1.Don’t trust marketing! Everything these days is a competition and there are choices of the same product EVERYWHERE! The labels, the phrases, even the shape of the bottle is purposely designed to draw your attention and out do the product it sits beside. Although a product may use smart wording and attractive colors it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be true to what it boasts. You may be thinking, you already know this but, ask yourself, “How often do I grab the pretty bottle first?” How about smell? Have you ever made your decision to use a product ONLY based on how attractive it is to your senses? As human beings it is natural to judge a book by its cover. In order to give each product a fair chance and by actually putting your money toward the best opportunity for results, we need to look beyond its cover and turn the bottle around.
2.Read the Ingredients! Although it is almost impossible to keep a mental dictionary of every chemical compound and scientific name, it is important to understand a few elements to make a more educated decision on the products’ claims. Here are a few things to remember when decoding the bottle:
-The law requires all ingredients be listed by their INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) name. It outlines the appropriate term for every ingredient. For example: a simple ingredient such as shea butter requires it to be listed as Butyrosepermum Parkii. When people say if “you can’t pronounce it then don’t use it” they aren’t being fair. Although listing ingredients like this is confusing it keeps labels consistent across different languages.
-All ingredients fall into five grades. They are here listed in order of high to lower grade: pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic, reagent and technical. Most skincare is cosmetic-grade. Although there is nothing wrong with using this grade, it is just less refined than a higher grade ingredient. This is the reason different products with almost matching ingredients offer different results. The FDA allows up to 30% impurities in cosmetic-grade whereas pharmaceutical grade requires the ingredient to be 99.9% pure.
-Here’s a few key ingredients to consider further when you spy them on the bottle. Mineral Oil-when used in high concentrations can clog pores. If you’re unsure about the concentration level; the higher the ingredient is to the top of the list, the more concentrated it is in the formulation. Alcohol- will dry and irritate the skin. This can cause inflammation. Inflammation presents itself different ways such as acne, redness or dry patches. Fragrance or Parfum- the FDA does not require a discloser of what the actual ingredients are that make up a fragrance or parfum. Remember what I said about smell in the above section? In order to make a product more marketable the company may add ingredients to keep the customer from ‘turning their nose up.’ These ingredients may be irritating especially to sensitive skin. However, sometimes the smell is naturally derived and poses no risk of irritation. Be cautious of testing a product on your hand and making your decision based on aesthetic appeal.
3.Simplify & Diversify! Developing a good skin care routine is important to success, much like other areas of life. This does not mean you need a seven step system! In fact, I believe that healthy skin can be accomplished with only three to four steps depending on skin type and concern. After all, our skin is an organ, the largest in fact and if we keep it properly maintained, it will be able to take care of itself. Cleanse your skin morning and night, moisturize your skin morning and night and use an exfoliator regularly.
An important part of success with skin care is using products for your condition, however our condition can change. Sometimes because of the environment and other times because of lifestyle. As a professional Esthetician I personally have two different cleansers and two different moisturizers. Although these products have been the same in my routine for years I do use them alternately depending on what my skin is experiencing. I also have specialty products such as serums or ‘treatment creams’ to help with specific challenges, which are applied irregularly. Don’t be afraid to switch out your products when you find your skin isn’t cooperating the same.
4.Expensive = More Effective? The beautiful thing about choices is the ability to accommodate everyone’s preference. We each enjoy different ‘ways’ of keeping our skin and bodies healthy. Some enjoy lifting weights while others enjoy yoga. In regards to skin care some enjoy foaming cleansers and others enjoy cream. The same is true with price. We all have different checkbooks that require balance, but does that mean we all have to pay for the expensive products to get what we desire? The answer is no. There are many products both in the mid-price range and high price range that work well. If a product is high priced it may mean it contains pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, which will result in a purer and more effective product. But, it also may mean it’s just simply a higher marketing cost and in no way reflects the quality of the product inside. You’d be surprised by what the larger big name brands are using in their products compared to a smaller lesser known ones.
I do believe that a clear line can be drawn in the sand with regards to professional-only products and ones available over the counter. Yes, the professional products tend to be priced higher but they also come with better formulations and higher quality and grade ingredients. This also means that less is often more. If a product contains overall better ingredients you’ll find you’ll need much less of it than its cheaper counterpart. The more informed you are the easier and better choices you’ll make. That is another reason I encourage a professional product, it often comes with a professional’s free advice.
Overall, it is important to remember that aging cannot be reversed! I’ll say that again! No, you will not reverse the signs of aging in seven days! You can minimize skin damage but the best approach to aging skin is preventative maintenance. However, you accomplish this again in your personal preferences. Keep yourself informed and seek information beyond the bottle when considering new skin care products. I hope you found some insights in these quick four points! If you would like further information I recommend reading the book Simple Skincare, Beautiful Skin by Dr. Ahmed Abdullah, where some of the information I used above was derived from.
Wishing You Happy Shopping and Beautiful Skin! -Hillary