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Shopping for Skin Care in Detail

Shopping for Skin Care in Detail: Start Simple

Start simple continued…

As with anything, start simple! I’m not asking you to create your own meal from scratch so to speak; rather, to order takeout that’s most suitable!

As I had previously stated, the most important aspect when starting a skin care routine, is to have a solid, dependable one. From there, you can begin to explore other possible options as you attempt to reach the ideal. One of the best tools available at your disposal is the Beautypedia website ran by Paula Begoun. This website will arguably be your most potent weapon as you embark on this crusade for the holy grail (routine). It contains concise and easily understood, ingredient-based reviews on virtually every skin care product from most major brands, and a few niche ones. It has a robust search engine that allows you to look for products based on a variety of factors such as skin type, price, and category. However, there’s really no need to use that function because the site has a separate section for the “Best Products” according to Paula’s hierarchy. Now granted, I don’t agree with every prerequisite or condition that Paula uses to rank the products. However, 90% of the time, her reviews are pretty much spot on. There are times when she ranks a product as a 4 (on a 1-4 scale), when I think it should only garner a 2. Conversely, there are times when I think a product should be given a 4, but she only gives it a 3. But I have yet to encounter a product given a 1, which I would bestow a score of 4, or vice versa.

  • Go to the “Best Products” section, and pick a category of skin care to begin with. Let’s attempt to pick a nighttime moisturizer for dry skin, just as an example that you can use for the various other categories. Now, there are two potential categories that we can select. One is titled “Moisturizers Without Sunscreen” while the other is titled “Serums.” A serum typically employs a blend of silicones as its vehicular base, and therefore, is not very moisturizing. So we’re going to click the former link.
  • Make sure to read the header box, because it quickly summarizes the various qualifications necessary for a product to be included on this list. Begin clicking the various moisturizers listed and reading the short descriptions under “Review.” Here, Paula typically will tell you what skin type a particular moisturizer will be appropriate for. Instead of relying on the claims attached with a product, she evaluates the blend of ingredients before making suggestions. For example, moisturizers with heavier emollients like shea butter and olive oil will most likely be placed in the “normal to dry” or “dry to very dry” skin type groups.
  • Do this for each moisturizer listed, and make a note for which ones are for dry skin. After going through all the moisturizers (which in our case take up about two pages) and eliminating the ones that are not designed for dry skin, you should be left with a drastically reduced list of products. Now you can begin to consider price and accessibility. For example, if you don’t like shopping online, you might want to look for brands that are available for purchase at your local drugstore or department store. I’d suggest limiting your options to about 3-5 items, just so you’re not too overwhelmed.
  • Head over to your local department store and/or drugstore, and attempt to get samples or purchase travel-size versions of products on your consideration list.
  • After trying them out for at least two weeks, give or take, you can then make your final decision based on whatever is important to you when it comes to a nighttime moisturizer. Perhaps it’s the texture; how quickly it absorbs into your skin and becomes dry to the touch; or how it makes your skin look or feel when you wake up in the morning. Whatever you decide, I can guarantee that you will be using a solid product. It may not be the best of the bunch, but remember, baby steps.

Please note that you can take the additional step of checking the “3-5 options” that we mentioned above on sites such as MakeupAlley or TotalBeauty. However, please note that these websites contain mostly user-submitted reviews. I’m not saying that there aren’t excellent reviews on those sites, I’m just saying that if you rely heavily on the numerical ratings alone, you may not get a well-formulated product because the majority of people on there aren’t experienced with ingredients and product formulation. For example, one of the highest-rated moisturizers on MakeupAlley is Vaseline, whose primary ingredient is petrolatum and a tiny bit of vitamin E. Don’t get me wrong, petrolatum is an excellent occlusive agent, but you can do so much better than that. But by all means, like I said in the Disclaimer, if you want to take the additional time to “seek a second opinion,” please do so. But remember that not all second opinions or sources are created equally. Personally, I only use those two sites when looking for reviews on makeup items since those are judged more on texture, pigmentation, longevity, finish, etc. rather than what ingredients are present.

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


4 thoughts on “Shopping for Skin Care in Detail: Start Simple

  1. Listen, Paula Begoun is just a make up artist. She is NOT a dermatologist. She uses her books as marketing tool for her own line; which she shamelessly promotes..nay pimps. I would rather have spent the money on Dove Beauty bars than on her stupid, biased books. Yes, I use Dove Soap, although Paula B seems to think niacinamide is for every one. There are very few who can handle niacinamide on their skin.
    Resource~my father is a dermatologist.

    Posted by Lilly Tremaine | July 22, 2013, 6:23 am
    • Well, while I wouldn’t go so far as to say that PB is JUST a makeup artist, I do agree that she’s at times very biased and certainly not always correct. And Dove bars are definitely effective as they are “syndet” soaps! 🙂

      And I have also encountered sensitivity issues with niacinamide, in terms of readers telling me they can’t use it. Again, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that very few people can handle niacinamide, but its tolerability profile is definitely relevant.

      And lucky you, I wish my mom/dad was a dermatologist!

      Posted by John | July 22, 2013, 8:04 pm
  2. I used to do this kind of search on Beautypedia until I discovered the “Search All Reviews” tab. Pull down and open “Search All Reviews”. You can use multiple search variables at a time, which include skin type, rating, product category, brand, and ingredient. I find this to be the more efficient search strategy.

    Posted by BooBooNinja | May 21, 2012, 1:00 am
    • Yeah I know I should probably use this because it IS a tad more efficient. I just personally enjoy clicking through each one and reading about them; I’d rather make my own decision on whether or not something is “appropriate” for me, rather than rely on a computer system. However, many beginners may not want or be able to differentiate between ingredients, etc. I’ll probably have to change this soon. Thanks for reminding me!

      Posted by John | May 21, 2012, 10:38 am

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