Have you ever been obsessing over some must-have expensive skin care product that you saw in a department store or advertised in your favorite magazine? I know I have. How do they get us all riled up by promising everlasting gorgeousness and boasting about some special serum extracted from ancient lizard eyeballs out of some primordial swamp in the Arctic? For us, the smart ones, we are not easily enticed simply by the Photoshopped celebrity photos or even the paid-for testimonials.
No, we get sucked in emotionally by something else: personal triggers.
For example, I have a face condition called rosacea. This really bothers me as a black person because this is a pale, redhead, Northern European type of problem so when I see words like calming, soothing, redness relief, or anti inflammatory, I’ve been known to fall hook, line, and sinker, often only to be disappointed.
The expensive lines that spend lots of money on market research and advertising do a great job at getting our attention, but perhaps not as good a job at living up to their claims. By no means am I saying that all expensive skin care brands are crappy, but many of them are. Most often, inexpensive products turn out to be the best products, depending on the science backing them up. I mean, who knew that the best anti-wrinkle creams could possibly be the cheap-o kiddie sunscreen from Target?
“Assuming your skin could improve with these products, the prices alone might cause premature aging! So what do the women who can safely afford these products get for their money? The prestige of knowing they can afford them, period.High-priced skin-care lines attract women who think that the dollars they spend will buy them something special that most other women can’t afford. To some extent, they’re right: most women can’t afford these products. Yet anyone who reads and understands the ingredient lists would find that price doesn’t reliably translate into having better skin. What you’re really getting from this line is a barrage of look-younger-now claims not backed up by one shred of substantiated scientific evidence, and a group of unimpressive formulations.” ~Paula Begoun, The Cosmetics Cop
A closer look at cosmetics companies would reveal that certain ingredients are better at achieving certain results, and others are just fluff. But how do we know? There are thousands if not millions of substances out there that can be pumped into a tube, bottle or jar and sold for a king’s ransom. Well, we could just do the research, which is what I used to do when it was just just a product or two. I originally went looking to ensure that certain irritating ingredients were not included on the list, but then I became interested in the other ingredients. Like, does sea slime really make skin soft and supple? You can search the answers all over the internet, but be sure to consider the sources and verify. Don’t get this information from sellers of substances because they are not reliable. And be wary of multiple sites stating the same claims. That doesn’t make them true.
We have to take our research and mix it with a healthy serving of common sense. For example, all natural doesn’t necessarily mean good for skin. Would you buy a moisturizer laced with natural poison ivy extract? Some ingredients have gotten a bad rep because of misinformation. Take petrolatum, for example. People all over the internet bash it left and right. But guess what, my beautiful grandmother lived into her mid-80s without a wrinkle or bump on her face and guess what she used? Vaseline! Now, it’s not necessarily ideal for everyone, but it certainly isn’t the monster it’s made out to be.
I’ll let you in on where I usually begin (and sometimes end) my research. The Cosmetic Cop’s Ingredient Dictionary is an invaluable research tool. It contains a scientific description of practically every cosmetic ingredient used, what it does, and what conditions (like packaging) affect their efficacy, with sources of the information (medical and dermatological journals). In my research, I was able to discover (not to my surprise) that eucalyptus oil is an absolute no-no in face products and by the way, is an ingredient in one of the most expensive facial creams, La Mer, at $150.00 per ounce!!!! So now I don’t feel so bad about my choice not to starve my family for a month to afford this stuff.
When it comes to skin care, like food, simple is usually better. There are ingredients that work, and those that harm, and those that don’t do a damn thing. And surprisingly, cost is not a factor in any of this.
Also, check out the Beautipedia, cosmetic product reviews for in-depth analysis and user reviews of beauty products and makeup.