I definitely know how the appearance of one's skin can drastically change one's mood. I distinctly recall my middle school self waking up in the morning only to see that my acne-prone skin had grown red and irritated seemingly overnight.
My emotions about my skin were usually a mix of frustration and helplessness.
I felt that my adolescent skin was simply unlucky, that I had drawn the short end of the stick of my parent's combined genetic pool.
I first became interested in skincare when I visited the dermatologist in hopes of securing a panacea for all my epidermal concerns. I received a few prescription-grade products, like anti-bacterial supplements and a retinoid topical cream.
These products offered the hope that my life would no longer be affected by my skin woes, which, at the time were a source of anxiety during my awkward pre-teen and early teenage years. I used the products consistently for a while before seeing a small difference in my skin; a difference that was not significant enough to please me.
Thus, I embarked on my own skincare journey.
From that point forward, I placed the responsibility of my skincare not on a doctor but on my own research.
After testing all sorts of products, I realized a few things. A lot of skincare companies are dishonest and focus more on aesthetics, like packaging, feel-good phrases (i.e. "all-natural"), and empty promises (i.e. decrease your pore size).
As a consumer, I know firsthand how misleading messages can easily convince unsuspecting buyers to purchase one product over another.
Although the aforementioned sales tactics can be extremely convincing, here are some tips to help avoid marketing traps:
1. Look at the ingredients in a product before purchasing it.
Some ingredients, like fragrances, abrasive physical exfoliants, color, mineral oil, parabens, and phthalates can actually do more harm than good to your skin. They are also more commonly used in products than you may think.
2. Compare the volume of the product in relation to the packaging size.
Some skincare packaging can look a lot bigger online or on shelves, but the product itself can actually take up less than a third of the container it is housed in.
3. Consider your diet.
Yes, you may have heard that dairy products can exacerbate acne-prone skin, but so many other ingredients can be linked to your specific skin problems. For example, one of my concerns was fungal acne.
After I found out that Kombucha, one of my favorite drinks that I usually started my day with could be one the cause of my acne, I began to drink it a lot less frequently. And yes, my fungal acne definitely eased up.
4. Expensive brands do not always equate to higher quality products.
I am definitely guilty of purchasing products because of their prestige, or brand reputation. Some of these more expensive brands are worth the price tag, but many are not. Some of my favorite skincare brands can be found at your local Target or CVS. (CeraVe is my brand of choice.)
5. Chemical exfoliation is much better for you than physical exfoliation.
You've probably used a cleanser that has natural exfoliants like apricot seed or synthetic exfoliants like microbeads. Not only can these physical exfoliators damage your skin and spread bacteria across your face; some are really bad for the environment, specifically, synthetic exfoliators.
6. Do your research.
Today, more than ever, YOU have the power to figure out what works best for you. Look for reputable sources online, or even on social media. You don't always need to buy advice, so much is free on the internet!
Not only did identifying my own skin issues lead me to purchase skincare products that suited me, but I also became in control of what I use on my body. By being in control of my purchases and the brands I support, I have a part in taking power away from big corporations, whose primary goal is often to generate revenue through whatever means possible.
I feel empowered by not only the difference in my skin, but also the realization that I can use my own research to better myself.