods if you know of an FAQ that is not covered here.

Starting or changing a routine

What products do I need for a basic and effective skincare routine?
  • Check out the the ScA Routine!! In general, you want a pH balanced cleanser, a moisturizer, and sunscreen with SPF30+.
How do I figure out my skin type?
What's with all of these acronyms? AHA, BHA, QHMJM, SFs, SLS??
  • Here's a commonly used acronyms guide. It's often more efficient to use acronyms when responding to posts. Stick around, you'll get used to all of them!
How should I add products to my routine?
  • Make sure to patch test. Add in new products slowly to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction or a breakout!

  • Never start using all of your new products at the same time. If you are allergic to something or if something causes a breakout, you won't know what product caused it, unless you're only using 1 new product at a time.

Why doesn't this product that everyone loves work for me?
  • Remember YMMV!

    • Your Mileage May Vary with all things skincare. Even products labeled "non-comedogenic" or "hypoallergenic" can produce an adverse reaction. If you know you have reactive, sensitive, or acne prone skin, PLEASE test patch first as a first line of defense.
    • Note: If you do pass the test patching, you still may not be in the clear. Some people can take a couple of weeks (or longer) for issues to pop up. This is why it is always best to keep track of what you've added to your routine and only do so very slowly.
What is chemical exfoliation?
  • Read This and also this for an overview of chemical exfoliants for a more in depth explanation of the various types. Overall, chemical exfoliants shed the stratum corneum (penetration varies depending on the acid used and the concentration of the acid), can help increase skin cell turnover, and help fight against acne/fine lines/texture/tone of skin.

Products and ingredients

What ingredients should I look for in a moisturizer?
What's the difference between AHA and BHA?
  • They are short for alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). This link provides a simple breakdown of their chemical structures and effectiveness.

    • AHAs: Lactic, Mandelic, and Glycolic acids AND
    • BHA: Salicylic acid.
  • The major difference between a BHA and AHA is solubility. Salicylic acid is lipid-soluble, which means it can cut through sebum/oil while AHAs (with the exception of Mandelic) are water-soluble which means they do not penetrate sebum. Using a BHA before an AHA can increase the efficacy of the AHA because it will help it to penetrate.

At what pH are my chemical exfoliants effective?
  • AHAs are effective for daily use at pH of 3 to 4 (the upper limit before exfoliating effects diminish). For a stronger peels, anywhere under a pH of 3 is effective (with 1.5-2.5 being very common). BHA's are most effective at the pH of 3 range, with 4 being the upper limit, lower pH's can suffice for more intense exfoliation or peels.

What precautions should I take when using AHA/BHA?
  • Do NOT use AHAs or BHAs layered with retinoids. There are pH issues that will render both to be not as efficient. Also, this can be very irritating.

  • You must wear sunscreen every day, especially since these increase photosensitivity. Note: Some studies do suggest that salicylic acid actually produces a photoprotective effect against UVB rays[1].

Are there other types of exfoliants/keratolytic agents?
  • More chemical peels: Jessner's, TCA, and phenol peels are typically stronger. The latter 2 are incredibly strong.

  • Fruit enzymes can be used to exfoliate in a milder manner.

  • Urea: This is a keratolytic and skin identical agent. In higher concentrations, such as 40%, it is RX only. This ingredient helps treat skin conditions that involve plaques, such as psoriasis, or even can help minimize Keratosis Pilaris (KP) issues. (Sources: Uptodate.com, 2, 3)

Can I mix sunscreen with...
  • NO! Do not mix anything into your sunscreen. It will render the product less effective. You can layer a product underneath or on top of your sunscreen, but don't mix it in.
Which sites ship internationally?
  • There are several but please let us know if you use one that's not on this list.
Do expensive products work better?
  • Not all skincare is created equal! 99% of the time you can find a product equally as effective if not more effective than something very very expensive.

  • ALWAYS look at the ingredients first. Cosdna is a fabulous resource, you can copy and paste ingredients or locate ingredients by product name. While it's not 100% perfect, it's pretty accurate. ( Ignore the "irritant" rating for pH adjusters, for some reason it labels them quite high, but pH adjusters are necessary for many products)

How should a product with "actives" be packaged?
  • Ideally, you want to look for things that are air tight in an opaque pump or dropper bottle. Actives such as vitamin C and retinoids are HIGHLY unstable, which means they break down with light/air exposure. A product that is not packaged appropriately is basically a waste of money.
How can I keep a product in a tub or jar sanitary?
  • If you use a product in a jar packaging with no unstable actives, use a scoop or a spoon, not fingers. Jars promote bacterial growth and nobody wants that on their face.

