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The Ideal Skin Care Routine Survey and Poll

As I was writing various section for the Ideal Routine Portal/Page, I came across an idea with which I was quite conflicted: I plan to make a lot of product recommendations for each type of skin care product and more for several specific types of ingredients. I’m trying to include only the best of the best.

But here’s the thing. Should I make recommendations regardless of price? Or should I have an upper limit?

Let me know your thoughts via the poll and/or the comments section.

***Please realize that the $ amounts are not exact, but approximate. For example, I’d still recommend a sunscreen that’s perhaps $32/oz, despite the fact that the theoretical upper limit is $30/oz. I’ll probably give myself a $5-10 standard deviation (leeway) in both directions, depending on the final upper limit(s), if there even is one.

***The reason why sunscreens have a lower comparative price/oz in all scenarios, is because you have to apply a lot in order to get adequate broad-spectrum protection.

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.


46 thoughts on “The Ideal Skin Care Routine Survey and Poll

  1. I have a question about SK-II, the essence product. I hear people raving about his product that comes from sake? If it truly,”holy water”, I would expect it to firm my skin, remove pigment issues,etc, it is also rather expensive if just a moisturizer? Every time I go to the cosmetic counter they r out of samples or say buy you can always return?

    Posted by CARYN | March 19, 2013, 9:01 am
    • You probably already knew that I was going to say this, but no it can’t do any of that! 😦 The Facial Treatment Essence just contains a lot of Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate.

      And there is ZERO research that even suggests it can do any of those things you listed. The only thing that it’s been shown (in vitro and with an artificial epidermis (so sort of in vivo) to do, was that it is mildly anti-inflammatory due to its ability to inhibit the production of the reactive oxygen species (ROS; basically a free radical) nitric oxide. But many other much more well-documented and substantiated compounds like most antioxidants, can do the same type of things but better. It’s likely a very good binding agent though, as it’s a yeast. So this can b quite hydrating.

      Overall, this product certainly isn’t bad, but it’s not very good either and definitely not worth the price tag.

      Posted by John | March 19, 2013, 11:00 am
    • My husband thanks you! He knows nothing about skin care but felt I would do better drinking the sake, which is less expensive then to pay for packaging and advertising. It amazes me what women, will do , including myself in our never ending quest for the fountain of youth. If you ever visit Chicago we would love to take you out to thank you for all your advice!

      Posted by CARYN | March 19, 2013, 11:07 am
      • Wow, that is a flattering thing to say. 🙂

        Oh, and I forgot to link the study where I got that information from in case you’re interested: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Saccharomycopsis+Ferment+Filtrate.

        Posted by John | March 19, 2013, 11:35 am
        • you have NO IDEA how much sk-ii is being raved here in SEA. from ads that go ‘favourite treatment water/essence of more than 100 beauty editors worldwide’ to ‘new sk-ii facial treatment essence for men’ (which is just basically a more masculine packaging), sk-ii in SEA is like THE cult product. there’s just something about ‘waters’ or toner-like consistency that we asians love. i’ll admit that i nearly got myself into it years back, but eventually did not because of the price. shiseido’s eudermine, and kose’s sekkisei enjoyed similar popularity as well, and then came the drugstore option of hada labo. while i’ve not tried sk-ii and shiseido, i’d like to say that i enjoyed better results upon finishing a bottle of hada labo vs a bottle of kose’s sekkisei (which now i know why). i must say though, eudermine and sekkisei smells REALLY GOOD. if there’s anything that these companies got right, it’s the fragrance XD

          Posted by nelson | March 19, 2013, 4:55 pm
          • That’s very true. I had no idea that Asian people like toner-like products, despite the fact that I’m Asian… Lol! But hey, we all have our peculiarities. 🙂

            Posted by John | March 20, 2013, 7:20 pm
            • So John and Nelson should I also assume the Asian skin care line by Estee Lauder, Cyber-White Essence is more hype,also? I love the idea of using an”essence”, and suddenly my skin is air brushed perfection? Maybe my fountain of youth is not the skin care counter but the bar at Happy hour? I’m not a chemist but know that there is resevertol in wine? Women’s magazines have led us to think that Asians have the best skin care products? When I was younger it was the French?

