Making informed purchasing decisions about skincare products can feel overwhelming with the oversaturated industry, the wealth of gurus on youtube, and the pressure to spend, spend, spend for immediate results. Though I certainly am not immune to this pressure, especially as the seasons change (and my skin adjusts to new environments), there are a few processes I go through before deciding to throw down my wallet: what problem my skin is undergoing, what factors may have caused it, and what should be done about alleviating the problem.
First, is the worst part: noticing the problem. Perhaps a zit during the summer or dryness in the winter. Are there many concentrated pimples in one area (pillow dirt? phone germs? over-active sebum production)? Or perhaps one random papule that wants to say hello because it’s that time of the month? Perhaps I’ll get dry around my mouth, but stay moisturized everywhere else. You get the idea.
In order to counteract these issues, I first take into account factors outside of skincare: cutting out dairy and white wheat for zits, using a humidifier during the winter for dry spots, etc. I consider what process I’m currently using that could be altered (more or less exfoliation? More or less face mist during the office day to combat workplace dryness? Is my makeup irritating my skin?).
Once I eliminate these factors, then I can consider treatment. How I treat my skin is based on my overall skin type (oily, sensitive) and its usual issues (hyper pigmentation, acne, sensitivity) in light of whatever the newest issue is. Is this an exaggeration of something I’m accustomed to or a new problem altogether? During the winter, I may undergo some dryness, and so I may use a humidifier in combination with a heavier night moisturizing routine. In the spring, summer, and most of the fall, I’ll have my usual oiliness with accompanying acne, so I may focus more on moisturizers of thinner consistency alongside salicylic masks and niacinamide treatments.
So let’s say you have all this down: you know what the problem is, what your skin is like, and what you may need to solve it. With everyone advertising their product to you at various prices, how do you know if something will work?
Having a reliable set of resources is a good start, and for me, I like to consider: ingredients (science-based skincare should always prevail over pretty marketing), price (just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s better–the ingredients will reveal this to you), and select expert opinion. I use a combination of the below to help me make decisions.
- Asian Beauty Reddit
- Hyram’s Youtube Channel
- Simple Skincare Science: Fungal Acne Bible
- Lab Muffin
- Liah Yoo
- Paula’s Choice Dictionary
It’s a lot of research, but it’s something I enjoy. Moreover, it can help minimize wasteful spending. On a whim purchases are rare when these resources are utilized.
I also want to note that if you find a product that you believe will be beneficial to you due its ingredients, keep in mind:
- Order of ingredients is important. A good ingredient near the end of the list is a worrisome sign. However, if a less desirable ingredient is near the end then it may be something to disregard (this is especially true with face washes, which are scrubbed off). While skincare ingredient websites like Skincarisma and Incidecoder can help alert you of elements to be wary of, these elements must be considered within the context of the overall usage and formulation of the product.
- An ingredient that may be helpful to one person can be irritating for another. This is especially true for those who may be experiencing fungal acne and can’t handle more intensive moisturizing products.
- Finding the right product with all the ingredients that will best benefit you . . . is a journey. Don’t expect to get everything right all the time (and especially when you’re first diving into skincare). As your skin, conditions, and needs evolve, so will your morning and night routines. Knowing your skin and its nuances as well as keeping track of these changes will be your greatest advantage in selecting the best products.
I still get acne, hyperpigmentation, and dryness. I’m not someone who was born with the perfect skin genes. And while some people can get away with just washing their faces or using damaging products, I don’t want to mistake their luck for reliable advice. I can’t tell you what skin routine will get you perfect skin (especially as I am in no way anything near a dermatologist). That’s something curated to you and your circumstances. However, I can advise how to start and what tools you can use to make your journey the best it can be. There will always be a stressor or factor around the corner, so don’t seek perfection as a salve for your anxiety. Revel in the victories and see each hurdle as an opportunity to experiment and learn more.
Skincare for introverts was made to help show you the relaxing nature of tending to one’s body in a positive mindset. So with this knowledge and this peace combined, let’s find out what it means to enjoy one’s skin.