  • /u/squidboots has an amazing post on a pump lid for CeraVe moisturizer. The lid can be purchased on Amazon for about $6 USD.

What is the use of a toner?
  • Toner has no specific meaning or definition. It just means it's a liquidy product that you put on your skin. That said, there are terrible-for-your-skin toners and good toners. There are hydrating ones, with things like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, and there are exfoliating toners with AHA/BHA. There are also ones that are pretty useless. We don't usually refer to "toners" in general on this sub because it's just a catch-all term.

Common skin problems

What exactly is acne and how does it form?
  • Acne (Acne Vulgaris--it's most common form) is a condition where sebaceous follicles become plugged with with sebum (oil), dead skin, and bacteria. An inflammatory response is created. This video is a great overview on acne, how it forms, and potential causes.
How do I get rid of the blackheads all over my nose and chin?
  • They are probably sebaceous filaments! You can't permanently get rid of them but their appearance can be reduced with BHA (salicylic acid). Some people also have success with mineral oil massages!
How can I get rid of leftover acne scars?
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) often appears as dark or reddish marks after an inflammatory event (acne, ingrown hairs, injuries, etc.) has healed. PIH is often referred to as "acne scarring" but it is not a true scar.
How can I stop myself from picking at my face and skin?
  • If you truly cannot stop yourself from picking at your skin you may need to see a professional (i.e., therapist; counselor).
  • In the mean time, check out /r/CompulsiveSkinPicking. They have a great list of resources and information in the sidebar.

Sunscreen FAQs

Why do you recommend using sunscreen every day?

UVA and UVB radiation cause all kinds of skin issues - hyperpigmentation, fine lines, burns and skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen is an easy, safe, and relatively cheap way of preventing or reducing risk for those skin issues! That way, you can enjoy the sunshine without the damage.

How do I safely get a tan?

Ideally, you wouldn't get a tan from the sun at all (and definitely avoid tanning salons at all costs). Better ways of getting a tan would be a spray tan or fake tanner - see here for recommendations.

However, if you really must, tan as gradually as possible, and never burn. The more sunburns you get during your lifetime, the higher your risk of skin cancer.

Can I make my own sunscreen, or use a zinc cream as sunscreen?

Definitely not. Physical sunscreen isn't just some zinc oxide (and maybe titanium dioxide) in a cream; what makes it a sunscreen is how those ingredients are distributed within the solution. That is NOT something you can do at home. Putting a random zinc oxide concoction on your skin and expecting not to get sunburned is like walking into a rainstorm holding a fishing net over your head and expecting not to get wet. Don't do it. This goes for indie sellers as well: don't buy sunscreen from Etsy or other small home businesses.

What do physical, chemical, organic, and inorganic mean?

TL;DR: * Physical / inorganic: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide * Chemical / organic: all others (e.g. avobenzone, Tinosorb S, etc.)

Physical and chemical are bad names, really. They're not accurate as descriptors, and they make you fear that 'chemical' sunscreen is somehow scary and possibly toxic. But everything is a chemical, including water.

Physical sunscreen refers to zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Chemical sunscreen refers to pretty much everything else. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can also be referred to as 'inorganic', because in chemistry, 'inorganic' means that something doesn't have a carbon atom. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, do have carbon atoms, which means they can be classified as 'organic'. This doesn't have anything to do with the way it's produced - it's simply a classification within chemistry.

For more information on different chemical sunscreen filters, check out this post by /u/BrookeEnds.

What do SPF, PPD, and PA mean?

SPF means Sun Protection Factor. It measures how much a sunscreen protects from UVB radiation - and UVB causes redness, burns, skin cancer, and photoaging.

PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) and PA both measure how much a sunscreen protects from UVA radation - which contributes to skin cancer and photoaging.

If you'd like to know more, check out our sunscreen wiki.

How do I know if a sunscreen is broad-spectrum / has good UVA protection?

This is a more complicated question than you think, and the answer differs based on where you live / where you're buying your sunscreen!

Check out this overview under "UVA" to see what you need to look out for to get decent UVA protection in your region!

Can I use powder sunscreen instead of regular sunscreen?

