New Year, New You! And of course, new skincare goals right? Well if you’re looking to do it right, you’ll need a solid plan to navigate the zillion products available without being too overwhelmed about where to start. Before you hit the aisles or surf your favorite online store, here are 7 tips to help you shop like a skin-savvy native.
HAVE A GOAL AND A BUDGET IN MIND
As with everything else, it’s always nice to have a goal in mind when shopping for skincare. Are you looking to create a daily routine or do you need to update what you’re currently using? Having a specific focus always make the process a lot easier and will help you avoid over-spending. Once you have your goal in mind, be sure to set your budget before you enter any store or shop online. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always start with a Google search before going to the store. Alternatively, you can also make multiple trips to your store of choice: visit #1–figure out which products you may want to buy based on your goals, write it down the name and price of each product, and create your budget accordingly. Visit #2 (or 3)–make your purchase.
Read the Ingredients List
Reading the label and checking a product’s ingredient list will help you determine if you’re really getting your dollars’ worth. The general rule of thumb is ingredients on product labels are listed in order of their concentration. The first 5 ingredients or so are usually the bulk of the formula, but there are certain ingredients that do not have to be at the top to demonstrate its effectiveness like antioxidants. Remember, it’s all about a balance when it comes to skincare. So be sure to read the ingredients to the end. Keep in mind, just because an ingredient is hard to pronounce doesn’t mean it’s bad for you. The notion that “if you can’t pronounce something, you should not put it on your skin” is misleading because it paints everything in black and white– and we know that’s usually NOT the case. Often times, such complex names describe the chemical structure of an ingredient. Let’s also forget that water is also a chemical, and if it were listed as its chemical name “dihydrogen oxide” it would not be as easy to recognize.
KNOW YOUR SKIN TYPE
Knowing your skin type is KEY when shopping for skincare because make better decisions about the products you should be using. Not only will this help you stay focused and targeted when buying products, it will also go along way in saving your money, time and frustration. Many people often use the wrong type of moisturizer or cleanser for their skin type and as a result, they don’t see results and get disappointed with skincare shopping. If you’re not sure, here’s a quick guide to help you determine your skin type:
KNOW YOUR SKIN CONCERNS
Once you know your skin types, you want to focus on the concerns next. Make sure that the ingredients in your products will either help to address the concern or avoid making it worse. For instance, if your skin tends to be a bit more sensitive, you want to avoid fragrances and irritants like drying alcohols, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) to name a few. If hyperpigmentation is your primary concern, you want to look for products with ingredients that will help address the dark spot, such as licorie root extract, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), niacinamide, and kojic acid. If dehydrated skin is your concern, you want to look for ingredient that will help you retain or attract moisture to the skin.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Whatever do you, do not get caught up with the marketing lingo and claims. Let the ingredients speak for the product. Find out the role and benefit of at least the first 5 ingredients— this will help you understand why they’ve been added to the product. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also seek out the manufacturers for more specifics. You also want to seek out unbiased sources– whether it is this blog (of course) or other reputable blogs, websites or social media sources. If you’re dealing with concerns that are medical conditions like acne or rosacea, I highly recommend getting professional advice to optimize your shopping and results. If you plan to ask a friend for a reco, make sure you also find out if you both have the same skin type or similar concerns as you because their result will vary based on these factors as well as other things. Find out WHY they like the product and HOW long they’ve used it (or have been using it). This will go a long way in helping you figure out whether you should try this product or not.
ASK FOR SAMPLES
Samples are a great way to see how well products work before you commit to a purchase–Don’t be shy about it. This is the part of skincare shopping that I love! If it’s possible to get enough to last you two good weeks, go for it because you’ll need time to see results. Do keep in mind certain products require a longer duration of use before one see tangible results. Either way, stock up on samples of moisturizers and cleansers for sure–this is also part of your research.
ALWAYS LOOK FOR A PAO SYMBOL
PAO stands for “Period After Opening,” and many skincare (and beauty) products carry a PAO (Period After Opening) symbol like the one below.
This “expiration date” is based on tests conducted by the brand/manufacturer. It tells you when the product expires or how long after opening a product it should be thrown away. For example, a “12M” means a product should be thrown out 12 months after you’ve opened it. This information is usually on the box, so keep that in mind when you make your purchase.