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47 Comments

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Profile photo of Pearl

In no particular order, esthetician recommendations, brand reputation, ingredient list. Also any scent has to be naturally occurring or it is a no-go for me – I don’t mind a light fragrance or fragrance that wears off in my makeup, but I don’t like it for skin care.

Profile photo of Nancy T

Because skincare companies claims tend to exaggerate their product’s abilities, I focus far more keenly on the ingredients, and how close to the top the most beneficial ingredients place. Also, I check reviews to read of other people’s experiences with the product I have in mind. I definitely don’t go for products with ADDED scent or perfume! But some natural ingredients DO have a natural scent on their own, which doesn’t usually phase me. Case in point: Ole Henriksen’s Truth line of skincare, rose hip oil is really going to smell strongly of citrus, or whatever it is that rose hips smell of!

Profile photo of Lulle

Yay, my question’s been picked! πŸ™‚

So to answer my own question: I used to base my choices on claims, but the more experience I get from trying multiple brands and types of products, the less I believe that the claims are a reliable source of information in most cases.
In the past year or so I’ve started to look into ingredients lists a lot more and look for things that I know are beneficial (like antioxidants), specific ingredients that I think can help with some of my concerns (like AHA/BHA, retinol, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid) and trying to avoid ingredients that can be problematic (like too much fragrance or essential oils, alcohol, certain types of silicones that I’ve recently discovered break me out). I’ve often relied on Beautypedia to separate the wheat from the chaff, although I don’t agree 100% with their opinions and positions.
I keep a short list of what I think should work for me by type of skincare product (serums, moisturizers…), and I generally wait for some kind of sale to buy anything – so which product within my wish list ends up getting picked in each category depends on opportunity more than anything else.

Other than that, I’m quite demanding in terms of texture (I can’t stand anything that feels too heavy or leaves my skin greasy) and of course I adapt my routine to the seasons and how my skin is feeling.
Lulle Recently Posted: Review: Valentia True Glow Eye Cream and Ultra Plumping Hydration Mask

Profile photo of Fran

Lulle, I’m with you on focusing on ingredients and wanting textures that feel good on my skin. I learn a few things reading The Beauty Brains, Colin’s Beauty Pages, Cosmetic Chemists Corner, and Lab Muffin — it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of good sources of information about cosmetic ingredients out there!

I have my list of bloggers/yters I trust for reviews but I also take beautypedia reviews into account. That’s usually how I get recommendations for new products as well.

Profile photo of Fitz

I look for packaging that will help keep the product stable. I also look for claims that aren’t bonkers. Yes, I’m sure I can purchase a cream which will ‘take 15 years off my face’ in the aisle between the scented candles and the travel shampoo section.

I look for products without silicones. You’d be surprised how many seemingly good brands use them – even CeraVe and Paula’s Choice! I also look for lots of antioxidants and a focus on soothing over rich moisture, since my skin is already on the oily side. My anti-silicones stance (they break me out) has pushed me in the direction of ~natural products.

Profile photo of Wwendy

For the most part, I go on recommendations from my dermatologist who gives me product advice and an appropriate regimen. I tend to go with products and programs available only through professionals. I find all the ‘noise’ so incredibly overwhelming.

Profile photo of jade

well i usually buy ALL of my beauty and skincare products based on the reviews i read/watch, but i also look for very few claims, a decently low (or realistically affordable) price tag, and i try to lean more on the organic side of the spectrum because i don’t like microbeads or harsh chemicals on my face.

Profile photo of Fran

I start with thinking about my skin’s needs. Then I look for products that will address as many of them as possible while being non-irritating (no fragrance, chemical sunscreens, or alcohol for starters) and at a reasonable price. I choose proven active ingredients with a decent track record (BHA and AHA exfoliants, retinoids, antioxidants like stabilized vitamin C, vitamin E, and niacinamide) before newer, less-proven ingredients, even though some of those are probably really good. The more ingredients something has, the more likely it is to provoke some kind of irritated reaction from my skin, so I have to balance wanting to use as few steps as possible in my routine with wanting to be able to sort out what’s causing a reaction. So things like antioxidant boosters can be useful — when my skin barrier is strong, I can add them to serums or moisturizers — but, when something has irritated my skin, I can easily scale back to just using a gentle moisturizer for a few days.

Since my skin is so sensitive (rosacea), I end up using a lot of products from CeraVe and Paula’s Choice, with a few from First Aid Beauty, Josie Maran, and Clinique, plus I’ve got sunscreens from Radical Skincare and Drunk Elephant I’ll be test-driving this summer. There’s a couple from MD SolarSciences that I want to try, too. When I get samples from Boscia or Bobbi Brown I can usually use them without incident. But anything that smells good is likely to make my skin turn red. The one thing with a scent that I can use without difficulty is Hourglass No. 28 serum primer, which works well for me in the winter when my skin gets dehydrated. Why that one doesn’t upset my skin, I don’t know. Their Veil Mineral Primer, which I use the rest of the year, is an outstanding product for sensitive skin.