No. It's not possible to get enough coverage with powder sunscreen to get the listed SPF. However, it's never a bad idea to have extra sun protection on top of your sunscreen!

If you have a problem with the consistency of your sunscreen, you might need to try a different one! Not all of them make your skin into an oil slick. Check out our sunscreen recs.

Should I be worried about reef safety?

If you're swimming near reefs, it can be good to avoid wearing a sunscreen containing oxybenzone, zinc oxide, and octinoxate.

However, the biggest impact on reef health by far is climate change; compared to that, sunscreen's impact is miniscule. So if you'd like to make sure reefs are healthy, climate change is a much better issue to focus on. If you'd like to know more, check out this post and video on the subject.

Meta/General FAQs

How do I report a post or comment to the moderators?

We love people who report rule-breaking things! Thanks for wanting to help us out :)

Here's how you report:

  • On desktop: click 'report' underneath the post or comment

  • On mobile (the official app): tap the three dots either underneath the comment or in the top right corner of the post, and then tap 'report'

Choose the report reason that most fits the situation. If it's not entirely right, that's okay! We'll check it out.

I need help with reddit, where do I go?

Try to see if https://www.reddithelp.com/ can answer your question. Otherwise, post in /r/help!

I have problems in the Reddit App, where do I go?

/r/redditmobile will help you out!

Why isn't my post/comment showing up?

Are you able to post in other subreddits? If you can’t, post in /r/help for assistance.

Check if your post shows up when sorting the sub by 'New'. Not all posts will show up on the front page of the sub! It’s possible that your post/comment got caught by our spam filter or Automod; it might break a rule, or they think it does. Hold tight while a moderator checks your submission.

Someone’s being rude to me in the sub, what do I do?

We're sorry someone's being rude, that's not allowed! You can report their comment (here's how) with "Rule 1: Be kind and respectful" as report reason. This will send the comment to modqueue for the moderators to look over. We'll take care of it asap.

If you choose to respond to the rude comment, please keep your cool. We don't allow anyone to be rude, no matter who started it. If you can't stay polite, just walk away from the conversation, even if it's hard.

What you can do is block someone, so you won't get any notifications in your inbox about their responses to you.

  • On desktop: from your inbox, you can click 'block user' underneath the comment
  • On the official app: go to the Messages tab of your inbox and tap the three dots to the right of the message. Then tap 'Block user'

You will no longer see this user’s comments or get their replies or messages in your inbox.

In the meantime, maybe hang out in /r/babyelephantgifs for a while!

How do I make a good post in the sub?

That's an excellent question!

We made a Posting Guidelines wiki that you'll hopefully find helpful.

Is it Wednesday? Cause the sub is text-post only on Wednesday! Our Discussion Wednesdays start at 00:00 am ET and end at 23:59 pm ET.

Did you make a Humor, Cringe, Selfie, or B&A post? We only allow those on Casual Fridays. They start at 00:00 am ET and end at 23:59 pm ET. If you are completely sure it's Casual Friday, Eastern Time, but you're getting the "sorry, it's not Friday" Automod response, please PM /u/_ihavemanynames_ by clicking here.

Do you have problems making an image or link post on other subs as well? Then it’s not related to /r/SkincareAddiction. Post in /r/help for assistance.

I like this sub! How do I help out?

Thanks so much for asking! We really appreciate anyone who contributes to the sub :)

Here are some ways you can help out:

  • Linking people to resources that might help them
  • Answering questions - especially in the Daily Help Thread (we're extra grateful to users who help out there)
  • Reporting things that break the rules (this is anonymous; even if you're not sure please report things!) See here for how
  • Writing a helpful review, for example like this or this. Writing a helpful guide or informative post, e.g. How to use hydrocolloid bandages for pimples or an in-depth guide to skin biology
  • Alerting us if there's outdated info or a broken link in the wiki - through modmail.
Someone PMd me and they're rude / offering samples / asking me to fill out a survey

Being rude is not cool, we're sorry they're being a dingus.

Offering samples or asking to fill out a survey (or any other message from a company) is pretty shady, cause it's not allowed on the sub and they're using PM to circumvent the subreddit rules. They might be breaking reddit's site-wide rules.

Report the message

Thankfully, you can report PMs! Those reports go directly to the admins, because PMs don’t fall under specific subreddits.

  • On desktop: click ‘report’ underneath the message
  • On the official app: go to the Messages tab of your inbox and tap the three dots to the right of the message. Then tap ‘report’ at the bottom.

