What are your deal-breakers for skincare?

Heavily scented skincare is often a deal-breaker, because I don’t like a lot of the common scents. I’m lucky not to get migraines or have real reactions (other than just not liking it), but I prefer something with a light, more herbal or citrus scent (or a non-scent). I’m not a fan of really greasy or heavy textures for creams, regardless if it’s for face or body.

— Christine
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Skincare deal breakers are scented products, samples that cause my skin to break out passed a normal adaptation period, and products that don’t remotely perform as they claim.

What ruins a product for me are sensitzing, fragrant plant extracts and essential oils. Unfortunately, they are highly prevalent in some of the most popular and revered products. They’re hard to avoid, but worth it for the long term health of my skin.

Number one is absolutely ALCOHOL DENAT or SD Alcohol. It is terrible for your skin. Dries it out, breaks it out, irritates it and causes overproduction of oil. Once I removed anything of the like from my skincare my skin has been on track and I have no acne. Also fragrance, synthetic or natural is a no go. Peppermint, citrus, witch hazel, lavender should not be on your face and it causes irritation hence break outs. Natural isn’t always good for you. Also anything too emolient or basic. Lastly, price doesn’t guarantee guilty. La Mer is $100 for mineral oil, aloe and lanolin. Very generic and not worth the hefty price tag. Yet my $12 Cera Ve has niacimide which had proven benefits for skin and is a bargain for skincare.

I completely agree. I always research a product before I buy it to ensure I am buying something that has good effective ingredients and no irritants as you mentioned above.

Definitely fragrance or perfume. I can tolerate some light natural scent from natural ingredients (coconut oil, some plant/fruit oils or extracts, but not all ) but not straight up perfume.

I also nix scents as it tends to really irritate my sensitive skin (which is why I love FAB so much). I don’t like scent anyways, but some of that stuff literally burns my skin. I definitely don’t like stuff that doesn’t sink in and just feels greasy all day, though what that is changes depending on the temperature and humidity (ie something that would be too greasy in the summer is totally fine in the winter as my skin drinks it up).

I also do have limits when it comes to price. No moisturizer needs to be $135 *cough* Tatcha *cough*. At a certain point, I’m not going to buy from a company that I know is making an insane profit and yet probably paying the workers it sources from a pittance, and has a product that’s only as good as a company that is charging half the price. I tend to cap serum prices at around $40 per ounce (and that better be good), eye creams at $50 an ounce (as you use way less), moisturizers at about $30, and treatments/masks/etc tend to get more of an individual cost point as it depends on the amount you use (ie I’m fine with buying a a $72, 1.7 oz bottle of Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate as I only use a few drops each time).

I have several: if a product makes me break out, react with redness or clogs my pores, “good-bye”; if it leaves a sticky, plastic-y residue behind, “ciao”; if it touts itself as a “day cream” but contains no sun protection, I may still use it (with separate sun protection) but it irks me when a product presents itself in that way; and if a product makes ridiculous claims, “arrivederci”.

I’m pregnant so have a lot of them right now. But in general, anything with pthalates, parabens, synthetic fragrant, or mineral oil.

If it has SPF, I avoid chemical ones. Not just for the health aspect, but because it makes my skin break out in tiny pimples on my nose. I’m a huge fan of SolarMD sunblock.

As far as texture, anything that’s tacky, greasy, or dries down to a weird film texture I avoid.

Right now my routine is: Lancome cleanser/toner, Ren moisturizer, The Ordinary rose hip oil or embryolisse depending on the foundation I’m wearing. At night I cleanse, oil, and use either Sunday Riley good genes (the smell is awful but damn if it doesn’t work), or Dr. Jart overnight hydrating mask.

I have no loyalty to any brand, although am really impressed with Lancome Energie de vie line, The Ordinary (so cheap!), and Sunday Riley.

Ugh, I can’t do chemical SPF either! I don’t break out, but it burns my facial skin and eyes. I wish I could use it because it seems like 95% of what’s available is chemical. I’m really picky about SPF texture to boot so once I found that I liked the weight of – believe it or not – Trader’s Joe’s Enrich lotion. I wish it was higher than SPF 15, but at this point I’m tired of searching and I love the price 🙂

Fragrance — it irritates my face. Ridiculous pricing — so many high-end creams are no better than the average drugstore product but may cost more than $100/ounce. Misleading advertising — there are a lot of natural extracts and other ingredients that have shown promise in the lab, but there really isn’t any evidence yet about how well they perform on skin, but they’re touted as the latest and greatest, and the prices jacked up accordingly while proven ingredients are left out of the formulation. A lot of what people are buying with luxury skin care products is a fantasy of perfect skin and luxurious treatment. If you know that and still love a certain cream, feel free to purchase the fantasy. Personally, I want ingredients that have been proven to work and can be had at a more reasonable cost, even if they’re less cosmetically elegant.

