My tips on how to choose good skincare products
So much choice…. Do you often find yourself standing in front of the shelf in the pharmacy deliberating about which bottle or jar to buy? My top tip? Check the ingredients list on the product. Because although good ingredients in your skincare do not necessarily ensure perfect skin, poor ingredients will guarantee poor skin. Now I am aware that, for many, an ingredients list can look like gobbledygook. The goods news is: I know a couple of tricks that will guide you, in just a few steps, towards a good quality product.
Step 1: the price
Don’t apply anything that costs more than a hundred euros. There isn’t one single good or effective product that needs to cost more. Another obvious sign is when it’s too cheap, unless you want to just ‘grease up’ dry and sensitive skin. Don’t expect to get any more from such a product. Good active ingredients, in other words, are expensive.
Step 2: the packaging
Packaging can also tell you a lot about the quality of a product. A serum with a high concentration of vitamin C in a bottle with a pipette? A cream full of antioxidants in a jar? No, don’t bother with those. Because oxygen and light come into contact with the product in both types of container which are very bad for these ingredients. Look for a light and air tight pump action container. That will keep these fine antioxidants effective so that they can actually do something for your skin.
Step 3: check for unwanted ingredients
Next make sure the product doesn’t contain any harmful ingredients. They can irritate your skin and even cause premature skin ageing. Substances that I would stay away from: aromas (listed as fragrance or perfume on the packaging), high concentrations of denatured alcohol and essential oil extracts (very common: Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Lemongrass and Rosemary). It is best to avoid the more aggressive detergent sodium lauryl sulphate in your cleanser. And it also pays to look into the sun filters in your sun cream because there are also good and less good options. You can see more detailed advice about ingredients best to avoid in this blog.
Step 4: the good ingredients
Which substances do you want to see on the ingredients list? That depends on which product you are looking at. For your moisturizer you are looking for hydrating, soothing and repairing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, liquorice root extract and allantoin. Also choose antioxidants such as niacinamide and vitamin C to protect and improve your skin. For the removal of dead skin cells go for an exfoliant with fruit acids that go with your skin and which preferably contains soothing substances. If the ingredient is not much more than two thirds down the list then you should be okay. Fortunately more and more labels are becoming open about the concentrations of effective ingredients in their products. That makes searching a bit easier!
But that’s not all. With some ingredients the concentration needs to be high enough (>1%) in order to be effective. The further up the ingredients list the more substance there will be in the product. One extra point however… sometimes it seems as if they are being very honest about the concentrations, you are still disappointed though. I’ll tell you more about that in a later column!
The ingredients list doesn’t mean everything
Even if you check the ingredients list, you can’t really look into the ‘kitchen’ of another brand. For example, you are often unable to find out the exact percentages of all ingredients. Also, the packaging does not say exactly how fresh a product is. And has the product been refrigerated before sale if this is necessary for the effectiveness of the ingredients? Another important point: safety and hygiene. Although there are strict requirements for manufacturers in the Netherlands and Europe, it is difficult to say whether products outside the EU meet our strict standards. In other words, all this makes it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to draw any real conclusions about the quality of the product. But the steps above will help you be able to determine whether a product is worth trying or not.
It’s still a matter of personal choice
So check the ingredients list, be critical, but just give the product a try. Also keep in mind that what is a super product that makes the skin glow for one person, may be a bad choice for another, perhaps resulting in redness or spots. Every skin is different and not everyone reacts the same or at the same time to a product. So really take the time to try the product, at least six weeks. Only then can you assess whether something works for you and suits you.
Good luck and know that you can always ask for my help in looking at the product you might want to purchase. My cosmetic chemist and I check products weekly. Feel free to send an email with your product and skin wish: [email protected]