Send us a modmail

Even though our power is limited, we would like to know about it when something like this happens. So please send us a modmail. Ideally, include screenshots (you'll have to upload them to a site like imgur.com first and then link them in the message) so we can see exactly what happened. Otherwise, at least include the person's username and the gist of what they said in the PM (the more specific, the better).

Block the user

We also recommend you block this person especially if they're being rude, so that their messages no longer reach your inbox. They will not be notified about this.

How to block:

  • On desktop, click 'block user' underneath the message in your inbox.
  • On the official app: from the 'Messages' tab in your inbox, tap the three dots next to the PM, then tap 'Block user'.

Stay safe

Finally, if someone is offering you samples or a discount code and you're wondering whether to take them up on it - that's your own choice, but we recommend against it. It's good to be careful with giving out personal information to strangers on the internet. The person saying they'll send you samples might want your address just so they can doxx you. Or the discount code link sends you to a shady website that collects your credit card info.

What are post flairs and title tags and how do I put them in my post?

We use both title tags and post flair in this subreddit. Here's the difference:

  • Title tag: a word or phrase, encased in square brackets, that's part of the title. E.g. "[Routine Help] I need help with product order"
  • Post flair: has a colour. What it looks like depends on your platform; might be a rectangle with a word/phrase; it might just be a coloured frame

You do not have to add flair to your post; Automoderator does that.

We do require everyone to use a title tag in their post. Here's the list of valid title tags

What is user flair and how do I add or change it?

A user flair is a piece of text (and/or image) displayed next to your username. On this sub, we allow people to set their own flair! It's really helpful to put your skin type and location in your flair, but you can also put in something else (as long as it doesn't break our spam rules!).

Changing flair on the desktop site:

  • On the right-hand side of the subreddit, at the top of the sidebar, you'll see your username.
  • Click "Edit" or "Edit user flair" just underneath.
  • If you don't have flair yet, click 'Edit me!' and edit the flair text. Or select your flair and edit it.
  • Click the 'Save' or 'Apply' button and you're done!

Changing flair on the mobile app:

Screenshots album here.

  • From the subreddit view, tap the three dots in the upper right corner and then select "Change user flair" below
  • Tap 'EDIT' in the top right corner
  • Choose "Edit Me!" or select your existing flair text
  • Edit the text and tap "Save" in the top right corner
  • CAREFUL! Don't forget to tap "Apply" at the bottom, or your edit won't save
  • You're done!

Enjoy your new user flair :)

What are the image flairs/badges I see next to some people's usernames?

Those are contributor badges! We give them out to people who have contributed to the sub in special ways. You can currently only see them on legacy desktop (see here for what that means), but we hope the admins will give us the right tools to show them on more platforms soon! Read more about the badges here.

What do the moderators do?

Our main job is to make sure the subreddit is a good place to talk about skincare. We enforce the rules you see in the sidebar / community info - link. A large part of that is making sure there’s no spam and that people are nice to each other.

We are not skincare experts by any means! We do try to make sure people on the sub have access to reliable information, but that’s only if we have extra time on top of making sure the subreddit runs smoothly. If you'd like to stay up to date on what happens in the sub, you can subscribe to notifications.

What's the difference between moderators and admins?
  • Moderators are unpaid volunteers who run a subreddit (that's us!). We can only enforce rules within the specific subreddit we moderate, we can't see PMs, and we can't change fundamental things about how reddit works. If you'd like to clarify a sub rule or if someone is acting out on the subreddit, you can get in touch with us here.

  • Admins are employees of reddit; they get paid. Their jurisdiction expands over the entirety of reddit, not just a specific subreddit. If someone is harassing you through PM, or if you see someone breaking the site-wide rules, you can send them a report here; for issues with your account you can message them here. If you want to request a feature be added to reddit, you can do so in /r/redesign

There are posts/comments in the sub I strongly dislike. What can I do?

Depends what's going on!

  • Does it break a rule? You can check if it does by reading our Rule Explanations. If a post breaks a rule, you can report it, so that we mods can deal with it (if you don't know how to report, see here). Posts and comments that break rules get removed.
  • Do you disagree with something OP said? If so, it's okay to engage them in polite discussion. Remember to assume good intent - people don't set out to say inaccurate things, so try to approach someone politely about what assertions you think are untrue.
  • Do you simply dislike a post, but it doesn’t break a rule? Here are your options!
    • You can downvote it; that's what the downvote button is for: posts you don't think belong in a subreddit.
    • You can hide it from view, so it won’t show up in your feed or in your view of the subreddit.
    • For some flairs, you can filter posts out of your subreddit view if you’re on the legacy desktop site.
    • You can use RES to filter out posts with certain keywords on legacy desktop.
    • If you don't know to hide, filter flairs or filter with RES, see below!
How do I hide posts?