In skincare, I look for products that deliver ingredients that will do the job in a concentration that can get the job done, and without any unnecessary irritants added to the formulation. Packaging needs to be designed to protect any delicate ingredients that are present. I’d rather not spend any more than I have to on skin care; my personal preference is to put my beauty dollars toward color cosmetics. Favorite brands include Paula’s Choice, First Aid Beauty, CeraVe, Simple. Of course I’m sure there are other good brands that I haven’t really tried yet, some because they cost a bit more.

Sheesh! It looks like I almost forgot to mention that I won’t purchase something that has irritants in it, it seems so obvious — but of course it’s not, companies keep coming out with products loaded with irritants.

I can’t even try most of the samples of products that I get. And I find most SAs to be woefully uninformed about what constitutes an irritant. Even Vitamin C and retinols are irritants, albeit ones with potential benefits if used correctly and carefully.

No heavy scents, cannot “pill” when rubbed or layered, and ease of use! For example, I’ve sample the Tatcha rice powder and while I like it, its just so messy to use I’d rather pick up something else.

Also, I will skip anything that people need to reassure “if it hurts, its working,” lol. No thanks – I’ll find another product, there are enough choices out there that I don’t need to torture myself.

Check out the Amore Pacific enzyme powder. It dispenses one dose per bottle tip. The cap of it is designed really well, so muss or fuss and you can’t over-dispense. They’re a Korean brand available at Sephora, Nordstrom and Neiman’s.

Fragrance is not good for your skin, studies are showing! Wear cologne or perfume but it’s a no-no in skincare

Tubs- I do not like sticking my finger in a product and any anti oxidant ingredients will lose potency if exposed to air so I prefer an airless pump or at least a tube

Clear or transparent container- anti oxidant ingredients will lose potency if exposed to sunlight too

‘Magical’ ingredients and ridiculous claims, no topical product can influence skin communication and I’m not spending ridiculous amounts of $ on some exclusive ‘biofermented’ or botanically infused snail snot (or whatever) in a cheap mineral oil basecream. (I’m lookin’ at you Sisley & La Mer) YES I have tried Sisley, La Mer, La Prairie, and Eminence & a lot of other overpriced silliness and was less than impressed.

Low amounts of effective ingredients- ‘nuf said

I have very sensitive, dehydration-prone, reaction-prone skin. Honestly, for me it’s best to just not try new things to be honest! I want my products fragrance free, no solvent alcohols, no chemical sunscreens (they break me out), no weird or sensitizing herbal extracts or essential oils, and non-dehydrating. I tend to do best with non-foaming cleansers. Facial oils all tend to break me out. My routine basically needs to be gentle, hydrating, and calming.

I tried Purity Made Simple yeeears ago and broke out into hives. Black pepper extract in a cleanser? Really?

when the ingredients aren’t up to par, heavily scented products, products where I don’t like the scent, products that break me out, products that leave me feeling greasy (this goes for body butters as well)

I have sensitive skin and the no 1 issue I have with skincare is when they have silicones in. They always make me break out, I really have to look at the ingredients to see if a product has them in. It’s OK if they’re low down in the list but if they’re high up, no way. Fragrance doesn’t bother my skin, I’ve reacted to fragrance-free skincare like Simple. I do better with mid-range skincare than drugstore, usually. My favourites are Monu, Barefoot SOS, Korres and La Roche Posay.

Harsh scrubs, strong floral scents, or anything with ethylhexyl palmitate or a lot of alcohol. Sad to see my UD setting apart go away for the winter:(

I don’t like skincare products that have anything other than naturally-occuring scents (citrus, herbal, or coconut, etc.), and even then, it has to be something of which I like the scent. I put a lot of oils on my face and they absorb or at least settle in and don’t feel greasy, but I couldn’t deal with a greasy, creamy film or something that just sat on my skin – I think it’s a texture thing, like it would feel “heavy” and I’d have to wipe it all off and start over again.

i prefer lightweight formulas that are quick to be absorbed by the skin especially if they are for the daytime use. i am the most picky about choosing the eye cream. i like a very lightweight texture.
Fragrances are not something i prefer, and unfortunately sometimes i can have a very bad headache because of them 🙁

1. LAVENDER. I’m allergic, so anything with lavender is off the table. And honestly it’s tough since a lot of brands don’t have their full ingredient list online and lavender is a popular ingredient in skin care. I’ve had to call quite a few brands and sit on hold for 15-45 minutes while they looked up if a product had lavender. I’ve even had to watch out with makeup after finding out the hard way that MILK makeup’s brow pencils have lavender in them, and it’s not listed as an ingredient on the Sephora product page.