              Posted by CARYN | March 21, 2013, 10:51 am
              • Well fortunately, most Estee Lauder products are pretty good across the board. The slightly annoying thing is that the brand has a gazillion amount of products that are rather similar to each other. So it’s natural that the Cyber-White line isn’t bad at all, just like their other products. The brand tends to feature ascorbyl glucoside (vitamin C ester) and several botanical skin lighteners like mulberry, licorice, etc… But is it the secret to perfect skin? Absolutely not.

                And no race has the best skin care products… every race has access to the some ingredients. Sigh, it really makes no sense if you think about it. Haha!

                Posted by John | March 21, 2013, 4:57 pm
                • I read in some blog that if you want good pigment removing products to buy a line geared at Asian skin. I don’t know why I asked as had the feeling just using the word essence was a way to charge extra, my husband said it was $110 at Macys? I don’t want to take you away from all your fans by adding everything that I notice in print,etc. Not to pry but wonder what state you live in? If you lived close I might be able to get you samples from some brands? Caryn

                  Posted by tknck@aol.com | March 21, 2013, 5:20 pm
                • while certain soil does have certain access to certain ingredients, i must say that it all boils down to the exoticization of culture (which in the case of skincare and beauty, it’s the ingredients that they use). sk-ii monopolize on the use of sake, shiseido is HUGE on camellia (from the gold flower symbol on their packaging, to the name of their VIP club, their drugstore hair care line tsubaki, almost everything has got something to do with cammellia!), and kose is all about ‘oriental beauty’. and all these are just japanese brands. what about the korean ones? if you look at brands like skinfood, the face shop, sulwhasoo, their marketing angle is almost like kose; cashing in on the concept of oriental beauty. the french on the other hand, has a lot to do with the idea of luxury (haute couture brands like dior, chanel, etc), and the pristine of spring waters (think la roche posay, uriage, avene, vichy). i must admit that while the french brands have better color cosmetics and base makeup that looks and feels amazing, and asian brands have better textures in terms of their skincare, both french and asian brands tend to be alcohol and fragrance-laden. i think a lot would agree that asian cosmetics have extremely bad shades in terms of their base makeup (not EVERY asian lady looks as fair as fan bin bing alright!). after all these ranting, i believe all of us here in this community are blessed enough to be equipped with critical skills and information to analyze all these overwhelming commercial branding to decide what is best for our skin. =D

                  Posted by nelson | March 21, 2013, 9:14 pm
          • Nelson, isn’t it amazing what a good advertising company can sell? I’m just shocked that stores like Nordstrom who say they put the customer first, have no problem selling to customers over priced packaging that has no results proven in skin care. I want to meet the ladies who worked in the sake factory and asked them if their hands really got younger by drinking it?

            Posted by CARYN | March 21, 2013, 10:20 am
            • Agreed, but many times it’s not the sales associate’s fault. The people who work at Nordstrom usually only know what brand representatives tell them. They usually don’t take the time to do their own research, so they wouldn’t know any better. They actually believe in the products that they’re selling to some degree at least.

              Posted by John | March 21, 2013, 4:52 pm
  2. I was kind of going to say what everyone is saying.
    Don’t limit your recommendations based on price, but also list a less-expensive-as(almost)-as-good option, if there is one, and since you said there will be several options this won’t be a problem.
    As for how much is too much, it would really have to be determined in the specific case and it also depends on what each person is looking for. To establish a price (say $100) would be too arbitrary because it’s so subjective. You could however start with an upper limit, make the recommendations and wait for the feedback. Perhaps make sure to let everyone know they can get in touch (like you already do!) asking for cheaper recommendations on a specific product/segment. Then you can update the recommendations, based on feedback.

    Personally, anything over $75/oz needs SERIOUS consideration for me, to make sure it is worth it. Especially if it’s a sunscreen. Right now I would never pay that much for sunscreen.

    Thanks for the poll!

    Posted by Lucas | March 18, 2013, 3:16 pm
    • What a way to sum up the discussion. Literally!

      I appreciate your excellent response. 🙂

      Posted by John | March 18, 2013, 8:39 pm
      • If possible, is there a way to customize the recommendations by a total dollar amount (monthly or annual) based on a specific condition – aging, acenic, prevention, skin type? For example – when I build a computer, I don’t really spend a lot on some components (generic is fine by me) and for others, I will pay top dollar.