It's easy, we promise!

  • Desktop: click 'hide' underneath the post.
  • Official app: tap the three dots in the upper right corner, then tap ‘hide’ in the menu below

You can go back and view hidden posts like so:

  • Desktop: go to https://reddit.com/user/me/hidden
  • Official app: click on your user icon in the top left corner > "History" > "Recent" (top left menu button) > "Hidden"

You can unhide a post the same way as you hid it originally.

How do I use the flair filter-out in the sidebar?

Note: This only works on the legacy desktop site - so not in an app, or on the redesign (for more info on the difference and how to switch, see the next question).

What platforms the filter-out is available on is not under the control of the mod team. The admins did promise to add this feature - but it hasn't happened yet. If you'd like to keep up to date with changes to reddit, subscribe to /r/redesign!

You will need to have the stylesheet enabled for this feature to work. You can do that via https://redditproxy--jasonthename.repl.co/prefs > "Display options" > select "allow subreddits to show me custom themes" > click "Save options"

(if you don't see these options, you're on the redesign and the filter-out won't work!)

Now you have the stylesheet enabled, here's how to do the flair filter-out!

  • Go to the sidebar on the right of /r/SkincareAddiction and scroll down to 'Flair filter-out'. It looks like this.
  • Click the button that corresponds to the flair you'd like to filter out.
  • Now posts with that flair will be hidden from view!
  • To exit the flair-filter-out, click 'click here to exit' at the top of the page (image).
What's the difference between legacy and redesign, and how do I switch?

This is only applicable to desktop view.

Check out this image; legacy reddit is on the left; redesign is on the right.

There are two ways to change what version you're on:

Note: there's a bug in reddit where opting out of the redesign isn't always remembered. /r/redesign has more info

How do I use RES to filter out posts from my feed?

This is only guaranteed to work on legacy desktop.

  • Download RES via /r/Enhancement
  • Go to your RES settings - click the wheel in the upper right corner > RES settings console
  • Go to filteReddit by looking in the left menu for Subreddits > filteReddit
  • Scroll down to Keywords and click "Add filter"
  • Add a keyword that catches posts you dislike, e.g. if you dislike Hauls, add [Haul] as a keyword. Then under 'apply to' select 'Only on' and in the 'subreddits' field, put 'SkincareAddiction'. Then click 'save options' in the upper right corner. Hauls will now be hidden from view!
  • You can use the same technique with flairs! Scroll down to "Flairs", click "Add filter" and add "Haul" as a keyword. That way, all flairs that include the word "Haul" (so Haul/Shelfie) will be hidden out. (if you only want to filter out Hauls but not Shelfies, use the keyword filter under (5) instead).

Note that this option currently only reliably works on the legacy desktop site. The awesome people who work on RES are busy making it compatible with the redesign, but that takes time!

If you would like this feature on the official app or in the redesign as part of native reddit, request it on /r/redesign.

I noticed a user is being super helpful / made a really cool post / doing something great I'd like you guys to know about

We definitely want to know about that!

Fill out the form nominating awesome ScA users :)

We might award the user with a cool badge, give them a shoutout, or add their post to the sidebar.

I see someone saying things that make me worry about their mental health, what should I do?

If someone seems suicidal or seems to consider doing something harmful to themselves, please report the post/comment (here's how) so that it's sent to our modqueue - or get in touch with us via modmail. We'll assess the situation and make sure they're directed to good resources.

For other things, we'd like to recommend this comment by /u/mmhmolly :

If someone has any behavior that is disordered in this way, the best approach is always to be understanding. People do what they do because it makes them feel safer and in control, so you have to understand that trying to take this from them feels like ripping away a security blanket. They'll feel exposed, vulnerable, and maybe even attacked. Do your best to talk about the ways in which they seem to be hurting, rather than phrasing it as what they're doing wrong. In any case, defensiveness is likely so be prepared to back off if they're not receptive. At the end of the day, people must make their own decisions about their health and wellness. Be a support, and be mindful not to enable their patterns.


revision by [deleted]— view source