Ever wondered how to know if a skincare product is good for you? I have made the mistake before of buying products solely based on label or random online reviews and you can pretty much guess the results on my acne-prone skin. After a quick study, I found that my nighttime mask was full of SLS, which is a huge contributor to clogged pores -ughhhh.
Now I never buy anything before fully reading the products ingredient label and that is why I am sharing all my skincare label knowledge with you today
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How to know if a skincare product is good for you
A common misconception regarding skincare is that price is what determines its quality, but this couldn’t be more wrong.
With the arrival of brands such as The Ordinary ready to revolutionize skincare as we know it, by showing us that active ingredients cost next to nothing, quality skincare has never been so achievable.
Indeed, The Ordinary’s effective (and cheap) products are proof to show that most times, when we pay for expensive beauty products at places such as Sephora, around 70% of the products’ price is directed to cover its branding and promotional efforts.
In other words, most of the price you’re paying is for a pretty package, with a nice smell that is promoted on every billboard in Oxford Street.
With that in mind, I decided to write a post on how to know if a skincare product is good for you.
First things first, let’s answer some of the most common skincare products questions
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF A SKINCARE PRODUCT IS GOOD?
Dryness (also known as flaking), signs of tenderness and redness should be minimal (if they occur at all).
The skin should feel plump, soft and moisturized. Forget the term “squeaky clean” – if your skin feels tight or dry, it means you probably killed your skin’s protective barrier (no bueno). Ditch that cleanser and replace it for a gentler one that is more suited for your skin type.
How long should you test a skincare product?
You didn’t suddenly wake up with sun damage and wrinkles, so don’t expect to be able to drastically diminish them overnight either after a couple of days.
Generally speaking, it takes around 28 days for skin cells to effectively turnover. This means that almost all products require at least one month of use before you see any results.
Granted that some products have quicker results (especially an AHA or BHA exfoliant), while others will take you through a purging phase before your skin looks better.
Continued use is super, duper important to maintain the results (even during purging), so consistency is key.
For example, products for uneven skin tone or skin lightening for dark spots can take several weeks before results become visible. So don’t get frustrated when your skin still looks a bit off, even after a few weeks of continuous care.
In general I’d say that a month’s time is a good lapse to see if something is having lasting positive (or negative) effects.
SKIN PURGING VS BREAKING OUT
If you’ve ever tried a new skincare product, only to discover that it makes your skin flare up with pimples the next morning, it can be hard to know whether your skin is purging or simply reacting with a regular breakout.
Purging/braking out can complicate how to know if a skincare product is good or bad, and it can be frustrating not knowing if your skin is on the road for improvement, or if is getting worse (yikes!)
The only difference between purging and breaking out is that if your skin is purging, it can be beneficial to continue with the product until you come out the other side to see results.
Purge occurs when a product’s active ingredient causes pimple formation to speed up, bringing out all of those pesky clogged pores that have been lurking under the surface of your skin for ages.
It is important to understand how pimples are formed: Spots are caused when “the sebaceous glands in the skin produce too much oil or sebum, which then mixes dead skin cells and gets trapped in our pores.
Certain skin care products can also get trapped in our pores, causing unwanted breakouts.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR SKIN PURGING OR BREAKING OUT?
This is not an exact science, as breakouts can be caused by many other factors, such as hormones, stress, and even genetics. However, there are ways to have an idea what to look out for:
If you have recently introduced a new medicated treatment and you experience more blackheads or blemishes in the weeks to follow in the areas where you were having issues, this may be due to purging.
Another good indicative is how fast the pimple appears/disappears. Remember that some active ingredients, such as Retinoid, speed up the ‘’pimple process’’.
However, if you have started a new skincare routine and your skin is breaking out in places where you normally would not have acne, this could just mean that the items are aggravating probably the underlying acne process
7 SMART WAY TO KNOW IF A SKINCARE PRODUCT IS GOOD FOR YOU
Next, I will go over 7 easy ways to quickly assess if a new skincare product is good for your skin.
#1 CHECK THE SKINCARE PRODUCT’S LABEL
When you spot the ingredients that you’re looking for high up on the ingredients list, you know you’re on to a winner. The higher up on the list of ingredients, the more concentration of the product there is.
If an active ingredient you want is far down below, leave the product on the shelf.
#2 RECOGNIZE THE RUBBISH
In addition to knowing what is good for you, it is also important to understand what can damage your skin.
For that, it is important that you know exactly what you don’t want and make sure it’s not in the first half of your ingredients list.
I’m talking filler ingredients, such as alcohol, petrolatum, silicones, and isopropyl myristate.
They have a function, but you don’t want to see them making up the bulk of your facial products by being high up on the list of ingredients.
#3 LOOK FOR LATIN
High levels of ‘extracts’ and Latin names (which are often referring to botanicals) are a good indication your product is beneficial and active. This to say that if you see many names with difficult to pronounce or hard to understand ingredients, it is probably not a good product.
So whenever you see a large number of ingredients you want (such as Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Salicylic Acid, etc) falling behind these aforementioned concentrations, you can find better product options.
#4 DO THE MATH
A good trick for assessing whether you’re getting a decent amount of active ingredients is to look where they sit on the list in relation to preservatives (such as the popular phenoxyethanol) and fragrance.