2. Strong floral, soapy, or chemical scent. Certain artificial fragrances, so anything with “fragrance” or “parfum” in the ingredients I have to spot-test.

3. Anything that leaves my skin feeling either super tight or greasy/oily.

My first three are in this order: fragrance, fragrance, and fragrance. “Natural” is no better than synthetic, oils and extracts are potentially just as bad as “perfume,” and a significant number of the fragrances/perfumes/oils/extracts most commonly found in skincare are either sensitizers, irritants/inflammatory agents, or common allergens (chamomile, mint, rosemary, lavender, citrus of any kind, etc…), and absolutely do not benefit the skin as some producers of “natural” products would have us believe.

There are some gel-based formulations (moisturizers, serum, treatments) that turn my skin red, itchy, and flaky (which is definitely a deal-breaker), but not all of them do and I haven’t been able to narrow down the suspect ingredients yet, so I stopped trying and just avoid gel products now.

Chemical sunscreen — it quite literally burns me (probably not all of them, but they’re always used together in formulations, so I have no choice but to avoid all of them).

Bad alcohols.

Anything that leaves me shiny or glossy, including hand lotion.

Containers that I have to stick my fingers into.

Anything ridiculously overpriced; when some moisturizer starts to include an ingredient that’s proven to have antiaging, anti-skin cancer, AND anti decay-of-any-kind properties, but can only be found on asteroids, and can only be successfully processed on new moons in a single lab on Bouvet Island, and can only be handled in its raw form by redheaded conjoined twins, then you can consider charging me $100/oz for it.

There are probably more, but those are the most obvious, for me.

Anything that breaks me out or gives me some sort of reaction, like a rash, hives or irritation goes back! I also don’t buy things with perfume or added fragrance, I have sensitive skin that can act up angrily on me! Most oils are a no-no, too. Except for coconut, shea butter or a itty-bitty amount of argan oil.

dealbreaker no 1: no alcohol, no essential oils, no fragrance.
i don’t mind mineral oil, as it is highly cleaned from irritants and i like the occlusive effect. fortunately i have no issues with silicone oils.
dealbreaker no 2: stupid claims like “regenerates your dna” “all natural” “no chemicals” “vegan” “no preservatives” “no oil” “tropical plant xy” the list is endless.
dealbreaker no 3: too little of the claimed ingrediant, wrong ph, huge jars..

1) Causes skin or eye irritation: Strong scents on my face (body OK), too many botanicals, face-peel or rejuvenating-type acids, and some sunscreens. 2) Causes breakouts. 3) Daytime creams can’t be too greasy or heavy, or my face will be an oil slick the whole day. Creams need to absorb really well on my face and body. 4) Facial sunscreens that don’t dry down. Again, I can’t have anything slick on my face. 5) Jacked up prices and unrealistic claims. Expensive ingredients that don’t really do anything.

I don’t do well with heavy scents either. I like a light citrus scent tho. I also won’t use oily or heavy moisturizers. They clog my pores and make my face oilier. I do use the same brand with one for face and the other for neck and décolleté.

I like skincare that gets along with other products, for example pilling. I don’t care for strong scents. I do like something reasonably moisturizing in fall and winter as my skin feels much drier. This is especially true if I’m not wearing makeup and at night. It’s more noticeable this year. It can be lighter in late Spring and Summer. I use a non-prescription retinol serum several times a week and alternate with another serum in between times.

Scent – it is an irritant for my sensitive, mature skin. Even ‘natural’ scents such as rosehip oil irritate me.
Ingredients: it has to have anti ageing ingredients in the right percentages.
Pump pack – necessary to keep air out of the products and for hygiene reasons
Price – because I go through so many different skincare products (serums, oils, day and night moisturisers & cleansers), it cannot be too expensive. Price is not a guarantee of success either.
Too greasy – cannot cope with greasy formulas.

I have sensitive skin, so dealbreakers for me are alcohol, witch hazel, petrolatum, mineral oil and any added fragrance, including “natural” plant oils or essential oils that are highly fragranced – this rules out almost 90% of most skin care products, so many of which have citrus oils, lavender etc. – they smell great, but they irritate my skin. I also prefer products without dimethicone because they seem like a cop-out by relying on the slippery texture of silicone to make me think my skin feels smooth when, in fact, the texture of my skin is not actually being improved.

I wish more moisturizers were in tubes or pumps – jars that expose the product to air seem to loose their potency quickly and are less sanitary.

