Choosing the right skin care line is important for maintaining healthy skin. Some people may want to address a particular skin problem, while others may simply wish to establish an effective maintenance routine for their skin. Knowing your skin type, care objectives, and consumer preferences will help you decide from among the myriad beauty products available on the market. With a little homework, you can come away with a skin care line that’s safe, effective, and beautifully suited to your needs.
Part 1: Analyzing Your Skin
1.Determine your skin type. Knowing your skin type is essential to finding the right products to care for it. The basic types are normal, oily, dry, and combination. Your type is determined by the size of your pores, the degree of oil and moisture in your skin, and its sensitivity to environmental irritants.
- You have normal skin if you have few imperfections, no significant sensitivities, and small pores that are barely visible.
- Oily skin generally comes from large pores. It leads to dull or shiny skin that is prone to blackheads, acne, and other blemishes that arise from clogged pores.
- You have dry skin if your skin is rough, scaly, or dull. It also may be spotted with red or itchy patches. Your pores will be so small as to be practically invisible.
- Combination skin that combines areas of oily, normal, and/or dry skin is common. For instance, many people have larger pores that produce more oil on their foreheads, noses, and chins.
2.Decide if you have sensitive skin. Besides knowing your skin type, you should also note if you have any significant sensitivities to environmental irritants. If your skin sometimes itches, stings, burns, and/or breaks out in a rash when you use beauty or hygienic products, then you have sensitive skin.
- If you do, you should go for beauty products that are for sensitive skin, hypoallergenic, and free from dyes and fragrances.
3.Assess any conditions that affect your skin. Besides catering to a particular skin type, many skin care lines are aimed at improving specific, treatable conditions that affect your skin. Ask yourself what problems you are trying to correct or prevent so that you can pick products to address them.
- For instance, do you want to get rid of acne, acne scars, rosacea, dark spots or pigmentation? Are there wrinkles or other signs of aging that you’d like to address? Would you like to minimize large pores or treat blackheads? Is the skin under your eyes puffy or discolored?
4.Consider your complexion. Is your skin fair, light, medium, or dark? While this won’t make a difference for many products, it’s useful to keep in mind when you’re buying products that are tinted to match your skin (such as tinted moisturizers). It’s also helpful to think about when considering the degree of sun protection that you’d like your skin care products to provide.
- If you have fair skin, it’s likely that you burn easily and should go for a skin care line that offers a high SPF of 30+. If you’re light or medium in complexion, pick products that offer some protection in the 15-30 SPF range. If you have darker skin and only rarely burn, you can choose a line with minimal to no sun protection.
5.Record your findings. Make sure that you keep notes about your skin assessments for your reference. Many skin care products are made to address specific skin care needs and issues. You want to have your skin type, condition, and tone on hand as you select beauty products to help you make the best choices.
- For example, your skin may be dry but also sensitive, so you need products designed for both dry and sensitive skin, as opposed to something heavy that may be hydrating but also irritating. Perhaps your skin is combination and patchy in its coloring. You may want products that balance the skin’s moisture and tone.
Part 2: Narrowing Your Options
1.Determine how much money you want to spend. Besides knowing your skin needs, it’s important to know your budget when it comes to skin care. Prices for skin care products can vary greatly, ranging anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred or more. Figuring out your minimum and maximum expenditure is very useful for limiting your skin care options.
- For example, facial moisturizers alone can run you anywhere from less than $10 (like Purpose Dual Treatment Moisture Lotion) to around $50 (like Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Sunscreen Cream) to more than $100 (such as Tracie Martyn Re-sculpting Cream.
- As a general rule, product lines carried at salons, boutiques, high-end department stores, and spas tend to cost more than those on the shelves of your local pharmacy or discount retailer.
2.Decide whether you prefer organic or synthetic products. Organic products must use all-natural materials that have not been genetically modified, synthetically produced, or grown with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. While there is no evidence that they are more effective than other types of skin care products, some people prefer organic lines because of their lack of potentially toxic chemical ingredients and ethical, environmentally sound production standards.
- The use of the word “organic” on product labels is highly regulated by the USDA, so you can be confident that the product that advertises itself as such meets a strict code. However, words like “natural,” “non-toxic,” or “hypoallergenic” are not regulated. Since they have no set legal definition, it’s important to treat them as marketing terms rather than specific factual claims.
3.Get to know the active ingredients. When you’re looking for a skin care line, you should pick those products that have active ingredients that have been clinically proven to be effective. Be sure to check the labels to ensure that the lines you are considering have at least 5-15% concentrations of safe and effective active ingredients.
- The most important active ingredients are Vitamins A, B, C, and E, but they will most likely take on different names on product labels.