Preservatives approval are of concentrations up to 1 per cent, while fragrances’ levels should ideally be found between 0.01 and 0.5 per cent.
#5 SKIP PACKAGING
I know, girl. It is tempting to buy those cute packaging Sephora keeps shoving at our faces. I am a fool for beauty products and packaging plays a huge part of it, I am sure.
However, as mentioned above, most of the times when we pay a premium price for these, most of the money we are investing is in the package, rather than the actual effect of the product.
In other words, just because a products looks and feels luxurious (and even has fancy names in it, such as Chanel or Estee Lauder), it does not mean it actually is doing its job.
Instead of novelties and colors, look for functionality — In other words, opaque, hermetically sealable packaging designed to keep products fresh.
#6 WATCH FOR RED FLAGS:
Some red flags to look for in skincare products ingredients is when brands go on about their ‘iconic scent’ or ‘gentle texture’ which are ‘so important for the skincare experience’.
Granted, aromatherapy is therapeutical (and I myself love skincare products that come with lavender smell, for example). However know that fragrances don’t add anything to the overall effectiveness of the product (quite the opposite. Fragrances can also irritate your skin, and are an excuse to boost up the product’s price).
Moreover, if you get anything of a whiff of alcohol, then it is most probably making making up most of the ingredients contained in that product list (and excess alcohol as an active ingredient is never good for your skin).
#7 … AND GREENLIGHTS:
If a brand boasts no animal testing, cruelty-free they are probably following good ethics A word of advice is that vegan does not necessarily mean cruelty-free, as they might still test vegan products on animals.
What ingredients should you avoid in skincare products?
Toxic metal that can have estrogen-like effects in our systems, disrupting the healthy functioning of the endocrine system.
Usually found in almost every personal care product, especially antiperspirant deodorants.
2. DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine)
Clear, colorless, viscous liquids with ammonia-like odors.
Usually found in products that foam like facial cleansers and soaps. They are also found in eye makeup , fragrances, hair products, and sunscreens.
3. DMDM HYDANTOIN & UREA (Imidazolidinyl)
Preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin allergies, headaches, and loss of sleep.
Usually found in skincare products, cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners, and detergents.
4. MINERAL OIL
A petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging its pores. This is incredibly harmful because it interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, therefore increasing likelihood of acne and other disorders.
Usually found in creams, lotions, ointments, and cosmetics.
5. PARABENS (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
Not always labeled, used as preservatives, and may contribute to hormone imbalance.
Usually found almost everywhere including skincare products such as moisturizers and deodorants.
6. PEG (Polyethylene glycol)
Ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor. It adjusts the melting point and thickens products.
Usually found in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease.
Chemicals used to increase flexibility and strength of plastics, and not often listed among the ingredients on products.
Usually found in cosmetics such as fragrance oils and listed under the term “fragrance”.
8. PROPYLENE GLYCOL (PG) & BUTYLENE GLYCOL
Gaseous hydrocarbons which in a liquid state act as “surfactant”. They penetrate the skin so quickly and can weaken the protein and cellular structure.
Usually used to make extracts from herbs.
Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
10. SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) & SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE (SLES)
Detergent that makes products foam, lather, and bubble. SLS is known to be a skin irritant and it can strip the skin of its natural oils, which can cause dry skin, irritation and reactions. Sulfates may also clog pores and cause acne, which can contribute to breakouts.
SLS is usually found in 90% of personal-care products that foam!
11. SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES
Anything that is synthetic or artificial should always raise a red flag. These are made up of hundreds to thousands of different ingredients not listed on the label, so you are never sure what you are actually being exposed to.
Usually found in cosmetic and skincare products but also many household products such as candles, air fresheners, and scented trash bags.
A synthetic antibacterial agent that may disrupt thyroid function and can degrade into a form of dioxin, a class of chemicals linked to a broad range of toxicities including cancer.
Usually found in soaps, mouthwash, shaving cream, deodorants, toothpastes, etc.
Taking all of these into consideration the next time you are shopping for skincare products, it is really important to read the ingredient lists thoroughly and not skim over words, especially the ones you can’t pronounce. Your skincare products should be made with pure, organic ingredients and should not contain any toxins that could affect your health.
COULD YOU BE OVER-CLEANSING YOUR SKIN? (Yes, that is a thing).
If your skin has a “tight and dry feeling,” you know you’ve gone overboard. It can also feel sensitive or shows signs of sensitivity with reddish, dry patches.” Typically, this isn’t so much about how frequently you’re washing your face, but which cleanser you’re using
Here are three easy ways to know f your cleanser is too harsh:
3 ways to know if you are using the wrong cleanser
- If your skin feels tight after washing, you are probably using the wrong cleanser
- A cleanser that over-dries your skin is too harsh for your skin type. …
- You’ve been using the same cleanser all year – guilty !
Remember, your goal when cleansing your face is to remove impurities and prep it for the skincare products; NOT to achieve drier skin (even if you have oily skin).
These are my best tips on how to know if a skincare product is goodis good for your skin. Don’t be fooled by labels or cute packaging, as tempting as it might be. Remember, prices don’t indicate quality, and not all products made in Korea will revolutionize your skin (thanks for the pimples, Laneige).
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