Fragrance, whether natural or synthetic makes my face red and irritated. Essential oils make me red and break me out, especially lavender and citrus oils. Alcohol denat. dries the crap out of my face. I also despise jar packaging. Not only is it not as sanitary, but as a chemist, let me tell you, ingredients degrade over time upon exposure to air and light. That is an absolute truth, no matter how hard companies try to preserve their product. I always look for air-tight pumps and opaque bottles. I’ve spent all that money on effective active ingredients and I’d like them to stay that way.

I strongly prefer fragrance free skincare (actually all makeup). It doesn’t bother my skin or my nose, it’s just unnecessary. I wish the skincare I gravitate toward was less expensive but not a deal breaker so far!

Going out on a limb here. After a certain age, I’m not sure one skin care line over another makes that much more than a nano-bit of difference. If Neutrogena works for you, great. (They actually have a well-respected line of cosmetic scientists who work for them, as does L’Oreal and Olay. Big companies = budgets for science. Little companies = not so much.) If Kiehl’s (my brand) or any other mid-range product keeps your skin healthy and without breakouts, go with it.

My advice is this. After 50+, I think it makes far more sense to put big bucks into real, peer reviewed, proven medical treatments — botox, Restalyn, Venus freeze, etc. All the creams in the world will not do what the med products can. For me, the goal is to keep my skin in lovely condition with a line of products that won’t break the bank. To rely on skin care cosmetics make big league (or any) change will lead to frustration. Save the pennies, and go with the treatments that will give you big bang for your bucks.

I know this isn’t exactly the question asked, but I hope it’s helpful. I’ve been sold too many bills of skin care goods in my day, and I’ve left that behind. Honest opinion FWIW.

Palm oil is my no.1 deal breaker. I want lovely skin just as much as anyone but not at the cost that palm oil plantations are doing to the world. But it’s in everything, and in some Clinique products it’s the 1st ingredient! On a positive note I’m saving quite a bit of money because of this, as there is so little I can buy (combined with my sensitive skin so I’m with everyone else in hating fragrances in skin care. If I want a fragrance I’ll use perfume!) and my skin is doing ok!

Facial products that come in jars. I don’t get why so many high end brands put out moisturizers with so many skincare claims, yet it’s in a dang jar that repeatedly exposes the product to the air!

I also avoid products with alcohol in them if I can, and heavy fragrance.

Witch hazel is something my skin reacts badly to, so I need to avoid products that contain it, especially when it’s high up the ingredients list. I also avoid alcohol as much as possible. In terms of texture something that leaves a greasy film on my skin is deal-breaker!

Super greasy lotions or sunscreens. Heavy/ artificial scents. Something that leaves my skin feeling dry or stripped. Usually something marked as “anti-aging” (because I am 17, I feel like I don’t need/ want to worry about that aspect). The more natural a skincare product is, the more likely I am to purchase it.

Guerlain meteorites- I cannot stand the smell. I ended up selling all of mine because well, I wasn’t using them and the smell is so off-putting. Last weekend I did the Boscia foot peel and I had to use my inhaler because the chemicals affected my breathing. I wasn’t like this when I was younger- I used to light candles and incense, but as I’ve gotten older, I cannot tolerate anything like that. I love Chanel’s scented stuff, but nothing too heavy.

Skin care is so important to me and I live strictly to these 3 specific rules:
#1) If the ingredient I’m looking for isn’t within the first 3 ingredients….I pass.
#2) I almost always pass on a product (unless it’s standard for that specific product) if water or aqua is the very first ingredient.
#3) Finally if it has more than one paraben. If it only has ONE paraban and I I really want the product I will buy it if the paraban listed as the last three ingredients.
I have also been more diligent than ever looking up every ingredient I don’t know so my list of ingredients is starting to become a little more narrow. I have to say above image and packaging….Ingredients is the MOST important thing to me when buying skincare!!!!

My deal breaker is very simple (and I’m sure everyone is sick of me talking about it.) I only use Paula’s Choice, everything else is a deal breaker for me. It is skincare based upon science and research and it does what it says it is going to do. It is very reasonably priced; It’s manufactured in the USA; there is NO animal testing (and they are a part of the Leaping Bunny Program which means not only is animal testing eliminated from their products but also from their ingredient suppliers); they have a 60 day money back guarantee, no added fragrance, dyes or ingredients that can harm the health and function of your skin; and their packaging is top notch, protecting all of the ingredients from exposure to light and air (which causes the products to use their efficiency). My holy grail. Coupon available for $10 off to try it.

I am not normally sensitive to fragrances, but my new, expensive bottle of Obaji 20% Vitamin C smells like vomit to me! It’s disgusting and can’t be normal, right?

Too heavy consistency such as the Vermont Original uber balm hate that stuff is so super strong or sticky, strong perfume causing mostly dryness. I don’t mind a slight perfume but not over powering.

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