- For Vitamin A, which helps with moisturizing, acne, rosacea, and dermatitis, look for retinoic acid, retinol, or retinyl-propionate.
- For Vitamins B & B5, which moisturize while addressing acne, itchiness, eczema, and sunburn, look for niacin, nicotinamide, pantothenic acid, or panthenol.
- For Vitamin C, which enhances skin texture while decreasing wrinkles and sun damage, look for L-ascorbic acid.
- For Vitamin E, which moisturizes and helps prevent wrinkles, look for DI-alpha-tocopherol. Do not use products that include tocopherol acetate, since this form of Vitamin E is especially susceptible to degradation from sunlight and can therefore actually cause damage to your skin.
4.Figure out how comprehensive you would like your line to be. The most basic “line” will pair a cleanser with a moisturizer. If you’re looking for a more complete regime that can address more specific issues, you can consider adding on toners, exfoliators, serums, and/or specific treatments (for instance, for nights, wrinkles, under-eye puffing and discoloration, or acne).
- The amount of product you get should correspond with both your skin care needs and lifestyle. More comprehensive lines will be more costly to purchase and time-consuming to administer.
Part 3: Choosing a Skin Care Line
1.Ask for recommendations. Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to start finding the right products to match your needs and preferences. The best way to do so is to take all of your requirements with you to a pharmacy, beauty shop, department store, salons, or skin care center where you can consult with an esthetician. Tell them your needs and preferences, and ask for their advice about which skin care lines would offer the best fit for you.
- For instance, when you approach an esthetician for advice, you could say something like: “Hi, I’m looking for an inexpensive line of skin care products. I’ve got dry, sensitive skin that’s very fair. I’m looking for products that can address wrinkles and other signs of aging while providing sun protection. Do you have any recommendations and samples I could try?” Or, “Hello, can you help me? I’ve got dark, combination skin that’s prone to acne. Could you suggest some appropriate skin care products that are under $100?”
- Avoid salespeople who represent a particular line. You want advice from someone who is unbiased and knowledgeable about multiple brands. Ask for multiple options with a range of price points that fit in your budget.
- Keep your budget in mind when picking where to go for recommendations. Over-the-counter lines at pharmacies and beauty shops will be less expensive than those offered exclusively by salons or skin care centers. However, the latter will be more likely to have qualified experts to guide you.
- Many skin care centers will offer free consultations if you make an appointment in advance.
2.Try samples. One of the nice things about consulting with an esthetician in person is that they will likely be able to give you samples of the skin care options that they recommend to you. While you won’t be able to judge the long-term effects of particular products, there’s nothing like being able to test first-hand if you like the general look and feel of a product as well as if the skin care routine associated with the line works for you.
- If you’re sampling more than one line, keep notes about your impressions of each as you test them. List any pros and/or cons about how the products make your skin look and feel to help you make your final decision.
- For example, when you’re evaluating a cleanser, you may write something like: “Pros: nice fragrance, good lather, rinses off cleanly. Cons: dries out skin.” If you’re taking notes on a moisturizer, you might write: “Pros: pleasant feel and texture, all-day hydration, sun protection. Cons: makes skin shiny around T-zone.”
3.Read online reviews. Samples will give you a preliminary first-hand impression, but if you want to hear more about customers’ long-term satisfaction with the line, seek out reviews.
- Most online stores that sell multiple skin care lines, such as Amazon or Sephora, will enable customer reviews to lend credibility to the products on offer. Search for a particular product to see how it rates, and read the written reviews to see the volume of reviewers and hear why they gave the ratings they did.
- There are also some product reviews available from skin care experts. Do an online search for your product’s name + “review” to see if it has been evaluated by an unbiased expert. Only consider those reviews that include the author’s skin care credentials and indicate that they have no financial ties to the brand being reviewed.
4.Consider side-effects and consumer reports. See if the product packaging lists any potential side-effects that you should be aware of. Besides looking at customer reviews, research the safety of your line through databases that conduct independent testing of skin care products.
- Some skin care products may alleviate a specific problem quickly but may not be best for long-term use. See if this is the case for your line before you commit to it.
- Try ConsumerLab.com, an independent review site that tests health and nutritional products, for reports on your skin care line. Search for a particular product and/or active ingredient in it to ensure that your line is safe for consumer use.
5.Buy the basics, then add on. Once you’ve found a skin care line that checks out in terms of the samples and reviews, go ahead a purchase its core products. Be sure that you’re satisfied with the basic components of a line before investing in the whole shebang. If the cleanser, toner, and moisturizer are working well for your skin, start adding on the extras to address your specific needs, such as exfoliants, masks, serums, and treatments.