        Posted by jh | July 19, 2013, 11:38 am
        • Well, I will be listing the price for each product, and indicate if they are budget, mid-range, or luxury items. I’ll also be (somewhat) ranking products in each category and then creating an overall ranking within each ingredient type.

          But no, there won’t be a specific algorithm or program; each individual will just have to add up potential options on his/her own. But that’s not too hard, right? After all, we all have calculators these days.

          Posted by John | July 19, 2013, 4:24 pm
  3. Hi John, I know I turn to you for your extensive background and research and would MOST appreciate learning of the “best of the best” regardless of price. Often when the price is higher, you’re getting a more concentrated effective product and may use less products overall, which might be more cost effective– for those that want to watch their budget. We can all find lower price alternatives on numerous sites but I come to you for the “best of the best” regardless of price. In some instances the price of the”best” might often be reasonable. Thanks for asking and I look forward to learning even more about your product recommendations!

    Posted by Linda | March 18, 2013, 7:37 am
    • Great response! I guess my reasoning was that if someone’s going to spend more than a certain amount of money on any given product, I’d rather have them use something that’s only slightly “worse,” but significantly cheaper, and use the rest of that money on laser treatments or something else in the future.

      And besides, the most effective ingredients and formulations can be found in products that aren’t THAT expensive. Aqueous vitamin C products are probably the most expensive, and even those only run up to ~$150. So really, those super expensive items from brands like La Mer, will likely NEVER obtain a recommendation; not just because of the price, but because of the ingredients and packaging, too.

      Posted by John | March 18, 2013, 8:34 pm
      • I agree, John, with what you’re saying and appreciate that you care about our overall skincare budget including treatments we may use (I’m starting to use some treatments at the Dr.’s office to supplement my skincare). I’m at “that age” where maintaining or even improving what I have is of my utmost concern, and since I trust you as my #1 skincare resource no price is too high if you, John, truly believe it’s the best of the best in a category like sunscreen, antioxidants, AHA’s. I don’t believe moisturizers should ever be very expensive as you said. There are so many confusing treatment ingredients and I stick to the best sunscreen, antioxidant and AHA and Retin A that money can buy (for effectiveness). Other new ingredients would be interesting but with some help from you about how they can be added to our skincare regime. I don’t know how to add anything now yet you’ve helped me alot in your posts that cover what can/can’t be used with what. For example I learned that no AHA with Retin A but AHA combined with antioxidants are fine. If you begin to introduce us to your best products, it might be helpful to also add a section on how we could integrate a new product into our regime. For example, I love the way my skin looks when I use Murad’s very very expensive, intensive wrinkle reducer $150.00! But I wont even begin to consider the cost since I don’t know how to fit it in my regime of glycolic 20% at night alternating nights with retin A micro and antioxidant and sunscreen in the AM. I don’t even know how to add a moisturizer to the day/night regime because I don’t want to dilute any of the treatment products. This is a long winded response but hopefully food for thought. You are the best, by the way, so generous with your time, so kind that you give your readers thoughtful responses. I wish the best for you in your endeavors, John. Thanks for caring!

        Posted by Linda | March 18, 2013, 9:07 pm
        • Well it sounds like you’re doing the best that you can. 🙂

          Oh and note that AHAs CAN be used with Retin-A (micro), if in fact it is Retin-A (micro), meaning the prescription form: tretinoin. Acidic ingredients only affect tretinoin precursors like retinol and retinaldehyde. It’s the conversion process that requires a more neutral pH to work optimally. But tretinoin itself doesn’t need to convert to anything, so you can certainly use that with acidic ingredients. The two just aren’t typically used together because that combination can be quite irritating. But if your skin can tolerate both at one time, then good for you.

          Posted by John | March 19, 2013, 8:34 am
  4. how about a ‘cheapest option’ and a ‘hole-in-the-wallet-yet-worth-it option’? =)

    Posted by nelson | March 16, 2013, 8:31 pm
    • Well, I plan to recommend more than one or two options. But I understand what you mean!

      Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:28 am
      • I guess both consumers and readers would really like to find out what are the options out there in the industry, both ridiculously expensive yet being the only available cutting edge formulation, and those bona fide steals that is dirt cheap per ounce =D just to let you know ive placed an order on the vespera bionic serum from neostrata and damn it was expensive after the currency conversion! i hope i will like it XD

        Posted by nelson | March 17, 2013, 11:30 am
        • Mhm I get what you mean. But there’s no such thing as “cutting edge” technology in skin care, at least nothing that dramatic. Lol! It’s almost always the tried and true that work best. And let me know how you like the Bionic serum! What compelled you to spend the $$ on that?

          Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:36 pm
          • LOL i get what you mean! maybe ‘cheek cutting’ to have cheekbones like cara delevigne! XD anyway, the vespera bionic serum will only arrive like end of next month @.@ i’ve tried neostrata’s own bionic serum (10% LBA) before reading your collection of posts on HAs. the neostrata one is actually quite oily (i dont know if oily is the suitable word for it but it felt really tacky and residual even after it has been absorbed) but its nice when i sleep with the a/c on. i experienced minimal fading of post-acne discolorating along with the use of retin-a gel (i purposely got the gel version to layer after and over the serum!) so after reading your posts about HAs and enquiring you about your experiences with gluconolactone, i decided to try this exuviance one. i was deciding whether i should get the exuviance one, or the 15% PHA bionic lotion that you recommended but i eventually settled for the serum because the serum has both gluconolactone (5%) and LBA (4%) and also AOXs. so after i finish one bottle of it and if i decide to repurchase, i shall use it for travels only. it’s not too budget-friendly on my wallet for my daily use XD i guess i have the ‘luxury’ of being able to have a ton of nonsense on my table but when i travel, i really wanna travel light, and i dont wanna spend time slapping it on at night. i’m currently using the 15% PHA bionic lotion, dhc salicylic face milk (2% SA), and 0.05% isotretinoin gel (to thin down the layers of moisturizers) at night. i use the cerave pm moisturizing lotion (amazing value per ounce!) on my eyes at night. =D PS: i hope im making no mistake here with this purchase XD

            Posted by nelson | March 19, 2013, 3:06 am
            • Haha, well I don’t know about “check cutting,” since that’s not strictly related to the skin. But I get your point.

              And no, there’s no mistake in buying the Vespera. It was simply a decision that you made in the context of the rest of your routine. While I can’t deny that the Vespera is significantly more expensive per ounce, and is pretty similar, the texture does allow for easy layering, and like you said, it’ll be great for travel.

              Posted by John | March 19, 2013, 8:44 am
  5. Hi there, I’m a new reader and have recommended your blog to all my friends! I look forward to seeing your recommendations. I think you should post all recommendations regardless of price BUT organize them according to price. I am unemployed and although when i am working I will splurge, right now I am only interested in drugstore prices. Also, i would like to request (if possible) to see recommendations and reviews of popular asian products. I am interested in brands like Kose and Naruko.

    Posted by Courtney | March 16, 2013, 1:20 pm
    • Welcome!

      Thank you for your insights and I’ll be sure to consider them carefully! 🙂

      Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:23 am
    • just to give a head’s up, kose (if you are referring to kose’s own kose brand, and not the other sub-brands) is very fragrant and alcohol-laden while their textures are really good because they’re very thin in consistency. i shall leave it to john to do the extensive reseach on the ingredient list! XD ive not tried naruko but they tend to use fragrant extracts as well. both companies market their products based on ‘natural ingredients’ and oriental beauty. =)

      Posted by nelsonvengeance | March 21, 2013, 9:21 pm
      • Thanks for the input, Nelson!

        Courtney, I’m not too familiar with Asian brands just because I don’t have easy access to them. Furthermore, the ingredient lists for many of their products aren’t always available. But like I said, I’ll see what I can do.

        Posted by John | March 22, 2013, 12:03 pm
  6. Personally, I think you should make recommendations regardless of price, because the best is the best, and I’m sure some of your readers would like to know about these products if they can afford them. However, if the price is on the high end, would it be possible to offer to a lower priced alternative for those who can’t afford it?

    Posted by Emy Shin | March 15, 2013, 7:42 pm
    • Ooh trying to find a cheaper alternative for certain expensive products is a great idea. But then when is an “expensive” product considered expensive? Where do you think I should place the threshold limit? $75? $100 $150?