Over-the-top claims and steep prices to pay for advertising budgets seriously annoy me. Jar packaging when antioxidants or other sensitive ingredients are involved also puts me off a product.

Brands that use scent in their skin care tend not to get my business for their color cosmetics, either. I guess I feel like they’re not interested in having me as a customer, so why should I be interested in them? My big exception is Make Up For Ever. Even though they put fragrance in their base products, I love many of their color cosmetics. I really, really, really wish they would stop putting fragrance in their bases and lipsticks…

Another reason why I don’t pull the trigger on quite a few products is because I can’t figure out if they contain an effective concentration of their active ingredients. The problem is that, with a lot of active ingredients, you have to use them for weeks or months before you can tell if they’re working. Most of us don’t have the patience for that. If it feels good and either cuts the oil or ups the hydration, we feel like it must be working. And balancing hydration is probably the biggest factor in skin care, so we’re not actually wrong about that, but it doesn’t cost much to do that. If we’re going to spend more than a few dollars, we should get more than that for our money. And most brands are so mysterious about their formulas that I can’t figure out if they’re really likely to do anything for my skin or not.

I have quite sensitive, reactive skin so I look for products suitable for such skin. I can do acid toners and retinols if they’re not too strong, they do help with breakouts. I avoid silicone-based products, the worst for me are serums, they always seem to make me break out. Also a lot of moisturisers, if they’re rich, have the same effect. I’m fine with oils though, in fact, my skin loves oils, it drinks them up. I don’t do very well with drugstore skincare, I prefer to spend a bit more for better ingredients. I do adore the scent of natural skincare but if the ingredients are very active, again, I react. So they have to be gentle and not too ‘active’. It’s a complicated balance with my skin!

The ingredients. There are a lot of things I consider irritants, and if I see an ingredient list with a lot of mumbo jumbo, but nothing that I consider actually beneficial to skin, I’ll pass. And there are a few ingredients I actively look for. I also try not to spend too much, although there are a few pricey (40$ish) products that I buy regularly because after a long search they just happened to be what worked for me.

Do you ever use the Beautypedia website to look for reviews on skincare? I feel they are fair and balanced, especially since they split from Paula’s Choice to avoid bias (or at least give that impression!) I’ve been using that to guide my recent skin care purchases and look for the best (5 star) products with the best bang-for-buck.

Profile photo of Christine

I don’t personally – if I want to know about an ingredient, I use my beauty encyclopedias (hard copies) or look up an ingredient online or try to read a study on efficacy of the ingredient. If I want a review, I want it to be from someone who has tried the product for several weeks so they can comment on texture, feel, etc.

Profile photo of Nicole

By now I have learned to look at the ingredients first. I think about my goals. I used to use a lot of serums and switch around frequently. But, finally learned to give something time and keep it to simple.

I’m kind of a freak about skin care, because I have really sensitive and reactive skin.

Generally, I go for things with unique ingredients (rather than unique claims) and simple formulations. The cost must also be decent, I’m not going to spend more than, say, $20 on a face cream of any kind. Recommendations also help when they come from people with similar skin types. And to be entirely honest, I’m a total sucker for sleek packaging!

Profile photo of Lacey

My skin is really fickle, so I tend to sample or read lots of reviews before I buy! I look for reviews from people who have similar skin concerns, and then I gravitate toward lines that use more naturally derived ingredients than things I can’t recognize in the ingredients list.

Profile photo of WARPAINTandUnicorns

I mostly look for chemical sunblock free frist. I get give with them. Fragrance-free in that they don’t load it up with perfumes and only natural ingredient scents are fine by me.

Again a lot of the PERFUME ingredients are not listed and I’ve had issues with soaps in the past irritating my skin with their “perfumes”.

I also find vitamin c burns my skin….

Claims can be overblown so, I look for reviews on products that makes sense for my skin.
I also don’t expect the night cream to do the work of a serum.
WARPAINTandUnicorns Recently Posted: It’s Skin Macaron Lip Balm 01 Strawberry, 02 Green Apple, 03 Grape, 04 Pineapple & 05 Chocolate : Review

Profile photo of Pteetsa

I rely mostly on Beautypedia reviews. I have a couple of issues with them, but I generally trust their product recommendations. I also look for positive reviews from people who seem to have a similar skin type to mine. And if someone compliments my complexion, I will remember what product I was using and keep going back to that (Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Anti Blemish Cream, now sadly discontinued!).

Profile photo of Sarah

I go for products oriented towards sensitive skin and recommendations based on my skin concerns. My mom, for example, recommended I try an intense oil control regimen with 8% alpha hydroxy acid. It worked for her skin but because my skin reacts more extremely than hers, it dried me out so bad and increased my acne more than ever. Now I use gentle cleansers and calmer acid-based formulas to treat my skin. I basically go off of “is this close to what I use? okay cool” and go from there.

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