      Posted by John | March 16, 2013, 10:20 am
      • I think you should review what ever you want and let the reader decide for themselves. A luxury line like RE VIVE which I wish I could afford, really showed amazing results on aging skin. The line uses human growth factors, and their twice yearly treatment I think starts at $1,500! Stop using it and your skin returns to the way it once was. I would give up food to be able to purchase it is that good. I think everyone has their priority so let the reader decide. If you can get me the results for a lot less that would be awesome! With the economy the way it is I think, a reader should make up his or her mind after your review.
        Took your advice and started Dr. Denise Firming Pads, love them and deal at derm store and skinstore.com right now! I adore your viewpoints, John!

        Just do your reviews and cut out the advertising hype. I want results and don’t want to pay for their advertising or fancy packaging, unless it keeps the product stable and useable! I like to hear the science behind why it works, don’t care what famous person uses, we all have different genetic make up.

        Posted by CARYN | March 16, 2013, 1:27 pm
        • Oh yes I completely agree. I definitely never allow hype to color my perspective.

          As for a skin care product that costs $1,500… well, I’d most likely not recommend anything over maybe $150-$200/oz, because even the best skin care can only go so far. I’d rather have someone spend that kind of money on something that’s guaranteed to give dramatic results, such as laser and/or light therapy.

          I really appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm.

          Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:27 am
  7. Would you consider price ranges? For example: Budget, Mid-priced, Luxury, The Sky’s the Limit, lol? The truth is, most of us want the best product our money can buy, but that amount varies by individual. A teen, a college student, a single parent, a DINK (Double Income, No Kids), a retiree, etc, approach from different angles. Does this make sense?

    Posted by Cathi C. | March 15, 2013, 7:29 pm
    • Well, I plan to include prices for all the product recommendations anyways. But that’s a very good suggestion. Although, these evaluations of budget, luxury, etc… are also subjective. Who’s to say something that I think is at a budget price, isn’t considered as mid-priced by someone else? Maybe I should list them by from cheapest to most expensive?

      I had wanted to list them from “best” to “worst,” (of the best products). Do you think I shouldn’t do this then?

      Posted by John | March 16, 2013, 10:17 am
      • I understand what you are saying about ranges being subjective. That being said, there is a general understanding along with the YMMV type of response. I like best to worst as well, as long as you’re including pricing. Is the best to worst based on results, pricing, ingredients or a combination?

        Posted by Cathi C. | March 16, 2013, 12:31 pm
        • Okay that sounds good. And the products will be listed from best to worst based on ingredients foremost, but also on personal experience if I’ve tried them. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to note that skin care is personal and that I can only standardize the process so much. But there’s still a seriously lack of a centralized source on the web, which I hope to remedy!

          Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:22 am
  8. For myself, I’d prefer to see the more reasonably-priced things first. I wouldn’t mind the occasional “if you have the money, this is fantastic” recommendation, so I don’t think there should be a hard-and-fast rule, though.
    That said, since money is tight these days, I would kind-of hate to see a bunch of reviews of great products that I can’t afford. :-p

    Posted by ladyisla | March 15, 2013, 4:56 pm
    • Hmm, well I won’t be writing full reviews of each product. But I will be including the prices of everything. So I guess, if something is outside your budget, you can just not consider it? 🙂

      Posted by John | March 16, 2013, 10:12 am
      • Heh that makes sense. I like the idea of lower-priced alternatives (the “next-best-thing”). I consider most of Paula’s Choice prices to be Budget or Mid-Priced…I don’t know if it’d be way too much work, but maybe even 2 alternatives? 1 Budget, 1 Mid-Priced, 1 Luxury?

        Posted by ladyisla | March 16, 2013, 11:31 pm
        • Oh don’t worry about it being too much work! The recommendations are the easy part. It’s all the research, collating of information, and writing that’s the hard part! Lol!

          Anyways, I’m planning on making as many product recommendations as I see fit, because I understand that people will respond differently to skin care products. So in almost all cases, instead of presenting one product that I think is the “best,” I’ll be presenting a group of products that I think are the “best.” Then, the reader can try an alternative product if one fails to deliver.

          Posted by John | March 17, 2013, 5:31 am

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